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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Difference Between the Saints and the Ancient Apostles and Disciples—The Quorums of the Priesthood Will Continue to Go Forward—The Saints Are Calm and Undisturbed

Discourse by Elder Erastus Snow, delivered in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday, September 9, 1877.

While Elder Richards was addressing us, a certain Scripture presented itself somewhat forcibly to my mind, that I will call attention to, as an illustration of the difference existing between us at the present time, and the condition, feelings and spirit of the Apostles and disciples of Christ at the time of His crucifixion.

The students of the Bible are aware how the feelings and faith of the disciples anciently centered in Christ, with the expectation that he was at that time to restore Israel to the possession of their promised inheritances, and establish himself upon the Throne of David forever, and that the kingdom which he came to establish, was not only to be spiritual but also temporal in its character. And notwithstanding the many plain sayings of the Savior, pointing at his death and his resurrection, and the work He came to perform for the redemption of man, there seemed to be a veil over their hearts that they comprehended it only in part. When He was taken and crucified, that veil still covered their minds. Notwithstanding that on the morning of His resurrection, the holy women reported to His disciples that they had seen Him and that He was verily risen, they could not seem to sense it. When two of their number traveled out into the country the same day, Jesus overtook them, and they knew him not, and they related to Him what had happened, adding that they had expected that He was the one who should have redeemed Israel. Then He began to expound unto them the Scriptures, and show unto them that it was necessary for Christ thus to suffer, to fulfill the words of the Prophets. Yet even these two, after hearing Him and His explanation of the Scriptures, returned and reported to the rest of the disciples what they had seen and heard, and even these could not dispel the doubts from the hearts of the disciples or take off the veil from their minds. Still they hesitated; still the vision of their minds was not fully open to comprehend the true nature and character of His mission and their own true calling. Finally, after a day or two, and the depth of their grief and mourning began to subside a little, Peter says to his brethren: I propose to go a fishing. John says, I go with you; and so one after another they who had followed the occupation of fishermen before they were called to be Apostles, concluded they would turn again to their former occupation and go fishing. They tried it, but the Lord did not bless them in their labors. They toiled all night, but the fish would not come, and they caught nothing. In the morning a voice called to them from the seaside, saying, “Children have ye any meat,” and they answered Him, “none.” Now, said He, “cast your net over on the other side of the ship.” They cast their net on the other side of the ship, straightway, and their net was full of fish, so much so that they could not bring it into the ship, and they were under the necessity of rowing to shore and drawing the net after them. But about this time, a thought penetrated Peter’s heart that this was very much like the many deeds of Jesus; this was like one of Jesus’ miracles, and straightway he cast a look toward the shore and exclaimed to his brethren, “Truly it is the Lord.” Then his faith and hope revived, and such joy filled his bosom that the impetuosity of his nature led him to leave the ship; he could not wait its progress to the shore but plunged into the sea, to meet his Lord. You remember what followed; Jesus knew they were hungry, and had breakfast prepared for them; he did not wait for their seine of fish to be brought ashore and cooked, but when they arrived he had it cooked, and the fish ready, and he invited them to sit down to breakfast with him. No one durst ask him who he was for by this time, God had opened their eyes and they knew him. You remember the peaceful yet keen rebuke administered to Peter on the occasion, because he had forsaken the injunctions that he had previously received, and the commandment that had been given unto him, and turned his at tention again to his fishing. After they had filled themselves with the fish and cakes, Jesus asked him: “Simon Peter, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” pointing to his fish. “Yes, Lord, thou knowest I love thee.” “Then feed my lambs.” Again the Lord says, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?” “Yes, Lord, thou knowest I love thee.” “Then feed my sheep.” Again, the third time, Jesus asked, “Simon Peter, lovest thou me more than these?” Peter was grieved because the Lord asked the same question with renewed earnestness the third time, as if he doubted his assurance, and said, “Yes, Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest I love Thee.” Jesus saith unto him,”Feed my sheep. Now you have tried your hand at fishing, Peter, and you see that when the Lord was not with you, you caught nothing. I called you from your fishing in the beginning, and said to you henceforth to leave your nets, and I would make you fishers of men.” This reproof sufficed Peter the rest of his life. We have no account of his ever wishing to go fishing again, at least not to neglect the flock of Christ.

In the epistle which Peter wrote to his brethren in the latter end of his life, he refers very delicately to that period of his career, when as he says, in his own words, “We buried our hope with Christ, but thanks be unto God that it is renewed again by the resurrection of our Lord from the dead.” The hope they had cherished seemed to have been lost when they buried him, but it was renewed again unto them by the resurrection of the Lord from the dead, and by his ministrations among them during a period of forty days after his resurrection, showing himself repeatedly and giving them instruction, telling them, at the same time, “not until I have de parted from you will the Holy Ghost come upon you and endow you with power from on high, revealing all things unto you which the Father hath prepared; but if I go away the Comforter will come, and he will guide you into all truth and show you things to come.

It is interesting to reflect upon and contemplate the influences and surroundings of the early disciples and the manner in which the Father performed his works in their midst and after the resurrection of the Savior; how their eyes were opened to see and comprehend the true nature and character of his mission upon the earth; the true nature of his kingdom, and the work which he was sent to perform, in which they were his helpers and fellow workers; called and ordained to the holy Apostleship, to be his witnesses in all the earth, to bear witness of him and baptize those who believed in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things which he had commanded them. It seemed wise in the providences of God to conceal it, measurably, from their minds until after his resurrection from the dead. His last entrance into Jerusalem, when he rode upon the foal of an ass, and the believers spread their garments and palm branches in his pathway, for him to ride upon in token of the great esteem and respect they cherished for him, and their assurance that he had come in the name of the Lord, to establish the Throne of David and redeem Israel from the oppression of the Gentiles and the bondage that was upon their necks as a people; and they cried, “Hosannah, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord,” while some of the overrighteous ones or those who thought they were making too much ado about him were rather in clined to rebuke them and asked Jesus to rebuke them and tell them to be quiet. His answer was, “If these should hold their peace the very stones will cry out,” as much as to say, it is the Father in them that is crying. It was the promptings and inspiration of the Almighty that were moving the hearts of the people to call the attention of all Judea and Jerusalem, and all the people around about, that their eyes might see and their ears might hear and all the people know him who cometh in the name of the Lord, riding upon the foal of an ass, according to the predictions of the ancient Prophets. He would not rebuke them, but let the spirit flow; let their mouths utter praise; let them show their respect; let them show their respect, and do honor to him whom the Father had sent. And all this that when he should suffer, and the curtain should drop, and he should be executed, the Lord should cause the sun to be darkened, and the earth to quake, and the veil of the Temple to rend, that all Israel might have a testimony and an assurance that the Son of God was suffering.

Those who are familiar with the early history of the Latter-day Saints, with the life, career and death of the Prophet Joseph Smith, with the scenes that surrounded the people at that time, and the mighty strides that he seemed to take in the last years of his life; the force with which he seemed to push forward the work that was upon him, and the feeling that hurried him forward to confer upon the Apostles and a few others the keys of the Priesthood and the Holy Endowments, which God had revealed unto him, and his efforts to set in order all things pertaining to the Priesthood; also his communication on the powers and policy of the Government of the United States, and the purposes of God concerning them, putting his name before the people as a candidate for the Presidency of the United States, and the recommendations which he made to save them from the civil war that has since overtaken them, the results of the slavery question, that was agitating the nation, all these great and important subjects were kept prominently before the people, and while the Elders and people of Israel labored diligently to carry out his teachings and execute his plans and designs, he stepped behind the veil almost as suddenly and unexpectedly, to the people, as did Jesus when he was crucified. I repeat, it was almost as sudden and unexpected to the vast body of this people as the crucifixion of Jesus was to his disciples, who were looking for him to be placed upon the throne of his father David, to rule and reign over the House of Israel.

The Apostles of this dispensation did not, however, leave the work of the ministry to which they had been called, and go a fishing; but there were some in Israel who seemed to have buried their hope with the Prophet Joseph. And it has been said of some that they died with him; and though they continued to live years after, yet their faith and hope seemed to have died with him. Not so with President Brigham Young, and the Apostles that were with him. They were mostly abroad ministering in their calling, but two or three of them were at home. Among the latter number was Elder John Taylor, who is with us today, as you who are familiar with the early history of those times are aware. He and Elder Willard Richards were with the Prophet Joseph and Hyrum, in person, when they were assassinated, and John Taylor received four balls. The rest of the Twelve were abroad attending to their ministry, holding Conferences in various parts of the country, nor did they leave those labors and turn again to their former occupations as did Peter and his brethren. A profound sensation was produced among all the Latter-day Saints throughout the world, and among their enemies, many of whom loudly condemned the shocking manner in which their death was accomplished. Time will not permit, nor does it appear to me a suitable time to dwell upon it; but great was the impression produced throughout the land. Deep was the sorrow and mourning, and the query arose in the minds of many, what shall be the result of these things? Especially among that class whose hopes seemed to have been buried with him, whose faith seemed to have been centered in him; who did not look beyond him.

But the response of the Spirit to those whose faith centered in God was this: The Prophet Joseph has organized the quorums, has set in order the Priesthood, and conferred the keys and powers thereof upon his brethren, and said to the Twelve Apostles, “Upon your shoulders shall rest the burden of this kingdom, to bear it off in all the world. The Lord is going to let me rest.” His words were before the people, and in the hearts of those who were living and walking in the light of the Holy Ghost, whose faith reached beyond the Prophet Joseph, and looked to the source from whence he received his power and influence.

We have often heard our late President, Brigham Young, who was President of the Twelve Apostles by seniority, and who had been placed there by the voice of his brethren, to preside over his quorum, which had also been confirmed by the Lord, say that he was attending a Conference in Petersboro, New Hampshire, when he heard of the Prophet’s death. The query arose in his mind: Where now rests those keys of the holy Priesthood which the Prophet Joseph received and revealed unto us? Where now on this side of the veil are those keys deposited? The answer came to him by the Holy Spirit resting upon him with a power and influence and peaceful assurance which caused him to bring his hand to his thigh with the utterance, “They are here. They are here!” The voice of his brethren responded, and the echo reverberated not only among the Apostles, but, among the Seventies, the High Priests, the Elders, Bishops, Teachers, Deacons, and all the people. They are here, with brother Brigham, with his brethren the Apostles, who have been called and charged by the Prophet Joseph with the duties and responsibilities of bearing off this kingdom and building it up, and setting in order and regulating the affairs thereof in all the world. This revelation of the Spirit to our beloved President, Brigham Young, on that occasion, and which also rested upon his brethren, and was diffused among all the people and responded to with such universal voice, sentiment and feelings, was not a fresh call, a new revelation, but it was bringing to their minds one previously given, refreshing their minds and understanding in the word of the Lord that had been spoken unto them through the Prophet Joseph himself, making more fully and clearly than ever, those words that had been previously spoken to them, the charge that he gave to them to bear off the work which now rested upon their shoulders. From that day until the present time has this revelation been clear and prominent before the people, and in their hearts, and in the mouth of President Brig ham Young. How often has he said, “Joseph is still my leader; he is still my President; he still bears the keys before me. I am still following after him to carry out his counsel, to accomplish the work of which he laid the foundation, under God. I am still as he appointed, an Apostle to bear off this kingdom, to bear witness of the work which God by him did accomplish, and to carry it forward by the power of God and the help of my brethren and fellow laborers, and I am still an Apostle and President of the Twelve Apostles.”

But the Lord signifies to me that these Quorums of the Priesthood shall go forward in their respective spheres of labor, and as one passes beyond the veil, following his file leader, the next Apostle will follow after, treading, as it were, in his footsteps, to bear off this kingdom. The work is of God and not of man, and no number of martyrdoms or death, and no amount of persecution nor slaying of the Lord’s anointed, can put a stop to it. How often we have heard it proclaimed that the keys of the Apostleship, which had been committed to men on the earth, together with all the keys of the Holy Endowments, and every blessing which the Lord has provided and promised to men in the flesh, are placed within our reach through the keys of this Priesthood, and that this Apostleship will continue upon the earth until it has accomplished that which the Lord has ordained and appointed, and until Israel shall be gathered, and the people be prepared for his second coming, and that, if one passes beyond the veil, another follows in his footsteps, and if persecution rage, and many witnesses of the Lord are slain, still he will preserve witnesses upon the earth, with the keys of that ministry and Apostleship to bear off the kingdom tri umphantly, and fulfill and accomplish all that the Lord has predicted. These utterances have often been made in our hearing, within the last thirty-three years, since the death of the Prophet Joseph, and have become household words with those who have been alive to their calling and duties, and whose eyes and ears have been open to hear the word of the Lord and remember it. How calm and peaceful the spirit and feelings of Israel on this memorable occasion, when our beloved President, who has led the van for the last thirty-three years, quietly gathered up his feet and was gathered to his fathers. How different was the spirit and feelings of Israel on this occasion from the other occasion I have referred to, and from the Apostles and disciples of Jesus when He departed! It shows to our minds the education of the people, and their advancement in understanding and faith. It shows the stability of our institutions and their power over the feelings and hearts of the people. In every department of the Priesthood, in every branch of the Church, through all the Stakes of Zion, and in every department of our labor, there seems scarcely a ripple upon the smooth surface of the waters.

Last Sabbath, when a vast congregation of the people came from the east, west, north and south, and from this city and its suburbs, to pay their last respects to the honored dead, the quiet, the order, the silent and discreet feeling of resignation and peace that prevailed, should be a lesson to the Saints and a testimony to the world of the purity of faith that we have embraced, and the influence that had been exerted upon the hearts of the people by our departed leader, and his brethren who have been laboring with him. We find no confusion, no running to and fro, nobody dropping their tools or neglecting their labors, and nobody wishing to go a fishing. When we had finished the last sad rites, and completed what duties we owed to the honored dead, we found every one, on Monday morning, resuming his duties; business assumed its wonted course in every department of our public as well as our private labors. The Saints everywhere, as well as our Elders abroad, move forward in the discharge of their duties with calmness and serenity, with assurance that Brigham is still our leader. Joseph is still our Prophet, and Brigham is leader as much as he was in life, but not on this side of the veil—he has gone into another sphere, to engage in the labors of the Gospel with Joseph, Hyrum, and all the holy ones that have gone before in this dispensation, to assist them in rolling on the work of this dispensation among the dead, and prepare the way for the final consummation of all things spoken of by the Prophets, while his brethren on this side the veil tread softly and diligently after him, as it were in his footsteps, to move on the cause of Israel, and send the Gospel to the ends of the earth. What a commentary on the stability of the institutions of Zion! The power of that faith that we have received, the strength of that union, and the perfection of that organization which God has established among us, which gives us the reassurance that instead of the cause of Zion weakening, it will gain additional power and strength; and the Priesthood that remain on this side, having lost a tower of strength in him who has gone, must exert themselves and their faith, and renew their strength in the Lord, and magnify their calling, that the work of the Lord be not hindered. That this may be the feelings and determina tion of every one of the Apostles, Seventies, High Priests, Elders, Bishops, and Presidents in Zion, and all the people, that we may strive more diligently to magnify our calling, until we meet again those who have gone behind the veil, where already there seems to be almost a majority of the early Apostles and first Elders of the Church, preaching the Gospel and preparing the hearts of those that receive it, while we who remain continue our labors in building the Temples of the Lord, and entering therein and officiating in the baptisms, endowments, and ordinances, and sealing blessings upon our dead, that the promises of God may be fulfilled which he has made, namely, that in this dispensation of the fullness of times He would gather in one all things that are in Christ Jesus, which are on the earth and which are in heaven, which may God grant and help us to accomplish, through Jesus. Amen.

The United Order—Among the Nephites—Not Incompatible With Individual Responsibility or Stewardship—The Latter-day Saints Gather for Training—Home Manufacture Indispensable

Discourse by Elder Erastus Snow, delivered at Provo, on Sunday Afternoon, June 3, 1877.

The house is so crowded that in order for all to hear it will be advisable that each one keep as quiet as possible.

In my remarks yesterday forenoon I alluded briefly to the subject of the United Order, as I understood it. In the minds and feelings of some the United Order is a sensitive topic: but this is chiefly for the want of a proper understanding of the revelations of God, and the obligations of the Gospel which we have embraced, for the want of understanding what the Lord has purposed to accomplish through this Order. In one of the revelations contained in the Book of Covenants is to be found these words: “Except ye are one in your temporal affairs, how can ye be one in obtaining heavenly things?” This oneness referred to is variously understood, ofttimes construed according to the peculiar views and notions of men and women, who do not take the broad, comprehensive view, as the Lord does, and intended we should do, and who do not comprehend the revelations and the manner in which the Lord purposes to deal with his people.

Under the operations of the United Order the ancient Nephites were said to be the best and most prosperous people on the earth; it was said of them, as of no other people we read of, that there were neither rich nor poor among them; that they dwelt in peace and righteousness, and every man dealt honestly with his neighbor. The fact that every man dealt honestly with his neighbor, necessarily implies individual responsibility and stewardship. The Book of Mormon tells us further that after a period of one hundred and sixty-five years living in this state, there began again to be disunion, and they began to cease to have everything in common; a certain class began to wear jewelry and costly raiment; class distinctions began to spring up, some exalting themselves over their fellows, and they commenced to build up societies and associations and classes which were graded by their wealth. And thus they grew from bad to worse, until the judgment of God fell upon them to their utter destruction. Those who are inspired by the Holy Spirit to comprehend the dealings of God with his people, both ancient and modern, may be able to look forward to the future and behold a prosperous and happy people that shall be one in temporal things, and rich in the enjoyment of heavenly things, and among whom there will be no poor or rich, having all things common, so far as property is concerned, when no one will say “this is mine, and I have a right to do just as I please with it.”

And yet to my mind this state of things will not necessarily be incompatible with individual responsibility and stewardship. It will merely imply that advanced condition of the people, that will enable them to seek each other’s welfare, and build each other up instead of pulling each other down, in order that they may rise upon the ruins of their fellows. And that which they possess, or are stewards over, will be held in trust, from the Lord, accounted for to Him, and to His servants who shall be over them in the Lord. This state of things will be such as Brother Cannon referred to this morning; when there will be no temptation placed before the people to take advantage of their neighbor, because there will be nothing to be gained by it; there there will be no temptation to steal or plunder, for if they need anything for their personal comfort, it could be supplied them with all good feeling; and he that would take stealthily that which would be given to him freely and abundantly, would be a consummate fool, or grossly wicked. This state of things also presupposes a disposition on the part of all to do their duty; to be saints in very deed, to be industrious, to be frugal, using their gifts and talents for the common welfare, to be ready to serve where they are best fitted to serve; in a word, to be the servants and handmaidens of the Lord, instead of serving themselves and having a will of their own contrary to the will of heaven, and determined to follow that if they have to go to hell for doing it. We are, some of us, at times apt to think that this state of feeling is necessary to constitute us good democrats; in other words, unless we have this kind of feeling of “doing as we damn please”—you will please pardon the expression—we are not men, that this is the only way we can give expression to our manhood. To me this is worse than folly; it is ignorance of the true spirit of manhood. A Saint will say, “I have no will of my own, except to do the will of my Heavenly Father who has created me. True, he has given me an agency and this will, but he has given it to me to see what I will do with it, how I will use it; and I have been instructed from heaven sufficiently to know and understand that it is for my best interest to allow this will to be subservient to the will of my Father; it is best for me so to live and so to seek his face and favor, that I may know and learn what his will is concerning me, and that I may be ready to do it, holding my will in subjection to his.” “Well, then, how can you be an independent man? Surely you cannot be an independent man unless you resist everybody’s will but your own.” If good and evil is placed before us, does not the person who chooses the good and refuses the evil exhibit his agency and manhood as much as the man who chooses the evil and refuses the good? Or is the independence of manhood all on the side of the evildoer? I leave you to answer this question in your own mind. To me, I think the angels and saints and all good people have exercised their agency by choosing the good and refusing the evil; and in doing so they not only exhibit their independence and manhood as much, but show a much higher and greater nobility of character and disposition; and I leave the future to determine who are wise in the choice of their freedom and independence.

Joshua said to ancient Israel: “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve; if the Lord be God, serve him; if Baal, serve him. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” I think what we need to learn are the true principles that shall lead us to peace, to wealth and happiness in this world, and glory and exaltation in the world to come. And that if we can learn these principles, and receive them in good and honest hearts, and teach them as our faith, and practice them in our lives, we shall show our manhood, our independence and our agency as creditably before the angels and the Gods, as any wicked man can, in refusing the good and cleaving to the evil, exhibit his before the devil and his angels.

Now the Latter-day Saints are gathering from all nations and tongues, with divers customs and habits and traditions, and we have brought them with us, unfortunately we could not leave ourselves behind, while we gathered to Zion. Having brought ourselves along we have the labor of separating the follies of Babylon, the traditions of the fathers and every foolish way, learning something better as fast as we can; and this is the duty that is upon us. Many sermons would be necessary to teach us this lesson; we shall need the lesson often repeated before we can learn these principles and practice them thoroughly; we shall need a great deal of self-control, and a great deal of effort on the part of the brethren to help us, and by mutually assembling together, by doing business together, by learning correct principles and then living them. One thing is certain, that if God accomplishes with the Latter-day Saints what the prophets have foretold, and establishes his Zion, and he makes them a holy nation, a kingdom of priests, a peculiar people to himself, as he has promised, it will not be by our clinging to Babylon and to her foolish ways, and imitating the evil and foolish things of the world. But what we have proved and know to be good, hold fast to it; but lay aside that which tends to evil. We must become a people within and of ourselves, sooner or later, and learn to be self-reliant and self-sustaining; this we cannot do as individuals nor as an individual community, but by combining our energies as a whole, we may eventually arrive at this. To accomplish it requires a united effort, concerted action and perseverance, a long pull and a pull altogether. Disunion and pulling against each other will only retard it; we need never think we can truly enrich ourselves by plundering each other by carrying on merchandising, and importing the products of the labor of other men while our own brethren at home are idle, hungry, naked and destitute. Merchants and middlemen are necessary evils, their legitimate sphere is interchanging commodities between the producing classes. The Lord has taught us that by and by he will waste away the wicked and ungodly, or they will devour and destroy each other, when the righteous shall be gathered out through the preaching of the Gospel. And He designs his people to prepare while there is time, and while he gives them bread to sustain themselves. But if that time should come suddenly upon us in our present condition, who would be prepared for it? If the news was to reach us that Babylon was really going down, that a general war had overtaken her, causing distress of nations, and the closing up of her manufactories, and the struggle between capital and labor were again renewed, causing domestic and national trouble, and as a consequence we found our foreign supplies cut off, how many would begin to pray that Babylon might be spared a little longer? The sisters would begin to cast their eyes around to see where they were to get their pans and kettles, their stoves and articles of domestic use; the farmers would think it very hard that mowers and reapers, plows and harrows could no more be found on the market; and the mechanic would find too that his business was affected for the want of tools; and how the ladies would feel when they found that their hats and bonnets and fine apparel were no longer to be purchased. The real value of Provo Factory would then be appreciated, and it would not be considered transcending to say, that it was worth more to the county than all the merchants in Utah. It is true, it does not net as large dividends to the stockholders, as these merchants get who enrich themselves by encouraging the vanity and foolishness of the people. The Provo Factory takes the raw material produced at home, and converts it into the useful articles of clothing for the people, and that mainly by the labor of your own citizens. The same might be said correspondingly of every other branch of home industry. They ought to be encouraged by the masses of the people; they ought to be multiplied and increased among us by our united efforts, for they produce our wealth. What is wealth? Does it consist of gold and silver? No. Let this Territory be filled with gold, and war prevail outside and all intercourse be cut off, what would we do with it? It would be a medium of exchange, and as such would facilitate home trade; but nothing further. There is no real wealth in metallic or paper currency, in drafts, letters of credit, or any other representative of value. At best they are only the representatives of wealth, though convenient in carrying on our trade. But the real wealth may be summed up in a few words, to be the comforts of life; that is to say what is needed for us and our families and those depending upon us. How are these obtained? We might say money, when we have the money to exchange for them, and when these commodities are to be bought. But where do they come from? They are not in the market unless somebody has produced them; if in the shape of food, some farmer has raised it; if clothing, some manufactory has produced it; if boots and shoes, somebody did the work. It is the labor of men’s hands with the aid of machinery that produced these articles; if not by the labor of our community, by that of some other; and if we are dependent upon other people then are we their servants and they our masters. The Southern States in the late civil war were whipped by the Northern States, why? There may be some general reasons, but you may say, speaking on natural principles they were not sufficiently self-sustaining. They relied mainly upon their cotton, and a few other products of the earth, mainly fruits of their close labor; they had few manufacturing establishments. They sent the raw material to other States and countries, and these worked it up, sending back to them the manufactured articles. No nation under heaven can long thrive, and continue this state of things. Just as soon as their trade was interfered with, their domestic institutions broken into, and the country blockaded, preventing the export of their raw material, and the import of manufactured goods, they were brought to the verge of ruin.

This subject of home manufacture has become somewhat hackneyed. When will we cease to talk about it? When the necessity ceases to exist, when we will have learned to apply these principles in our daily lives and conduct. The greatest lack among us is the means to employ our idle hands. We should be able to afford every man, woman and child in our community profitable employment; were we able to do this, we would by wisely and prudently directing that labor become a thriftier, wealthier and happier people, of whom it might be said, there were no poor among us. Comparatively speaking, we can say now there is no abject poverty among us, yet we are far from enjoying that which is our privilege to enjoy, and that which we have comes from abroad and we are striving for money to pay for it. Crops are mortgaged or sold to our creditors in advance for articles of foreign manufacture. I was told that Sanpete County owed for sewing machines alone from forty to fifty thousand dollars; and I was told by brother Thatcher of Cache Valley, that forty thousand dollars would not clear the indebtedness for sewing machines. The irrepressible sewing machine agents have ravaged our country, imposing themselves upon every simpleton in the land, forcing their goods upon them. Tens of thousands of dollars are lying idle in the houses of the Latter-day Saints today in this article alone; almost every house you enter you can find a sewing machine noiseless and idle, but very seldom you hear it running; and all of which were purchased at enormous figures, and now the patent rights having expired, they can be bought for less than half the prices paid for them. And in this way many of our agricultural machines are obtained; we should be properly classified in our labor, so that our investments in agricultural and other machinery could be kept in constant use in the season thereof, and then well taken care of, as pro perty ought to be, instead of allowing them to be exposed to the storms of winter, as many are, and get out of repair. Some have thought we need but few factories today; I may be mistaken, but I am under the impression that every factory in the Territory, except yours, before the last wool was brought into market, had to stop running for want of material. The wool that should have supplied them was shipped out of the country, gone abroad to afford other hands employment, and the goods brought back made up ready for wear, to sell to you. You not only buy back again your own product, but you buy the labor of foreign manufacturers, and pay the transportation both ways, all the expenses of the merchants or middlemen who handle the wool, and sell you the clothes, while your own wives and children are idle at home, and your own factories standing still for want of wool. Is this the way to get rich? The same may be said with regard to the manufacture of leather. Our hides and skins either rot upon the fences, or are gathered up and sold mostly to men who ship them to other countries to be tanned and worked up into harness and boots and shoes, which are brought back for you to wear; so that you are buying back your own hides and skins, in the shape of these manufactured articles, and paying the cost of the transportation and the profits of the middlemen, besides employing strangers, while our own bone and sinew too often are engaged either digging a hole in the ground or lounge around the street corners for something to turn up.

Dining the last sixteen years I have been engaged laboring and counseling and trying to assist my brethren in Southern Utah to become self-sustaining, and as much as they can to develop the resources of the country. We have begun a great variety of associations which are incorrectly called cooperative institutions, but in reality they are only combinations of capital. I have sought for the last six or eight years to start cooperative institutions; that is to say associations of laborers, workmen’s and workwomen’s associations, associations to derive benefits from a combined effort, and by the unity of labor accumulate material, manufacturing them into useful articles for the common good, and then to induce those who begin to gather together a little surplus of capital, to encourage these labor associations, by letting them have a little means to help them to start. But the great difficulty I have had to fight against has been the ignorance of the laborers, their inability to make their labor pay for itself, and their unwillingness to be put to the test. They prefer someone to raise the capital to be invested in the enterprises, and employ them and pay them big wages; and if we have not the money necessary, they would have us borrow it at big interest, and establish shoe shops, and woolen factories and other various branches of industry, fitted up with the latest improved machinery, and they will say, “Let us work by the day or piece, and be paid our wages every Saturday night; and then let us have a store to spend our money at, that we might do as our fathers used to do in the old countries we came from.” This is the spirit of the working classes of the old world, and I said before, unfortunately we brought ourselves with us when we emigrated to the new world. They do not seem to know that our capitalists are generally men who have lived closely, have walked instead of rode, and through the dint of perseverance and the study of economy, have accumulated a little means, and that such men are not willing to put their money at the mercy of laborers who have not sense enough to take care of it, or to preserve intact the capital invested, let alone increasing it. This, I say, is one of the great difficulties we have met with throughout this country, in attempting to start home industries. Everybody is willing that somebody else should furnish the means and assume the responsibility; in other words, “if you have anything to give us, we are willing to take it.” “If we work we must have from three to five dollars per day, whether you make anything out of the business or not; we would not want to work for any less, and when we have got it instead of buying articles of home production, we will buy those imported from foreign countries.” Do all the people feel and act like this? O, no; but I think nearly all of us have indulged more or less in that folly. There are not many of us that say by our acts “we desire to do away with the antagonism between capital and labor.” There are not many capitalists in our community; if we counted out a dozen, that would be about all. We are so evenly balanced, that it might even be said of us now, that we have neither rich nor poor among us. The little capital we have, compared with the many who think themselves poor, would be a mere breakfast spell if turned loose among a greedy horde; I include myself of course. When I say, greedy horde, I mean we are ignorant of the laws of life and true liberty, that which is needed among us for our own good. We should look and see how we can make ourselves useful in producing something, and not waste our time either in digging holes in the ground in the hopes of finding something, or laying in our nest with mouth wide open like young robins, for something to be dropped in. This is not the way to become a self-sustaining, wealthy and happy people. Will we form our associations and establish home industries? Will we tan the hides that come off our cattle and our sheep, and goats and other animals, making them into leather, and then work it up into boots and shoes and harness and so forth; or will we suffer them to be shipped out of the country for others to do it for us? Will the sisters ask their husbands and fathers to plant out mulberry trees along the water ditches where the willows are now growing, so that you may secure food for the silkworm? A little while ago we had lots of worms, but nothing to feed them. Let the sisters raise the worms, and commence their little associations for feeding them, that you may have silk to manufacture your ribbons and dresses. This climate is adapted to the silkworm, the growth of the mulberry, and the feeding of the worms, and the manufacture of the silk. Let us then have silk manufactures, let us all say, we will bless this enterprise with our faith; and let the men encourage the sisters by planting the trees for them and affording them every facility within their power. You may say, this is a hard way of getting silk. I assure the Latter-day Saints, that it will be harder by and by when Babylon goes down. We had better improve the time and use the elements now within our reach. Let us multiply our factories, and work up our wool at home, and cease employing spinners and weavers at distant parts of the world, while our own people are hunting for something to do, and crying “hard times,” or wasting their time hunting for minerals. I will venture to say that nine-tenths of the property under mortgage and to be sacrificed in Salt Lake City, and in fact throughout the Territory, is sacrificed at the shrine of this wildcat speculation. One of the best shares in any bank is a plowshare, and the best speculation we can go into, is to raise from the elements around us the things necessary to supply our daily wants. Everything produced at home, furnishes employment for idle hands, and stimulates the production of some other articles. Let home manufacture, and the production of raw material from the elements, be our watchword, that employment may be furnished our sons and daughters, and those who shall come unto us from distant lands. Let us too establish reasonable and consistent fashions within ourselves, and cease patronizing the fashions of the wicked world.

Now, referring to what we call the United Order, what is it? I will tell you. It is to live at home and sustain ourselves. It is not to hunt after capital as we would a fat goose to eat it up, and when eaten to hunt another the next day, for fat geese are not so plentiful. Our true policy is, learn how to produce and be sure to produce a little more than we consume; and if we only produce five cents a day in something more than we consume, we will soon be rich. But if we all consume five cents a day more than we produce, how long before we shall all be poor? We are poor already when we commence that system. It is a great lesson to impress upon the minds of this great people, gathered from all nations and tongues, to induce them to live at home and support themselves, to depend upon their labor for their subsistence, instead of hunting for somebody to devour. Many of the people may say, I do not want to be eaten up by the rich. I can tell you there is a heap of us for the rich to eat up, and there are not many rich to do it. My opinion is the scare is the other way, for, as I have said, the few rich among us are only a breakfast spell. How long do you think it would take if we were all producers, and converting the raw materials into useful articles, to become a self-sustaining people? And then if we heard of Babylon’s downfall, we would not of necessity lift up our hands and cry, “O Lord spare her a little longer, we are not ready for her to go down, we should suffer from the want of boots and shoes, and for our clothing, and our machinery, and so forth.” The United Order is designed to help us to be self-reliant and to teach us to understand what it costs to produce that which we consume. One of the chief obstacles in the way of our progress towards becoming a self-sustaining people is the lack of this understanding among the people. They cling to the habits and customs of Babylon that they have learned abroad—the laborer wishing to eat up the capitalist, and the capitalist constantly guarded for fear he should be drawn into close quarters, and then to succumb to the demands of operatives. This is the way of the world, and the warfare that is going on all the time; and why? Because they comprehend not how to promote their mutual interests; covetousness of capital on one hand, and covetousness of labor on the other, each trying to enrich itself at the expense of the other. Most of the Saints, when they embraced the Gospel, partook of its true spirit, opening their hearts and hands, and those who had it to spare, used their means to gather up the poor; and when they landed among us were generally on a common level. And hence the necessity of our labor, and through our labor accumulate capital instead of needless expenditures, exhausting the results of our labors and getting us into debt. Learn to live within our means that there may be a little increase, that we may have something wherewith to purchase improved machinery, and extend our industries until we shall be able to supply our every need. And that we may learn these lessons, and profit by them for the mutual benefit of the Saints, and the advancement of the Zion of our God, I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Self-Reliance—Help the Feeble—Keep Out of Debt

Discourse by Elder Erastus Snow, delivered at the Forty-Fifth Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Wednesday Afternoon, April 7, 1875.

If I can be heard I desire to make myself understood, for I have a few reflections to present to the people. I love this people, because I am persuaded that the very great majority of them are seeking after truth. We desire to improve and to pursue the path that will lead us onward and upward in the scale of being, to develop the powers within us that pertain to the Godhead, created as we are in his image, bearing in mind this injunction of one of the Apostles—“Let this same mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, when he found himself in the form of God, thought it no robbery to be equal with him.” No other people that I have any knowledge of upon the earth have such faith, such aspirations, such hope for the future as the Latter-day Saints possess, as is taught us in the sacred books of our holy religion, and as was taught us by the Prophet Joseph Smith, and which are manifested by the Holy Ghost in us. We look for greater things than any other people; and we must labor to develop within ourselves and within our children the gifts and powers that are within us, and which are embraced in our faith. Anything, therefore, that serves to stultify us in anywise tend downward rather than upward.

The subject of self-reliance was spoken of this morning, in our individual capacity and in our family relationships; yesterday brother Wells gave us some very excellent instructions, some beautiful truths, touching national or political economy, portraying the necessity that exists for nations, or communities like ours, becoming self-sustaining, self-reliant, and taking a course to be free from bondage and oppression and of being needlessly beholden to others, and, instead of letting our eyes wander to the ends of the earth, lusting after everything we see or hear of, educating and training ourselves to so curtail our wants that we can supply them by our own industry. What is true of nations and communities is true of individuals, and the principles applicable in one case are so in the other; and unless these principles are appreciated and applied in our individual and family capacity, they will not be in our larger national capacities. As communities, that which stands chiefly in our way is the pride of life—the natural ambition that is within us, which in and of itself is a godlike and noble principle, prompting us to go forward and to imitate those who are higher and further advanced than ourselves. It is this which stimulates nations, communities, families and individuals to improve. But there is a true line of demarcation which we should learn to tread, and, as far as in us lies, we should neither vary to the right hand nor to the left from that true line; if we do we shall receive the reward of our error.

To say that we are not mutually dependent upon each other, is to say that which is not strictly true; and I believe that our Father has organized us and society so that we should be mutually dependent, in order to cherish those principles of friendship, love, charity and brotherly kindness, and those noble social qualities that make us feel that we are one family, the children of one parent, and tending to one common end, and that we are in duty bound to work for each other as well as for ourselves. But the Lord requires no man or set of men to sacrifice themselves for others entirely, nor does he justify any man or people in leaning entirely upon others and doing nothing for themselves. In all the works of God we see this principle predominant. He has made ample provision upon this earth for all the inhabitants thereof to become self-sustaining, by using the bounties and gifts which he has bestowed upon them, and putting forth their hands and appropriating to their use the elements of life and prosperity with which they are surrounded; and though he permits the birds of the air and the fowls to prey a little upon our crops, and to pick the berries that grow in the mountains, yet even these have to arouse themselves from their nests and go in quest of their food, and all God’s creatures on the earth are required to exercise the powers and faculties they possess to avail themselves of the bounties which heaven has so plentifully placed upon the earth for their sustenance. Industry is required of us, and coupled with industry, frugality and economy, without which the rewards of industry are squandered and lost. Industry, frugality and economy are parts and portions of our faith and holy religion. We are dependent upon our Father and God for our being, and all our faculties; for the earth, our dwelling place, and the elements around us; but, in order to avail ourselves of these blessings, he requires us to use the faculties we possess, to be industrious, economical and prudent, and to exemplify that charity and brotherly love which pertain to our holy religion. The Lord has said that the idler shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer. One of the rules of the United Order says—“Thou shalt pay thy brother for that which thou hast of him;” and those rules not only make it obligatory to pay or discharge our present indebtedness, as fast as in us lies, but henceforth to contract no debt beyond our ability to pay, or without having a reasonable prospect before us of fulfilling our engagements. These principles become necessary not only to be spoken of, but to be treasured and lived up to in order to preserve and maintain confidence between us as brethren, and to entitle us to the consideration of friends and brethren to assist us when our time of adversity shall come.

Those who are entitled either to free education, free meals, free clothing, or to be freely housed, entertained, comforted and blessed, are those who are industrious, prudent, frugal, using the faculties they possess, but who, through sickness, misfortune, or old age, are unable to minister to their own wants; or children of tender age who require the care of parents, friends or guardians. To all others it may be said—Bear your own burdens; and we may also quote the words of the Apostle Paul, when he says—“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ;” also in another place the same author says—“Let every man bear his own burden.” Both are true and correct when we understand how to apply them correctly. Let all men and all women bear their own burdens according to their strength, and when that fails let somebody else take hold and help them and so fulfill the law of Christ. So let every father and mother begin the work of education with their offspring, and teach them to bear their own burdens at the earliest practicable day, and let them begin to learn and receive this practical education of which our President gave us such illustrations this forenoon, such an education, both physical and mental, as shall fit them for all the practical duties of life. Let no mother, in her misplaced sympathy and her love, and her anxiety to serve her offspring, wear herself needlessly out in waiting upon them when they are able to wait upon themselves; but make such provision as is necessary, which children are not able to make themselves, and teach them to wait upon and serve themselves, and also repay their father and mother for the labor bestowed upon them. Let them have a place for their hats, bonnets and clothing to be hung up in, and instead of going round the house after them, picking up their shoes and other things, take them and, if necessary, spank them, and make John understand that it is his duty to hang up his hat, and Sally to put her sunbonnet in its proper place. And when they want a drink, let them understand that there is the cup and there is the pump, and teach them to help themselves, and bring a drink to mother, instead of mother waiting upon them; and so commence and so continue that practical education. And when they are able to begin to hoe the potatoes and sow the onions, teach them how to do it instead of doing it all yourselves, and leaving them to lie in the shade or to run round the streets, wearing out shoe leather and learning mischief. If you are too old and feeble to take the lead in the performance of these several labors, take your rocking chair into the shade under a tree somewhere, and sit and give directions and tell James or John what to do and how to do it.

This practical education has been before this people all the days of our lives; or I will say that our President and leader has kept prominently before us the great and important lessons of self-reliance. His doctrine has always been that the best way to relieve the poor is to show them how to help themselves. To continue to hand out your food and your substance to the beggar who comes to your doors without putting him in a position to help himself and to supply his own wants is to encourage him in folly and wickedness, and is throwing away the blessings of heaven which God has placed in your hands. Shall we not feed the hungry? Yes. Shall we not receive the stranger into our gates? Yes. If any come along who are weary, hungry, without money and need relief, shall we minister to their wants? Yes. Shall we feed them? Yes. Shall we give them rest? Yes. Warm them by our fires? Yes. Let them stay and rest themselves under our roof? Yes. How long? Until they are able to begin and do something to help themselves. And supposing, when they have stayed one night and had their suppers, and their breakfast next morning, then dinner, and supper again, and then stay another night, and finally, finding that they fare very well, they want to stop altogether, then we should say, “Here is a spade, go and dig that ditch,” or, “take this axe and cut that wood,” “take this team and haul a load of wood,” or put them to something by which they may use their powers and minister to their own wants; and if they demur at this then say—“Well, you can go without eating until you are willing to hoe the potatoes; you can go out and cut your own wood, make your own fires and camp where you please, you cannot have shelter longer under my roof, the good things which God has given me are to bless and happify my fellow man, not to encourage vagrancy and idleness.”

These are no new principles before the Latter-day Saints. Our motto is “The Hive of Deseret,” and here is the place for the working bees, the place where they sting the drones to death. There has been a tendency with some of us for a few years past to try and live by our wits, or with as little physical labor as possible, and to watch the corners of the streets and various places for some advantage, or some way or other by which we may obtain something for nothing; and some succeed—they find some unsuspecting person ignorant of the value of things, and they obtain something for nothing, something that is valuable for that which possesses very little value. I speak not in reference to legitimate trading. There is a legitimate trade and traffic recognized by all right thinking men of the world everywhere. A legiti mate interchange of commodities is profitable to all and makes all better off, and it is as necessary to the prosperity of any people as any other class of labor. In my present remarks I refer to that class the members of which, in common California parlance, are called bummers and hoodlums. Some among us have been in the habit of giving way to this spirit too much, and when the reacting comes we are repaid for our folly. We are in the habit too, of allowing ambition to prompt us to make improvements and to build for ourselves convenient and tasteful habitations; to adorn our persons, and those of our families. This is all noble and good, but in our efforts in this direction some of us overreach ourselves, that is, we go beyond the means which are legitimately at our command. We run a little too fast and we stumble, and by and by we find that there is an accumulation of debts upon us.

The credit system has always seemed to me to be an evil to mankind in general. To the capitalists, who accumulate so much means that they cannot take care of it, the credit system is a benefit, for they trust it to others to speculate upon, and so distribute it more or less through the community. In this respect the credit system may not be altogether without benefit to the world at large. But as for our community, composed mainly of laboring people, of comparatively small means, depending upon our industry, economy and frugality for all that we have and for all that we expect to have, I am persuaded that the credit system is and always has been a positive evil, though there may be even among us exceptional cases. But I am satisfied in my own mind that it is better for us to pay as we go, instead of obtaining credit from either brethren or strangers, and so endanger our freedom. We have done this too much, and in a great many instances our possessions are mortgaged to pay for our past follies. We have ceased to be free, we are in bondage, for debt is a yoke of bondage to all those who are brought under it, though some wear it much lighter than others. Some adopt the philosophy—“Let those worry whom I owe,” while others adopt the philosophy of worrying because they owe, and they are greatly troubled about procuring the means to pay their debts. It is for the benefit of this class I speak, the other class is to be shunned. Let those who are troubled about paying their debts take warning and, having once had their fingers in the fire, be careful about putting them in again; and let all who still have them in the fire, and feel the smart, be as prompt and diligent as possible in freeing themselves from this yoke of bondage, and discharging their debts. This credit system involves us all more or less. Our great mercantile institution, in attempting to supply the wants of this great community, is under the necessity of resorting to the common credit system of the commercial world; and our several cooperative associations in the settlements throughout the Territory wish to avail themselves of the same privileges, and ask for time. They want goods on credit. And then in our individual and family relationship we adopt the same principle, and we think it hard if our home merchants do not extend to us the same privilege; and the wife and child are teasing the husband and father for this, that and the other from the stores, whether he has the means to pay for it or not.

What is the remedy for all this? To my mind the proper remedy for this is for us to educate ourselves into the feeling that we can do without things until we are able to pay for them; that if we need a hat we will try and make one out of bamboo, straw, leaves, or imitate the Indians and use the covering that nature has provided for us. If we need shoes and cannot pay for them, that we will patch up the old ones, or, if we can’t do that, we will find some buckskin, or go barefoot, for barefoot came we into the world, and it mattereth not whether we have any shoes when we go out. If our clothes are getting scarce, hunt up the old ones and patch them up and make them last until we have earned enough to buy some new ones.

But says the wife, or perhaps the husband, and if not they, then the sons and daughters—“Neighbor so and so has got a new bonnet, and my playmate yonder has got a new hat, and somebody else has a new pair of boots and I do not see why I am not just as good as they are;” and says the wife—“my children are just as good as the neighbors’ children, and if they can have new hats, shoes or clothing, mine shall, and if father has not the means to pay for them he must run in debt for them at the store.”

This is not the doctrine, or the system of education I would inculcate among this people, for it tends to bondage, and downward rather than upward, because it leads to dishonesty; for when we are in debt the tempter tempts us to resort to dishonorable, unrighteous means to free ourselves therefrom. And furthermore, if we will indulge in every lust of the eye and yield to the pride of life, and seek to gratify them beyond our legitimate means, the tempter prompts us to resort to lying, swindling, thieving and all manner of mischief to supply and gratify these wants. It is an old and truthful adage that honesty is the best policy. I would apply it to nations, communities and individuals.

In days of commercial prosperity, when capital is being diffused, and men of means use both capital and credit for great achievements, such as building railroads, towns, cities, factories, mills, etc., then is the time we are allured on to excesses. Prosperous times, high interest, big dividends and great bargains stimulate others to seek after the same things, and not infrequently resort to unjustifiable means to acquire them. It is not best for us to go out into the mountains to hunt nuggets of gold; it is far better for us to go out and find a few raspberries, or a place to sow some onions or to plant some potatoes. These would supply our wants in a moderate way, without crazing our brain. But nuggets of gold turn the heads of many to leave their legitimate pursuit and follow a phantom. Nuggets of gold are not to be met with very often, and where one person finds one, ten thousand spend months hunting for them but never find one. But ten thousand might sow onions and plant potatoes and perhaps not more than one, unless through folly and neglect, would fail to reap the fruit of his labors. It is not great dividends that are going to make either the United Order, or any of our cooperative associations prosperous, permanent and successful, but honesty and straightforward business habits, and contentment with reasonable profits and rewards for our labors.

The last year or two has been a time of pecuniary stress, not only throughout this community, but more or less in all parts of the land, though perhaps the effects of the reaction of this overtrading is felt in this community after it has been felt and measurably overcome in the great central marts of commerce. This community, on the outskirts of this great credit system, is now feeling the pressure of that reaction. What should we do to afford relief? It is not to be expected that either our banks or our great trading institutions can bear this strain alone; they have not been brought into this condition by their own acts which they could have well remedied, it has been by the acts of this whole community in overtrading, overliving, exceeding their legitimate bounds in every respect, and the weight and strain of this reaction centers upon these great central institutions which we lean upon. They must not go down, for if they do, we go with them, and we all suffer. We must commence to remedy the evil where the evil commenced, and that is at home, by retrenchment. Every man and every woman must pay their debts as soon as possible, and instead of hunting around for opportunities to contract new ones they must hunt around for means to pay their old ones, and let every dollar be used for that purpose before new debts are contracted; and do without the sugar, tea, coffee, boots, hats, bonnets, ribbons and clothing until the old scores are wiped out.

God bless you. Amen.

The United Order of Zion Affords the Utmost Freedom and Liberty—Brotherly Love and Goodwill to Man—True Riches Relate to Eternity—Establish Confidence in Our Hearts With God

Discourse by Elder Erastus Snow, delivered at the Adjourned General Conference, held in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Friday Morning, May 8, 1874.

The United Order of Zion, proposed for our consideration, as will be seen from the remarks that have been made by former speakers, and from the articles which were read yesterday afternoon, is a grand, comprehensive, cooperative system, designed to improve us who enter into it, financially, socially, morally and religiously; it will aid us, as Latter-day Saints, in living our religion, and in building up Zion, and help us, by a combined effort, to cultivate every virtue, to put from us every vice, to conduct ourselves and our children sensibly, and to dispense with childish follies; it will enable us to adopt sensible and discreet fashions and habits of life and style of dress and manners; all of which can be effected by combined efforts, but not easily in our individual capacities. For what man, however good be his desires, can control himself and his family in their habits and manners of life and fashions, without the aid of the surrounding community? What sensible man can hold me or my brethren responsible, in all respects, either for ourselves or our households, unaided by the community and while the community are all working against us? But when the community learn to work together, and are agreed in a common purpose, what is it that they cannot accomplish? Union is strength, and a combination of labor and capital will give us power at home and abroad. Our former cooperative systems in this Territory have accomplished very great good for us, but they have been only combinations of capital; the proposed system embraces labor as well as capital, and it designs to make the interests of capital and labor identical. True, there is one feature in the articles read yesterday which may require a little modification; it is at least a good subject for mature reflection and consideration before their final adoption; and these articles are presented before the people for this purpose.

The combination of labor and capital in this order will enable us to promote all branches of industry which shall appear, in the judgment of the common Order, to be for the general good. At present, capitalists are loath to engage in any enterprise which does not vouchsafe to them profitable returns. It has been said by some among us that the best argument in favor of cooperation, was large dividends; but this is an argument that appeals only to cupidity and avarice, and is especially acceptable to the man who sees nothing but the God of this world to worship. Large dividends corrupt the morals of a community, just as large speculations and the profit resulting therefrom; for however desirable in a financial point of view to those engaged in them, their tendency is always to intoxicate the brain, and lead those engaged therein to further follies, until they overreach and ruin themselves. Moderation is as valuable in financial affairs as in social ethics, moderation in all speculation and in all business, fair profits for labor, fair dividends for capital, and the use of that capital and labor to promote the greatest good of the greatest number, and not for my own dear self. The selfishness that is limited to our own persons savors of the lower instincts of our natures, and comes not from above.

Objections arise in the minds of some. “Shall we not by entering into this order, surrender our manhood, our personal liberty, and those rights so dear to every human being?” I answer, no, not in the least. We do no more than what all people do in the formation of government, of every kind, or associations for any purpose, whether charitable, religious or social. All organizations, corporations, and business firms agree to surrender certain personal privileges in order to secure mutual advantages. All govern ments, societies, corporations and firms are founded upon the principle of mutual concessions to secure mutual advantages. Without this there could be no government, no power to arrest and punish criminals and protect the rights of the citizen and the sanctity of home.

The Order proposed before us affords the utmost freedom and liberty. All things shall be done by common consent, and all the Branches of the Order, throughout all the land, are to be organized by the selection of the wisest, best and most experienced persons in their midst, to form their councils, and to direct their business affairs and the labors of the community, for the best possible good of the whole, and not to the individual advantage of a few, who may be schemers or who may have acquired an education by which they are enabled to overreach their fellow men financially.

The grand principle upon which the Gospel of life and salvation is founded and on which Zion is to be built, is brotherly love and good will to man. This was the theme of the angels of God in announcing the birth of the Savior. Hitherto, under our old systems, it has been “every man for himself, and the devil for us all;” but the principle which the Lord proposes is that we should square our lives by a higher and holier one, namely, everyone for the whole and God for us all.

Will this Order benefit the rich? Yes, it will afford security for themselves and families and their capital. It is a mutual insurance institution. Will it afford security and protection to the poor and the honest laborer? Yes, it will lay a foundation for wealth and comfort for them, and their families after them. Is it a free school system? It is a mutual education system. Free? Not to the lazy, vicious and wicked, but it is a mutual education system for the good and industrious, who abide in the Order and fulfill the obligations thereof. Who shall be heirs of the common property? Every child who is born in the Order. Heirs to the whole of it. No, nobody will be heir to the whole of it. To what portion of it will they be heirs? Just what they need. Who shall be the judges? Themselves, if they judge correctly; and if they do not, somebody will judge more correctly for them. “Well, shall I surrender my judgment to anybody else?” Of course, you will; we all agree to that, if it must needs be. But he who judges for himself correctly shall not be judged, but he who is unable to judge himself, but covets everything that he sees, and wishes to scatter and destroy what others are seeking to accumulate and preserve, must have a bit put in his mouth and some, who are more sensible, must handle the reins. This is no agrarian doctrine, to level those who are exalted, down to the mean level of those who are in the mire, but it is the Godlike doctrine of raising those who are of low estate and placing them in a better condition, by teaching them economy, and prudence; it is for the strong to foster and bear the infirmities of the weak, for those who possess skill and ability to accumulate and preserve this world’s goods, to use them for the common good, and not merely for their own persons, children and relatives, so as to exalt themselves in pride and vanity over their fellow men, and sink themselves to ruin by worshiping the God of this world. This is beneath the character of those who profess to be the people of God. We have done that long enough, but the word of God to us is to change our front, and to learn to love our neighbor as ourselves and so cultivate the spirit of the Gospel.

As to the minutiae of the workings of the various Branches of this Order, the details of the business and the relations of life, one meeting of this kind would not suffice to tell, nor could the people comprehend it if we were able to tell it; but it will be revealed to us as we pass along, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, and everything necessary will appear in its time and place, and none need be overanxious to pass over the bridge before they reach it. God does not reveal to us everything at once, for our minds are not prepared to comprehend it. Like children we must have experience as we pass along. One thing is sufficient for us to understand, and that is that this Order has made all nations and peoples who have entered into and practiced it prosperous.

If anyone doubts for a moment the success and final triumph of these principles, that doubt is founded only in his own weakness, and in the weaknesses of his fellow men around him, and the selfishness that is in our natures. If we are determined to make it a success there is no power beneath the heavens that can make it a failure. If we engage in it with full purpose of heart, with faith towards God, and seeking to cultivate confidence towards one another, and are outspoken and frank in all our business relations and intercourse with each other, and do all things by common consent, with a just and honest purpose of soul, there is no power that can hinder our succeeding in our undertaking. But if we are determined to be selfish, and seek to build ourselves up on the weaknesses of our fellows, instead of building up the kingdom of our God, we ought to go down, and the sooner the better. For the last dozen years many of this people have been going on in the way that our fathers and the world generally walk in; and instead of building up Zion, have been after their personal and individual interests. Forty years have passed over us as a people during which we have been trying a little to carry on the work of God; but we have been like the wary trout in the stream, we have been nibbling around the hook, but we have never swallowed the bait. Now the hook is placed before us naked, and we are simply asked the question, “Will you take it or not?” “What, are we going to be caught?” Yes, this is the fear—“We are going to be caught by the wily fisherman—we are going to be enslaved. Has not somebody got an eye on our property? Does not somebody wish to have our horses and carriages, our fine houses, our substance, and the property we have gathered together?” Yes, the Lord has an eye on all this, for it belongs to him. Which of us has anything that does not belong to him? Where have we got that which we possess? Who has given us ability to accumulate and preserve? To whom are we accountable for our talents and gifts, as well as our substance? The Lord has his eye upon all this. Is he anxious about our property? No. This anxiety is in our own breasts, and if we have any idols the sooner we put them away the better. The Lord cares nothing about our houses and lands, our goods and chattels, our gold, silver or raiment, for all upon the earth belongs to him, and at the best it is only something that perishes with the using. He requires us to be faithful in the use of it, for he has said, “He that is not faithful with the unrighteous mammon, who shall commit to him the true riches?” True riches relate to eternity; the riches that relate to this life all perish with the using. Our houses, horses, carriages, clothing, and our gold and silver perish with the using, together with our tabernacles. We look to a glorious resurrection, to a new and enduring earth, to riches that are immortal, to the habitations that shall not pass away, to a glory that is beyond the grave, as the only true riches, which the Gospel enjoins us to look after. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, and all things else shall be added unto you.” They will be added in God’s own way, and he wishes to show us a better way, and, in order to deal with us as a kind father does with his children, he proposes to enlighten and instruct us, and he will impart to all of his people who will obey his voice the wisdom that is necessary to make them the richest people on the earth. This is the purpose of the Lord concerning Zion and his people—they are to possess this world’s goods in abundance, not to be foolish with them and to destroy themselves and their children, but that they may preserve themselves and their children from falling into the vices and follies of great Babylon. He will raise up in their midst wise counselors to provide for the welfare of the whole.

Will our trading and trafficking with the outside world cease? Of course not. As long as we are in the world, gathering Saints, preaching to the nations and building up Zion, Zion will be as a city set on a hill, which cannot be hid. But the Lord proposes to preserve his people as far as possible from the influences of Babylon, and the transactions outside of the Order will be carried on through the Council of the Order; agents will be appointed by the voice of the Order, that what we bring from abroad may be bought from first hands and in the lowest market, that we may derive the benefits of it, instead of giving the profits to middlemen who are not of us; and what we have for sale we will sell in the best markets, and so enjoy the benefits of our labor, and not by interior competition and underbidding and underselling each other to “scatter our ways to strangers,” as we have done in times past. By this combined effort we shall be able to obtain the full market value of our products—the products of the farm, dairy, orchard, vineyard, the products of the woolen and cotton factory, of our shoe shops, and every mechanical appliance, to enable us to procure all labor-saving machinery, by our combined efforts, which men in their individual capacity are not able to do. We shall also be enabled to start new enterprises, and if they do not pay at first, they are bound to pay in the end, if they are necessary adjuncts to the prosperity of society. Our common fund will nourish these infant establishments, instead of individuals failing and breaking down in their vain efforts to build up new enterprises in a new country, as is often the case now. And if funds are needed from abroad to aid us in any general enterprise, we shall have the combined property and credit of the community as a guarantee to capitalists abroad, instead of individuals mortgaging their inheritances to procure money to carry on individual “wildcat” speculations by which thousands are ruined. If they were operating in a United Order and would submit their enterprises to the candid deci sion of that Order, many an enterprising man would be saved from foolish ventures and from ruin, and the wise and prudent would receive the necessary encouragement and financial aid, to make their undertakings a success for the benefit of the whole.

Will our merchants be worse off? No, our merchants, those who belong to this Order, will be just as well off as any of the rest of the Order. They will work where they are appointed, go on missions when called, or tan leather, or make hats or wooden shoes, if they are better adapted for that than for standing behind the counter; but if they are best suited to handle the products of the people and to carry on mutual exchanges among ourselves within the Order and with branch Orders and with the outside world, we will appoint them to this labor and service, and hold them to an account of their stewardships, and the results of their transactions go into the common fund. Then they will not be stimulated to avarice, overreaching, lying and deception, to put what they call an honest, but what I call a very dishonest, penny into their pockets. We will endeavor thus, by a union of effort, to take away temptations from our midst to be dishonest, and let the dishonest share the fate of Ananias and Sapphira; but let the virtuous, upright and good be frank and outspoken, and give their sentiments, the witness of the word of truth in their hearts, for the good of the whole. Those who lack business capacity and experience will labor where they can be useful, that the ability of all may be available for the general good.

These are the principles embraced in the instrument we heard read yesterday afternoon. As to these little personal objections that arise in the mind, we shall find that they exist only in the imaginations of our own hearts, arising from our ignorance or a want of proper understanding, and partly from knowing each other too well, and comprehending each other’s selfishness and weaknesses; because of this we are afraid to trust each other. The remedy for this is for everyone to set himself to work to better his own condition, first establishing confidence in his own heart between himself and his God, and so deporting himself that he can command the respect and confidence of his brethren and sisters. Every man and every woman should set themselves to do this, and should enter into this Order with a firm determination to do this. Confidence will then soon be restored in our midst. Then every man and every woman will speak the honest sentiments of their hearts, and vote as they feel to do on every question, in the selection of officers and in the transaction of all business, and we will do whatever we do for the general good, according to the light that is in us. Such a people are bound to draw down from the heavens above the revelations of light and truth; they will tap the clouds from above; every man will be a lightning rod to draw electricity from the clouds, in other words, the revelations of light and truth, into their own hearts and minds; they will possess a combined intelligence that will accomplish all they undertake in righteousness, and they will prevail before the Lord and before the world, and will command the respect and honor of the virtuous and good, at home and abroad. Those who refuse to engage in these enterprises, and to enter into the holy Order, will become the unpopular ones; and after we have once succeeded in this effort, we shall marvel and wonder that we did not enter into it before.

We have been over forty years trying to learn these lessons, and all the time putting them off to a future day, waiting for our children to carry them out; but we shall marvel that we did not rise up and carry them out before. Thousands of Saints have been anxiously waiting and might, perhaps, have entered into this before now; but we have been continually throwing new clay into the machine, drawing new materials from abroad and raising new elements at home, and the elements brought from Babylon has brought Babylon with it, and our habits, customs, notions and individuality have been so prominent, that we could not see the benefits of mutual concessions to secure the mutual advantages and benefits of combined labor.

I am aware that some capitalists will object to the idea of drawing only fifty percent of what remains to their credit, if they should conclude to withdraw from the Order. Be this as it may, I can see no principle appertaining to the Gospel and to the building up of Zion, no principle of justice between man and man, which would permit the capitalist today to bring his capital into the Order and surrender it to the custody and care of stout hearts and strong arms to protect and preserve it and to increase it by the erection of factories and machinery and buildings and improvements, by the combined labor of the people, and then all the original capital, together with all the dividends, to be left at the disposal of the few capitalists originally composing the firm, and they be permitted, fifty years hence, to get up and walk off with the whole of it, leaving the great mass of the community, that have grown up from infancy, and preserved and insured and made it valuable, without anything but their daily wages, which they have eaten up as they passed along in supporting themselves and their growing families. I say I see no justice in allowing a few capitalists to draw the whole of their original deposits, together with the whole of the dividends and profits which have been made by the labor of the whole community, and I consider the provision which limits that withdrawal to half the original amount and half the dividends both wise and necessary. It is a question in my mind whether we should, in this Order, recognize the right of capital as above that of labor. This is a point which will bear criticism. But I will pass that over now.

There are many objections which will arise in the minds of the people. The enemy will endeavor to throw every possible objection before our minds; but the more we scan it, and the more we seek to understand the principles of this Order, as set before us in this instrument, the more we shall see the wisdom of God manifest therein, and the revelations of light and truth; the more this spirit goes abroad among the people, the more will their hearts be opened and prepared to receive it. I praise God that he has moved upon the heart of his servant Brigham to call this people to “right about face,” that they may enter in at the strait gate, which may God grant we may be able to do in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Ancient Prophecy, Relating to the Time of the Restitution of All Things, to Be Fulfilled

Discourse by Elder Erastus Snow, delivered in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, Sept. 14, 1873.

“But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.

“And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

“And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

“But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.

“For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.

“In that day, saith the Lord, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted;

“And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the Lord shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever.”—Micah iv, 1-7.

I have read this Scripture in the hearing of the congregation, believing, as I do, that it is a prophecy having direct reference to the latter times, and to the day and age now ushered in upon the earth. There are many things in the Jewish Scriptures, the fulfillment of which has become a matter of history. There are many other things which have been spoken by the mouth of God through his servants the Prophets, which remain yet to be fulfilled. It is a matter of great importance, to my mind, to be able to discern those things pertaining to the future, which God has revealed, which have yet to come to pass. He revealed, beforehand, to the antediluvian world, the approach of the deluge, and gave them a timely warning, sending his servants amongst them, calling upon them to repent of their sins and to prepare for that which was coming upon the earth. He foretold to Abraham the bondage which his seed would have to endure in the land of Egypt, their final deliverance by the hand of Moses, and their establishment in the promised land of Canaan. Moses, and other Prophets raised up after him, foretold the blessings which, through faith and obedience, should be poured upon Israel, and the scourges and judgments which should fall upon them through unbelief and disobedience. Whoever will read the prophecies of Moses contained in Deuteronomy, from the 28th to the 33rd chapter, will perceive there clearly foreshadowed the great events in the history of the seed of Abraham, from that time until the time of their restoration to their promised inheritance, which is referred to in the chapter from which I have quoted in Micah. All these great events have been the subjects of prophecy, and have been very clearly pointed out, and perhaps by none more plainly and clearly than by Moses himself, while he was the leader of Israel.

The dealings of God with the human family have been the subjects of prophecy and revelation, and more especially with the descendants of Shem, the offspring of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and not only the Chosen People, but the nations with which they were identified, and with whom they were more or less connected and allied in a national capacity. All these things have been the subjects of prophecy; but the burden of prophecy, from the beginning of the world down to the present time, seems to center upon our day—the time of the restitution of all things spoken of so frequently by the Prophets of God. By reference to the 3rd chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, we find that the Apostle Peter, talking to the wondering Jews assembled together gazing upon him and his brother John, at the time he healed the lame man at the beautiful gate of the Temple, and told them concerning Jesus, whom they had crucified, and whom the Father had raised from the dead, of which they were his witnesses, told them that this same Jesus had been taken up into heaven, and would remain at the right hand of God until the time of the restitution of all things spoken of by all the Prophets since the world began. Then he, Jesus, will descend again. From this Scripture we understand that Peter and his brother Apostles comprehended the doctrine of the restitution of all things, and that it should take place in the latter days preparatory to the second advent of the Savior.

This was also a theme for angels as well as prophets. We read in the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, that Jesus led his disciples out to the Mount of Olives, and there lifted up his hands and blessed them; and while in the act of giving them their last commission—to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, a cloud overshadowed him, and he ascended from their sight; and as they stood gazing up into heaven after him, two angels stood by them, clothed in white apparel, and they said unto them—“Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye thus gazing up into heaven? Behold, this same Jesus, which you now see go up into heaven: shall so come again in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”

The time of the restitution of all things has not only been the theme of angels, Prophets and Apostles, but of all Saints whose understandings have been enlightened by the Spirit of revelation from on high. The chapter which I have read from, in Micah, brings it down to the last days, and is perhaps a little more explicit than some other prophecies. It says that “in the last days the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the tops of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and people shall flow unto it.” “The mountain of the Lord’s house”—this is a peculiar phrase, and was probably used by the Prophet because it was a common mode of expression in Israel in the days of David and many of the Prophets several hundred years after him, for, in speaking of Mount Moriah, on which the Temple of Solomon was built, they spoke of it as the mountain of the Lord’s house. Moriah is a hill in the city of Jerusalem, on which David located the site of the Temple, and on which his son Solomon built it, and it was called the mountain of the house of the Lord. This Temple suffered spoliation at the hands of the Gentiles, who made inroads on Israel from time to time, but it was repaired and kept intact until the days of the Savior. While he was on the earth he predicted its total destruction, because of the unbelief of the people. He said, Matthew xxiv, 2, the time should come when not one stone of that Temple should be left on another. The Prophet Micah predicted the same in the chapter preceding the one which I have read from. He says—“Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, you that abhor judgment and pervert all equity. They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money; yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us, none evil can come upon us? There fore shall Zion for your sake be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest.”

This last prediction has been literally fulfilled. It has become a matter of history that Jerusalem has become heaps of ruins, and the mountain of the house of the Lord has become as the high places of the forest, and has been ploughed as a field. It is a matter of history that the very site of that wonderful Temple was ploughed as a field, and its destruction was rendered so complete that every foundation stone was raised; and that there might be no vestige of it left, around which the Jews might cling, the Roman Emperor caused that it should be ploughed up as a field, thus literally fulfilling the words of the Prophet and the words of the Savior. This woe and destruction was predicted and overtook that people, and they were eventually scattered, because of their wickedness, and because of the corruptions of their princes, judges and rulers. But it shall come to pass in the last days, saith the Lord through Micah, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the tops of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and people shall flow unto it. Here is a promise around which the house of Israel may cling, and to which they may fasten their faith, for God will not forever hide his face from his people; but he will make choice of a place or places named, and there he will build his house, and people from all nations will flow unto it.

This mountain of the Lord’s house, which is to be established in the tops of the mountains, seems to be, in the mind of the Prophet, located in a different place from the former house, which was located upon that hill in Jerusalem. This, in the latter days, the Prophet says, “shall be in the tops of the mountains.” Mark the expression, not on the top of a mountain, nor in the tops of the highest mountain, but in the “tops of the mountains”—the plural number is used; in other words, in the midst of the high places of the earth. Not on the borders of the seashore, for the only reason that we speak of mountains on the surface of the earth is because of their elevation above the general level of the ocean.

The mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the tops of the mountains in the last days, and people from all nations shall flow unto it. And wherefore? What will be their object and purpose in fleeing from all nations? They will say—“Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways and we will walk in his paths, for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” Here we learn the object of the people in fleeing from all nations to the mountain of the Lord’s house: it is that they may learn of his ways and walk in his paths. “The Lord shall judge among many people,” says Micah, “and rebuke strong nations afar off, and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. I will assemble her that halteth, gather her that is driven out, her that I have afflicted, even the chosen seed of Abraham, the house of Israel that has been scattered and peeled and driven. I will gather her that was scattered, and her that was cast afar off I will make a strong nation, and the Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion, from henceforth, even forever.”

Isaiah has used nearly the same language in the second chapter of his prophecies. Ezekiel, in the 37th chapter has used similar language, predicting the time of the restoration of the house of Israel and the gathering together of the people of God, and that the Lord shall reign over them and that a reign of peace shall be established on the earth.

That this and other prophecies of a similar character remain yet to be fulfilled, must appear evident to every reflecting mind, for since these prophecies were delivered there has never been a time in which the nations have beaten their swords into ploughshares, their spears into pruninghooks, lived at perfect peace with each other, and walked in the ways of the Lord. But it has been predicted by the Prophets that such a period will arrive. The same thing was also foretold by the Savior, and by the angels who promised his second coming. Mark the object of the gathering—the nations shall say, “Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, for he will teach us of his ways and we will learn to walk in his paths.” How will this be brought about? Because the law shall go forth out of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. How can this be unless God shall begin to reveal himself to his people and minister in their midst as in ancient days, by his own voice, the voice of Prophets, the Spirit of revelation and the ministration of angels?

I am aware that many people of our time attempt to place some mystical and illusive construction upon the prophecies in the Bible, and there is a disposition to ignore the plain and obvious meaning of the declarations of the Prophets, and to give to them some private interpretation. But the Apostle Peter, in the first chapter of his second epistle, in writing to his brethren on this subject, says that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, but holy men of old spoke as they were moved upon by the Holy Ghost. In order that they might be able to understand these prophecies, the Apostle counseled his brethren to give heed unto them as unto a light shining in a dark place until the day dawn and the day star arose in their hearts.

It is true that the Prophets have told us of dreams and visions which they have had, and in some instances the Lord has explained or interpreted them, and as such we are to receive them. But where he has not deigned to give the interpretation we must wait until he does, for it does not belong to men to give their own private interpretation thereto. It is written, “Interpretations belong to God,” and where it has pleased him to interpret, it behooves us to accept it, and where it has not pleased him to do so it becomes us to wait until he does, and not attempt to obtrude upon mankind our private interpretation of what God has revealed. Where plain predictions are uttered, we are to receive them as we would the writings of any other author—according to the plain and obvious meaning of the language.

How then, I ask, can these prophecies be fulfilled, in the last days, except God shall again speak from heaven? Where shall the mountain of the Lord’s house be established in the tops of the mountains, except God shall make manifest where he will build his house and establish his Zion in the last days? How shall the law go forth of Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem in the last days, inducing people to flow unto it from all na tions, unless God shall speak again from heaven, as he did in ancient days?

As Latter-day Saints we accept the words of the ancient Prophets and believe that they will be fulfilled literally. Has Jerusalem become a heap of ruins literally? Were the seed of Abraham in bondage and oppressed by the Egyptians literally? Were they delivered and brought out of that land with a high hand and with great power literally? Did God bring them literally into the land of Canaan, which he promised to Abraham? Have they been broken up and scattered from that land literally? Did the Savior come, born of a virgin, as the Prophets predicted, literally? Did he suffer for our sins and endure all that the Prophets had spoken of him literally? Did his enemies cast lots for his vesture and divide his garments among themselves literally? Were “the shepherd smitten and the sheep scattered” when Jesus was crucified literally? Yes, in all these particulars, history records, with the greatest minutiae, the literal fulfillment of prophecy. Was the house of the Lord thrown down and the very foundation thereof ploughed as a field, literally? Yes, then what reason have we to expect other than a literal fulfillment of the next part of the same prophecy, which foretells the establishment of the Lord’s house in the tops of the mountains, the gathering of people from all nations thereunto, that the Lord will rebuke strong nations afar off, and that the nations will beat their swords into ploughshares, their spears into pruninghooks, that they will live at peace and learn war no more, and the Lord will reign over them, from henceforth, even forever?

Such a mighty revolution as is here indicated by the Prophet can never be effected upon the earth without the voice of God, without Prophets and Apostles, and the power of the Holy Ghost working mightily among the sons of men; and when that period arrives it will be the one referred to by the Prophet Joel, who says—“It shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and then your sons and your daughters shall prophesy; your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions, and upon my servants and handmaidens will I pour out my spirit in those days, saith God.” Thus will Moses realize the wish that he expressed at the time God took the spirit that was upon him and placed it upon the seventy Elders of Israel and they all began to prophesy. When two of these seventy who remained in the congregation felt the same spirit resting upon them and began to prophesy, Moses’ servant came running to him at the tabernacle and said—“Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp, my lord Moses, forbid them. And Moses said unto him, “Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them.”

Joel predicts the coming of a time when the Lord’s people will all become Prophets, even the servants and handmaids will receive the Spirit and they will prophesy. Jeremiah speaks of a similar time, but he uses a little different language. He says—“I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and then no one shall say unto his neighbor, Know ye the Lord, for all shall know him, from the least unto the greatest, and they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion.” Here the Prophet Jeremiah predicts, as does Micah, a time when the Lord shall bring again Zion, and says that when he brings again Zion they shall see eye to eye and they shall no more use the proverb that the fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge, but every man shall die for his own iniquity, and the teeth of him that eateth sour grapes shall be set on edge, and every man will have the opportunity of knowing the Lord, learning his ways, and walking in his paths.

Are we to understand by these sayings of Scripture, that God will pour out the Holy Ghost upon the ungodly, the workers of iniquity—murderers, sorcerers, whoremongers, adulterers, false swearers, deceivers and liars? I do not so understand the Prophets, the Savior and his Apostles. I understand in the language of the Apostle, that the Holy Ghost dwelleth not in unholy Temples; and that if his Spirit is poured out upon the people so generally, it will be because their hearts are prepared to receive it, because their ears have been opened to the word of God, and faith has been begotten in them. They have listened to the call of the Almighty, and have received the message of salvation sent unto them.

But shall all people be thus converted unto the Lord? Shall the king upon the throne, the judges who have judged for reward, the Prophets who have divined for money, the priests who have taught for hire, the murderer, the idolater, the abominable, those who have oppressed and ruled mankind with a rod of iron, who have said to the souls of men, “Bow down, that we may walk over you?” Shall all these be converted unto the Lord of hosts and receive of these blessings? Would to God that it were possible! But the Prophets have not so pre dicted. They and the Savior and the Apostles have all predicted that “he will punish the kings of the earth upon the earth, and the hosts of high ones that are on high, and they shall be gathered together into the pit.” They have predicted that judgments shall fall fast upon the ungodly who will not repent, and they shall be cut off and shall perish out of the land; and sore and terrible judgments shall come upon the nations who repent not, and who will not listen to the voice of God.

Malachi, in his last chapter, says, “But the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and the proud and they who do wickedly shall be stubble. The day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you who fear my name, saith the Lord, shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings, and ye shall go forth and grow up as calves of the stall, and shall tread down the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I do this, saith the Lord of hosts.”

Thus we learn, my friends, that the warning voice of God will go forth among the nations, and he will warn them by his servants; and by thunder, by lightning, by earthquake, by great hailstorms and by devouring fire; by the voice of judgment and by the voice of mercy; by the voice of angels and by the voice of his servants the Prophets; he will warn them by gathering out the righteous from among the wicked, and those who will not heed these warnings will be visited with sore judgments until the earth is swept as with the besom of destruction; and those who remain, in all the nations, tongues and kingdoms of the world, will heed the voice of warning and will accept the salvation sent unto them by the Lord through his servants. The law of the Lord will go forth to all such from Zion, and judges will go forth among them from Zion; and all who are willing will be taught the ways of the Lord, and they will be baptized for the remission of their sins and they will receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands of the servants of God. Great and glorious will be that day. The old men will dream dreams, the young men will see visions, and even the servants and handmaids will prophesy, and out of the mouths of babes and sucklings will the Lord perfect his praise.

We are not the only people who believe in these things, and look forward with anxious expectation for the glorious reign of righteousness and peace upon the earth. It has been the faith and the hope of all the righteous upon the earth, the theme of their prophecies and of the songs of the inspired songsters of Israel. It is the hope of these things, and the faith which is begotten in our hearts, that the Lord has set his hand a second time to recover the remnants of the house of Israel, and to fulfill the glorious things which he has foretold through the mouths of his Prophets, that has brought us together in these mountains. It was the faith and hope that induced the pioneers, twenty-six years ago, to face the savages and to penetrate through a trackless, howling desert. To make the roads through the mountains, to bridge the streams, and to endure all the perils of establishing the people of Zion in the Rocky Mountains, when there were no human beings but the untutored savage for a thousand miles or more from them, when it was a thousand miles on the west, a thousand on the north, a thousand to the south, and thirteen hundred to the east to the nearest settlement. It was this faith in the latter-day work, the assurance we had received that God had spoken from the heavens, which prompted us to this great work. It was because God had spoken from the heavens by his own voice to his servant Joseph Smith, by the voice of his Son, and by the voice of angels, calling his people to gather from the nations into the heart of the mountains, that we are here today. I can place my eyes upon many in this congregation, and I know of many more throughout this Territory, who heard these things from the mouth of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

When the pioneers left the confines of civilization, we were not seeking a country on the Pacific Coast, neither a country to the north or south; we were seeking a country which had been pointed out by the Prophet Joseph Smith in the midst of the Rocky Mountains, in the interior of the great North American continent. When the leader of that noble band of pioneers set out with his little company from the Missouri River, they went, as did Abram, when he left his father’s house—knowing not whither he went—only God had said, Go out from your father’s house unto a land which I will show you. That band of pioneers went out, not knowing whither they went, only they knew that God had commanded them to go into a land which he would show them. And whenever the Prophet Brigham Young, the leader of that band of pioneers, was asked the question—“Whither goest thou?” the only answer he could give was—“I will show you when we come to it.“ The prayers of that band of pioneers, offered up day and night, continually unto God, was to lead us, as he had promised, unto a land which, by the mouth of his servant Joseph, he had declared he would give us for an inheritance. Said the Prophet Brigham—“I have seen it, I have seen it, in vision, and when my natural eyes behold it, I shall know it.” They, therefore, like Abram of old, journeying by faith, knowing not whither they went, only they knew that God had called them to go out from among their brethren, who had hated, despised and persecuted them, and driven them from their possessions, and would not that they should dwell among them. And when they reached this land the Prophet Brigham said—“This is the place where I, in vision, saw the ark of the Lord resting; this is the place whereon we will plant the soles of our feet, and where the Lord will place his name amongst his people.” And he said to that band of pioneers—“Organize your exploring parties, one to go south, another north, and another to go to the west, and search out the land, in the length and the breadth thereof, learn the facilities for settlement, for grazing, water, timber, soil and climate, that we may be able to report to our brethren when we return;” and when the parties were organized, said he unto them—“You will find many excellent places for settlement. On every hand in these mountains are locations where the people of God may dwell, but when you return from the south, west and north to this place, you will say with me, ‘this is the place which the Lord has chosen for us to commence our settlements, and from this place we shall spread abroad and possess the land.’”

It is this faith which has brought the multitude who have followed to this land, year after year, from then until the present time. This is the work and the mission that is upon the Latter-day Saints. “Come out of Babylon, O my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, that ye receive not of her plagues. Gather yourselves into the midst of the mountains, where the Lord will establish his house and place his name, and teach you his ways, and where you will learn to walk in his paths.” We are not called to be of the world, to partake of the spirit and follow after the fashions of the world, the lusts of the eye and the pride of life. We are not called to set our hearts upon the world and the things thereof—upon the gold, upon the silver in the mountains, upon the precious things that are in the earth, the cattle upon a thousand hills, nor upon houses or lands, or aught else that pertains to the earth. We are called to set our hearts upon the living God, who has called us to be his people, and to worship him with full purpose of heart. If he gives us houses and lands, goods and chattels, gold and silver and the precious things of the earth, receive them with thanksgiving, and hallow and sanctify them and dedicate and consecrate them to the building up of Zion, the house of our God, the gathering together of his Saints, the preaching of his Gospel to the ends of the earth, and the accomplishment of the great work, whereunto God has called us in the latter days.

Blessed are all those who remember the high calling of God whereunto they are called. Blessed are those who seek to learn the ways of the Lord and walk in his paths. Blessed are those who seek to magnify the high calling of God which is upon them as Elders of Israel, to bear witness of the truth, and exemplify it in their lives and conduct; who deal justly, love mercy, walk humbly before their God, visit the fatherless and the widow in their affliction, and keep themselves unspotted from the world. Blessed are all such of the sons and daughters of Zion, for they shall prosper and their children after them. They shall become saviors upon Mount Zion, and they shall be found worthy to stand when he appears, and their names and their generations after them shall be had in honorable remembrance in the Temples of the Lord our God. But woe unto the hypocrites in Zion, and to the proud and haughty, and those who love the world, set their hearts upon it, and worship houses and lands, gold and silver, goods and chattels and the things of this world! Woe unto those who refuse to tithe themselves and thus to sanctify unto the Lord this land, which he has given them for an inheritance! Woe unto those who pollute the land of Zion by their whoredoms, murders, thefts and working of iniquity, who refuse to consecrate of their substance unto the God of the whole earth, and to render to him the tenth which he requires as the interest of their stewardship!

May the peace of God rest upon the righteous! May the ignorant come to understanding! May the foolish learn wisdom! May the power of God rest upon those who have assumed the high callings of ministers and judges in Israel! May grace abound unto all the Israel of God, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Zion—The Duty of Its Citizens—Testimony

Discourse by Elder Erastus Snow, delivered in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, October 7, 1872.

God has said that Zion shall be as a city set upon a hill, whose light cannot be hid. We are called to be the children of Zion. The Lord has declared that Zion consists of the pure in heart. He has said, further, that the nations of the earth have corrupted their way before him, and, referring to Babylon, his command to his Saints is—“Come out of her, O my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, that ye receive not of her plagues.” The Bible is full of prophecies delivered by the Prophets and Patriarchs, and by the Savior and his Apostles, concerning the day and age in which we live. The end draweth nigh and the time approacheth speedily when the Lord will make a full end of all nations who fight against Zion, who reject his law and harden their hearts against him, his precepts and his government. It is our high privilege to bear this testimony, and the testimony we have to bear unto the people of the 19th century is but a renewal of that which was borne by Prophets and Saints in days past and gone. They spoke of the time in which we live by the spirit of prophecy and revelation, which was like one looking through a glass darkly, yet it is our privilege to behold with our eyes and to hear with our ears those things which Prophets and Patriarchs long desired to see, but died without the sight. The duty especially enjoined upon us today is to awake to righteousness, and consider the calling wherewith God has called us. We should consider that God has separated us by the preaching of his word and by the testimony of Jesus; and has called us to be a distinct people, distinct in this particular, that we separate ourselves from sin and wickedness, and, as far as possible, from the company of sinners and from all those customs and habits that tend to darken, degrade and abase the human mind, and cultivate those which will sanctify the affections, purify the heart and ennoble the whole being of man, and fit us, as far as in us lies, to regenerate ourselves and our race. In short, God desires, and has put forth his hand, to exalt his people from their low degree, and to lift them up and make of them a peculiar people, a holy nation, a kingdom of Priests unto the Most High God and the Lamb.

In all this, is there anything that can hurt, destroy or injure, in any wise, any portion of our fellow men who do not feel disposed to join us in this glorious work, or engage with us in this noble enterprise? Not at all. The salvation of God is revealed for the good of all men who will receive it. The Gospel is offered without money and without price to all flesh, and the testimony that we bear to the world is that Jesus died for all, and that through the shedding of his blood, salvation may come unto all men who will believe and yield obedience unto the requirements of his Gospel. The government which is inaugurated and established among men by the preaching of the Gospel, and the administration of its holy ordinances, is a government of peace, love and goodwill to men, prompting those who receive it to do good unto all, but especially unto the household of faith.

The duties which are enjoined upon us are, first, to our own household—the household of God, those who have been baptized into Christ by being born again of the water and of the Spirit, and become the children of God by adoption. Next, to all men who have not thus been translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son; and that love which is wrought in the Saints of God by the fire of the Holy Ghost through faith in and obedience to the Gospel, prompts all who are brought under its influence to yield obedience to its requirements and to labor for the well-being of every creature that bears the form of God.

There is nothing in the constitution of the Gospel, or the organization of the Church of Christ and the kingdom of God among men, and the precepts that are taught of God and his servants, that would in the least degree inflict injury or withhold blessings from any member of the family of man, inasmuch as they place themselves in a condition to receive them, and are willing to accept them. But God has ordained certain everlasting principles of truth by which his people may be exalted, and without which they cannot be exalted into his presence and to the enjoyment of his glory. All things are governed by law, and all good and wholesome laws, which are ordained and enacted by men, designed for the peace, prosperity and well-being of their fellow creatures, should be respected, maintained and honored by all people, and this is one of the duties enjoined upon all Saints in all the commandments and revelations of God to his people.

It is, further, the duty of all who are entrusted with the administration of law, in any department whatever, to act in good faith, in all purity and integrity, and in good conscience for the well-being and happiness of their fellow creatures in the administration of justice, truth and judgment; and it should be the aim of all lawmakers to consult the best interests of the people from whom they derive authority, or in whose behalf they are called to act. It is the duty of Latter-day Saints, and of all good people to honor all laws and regulations that are ordered for the freedom of all flesh. And if there are people who do not feel disposed to, or who cannot receive the testimony of the Lord Jesus, they are left with as much freedom to enjoy the rights and privileges which are accorded to them, as the children of God on the earth, as though they did believe, taking and suffering the consequences of their own unbelief, which consequence will be a failure to attain to the blessings which are revealed, and which God deigns to bestow upon the obedient and faithful.

The word of the Lord unto all flesh is, “Come unto me, all ye ends of the earth, and be ye saved. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” If any doubt the yoke of Christ being easy and his burden being light, let them try the experiment, and demonstrate for themselves. If there are any either, within or without the Church of Christ, who feel his yoke to be heavy and galling, and his burden not to be easy, I can inform them that they have not taken upon themselves the yoke of Christ, they are not bearing his burden, for they are not meek and lowly of heart, they have not learned their lessons correctly—how to govern and control their own spirits by the principles and spirit of the everlasting Gospel. There is nothing in its nature that is oppressive, galling or hard to bear. In saying this I give the experience of my life, for it has been devoted from my childhood to the contempla tion of these glorious truths, with an earnest endeavor to apply them practically unto myself, and I have demonstrated them, and I speak that which I know and have experienced, and most assuredly believe and testify of them. And many there are who believe this testimony and are able to corroborate it; and those who are not, and have not experienced it in their lives have the privilege of doing so.

It is our duty to sanctify the Lord in this land that he has given us for an inheritance, by observing, not only the law of tithing, which is one means which he has given us for that purpose, but by observing every precept that emanates from him, and living by every word that proceeds from his mouth, not forgetting the words of wisdom, which are designed to improve us in a physical point of view, to add strength to our bodies, lengthen our lives, to increase our powers of endurance, and to increase the strength, efficiency and power of the rising generation. Every institution which God has established in our midst—social, political and religious—is designed for our improvement, individually and collectively, as a people and as families, to prolong our lives and to increase our usefulness and our ability for good in the earth; and if we observe these principles and apply them diligently in our lives, praying earnestly with our families and in secret to the Lord for wisdom in doing so, our light will continue to shine, our strength to increase and our influence both at home and abroad, on the earth and in the heavens, before God, angels and good men, and the strength, union, faith, light and purity of the lives of the Latter-day Saints will be a terror to evildoers.

What can men do against the Lord, and against the people who fear him and are united in good works? What can the arm of flesh accomplish but its own discomfiture. The weapons of the people of God are not carnal, but they are mighty through faith. We war not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness in high places, and against corruption wherever it is found, reproving sin, folly, deception, dishonesty and wickedness of every kind. And if there are those who profess to be Saints, and who do not live the life of Saints, whose light is not shining, whose lamps are not trimmed and burning, whose lives and characters, precepts and examples do not correspond with the principles of the Gospel, this only testifies to the weakness of men and is nothing against the truth, the testimony of Jesus, or against the testimony of those who do live their religion and magnify their calling as Saints, and whose precepts and examples correspond. If some do not believe, will that make the truth of God of none effect or less valuable? And what if some do not make their lives correspond with their doctrines and precepts, it will but show more vividly and clearly the character of those who are clean and pure, and who do love the truth and delight to honor it.

I am a witness of the truth which God has revealed unto man pertaining to the fullness of the Gospel: that Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior of those who will receive him, and that he has laid the foundation for a more glorious and extended salvation than the majority of us are capable of conceiving and properly comprehending; and his work is onward in the earth, and it will continue onward and upward, until the nations of the earth shall be warned, and all people who will hear may hear and receive the Gospel, be numbered with his children, be gathered into his fold, become the children of Zion, and prepared for his coming, for at the appointed time, which he has foretold, and which time is in the bosom of the Father, the Son will surely come in the clouds of heaven and the holy Angels with him, to assume the reins of government on the earth, and to reign King of kings and Lord of lords. Then, all those who will not bow to his scepter, yield obedience to his rule, and accept of his government and of his dominion will be cut off. Then comes the time spoken of when every knee that remains shall bow, and every tongue confess, to the glory of God the Father, that Jesus is the Christ.

It is to lay the foundation of this work, and to prepare a people for this era that the Lord called his servant Joseph Smith, and revealed unto him the fullness of the Gospel in this, the 19th century. Elder Rich testified that he knew, by the revelations of God to himself, that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God. The question will arise in the minds of the unbelieving, How can this be? They marvel, like Nicodemus marveled when Jesus told him he must be born again. He wondered within himself how a man could be born again—how, when he was old, he could enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born. The marvel rises in the minds of many, How can a man know for himself that Joseph Smith was truly called to be a Prophet, seer and revelator to this generation? That God did reveal to him the fullness of the Gospel? That the Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the Gospel—the same that was taught and revealed by the Savior and his disciples, as recorded in the New Testament? How can a man know that Angels administered to him? That God opened the visions of heaven to the Prophet Joseph Smith? I answer, They may know it precisely as the Apostle Peter knew that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. It is in this manner that Elder Rich knows that Joseph Smith was a Prophet; it is in this manner that I know he was a Prophet and a servant of God raised up to commence this work in the earth, and to lay the foundation of the Church and kingdom of God on the earth. When Jesus asked Peter and the rest of the Apostles, “Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man am?” They answered, “Some think thou art Elias; others that thou art John the Baptist risen from the dead; others that thou art Jeremiah or one of the Prophets.” “But whom say ye that I am?” Peter answered—“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” “Blessed art thou Simon Barjonah, flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven; and verily I say unto thee, upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Not upon Peter, not his person, for he was flesh, and must pass away like the flower of the field. It was not on Peter, or his successors in office, as is taught by the Romish church. Then who and what was this rock Christ referred to? It was the rock of revelation, revelation from the living God. “On this rock,” said the Savior, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” And I repeat that I know the truth of the Gospel, as Peter knew that Jesus was the Christ, by revelation unto me from the Father who is in heaven, and I bear this testimony unto you.

I know that there are many, very many, whose testimony has been proclaimed in the ears of this generation, and is recorded in heaven. Their words are like the precious things that John saw in the vials that were before the throne of God, and their testimony will remain, and blessed are all those who receive it. Blessed be the Lord God who revealed these things unto Peter and unto his servant Joseph, and who has revealed it unto many more who have sought him with an earnest desire to know his ways! Blessed are those who fear him and keep his commandments!

May God help us to live as Saints, and let our light shine! May God seal the testimony of the Twelve upon the hearts of those who desire it, that they may come unto and walk in the light, be saved through the truth, and inherit exaltation with the sanctified, is my prayer, for Christ’s sake. Amen.

The Axe is Laid to the Root—Exhortation to Faithfulness

Remarks by Elder Erastus Snow, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, February 28, 1869.

I am requested to occupy a little time this afternoon prior to my departure for my field of labor in the South, and if I can have your faith and prayers, I will try to speak upon a few subjects. A certain very expressive passage of Scripture, contained in the New Testament, has been passing through my mind since I have been sitting here. I will repeat it—

“Now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees; therefore every tree which bringeth forth not good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire.”

This figure of the fruit tree, though spoken in reference to the followers of the Savior in his day, is equally as applicable to us as to those to whom it was addressed. There are many other sayings of the Savior of a similar character, applied to the people of God in reference to the diverse doctrines and teachings of men; also warning them against false prophets and those who might come to them in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly were ravening wolves. He said to his disciples, “By their fruits shall ye know them,” for every tree that bears good fruit is a good tree; but a corrupt tree did not bring forth good fruit.

Now this figure of the axe being laid at the root of the tree, and every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down and cast into the fire, being equally as applicable to God’s people in these days as to His people in the days in which it was spoken, is very impressive, and should be retained in every mind; every heart should reflect upon it, and everyone should inquire, “Am I a subject for the burning, or am I bearing good fruit?”

To answer these questions satisfactorily we must be instructed in the things of God, so that we may understand our duties and know what God requires of us, we must become acquainted with the Kingdom of Heaven and the fruits thereof.

The people of olden times, to whom this saying of the Savior was addressed, were a peculiar people: they and their fathers before them for many generations had claimed to be the people of God. To their forefathers God had sent His prophets, revealed His word, and he had made His covenant with them, and had blessed them with many blessings. Yet in the days of the Savior, as a nation, they had apostatized and had fallen from their high position; they had become divided into sects and parties, proud, covetous, self-righteous and very conceited; and the Savior pronounced many woes upon them. He illustrated their condition in a very noted parable concerning a certain vineyard, which the hus bandman rented or let out, and then took his journey into another country. At the proper season the lord of the vineyard sent his servant to receive his share of the fruit of the vineyard; but instead of the men who had leased the vineyard paying up frankly and faithfully what they had stipulated to pay, they refused to pay at all, and also cast the servant out of the vineyard. The lord of the vineyard then sent other servants to seek his share of the fruit of the vineyard, but they were treated in like manner, some of them being beaten, whipped, cast out and slain. Last of all the lord of the vineyard said, “I will send my son; peradventure they will reverence him and have respect to their agreement, and render to him the fruits of the vineyard. But, when the son came, the husbandmen said among themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.” And they seized the son, cast him out and slew him. “Now,” said the Savior to the people to whom He addressed this parable, “what will be done unto these husbandmen? They answered, “He will miserably destroy those wicked husbandmen, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, who shall render him the fruits in their seasons.” Said the Savior in effect, “This is a very righteous judgment; even so shall it be done unto you. I blessed your fathers and established my covenant with them; sent my prophets and revealed my word unto you, their children, and have called upon you all the day long, but you have not brought forth the fruits of the kingdom; you have rejected and slain my prophets, and lastly, you have rejected the Son, therefore I say unto you, the kingdom shall be rent from your hands, and given to another people, who will bring forth the fruits thereof.”

Such was the fate of the Jewish people, because they rejected the prophets who were sent unto them, and, last of all, the Savior. The Savior revealed himself first to that people, and first established his church in their midst. He sent his disciples to preach, not to the Gentiles, but to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” They were commanded to confine their labors to these; but they to whom he first sent his disciples did not, as a general thing, listen or obey the message they delivered to them. There were a goodly number who believed and were baptized, and from their midst the priesthood with the Gospel and its ordinances were carried to the Gentile nations, and the Jews, as a nation, were given over to unbelief and hardness of heart, their government destroyed, their towns, cities, and provinces absorbed by surrounding nations, their devoted capital city laid in ruins, and of their beautiful temple not one stone was left on another. So complete was the ruin of their chief city that, subsequently, the very ground upon which it stood was broken up and ploughed like a field.

The apostles and servants of God who were called to be witnesses of Jesus went abroad to the surrounding nations, and everywhere baptized and built up churches, grafting the Gentile nations into the “tame olive tree.” Israel was likened by one of the ancient prophets to a tame olive tree and the Gentile nations to a wild olive tree. It is said by the Apostle Paul that the branches of the tame olive tree were cut off because they were barren and unfruitful, and that the branches of the wild olive tree were grafted into the mother stock and brought forth good fruit. So it was in the preaching of the Gospel; the Gentiles accepted with greater freedom and gladness the testimony of the disciples of Christ. It is not my purpose to enlarge upon the cause why the Jewish race continued to persecute and hedge up the way of the disciples and followers of Christ. Through the mercy of God our Father, salvation came unto many Gentile nations, because they believed the testimony of Jesus proclaimed to them by his disciples; and they were baptized into Christ, and became the seed of Abraham by adoption, while the lineal descendants of Abraham were rejected of God because of their unbelief. They did not bring forth the fruits of the kingdom of God, therefore the kingdom was taken from them and given to another people according as Jesus had predicted.

Now, why was all this? Was it simply because of the sins of their rulers and chief priests, or was it because of the general corruption, unbelief, and wickedness of the whole people? I answer, it was not only the wickedness of their rulers and the corruption and hypocrisy of their priests, but of the whole people, priests and rulers included. In the language of one of the prophets, their teachers taught for hire; their judges judged for reward; their prophets divined for money, and “my people love to have it so, and what shall be the end thereof?” The people had lifted themselves up in pride; they loved gold and silver and precious things, and set up gods whom they might adore. If they did not actually set up graven images and gods of wood and stone, they set up teachers and priests like unto themselves. Their judges and priests took bribes, and their public servants could be bought with money. They sought honor one of another and sought not honor which comes from God alone. In short they lived for the present life only, and did not know how to enjoy it properly, for the fruit of evil doings is always evil, though it ofttimes appears tempting and alluring to the inexperienced and thoughtless, and its fruits may be sweet in the mouth, but in the belly they are invariably bitter. The fruits of righteousness are joy, peace, and contentment in this life, and life hereafter; while the fruits of unrighteousness are misery, grief, sorrow, and death. There is nothing more certain than the saying in Scripture “that the wages of sin is death.” That is as true today as it was in the day when it was spoken. No man or woman can do a wrong thing, whether ignorantly or with the intent to do wrong, without sooner or later reaping the bitter fruits of that wrongdoing. It is true that the mercy and loving kindness of God our Father comes to the aid of all who sin ignorantly, and lightens their punishment because they sinned ignorantly, and as soon as they were enlightened they turned away and repented before the Lord in sorrow. It is written that he who knoweth his master’s will and doeth it not shall be beaten with many stripes; but he who sins ignorantly, though he may do things worthy of many stripes, shall be beaten with few if he forsakes his evil course when he understands it, inasmuch as his spirit is not defiled thereby. He who consents to and approves of a wrong in his heart, or becomes the aider and abettor of those who do wrong, though he may not be the personal doer of that wrong, may be more culpable and more deserving of punishment than the one who is actually guilty, for the latter, ignorant of the conse quences, may be influenced by the former, who knows the results and effects of the wrong done. In such a case the prompter of the evil would be punished far more severely than he who actually committed it. It is a consolation to the righteous to know that God judges not by the sight of the eye, but by the secret thoughts and intents of the heart. The final judgment of the human race is deferred to their next estate, that God may judge the spirit according to the deeds done in the body, His judgment not being passed upon the body, but upon the spirit, the body having paid the penalty of its own faults and errors by death. The spirit is held responsible for the acts done in the body. No spirit can plead, before the bar of Jehovah, the weakness of the flesh as a justification of sin; the latter may be urged in palliation, but not in justification. Our Father is full of mercy, but he cannot look upon sin in any individual with the least degree of allowance; but every spirit must be held responsible, and will have to answer at the bar of God, and will there receive a just and righteous judgment for the deeds done in the body.

But it will be found, in the language of Paul, that some men’s sins have gone to judgment beforehand; others will follow after. In other words, some men will have their accounts balanced and settled in time, before the time for the final reckoning arrives, and when that time comes they will have enough on the credit side of their account to balance the debtor side, and they will stand square, free, and accepted; while these whose sins follow them to judgment will have a long list of accounts unadjusted and a heavy balance against them, with nothing to set off against it.

What class of beings are they who are so highly favored as to have their sins go to judgment before them? Why, they are they who have repented of their sins, and have ever kept the law of God, and not been anxious to run in debt again. There are many people who, in both spiritual and temporal things, as long as they can have an open book account, are ready to run up bills. But prudent, wise, and careful men and women like to have short reckonings and to know pretty often how they stand and to keep their accounts square. They never lay themselves down to rest, or rise in the morning, without communing with their God and learning the position they occupy in His sight. In our communings with our Father it is our privilege to learn this lesson, and it is one that every Saint should learn. If we live continually so as to enjoy the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God, it will hold the mirror before our eyes, and enable us to understand our positions before God as plainly as we behold our natural faces in the glass; and if we have been heedless or negligent in the performance of our duties, it will be presented to our minds, and we will learn our faults, and if we sincerely repent, the whisperings of the Holy Spirit will prompt us as to the course we should take to make things right. If you have slandered, given place to envy or jealousy, or have indulged in backbiting, evil speaking, faultfinding, criticizing, or have used an evil influence concerning your brother or sister, the Spirit will say to you, “Go and make that right, ask your friends who have suffered by your folly to be merciful to you and to let your fault be buried.” You will thus pour in the oil, and, as far as in you lies, heal the wound you have inflicted. And when you have thus obtained your brother’s forgiveness you can look up to your Father in Heaven and with confidence ask for His forgiveness.

No individual can wrong another without that wrong being thrown back upon himself. This is just as sure as that your face is reflected in a camera when the light shines upon it. You go into a photographic gallery to have your likeness taken; you sit down opposite the camera, and the effect of the light upon the instrument is to make it reflect an exact likeness of yourself. It is precisely similar with every evil action—they exemplify the truth of the well-known maxim that, “curses come home to roost.” This is universally true. No person can, with impunity, put his fingers in the fire; neither can any person violate the laws of life and health without suffering pain and sickness in consequence. Though the Lord is long-suffering and full of loving kindness, the penalties attending the violations of His laws are sure to overtake the offender sooner or later, and foolish is the man or woman who fosters the delusive hope that it will be otherwise.

The foundation and the seeds of dissolution and death are sown in our tabernacles. The passions of human nature work, ultimately, the overthrow and dissolution of our bodies; and this is no more true than that the spirit, in like manner, works out its own dissolution, that is, whosoever suffers the second death, which is a spiritual death, suffers that death as the legitimate fruit of his evil doings as certainly and as naturally as the body suffers death through the violation of the laws of its own organization. Whether we violate the laws of our organizations ignorantly or otherwise, the results are the same. The child who runs innocently into the fire, ignorant of its power to injure him, is burned just as quick as the grown person who does. You overload the stomach of a child who knows not the capacity of his system, and he suffers the consequence just the same as if he had understood all about it.

The purpose of the Gospel of Christ is to enlighten the mind upon all these subjects, and inasmuch as we are willing to receive instruction we, through it, may learn how to prolong our physical existence here, and how to secure everlasting life in the world to come, or in other words, to enter upon our third estate, which will be glorious and immortal; and in which they who are privileged to enter upon it will be prepared to exercise the highest functions of their existence and to enlarge, increase, and extend forever, until, like Abraham of old, to their increase there shall be no end, and when the stars of the firmament or the sands of the seashore shall be less numerous than their creations. Incomprehensible as this may be to our finite minds, it is a faint view of the glories of the third estate. If we would secure a right to such inestimable blessings, it must be by obedience to the laws of life which God has revealed to us. If we sin willfully, after having been enlightened as to the consequences of our sin, there remains, says the Apostle Paul, no more sacrifice for sin, but “a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” But if we err in ignorance, and, after having been instructed, we repent of our sins, there is a door of mercy opened for us, and we shall be beaten with few stripes. Such persons, when they have wronged a brother or sister in ignorance, will, upon being convinced of it, go straightway and rectify that wrong. If they have oppressed the hireling in his wages, when they become convinced of the fact, they have gone straight way and made it right, paying him fourfold if necessary. After pursuing such a course the Father forgives them. He says if we do not forgive one another, neither will He forgive us. This principle is laid down in the Scriptures in that beautiful and simple prayer which Jesus taught to his disciples—a specimen of honest, childlike brevity and simplicity. In another place the Savior says, “Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” If thy brother is not convinced of his wrongdoing, do not be discouraged at the failure to convince him; but try again. Get some brother, who is filled with faith, love, and charity, to go with you to use his influence with him, and if you do not succeed in melting the icicle from your brother’s heart, your friend will, at least, be your witness before the Lord that you have fulfilled your part; and your unforgiving brother, will be held accountable. Our account is then settled, inasmuch as we obey the ordinances of the House of God—the conditions upon which the children of men may find favor with God. If we have wronged our brother, stolen his property, swindled him out of it unrighteously, or obtained it without having the means to pay him for it, we should repent and make restitution, even if we have to become his servant until he is satisfied, then our Father, who is the judge between us, will “say it is enough.” The same principle will hold good with regard to any other evil. If we, through covetousness for filthy lucre, have oppressed the hireling, or have neglected to relieve the wants of the sick and destitute, the Lord’s poor will rise up in judgment against us. They will say, “I was naked, and ye clothed me not; I was sick and in prison, and ye visited me not.” And Jesus himself will be the accuser of such. He has said that he will place such persons at his left hand among the goats, and will say unto them, “Depart from me, I know you not.” Many of them may expostulate and inquire, “Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?” But Jesus will answer, “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not unto me.”

There were some anciently who seemed to obtain light enough to appreciate these sentiments, and who, in accordance with the counsels of the Savior, forsook their evil ways and sought to make friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, and by doing good with their ill-gotten gains, they, in some measure repaired the wrongs they had done. These good deeds will stand on the credit side of their accounts.

There is in the human breast a constant tendency to the allurements of this life. The wants of the present are ever forcing themselves upon our attention; while that which is in the future we are apt to put off till another day. The cravings of the stomach must be looked after today; these shivering limbs we must clothe today before another storm. Says one, “I must erect this house over the heads of my wives and children before next winter.” And thus the wants of the present constantly impel us to action, while things pertaining to eternity are neglected, forgotten, or laid over till a more convenient opportunity. This procrastination—“the thief of time”—we should guard against; and whenever we detect ourselves with an inclination to neglect our duties to God or each other, and think only of self, we should instantly check the uprising of this passion, and should never fail, when we have it in our power and the opportunity presents itself, to administer to the wants of the poor and needy; or, what is still better, devise ways and means which will enable them to administer to their own necessities. The latter is always preferable. Those who are the Lord’s poor always prefer to provide for their own necessities than to be dependent upon others. They who are able to provide for themselves, but would rather have others bear the burdens of life for them, are not the Lord’s poor, they are the devil’s poor. They covet their neighbor’s property—his food, house, horse and carriage, and peradventure his wife. They desire that which he possesses, without going to and earning them as he has done. It is not he who is most successful in gathering around him the goods of this life, who is always the most covetous.

I refer to these things, which have been so often spoken, by way of reminding us of that which is written, and to which the spirit of the Lord continually urges attention. Let us then, my brethren and sisters, beware of pride, lest we become like the Nephites of old. It seems from reading their history that a very few years sufficed for them to rise from a state of humility, enjoying the favor of God, to one of haughtiness and pride. There is a continual tendency to this state of feeling in the human mind. In the days of our humility we feel after God; but when prosperity comes, too many of us are apt to forget Him, and to feel that all our wants are supplied. A sister says, “I have a good husband, who prays for me and my children, and provides for our wants; he is a guide sufficient for me.” She forgets to pray for herself, or for husband and children. Is she saved because of her believing and faithful husband? It is true that his prayers, good works, and the good spirit continually with him, are blessings thrown around her to aid her in her onward path to glory and exaltation; but unless she herself improves these favorable circumstances she, in the end, will sink while he rises. On the other hand, a sister who is faithful to her God, her covenants, her husband, children, and friends, who ceases not to call upon the name of the Lord though her husband may neglect to pray with his family, and to magnify his calling as a man of God, the day will come when he will sink, while she will rise and be given to a faithful man. So with children who, beholding the evil deeds of father and mother, follow the good counsels of friends who feel after them, and call upon God continually and do His will, while father and mother perish out of their sight forever and ever; God will exalt them and may give them to good men and women who, perhaps, were never blessed with children.

Those who plant good seed will surely eat the fruit thereof; while those who neglect to cultivate good seed will surely go down to perdition; for, in the language of the Scripture I first repeated, “Every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire.”

May God Almighty bless us, and help us to remember these things, and to live them as Saints of God should, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

The Gathering—Practical Duties—Emigration of the Poor—Mission to St. Joseph

Discourse by Elder Erastus Snow, delivered in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, April 8th, 1868.

Thirty-eight years ago the Prophet Joseph Smith, in a little upper room in Father Whitmer’s house, Fayette, Seneca County, New York State, gathered six men together by commandment of God, and proceeded to organize the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Perhaps this was the smallest number with which a church was ever organized. But the Savior compared the Kingdom of Heaven to a mustard seed, which, He said, is the least of all seeds, but which, when grown, becomes greater than all herbs, so that the fowls of the air can lodge in its branches. From this small beginning the Latter-day Saints have become a great people. That which has brought this about, specially, has been the fulfilling of the commandments of God, given through Joseph and the ancient prophets, in reference to the gathering of His people from Babylon in the latter days. One reason assigned by the Lord for the gathering of His people is set forth in the revelations of St. John, where He says, “Come out of her O, my people that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” This, in a few words, explains the chief reason for the Lord requiring His people to gather together. But the prophets Isaiah and Micah assign another good reason—they predict that the mountain of the Lord’s house in the last days shall be established in the tops of the mountains, and the nations shall flow unto it, saying. “Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob, for He will teach us of His ways, that we may learn to walk in his paths.”

These two scriptures show unto us that the Lord has required His people to gather in the last days, that they might escape the sins of the wicked, and the plagues which shall be poured out upon them, and that they might be taught in His paths, taught to govern themselves, to correct their foolish habits and customs, and to train themselves and their offspring that they may be able to build up Zion according to the law and order of Heaven.

We have already made a commendable advance in this direction. I rejoice in moving to and fro among this people to see the spirit of improvement manifested by them in both temporal and spiritual things, and the increase of unity in their midst. Yet there is still room for further improvement in all these matters. There is one principle which fathers and mothers, and the Elders of Israel generally, should understand and teach to their children, that is, what trials and tribulations this people have passed through to establish themselves in this, their mountain home; and that these things have been borne for the Kingdom of Hea ven’s sake and not for filthy lucre’s sake. Had it been gold or silver or worldly comfort we had followed after, we should not have gathered together; but should have been scattered through this wicked world. We left these worldly considerations when we embraced the gospel and emigrated to this country. Yet our common foe is on the alert to neutralize our efforts and to draw away our young men, and many of the middle aged who have forgotten the testimony of Jesus and have ceased to realize that this is the work of God, and when they hear reports of the discovery of gold or silver, or think they see a chance to make money by digging for gold or by freighting, they launch forth and strike hands with unbelievers, engage in their enterprises, and neglect the good work of God. This ought not to be. Our young men are heirs to the priesthood and of all the blessings of the new and everlasting covenant, and they ought not to employ themselves in building up the kingdom of darkness or spending their strength with unbelievers. But I suppose it is all right to have these temptations spread before us, in order that the people may be proven more effectually. It is important that our young men, and all Israel who do not thoroughly understand these principles, should be taught, so that the love of the gospel may be uppermost in their hearts.

I am persuaded that the Lord is perfectly willing that His people should possess every good thing the earth will afford, orchards, gardens, vineyards, houses, carriages and every other good thing, to be enjoyed with thanksgiving and used with prudence and judgment. I am aware that the hosts of hell have sought to control the wealth of the world, and Lucifer has ever sought to allure the righteous, as he did the Savior when he offered Him the kingdoms and wealth of the world if He would only fall down and worship him. It becomes the Elders of Israel, young, middle-aged or old, to imitate the example of the Savior, in saying, “Get thee behind me Satan.” As to the riches of the world they belong to the Lord, and He gives them to whom He will. If we are determined to devote our lives to the kingdom of Heaven, and not to this world, we shall in due time inherit all that is good for us to inherit; and unless we realize the objects of our existence, and learn to govern and control our spirits so as to devote ourselves and our energies and all the means given to us to build up Zion, then the good things of this life would be wasted upon us comparatively.

During the progress of this Conference there have been various means of industry and enterprise spoken of and presented for the consideration of the people, such as the producing of wool, flax, hemp, cotton and silk, and the introduction of machinery for the manufacture of the raw material into the various fabrics necessary for the use of the people in cold and warm weather. The subject of developing the mineral resources of our Territory is one of great importance. Iron, copper, coal, lead, zinc, and tin abound in our mountain home, and the development of these minerals is of far more importance to the welfare and prosperity of a nation, than the development of mines containing the precious metals; for the latter are limited in their use, while the grossest metals are those that, in their uses, enter into all the ramifications of life. The discovering and opening of gold and silver mines tempt the cupidity of the blind worshippers of mammon, and spread corruption among the people. The prayers of every good man and woman should ascend to God, that in Zion these precious metals may be covered up and concealed until it is His good pleasure for His Saints to possess the kingdom, so that they may be governed and controlled by the righteous instead of the wicked.

There is much neglect in some of the distant settlements on the part of our foreign brethren, with regard to taking out their naturalization papers. The word “white” is stricken from the Constitution of Deseret, and when the citizens of African descent are admitted to the polls, the adopted sons of America who have come here to obtain homes for themselves and their posterity, should not be indifferent respecting the rights of citizenship and neglect to take the steps necessary to secure to themselves the full privileges pertaining thereto.

The emigration of the poor has commended itself to the hearts and feelings of the people, and I am sure that their liberal response to the calls made upon them last October will do much to commend them to the favor of Heaven, and to secure the blessing of the Lord upon the labor of their hands. Let us continue in this great work, and let every bishop and elder exert himself in his sphere, to encourage the people to send in their available means of every kind, that our President and those whom he calls to assist him may be able to carry out the glorious program that he has adopted for the gathering of the poor. Let the people in every ward be awake and alive to this subject, that neither provisions nor teams for the outfit may be lacking when the time comes to send for the poor. If the people find that their plans for freighting and other business are thwarted to some extent in doing this, they will in the end find themselves richer, for the Lord has given us abundant evidence in times past that He controls the avenues of wealth and prosperity to this people. And who need fear the locusts and grasshoppers? Have we not been tried in these things before? And if it is essential that we should be again, all right. I can say with David of old, “I have not seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread.” The Lord has said, “it is my business to provide for my Saints,” and if He does not do it we certainly cannot. We may plow, sow, and irrigate, but we cannot give the increase. And if the blade grows, it may wither or the locusts devour it; and if they do God directs them, for there is not a sparrow which is not fed by our Father in Heaven, neither does a hair of our heads fall to the ground without being numbered; neither is there a locust that is not cared for by Him who rules all things, and He can dispose of them as seems to Him good. He can move them east, west, north or south, and can destroy or multiply them at pleasure. And He can preserve our crops; but He certainly will not do it unless we adopt the measures He has ordained. We must plow and sow and plan and leave the event with Him. He will not forsake His people, and He will provide for the multitude that we may gather up.

We may exert ourselves to the utmost to gather the poor and send forth our teams to bring them to our homes and He will provide abundance for us to feed them and ourselves and the locusts that He sends among us. And when the locusts have eaten enough, He will bid them leave, providing we are not overanxious to transport our substance to feed the wicked and build up hell in our midst. If the Lord thinks that the locusts will be less offensive and do less harm than herders of the ungodly in our borders, I am contented to feed them, provided our people will cease feeding their enemies. I do not mean that we shall cease feeding the hungry, no matter whether he is Saint or sinner; but cease to feed and build up the wicked who will not labor with us to develop the resources of the country and help to build up Zion. God has called us to turn away from the folly of sustaining and building up Babylon—the worshippers of mammon—those who have no interest in common with us in establishing Zion and building up the Kingdom of our God upon the earth.

With regard to the aborigines of this continent, there are several prophecies in the Book of Mormon to the effect that they will one day become a pure people; but that will not take place until the fulness of the Gentiles has come. Then, according to the promise, the Spirit of the Lord will be poured out upon them and they will inherit the blessings promised. Until that time we expect they will be a scourge upon the people of Zion, as the Lamanites were a scourge to the Nephites of old. That which the Lord is pleased to use as a scourge today, He may use in days to come as a means of support and of strength. It becomes the Latter-day Saints as a people to cherish the principles of love and good will to all men, and especially the household of faith; and also to the natives, who are blind and ignorant pertaining to the principles of the gospel, and not to thirst for their blood, nor be very revengeful for every wrong that they, in their blindness, may commit; but to exercise generous forbearance. God will enable us to inflict such summary chastisement upon them as circumstances may require, when it is His good pleasure that they should be chastened. Or else He will take it in hand Himself, for He can easily destroy, by various diseases, those who are shedding the blood of the Saints. And this will be far more acceptable to Him than if it were done by us.

It certainly ought not to be specially gratifying to anyone to shed the blood of his fellows, whether red, black or white. I have seen that the Lord has taken care of the Lamanites as well as of the Latter-day Saints, and He requires that we should exercise our reasoning powers, and not throw ourselves heedlessly into positions where we are exposed to the wrath of the savages. Inexperienced men who are unacquainted with Indian habits and customs, and their mode of warfare, should never be trusted beyond the confines of our settlements with their wives and families, to commence operation on their own account. They thereby tempt the cupidity of the savages. Men of experience, energy, watchfulness—men with kind hearts and generous impulses, who can forgive an injury—are the men who should be selected on all occasions to lead out in the formation of new settlements on our frontiers; and they should be sustained by obedient and experienced men, who will help to control and take care of the people and keep them out of danger.

I have thought many a time that the Lord has suffered the natives in various places to drive in our outpost; just as a wise vine dresser will clip off the end of his vines that they may produce more fruit and make less wood. We are sometimes in the habit of scattering too far. Being over anxious to spread, we lay on more warp than we have filling for.

I would say a word in relation to the missionaries who went South last fall to the Muddy. Brother Joseph W. Young and myself left here on the second of March and visited the settlements between this place and St. Thomas on the Muddy. The bad condition of the roads and the limited amount of time at our command, having to return here to Conference, prevented us devoting that amount of time to the settlements that we wished to. But we found them generally in a prosperous condition; though in some places we were reminded of what we saw last winter in Salt Lake City, and of Israel of old when Moses went up into the mountain and they got Aaron to make them a calf. Still as a general thing we found the people prosperous.

I will say for the benefit of those who have sons and daughters and friends there, who have been reared in and about Salt Lake City and the older settlements, that it must not be expected that everything will run smooth with them, or that they will realize all their expectations. There are many here who assisted in establishing settlements in Salt Lake Valley, and who know the difficulties we had to encounter for the first two or three years; and there are others who have gone out and buffeted the difficulties of establishing settlements upon our borders north and south. The country on the Muddy affords facilities for extensive and prosperous settlements, but there is a lack of timber. They have done very well for fuel, as within about thirty miles of St. Thomas there are large groves of cedar and pinion pine, which will supply them with fuel for many years, and a good natural road to it, and springs of water in the grove. There is also considerable sawing timber in the mountains twenty miles east of St. Thomas; and a much larger body of excellent saw timber in the mountains west of St. Thomas about fifty or sixty miles. But in both these places portable steam mills are necessary, as there are springs of water in the timber, but no creeks sufficient for water mills. And until they are able to get mills to saw their lumber, they cannot make very much advance towards building. As to fencing, the only fences in that region of country are two stone corrals, one in each settlement for corralling the stock at night which is herded in the day. And I am fully satisfied that it is very much cheaper; and that they will make far greater progress in developing the country by adopting this system of herding their stock, than they would by attempting to fence their land. And I will say that in my visit to that country I have not, to the best of my recollection, seen one single animal preying on the crops in that section of country. I wish I could say as much for the best fenced sections of country in the other portions of our Territory.

Those who went down to St. Thomas last Fall seem comfortable, pleasant and happy. Everything around them exhibits an air of thrift and comfort. I cannot say quite as much for those located at St. Joseph. For many of those who went to that settlements heard of a country higher up stream, and they felt anxious to visit it; and instead of settling down at once and beginning to improve and make themselves a home, they waited in hope of finding a better country. By and by in the course of the Winter a man, who was responsible and ought to have taken a different course, led them out to the Upper Muddy, and when they were called back again to St. Joseph, they came feeling disappointed. The result was, their feelings were unsettled, and six weeks or two months of their labor may be said to have been thrown away; and yet not thrown away, for I trust the experience they have received, and the instruction which followed, have sealed lessons on their minds that they will not forget, and that will prove more valuable to them than any amount of means they would have earned by that two month’s labor. And I trust God will overrule it for their good.

They were much pleased and rejoiced to see us among them, and to hear our word; and were ready and willing to be told what to do, and to go with their might and do it; and I believe that since our visit among them they have settled down in their feelings and have gone to work in good earnest to make themselves homes. They have not Salt Lake market to go to, and they cannot procure all the little luxuries of life; and their food and manner of living will necessarily be somewhat crude and primitive, but wholesome and healthy. I scarcely know of a single instance of sickness among them. There were a few who, when they were migrating south last year during the months of November and December, and were exposed to severe storms, took cold and fever, but since their arrival in that country they have been healthy.

It is very natural for them, like children, to feel after home and father and mother, and the scenes of their youth. And it is very natural, too, for the sympathies of parents to be with their children. But let not this mistaken sympathy lead parents to give wrong counsel to their children to their hurt. It requires stout hearts to develop a new country like that; but perseverance, time and patience will accomplish it. There is plenty of bread—the staff of life—in the country, and no necessity for actual want among any of them. It is not now as it has been in St. George and on the Muddy, where there was no bread in the country and we had to come to Sanpete or to Salt Lake City to fetch it.

I would say to all who have been called and have not gone—for judging from the best information I have, not above half of those called are in the southern country—for the sake of your own future welfare and prosperity, respond to the calls that have been made upon you and strive to fill that mission with confidence, boldness and energy. Or if there are good and sufficient reasons why you should not do so, go to the President and make known your circumstances, that you may be released, that your consciences may not condemn you and that your God may not condemn you, and that your future usefulness may not be curtailed. Let no one flatter himself that he can pass along in obscurity, unnoticed, and neither magnify his calling, nor yet be discharged from it. It will linger around you, it will haunt you and will be like a canker worm gnawing at the root of your felicity. Take steps to be exonerated one way or the other, and God will bless you: Amen.

Life and Health—Matrimony—Education—Home Productions

Remarks by Elder Erastus Snow, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, October 8th, 1867.

I am persuaded that the subject last referred to by President Young—the prolongation of life and the preservation of health cannot be overrated. This is one of the subjects relating to our temporal welfare that received the early attention of the Prophet Joseph, and the revelation commonly called the Word of Wisdom has been before the people for over thirty years. I feel assured that a word on this subject kindly spoken by our President is a prompting from on high, and I believe that every true Elder in Israel will bear witness that this is the word of the Lord to us at this time. I exhort every Bishop and presiding Elder in this city as well as throughout the country to lay this matter to heart as one subject requiring their special attention. Not to make it a hobby to the exclusion of everything else, so as to disgust the people, but in the true spirit of the Gospel seek to bring this matter home to the hearts and understandings of the people of their respective wards and settlements. Feel after those who may be stupid and ignorant, who do not come to meeting, and do not receive the spirit of this Conference. Let the Bishops and others in authority endeavor through their teachers and otherwise to search out such individuals, and dig round about them, and prune them that they may perchance bring forth fruit.