Word of Wisdom—Happiness to Be Obtained Only Through Obedience

Remarks by Elder E. T. Benson, delivered in the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, April 7, 1867.

I do not know that I have ever seen a better time to preach the gospel than the present since I have been in the Church. I have not come to this Conference to preach, particularly, but to hear and to learn, yet, as I have the privilege given me to speak, I am very thankful to bear my testimony to the truth, as it has been revealed from the heavens. I have had many reflections since attending Conference, upon the text given to the Elders of Israel to preach from. It is before me all the time. It is a common custom with some to criticize the remarks made by the brethren while speaking. Some will think a speaker has been interesting, while others will consider that his remarks were well enough but without point. I am happy to say that the “point” is already made so far as I am concerned. It is “to be one” in everything that pertains to the building up of the Kingdom of God. And if we are to believe what we have heard during this Conference it is to be one in keeping the Word of Wisdom, and in living by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Almighty through His servants. It is true that we have heard this for years, and it will have to be sounded in our ears until we are one in Christ as He is one with the Father.

We have been taught during this Conference to dispense with everything in eating, drinking, and wearing that is not in accordance with the will of God; and I do not know what greater things could be taught to the Latter-day Saints. We all know that there are a great many things that we now eat, drink, and wear, with which we could dispense to our own advantage, but because one has a thing another must have it too, and there is no peace until all these wants are supplied.

Talking about happiness, I told a lady today at noon that we, generally, are very ignorant of it. We think that a good bonnet, hat, a fine coat, a good cup of tea, or a pipe of tobacco to smoke will make us happy, but it is a mistaken notion. God never ordained such things for that purpose. We can be happy only in keeping the commandments of God and in being wholly devoted to the things of His Kingdom. Some of our Elders think if they were sent on a mission it would make them happy, but I have been told that there is no better field for missionary labor than here in the mountains; and every man here, bearing the Priesthood, has got a mission to preach the gospel at home, where his labors are most needed, and where he can do the most good. At this Conference every presiding officer, Bishop, Elder, Priest, Teacher, Deacon, and member of the Church has got a text to preach from in his future ministrations; to bring this people to a oneness in all things is, henceforth, the object of our labors. We are already united on many points; for instance, we are one here today in partaking of the Sacrament in remembrance of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But there are other things that require our attention. We should be one in all our movements in sustaining ourselves.

This is a portion of the text that has been given to us, and I feel that much good will result from the counsel we have had on this subject, and I intend to lay hold of it with all my might. And let us all endeavor by the help of God to leave off our tea, coffee, liquor, and other things, that are neither good for the body nor for the belly. We can overcome, for God will not require more of us than we can do. He has borne with us these many years; but, if I can discern the signs of the times, He is now going to require these things at our hands. Supposing He had given the Word of Wisdom as a command, how many of us would have been here? I do not know; but He gave this without command or restraint, observing that it would be pleasing in His sight for His people to obey its precepts. Ought we not to try to please our Heavenly Father, and to please His servants who are paving the way for us into the Kingdom of God? Can we get there without them? No; we cannot, and we need not try. God had appointed these prophets and apostles to lead and guide us into His Kingdom, and I do not expect to get there without them, and I am not going to try. If I can get there with them I shall be very thankful. How many blessings have you received in this kingdom without them? I do not know of any. If we have blessings we have received them through their counsel and guidance.

I am thankful that we, today, have the privilege of beholding the faces of our brethren who have borne the burden and heat of the day, and who are still ready and willing to administer for our benefit. I think that we, above all people, ought to be willing to retrace our steps in a great many things, that we may obtain the blessings that we are seeking and not be cut short. I tell you the kingdom is rolling; and as for the nations of the earth, we need not be troubled about them, the Lord and the devil will take care of them. They are wasting away, and they will go to their own place, and Israel will be gathered out, and the faithful will be saved in the Kingdom of God. This is my testimony. You need not have any doubts or fears from this time forth; if you are faithful and live your religion you are safe, and you will land safe in the Kingdom of God. I have no dubiety on my mind with regard to these things, and it is my study to know how to live so that I may enjoy the Holy Ghost—the Spirit of this gospel; and it cheers and comforts my heart when I hear the Elders talking about the good things of the Kingdom of God.

I have come nearly a hundred miles through the mud and snow to visit and hear the voices of my brethren and to listen to their coun sels. Not but what we have some good folks where I live; at any rate, we have some good preachers among us occasionally. Only a few days ago we had brothers Musser and Stenhouse. They preached good things to us, and cheered and comforted our hearts. Some of the brethren remarked to me that “they preached splendidly, and really enjoyed the spirit of the gospel.” Said I, “Of course they did; they are from the fountain head—from the droppings of the sanctuary—and they possess the spirit of our President and Prophet and of the Apostles with whom they associate.” It is to be expected that men who come from the head here will have something new to tell to cheer the hearts of those who live isolated and far away. It proved to me, however, that we in Cache possess a little of the spirit enjoyed here, or we should not have received and been comforted by the teachings of our brethren. And we have come down to partake of the feeling and to share in the blessings of this great annual Conference, held by the Latter-day Saints in the tops of the mountains, in peace, and with none to molest or to make us afraid.

There is a little grumbling sometimes on the outside, a little showing me the teeth, but no biting, and no harm, done. The Saints are still living their religion—persevering, going ahead, striving to do the will of God, that they may eventually take the Kingdom; not the kingdoms of this world, for we do not want them. A great many men in the world are afraid that we are striving to take their kingdoms. We are not after the kingdoms of the world but it is the Kingdom of God—the Kingdom of life and peace—that the Latter-day Saints are after, and we expect to have it.

Short sermons are the order of the day, and I do not wish to occupy the time. I am thankful to my brethren for the opportunity of bearing testimony to the truth. I have all the preaching I can attend to when I am at home—which is, wherever I am called to labor. I feel free and easy in talking anywhere, where I am required so to do. I feel free in the spirit of the gospel and in the midst of my brethren. This is the place I like to visit, and I would spend all my time here if duty did not call me elsewhere. Here in the mountains is our field of labor, and nowhere else, unless we are sent. If we receive a mission to the various nations of the earth, let us go and do the best we can. Until then let us take a course to be one: one in dollars and cents, one in obtaining woollen factories and machinery, one in keeping the Word of Wisdom, and in everything else that will tend to bring about good results and increase good feelings in the minds of the Saints. Unless we keep the commands of God we cannot attain to this. It is no use for anybody to say—“I shall be happy if I can have everything to gratify my taste.” It is perfect nonsense, and the individual who entertains such a notion is deceiving himself. Nothing short of the bread of life, that comes down from God out of heaven, can supply the wants and satisfy the feelings of the Latter-day Saints and those who love truth.

May God bless us, brethren and sisters, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Exhortation to Home Manufacture

Remarks by Elder Ezra T. Benson, at the General Conference, Great Salt Lake City, Oct. 9, 1865.

I feel grateful for this opportunity of speaking a few words at this Conference, and for the blessings that have been conferred upon us during its session.

We have had a very interesting Conference, and there has been a great deal said which is of vital interest to the kingdom of God. We have come here to receive instruction for our further progress in prosecuting the purposes of God in the future, and for our present individual and mutual benefit. Can we carry the spirit of these instructions home with us, and diffuse it in our families, in our wards, and in the different settlements where we, as delegates to this Conference, reside? If we can do this, then the Saints in the different settlements who have not been at this Conference will be equally benefited with us.

Can we not only treasure up, but carry out, what we have heard this afternoon, and manufacture at home all we possibly can? Yes, we can do it; and we all feel that we can; and we now feel determined in our hearts to commence to do it when we go home from this Conference, that we may be benefited and enjoy the blessings that it is our privilege to enjoy. Who has made this request of us? The President and Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whom we have raised our hands to heaven to sustain. There is not an Elder in this vast assembly that would refuse to go to Europe, or to the islands of the sea, were he called to do so by this Conference. To refuse to respond to such a call would be a disgrace to him, and a sure token that he was weak in the faith, and if he possessed any influence among the Saints he would lose it. Now, it is the same Priesthood, the same power and authority, that has called upon us unitedly as a people, as parents, as children, as families and settlements, as the Saints of the Most High, to produce and make among ourselves that which we consume, to carry out to the best of our ability in all our settlements this very excellent counsel. It is a faithful attention to such instructions that will insure our salvation here, and our salvation in the celestial kingdom of God hereafter; for it is by means of the Holy Priesthood, and the keys and power of it, that we shall be led back into His presence.

The great object and purpose of the religion of Jesus Christ is to bring all the faithful back into the presence of their Father and God; for all who will abide a celestial law shall have a celestial glory, and a celestial glory is the highest glory that we have any knowledge of—it is where our Heavenly Father dwells; and no faithful Saint can ever feel satisfied short of reaching His presence and beholding His face. We are banished from our Father in Heaven in this low, sinful world; but we are not altogether lost, for He is feeling after us, and if we will listen to and obey the counsels of His servants, we shall be saved.

The brethren have spoken to us with great power during this Conference; I never have seen, in all my life, more power resting upon the Elders. I feel to bear my testimony to the truth of “Mormonism,” as the world call it, to the truths that the Prophet Joseph Smith has brought forth, and to the truth that President Brigham Young reveals to this people; these are the truths of heaven, and they will lead all who obey them to the possession of eternal life. Let us give diligent heed to these things. There is plenty for us to do if we are diligent in the things of the kingdom of God. How simple and plain are the principles of salvation! They pertain to us as mortals, and to this mortal world, and they show us that our heaven is here and will be of our own making, for we are of the earth, earthy; we came from the earth, and the meek will inherit it.

We have got to learn how to take care of ourselves, and to organize the elements around us for our own comfort, and cease going to New York, Boston, and other places for supplies. Let our young ladies take pride in wearing bonnets made of straw raised in the country, and braided with their own hands. In doing this they have the satisfaction of following the counsel of the servants of God, and of aiding a little in attaining our independence of foreign markets. Such a course as we have been advised to take at this Conference, with regard to home manufactures, will affect us for the better more sensibly in the future than in the present; but we are apt to think of the present and let the future take care of itself. When shall we be fully delivered from the corruptions of the world and from the influence of the false traditions which our fathers have taught us? The sooner we can overcome these, and follow faithfully and to the letter the instructions of the Holy Spirit, the better it will be for us as individuals and as a people.

May God bless you, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Practical Duties of the Saints—Blessings Resulting From Their Performance

Remarks by Elder Ezra T. Benson, made in the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, April 6, 1863.

I feel thankful for the opportunity of meeting in Conference, for I feel that thereby I may be posted and instructed in those principles that are necessary to qualify us in the building up of the kingdom. I need not say that we are a blessed people, for we all know it, and to some extent we realize it. At least I can say for one, or, in other words, I can speak for myself. So far as I am concerned, I can realize, and I fully believe more than ever since I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that God our Heavenly Father is with this people, and that his hand is over us to preserve us all the day long, and as Saints of the Most High we ought to be grateful to the Giver of all good for the many tokens of his beneficent care.

If we inquire after the welfare of the Latter-day Saints, we are told that all is peace and quietness. How did we come by these glorious principles of life and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost? Where did they emanate from? They came from God our Heavenly Father, by embracing the Gospel of Jesus Christ in faith and in sincerity. And our testimony to this effect has been felt from the rivers to the ends of the earth. And by carrying out these principles the Gospel has brought thousands into these valleys.

There is no necessity for the Work of the Lord to stop in its present condition and circumstances. Why so? Simply because the kingdom of God, as an organized body, is just like the introduction of the doctrine of plu rality of wives, it has got a first-rate good start, and I know that the Devil and all the emissaries from the infernal regions cannot stop it. The Devil don’t like it, but he cannot help himself, for the Work of God will roll on as long as there is an opposing power upon the earth, and then it will continue to spread after every species of opposition is banished from the earth.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been organized thirty-three years today, and according to the success and spread of the Gospel of the Son of God at the time when it was first presented to the human family, if we may judge comparatively, it will not take thirty-three years more to redeem Zion and to usher in that reign of righteousness and peace which we all anticipate and for which we all pray most devoutly.

In the days of Jesus there was just as much opposition as there is today; then the Work had but just commenced—it was in its infancy, and did not God our Heavenly Father bear off his kingdom then? He certainly maintained it till he saw that the Priesthood could no longer remain upon the earth. He did then and he bears it off today and will so continue until his kingdom triumphs and those who get under the wheel will be crushed to powder.

My testimony is, that this is the Work of God, that it emanated from the Father of light, and I know that it will roll forth and prosper until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ. I know that God is able to make the wrath of man praise him just the same now as he was in the days of the Prophets of old. Who can frustrate the Work of God? It is written, “The wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the under standing of the prudent shall be hid.” It is verily so in this age and generation, for we see the Elders of Israel going forth without purse and without scrip, preaching by the power of God the peaceable things of the kingdom to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and they confound the gainsayer and put to silence the faultfinder. Then, when I see the wisdom that is displayed through the ministers of this Church, I ask myself the question, Are we doing our duty as Saints? Because if we are not, it is time we were waking up to a sense of our obligations to the Almighty and to his cause.

I am fully satisfied that we are the happiest people upon the face of the earth, and it has been brought about by our union and by our faith in God; but have we been doing the best we could to live our religion according to the best light and knowledge we have possessed? If we have, we have within us the satisfaction of having done our duty.

Now, the order is to call a number of Missionaries to go to the European nations, and we are selecting our young men, the sons of the Apostles and Elders of Israel, so as to give them an experience in preaching the words of life, and that they may feel their dependence upon God our Heavenly Father. These young men going to gather the people home to Zion that they may enjoy the society of their brethren and friends here in the valleys of Ephraim, and participate in the blessings of that counsel that is so liberally imparted unto us by our leaders.

We have come here to build temples and tabernacles for the purpose of worshiping our God therein, and if we do not do these things we shall fall short of accomplishing that great Work that is laid upon us to perform. Then, I say, let us build temples, let us gather up our teams and send for the poor and thereby accomplish the Work that God has set on foot in this our day. Notwithstanding we are weak creatures, yet we can do something in the rolling forth of the kingdom of God. I wish a great many times that I could do a great deal better than I do, but, at any rate, I can say that I am trying with all my soul to combat the powers of darkness, and I intend to outgeneral the common adversary of our souls. Supposing we are united as the heart of one man, then what have we to do with the world? A great many think that we want to fight the world, but I tell you it is all nonsense, excepting so far as that spiritual warfare is concerned, in which we are all engaged more or less. Our enemies imagine that we want to wage war with them, but they are greatly mistaken, for we are only at war with their corruption, meanness, and degraded conduct. We are upward, and we have taken steps forward in the kingdom of God, advancing from one degree of light to another, and the world are mad about it, but we cannot help that, our business is to serve God and keep his commandments, and therefore we should endeavor to walk uprightly, remembering that the promise is, “I will not withhold any good thing from them that walk uprightly.”

Do we expect to realize a fulness of these blessings today. No, but we expect to realize some of them—a little today and a little more tomorrow, and thus go on from step to step and from grace to grace until we find ourselves safely landed back in the presence of our Father in heaven. As regards preaching to this people and gathering up the poor from other lands, I can truly say that I have never seen a time in my experience when there was such a willing spirit in Israel as there is at the present time. I can truly say that we have raised the fifty-three teams this year just as easy as we did the thirty last year, and there is quite a difference between thirty and fifty-three. And I feel that this people will be more blessed in their fields, in their teams, in all their stock and in their labor of every kind than they were last year. Did we miss our teams last year? We might miss them from our sight, but the Lord so abundantly blessed us that we scarcely ever heard them mentioned: everything moved on harmoniously during the entire season. The Lord blessed the seed that we put into the ground; he watered the earth from the heavens, and the Saints of God felt amply rewarded for their labors to help to build up the kingdom of God.

Though many may have felt a little fainthearted because of the war-cloud that has hung over us, but which has now burst without doing anybody any harm, yet I feel to say that if we go to war it will be in self-defense, but at present there is no danger of any serious trouble. We delight not in the shedding of blood, and my testimony before High Heaven, before this people and before the nations of the earth is, that we are for peace, and we intend to have it, if we have to fight for it. You know it may be possible that a man may have to fight for his religion. This may seem strange, but if a man has got wives, children, flocks, herds, and Priesthood and gifts from God, and would not fight for them, I would not give much for him. I say we will fight like the angels of heaven, and we will call upon our Father in the heavens, upon Jesus Christ, upon the Prophets and upon the Spirits of just men that have perfected themselves in the Gospel of the Son of God, and then by their help we will win every time, and the Devil knows it. Is this boasting? No, not one particle; but if we do boast we boast in our God, and in those liberal principles which our Father has revealed unto us.

Brethren, let us attend to our duties, and let it ever be uppermost in our hearts to build up the kingdom of God. The promises have and are still being fulfilled. I have seen the wonder-working hand of the Almighty ever since I have been in this Church, and I have realized, to some extent, when preaching the Gospel, that the power of God has accompanied my words. The Lord has sustained his Work wherever the Elders have gone forth preaching the Gospel, and he will continue to do so; he will feed them and clothe them, and his Work will roll forth under the administration of these young men; the blessings of God will go with them. This is my testimony to you young men who are called upon to go on missions.

Jesus said to his disciples, “If I go away I will send you another Comforter, and when he is come he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” This Spirit will go with these, our young brethren, and it will back up their words when they stand up and bear testimony to the truth. Then let us all try to keep this Spirit within us; let us also labor to build temples, tabernacles, and all necessary public buildings; let us labor to gather the poor and then the Lord will bless us in all things; prosperity and peace will attend our every effort to build up God’s kingdom on the earth.

May God bless you, brethren and sisters, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ: Amen.

Gratitude for the Blessings of the Gospel

Remarks by Elder Ezra T. Benson, made in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, April 7, 1862.

I have the privilege of making a few remarks to my brethren and sisters, upon the condition that I stop speaking or pumping when the pond is out. This may seem a singular introduction, but I feel perfectly free and at home when I meet with you in general Conference.

I have enjoyed myself very much during this Conference, and I really feel that we have been well instructed on the great principles of our holy religion. I am fully satisfied that our brethren who have spoken from this stand have laid before us the things that we need, and especially for the benefit of those that are laboring in the different portions of Utah, or, as I was about to say, in different portions of Deseret.

I am proud of the name of being a Saint of God, for there is something that is sweet—there is something that is glorious about it.

I rejoice that we have the privilege here in Deseret of naming our own children when they are born; it is not so in the nations of the earth, but here we have organized a State Government; the child is born and we have given it a name, and it is one of our own choosing. We are a blessed people. How are we blessed this morning? We are blessed by being taught of the Lord; we are instructed in those things that pertain to our peace; we are in possession of those heavenly principles that have been so plainly laid before us; they are things that immediately concern us as Saints of the Most High. If we have been gathered here to these valleys of the mountains to be taught of the Lord, if we do not have the spirit of humility, how can we be taught? And if we are taught, what good will it do us? We require to be in that state of mind that will render us susceptible of instruction; then, at the close of this Conference we shall all have it to say that we have been well paid for coming together to worship the Lord, and we shall also feel that the teachings and instructions have been applicable to our organizations and circumstances in the different departments of the Holy Priesthood, which the Almighty has conferred upon his servants in these last days.

I feel that it is indeed good to be here; it is good to listen—to dwell and rejoice in the midst of this people, for this is the work of the Lord; and we are the only people upon the face of the earth that are so highly favored at the present time. We can meet together in peace, as we are doing today, and worship God according to the dictates of our own consciences; yes, here we can do this, where the true liberty guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States is fully carried out, and extended to all people who wish to reside in our community.

I feel to take up the admonitions and treasure them up in my mind and carry them home in my bosom. Every time that I come to a Con ference, I can see where I can do a little better, and discover where I have been a little slothful in regard to the duties of my calling.

You are aware that I hail from the northern part of our flourishing Territory (Cache Valley), and I am really proud of the county and of the people who live there, and of the desire they have to aid and assist in building up this kingdom.

With reference to the Quorums of High Priests and Seventies, I have to say that we have them with us, and we try to make them a blessing to the people. We have the piety, the principles, and order of the Gospel among us, and I feel that such doctrine as was taught yesterday is a blessing to the people who hear, and I know it. But where people are trying to get all the honor, influence, and power to themselves it is then a detriment instead of a blessing. Well, then, it behooveth us as Elders, Presidents, and Bishops to lay these principles to heart and have them riveted to our minds; to lie down and sleep and wake up again with them fresh in our minds in the morning, and go forth attending to the duties required of us by our callings in the Priesthood; and then we will profit by these instructions. Do not let us allow these wholesome teachings to go in at one ear and out of the other.

I do not wish to make many remarks this morning, but I feel truly thankful to God and my brethren that I hold a standing in this kingdom, and I intend to labor and do all I can for the spread of truth, and strive to the best of my ability to endure unto the end. And may this be our happy position and desire is the sincere prayer of your brother in the New Covenant, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Obedience to Counsel—the Beautifying and Building Up of Zion

Remarks by Elder Ezra T. Benson, made in the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, March 8, 1862.

I do not arise with any desire to interfere with the call of brother George A. Smith for brethren to go to the cotton district of our Territory, for I am very much in favor of brethren going to locate in the different settlements of Washington County to raise cotton and such other staple articles as are necessary for the welfare and prosperity of the Saints, and for the building up of Zion in the last days.

I live in the north part of the Territory, in Cache Valley, as most of you are aware, and I wish to say to those who are not wanted to go south, that if any of you feel like moving into the country, we would like to strengthen the settlements in our valley, and especially in the northern part of the County. By way of inducement we can promise you plenty of bread, if you will go there and help to till the earth and put in the seed in the season thereof, paying proper attention to your crops in the season when irrigation is required. It is a new country, possessing good facilities for stock raising, and in fact every facility for making home and friends comfortable and happy.

So far as I am individually concerned, it matters not to me what part of the Territory I go to labor or to reside in, if I can know and feel that I am doing the will of Heaven and carrying out the counsel and instruction of my brethren who preside in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. From the experience I have had in traveling with the President on his last mission south, I am able to say in all sincerity before God and my brethren, that all my prejudices are removed, and I feel perfectly willing to labor in any part of the Lord’s vineyard wherever my services are required.

Now we want about a hundred good sturdy fellows that feel themselves able to go to work to raise wheat and cattle, and to do all that is necessary for the beautifying and building up of Zion. It is a good place to raise flax, hemp, and vegetables. To be sure the altitude is considerably greater than it is in many other parts of the Territory, but this should not prevent us from performing our duties. If we are called to labor there that is the place for us to exert ourselves. It is sometimes argued that there is too much water there, and others will urge that there are too many Indians there; but, my feeling and the feeling of the brethren up there is to follow the counsel of our President and leader, and to labor in concert with all those who are set to guide our footsteps in the building up of Zion. We feel perfectly satisfied in doing this, for we know that while we pursue this course we are performing the duties that devolve upon us as Saints of God. We feel satisfied with our lot and place, and rejoice in the blessings that are bestowed upon us in that portion of our mountain home, and we feel to pray that we may ever be so in whatever position we may be called to labor for the accomplishment of the purposes of the Almighty.

May the Lord our God bless us and enable us to carry out the instructions that have been given us this day. This conference has been a happy time, and I can truly say that I have never felt better in our holy religion than I do today, and I know that the counsel that has been given to us is for our salvation.

You all know when you feel well, and you all know the Gospel of the Son of God, and there is nothing will give you satisfaction but the doctrines taught by the servants of God.

I bear my testimony to the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed by the Prophet Joseph, and to the correctness of the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; also to the revelations given through the prophets of God both ancient and modern.

May God Almighty preserve us in the faith, enable us to round up our shoulders, and assist in bearing the burden of the kingdom. When we have anything to say to our families let it be according to the counsel of the Spirit of God, that union may prevail. We all know that there is plenty for the Saints to feast upon, but some are too apt to look upon the dark side of the picture, instead of remembering the blessings promised to us by the Prophets of God. Why should we shrink from our position for one moment, when we have so many glorious blessings promised unto us?

Let us strive to be of one heart and one mind and all will be well with us. God bless you, my brethren and sisters, is my sincere prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Testimony and Religion of the Saints

Remarks by Elder Ezra T. Benson, made in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, April 6, 1861.

I feel truly thankful, brethren and sisters, for the opportunity I enjoy this morning. I trust that we have come together with prayerful hearts before the Lord our God, that his Spirit may be upon us, and that our prayers and all our devotions during this Conference may be acceptable in his sight. If I understand my duty as an Elder in Israel, this should be my object and my desire, not only in coming to Conference meetings, but also in all my associations with the people of God. I feel well in beholding your faces and in having the privilege which I now enjoy of standing before you. I feel that it is a blessed opportunity, and one that should be appreciated by us all. We have the privilege twice in each year of coming up to headquarters to visit the First Presidency and leading authorities of the Church in G. S. L. City; and inasmuch as we have come with pure hearts and clean hands, we shall all have confidence before God and his people who reside here. Our anticipations will be realized. We shall receive such instructions and counsels from our brethren who are called to preside over us as will be for our best good.

I do not feel competent to teach this people; hence I merely rise to bear my testimony to the truth of the Gospel of the Son of God. I testify that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of the Most High, that he was a minister of life to the nations, that he revealed the will of the Father concerning his sons and daughters, that many of the revelations which he gave concerning this nation have already been fulfilled, and that others are being fulfilled before our eyes. I know that he revealed the future destinies of the nations of the earth, and his predictions are being fulfilled to the joy and satisfaction of every Latter-day Saint, and there is no doubt upon our minds in regard to those that are still unfulfilled. Then what shall I do? Shall I cease to bear any further testimony? Or shall I continue to aver the truth of the Gospel we have espoused, and the teachings we have received from Presidents Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Daniel H. Wells? Yes; these counsels and teachings have been just as good, just as true as the counsels given by the Prophet Joseph Smith.

I now want to ask you a question. What more do you want? What greater things can you ask for than those gifts and endowments which you have received? If we have rejected, or treated coolly and walked underfoot the blessings of the Almighty, remember that we are on the Devil’s ground.

While some are groveling in the dark, drying up in the things of God, and striving to lead into other channels, and doing that which will gratify their own corrupt dispositions, we should be endeavoring to increase in the light and knowledge of the truth, and to set an example that is worthy of all imitation.

Seeing that I have been called upon to make a few remarks, I feel disposed to take for my text, “Latter-day Saint.” If you take up the character of an Elder in Israel—one who has received the Gospel in humility, been ordained to the Holy Priesthood because of his faithfulness, who has preached to the nations of the earth, borne a faithful testimony to the truth of our holy religion, what more do you want? And what more can you ask in proof of that man’s integrity? Do you want to search in the kingdoms of this world for any other testimony than that which we have received? No. Neither do we want to inquire, except in the household of faith, respecting the character of our brethren. The very moment that a man lets go his testimony and the spirit of his religion, where is his faith? And where is his power? They pass into the shade: the testimony first given is laid by; it is put aside—his faith, his wisdom, the power—to receive something else; and the vacuum is filled up with darkness. Is not a man in that situation a suitable subject for the Devil to work upon? Yes, he is. Having set aside the Gospel, closed up the channel of light and the medium through which he received intelligence, he cannot comprehend the things of eternity. He has turned his attention to something else, gone after other gods, become subject to other spirits, from which he receives dreams and visions that lead him on to destruction.

If we who profess to be Saints expect to keep the light of heaven within us, and the candle of the Almighty shining round about us, we must hold fast the beginning of our confidence and strive to increase in the principles of life and salvation.

If I were to go and pray to another God, I should expect that he would give me revelations to suit his own purpose, and that he would lead me out of the path in which I am now striving to walk. He would lead me away from the true and living God, and he would lead me into doubt and darkness.

If we are led by the Spirit of the true and living God, we are always led aright, we are always happy—always cheerful, we rejoice evermore, and pray without ceasing. We need not fear in regard to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is as true today as it was when we first heard it. We have more light, more faith, more knowledge, and consequently more power than we ever had before; and God has just as much right, and he is just as willing to reveal his will unto us as he was twenty years ago.

Let us be prayerful, let us cleanse our hearts from every impurity, and sanctify ourselves before our Heavenly Father, and we shall surely win the prize; but we cannot upon any other condition. This is the promise made to us by the Elders who brought the Gospel to our doors. We were told to cultivate brotherly kindness, virtue, and charity. We were told to nourish and cherish the spirit of wisdom, and to be constantly striving to add to our faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge temperance, to temperance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity; and we were told that, if these things were in us, we should neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

May God bless us all, and enable us to do these things, is my earnest prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Mission to England—Reminiscences, Etc.

A Discourse by Elder Ezra T. Benson, Delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, Sunday Morning, January 24, 1858.

It will be two years the 22nd of next April since I started, in company with brother Orson Pratt and others, to take a mission to Europe; and it seems but as a dream for me to appear in your midst this morning. It seems as if it were only a few days since I was in the midst of this people; for the days, weeks, and months that have passed have gone swiftly, and it seems as though a great deal of the time had not been measured to me.

I presume this is the experience of many of you who are now before me; and although many of you have passed through scenes of trial, yet you have felt to realize your situation in the reformation more than you ever have done before. Feelings have come over you that you have never before experienced since you have been in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But, notwithstanding all our past failings and weaknesses, we have been greatly blessed and prospered, and the hand of the Lord has been over us for good all the day long.

Now, if we all realize and do actually know that God is with us—that he has forgiven our sins—that we are in fellowship with this people and have confidence to go before our God in prayer, knowing that our sins are put far away from us, no more to return again, unless through our disobedience, it is one of the greatest blessings that can be conferred upon us.

When I was called upon to leave these valleys, I felt that I had the prayers, fellowship, and confidence of this people; and if I had their confidence then, I am well persuaded I have it now. This reflection causes my heart to rejoice; and it is one of the greatest blessings that any man can enjoy to know that he is in full fellowship with this people.

Shall we be thankful to our God and this people for the faith and prayers that have been exercised in our behalf? These things have occupied my attention ever since I arrived home.

True, there is a warfare within me, and there is a warfare within every man and woman that has a name in this Church; and we have to guard against the intrusions of the Adversary. Upon what principles shall we guard against them? Why, live our religion. That is all we have to do; and I know that, by the power of faith and the Holy Spirit, we can root out everything that is contrary to the promptings of that Spirit, and we shall know for ourselves that we are the children of God.

I have been to England on a mission, sent by the First Presidency and the general authorities convened in Conference on the 6th day of April, 1856; and I can say I have had a prosperous mission, and have been greatly blessed. As I have told the Elders, so I will say here, Any man who goes on a mission in these times, to the European nations, to the United States, or to the islands of the sea, and returns home with his scalp on, I think he should certainly acknowledge the hand of the Lord in it.

When we first arrived in England, all was peace, as a general thing. And do you know the reason why it was peace? Yes, you do. We could preach throughout England; we could preach in Germany, in France, in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway; we could preach in Wales, in Ireland, and Scotland, with but very little interruption; and, as a general thing, we had very good attention and good congregations. But when the reformation commenced in the Valleys of the Mountains, as the Saints were told beforehand, the Devil began to open his eyes and look at the Saints, not only in England, but throughout all the parts of the earth where the Latter-day Saints were located, and wherever the servants of God were traveling to preach the Gospel, and wherever the printed word was being circulated.

In all these places the Devil was up and dressed two hours earlier in a morning than he ever had been before, attending to his calling and kingdom, and doing that which was committed to him; for he has a work to do as well as we have, and he is most faithfully performing his part. Just in proportion to the diligence of the Saints in Zion and throughout the earth, so will the Devil work; and you cannot tell the time when his old nose has not been poked as near to the servants of God and to this kingdom as he could get it; and he would be right here today in this congregation and break up this meeting, if he had the power to do it.

Through the faithfulness of the Saints, I am led to believe that the kingdom is pretty well cleansed, especially from Gentiles and from Gen tilism. But it is not so in the world; for the Devil has power in the midst of the Saints while they are amongst the Gentiles. But, as I told the Saints in England, there should always be a little place in the heart of every man and woman which they can call Zion; and it looks to me as if there were a good many here who could say Zion is in their bosoms, and that they have a place in their hearts which they can call heaven.

The Spirit of God flows to a greater extent from this stand than it does in any other place upon the face of the earth. There is more power here than in any other place.

I can say, in behalf of the English Saints, that they are a good people, and you know it as well as I do; and those who have been there know it, and you who have not been there know it by the spirit they bring when they come here.

As regards the work of the Lord, in general the Elders have been faithful. They have gone into the streets and into the lanes and borne a faithful testimony to the work of God and to what he was doing among the nations. To the honest their words have been sweeter than the honeycomb; but the great majority were unwilling to receive the message sent unto them.

I have taken a great deal of comfort and satisfaction in lifting up my voice before the people, and I have cried aloud and spared not, but told them what was in my heart. I felt it was my duty to vindicate the truths of the Gospel. I have also taken up the laws of the Territory of Utah and the laws and Constitution of the United States, pointing out to them the privileges and rights that are guaranteed unto us by those instruments.

I not only say this of myself, but I can say it of my brethren who have been associated with me; for we have had power to put down all opposition that has been raised against us, unless it was by an ungodly mob that was inspired by the Devil to get up sticks and stones and every kind of weapon they could procure, excepting firearms, which the law of the land forbids them to carry.

When they come with the Bible in hand, which they profess to believe, they are easily whipped out; and truth rises triumphant among the people, and the high and low and all that were intelligent could see and understand that we have the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that we have the authority which no other people possessed. There was not a minister or any other individual that held the authority which we had in our possession; and some were ready to acknowledge it, when the Spirit of the Lord was upon them. But how long would that last? Only long enough for them to get out of doors.

It is indeed a great thing to purify the Saints; and it is a great thing for a man to purify his heart. When a man’s heart is pure and the scales are knocked off from his eyes, he can then see and comprehend the things of God—he can know the mind of the Lord in this land or any other; but if the scales are over his eyes as thick as canvas, he cannot see afar off. We all know that we have to live our religion here as well as in England; and I sometimes think it takes more faith to live in Zion than in another place; for there is more required of a congregation in Zion than there is in England.

The Saints in Denmark and in Sweden are inspired by the same Spirit that we are, and they are as good a people as I ever traveled amongst in my life. They do not generally understand the English language; but they can understand by what spirit a man is moved when he gets up to speak. They rejoice when an Elder from the Valley pre sents himself in their midst; and, to see a Valley Elder, they would get up of a morning and go 40 miles, and not stop for rain, thunder, or lightning till they got to their journey’s end.

There is a certain class of men that are honest in heart, but fear comes upon them when trials are presented, and they do not understand; they have not faith or confidence to stand up and say, “I am a Latter-day Saint, and if you want to mob, mob and be damned.” There are but few who can stand the trying day. A great many of the Saints have no faith to brook the insults cast upon them, and hence they hide up and keep out of sight of their enemies.

I told the Saints in Bath and Bristol that we were going home, before I had got any news; and, said I, “You have been mobbed, laughed at, and jeered by your enemies, and I want you to understand that you do not owe them anything. I am willing to be responsible for all the sin there will be if you immediately shut up your chapels and henceforth hold your meetings in some private house or little room, or some place where you will not be subject to the insults of mobs.” The next morning I got a letter from brother Pratt, informing me that I was called home.

I was not sent out to convert the world, but to warn the people, to vindicate the cause of truth, to set forth the true character of this people politically, religiously, temporally, and spiritually, and to declare unto the nations of the earth the true situation of this community.

I want to live a long time yet, and I hope that I shall not die until the kingdom of God rises triumphant over all the powers that are organized in opposition to it.

A good spirit prevailed among the Saints in Europe when we left them, which was about the 14th of last October. Brother Samuel W. Richards and George Snyder arrived in Liverpool on the 9th of that month, and brother Pratt immediately wrote me word to come to Liverpool and prepare for returning home.

On the arrival of brothers Richards and Snyder, we held a council, at which it was decided that brother Pratt, myself, brothers John A. Ray, John Kay, John Scott, and William Miller should return home. We immediately went to work and released all the Elders, except brother Calkin, of the English Mission, and brother Jabez Woodard, of the Italian Mission. The native Elders are just as anxious to come here as the American Elders.

Before we embarked for England, I had a few days’ time to spare, and I embraced the opportunity to go and visit my friends and acquaintances; and when I went in amongst them, they immediately asked if I had come back to stay. “No,” said I.

“Then what are you come back for?”

“Why, to prove that you are false prophets; for you told me that in five years “Mormonism” would be broken up, and that the Saints of God would be scattered and peeled.” “Now,” said I, “if you want to prophesy anything more about ‘Mormonism,’ prophesy good things—big things; for it is the kingdom of God, and it is set up in the mountains. It is the kingdom that Daniel saw, and it is going to spread and grow till it fills the whole earth.”

On the Sabbath I was in the neighborhood where my friends lived, in the State of Massachusetts, and I told my brother that I wanted to go to old Milford to the meeting, whereupon he got out his carriage, and we drove off to the meetinghouse; and as soon as the old minister got his eye upon me, he motioned to me to come into the stand. He called me brother Benson, and said, “Sit down here.” He said, “Do you want to preach or to pray?” I said, “Yes, for I am a praying man.” I offered up as humble a prayer as I could, and then sat down. I learned then that he had a special lecture he wanted to deliver on politics; for it was when they were trying to elect Fremont President of the United States. He delivered his political sermon about the North and South; but there was no repentance or Gospel about what he said.

When he had concluded, he gave me the privilege of talking to the people, which I did for about half-an-hour. I knew that I had to talk in a very pious style, but I endeavored to preach the Gospel in plainness; and the very moment that I came to a testimony of the Gospel—to declare that Joseph Smith was a Prophet, and that Brigham Young is his successor—good gracious! You could see devils dancing in the countenances of the people, and the influence ran from heart to heart. However, they kept quiet, though very uneasy. After my remarks, they claimed the privilege of asking questions. One gentleman asked if we believed in slavery. I told him, No, we did not; “but,” said I, “we believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the Gospel of liberty, for it opens the door of freedom and throws off the fetters of bondage.”

“Well,” said he, “do not you believe in freeing the negroes?”

I answered, “No; the Lord will do that.”

“Ah,” said he, “the Mormons do believe in slavery; for they permit men to bring their slaves into their Territory.”

I then went on to show him our views upon the subject; but I could see my remarks did not satisfy the people.

The next man who came onto the carpet wanted to know how many wives brother Brigham had. I replied, “I have not come here to lay before this people the domestic affairs of my Governor. It is a question I never asked him myself, for I never took the pains to inquire anything about it. But still, as I am a Yankee, I will guess, if that will do you any good. Now,” said I, “I will be honest with you, for your pastor has given me the freedom of speech; and, if I may judge from appearances, I should presume he has some fifty or sixty.”

He then asked, “Why do you believe in that doctrine?”

I replied, “Why did Abraham believe in it? Why do you wish to raise a quarrel with me, when all the Prophets spoken of in the Bible you believe in both taught and practiced it?” He could not tell; but the amount of it was, he wanted to put down “Mormonism”—not that he could rebut the testimony that was presented, but he had a spirit to endeavor to put down the cause of God.

The principles of the Gospel are going to either damn or save all to whom they are presented. There are hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands of people in the world who this day know that “Mormonism” is true, and they are using their money and their influence to hinder its progress.

The priests of the day are ready to collect their pence and shillings to persecute the Saints of God and to foster and sustain those who will do it.

Wherever you find a man in England, in Germany, or in Denmark, who takes the periodicals of the day, he can sit down and tell you all about the Latter-day Saints. He can tell you what we believe; and, providing you could converse with him without his knowing you were a “Mormon,” or a servant of God sent to him with the everlasting Gospel, he would sit down and tell you all about “Mormonism.” But you must appear as a stranger and ask, “Do you know anything about the Latter-day Saints in Utah?” “O yes,” he will say, and proceed to tell you what we believe. But the moment you let him know who you are and undertake to preach to him, he will turn round and deny everything that he has said. What is the reason of this? It is because he is dishonest and has partaken of the spirit of the father of lies, who is determined to use his influence and power to the injury and destruction of the Saints of God.

I was received in Massachusetts as I never was before by my friends, for they hailed me with joy. But were they ready to receive the Gospel? No—no more than they were fourteen years ago. I could see they had a spirit to persecute the Saints, and they would have been as easily lit up as a lucifer match. “Well,” said one, “did you come that way back?” “No, and I never want to go again, unless the Almighty commands me.”

When we came to New York we looked through the pioneer trail, but it did not look right: but when we looked south, it was all light; so we took the steamer for the Isthmus.

We had on board 1,150 passengers, 200 or 300 of whom were United States troops. When we were loading up, the soldiers were driven on board, like pigs, as thick as they could stand.

Government is shipping men round by the Isthmus of Panama to California, and we were informed the next steamer was to bring 600 men. There was a good deal of fault found by the officers of Government because there were only 250 along with us; but it was said, “They are going to ship them by thousands to California, and then forward them to Utah.”

They said they were coming to California; but when we asked them privately where they were destined for, they said, “We are going to Utah.”

It is so also in Kansas. They have all sworn, old Harney included, that they will not give sleep to their eyes nor slumber to their eyelids until they have destroyed the “Mormons.” They design in their hearts to blot “Mormonism” out of existence, and they feel like using their money for the accomplishment of this object, and even go so far as to say their purses shall be open for their means to be used in the fitting out of men for the Territory of Utah; and they say they will come from the north and from the south and from the east and surround this people by thousands and by tens of thousands, until we are wiped out.

This is their feeling, as a general thing, and it seems as if all earth and hell are united against the “Mormons.” They have not got here yet, have they? Catching is always before hanging!

The halters are already made which they design shall hang the Governor, the members of the Legislative Assembly, and every faithful Elder in the Church; for they feel determined to swing you up between the heavens and the earth. We understand their plays and their schemes, for we have been in their midst.

The inquiry may arise, “Did you ever hear one man say anything in our favor?” Yes, we have heard more than one who dare come out and vindicate the character of this people, but it would generally be in private circles. I have heard a man say that he had been among this people, had been treated well, and never saw a better people in his life; and he said he believed that all those reports that were in circulation were a pack of damned lies.

There was a man traveling on the packet with us who used to attend the threshing machine for William Macpherson, in this city. He vindicated the character of this people. He did not recognize us; but I knew him as soon as I saw him. He said, in conversation with men on the boat, “I am a rambling sort of a chap; but if I were going to live and settle down, it would be in Utah.” I asked him if he thought the “Mormons” were going to fight. He said, “No, they are not; for they are not a fighting people; but it is those lying editors. The Mormons are a peaceable, quiet people.”

When the standard of freedom is raised, we shall bid all classes welcome to the rights and privileges of liberty. When that day comes, people can come with all creeds and enjoy their liberties, providing they will acknowledge the laws of God; and I can tell you they will come by hundreds, by thousands, and by tens of thousands. Yes, they will flock to the standard of liberty.

There is not a master-spirit on the earth at the present time who dare take this stand and raise the flag of liberty, bidding welcome to all nations, except President Brigham Young. The very move that has been made for the last six months will preach louder and stronger than all the Elders of Israel.

The standard of liberty is about to be unfurled. Good laws will be maintained, and the virtuous and innocent will have the rights and privileges guaranteed unto them; and we mean to stand in defense of those principles of right, even to the laying down of our lives, if necessary. When a man will stand in defense of the truth, he has more power and influence among the nations of the earth than a dozen of the ungodly.

If ever I felt like preaching the Gospel, it is now; and I would not ask for a better mission than to take my valise and travel through the Territory of Utah; and I know that in doing so I should travel amongst the best people in the world. I have seen the contrast between this people and the world most visibly during the last three or four months.

What is the condition of the Government of the United States? They are all looking at the President, just as a child would, apparently expecting that something would be done. They are hoping and expecting that Government would take “Mormonism” in hand and wipe it out of existence in a few days. But Uncle Sam, uncle Bill, uncle Tom, and all our uncles and cousins, will find something to do if they attempt such a thing.

The people of the United States seem paralyzed, and do not know what to do. They are waiting for the Government to call for volunteers, and then they say they are all ready to go. California people say they are all ready to rally. But I tell you, I believe what brother Brigham has said—They will not come here. The priest in the pulpit is ready, and says, “O yes, we must go and wipe out the Mormons; but do not ask me to go.”

This is like an old man that had some boys, and when he wanted a job of work done he would say, “Go, boys, and do that:” but his neighbor, who had a lot of boys also, when he wanted anything done, used to say, “Come, boys, let us do that.” It is just so with the priests, lawyers, doctors, and all others who are opposed to “Mormonism:” they say, “O yes, go and wipe out the Mormons;” but they never want to go themselves.

I will tell you, the majority of the people in the States do not care the ashes of a rye straw for their officers, and it is just so in the army: in fact, they none of them care much for each other; but they care a good deal for Uncle Sam’s money.

When we landed in San Francisco, the officers were so much afraid that the troops would desert, that they went and guarded them themselves; and we left them patrolling the docks there. The officers were Yankees, stiff and starched, and they said, “Mormonism must be extinguished—yes, this must be done.”

“Colonel Casey, what do you think about it?” He seemed to be a peaceable kind of man, and said he could not tell what would have to be done. The Colonel was then asked if he fostered the idea of going to an innocent people and exterminating men, women, and children? He said, “I do not like it; it is contrary to my feelings; but the Government of the United States have taken the thing in hand, and we, as officers, are compelled to carry out their plans, or resign.”

Let us do the very best we can, brethren and sisters; for the day may come when we may be thankful for every foot of greasewood and of desert country there is between us and our enemies.

I am glad that we came through on the southern route, for I have been enabled to learn a little of the road.

The editors in the States are prompting Government to bring their troops from the south. Why, they do not know; only they are not, on that route, so subject to snowstorms, and they can travel in the winter. But I can tell them, the south route is ten times worse than the east: it is one perfect desert from Muddy Creek clear through. There is now and then a patch of grass on the journey. But what can a large army do?

The canyon coming up the Santa Clara is quite as good as Echo, and some think a little better. It does seem as if those mountains and canyons have been prepared on purpose; and we have great cause to be thankful for those natural defenses.

Here we have liberty to do right and legislate for our own benefit, and we feel that this is our home.

I told sister Richie on Painter Creek, when she invited us in to breakfast, and set before us some butter, milk, and bread, that it was the best meal I had eaten since I left home; and I enjoyed it much better than I did the dainties that were provided while I was crossing the Isthmus.

I feel to back up all the plans of my brethren who have the right to dictate, and to bear off this kingdom to the nations; and this is the feeling of my brethren who have returned with me.

We are now ready to go and preach the Gospel, to go into the canyons and help to fight our enemies, or to do anything that is required of us; and I feel to say, with all the power and authority of the Priesthood that is conferred upon me, God bless our leaders with wisdom, with power, with influence, with cattle, with horses, with sheep, with wives, with children, with houses, with lands, and with everything their hearts can desire before God. This is my prayer all the day long; and when I feel so, I feel strong in the mighty God of Jacob, and I know that he blesses them with his Spirit.

I feel to say, Latter-day Saints, in the name of the Lord, Be ye blessed; for ye are the only people that God acknowledges on the earth, as an organized community, politically and religiously, spiritually, physically, and mentally—the only people that are to be found who are willing to acknowledge that God has established his kingdom with Apostles and Prophets.

A great many of the people of this generation have turned infidels; but still the sectarians have their Scripture-readers, and they go through all the formalities of religion. One man came to me and wished to know if I would like to have the Bible read to me. I told him yes, for I was fond of anything that was good. I asked him if he believed in angels. He said, “O no; the power of God is done away;” and everything is done away among them, only just what man can do; and men set themselves up who have no vitality nor intelligence in them. It is all like the chaff before the wind. We are truly a blessed people, for we have the light of eternal life; and, notwithstanding the howling of the priests, if we do as brother Brigham says, we shall come off victorious.

I believe this people are ready to do anything required of them; and if they continue in this way, all will be well with them, and nothing can stand before them.

I heard a man say that he did not care what was said against this people, he was ready to believe it; and I can say that such a man is ready to be damned, and he will be damned.

I bear this testimony that I know this to be the work of God, and I take great pleasure in proclaiming it.

I ask an interest in your prayers, that I may have the spirit of obedience and be enabled to do as I am told from this time henceforth and forever. Amen.

The Vine and Fig Tree—Duties of Saints

A Discourse by Elder Ezra T. Benson, Delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, May 13, 1855.

I am requested to make a few remarks at the commencement of our meeting this afternoon, although I would much rather hear from brethren, especially my beloved President Hyde who is about to leave us, but as it is his desire that I should make a few remarks, I will make the attempt.

I rejoiced much this morning in hearing from our brethren who addressed us, as I generally do when I hear the Elders speak. I was reflecting in my mind, and asking myself whether I overheard a “Mormon” sermon that I did not rejoice in? I cannot remember the time since I have been in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It never made any difference who addressed the people; no matter who was called upon to speak, however eloquent his discourse might be, however pointed his remarks might be, no matter however simple, or how many times I might have heard the same subject treated upon, it was always edifying to me, for I ever found something new, and although I might have heard the same things, perhaps, a great many times, but my memory being so short and treacherous, I had forgotten some things, but as soon as I heard them again I could then recollect them; my mind would be refreshed, and I would remember that I had heard the same things before; and one remark that was made this morning by brother Clements, refreshed my mind upon things which took place when I was on a mission, some eight or ten years ago, in the United States. I mean the remarks referring to that time, which will surely come, when the Saints of God will sit under their own vine and fig tree, none daring to make them afraid.

I was once asked the question by some of our opposers, in something like the following manner—“You Mormons believe that there is a time of peace coming; you believe that the prophecies of the Scriptures are to be fulfilled literally, in the same way that Noah’s prediction of the flood was, and that your God is willing, and in fact designs that you shall sit under your own vine and fig tree, none daring to molest or make you afraid.” “And now,” says he, “Have you got them yet?” “Well,” says I, “not exactly the fig tree, but we have got the cottonwood tree, and the locust tree, and we sit under them, none daring to molest or make afraid, and we are in anticipation of some day having the fig tree.” We are full of hope that the time is now near at hand, that it is not far ahead, when, if we are faithful to our callings, we shall sit under a great many other kinds of trees, and I don’t know as it will make any difference whether it is the cottonwood, chestnut, oak, apple, peach tree, or whatever kind of tree it may be, so that we sit under our own vine and fig tree, and serve the Lord our God with full purpose of heart.

The cottonwood trees are grown, the peach is beginning to grow, and the apple and pear, and so on, are beginning to grow, and we all expect that not many years hence, we will have the privilege of sitting under our own vine and fig tree, none daring to molest or make afraid, and it is necessary that we should have the opposite in all things.

We are a people that believe in revelation, the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and we are a people that believe in the necessity of all those gifts. We say that they ought to exist in the Church of Christ in every age of the world. When a people are in possession of those glorious principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they will see that there is a passing beauty and glory associated with them. You will also find opposition, slander, and reproach to be continually on the increase, and if it were not so, it would show that was not the Church of Christ. It is necessary that there should be an excitement in the world, and that servants of the Lord should in those times show their faith by their works, and it is also important that they should, as the Apostle has exhorted us, contend for all the gifts of the Gospel that are mentioned in the Holy Scriptures—the gift of godliness and of patience and charity, and all those good gifts that are spoken of in the Scriptures of truth. The Apostle says, if all these good gifts abound in you, “ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Seeing, then, that this is the promise, how very necessary it is that we should improve upon those gifts bestowed upon us, by our Heavenly Father, and if we do not improve, we are not on the progressive, but are going downward.

We can live in the kingdom of God and be stereotyped “Mormons,” but to accomplish this, we have to live and increase in wisdom, knowledge, patience, perseverance, and all the gifts and graces of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, for it will take all the perseverance, and all the faith and patience that we can command to live the Gospel of Christ.

It is pleasing to reflect that we are all here as a band of brethren, trying to obey all the commandments of God. We are from many climes and countries, and we are here to prove each other, and see whether we can bear with each other’s faults and weaknesses, and to try if we can endure trials, and perplexities, and oppositions, and the sneers of the world—the wicked portion of mankind. How do they look upon us, taking a general view of the question? It is true, there are some who are more thoroughly acquainted with us, who look and speak pretty favorably, but as a general thing they do not believe that we are a virtuous people; they believe that we have many ordinances and principles amongst us established to gratify a certain portion of this community; they do not believe that we are the Saints of the Most High God, yet there is something which they cannot comprehend, but still they think there is something behind the curtain, and they cannot understand it; still they have a good deal of dubiety upon their minds respecting the Latter-day Saints, and why is it so? It is because there are a great many things which they cannot comprehend. They see us united; they are made sensible of our prosperity; they see we proceed with authority and with confidence to do whatever we have to do, and they cannot fathom it; they cannot understand how we hold together in such perfect unity; our whole organization to them is one entire mystery, and ever has been to the sectarian world.

And what is the reason that mankind are so slow to understand? Why Jesus, who had compassion on the people in his teachings, compared the kingdom of God to a little child, and said, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” All men have to become as little children before they can understand the principles of, or enter the kingdom of heaven, and the Christian world are not willing to humble themselves, and become as little children; therefore they cannot enter the kingdom of God. This is the reason that they cannot comprehend this people, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A strange work, a marvel and a wonder it appears to them.

What is said about the Spirit of the Lord that is possessed by the Saints? We read that it shall lead and guide you into all truth, and further, that it shall show (the Saints) things past, and things which are to come. But the world at large cannot see these things, and they never will until they have taken the same steps that we have taken. Heavenly things cannot be comprehended only by the Spirit of the living God, but says Paul, the Spirit of God discerneth all things, even the deep things of God; the natural mind cannot comprehend.

Well, then, we can see that it is the duty as well as the privilege of every Latter-day Saint to live in the Spirit of the Lord, for “Mormonism” is to rule our actions, and every man and woman has got to be wide awake. They have got to do as brother Kimball used to say, sleep with one eye open and one leg out of bed. I have seen and comprehended for the last few months that the Latter-day Saints have now got to double their diligence; yes, I can feel it to the bottom of my soul; we have to learn to appreciate the blessings of the Almighty more fully than we have heretofore appreciated them. The Lord will be honored, and He will not be angry with any, but those who refuse to acknowledge His hand in all things; we have got to acknowledge His hand in all things, and feel it as well as to say it, and to show it by our works.

We have had several expulsions or drivings through mobocracy, and in all these things we are called upon to acknowledge the hand of the Lord. It takes us all the time to perform in faithfulness the duties of our several respective callings. It is like an old blacksmith’s bellows, the very moment that you cease to blow, the fire goes down, and especially the fires of those that burn cedar coal; and those who use the blacksmith’s bellows, know how long it takes to kindle up the fire, that is, when they have got the same material on hand; and it is just so with the Gospel of Christ. If we quench the Spirit, and do not magnify the Lord by our works and by our faith, that which is in us soon goes out, and we die a natural death in the kingdom. Then, if we wish to obtain influence again we have to become humble, come forth and get rebaptized for the remission of sins, and have hands laid on for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and obey it strictly in all things, before we can get the zeal and flame of the Gospel again to burn in our souls.

We have learned another lesson too, at least I have, viz., that the driving part of “Mormonism,” the burnings, mobbings, and oppressions were all very necessary to the bringing this people to an understanding of their true position before God. All that has ever come upon us has served a good purpose and was very essential to the condemnation of our enemies.

For the last few months I have been traveling considerably through the settlements of the Territory, preaching to the brethren, and instructing them in their duties. A good spirit prevailed in most of the places I visited, and I told the brethren that it was not the inner man that they had to contend with and look after just now, so much as it was the things out of doors, and I promised them that if they would all be agreed in opening their farms, making their fences around their farms, and big fields, and take good care of their flocks and herds, and keep up good schools, pay their tithing, and attend to all the ordinances of the Gospel, live as Saints of God ought to live, I would promise them, in the name of Israel’s God, that when they assembled in the congregations of the Saints, the gifts and blessings of the Gospel would be more copiously poured out upon them, that they should have power to heal the sick, speak with tongues, prophesy, and they should have a mighty influence of the Holy Spirit in their midst. I felt to promise them these things in faith, for it is just so everywhere when people live in humility before God.

How pleasing it is when we can meet a brother here, or there, and can feel that the genial influences of the Holy Spirit of God are with him! When we feel so united, so much of one heart and one mind, that we can buy and sell, trade, traffic, and do all that we have to do in the name of the Lord, do all with an honest heart before God—then, when we feel this way, we can have the Spirit of the Lord in coming before a congregation to qualify us to edify the people. This is but a small portion of our religion, but this is very good. It is obedience that will prepare us to be exalted in the kingdom of our God.

There is a monitor in the heart of every individual, and a man or woman who will obey its dictations, and whose intentions are to do right all the day long, need not be afraid of anything, for they will have confidence; they shall have confidence before God; they shall have confidence before the Saints, and be enabled to claim the promises, and there is no power that can hinder; there is no power that can stand against them, but they shall prevail; and why shall they not prevail? Why the Psalmist says—“No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (Let us ask a blessing on the cup.)

I feel first-rate, brethren and sisters, and I feel to bless you, and my daily prayer is that the Saints of God may be blessed with wisdom, with knowledge, and with all spiritual blessings, as well as with temporal prosperity, and I say they shall be blessed, and they shall be comforted. And let us be reminded continually of the instructions given last Sunday: “Fret not your gizzards.” We are first-rate, and the grasshoppers are doing first-rate too, and I expect that the Lord will be as good as His word, for we are the Latter-day Saints; we are the only people that acknowledge God and Prophets and the authority of the Priesthood upon the earth, and you know what the Scriptures say: “He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.” We all want the Prophet’s blessing, and we all want every good man’s blessing, and the blessing of all this community.

When our hearts are drawn out before the Lord, we feel well, we feel all right; but when we get to fretting our gizzards about this, that, and the other, and begin to say, well, these rewards, these blessings do not appear to us as we looked for them; we do not have them in our assemblies as much as we ought to have.

How is it, says one, that the Lord is going to kill the grain, and thus cause a famine to come? What is the reason the Lord allows the grasshoppers to come and eat the grain? Why, we read in the Scriptures that judgment begins at the house of God, and I expect the Saints may be tried a good deal more yet before they become perfect.

There was one glorious promise that cheered my heart; I mean the words which fell from the lips of President Young a short time ago. Says he, “I don’t know that there will be any surplus grain, neither do I wish there to be any particularly, but we have put in seed, and we shall have harvest.” He promised us a harvest, and my faith is that we shall have something to eat and drink, and we shall not starve or want for bread. If we receive that promise as coming from a Prophet, we shall be blessed, and get what was promised; I calculate to have it; I also expect that the Lord will send the rain just as He pleases, and make all things subserve the interests of His kingdom. I expect to claim the blessings of the Almighty by faith, prayer, and diligence.

Well, now, I know that you are as willing as I am, to have those blessings promised. We want rain, and we all feel very anxious to have some, and we would like to know when we are to have it. Well, I have made up my mind for it to rain sometime during the present week. I have had no particular promise, but I have had it in my mind that it will rain within a week. If it should not, it won’t hurt me at all.

I have thought of it in another way; probably the Lord may send a little famine; and if he does, there will be a design in it. There may be some body coming here, a few curses in the shape of men, to eat up all our surplus grain; and perhaps, if they should hear that the drought and the grasshoppers are eating up our crops, they may be led to say, we are not going to be starved to death with those poor “Mormons.”

We are here sitting under our own Bowery, none daring to molest or make us afraid. The kingdom must be built up, and it belongs to this people to do it; it is our salvation to bear it off, and if we do not bear it off, and do not act as instruments in the hands of the Lord in accomplishing the work, our glory will be clipped; the moment that we cease our exertions, that moment we begin to decline. Every man and every woman that is brought into the covenant take this upon them, to bear a part in this kingdom; this is the right of all, it is the privilege and duty of all Saints, Every man is called upon to do right, to work righteousness all the day long.

I will say in conclusion, let us pray for the peace and prosperity of the Presidency that are absent from us today, and of those who are with them. I will not take up more time, but will give way, as I wish to hear some remarks from Elder Hyde, who is about to leave for Carson Valley.

May God bless us all, for Christ’s sake. Amen.

The Word of Wisdom

An Address by Elder Ezra T. Benson, Delivered in the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, April 8, 1855.

I feel to rejoice this morning in the remarks that I have heard, and I feel to bear testimony to the same, and also to all the instructions given during this Conference.

I feel that it is good to be here, and I can say that I have tried to appreciate the blessings we enjoy in common with my brethren. It is indeed a privilege to rise before an assembly of Saints in the Valleys of the Mountains, before those that are now so comfortably and favorably located in this place; and while brother George A. Smith was speaking upon the “Word of Wisdom,” there was a dream occurred to my mind that I heard related by one of the brethren a short time ago. He said there was a proclamation issued by the President of the Church of Jesus Christ, for the Elders of Israel to collect those together who had kept the commandments of God, for there was a work that the Lord had for them to perform. The people came together very slowly and reluctantly; once in a while a few would come along, but a leader oft was wanted, and perhaps an Elder would be seen coming up, but it seemed to be slow work collecting the people together. After a while there was another proclamation issued for the people to come together in masses, those that were true, and that were known to be trying to keep the commandments of God, and they then came up by thousands, by tens of thousands, and by hundreds of thousands. I felt that it was so this morning, that those that had been speaking had touched the right subject, and it was very good; and I felt that there would be very few in this vast congregation (if they were called out), who had kept the “Word of Wisdom;” if all such were called for, I am persuaded that there would be very few that would come forth, but if the word were, “Come forth, all ye Latter-day Saints that are trying to keep the Word of Wisdom,” I feel that there would be many that would come forth, and I believe I would be among that number that would be found trying to keep the Word of Wisdom.

When we first heard the revelation upon the Word of Wisdom many of us thought it consisted merely in our drinking tea and coffee, but it is not only using tea and coffee and our tobacco and whiskey, but it is every other evil which is calculated to contaminate this people. The Word of Wisdom implies to cease from adultery, to cease from all manner of excesses, and from all kinds of wickedness and abomination that are common amongst this generation—it is, strictly speaking, keeping the commandments of God, and living by every word that proceedeth from His mouth.

This is the way that I understand the Word of Wisdom, consequently we have to keep all the commandments, if I understand the matter correctly, in connection with this Word of Wisdom, in order to obtain the blessings, for unless we do keep the commandments of God, and not offend in any one point, we have not a full claim upon the blessings promised in connection with this portion of the word of the Lord.

The Lord says, in reference to these things mentioned in the Word of Wisdom, that they are not good for the body! I know that my brethren and sisters feel as I do, they have a desire to keep the Word of Wisdom, and know it is the wish of the Presidency that the Elders of Israel should preach upon the Word of Wisdom, and establish it in the minds of the people, and suffer not themselves from desire to be overcome by the habits of those among whom they travel to preach the Gospel, but be an example in all things.

I can say one thing which I am very thankful for, I never partook of an evil in my life because my brethren did, but I have always tried to act and live upon my own agency. If I have sinned, it has been through my own ignorance; if I go astray, it is because my mind and my nature are human.

I have ever felt determined to take a course to enjoy the Spirit of the Lord, and when He has left me to myself, and I have been tempted, I have always trusted in the Lord and endeavored to obey Him, and not to give way to the tempter; and I want this feeling to sink deep into the hearts of every man and woman calling themselves Latter-day Saints. And when I hear a word dropped by anyone that will tend to thwart the design of God’s holy word, why then I feel most indignant.

I wish to see men observe and teach the Word of Wisdom in their families, for to see men throw a bad influence upon the word of the Lord, I was going to say such a spirit is a stink in the nostrils of all righteous men.

Many of the Saints excuse themselves for chewing tobacco because others use it, but let us examine ourselves this morning, and see if such a course will be justifiable before our heavenly Father.

Where is the man that excuses himself on this account? I ask him—is it righteousness for him to excuse himself in order to free himself from blame? If it is not, let him repent, cease his excusations, and turn unto the Lord his God, and work righteousness all the days of his life, that he may be saved in the kingdom of heaven.

You know it as an old Methodist doctrine, that every tub has to stand upon its own bottom, and we will find that it is so before we get through; yet we will find, brethren and sisters, that it is for every man and woman to take a course to save themselves individually, obey counsel, observe all the revelations of Jesus Christ that shall be given to us as a people in this present age, whether by the dreams of the night, the visions of the day, or the revelations of God’s Holy Spirit, and to follow after righteousness, pursue the course marked out for the people of God, and then all will be well with us in this life, and also in that which is to come.

I feel to rejoice, and I thank my heavenly Father that we have escaped thus far the contaminating influences of the Gentiles, and I always do rejoice that our lives are prolonged upon the earth. I never attended a Conference in my life but I felt thankful to God that I had fellowship and a standing in the midst of this mighty people, and that I had some confidence before them and also the God whom we serve.

We are indeed a blessed people, prosperity attends us as a community, the wicked and even the very devils are prophesying the prosperity of this people, to say nothing about the predictions of the Latter-day Saints themselves. The great and influential amongst the nations are all the time speaking of the success and prosperity that attend this people, and their telling this is what stirs up the devil.

We are going to build a temple, we are now laying the foundation, and when it is completed we expect to receive our blessings, and do you think the devil knows this? Yes, he knows all about it, and he stirs up the wicked, and why does he do this? To hinder the people of God from obtaining the blessings they desire. (It then began to rain, and brother Benson remarked), Well, I can stand the rain if you can. Brethren and sisters, we are neither sugar nor salt, although we are a little of both. Give us your attention for a few moments, and we will dismiss till two o’clock.

May the Lord bless you, that your hearts may be comforted, and that you may listen to all the instructions that you have heard during this Conference; this is my determination. May God bless you through Christ our Redeemer. Amen.

Necessity of Opposition

A Discourse by Elder Ezra T. Benson, Delivered at the Seventies’ Conference in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, February 16, 1853.

I have listened with a great degree of satisfaction to those who have already spoken. I am now called upon to cast in my mite by the words of my mouth. I take pleasure in doing so. I always have taken satisfaction in speaking to my brethren, whenever it has fallen to my lot.

I have no excuse to make, no particular preliminaries to introduce, but wish at once to mingle my spirit, views, and feelings with those of this people. Whatever may be my field of labor, or whatever I may be called upon to do, I am ready to do it willingly, and wish to act in the calling whereunto I am called, to the best of my ability; whether to preach, or to labor with my hands, or whatever it my be, it is all the same to me, so that I am attending to the duty of my calling, and working in the sphere of this our holy religion. From the experience that most or all of us have had in this day and age of the world, we have all pretty much come to the conclusion that whatever we do, whether it is today or at any other time, should be within the pale of our religion, acting in the spirit of our calling. This is the instruction we have been receiving this afternoon and this morning. My heart has been warmed up since I have been sitting here, and it does not take a great deal to warm it up in this case, because I try to so live before the Lord and this people, that it takes but little to warm it up.

What kind of feeling do we want resting upon us? We want the testimony of Jesus, and that is what we must have, not only this week, this month, and this year, but every day of our lives. We should be in possession of that which the Apostle Paul admonished the people to possess in his day, viz., to be ready to give a reason of the hope that you have in you.

Much good instruction has been given to the Elders of Israel. It is true I have been a little surprised, when I have reflected as a man reflects, when I have reasoned as a natural man would reason, at the remarks that have been made here this afternoon by President Joseph Young. Here we are, eating, and drinking, and sleeping in peace, “with none to molest, or make us afraid,” worshipping God according to the dictates of our consciences.

But when we reflect for a moment upon the past experience of this people, it speaks louder than thunder in our ears, we are to be on hand, as has been stated this afternoon. What is this for? It is for our good, that we may not lie down and become indolent, and say all is ease now in Zion. But the devil is not dead yet; he is on hand to do his work, to perform his mission, which is to stir up the Saints to their duty, if they do not attend to it by being counseled from God. It has been so in every age of the world—it has been the experience of this people.

We have now commenced to prepare for the building of a Temple; the ground has been staked out and broken; does not the devil know it? Yes; he knows all about it, and there could not be a thing to displease him more than for this people to talk about a Temple, to say nothing about going to work to build one. Did it not always stir up the devil? It was so in Kirtland, Missouri, and Illinois; and will it not be so in the City of the Great Salt Lake? It will. Are you not glad of it? You ought to be. Why? Because it is impossible to do anything, to any great extent, without an opposite. This is strictly according to the experience we have had. We must have an opposite, it must needs be that there is an opposite in all things to square us up, and make us ready to become useful in all things. I am glad of it, myself. What is required of us to do? Why, just do right, and all is right; what an easy lesson. Can you have any enjoyment without an opposite? We hear a good deal said about making sugar; but I tell you it is impossible to make sugar enough to make everything sweet. There is plenty of sweet, and there is also plenty of bitter. There must be an opposite, and it is all right.

What should the Saints do? You know you are right, God has told you so. The revelations of Jesus Christ have told you that you are right, and everybody who knows anything about God tells you that you are right, for you want to do right, and work righteousness. What greater testimony do you want? It is enough, it is quite sufficient. It is the privilege of everybody to do just as much good as they have a mind to. And what a glorious idea it is to know that we are in the Church and Kingdom of God, where there is a fountain of knowledge, of light, and of faith, where there is an inexhaustible fountain of matter and experience to work upon, so that a man is not trammeled in performing any one good thing. The revelations of Jesus Christ are far more liberal than Mr. Strang’s. He told the people that it was only the rich that should have many wives, and the poor are not to have any. Our God does not use any such expression; He makes no distinction between the rich and the poor, between the high and the low, the manservant and the maidservant; everybody is placed as free as the air that blows. Who is trammeled in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Is there one person? No, not one. Are you debarred from getting revelation? No, not at all. Light and intelligence are placed as free as the air that blows.

Can an Elder in Israel leave this place and go into the world to preach the Gospel without revelation? No. Can people live in these valleys of the mountains without it? No, they could no more live without the light of revelation than they could without eating bread, and performing the duties required at their hands. Well, what difference is there, then, if a man can have all that he needs?

I once heard a sectarian priest undertake to tell about the different glories Paul speaks of. He compared Christians to cups or tankards, some held a pint, some a gallon, &c. Now says he, “When the cups are all full, is not that enough.” I thought the comparison was pretty good. The Lord says He has different gifts and talents to the children of men; to one He gives revelation, to another the gifts of tongues, to another prophecy, to another the gift of miracles, but no man is deprived of obtaining them all, if he has the power of mind, intelligence, and faith to do so. We can get all we desire, all we can comprehend and ask for, or all we can appreciate. Here is wisdom, that a man should not ask for that he could not appreciate or comprehend, or make a good use of, although many of us may ask and receive like the child did the apples. A little child playing upon the floor sees you hold a plate of apples, it asks for one, which it holds in one hand; then it wants another in the other hand; then it wants more, until the arms and lap are filled to overflowing; still it is not content, but craves for more until it cannot hold them, and loses the whole. This spirit the President said he could see manifested by some of this people, so that if they are not careful their blessings will become a curse to them. We have to prove ourselves in all things, every man and woman in the Kingdom of God. Our faith is tried in many ways, and what plan looks better to a faithful, virtuous Latter-day Saint? And can you be a Latter-day Saint without being virtuous? The Prophet Joseph said one could not; and he said a virtuous man or woman is willing to do precisely as the Lord tells him. Then, according to the Prophet Joseph, it is virtuous for you to obey the voice of God—the counsel of heaven through that man whom God has set to preside over us. He holds the keys of salvation to this people, and to the nations of the earth; and when that man unlocks, there is not power enough in this earth to lock. This is the situation we are in, these are the keys that are held by the men of God among us. Have we anything to fear? We need not stop to spend any time to know whether we shall do this thing or the other we have been counseled to do. If it should be to sharpen up our swords, we need not inquire when a mob is coming from the States, or whether there is enough of mobocrats in our midst to raise one.

The longer I live, and the more experience I have, the more I feel like fighting for my religion and my rights. But to make a long story short, I would not give one groat whether I stay here one month, or one year, or twenty years longer. If I sit down, and reason with myself on this wise, “Well, I have built me a good, comfortable house, I have made me an excellent farm, and am just preparing to live;” or, “My wife is sick, and I have scarcely any provisions;” I should begin to draw in my horns, you know, and be against going away. But when we reflect upon the past, looking back upon the days of Nauvoo, and comparing the situation of this people now with their situation then; could we then claim a widespread Territory? No, we were settled then in a little elbow of the Mississippi, cornered up with mobs all around us, and even in that condition many of us felt first-rate. When we came away the enemy gave back before the Saints, and we crossed over the river unmolested. I am speaking of those who obeyed the counsel of the Lord.

I can recollect the time I had in Nauvoo. Brother Joseph Young remarked that he was President of the Seventies before any Seventies were organized; I also was somewhere, and was coming along in the natural train of things as fast as I could to stand in my lot among this people. I would have obeyed the Gospel before, if I had known enough. We found ourselves cooped up in Nauvoo, and the word of the Lord to this people was to gather out; and mobs menaced us on every side. Some good men at that time went to brother Brigham, “We shall never get out, we never can be permitted to pass through the Territory of Iowa.” Says brother Brigham, in reply to them, “We shall all go through, and not a man shall be hurt.” This I heard him say in the Temple of the Lord. Was it not the case? It was. The very moment the Saints began to cross the Mississippi River the cloud began to disperse, and the light in the west began to break forth; mobs began to disperse each way on the right and on the left, to let the Saints pass through unhurt. That was the situation of affairs at that time, it is all fresh upon my memory. I have not time to enter into this part of our history in full, I merely wished to refresh your memories, and make you feel as I do. All the people did not pass through, some half-hearted “Mormons” were left behind, with a sprinkling of true hearts, and the Lord was with them notwithstanding, and they stood there to whip the devil, and they did it first-rate.

Now let us stay here in the valleys of the mountains, and do all the good we can. Let us fight if the Lord says so, and blow and shatter hell from the center to the circumference if He tells us to do so, then it will be all right. But if He says, “Let the Saints go,” I tell you I want to be among the first train, if possible. I want to be on hand to obey counsel when the Lord speaks. We have escaped our difficulties in Illinois, and got a possession in these goodly valleys, by obeying the commandments of heaven, and what are our privileges? We are now organized as a Territorial Government, and acknowledged as such by the parent Government. This is the result of what we have passed through. Of course, then, if we carry out the same principle of progress, before we can be numbered as a free and sovereign State the mustard stalk must be again kicked; this is logical. It was pictured to us by the servants of God, before we embraced “Mormonism,” that we could not become Latter-day Saints without passing through much persecution. If we do not pass through it, it shows plainly to me that we are not Latter-day Saints.

I have known men converted to this Gospel through the remarks of the priests of Christendom. A very intelligent man in New York, for instance, when the priest told him not to run after this deluded people, saying, “They are thieves and robbers,” replied, “You don’t say so; why that is the people I have been hunting for—a people that all denominations of Christians speak against, for that is the Church of Jesus Christ; so, sir, I am a Mormon right straight.” We have got all these things to contend with, and it is all right, brethren and sisters; for here is your blessing, here is your crown, and with your crown, here is your glory. You are all desiring this, labor for it; and the longer I labor, the more experience I have. I find we have to labor with our own hands—this kingdom has got to be built up by manual labor; as the Governor said in the Legislature this winter, viz., our capital lies in the physical force of this people. Here is element in abundance all around us, as much as we have a mind to organize, according to the faith, experience, and ability that we possess from day to day.

Brethren, let us build a Temple, make farms, and raise an abundance of the good things of the earth; let us go to work and act according to the revelations we read from time to time, let us establish home manufactories, and, as I have said numbers of times this winter, I would to God we could say today that we will, from this time henceforth, sustain ourselves by the help of God, and abide by it. Decorate our own bodies with the workmanship of our own hands, and I know, as “Mormonism” is true, and my experience correct, we shall that moment be independent. If we are not willing to fulfil the word of the Lord by counsel, and the experience we pass through, He will let the devil punish us until we do it. What do we want of the Gentiles? I would rather wrap myself up in a buffalo robe than go back amongst them again, unless I was counseled to do so.

We are doing first-rate. I feel as though I was doing first-rate sometimes, and sometimes I do not feel so, but can discover that there is room for me to do a little better. I know the majority of this people mean to do right, and follow the counsel of the Lord’s servants, but there are some few who are wandering, their minds are not open to mark the providences of God to this people, but are pinned upon something else. We hear of meetings being established around in this city, for this ite, that ite, and the other ite. What is the matter with this portion of the people? Have they been neglecting their duties and their prayers? When I am out in the country, and stay at the houses of the brethren, I have an opportunity of seeing who prays. I stop all night at a brother’s house, I eat with his family, and I begin to know how he feels. If he is a praying man, he will ask me to pray with him, or he will pray for me, and his family, and the welfare of Israel.

I found, as I traveled round among the people, that many Elders of this Church seldom bow down to pray. We cannot live righteously without praying. Show me an individual who lives without prayer, and I will show you an individual who lives without the bread of life. Let us pray, and get into heaven as fast as possible; for we need not be many years in getting there. The quicker we get a Temple built, and preach the Gospel to the nations of the earth, and gather the Saints, the quicker we shall be released from the powers of darkness. If a man is perfectly filled with the Spirit of God, when the devil comes along there is no chance for him to enter. Here then is quite an advantage in a person’s being continually filled with the Spirit of truth. So you are on the right track, you are right, and nobody can get you wrong. If you suffer the Spirit of the Lord to leave your hearts, and the devil comes along and finds an empty house, he then enters in, and inasmuch as we are under transgression, he lays his hand upon us, saying, “You shall be my tool for me to work with, you have transgressed the laws of God, and my spirit shall lead you about; you shall go into Gladdenism, to this and that ism.” I say you ought to feel the happiest people upon the earth, because we have had experience in this Church; we have got righteous men to lead us; they have stood the test—stood through mobs, fire, sword, and death, and their knees have never trembled, nor their lips quivered upon any occasion; but they have done everything that could be done by mortal man for the good of this people, and for our deliverance.

We have nothing to fear, but fear God and work righteousness all the days of our lives. Do not let us be cast down, nor be troubled about that which we cannot help. As the Apostle Paul says, we have done the will of the Gentiles, but from this time we will serve the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Let us weed our own gardens, take care of our own concerns, and all will be right as far as we are concerned. I feel well, and I mean to go ahead in this great work; I want to see the winding up scene of this generation. If ever we are clipped of our Priesthood, our glory, and our crown, it will be when we cease to faithfully preach the Gospel, cease to keep the commandments of God enjoined upon us, cease doing good to this people. Then, at once, the principles of “Mormonism” will be contracted in us; we shall become leaky vessels in the principles of the Gospel, while we ought to retain every good thing we receive.

Does a man lose any of his Priesthood and power by going to heal and bless the sick? No, He receives a blessing at the same time. Is not a man blessed when he gets a revelation from God to this people? He is; and so are we blessed if we do the work of God. No man or woman is exempted from doing good; we may do just as much as we please. Let us have respect and kindness for each other; let us feel well towards each other, speak good things to each other, and of each other, for this is the way Saints should live. When we take this course we shall feel right. When I feel like blessing my brethren, like lifting them up, and exalting them in my feelings, I feel first-rate myself; but when I feel like dragging them down, I feel contracted in my feelings, my mind does not expand in the principles of “Mormonism;” but when I feel to bless everybody and do right by night and day, I feel like blessing everybody, and strong like a young lion sallying from his thicket. Do you want a qualification to that expression? I feel like blessing those who ought to be blessed, they do not stick anywhere else. God blesses no person, only on condition, neither do His servants. If a man rises up and prophecies great and glorious things on your head it is all on conditions. And says Jesus Christ, “He that endureth to the end shall be saved.” It is the faithful performance of our duties that will insure us an entrance into the celestial kingdom of God, not only today, but to the end of our lives.

Now, brethren and sisters, may God bless you; pray for yourselves; go into the private chamber, and there kneel down, and make known your wants unto God; if you ask wisdom He will not upbraid, but give it to you liberally. Get the spirit of prayer upon you, and then you are all right; it is no matter where we are, so as we are found doing the will of God. He does not require us to ascend these snow-capped mountains, or to go to the United States this winter, to do His will, but the arena of action is here, in our family circle, by our own firesides, attending to our daily labors and local duties. And if a man wishes to have the Spirit, let him expand himself in temporal matters, or spiritual if you please, for it is all spiritual and all temporal according to my feelings. I preach the Gospel, it is temporal, it is manual labor; I would rather chop cordwood anytime than do it, were I to consult my natural feelings. For when I preach to the people I want to take the word in my hand and throw it down their necks, and say, “That is ‘Mormonism,’ will you swallow it? It is the truth from heaven and I know it.” That is about all the preaching a man can do. You may quote Scripture for a month, and a sectarian will rise up and tell you, “We preach the Holy Scripture,” but if they do, they do not know it is true. I know that “Mormonism” is true; this testimony will make him shake like Belshazzar of old. When a man knows that “Mormonism” is true, he is commissioned to preach the Gospel; if he does not, he is not qualified.

We have heard a great deal this morning about reading and qualifying ourselves; it is right, and according to the revelations of God; but if I cannot have but one of these qualifications given me, I want to have the testimony of Jesus, which will pierce them like a cannon ball. It made me feel so. You will be called upon to go to the nations; and before you go, as brother Jedediah said, we want you to have “Mormon” thunder in you; and if you have not got any of it, we will try to pump some in you before you start. For you will have many kinds of devils to contend with; there are laughing devils, and crying devils, murmuring devils, and sympathetic devils, besides many more I could name. But don’t be afraid, brethren, you will all have a chance to go and see for yourselves.

I belong to all the Quorums. One Quorum is just as necessary as another, and if so, it is just as honorable in its place, sphere, and calling. What a beautiful Church the Lord has organized! We could not have thought of it; it is altogether beyond the wisdom of man, because a man, no matter how big, how eloquent, or learned he may be, has to be admitted through the same door, he must pass through the same ordeal as the ignorant, yet honest, poor man, he must be kicked, and cuffed, he must sacrifice all things for Christ’s sake, or he cannot reign with this people. How should we look among the exalted and glorified Saints who have passed through much suffering to obtain their crowns, if we had not passed through the same, could we reign with them with any satisfaction to ourselves? I think not. As we heard here last Sunday, do not be discouraged because you were not in the various troubles the Saints have passed through on sundry occasions, for you will get a chance to try yourselves in like scenes, that you may have the same glory, exaltation, and crown.

May the Lord bless you for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.