The Creation, Male and Female—Calling of Enoch and Noah—God Selected Abraham and His Seed to Be a Chosen People—He Commanded His People to Multiply But Forbade Adultery and Whoredom in Every Form—Plural Marriage Enjoined Upon Abraham and His Seed to Make Them a Great People—The Principle of Life and Eternal Increase is a Spiritual Power—Modern Christendom Opposed to Large Families—Latter-Day Saints Encourage Them—The Edmunds Law Passed With the Pretence of Repressing Immorality Among the Mormons—That Mask of Hypocrisy Now Thrown Off—The Religious Sentiment of the Latter-Day Saints the Real Object of Persecution—Concluding Exhortations

Discourse by Apostle Erastus Snow, delivered in the Tabernacle, Provo, Sunday Morning, May 31st, (Quarterly Conference) 1885.

The speaker commenced by reading from the 1st chapter of Genesis—from the 25th verse to the end of the chapter.

Proceeding, he said: In the writings of Moses we have an account of the creation of this earth and the inhabitants thereof, both man and beast and every living thing, as also vegetation. In the first verse we read, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

In attempting to communicate intelligence upon any theme, if we attempt to do it by using words and phrases, we are obliged to use such language as the hearers or readers are able to comprehend, and if the language be imperfect the ideas conveyed may be somewhat imperfect or defective, and if the understanding of the persons to whom this language is addressed is limited, and their use and understanding of lan guage is limited, the information sought to be communicated to them will be correspondingly limited and defective. It is only by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost that we are able to see clearly the things of God; but the language employed by the writer of the Book of Genesis and by the translators of that work is perhaps sufficiently clear for our purpose at this time, though the inspired translation rendered by the Prophet Joseph Smith is somewhat clearer and more impressive than the present King James’ translation. In the inspired translation by the Prophet Joseph Smith, it is written that in the beginning the Gods created the heavens and the earth; that the earth was empty and desolate, and God said unto His Only Begotten, let us do so and so; let us divide the light from the darkness; let us separate the waters and cause the dry land to appear; let there be lights in the firmament in the midst of the heavens to give light to the earth; let us create animals to walk upon the earth, and creeping things, and fowls to fly in the air and fish to swim in the waters, &c.; and let us make man in our own image and after our likeness—that is the Father addressing the Son, taking counsel together. This rendering of this first chapter of Genesis is sustained by the writings of the Apostle Paul, when he says: “For of Him”—speaking of the Only Begotten—“and through Him, and for Him, are all things.” Again, it is written in the New Testament concerning the Savior, that He is “the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person.” So that when the Father said unto His Son in the beginning, let us make man in our image and after our likeness, it conveys to us the idea that man was organized in the same form and general appearance of both the Father and the Son. This especially in relation to the man himself; for you will remark the wording of the text which we have read—“in the image of God created He him”—referring to Adam—“male and female created He them.” You will perceive a difference in the language in regard to the creation of females.

Now, it is not said in so many words in the Scriptures, that we have a Mother in heaven as well as a Father. It is left for us to infer this from what we see and know of all living things in the earth including man. The male and female principle is united and both necessary to the accomplishment of the object of their being, and if this be not the case with our Father in heaven after whose image we are created, then it is an anomaly in nature. But to our minds the idea of a Father suggests that of a Mother: As one of our poets says:

“In the heavens are parents single? No; the thought makes reason stare! Truth is reason; truth eternal Tells me, I’ve a Mother there.”

Hence when it is said that God created our first parents in His likeness—“in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them”—it is intimated in language sufficiently plain to my understanding that the male and female principle was present with the Gods as it is with man. It needs only a common understanding of the organism of man and of all living creatures, and the functions of this organism to show the primary object of the Creator, and that is the multiplication of the species, the fulfillment of the commandment given, to multiply and replenish the earth, given to both man and beast. We need only to study the anatomy and construction of the human system, and to understand its powers and capabilities, to comprehend the object and purpose of the Creator, even though the commandment had not been written to multiply and replenish the earth. The ancients who feared God, and kept His commandments, showed that they understood this principle and were willing to obey it. It is written of the first fourteen generations, that each succeeding generation of them lived so many years and begat sons and daughters, and some of them lived well nigh on to a thousand years. They multiplied and increased in the land until wickedness overran the land and it pleased God to check the growth of wickedness by the flood, which swept the wicked off the earth. But before thus destroying the inhabitants of the earth, He caused the righteous to be gathered out from among the wicked by the preaching of the Gospel. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, was a powerful instrument in the hands of God, of rebuking the wickedness of the times. He taught righteousness, gathered the people together, and established a Zion. He labored we are told some 365 years, in the which he communed with God, and taught the people and sanctified his people, so that they were translated to heaven. Many others who remained upon the earth, who had accepted the Gospel, but were not sanctified and prepared to be caught up with Enoch and his people, sought diligently to follow; they purified themselves so that angels ministered unto them, and they were caught up unto Zion before the flood; even all who remained and kept the faith, except Noah and his sons and their families, who were especially called and chosen and detailed to build the ark and enter therein with a selection of the beasts of the earth and the fowls of the air, to preserve seed through the flood. Thus did the Lord gather a harvest of souls unto Himself, of those who believed and obeyed the Gospel and worked righteousness, while the wicked perished in the flood. Then again, the commandment of God to multiply and replenish the earth, was renewed to Noah and his posterity, and soon the desolate places became inhabited. But in the course of a few generations, blindness and darkness and ignorance again began to prevail; wickedness began to raise its head among the children of Noah, and it became necessary that the Lord should select from among the children of Noah the better and nobler seed with whom He would establish His covenant, and upon whom He would confer the keys of the Priesthood, and from among them should be raised up Prophets and Seers and Revelators to teach the people of the nations of the earth, as the oracles of God. These chosen people were Abraham and his seed. Of Abraham it is written that God called him from his father’s house when he dwelt in Ur of the Chaldees, and commanded him to go out from his father’s house because his father was given to the ways of the heathen and to the idolatry of the surrounding peoples. He called him to go to another land where he should be separate from the traditions and teachings of his father, and where he would make of him a great nation, and raise up from his seed a holy people. God appeared unto him in Canaan, whither He led him, and swore by Himself—because He could swear by no greater—that in blessing He would bless him, and in multiplying He would multiply him; that his seed should be as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is upon the seashore for multitude. He renewed this promise to his son Isaac, and his grandson Jacob, who was also named Israel, and from them sprang the house of Israel, and also the children of Arabia, the sons of Ishmael, and the chief tribes of central Asia. It was the seed of Abraham that dwelt in Egypt who were brought into bondage to the Egyptians, and subsequently delivered by the hand of Moses, after wandering forty years in the wilderness, in the land of Canaan. It was from among this people that God raised up prophets from generation to generation to whom He revealed His mind and will. It was this people that was commanded to build first the tabernacle journeying in the wilderness—a sort of moveable temple and subsequently a temple in the land of promise when they should become settled and located there. It was among this people the Savior was born, and labored and taught the Gospel, and was crucified, and rose again from the dead. It was from among this people that He (the Savior) selected and ordained His Apostles to preach the Gospel to all the world. The whole tenor of the Scriptures shows us that those who believed God and were counted His people multiplied and replenished the earth and became numerous as the stars in the heavens and as the sands upon the seashore for multitude, while many of the other unbelieving nations and peoples comparatively dwindled away; and when the history of the generations of Adam shall be revealed and comprehended by the human race, it will be found that in the providence of God He has greatly restricted the more corrupt, while He has enlarged and multiplied the seed of Abraham, who did abide in the covenant; and although many of them have come short in many things and have wandered in darkness and unbelief, yet as a people they have maintained a degree of sexual purity unknown in the Gentile world, and for this reason has God multiplied them in the land. They have great and special promises that in the latter days God would remember them.

Now, while God commanded His people to multiply and replenish the earth, He gave strict laws against promiscuous sexual intercourse. He forbade adultery, fornication, whoredom in every form, and the same doctrine was taught by Paul, the Apostle, namely, “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled; but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” This law prevailed in all ages among the people of God, encouraging honorable wedlock, and restraining illicit sexual intercourse, and there are many physical as well as theological reasons for this law. It is especially binding upon mankind, because they are organized after the image of God, and are His offspring. I refer now to the spirit; for we understand that man in the nobler sense and the true sense, is that immortal eternal being which has come forth from God, and that the earthly tabernacle is but an outer clothing of that immortal being; that the earthly tabernacle is in the image and likeness of the heavenly or eternal being; in other words the body is in the likeness and form of the soul or the spirit, and that it is made conformable to any for the spirit to dwell in, and to fill every portion and particle thereof, and to direct its energies and powers to develop its capabilities and to guide its actions. Hence that immortal man is held responsible for the deeds of the body, and it is written he shall be judged according to the deeds done in the body; because the body does not control the spirit, but the spirit controls the body. Still the Apostle Paul says that there is a law of the flesh—that wars against the spirit; and, says Paul, “to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” He further says that this law of the flesh—that is, in our members and the lusts thereof—that wars against the law of the spirit brings our bodies into bondage, even the bondage of sin; but it is made the duty of the spirit to subdue the flesh and the lusts and the desires thereof, and to bring it into subjection to the law of the spirit. This is the warfare and the struggle of our lives. This begins with the development of our physical power and the lusts and desires of the flesh. The spirit of man is capable of receiving from the Spirit of our Father the Holy Spirit, which is in connection with the Father and the Son, and is a minister of God unto men; which lighteth up our minds and giveth us understanding; for “the spirit of man is the candle of the Lord,” says one of old. This teaches us just as far as we will give heed to it, how to walk in obedience to the law of God, and how to resist and overcome evil with good, and as far as the written word of God is given to us, its object and influence upon us is to restrain the flesh and bring it into subjection to the spirit. The lusts and desires of the flesh are not of themselves unmitigated evils. On the contrary they are implanted in us as a stimulus to noble deeds, rather than low and beastly deeds. These affections and loves that are planted in us are the nobler qualities that emanate from God. They stimulate us to the performance of our duties; to multiplying and replenishing the earth to assume the responsibilities of families, and rear them up for God. They encourage and stimulate the woman to bear her burden and perform the duties of life because of the hope of a glorious future, while it stimulates the husband and father in like manner. Every instinct in us is for a wise purpose in God when properly regulated and restrained, and guided by the Holy Spirit and kept within its proper legitimate bounds. But all these instincts and desires of the flesh are susceptible of perversion, and when perverted result in sin. Whenever the Gospel has been preached on earth, and Prophets and holy men have been sent among the people, the burden of their lives has been to encourage them to the proper exercise of their powers and functions and to regulate them and restrain them within proper limits, such as are prescribed in the written law, and in the law of our being. Excesses of all kinds tend to death and to sickness and misery, physically and spiritually; while temperance and moderation and the proper use of all our functions tends to the glory of God and the welfare of His children. The chief study of man is to comprehend these principles, and to apply them in their lives.

I said there was a time after the flood that the seed of Noah began to corrupt their ways, and God chose out from among them the seed of Abraham, with whom He established His covenant that He might preserve unto himself the Priesthood and its ordinances, and a people who would receive His law, and among whom He would raise up Prophets, and through whom He would send His Son in the meridian of time to become the Savior and Redeemer of the world. Thus Abraham was blessed of the Lord to multiply and increase in the earth greatly. When the Lord determined to bless and multiply Abraham and His seed, He commanded that they should take of the daughters of Eve for wives and multiply and increase in the land. I do not say that plural marriage was not practiced prior to this time, but I say from and after Abraham it was enjoined upon Israel, the seed of Abraham, for a wise and glorious purpose in Him, namely, that of increasing them and giving them the ascendancy among the nations of the earth, as I once heard the Prophet Joseph remark. In speaking of these things, and inquiring wherefore God had enjoined plural marriage upon Abraham and his seed, his answer was, because He had purposed to multiply and increase them in the land and make of them a great people and give them the ascendancy over other peoples of the earth, and that because, as he said of Abraham, He knew that He would serve Him and command his seed after Him.

We are aware that in modern Christendom there are some people who forbid to marry. In one of the Epistles of Paul [1 Timothy iv. 3] he states that in the latter times there would be those who would forbid to marry. We know there are some professing Christians who regard the union of the sexes as an evil, as a sin, as the result of our fallen natures, and as a form of the gratification of fleshly lusts which is offensive before God. Hence we have the Shakers who, acting upon this doctrine, abstain from marriage. If all were to embrace their faith, and carried it out in their lives, the human race would soon be extinct, and the great purpose of Jehovah in their creation would seem to have failed. But fortunately those who embrace this faith, and exemplify it in their lives, are few. Yet there are many who are willing to gratify the lusts of the flesh but strive to avoid its consequences and responsibilities. But those who have received in good faith the commandment of God to multiply and replenish the earth and assume the proper responsibilities of the household, and regulate their lives and household by the law of the Lord, have always been blessed and favored of God, and the great difference between the Latter-day Saints at the present time and modern Christendom, is this more extensive comprehension of this first law of God to man. We understand there is a purpose in all these things; that the Supreme Being is working with an object in view and for the accomplishment of an end, and that object and end is worthy of the God who has created us; that in infinite space He may cause to be organized innumerable worlds and glorious orbs to be filled with intelligent beings capable of enlargement, of an expansion of glory and of happiness; for in their enlargement and increase He is glorified, while they in turn are glorified in and through Him in the performance of their labors and duties and the multiplying and increasing of their species, inasmuch as they do it unto the Lord and keep His law, so that they can be sanctified before Him and be endowed with the power of endless lives.

I know it is supposed by some that the power of increase is inherent in us and in all living things, and in all plants, but I do not view it in that light. I view the temporal organism as the instrument and not the creator itself; it is only the instrument by which it is worked out and accomplished; that the principle of life and eternal increase pertains not to the flesh nor to the grosser elements of this earth, but it is the spiritual power that has emanated from a nobler sphere that has come out from God, or that had its existence previously in a first estate. Our Savior Himself is an example of this. We are told He was born of the Virgin Mary, in the meridian of time. Yet we learn He was with the Father from the beginning and was with Him in the morning of creation. While he was here upon the earth 1,800 years ago, He said to the Jews, “You speak of Abraham as your father. Verily I say unto you before Abraham was, I am.” And again in John’s revelations it is written that He was as a lamb slain from the foundation of the world. He is called a lamb of God typically speaking, because the offering of a lamb in sacrifice upon the altar was a type of the crucifixion of the Savior, and the commandment of God given to the children of men in the beginning to build an altar and offer sacrifice with a lamb upon it, was typical of the Savior of the world. Hence came the term that He was the Lamb of God which the Father sent unto the world to be an offering for sin. So also it is written in the Scriptures—speaking of God—that He is the Father of our spirits, and, says Paul, it is necessary to be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live.

In modern Christendom—in these United States especially, and in staid New England more than perhaps any other portion of this American continent—is this commandment of God to multiply and replenish the earth nullified. The Latter-day Saints are looked upon with envy, with jealousy and reproach because they do not take the same view as they do, and their numerous families stand out in bold contrast with the New England families, where you will find as you go through the land one, two, or at most three children in a family, and many families with none. In some instances this apparent sterility may have resulted from various abuses, but in most causes the result of devices of wicked men and women to counteract and prevent the fulfilling of the great commandment of God to multiply and replenish the earth, and in many instances, feticide, infanticide and child murder are the result of this very general desire to avoid the responsibility of families. It has become a crying evil in the land. Some writers deeply deplore this crying evil, and represent it in its true light; while many other writers and speakers are either silent upon the subject or give their voice and influence in its favor. A few years ago I remembered to have read a discourse of Brooklyn’s great orator, Henry Ward Beecher, in which he took the ground that any considerable increase of the human species would be a positive evil, something to be deplored; and he elaborately attempted to portray the evils that would result from it, and the whole tendency of the discourse was to discourage the multiplication of the human species. Others have followed in the same train of reasoning. They seem to have forgotten the commandment given to our first parents, and never to have comprehended the purposes of Jehovah. Those who adopt these views have seemed to imagine that there would be greater happiness in the gratification of fleshly lusts, and in pandering to pride and worldly pleasures, and the increase of wealth, than to obey the commandment of God. They have resolved to avoid raising large families. The last tour I took through New England (which is my native country), about twelve years ago, I was more deeply impressed with this state of things than I had ever been before. When I was a boy, in Vermont, I knew not the ways of the world, and comprehended not what was going on, in our large cities and more populous parts of the country. I was born of honest parentage, who reverenced the principles of life and salvation, and I understood not what was going on around me, nor do I think those evils existed there to the same extent that they now do. But as I remarked, when I made my last tour through New England, I was more forcibly impressed with this state of society than ever before. I spoke of it to my aged aunt in Rhode Island. I said to her: “Aunt, when you were young, and when my mother was young, rearing large families, it was a source of joy and pleasure to rear offspring. Now as I go through the land, I see the efforts of the people are in an opposite direction. “Oh, yes,” said she, “it is unpopular now, for people to have large families; it is considered vulgar, men and women now seek to avoid these responsibilities.” This is a well known fact. The tendency of the age is to animalism, to the gratification of fleshly lusts and worldly pleasures.

Well, the Latter-day Saints have experienced in their own lives something nobler, and have learned to recognize the wisdom of Jehovah in that order of things which He enjoined upon our first parents. This is the marked difference between the unbelieving world and the Latter-day Saints. I say the unbelieving world, because I regard this doctrine which I have referred to as a doctrine of devils and not the doctrine of Christ; that the tendency of it leads, as I before remarked, to feticide, infanticide, child murder, and to the gratification of fleshly lusts and worldly pleasure without fulfilling the great object and purposes of our Father, and the effect in the end would be the wasting away of the human species if it were generally adopted. It is high time that a voice from heaven should rebuke it. It is high time that the Lord, who wishes to raise up seed unto Himself, should command His people and renew upon them the obligations placed upon our first parents. It is to the Latter-day Saints that this mission has been committed, and the result is the multitude of school children that we find all over this Territory. Over fifty thousand Sabbath school children in the Territory of Utah—nearly one-third of the entire population, as shown in our statistics at our various Conferences—are children under eight years of age. This is a startling fact to that class of the Christian world who are pursuing the opposite course. One of the Sabbath school superintendents of the City of New York, recently expressed himself very pointedly and plainly upon this subject in relation to the wealthy portion of the church-going people of New York. In several thousand families attending the popular churches of New York, there could be mustered only about eighty Sabbath school children, and he attributed it to this prevailing desire for pleasure, wealth, and the shirking of the cares and responsibilities of the household, until the rearing of families was left almost entirely to the poor, to what is termed the vulgar people.

I need not harrow up the feelings of the people with lengthy details such as are found in police reports and statistics from various sources, showing the alarming increase of these crying evils. Suffice it to say that the chief warfare against the Latter-day Saints at the present time is an endeavor to compel us to conform to their new state of things, or to their ideas of social sins and social duties. In other words it is laconically expressed by President Cleveland in the late interview he had with our delegates that were sent to him with the memorial and protest adopted by the Latter-day Saints in mass meeting a few weeks ago. President Cleveland listened with courtesy to what our delegation had to say with regard to the feeling and desires of the people, and expressed himself in this wise: that he would endeavor as far as lay in his power to give us honest men to administer the law, and he concluded with a smile upon his countenance, with this expression: “I wish you people out there could be like the rest of us.” This is a homely phrase, it might not attract any special attention under ordinary circumstances; but when we consider the facts as they exist, and the tendency of the age, and of the Christian world at the present time, and the state of things in the east when compared with us, the remark is very significant. It comes home to us, and we ask ourselves, can we, after the light that we have received, after the experience that we have had, and with the hopes that are placed before us in the Gospel of a glorious future—can we relapse back into that state of things and be like unto them? I would not say aught personal in relation to Mr. Cleveland, believing him to be an honorable man of the world, yet his enemies in the campaign accused him of some irregularities of life that are common in the world, and it is reported that he knows something of sexual relationship, though he has not assumed the responsibility of a family and household; and in this respect, though perhaps among the most honorable, he represents a large and respectable portion of unmarried men. We do not understand that in thus expressing himself to our delegates that he desired us to exactly imitate himself, but that he wished we could confine ourselves at least to one wife. If however, the parallel were carried out more fully, we would not only confine ourselves to one wife as far as owning them in that capacity is concerned, but we would try like others have, to limit our children also and imitate the other vices of the age.

Well, now, the expounders of the federal laws in our midst—the Prosecuting Attorneys, Judges, Marshals, and other federal representatives that have been sent among us to enforce the special laws that have been passed by Congress against the Latter-day Saints, seem to make the line of distinction more marked than has ever before been done. During the great furor which swept over the land four years ago, which resulted in the passage of the Edmunds law, the Christian ministers urged their congregations to send memorials to Congress for the passage of that law on the ground of repressing immorality, licentiousness and crime among the Mormons, and it was this hypocritical mask which they took on at that time that hoodwinked and deceived the great body of the people and lashed the country into a furor and crowded Congressmen to vote for the unconstitutional measure, that wicked and malicious law known as the Edmunds law. I may be accused of treason for speaking in this way, in calling this a wicked and malicious law. I may be counted guilty of treason because I dare to think; but yet, treason has never been defined by the Constitution of our country nor the Courts, to consist in a freedom of speech, much less in the freedom of thought, but has been defined as levying of war against the Government, or aiding and abetting its enemies in time of war.

The great furor in the Christian world, or at least throughout the Christian denominations of America four years ago, urging upon Congress the passage of the Edmunds law, was on the ground of the immorality and licentiousness of the Mormons, and a desire to repress it. But now the federal representatives in their efforts to enforce it in our country, have found themselves under the necessity of throwing the mask off themselves and off the country—off the priests and religious people. I believe some of you in Provo had something to do in bringing this about and rendering it necessary for them to lay off the mask. I believe Commissioner Smoot was called upon to investigate a case of an outsider seducing his wife’s sister, and a child was the result; and he felt called upon under the law to hold him to answer before the grand jury for unlawful cohabitation. The assistant prosecuting attorney unwillingly allowed the thing to go on until the man was committed for this offense; intimating at the same time that he thought this was pushing the Edmunds law a little too far and beyond what was the spirit and intent of the law. If this case should be carried to its legitimate end, and the man should be sent to prison and fined for unlawful cohabitation, then the door would be thrown wide open for many others to follow for the same offense. Hence such a construction was considered an element of danger to themselves, to the representatives of the federal government and their aiders and abettors in this country; that such a construction of the Edmunds law as had been the popular construction and the understanding of the masses, and as was the professed understanding of the Christian world—for they urged its passage to repress immorality and sexual crime—that if this construction was allowed to prevail in Utah and the surrounding Territories, and the District of Columbia, and other places where the United States exercise jurisdiction, it would operate very hard on a great many who would not be so well prepared to bear it as the Latter-day Saints. Hence it seemed very de sirable that their feet should be slipped out of the trap and ours left in. Accordingly their wits were brought to bear in this direction, and on the occasion of the trial of President Angus M. Cannon on the charge of unlawful cohabitation a plan was concocted and carried out, with all the leading attorneys of the land and the Chief Justice upon the bench, to discuss this question and decide upon it. In this connection the representative of the government boldly came to the front and threw off the mask and proclaimed at the outset of this trial that he knew he could not prove sexual intercourse between the parties at bar, and that he should not attempt it. Furthermore he stated that he did not consider sexual intercourse any element of crime; that the Edmunds law, so called, was a blow aimed at the status of the Mormon system of marriage alone, and that the third section of that law relating to unlawful cohabitation had no reference to sexual sins; that it was not designed to repress adultery, fornication, lust, or any term of sexual sin; that that was left to local legislation; that the legislation of Congress in the third section of the Edmunds law, as well as all other legislation upon that subject was aimed directly at the status of the marriage alone. In this regard, therefore, he took precisely the ground that Governor Murray did when he first issued his oath for notaries public, and which was afterwards adopted by the board of Utah Commissioners and incorporated in their test oath for registration, referring to cohabitation with more than one woman in the marriage relation. Mr. Dickson took this view, that Murray was right; that the Utah Commissioners were right; that this was the sense of the country; that this was the design of Congress; that the Edmunds law was a blow aimed at the Mormon system of marriage, or to use Judge Zane’s term, the habit and repute of marriage, or the “holding out,” to use another favorite phrase, of two or more women as wives of one husband—that the whole and only object of the third section of the Edmunds law relating to unlawful cohabitation, as well as all other anti-polygamy acts of Congress was against the institution of marriage. Finding, however, it difficult to prove marriages because of the disinclination of people to testify, and because of the difficulty of reaching any record evidence of these marriages, it was thought necessary to take high grounds and assume this: that the Mormons are known to be a virtuous people, are known to condemn in strong terms and by every influence in their power every form of sexual sin, and that they do not indulge in intercourse with the sexes to any extent only in the marriage relation. This was the well known and established character of the Mormon people, and was the result of their teachings and practice for a generation past. Hence wherever children were found in Mormon families, they are the result of marriage. If a woman is found pregnant, she must be looked upon as a wife, and the officers are justified in seizing her and bringing her before a commissioner, or a jury or judge, and compelling her to give the name of the father of her child, and that is deemed sufficient proof that he is guilty of polygamy, or if two or more women live in close proximity to a man, and he is seen visiting them, and especially if the children call him father, it is sufficient proof on which the jury may indict for polygamy or unlawful cohabitation, as the case may be. Consequently they have taken this high ground that it is no longer necessary to prove even the first or second marriage, nor is it any longer necessary to prove sexual intercourse in order to establish unlawful cohabitation, but the common habit and repute of marriage and the appearance of marriage is all sufficient. Thus the ordinary rules of evidence are set aside, and the mask of hypocrisy which governed the Christian world when they were urging the passage of this Edmunds law through Congress is thrown aside. A bold and important testimony is given to the world through our persecutors to the morality of the Mormon people being so far in excess of the rest of the world of mankind, and to our integrity to the marriage relation. We wish indeed that all that is said in this respect were strictly true, that there were no irregularities among us. We cannot quite say that, but we do rejoice and thank God for the general good testimony which has been given of us in truth in this behalf. Not long since President Smoot and myself and some others were congratulating ourselves, and President Taylor was congratulating himself, and many others of our aged fathers, in having placed themselves in a condition to escape the operation of the third section of the Edmunds law by confining themselves to one woman. I said to some of my brethren in a Priesthood meeting in St. George, one time when they were very badly agitated and not knowing whom the lightning—or the Edmunds act would strike next—I said to them, you old grey-headed men whose wives have grown old with you and are past bearing children, if you choose now to agree among yourselves that you will live within the third section of the Edmunds law and allow the husband and father to confine himself to one wife, while he cares for the balance and cares for and protects his children, I see not but what you may do this with honor to yourselves and without sacrificing any principles of the law of God, or going back upon your covenants, providing this be agreeable among yourselves. I was somewhat with others, congratulating myself in being able to do this without sacrificing any special principle or going back on our families, but it would seem that these noble, aged sires in Israel were not to be let out quite so easily as this, for I am a little inclined to feel it was a little dishonorable, and yet perhaps not altogether before God. The idea was that they might possibly escape, while their sons and others who might have taken wives and raised families, and entered into those sacred relations which are to them dearer than life itself, would have to abide the consequences. But it seems that under Judge Zane’s ruling it is not these who are raising families that are always liable; for you may raise a family by your sister-in-law, if you don’t call her your wife, as you understand from the case I have referred to. No sooner had Judge Zane sustained Prosecuting Attorney Dickson’s view of the case, than this Mr. Aimes was brought before him on habeas corpus and discharged, and he (the Judge) fully announced the doctrine that a man could have as many children by sister-in-laws as he pleased; that no matter how much a man might seduce his neighbor’s wife, or neighbor’s daughter, if he is not in the marriage relation with them, it is no offense against the Edmunds law. But with a Mormon, whether he is raising a family or not, if he is even so unfortunate as to have no chil dren, or if his wives are past bearing children, and he has entirely separated himself so far as bed is concerned, and there is evidence of entire restraint on his part, still, unless he goes back on himself and on his wives and children, he comes under the law. In other words, if he continues to “hold them out” as wives he is guilty of cohabitation. Hence, Brother Smoot and myself, and others, have been congratulating ourselves a little too soon. You will find that the old men and the young men are all coupled together, their feet still in the trap, while the adulterer, fornicator, whoremonger, harlot and libertine, the trap is open just enough to let their feet out. Now they can vote, they can hold office, they can raise children providing they do not do it in the marriage relation, and they hold out this inducement to you and me: “Become like one of us.” “I wish you out there could be like the rest of us.” “I wish you would only disown your wives, then do what you will you are secure—that is, you must only own one wife, for this is the popular idea, the sentiment of the age. This is the voice of fifty millions of people. You must listen to it. Congress has said it. If you hesitate (some go so far as to say), you will be held to answer for treason. Treason against what? Treason against the law. Well, then, of course every thief is guilty of treason. Every man that steals an axe handle shall be tried for treason because he disobeys the law, by the same parity of reasoning. Again, if you try to avoid the law and we can catch you, why you are doing a terribly wicked thing. Yes; if spotters are hunting down some luckless fellow or his wife, and they slip out at the back door, or hide in a haystack, why, you must be held for treason, or some other crime. Now, I have always understood that catching goes before hanging; that it is the duty of the officers to make arrests when indictments are found; and it is equally understood that there is a guarantee in the Constitution of the United States that no man shall be held to answer for any crime except on presentment of an indictment by a grand jury. Furthermore, when indictments are found, the parties against whom they are found are known only to the jury and public prosecutor; the general public are not supposed to know anything about them, and the general maxim of law is that everybody is innocent until they are proven guilty. Consequently, we are not supposed to know that when anybody is going out to the haystack that they are fleeing from an officer, or that every tramp that comes along is a deputy marshal, or if he is that he has a warrant in his pocket for that man, and if he has it is his business to catch him and not ours. Does not the law forbid you to aid in the escape of a criminal? Yes, if he has been found a criminal by a competent jury and under sentence of the law. Then it is public notice to you that he is a criminal, but not otherwise. I merely make mention of this because of the foolish threats that are sometimes made to terrify ignorant people. Because it is well known the world over, so far as anything is known of us, and of the legislation of Congress against us as a religious people, that there is an issue between Congress and the Latter-day Saints, and that issue is of a religious character and relating to the social relations of the Latter-day Saints. The views which we hold are founded upon the revelations of God, both ancient and modern. We have given evidence to the world of our sincerity in this, and yet the world do not seem to accept it. I believe that Mr. Dickson was honest enough to express his conviction of our sincerity in this, and that the Mormon people, as a people, were moral people, and that their teachings and actions showed that they did not indulge in these sexual sins outside of the marriage relation to any great extent; while the great mass of mankind who know us not are not willing to give us this credit. They have raised the hue and cry all over the land for so many years, that we were guilty of gross immorality, that it seems as if the Lord intended in the way now being done to give the world ocular demonstration and a strong testimony of the integrity of this people, of the sincerity of their actions, of the depth and strength of their faith, and their devotion to their religious convictions, and their integrity in carrying them out. It is a source of gratification and thanksgiving that but few, comparatively speaking, among us have felt to go back on themselves and to throw off allegiance to God and to their families and friends, and to violate their consciences; but few have been found to do this in order to escape fine and imprisonment. How far it will become necessary that this testimony should go forth to the world, and how many should suffer so that their testimony should go abroad to mankind to convince the world and to vindicate God and His people, I am not yet able to say, for I am persuaded it will be as the Lord will; that whatsoever is necessary we must submit to with the best grace possible. I do not mean to say that every one who may be thought to come under the third section of the Edmunds law shall go and complain on himself, or if complained of by some spotter that he shall go straightway and confess guilt, or if arraigned for trial on an indictment, that he shall plead guilty without a trial; I do not say this. Every man must be left to choose for himself what course he will pursue in relation to those matters; for pleading guilty or not guilty when arraigned before the Court is a mere technical form and a liberty which every prisoner enjoys, that of pleading guilty or not guilty. The plea of guilty, of course, saves the expense of a trial, while a plea of not guilty, means that the prosecutor must prove the charge made in the indictment. I do not say, therefore, that in submitting as best we can to the operation of the law that we shall not avail ourselves of constitutional privileges and the rights accorded to us. We have the right to be tried by a jury of our peers if we can get one, but we cannot get one under this act. The act was purposely framed to cut off that right. The right of a man to be tried by a jury of his peers—this term originated in Great Britain and was guaranteed in the Magna Charta—means simply a jury of his equals. If a man belonged to the nobility of the land, he was entitled to be tried by a jury of his equals. If he was a plebeian, a common laborer in the humble walks of life, he was entitled to a jury of his equals, his associates, neighbors, those that knew him best and were able to sympathize with him and comprehend his position and circumstances and the motives governing his acts, so that a righteous judgment might be rendered concerning him. This guarantee was incorporated in the American Constitution. The right of a man to be tried by a jury of his peers implied all that was necessary to pro tect the citizens against malicious prosecutions; but in our special case, under the operation of special laws enacted against the Latter-day Saints, we are compelled to go to trial before a jury of our avowed enemies; indeed, none are qualified to sit upon juries in our case unless they are pronounced against us; because, as I said before, it is not a sexual crime that is on trial; it is a religious sentiment of the Mormon people; it is this status of their social relations founded upon their religious convictions that is on trial. Hence it is the pronounced opposition to our convictions that is a qualification for a juryman in our case.

Well, we were told by the Prophet Joseph Smith, that the United States Government and people would come to this: that they would undermine one principle of the Constitution after another, until its whole fabric would be torn away, and that it would become the duty of the Latter-day Saints and those in sympathy with them to rescue it from destruction, and to maintain and sustain the principles of human freedom for which our fathers fought and bled. We look for these things to come in quick succession. When I first heard of the—what shall I call it? The somersault of Judge Zane and Prosecuting Attorney Dickson, the question was asked, Now that the mask is thrown off, how will this take throughout the country? Will the hireling priests throughout the land sustain this action? Will they consent to have this hypocritical mask thrown off then, and will the Supreme Court of the United States and the people of the United States sustain the ruling? I unhesitatingly answer, yes, they will, and if ever it reaches the Supreme Court of the United States, they will sustain it; the hypocritical hireling priests will sustain it; the people will sustain it and say, “Crucify them, crucify them, they have no friends.”

It becomes us, then, to be better Saints, does it not? Yes. It becomes us to be more united than we have ever been before. It becomes us to put away our foolishness; to cease all sin; to observe the words of wisdom; to walk in all humility before God; to be faithful and earnest in our prayers, and to imitate good old Daniel. Never mind the lion’s den nor the murderer’s Pen, but so live that we can be counted worthy before God, and whatsoever He has designed should come upon us that we may have grace given unto us according to our day, and that the world may record of us in future generations that we were an honest and a noble race, true to our God and to our convictions, and worthy of the high calling of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. We should not blame one another for not going to the Penitentiary. We should not find fault with President Taylor, or President Cannon, or President Woodruff, because they do not rush into the Penitentiary, or go into court and plead guilty, and at once go to prison. Nor need we until the Lord requires it, rise up and say, “build a new Penitentiary and let us all go in together.” We are not required to do this, but may claim our rights under the law. We may leave the Government officials to do their duty, and if they will honestly and rightly act according to the rules of evidence within their prescribed jurisdiction, it will take them some time to get us all into the Penitentiary, because under the law we can insist upon a trial and upon a jury. Judge Howard was reported to have said that it took very little law and less evidence to convict a Mormon in Arizona. Nevertheless there are certain forms that they have to go through, all of which takes a certain length of time, and a certain amount of labor on the part of the Prosecuting Attorney, and if he gets but $40 for each indictment, give him the privilege of drawing up the indictment and proving the charge therein. Amen.

How Judgment Should Be Formed—Effects of the Gospel—Wherein is the Efficacy of Baptism—Who Are Benefited By It—Persecutions Endured By the Saints—Effects of Persecution

Discourse by Apostle Erastus Snow, delivered in the Stake Meetinghouse, Ephraim, Saturday Afternoon (Quarterly Conference), May 31st, 1884.

Truly we are a blessed people. Of all people upon the face of the earth we have most reason to be thankful that the Lord our God has been mindful of us, and has set His hand the second time to recover Israel.

The prophet Isaiah in the 11th chapter of his book says:

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:”

“And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord;”

“And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:”

“But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.”

I understand this to have reference to our Savior who, after the flesh, was a descendant of Jesse, Jesse being the father of King David. Out of the stock of Jesse came the royal house that not only ruled in Israel anciently, but the Savior, who is appointed of His Father to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords, because He is anointed to be the Savior of mankind, and when He comes the second time, according to the revelations of St. John, He will have the name I have mentioned.

“And he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:”

“But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth.”

This, too, is a lesson for all his people—for His Servants who minister on the earth, for the judges in Israel, the Bishops, High Councils—not always to judge after the sight of the eye nor to “reprove after the hearing of the ear, but with righteousness shall he judge the poor.” Sometimes we find the poor oppressed, though this is not common among the Latter-day Saints, who are influenced, generally, by a spirit of charity and love; but sometimes in our midst, as in the world, people are accused wrongfully, things are misrepresented, and for this reason the prophet speaks of the Savior as he does. We are not always able to determine with certainty the character of any transaction—that is to say, of the spirit and motive that influence and promote action—merely from what we see, nor yet from what somebody may tell us. It is necessary that we become enlightened by the Holy Spirit, to enable us to see as God sees, and to understand the motives, purposes and designs of the hearts of our fellow men. God judges us all according to the motives and designs of the heart. If our purpose is to do good, and that which is right in His sight, he judges us accordingly, though we may, through our weakness, or through circumstances that we are not always able to control, do things that are not strictly in their outward appearance right and correct, or we may neglect to do that which we should do. The Lord judges all men according to the motives that prompt the action, rather than from the action itself. It is not murder in the sight of heaven always, when a man is killed, for sometimes he brings his blood upon his own head by thrusting himself upon some other one to destroy him and is himself slain in the attack, and his blood is therefore upon his own head, and it is not counted murder to the man that slew him. The one who only saw a part of the transaction might accuse the other of murder; but when it comes to be sifted to the foundation, and both hearts can be scanned, and the cause that resulted in the conflict discovered, it is found that the man that slew is innocent, and the man that was slain is the guilty one. I refer to this as a sample. So with many of the transactions of life. So also we may neglect duties that we should attend to, but we neglect them in our ignorance, when we are uninformed, and the Lord does not lay it to our charge until we are better instructed and our defects pointed out to us. Then if we neglect them He holds us responsible for that neglect. So also we may do things that in themselves are not right, not strictly correct, and yet if we are not posted and are ignorant of the evil of the transaction, it is not imputed to us as evil. This is the doctrine that Jesus laid down. “That servant, which knew his Lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.” That is, a few stripes shall be meted out to him merely to vindicate the law, and to make an impression upon him that what he had done was wrong, though he was ignorant of it before; but a little punishment is meted out, just enough to satisfy and vindicate the law, and to correct the impression upon the individual, to show him that he must be careful, for he had trodden upon forbidden ground. This is a rule that our Father is governed by in judging His children, and it is a rule that we should strive also to be governed by in regard to one another, and especially those who are called to be judges in Israel, or whose calling and duty it is to settle difficulties and assist in adjusting differences among their brethren and sisters.

“And he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.”

I understand this to be a figurative expression of the Prophet Isaiah: the rod of His mouth by which He should smite the earth. I understand that to be the word that proceeded out of His mouth, the words given of His Father; for His word was that which He received from the Father, and that which goeth forth among the children of men, conquering and to conquer. It is that word that has made impressions upon the Latter-day Saints in other lands and countries where they were born, and brought them to believe and obey the Gospel, and gathered them to this land. And it is that word also which condemns the wicked, and therefore the prophet says:

“With the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.”

For the Gospel of life and salvation is a savor of death unto death, or of life unto life. So says the Apostle Paul. It was so in his days, in the days when Jesus and His Apostles first proclaimed this Gospel to the Jews in Palestine; when they went among the Gentiles it was the same. It is the same today. It has been the same in all ages of the world. When the Gospel is sent forth, the word of God among the people, it is a savor of death unto death, or of life unto life. Therefore while the righteous are governed and exalted and blessed through the word, the wicked perish. This is illustrated in another form of expression by the Apostle Paul, when he says that he was slain through the law. Says he:

“For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.”

He is using this illustration to the Jews—“Sin revived, and I died”—that is, when the law was made known—when the will and commandments of God were revealed and made known, woe! be unto those who should hear and disobey, for if they disobeyed condemnation would follow. This illustrates the principle contained in this verse I have read from Isaiah:

“With the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.”

And this is equally true of his fellow laborers and servants who have the word of God in faith, and speak in the name of the Lord, and by the power of the Holy Ghost, and have authority so to speak and act. Their testimony, their words, and the counsels of God that go unto the people through them, are a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. The Gospel exalts those who receive it, and brings condemnation and destruction upon those who refuse to obey it. But without the Gospel being sent out by authority and power from God, the inhabitants of the earth could not be ripened for destruction. We read in many places in the Scriptures concerning the destruction of the wicked in the last days. But we read also in other Scriptures, that the Lord destroys them only when they are ripe in their iniquity. Jesus, in prophesying of His second coming, and the destruction that shall fall upon the wicked, speaks in this wise—that they shall fill up the cup of their iniquity. This principle we see referred to and illustrated in the days of Abraham. The Lord promised unto him the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession. Nevertheless, his seed must be brought into bondage in Egypt, and remain there until those who dwelt in the land of Canaan had filled up the cup of their iniquity. The people were not yet ripe for destruction, and therefore the Lord could not displace them and put Abraham and his seed in possession of his land.

So the Lord has dealt with nations and generations from the beginning, and so will He in the latter times. We need not marvel because the Latter-day Saints are everywhere spoken against, and the wicked conspire to overthrow them. We need not marvel that even in this boasted land of freedom and liberty, statesmen, rulers and judges should place the iron heel of oppression upon the Latter-day Saints, and seek by every way in their power to bring evil upon them, to discourage them, to hedge up their way, and to destroy them. They must needs do these things. They must needs harden their hearts against the Lord and against His commandments. They must needs do many things that are wicked in His sight and oppressive to His people, in order that God may judge them, and that they fill up the cup of their iniquity. And it must needs be that the Saints, too, should be tried in all things even as Abraham was tried when he was commanded to offer up his only son. It must needs be that when the Gospel found us in our scattered condition mid the nations of the earth, and we yielded obedience to it, that we should be despised of our fellow creatures, that we should be reviled, so that we should feel it a pleasure to leave our fatherland, the graves of our ancestors, the home of our youth and childhood, and gather to Zion. Were it not for these two things that are working in the earth we should not be gathered together; we should not be willing to do it; we should love the home of our ancestors and the country that gave us birth. But because of the persecutions and hatred of the wicked we are weaned from them. As the Savior said on a certain occasion:

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I come not to send peace, but a sword.”

“For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

“And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”

At first thought it would seem a strange idea that the Prince of Peace, whose birth was announced by angels to the shepherds saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men”—I say, at first thought it would seem strange that the Prince of Peace so announced should say:

“I come not to send peace, but a sword * * * I am come to set a man at variance against his father, etc. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”

But it is all easily explained by our experience and observation, and by considering His teachings and the effects thereof and the words of the Apostle concerning the preaching of the Gospel being a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. We go out into the Gentile world, and we find a great variety of religious opinions and many different religious sects. We find Catholics, Protestants, and various denominations and sects of Protestantism. They are all laboring together in the same field, preaching different doctrines and items of faith, and all professing to be the religion of Christ. All their teachers profess to be preachers of the Gospel, and their followers all profess to be Christians, and yet there is not power enough in all the doctrines and systems that they are teaching and establishing to produce a separation between the righteous and the wicked. They all continue to harmonize together—at least so far that they all count each other Christians, and it is very difficult to distinguish the Christian from the infidel, unless it be that the Christian is the worst. But not so when the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached. It always did produce a separation between the righteous and the wicked. It drew the line of distinction. It was always like putting yeast into a beer barrel. It sets it to working, and whoever has examined a beer barrel while the beer is working in it under a microscope, will see the way that the beer works itself clear. It is by the different properties it contains running in different directions. You will see the liquid full of little animals running in different directions, and it continues to work in this sort of a way until it becomes clear. Well, the working of beer in a barrel reminds me of the preaching of the Gospel in the earth. It sets Saints to running together. It works out apostates from among us, and they take the opposite direction. It draws the line of distinction between the righteous and the wicked, and that work begins from the moment the Gospel is sounded among the people. The Spirit of truth operates upon the hearts of those who are open to receive it. It draws them to the fountain of life and light. It draws them into the water and then to Zion, and then keeps drawing them nearer and nearer to God; while with those that reject the Gospel, they keep going further and further from the Lord and His people. They harden their hearts more and more against them, and give way to wickedness and all manner of corruption. But while the wicked on the one hand are thus filling up their cup of iniquity, the righteous, on the other hand are called to sanctify themselves and be prepared for the glorious coming of the Savior. It is for this cause that we build temples, and that God reveals to us the ordinances for the sanctification of His people and further glory and exaltation.

The ordinance of baptism, simple as it is, is appointed by the Father as the firstfruits of repentance—that is, baptism in water for the remission of sins. He did not appoint Presbyterian baptisms and Roman Catholic baptisms, sprinkling a little water on the forehead and calling that baptism. God never appointed these. There is no place in the Bible to indicate that He ever sanctioned such a thing. The Savior set the example to the human family himself, in going down into the water and being immersed in the river Jordan by John the Baptist. But this same order of baptism had been revealed before this: but that there needs be no mistake the Savior set the example before all the people, and then continued himself to baptize for a season in the same manner and ordained His Apostles to continue the work. And He has appointed that all those who receive this ordinance in His name may receive also the resurrection of their bodies, and baptism, or immersion in water, is in the likeness of the death and burial and resurrection of our Savior. By this ordinance we show forth unto the Lord that we lay off and bury the old man of sin in the waters of baptism, and by rising out of the waters of baptism we show forth unto the Lord that we put on the new man after Christ Jesus, and walk henceforth in newness of life. All those, therefore, who believe the Gospel, and yield obedience to its requirements, and are baptized in water for the remission of their sins, upon this act, if they continue to maintain this faith, they are entitled to be raised in the likeness of the glorious resurrected body of Christ. And yet, to consider this ordinance in the abstract, or as the unbelieving world look at it, we might ask what virtue there is in this ordinance of baptism? We might say, as did Naaman, the Syrian, to Elisha, when he came to be healed of his leprosy. The Prophet told him to go and wash himself seven times in Jordan. But Naaman rose up in a rage and said, in substance, “Have I not washed myself many a time in my rivers at home, and did it ever do me any good? Is there any more virtue in the waters of Jordan than the waters of my native place?” He did not believe the Prophet, and he turned to go away with a sorrowful heart. But his servant followed him and said: “My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldst thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” This caused Naaman to reflect; and he went and dipped himself seven times in Jordan. He was not healed when he dipped himself once, nor twice, nor thrice; but when he had dipped himself seven times he was cleansed of his leprosy. Was it the waters of Jordan that healed him or is it the waters of the brook that we are immersed in that cleanses us from our sins? Not at all. It is the blood of Christ that was shed for the sins of the world that cleanseth us from our sins; but the water is the emblem and the means by which we comply with the commandment of God.

And so with every other ordinance of the Gospel. So with the laying on of the hands of the Elders of Israel. The wicked will ask what virtue there is in the imposition of the hands of the Elders? Why, the virtue consists in obeying the commandments of heaven. For through the laying on of hands the sick are healed. Through the laying on of hands the Holy Ghost is given. Through the laying on of hands the Priesthood is conferred upon those who are counted worthy to receive it. Herein is the hiding of the Lord’s power. It is this that the Prophet Habakkuk refers to when he speaks of the Lord coming in glory, and says: “He had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power.” Horns we know in the Scriptures are often used as figures to represent power. Horns in the Apocalypse and in the prophecies of Daniel represent kingdoms and dynasties, and when one horn fell, another came up in its place, thus representing the fall of one dynasty and the rising of another. And so on. And the same may be said of the Priesthood: the ruling power that God bestows for the salvation of the human family, is that which is given by the laying on of hands. But does this apply to the wicked, to the disobedient, or to the unbelieving? No, not at all; nor does remission of sins come to the wicked and unbelieving by merely being baptized. We have an example of this kind in the New Testament when Philip baptized the people of Samaria, and Simon the sorcerer, was baptized also; but he was a hypocrite and a corrupt man, and he only sought to gain power whereby he might hoodwink and deceive the people and filch money from them. And when Peter and John came down and prayed with the people, and laid their hands upon them, they received the Holy Ghost. When Simon saw this, he offered them money saying, “Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.” This he sought, as I have said, that he might obtain power to carry on his craft and to make money; but Peter answered him saying, “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. * * * I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.” There are other similar instances. But remission of sins cometh by baptism to those who believe and repent of their sins with all their hearts; the Holy Ghost is received by the laying on of the hands of the Elders; and the powers of the Priesthood are conferred in the same manner. Simple as the ordinances are, simple to look upon and to think upon, there is power in them, power accompanies them, power is made manifest among the people. The people are gathered together; the people are made one; the differences that existed among us depart. The traditions of the fathers are cast away. We are united in receiving the light and truth from above. Our hearts are made as one, no matter where we were born, or what race of people we have sprung from. This spirit working among the people, and going abroad in the earth is accomplishing what the Lord and His servants have predicted. It is preparing a people for the coming of the Savior.

Persecution begins, as I said, when the Gospel is sounded in our ears in various lands and countries of our home and birth. It follows us up. When we were a small people organized resistance and persecution commenced by townships in the United States. As we grew and became a stronger people, more extensive organizations were arrayed against us by counties or larger communities. At first the Latter-day Saints were driven from their homes in the State of New York, and they fled to Kirtland, Ohio, where persecution was again waged against them, until by and by the opposition was combined to such an extent in all the surrounding country, that they were obliged to flee from that region to Missouri. Here opposition became still more extensive until the whole State rose up against them—rose up and became a mob, even Governor Lilburn W. Boggs, of Missouri, became a sort of Solicitor General for the mob, and issued an exterminating order against the Saints, as utterly illegal as the decree of any tyrant that ever lived. In that order he called upon his aids and principal generals to rally the militia of the State to execute the order of extermination that he issued. They despoiled us of our goods. They compelled us to sign a deed of trust of lands, houses and possessions to defray the expenses of the “war,” as they termed it. That is, they robbed us, and drove us out of the State, and then compelled us to give them what we had, to pay them for doing it. Persecution still followed us in the States of Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri, and finally the Saints fled to these Rocky Mountains where there was nobody to oppose us, save the savages who roamed throughout the country. Here the Lord has planted our feet and made us strong. But it was predicted in early times that we should not only be persecuted by townships and counties, but by and by States should rise against us, and at last the whole United States would rise up against us. But in the midst of it all we have continued to grow, we have waxed strong. It is the power of God and not of man. It is by the word of God that we thrive. It is by the word of God that we are multiplying and increasing in the land; and the same God who commands the Elders of Israel to take the daughters of Israel to wife and who says “multiply and replenish the earth”—that same God sends the fruit and multiplies the sons and daughters of Israel in the land; as, when you sow the seed in the soil He sends the rains and gives a bountiful crop in your fields. It is the blessing of God that is resting upon the people. His people are multiplying in the land, and they are spreading abroad and possessing it in Idaho and Montana in the north, and Arizona and New Mexico in the South. The wicked are determined to persecute and drive us. Where will they drive us to? They say the “Mormons” must go. Where shall we go to? We have become like a city that is set on a hill, we cannot be hid. We have become a strong people, and they do not know what to do with us. Every drop of innocent blood which they shed, will spread the Gospel the faster. Every time they persecute us they will assist the work of God. “Mormonism” is like the mustard plant whose seed is ripe: when shaken it spreads the faster; or like the man I read of when I was a boy. When Canada thistles began to spread in the eastern States, this man was determined that he would put an end to them so far as his farm was concerned. So when the first thistle made its appearance he built a log heap over it and burned the pile. He thought he had squelched the thing; but to his horror and dismay the whole heap, the next year, was a dense mass of Canada thistles. So with “Mormonism,” the more they “squelch” it, the faster it grows.

God bless you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Conspicuous Position of the Saints—Early Persecutions—Historical Facts that Ought to Be Published in Book Form—Anomalous Treatment of Utah—Governor Young’s Policy and that of His Successors Different—Isaiah’s Prophecy Fulfilled—The Edmunds Law—The Saints Will Yet Conquer—The Real Object of Attack—The Result Predicted

Discourse by Apostle Erastus Snow, delivered in the Assembly Hall, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, March 9th, 1884.

In rising before you, brethren and sisters, this afternoon, I desire to commit myself unto the Lord, invoking His blessing upon the congregation, and that the Holy Spirit may dictate that which may be spoken to our edification and encouragement in welldoing.

In the providence of God His people are located in the valleys of the Rocky Mountains, midway between the oceans, occupying the position of a city set upon a hill which cannot be hid. It was the providences of God around about His people which brought them to this land, which led them out of—what shall I say? out of bondage?—perhaps that is not quite the phrase to use—but which led them out of the older States of America, where persecution had followed the Saints from their earliest history, across the great plains, guided by the prayer of faith and the inspiration of the Almighty, manifested through President Brigham Young and his brethren, who counseled and guided the people hitherward, and planted their feet in the valleys of the Rocky Mountains. It was not our seeking. As President George A. Smith once quaintly remarked: “We came to this country willingly, because we were obliged to.”

When persecuted in the State of New York, the early churches fled to Ohio—established themselves on the “western reserve”—the northern part of Ohio—located a Stake of Zion—built a temple unto the Lord in Kirtland, from which Elders were sent out into all parts of America, and into Europe. Persecuted in those regions, most of them emigrated westward and located in Missouri, where several Stakes of Zion were organized, and again foundations were laid for a temple, and the Twelve, with others of the Priesthood, were commanded of the Lord to take their departure to the nations of Europe and other parts of the globe, to preach the Gospel. Persecutions arose in that land, and became more general than any persecutions that had preceded them, until the State became embroiled, and an executive order was issued by the then Governor Lilburn W. Boggs, who directed his principal generals and aides-de-camp to gather together the militia of the State, and expel the Saints from the State. And in this executive order this remarkable phrase was used; speaking of the Mormon people it said: “They must be exterminated or driven from the State.” Strange that in a republic like ours, a country of law and government, such an executive order should appear. But it is beyond dispute; it has passed into history; the annals of the State attest it; and the result of such an order is well known in the history of this people. They were not exterminated, but they were driven from the State. Time would fail me to tell of the tears, the sorrow of women and children, when husbands and fathers and brothers were dragged to prison, or compelled to flee and to make their escape in various ways, through the wilderness of the Great West, through the then unsettled regions of northern Missouri and Iowa, until they found a stopping place on either side of the Mississippi, in Hancock County, Illinois, and in Lee County, Iowa; these places becoming rallying places, temporarily, for the Latter-day Saints, where the banner of truth was again unfurled, and the Saints began to establish themselves in those, at that time, almost entirely unsettled regions. In the short space of seven years they had increased to tens of thousands, and established several Stakes of Zion on both sides of the Mississippi, with the beautiful city of Nauvoo as the center of their operations and the site of the new temple. It was here that the ire of the people both of Illinois and Missouri was aroused against the Saints—especially the ire of the surrounding counties, both in Illinois and Iowa—until it became evident that the Saints must again take up the line of march to some other unsettled region. Of the history of the persecutions that followed in 1845-6; the martyrdom of the Prophets Joseph and Hyrum, as also the slaughter of many other individuals; the burning of houses, of granaries, of haystacks, of grain stacks, the property of the Saints from outside settlements near Nauvoo, and of the consequent combination of nine counties to make a descent upon Nauvoo, and the expulsion of the Saints from the city—all these things, I say, are matters of history. And while the people of the State in their organized capacity sought to screen themselves from the direct responsibility of those events under various pretenses, yet the covering was “too thin” from the fact that the then Governor Ford, of Illinois, was really aiding and abetting all those movements; he did nothing to restrain them, but everything to encourage them, and in this way the stain of these things—the death of the Prophets and the expulsion of the Saints—was fastened upon the government of the State. However much some honorable persons in the State may have opposed these things, yet there was not influence and power enough in the State to intervene for the protection of the Saints in the enjoyment of their civil and religious rights. Thus they were compelled to retire, and their march was westward into these mountains.

All this had been predicted by the Prophet Joseph. The Saints had been looking forward to the accomplishment of those events. They were not altogether unlooked for, however much the necessity was deplored and however great were the sufferings of individuals and families, and the community as a whole, in their travels for a distance of nearly 1,500 miles across the then barren trackless desert.

The history of the pioneers and the many people that followed, and the privations of the early years in the settlement of the Saints in these Rocky Mountains, are also matters of history. I would that they were compiled in a succinct and lucid history, that our children might peruse the same and not forget the scenes through which their fathers have passed; for they are wonderful. There are many now living who passed through these events; they were personal sharers in them; but the great mass of the present generation know nothing of them, only as they are occasionally referred to by their fathers.

It is therefore quite true what President George A. Smith said, “that we came to this country willingly because we were obliged to.” It seemed to have been the course marked out before us, and circumstances so surrounded and pressed upon us, that we were not able to avoid it, although we fain would have avoided it, if we could.

Prior to the full determination upon moving westward, President Brigham Young and the Twelve joined in communications to all the Governors of the several States east of the Rocky Mountains, imploring them and their Legislatures for some word of comfort, of consolation, of tacit permission for the Saints to find shelter and protection at the hands of their respective governments. These official communications, made to every State and State legislature in the land, received but very slight consideration. From a portion of them no answers were received at all, and those who did deign to answer those communications answered them evasively, without any hearty expressions of welcome, or any intimation that they would use their influence to maintain the rights, privileges and immunities of citizens. In short, the cold shoulder was turned towards the Saints from every quarter, and immediately in front was the combined mob of nine counties, waging war against them, backed up secretly by the powers of the State—or at least there was no effort on the part of the State to restrain the actions of the mob. President Young and other Elders and the people were harassed continually by vexatious law suits. They were pressed on every hand. Their enemies desired to involve them in trouble. They sought to imprison our leading men. And though, at a council held in October, 1845, between the Twelve and the leaders of the opposition, including representatives of the State—the principal general of that district, the circuit judge of that district—Stephen A. Douglas, subsequently a Senator of the United States, and presidential aspirant—I say, notwithstanding that it was stipulated at that council, that if we would in good faith go to and make the necessary preparations for our departure westward, as soon as the grass grew in the spring, to enable our teams to live, we should be protected and the mobocratic spirit restrained until we could take our departure—our agreement and pledge to accept these conditions only seemed to embolden the more rabid of our enemies in the counties round about, and instead of respecting these conditions, agreed to by the dignitaries of the State for our protection during winter, they commenced to oppress and harass and war against us to such an extent, that we were compelled to take up our march in the dead of winter. Early in February, multitudes of the people commenced to cross the Mississippi, and form their encampments in the forests of Iowa, preparatory to starting out upon their long and dreary march across the desert. In regard to the terrible sufferings that followed—the terrible snow storms and rains that continued from February until May, causing such floods and mire, distress and suffering and consequent sickness, as perhaps has never before been known to the lot of man under similar circumstances—they were at least such as none can properly depict or comprehend, but those who passed through them. Of the many that were laid by the wayside before reaching these valleys of the mountains, those families who were decimated must be left to tell the tale. The history of those early days of persecution and suffering will never be fully known. But in the midst of it all a goodly number of the people of God were sustained by their faith and the overruling providence of Jehovah, and were brought safely through; while the weaker and more doubtful, the fearful and unbelieving, scattered into the surrounding country, left the body of the Saints, drifted up and down the Mississippi into the various towns of Illinois, Iowa and Missouri, and back into the Eastern States, while others of the poor and less able, though earnest in the faith and abiding in the truth, were left by the wayside, at the way stations that were planted between the Mississippi and the Missouri Rivers, where farms were opened, grain and vegetables planted for the poor, until they reached a general place of rendezvous on the Missouri River, at Council Bluffs, where the Mormon Battalion enlisted for the Mexican War, and in the midst of which the emigrating camps were obliged to halt until the following spring, when they started for the western wilds of this great interior country. I said these things had been directed by the overruling providence of God. The combined force of the unbelieving and the wicked was brought to bear to expel the Saints, and compel their journey westward to the Rocky Mountains. It was permitted by Him who overrules all things for the good of His people; and the trials of the people and the afflictions of individuals and individual families were eventually lost, as it were, and buried in the universal good which Providence had provided for His people as a whole. The school of experience through which the early leaders and families of Israel had passed for a period of sixteen years had fitted them for those trying scenes and for the work which they were destined to perform in these mountains, in grappling with the difficulties of a new country, of a barren waste, of an untried region, a region supposed to be utterly uninhabitable. The great arid belt bordering on the Rocky Mountains, extending for some hundreds of miles eastward of the Rocky Mountains, and across the great basin of the American desert, was supposed to be absolutely unproductive—incapable of producing cereals, vegetables and fruits necessary to civilization. The school boys of my age will remember to have looked on their maps and seen all this country marked as the Great American Desert. It was supposed that a strip bordering on the Pacific, was composed of fine fertile land, and adapted to European settlements. But that country on the Pacific, was, at that time, in the possession of the Mexicans, with a few Catholic missions established along the coast, where they had raised a few beans and cabbages and red peppers, and where they had sustained themselves mostly by raising stock. This was all there was to show for their presence in that region. And the few trappers who had mingled with the Indians of this great interior country for twenty years were of the opinion that it was utterly impossible to raise grain in any part of this region. Captain James Bridger, the noted hunter and trapper, who had intermarried and established a trading post among the Shoshones, met the pioneers on the Big Sandy, and gave it as the opinion of himself, and of the early trappers who had gone through this country, that it would be impossible to raise grain here. He told us of the valley of the Great Salt Lake, and pointed out especially the valley, which he termed the valley of the Utah outlet—the valley that spread between the fresh water lake of Utah and the Great Salt Lake—as the most probable place in all of this great interior country to raise grain, at the same time supplementing his account of the land with the opinion that it was impossible to raise grain, and as a clincher to his opinion offered $1,000 as a premium for the first ear of corn that should be raised in this valley. But the faith which sustained the Saints, and which led them, responded through President Brigham Young to Captain Bridger like this: “Wait a little season and we will show you.”

We have shown to the world what could be done, or, I will say, rather, the Lord our God—the God of the Latter-day Saints—has shown to us and to all the world what could be done in this hitherto barren region when His blessing rested upon it.

The first important movement of the pioneer company on setting foot upon this ground near City Creek, was to call the camp together, and bow down under the sun at high noon, and dedicate themselves unto God, and this land for the habitation of His Saints, imploring His blessing upon it, that its barrenness might be turned into fruitfulness, and that the rewards of His people might be sure. And whithersoever their footsteps were turned, to the north or the south, to the east or the west, the prayer and faith of an afflicted and devoted people ascended up to heaven for the God of the land to sanctify it, and hallow the elements and make the country fruitful.

The art of irrigation was unknown on the North American continent at that time—at least among European settlers in the United States. There was no part of the United States which at that time relied upon artificial irrigation in all the arid regions of America. The system of irrigation adopted in Utah has measurably been copied by California, Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, although some of the best features of our system of irrigation have been neglected in these surrounding States and Territories; canal and irrigation companies have there been allowed to organize and monopolize the streams and make the farmers tributary to them, taxpayers for use of the fluid which God sends down from heaven—that is, they have not united the interest of the farmer, the land owner, with the canal owners as we have done in Utah, but they have made the water rather personal property than an attach of the realty, compelling the farmer to rent or buy water for their lands. Herein Utah sets an example in this arid region to the rest of the world, and the future history of this great interior country will award all due honor to the wise legislation of Utah, and the wise counsels of her leaders, and deprecate the folly of the surrounding States and Territories in not following their example in this respect. But the Lord has blessed the labors of the people of Utah in diverting the mountain streams over the arid plains, and opening farms, orchards and vineyards, and building villages, towns and cities, organizing governments, and establishing a commonwealth. That the early history of the Latter-day Saints fitted its leaders for governing, for organizing and controlling society, and molding it for the best interest of the whole, will be admitted by the impartial historian of future ages, when the religious bigotry of the hour shall have spent its fury, and the stupid, blind ignorance of demagogues shall have been lost and drowned in the common sense of the people. Yet, our eastern neighbors in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, and the Atlantic States, sanctioned in their inmost hearts the murder of the Prophets, and the persecution and expulsion of the Saints, though some of them lifted up their voices against it, but the voices so lifted were “like angels’ visits, few and far between,” and powerless to turn the popular current or stem the tide that flowed, like the waters which the serpent cast out of his mouth after the apocalyptic woman that fled from the face of the serpent into the wilderness. The Lord had a place prepared for His Church in the wilderness, in the Great American Desert, where she would be preserved from the face of the serpent for a season.

I well remember those early years, as do many who are here before me today, though their numbers are fast becoming very visibly less. We remember the time when the first State government was organized in these mountains. It was simultaneous with the organization of a State government on the Pacific coast under the title of the State of Califor nia. Delegates were appointed by the provisional government of the State of Deseret, to visit Washington and present their application for admission into the Union at the same Congress at which California’s representatives appeared and knocked for admission. Both acted in their sovereign capacity in organizing their State government and adopting their State constitution. It did not need any special act of Congress extending liberty to them so to do; for in both instances the people of California and Utah acted in virtue of their inalienable rights as free men entitled to the enjoyment of free government, and under the general institutions of our country, that recognize the right of the people to local self-government. Each State organized a State government, adopted a State constitution; they were equally republican in form and liberal in spirit, and made a simultaneous application to Congress for admission. The answer of the general government to California was favorable; to that of Deseret unfavorable; in other words they recognized in the one the rights of local self-government, admitted their senators and representatives to Congress, and the State into the Union, on an equal footing with the original States; while to Deseret they handed back a Territorial form of government, adopted the Organic Act, and appointed their territorial officers. Thanks to the advice of our never deviating friend, General Thomas L. Kane, President Fillmore, who succeeded General Taylor in the Presidency, nominated President Brigham Young as the first Governor of Utah. Thankful were we even for this partial recognition of the rights of the people to local self-government, but strange to say, that in the organization of our Territorial government, it seemed good to the Congress of the United States to make the Governor of Utah an integral part of its local legislature, empowered to approve its laws or to exercise an unqualified and absolute veto in all matters of legislation, a feature, so unrepublican and unusual, that it could scarcely be endured by any other people for a period of 35 years, except the Latter-day Saints, and in this instance we are an exception. Two-thirds of the Senate and two-thirds of the House of Representatives can pass any measure over the veto of the President of the United States. The same may be said of all the legislatures in every State in the Union; a two-thirds vote of the Legislature suffices to pass any measure over the veto of the governor, and this is the rule obtaining in the territories, as well as the States, with the exception of Utah and New Mexico.

I only refer to this as an instance of the marked jealousy that has prevailed toward this people—the unwillingness to concede to them the common right of local self-government.

Under the administration of Governor Young, his efforts were ever directed with the Legislative Assembly to enlarge and extend the area of freedom and the liberty of the voter, and the rights of the common people, never attempting to exercise the veto power, much less to enlarge and extend, the executive prerogatives; and under his administration, laws were enacted to provide for various offices necessary to administer the affairs of the Territorial government, as well as those of counties and municipalities, making them all elective by the people, or by their chosen representatives in Legislative Assembly united. It seems to have been reserved to one or two of our late Governors—notably our present one—to labor assiduously, tenaciously, blindly, and, as we think, foolishly, to abridge the popular suffrage, the rights of the mass of the people in the management of their own local affairs, and the election of their own officers, or for the handling of their own finances; I say it seems to be left to our late governors to earnestly struggle to enlarge the executive prerogative. Not content with the veto power reserved in the Organic Act by Congress to annul any act of the Legislative Assembly of Utah, nor yet with the second veto vested absolutely in the Governor by simply withholding his approval of any measure; the present Governor has sought in various ways to extend and enlarge this executive prerogative.

I refer to these things only as items of history which we are making for ourselves, and which our Federal government and its representatives in Utah are making for themselves, and which the historian will point to as the evidence of a continual desire for aggression upon the liberties of the people.

I am well aware that the excuse for all this is the unity of our people—the fact that they are not so greatly distracted by the efforts of aspiring demagogues and political satraps—and that their own common sense teaches them the necessity, under existing circumstances, to consider well and ponder the paths of their feet, and unite in the wisest and best measures, and in the choice of reliable honorable men to fill the various offices within the gift of the people, rather than divide and admit into power aspiring demagogues. We, as a people, have adopted the motto, that the office should seek the man, instead of the man seeking the office, and have invariably administered to the office seekers this quiet rebuke, a ticket-of-leave to stay at home. The good sense of the people has led them to seek out honorable and non-aspiring men and call them to duty, to fill the offices in the interests of the people, not for plunder and pelf, but for the reward of a good conscience and the approbation of an honest, discerning and approving people. And this unity of the people has not been solely a matter of our own seeking, however desirable it is, but measurably the result of outward pressure. If left to ourselves, unbelied, unscoffed at; if treated with any degree of fairness and liberality, and freedom to enjoy the rights and immunities of citizenship, unmolested, unpersecuted, I fear that we should soon begin to learn the ways of the wicked around us, or of the foolish of other countries, and the heedless, the thoughtless, and the ignorant among us would soon be following political demagogues. But it seems to be one of the providences of God, that there should be sufficient opposition from without—that is, from those who are not of us—to bind us together and enable us to see our only true interest in seeking to become one. And that oneness has not been the oneness of blindness, a blind following of the blind, but has been the result of Seers and Prophets and wise men and sages and fathers of the people foreseeing the evil and pointing it out in that way and manner that all have been able to view and see it for themselves. They have followed with their eyes open the Seers and Prophets who are not walking in darkness, and the result has been that we have not fallen into the ditch together, but we have continued to prosper and go on in the path which heaven has marked out for us, and the enemies of this people, who have resorted to every measure which their cunning and ingenuity could devise to hamper them and lessen their liberties—it is these which have fallen into the ditch, that have been trapped in their own measures, that have been ensnared with their own snares, and their folly has been made manifest, and the prediction of the Prophet Isaiah has happened unto them: The wisdom of their wise men has perished, and the understanding of their prudent men has been hid. No more in any former examples than in their last effort—the Edmunds law, so called—which is the result of the combined efforts and labors of a nation, begotten by the hireling priests, a conclave that met in Ogden, the representatives of all the sectarians in Utah. Then a nation groaned, and “the mountain labored,” and brought forth a mouse, the Edmunds law! Its main object was to be effected through a Commission, chosen expressly, not to administer that law according to the letter of it, but chosen with a secret understanding and tacit obligations to enforce it with the spirit of despotism in which it had been conceived; and by establishing rules—irresponsible rules—rules of their own—absolute and appealable to nobody—and enforcing them in their own way they have succeeded in disfranchising not only actual polygamists, but all those who have been in any way associated or connected with polygamist families—not only plural wives, but first wives, and men and women who long years ago have been freed—to use a common phrase—from polygamy; all who have from any cause ceased to be polygamists. All these have been disfranchised—excluded from political privileges—forbidden to be officeholders, even to be a fence viewer, or a school director, or a public surveyor, or a supervisor of streets. Have the men who made this country, who organized government therein, who established order, preserved peace, and tamed the savage—who were the mountain police for all this great interior country for 30 years—have these tamely submitted to these arbitrary rulings and decisions without protest, and because there was no power to withstand? I will only say they have done it from the same inspiration and feeling that has governed them from the beginning in all their wanderings. They have stooped to conquer! Will they conquer? Yes, God will conquer, and with Him they will rise and prevail. Let no one attempt to seize upon this expression as one of treason, of disloyalty to government, of defiance of the power of this great country. It is not spoken in that spirit, nor with any such intent; but it is the outspoken declaration of that faith which underlies the movements of this people, and which has led them on to victory from the beginning. You may write it down as a prophecy, but not as a threat, not as a defiance, not as a treasonable utterance. We recognize our allegiance to the general government: we recognize that it is our duty to sustain constitutional law and the institutions of our common country, and if men in power overstep their legitimate bounds, and exercise power that is not vested in them under the constitution, and violate its sacred provisions in their zeal to trample upon the liberties of the Saints, or hedge up their ways, it is our duty to bear and forbear, until the Lord says—“’Tis enough,” and until He shall open the way, in His own wonderful manner, to bring about a change and our release.

I well recollect the speeches that were uttered in some of the great cities of the west and of the eastern States, when the whole people were aroused and urged to bring their influence to bear upon Congress to pass the Edmunds law. I well remember that numbers of their most noted orators uttered the declaration that polygamy was the least part of the evil they warred against in Utah. I have always been aware of this. Only a few, comparatively speaking, of their leading orators had the temerity—or perhaps the lack of policy—to give utterance, in a public manner, to this view of the case. But those who gave such utterance said that the unity exhibited by the people of Utah—the united, solid vote of the Latter-day Saints—was far more to be dreaded than their polygamy. This was recognized and made clearly manifest by the action of the present Executive of Utah, when he first introduced as a prerequisite to commissioning Notaries Public, an oath of his own providing, unlawful in every way, under pain of refusing their commissions, viz., that they were not polygamists or bigamists, and had not cohabited with more than one woman in the marriage relation! And when the Utah Commissioners arrived in Utah and entered upon their labors, in one of the schemes devised for carrying into effect the Edmunds law, they adopted the same measure that had been introduced by His Excellency, Governor Murray, and incorporated the same provision in their test oath—thrust in the mouths or in the face of every individual voter, male and female, this test oath, leaving every libertine in the land, and every lewd woman, every secret whoremonger and adulterer at liberty to register, vote, and hold office, provided their liaisons have not been in the marriage relation! But the honorable men and the honorable women who had entered into sacred vows with each other, and had sacredly observed these vows, and were rearing their families to honor and respect their parents and to be good citizens in society, teaching them to fear God, and honor the Patriarchs of old, and flee fornication, and look upon whoredom and adultery as the greatest of all crimes, next to the shedding of innocent blood—all these fathers and mothers must be disfranchised! And an attempt made to dishonor them in the eyes of their sons and daughters! They appealed to their sons and daughters to rise up in their majesty and throw their fathers and their mothers overboard, and elect them to power. And when the people nominated Hon. John T. Caine as their Delegate to Congress, to supply the vacancy made by the illiberal and unrepublican action of the so-called Republican party in the expulsion of their Delegate, Hon. George Q. Cannon, from Congress; the opposing candidate, Judge P. T. Van Zile, went through this Territory, delivering his political speech, calling to his aid his retainers, in every place where he could get an audience, telling the masses of the people: My election means the continuation of your liberties; the election of my opponent means your disfranchisement as a whole people, the abolishment of your Legislative Assembly, the reducing of you to a colony governed, absolutely, as a conquered race. Suiting the action to the word, those who sustained him have labored to bring about his prophecies, and they are still laboring to bring them about. We know full well, that the devil, as well as the Lord, can utter some truths, and sometimes is allowed to fulfill his predictions. Wicked men do this as well as righteous men. But there is one decree that has gone out from days of old, that whatever may be the result of a few skirmishes here and there, and now and then, through the generations of men, the great and last battle shall result in the utter overthrow of his Satanic Majesty; he will be bound in everlasting chains and thrust into the bottomless pit, his followers being cast down with him. It is this assurance underlying the faith of the Saints, that enables them to go forward, onward and upward, relying upon the arm of Jehovah, and the ultimate triumph of truth and righteousness in the earth. That those men who have laid these schemes to abridge our liberties and immunities as citizens; and forged fetters for our hands and feet, have not done so in the interests of morality, is made painfully apparent in the test oath framed by Governor Murray, adopted by the Commissioners, and sustained—so far as any outward manifestation is concerned—by Congress and the people of the nation, in that they continue to uphold this Federal Governor and these Commissioners, and to sustain them in their rulings and in the results thereof. Had they been honestly working in the interest of morality, would they merely have made the effort to exclude those that were in plural marriage, and embrace in their arms the libertine, the adulterer, the whoremonger, the fornicator, and every lewd person of every class in the land outside of the marriage relation? This shows it was the patriarchal order of marriage that they warred against, and not against illicit intercourse and the defilement of the sexes and degeneracy of the race. All these things are held up before high heaven, for angels to look upon, for future historians to descant upon, and for the children that may, peradventure, be spared of these ignoble sires to gaze upon with unutterable disgust. The one-man power exercised by a stranger appointed to Federal office, and sent among the people as a Governor; the one-man power that puts forth his ipse dixit to nullify the acts of a great people through their representatives in the Legislative Assembly, and to dictate to the people, or their representatives, what they may do with their taxes, or what they must not do with them—all these things, I say, will be referred to by the future historian as very, very black marks upon their history; and also their blind zeal and efforts—to what? To prevent the growth, enlargement and extension of the Latter-day Saints in the land. This is the real object underlying all their efforts. The Latter-day Saints do not imitate the examples of the Eastern cities and the old commonwealths of the Atlantic seaboard in destroying their offspring. They do not patronize the vendor of noxious, poisonous, destructive medicines to procure abortion, infanticide, child murder, and other wicked devices, whereby to check the multiplication of their species, in order to facilitate the gratification of fleshly lust. We are not disposed to imitate these examples, nor to drink in the pernicious doctrine once uttered in Plymouth Church by the noted Henry Ward Beecher—that it was a positive evil to increase families in the land beyond a limited extent, and the ability of the parents to properly educate and maintain them, sustaining the idea of small families; in effect, justifying the mothers—the unnatural mothers—of New England, and their partners who sanction their efforts in destroying their own offspring, and in prevent ing the fecundity of the race. Fancy such a doctrine justified by the noted orator of the nineteenth century, and reechoed by the smaller fry throughout the country! The Latter-day Saints are taught to reverence the words of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, concerning the multiplication of their species, and are called as His children to multiply and replenish the earth. If the traveler who visits Utah, will deign to visit our congregations, our schools and our Improvement Associations, he can view hosts of children growing up on every hand, all of whom are taught to read and write, and in the common branches of an English education beyond that which is found to exist in any other part of the land under similar circumstances. But notwithstanding all this, they say secretly among themselves, and in the national and state councils: “This will never do. A people multiplying and increasing like this will overrun the land.” They say, as did Pharaoh of old, “We must do something to stop this increase.” Pharaoh devised means of secretly checking it, by charging his midwives, and making a decree, that every male child born in Israel should be put to death. We read that when Moses was born and his mother found him a goodly child she disregarded the decree of the king, and God overruled in her favor, in pursuance of her faith, and protected her movements, and Moses was spared and brought into the king’s house, and unwittingly educated under his tuition to become the future deliverer of Israel, and the lawgiver of nations. History but repeats itself. The efforts of the wicked to stop the growth and enlargement of the Latter-day Saints will as signally fail, and the failure will be on as natural principles as it was anciently in the days of Moses. For the Lord has decreed it. He has decreed that Zion shall prosper, and that in the latter days righteousness and truth shall prevail. Blessed are all they that will listen to truth and walk righteously, and woe! be unto those who fight against Zion. For the time cometh saith the Lord of Hosts, when all they that fight against Zion shall be as a dream of a night vision. “It shall even be as when an 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 shall the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against Zion.” This work is not of man but of God, who has set His hand the second time to bring again Zion. And He has said: “Gather my saints unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” His arm is stretched out to accomplish the purposes which He has predicted by His Prophets from the beginning of the world until the present time, and it will not be turned back until it has accomplished all things.

May the grace of God be and abide with us individually and collectively: may it assist us to remember these things; may we not forget the high calling whereunto we are called; may we abide in the truth; may we stand steadfast to our work; may we go forward in our labors, yielding not unto the tempter; for if we are faithful our triumph is sure and our reward cometh not from beneath, but from above, through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Work of God the Same in All Ages—The Millennium—Christ the Prophet of Whom Moses Spake—What Makes the Saints Steadfast—Cause of Apostasy—Duty of the Saints

Remarks by Apostle Erastus Snow, delivered in the Assembly Hall, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, Feb. 24, 1884.

It is allotted to me to occupy a few minutes, and it is a privilege which I ought to esteem, and which I do esteem, to stand before my brethren and sisters as a witness of the truth which we have embraced; the truth as it is revealed in Christ, the truth that is confirmed in the hearts of the Saints of the Holy Ghost, the truth as testified by ancient Prophets, Patriarchs and Apostles, and by our Savior Himself when upon the earth among the Jews, and among the Nephites on the continent of America.

The work in which the Latter-day Saints are engaged, the work whereunto God has called His people in this day, is the work which has engaged the attention of the Prophets and Saints from the beginning of the world till the present time. That portion of the world of mankind who have been inspired from above to look forward through the vista of opening years and contemplate the future history of mankind, have had their eyes directed to the great and last dispensation of the fullness of times, in which the Lord would perfect His work on the earth, and bring in everlasting righteousness; when He would establish a reign of peace, when wickedness would be subdued, when Satan would be curtailed in his power and influence among the children of men—the time represented in the vision of St. John, when he declared:

“I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

“And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

“But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”

Now, this thousand years is spoken of among modern Christians as the millennium, signifying a thousand years. That period of all other periods will, as we speak of the Sabbath, be a day of rest. On the Sabbath, the seventh day, the Lord rested from his labors, and He has commanded His people to rest from their labors on that day; to meet together and worship Him; to offer up their sacraments and their oblations; to confess their sins unto one and another and before the Lord. And as they ask to be forgiven, and feel to forgive one another, so God forgives them. Our Savior gave us clearly to understand this when He taught His disciples to pray and to say, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors;” for, said he, “If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” This day of rest is a day to forgive and to be forgiven, and to make peace with one another and with our God, and is a type of the millennium, or the seventh thousandth year, in the which universal peace will be established upon the earth, and the Kingdom of our God prevail in all lands—a day when the servants of God may bear the glad tidings to all people, nations, kindreds and tongues upon all the face of the earth, and there shall be none to molest them, or make them afraid. The truth will abound and light and understanding come to the people. It will be a day of great light in every corner of the land—the day spoken of by the Prophet Isaiah, wherein he says the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea—the day when they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord; for they shall all know Him from the least of them to the greatest of them—a day when “every man shall see eye to eye.” Prophets and Saints have looked for such a period, have longed for it, have prayed for it, have sung about it, have prophesied of it, and they have spoken of the work that should bring it about. Are all these prophecies fallacious? Are all these hopes vain? Will all these expectations come to naught? Or are they to be fulfilled? With the Latter-day Saints there is but one answer to this question. The Lord has opened their understanding, has touched their eyes, has pricked them in the ear, has comforted them, and has given to them the Holy Ghost. They have been enabled to see and to discern the signs of the times, and to understand in a measure the age in which we live. It is a source of unbounded joy unto those who possess this testimony, and are living for the blessings promised to the faithful. These events are dawning upon us. A preparatory work has been begun in the earth. As foretold in the Scriptures, an angel has flown in the midst of heaven having the everlasting Gospel to deliver to them that dwell on the earth, and which shall be preached unto every nation, kindred, tongue and people before the end cometh. But will every nation and kindred and tongue and people receive it? Not at all. It has not been so written. But it is written that the time cometh when all who will not hear that Prophet whom Moses said God would raise up unto the people should be cut off from among his people. This Prophet was Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, raised up in the meridian of time and in the midst of the house of Israel, from the seed of Abraham, that seed which God said would be a blessing unto all nations. When Jesus showed himself unto the Nephites on the American continent, He quoted this Scripture—this prophecy of Moses—and said to them, “I am that Prophet of whom Moses spake.” Now, we have this assurance, that the time will come when all those who will not hear that Prophet shall be cut off from among the people. It is grievous to reflect upon the darkness that enshrouds the minds of the people; upon the unbelief which prevails among mankind at the present time; upon the infidelity which stalks abroad, that is manifested in church and state, with high and low. It is grievous to contemplate how statesmen and the would-be wise men of our age despise God, or ignore His counsels, ignore His word, His right to rule, His ability to counsel, to teach, and to regulate the affairs of men; how little they acknowledge His hand, how unwilling they are to allow Him to have any voice in the affairs of state. And it is equally sorrowful to contemplate how little are Christian sects willing to acknowledge Him, or allow Him to interfere in their affairs, or acknowledge Him in any way, further than in a sort of—what shall I say?—a sort of mystical way. True, there are many who affect to believe that they must be born again, and teach the doctrine of the new birth, the spiritual birth. But how little they seem to comprehend what is meant by that birth, and the effects that follow it; yet there are some, yea, there are many in the Christian world who profess to believe what Jesus said to Nicodemus in the third chapter of John’s Gospel, that a man must be born of the water and of the Spirit in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven, and that that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. Yet when we come to read the New Testament and learn of the fruits, the influence and effects of that Spirit upon those who possess it, how wonderful, how strange it appears to those Christians! The Latter-day Saints strive to bring home to the minds of those modern Christians, that the Holy Spirit, when overshadowing the people born of the water and of the Spirit produces certain fruits, certain effects, that are the same today as anciently, and will be the same among all people in all ages and times when people receive that Spirit. But most of the Christian sects of our time ignore those fruits of the Spirit, the spiritual gifts and blessings which followed the outpouring of that Spirit upon the Saints of God in all former ages.

Brother Lyman has well said that it is this Spirit shed abroad upon the Latter-day Saints, bearing witness unto them of the truth—which is the witness of the Holy Ghost of the Father and of the Son—that makes them steadfast and immovable. They cannot be turned away so long as they enjoy this Spirit; they cannot be turned away from the light of the Gospel and the liberties they enjoy in Christ Jesus; they cannot be converted to Catholicism, nor Methodism, nor any other ism; but if they fall into sin, if they violate their holy covenants, if they grieve the Holy Spirit from them, then they are left in great darkness. As the Savior said to His disciples: “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole holy shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore that which is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” It may seem to some a wonder how it is, that any man or set of men, after having once tasted of the good word of God, of the heavenly gifts, and the powers of the world to come, and having been made to know and understand the things of God, and been able to bear witness of them, should afterwards fall away, lose their testimony and the light of the truth, fall into darkness and apostatize. It is a marvel and a wonder unto many how this can be, and to some portion of the Christian world it has seemed impossible, and they have affected to espouse the dogma and to make it a part of their religious creed, that once in grace always in grace, and that if they are the elect of God, they cannot fall away. This is a doctrine of men: it is not a doctrine of Christ, and it is not true. The Savior constantly exhorted His disciples to watch and pray, lest they should fall into temptation, and cautioned them that they who once put their hands to the plow and looked back, or turned away, were not fit for the kingdom of heaven, but that they who endured unto the end, the same should have eternal life. He warned them against falling into darkness, and, as I have already quoted. He assured them that the light that was in them might become darkness, and if it did, how great should be that darkness.

Brother Lyman has well said, also, that when men apostatize from the truths of heaven, and become infidel to the things of God, it is because of sin and transgression; it is because they have given way to evil; it is because they have corrupted their ways, defiled their tabernacles, defiled their spirits, violated their own consciences, or given themselves up to work sin and wickedness. All this they may have done in the dark, or in secret, and not upon the housetops: but the time cometh when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed, and every secret thing shall be made known upon the housetops. Then it shall be known and read of men the causes that operated to take away the light and the truth from the hearts of men and left them to go into outer and utter darkness. None are proof against the attacks of the enemy, against the powers of evil, against the evil devices of the wicked one; none are proof against or safe from the influence and power thereof, without watchfulness and prayer, without so living that the Spirit will have pleasure to abide with them, to be their monitor and protector. That Spirit will not dwell in unholy temples, it will not continue to dwell with those who violate their own consciences, corrupt their ways, defile their spirits and tabernacles, and defile themselves with their fellow creatures; for God will have a pure people. His Kingdom is holy; His dominions are pure; and no impure thing can inherit the Kingdom of God. “And without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.”

Brother Lyman asked the question (and answered it beautifully) pertaining to the preservation of the Latter-day Saints, from the combined efforts of their enemies. He answered well. The safety and protection of the Latter-day Saints lie in their preparing for peace. In other words, it is to make peace with their God, and with one another, and to proclaim peace unto all mankind, and so live and deport themselves, that they will encourage, extend and maintain peace to the utmost of their ability. But, and if the wicked continue to oppress, to war against and annoy the people of God, and to deprive them of social, religious and political privileges, and other rights that belong to them as the children of God, as human beings, as citizens of the commonwealth, those unalienable rights of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness; if, I say, the wicked combine to abridge these immunities, privileges and rights, and trample them under foot, and to wage war against the Saints for the purpose of destroying them, what may we do to avert it? It has been well answered: Do the will of the Lord; keep His commandments; do good to one another; forgive one another, and ask to be forgiven of each other and of our God; walk humbly before Him day and night; trust in Him, believe in Him, and go forward in the discharge of every duty, fearing only God. “Fear not them,” says the Savior, “which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Let our fear center upon Him; let our trust and our faith center upon Him; let us maintain our confidence in Him, that He rules in the heavens and among the armies of men, and that He turns the hearts of the children of men as the rivers of water are turned; and if at one time their hearts are softened, as was Pharaoh’s of old, and then, again, their hearts are hardened, as was Pharaoh’s, we may bear in mind that all these things are necessary in the accomplishment of the divine purposes of our Father and Creator. For the wicked have their agency as well as the righteous, and God will not deprive them of it. He wills not that any be deprived of their agency. If people will work wickedness; if they will violate their covenants; if they will foreswear themselves; if they will trample under foot the constitution and institutions of our common country, (which they are sworn to defend and maintain) in their overzeal to destroy the Saints, they must have their agency so to do. They must have the privilege of working out their own salvation or their own damnation. They must fill up the cup of their iniquity; otherwise, how will the Lord be justified in wasting them away and destroying them out of the earth, except they first fill up the cup of their iniquity. But, says one, what and if He shall permit them to overrun and lay waste and scatter and destroy the Latter-day Saints? Such questions have been asked a great many times in years that have gone by, by those that were fearful, or doubtful, or unbelieving; but questions of this kind need not arise in the breasts of those who are living as Saints ought to live, and have the testimony of Jesus dwelling in them. We ought to know, yea, it is our duty to feel that abiding trust and confidence in God, to know that He will make the wrath of the wicked to praise Him, and the residue of wrath He will restrain; and that neither Congress, nor Presidents, nor Senators, nor Judges, nor Governors, nor armies, nor Generals, nor any other human being have or can exercise any power in the earth, except that which is given them of our Father in the heavens, and that He can restrain when it seemeth Him good, and within such limits as seemeth Him good. And this He does without interfering with their personal agency; for man may propose, but God only disposes the affairs of men.

May God help us to be in deed and in truth what we have been called to be—Saints of the last days, and then, whether in life or death, we shall be His, we shall enter into His glory and be numbered with His jewels; for the Lord cometh to make up His jewels, and it will be those who have met together often and have spoken often one to another, that will be numbered therein; while all the proud and they that do wickedly, will become as stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.

May the grace of God be sufficient for us under all circumstances, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Near Coming of Christ—Work to Be Accomplished—Temples Already Built, and Many More Yet to Be Built—Redemption of the Dead—Ezekiel’s Vision—How Long Will It Take to Warn the World?—Will the Lord Delay His Coming Until All this Work is Accomplished?—Joseph Smith’s Mission on Earth and Behind the Veil—Another Mission to Be Undertaken—The Resurrection of Joseph Smith Near—The Meaning of the Expression, “The Morning of the First Resurrection.”

Discourse by Apostle Erastus Snow, delivered in the Tabernacle, Logan, Saturday Afternoon, February 2nd, 1884.

I am asked to speak, but I feel in attempting to do so that my speech will be barren unless the Lord is pleased to inspire my mind by the Holy Spirit. I know there is faith in the hearts of the people and the Lord is able to give words of edification and comfort. I am not, however, impressed with anything in particular, in the way of doctrine, to speak to my brethren and sisters; I have only a feeling to exhort in general terms.

The Latter-day Saints realize as I do that every year brings us nearer to the coming of our Lord; that every month and week and day that passes over our heads, brings us nearer to the great and important events that must transpire, and that it does not become us to give way to a feeling of apathy and indifference, and to say in our hearts, “The Lord delayeth His coming,” and that tomorrow will be as this day and much more abundant, and that the next generation will be like the present, and as the world has continued to roll on, as generations have come and generations have gone, so will it be with us and our children. I say it does not become us to give way to these sentiments and feelings which are common with unbelievers, with the world, or with the unenlightened, who have not a knowledge of God, who have not been favored with the light of revelation, who have not discerned the signs of the times; for we are not the children of darkness, but the children of light. Light has come unto us. We have been called out of darkness unto light. We have been translated from the kingdom of darkness unto the kingdom of God’s dear Son, and therefore it may and ought to be said of us as Saint Paul said concerning the Saints: “Ye, brethren are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” It is written and we expect it to be fulfilled upon the heads of the unbelieving and the wicked, that the Lord will overtake them as a thief in the night. “In such an hour,” said the Savior, “as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites.” Now, it is not impossible, nor yet improbable, that there will be some among the Latter-day Saints who are called of God and appointed to this work, and who are set over their fellowservants to give them meat in due season, who will be found negligent, who will have forgotten their high and holy calling, who will have laid off their armor of righteousness, who will have become slothful and weary in well doing, and who will have taken to eating and drinking with the drunken and smiting their fellowservants; but as surely as any such are found among the servants of God, they will be overtaken when the day of the Lord cometh, and their portion will be appointed with hypocrites and unbelievers. But we hope better things of the Elders of Israel, of Presidents of Stakes, of Bishops, of High Councilors, of High Priests, of Seventies, of Priests, Teachers and Deacons, and of all the Latter-day Saints; for we have all been made partakers of this Priesthood, and the blessings of the Lord, directly or indirectly, have been conferred upon us.

The work before us is a great one, and very much remaineth to be accomplished according to the prophecies—Israel is to be gathered, Jerusalem rebuilt, Zion established, the vineyard of the Lord pruned and the corrupt branches cut off and cast into the fire, while the good branches shall be grafted in and partake of the root and fatness of the tame olive tree. There is a great work to be accomplished in the earth. But the Lord has said by the mouth of His servants that He will cut His work short in righteousness in building up His Kingdom in the latter days. True, when the Lord speaketh He does not reckon time as we do. The time was, in the infancy of this Church, when our minds were so narrow compared to what they are now, that we looked for the speedy coming of our Lord, and the accomplishment of His great work before this time. But as our minds grew, and our ideas enlarged, we began to perceive that we were only children in our views and feelings, our ideas and expectations. We had the views, ideas and expectations of children; and we see how the Lord has enlarged Israel and expanded His work; and now we behold so much more to be accomplished than what has been accomplished, that we are apt in our minds to put off the day of the Lord a great way. The time was that we looked for one temple. The early revelations given to the Latter-day Saints predicted a temple in Zion, and Zion in our minds at that time was a little place on the Missouri River in Jackson County, Western Missouri—a town and a few surrounding villages, or a country, peradventure it may be as large as a county. When we first heard the fullness of the Gospel preached by the first Elders, and read the revelations given through the Prophet Joseph Smith, our ideas of Zion were very limited. But as our minds began to grow and expand, why we began to look upon Zion as a great people, and the Stakes of Zion as numerous, and the area of the country to be inhabited by the people of Zion as this great American continent, or at least such portions of it as the Lord should consecrate for the gathering of His people. We ceased to set bounds to Zion and her Stakes. We began also to cease to think about a single temple in one certain place. Seeing the different Stakes of Zion that were being organized we perceived the idea, possibly, of as many temples. Having had one spot pointed out in the revelations for the temple in Jackson County, our minds expanded so that in a short time we were building another temple in a Stake of Zion in Kirtland, Ohio. A little while afterwards we were laying the foundation of a temple in Far West Missouri, and driven before our enemies; from that place we next laid the foundation and built up a temple unto the Lord in Nauvoo. When we located in the mountains and laid the foundation of a temple in Salt Lake City, who of us had an idea that before it should be completed we would be administering in a temple in St. George, and another in Logan, and another in Manti, and who conceives the idea today, that by the time these are completed and the Saints have officiated in them, we will be scattered over the American continent, building temples in a hundred other places? All this comes within the range of possibility, nay, probability, almost amounting to certainty. One of my brethren behind me here, who understands these things, and who can speak knowingly in regard to them, says, that we may put it down as a certainty, that by and by, there will be hundreds of these temples throughout the land. Our minds are beginning to comprehend the object and purpose of the temples of our God. We realize that they are places where the Lord bestows the keys of life and salvation pertaining to the everlasting Priesthood, and opens the door of redemption and salvation unto our dead. We begin to comprehend a little of the vision shown to Ezekiel, as recorded in the 37th chapter of his book. Ezekiel, while under the influence of the Spirit of the Lord, was set down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones. He explored the valley, saw there were very many bones, and, lo, they were very dry. The Lord commanded him to prophesy concerning them, and he prophesied, saying: “O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord. * * * And the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dry, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.” Now, these were not the prophets and saints and righteous dead who had been partakers of the blessings of the Gospel and of the Priesthood, while in the flesh, but were those who had passed off in a day of darkness, and in their lost condition said to one another, and said in their hearts, “Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.” But lo! the plan of salvation for the dead is revealed. The scheme which the Father had provided for the redemption of those whose hope was lost, and who were cut off is revealed unto their children, unto those who have been gathered from their long dispersion, and who have received the keys of the Holy Priesthood, which bringeth life and salvation to the dead as well as to the living. Having these keys committed unto us, we proceed to establish Zion; to build up her Stakes; to build her temples; to gather together those who purify themselves before the Lord, and qualify and fit themselves to become saviors upon Mount Zion, by entering into holy places and officiating for themselves and their dead, thus laying the foundation for the redemption of the dead in being baptized for them, in being ordained for them, in being blessed and endowed for them, in receiving the keys and the key words for them, that in the day when the Elders who have passed behind the veil shall preach to them the Gospel of glad tidings of great joy, lo and behold! they will receive it and will be put in possession of those keys, endowments and blessings, whereby they may be freed from their prison houses, and be raised from the dead, and stand upon their feet an exceeding great army, and be restored to the blessings which God promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their seed after them.

Now, this is the work before us, and I want to ask my brethren, the Elders of Israel, how long shall we be in accomplishing this work? Can I tell you? No, it is not given me to know. It is sufficient for us to know that the time has come for the work to be done: that the Lord has turned the key and opened the door; that it is an effectual door which no man can shut—the door of life and salvation. Hence it is our duty to step forward and magnify the calling whereunto God has called us. Send out the young men of Israel; send out the middle aged; send out those who have not as yet cleared their garments of the blood of this generation to call the children of men to repentance, and to see how many will engage with us in this great work of salvation, and become saviors upon Mount Zion. But this preaching the Gospel to the outside world is a small part of the work. It is but the ABC of the lesson to be learned and the work to be accomplished. How long, I ask, shall we be in accomplishing this work? It is not, as I have said, given to me to know; but I can tell you in general terms. As long as there is one soul (of all the sons and daughters of Adam that have been born on this earth) that has not had an opportunity of receiving and obeying the Gospel; as long as there is one soul that is in a condition to be saved and that can be reached by this plan of salvation, so long will the Latter-day Saints be engaged in this work. But what I was going to bring before your minds was this: Shall we expect that the Lord Jesus is going to delay His coming in the midst of His people, until all this great work shall have been accomplished? By no means. I do not understand that He has ever intimated anything of this kind. Nor need we wait in our faith and in our expectations till all these great and glorious things shall have been accomplished on the earth before the Prophet Joseph Smith shall come unto us again. He has merely taken another mission in advance of us. He fulfilled the mission given unto him on earth. The Lord was satisfied with his labors here. He lived long enough to endow his brethren with full authority to carry on the work that he had begun on the earth. He took his departure behind the veil. The Lord suffered his enemies to destroy him in the flesh, to take away his life, and he was made an offering—what shall I say? an offering for sin. Not in the sense in which the Savior was offered, but he was made a martyr for the truth and his blood was shed to attest the testimony that he bore to the world. He entered upon another short mission. Where? Why, unto his brethren of the house of Israel, and as many of the Gentiles as will receive his testimony, behind the veil. The mission of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, between his death and resurrection was a similar mission, but a very short one. It lasted only three days. While his body lay in the tomb his spirit visited the spirits in prison, turned the key and opened the door of their prison house, and offered unto them the Gospel of salvation. How many of them were prepared to avail themselves of it at that time? Comparatively few. But he opened the door and offered the message of life and salvation, and having done this, His fellow laborers—the Seventies, Elders and others whom He ordained to the ministry—as fast as they finished their ministry in the flesh—continued their work among the spirits in prison. So is the Prophet Joseph Smith officiating and ministering to those spirits, and so are all His brethren, the Apostles, who have gone in his wake, who have followed, as it were, in his track. They have just gone behind the veil. Who shall we say? Let us call to mind a few of the brethren who have passed away—Brother David Patten (the first of the Apostles who was slain), Parley P. Pratt, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, Brigham Young, Orson Pratt, Charles C. Rich, and others of the Apostles; also Patriarchs Father Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith; Elders Samuel H. Smith, Don Carlos Smith—all the first Elders of this Church and the Presidents of all the early quorums, and a vast company of the members of their quorums. All these and many more are laboring in the spirit world preparing the spirits thereof to receive the benefits and blessings which are now about to be offered to them in the temples of God. In other words, “a ticket of leave” is about to be sent to them to the effect that their friends on the earth have officiated in their behalf, have complied with the ordinances which are appointed for their redemption, which will enable them to advance into a higher sphere, to walk upon a higher plane, to enter a higher class where they can be further instructed and prepared for a glorious resurrection. And as fast as this work is accomplished—and it is nigh at hand, it is now even at our doors—there will be another step made in advance; there will be another mission undertaken. The next mission will be to come and prepare the way in Zion, and in her Stakes, and in the temples of our God for turning the key of the resurrection of the dead, to bring forth those that are asleep, and to exalt them among the Gods. And who will be first and foremost? Why, he whom God has chosen and placed first and foremost to hold the keys of this last dispensation. How long will it be? It is not given to me to say the month, the day, or the hour; but it is given unto me to say that that time is nigh at hand. The time is drawing near (much nearer than scarcely any of us can now comprehend) when Joseph will be clothed upon with immortality, when his brother Hyrum will be clothed upon with immortality, when the martyrs will be raised from the dead, together with their faithful brethren who have performed a good mission in the spirit world—they, too, will be called to assist in the work of the glorious resurrection. The Lord Jesus, who was the firstfruits of the dead, the firstfruit of them that sleep, and who holds the keys of the resurrection, will bring to pass the resurrection of the Prophet Joseph and his brethren, and will set them to work in bringing about the resurrection of their brethren as He has set them to work in all the other branches of the labor from the beginning. And the Lord Jesus will appear and show Himself unto His servants in His temple in holy places, to counsel and instruct and direct. He will appear in the glory of His Father, in His resurrected body, among those who can endure His presence and glory. And all this I expect long before He will waste away and destroy the wicked from off the face of the earth. True, we have, in our limited understandings, perhaps imagined, many of us, that this glorious resurrection was to come upon us, and upon the whole world suddenly, like the rising of the sun. But you must remember the sun does not rise the same hour and the same moment upon all the earth. It is twenty-four hours in rising and twenty-four hours in setting. So with the resurrection. There is a day appointed for the resurrection of the righteous. And it is sealed upon the heads of many that if they are faithful and true, they shall come forth “in the morning of the first resurrection;” but the morning lasts from the first hour of the day until midday, and the day lasts till night; and the rest of the dead—those who are not prepared or counted worthy to have part in the first resurrection—shall not live again until the thousand years are ended. In other words, the first resurrection will have been ended, and another period appointed for the resurrection of the rest of the dead. But this “morning of the first resurrection” is nigh at hand, and blessed are those who, through their faithfulness, shall be counted worthy to have part in it; for they shall be crowned kings and priests with God and the Lamb—they shall reign with Christ and in the midst of His people, and carry on the work of the redemption and resurrection of the Saints of God. And while in some parts of the world the Elders of Israel are preaching the Gospel unto the heathen nations who have not been ripened for destruction, but whose kings and mighty men have perished, and whose governments have been broken in pieces and wasted away, and the government of the Kingdom of God has been extended over them; while this is going on in some portions of the world, in other places, even in Zion and in her Stakes and in Jerusalem, the children of God will be engaged in the redemption of their dead in the temples of our God, and in the resurrection of those that are counted worthy of so great a salvation.

Then, I say, we need not put off the day of the Lord so far from us. Rather let us prepare ourselves for it; for lo and behold! He cometh quickly, and blessed are they who are prepared to receive Him; for they shall enter into His rest and be crowned with glory, and shall labor with Him and with the Prophet Joseph and his brethren in bringing to pass this great salvation and redemption of our God.

May God help us to continue faithful, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Present Revelation—Work Required of the Priesthood—Improvement Among the People—More Improvement Necessary—Faith in the Ordinances Required—Design of God in Relation to the Children of the Saints

Remarks by Elder Erastus Snow, delivered at the General Conference, Friday Afternoon, October 5th, 1883.

I am grateful for the opportunity of meeting in Conference once more with the Latter-day Saints, and for the health and strength given me to continue my labors among the people, and for this same blessing of health which is enjoyed by my brethren. I am thankful, too, that the Lord has raised up young men to bear off the Kingdom and help carry the burdens of the people. It is also a source of satisfaction that He has spoken and given instructions through His servant pertaining to the Seventies, to more fully organize and set in order the quorums of the Priesthood, the Seventies being more especially called as assistants to the Twelve Apostles, in the work of the ministry. And it is desirable that the revelation upon the subject should be fully carried out, the Priesthood in its various depart ments fully organized, and everything set in order according to the word and mind of the Lord; that every quorum of the Priesthood, general and local, might be in good working order. For it devolves upon the quorums of the Melchizedek Priesthood to carry the Gospel to the nations, and to gather those that accept it. This work is great, the field is white, and the word of the Lord unto us, His servants, is to thrust in our sickles and reap, and gather the harvest of the earth. And here let me say, the Lord has sent His angels to superintend the work. The angel spoken of by John the Revelator, has flown with the everlasting Gospel to preach to those that dwell upon the earth; and it is given unto us that we should proclaim it to all nations, to every people under heaven, the decree having gone forth that this Gospel of the Kingdom should be preached to all nations, and then the end should come.

Many years have elapsed since this message began to be communicated to the sons of men; and we have become, comparatively speaking, a great people. A little one has indeed become a thousand. We, who a few years ago were only numbered by units and tens, now are numbered by thousands and tens of thousands, yea hundreds of thousands. And the Priesthood is correspondingly increasing in numbers and in ability to labor, and acquiring means to carry on the work of preaching the Gospel and of gathering Israel. The labor before us is not diminishing; it is extending on every hand, and the Lord desires to see the Elders of Israel in their various quorums and organizations interested, earnest and alive to their calling, anxious to perform well and faithfully the duties assigned them.

The Spirit of the Lord prompts from time to time the calling and setting apart of men to the work of the ministry, and sending them to different portions of the globe. And inasmuch as people feel earnest and anxious to do good, to use the means that God blesses them with in doing good, in sending the Gospel to the nations, and in gathering the elect of God—and as this feeling prevails and increases among the people generally—the Seventies and Elders, when they feel this spirit moving upon them, should not wait, supinely rest upon their oars, but be ready to act. And here permit me to say that that feeling which has to some extent prevailed with some in time past, that when men are named, either in Conference, or otherwise called on missions, to indulge in such remarks as this, “I wonder what he has been doing that he should be sent upon a mission.” Such a spirit should not exist in the minds of Latter-day Saints, as it is entirely foreign to those who call men to the ministry. Such a feeling is not worthy a man called to preach the Gospel of the Son of God. The qualifications of Elders that are sought after, and that should recommend a minister of the Gospel, should be an earnest desire to do good, a willingness to serve, a desire to know what the Lord has for him to do, and a readiness to at once engage in the undertaking, using himself and his means, if blessed with means, his talents or gifts bestowed upon him by the Lord, with an eye single to His honor and glory. And men who are at home, ought to show forth these qualities in their daily lives and conduct, by attending their quorum meetings and their ward meetings, and their general Priesthood meetings, and by improving every opportunity to learn their duty, and to improve themselves in their daily lives; by being prompt in paying their tithing and in bringing forth their offerings for the poor, and their contributions for the building of Temples. It may not be those who are loudest in their professions, but those actually pursuing this course of life. These are the men that will be useful on the earth, and whom the Lord will delight to own and bless in their labors in the ministry. And it is desirable, that in the various Stakes of Zion, where quorums are organized, that the Presidents of Stakes should encourage those quorums, and the presiding officers of the various quorums should endeavor to gather together all who have received the Priesthood, and see that they are enrolled in their respective quorums, and encourage them to attend their quorum meetings, and there seek for the counsels of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit that should rest upon the presiding officers of quorums to teach the members of the quorums all things pertaining to their duties, and how to become fitted for the labors whereunto God has called them. For all these quorums and organizations are so many classes for mutual improvement, edification and instruction; and the Presidents thereof are appointed and ordained to instruct the members of their quorums in all things in the line of their duty. And they should be encouraged by the Presidents of Stakes in their Quarterly Conferences to report progress and attendance of members, and the progress they are making in their qualifications. The Elders should thus be sought after; and according to the spirit they manifest in attending to their duties and qualifying themselves for the work of the ministry, they should be called into the field, whether from the Seventies or the Elders or the High Priests, the High Priests, however, being more especially expected to take the responsibility of presiding in Branches, in Stakes, in Wards, as Presidents of Stakes, as High Councilors, as Bishops, or Bishop’s Counselors, as Presiding Elders in the Conferences of the churches abroad. And the time is not far distant when the Elders of Israel will be required to turn their attention and labors among the branches of the house of Israel; and especially among the remnants of Joseph, upon this American Continent.

I am pleased to be able to testify, from my travels among the people, in attending Stake Conferences and Priesthood meetings, and hearing their reports from time to time, that there is a steady improvement in the feelings of the people. This was the testimony of Brother David P. Kimball, this morning, when he said, that he could perceive a decided improvement in the faith of the Latter-day Saints during the six years of his absence. I think this is especially visible to all those who are moving and acting among the people, they being the best able to judge of their true condition. This is a source of gratitude and thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father. I will not say of self-congratulation; for although we have reason for thanksgiving for the mercies and the blessings we have received, yet there are many things still to be done, very many improvements to be made, many weaknesses to be overcome, and very much yet to be done to instruct the people that they may be sanctified and prepared to endure the presence of the Lord, when he shall come; and to enable them to withstand the shocks of the enemy that will be directed against them. Much remains to be done by the people in putting away evils that still exist in our midst; and very much needs to be done in the various Wards and Stakes throughout all the settlements of the Saints by the local Priesthood. I don’t merely mean the Presidents of Stakes, the Bishops, the High Councilors, and the lesser Priesthood appointed to assist the Bishops—however important their labors may be and however necessary it may be that they should be alive and active; but they should also have the support of all High Priests, Seventies and Elders in their Wards. And every officer of the Priesthood should be alive and awake to see what good he might do, wherever and whenever the opportunity exists of doing good—in his own home and family first, watching over his own children, laboring to unite the hearts and feelings of his wife or wives and children, that peace may dwell in his own habitation, and the wisdom and knowledge of God grow and increase among his own household; and to see that his children do not grow up idlers, but are trained to be industrious, and taught to reach out after truth, that their spirits may not be unfruitful, and that they may be taught in the fear of the Lord, and to worship Him, and to call upon Him, and to have faith in Him, so that when sickness assails them that they may not first resort to the doctor, or desire to put their trust in medical men to heal them, for the Lord has commanded His people that when any are sick among them, they shall call for the Elders of the Church, who shall pray over them, and lay their hands upon them, and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith shall save the sick. This was the exhortation of the Apostle James to the former-day Saints, and it has been repeated to the Latter-day Saints. The revelations given unto us on this subject are to the effect that “they who have faith to be healed, shall be healed; the deaf who have faith to hear, shall hear; the lame who have faith to walk, shall walk, etc. And they who have not faith to do these things, but believe in me, I will have compassion upon them, and bear their infirmities, and they shall be nursed with herbs and mild food, and that not by the hand of an enemy.”

These things are for you, my brethren and sisters, and for your families, and all who are willing to receive the word and counsels of Almighty God. And if our faith is so weak that we have to resort to medical aid, let us do it trusting and relying upon God, seeking unto those who have faith, and who have confidence in God, and who do what they do unto the Lord, righteously, justly and honorably, seeking for the light of the Holy Ghost to help them in their profession. These will be far more likely to succeed and do good; but the other class are not to be relied upon, for all doctors have not faith any more than all lawyers or other men. But the sound, intelligent philosopher or Surgeon has respect for God and His works, which are made manifest in all nature and in nothing more than the human frame, which is after the image of God himself—fearfully and wonderfully made—and those who understand it best, respect, as a rule, the Maker, and acknowledge His wisdom as being superior to that of man, for there is nothing ever devised by man that is equal to his own organization in perfection and beauty, or in strength and durability.

Let us remember and ponder upon these counsels, and cleave to the Priesthood and have confidence in it; and let the Elders administer to the sick in faith, and let them rebuke disease when the Spirit prompts them, and it will be rebuked, and the sick will be healed by the power of God. Every Elder in Israel should so live before the Lord as to have confidence in Him to do this. And let the Presidents of Stakes and the Bishops and the leading influential men encourage faith among the people, depending upon God and the ordinances of His house rather than trusting in man. And while they seek for wisdom to nurse the sick in a manner calculated to do them good, let them learn too, that herb medicine, unless administered in wisdom and intelligence, is liable to injure the patient instead of benefiting him. And let the Elders lay aside strong drinks and tobacco, and discontinue the practice of everything having a tendency to injure the system, and set examples before our sons and daughters that is worthy of imitation. If parents will pursue this course they will command the respect of their children; and when the time comes for them to go down to their graves, their children will point to them in affection and pride as being the chief means, under God, of their learning His ways and walking in His paths, and of eschewing those pernicious habits which are wasting away the life of our nation, and that are gradually undermining society and destroying the human race. It is the design of the Almighty to raise up in these mountains a hardy and a healthy people, a people who shall live according to the laws of heaven that govern them, in whom shall be found the elements of faith and power; and it becomes our duty to shape our lives accordingly. And that God may help us to do so, and to accomplish all that is required of us, is my earnest desire and prayer. Amen.

Leaders of the Church Inspired—Man’s Free Agency—True Independence—Joseph Smith on Church Government—Fallen Condition of Mankind—God’s Promise to Abraham—New and Everlasting Covenant—Difference Between Salvation and Exaltation—Testimony in Regard to Plural Marriage—Political Crisis—Why the Saints Are Opposed

Discourse by Apostle Erastus Snow, delivered at the Quarterly Conference, Parowan, Sunday Afternoon, June 24th, 1883.

I want to say to the young men and the young ladies and to all the people—but especially our children, the youths in Israel—that the leaders of this people do not speak of themselves. That which they are striving to impress upon the people is of the Lord and not of man. The Latter-day Saints have not been gathered from the different nations of the earth, and brought together in these mountains to worship man, nor to serve man, to be their slaves, nor to be obedient unto man, and if anybody has such an idea or intention they have got hold of the wrong people. The people who are gathered here are not the people calculated to do such a thing. The faith we teach throws everybody upon their own responsibility; they are at liberty to act and choose for themselves, and all will be held responsible before God for their faith and conduct. The free agency of man is and always has been a prominent doctrine in this Church, and no one advocated it more strongly than the Prophet Joseph Smith. The free agency of man is inseparably connected with intelligence, as the revelations of God in the Doc trine and Covenants plainly and explicitly declare, that all intelligence is independent. Without this agency there would be no self-existence. And because of this agency, which existed in eternity before the worlds were, with intelligent beings, with our spirits when they existed in the spirit world—through the exercise of this agency Satan fell, and all those who clung to him and rebelled against our Heavenly Father. Brother Cannon has impressed us with the idea that obedience to correct principle, believing in the truth and living it and obeying it, is as good an evidence of independent thought and character—and perhaps a little more so—than to be disobedient; that no man, woman or child will be more independent by rejecting the truth, by disobeying correct laws and correct principles, than those who receive and obey the truth with contrite hearts. Now, what say you, you must all judge for yourselves, and choose what you will be. My experience and observation of the Latter-day Saints is that they are the hardest people I know anything about to either drive or lead in a wrong direc tion. Brother Cannon speaks of President Young and President Taylor, and other good men, our leaders, being led, as it were, by a hair in obedience to the Priesthood, which implies simply obedience to truth and to correct doctrine, and to righteousness. This is the explanation the Prophet Joseph Smith gave to a certain lawyer in his time who came to see him and his people and expressed astonishment and surprise at the ease with which he controlled the people, and said it was something that was not to be found among the learned men of the world. Said he: “We cannot do it. What is the secret of your success?” “Why,” said the Prophet, “I do not govern the people. I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.” I have been young, now I am getting old and expect to pass away soon, as well as all those who have been for many years before the people serving the Lord, and laboring to promote the welfare of the people; but from my youth up I have observed the dealings of God with the Latter-day Saints. I am pretty well acquainted with them. They are pretty well acquainted with their leaders. They are pretty well acquainted with the voice of truth, and they know it when they hear it as a rule—that is, all those who are humble and prayerful and who love the truth and the voice of the good Shepherd, they know it when they hear it, and when principles are taught that are good, that come from God, they comprehend them and receive them. But as Paul said in one of his epistles to the ancient Saints: “There is a law in our members, warring against the law of the spirit and bringing our bodies into bondage to the law of sin and death.” That is, the lusts and desires of the flesh and the pride of life which we have to war against. And this warfare commences as soon as we begin to grow up to maturity. It is this that lays the foundation for rebellion. As soon as this begins to manifest itself in us, in our youth, so soon we need to begin to curb it. And here comes in the duty of parents in their Priesthood and calling, to watch over those children that are given them of the Lord, which are lent to them for a season. It is required of them to teach those children the law of the Lord and the ways of the righteous, and to restrain them from passions, from anger, from strife, from contention, from envy, from jealousy, from disobedience; to impress them with the necessity of doing right and repenting of wrong whenever they do it, that they may hold in check the passions that are common to our nature; and to show them how to enjoy all that the Lord has designed for our happiness in this world and our exaltation in the next without excess, without allowing our tabernacles to be used as instruments of sin and wickedness.

We have heard during this conference—and especially this forenoon from President Taylor—some very important principles advanced for our government, as individuals and as communities, principles which we are to observe and which are essential to our purity and progress as a people, and as individuals, and our exaltation in the eternal world. For the law of the Lord is strict unto those who are instructed and have opportunities to observe it, and far more so with us as Latter-day Saints than with the Gentile world. The Lord will make greater allowance for the Gentile world than He will for us, and He has had compassion upon us and made greater allowance for us in the days of our ignorance than He will do for us in the future; for He expects us as a people to profit by our experience and our instruction and the opportunities afforded us, and to improve our condition, to purify our persons, our families, and our communities, and to purge evil from our midst. And touching moral purity and the intercourse of the sexes and the objects and purposes of this intercourse, God has revealed to the Latter-day Saints, as He also revealed unto our fathers, that He has a great and glorious and grand object in view in placing us here upon the earth, male and female, and commanding us to multiply and replenish the earth. His purposes in these things are from eternity to eternity. They reach back into our first or former existence, and consequently will reach forward through this our second, and into our next estate, and through all eternity. And we need a correct understanding of the proper use of the privileges and blessings that are given unto us. On this depends the glory and exaltation of ourselves and our children for evermore. The Lord is striving to educate a people that will properly understand these things and appreciate them, and that will not trifle with the fountains of life and with those choice blessings that are placed within their reach. When we look abroad into the Gentile nations at the present time, those who are acquainted with their condition are constrained to acknowledge that we live in a wicked and adulterous generation. Adultery, whoredom and lust have cursed the Gentile nations, and the wicked portion of all mankind, we may say, from time immemorable. But with the seed of Abraham, the children of Israel—who were called an holy nation, a peculiar people—God has sought to regulate, by His laws, those things, and to teach the people so that they may raise up unto Him a holy nation, a peculiar people, a royal priesthood. He chose Abraham from among the nations and blessed him. He promised to multiply his seed like the stars in the heaven or the sands of the seashore for number. He tried and proved him well as we heard this morning. He blessed him and blessed his seed after him, likewise his son Isaac and his grandson, Jacob, and promised that the oracles should remain with him and his seed. Nevertheless, the promises made were general; they were not promises to individuals alone. Yet the promises were conditional. They were given on condition that their posterity should abide in the truth, follow the teachings and examples of their fathers, and prove themselves worthy; for Nephi has said concerning these things in the Book of Mormon that God covenants with none except those that repent and believe in His Son and keep His commandments. But there are special promises to the children of Israel, the seed of Abraham, as a people; for as a people they are the elect of God. But as individuals every one is held responsible for his own sins. No promise of the father can save any individual. Nevertheless, according to the promise made unto the fathers, God makes manifest among the children of Israel the Priesthood and reveals unto them the Gospel, and gives them an opportunity to receive it and obey it and obtain exaltation through it, if they will, and in this respect they are more favored than the Gentile nations throughout the whole world, though He has said that whoever fears God and works righteousness is accepted of Him among all nations and all peoples, Jew or Gentile. But the Lord has set His hand to gather His people, and He is selecting them by the preaching of the Gospel to the world by the Elders of Israel. The spirit which accompanies the preaching of the Gospel feels after and searches out and gathers together the seed of Abraham that are worthy to be saved. It gathers together those whom God has called to have part in the latter-day work, in the “dispensation of the fulness of times”—the ten thousands of Ephraim and the thousands of Manasseh, spoken of by Moses when he blessed the tribes of Israel.

Well, now, because the Lord has set His hand to gather out from the nations of the earth the humble and the honest in heart and those that will be obedient and will submit themselves to the truth and to the law of the Lord, therefore He reveals unto them a new and everlasting covenant, the holy covenant of marriage for time and for all eternity, the union of the sexes, the sealing of wives to husbands and husbands to wives, children to parents, etc., the uniting and sealing us in the holy Priesthood unto the fathers and even unto our Lord Jesus Christ, who stands at the head of the kingdom of righteousness, the Chief Apostle and High Priest of our profession; and unto this new and everlasting covenant has the Lord purposed and designed His people to be united and bound together with the Son, our Savior, and through Him unto His Father; for He has said, “Whosoever receiveth me receiveth my Father, and all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.”

This new and everlasting covenant reveals unto us the keys of the Holy Priesthood and ordinances thereof. It is the grand keystone of the arch which the Lord is building in the earth. In other words, it is that which completes the exaltation and glory of the righteous who receive the everlasting Gospel, and without it they could not attain unto the eternal power and Godhead and the fullness of celestial glory. Now, many may enter into the glory of God, and become servants in the house of God and in the celestial kingdom of God, who are not able to abide this new and everlasting covenant; but as we are told in the Doctrine and Covenants, with them there is an end to their exaltation. They may remain in their saved condition without exaltation, but they enter not into the order of the Gods. They cannot progress through the ceaseless rounds of eternity except they abide in the covenant, and abide the law that governs it, and the Lord will not be mocked in these things.

We heard this morning how strict was the law pertaining to these matters. Now we say unto all Israel, old and young, these things are revealed unto us for our good. The strictness of the law may not in times past have been taught us and enforced upon us as we may look for it being taught and enforced in the future. But it behooveth us to reflect upon these things, and while it is our privilege to go forward, earnestly desiring and seeking after all that the Lord has to bestow upon us, yet we must remember that the more we receive and the greater privileges we are permitted to enjoy, the more strict accountability will be required of us, and the more dreadful will be the consequences of transgression or violation of the holy covenants and obligations which we assume.

Now, I wish to say that I realize that there are some in our midst—whether they are in your midst in this Stake of Zion or not, I am not prepared to say with any certainty, for I can only judge of the condition and feeling of the people as I am informed from time to time—I say, there are some whom Satan would stir to disobedience and try to make an impression upon their minds that the system of plural marriage, and those things that pertain to the sealing of men and women for time and for eternity, and the revelation which has been read in our hearing, given through the Prophet Joseph pertaining to this subject—that it was the work of man and not the work of God. We have recently had published in some of the Utah papers some letters on this subject, and one from Joseph Smith, the eldest son of the Prophet, in which a great deal of sophistry is made use of, special pleading, such as the lawyer that he is, seems only capable of using. And the object of this special pleading and the sophistry is to try to leave an impression upon the ignorant, those who know no better, that plural marriage was not introduced and sanctioned and practiced by his father, but that it has been an innovation of man, and does not belong to the system of religion which he believed and practiced and taught the people. And there are some among us who would fain take this view of the subject; not that there are many who believe it, but there are some who would like to believe it. And so there are in the world many people who fear that “Mormonism” as a whole is true and of God; they are very much afraid that it is, but they hope that it is not. They do not want to receive it; they do not want to live it, but they are afraid it is true, and multitudes of people have been convinced of its truth, but have not the honesty to acknowledge it; and many who would acknowledge it for a little season, would afterwards, because of the love of the world, fall away, and thus condemnation has fallen upon the world because they will not obey the truth when they hear it. And so it is with some among the Latter-day Saints. They are pretty well satisfied that this doctrine of plural marriage is true, and that it was revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith, but they would like an excuse for disavowing and rejecting it. And why so? Mainly because their minds are closed up and have not been able to comprehend the principles that are embraced in this doctrine and connected with it. Their minds are contracted and limited. They think more of this present life than they do of the future. They want to lay up riches; they want to gather personal comforts around them; they want to gratify the pride of life and the lusts of the flesh. They do not understand that which is for their real good, their real happiness. But I testify that there is more real happiness in serving God and abiding in His law, and submitting to all its conditions and requirements than there can be in taking an opposite course. This is the testimony of all who receive and abide in the truth, and there is abundant evidence in their lives and conduct to prove that they, in receiving the truth, enjoy more comfort and happiness than those who reject it. And touching our plural families, I will say that, with all the weaknesses that are common to frail humanity, and that manifest themselves in our midst— the men who enter into this order in the sincerity of their hearts and with devotion to God, and the women who also enter into it in the love of the truth and in the earnestness of their souls, fearing God and desiring to do His will—that with all the weaknesses that manifest themselves, I say there is treble the genuine comfort and happiness in those families who enter into this order and abide in it, than is to be found in the same number of families in monogamy in this Church, to say nothing of the Gentile world. And then we will take the Latter-day Saints as a whole, whether in plural marriage or single marriage, and we will say that there is ten times more genuine happiness and comfort in believing and obeying the Gospel—whether in plural or single wedlock—than is to be found among the same number of people in any part of the world outside of this Church. Now, in this you are all my witnesses. Many of you have been in the world. You know what you were, and how you felt, and how your neighbors felt, and what kind of enjoyment you had before you heard the fullness of the Gospel. You know pretty well the condition of the world now—the condition of those who have not received the Gospel—and you know what your condition is and has been since you received the Gospel. And who among you, Latter-day Saints, would exchange your present condition for the condition of the outside world? Are we not prepared to testify that our happiness is trebled, through having believed and obeyed the Gospel?

Now, as I said to the Priesthood last night, we are arriving at a political crisis in our affairs. The priests and bigots of Christendom—and of America especially—are driving our lawmakers into trying to hedge up our way and to oppress us politically as well as religiously. They are endeavoring not only to deprive us of religious freedom, but to deprive us of political freedom, and to bring us into bondage. Well, now, they will do it as far as the Lord will allow them and no further. He will block their wheels. He will throw obstacles in their way. He will stay their onward progress. But He allows His people to be tried to see whether they will trust Him and have faith in Him, or whether they will deny Him, whether they will deny their covenants and their principles through fear of the power of the wicked, through fear of oppression, through fear of prisons or of death. For we have among us those who will falter, those who will halt between two opinions, those who wish to serve the world and who, at the same time, would like to serve the Lord a little. Well, can such people always continue in this doubtful and divided condition? No, they cannot. They will be tried and proven, and by and by they must take sides one way or another; they must either turn their backs upon the wicked and cleave unto God and His people with full purpose of soul, or they will turn their backs upon God and His people and go down to perdition with the ungodly of the world.

Well, now, in regard to those who are seeking for an excuse to reject plural marriage and are inclined to receive the statement of young Joseph Smith, I wish to say that I know that Joseph Smith is entirely ignorant of what he says, or he is a liar; for I know that he does not speak the truth. How far his mind has been blinded or how he has been influenced to look upon these things as correct, or to think that he speaks the truth, I do not know. But he is woefully in the dark if he thinks he does speak the truth in regard to this matter. I do not wish to accuse him of lying knowingly and intentionally. But there are multitudes of witnesses who know better, and know that when his father was murdered this son Joseph was in his eleventh year, and like other children of that age knew little either of his father’s life or his teachings and the principles that governed his life. He knew but little of what was being taught among the people. But there are multitudes of witnesses that were older than he, and that were intimate with the Prophet Joseph, that know better. Now, those who take this other view, and are trying to convince themselves that this is an institution of man and not of God, bring forth the law that was given to the Nephites of old upon the American continent, which was given them by Jacob, the brother of Nephi, and which you can read, as doubtless you have often read, in the Book of Mormon. Jacob arraigned some of the people because the men were giving way to the lusts of the flesh and the pride of life, and whoredoms, and they attempted to justify themselves in their whoredoms by referring to what is written in the Jewish Scriptures concerning David and Solomon and other men having many wives and concubines, which Jacob informed the Nephites was an abomination in the sight of the Lord, and gave unto them a commandment that not any man among them should have save it be one wife, and concubines they should have none, saying that the Lord “delighteth in the chastity of woman.” And in the same connection the Lord said: “For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.” Now, there was a reason why the Lord gave this commandment to the Nephites. But this reason did not exist when the Lord called Abraham and promised that his seed should be like the sand upon the seashore for number. He recognized the righteousness of a plurality of wives, and never at any time did he restrict them from the days of Abraham until Christ, so far as we have any record in the Jewish Scriptures. But there were reasons, as I said before, why he restricted the Nephites, but in this restriction He intimated that when the time should come that He should raise up seed unto himself, He would command His people.

Now, when the Lord raised up the Prophet Joseph to lay the foundation of this Church, He found monogamy instead of polygamy to be the rule of Christendom, and He enjoined, in the early revelations to this Church, that every woman cleave unto her husband, and that every man cleave unto his wife and none else, saying that he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her who is not his wife hath committed adultery already with her in his heart. This was the law governing Christendom which had been inherited by the Gentiles for ages past, and introduced among the Roman Empire and perpetuated by the Roman church and the Protestant churches that had sprung out of her, and the Lord in the early history of this people continued this order of things, but revealed unto the Prophet Joseph, nevertheless, that the time would come when He would require His people to enter into plural marriage as He did Abraham and the prophets of old, to bring about His purposes in the latter days. Joseph revealed this unto some of the first Elders of the Church, taking care to enjoin them that they must preserve these things in their own hearts; that the time had not yet come when the Lord required His people to enter into this order, but the time would come when He would require them to do so. This was made manifest in the early stages of this Church, but not until 1843 was this law committed to writing and given to the people. This revelation we find in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants.

Now, Joseph—I refer now to the young man that is alive and who was a mere boy at his father’s death, and who with his mother and her children remained behind, though his mother did know for herself that her husband did teach and practice this order of marriage, yet she was not willing to own or acknowledge it to her children, and her children, the oldest of which, as I have said, was only eleven years old when his father was murdered—were studiously kept ignorant of the facts of the case as far as she was concerned, and therefore we can make allowance and excuse in part for what they assert. But there are great numbers that I can call to mind who know for themselves that the Prophet Joseph did receive from the Lord and teach this order to the first Elders of this Church, and did receive and commit to writing this revelation on the subject of plural marriage which is contained in the Doctrine and Covenants, and did teach it and did practice it, and I am one of those witnesses. I know that he taught to me as early as in the spring of 1842 what God had revealed to him on the subject; I know that he gave to me my second wife and assigned his brother, Hyrum, to seal her to me; and I know that he taught this doctrine to quite a good few others—the Twelve Apostles and others of the faithful Elders of Israel—and that very many of the faithful and good women of Israel know and understand and are witnesses of these things for themselves. And we testify of these things, that God has reserved to Himself this right to command His people when it seemeth to Him good and to accomplish the object He has in view—that is, to raise up a righteous seed, a seed that will pay respect to His law and will build up Zion in the earth. And while the wicked are hardening their hearts in sin and giving themselves up to whoredoms and lust, and seeking to prevent the increase of offspring among them, God is impressing upon us the heinousness of these crimes and showing us the beauty and glory of multiplying the families of Israel. When we visit the settlements of the Saints and attend the Quarterly Conferences throughout the land, what do we hear in the reports? We hear that an average of about thirty percent of the entire population are children under eight years of age, and another one-third between that and twenty, and scarcely one-third of the population are yet old enough to enter into the marriage relation. And what do we hear? Reports from the Relief Societies and the Improvement Associations and the Sunday school teachers and superintendents that are engaged in instructing them—and what do we hear? Why, we hear that the spirit of the Gospel is in them, that faith is in them, and that they possess bright, intelligent minds that are reaching out after knowledge, and hearts that are grasping the things of God. It is this that causes the world to fear and tremble and this is the cause of the opposition waged against us.

Brethren and sisters, let us put our trust in God, who will give us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Past and Future of the American Continent—The Law of the Lord and the Law of the Land—The Efforts of Our Enemies Turned to Our Advantage—Light and Liberty of the Latter-Day Saints—The Work of the Lord Among the Nations—Judicial Folly and Injustice—Faith Inseparable from Works—Parable of the Talents Exemplified

Discourse by Apostle Erastus Snow, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Friday Afternoon (Annual Conference), April 6, 1883.

If the Lord gives me strength to make myself heard, I shall feel it a pleasure to occupy a little time this afternoon, accorded to me by my brethren.

I feel to express unto my heavenly Father, and to my brethren and the people, my gratitude for their prayers and faith for the blessings of God to me in permitting me to appear before you on this occasion, and to feel the degree of health and strength which is vouchsafed to me, thus enabling me to continue my efforts and labors with my brethren and the people of God. For some two or three months my health has not been of such a nature that I could labor with the satisfaction which has attended me heretofore; and I fully realize what Elder Woodruff said this morning concerning the aged Elders of Israel passing away, and that the responsibility and labor of bearing off this kingdom will soon rest upon the generation which is growing up in our midst, upon which will devolve the work of carrying the Gospel to those who have not heard it among the nations of the earth, and gathering Israel and establishing Zion and building up and maintaining the Kingdom of our God upon the earth, which must be done through faith, by righteousness, and by defending and maintaining the rights of man and the liberty and freedom which God has ordained for the welfare of all flesh, for the protection and blessing of the human family, and which it has been His purpose to establish and maintain upon this American continent. Latter-day Saints, especially those who have grown up with this people, as I have done from my childhood, and witnessed the manifestations of the overruling providence of God in guiding the destinies of this people, inspiring His servants who have led and directed the movements of this great people, and in defending them and fighting their battles by the sword of His Spirit, and the invisible powers that have labored with us and for us—I say to those who are able to see and comprehend these things, it is clear and plain that God has had His eye upon this American continent as the place where He first commenced His great work on the earth, where the greatest manifestations of His power were exhibited in the days of the fathers before the flood, when the fathers were gathered in the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman and received their last instructions and blessings from Father Adam, the Patriarch of this earth, and where Enoch gathered his people and established Zion, and where Noah preached righteousness to the people and prepared the ark of safety, and where He has determined ultimately to establish His Zion and gather together His people, establish, maintain and defend His government and the Priesthood which he has revealed for the salvation of the human family, where He will bring again Zion that He has taken away, even the Zion of Enoch; for when He shall bring again Zion, says the Prophet, the Lord will appear in His glory. And He has long been laboring in His own marvelous manner among the nations of the earth, turning and overturning, to bring to pass His purposes and to gather together His elect; and He has moved upon the oppressed of many lands and climes—those who sought for enlarged freedom and liberty and whose minds reached out for more light and more truth, and whose understandings were expanded—to gather upon this American continent, and implanted in the hearts of our fathers a love of freedom and liberty and equal rights. He led them through schools of oppression. They passed through many difficulties, and endured the rule of tyrants. They bore oppression and suffered until they learned how to appreciate freedom and liberty, and how to detest misrule, tyranny and oppression; they struggled to burst the shackles that bound the human soul; they struggled for freedom of thought, of speech, of action; they struggled unitedly to burst the bonds, to break the yoke, from off their necks; they vied with each other in this labor of love from north to south, from east to west, in all the colonies which were early planted upon this continent. The Lord guided their labors to a successful issue, resulting in freedom from the tyranny of the effete governments of the old world; He directed the combined efforts and labors of those men in consolidating the result of their labors and framing the system of government under which we are now permitted to live.

[At this point part of the congregation moved from the body of the Tabernacle to the gallery causing a stay in the proceedings. Quietness having been obtained the speaker continued.]

I was saying that God our heavenly Father had moved upon the nations and sent out from the nations of the old world streams of emigration to the new world, who were panting for freedom and liberty, and who struggled to burst the bands with which they were bound, and the yoke from off their necks, and were striving to learn how to be free. And in penetrating the new world and its wilds, and in grappling with and overcoming the difficulties attending the forming of new settlements and planting colonies in the new world, they learned the value of freedom, and therefore studied to preserve it; and they labored to establish a form of government under which it might be maintained. In all these works and labors we discern an overruling providence, and manifestations of the mercy and loving kindness of God to His people, and the revelations of His Spirit imparted, to a greater or less degree, unto the wise and patriotic fathers of our country, who were thus enabled to unite upon the best form of government existing among men, or which, perhaps, ever has existed, unless it has been those which God himself directly revealed through the Patriarchs and Prophets of older times. But so far as any political organizations of government upon this earth, the Republican or Democratic form of government established in these United States—(the foundations of which were laid by our fathers over a hundred years ago), is the best calculated to promote the objects sought, and to maintain the rights of man, and the guarantees of religious and political freedom, of any form of government known to mankind. But that it or any other form, in this imperfect and sinful world, is altogether perfect is not to be expected, and therefore cannot endure forever. But we regard the present form of government of this nation as embodying the greatest amount of virtue and principles best calculated to maintain and preserve the rights of man.

In the early history of this Church a revelation was given through the Prophet Joseph in which the people are commanded to observe the Constitutional laws of the land, and to uphold by their votes and sustain upright and honorable men to administer them; which also stated that He had inspired the fathers to establish this form of government for the good and benefit of man. I will read a few paragraphs found on the 342nd page of the Doctrine and Covenants, new edition:

“And now, verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them.

“And that the law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.

“Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;

“And as pertaining to the law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.

“I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free.

“Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn.

“Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for dili gently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.”

I deem it of much importance that these principles should be well understood and thoroughly impressed upon the minds of the Latter-day Saints throughout the world, and especially those dwelling upon this American continent and within the pale of this government, that they may implant in the hearts of our children a love of freedom and human rights, and a desire to preserve them, and to aid in maintaining and defending them in all lawful and proper ways; and to study the constitutional laws of the land, and make others acquainted with them; knowing the principles contained therein, and of learning how to apply them to ourselves, to our children, and to our fellow men who are willing to be governed thereby; study them that we may also learn how to use them in suppressing tyranny, misrule and other evils that affect mankind; for God has ordained this form of government in this age of the world, and has chosen His own instruments to further His great purposes on the earth—the organization of his Church, the proclamation of the everlasting Gospel, the establishment of His Zion, and bringing to pass His wonderful works which He predicted by the mouths of the ancient Prophets. And this political system and order of government is a power in His hands established, preserved and defended thus far by Him, which He will continue to use as long as the people are worthy of it, as long as they will maintain their integrity, uprightness and virtue; and at no time will the Latter-day Saints, as a people, ever stand approved before God in violating those principles or slackening their efforts to maintain and defend them. They are closely allied to the teachings of the ancient Prophets and Apostles, to the doctrines, practices and teachings of the Savior and His disciples, and they are the best means and aids of extending and promoting those principles on the earth. Whatever some may have thought of the maladministration in our government and of the efforts of individuals and sometimes of large factions, to abridge the rights of the people, and of their blind zeal and efforts to reach the Latter-day Saints, and to stamp out the religion we profess—whatever may have been thought of the efforts of such individuals, cliques, or factions, and of their warfare against us; and who in that warfare trample under foot constitutional provisions of our Government—undermine the foundations upon which it rests—we must never in our feelings charge any of these things to this system of government, or to the principles enunciated is the Constitution, which we are commanded to observe and keep. We must charge it always where it belongs—to the bigotry, the ignorance, the selfishness, ambition and blind zeal of ignorant and corrupt politicians, their aiders and abettors, and all this should only serve to make us try more earnestly, anxiously and faithfully to combat such efforts upon constitutional grounds, calling upon God to help us therein.

We were told this morning by Brother Woodruff—quoting the word of the Lord given through the Prophet Joseph Smith concerning the promises He has made to His people—that inasmuch as we will be true to ourselves, true to God, true to our covenants and to our holy religion, that He will fight our battles, defend and maintain our cause, make it triumph and flourish, so that the wicked shall have no power to prevail against us. These promises have often been repeated to us, and last October we had a renewal of this assurance and this promise in the word of the Lord given unto us through His servant President John Taylor, and at a time and period, too, when many in our midst were weakening and their knees were beginning to tremble a little, and there were others who were inclined to falter and doubt, and fear was upon some. Our enemies—especially the bigot, the hypocrite, the demagogue, the political quacks of the country—rejoiced, thinking that they were succeeding in their efforts to weave webs around us, to forge fetters for our feet and yokes to place upon our necks, and to lash us into obedience to them. But the great majority of the Latter-day Saints were calm in their feelings as a summer’s morning, trusting as they have ever done in the promises of God, inspired with faith and hope in his overruling providence; and while we were doing what we might do properly under the Constitution and institutions of our country for the maintenance of our freedom and liberty, leaving the rest with God, exercising faith in His promises, continuing to pray for His blessing to attend our efforts and to hedge up the ways of our enemies; yet we have waited calmly for the result of the promises of God, and the answer to our prayers and the fulfillment of those things that have been spoken to us; and how signally have we seen them fulfilled. We have seen the very means which the enemies of this people have devised, and intended for their enslavement become before us as chaff, as thorns crackling under the pot, as a broken yoke to be used to kindle the fires of freedom and liberty. In former times the efforts that have been made in Congress and out of Congress to press the representatives of the people to hostile and unconstitutional legislation as a means to help religious bigots to suppress the doctrines of Christ, the ordinances of life and salvation, the rule and reign of righteousness among the people of God—I say, in their efforts to reach our religious principles and faith, and the exercise of those principles under that faith, and to crush it out from the earth—in their efforts to do so, they have moved upon statesmen to violate the Constitution of our country and the principles of human freedom on which our government has been founded in order to accomplish this purpose. But all those who have thus stultified themselves before the world, and before the heavens, and have done violence to their oath of office and to the Constitution, to the rights of man, and to the principles of freedom and liberty, have weakened, have gone down, the scepter of their power has fallen from their grasp, they have been dishonored before the heavens and before their people as a rule, and sooner or later we will witness others going down into the pit of forgetfulness as their predecessors have done. For the Lord has decreed it. And today the young men of Israel who are assembling in their Improvement Associations in all the Stakes of Zion, in all the Wards and settlements of the people throughout the land, and in their quorum meetings, and in their political assemblies, are all learning and cultivating these principles of liberty in their minds, introducing and extending them among the rising generation, the sons of Zion, and not only the sons, but the daughters that are coupled with the sons, the wives that are coupled with the husbands, in this labor of love, the struggle for the maintenance of freedom and liberty. It is a source of satisfaction to me that the Lord has moved upon His servants and the Legislature of our Territory to be among the first to lead the van of human progress in the extension of the elective franchise to women as well as men, and to recognize the freedom and liberty which belongs to the fairer sex as well as the sterner; for the Gospel teaches that all things are to be done among us by common consent, and the Prophet Joseph commanded and introduced in our midst the custom we are following today, that of presenting to all the congregations of Israel, at our General Conferences, and our local or Stake Conferences, the General Authorities of the Church, to be justified or condemned by the voice of the people, to be upheld and sustained by the confidence, faith and prayers of the people; or otherwise to be reproved by the votes of the people for their misdeeds or maladministration. These are things continually before the people, as well as the revelations which God has given unto us, and which are written and taught in our Sabbath schools and public gatherings, and to all who come within the scope of these instructions, viz., a love of freedom and liberty.

The leaders of this people are charged with being blind, leaders of the blind; and the people are charged with being blind, led by the blind. I deny the charge and brand it false. We know and understand perfectly that our leaders are neither blind nor are the people blind. On the contrary, we have received the light, the light of truth, the light of God. We have come to the understanding that every soul of man, both male and female, high and low, is the offspring of God, that their spirits are immortal, eternal, intelligent beings, and that their entity depends upon their agency and independent action, which is neither trammeled by God himself nor allowed to be restrained by any of His creatures with His sanction and approval; that the whole theory of God’s rule and government in heaven and on earth is founded upon this principle of agency—self, independent action. And it is upon the free and independent exercise of this agency that the decree of God is founded, that all men shall be judged according to the deeds done in the body, none having it in his power to say that he was not at liberty to exercise this agency untrammeled.

So far as relates to the administration of government and the exercise of political power, or the exercise of any manner of influence—political, religious or social—every man and every woman will be held accountable to God for the manner in which they exercise it. Kings and emperors, presidents and statesmen, judges and all officers of the law, will be held responsible for the administration of the power reposed in them. And if, while acting officially, they disregard their oath of office and violate the principles that should govern them, they become guilty of maladministration, and will be held accountable unto God, and should be strictly accountable to the people who place them in power. But every individual, in an individual capacity, will be held answerable to God for all his acts of whatsoever character, and so far as, in the exercise of that agency, men trespass upon the rights of their fel low men they must be held answerable to their fellow men for such trespass and wrong. And for this purpose human government is instituted, approved by the people, to hold each other responsible unto each other or unto the community, for the abuse of their freedom and liberty, and for this purpose laws are enacted and judges provided to judge according to the law, and to administer the law when it becomes necessary to punish transgressors. And God has commanded us in the revelation which He gave to us, that in case Church members violate a law of the land, they shall be delivered up to be dealt with according to the law of the land; that if they shall murder, rob or steal, or commit perjury or any other crime of which the law of the land takes cognizance, they shall be delivered up to be dealt with for their offense. But that for all manner of iniquity they shall be delivered up to the law of God to be dealt with according to the law of God; and those laws which are given unto you, as the laws of God, for your government in the Church must be treated as such. And it becomes our duty as good Saints, as those that are bound together by the ties and in the fellowship of the Gospel, as those that have covenanted to serve God and to keep his commandments, to work righteously and to deal justly one with another, that if we violate the principles of the Gospel and the laws which God has given unto us, that we shall be delivered up to the judges in Israel, and the Teachers shall labor with such, and their labors of love shall be directed earnestly to the reformation and repentance of all persons that have done wrong and done violence to the feelings, faith and fellowship of their brethren and sisters. And for every manner of sin shall they be held accountable unto the Councils of the Church, to the Bishops who are common judges in Israel; and to the High Councils. And though we may succeed in winning them to repentance, and they turn away from evil and will do so no more, and succeed in eliciting the sympathy and forgiveness of their brethren, still, if they have violated a law of the land, they must be made subject to that law, and to endure the penalty. And if they pay the penalty with patience, which is but the legitimate fruits and testimony of genuine repentance, satisfying all that they appreciate their wrong and determine to do so no more, when the penalty is paid, they may with renewed determination begin to serve their God, and prove to their brethren that their repentance was genuine and sincere. And although we are required to forgive all men, God says that He reserves to Himself the right to forgive whomsoever He will, because he searches all hearts and knows, as we cannot know, how far their repentance is genuine, and how far they ought to be forgiven. It is important that we as Latter-day Saints, understand what God requires of us towards each other in the Church of Christ, and also what He requires of us towards the State. For the constitutional laws of the land are for the protection of the rights of all flesh; the liberties of Saints as well as those of sinners. And if sinners can afford to dishonor the law, surely Saints cannot, neither can they justify others in so doing; neither can Saints afford to override the laws of God, or to wink at others who may do so.

God will not hold us faultless if we do. He requires us as Elders, as Apostles, as Presidents, as Bishops, as Seventies, as parents, to teach (wherever it is our prerogative and duty), correct principles, and observe them ourselves and seek to enforce them upon others. And it is not alone the duty of High Councils and Presidents of Stakes, and of Bishops and their Counselors to labor to correct the errors of the people, but it is the duty of every Elder, High Priest and Seventy—and especially the Priests, Teachers and Deacons that are appointed and called to be standing ministers in the Church, to visit the house of each member and become familiar with every family, and every individual member of the family, and their daily walk and life and conversation; and ascertain whether they are living as Saints should live; whether the heads of families preside in righteousness in their houses; whether their houses are set in order; whether they have an altar erected whereon are offered up their daily, morning and evening devotions; whether every member is taught to reverence and respect that altar; whether each individual prays in secret as well as responds to the calls made upon him to pray in the family circle and in public; whether each one that has enrolled himself in a quorum attends his quorum meetings and is obedient to the President of his quorum, his counsels and instructions; and if they are enrolled in the Mutual Improvement Associations, whether they sustain that institution and the leaders thereof, and are performing well their part; whether the parents are faithful in sending their children to Sunday school and to other institutions of learning; whether they teach their children to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy, etc. These are duties and obligations that we cannot ignore, that God will not justify us in neglecting, and those who are called to bear a part of the holy Priesthood cannot be justified if they neglect all these duties, or any portion of them; for the Lord has said, “blessed are they who hear my sayings and shall keep them all, for the same shall be great in the kingdom of heaven; but if anyone shall fail or neglect to observe and keep the least of these my sayings and teach others to do so, the same shall be least in the kingdom of heaven.” For the Lord is not to be mocked; and though we may excuse ourselves in many ways for carelessness and neglect, and we may supplicate for forgiveness, as we are in duty bound to do for all our transgressions and shortcomings, yet we cannot in any wise plead justification, or suppose that God will justify us, for He has said He cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, and yet He showeth mercy and kindness unto thousands of those who repent and seek to turn away from their follies.

Over fifty years have passed away since the light of the glorious Gospel in its fullness began to dawn upon us, and still we are measurably walking in darkness. Yet the Lord has said that we are the only people and the only church—speaking as a whole—upon the face of the earth with which He is well pleased. As a whole we are the best people He can find. He has sent out His word throughout the earth. He has sent His servants abroad carrying, as it were, a torch in their hand—the light of the Gospel, inviting all to come to it, that as many as love the light may see it and follow it as one would follow a light in a dark place, or until the dawn of day. The Holy Spirit has been upon His servants and in the gathering together of this people. It is the Holy Ghost that has moved upon the people in the islands of the sea, in all the different nations of Europe, in the various parts of America, and in all lands where the light of the Gospel has been carried and the testimony of Jesus has been sounded. It is the testimony of the Spirit from on high bearing witness to and moving upon the hearts of the people that has drawn them into the light of truth and that has gathered them together with the Church of Jesus Christ. It was not worldly prospects held out before them that induced them to gather. I speak now of the people as a whole and not individually; for there may be individuals who have been influenced by worldly considerations, by personal, selfish motives. But all such, sooner or later, get their eyes open and see their folly and sin and wickedness, and repent, or they are purged out from among the Latter-day Saints. They apostatize, they turn away from us; they go back into Babylon, and they strike hands with our enemies and fight against God, and go down into perdition; for none can remain and continue to stand among the Saints of God, and hold fast to the principles of the Gospel, and enter into life only on the pure principles of virtue, integrity and righteousness, as we heard this morning, and as we are told by the Lord in certain revelations to the Church, namely, that the powers of the Priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and the powers of heaven can in no wise be used except on the principles of righteousness. And no man or woman can continue long in sin in the midst of the Saints, where the Gospel is preached in power, and where those who minister, do so in the power of their Priesthood and by the Holy Ghost, without being purged out from their midst. For that spirit will reveal and make manifest what sort they are. If the law of the Lord is properly administered among them and they are found violating it they will be judged according to the law of the Lord, and be separated from the Saints. And although we do not look for entire separation of the sheep from the goats, of the tares from the wheat, until the Great Judge Himself shall come to complete the separation, it is nevertheless expected that all men who act as judges in Israel should be helps in separating the sheep from the goats, the tares from the wheat, as fast as they are made manifest, and the tares may be plucked up without destroying the wheat; and it becomes our duty to do it. But He enjoins us to be wise lest we in our zeal and anxiety destroy or pluck up some of the wheat that may be growing under the shade of the tare, whose roots may be intermingled with it. We must therefore be prudent. It is better in some instances to allow the tare to remain until its character be more fully developed and made manifest, until it can be plucked up without endangering the wheat.

I testify unto all Israel, and unto all the world, that God has called us, and required us to observe and practice these things; and that it is not the work of man, and that the institutions of this Church are not the institutions of man. And when we speak of the institutions of our common country, we say in the main, though God has used man in instituting this form of government, and in establishing its institutions and maintaining freedom upon this land, they are nevertheless the institutions of heaven; and God has revealed unto us that He did estab lish them by the hands of wise men, whom He raised up for that special purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood. It is therefore part of His great work, as much so as the part of revealing the keys of the Priesthood to Joseph, and the ordinances thereof, for the salvation of His people. For the political organization upon the land was designed by heaven to be a protection to the righteous. “But,” says one, “is it not designed to protect the wicked?” No, not in wicked acts, but in their freedom and liberty, to think and to speak and to act, and to choose for themselves; for in those rights all must be protected. God has always protected them, both in heaven and on earth. And he designed that all men should protect one another, and if necessary be united for the protection and welfare of all flesh. Not that the laws of the land or the laws of God will protect the wicked in doing wickedly, but on the contrary, will condemn and judge them. They are left to choose for themselves their course of life in exercising their agency in all things pertaining to themselves and the service of their God, and to use freedom and liberty in doing good, that which is right; but there is no such thing as liberty to do wrong and be justified in that wrong, neither on earth nor in heaven, neither by the laws of God, nor the just laws of man.

Now, the Supreme Court of the United States, in its great zeal to establish and maintain monogamy upon this American continent, and to strike a blow at the patriarchal order of marriage, believed in by the Latter-day Saints, in its decision in the Reynolds’ case announced the doctrine that religion consists in thought and matters of faith and concerning matters of faith, and not actions, and the government is restrained by the terms of the Constitution from any efforts to curtail this freedom and liberty. Wonderful doctrine! A wonderful strain of judicial thought to announce to the world, this wonderful doctrine that the government should not attempt to restrain the exercise of thought, or the exercise of faith! I would like somebody, that knows how to defend this doctrine, to tell me how any one man, or any set of men on the earth could go to work and catch a thought and chain it up and imprison it, or stop its flight, or root it out of the heart, or restrain it, or do away with it. Let them go to and try to chain the lightning, stop the sun from shining, stop the rains from descending and the mist from arising from the ocean, and when they have done this, they may talk about restraining men’s faith, and exercising control over the thoughts and faith of the people. The fathers who framed our Constitution were not such dunces, I am happy to say, as Attorney General Devens, who put that nonsensical language and doctrine into the mouths of the chief justices of the Supreme Court of the United States—the fathers who framed our Constitution, I say, were not such dunces, they did not attempt to place constitutional restrictions upon the lawmaking power, to restrain them from interference with faith and thought and the exercise of religious opinion; but they did attempt, and they did it in plain language, to restrain the lawmaking power from any effort at making law for the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. And the exercise of religion implies something more than mere faith and thought. I may think about being baptized for the remission of my sins, I may believe it is right I should do it, I may be convinced that God has required it of me, and I may think I ought to do it, and think I will; but all this faith and all this thought don’t amount to as much as you can put in your eye, until I arise and go forth to be baptized, and when I do this, then I exercise the faith which is in me, and it produces the works. This principle may be equally true of everything else pertaining to the exercise of religion. I may believe it is right for me to be enrolled with a religious community that meets to worship, and I may believe it is right and a religious duty to meet with them from time to time to celebrate the supper of the Lord and partake of bread and wine, and when I partake of the bread and of the wine in commemoration of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, it is but the exercise of that faith which is in me. I may believe that God meant what he said when He gave that general commandments to His children to multiply and replenish the earth, and I may think about it; but it is my duty, if I want to raise potatoes, to plant the seed; if I desire to raise fruit I must go to and plant the fruit trees; if I desire to cultivate the earth I must use the proper means necessary to cultivate and improve it before I can gather the fruits of it. And then to do the other thing, to form a union as God has enjoined in the holy bond of matrimony, we must enter into that bond for the purpose of multiplying our species and thus bring forth the fruits of our bodies. I may believe this doctrine, as contained in the revelations of God; but what will this amount to unless I exercise myself in it. I shall remain a bachelor, worse than a hermit—a parasite in the commonwealth—unless I rise up and put my faith in practice and exercise myself in my religious belief.

I say also, when the time comes that God sees in the midst of His people an increase of the female element, and the wicked ready to devour that element and appropriate it not in the way to “multiply and replenish the earth,” but for the gratification of fleshly lust, and will actually take and employ hellish means to prevent the increase of their species, and show that they are not only beneath the brute, but beneath the vegetable creation, by refusing to bear fruit, thereby placing themselves in the category of the trees that are dried up, fit only to be cast into the fire, he can take measures to counteract this evil. And I say before God, angels and men, that every man and woman who joins in unholy wedlock for the gratification of fleshly lust, and studiously plan to frustrate the command of God in the multiplication of their species, show that they are unworthy—what shall I say?—unworthy to be classed among the honorable of the earth. And we have reason to believe that many have done, and are today, in the great cities of Babylon, taking steps to destroy their own offspring, committing infanticide and feticide, all of whom, and their aiders and abettors, are but ripening for the damnation of hell. And when God sees this damnable doctrine taught, and taught by such men as Mr. Henry Ward Beecher and other modern divines falsely so-called, who teach the world that it is a positive evil to multiply and increase so greatly in the land—when such doctrine is taught by leading lights, and so readily accepted by the masses, the Lord says, the time has come for Him to take measures to counteract this great evil, by introducing laws in the midst of those who fear Him and work righteousness and live according to the principles of life; men who are upright, honest and faithful, men who are willing to assume the responsibility; to take the daughters of Eve to wife and multiply and replenish the earth, for those men are unworthy of them. It is as Jesus said concerning the man who hid it in a napkin; he laid it carefully away, and by and by brought it out, saying, here it is as I received it, not having increased at all; in other words, we are just where we were when we started. Another one says I received two talents; and have increased to four, another says I received five talents, and now have ten: the master says to the one who hid his talent, who perhaps laid it carefully away and kept it nice, watching over it with the greatest care; or in other words, to him who did not multiply and increase, but on the contrary took pains to avoid doing so, “Take from him that which he seems to have and give to him that has ten; for he that has and improves upon that which he receives, shall receive more abundantly.”

May God bless and keep us in the way in which He can sustain and defend us, and lead us onward, as He has done hitherto, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

The “Twin Relics,” Slavery and Polygamy—Confounding of Polygamy With Bigamy, “Christian” Statesmanship—Joseph Smith’s Proposition for the Abolition of Slavery—The Great Rebellion, Church Division—The Bible and Polygamy, Origin of Monogamy—The Work of God in the Latter Days, the Mission of Ephraim—The Ten Tribes and Scattered Israel, the Book of Mormon—Present Persecution and Future Prospects of the Saints

Discourse by Apostle Erastus Snow, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Saturday Morning (in General Conference), October 7, 1882.

I believe it was in 1856, that the Republican party was organized; at their first convention held in Philadelphia, they incorporated in their platform the noted plank, “the twin relics of barbarism—slavery and polygamy,” and pledged themselves to rid the country of these two evils. For sixteen years they have labored incessantly to this end; but they know not the thoughts of the Lord, nor understand his counsels. Nevertheless, they are his servants to execute his purposes, and they doubtless have a desire to accomplish all that he designs with regard to them. Have they succeeded in strangling the twins? So far as slavery is concerned they have succeeded in abolishing it in the obnoxious forms in which it prevailed in the Southern States; but still it exists and is likely to continue to exist, in a modified form, while wickedness exists upon the earth. Africans and white men are in bondage, not in the same form as that in which the southern slaves were held before the war, for the extreme excesses perpetrated under that system, in many particulars, were very great wrongs to mankind, and very grievous in the sight of heaven and of right-thinking people. And changes were determined in the mind of Jehovah, and have been effected. The authors of this republican plank have taken polygamy as taught by the Latter-day Saints as being synonymous with the polygamy of oriental nations, and the bigamy of the Christian nations; this is clearly shown in the law of 1862, passed by the Congress of the United States, designed for its suppression, the term bigamy being used instead of polygamy. The offense was made to consist in the marriage rather than in the cohabitation; following the old English statutes of the New England States on the subject of bigamy, classing our system of marriage with that which was made criminal by the English statutes and by the statutes of the Northern States; when in reality there was very little, if any, similarity. The bigamy of England and the American States consists in crime and deception, the betraying and wronging of two innocent and unsuspecting women. While the corrupt, lying, deceiving, unprincipled husband was feigning virtue and integrity, both violating their confidence by lying and deception, and by violating all the duties and obligations of marriage—the duties that the father owes to the wife and children and also to the State. But the fact that our lawmakers took this view of our social system when they passed this law, shows how poorly and ill they comprehended the system of marriage as taught by the Latter-day Saints. The republican party had this view of the case, no doubt, when they first announced this noted plank. Further experience and knowledge among the people of the United States has, in some measure, changed their view upon this subject, and they have attempted to shape their legislation accordingly; and in the recent law of Congress, known as the Edmunds law, they have especially, in the amendment they have adopted to the law of 1862, classed polygamy with bigamy and enacted penalties against both. And still further, they made it a continuous offense, by providing penalties for cohabitation as well as for the marriage; for cohabitation, however, the penalties consist of light fines and short imprisonment, but for marriage, heavy fines and long im prisonment. This is the view taken by our Christian Statesmen in relation to the moral aspect of this question.

Anciently, when God’s laws provided a government for ancient Israel, marriage was honorable both plural and single, as all students of the Bible know full well. At the same time adultery was punished by death. From the days that King Abimelech attempted intimacy with Sarah, whom he supposed to be eligible to marry, but afterwards found her to be the wife of Abraham, from the time that the angel of the Lord warned him that he would be a dead man if he persisted, from that time to the coming of the Savior, adultery was punishable by death, while marriage both single and plural was honorable, ordained and appointed of God, and provision was made for the protection and rights of each wife and her offspring. But our Christian statesmen are offering premiums for licentiousness, and are seeking to make odious the honor and purity of marriage. This is all wrong. They are in error in the view they take of it. If their bishops, priests, potentates and religious teachers would betake themselves to the task of first seeking the light of heaven upon this question, and would then strive to enlighten our statesmen and the people of the United States, pertaining to social ethics and the purposes of heaven in the union of the sexes, and seek to encourage honorable marriage and honorable increase in the earth, instead of encouraging licentiousness and child murder, they would thereby secure the favor of Heaven and the perpetuity of His blessings upon them as a nation and people.

The Prophet Joseph Smith, the year before he was slain, testified of these things; and although he taught this social system to the Latter-day Saints; and to the more devout, wise and prudent of the women of Israel, as hundreds can testify, have testified, and are able to testify today, yet it was necessary in introducing it and facing the opposition and the prejudices of the age, to proceed wisely in these instructions. And while his name was before the people of the United States as a candidate for the Presidency, and national questions were being discussed pro and con by the Latter-day Saints and throughout the nation by all the political societies of the time, Joseph Smith took occasion to issue a pamphlet containing his views of the powers and policy of the Government of the United States; he also preached some sermons upon the subject in Nauvoo; and in this the Prophet counseled the people of the United States in relation to the manner of disposing of the vexed question of slavery, which he recognized as an evil—that is, the form in which it existed in the United States, which should be abolished; but rather than proceed to its abolishment by waging war against the institution, as the anti-slavery men were trying to do, counseled that this desired change, the modification of this system of labor in the south, be effected on a principle of honor, equity and peace; that a fund should be created, a sinking fund of the nation, for the abolishment of slavery; and to negotiate with the States in behalf of the slave-owners, for the gradual emancipation of the slaves, their owners to be reasonably compensated for the freedom of their servants, and in process of years to change the status of the negro, make his labor free, and place him in a condition to be educated and elevated; and still maintain the faith of the nation and the faith of the northern states with the southern states. Thus it was that the true policy and counsel of heaven to our nation was manifested and spurned. The extremists of the north, the anti-slavery agitators heeded it not; and neither party approached the subject with any earnest determination to effect an honorable settlement of this question. The few statesmen that made propositions in the Congress of the United States looking to this result, to the accomplishment of the liberation of the slaves, settling this question on the basis proposed by the Prophet Joseph Smith; but whether they were influenced by his advice, or whether the same spirit that moved upon Joseph, moved also upon these statesmen—there were some that made advances looking to the accomplishment of the object in this way—but it was not generally received or favored, or it was deemed impracticable. At all events the sequel proved that the opposing elements warred against each other, culminating in that great fratricidal war which resulted in the shedding of so much blood, and the impoverishing of one-half of the nation.

Prior to this, however, the union and fraternal feeling that formerly existed had been gradually weakening in the various religious organizations of the nation. All the leading churches of the nation had divided at what was known as the Mason and Dixon line—the line separating the free from the slave states. We had the humiliating spectacle throughout the land, of the Methodist church of the North, and the Methodist church of the South; the Presbyterian church of the north and the Presbyterian church of the South; the Baptist church of the North, and the Baptist church of the South. I believe the only Christian church in America that did not, over the slavery question, split the blanket, divide its property, its franchises and ecclesiastical organization, was the Roman Catholic church, who recognized the necessity of a united body under one grand head. This division of sects prepared the hearts and minds of the people for the deadly conflict that ensued.

On the subject of the other twin relic, there appears no such division. Both the North and the South and religious sects of whatever name or belief, are united in the denunciation of the Latter-day Saints, and the system of marriage introduced by the Prophet Joseph Smith. This, as I have already said, is founded partly in their ignorance with regard to the true spirit and nature of the doctrine taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith, and believed in by the Latter-day Saints. As I have already said, they have classed it with the bigamy of England and the American States, and they have classed it with Oriental polygamy. For it is known to all students of history, to all who are familiar with the conditions of the nations at the present time, and the history of nations in past ages, that polygamy has been the rule—I will not say that it has been the rule among the common people of all nations, but polygamy has existed, and has been recognized to a greater or less extent, so far as its practice was consistent with the conditions of the people of the various nations, it has been the rule from time immemorial; and there has never been a time in the history of the world when it has not been common and recognized among the nations of the earth, with the exception of modern Europe. The Christians of our time claim the prevailing system of marriage in modern Eu rope and in the United States, as the result of Christianity. To this I reply, that neither Christ nor his Apostles ever uttered one word in condemnation of that system of marriage that was in vogue in their days, and that had been recognized and acknowledged in the house of Israel from the days of Abraham until Christ. In fact Christ Himself was the fruit of polygamy, so far as the flesh was concerned. And nowhere is there to be found one word in condemnation of this system, or anything intimating that he intended to change the then existing relations of the sexes; but while he, as well as his Apostles and the ancient Prophets and Patriarchs denounced adultery and fornication they recognized and sustained honorable marriage whether single or plural; and every form of illicit intercourse with the sexes was condemned by the primitive Christians, as well as by the Prophets and Patriarchs of old. The only passage of Scripture that I have ever heard quoted as appearing to limit the early Christians to single marriage was the saying of one of the Apostles, St. Paul to Timothy, in which he said that a Bishop should be the husband of one wife, having faithful children and one who knows how to govern his own house, for, said he, if he knows not how to rule well his own house, how shall he rule the Church of God. Now this scripture, taken as a whole, evidently shows that his object was not to intimate that a Bishop should have one wife only, but he intended to make this impression, that he must be a man of family, one who has had experience in household affairs, one that understood all those tender relations existing between husband and wife and parent and child, one who had shown himself a wise and discreet father; one who was capable of guiding his own house and of leading his family in the ways of rectitude and of controlling them in the fear of God; for except he is able to govern his own house, how could it be expected that he could govern the Church of God. Now, if in this respect a Bishop had proved himself a wise and discreet father and husband, a man who knew how to rule well his own family, this was a qualification recommending him as a suitable person to be trusted with the office of a Bishop. And how much more suitable would he be for that position if he were perfectly able to govern two or more wives, and to rear their children in the fear of God? The very fact that a Bishop must be the husband of one wife, if we admit the correctness of the views of our Christian friends in this regard (which, however, we do not by any means) the logical inference is, that any other officer or member in the Church but a Bishop was at liberty to have more than one wife. For if he intended it to be a general prohibition, why should he confine it to the Bishop, why did he not make it general? It is sheer sophistry on the part of our sectarian friends and groundless assertion that monogamy, to the exclusion of polygamy was introduced into Europe by the primitive Christians; for that system of marriage was introduced prior to the establishment of Christianity in Europe, by the Roman empire, and became the form of marriage in early times when, as history alleges, men were more numerous in Rome than women. And the earlier settlers of Rome were political refugees, renegades and scape-graces from sur rounding nations, and were under the necessity of making raids upon their neighbors to procure wives; and it became a matter of necessity and for mutual protection, to limit the number to one. It was the Roman state that limited the number of a man’s wives to one, and not the Christian church; and this being done, it was perpetuated. And history teaches us that under that monogamic system, Rome became the most licentious of all nations. I do not intend to enter into an argument in favor of polygamy; my spirit rather leads me to impress upon the Latter-day Saints the character of this great social question and the duties and responsibilities which rest upon us as a people, principles that have emanated from heaven; obligations that we cannot ignore, and duties that we cannot shirk. For God has set his hand to gather Israel, according to the Prophets; God has set his hand to establish his Zion; God has set his hand to build his kingdom in the earth, according to the prediction of the holy prophets. God is determined to work a work that shall be a marvelous work and a wonder, which he has commenced and will carry on to completion in his own peculiar way. His arm is stretched out, and it will not return void—it will not fail to accomplish the thing that it has commenced to perform. It is to raise up and establish to himself a holy nation, a kingdom of priests, a peculiar people, composed of the blood of Israel. He has declared that in the last days Ephraim shall be his firstborn; them he would gather together, and upon them he would place his holy Priesthood, and them he would use as his servants and as his instruments to push the people together from the ends of the earth. For Moses, while blessing the tribe of Joseph before his death, says: “His horns are like the horns of unicorns, and with them shall he push the people together from the ends of the earth; and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim and the thousands of Manasseh.” Speaking of the tribe of Judah, Jacob says: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come.” Now, the motto or insignia of Judah was the lion, while the unicorn was that of the house of Ephraim; and in the days of Rehoboam the kingdom of Israel was divided; and Jeroboam an Ephraimite, reigned in Samaria over the ten tribes, whilst Rehoboam continued to reign over the kingdom of Judah, which included the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and fragments of other tribes that remained with them. After a time the ten tribes so far corrupted their way that the Lord gave them into the hands of the enemy. The king of Assyria who made war against them and carried them captive into his own land; he took the nobility and the more wealthy portions of the people, and planted them in distant portions of his empire far to the eastward, and sent back his own people to marry with the poor that he had left in the land of Israel, and thus grew up that mongrel race that were afterwards known as the Samaritans. But Esdras tells us that Israel after they were led into captivity, planted in the far east of the Assyrian Empire, took counsel among themselves and began to repent, and they said among themselves in council: Let us call upon the Lord and see if he will not lead us into a country where we may dwell together, and keep the commandments and judgments which he gave unto our fathers, which we never kept in our own land. And God heard their prayers, and the Lord led them and they journeyed, a year and a-half’s journey to what he called the north country, and God divided the waters before them, and he planted them in a land by themselves; and the Book of Mormon clearly shows, in that notable parable about the olive tree, that God has planted branches of the house of Israel not only on the American continent, but on other distant portions of the globe, where he nourishes them. And our Savior tells us in one of his graphic parables, that the kingdom of heaven is likened to leaven hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. Now, one of these measures of meal in which the leaven was deposited, was the people of Israel in Palestine; another measure of meal in which the leaven was deposited was upon this American continent; and a third measure of meal in which the leaven was deposited was among the tribes of Israel whom the Father led out of the land into a country yet to be discovered. And this leaven was to work until the whole should be leavened. And this the Savior clearly explained in that saying to the Jews: “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.” When the Savior showed himself to the Nephites on the American continent, he quoted that saying and said unto the Nephites that they were the other sheep referred to. And he still told them that he had other sheep that were not of that fold either, to whom also he would show himself, and among whom he would minister. And the time will come that they shall be gathered into one, when there shall be one fold and one shepherd. And he commanded the people that they should write the things which he taught them; both those at Jerusalem and those upon this continent were commanded to write what they saw and heard. And he gave the Nephites to understand that when he should show himself to the other tribes of Israel, whom the Father had led away, that they also should write; and the time should come when the Jews would have the writings of the Nephites, and the Nephites would have the words and writings of the Jews; and both the Jews and Nephites would have the writings of the Ten Tribes, and the Ten lost Tribes would also have the writings of the Jews and Nephites; nay, more, that the time would come when all the people of God should be gathered together in one; and the things they write shall also be gathered together in one; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd, and then shall we see the three measures of meal all leavened together. And let me say, there is no power in the United States, neither is there in Europe, nor in the whole world that can hinder the accomplishment of the purposes of the Almighty, which are outlined in the predictions of the Prophets.

The Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the everlasting Gospel—the record of the ancient Nephites, translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith, by the gift and power of God in him—that we may come to a knowledge of the principles of the Gospel in simplicity and in purity. It makes clear many dark sayings of the Jewish Scriptures, as they have come down to us. It sheds a flood of light over the Bible; it contains the key of knowledge and understanding; and it is more precious than all the works of modern times, and is worth more. And the youth of Israel should read and become familiar with it, and compare it with the Jewish Scriptures; there is more to be learned out of it, my young friends, that is calculated to prove of real worth and blessing to the soul, than can be acquired at all the universities, colleges and schools of science and of modern times. And in saying this, I say nothing prejudicial to science, nor anything in the least degree to discourage the acquisition of science, but the more forcibly to impress upon the minds of the youth of Israel everywhere not to neglect those things which are the weightier matters—the Holy Scriptures, the Book of Mormon and the revelations of God as contained in the Doctrine and Covenants; for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And a knowledge of the only true and living God, and of his purposes concerning us and our being upon the earth, the object of our creation, and that which is designed concerning us, both in time and in eternity, is of paramount importance, and of greater value than anything that can be bestowed upon mortal man. The greatest of all the gifts of God is the gift of eternal life; and eternal life is only attainable by a true knowledge of God, through obedience to his laws and commandments. Therefore, study the Scriptures; acquaint yourselves with the Book of Mormon. Read them in your Sunday Schools; read them at your firesides; let them always be found upon your tables, and never permit your families to be without them; and if you are poor sell your coat and buy them; for you are far better without a coat than without the word of God to teach your children. Let our Bishops, and Elders and Teachers attend to it; and enquire whether you are surrounded by those milk-and-water Saints who love fine dress more than the love of God, and who love to furnish their children with musical instruments and toys, and who neglect to furnish them the words of life; if you are, labor with them and teach them in all sincerity the duties of a Latter-day Saint, a Saint of the living God; and God will bless you in your labors, and you will have more joy in doing this than anything else you could do.

I started to give briefly the views which I entertain with regard to the providences of God that are overruling all things. Our Christian statesmen have mistaken the spirit of Mormonism; they have not understood it. Our Christian persecutors, of the various religious sects, would urge on our American statesmen to persecute this people, but they know not what they are doing. True, as someone said here yesterday, they do know when they insert in the oath which has been specially prepared for our people, that extraordinary clause, “in the marriage relation,” that they mean to exclude from the polls honorable men and women who are in every respect justly entitled to take part in the affairs of the government of this land; but to do so they must deny their religion and abandon their wives, or wives their husbands, and they betake themselves to the streets as common prostitutes, and they mean to include at the polls, whoremongers and adulterers. This is well understood, and when this form of oath was adopted by Governor Murray and the Commissioners for special purposes, they knew what they were doing. And so did the Congress of the United States know what they were doing in passing the Edmunds Bill, for when an amendment was introduced making that proposed law binding upon adulterers, it was quickly disposed of; and one gentleman who was sitting near Captain Hooper at the time, remarked, that if that were to carry, it would leave the House of Representatives without a quorum. Such an amendment, of course, did not express the mind of our American statesmen and that of hireling priests; they needed adulterers, whoremongers, and fornicators, to carry out the vote in Utah over the Mormons. I thank God that they have, as a matter of political necessity, been compelled to hoist their true colors and nail them to their mast, so that all honorable men of their party cannot mistake it. They ignore it; they close their eyes to it; they do not want to talk about it; they are self-condemned; and the great party of boasted moral progress is weighed in the balance and found wanting. It is not morality they seek; it is not public purity they wish to maintain. The decision of the heavens is already passed upon them, and they will go down like a mighty millstone cast into the depths of the sea. They cannot hold the reigns of government of this American soil, only to work out their own destruction. God spoke by the mouth of the Prophet Joseph Smith, in a sermon delivered by the Prophet at Nauvoo a short time before his death, on the powers and policy of this government of the United States and the freedom and liberty secured in the American Constitution, that it was broad and ample in its provisions, extending human freedom to every soul of man and protecting them in every natural right; and he classed among others the Jew, the Muhammadan, and the oppressed of every nation who desired to find an asylum under the broad folds of the Constitution. Yes, the Patriarchs as well as the Muhammadans, and their descendants who may believe in plural marriage, may come with their three or four wives, as the case may be, and enjoy freedom and liberty dear to all. Referring at the same time to those narrow, contracted, bigoted, sectarian laws of some of the States against plural marriage, he said they were not in harmony with the Constitution nor the purposes of heaven; that God had caused our fathers to establish this Constitution, to maintain the liberty of all people of every creed, and it will become the duty of all lovers of freedom throughout the land to maintain those principles of human freedom; but, says one, are we not between the upper and nether millstone; shall we not be ground into fine powder? Just wait and see. As for myself, I feel as calm as a summer’s morning; I have the utmost assurance in my heart that God reigns; that he overrules in the armies of heaven and of earth; that he overrules presidents, senators and governors, and that they have no power only that which is given of our Father in heaven. He curtails their power when it pleases him; he pulls down and he sets up, and he over rules all things for the good of those who fear him and keep his commandments; and whatever persecution there may be in store for us, whatever trying scenes we may have to pass through, as a people, it will only prove us, and redound to his glory and to the sanctification of his people. It is necessary, peradventure, that the hypocrites in Zion become afraid, and fearfulness surprise them; it is necessary, perhaps, that many that cannot be restrained by the persuasion of Presidents, nor Bishops, but who have crowded themselves forward following the spirit of the world rather than the Spirit of the Almighty, and “who have done despite to the spirit of grace,” and lost, peradventure, wives and children, and if they have not they will; it is needful that such should be restrained, and that fear seize hold of them, and all others who are prompted by sordid motives; for the wicked flee when no man pursueth; but the righteous are bold as lions in the fear of their God, and like Daniel will never shirk from duty. But in all this God will overrule the wrath of the wicked to the best good of those who fear and serve him, and the residue of their wrath will he restrain. God bless the people, in the name of Jesus, Amen.

God’s Peculiar People Called a Kingdom of Priests—Their Ministry Thus Foreshadowed—The Melchizedek and Aaronic Priesthoods—Their Restoration in the Latter Days—The Preaching of the Gospel—Ephraim and Manasseh—The Lineage of the Prophet Joseph Smith—Predestination and Election—The Dispersion and Gathering of Israel—The Priesthood Endless, Administering in Time and Eternity—The Blindness of the Gentiles to the Things of God—The Results of Persecution—The Future of the Faithful

Discourse by Apostle Erastus Snow, delivered at Logan, Saturday Afternoon, May 6, 1882.

I will call the attention of the congregation to the words of the Lord through Moses, spoken to the children of Israel, contained in the 5th and 6th verses of the 19th chapter of Exodus:

“Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then shall ye be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

“And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.”

In connection with this passage I will read the words of the Apostle Peter, as recorded in the 5th verse, 2nd chap. of 1st Peter:

“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”

Also the 9th verse of the same chapter:

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

Elder Penrose referred this morning to the fact of so large a portion of the Latter-day Saints being called and ordained to bear some portion of the Priesthood, remarking that at times he had queried in his mind as to why this was so appointed unto us. This reminded me of the Scriptures I have just read in your hearing. The consideration of the subject involves the whole mission of the Latter-day Saints. The promise of God to ancient Israel contained in the first text sets forth the purposes of Jehovah in choosing the seed of Abraham especially and separating them from other peoples and nations, and taking them under His especial care and guidance, and leading them as he did out of Egyptian bondage with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and planting them in Canaan in fulfillment of the promises made to their father Abraham, and to Isaac and Jacob. And when God called Abraham to leave his father’s house and go to a land which he should show him and which he afterwards promised to him and his seed for an inherit ance, he had this in view, to make of him and his seed a peculiar people; to make of them instruments in his hands of accomplishing good for the benefit of the world.

He promised Abraham on another occasion that in him and his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed. And although this had reference chiefly to the coming of the Son of God through his lineage, who was to be the Chief Apostle and High Priest of our profession, the Redeemer of the world, it implied the fact also that through his seed the Gospel should be carried to all the world, and the oracles of God delivered to men; that prophets and righteous men should be raised up who should act as the mouthpiece of God to the people among whom they should live, and they should have Abraham for their father. Among his descendants also, his Temple as well as the Tabernacle should be established, and the ordinances were to be revealed through them and the Priesthood conferred upon them, and the word of God preserved among them and handed down to future generations, thus maintaining the true character and knowledge of God, and perpetuating the same upon the earth. This was a great work that the Lord purposed concerning the seed of Abraham, and it was for this reason and purpose that he promised to establish his covenant with them forever.

Now the Priesthood referred to in Scripture had not reference alone to that lower or lesser order known as the Levitical Priesthood which was confirmed by covenant upon Aaron and his seed and upon the house of his fathers, the tribe of Levi, which Priesthood officiated in offering sacrifices and all the lesser duties pertaining to the law; but it comprehended something more than this, the Priesthood as a whole, including the Melchizedek or that holy order of Priesthood after the order of the Son of God. And when Moses was made the mouthpiece of the Lord to Israel in this precious promise we find them hearkening to him and keeping his covenants, they being a peculiar people unto him, above all the earth, a chosen generation, a royal Priesthood; and he referred to them as a whole people and not to the Levites alone, and to the Priesthood, as I before remarked, as a whole including, of course, the Melchizedek Priesthood, hence the words of Peter: “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal Priesthood, an holy nation.”

The same great purpose and object prevail at the present time. The calling and mission of the Latter-day Saints are to fulfill what is here promised in these Scriptures—to bring about the restoration of scattered Israel, the establishment of Zion, the preparing a people for the coming of Christ; a people who are to be Saviors upon Mount Zion, and thus fulfilling one of the prophecies of one of the Jewish prophets concerning the Zion of the latter days, that Saviors should come up upon Mount Zion to save the house of Esau, but the kingdom should be the Lord’s. No matter how many might be employed in this work of salvation, as Saviors upon Mount Zion, all should labor as helpers and co-laborers with Christ in the salvation of men.

God has promised in the revelations given to the Latter-day Saints to make known unto them the fullness of all former dispensations, and he has confirmed upon his servants in this dispensation of the fullness of times the keys of all former dispensations and revealed all the ordinances made known to the an cients; and, therefore, it is our calling to complete the work that was inaugurated in former dispensations of God to man. At first Joseph Smith received the gift of seeing visions and the gift of translating dead languages by the Urim and Thummim, and when he had exercised himself in these gifts for a season, he received the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood, together with his Brother Oliver, under the hands of John the Baptist, who was a resurrected being, and who was the last of the Jewish High Priests under the dispensation of the law, the only son of Zacharias the High Priest, and a child of promise, who was beheaded by order of Herod, having first performed his mission in preparing the way of the Lord, and having preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, testifying of Jesus that was to come, and baptizing those who received him, including the Savior himself. John having finished his mission, seals his testimony with his blood, rose again from the dead and continued to hold those keys of the Priesthood which he inherited from his fathers and which were confirmed upon him by the angel of the Lord when he was eight days old. And he was a fit and proper person to send to confer those keys of Priesthood upon Joseph and Oliver. In due course of time, as we read in the history which he has left, Peter, James and John appeared to him—it was at a period when they were being pursued by their enemies and they had to travel all night, and in the dawn of the coming day when they were weary and worn who should appear to them but Peter, James and John, for the purpose of conferring upon them the Apostleship, the keys of which they themselves had held while upon the earth, which had been bestowed upon them by the Savior. This Priesthood conferred upon them by those three messengers embraces within it all offices of the Priesthood from the highest to the lowest. As has been often taught us that the keys of the presidency of this Apostleship represent the highest authority conferred upon man in the flesh. And by virtue of these keys of Priesthood the Prophet Joseph from time to time proceeded to ordain and set in order the Priesthood in its various quorums as we see it today in the Church. And if the question be asked why, and for what purpose, the answer would be the idea conveyed in the language I have quoted: In accordance with the design of the Lord to raise up a peculiar people to himself, a holy nation, a royal Priesthood—a kingdom of Priests, that shall be saviors upon Mount Zion, not only to preach the Gospel to the scattered remnants of Israel, but to save to the uttermost the nations of the Gentiles, inasmuch as they will listen and can be saved by the plan which God has provided.

The first important labor of this ministry is to go abroad and preach the Gospel to the nations. The Gospel of the kingdom must be preached to all people and nations and tongues before the end can come; and by the preaching of the word and the administering of the ordinances of the Gospel, is Israel sought out from among the nations among which they are scattered, especially the seed of Ephraim unto whom the first promises appertain, the promise of the keys of the Priesthood. For it must be remembered that of all the seed of Abraham whom the Lord chose to bear the keys pertaining to this holy order of Priesthood, the seed of Ephraim, the son of Joseph, were the first and chief. While the tribe of Levi, unto which Moses and Aaron belonged, was especially charged with the administration of affairs of the lesser Priesthood under the law, yet Ephraim, the peculiar and chosen son of Joseph, was the one whom the Lord had named by his own mouth and through the Prophets, to inherit the keys of presidency of this High Priesthood after the order of the Son of God. In this also we see the fulfillment of the covenants and promises of God; not that Joseph by birthright inherited this blessing, for Reuben was the firstborn among the twelve sons of Jacob; but we are told in Chronicles, the 5th chapter, that Reuben forfeited this birthright by his adultery, and that God took it from him and conferred it upon the sons of Joseph; and of the sons of Joseph he chose Ephraim as the chief; and while the Patriarch Jacob, as we read in the 49th chapter of Genesis, adopted into his own family two of the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, yet he placed Ephraim the younger foremost, and blessed him with the chief blessing, saying, that Manasseh shall be great, but Ephraim shall be greater than he; he shall become a multitude in the midst of the earth. Another Scripture also says concerning scattered Israel, that Ephraim has mixed himself among the people; and speaking of the gathering of Israel in the latter-day dispensation, the Prophet Jeremiah has said that God would gather Israel and lead them as a shepherd does his flock, and says he, I am Father to Israel, but Ephraim is my firstborn. Now, if Ephraim has been scattered and has mixed himself with the people until their identity is lost among the nations, how are they going to be recognized and receive the promised blessings—how is it that Ephraim shall be the firstborn of the Lord in the great gathering of the latter days? If we turn back to the blessing which Moses gave to the twelve tribes of Israel as found in Deuteronomy, we shall there see that in blessing the tribe of Joseph, he especially charged them with the duty of gathering the people from the ends of the earth. Said he, Joseph’s horns are like the horns of unicorns, which shall push the people together from the ends of the earth, and they are the thousands of Manasseh and ten thousands of Ephraim; showing that it shall be the ten thousands of Ephraim and thousands of Manasseh who shall be in the foremost ranks of bearing the Gospel message to the ends of the earth, and gathering Israel from the four quarters of the world in the last days. Whoever has read the Book of Mormon carefully will have learned that the remnants of the house of Joseph dwelt upon the American continent; and that Lehi learned by searching the records of his fathers that were written upon the plates of brass, that he was of the lineage of Manasseh. The Prophet Joseph informed us that the record of Lehi, was contained on the 116 pages that were first translated and subsequently stolen, and of which an abridgement is given us in the first Book of Nephi, which is the record of Nephi individually, he himself being of the lineage of Manasseh; but that Ishmael was of the lineage of Ephraim, and that his sons married into Lehi’s family, and Lehi’s sons married Ishmael’s daughters, thus fulfilling the words of Jacob upon Ephraim and Manasseh in the 48th chapter of Genesis, which says: “And let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the land.” Thus these descendants of Manasseh and Ephraim grew together upon this American continent, with a sprinkling from the house of Judah, from Mulek descended, who left Jerusalem eleven years after Lehi, and founded the colony afterwards known as Zarahemla and found by Mosiah—thus making a combination, an intermixture of Ephraim and Manasseh with the remnants of Judah; and for aught we know, the remnants of some other tribes that might have accompanied Mulek. And such have grown up on the American continent. But we are not informed that the Prophet Joseph and the first Elders of this Church who were called and chosen of God to bear the Priesthood and lay the foundation of this work, were descended from any portion of those remnants that peopled America anciently, and whose history is given us in the Book of Mormon. Yet we find in the Doctrine and Covenants the declaration concerning the first Elders of this Church, that they were of the house of Ephraim; and another passage referring to the wicked and rebellious says, they shall be cut off from among the people, for the rebellious are not of the seed of Ephraim. And there is a passage in the Book of Mormon which is a part of the prophecy of Joseph written on the plates of brass and quoted by Lehi, concerning the Prophet Joseph Smith, who, it says, was to be raised up in the latter days to translate the records of the Nephites, and whose name should be Joseph, and who should be a descendant of that Joseph that was sold into Egypt, and also that that should be the name of his father.

Now if the Prophet Joseph Smith was that chosen vessel out of the loins of Joseph, it may be asked by some, what evidence have we of this lineage? I answer, the testimony of God, the best of all testimony, for no record kept by mortal man can be equal to it; and that, too, by reason of that quaint but sensible old maxim, “it takes a wise man to know who his father was, but a fool may find out who his mother was.” And even if we had the lineage of the fathers, it would not be as sure and certain to us as the word of the Lord. For he has had his eye upon the chosen spirits that have come upon the earth in the various ages from the beginning of the world up to this time; and as he said to Abraham, speaking of the multitudes of spirits that were shown unto him in heavenly vision, you see that some are more noble than others? Yes. Then you may know there were some others still more noble than they; and he speaks in the same manner of the multitude of the heavenly bodies; and said he to Abraham, thou art one of those noble ones whom I have chosen to be my rulers. The Lord has sent those noble spirits into the world to perform a special work, and appointed their times; and they have always fulfilled the mission given them, and their future glory and exaltation is secured unto them; and that is what I understand by the doctrine of election spoken of by the Apostle Paul and other sacred writers: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Such were called and chosen and elected of God to perform a certain work at a certain time of the world’s history and in due time he fitted them for that work. It will be remembered when Jeremiah was called of God in his youth that he, in order to excuse himself, complained of his youth and of his being slow of speech, that the Lord said unto him that he would be mouth for him and matter to his heart, for, he said, he knew him and called him from his mother’s womb to be a prophet unto the nations. And so he called John the Baptist by sending his angel Gabriel to his father Zacharias, and giving him a promise that his wife Elizabeth, though old and barren, should yet conceive and bear a son, and that his name should be John, who should be a forerunner to the Savior to prepare the way before his face. And so he elected the seed of Ephraim to be that peculiar people I have referred to, that holy nation, a kingdom of Priests, a people to receive the covenants and oracles, and to be witnesses to certain nations of the God of Israel. And how strict were his commands that they should have no other Gods but him, that they might be a standing rebuke to the idol worshippers, and to all who believe not in the true and living God.

Now the same spirit of revelation that sought out the Prophet Joseph from the loins of Joseph who was sold into Egypt, and that raised him up in this dispensation to receive the keys of the Priesthood and to lay the foundation of this great work in the earth, has also called the children of Abraham from among the kingdoms and countries of the earth to first hear and then embrace the everlasting Gospel; and the remnants of the seed of Ephraim who were scattered from Palestine and who colonized the shores of the Caspian Sea and thence made their way into the north of Europe, western Scandinavia and northern Germany, penetrating Scotland and England, and conquering those nations and reigning as monarchs of Great Britain, and mingling their seed with the Anglo-Saxon race, and spreading over the waters a fruitful vine, as predicted by Jacob, whose branches should run over the wall. Their blood has permeated European society, and it coursed in the veins of the early colonists of America. And when the books shall be opened and the lineage of all men is known, it will be found that they have been first and foremost in everything noble among men in the various nations in breaking off the shackles of kingcraft and priestcraft and oppression of every kind, and the foremost among men in upholding and maintaining the principles of liberty and freedom upon this continent and establishing a representative government, and thus preparing the way for the coming forth of the fullness of the everlasting Gospel. And it is the foremost of those spirits whom the Lord has prepared to receive the Gospel when it was presented to them, and who did not wait for the Elders to hunt them from the hills and corners of the earth, but they were hunting for the Elders, impelled by a spirit which then they could not understand; and for this reason were they among the first Elders of the Church; they and the fathers having been watched over from the days that God promised those blessings upon Isaac and Jacob and Joseph and Ephraim. And these are they that will be found in the front ranks of all that is noble and good in their day and time, and who will be found among those whose efforts are directed in establishing upon the earth those heaven-born principles which tend directly to bles sing and salvation, to ameliorating the condition of their fellow men, and elevating them in the scale of their being; and among those also who receive the fullness of the Everlasting Gospel, and the keys of Priesthood in the last days, through whom God determined to gather up again unto himself a peculiar people, a holy nation, a pure seed that shall stand upon Mount Zion as saviors, not only to the house of Israel but also to the house of Esau.

Now the work of carrying the Gospel to the nations and gathering the people, mighty as it is, is not the chief, it is but laying the foundation for the still greater work of the redemption of the myriads of the dead of the seed of Israel that have perished without the fullness of the Gospel, who too are heirs to the promised blessings; but the time had not come when they passed away for the fulfillment of all that God had promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob concerning their seed: Ezekiel in the 37th chapter of his book beautifully illustrates this doctrine in his vision of the valley of dry bones. I respectfully refer you to it. The substance of the vision is this: The Lord showed Ezekiel a valley full of dry human bones; and he asks him if those bones can live. Ezekiel answered, “O Lord God, thou knowest.” The Lord then tells him to prophesy to the bones: Oh ye dry bones. Hear the word of the Lord; and as he did so there was a shaking, and behold the bones came together, bone to its bone; and according to the word of the Lord through him, flesh and skin and sinews came upon them, and the breath of life came into them, and lo, and behold, they stood upon their feet an exceedingly great army. The Lord then tells the Prophet that these are the whole house of Israel; and that they complain of the non-fulfillment of the promises upon their head, saying, “Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: all are cut off for our parts.” But he further tells him to prophesy unto them, saying, “Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel,” etc. And by whom shall this great and marvelous work be accomplished? I answer, by the thousands of Manasseh and the ten thousands of Ephraim; by this same people who shall search out and gather together the house of Israel, and who will come up as saviors upon Mount Zion.

Paul tells us concerning the Melchizedek Priesthood, that it is after the order of an endless life, without beginning of days or end of years; or, in other words, that it is eternal; that it ministers in time and also in eternity. Peter, James and John and their fellow laborers still minister in their Priesthood on the other side of the veil; and Joseph Smith and his fellow brethren still minister in their office and calling under the counsel and direction of the same Peter, James and John who ministered on earth, and who conferred upon Joseph the keys of their Priesthood; and all the Elders of this dispensation who prove faithful and magnify their calling in the flesh will, when they pass hence, continue their labors in the spirit world, retaining the same holy character and high responsibility that they assume here. And these men will be engaged there hunting up the remnants of their fathers of the house of Joseph through Ephraim and Manasseh; and then all the other tribes of Israel; while their children and children’s children remaining in the flesh, holding the same Priesthood, are building and will continue to build Temples and enter into them, and there officiate for the whole house of Israel, whose bones are dry and hope lost; but with whom it will be, as the Apostle Peter has expressed it, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” When Peter buried his Lord he buried his hope also, and when in this state of mind he said, “I go a fishing.” He returned to the old mode of living, and his fellow Apostles accompanied him. After toiling all night and catching no fish, the Savior appeared to them, but the disciples did not know him; and after learning that they had caught nothing, he told them to cast the net on the other side of the ship, and instantly the net was full of fishes. And straightway the inspiration of the Almighty was upon Peter, who said, that’s the Lord; that’s one of his tricks. And the impetuosity of his nature was such that he could not wait, but threw himself into the water to go and meet the Savior, knowing that it was He just as well as if the Father himself had told him so. And when they got ashore they found that their Lord had prepared food for them, of which they all partook. And then the Savior takes Peter to task by giving him to understand that He had called him and fellow apostles to be fishers of men, and says to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these,” (fish)? Peter answered, “Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.” The Savior said unto him, then “feed my lambs;” repeating his question and admonition three times. This rebuke was sufficient for Peter all the rest of his days; we never hear of his going fishing again.

The morning of the resurrection dawns upon us. Ere long we will find Joseph and his brethren overseeing and directing the labors of the Elders of Israel in the Temples of our God, laboring for the redemption of the dead, which work will continue during the thousand years rest when the Savior will bear rule over the whole earth.

The Gentile nations comprehend not these things. Congress and the hireling priests are blind and ignorant to them. And why? Because they have not been “born again,” being in the same condition that Nicodemus was when the Savior told him that except a man were born again—that is born of the water and the Spirit—he could not enter into (or see) the kingdom of God. They talk about religion, and they profess to be teachers of Christianity; so far as they honestly believe, and show by their works, that Christ was the Son of God, so far God will have them in remembrance; so far as they honestly receive those principles of morality that should govern men in their walks of life and their intercourse with their fellows, and do respect and strive to live them, so far will he hold them in honorable remembrance, and they will be numbered among the honorable of the earth, and the mercy of the Lord will reach them in his due time; but the hypocrite who conceals his wicked heart under the cloak of religion, who has a form of godliness, but denies the power thereof, all such will he waste away.

Understanding this as we understand them, we do not wonder at this class of persons combining with the powers of earth to throw stumbling blocks in the way of this community. But will the Lord suffer them to bring persecution upon us? Peradventure he may; and he will if it is necessary to prune the vineyard, to cleanse his people from sin, to purge out evil and frighten away the hypocrites in Zion; for it has been decreed that fearfulness shall surprise the hypocrites in Zion; and if he suffers the wicked to combine against us, he will overrule it for the salvation of the righteous. The righteous can endure trials, realizing as they do that

Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face.

And that after much tribulation comes the blessing. And such are of Ephraim. Amen.