The Personality of God—Vagueness of the Common Idea of Deity—Who and What God Is—The Spirits of Men the Offspring of God—Spirit not Immaterial—The Trinity Creed of Christendom—Man May Become Like God in His Glory

Discourse by Elder Charles W. Penrose, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, November 16, 1884.

The remarks which have been made to us this afternoon by Bishop Preston are of a practical nature and calculated to lead our minds to reflection upon our duties as Latter-day Saints.

The religion of God is a practical religion, and God is a real and practical being. It has been stated by one of our leading men that God is “a business God,” and many remarks have been made concerning that expression by persons opposed to us, with the desire of turning it to ridicule. It has not been stated by any of our brethren that God is only a business God, but the remark was made with reference to some of his attributes and of His works. The people of the present day who profess to believe in God, generally speaking, have very little idea in regard to what He is. They consider that He is incomprehensible. Their ideas concerning Him are very vague, and the attempts which have been made to explain God to the children of men, by persons who claim to be teachers of religion, and to have authority to speak in the name of the Lord, are of such a char acter that no one can understand them. The reason of this is because those persons who have attempted to make an explanation have not understood the subject themselves; and when a person does not understand a thing it is very difficult for him to try and make somebody else understand it. Now, I do not pretend to say that there is anybody living who fully and entirely comprehends God; but there are many people living who have some definite ideas concerning Him, concerning His attributes, concerning His ways, concerning His will; and what they understand they are at liberty to declare and to try and make other people understand, particularly if they are called upon by the Lord, and authorized by Him so to do. People very frequently refer to that passage of Scripture which says: “God is a spirit,” and as their notions concerning what spirit is, are not very clear, that passage of Scripture does not make very plain to their understanding what God is. People, generally speaking, have an idea that spirit is something intangible, something that cannot be comprehended, nor seen, nor handled; that it is far different in every respect from anything that is material; in fact, the philosophers and theologians call spirit “immaterial substance.” Now, this is for want of knowing better. Men in these times, like men in former days, have tried to find out God and the things of God by human wisdom and learning, and they have failed: for “man by searching,” the Scripture says, “cannot find out God.” But God can manifest Himself to man; and if God chooses to make Himself manifest to His children they can measurably comprehend Him. But in their mortal state, in this state of probation in which we live, mankind cannot fully grasp Deity to comprehend Him as He is in His majesty, and might, and power and glory; but, as I said, they can measurably comprehend God when He manifests Himself to them, and they can understand Him to the extent that He manifests Himself to them.

According to the book called the Bible, God the Eternal Father has manifested Himself at different times to individuals living upon the face of this earth, and according to the testimony of the Latter-day Saints, God has manifested Himself in this age of the world in a similar way to men whom He called and appointed to act in His name; and from what we read of God’s revelations in former days as well as in latter days, we learn that He is a person, an individual: that He is not a myth, not an imaginary being, but a reality, and that He is in the form and likeness of man, or in other words, that man is made in the image of God. In the opening book of the Bible, in the very first chapter of that book, we read: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. * * * * So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” God is a spirit; but it does not follow that because God is a spirit, He has no form, no shape, no extent, no limit; or that He can be, as an individual, in every place at the same time, as many people imagine. We are told that God dwells in heaven, and when Jesus Christ was upon the earth He always taught His disciples that their Father was in heaven. He said that as He came from the Father so He was going back to the Father. This individual, then, has a location, a place of residence. He occupies a certain position, He dwells in the heavens, and He made man in His image, in His likeness. Jesus, we are told, was in the “express image” of His Father’s person. When He was upon the earth He came to represent His Father, and we are told concerning Him, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” And the Apostle Paul, who makes this declaration, advised his brethren to have the same mind in them that was in Christ Jesus:

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus:

“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

“But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

“And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

“And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.—Philippians 2:5-11.”

Now Jesus, who was in the form of God, was only one of the sons of God. He called His disciples His brethren, and He impressed upon them the great fact that His Father was their Father, that His God was their God, that He was one of them. When He returned, or was about to return to the Father, with His resurrected body, He told Mary to tell His disciples that He was going to ascend to His Father and their Father, to His God and their God.

In the Old Testament, which gives accounts of God’s occasional manifestations of His presence to men upon the earth, we find that they all saw Him as a person, with the form of a man. Moses talked with Him face to face. Nadab and Abihu and seventy Elders of Israel, with Moses and Aaron, went up in the mount.

“And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink. [Exodus xxiv, 10, 11.]”

I might refer to a number of passages of Scripture in the Old Testament, showing that whenever God appeared to man, manifesting Himself to man, He appeared in the form of a man. We are told repeatedly in the Scriptures that the children of men are the sons of God. He is the Father and God of the spirits of all flesh. The spirit of man, which inhabits his body, and which is the life of the body in addition to the blood—blood being the life of the flesh, but the spirit animated all—comes from God, and is the offspring of God. Because of this, we understand what is said in 1 John, iii, 2:

“Beloved, 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.”

God, then, the God of the Bible, who is called Jehovah, the person who manifested Himself to Israel as Jehovah, is an individual, a personality, and He made man in His image and His likeness. Now, if we are the children of God, and if Jesus Christ is the Son of God, we can upon that reasoning understand something about what God is like, for there is an eternal principle in heaven and on earth, that every seed begets of its kind, every seed brings forth in its own likeness and character. The seed of an apple, when it is reproduced, brings forth an apple, and so with a pear, and so with a plum, and so with all the varieties of the vegetable kingdom. It is the same with all the varieties of the animal kingdom. The doctrine of evolution, as it is called, is true in some respects—that is, that species can be improved, exalted, made better, but it remains of the same species. The advancement is in the same line. It is unfoldment. We do not find any radical change from one species to another. It is an eternal principle that every seed produces its own kind, not another kind. And as we are the children of God, we can follow out the idea and perceive what God our Father is, the Being who is the progenitor of our spiritual existence, the being from whom we have sprung. We being the seed of God, that Being is a personality, an individual, a being in some respects like us, or rather we are made in His image.

“Man also is spirit,” we are told in the revelations of God to the Latter-day Saints. Man, the real man, is a spirit, an individual that dwells in a body, a spiritual person clothed upon with earth; a being who will live when the earth goes back to mother dust. Man’s spirit, then, is an individual, a personality, and the spirit is in the likeness and shape of the body which it inhabits. When the spirit goes out of the body there is a person, a perfectly formed individual, looking like the body which we now see with our natural eyes. Spirits living in the flesh, unless operated upon abnormally by some spiritual influence, cannot see spiritual beings. A spirit can see spirit. Spirit ministers to spirit; and when the spirit goes out of the body that spirit can see other spirits, beings of the same character and nature, and we shall find when we have emerged from this body, that we will be in the company of a great many persons like ourselves; and if we should have the experience that the Prophet Joseph had when the mob took him and tore his flesh with their nails, and tried to poison him with a vial of some corrosive substance, if our spirits should be separated from our bodies as his was, we, like him, could look at our bodies and see that they are in form like our living spiritual realities.

“The body without the spirit is dead.” The spirit without the body is not dead; that is a real personality, a living individual, and the body of flesh is but a house to dwell in or a covering for it to wear; not essential to its existence, but essential to its progress, essential to its experience on the earth and ultimately in its glorified condition, essential to its eternal happiness, and progress and power in the presence of the Father.

While our Father, then, is a person, an individual, it may be asked: “How can He be here, there and everywhere at the same time?” Well, He is not, in His personality; but He can be omnipresent in a certain sense. There is a spirit, an influence, that proceeds from God, that fills the immensity of space, the Holy Spirit, the Light of Truth. As the sun itself, a planet or heavenly body, is not present in any other place except that which it actually occupies, so the individual Father occupies a certain locality; and as the light that proceeds from the sun spreads abroad upon all the face of the earth and lights up other planets as well as this earth, penetrating to the circumference of an extended circle in the midst of God’s great universe, so the light of God, the Spirit of God, proceeding forth from the presence of God, fills the immensity of space. It is the light and the life of all things. It is the light and the life of man. It is the life of the animal creation. It is the life of the vegetable creation. It is in the earth on which we stand; it is in the stars that shine in the firmament; it is in the moon that reflects the light of the sun: it is in the sun, and is the light of the sun, and the power by which it was made; and these grosser particles of light that illuminate the heavens and enable us to behold the works of nature, are from that same Spirit which enlightens our minds and unfolds the things of God. As that light comes forth from the sun, so the light of God comes to us. That natural light is the grosser substance or particles of the same Spirit.

Spirit is a substance, it is not immaterial; it may have some properties that are different from that which we see and handle, which we call matter, but it is a reality, a substantial reality. And spirit can understand spirit and grasp spirit. A spiritual person can take the hand of another spiritual person and it is substantial. A person in body could not grasp a spirit, for that spirit has different properties to those of our bodies, and it is governed by different laws to those that govern us in this sphere of mortality. A spiritual substance, organized into form, occupies room and space just as much in its sphere as these natural particles occupy in this sphere.

God our Father, then, is a person, an individual, and He really is our Father, actually and literally. We sprang from Him. He is the Father of our spirits, and not only the Father of the spirits of the Latter-day Saints, but the Father of the spirits of latter-day sinners. He is the God and the Father of the spirits of all flesh. Not only those that now dwell on the earth, but all people who dwelt aforetime; all people who ever lived upon the face of this planet, are the children of God. And so with people who dwell upon other planets, they are the offspring of God. And our Father and our God is an individual, a personality; He is a spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth; but He dwells in a tabernacle, in a body, though that body is different from our bodies, it being a spiritual body. It is quickened by spirit. Our bodies are quickened by that corruptible substance which we call blood; but our Heavenly Father’s body is quickened by spirit. It is not governed by the same laws as those by which earthly bodies are governed. It is a body something similar to that which Jesus had after His resurrection. Jesus Christ, when He rose from the dead, had the same body that He had upon the earth, but a change had been wrought upon it. He had shed His blood for the remission of sins. This body was quickened by spirit. “He was put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit;” so we are told in the Scriptures, and He was raised up from the dead by that Spirit. Paul says, in his Epistle to the Romans, viii ch. 11 v.:

“But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

Jesus Christ’s body was put in the sepulchre a natural body; it was raised a spiritual body. It was placed there in weakness; it was raised in strength. It was a mortal body when placed in the sepulchre; but when it came forth quickened by spirit, it was no longer a natural or mortal body, it was a spiritual and an immortal body; and with that immortal body He ascended from the earth. It was no longer bound by the laws of earthly gravitation, as it was before. He stood upon the mount of Olives, in the presence of His disciples, and ascended up to heaven from their midst and disappeared from their view. He could manifest Himself to them, and then take Himself away from their gaze. He could enter the room when the doors were shut, as He did in the case when His disciples gathered in secret for fear of the Jews, and manifest Himself to them. And yet at the same time His body was tangible, and the unbelieving Thomas could reach forth his hand and thrust it into His side, and put his fingers into the prints of the nails. But this body was a glorious body, “the glorious body of the Son of God,” and it was in the fashion and likeness of the glorious body of His Eternal Father. It was a celestial body quickened by the celestial glory. And if we wish to attain to the Heavenly kingdom we must walk in the ways of life, and sanctify ourselves before God, as Jesus did, so that the influence and power of the celestial kingdom can be with us. Then, in the resurrection, when we come forth from the grave, we shall be quickened also by the operation of the celestial glory and receive of the same, even the fullness thereof, and be made like unto Jesus Christ, and thus become like unto God the Father.

As I have previously explained, God is not everywhere present personally, but He is omnipresent in the power of that spirit—the Holy Spirit—which animates all created things; that which is the light of the sun, and of the soul as well as the light of the eye, that which enables the inhabitants of the earth to understand and perceive the things of God. As the light of the sun reveals natural objects to our eyes, so the spirit that comes from God, with a fitting place to occupy and conditions to operate in, reveals the things of God. We see natural things by the light of the sun. We see spiritual things by spiritual light, and he that is spiritual discerneth all things and judgeth all things, and he that is not spiritual cannot comprehend spiritual things. They are foolishness to him. And while the Saints of God, quickened by the spirit which they have obtained through obedience to the Gospel, can comprehend these things of which I am speaking and discern their meaning and signification, those that are wicked and corrupt and obey not the ordinances of God, cannot see these things nor comprehend them as they are, but they are foolishness to them.

But, if God is an individual spirit and dwells in a body, the question will arise, “Is He the Eternal Father?” Yes, He is the Eternal Father. “Is it a fact that He never had a beginning?” In the elementary particles of His organism, He did not. But if He is an organized Being, there must have been a time when that being was organized. This, some one will say, would infer that God had a beginning. This spirit which pervades all things, which is the light and life of all things, by which our heavenly Father operates, by which He is omnipotent, never had a beginning and never will have an end. It is the light of truth; it is the spirit of intelligence. We are told in the revelations of God to us that, “Intelligence or the light of truth never was created, neither indeed can be.” And we are told further, that this Spirit, when it is manifest, is God moving in His glory. When we look up to the heavens and behold the starry worlds, which are kingdoms, we behold God moving in His Majesty and in His power. Now, this Spirit always existed; it always operated, but it is not understood, and cannot be comprehended except through organisms. If you see a living blade of grass you see a manifestation of that Spirit which is called God. If you see an animal of any kind on the face of the earth having life, there is a manifestation of that Spirit. If you see a man you behold its most perfect earthly manifestation. And if you see a glorified man, a man who has passed through the various grades of being, who has overcome all things, who has been raised from the dead, who has been quickened by this spirit in its fullness, there you see manifested, in its perfection, this eternal, beginningless, endless spirit of intelligence.

Such a Being is our Father and our God, and we are following in His footsteps. He has attained to perfection. He has arisen to kingdoms of power. He comprehends all things, because in Him dwelleth the fullness of the Godhead, bodily. He is a perfect manifestation, expression and revelation of this eternal essence, this spirit of eternal, everlasting intelligence or light of truth. It is embodied in His spiritual personality or spiritual organism. This spirit cannot be fully comprehended in our finite state. It quickens all things. As we are told in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, it is:

“The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God, who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things.—Sec. lxxxviii, v. 13.”

That spirit exists wherever there is a particle of material substance; that spirit is round about it, and in it, and through it; but that we may comprehend it, it must be manifested through organisms. The perfection of its manifestation is in the personality of a being called God. That is a person who has passed through all the gradations of being, and who contains within Himself the fullness, manifested and expressed, of this divine spirit which is called God.

Some people may think this is rather a low idea of a Divine Being. But I think it a most exalted one. The person whom I worship I acknowledge as my Father. Through Him I may learn to understand the secrets and mysteries of eternity, those things that never had a beginning and will never have an end. He has ascended above all things after descending below all things. He has fought his way from the depths up to the position He now occupies. He holds it by virtue of His goodness, of His might, of His majesty, of His power. He occupies that position by virtue of being in perfect harmony with all that is right, and true, and beautiful, and glorious and progressive. He is the perfect embodiment and expression of the eternal principles of right. He has won that position by His own exertions, by His own faithfulness, by His own righteousness. Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God in the flesh, but His firstborn in the spirit, has climbed His way up in a similar manner. He loved righteousness and hated iniquity. He kept every law and every commandment. He knew no sin, and guile was not found in His mouth. He loved not His own life, as a paramount consideration but sacrificed it to atone for the sins of others. Whatever He learned was right. He practiced, and He broke no commandment of the Father, but obeyed every one. He came not to do His own will, but the will of the Father that sent Him, and because He did this and was faithful unto death, He was exalted on high. He overcame evil. He conquered mortality. He triumphed over death. He conquered that being who is the expression of evil principles, who is the embodiment of the principles of darkness, who is the embodiment of all the principles that are in opposition to those that exist and burn in the bosom of Deity. He met him and conquered him and overcame him. He, being in the truth and living by the truth; therefore he is now to us, “the way, the truth, and the life.” Overcoming all things He was entitled to inherit all things, and all that the Father hath was given unto Him. And we read:

“The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” (John v, 19.)”

As the Father had taken His upward course in worlds before this, so Jesus Christ followed in his footsteps in every respect; therefore he is entitled to sit down at the right hand of God in the heavens, to sit on his throne and be one with the Father in all things; and all the power and glory, and dominion that the Father hath he conferred also upon Jesus. And the promise to the sons of God on the earth is, that if they will follow in the footsteps of Jesus, they shall be also exalted and shall partake of that glory which he partakes of and they shall become Gods, even the sons of God, and “all things” shall be theirs. And we are told in the revelations of God to us in the latter days, that if we are faithful in all things, “all that Father hath” shall be given unto us. We shall become like Him, and we shall receive power and dominion and glory similar to that which he enjoys, only He will always be above us, God as our Father, and Jesus Christ our elder brother.

Now, we can understand a little about a being like this, but a being of the character that divines attempt to describe is one we cannot understand at all. They say that there are three of them, and yet there is only one; that God has no body, neither parts nor passions. Yet this thing that has no substance, and no parts, we are told, has three parts, one part of which had a body, and that body was composed of parts. And we are told also that it has no passions. Yet this one part of that thing which has no body and no parts and no passions had a body and parts and had passions. Jesus experienced the same things that a man experiences, lived like a man, and died like a man, to some extent. Now, who can understand these contradictions which are to be found in the creeds of modern Christendom? The Athanasian Creed was read in the Church of England, as it is called, when I was a boy, and I believe it is now. I think the American Episcopal Church has discarded it, which was very sensible. It says:

“Whosoever will be saved, before all things he must hold the Catholic faith, which faith except he do keep whole and undefiled he shall, without doubt, perish everlastingly. And the Catholic faith is this: “That we worship one God in Trinity, and trinity in unity, neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost, but their glory is equal, and their majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such the Holy Ghost. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God; and yet there are not three Gods, but one God. The Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, and the Holy Ghost is Lord, and yet there are not three Lords, but one Lord. For while we are compelled by Christian verity to acknowledge each person by himself to be both God and Lord, so we are forbidden by the Catholic faith to say that there be three Gods or three Lords.”

It goes on to show how that these three are all exactly alike, and then to declare that they are all essentially different. It explains that the Son is begotten while the Father is not, and then that the Holy Ghost is proceeding not begotten, while the Son is not proceeding, neither is the Father, yet at the same time they are all the same, and to cap the climax of the pile of absurdities it announces that:

“The Father is incomprehensible, the Son is incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost is incomprehensible, yet they are not three incomprehensibles, but one incomprehensible.”

Well, that is an attempt of man to explain God. As I said in the beginning of my remarks, we do not pretend that we can comprehend God in his fullness in our finite and mortal condition here on the earth, because he is an infinite being. But we are promised that “the day shall come when we shall comprehend God, being quickened in him.” Jesus said:

This is life eternal, to know thee the only living and true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.”

How can we learn to know God? We can learn of our Father by hearkening to his voice by listening to the whisperings of the holy Spirit, that spirit that comes from him. “They that are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.” We can understand much concerning him by the power of the Holy Ghost. The gift of the Holy Ghost is conferred on us that we may learn something about God, so that we may go on to perfection; that we may walk in his ways; that we may climb the ladder which he has climbed to perfection; that we may peradventure overcome and be made like him, share in his glory, and be one with him. And if we will take the course that our Father has taken, living by every word that comes from his mouth, we shall know what is right, for he will reveal unto us what is true, and it is the knowledge and practice of truth that exalts. If we will learn this as he learned it, advance step by step, overcoming the Evil One; overcome the world and the flesh, grapple with evil as we meet it and conquer it, we will have the help of the Lord, and may raise ourselves by our own exertions, by our faithfulness, by our obedience, and peradventure will overcome all things, and inherit all things. We may thus rise above all things. We may obtain glorious bodies like unto the glorious body of the Son of God. We may prepare ourselves for the celestial glory in which the Father dwells, and in which the Son dwells, and be made like him in every respect, becoming spiritual beings dwelling in spiritual bodies, quickened with the celestial glory, among the Gods, and enter into holy order which is without beginning of days or end of years—the everlasting order of the holy Priesthood—which Jesus Christ has, and a portion of which he imparted unto his disciples when he was upon the earth, and which he has restored to the earth in these latter days.

There are things connected with this that we cannot dwell upon in a short discourse. But the keys of this Priesthood have been restored, and by them we can obtain heavenly knowledge; learn to comprehend our Father who is at the head of that Priesthood; learn to comprehend Jesus Christ our Great High Priest. By this same Priesthood, a portion of which we have received, we can obtain communion with the heavenly Jerusalem, with the spirits of just men made perfect, with Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and with God who is the holiest of all. That Priesthood had no beginning, and will never have an end. As we are told in Scripture it is “without father or mother, without beginning of days or end of years;” it always existed. The individual, the organized person may have had a beginning, but that spirit of which and by which they organized never had a beginning. That Priesthood which is the power of government in the heavens, never had a beginning, and it will never come to an end. The works of that eternal spirit of intelligence, the great Eternal God, manifested to us in our Father and through Jesus Christ, never had a beginning. There never was a first world or man; there will never be a last. We cannot grasp that in its fullness, but we can understand a little of it by comparing it with other things. For instance, we will take space. This tabernacle contains so much space, bounded by the walls of the building; but go outside of these walls and space is there. Go to the farthest bounds of this Territory, space is there. Go to the ends of the earth, if you can find them, and there is space beyond. Mount upward to the stars; go to the sun, pass above the sun to the two worlds that govern it, that we read about in the Book of Abraham, in “The Pearl of Great Price;” go even unto Kolob, the nearest to the throne of God, and there is just as much space beyond as that which you have left. There is no outside to space—no beginning, no end.

Thus there is boundless space, and we cannot fully comprehend it, yet we must admit that it exists without limit. “There is no kingdom in the which there is no space, and no space in the which there is no kingdom, either a greater or a lesser kingdom.” So we learn in the Doctrine and Covenants. So travel where we will, there we find space, and also inexhaustible material. And the elements, whether they be spiritual or what we call natural—we use these terms to distinguish them—never had a beginning—the primal particles never had a beginning. They have been organized in different shapes; the organism had a beginning but the elements or atoms of which it is composed never had. You may burn this book, but every atom of which the book was composed, every particle of substance that entered into its composition, still exists; they are indestructible. When you go right down to the primary elements, they never had a beginning, they will never have an end. For in their primal condition they are not “created.” They did not come from nothing; they were organized into different forms, but the elementary parts of matter as well as of spirit, using ordinary terms, never had a beginning, and never will have an end.

Now, here are some things that you can understand to some extent, that are beginningless and endless. It is the same with duration. Duration never had a beginning, and it never will have an end. We measure portions of time, but time itself, cannot be counted. Go back as far as we can think, and there was just as much time or duration before that period as since, and think as much as we can down the stream of time there is just as much ahead. There is no limit to duration, no beginning, no end. Thus there are boundless space, an infinity of substance, endless duration. The elements of that eternal spirit which exists in and through and round about all things, and is the law by which all things are governed, never had a beginning and will never have an end. There was no beginning and there will be no end to its operations. And therefore we are told that “the works of God are one eternal round.” There was no beginning to the works of God, and there will be no end. The Priesthood, as I have quoted to you, is without beginning of days or end of years. It was always existent and always active. And therefore there was never a first world or being, neither will there be a last one. We are here to learn those principles that pertain to this lower sphere; to learn how to raise ourselves from this groveling mortal condition, and make ourselves like God, that we may dwell with him, come into perfect harmony with that spirit of which I have been speaking, be one with the Father and participate with him in the power which he wields, in the midst of eternity.

Now, my brethren and sisters, will we walk in this way? Will we fit ourselves to enter into our next estate with honor? We have come down from God as his offspring. That part of us which is spirit was with him in the eternal world. We have come down here in our time and season, and God “determined the times before appointed and the bounds of our habitation.” We are here to learn the laws that govern this lower world; to learn to grapple with evil and to understand what darkness is. We came from an abode of bliss to understand the pain and sorrow incident to this probation. We came here to comprehend what death is. We existed in our first estate among the sons of God in the presence of our Father, “when the morning sears sang together, and the sons of God shouted for joy.” The knowledge of our former state has fled from us. Like Jesus, “in our humiliation our judgment is taken away,” and the veil is drawn between us and our former habitation. This is for our trial. If we could see the things of eternity, and comprehend ourselves as we are; if we could penetrate the mists and clouds that shut out eternal realities from our gaze, the fleeting things of time would be no trial to us, and one of the great objects of our earthly probation or testing would be lost. But the past has gone from our memory, the future is shut out from our vision and we are living here in time, to learn little by little, line upon line, precept upon precept. Here in the darkness, in the sorrow, in the trial, in the pain, in the adversity, we have to learn what is right and distinguish it from what is wrong, and lay hold of right and truth and learn to live it. For it is not only the learning of it that is needful, but we must live it, being guided and governed by it in all things. If we have any evil propensities—inherited from progenitors who for ages have gone astray from God—we have to grapple with them and overcome them. Each individual must find out his own nature, and what there is in it that is wrong, and bring it into subjection to the will and righteousness of God. He must work with it until he is master of it; until he can say to this mortal flesh which is continually warring against the spirit, “I am your master by the grace of God.” Every passion, every inclination, every desire must be controlled and made subject to the will of God. Though we mingle with the world, yet we must not pattern after their evil ways nor “touch the unclean thing.” We need not partake of the sins of the world. We can be wrapped around by the influence of our religion as by the garments that we wear, and be separate even though in the midst of the wicked. We need not follow their ways nor be guided by their enticements, or be governed by their nations, but should live according to the light of God; and when evil spirits tempt us and seek to turn us aside from the strait path that leads to the celestial city, stand firm in the spirit of the Gospel and overcome them. And if we overcome all things we shall inherit all things.

“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. Rev. iii, 21.”

We are the children of God, and when we go back into the presence of our Father, if we return with honor, there will be joy in heaven; there will be joy in our own bosoms, such joy as is not expressible. How we shall rejoice! We will then comprehend all we knew before we came here. We will comprehend everything we learned when we dwelt in the flesh; and we will be clothed upon with the spirit and power of God in its fullness, and kingdoms and power and glory eternal will be given unto us. We shall have the gift of eternal and endless increase. Our families will be with us and be the beginning of our dominion, and upon that basis we shall build forever. Our wives and our children will be ours for all eternity. Our increase shall never cease while duration rolls along and the works of God spread forth, and our posterity and kingdoms will grow and extend till they shall be as numerous as the stars, and we will enter into the rest of our Father and enjoy his presence and society for evermore. God help us to attain to the fullness of this glory, for Christ’s sake. Amen.

Religious Liberty Guaranteed By the Constitution—Not Mere Freedom of Belief—Where the Line Should Be Drawn—Natural Rights Must Be Protected—Danger of Special Legislation—Object of the Gathering of the Saints—Establishment of God’s Kingdom—Literal Fulfillment of Prophecy—Restoration of the Christian Church—Authority of the Priesthood—Lack of Divine Authority—Proofs of the Divine Mission of the Latter-Day Saints—Plural Marriage a Religious Institution—A Bible Doctrine—Constitutional Right to Practice It

Remarks by Elder Charles W. Penrose, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, July 26, 1884.

I have been pleased in listening to the remarks of Brother Caine, who has just returned from Washington; glad to hear that his heart with ours is turned toward the truth, and that his desire, in common with ours, is to build up the Kingdom of God in the earth, and to contend for the rights which belong to us as American citizens. Some people seem to imagine because we have embraced a doctrine which is not popular in the world, because we have embraced a faith which is contrary to the generally received notions in regard to religion, that we ought to have no rights whatever as citizens of our common country. We do not look upon the matter in that light. We consider that we have the right under the Constitution of the United States to believe anything which seems right to us, and not only to believe it, but to carry it out in our practice, so far as we can do so without interfering with the rights of other people. The first amendment to the Constitution of the United States says: “Congress shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” We understand that amendment as it is written. We do not wish to interpret it, or to give to it any meaning other than the plain language conveys. The language is, “That Congress shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion.” With the establishment of religion, then, Congress has nothing to do. Congress cannot set up a religion, nor can it pass any law respecting an establishment of religion—that is, to prevent its free exercise. There are some people in these latter times who interpret that amendment to mean that people may believe what they please, but it carries with it no freedom of practice. People may believe what seems right to them, but they must not carry it out if it happens to be contrary to the views of the great majority. Now, it appears to me that that is a very narrow interpretation of the meaning of that Amendment to the Constitution. It appears to us, as it must to the great bulk of the people of the country—the sovereign people—that without any constitutional amendment, or the passage of any law, people everywhere are of themselves free to believe. We do not think a law can interfere with belief, even if one were passed for the purpose of interfering with it. A man’s belief cannot be controlled by any Act of Congress or of Parliament. No edict of a government or any other lawmaking body can interfere with my freedom of belief. When a proposition is placed before my mind, and I reflect upon it, and it appears to be correct, my mind receives it and I believe it. Sometimes persons believe in spite of themselves. Sometimes a man will believe a thing in spite of his own desires not to believe. Then this faith cannot be controlled by any person outside of the man himself, and sometimes he cannot control it himself. No edict or law, or any power of man on the earth can alter a man’s belief, or prevent him from believing. A law can be enacted to prevent the carrying of that belief into practice; but it cannot interfere with belief, and it needs no amendment to the Constitution, no enactment of Congress or of any lawmaking body on earth, to protect a man in mere belief. Then it is clear to us that the intention was, that a man should have not only the right to believe, but that he should be protected in the free exercise of that belief. As the language states, Congress is not to pass any law respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibit the free exercise thereof. What is the exercise of belief in religion? Why, it is certain acts men perform prompted by their belief, prompted by their religion. Suppose a man believes it is right to be baptized in water—buried in water for the remission of sins—how can he evidence his belief in that principle? He can only do it in the way specified by the Apostle James. He says: “Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.” “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” That is the only way in which faith can be truly shown—by works. If I believe that baptism is right I evidence my belief by being baptized, and if I am not baptized it either shows that my faith is very weak or that it does not exist: that I have not the courage of my faith, or else that I do not believe at all.

Now, we consider that we have a perfect right under the Constitution of our country to believe what seems right to us, and then to carry it out. “Well,” someone may say, “do you think there should be no restriction to this? Are people to be protected in any kind of religion they may have? Suppose a man were to come here from India who believed it a religious duty, under some circumstances, to strangle a man, would he have the right under the Constitution of the United States, to strangle? Again, there are people who believe it is right, in India, to burn a widow on the funeral pile, that her spirit may be sent to keep company with her husband in the other world. Would that person, or those persons have the right, under the Constitution of the United States, to carry out their belief in this country?” We say no. We say that the Thug has no right here to practice his faith. We say the Suttee could not be established in this country. “Why not? You believe it is right under some circumstances for a man to have more wives than one, and that those who thus believe are protected by the Constitution in the practice of their religion. Why should not those who believe it right to strangle, or to burn widows, have the right to practice their religion under the Constitution of the United States?” The dividing line is very simple, as truth generally is. It is very easy to be drawn. It is to be drawn in consonance with the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, and with the principles that underlie our government. In the Declaration of Independence it is laid down that there are certain rights that cannot be alienated, that are natural, that are inherent, that are not imparted by governments: they do not belong to politics, but they are inherent in the individual—the right to life, the right to liberty, the right to property, and the right to the pursuit of happiness. These rights are inalienable. They belong to every individual. They are not conferred by law. They belong to us. They are born in us. They belong to every person who breathes the breath of life. Then, an act of any individual or any government which infringes upon these natural rights is wrong in and of itself. If any individual interferes with the rights of his fellow men he may be restrained by the secular law. The right to life, and to liberty, and to the pursuit of happiness, and to property belong to all individuals alike. One body of people professing one faith must not interfere with the rights of any other body of people professing another faith. The Latter-day Saints, as well as the Latter-day sinners, the Methodist as well as the Catholic, the Jew as well as the Gentile—all people alike in this great country must be protected equally in these natural rights which belong to them.

Here, then, is where the line must be drawn. Anything that persons profess to do under the name of religion, which interferes with the rights of others is wrong, and the secular law may step in and protect the citizens and restrain or punish those people who attempt to do this under the plea of religion. If I do anything which interferes with the life, the liberty, the happiness, or the property of my neighbor, the law has a right to step in and protect my neighbor and restrain me. But if my religion—that which I believe to be true, and which I try to carry out as a part of my faith—does not interfere with human rights, does not infringe in any degree upon the rights of my fellow man, neither Congress, nor any other lawmaking power on the face of the earth, has the right to interfere with me under the Constitution of the country. I have a right to the exercise of my religion so long as it does not infringe upon the rights of other people. There is where we draw the line, and we think it is the right place. And we are standing up, not only for our own rights in this respect, but for the rights of all people upon the face of this land. As has been said by Brother Caine, this afternoon, in passing certain enactments which infringe upon our religious liberties, the Congress of the United States is doing something that will come back upon the very individuals who have been trying to establish this principle or to enact these laws. Because, we may be the society or body aimed at today, and tomorrow another sect or party or body may be aimed at by the same enactments which are passed against us, and perhaps will hold good in both directions. It is a poor rule that only works one way. It may be found convenient today to single out the “Mormons,” because they are unpopular, for special legislation; but in a little time some other religious body in this country may have the same inimical legislation applied to them, to bear down upon them with greater weight than it does upon us. You cannot violate a principle of truth without receiving very bad consequences. Those who attempt to do that will be sure to reap the fruit of their labors at some time or other. And when the Congress of the United States commences to move away the foundation stones of the system that the fathers of this nation built up, they are working on very dangerous ground, and the consequences thereof will not be confined to the few people against whom these measures are made. It is the duty of every patriot, of every man who loves his country, and of every woman who loves her country, to do their part in preventing the passage of such enactments as these, and in vindicating the principles and doctrines which enter into the Constitution of our beloved country. So we are standing up not only for our own rights, but for the rights of others, and this is one of the duties enjoined upon us by our Heavenly Father.

We have been brought from the various parts of the earth into these mountain valleys that we may establish a system of religion which has been revealed from heaven, which our Heavenly Father has committed to us. We have not taken this religion from any of the sacred books that are in existence; we have not concocted this system from the Bible, or from any other religious work; but it has been revealed to us in our own day and time. God has broken the silence of ages. That same God that spoke to the prophets of old, whose record we have in the Old Testament, and who sent His Son Jesus Christ in the meridian of time to die for the sins of the world—that same God that inspired the Apostles of Jesus Christ in their great works has Himself spoken from heaven in our own day, and angels have come down from the courts of glory with a message of life and salvation for the inhabitants of the earth. This Church, this system, this organization to which we belong has not been set up by the wisdom of man, but has been set up by the power of God, by the command of the Almighty, and has been sustained by him up to the present time. All the efforts which are made to break it down will only tend to build it up. Every law the United States may pass with the intent to disintegrate this work, to divide the people, to crush the power that exists in the midst of the Latter-day Saints, will only tend to consolidate the people, to bind them closer together, to make their faith more intense, their convictions more certain, and to make their determination more persistent. That will be the effect. God is working with this people, and has worked with them from the beginning. And this, as we have heard this afternoon, is not a mere matter of faith. We have seen so many proofs of an overruling power, and manifestations of special providence, as a people and as individuals, in answer to our prayers, that we know that God lives, that God answers prayer, that God Almighty is with the Latter-day Saints while they keep His commandments and do His will, and that He will overrule for good all the evil which is intended against us.

This work is established for the purpose of bringing about His designs in regard to this earth upon which we live. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. The cattle on a thousand hills are His. The silver and the gold belong to Him, and the life of all mankind is in His hands. He is Lord over all, blessed forever, and it is His right to rule and regulate and control all things on the face of this globe. Jesus Christ His beloved Son has been here. He dwelt on the earth for a time and performed the work allotted to Him, by which he obtained all power and sits at the right hand of the Father; and the time is coming when He will stand on the earth, establish His government and dominion, extending it from pole to pole and from shore to shore, and the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our God and His Christ; not in some figurative, mystical, spiritual sense, but really and truly as a matter of fact. The Savior, as foretold by the prophets, came upon the earth literally and truly. He was hung upon the cross, and His spirit left His body. He was laid in the tomb, but He was raised again from the dead, not in a spiritual sense, or some mythical sense, but really and truly His body was raised from the dead. In that body He appeared to His disciples, and went up from their gaze, saying that in like manner he would descend again. And His promises are that when he shall come the second time, it shall not be as the babe of Bethlehem, despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; nor to be persecuted by His own, but that He shall come in the clouds of heaven in power and great glory to sit upon the throne of His Father David and reign and rule from the rivers to the end of the earth, so that all nations, kindreds, tongues and people shall serve and obey Him. Now, we look for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we expect it just as much as when the sun goes down we expect it to rise above the hilltops in the morning. And when He comes we expect it will be Himself—Jesus of Nazareth, our Elder Brother, the firstborn of God in the spirit world, the Only Begotten of God in the flesh. We expect that He will come and reign over the earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and we expect that all kingdoms, all governments, and all institutions that men have set up will be broken down, and as Nebuchadnezzar saw them in the vision which Daniel interpreted, they will become as the chaff of the summer threshingfloor, and be swept away, and no place found for them upon the face of the whole earth; because the Kingdom of God and of His Christ will prevail everywhere, and it will cover the earth. For it is the kingdom that was spoken of by the Prophets, and we are told that “the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heavens”—that is over all the earth, is it not?—shall be His kingdom and shall “be given into the hands of the people of the saints of the most High, and their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom.” Now, we expect the fulfillment of all these things, and when they come to pass they will occur just as they are written, like other prophecies have been accomplished. When Isaiah prophesied that “a virgin should conceive and bear a son” and that they should “call his name Immanuel,” the prophet meant what he said, and it came to pass; and all the predictions in regard to the second coming, as it is called, the second advent of the Messiah, and the establishment of God’s Kingdom and government on the earth, will be fulfilled exactly as the prophets have predicted. There is no need to mystify, nor to spiritualize, nor to explain them, they will come to pass word for word; for “heaven and earth may pass away, but not one jot or tittle of the word of God shall pass away; it shall all be fulfilled.”

Now, this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to which we belong is established by the Almighty for the express purpose of opening up the way for the accomplishment of this great work. In this Church is the germ of that kingdom that Daniel saw. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, set up by the power of God, by the authority of the Most High, is exactly the same Church that Jesus Christ built up—that is, the same in all its essential principles; the same organization, the same kind of officers, the same doctrines, the same in its spirit, the same in its ordinances, the same in the power that attends those ordinances, doctrines, principles and commandments as were revealed to the ancient Church. It is governed just exactly in the same way that the church which Jesus Christ established when he was upon the earth was governed. Every principle which was taught by the ancient Apostles in their time is taught by the latter-day Apostles in their time. And the Apostles in our day have the same authority or Priesthood, as it is called, that the Apostles had in their time whom Jesus ordained; because those that held the keys of that apostleship in the earth in former times have come down to the earth, literally and truly, and ordained men to the same authority and apostleship which they held while living in the flesh. That is how the apostleship has been restored. That authority exists in this Church, and it will never be taken away again. That which is called by the Latter-day Saints the Priesthood, is the authority given of God to men to act in His name, so that what they do by His authority and in the way that He has appointed on the earth shall be acknowledged in heaven—that which they seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven and that which they loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. It must be done as God directs, according to the revelations of His will. But this authority, this right, this power from God exists in this Church, as it existed in the ancient Church, because it has been actually restored by the very men who held the keys of it. And really, after all, it is that that the world is fighting. All these plans and schemes, all that legislation and these influences that are brought to bear on this Church, upon this system called by the world “Mormonism,” is brought to bear in consequence of the restoration of that power and that authority. It is the authority of the kingdom. It is here to stay. It is here to prevail. First it will preach the Gospel of the kingdom as a witness to all nations; it will then gather together the elect of God from the four quarters of the earth; it will build temples to the name of the Most High God in which men can administer in ordinances that pertain to the salvation of the living and the redemption of the dead. It will accomplish all that has been predicted by the prophets concerning the Latter-day Kingdom.

Now, this is the kind of work in which we are engaged. It has been introduced by the Almighty to bring about all those grand events that we read about in the writings of the old prophets that have not yet been fulfilled; there are a great many things contained in the Old Testament that people pay little attention to nowadays. They have an idea of things coming to pass in some spiritual fashion, or some mythical, mystical kind of way; they don’t know exactly how; and it is the business of certain men who are hired to preach the Gospel, to make mysterious explanations of passages of Scripture, which they manage to cover up, and succeed in confusing the people more than before the expounding was attempted. Nevertheless, all those predictions that refer to events that are to take place in the earth in the latter days will all come to pass as they are written, and this work, this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this thing called “Mormonism” has been introduced by the Almighty for the express purpose of bringing these things about; that is why it is universally opposed. All these different sects of modern Christendom are like the sects of heathendom, without communication from the eternal world. They receive no revelation from God. Their ministers have no authority except that which they obtain from their congregations. Many of them do not pretend to have any other, when you press them closely. They preach those tenets which the people believe and which are acceptable to the people—each minister of each sect preaching that which the members desire to hear. All these different sects contain many good people who are trying to do right, trying to serve God, and a great many others that are hypocrites. But as sects, as societies, as churches, they are not authorized of God. You can trace them all to their origin, and find that that origin is human in its nature. They have not come from God, they have come from men, some of them good men, perhaps. Men have met together and formulated creeds and organized societies, and these societies have grown and spread abroad, and after a while have become orthodox in the earth. At first they were persecuted and opposed, but as they grew in wealth as well as in numbers they made a name and a noise and became a power in the earth, and are recognized and understood as orthodox sects. But there is not one of them ordained of God. They are not set up by divine command, and their ministers have not been divinely authorized to preach the Gospel, nor to administer in the things of the Kingdom. There may be and no doubt are men among them preaching that which they believe to be true. But a man’s belief is not authority. A man may believe a thing to be right, but that does not give him authority to represent God in that matter. A man may believe it is right to sprinkle a babe and call that baptism. But even supposing it is right—though it is not—the fact that he believes it is right would not give him the authority to administer, because he does it “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost,” and he has no right to take these names upon his lips in vain, and he does take them upon his lips in vain unless he has been authorized to use these names. No man has any more right to use the name of Deity in the administration of an ordinance, without authority, than a common citizen, without authority, has the right to use the name and pretend to be the representative of the Government of the United States, or of Great Britain, or of Germany; not a bit. But men seem to think because God does not interfere, that they have a right to do a great many things that he never commanded, and do them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

Now, as I said just now, the authority to administer in the things of God’s Church has been restored in the way that I have told you. That is why we claim the right in this Church to administer these ordinances, and that is why we lay down the broad assertion that outside of this Church there is no authority in the world to administer in the name of the Lord. If there is such authority, let those who claim to have it, show their credentials and prove where they obtained their authority from. Now, in this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints not only is this authority restored, and those same doctrines, principles and ordinances which were had in the early Christian Church also restored, but accompanying these are the same spirit and gifts and manifestations and power that existed in the ancient Church. And here is one of the great proofs of the truth of that which I have advanced to you: Wherever the servants of God connected with this Church and holding this authority go into the world—and they go out without purse or scrip and administer: there are no salaried preachers in this Church—wherever they go and proclaim this Gospel they tell the people that if they will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and repent of their sins, and be baptized for the remission of sins, they shall receive the Holy Ghost, through the laying on of hands; and that this Holy Ghost that shall be given to them is the same spirit exactly in its manifesta tions, in its power, that the Apostles conferred upon the people by the laying on of hands in the early Christian Church, and that rested down upon the old prophets by which they wrote the things called scripture: the same spirit that Jesus Christ had without measure; that spirit that He gave to His Apostles when He breathed upon them and said: “Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you * * Receive ye the Holy Ghost:” that same spirit that was upon them on the day of Pentecost; that spirit which manifested itself to the Church in Corinth by the gift of tongues, interpretations, visions, dreams, healings and miracles, and all those signs which Jesus Christ promised to them that believed. These are manifest in the midst of the Latter-day Saints; this spirit, this power, is revealed to them and communicated to them. Not merely to the Presidency and the Twelve Apostles, and other leading Elders, but to each individual, to every person who believes and repents and is baptized, and upon whom the hands are laid of those having authority from God to administer in His name. Now, these men might claim this authority and be impostors; for the world has been full of impostors, and there are plenty of them nowadays—religious impostors; these men might claim to have this authority, but they could not communicate this power, the Holy Ghost. But wherever people receive this doctrine, and obey it in the spirit of it, their testimony is, in every land, in every corner of the earth, wherever the servants of God have penetrated, that they have received for themselves by revelation, by the Holy Ghost from on high, a testimony that this work is the work of God, and that these men are His servants. That is why they are here. That is why they are gathered in these valleys of the mountains. They are here because they have received the truth, and a knowledge of it, because they have received the ordinances of the Church and obtained the power that accompanies them; because God has witnessed to them individually, that He has spoken from the heavens, that He has reestablished His Church, and that the time has come for the building up of the latter-day Kingdom and the establishment of God’s dominion in all the earth, and they are called to help in the work; not only the Apostles and Priesthood, but all the members of the Church are called to take a part in the work. And here we are, in these mountain valleys, bound together as a band of brethren—not by the power of man, not by the coercion of man, not by oppression, not by arbitrary rules, but by the spirit and power of the Eternal God, sent down from on high, which has been shed abroad universally upon the members of the Church. This is our testimony to the world.

We know that God lives. We know that there are “special providences” of God. We know that this work will prevail. We know that all these adverse plans and schemes of men, either from individuals or from nations, will only tend to roll on this work, and bring about the purposes of the Almighty in the midst of the children of men. That is why we have so much confidence. It is not because we think so much of ourselves. We do not profess to be a great people, except in our unity—in that we are great—except in our industry, temperance and sobriety, for we are a temperate, sober and thrifty people. Of course there are exceptions to this. There are men and women among us, like there are in all denominations, who will not hearken to good advice and do right. Notwithstanding the promise made by every man and woman that comes into this Church to be holy and righteous, true and faithful, and to avoid sin, there are some who will not be bound by their solemn obligations, nor abide their covenants with one another. And those who will break promises with each other are very likely to break promises made with God Almighty. But as a body we are a united, thrifty, temperate and sober people, and we try to do that which we consider to be right. We may make mistakes like other people: but as a body of people we are on the straight and narrow way, the one path to the celestial city, and we desire to turn neither to the right hand nor to the left. Those who walked in that path in ancient times were told by Jesus Christ that they would be opposed by the world, that the world would hate them. “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” We have been called out of the world in the same way. We are called with a special calling, and we have a special mission to perform. There is not a soul in this Church but has a mission. We are called out of the world to be the people of the Lord, to be Saints of the Most High, to consecrate and dedicate ourselves body and soul, with all that we have—the fruits of the labors of our hands, the fruits of the efforts of our minds—to the work in which we are engaged, the work of the Great God in the earth, He using us as instruments. This is the kind of people we are. This is the kind of people the world are opposed to.

Now, in regard to that feature of our faith that they make so much fuss about—a right we claim under the Constitution of the United States, and against which laws have been passed in Congress, framed to prevent our carrying out the commandments of God in regard to our family relations—that feature seems to upset the equilibrium of our “Christian” friends. What is the matter? “Why, you believe in men having more wives than one.” Yes, some men, good men. We don’t believe that a bad man should have a wife at all. None but the good deserve the fair. And we believe that righteous men, virtuous men, men that would not improperly use any power or faculty of their nature, ought to be permitted to have wives and raise up a holy posterity and train their children in the ways of virtue, honesty and uprightness. We do not believe it is right for men to give way to their animal passions. We do not believe it is right to do so either in plural or single marriage or outside of it. We believe marriage to be an holy estate, ordained of God, with which Congress has not the right to interfere. It is a religious matter with us. It is a holy ordinance established by the Eternal Father. We claim that the women of the Church are the daughters of God, and God has some right as to their disposition. We do not believe it is right for a man to pick and choose where he likes, and do as he pleases independent of God Almighty. We read in the Old Testament that, “When man began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughter’s of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.“ And it is stated that the iniquity of man was great, and God brought a flood on the earth. Now, to understand that correctly we have to know what kind of position those persons were in, and why they were called the “sons of God.” Those men were in the same position as the Latter-day Saints. They were heirs to the Priesthood. They were the sons of God. They had obeyed the holy covenants. They had received the word of the Lord. They were consecrated to the Almighty. But they went outside of their covenants and their engagement with the Lord, and took wives of the daughters of men that were not in the covenant, and thus transgressed the law of God. The law of God in relation to this has been the same in all ages, and has been given to this people—that the sons of Israel shall wed the daughters of Israel, and shall not go out to wed with the stranger. These men did that, and God was displeased, as He is today with Latter-day Saints, who are called out of the world to be His servants, to be holy unto the Lord, to be clean because they bear the vessels of the Lord, when they go outside and wed with the stranger. The law is that they shall not do this, but shall wed under the everlasting covenant and have their wives given them of the Lord and sealed to them by an holy ordinance revealed from heaven, in a holy place prepared for the purpose—sealed for time and all eternity, so that death shall not be able to break the bond of union; that though death may separate them for a little season when they come up in the resurrection, there will be no need to marry or give in marriage, because they were married on the earth by authority of God Almighty for time and all eternity, just like Adam and Eve were, for God gave Eve to Adam before death came into the world. We believe that good men, who have demonstrated their fitness for the responsibilities of holy wedlock, may, under the direction of the Lord, obtain more wives than one, may have them sealed to them by the same covenant and by the same bond, to be their wives in the eternal world; and they expect when they depart hence to go where Abraham is—to that place that is called Abraham’s bosom. There they will be in congenial company. They will verify the words of Jesus, who said, “Many shall come from the east and from the west, and from the north and from the south, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of God;” while others who supposed themselves to be “the children of the Kingdom” will be “thrust out.” And I am afraid that a great many of our good Christian friends who are so terribly shocked about this feature of our faith, when they get to the door and look in and see Abraham and Sarah and Hagar and Keturah, and those concubines given of the Lord to Abraham—when they see them in the eternal kingdom they will want to turn away and go to more congenial company, which they are at perfect liberty to do. If Abraham was on the earth today, these same good people would put him in the penitentiary, and yet they call Abraham “the father of the faithful, the friend of God,” and want to go to his bosom when they die! If Jacob were here with his four wives, through whom he “did build the house of Israel,” the names of whose twelve sons are to be inscribed upon the gates of the holy city, the New Jerusalem, that is to come down from God out of heaven like a bride adorned for her husband—I say if Jacob were on the earth today, they would put him in jail! Well, this is the consistency of some people who profess to believe in the Bible. Men come here to try and sell the Latter-day Saints the Bible. Why, bless your souls, there are no people on the earth who believe as much in the Bible as the “Mormons.” We believe in the Old and New Testament, King James’ translation. It was through our belief in that record that most of us became Latter-day Saints; for, being familiar with the Bible, when the servants of God came with the Gospel we found it was the same as laid down in that sacred record, and that induced us to embrace the faith that is commonly called “Mormonism.”

Well, now, this feature of our faith to which I have alluded—I have not the time to comment upon it in all its bearings, and a great many people would not understand it if I did—is a divine institution. Let me bear my testimony to this congregation, as I would like to bear it to all the world, that it is a pure and holy institution; not to bring women into bondage, but to place them in that position for which they were created—to give them the opportunity to become honored wives and mothers, so that there might be “no margin left for lust to prey upon,” no field for the tricks of the seducer and the adulterer, the corrupt and the ungodly. God Almighty has established this system. It is a religious ordinance established by authority from God, by revelation from on high and administered by religious ceremonies. It belongs to this Priesthood and to none other. We are not seeking to extend it to the world nor to introduce it to other people. It is confined to the Priesthood. It is “a law unto my Holy Priesthood,” saith the Lord, and there are bounds, limitations and regulations over which we cannot pass. And it is not for the wicked.

Now, then, in this sense, looking upon this as a religious institution, as a sacrament, as an ordinance of our faith, as a part of our creed, as an establishment of our religion, we claim the right to the free exercise thereof before God and before man. If anybody can prove to us that it is wrong, that it is impure, that its effects are bad for this world or the world to come, that would be another thing altogether, and would have its effect with us, because as members of this Church we are in for truth, for salvation, for the glory of our God. We want to attain to the celestial kingdom. We want to fit ourselves for the society of the holy ones, the society of the best that ever lived upon the face of the earth, and for that we are Latter-day Saints. If men could prove to us that we are wrong, then they might have some chance of converting us. But when they trample upon our inalienable rights, upon our constitutional privileges, upon our religious liberty, why, then, we feel like resisting. But we are not going to fight. We naturally repel the assaults against us, but it is in the way of defense. Our motto, like that of the volunteers in London, is, “Defense, not Defiance.” We defend our rights and privileges against all attacks, and in doing so we are standing up for the rights of all the people of this great country. For if you tear away the underpinning from the structure the fathers established, the whole institution may come down with a crash. I tell you we have got to watch for these things, and this is part of our mission. We must preach the Gospel and build up the Kingdom of God, and contend for our constitutional rights, because they are given of the Lord. The Constitution of our country was revealed of God. God has made known to us that He inspired the framers of the Constitution, and caused that instrument to be brought forth, so that all people might be protected in their rights. We claim the same rights as other folks, and no more. We have received this principle of our faith in connection with many more, and we claim that if we do not infringe upon the rights of others we should have liberty in the exercise thereof. If a man was permitted to force some woman to be his wife, or to interfere with his neighbor’s wife, or infringe upon the rights of another man, then the secular law might step in and interfere. But while the woman is free—no woman among us is coerced, no woman is placed in bondage, every woman is at liberty to marry or not marry—while that is the case we do not think that the law has any right to interfere; and we intend to contend for our rights inch by inch, lawfully, respectfully; but in this we are as firm as these everlasting mountains that are not moved by the blasts of winter or the heat of summer. This is the work of God, and woe! be unto us if we do not preach the Gospel! Woe! be unto us if we relinquish or attempt to sell or barter or compromise one of the eternal principles that have been sent down from the heavens and which we have to carry to the ends of the earth! But if we are faithful to our mission and calling, if we stand firm and true, and regard God rather than man, God shall fight our battles. Everything that seems to be against us will be turned for our good. The clouds that overshadow us from time to time will part and roll away, and the glorious sun of prosperity will shine upon us. If we are true and faithful God Almighty will overrule all things for our good, and bring us off more than conquerors. And every nation and people and institution and society that fight against Zion shall become like the dream of a night vision—it will pass away; and those men that fight against this work will be, as the prophet said, “Even as when a hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite.” So it will be with all who fight against this work and try to overthrow it. Not because we are mightier than anybody else, not because we are so numerous, not because we are learned, not because we are wealthy, but because God Almighty has established this work, and He will cause it to prevail. I bear my testimony that I know this to be true.

May God bless the Latter-day Saints and unite their hearts that they may be one. May they be able to keep those precious things in earthen vessels that God Almighty has committed to them. If they have found the Pearl of Great Price may they value it above all earthly things, and endure every opposition and every influence brought to bear against them and come off triumphant; and may God bless those who have gathered with us this afternoon, and give them a knowledge of the truth of this work, that they may enjoy its blessings with us and be saved in the Kingdom of God, for Christ’s sake. Amen.

Elders Always Ready for Duty—No Salaried Preachers in the Church—No Compulsion in the Work of the Elders—The Liberty of Law—Sin Brings Its Penalties, Righteousness a Sure Reward—Assumption of Divine Authority—Restoration of the Ancient Priesthood—Religion in Politics—The Secret Ballot—The One-Man-Power—The Liquor Traffic—Civil and Religious Freedom for All—The Effects of this Work on the World

Discourse by Elder Charles W. Penrose, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, September 23rd, 1883.

We always feel it our duty when called upon to undertake any task which may be imposed upon us by our brethren in authority in the Church, no matter how unexpected it may be to us, or how much we may shrink from the duty we are called upon to perform. Brother Goss, who has just spoken to us, at the call of the servant of God, went to his native land to preach the Gospel. Every other Elder in the Church holds himself ready—that is, if he is in the line of his duty—to respond to a similar call; also if required to do so to officiate at home.

We have no paid ministry in this Church, no hired clergy either to preach at home or to go out as missionaries; but every man in the Church who has received a testimony of the truth, and a portion of the Holy Priesthood—which is generally diffused among the male members of the Church—stands ready to perform any duty in connection with his calling in the ministry. I am called upon this after noon to speak to this congregation, and I respond in this spirit, the spirit in which our brethren go abroad to preach the Gospel, or stay at home and preach it, or go to some distant part of the Territory and help to colonize it, or to perform any other work that is necessary for the general good, for the building up of the Church of Christ, and for the benefit of the people belonging to that Church who have been gathered from various nations.

It is supposed by a great many people, that there is a spirit of tyranny and oppression existing in this Church, wielded by a few men, or concentrated in one man who stands at the head, by which the people are coerced into certain lines of action. It is supposed that our brethren who are called upon at our conferences to go to various parts of the world in the interest of the Church, act under this compulsion. Now, this is a very great mistake. It seems difficult to convince people who are not of our faith that there is not some coercive power or organ ization among the Latter-day Saints by which people are obliged to do this, that, or the other. They have not learned the secret of the power that exists in this organization. They could find it out if they would investigate, but it is very difficult indeed to get people who do not believe as we do to look at this thing with any degree of impartiality. They are so prejudiced against it. They think that it must be wrong to start with, and hence do not look into it in the way they should if they want to find out the truth. Now, the spirit that actuates the Latter-day Saints has been manifested in the remarks of Brother Goss, who has just returned from a mission to his native land. He did not come to Utah to find out if this thing called “Mormonism,” was true or not. He found that out in his own native land. He heard the principles of the Gospel, and was led to believe them, and believing them he was baptized into the Church; hands were laid upon him by the Elders, and he received the Holy Ghost, which gave him a testimony that the work was true. That is what moves the people to come here from all parts of the world. So with the Elders who are called upon at conference, or at other times by the presiding authorities of the Church, and sustained by the vote of the people, to perform any labor or mission of a public character; they are ready at once, and they start to do it willingly and cheerfully—although sometimes they shrink very much from the task before them—because they know the call is right; they know they are engaged in a great and glorious work; they have a testimony within themselves that it is true, and that it has come from God. They have a perfect assurance—a knowledge they call it. Some people may dispute technically as to whether it is knowledge or not, but it is knowledge to them. They are as sure that it is true, and that it is divine, as that they are alive. That is pretty near to knowledge if it is not exact knowledge; and because of this they are ready to perform any work at home, or to take their grip-sacks in their hands and start out abroad at their own expense. They receive no salary. They do not expect to gain any earthly reward, but they are of the firm conviction that it is their bounden duty to help their fellow men to come to the same knowledge as they have arrived at themselves. And they are not only willing to do this, but if it is a temporal labor that they are called upon to perform, if they have the spirit of their calling and duty, they are just as willing to perform that temporal duty as to act in a spiritual capacity. Are they obliged to do this? No. They act in the spirit of self-sacrifice, trying to do good because they feel under obligation, as servants of God, to do anything they can to help build up this great latter-day work, which God has commenced in the earth.

Some people say they cannot understand how it is that these Latter-day Saints are so united, unless they are held together by some secret bond or some kind of tyranny. They cannot understand how it is that when the leaders of the people speak, the people are willing to move in a body, with scarcely a dissenting voice, unless it is that they are terrorized or coerced by some power that is not known on the outside. Now, all the bondage and terrorism that exist in this church is the terrorism and bondage—if such a thing can be—of conscience. The Latter-day Saints not only firmly believe in this work, but have re ceived a spiritual influence which has given them an inward testimony or knowledge that this work is of God. They have no doubt, no dubiety, they know it is true. Hence, when any movement is necessary for the building up of the great work of God, which they know to be true, they feel it is their duty to respond. That is all the bondage there is; that is all the terrorism there is. We have in this Church and in this Territory, perfect liberty. The Gospel is the “perfect law of liberty;” but it is the liberty which is confined to that which is right. There is no true liberty outside the bounds of wholesome law. When we act outside the limits of proper law, and claim that to be liberty, it is not liberty, it is license, and it is injurious to the individual and to the mass. If this people called Latter-day Saints obey any instructions that they may receive from the brethren who are appointed to lead them, they do so in the spirit of liberty. They do not do it because they choose to do it. They do it because they are willing to do it. They do not perform the duty because they are obliged to do it, because of any coercive power exercised over them, or because they will be called upon to submit to any penalty; but they do it because they please to do it, and they please to do it because it is right. I admit that sometimes they may do things which seem at first to be irksome. They could refuse; but they feel that if they do refuse they will suffer loss. In what way? Their religion teaches them that every good thing that they do is bound to bring its reward, and that every evil thing which they do is sure to bring its punishment, either in this world or in the world to come; that is, that sin inevitably brings its penalty, and that right eousness certainly brings reward. Therefore, if a Latter-day Saint is called upon to perform anything in connection with this which he feels it is his duty to do, and he neglects that duty, he expects at some time to be punished or suffer loss for that neglect.

Our organization is a very glorious one. It is a perfect organization—perfect—because it is divine. It was not made by man. It was not originated by Joseph Smith, or by any of his associates. It came down from above, direct from the eternal worlds. It was not taken out of the Bible. It was not taken out of the Book of Mormon, or any other book, although it is the same organization that existed on the earth in previous ages, brief accounts of which, in patches here and there, may be found in the various books which compose the Bible. But it was not taken out of that book. God Almighty revealed it. And the authority which men exercise in the Church—the authority of the Priesthood—did not come out of the bosoms or brains of men. It came by direct manifestation from on high. Heavenly beings who were once earthly beings, men who once lived on the earth holding that authority, and who passed away and have progressed (call it evolution if you please), have come back to the earth, and ordained men to the same authority and Priesthood which they held. These men did not take this authority upon themselves from reading the last chapter of Matthew and Mark, in which we read that Jesus Christ sent out eleven men and told them to go to all the world, and preach the Gospel in His name. A great many “Christian” ministers have assumed the authority given to those eleven men, and to no one else. Men who held this authority in ancient times, on the earth, and have gone into a higher sphere in the due course of their progression, by divine commandment have come back to earth, and ordained men to the authority and power and Priesthood which they held while they were in the flesh. That is why we claim that the authority to administer in the name of the Lord is in this church and in no other church on the earth; that all other Priesthoods, so called, are spurious. We do not say that there are not good men in other denominations, claiming to hold authority to preach and administer in the name of the Lord; but we claim that they have no authority in reality, because they themselves have declared that all communication has been shut off from the heavens for hundreds of years, and as there has been no communication from the heavens for hundreds of years, no authority could have been conferred, unless it was continuous, from the days of the Apostles to the present day. But most of those persons who now claim to hold authority from God to preach and to administer in the ordinances of the Gospel, repudiate the idea that the authority was continuous, and declare that after the days of the apostles, darkness came in, that the world went astray, and that an abominable church arose in the place of that which was established by Jesus and His Apostles.

Now, this authority which has been sent down from God out of heaven, is similar in its nature to that exercised by men about whom we read in the Bible. We read about one in the patriarchal ages called Melchizedek, who held this Priesthood. Abraham went and paid his tithing to him after he came back from overcoming those kings that he con quered. Melchizedek, we are told, was the Prince of Salem, and he was a Priest of the Most High God. And after many generations had passed away, Jesus of Nazareth came upon the earth and claimed to have that same Priesthood. He was called to be a Priest after the order of Melchizedek, that is, He had the same kind of Priesthood that Melchizedek had. We read a little about this Melchizedek, in the Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews, and about the Priesthood he held. Some people in reading this confound the Priesthood or authority which Melchizedek had with the man himself. They read it that he was “without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.” That is a curious kind of man, is it not? Some people say that that meant Jesus himself. But that could not apply to Jesus, for his descent is given in the Bible. He had a reputed father, Joseph, and a real mother, Mary; and His Father in heaven was His real Father; for we are told that He was the first begotten in the spirit and the only begotten in the flesh. This, then, did not apply to Jesus, nor did it apply to any other man; it applied to the Priesthood or authority which Melchizedek held. The Priesthood of Aaron or Levi, came by descent; it came to a man because he belonged to a certain lineage; but this Melchizedek Priesthood did not come by lineage; it came to all upon whom God pleased to bestow it. Jesus was called to be a Priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek, who was the Prince of Salem, a Priest of the Most High God. Moses had this same Priesthood. He received it from Jethro. There was another Priesthood in the days of Moses and Aaron, the Levitical, which de scended in a certain lineage from father to son. But when Jesus came on the earth, He received the Melchizedek Priesthood, and that He might receive it in its fullness, Moses and Elias appeared to Him upon the mount of transfiguration. Jesus conferred that same Priesthood upon the Apostles. “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” The same authority that Jesus had, He conferred upon His Apostles, and they conferred it upon others, as they were led by the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, which Christ sent to them after His departure.

Now, this Priesthood and Apostleship was held in the early Christian Church. But the people put the Apostles to death. They put to death other men who had been called to hold a position of this same authority and Priesthood, and darkness came into the world, and the people have gone down deeper and deeper into darkness, and further and further away from God as generations have rolled on. They have heaped to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they have turned away their ears from the truth, and turned unto fables. The consequence is that this Christian generation have departed from the power of God, from the authority of God, and from the Priesthood of God, and as they confess, “like sheep have gone astray.”

But in our day God has restored the old church back again. He has restored the ancient Priesthood, the Priesthood that Moses had, that Abraham had, that Jesus had, that the Apostles had, and that of which Peter, James and John held the keys. God has restored it in the way that I have mentioned—by the ministration of angels from the heavens. The last named persons came down from on high and ordained men to the Priesthood upon the earth, to wit, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, and they, inspired by the Almighty, dictated by the Holy Ghost, the spirit of revelation, have called and ordained other men to the same authority—to go out into the world and preach the everlasting Gospel, and administer in the ordinances thereof. That is the power of this Priesthood.

Does this authority give men any power to bind the souls of men? Not in the least. Does it give men authority to coerce anybody in any shape, form or manner? Not in the least. On the contrary, we are told in the revelations of God, that the power of this Priesthood must not be used to coerce, not to bind the souls of men. It must be by persuasion, by declaration of the truth, by love unfeigned, by the inspiration that attends it, by the manifestation of the power of God that goes with it; it must be used in that way to convince those who hear and who are instructed and directed. They who have this authority and influence really have it in the power of God, and for the good and blessing and benefit of their fellows, and not to coerce them. There is no coercion or bondage in it. But some people will say, “Is there not some kind of coercion in your political affairs? You seem to be united in your voting, not only in your Church matters, but in your politics. How is it that, when your people go to the polls, nearly all of them—you may say all of them, for there are very few exceptions—vote the same ticket?” Well, we hold conference twice a year, in April and October, and upon these occasions the authorities of the Church—the President of the Church, his Counselors, the Twelve Apostles, and all the general authorities—are placed before the people for their vote. For let me tell you that in this Church there are two principles combined—some people think they are opposite and cannot come together, but we have proven in our experience that they can—and these are the theocratic and the democratic principles. They are combined in this organization—the voice of God and the will of the people, the response of the people to that which God says. God commands, and the people say, “We obey; we are ready to listen to the voice of God as it comes from on high.” It finds an echo in every heart that is living under the influence and spirit of this work, and the response comes, “I am ready to receive it.” When the authorities of the Church are placed before the people, it is very rarely that a contrary vote is seen. Are the people obliged to lift up their hands when called upon to vote in the affirmative? No. They can keep their hands down. They can either vote for or against. That is their privilege; that is their right; it is so recorded in the revelations of God to the Church. Why do they generally—almost always—vote in the affirmative? Simply because they are satisfied that the men who are called to occupy these various positions are men of God, that they are fit for the positions, that they are properly called and ordained, and that they are the right men in the right place. That is the reason they vote in the affirmative.

The same spirit of unity exists among the people in every capacity. If they are called upon to move somewhere else, they are ready to go. They did this at the time the army was sent here. One of the most foolish things the government ever did, was to send that army to Utah. It came about in this way. There were certain judges sent here—we do not always get the best kind of judges; sometimes they are very good lawyers, and sometimes we have men that would be a disgrace to any bar that might be named. Well, we had one of that kind at that time, or just previous to that time, and he and his associates were very corrupt. But because his corruptions were not looked upon favorably or unconcernedly—particularly when the Chief Justice took a vile woman upon the bench with him, a woman who had followed him when he came here, leaving his wife behind—he ran away, went back to Washington, and declared that the “Mormons” had burned the law library, purchased by the government for the benefit of the courts here, and that Utah was in a state of anarchy. Now, it is always unwise to judge from one side of a question; unwise for us, unwise for anybody; both sides of the question ought always to be heard before deciding, but the government judged this question before investigating it. Solomon says: “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him”—in other words he is a fool. The government was unwise in taking the statements of this without hearing what the “Mormons” had to say upon the question. Hence they sent out an army to put down the “rebellious Mormons,” supposed to be in hostility to the government. After a while they sent commissioners who found out that all the statements made to the government, and which prompted the sending out of that army, were utterly false in every particular. That can be found on record, if people desire the proof, at Washington. And then the government pardoned the “Mormons” for what they did, or rather for what they had not done. It was very magnanimous, was it not? President Young was governor of the Territory, and the first he heard about this army was that there was an armed mob coming out to Utah, that they boasted they were going to hang the leaders of this Church upon the trees in the mountains, and to take their wives and do as they pleased with them. Well, they did not get here quite as soon as they expected, because some of our brethren went into the mountains to delay the matter for a little while, until it could be investigated. But after a time the troops marched through the city and camped at a place which is now known as Camp Floyd. Before the army reached here, the people had been instructed that the best thing to do was to leave the city and to move south, and to make preparations, if necessary, to destroy their possessions, that they might not fall into the hands of our enemies as they had done before; for this people called Latter-day Saints, had been driven five times from their homes because of their religion; not for polygamy, because when they were thus driven, except in the case of Nauvoo, plurality of wives was not a part of their creed. The revelation on plural marriage was given in Nauvoo, July, 1843; hence the mobbings, drivings and plunderings to which they had been subjected before that time were inflicted upon them before they claimed to believe in that doctrine. As I have said, they were driven five times from their homes. Many of them were slaughtered; some of their wives were violated; little children were butchered; houses were burned; stock shot down; standing grain was destroyed; and the Saints were driven from their homes because of their faith. Well, they made preparations when they left this place, to set fire to it, and burn the whole thing, and the people moved south in a body. That was unity, was it not? What was the cause of such unity? President Young gave the word, and they were ready to respond. But they were not obliged to do so. They could have stayed in the city if they chose. There was an army coming. They could have been protected by the army: but they made preparation to set fire to their property, and went forth in a body. How did they come to act in that kind of way? Because they were all moved upon by one common impulse. The spirit that was in the head, was in the body, just as it is with a healthy man. When the head dictates, the whole body responds, to the very extremities, the feet and hands and every part; the whole body thrills with the influence that comes from the head. That is how it was in the Church. The head spoke and the whole body feeling the same spirit, responded.

Now, there is just the same unity in our political matters. They are managed as in other parts of the country. The people hold their primaries or caucuses in the different precincts, and select men to act as delegates to the County Convention. Or, if Territorial offices are to be filled, the people select delegates to the Territorial Convention, and when these men meet they take into consideration what shall be for the best interests of the people, and who will be the most likely men to fill the offices vacant, and when that Territorial Convention makes up a ticket, the people are ready to accept it. If that ticket should not happen to have upon it one or two names that they would like to see there, they forego their private opin ions in regard to individuals and unite together as a whole. Have they not a right to do that? We think they have. But it is claimed that the church men interfere. Well, they don’t interfere. But suppose they did. Suppose the Priesthood of this church or the Twelve Apostles were to get up a ticket and tell the people that it was the best ticket that could be made, have they any right to do that? I think they have. I think the twelve men called Apostles, have just as much right to get up a political ticket, if they please to do so, as twelve lawyers, or twelve doctors, or twelve merchants, or twelve men who are hunting for office, and if the people choose, of their own free will, to go to the polls and vote that ticket, I think they have a right to do so. But those very “liberal” folks who say we are in bondage, want to make us vote as they think—“If you will only vote our ticket,” they say, “it will be all right; but if you vote the People’s Ticket, or the church ticket, then you are slaves.” Well, I have not been able to see the force of that, for the life of me, and I have looked into the matter a good deal. It seems to me that I exercise just as much volition or free will in voting for my friends, men of the same faith, men of the same interests, men who have a stake in this country, men whose interests are embodied here, men who are known, men whose actions I have seen, men whose motives I to a great extent understand by seeing their actions—I say I think I display as much freedom in voting for such men as I would in voting for men I do not like, men in whom I have no confidence.

This cry of bondage is simply got up for effect. There is no truth in it. There is no man, there is no woman in Utah Territory, who is obliged to vote this way, that, or the other way, and as a clear proof of this the fact remains—a fact that cannot be gainsaid—that our voting is entirely secret. Ballots may be made by anybody, people vote just as they please; but the envelopes in which the ballots are enclosed—furnished from the county authorities, uniform in size and in color—must not be marked or defaced in any way. When the voter goes to the polls, he or she—for the women here vote as well as the men; they vote in church, they vote in state; they have the same freedom and rights in these respects as man—he or she takes the ballot, with the names on it for whom they choose to vote, and then put the ballot in the envelope, which is handed to the judge, and no one can tell how the ballot was cast. There is no chance of repeating here. That is why some folks don’t like our style of voting. There is no chance for ballot stuffing.

Now, you may think this has nothing to do with religion. In our eyes it has a great deal to do with it. We think that eating, drinking, wearing clothes, and the performance of various temporal acts, as they are called, are a part of religion, that is if they are done under a religious spirit and influence. We desire to do right, to serve God, and to keep from evil. That is religion. And I think that religion ought to have a great deal to do with politics. I do not mean to say that people should be compelled by religion or any other power to vote or to refrain from voting; but I do think that religion should enter into all the acts of life, in political as well as social matters; religion should enter into all things; a religious influence should have power over the minds of men for good. Now, then, seeing there is a secret ballot, and nobody can tell how a person votes, where can the coercion be? How are you going to find out how this man or that woman voted, or how they did not vote? You cannot do it. The fact remains, then, that there can be no coercion in voting, even if it was desired. I refer to these things this afternoon, in connection with the subject of our liberty, the liberty which the people called Latter-day Saints claim, to worship God or not worship Him; to perform any religious duty, or not perform it; to do anything that is required of them, or to do the contrary; we claim that liberty in church and in state, and in all things.

Now, some people have an idea that in this Church women are compelled to be married! Just think of it for a moment, will you? How are you going to manage that? How are you going to compel a woman to do anything that she does not want to do? Such an idea as that must have sprung up in the mind of someone who does not understand female nature. It is preposterous. There is no such thing in this Church. This Church is a church of liberty; that is, within the lines of the law. If people take the liberty to do wrong, to transgress the laws of God, to do that which is impure, they can be disfellowshipped—cut off the Church; and that is the full extent of the power of penalty in this Church—the power of excommunication, withdrawing fellowship, making a person not a member; that is the extreme penalty of the laws of the Church of Christ—excommunication. I think sometimes we have a little too much liberty in this Church. People are allowed sometimes to go on doing that which is wrong a little too long. People are allowed to speak evil of their brethren too much. People are allowed to find fault with men that are striving to do them good, and to do the world good. I think sometimes when I look around and see what transpires in this city, that there is a little too much liberty; not that I would infringe upon the rights of any man or any woman; I would give every man and every woman the privilege of doing that which they pleased, so long as they did not interfere with my rights and the rights of others. We do not feel at liberty to interfere with the rights of our neighbors, nor to infringe upon the rights of anybody, nor do we believe that anybody has a right to infringe upon our rights. If they are infringed upon, we will stand up in self-defense and seek legal redress. But our friends (?) on the outside, think we ought not to be allowed that liberty. They say it is treason for us to go into court to test the validity of a law passed against our liberties! They claim this liberty themselves, but they are not willing to accord the same liberty to us.

Again, we hear a great deal about a one-man power. Brother Goss remarked some of the people where he has been laboring, were afraid to investigate our principles themselves—they must first go and consult with the priest. Well, we are not obliged to do that. We can investigate anything we please on our own responsibility. But I must admit that in Utah we have a one-man power, that is of the most irksome character. We have in this Territory a Governor sent by the authority of the powers that be at Washington, appointed by the President of the United States by and with the consent of the Senate. Now, in the first place we have no vote for the President; we have no vote, either directly or indirectly, for any Senator; we are without representation at the seat of the general government. It is true we are allowed to elect a Delegate to Congress; but he has no vote. He can sit there and look on—like they say the fifth calf did—but he has no vote. Well, we have no power in the election of the President; we have no power in the election of any Senator; and these persons holding their positions without any voice or vote or consent of ours, sent a man here to act as our Governor, and they always select, with scarcely an exception, somebody who has no interest here, somebody who has nothing in common with the people; he comes here a stranger. We elect twelve men to our Legislative Council, and twenty-four men to our House of Representatives. These men understand our wants, understand our circumstances, and they pass laws suitable to our local needs, requirements and conditions. But this one man, sent here without any consent of ours in any shape or form, by simply withholding his signature, can make void and of no effect the labors of the sixty days of those thirty-six men we have elected to make our laws! “But,” says one, “I suppose you can pass the bill over his veto.” No, sir. He has the power of absolute veto. He can cross out an Act with his pen, or withhold his signature, and that is the end of it. Well, then, we have a remarkable one-man power here, have we not? Yes; but it is not of our choosing. It is not in accordance with the spirit of our institutions. It is not a church matter. It is not “Mormon.” It is anti-”Mormon,” anti-Republican, anti-American. It makes us to a certain extent slaves, serfs, vassals. But that is not our fault; Joseph Smith did not institute such a power; Brigham Young did not; John Taylor does not enforce such a power; but we cannot help ourselves.

I might go on and enumerate a great many other things that exist in our midst, that are not of our choice. We pass laws for the restriction or suppression of the liquor traffic. If we had our way we would not have any liquor sold in any of our settlements. It might be necessary, perhaps, in a city like Salt Lake City, where there is such a mixed population, to make an exception, for we have no desire to curtail the rights of anyone; but we have proved by experience that prohibition in some places has been attended with good results. We have tried the licensing system, and have found evil resulting therefrom. The liquor traffic results in more police, more drunkenness, more dissipation, and more licentiousness of every kind. Our judges—who are sent to us in the same way as the Governor, without any voice of ours—whenever they can get the chance (with but few exceptions, a few honorable exceptions), to twist a word in favor of the liquor sellers, will do it every time. In one of our cities, recently, where prohibition was established, the liquor dealers tried to establish themselves, and they were taken up and fined. They appealed their case to the Supreme Court of the Territory, and because the charter of that city said that the City Council should have power to license, regulate, prohibit or restrain the manufacturers, sellers or vendors of spirituous liquors and intoxicating drinks of every kind, the majority of the Court decided that as the charter did not say what the manufacturers, sellers, etc., were to be prohibited from doing, the City Council could not prohibit them from selling liquor. That is the way the law can be twisted, and that is the way it has been twisted over and over again, even in favor of licentiousness. We would have no houses of ill fame if we had our way; but the courts have ruled in their favor, as well as in the favor of liquor dealers. That is the position we are in.

Well, if there is any bondage here, if there is any coercion here, if we do not have the power of local self-government, which as free men we have the right to enjoy; if we are not in the exercise of every natural right, and every privilege that people should enjoy under the Constitution and laws of this free country, it is not the fault of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is not the fault of this people. In our Church there is liberty for all, and there is liberty within our borders for those who do not belong to our Church, those who do not believe as we believe, who do not see as we see. We do not try to coerce them in the least degree. They can build their chapels, churches and schools unmolested. They may worship an image if they like, or a white dog, and they may do without worship at all, and we will never infringe upon their rights. Liberty is a part of our creed—liberty to all, liberty to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. It is part of our faith that every individual has a perfect right to worship God according to the dictates of his or her conscience. We claim that right, and we are going to stand up for it, quietly but firmly, by the help of God, and we expect to conquer some day. We can wait; we can bide our time; we can suffer; we have suffered over and over and over again. We have learned to be patient under wrong; we have learned to submit to all kinds of indignities. Our Elders who have been sent out to preach the Gospel have been abused, derided, afflicted and tormented, some beaten with stripes, sometimes tarred and feathered, and some of them have laid down their lives for the truth. But we have learned to endure with patience, and to take it as the lot that must fall to us as the followers of the meek and lowly Jesus. Nevertheless, we are men and women, and we hope someday, to be able to show to the nation and to the world, that we are law-abiding men and women, men and women desiring to do right, to serve God, and to keep every wholesome and constitutional law of the land; that we are willing not only to labor for our own rights, but for the rights of others; that we will contend inch by inch for those rights under the constitution of our country, and in the spirit of the Gospel, this perfect law of liberty which God has revealed to us. Our influence and power will extend. Our unity will extend and become a great power; we will contend for liberty to all, liberty to every man and every woman under the canopy of heaven. That is our doctrine and creed. God gave to man his agency in the beginning. We have the liberty of choosing for ourselves. We have come into this Church of our own free will and choice, because we believed its principles. I can speak this for myself. I came into this Church because I believed what was taught to me in my boyhood’s days, and left my home for the Gospel’s sake. I came into this Church because I believed its principles to be true and according to the Scriptures, which my mother taught me, in my infancy, contained the word of God. I investigated the principles of this Church thorough]y, and became con vinced of their truth, because I believed the Bible was true. And when I came into the Church, I came in humbly; God knows, I came into this Church for no other motive in the world than to serve God, and to do what was right. And when the Elders laid their hands upon my head, I received the Holy Ghost—the spirit of revelation, the spirit of prophecy, the same that makes manifest the things of the Father and of the Son; I know that I received that spirit, and it has been with me from that time to the present—a light to my feet and a lamp to my path; a joy to my soul; opening up the things of God; bearing witness of the truth of this work; and that spirit has led me to righteousness, to truth, to purity of character, and would rebuke me when I attempted to do anything wrong, and encouraged me in performing my duty. And I have ever been ready, with the rest of my brethren, to do anything and everything I could to build up this work, because I know it is divine.

I know that there is no power beneath the eternal heavens that can stop its progress. It will go on and conquer. It will grow and spread and increase. It will go to the ut termost parts of the earth. The Gospel will be preached to every creature. The Saints of God will be gathered, and there is no power can stop their gathering. They will come to Zion, and build temples to the Most High God. They will unite together, and build up the Zion of God, and prepare the way for the coming of the Lord Jesus, whose right it is to reign; and every kingdom, every government, every society and every power upon the face of the earth that fights against Zion will become like the dream of a night vision, it will pass away and there will be no place found for it upon the earth. But Zion will arise and shine, and the glory of God will rest upon her; and all the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our God and His Christ. Then there will be liberty to all. Then the chains and shackles that bind the oppressed will fall to the ground, and light and truth will go forth until the whole earth is immersed in the spirit thereof, and every nation, kindred, tongue and people will sing praises to the Most High and to the Lamb forever.

May God bless you, through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sincerity Alone not Sufficient—the Gathering Foretold—Inspired Writings Not All Contained in the Bible—Province of the Holy Ghost—The Reformers—Confusion of Sects—Apostate Condition of the World Foretold—How the Apostles Were Sent Out—Authority Required—What the Saints Should Do—Opposition to the Gospel, Ancient and Modern—Testimony

Discourse by Elder Chas. W. Penrose, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, May 20th, 1883.

I am called upon this afternoon quite unexpectedly to me, to address this congregation, and I earnestly pray that the spirit of the living God may rest down upon me and upon all who are gathered in this Tabernacle, that I may be inspired to say something which will be profitable to hear, and that all who listen to my words may be able to understand them in the spirit by which they are spoken.

We have assembled here today to worship God our Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ His Son, under the influence and power of the Holy Spirit. In order that our worship may be acceptable to God, it must be done in the name of Jesus, and it must be done under the influence of His Spirit; for “God is a spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” We must be sincere in our worship; we must be sincere in all that we do in order that it may be acceptable to God. But sincerity alone is not sufficient. We have to worship Him in truth as well as in spirit, and we must worship Him also in the way that He has appointed, not in our way. God does not accept the ways of man unless those ways are in accordance with His ways. And we have come here that we may learn the ways of God, and then walk in His path. This is in accordance with the ancient prophets. They declared that in the last days, people should come from all nations unto “the tops of the mountains” for this very purpose, that they might learn of His ways and walk in His paths. The reason why we have had to do this is because the ways of our fathers, in their worship and in their service towards God, have been only in accordance with their private notions, their ideas of what is right.

There has been no voice from heaven heard among the children of men on this earth for a great many centuries. People have not been guided by the revelations of the Almighty, but by the wisdom of man, or, as we think, the folly of man. It is true that the people called “Christians,” have had the book called the Bible. The Old Testament and the New Testament contain books which were written by men who lived in ancient times, and who were inspired of God. Those books do not contain all that was written by the servants of God in ancient times, but only a few of the writings given to the children of men by inspiration. This book contains a great deal of truth and some few errors, but the errors are the interpolations or the mistranslations of men. The doctrines which the Bible contains are true, and they are in sufficient plainness to be correctly understood, if the people who read what it contains are influenced by the same spirit or inspired by the same spirit as the men who wrote those things. But without that spirit the people of the earth are not able fully to comprehend that which is written. We read in that book that “the letter killeth.” It is the spirit that giveth life, and it is also the spirit that giveth light. Without the Spirit of God as the revealing influence from on high, mankind are unable to comprehend the things of God. As we are unable this afternoon to see anything of a physical nature without that natural light which comes from the sun, so without the light that comes from the Son of Righteousness, we are unable to see the things of God. The prophets who wrote the things contained in the Old Testament, and the Apostles of Jesus Christ, who wrote the epistles, and other writings contained in the New Testament, were blessed with the gift that is called in the Scriptures the gift of the Holy Ghost. This was not merely an influence which made them feel good; that exalted their spiritual natures so as to make them happy, contented and peaceful; but it was a manifestation of the power that comes from God. As the light that comes from the sun reveals through our natural eyes those objects which we see around us, so the Holy Ghost coming from God opens up and makes clear and plain the things of eternity, those things that are called spiritual, although they are all spiritual to our Heavenly Father. The things which we call natural and temporal are spiritual to Him, because He sees the essence of things, He comprehends them in their internal nature. All the elements of all things that exist are eternal, and “the things that are spiritual are eternal,” and therefore it is all spiritual to God. We at the present time are creatures of time, and we see things that change. We do not comprehend their eternal nature. We do not comprehend their essence. We only see that which is on the surface, on the outside. But God looks into the internal nature of things as well as of men, and comprehends them. And the elements, both of that which is called natural and that which is spiritual, are all eternal, without beginning and without end. They are manipulated and changed and worked over, but they have no beginning in their essence, and they cannot have. No atom in nature can be destroyed. It never commenced to be; it will never cease to be. God looks upon things as they are, in their eternal nature, and therefore they are all eternal or spiritual to Him. But speaking after the manner of men we call things temporal and spiritual, natural and supernatural; yet after all when we come to comprehend them as they are, they are all material and all spiritual.

The inhabitants of the earth, as I have remarked, have been without any direct communication from God, and therefore they have been measurably in the dark. They have been able to read some of the books which were written by the servants of God, who were inspired by Him in ancient times; but they have had no revelation for themselves. They can read what Isaiah said, or Jeremiah, or Peter, or Paul, or Luke, or other writers of the Old or New Testament; but they have had no personal revelation. The light which they have obtained is a borrowed light, like the light of the moon. They have been in a sort of moonlight or twinkling starlight. There have been a great many preachers who have claimed to be the servants of God, ministering among the people in Christendom; some in the ancient church called the Church of Rome, some in the Episcopal Church, some in the Methodist Church, others in the Baptist Church, and so on through all the various denominations that compose modern Christendom. No doubt many of them were good men, men who strove to the best of their ability, and the best of their knowledge to enlighten the minds of their fellow men. Some of them, perhaps, were mere hirelings, “preaching for hire and divining for money;” but others were sincere in their hearts, sincere in their worship, sincere in the religion which they taught to others. But they had not a knowledge of the truth. They had a faith of some kind. They believed in certain principles. They believed in the things which they read in the Bible so far as they could comprehend them, but they had no positive knowledge in regard to the things which they believed in and which they taught. The men who were called the Reformers, who came out from the Church of Rome, and introduced a little more truth than the people previously had, and reformed several errors that were existing—were, some of them, most excellent men, and they performed a great and a good work in the earth. But they were not called of God in the way that His servants were called in ancient times who wrote the things contained in the Bible, neither were they endowed with the Holy Ghost, which those men enjoyed. They nevertheless did a grand work in the earth, and for that they will receive their reward, no doubt; for no man who ever lived on the earth whether in a Christian nation or among the heathen or pagan world, ever did a good thing but he was the better for it, and will receive his reward for it, and no man ever did willfully a wicked thing, that which he knew and felt to be wrong, without being the worse for it, and for that he must give an account in the great day when the secrets of the hearts of all mankind shall be made manifest, Christian and heathen, those in the ancient times and those in the latter times. All who ever dwelt in the earth in the flesh must appear before the bar of God, and be judged for the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or evil, and they will receive a reward for the good that they did, and a punishment for the evil that they did, especially and particularly if they did evil knowingly, if they sinned willfully, sinned against light and knowledge.

A great many of those persons that I have referred to among those reformers and others who worked on the earth, as they sought for righteousness and for the Lord, have labored in sincerity, but not always in truth. A great many errors have prevailed in the world since the time when the Apostles were put to death, when the lights that God placed in the world were put out by the hand of wickedness; since the servants of God were destroyed in the flesh, a great many errors have crept into the world, and darkness has spread over the minds of the children of men. Though many have worshipped in sincerity, they have not worshipped in truth, because they did not fully comprehend the way of truth. When they read the Scriptures, they only partially comprehended them, and they differed among themselves as to the meaning of those things which they read. Thus sect has multiplied upon sect, denomination upon denomination. And in what is called Christendom, people are in confusion, not comprehending alike, not seeing the truth as it is; for if they could all see the truth properly, they would see alike; if they all comprehended the truth correctly, they would be of one heart and one mind so far as they comprehended. But the very fact that those divisions exist, proves that there is darkness in the world. If the light of God was revealed to six men in the same degree, they would comprehend the principles presented before them, the principles of the Gospel, exactly in the same way; and if six men can be united in comprehending truth exactly alike, six millions or any number of men can be united so as to see and comprehend the truth exactly in the same way, and this was the effect of the Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, the Revealer, the spirit of life and light, which God gave to His people in the ancient Christian Church when the Gospel came to them. They were all divided when Jesus Christ came into the world. There was a similar diversity of opinions and faith in regard to God and His ways, to what there is now, only not to so great an extent. Jesus came and showed the right way. He was “the way, the truth, and the life.” He came to reveal His Fathers will. He made plain the way of life and truth, that all who desired might be able to walk therein—in the same way and under the same light, that they might see eye to eye and be no more divided. It was thus with the people called Pharisees or Sadducees, or with those who belonged to any sect that existed among the Jews, or with those who lived among the Greeks, and had adopted the Grecian system of philosophy, or with people who lived in any other part of the world, and believed in any other kind of religion—when they came into the Christian church they were no longer divided in their opinions and in their faith, but they were all brought to see alike; they were “all baptized by one spirit, into one body, whether Jew or Gentile, bond or free.” They no longer worshipped different Gods, or the same God in different ways, but they worshipped alike. They had “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one hope of their calling.” But when darkness came into the world again; when the guides that God had placed among humanity were rejected and thrust out, and the Holy Ghost was withdrawn, and men were left to themselves, then they began to divide up, each man going his own way, according to his notion. Preachers have multiplied, sects have multiplied, and doctrines have multiplied. And here we are in the latter times, in the nineteenth century, when the people boast so much about Gospel light as well as scientific light, here we are in the nineteenth century, and the people are groping like blind men for the wall. They do not know God, and some do not care anything about Him. Some deny His existence, and a great many more stand in a position of doubt and uncertainty. Very few squarely deny the existence of a God; but there are a great many people who do not know whether there is a God or not; they are not satisfied in their minds. “I do not know,” seems to be the sentiment of the great bulk of intelligent people nowadays in regard to divine things.

Well, as I said in the beginning of my remarks, we have met here today to worship God in His way—not our way, that is, not the way we have made, not the way that any man has made, but according to the plan and pattern revealed from heaven by Almighty God, in our day and time. If God manifested himself in ancient times, why should He not manifest Himself in latter times? If God spoke to the world by the power of the Holy Ghost, through chosen men in former ages of the world, why not in this age? If angels came down from heaven and ministered to persons upon the earth in any period of this world’s history, why not in the latter times? Are God’s lips closed that He cannot speak? Are the heavens sealed up and become like brass, that no man can break through, and no heavenly being come to this little world and make manifest the things of eternity? Has the Holy Ghost changed in its power and influence and revealing qualities? Or are the children of men in such a condition that they are not willing to receive the Lord and His ways and His works and His light? Has God purposely departed from the earth, or have the people of the earth departed from God? We read here in the book of Isaiah about a time that should come when “darkness would cover the earth, and gross darkness the people.” We read of a time when God would come out from His hiding place in judgment upon the inhabitants of the earth in the latter days, and it should be “as with the people so with the priest; as with the servant, so with the master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him. The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the Lord has spoken this word.” What for? “Because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate.” Now, it looks to me a great deal more reasonable to think that the people of the earth have departed from God, and gone out of His way, and made ways of their own; that they have “heaped to themselves teachers having itching ears, and have turned away their ears from the truth, and have turned unto fables;” that they have become “lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God;” and that they have a form of godliness, but lack the power thereof, than that God has forsaken them, without any acts of their own. Now, I know that this sounds very harsh in Christian ears. It sounds very disagreeable to the people who compose Christendom, to say that they have gone out of the way—those good, pious-appearing people, who express such beautiful sentiments, and have such religious emotions and such lofty feelings, and many of whom are sincere in their hearts—to say that they have gone out of the way and that they are in the dark. It is all right to say that millions upon millions of the heathen nations for hundreds and hundreds of years have been in the dark, and that they are in the dark today, that they are away from God, that the light of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ does not shine into their souls, that their philosophers and sages and poets and preachers and mighty men of intellect are all wrong; that is all right; you can say that. Many Christian people do say this, and are not shocked in their feelings a bit; but to say that the Christians of this generation are out of the way sounds terrible in their ears. Nevertheless I will make bold to say that this is the fact; that the whole earth has gone astray. I will go no further than they say themselves: “We have left undone those things that we ought to have done, and have done those things that we ought not to have done, and there is no help in us. O Lord have mercy upon us, miserable sinners.” Well, that is just exactly what they are. Now, I do not boast that we are any better than they are. I am merely taking them as the Lord will take a great many of them: “Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee.” They tell the Lord, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.” That is what is the matter with the Christian world. They are not walking in the Lord’s way. They are walking in the ways that men have invented.

Any student of the Scriptures who is willing to receive truth when it is presented before him, can see by perusing the sacred books of the Old and the New Testaments, that the condition of the world at the present time was anticipated by the ancient prophets and apostles. They all saw that the time would come when the people would turn away from the truth; when they would walk in their own ways; when they would build up churches to themselves; when they would hire men to preach to them things which were wise and good in their own eyes; they would not be very anxious to find out the will of God, or that He might declare it to them, but would have preachers to teach them doctrines which seemed good to their “itching ears.”

A student of the Scriptures will also find that in every age of the world when there was a people dwelling on the earth whom God acknowledged as His people, He required them to do all things as He commanded them; not as they might choose, but as He commanded. When Jesus Christ came He did not come to do His own will, or to preach His own doctrine. Said He: “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” Jesus did nothing and said nothing but that which He had been commanded to do and say. He taught no doctrine of Himself. And He declared that when He should go away, the Comforter would come in His place. What would He do? “He will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” When the Apostles who were called of Jesus Christ, went out to preach the Gospel in His name, they did not go to preach their own views and opinions and notions, nor to administer ordinances that they thought were proper and adapted to the people in different nations, but they went out with the word of the Lord; they went out to teach that which had been commanded. Said Jesus Christ: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” They were not to preach with the enticing words of man’s wisdom, nor proclaim their notions about things, but they were to go forth with the living word of God, they were to go and teach that which Christ had taught them, and which He did not teach of Himself. And even then He told them to tarry in Jerusalem until they were endowed with power from on high. They waited. And on the day of Pentecost, we read, they came together “with one accord in one place.” They were of one heart, of one mind, and of one spirit, and then the Holy Ghost was manifested to them, in visible form, in cloven tongues as of fire. They were all filled with that spirit, and they spoke with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance, and from that time, having been ordained by Jesus Christ, when He was upon the earth, they were able to go out and preach the Gospel to the nations of the earth. On that day (Pentecost) Peter preached that great gospel sermon which we read about in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. He did not teach the people anything in regard to his opinion. He told the people that which he knew, that which had been made manifest to him, that which he understood, and he did it under the influence and power of the Holy Ghost, the same spirit which rested upon the ancient prophets, the same spirit by which Jesus spoke, which was given to him not by measure, but in a fullness.

No man has a right to preach in the name of the Lord, unless he is endowed as were those Apostles, unless the Lord has committed to him a dispensation of the Gospel; and if any man does so he does it upon his own responsibility. Unless he is so-called and endowed, all his administrations, whether it be baptism, confirmation, or any other rite which he may administer in the name of deity, are null and void and of non-effect in the heavens. When God calls men to officiate, what they do on earth in His name in the way He has appointed, by His authority, is as valid as if He performed it himself in person; what they “seal on earth is sealed in the heavens;” and what they “loose on earth is loosed in the heavens.” But when men administer the ordinances without authority, without inspiration, without being called and appointed and ordained specially for that work, all their ministrations are vain and valueless. If they baptize a person that baptism is void. The baptism of infants is void. It never was ordained of God, it never was authorized of Him, but is one of the vagaries of men, one of man’s inventions. But even baptism administered as the ancient Apostles administered it, and as Jesus Christ taught it, and according to the pattern which He Himself set in His own baptism, if administered by men who have not been called and ordained and endowed with the power and right to do it, is utterly void, and is of no more account than a bath. And it is the absence of this authority and the absence of this endowment, the absence of this divine spirit which reveals the things of God, and makes them plain to the children of men, which have caused all this confusion that exists in the Christian world, as well as in the heathen world.

Well, we have met here this afternoon, and we have gathered here in these mountain valleys that we might learn God’s ways, and then carry them out in our lives, for ours is a practical religion. We not only learn but we practice. If we are Latter-day Saints, we come to learn what is right and then do it with all our might, fearless and regardless of the opinions of others, or what other people may do or try to do. The business of our lives is to try and find out the will of our Heavenly Father and perform it. This we can do. There is no need to be in doubt as to what it is. There is no need to depend upon any man—Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Peter, Paul, Isaiah, or anybody else. Every man that lives, and every woman that breathes the breath of life has a right to know in his or her own heart, whether a thing is right and true or not, and those who do not strive to obtain this knowledge are derelict. “He that doeth the will of the Father shall know of the doctrine.” Our business is then to find out what the Lord’s will is, to guide us in our everyday life, not only to make us feel good, to exalt our spiritual nature, our emotions, our sentiments, our thoughts, not only that, but to guide us in our daily lives, so that all our acts may be squared according to the rule of right, that we may do that which is pleasing to our Heavenly Father, that we may learn to live so as not merely to do our own will, but to do the will of Him that has sent us here on the earth, and who has enlightened our minds in regard to the truth. We need not walk in the dark. It is our privilege to walk in the light. We have come out from the darkness, we have come out from confusion, we have come out from Babylon into the light and the liberty and the certainty of the everlasting Gospel. We have come out from the creeds of men; we have come out from the ways of men; we have come out from the nations and kingdoms of the earth; we have come up into these mountain valleys, that we may find out truth day by day and year by year, that we may get closer and closer to our God, that we may learn the ways of truth, and walk in them more perfectly, until the veil shall be entirely taken away, and we shall see and comprehend the things of eternity as plainly as with our natural eyes as we can behold each other and the things of time. It is our privilege to come near unto our Father, to drink of those streams that flow from the eternal fountain, to have the Holy Ghost in our hearts every day, springing up “like a well of water unto everlasting life.” It is our privilege to walk in the light continually, and have the Holy Ghost to be our constant companion, directing our ways, not only our actions and our doings, but our feelings and our thoughts and our sentiments, that we may become purer and holier, day by day, until we are sanctified and made clean and white and fit to go back into the presence of our Heavenly Father.

This is our business here in Utah—to learn the Lord’s ways, to walk in the Lord’s paths, to be devoted to Him; not only to be baptized by water into His Church, but baptized by the Holy Ghost, that we may be brought into a oneness with our Father, brought into communion with Him, that the voice of the eternal Spirit may whisper peace to our souls, and point out the way that we shall go, and enable us to bear testimony of the truths made manifest from the Lord through His inspired servants as He reveals His will. Some people think that we have come here to gratify every lust and every passion and every base desire that is common to poor fallen humanity. Never was a greater mistake made. This is not how I have learned what is commonly called “Mormonism.” I have learned that it is a holy thing, a sacred thing; that it requires self-abnegation, not to men, but to truth, to righteousness, to that which God reveals. The very essence of “Mormonism” is to find out what the Lord wants, and then to do it, and to do it regardless of anybody living upon the face of the earth, regardless of what the world may do to try and prevent us. And the people here are most of them of the same mind. They have come out from the various sects and have all been baptized into one spirit, into one body. The same Holy Ghost has rested down upon them as rested down upon the Saints in ancient times, and has produced the very same results. For the Holy Ghost has not changed, God has not changed, the truth has not changed, and the Lord is just as willing today as He was in the first years of the Christian era to reveal himself to those who desire to learn of Him, and the Holy Ghost is just as much a revealer today as it was in the olden times when the Prophets wrote and spoke under its influence. The truth is just the same, but the people have gone astray from the Lord’s ways, corrupted themselves before Him, filled the earth with abominations and iniquity, and their eyes are so closed to that which is true and pure, that when the truth is revealed from heaven, it is accounted a strange thing, and they not only turn away from it, but they are filled with hatred towards those who have received the truth and desire to walk in it.

It always was so from the beginning. When Abel would worship God in the way appointed, Cain, who wanted to go his own way, offered what he pleased, what he thought would do, and he was filled with anger towards Abel, because his offering was accepted. Abel offered what God commanded, the firstlings of the flock. Cain offered the fruits of the ground. God had commanded a lamb without blemish and without spot, to be offered as an emblem of the coming Redeemer, who, in the meridian of time should come as “the lamb slain from before the foundation of the world,” and offer his life and pour out his blood for the remission of sins. Cain offered what he pleased, and when Abel’s offering was accepted, Cain was filled with anger. The spirit of Satan entered into him—which is the spirit of destruction, the spirit of murder—and he arose and slew his brother. Now, though persecutors in these times do not realize it themselves, they are filled with the same spirit towards the servants of God. When Joseph Smith, called of God to be a prophet in this latter time, to usher in the great last dispensation of God’s mercy to man, to bring forth the ancient Gospel as taught by Jesus and His Apostles, to reveal again the ancient Priesthood and authority thereof, to lay the foundation of the Latter-day kingdom, to prepare the way for the coming of the Son of Man; when he came as a boy, an unlettered youth, bearing the glad tidings of great joy that communication between the heavens and the earth so long lost, had been restored, that the light from the eternal Sun of Righteousness had again streamed down to lighten up and dispel the darkness of the world—how was he received? Why, men would not listen to his teaching. They would not compare the doctrines he taught with the scriptures which they professed to believe. They hooted at the very idea of present revelation from God. They said: “Even supposing it possible that in this enlightened age one could receive revelation, was God going to speak to an illiterate boy? Would He not choose some of the great and wise men of this generation, some of the learned divines. But the idea of God’s speaking to this youth!” And they were filled with anger. The preachers and ministers of the day were filled with hatred and wrath towards him, and towards all those who received his testimony, and the Saints were driven from place to place, from city to city, from State to State, until finally his blood was shed. What for? Because he committed crime? No; their own confession proved to the contrary, for they said, “the law cannot touch him, but powder and ball shall.” The same spirit that put Jesus Christ to death; the same spirit that put those holy men to death about whom I have spoken, who had “the burden of the word of the Lord,” and came not to declare their own opinions, but the word of God Almighty to the inhabitants of the earth; the spirit that put them to death, put Joseph Smith to death, and that is the spirit that burns in the hearts of the so-called pious “Christian” ministers against the Latter-day Saints. They meet together in their convocations and conferences and assemblies, and pass resolutions about a people of whose doctrines and practices and lives they are in perfect ignorance. They do not know the motives which prompt us. They do not know the principles which actuate us. They know nothing about the work God Almighty has called us to do, for which we have left our homes in distant lands, and come to these valleys. But they are inspired by the same spirit of wickedness and destruction which filled the hearts of men who slew the servants of God in former times. They do not want to try and convert these Latter-day Saints. Oh, no. What do they want to do? One enlightened minister of the Gospel who came out here and stayed about twenty-four hours, and like a great many other people went back professing to know all about “Mormonism;“ although perhaps he never spoke to a “Mormon” while here—got up in the pulpit and preached the gospel of the bayonet and cannon as a means of solving the “Mormon problem!” He said he would solve the problem in a short time. He would gather all the Latter-day Saints into this great Tabernacle, and then turn the artillery of the United States upon them! That was a minister of the orthodox gospel. I do not say they are all like him; God forbid that I should. But the same spirit is working in their hearts and in the hearts of a great many men, and they do not know it.

It may be said of them as Jesus said in regard to His disciples on a certain occasion. Because some people did not do exactly as they wanted, they asked: “Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?” The Savior, we are told, rebuked them and said: “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of Man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” That is the spirit of the Gospel, the spirit of salvation. Well, those people who seek the destruction of the Latter-day Saints do not know what spirit they are of. They are in the dark in regard to the things of God. They have not been guided by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost. Many of them have administered in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, without the slightest vestige of authority. They have done it upon their own authority; and they are filled with the spirit of the evil one, and they desire the destruction, not the conversion, of the Latter-day Saints.

Well, my brethren and sisters and friends, I take great pleasure in bearing testimony this afternoon in this public congregation before the heavens, before Almighty God, who shall judge the world, before Jesus Christ, the Mediator of the new covenant, before the angels of heaven who can hear and witness my words, that in these last days our Heavenly Father has revealed the ancient Gospel anew, by His own voice from heaven and by heavenly messengers sent down from on high; that the authority which the ancient prophets and apostles held in ancient times has been restored, and men hold it now; that the same Holy Ghost by which the ancient prophets spoke and wrote the word of the Lord is given to the people called Latter-day Saints—not only to the leaders of the Church who are placed in authority to direct and manage and govern the affairs of the Church of Christ upon the earth, but the body of the people. The spirit that is in the head of the Church is in the body, and runs to every extremity, enlightening it, filling it with life and with vigor. And it brings forth the same fruits, which are love, joy, peace, patience, long-suffering, brotherly kindness and charity, and the light of God bears witness to these things. And not only have we these gifts, but there are other gifts in our midst, the same as were manifested in olden times, such as the gift of tongues, interpretation of tongues, visions and dreams, the gift of prophecy, the discerning of spirits, the healing of the sick—those who have faith to be healed—and every gift and every power and every blessing which were the result of the reception of the Holy Ghost in ancient times, are enjoyed in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I bear this testimony with words of truth and soberness, before God and all men. I know this is God’s work, and I know it will prevail. I know it will not be left to another people. I know it will remain, and every power and every influence that rises against it, to destroy it, will itself perish and be destroyed, and every arm that is lifted against this work will, in the due time of the Lord, be palsied and withered, for it is the work of the great God, and it will stand forever. The servants of the Lord in this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in spite of all attacks and schemes and efforts to stop them, will go out to every nation, kindred, tongue and people, and preach the Gospel of the kingdom as a witness before the end shall come, and they will gather the elect of God from the four winds and bring them to Zion. And these Temples which we are laboring upon will be erected, and the people of God will enter them and administer in behalf of the living and the dead, and God will commune with His servants therein. They will learn more of His ways and walk in His paths; they will purge out all iniquity in their midst; they will cut off the evil doer by severing him or her from the Church; the spirit of judgment will come to Zion, and the wicked and ungodly and the hypocrite will flee away; and God will break every yoke, and remove every bond, and Israel shall be free. And the Zion of our God shall arise and shine, and the glory thereof shall stream forth to the uttermost parts of the earth, and God will break down every nation, kingdom and government of the earth which refuses to hearken to his voice, until the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of our God and His Christ, and He shall reign from pole to pole and from shore to shore.

May God add His blessing to this testimony, through Jesus Christ. Amen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Privilege to Meet to Worship God—This Church Ordained of God—All Other Churches and Societies the Work of Man—Human Institutions of Every Kind Will Pass Away—Only that Which God Sets Up Will Endure—The Ancient Christian Church—the Apostate Church of Rome—The Various Man-Made Creeds—Lack of Divine Authority—The True Church Restored—Religion in Politics—God’s Right to Control in All Things—The Agency of Man and the Authority of God—Abiding in the Lord’s Covenant Even Unto Death—No Compromise With the Wicked—The Spirit of Abel and that of Cain—The Blessings that Come Through Obedience and Fidelity

Discourse by Elder Charles W. Penrose, delivered in the Assembly Hall, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, November 4, 1882.

The testimony which has been borne to us this afternoon by Brother Abraham H. Cannon is true and faithful. I presume there is not an Elder in Israel, no matter how much experience he may have had in public speaking, who does not feel in his heart to shrink when called upon to stand before the people and speak to them upon the things of the kingdom of God; for if he can properly realize his position he feels his inability, his weakness; he feels that of himself he is unable to instruct the Saints; he knows that they are familiar with the general principles of the Gospel, and with almost every truth which has been made manifest by the power of God in these last days, many of them are also familiar with the teachings of the servants of God in former times, which they have been able to gather from the Scriptures of divine truth. To stand up before a congregation of people acquainted with the Gospel, its principles, its ordinances, and its spirit and power, is indeed a task, and it is only in the strength of the Lord, it is only because of faith in His promises and of experience in receiving a fulfillment thereof, that the Elders are emboldened to stand up before the people to address them, trusting to the inspiration of the moment, trusting that God will pour out His Spirit upon them and upon the congregation whom they address.

I feel this afternoon that it is a very great privilege to be numbered among the Latter-day Saints, to be permitted to meet in this house and worship God our heavenly Father in the way that He has appointed, to partake of the emblems of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, and to spend a little time together reflecting upon those things that pertain to our eternal welfare. In this I feel that we are blessed of the Lord, and my heart is full of gratitude for this great privilege. For, when we meet to worship, we do not assemble to offer up our prayers and to attend to the ordinances or to perform any ceremony that we have invented, but we meet together to attend to things which have been pointed out to us by the finger of divine providence. Every principle we have received has come from God. Every ordinance which we administer, or of which we receive the administration, has come to us by divine revelation in our own day. The manner of administering the sacrament of the Lord’s supper which we partake of every Sabbath, when we meet together, has been pointed out to us by the Lord. We have not learned this merely by reading the Scriptures, written by holy men of God in ancient times, but the Lord has pointed out in what way it shall be administered, and has given us the words to be used in the blessing of the bread and of the water, the emblems of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. And so with everything we have in the Church; it is pointed out by the Lord. The Church itself was not organized by man, nor by the wisdom of man, but according to a divine pattern revealed directly from the heavens; and in this respect our Church, our religion, the ordinances which we receive, and all things pertaining to the work in which we are engaged, are different to anything else upon the face of the earth. For all the churches and societies and institutions and governments which exist upon the face of the earth, outside of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are the work of man. It is true that in each of them some divine princi ples are incorporated; there is some truth in every religion, in every sect, in every creed, in every society, and in every political form of government. But those institutions, civil, political and ecclesiastical, have been set up by man. They have been founded on the knowledge and wisdom of man; they have not been established by authority from our heavenly Father, but men have set them up according to circumstances, and according to their desires and their designs and their notions. Yet, at the same time, over all, above all sits our heavenly Father, watching the affairs of men and nations, shaping and controlling and overruling all things to bring about eventually His own divine purposes in regard to the earth and the inhabitants thereof. But so far as these organizations are concerned, these various institutions which have been set up, they are the works of men. They have not been authorized by our heavenly Father, although they contain within themselves many things that are right and true.

Now, will all these various institutions endure? Can they stand the test of time? Will they pass away at some period? Institutions like these have been set up in former times, and after awhile they have perished and passed away just like all things earthly, just like all things with which men have to do; they are all of a temporary character, and they contain within themselves the elements of their own dissolution and final destruction. Now the Lord has told us a little concerning this in a revelation He gave through the Prophet Joseph Smith, and I will read a portion thereof. It will be found on the 465th page of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants:

“Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.

“Will I accept of an offering, saith the Lord, that is not made in my name?

“Or will I receive at your hands that which I have not appointed?

“And will I appoint unto you, saith the Lord, except it be by law, even as I and my Father ordained unto you, before the world was?

“I am the Lord thy God; and I give unto you this commandment—that no man shall come unto the Father but by me or by my word, which is my law, saith the Lord.

“And everything that is in the world, whether it be ordained of men, by thrones, or principalities, or powers, or things of name, whatsoever they may be, that are not by me or by my word, saith the Lord, shall be thrown down, and shall not remain after men are dead, neither in nor after the resurrection, saith the Lord your God.

“For whatsoever things remain are by me; and whatsoever things are not by me shall be shaken and destroyed.”

There are a great many religions in the world, and the people who compose these various religious societies, meet together in their chapels and churches and halls of worship to perform religious ceremonies; to partake of religious ordinances; but we find when we come to examine them, that each one of them has been set up by man, and they have not been authorized by the Lord our God.

A little over 1,800 years ago a Church was established upon the earth by our heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, His Son. Jesus Christ not only came to set a pattern to mankind in His earthly acts, and to die for the sins of the world, but also to establish His Church on the face of the earth, the Church of God, whom He represented; for the Father was represented in Him, He being in the express image of the Father’s person. He received the spirit of the Father, not by measure, but in its fullness. He came here not only to represent the Lord upon the earth that man might understand the Father, and to show a pattern to them that they might follow in his footsteps, and to lay down His life for their sins and for the sake of the whole world, but that He might establish the Church of God; and He called certain disciples and ordained them to the same calling and authority which He had received from the Father. He called twelve men and ordained them Apostles. He called seventy men and ordained them unto a position which was an appendage to that Apostleship, that they might work in the same ministry and go where the Twelve could not go; in other words, to be assistants to them. He revealed to those Twelve Apostles sufficient to begin the establishment of His Church, and He also taught them line upon line, precept upon precept, and principle upon principle, to qualify them after His departure to continue the work which He had begun. And after He left them, after He was by wicked hands taken and crucified and slain, and had risen from the dead, and had met with them and talked with them and explained further to them in relation to their duties and in relation to the Church which was to be established upon the earth, He poured out upon them His Holy Spirit, the Comforter, that it might be in His stead; that His word might be spoken to them; and that the things of the Father and of the Son might be revealed to them; that they might comprehend all things needful to establish the Church; that they might do the work of the ministry; that they might edify the body of Christ; that they might lead the saints and the Church to perfection. And we know the Church was fully established under this divine direction, under the gift and power of the Holy Ghost and the personal teaching of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It was established with Apostles and Prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, with helps and governments, with gifts, powers, and privileges and blessings and ordinances, that the people who believed in Jesus Christ might not be left in a scattered condition, but that they might assemble together and be organized after the pattern of heaven, that the beginning of the heavenly kingdom and heavenly government might be in their midst. For the work that Jesus came to establish was indeed the kingdom of heaven so far as He could establish it at that time. And the word of the man who came to prepare the way before Him was: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The disciples of Jesus Christ, all who believed on Him, were organized in the various branches of that Church, and all the branches were joined together in one, with Jesus for their living head, with a representative upon the earth in the person of the Apostle Peter, who, assisted by his counselors, James and John, presided over the Church, and “these men were looked upon as pillars of the Church.” We find by looking through the New Testament, the nature of the Church, the power within it, and the blessings enjoyed; and the promise that Christ made was that if His servants observed to do all things whatsoever He commanded, the gates of hell should not prevail against them.

For a time the Church of Jesus Christ as it was organized, remained upon the earth. The power of God was in the midst of the Saints. They were united together, Jews and Gentiles, some bondsmen and some freemen; some had belonged to one sect, some to another, and some to no sect at all. When they were baptized into Christ’s Church they were all baptized by one spirit into one body, they became united, they were organized after the pattern of heaven, and the Holy Spirit ran through the whole body. The same spirit was in the feet as in the head and in the hands. Every part of the body of the Church was actuated by the same spirit and the same influence, and that was the power in their midst that made them one and different from all other people on the face of the earth. But after a time errors crept in among them. Wickedness and corruption also were introduced. They began to depart from the ways of the Lord. The persecution that was heaped upon them made the hearts of some fail, and after a time the Church began to go into darkness and to lose the characteristics which it showed forth in the time when it was first established. Heresy after heresy crept in, and after a while the things that the Apostles predicted came to pass. Wicked and corrupt men arose in the midst of the people, and “made merchandise of the souls of men.” They turned away their ears from the truth and gave heed unto fables. And after a few years had passed away, the Church went into darkness, and God withdrew His Holy Spirit and the power and authority of the Apostleship. The Apostles were slain. The lights that were placed in the Church were put out by the hand of wickedness. Dark ness covered the whole earth and gross darkness the minds of the people.

A church arose different from the Church which Christ established; it is today called the Church of Rome, or Roman Catholic Church, which professes to be the ancient Christian church continued upon the earth down to the present time, and the Pope of Rome, who presides over it, claims to be a descendant in authority of St. Peter. But when we come to look into the claims of the church to succession, we find that they will not stand the test of investigation. When we compare the Church of Rome with the Church that Christ established, we find that it is altogether different. Its organization, its ordinances, its teachings, its doctrines are at variance with the organization, teachings and doctrines of the Church of Christ. Instead of Apostles over the church, there are Pope and Cardinals. Instead of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, the sprinkling of infants that know no sin. Instead of the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, darkness. Instead of charity which covereth a multitude of sins, persecution and a desire to coerce man into certain forms of religion. Instead of the ordinances instituted in the ancient Church in behalf of the dead, prayers for the souls in purgatory. I might go on at great length and show the difference between that church and the Church that Christ established. But, that is not my purpose this afternoon. Anyone who will take up the New Testament and read the account given there of the acts of the Apostles, of the doctrines taught in the epistles, of the ordinances, of the spirit and power in the Church of Christ, and then compare that Church with the church called the Church of Rome, will see that they are two entirety distinct and separate organizations, having nothing whatever in common with each other, except perhaps that in a few particulars they have some resemblance.

Now, all the other forms of the Christian religion which exist upon the face of the earth have sprung from that church, either directly or indirectly, and if the Church of Rome is wrong, all the organizations that have sprung from it must be wrong also, unless some of these people who have seceded from that church have been authorized by God Almighty, have been authorized by the Lord Jesus Christ, to establish a new church. But there is not one of them that claims any such thing. Not one of the various sects that I am referring to, claims to have been authorized by divine revelation to set up a new church. No, they have come out from some other church, and upon their own authority, they have started to reform errors which they believed existed in the body from which they had seceded. That is the position which they occupy. The Church of England—or the Episcopal Church, as it is called—is an offshoot of the Roman Catholic Church, and all the authority its Bishops and Priests and Deacons have was obtained from the Church of Rome. But that church cut them off, and whether the Church of Rome was right or wrong, the Episcopal Church must be wrong so far as a claim of authority goes: for if the Church of Rome had not any authority, then the Episcopal Church cannot have any; and if the Church of Rome had authority, then it used that authority in cutting the other church off. Other sects which have dissented from the Church of England are all in the same condition, so far as their authority is concerned, and although each one has some truth, and each one has tried to correct some error, yet so far as their organization is concerned, they are entirely destitute of divine authority. God never told them to set up their churches. Jesus Christ never spoke to them. No angel has descended from the courts of glory with a message from the Father and the Son to tell them to do thus and so. In fact they all claim that the day of revelation is gone by, that “the awful voice of prophecy is closed forever,” that there will be no more revelation from God to the sons of men. This being the case they are and can only be, the institutions of men.

Now, I do not desire to speak against any of the individuals who compose those various denominations. I do not wish to say anything against their preachers. That is not my design or my desire. What I wish to point out this afternoon is the fact that they have not been set up by the Lord. That being the case—and I presume there can be no dispute about it, for they do not pretend to have received any communication from heaven—they are only the churches of men, they are called after the names of men, a great many of them, and in that they are consistent. One church is called after John Wesley. In that they are consistent. It is not the Church of Christ, it is not God’s Church, it is the church of Wesley, and I believe he was a very good man and accomplished a great deal of good. All the good that men and women do in every sect, in every nation and among every race, will be accounted for good when they stand before the Great Judge to be judged for the deeds done in the body. But these churches are the churches of men. That is the idea. Christ did not ordain them. God did not authorize their establishment. Maybe they accomplished some good purpose, and yet after all they are the churches of men. Now, the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith, has declared that whatsoever things are not by Him shall at some time be cast down and destroyed, and this includes not only the churches that I have referred to this afternoon which have been built up by men, whether among Christian or pagan nations, but it refers to other things which men have set up. It refers to the governments of the world. If anyone likes to call this “treason,” it will not make any difference to me. Men can take the Bible and indict that for treason, if they choose, for it says the time will come when “the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever.” We read of the image which Nebuchadnezzar saw, the meaning of which Daniel interpreted. That image was broken in pieces by a stone cut of the mountain without hands, and the particles which once formed the image—the gold, the silver, the iron, the brass and the clay—were blown away and no place was found for them. And the stone that smote the image—the Kingdom of God—became a great mountain and filled the whole earth, after breaking in pieces and consuming all the kingdoms of the earth. Perhaps people will say that is “treason.” If so, they had better indict the Bible for such utterances, as I am only repeating what the Bible says, and what there is in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, the sayings in the latter Book being, in some instances; a repetition of things God spoke in ancient times. But these sayings are from a divine source, and I bear my testimony today of their truth; for I know the time will come that “everything that is in the world, whether it be ordained of men, by thrones, or principalities, or powers, or things of name, whatsoever they may be, that are not of God, shall be thrown down and shall not remain.”

Now, my brethren and sisters, you and I belong to a Church which has been set up and ordained and is conducted and carried on under the immediate direction of the Lord Jesus Christ, who represents the Father. Thus the Church of Jesus Christ, the Church of God, has been established by His authority and by His power. It was not set up by the wisdom of Joseph Smith, who was at first but a poor ignorant lad. He was not capable of inventing a church so beautifully organized as the one to which you and I belong. When we look at the order of this Church, as detailed here in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, the order of the Holy Priesthood as revealed by the Almighty to Joseph Smith—it appears a marvel and there is nothing so beautiful on the earth. There is no government, no society, no church which has an existence that can be compared with it. It is a perfect organization. It could not have emanated from the brains of a man like Joseph Smith, neither could it have emanated from the brains of any set of men unless they had been divinely inspired. It is perfect when every officer occupies his right position; when every quorum occupies its proper place; when every man stands in his own order, no one infringing upon the rights or duties of another, but every man in his place; all moving as designed by the Almighty, there is a perfect organization, established by divine power. And it will accomplish the work it was intended to accomplish. And there is this consolation in it to us. Not only is this organization set up as the Almighty ordained, but it is placed here to remain. It shall never be destroyed. The Kingdom shall not be left to another people. It shall never decay. It shall abide and stand forever. It shall regenerate the earth. It shall prepare the way for the coming of the Son of Man. It shall establish the power of God in the midst of the earth. It shall utterly conquer the power of Satan and his hosts, and the organizations to which they belong. It shall prevail among all the nations of the earth. And whereas in former times the kingdoms of this world have prevailed against the Saints and against the institutions to which they were attached, the tide will be turned in the latter days, and the kingdom, or institution, or church, whatever you please to call the organization to which we belong, shall prevail over all its enemies and endure forever. It shall regenerate the earth, and establish the kingdom and power and might and Spirit of God upon the earth and drive out the institutions of man and the power of darkness, and fill the earth with the glory and the power of our Redeemer, who shall come and reign in the midst of His people as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and all nations and kingdoms and peoples shall serve and bow the knee to Him.

I think about that time there will be some talk concerning the union of Church and State. It is very certain that about that time there will be a good deal of religion in politics. There is a great outcry about that now. That is one of the objections made to the Church to which you and I belong, which our Father has set up; for it is just as true that it contains within it the germs of the Kingdom of God as that it is set up by the power of God. This Church to which you and I belong is not the Kingdom in its fullness, but it contains within it the germ of that kingdom which it has been predicted shall be established upon the earth—the mightiest government that the world ever saw. The government of God as it exists in the eternal worlds shall be established among men on the earth, and the will of the Lord shall be done here as it is done in heaven. Our kind, “Christian” friends have been praying for that event. They say, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.”

This Church that God has established takes hold of us just as we are, as men and women, as members of society, as members of any political form of government we may exist under, and teaches us our duties in every phase of life, in every position we occupy as members of the Church, as fathers and mothers, as neighbors, as friends, as members of the same body politic, as members of the same county or territory or state or government. It comes to us in the name of the Lord, and teaches us our duty in every capacity. Is there anything wrong in that? It does not so appear to me. It seems to me that God who is my creator, who owns me, who owns the breath that goes in at my nostrils and which I breathe out again, who owns the life blood that courses through my veins, who owns all the elements that sustain me and keep me in mortal life, who owns the earth I stand upon, and all the particles which compose it, and all things that move upon it, it seems to me, in view of all this, that God has a right to tell me what I shall do that I may please, serve and obey Him, and He has a right to tell me what to do in every position in which I am called to act, civil and religious alike. The ancients used to look to the Lord for instruction in everything, even when they went out to battle against their enemies. In all their movements they looked to the Lord for counsel, and when they did thus they were blessed and prospered, and when they turned away from the Lord they went into darkness.

Now the Lord has set up this Church—the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—upon the old pattern, the same pattern exactly as Jesus Christ revealed to His Apostles. The same ordinances exist, the same gifts and blessings are enjoyed according to the faith of the people, and according to the manner in which they are sought after. If people are careless and indifferent, and do not seek for those blessings, the Lord will not force them upon them. But these blessings exist in the Church today as in ancient times. The authority that Peter, James, John, and the rest held exists in this Church today, revealed direct from on high—not handed down through a succession of doubtful popes, but revealed direct from heaven in our own day. And let me say that this divine communication has not ceased. It was not merely renewed to Joseph Smith and then taken away again. The spirit of revelation now rests down upon the leaders of the people. That spirit by which Moses led the children of Israel in the wilderness, by which they passed through the Red Sea dry-shod, the same spirit, the same authority, the same power, are here in the midst of the Latter-day Saints. I know it, and everyone else can know that if they will walk in the light of God, and seek for the testimony of His Spirit.

This Church that the Lord has established upon the earth has been established to grow and increase and spread forth. Of course it will attract the attention of the world, and will excite hostility. That is to be expected, it is reasonable that it should, for this Church is different from anything else in the world. It has a different spirit, a different aim, a different design, a different destiny from any other Church upon the earth. It is the Kingdom of God in embryo. It is the power of God in earthen vessels. It is the light of God sent down to dispel the darkness that is upon the earth. It is the authority of God placed upon mortal man, and it will continue until the earth is redeemed, until the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our God and His Christ. No wonder it incites hostility and antagonism. It is natural it should do so.

But the question is whether you and I are going to be able to endure to the end. The Kingdom will stand. That is just as sure as God lives, as sure as the sun shines, as sure as you are in this house this afternoon. The Church will remain, for it has been set up by the Lord, who has said: “Whatsoever things remain, are by me; and whatsoever things are not by me shall be shaken and destroyed.” Now, shall we be able to stand individually? That is the question for you and me to consider. How shall we be able to retain our standing and the spirit of this work? If we will be taught of the Lord, and put our trust in Him, and will keep His commandments, He has promised that we shall come off more than conquerors; but if we abide not in the Lord, we will be shaken and destroyed. Our only safety is within the portals of the Church of Christ, in its ordinances, its spirit, its power and its Priesthood. The Lord has promised that if we are faithful He will fight our battles. On page 342, of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord says:

“And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall forsake all evil and cleave unto all good, that ye shall live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God.

“For he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith.

“And whoso layeth down his life in my cause, for my name’s sake, shall find it again, even life eternal.

“Therefore, be not afraid of your enemies, for I have decreed in my heart, saith the Lord, that I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death, that you may be found worthy;

“For if ye will not abide in my covenant ye are not worthy of me.”

Now, then, what we should study is the word of the Lord. Never mind about the word of man. Never mind about the abuse of man. Never mind about the threats of man. Never mind about the governments of man, and what they will do. Of course they are mighty and we are a little handful. This nation of fifty millions is a tremendous host when compared with the people of these mountains. The kingdoms of this world are great and powerful. They have their armies and navies. They are organized after the fashion of man to plunder and lay waste. But all the nations of the earth are in the hands of the Great Eternal God. He setteth up and casteth down at will. He watches over the affairs of nations as well as individuals. And in His hand they are like the drop in the bucket. They are as nothing before His eyes. He can speak and they will be destroyed. In a moment He could withdraw the breath of life from among them, and they would perish: and when people imagine that by putting their heads together and concocting some scheme for the destruction of the Lord’s people, the Lord’s anointed, they can overthrow them, “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh and shall have them in derision.”

As Brother Abraham Cannon has told us this afternoon, the hand of God is in all these things. It must not be understood, however, that God is inciting men to work against this people. No, He leaves them to their own agency. They will go ahead and carry out their designs as far as the Lord pleases to allow them and no further. “Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?” He that spoke to the wind and the waves can speak to the blast of human passion and the breakers of human wrath, bid them go no further, and say, when He pleases; “Peace, be still.” These things will all work together for the good of the people of God, and in them the Lord has a design to prove His Saints. “It must needs be that offenses come; but woe unto them by whom they come!” Offenses must come that we may be tried and proven, and that the Lord may see whether or not we will abide in His covenant.

The revelation from which I read just now was given as early as 1833. It is the word of the Lord, and is true and faithful. Now, if we abide in the covenant of the Lord, all will be well with us. If we do not—well, I have nothing to say about it; that is in the hands of the Lord. The Lord says that some may be called to lay down their lives for the truth’s sake. It is very easy to die when our time comes, but it is mighty hard to die when it has not. I have heard of people being weary of life and trying to die, but they could not do it. To live and endure in the covenant of the Gospel is where the trial comes in. That is what the Lord calls upon us to do, and if necessary to lay down our lives for the Gospel’s sake. Now, will we keep sacred our covenants, and not deny them to please the world? I rather think we will. That is the disposition of the Latter-day Saints. There is a disposition about a few to compromise a little, to give the world a little leeway, and to seem to be yielding. Well, that is not my disposition. It may be all right for some, but I do not feel that way. I feel that God lives and that He has the right to direct in all things. “What? Does the Lord direct in secular and political matters?” He did in ancient times, and He has the right to do so in modern times. The Lord will direct us in all things to His praise, and the time will come when His power and dominion will be fully established in the earth, and when all nations will serve and obey Him.

I feel in my heart to hearken to the voice of God, to do as we are told in this revelation—to live by every word that comes from the mouth of God. It will not do to say when one word of the Lord comes, “Yes, I can accept that,” and then when another word comes, say, “No, I cannot take hold of that, for our enemies are opposed to it.” We must live by every word that proceedeth from the Lord. I feel that God lives, that this is His work, and that every principle and ordinance and institution within the pale of this Church is from on high. This Church has been established by the power of God, and God is able to sustain it; if He cannot, it is a mighty poor thing. But I know the Lord will sustain us if we will do our part, and live and proclaim our religion. I do not think it is our duty to dilate upon it on every occasion, or to try and cram down men’s throats what we believe; but I mean that in our hearts, in our homes, and in all that we do, we will try and live according to the covenants we have made, and not go back upon them for any power that exists upon the earth.

That which is ordained of God will stand, and that which is not ordained of Him will be destroyed. Ordinances administered by men unauthorized of God—whether it be the sacrament, or pertaining to marriage—will have an end when men are dead; they will not pass beyond the grave. Every baptism of the Catholic Church, and of the Episcopal Church, and of the Baptist Church, or any other church, if God Almighty did not ordain and authorize the man who performed the ordinance even though he performed it in the right way and used the right words, is null and void and as though it had never been performed, with the exception that God will judge him who in administering it without authority took His holy name in vain. And so with the marriages that men administer. They may be all very well for time; but after death the contract will not exist. “Will I accept of an offering,” saith the Lord, “that is not made in my name? Or will I receive at your hands that which I have not appointed?” Why should He? Some of those sectarian churches think that God ought to accept all their offerings, just because they choose to make them, in their own way. This is as it was with ancient Cain. Abel brought that which the Lord commanded—the firstlings of his flock, typical of the Savior that was to come, and his offering was accepted. Cain brought of the fruit of the ground, and his offering was not accepted. Why? Because he made his offering as he chose, which was not acceptable unto the Lord, while Abel made his offering as commanded, which was acceptable to the Lord. Because of this, Cain became angry and slew his brother. That same spirit is manifested today in the world against the Latter-day Saints. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seeks to make an acceptable offering to the Lord and to worship Him in the way He has commanded. The ordinances of this Church are those which God Himself has established: but men have established their own institutions and their own mode of worship, which is not acceptable to the Lord, and because of this the world is filled with bitterness and frequently with the same spirit that Cain manifested towards Abel, and desire to persecute the Saints even to the shedding of their blood.

Well, what shall we do? We will go along the road that God has marked out for us; we will not go our own way unless it is the way of the Lord. If we will make the will of the Lord our will, then it is right for us to have our will; but it is His right to rule and reign. He is our Father, He has therefore the right to dictate to us His children, and we should obey His dictates. If we do we shall find pleasure therein. He that keeps the commandments of God, carries with him an imperishable treasure that is better than gold or than fine rubies—the testimony of the Holy Spirit, the peace of God, that passeth all understanding, the light and the life of God—a spirit by which he can penetrate the heavens, and gaze upon the glories of God, and comprehend somewhat of his Maker and His designs, and peer into the future and comprehend something of his own eternal destiny. He has the friendship of God and the holy ones. He is not only a member of the visible Church in this life, but he is connected by this divine spirit with the Church of the Firstborn behind the veil. The spirit that emanates from the throne of God, and burns in the hearts of the Saints in the heavenly Jerusalem—that spirit illuminates his mind and he is filled with peace continually. This is the privilege of the Saints of God. Let us try and walk in this way. Let us be indifferent as to what the world may think or say or threaten concerning us. Let us put our trust in God, the Holy One of Israel. Let us hearken to His voice. Let us desire to receive it, and when it comes through the man that God has appointed to speak to Israel, let us be in a condition to bear record that we know it is the word of the Lord. Let us live so that the still small voice shall whisper peace in our hearts continually; that the light of God may shine in our path; that we may be the children not of the night, but the children of the day. And though the world seek to destroy us, yet God shall bring us off more than conquerors, for in Him is all power, and the kingdoms of this world are as nothing in His eyes.

May the blessing and peace of God be upon Israel. May we be willing to hearken to the voice of God, and may His Spirit continue to rest upon our labors in preparing the way for the coming of the Son of Man; so that, when He whose right it is to reign shall come, and this earth shall be subdued to Him, and the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our God and His Christ, and wickedness shall flee away, and peace shall prevail in all the land, and the lion and the lamb shall lie down together, and the child shall play with the animals that were once filled with fierceness and terror—in that great day when God shall rule and reign, may we be prepared to enter into His rest and into the fullness of His glory, for Christ’s sake. Amen.

How to Find Out God—How Man May Know Himself—Necessity of Divine Revelation—How and By What Means Received—Testimony of the Latter-Day Saints—The Nature and Origin of Man—His Mortal Experience and Its Purpose—The Fate of the Wicked—The Lot of the Righteous—Eternal Life and How It May Be Attained

Discourse by Elder Chas. W. Penrose, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday, June 4, 1882.

It is written in the Scriptures, that “man by searching cannot find out God;” and the experience of all ages has proven the truth of this. We are living in an age of great intelligence, at a time when the wise things which have been said and written by sage, philosopher, and prophet centuries ago can be read and reflected upon; and when men can bring to bear their own researches, their own experience and the facilities which they have for gaining information, upon the investigation of the subject of Deity; yet, we find that people who now live are as much at sea in regard to this matter as any people who lived in former times. If we take up the works of the wise men who live upon the earth in our times and read their remarks concerning God, we are forced to the conclusion that they, like the people for whom they write, know little or nothing of the subject upon which they touch.

Many years ago certain divines of the Church of England, chosen for the purpose, endeavored to formulate a creed in which they tried to explain to the people what God is. And after making a number of very contradictory and foolish assertions, they came to the conclusion that God is “incomprehensible.” Man, by searching cannot find out God, the only way whereby man can come to the knowledge of God is by communication from God, and if the people receive what he does communicate they may find out clearly and truthfully what he is, and what are his designs and purposes in relation to them.

“Man know thyself,” is another saying; not in the Holy Scriptures, but just as good as though it were. Man cannot know himself, cannot comprehend himself any more than he can comprehend Deity by his own reflections. Unless the Creator who made him, and who comprehends what he was made for reveals it to him, he cannot comprehend even his own being. Who is there that understands the nature of that intelligent spirit which inhabits the tabernacle of man? A good surgeon can take the human body and dissect it; point out its various parts and their relation one to another, and name every bone and every muscle and every sinew and every nerve. But there is something even pertaining to the body (leaving out the spiritual part of man), that gives the body life, which he cannot grasp or comprehend. The vital force that gives animation to the body is beyond his ken. And every man who has studied himself to any degree whatever, knows that there is something about himself besides the life of the body; that there is something superior to the body, and to that vital force which animates the human frame. How did that intelligent being get into his physical nature, and where did it come from? Did it come into existence with the earthly body, or did it exist before? When the common lot of humanity comes and we “shuffle off this mortal coil” and our bodies go into the ground, each part separating from the other, and the elements go back whence they came, does this spiritual, this intelligent being which inhabited the body still exist, or does that also separate into particles? Who knows of himself, and who can comprehend this by his own reflections? No man. Unless we get some information from the Being who made man, we cannot comprehend ourselves, much less can we of ourselves comprehend the Being that made us.

The inhabitants of the earth in the different ages have had a great many duties; they have formed ideas concerning God in their own minds, and they have worshipped that which seemed to them the clearest representation of Deity. Some of the idols which men have worshipped appear very foolish to us; they are no doubt indications of the low degree of development of the people who set them up as objects of worship. But here, in the 19th century, among people called Christians, we hear a great deal about God, the God of the Bible, the God that made man, the God that rules the universe, and when we inquire of the wisest men we have in Christendom in regard to this Being, they tell us that he is incomprehensible; they tell us that he is an immaterial being whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere: that he has no body and no parts and no passions; that there is nothing which can represent him; there is nothing like him in the heavens above or in the earth beneath, and that man’s mind cannot grasp anything about him. They say he is one, and yet he is three; that he is not three but is one. That there are the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost—three separate substances, and yet not three but only one. They say that one of these three beings without a body had a body; that one of the three parts of this partless being had both a body and parts, and that he, the Son, was in all things like the Father, and was also like us excepting that he was without sin, but had passions as we have. This is the result of the attempt on the part of the wise men of Christendom to find out God for themselves. It is impossible, and is so laid down in Holy Writ; “man by searching cannot find out God.” The only way that can be relied upon whereby man can find out God is by obtaining information from the Almighty Himself. “Well,” say the people, “but he does not communicate anything to any of the inhabitants of the earth.” Why not? Has he not power to manifest Himself to mortals? Is He so great and almighty and so far above the human family that He cannot reveal Him self to humanity? “No. He used to do so hundreds of years ago.” And why does he not do it now? “Because the day of revelation has gone by,” they say. Who told them so? The fact is that for a long period the people have not been expecting to receive revelations from God. They have not sought for them and, therefore, have not obtained them. But we find in the Old Scriptures a promise something like this: “Return unto me and I will return unto you, saith the Lord: Even from the days of your fathers you have gone away from mine ordinances and have not kept them,” you have “transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances and broken the everlasting covenant;” now “return unto me and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts.”

We also find in the scriptures the declaration, that God changeth not, that he is “the same yesterday, today and forever.” And we may reasonably infer that if God was a God of revelation hundreds of years ago, he is the same God of revelation today, only the people do not inquire of him, they do not seek unto him in the right way that they may obtain communications from him. The Apostle James declares, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”

It appears then that God may be approached; that we may ask of him, but if we do ask of him we must ask in faith. We must believe. If we do not believe we will not obtain. This principle of faith seems to be the means of approach ing the Almighty. If we take up the Bible and read how the ancients received revelation, we find that they approached God by faith. And further, we learn that when God communicated anything to them they tried to carry it out in their practice; they tried to embody in their lives those instructions and communications. As Brother Bywater, who preceded me this afternoon, has quoted: “Fear God and keep his commandments. This is the whole duty of man.” Those holy men of old, when they learned anything from God were willing to carry it out, no matter what the cost might be. God held communion with them by means of the Holy Ghost, which seems to be the natural means of communication between God and man.

The word and will of God were revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Why should we not receive this blessing of heavenly communication in our day? As Latter-day Saints we have our names cast out as evil, simply because we believe in this doctrine of receiving communication from God. We are simple enough to believe that God will speak to people now if they will approach him in the right way. Men have borne testimony that they have received communication from above, and have made known the same to us; and having believed on their word and done exactly as they directed us, God has confirmed the truth of their words upon our hearts, with signs following. And now we can say to ourselves we know that God lives, that he communicates to men; we know the channel of communication is opened up between the heavens and the earth, and that the people of the nineteenth century, by taking a proper course and exercising faith in the right way, and being humble enough to carry into effect the commandments which the Lord gives when he does manifest himself unto them, can obtain communication from on high by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, by dreams and visions, and by the visible manifestation of God’s power in the midst of his people.

This is our testimony to the world, and it is for this that we are opposed; this is the ground work of the opposition applied to us in what is called the Christian world. For if the fact be admitted that the Latter-day Saints are the people of God and those who preside over them are the servants of God, that they receive communications from him, and that this is His Church, that would be to admit also that all other churches are the churches of men and not of Christ; that those who minister in them are not delegated of heaven and that the doctrines they teach are merely the doctrines and commandments of men. Thus our faith comes in contact with the established systems of Christendom.

Now, the Lord has made known to us a few simple truths in regard to our being—who we are, where we came from, what we are here for, where we are going to, and what is to be our final destiny. These things in our minds are not mere articles of faith, they are not myths, they are not mere opinions or sentiments, but they are to us, to use the language of Brother Bywater, “absolute truths;” they have been revealed from the Almighty, and are his word to us and not the say-so of men. God has borne testimony of the truth of them in our own hearts; and to us they have become absolute truths. We are not left in doubt about them; they are to us facts as palpable as the fact of our existence.

I have not time to dwell upon this subject, but I will mention two or three facts that God has made known to us, and will leave them for the reflection of the congregation. God has made known to us, in the first place, that we—the real beings, the intelligent spirits which are entabernacled in these mortal frames—are the offspring of Deity, the children of God, as much so as our bodies are the offspring of the children of men; that just as men and women are the sons and daughters of men, so far as their earthly bodies are concerned, so the spirits which inhabit these bodies are beings born of the Almighty God in the eternal worlds. This spark of intelligence that exists in the human form is stricken off from the eternal flame of Deity; the children of men are the offspring of God. And when Jesus told his disciples, in addressing the throne of grace, to say, “Our Father who art in heaven,” he said that which was absolutely true, not in a spiritual or Methodistical sense, but as an absolute fact. God is our Father, and we are his sons and daughters. Our earthly bodies are framed in the image of God; they are framed to fit our spirits which are the offspring of God, which are therefore in his image, according to the law that every seed brings forth its own kind. A comprehension of the offspring of God will therefore lead to an understanding of God Himself.

These spiritual beings now sojourning upon the earth in mortal tabernacles, dwelt in the bosom of eternity and were with the Eternal Father “when the morning stars sang together and the sons of God shouted for joy” on beholding the organization of this earth. We were there and we joined in the heavenly chorus. Said the Apostle John: “Beloved, 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.” By that time we will be able to comprehend God, notwithstanding the assertion of the learned of the world to the contrary. We were sent down upon the earth to dwell for a time that we might learn the laws which govern this lower sphere, that we might have a portion of it framed as a body in which we should dwell, that in it and through it we might become acquainted with sin which is the transgression of law, and learn that only by obedience to law is happiness possible for the offspring of God; that only by obedience to eternal laws and wholesome regulations can man be made happy in time and in eternity. And by becoming acquainted with darkness we can appreciate the light; by becoming acquainted with pain and sorrow we can appreciate perfect bliss and happiness: by coming in contact with death, and understanding it through experience we may comprehend the blessings of life, preparatory to an endless existence in the presence of the Father to dwell in perfect submission to his eternal laws. We are here for experience, and while we dwell in mortality there are lessons to be learned and that must be learned, if needs be through suffering. It is our privilege, while here in the school of experience and adversity, far from our ancient home, to struggle up to the light from whence we came, and by the power of the Holy Spirit to obtain knowledge of the past, a comprehension of the present, and an unfoldment of the future; for “when the spirit of truth is come he shall guide you into all truth, and he shall take of the things of the Father and of the Son and show them unto you; he shall show you things to come, and shall bring to your remembrance things that are past, he shall give you knowledge of the present and shall unfold to you the future.” This is the office of the Holy Ghost in bestowing its gifts and blessings upon men.

Now we can learn our duty, we can learn what is the mind and will of God concerning us. The Lord has manifested a great many things to us while in mortality which has had the effect of stirring up the opposition of the world and the powers of darkness against us. This is a necessary experience as it tends to develop our being, and so long as we have this warfare to fight, if we carry out strictly the commandments of God, we shall have more present joy, more present satisfaction and more present pleasure than if we were in accord with the world, as we have the consciousness that we are doing what is right, and we also have the gratification of knowing that the Lord will plant our feet upon the rock of eternal truth and in his own time will bring us up to mingle and dwell with those who have overcome, and who move in a higher sphere of intelligence. Our duties are pointed out and made known to us as fast as we are prepared for them. We have the means whereby we can learn the will of God, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, as fast as we develop and grow up to the comprehension of higher truths; and in every man’s heart who walks in the ways of life is this spirit prompting and directing, and encouraging him to refrain from evil.

After we have performed our mission upon the earth the spirit will be liberated from the body and will go to a place prepared for it, and that place will be according to the acts of the individual while dwelling in earthly life. The spirits of the wicked will gravitate together, while the righteous will go to their place in the paradise of God, where they rest from their labors. The wicked go to a place prepared for them, not however, a place of literal fire and brimstone as taught by some religious teachers, but a place where they will have a knowledge and remembrance of their wickedness, and at the same time be without a knowledge of the future; their condition will be a state of awful suspense, not knowing what their fate will be; while the righteous will dwell together, and having served and communed with God while tabernacling in the flesh, they will have closer communion in the spirit, and be prepared for the glorious reign to come. Then when the resurrection day shall dawn, the righteous, they that have been faithful, who have been planted in the likeness of Christ’s death and raised in the likeness of his resurrection; having walked in his ways, and followed his example, will be brought forth in the morning of that great day; for the trumpet shall sound and the voice of Christ shall be heard, and they will come forth and stand erect again upon the earth in their own bodies, every part and particle restored to its proper part, making a whole and perfect frame; not a natural body, but a spiritual body; not a corruptible body, but an incorruptible body, made out of the same elements, purified and quickened by the power of God. And they will stand upon their feet again and enter into the presence of the Father, and be made like him. They will be in his perfect image and in his perfect like ness. And while eternal ages roll along they will pattern after the works of their Eternal Father; as he does, so will they do, and they will all work together in perfect harmony with celestial beings, one spirit pervading the whole.

I have briefly outlined a few ideas embodied in our religious faith and have not time to pursue the subject further; suffice it to say, that man is the offspring of God, and was born in another sphere; that he is only a sojourner upon the earth for a short time; that his destiny is to be made in every respect like the Father, possessing as he does an immortal, eternal spirit, which, in course of time, through obedience to the laws of life and salvation, will dwell in an immortal, eternal body, by means of which he will be in communion with all that is good and beautiful, great and glorious throughout the boundless universe, and he will be under the inspiration and direction of the Father, and in the presence of the Son and all holy beings who are like him. In respect to the rest of the children of men, they will each occupy that station for which they are fitted by their earthly acts. But to enter into the presence of God and enjoy a fullness of his glory and be associated with him in the government of the universe, there is but one path, one gate to enter in by, one place of salvation, and that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ as preached by himself when upon the earth and revealed anew in this our day; the systems that men have invented being ineffectual and powerless to save. All the sects of Christendom in that respect are like the sects of heathendom, they must pass away. What truth they have emanated from God, for all truth comes from Him; but their systems are organi zations of men, and they, therefore, must all perish in their time and season, whilst the kingdom of God which is being set up on the earth will remain and continue to spread forth and prevail, until the whole earth is subdued to our Father and brought into complete subjection unto him; that it may be purified from evil and the dominion of sin which has invaded it for centuries, and that Satan and his hosts may be banished forever from its pale, and this world be made radiant and glorious, transfigured, as the Savior was upon the mount, and come up among the worlds redeemed, refulgent in its own splendor, shining like the sun in the firmament. And the ransomed of the Lord will walk thereon, clothed in white raiment, rejoicing in the presence of the Eternal whom they will recognize again as their Father; for the past, now shut out by the veil of the flesh, will come back to them, and all their former history will return to their minds; those memories which were shut out by tabernacling in the flesh will come back again, and all their past experience upon the earth and in the spirit world will be fresh to their minds, never to fade away. Then will they comprehend God, being quickened in him and by him, dwelling in his presence and filled with the fullness of his glory, forever and ever. Amen.

The Testimony of the Gospel, Etc.

Discourse by Elder Chas. W. Penrose, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, Aug. 14, 1881.

One of the many evidences of the truth of the Gospel which we have embraced is the experience of young brethren, some of them born in Utah, others who have come here in their childhood and have grown up in the midst of the people, and who are occasionally sent out into the world to advocate the Gospel of Christ. We find that every one of them who is faithful to his trust, who attends to the duties imposed upon him, and keeps himself unspotted from the world, returns with a testimony of the truth in his heart. He is able to say that he knows the work is true independent of the instruction which he may have received or the testimony which he may have heard from others, and he is able to say that he has received this witness from God to his own soul. Now the testimony of the young brother who has spoken this afternoon is the testimony of all our brethren who go out in like manner and return in the same way. And there is another thing connected with this which corroborates it, and that is if any of our missionaries go out into the world and become contaminated, fall into the ways of the world, transgress the commandments of God, and stain their garments with impurity, they lose that testimony, and when they return they do not come back full of confidence and of zeal, they do not come back with the spirit of union in their hearts towards the rest of the Church, but they go into the dark, they become full of faultfinding, they fall away, and finally make shipwreck of their faith.

It has been truly said this afternoon, that the bond of union which binds the Latter-day Saints together, is this testimony, or the spirit by which it comes. We are not bound together by any cast-iron rules or ceremonies, nor are we held together by the power of men who preside over us, as is supposed in the world; but the bond of union which unites us, is the inspiration of the same spirit. We have obeyed the same Gospel in the same way; we have been baptized by one spirit into one body, whether we were previously Catholics or Episcopalians, Methodists or Baptists, Congregationalists or Quakers, Theists or Infidels—no matter what our faith or lack of faith may have been before, when we received this Gospel we all received the same truths in the same fashion, and being baptized by one baptism, we were prepared to receive the same spirit, and that spirit resting down upon us enabled us to see eye to eye.

It is claimed by some people in the world that it is impossible to make different people see alike; that it is a matter of impossibility to bring all people to the unity of the faith. It is claimed that as our countenances differ, so do our dispositions and our minds, that what will convince one person will not convince another, and therefore that it is impossible to make a body of people all understand alike, and if they do act together it must be through some compulsion. Now, I regard this as a great mistake. I know it is not true by my own experience and by what I see here among the people called Latter-day Saints. I know that it is possible for a great number of men and women to be brought to see things exactly alike. We may look at this outside of religious matters. If a number of us take a problem in geometry, as soon as we all understand the principles which govern it, are we not able to solve the problem in the same way? Certainly. So with a sum in arithmetic. So in regard to any branch of exact science. It is supposed, however, that theology is not a science, cannot be made a science, that it is a mere matter of opinion, and that as people differ so much in opinion in other things, they will be bound to differ in their views in regard to religion. But these ideas are founded on fallacies. Theology, properly speaking, is not a mere matter of opinion. What is called religion in the world, I admit, is a matter of sentiment and opinion, and one man’s opinion is just as good as another—and in some respects, as the Irishman said, “a great deal better.” One reverend divine’s opinion is just as good as another’s, for they differ just as much as the people do whom they teach. And so the idea prevails that religion is a mere matter of opinion, and therefore we can expect nothing but division. But true religion does not come from man. True religion comes from God, if there is a God. Our young brother this afternoon, says he knows there is a God. It is no matter of opinion with him. He knows that God hears and answers prayer, and you may find thousands of men and women here in Utah, who are willing to bear the same testimony. They do not hold this as a matter of faith alone, it has become knowledge to them. They know that there is a Supreme Being, that He is a personage, that He hears and answers prayer, and He has demonstrated to their entire satisfaction not only that he lives, but that the Church of which they are members is his; that this work in which they are engaged is his work; that he has established it, that he is rolling it on, and that he will sustain it and bring it to a glorious consummation, no matter what earthly power may intervene. Now, I say if there is a God, and if that God made this world upon which we live, and if he is our Father, the Father of our spirits, then he has the right to control the earth and all the people that live thereon, and it is unreasonable to think, if there is such a Being who made the earth and formed the creatures that dwell upon it, and who guides and controls their destinies, that he will never manifest himself to his creatures. It is unreasonable to me to think that. We have a book here called the Bible; we have another book called the Book of Mormon, and here is another called the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. In each of these books it is declared that there is a God, and that he has revealed Himself. The Bible gives a history of some of the revelations of that Divine Being to people on the eastern continent, in Palestine particularly. The Book of “Mormon” gives an account of some of the revelations of the same Being to the ancient inhabitants of this continent, the progenitors of the American Indians, civilized persons from whom the American Indians have descended, for they were not always the despised beings they are at present. The Book of Doctrine and Covenants contains revelations from the same Being, given in the day and age in which we live. Each of these books corroborates the others. They run together like three drops of water, or, to make scriptural reference, like the three measures of meal in the parable. In each of these books the testimony is given of a God, and also the fact that he will reveal himself to those who rightly approach him. If this be true, if the united testimony of the Bible, the Book of Mormon and Book of Doctrine and Covenants is true, then it is possible for the inhabitants of the earth to obtain knowledge from God, and further than that, if these books are true, knowledge has been sent down from on high, religion has been sent down from heaven, for the guidance and benefit of people dwelling on the earth. If these books are true, God, at different times in the world’s history, has called and appointed men to be His representatives—not to represent his perfection, because they were only human beings, but to represent certain truths which he revealed to them for the benefit of their fellows, and in some instances, for all the people dwelling upon the widespread earth. If these books are true, Jesus, who died on Calvary, was the Son of God, and he sent out his Apostles unto all the world to preach the true religion. Now the religion that God gave to these men in any age, whether we find it in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the Book of Doctrine and Covenants is not the religion of man. It did not spring out of the human heart; it was not framed by men meeting together in conclave; but it came by revelation from the Supreme Being. He manifested it to mankind. I know that there are a great many different things called religion in the world that have come out of the hearts of men, at least in part if not altogether. They have taken some of the things written in the Bible, they have reflected upon them, and then have added a little of their own opinion concerning these things. They have taken a part of what God has revealed and added their own notions to it. But true religion, the religion of God, must come from God. The religion of Jesus Christ must come from Jesus Christ, and not from man. If religion comes down from God to man and man receives that religion and the spirit of it, they will all come to the same understanding concerning it. Being baptized into one body, they will comprehend it alike. Having the same light they will “see eye to eye.” And according to the Scriptures, there is to be a time when all people shall see alike. “Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion,” so says the prophet Isaiah. And there is to be a day when all people that breathe the breath of life will know God, from the least unto the greatest. They will be able to bear the testimony our brother has borne this afternoon, and no one will have need to say to his neighbor, “Know ye the Lord.” But if religious affairs go on as now in the world it will take a long time to accomplish the change, will it not? Well, the Latter-day Saints, as I said just now, are able to bear this testimony. Why? Because they are better than anybody else? They make no such assertion; but if they are no better than the people of the world they have not very much to boast of. I have traveled a good deal and know the doings of the world, and if the Latter-day Saints are no better than the majority of the people, they have nothing particular to boast about. But we do not claim that we can bear this testimony because of our extra goodness. We do not say, “Come not near unto us; we are holier than you.” We have no such disposition or spirit. But having heard the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by the Elders of this Church and reflected upon them, prayed about them and compared them with the old scriptures, we came to the conclusion that they were true, because they corresponded in every respect with the teachings of Christ and his Apostles. And let me say, in passing, that this cannot be claimed for any religious sect in the world—we do not call our Church a sect—there is no religious sect in the world whose creed, ordinances, formula, and Church government correspond, in every particular with that we read about in the New Testament. But we find on close comparison that the doctrines taught by the Elders of this Church correspond in every respect with the doctrines taught by Jesus and his Apostles. They made the same promises to us that the ancient Apostles did. On hearing this we prayed about it; we sought wisdom from God; we did not turn away from these men because their names were cast out as evil; but we turned to the Lord. He heard our prayers and answered them, and stamped the truth of their testimony upon our hearts. We were baptized, and being baptized we received the testimony that our sins were remitted; for we came forth from the liquid grave to a new life, we had “put off the old man with his deeds” and “put on Christ” to walk after the pattern of his life. And when the Elders laid their hands upon us, according to the order of confirmation, that God established in the Church, the Spirit of the Almighty rested down upon us, and filled our hearts with sweet satisfaction, and with the knowledge that we had received the truth, and we were filled with light, communication was opened up between us and our Father. We received peace, revelation, knowledge and wisdom, gifts and powers for our own individual benefit as members of his Church. The Holy Ghost bore testimony to us that God lived, that the religion we had received was his religion, and that Spirit, to those who have been faithful and listened to its whisperings, has been a continual guide, “a light to their feet and a lamp to their path,” a continual monitor, an abiding witness, which brings things past to their remembrance, confirms the things of the present, shows us things to come, and bears record of the Father and the Son. It is this that has drawn this people here. The Latter-day Saints received this Spirit wherever they dwelt on the face of the earth, when the Gospel came to them. We have come a great many of us from various parts of Europe, the different States of America, and from other countries and nations, north and south—we have all come here and embraced the same faith, we see many things eye to eye, understand alike and work together, not because we are forced to do so, as some people im agine, by the craft and cunning of men who understand human nature, but because we have received the same spirit. Men who oppose this work—“Mormonism” as they call it—leave this matter out of consideration altogether. In consequence of this they can never comprehend this work, they cannot discern the cause of the union of this people; they cannot account for the work accomplished by the Latter-day Saints, in spite of all the opposition and persecution they have had to endure. But the real cause of our union is the Spirit of the living God, which rests upon us. That Spirit led us here, and we are here to stay. We are here to do the work which God designs shall be done. We are willing to make any sacrifice—if there be such a thing as sacrifice—because God Almighty has enlightened our minds, because we know that he lives, that he hears and answers our prayers and gives us the blessings we ask for when they are good for us, and withholds them when they are not; for like children we are apt to ask for razors to cut our fingers with. God answers our prayers when it is wise to grant the things we desire.

This testimony which we have received is not imaginary, it is not a phantom, it is a fact, and the same testimony has been experienced wherever this Gospel has gone. It is claimed that Joseph Smith was an impostor. We say we know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. The promises he made have been fulfilled. When the Elders were sent out to proclaim the Gospel, they made the promise to all who should obey it, that they would receive the testimony I have been talking about. Could man have bestowed this testimony? No. But we received it and we know it came from God, and as I said before, wherever people have received this Gospel, this religion that the Lord has something to do with personally—they receive the same testimony, and when they seek for the gifts of the Gospel, they obtain them if they ask in faith. I speak now of the gifts enumerated in the Bible, that were manifested in the ancient Church. They are now manifested in this Church; for it is the Church of Christ, and it is established on the same basis that it rested upon in the first place. In the Church now is the power of the holy Priesthood, the authority of the Apostleship, and of all the different offices of the Church, as was the case in the Church anciently. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is joined to the Church of the Firstborn behind the veil. This is not the church of man. The principles we have received have not sprung from the brains of men. They have been revealed from God. This Gospel is now being preached as a witness to all nations before the end shall come. Jesus promised this to his disciples just before his crucifixion. He gave a number of signs, “Behold the fig tree, and all the trees. When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.” “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” This Gospel of the kingdom, the Gospel that Christ preached, has been sent down from heaven in our own time, and is being preached as a witness to all the world—not preached for hire or proclaimed for money; for the Elders go out without hope of pecuniary reward, in fact in most instances they pay their own traveling expenses in order to bear their testimony. And wherever people receive that testimony they receive this spirit and they know it is true, and that is the power which bound them together. No human being could weave such a tie as that which unites the Latter-day Saints. It is a heavenly union among themselves, and it is a union between the heavens and the earth. The Saints are gathering from all nations to the place which the Lord has appointed, and are building temples to his name for the benefit of the living and the dead. We have come out of the world, and therefore the world hate us; we have turned our backs upon our former friends and kindred, and have formed new relations and new associations. We have experienced the influence of the Spirit of God, and our desire is to bear testimony to the truth of this work, which shall roll on until the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our God and his Christ, and until “every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” That is our work, that is what we are here for. If we are accumulating any earthly wealth here, it is by the blessing of God that we may the better accomplish his purposes, that we may help to build up his kingdom on the earth, that wickedness may be swept from the earth, that he whose right it is to reign may come and take possession of his kingdom.

Now, my friends, the time at my disposal has nearly expired, but before sitting down, I desire to bear my testimony, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that I know this is the work of God; I know that God lives and that he hears and answers the prayers of the faithful; and I know this work will prevail. I know that no earthly powers can retard it. The combined powers of the earth—Presidents, Kings, Emperors or Governors—cannot stay the progress of this work, because the great Jehovah hath spoken it. This is the way, walk ye in it. Avoid evil and choose the good. “Be ye perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” I know this work will roll on, though all the world is against us. We are a little handful of people compared to the nation of the United States, but true strength is not in numbers. I do not mean when I make such a comparison, that all the millions of this nation are against us; many are opposed because they do not know us, they do not know our object, they do not know our spirit, they do not know what manner of men and women we are. They think we are a set of fanatics. But it is principle that has brought the Latter-day Saints to dwell in these valleys and we live and labor that out of this Church may be built up the kingdom that all the prophets and inspired men of God have seen from the beginning, upon which the glory of God shall shine, and over which the Lord shall rule. This work will prevail, no matter what opposition may be brought to bear against it. If this whole nation should rise up and other nations should join them, with the object of destroying the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they could not accomplish it. Our kind Methodist friends are anxious to see “Mormonism” stamped out; but the more they attack it, the stronger they will make it, as the more united will be our people, and the firmer our desires and our determination to roll on the work of God, and live as He directs. The best policy, therefore, for the Methodists, or any other sect, to pursue, is to let us alone. However, they cannot let us alone, for there is an influence—the influence of the evil one—which is antagonistic to this work, and stirs up the hearts of the wicked against it. All manner of lies are circulated concerning us, which, however, only serve to increase our strength. If we were let alone there might arise internal divisions; but while we are hated and derided by the world, misrepresented and maligned, by preachers and editors, and men who profess to be men of God, we shall become more and more consolidated, for all this only unites us more together. It is according to human nature that it should do so, and in all this we can see the providence of God. This will continue and prevail. I know it just as well as I know that I am here. The general outline of the work to be performed in this generation is clearly mapped out in my mind. And if the Latter-day Saints will keep the commandments of God, and walk in the path they have commenced to tread, revelation and knowledge and wisdom will be given to them from on high, the servants of God at the head will be filled with revelation to feed the flock of Christ, and this work will roll forth in strength and power in the earth, until all things which have been predicted by the Prophets are fulfilled.

May God hasten the day and help us to be faithful, that when His kingdom is established, we may be worthy of a place therein, through Jesus Christ. Amen.