Retrospective Review of the Providences of God in Relation to the Saints—The Wrath and Schemes of Men Turned to the Advantage of God’s People—The Order of God’s Church Perfect—The Wicked Disturbed By Judgments While the Righteous Enjoy Peace—The Administration of the Law of God in Relation to Offences—Should Be Resigned to the Will of God in All Things

Discourse by Apostle F. D. Richards, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Saturday Morning, October 6th (Semi-Annual Conference), 1883.

The Lord be thanked and praised for granting us another so favorable opportunity of meeting together to contemplate the interests of His Kingdom, and our soul’s salvation at this Conference. “Day unto day uttereth speech,” said the ancient man of God, “and night unto night showeth knowledge.” We can say, that week after week, and month after month, since our last Conference, we have had renewed occasion for thanksgiving and praise to Him for the many blessings which He has vouchsafed unto His people.

If we take a retrospective view of His providences to us as a people, especially during the period of our sojourn in these mountains, we shall find that circumstances have occurred at very short intervals which have kept the people continually awakened to a sense of their liberties, and to a watch care for them, measuring and weighing and noticing the efforts that have been made from time to time to take away our privileges and liberties, and such blessings as were thought could be taken from us which we had entered into the enjoyment of, since our location in these mountain fastnesses. Step by step every such instance has been attended, if not with all that gift and abundance of favor and mercy which we might have desired, and which might not have been best for us, yet with sufficient blessing to manifest the kind care of our Heavenly Father continually and unceasingly over us.

When we came here and first made our laws, realizing that we were far away from the mass of the people of the States, both east and west of us, we found it was with great difficulty that we could avail ourselves of the few blessings which government seemed to tender to us. We could not even obtain the presence of federal officials in our midst regularly, as was designed by government, and as was needed by the people. Consequently, our isolation required our Legislature to confer unusual powers upon our local courts; but it was not long before the effort was made, and final success was had in taking from our local courts the civil and criminal jurisdiction. Time will not allow me to enter into minute details. Therefore, suffice it to say, that mission judges have come here fully determined to convert us from the error of our ways, as it appeared to them, to the “purity, refinement and civilization” of the world! After laboring and toiling some years in our midst, finding their decisions frequently overthrown by the decisions of the Superior Court at Washington, and our Prophet, who had been illegally imprisoned, released from his confinement, one thing after another upset their plans and devices; so that the great changes which had been hoped to be brought about among us to make us like the people of the world, signally failed, and the end of that effort was that the poor, miserable man who undertook the job, was carried home in his coffin.

I must notice one or two other important facts which have stood out very prominently before us, and they were, that this people who were not of the world, and had no fellowship or love with the world, must be restricted in their civil rights and military duties, for fear that they should do some mischief on a holiday, therefore they were forbidden by Gubernatorial Proclamation to order out a company of infantry or cavalry to help to celebrate the Fourth of July, as they and their fathers were wont to do from time immemorial.

One after another these and similar efforts have been made to take our liberties and privileges away from us, that we might be brought into some sort of contemptible subjection, it would appear. But without stopping to animadvert upon the folly and nonsense of such a procedure, let me inquire what was the result? What followed the procla mation that we should not do military duty as a people, or protect ourselves even from the surrounding savages? Immediately when this occurred, it seemed as if the very heavens were moved in our behalf, all the tribes around us became divested, seemingly, of what hostility they had possessed, and ever since that occurred we have had the most substantial peace and quiet all around us among the natives. How kind of Providence it was to so completely remove the enmity of the natives when this circumstance transpired. We are relieved from the unpleasant tax of military duty, and even our adversaries are made to be at peace with us. What a logic of fact for a contentious world to read.

During the past year, the great efforts that have been made have seemed to prove abortive; special efforts and measures have appeared to miscarry; and we have had a law right from the Capitol, that seemed as if it must tell on the “Mormons.” A class of our people have been temporarily divested of the right of suffrage; men and women, who may have violated some law, and many who have never violated any law of Congress, have been deprived of their political rights. But with all this, we still seem to live and thrive and prosper faster than we have ever done before. The very step itself will prove a great blessing to this people by separating a portion of those who have not the highest respect and veneration for all the laws of God, and enabling those who have, to be the wiser counselors and more efficient aids in advancing the interests of the Kingdom in the hands of those who may be more acceptable in the eyes of government to wield administration here locally.

But it is a singular fact, a singular circumstance, that a man should come here from the heart of the nation—clothed, as was supposed, with every qualification to be a Governor of Utah, and then act as he has acted. He had been through the army in the late rebellion. He was a man capable, as was supposed, of understanding what was right and proper as between the nation and any other part of the country that might seem to feel in any wise oppressed or limited, and who would administer constitutional rights and executive powers with ability and with skill. He came here clothed with the supreme beauty of the State from whence he came. This man by his excessive propensity for figures, as we all know, made some very strange calculations; and then when one thing didn’t work another seemed to, until our representative in Congress was removed. But by and by we are blessed with another one in Congress to represent us there. And in a short time we found that, with the special effort that was being made in Washington in our behalf, such a shadow of doubt was cast over a certain portion of the law, entitled the Hoar amendment, when it was thought advisable by the Governor to execute some three hundred commissions, more or less, to men whom he appointed to fill supposed vacancies in this Territory, which if carried out would have turned over the local authority of the Territory into the hands of the avowed enemies of this people, but the supposed vacancies did not exist and the offices continued in the hands of the incumbents. After all, an election was held during the past season, when these offices were filled by the people’s candidates. Thus we have occasion again to rejoice that notwithstanding another desperate effort has been made to take away the rule from the hands of the people, and put it into the hands of their enemies, and make us an outside Territory, subject to their oppressions, subject to all manner of taxation that they might please to impose upon us—we find that the voice and vote of the people are still triumphant, that their candidates have gone into office, and are commissioned, the selections having been made from among those whose rights and privileges have been maintained unto them.

It is a singular feature in this matter, that the Governor has taken it into his head to leave the Territory, just at the time when it was supposed he would be required to execute these commissions. But without going into particulars, persons of ordinary discernment observe that the course he has taken is such that he cannot himself cheek it to remain and issue the commissions to the properly elected persons to rule in this Territory; indeed it looks as though the dishonorable, undignified course he has taken is just what has driven him from the Territory, to leave his duty and let the secretary be acting governor. When men come here full of determination to show their bravery, their ability, smartness and competency, beyond their predecessors, to capture Utah, and turn her over to the hands of the ungodly; it appears that everyone who has made such an attempt has met with very signal defeat. When a man defeats himself as perfectly as this last one has, I think the Latter-day Saints have occasion to thank God and take courage; we have reason to rejoice and praise the Lord in all these matters, for whatever our enemies do, He makes it return that, like a boomerang that is thrown out, it comes back and strikes the person that hurled it.

Well, then, my brethren and sisters, seeing that this is the way that these matters all move, the way they all operate, should it not inspire in us the most profound gratitude toward God for these manifestations of his mercy, goodness and blessing unto us. He has made our fields to abound with plenty. He has favored us with blessings innumerable and incomprehensible. We have a peace, a joy and a satisfaction at heart which those men who make these desperate laws cannot contemplate. We rejoice in the blessings that heaven is bestowing upon us. Is it not, then, our bounden duty to testify to God, the angels, and those that attend upon the covenant people of God, that we are determined to love Him more and serve Him better? I was pleased to hear the remark made by one of my brethren yesterday, that he felt on returning here, after an absence of five or six years, that there was an improvement in the spirit and feelings of the people. This is very manifest to those who observe and notice it. But we think there should be a very much greater improvement. Many of us have been very careless of some of the commandments; words of wisdom which the Lord has seen fit to give to us. We have not used that care, that caution, and that sound discretion in our daily lives before Him, which it is becoming we should do. I propose, brethren and sisters, in view of this matter, that we take these things to heart, and see if we can and ought to draw nearer to God, while He is willing to draw nearer to us, and thus more fully sense His blessings, His mercies, and His loving kindness unto us.

This institution—which President Taylor so beautifully reviewed yes terday morning in the Assembly Hall, noticing the varied authorities of the Church and their multifarious duties—sets forth to every discerning mind, that the order of God’s government presupposes and contemplates the strongest possible form of government that has ever been known on the earth. Men have come here in years past, and in speaking of President Young, they have said that he had a strong government here in Utah; and later on, in speaking of President Taylor, that he had a strong government in Utah, and also that men coming here from abroad to govern the people, simply governed the outsiders, and that the President of the Church governed the Latter-day Saints. This is the way the ungodly speak about it. Latter-day Saints know that the order of God’s Church is the perfect order. They know that it is the one intended to give a people strength in the earth, and that strength is in their righteousness, in their virtue, in their purity; and in their union and fellowship with the Spirit, with each other, and with the heavens.

These principles are very dear and very glorious, and we ought to rejoice above all men in the earth. We may look to the east, to the west, to the north and to the south, and we see all governments, all peoples, all nations, all kindreds and tongues stirred up with an activity, a spirit of strife and ambition for superiority, and we see that there is continual commotion among them in their political affairs and in their civil relations. There are a great many disturbances continually going on, and many of the nations are really on the verge of bankruptcy through the vast debts created to maintain their numerous armies, even in the time of peace; while here among this people, though our liberties are menaced and threatened, and our peace would be sometimes disturbed if we would allow it, yet by the blessing of God we enjoy peace in our hearts, such peace as the wicked cannot give to us nor take from us. The voice of Him that spake to the waves of Gennesaret, and commanded them to be still, speaks to us, and while dark clouds and the thunderings and lightnings roll over the political horizon, yet in the hearts, in the homes and in the habitations of the just there is peace, such as the wicked know not of, and it bespeaks the truth of the revelation which says that not long hence the people of Zion shall be the only people that will not be at war among themselves, and that the day will be when they who will not take up the sword against their neighbor, will have to flee to Zion, of which this is the embryo.

Look abroad and see what the Lord is doing in the way of judgments. There has scarcely been a year for many years past when they have seemed to be so terrible as they have been during this present year, so far. Think of one portion of the world where islands of the sea have been sunk, and 100,000 people reported destroyed by earthquake and volcanic eruptions. And another where it is said some 15,000 or 20,000 were likewise destroyed. Think of it! And yet the Lord has preserved us in these mountains—in this region of country that might scientifically be called one of the most volcanic portions of the whole earth. The very face of the earth tells us its character by its extinct volcanoes, its silent craters, and numerous hot springs. Look at the strata of the earth’s crust in these canyons, and see its nature. Also the Lord has manifested His judgments by cyclones, etc. The words of the Prophet Joseph have been and are being verified, those words he uttered before he went to Carthage. Said he: “I call for the four winds of heaven, the thunderings, lightnings, earthquakes, whirlwinds, the hailstorms, pestilence, and the raging seas to come forth out of their hiding places and bear testimony of the truth of those things which I have taught to the inhabitants of the earth as is promised in the revelations that have been given.” These were some of his last words among the people. And what have we seen? Scarcely a week last summer without a cyclone or hurricane happening somewhere in the States, destroying towns and villages, or parts thereof.

We live in times, if we only considered the matter and looked upon it as we should do, that should cause us to draw near unto the Lord and to live up to every word that proceedeth from His mouth.

I wish to bear testimony that this Gospel and this order of government which I have been alluding to, is that which brings down the blessings of Heaven upon this people. Besides peace and good order, it brings the gifts and blessings of the Gospel, the gift of healing to those who are afflicted and wounded, and who are walking upon the borders of the grave; such are restored and healed by its divine power exercised in the prayers and faith of the Saints.

The fact of the matter is, those things which are held out as menaces to us are the things that preserve us from the hands of the wicked, and keep us from forgetting God, in the time of prosperity. It is one of the greatest blessings to us that we are kept continually on the alert, diligently seeking after Him, putting our trust in Him, and then to find how successfully and perfectly He leads us to triumph over our enemies, and makes the mischief they would bring upon us recoil upon their own heads. Saints find it good to trust in Him.

The great work that is now upon us—to build temples and to labor in them, calls upon us to perform our duties faithfully; calls upon Presidents of Stakes and Bishops of Wards that they look well among their peoples and see if they are not taking upon themselves the responsibilities of other people’s sins. Presidents, High Councilors and Bishops should seek diligently the Spirit of the Lord, to know how to deal with and decide between the righteous and the wicked; to know how to pull up the tares without pulling up a great number of the roots of the wheat. When a man has given himself up to be a drunkard, to dishonor the cause of God, and to be picked up in the streets, and to become a reproach, until people say, “that is one of your Mormons,” it is time the Bishops or Elders, or those whose duty it is, were looking after him to see that this evil is put away, and to see that his wife, who may be the deepest mourner over this whole matter, and his children, clothed in sorrow over his conduct—to see that they are cherished and sustained and preserved, lest while pulling up the tares you pull up the wheat also. It requires the skill and wisdom of the Holy Spirit in all of these things to know how to deal in the right way, to save those that can be saved, while those who will not work righteousness, may be known as transgressors, and that we may no longer carry them upon our faith, and become partakers of their sins.

In the late organization of 1877, a score of Stakes were organized, a great many more Wards were instituted, many men were called and ordained to be Bishops in the Church who had never given their attention to consider carefully the duties of the bishopric. In view of the responsibilities of this calling—it may not be thought strange, that some brethren holding this high and holy office are so afraid that they would do wrong, that they even dare not do right! Now, this is true whether you believe it or not. A great many men hold these important offices who are so timid and so fearful lest they should do wrong, that they are slow and backward in doing the thing which is right. Now, what is it that makes a man useful and strong in his calling and labors? Is it not his constant labor, and the diligent, actual performance of his duties? What is it that makes the blacksmith’s right arm stronger than any other man’s? It is because he is all the time using it, and in this way his arm acquires that practice which gives it the greatest attainable strength. If the brethren standing in these responsible places, whether they be Presidents of Stakes or Bishops of Wards, see anything wrong in their Wards, it is their duty to get after it. And it is notably the duty of a teacher to be conversant with the people, and to see that there is no iniquity in the Church. Instead of hardness of feeling or division of sentiment, or mischief of any kind being allowed to exist in your Stake, until it produces party strife, and people take sides with one and sides with another, it is far better to get after the mischief at once, find out where it is, root it out, and set matters right before the peace of families, of neighborhoods, and perhaps of the Ward is disturbed. I wish the brethren in authority would heed this matter and wake up to their duties, and not act merely as figureheads, but more like men of God clothed with authority and power. When men standing in such responsible positions are so backward in their duties, they don’t know the power of God, nor the spirit of their callings; but the moment they step forward and take hold with a prayerful heart, coming from their closets, clothed with the Spirit of God, they find they have the power to make peace and restore union, fellowship and love in the midst of the people, and the people love and bless them in return. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.

We need a great deal of missionary service at home. We need a deal of labor in all the spheres of life—in the families, in the Wards, and in the Stakes of Zion, which are organized and are being built up in the Church in these latter times. The work is constantly spreading. Stakes are being organized in different parts of the country, and the work of God is prospering. Our enemies “can do nothing against the truth, but rather for the truth;” for God will sanctify their evil designs and their wicked and ungodly purposes, to bring to pass His ends and to magnify His name and to honor Him in the earth.

Let us humble ourselves before the Lord, let us keep His commandments and teach our children so to do. Let us teach them the principles of purity and righteousness, so that they may go to the house of the Lord pure as they were born, free from sin, and while there to enter into covenants with God that shall abide and stand while time shall last and eternity en dure; that they may live, grow and increase, as Abraham grew and increased, become as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore for multitude. For the blessings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, have come down upon us. And they that are the children of Abraham will do the works of Abraham. Let us not forget it; that they that would inherit the blessings of Abraham, must do the works of Abraham, to entitle them to these blessings.

Let us draw near to the Lord with our households, and strengthen ourselves in the truth. “Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people.”

We ought to be more careful concerning the observance of the Sabbath. We talk of the great things of the laws of God, such as adultery, and those greater crimes, and murder, which are less frequently committed, but which are most terrible in their effects upon those who do, and are terrible also in their effects upon those who are surrounded and are connected therewith; but let us attend also to the Sabbath, to keep it holy, and go to our meeting and be more dutiful in that respect, and not go to the canyons, or hunt stock, and attend to a multitude of things, which otherwise might be avoided. Let us avoid if we are going a journey, starting on a Sunday, “just to save one day more for business.” Let us undertake no manner of business on that day. Let us reverence the Sabbath as God has commanded us in the revelations of the last days. It is one of the ten commandments. “Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work,” etc. The Lord has been particular. He is going to be particular again. We have been in circumstances where we were rudely dealt with. We have had to travel over the plains; but even there we reverenced the Sabbath. We stopped our teams and let the cattle rest, and attended to our duties. Now we have come into a country where we have hardly had to buy land save at a nominal Government figure. Here we found a new world—a place in which we could make a living; and cannot we afford to take time to serve the Lord? To rest our bodies and refresh our spirits by a study of His holy word, increasing our faith also?

Another thing, we ought not to run after doctors as much as we do. “But,” says one, “if we have a bone broken we must have somebody to set it.” Yes, that is true, but we need not take all the nostrums they can think of. We ought first to go to the Lord and exercise our faith as far as we can make use of it in that direction, and we will make fewer blunders than we do in placing implicit confidence in the medical and surgical professions. When we do this we are certainly sure of one thing—we secure the help of God, and the help of angels; and if we are appointed unto death, we want to go. We ought to want to go. Our prayers and supplications should be always conditional—that is, if not appointed unto death that he or she should be raised up. And if the heavens want a man to labor there in any sphere, there is where he should be. If a man is wanted to be on a mission in Europe, in Germany, or in the States, and he stays at home, he is not where he ought to be. He ought to be where God would have him; there the Holy Spirit will labor with him and help him. But for us to importune the Lord to heal those whom He has appointed unto death is just like asking—as we do once in a while—a man to go on a mission, and we get a long petition saying that he is such a blessed dear good man, or he has been such a good schoolmaster, “Do, pray, President let him stop.” Now, when the Presidency want a man to go on a mission, he ought to go. It is best for that man that he should go. It is best for all concerned that he should go to the place he is sent and labor with all his heart. Just so with us. Here we are on a mission in the world. The matter of death is a very small matter. It is a matter of life or death to be sure; but if the Lord does not want us here, and we are taken away, His will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.

I do not wish to occupy more time, for fear of infringing upon the rights of others.

I pray the Lord to still bless Israel, to bless us with humility, and with faithfulness in the keeping of His commandments; then we shall see more and grander things accomplished on His part, just in proportion to the faithfulness with which we perform the duties devolving upon us. May the Lord help us to do this; and to walk in the way of life, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Causes of Gratitude—The Church Illustrated By a Vine—Priesthood Represented By the Branches—Independence—Case of Lyman Wight—Priesthood on the Earth and in the Spirit World

Discourse by Apostle F. D. Richards, delivered at the General Conference, Saturday Morning, April 7, 1883.

It is a very pleasing privilege that we have of meeting together in Conference assembled in this manner. I have been very much gratified, interested and instructed, as I am sure all the faithful have been, who have been present and shared or partaken of the spirit of this Conference. I hope and pray that while we shall remain together we may feel the spirit of inspiration resting upon us to guide our minds in our reflections and our speech into those channels of communication that shall be most profitable to the people.

We have this day extraordinary reason for gratitude and praise to God our Heavenly Father for the peculiar manifestation of His kindness and mercy to us during the past year; not only in granting that the earth should be fruitful in yielding abundantly for the returning wants of His people both for man and beast, but for the protection and deliverance of His people from the machinations and devices and the subtle plans of men high in authority, who have set themselves to ensnare us, and if it were possible, to hinder the work of God—men who have thought to destroy or cripple the great cause which God has established in the earth for the redemption and exaltation of the human family, from degradation and sin to the realms of intelligence and glory in His kingdom. Surely all Saints who have been making “first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” their aim and study, cannot fail to have both seen and felt this. It is but another assurance from on high of his good pleasure in not only having given unto us the kingdom, but in preserving the rights, the powers and blessings thereof from encroachment or invasion and from injury by the hands of the wicked and ungodly.

I am reminded that the time at my disposal this morning is short, there being several yet to address the Conference. I will, therefore, proceed directly to call your attention to a passage of Scripture found in the 15th chapter of John:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

“Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

“Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except you abide in me.

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

“If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”

One of the Prophets, I think it was Jeremiah, said that the vine was the noblest or choicest of all the trees of the forest. The Savior, no doubt, in view of this general understanding, adopted the vine to figuratively represent the precious principles which He undertook to illustrate in the foregoing passages of Scripture, and which I wish to make some allusion to, in illustration of the importance of our being in a proper position to attend to our duties faithfully, which is necessary for the complete growth and progress of the vine, to which we are attached in all its branches, leaves, flowers and fruits.

Christ’s Church is frequently spoken of as a vine of the Lord’s planting in the earth. Our Savior and the ancient Prophets Nephi, Jacob, Zenos, and others, spoke of the husbandman going forth in the morning to employ workmen to labor in his vineyard, during the heat and burden of the day; and also about the eleventh hour, of his employing laborers to go into the vineyard and prune it for the last time. I wish to remind you my brethren of the Priesthood, especially those who are called to occupy important leading positions in the Wards, the Stakes and councils of Zion, that you are the men who were spoken of and written about in their parables.

The Prophets of those early days were so filled with the spirit and power of the Gospel and of revelation, that they looked into the future and saw in vision the birth of Christ and the work that he was to perform. They also beheld our day, and the work in which we are engaged. It must be borne in mind that we are not working alone for our dear selves, but for those coming after us; and that our work bears a strict relation to those that have been here and gone before us to the spirit world, to whom we are as closely related; and without whom we cannot be made perfect, any more than they without us.

Therefore, every Elder clothed with the Priesthood has a right to officiate in ordinances affecting the happiness of those who have gone before, as well as of being the means of bestowing blessings upon those who follow him; and for the use of this power he will be held accountable.

Now let it be understood, Jesus said, “I am the true vine.” Everybody acquainted with the art of pruning knows that to make a tree bear the greatest amount of fruit he must trim it so that there will be no small branches springing up around the roots, but that there be one vine with all the sap running through it. He has not only said, “I am the true vine;” but also “ye are the branches.” If the tree be properly trimmed the sap, which is the life of it, will go from the roots through the vine to all the branches thereof. Jesus said in connection with this “every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”

Let it be understood that the healthy, thrifty growth of the limbs, the leaves, the bloom and the fruit, all depends upon the close adherence of the “branches” to the “vine”—the body of Christ. And every man bearing the Holy Priesthood must be made conscious of this in his experience and observations at one time or another if he is of any use as a living branch in this Church.

To this vine, in our dispensation there are three branches—the First Presidency—who are closely allied to the powers behind the veil; and they are the first to receive the mind and will of God, and communicate the same to the Church. This is that Spirit of revelation, the sap that comes from the vine, that goes to all the branches. And not only do we see these three main branches next the trunk, but a little further along are twelve other branches, spreading out and each of them, shooting forth other branches, twigs, tendrils, leaves and fruit, if they abide in the vine.

Now if those branches by any means become injured, or are not in a healthful condition from any course—no matter what—so that the free flow of the sap from the trunk and main branches is arrested, or retarded, the consequence is that the lesser branches, the twigs, leaves and fruit depending for nourishment and life upon the injured or deadened limb, are more or less affected, hindered in their growth, dwarfed in their development, and must suf fer death unless relieved by a healthy pruning.

I wish now to call the attention of the Presidents of Stakes to the consideration of this fact.

It is the duty of every President of a Stake to attend the annual and semi-annual Conferences, which are held in this place so far as practicable, but if it should so happen that a President himself could not be present, then he should see that one or both of his Counselors come, or some faithful man of an excellent spirit from his Stake who shall be capable of receiving the instructions given, and who is able to communicate the same to his President and to the people. And such a person or persons should be men whose duty it shall be to stay until the Conference is over, attending every meeting, and paying the strictest attention to all instructions given and to all Church business transacted.

They should not come here in a hurry to get away before the business of the Conference is attended to; they should not feel as though they could leave before receiving all that the Presidency have to say to them; so that when they do return to their homes they may go laden with counsel and filled with the spirit of the Conference, ready to impart the same to the people of their several Stakes. The President who does this keeps alive the fire, the Spirit of the Lord in the hearts of his people. By attending such conferences he goes home with more efficient instructions to convey to the people at home, and at the half yearly or quarterly conference over which he presides, he is enabled to impart to all who were unable to attend, the spirit of this general conference.

I hold it, then, to be of the utmost importance that the Presidents of Stakes do make it their business to see that they as branches abide more carefully and more strictly in the vine, and that they receive the sap and nourishment of these conferences to the utmost capacity and carry it home to support every twig, every leaf, and every particle of fruit on the vine, for their proper, healthy growth and maturity. This principle is not only applicable to the Presidents of Stakes, but it is applicable in like manner in your quarterly conferences to every Bishop.

In those conferences every Ward should be represented by the Bishop and his Counselors, and as many of the people as possible should be present to receive the counsels there given. What is the result sometimes when instructions have been given by President Taylor through the Presidents of Stakes, and only a part of them were present? Why, it is found, when some important matter comes up, that this counsel has been neglected, and those who ought to have been well informed are heard to say, “Why, we never heard of this before.” Why did you not hear of it? Why were you not there in your place to hear of it, and thus be prepared to carry out the instruction given?

In like manner every branch in all the missions abroad should observe and secure a correct and proper representation in all the conferences that are held in the various missions wherever the Gospel is preached and branches are raised up. This is an absolute requirement. (See Doctrine and Covenants, section 20, verse 81 and on). By this means, and in no other way, can the law of the Lord go forth from Zion, and the spirit of Zion extend to the most remote branch or member of the Church on the face of the whole earth.

This is the principle. You brethren of the Priesthood, as branches of this vine, are expected to abide in it, to have the fullest connection with it, and be prepared to convey the sap, which has been conveyed to you, through the trunk to the extreme branches, the tendrils, the leaves and the fruit that are under your care. But unless you do this your people will suffer for want of intelligence; they will have to go short of that spiritual food which you are made the dispenser of and which you are expected to impart for nourishment and support, not only in spiritual matters, but in temporal things as well.

Now, there is a feeling among mankind—it is a feeling that is common in the world, and it is not strange that some who have been brought up in the world should retain it—a feeling of independence, a feeling of self-sufficiency, a feeling that we are capable of doing without counsel, and that we can do this and that as we think best. My brethren, the less of this feeling we carry with us, the safer and better for us and for the people we have to instruct. We should understand our dependence on God and on our brethren who are placed over us in the Priesthood for that counsel necessary to sustain us and that will enable us to bear off the Kingdom of God in righteousness.

Let me cite you to an instance of a man in the early days of the Church—Lyman Wight showed this kind of spirit when Joseph lived. It was all Joseph could do to keep him in subjection to the counsels of the Priesthood, but he did conform when brought to a consideration of his position in the Church so long as Joseph lived. But when the Prophet Joseph died he did not recognize the right of Apostle Brigham or his brethren of the Council to preside over him. And where did he go? He started an offshoot of the Church by himself, and both he and those who followed him went out into the world to destruction and to the devil together. This is the fate of those who think they can “run” themselves and can “run” the affairs of the Church and Kingdom of God separately and independent of their brethren. If he had continued and abode in the vine and made himself one with Brigham Young and the Apostles, he would have gathered with us to these valleys of the mountains, rejoiced with us, and laid down his bones here, and been one with the people of God. But, no; he went off by himself, feeling totally independent of his brethren. He abode not in the vine, and brought forth no fruit.

If there be any among us who say in their hearts I received my blessings from President Young, he bestowed upon me all blessings, authority, Priesthood, and keys of power that anyone else has received, not excepting President Taylor or any of the Apostles, and I have just as much right to advise and build up according to my own direction as he or they have—let such take warning by the course of Lyman Wight, Geo. Miller, and others, who have struck out independently and see the end which their course has led them to. As the Savior said, “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”

There is no other way for the brethren of the Apostles, the Presidents of Stakes, the Bishops of Wards and for all those who stand in authority in the Church—there is no other way for men to have the love of Christ in them, to have the power of the Priesthood, to grow with God’s Kingdom, but that they abide in the vine, be one with their brethren, keep fast to the truth, and derive their full share of the sap that comes from the roots through the body of the vine.

This is the principle I wish the brethren would consider. It is a beautiful figure which the Savior draws, and beautifully represents the great truth that should be fastened upon our minds, as He tried to fasten it upon the Apostles and Priesthood of His time. “Every branch in me that bringeth not forth fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”

Then, we must look out and see that nothing offends us; that we live in harmony with all the instructions and counsels of the Church; we want to see the spirit of love and power flowing not only through the body, but through all the branches, until it reaches the utmost extremity of the vine. Not only the Apostles, Seventies and High Priests, but the Deacons and members, all who have been baptized into Christ and who abide in Him.

Some of you may have noticed and seen that there are vines whose branches extend quite to the tops of the tallest trees, and that it was difficult to fell such trees because of the sustaining power of the vine. The vine bears the choicest of all fruits. This vine which God has planted in these last days is the choicest and greatest of all, and it will make itself manifest as such. And we wish all those brethren who are called to labor in the vineyard, to be in a position to attend these conferences, especially our annual conference, so that they may hear—and if they have not minds sufficiently strong to remember everything, to bring pencil and paper and take notes of all matters that need to be remembered and carried home and imparted to the people who reside in their various Stakes and Wards, Conferences and Branches.

There is another beautiful illustration that might be made with regard to the vine, but I have not time save to refer to it this morning. It is this: If you take a vine that has had growth for awhile and you go carefully and dig it up from the earth, you will find that there is a very striking similarity in the roots to the appearance and character of the branches above. Did you ever notice this? Did you ever think of it? Well, this is a beautiful illustration of the order of the Priesthood in the eternal world. The Apostle in speaking concerning these matters, refers to a “hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.” The Priesthood behind the veil are all interested in us, all anxious for us, all ready to minister to us as far and as fast as occasion permits or requires, as the roots continually generate nourishment and minister to the branches or top of the tree; so that we may be found efficient in our spheres and in our fields of labor. We ought never to feel that we are alone. We cannot be alone. We ought to know we cannot live without them, nor they live and be glorified without us. And while this responsibility is extended to us, we should sense that we and they are parts of the great whole of father Adam’s family, and that there is a responsibility resting upon us that is great and that is general. This vine has yet to yield great and glorious fruits, while its branches must fill the earth and the fowls of heaven, the angels, will lodge in them. What are we doing to bring forth these fruits? What to promote the growth of this vine in the earth? What are you Presidents of Stakes doing? Do you realize that you are raising up and professedly educating in the name of the Lord a nation of Kings and Priests to God? Do you impress upon the hearts of the Saints that this is our work? Do you instruct the Teachers, and those of the lesser Priesthood how to deal with the people, and to see that there is no iniquity permitted in their midst? This is the kind of fruit that grows on this vine, brethren, and this is the kind of fruit that you are called upon to nourish, strengthen and protect. And don’t you know the grape must not only grow but it must gain color. The fruit must be fully ripened. It is a fruit that needs a good deal of warm sunny weather, the sunshine of the Holy Spirit. It can only ripen in that right kind of climate, and that climate is right here—the shining of the sun of the Holy Spirit and the understanding thereof. This nation of “kings and priests” must be so reared that when the Savior comes He will find a people ready to receive Him; a people who shall be full of the faith and the power of the Gospel; a people whose lives shall in all respects comport with the character of Saints of God; in fact, who shall be the people that the Apostle John speaks of when he says: “They sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” This was their song of joy and rejoicing, which was expressive of the glory and power, exaltation and gladness that filled their souls.

There are other interesting and important phases of our great work which bear a striking analogy to the vine and its branches, but I cannot take time to dwell upon them now, lest I wrong those who have yet to address you. I think perhaps I have said enough to call your attention to the subject and the Spirit will aid you to pursue it. My earnest desire is that we may master this and all principles of the Gospel, and make them our own eternal riches, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

Tithes and Offerings—Consecrations and Stewardships—The Law of the Lord to the Latter-day Saints—The Meaning of “Surplus Property”—Tithes and Offerings in Ancient Times—The Year of Jubilee or Release—The Importance of Paying Tithing—God the Giver of Every Good Gift—Tithes and Offerings His Due

Discourse by Elder F. D. Richards, delivered at Logan, on Saturday Afternoon, Nov. 6, 1882.

My dear brethren and sisters and friends, I am much edified by the remarks which have been made here today. I believe that your president is looking after his work throughout this Stake over which he presides, and I hope you will take into careful consideration the subjects he has presented to you, as they are matters of practical importance. We feel that we are numbered with God’s people, and that it is very well with us in a general way, but there is a time coming when we shall each and every one of us be brought to a solemn, serious and faithful understanding of our true relationship to God and to each other, as well as to the work in which we are now called to labor. We all have our free agency to do good or evil. Every faithful Saint will have a desire to find the blessing that legitimately belongs to each particular ordinance and labor in the Church, for there is a blessing belonging to each office and calling, to each labor and duty, and to each particular ministration and work required of us.

The Elders who spoke this morning made allusions to the subject of tithing, which particularly pleased me; some may think this a hackneyed subject and wish we would talk about something else, believing that they know all that has been spoken or written about it; but I think there are a few things pertaining to this matter which we may not have considered. If there is any brother here who feels that today his tithing is onerous or that this tithing is a tax upon him, and that he has got so much he cannot afford to pay tithing on it, or that he has so little that he cannot spare a tenth of it, such a brother does not realize and sense the blessing that flows from paying an honest tithing, for if he did he would deem it just as necessary to obey that law of God to us, in order to obtain the special blessing thereof, as he would of going to his meals in order to derive the temporal blessing of health and strength from partaking of food. If we could take home to our hearts and understandings the sayings of Bishop Hunter here last Conference, namely, “pay your tithing and be blessed,” the subject of tithing would appear of greater moment to us. I recollect, not long ago, being told that a certain person worth his thousands of dollars paid one dollar and fifty cents; perhaps in order to be able to say at the end of the year that he paid tithing. Now, this kind of compromise with one’s conscience is not the thing for Saints—hypocrites may indulge in it.

Will you engage with me a few minutes, and consider the subject of tithing as the Lord has given it to us, and see if we can get to understand it, see if, peradventure, there is something in it worthy to be sought after. Does he give us a requirement that is not fraught with blessing and consolation to us. Not at all. Every requirement lived up to brings consolation and blessing. If I can have the liberty of the spirit to dwell on this subject, I would like us to look at it, and see if there is not something in it which we have not found out and which is both desirable and profitable.

I will read from the Doctrine and Covenants a short but very comprehensive Revelation upon this subject; but before doing so let me say that wherever tithing is spoken about, the word offerings is frequently connected with it. For instance, the Lord by His prophet Malachi, charged Israel with having robbed him of His tithes and offerings. These are words which although not strictly synonymous, are so nearly alike that they are frequently used together, and sometimes one for the other. But as used in the ancient scriptures tithes are not offerings, and offerings are not tithes. It should be kept in mind that this Church was organized more than eight years before the Lord gave to his people in this great and last dispensation a law on the subject of tithing. Let this be borne in mind as we proceed. The beginning of this work was founded in offerings and in consecrations, by the people giving themselves and all they possessed to the work of God when they embraced it. In the building of the Temple at Kirtland, the law of tithing was not known, but every man went to work on that House after the manner of bees returning to their hive, and each bringing in the necessary material to enable them to carry on the work.

When the first Bishop, Edward Partridge, was appointed to the high position of Bishop of the Church in Zion, his duty, as given by revelation, was not to deal with tithing. Indeed tithing was not even mentioned in the whole revelation, but he was required to receive the consecrations of the Saints, and to set off to them their inheritances. No revelation had yet been given upon the subject of tithing. When the Saints had gone up from Kirtland to Jackson County in Missouri, and had been driven to Clay County, and from Clay to Caldwell County, and when Brothers Joseph and Hyrum, David and Oliver, and the leading authorities of the priesthood at that time were congregated in Far West, the then gathering place of Israel, and where a Temple was appointed to be built, it was on the 8th of July, 1838, that the Lord gave for the first time to this people, through the Prophet Joseph Smith the law on the subject of tithing, and we should understand this in order to approach the subject in a correct and proper manner.

Up to this time you will recollect that the Saints had gone to Missouri to receive inheritances according to the order of stewardships, consecrating all they had to the Bishop in Zion; and in turn he delivered to every man his stewardship and gave to him a written deed and covenant, in the name of the Lord, and in the authority of his holy ministerial calling which could not be broken; and as you well know who are familiar with the history, the Saints were during the following winter of 1838-9, driven out from Missouri altogether.

We will now look at this short revelation given through Joseph, the Prophet, at Far West, Missouri, July 8th, 1838, in answer to a question, “O Lord, show unto thy servants how much thou requirest of the properties of the people for a tithing.”

1. “Verily, thus saith the Lord, I require all their surplus property to be put into the hands of the Bishop of my Church of Zion,

2. “For the building of mine house, and for the laying of the foundation of Zion and for the priesthood, and for the debts of the Presidency of my Church.

3. “And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people.

4. “And after that, those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever, for my holy priesthood, saith the Lord.

5. “Verily I say unto you, it shall come to pass, that all those who gather unto the land of Zion shall be tithed of their surplus properties, and shall observe this law, or they shall not be found worthy to abide among you.

6. “And I say unto you, if my people observe not this law, to keep it holy, and by this law sanctify the land of Zion unto me, that my statutes and my judgments may be kept thereon, that it may be most holy, behold, verily I say unto you, it shall not be a land of Zion unto you.

7. “And this shall be an ensam ple unto all the stakes of Zion. Even so. Amen.”

Before going further I want to stop and consider the question asked by some, what He means where the Lord requires the surplus property of His people as the beginning of their tithing. Let us consider for a moment this word “surplus.” What does it mean when applied to a man and his property? Surplus cannot mean that which is indispensably necessary for any given purpose, but what remains after supplying what is needed for that purpose. Is not the first and most necessary use of a man’s property that he feed, clothe and provide a home for himself and family? This appears to be the great leading objects for which we labor to acquire means, and as, until the time that this revelation was given, all public works and raising of all public funds had been by consecration, was not “surplus property,” that which was over and above a comfortable and necessary subsistence? In the light of what had transpired and of subsequent events, what else could it mean? Can we take any other view of it when we consider the circumstances under which it was given in Far West in July, 1838?

I have been unable in studying this subject to find any other definition of the term surplus, as used in this revelation, than the one I have just given. I find that it was so understood and recorded by the Bishops and people in those days, as well as by the Prophet Joseph himself, who was unquestionably the ablest and best exponent of this revelation.

Immediately following the persecutions of the Saints in the expulsion from the State of Missouri, the Prophet Joseph, in 1839, found the sickly town of Commerce so nearly depopulated, by disease, that its remaining inhabitants were glad to sell out to him their sickly place, which afterwards became the delightful Nauvoo—for God blessed it and made the place healthy as well as beautiful. Soon a site was selected on which to build a Temple, as says the Lord, “which my people are always commanded to build unto my name.” The cornerstones were laid and the gathered saints were diligently at work on the building.

How did they build it? Here for the first time in this dispensation the principle of tithing was practiced by the Saints in the labor of building a Temple. Few, if any, in those days, who came to Nauvoo, had any surplus, and many had not a comfortable subsistence, consequently the tithing of the people on that Temple was mostly in labor as I well recollect—for I worked in the quarry every tenth day when I was not absent on missionary service. I remember very well that every man who was dependent on his daily labor went in good faith and performed the work assigned him, and it was considered and credited to him as his tithing. When brethren who had property gathered there they were tithed of their surplus property, and then after that of their increase of the residue from that time on. So abundant was the spirit of consecration among the Saints in those days, they voted rather than have the Temple fail of completion by the appointed time, they would appropriate their homes and the lots on which they stood for its accomplishment. After paying such surplus as the beginning of their tithing, “those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever, for my holy Priesthood, saith the Lord.” Again, “Verily I say unto you, it shall come to pass, that all those who gather to the land of Zion shall be tithed of their surplus property, and shall observe this law, or they shall not be found worthy to abide among you.” This is a command; it does not say it may or may not be, but they shall not be worthy to abide among you. “And I say unto you, if my people observe not this law, to keep it holy, and by this law sanctify the land of Zion unto me, that my statutes and my judgments may be kept therein, that it may be most holy, behold, verily, I say unto you, it shall not be a land of Zion unto you.” This language is plain and free from ambiguity. “And this shall be an ensample unto all the stakes of Zion.

I call your attention to this that we may look at it and come to know what it really means to pay tithing. For I do believe that the majority of the brethren want to understand what is the mind of the Lord on this subject, because our blessings all depend upon our understanding what is his mind and will and then carrying it out to the best of our ability. Some who pay their tithing think they ought not to be called upon for any offerings to the Temple or poor, and say, “If I have to make donations I cannot pay tithing;” and they act accordingly.

I might go on to speak about a great variety of views which are taken of this subject, but suppose we take a look at what the Lord said and did about these things anciently. First, a word concerning offerings. People carry something to the poor because they feel it to be a requirement; but do they do it in the way that they may receive the blessings of the Lord that per tain to the giving of those offerings? There is a great deal more belonging to this than I shall attempt to explain now. The first manifestation of God’s favor and of his disfavor to man over the matter of offerings was towards two of the sons of Adam—Abel and Cain; Abel brought the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof, such an offering was acceptable to the Lord, and because of this the favor and blessing of God was upon him. Cain, his own brother, child of the same parents, brought his offering to the Lord, but his offering the Lord could not accept, it was displeasing in his sight. The Bible does not give us the particular reasons for the acceptance of Abel’s and the rejection of Cain’s offering; but the Talmud, an ancient Jewish record, informs us that “while Abel selected the finest and best-conditioned animals of his flock, Cain offered fruit of an inferior quality, the poorest which the earth afforded. Therefore, Cain’s offering was unheeded, while the fire of acceptance fell from heaven, consuming the gracious gift which his brother had presented to his Maker.”

Cain’s offering did not represent that gratitude and acknowledgement which was witnessed in his brother Abel’s. And while God could pour out his blessing and spirit upon Abel, accepting of his offering, He could not do so to Cain. We may take this down to the times of Israel in the land of Canaan. The Lord, when he gave them the law of tithing, gave also the particular item of offerings. They had to bring peace offerings and different kinds of offerings before the Lord, that by complying with these the favor of God might rest upon them. But to give a more striking and significant instance, let me refer you to the case of Solomon, who, wanting a certain peculiar blessing from the Lord, offered a sacrifice unto the Lord of 3,000 bullocks, and said he, “O, Lord, if thou wilt accept of my offering, I desire not the riches nor the wealth, nor the honor of the world, but I desire wisdom, that I may be able to lead the people in the right way of the Lord.” What effect did this offering produce? The Lord granted the desire of his heart. Here was a standard given. Solomon did not want a blessing worth a certain amount, he wanted one that should reach his people through him; the blessing that he might be enabled to rule over them in wisdom. He sought such a blessing, and not the blessing of earthly goods; and God granted it to him, and he made the wisest of men and the best ruler that ever led that people; although his heart was led astray, after idols, as the Lord told him it would be if he took wives from other nations which were idolatrous. When we make offerings unto God, they should be of the best and the choicest that we have, and when this is the case we can with more freedom and faith ask our Father for some of the best of His blessings. But if we give the poorest of our property as some do, will it be acceptable to the Lord, and shall we obtain the blessing we desire?

If you were going to make an offering to the nobles of the earth, you would never think of presenting anything but the best and choicest of the kind of gift you were going to make. I do not want to speak lengthily upon this matter of offerings, but to merely remind you that when we make offerings we should do so in sincerity, imparting the best we have, as did Abel, and never presenting anything that our better nature would intimate to us would not be acceptable to God or His servants, that we may not share the lot of Cain.

Let us now return more particularly to the subject of tithing. The Lord gave to His people anciently the law of tithing. It is recorded in the 14th chapter of Genesis, that Abraham, when he went out with 318 trained men, in the power of God, slew certain wicked kings, thereby winning the admiration of God’s High Priest Melchizedek, who we are told, went out to meet him when he was returning home, and blessed him. Abraham turned over one-tenth of the spoils that he had taken to this man of God; he did not even take them home, so regardful was he to conform to this law, which he respected and honored, and the observance of which brought such great blessings upon his own head and upon the heads of his generations after him, who also observed this law. Paul, hundreds of years afterwards, quoted it as an example for those of his day.

The Bible informs us that Jacob, while serving for his wives, recognized this law, and said to the Lord: “Of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” The Lord blessed him with the desires of his heart and prospered him exceedingly. He paid his tithing.

So also the Prophet Joseph and other leading Elders of the Church in our own day have covenanted with the Lord and paid their tithing with most careful consideration. When Israel was being brought up from the land of Egypt, and the Lord established his law among them to make them his people, he gave them the following commandment in regard to tithing. Leviticus 27, 30, 34: “All the tithe of the land, or of the fruit of the tree is the Lord’s; it is holy unto the Lord. And if a man will at all redeem aught of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof. And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord.” “Whatsoever passeth under the rod.” Do you know what that means? I will relate the history as it has come down to us. When they came to pay their tithing the Lord told them it should not be the poorest, neither would he ask the best; therefore they put their flock or herd in a pen having an outlet just large enough for one to pass out at a time, and as the animals passed in single-file, the owner stood by with a rod in his hand that had been dipped in some sort of coloring material, counting them as they came out, and touching every tenth animal with his colored rod. He would not go in among them and pick them lest his judgment might not be right, but the flock passed out according to their own inclination, and as they passed, the owner stood with the coloring rod and marked on the back of every tenth animal, and after all had passed out to an adjoining fold, those that were marked were then picked out from the flock. “He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it; and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.” They were to take it as it came, not to pick the good nor the bad; this was the requirement, that they should give to the Lord tithes of all: Leviticus, 27, 30 and 33. There is another feature in this which is worthy of notice, while all Israel paid these offerings and tithes of their seed and grain, flocks and herds, to the ones appointed to receive it—to the Levites; that tribe of Israel was forbidden to have any other property, but they had to live on the tithing thus presented. Still they were required to pay a tithe of what they received the same as the rest of the people. The Scriptures say about this in the 18th chapter of Numbers: “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the Lord, even a tenth part of the tithe. And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshing floor, and as the fullness of the winepress.” Thus we see that the Levites had to pay tithing of all they received.

Again, the Lord called upon Israel to hold at certain seasons what they called feasts. He told them that they should bring their supplies, provisions, etc., at the times of these feasts, and that on the first day they should not do any manner of work, but should come together on the day of the feast of Pentecost and the passover, and should remember how the Lord passed by them in the land of Egypt; and the first day and the last day of the feast they were required to keep without working. And the people were commanded to eat before the Lord with clean hearts and with rejoicings, and were particularly requested to invite the Levite who was without part or inheritance among them. The Lord pointed out things definitely for His people, and as long as they obeyed strictly the requirements made of them they flourished and prospered in the land. And it was wonderful how that little land of Canaan was made to support the millions of Israel, with all their flocks and herds. It was truly a land flowing with milk and honey. And it was because of the blessing of God that was upon it.

The Lord our God wants us to sanctify this land unto him by paying our tithing and offerings, that He may bless it unto us and make it a blessed land upon the face of the earth, not only to us but to our generations after us. He has gone so far as to say that kings should not rule over it, and that if the people who live upon it should become wicked, when the cup of their iniquity became full they should be cut off. These are great promises made unto us if we carry out the requirements of the Gospel. And yet, how little do we know of the great blessings that follow obedience to the law of tithing? Some seem to forget that if they do not pay tithing, they are not even entitled to a recommend from their Bishop to partake of the general blessings of the Lord’s house. They do not seem to realize this. The day is coming when you will want to go into the Temple of the Lord which is now being erected in your city, and receive your ordinances there, the records will be searched to see if you have paid your tithing. And then you will have occasion for sorrow and regret if you have not been faithful to this requirement in times of prosperity, and while you could have paid as well as not.

There are some features of this subject which seem like a crowning climax of the text. After the Lord revealed to Israel the law of tithing, and after telling them how to keep the feast of the Passover etc., he tells them another peculiar thing, to which I wish to call your attention, as it is connected with the subject—in Deuteronomy, xxvi, 12, 13.

“When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled;

“Then thou shalt say before the Lord thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, and to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them: I have not eaten thereof in my mourning, neither have I taken away ought thereof for any unclean use, nor given ought thereof for the dead: but I have hearkened to the voice of the Lord my God, and have done according to all that thou hast commanded me.”

Here is a curious saying: When thou hast made an end of this tithing, and eaten within thy gates, then thou shalt say before the Lord: “I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have I given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them.” Now, supposing there was an ordinance of that kind instituted among us that at the close of each annual settlement, it was required of each man to say, I have paid my tithing, the tenth of all the Lord has given unto me; I have delivered it to my Bishop or to the storehouse of the Lord, as the Lord has required. And then to say, I have done all things according to the commandments of the Lord my God, and have not failed in any of these things. How many of us could lift up our hands and say that we have done all that God has required? There was the point—God brought it home to the people, and when a man could say this his neighbors knew he was living the law of God. This was something that created confidence and fellowship between man and man. When they could thus testify that they had done all that was required of them, they could also, with good grace and faith, ask the blessings of God upon them and their land as written in the 15th verse of the chapter just quoted: “Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us, as thou swarest unto our fathers, a land that floweth with milk and honey.” As the Lord has in like manner said unto us.

“And I say unto you, if my people observe not this law, to keep it holy, and by this law sanctify the land of Zion unto me, that my statutes and my judgments may be kept thereon, that it may be most holy, behold, verily I say unto you, it shall not be a land of Zion unto you.”

There is one other thing in connection with this wherein the Lord gave to the people a requirement which it would seem was intended to reach home to their hearts and to prevent greed and covetousness. Every seventh year was a year of jubilee or release when the poor, the unfortunate, the bondmen and the debtor were set free.

If a man borrowed of his neighbor during the early part of the six years, he had more time which gave a better prospect of being able to pay before the seventh year arrived. If another wished to borrow during the sixth year, not having so much time to earn or make the pay, persons having money to lend would naturally feel that it was doubtful if they would get their money back.

Upon this peculiar feature of financial policy the Lord says, “If there be among you a poor man or one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend unto him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee. Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.”—Deut. xv., 7-11.

How wonderfully the Lord in all his teachings seeks and works to do away with covetousness, that sin which is idolatry, from the midst of his people. If thy brother come to thee on the sixth year thou shalt not close thine hand against him, but thou shalt open wide thine hand unto him. Thou shalt not let thy wicked heart say, that the seventh year, the year of release is at hand and I perhaps will lose it all.

Brethren, since so exalted sentiments of charitable benevolence were given to the ancients, under the law, shall we to whom the fullness of the Gospel has come, let these precepts pass by unheeded without treasuring them up in good and honest hearts?

I have but just begun to open the door, just commenced to enter into some details that environ this great and vastly important subject. I have only aimed at the importance and general bearing of this law upon the Saints, as touching all that the Lord gives unto us, not dealing in the least with the administration of His law.

Let us consider—who is it that causes the grain to increase when we put it into the earth? Who makes our flocks and herds to increase? Who gives us the vitalizing air we breathe—the liberty we enjoy with all the hopes and promises of eternal life and glory through obedience to the Everlasting Gospel? God the giver of every good gift.

From the foregoing we learn that the law of tithing is a strict commandment, a law which if obeyed faithfully by God’s people will bring blessing, plenty and sanctification of the land occupied by them unto God and His purposes, but if disobeyed the disobedient “shall not be found worthy to abide among the Saints, and this land shall not be a land of Zion unto them.”

That the difference between tithing and offering is that tithing is designated, meaning one-tenth, neither more nor less; while offerings are also required, the amount is left optional with the giver—the measure he metes will be measured to him again.

That the tithing of all that the Lord gives unto us belongs unto Him, and it is our first duty to the Church to pay it, and after that the sacred precepts, teach offerings and a generous benevolence to the poor and needy, whether in gifts or loans—discouraging greed or covetousness of this world’s goods, which is idolatry.

I earnestly pray that the Spirit of God may enable us to master this and all other principles of the Gospel, until we shall possess the riches of eternal life, the greatest gift of God to man. Amen.

The Lord’s Work—Warfare not Required of the Saints—An Overruling Providence—Corruption and Perjury in High Places—Violation of the Constitution—False Accusations Against the Saints—Words of Comfort and Exhortation

Discourse by Apostle F. D. Richards, delivered at the General Conference, Salt Lake City, Saturday Morning, April 8, 1882.

The greatly increased numbers of Israel, and the greatly diversified and multifarious necessities which are occurring, and which increase like the branches upon a great tree, call upon us each and all, to seek continually for the mind of the Lord, that in all our varied ministrations, labors and duties, we may perform the same acceptably to him and profitably to all of his children; not only to the Saints but to the inhabitants of all the earth, inasmuch as they will hearken to his word.

We have a vast number of witnesses and evidences of the mercy, the favor and blessing of God unto us, as a people, as well as to ourselves individually and as families, it being the privilege of all who live faithfully in Christ Jesus to see and acknowledge the hand of God in all things throughout their checkered lives.

This morning I am reminded of some choice, precious promises which the Lord has made to us in the dispensation in which we live, having a peculiar application unto us, though like blessings may have been promised to people in former generations, those now referred to were given especially to the Saints of the last days. There is one very significant saying in the revelations, you will find it in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 103, beginning at the 19th verse. It is as follows:

“Therefore, let not your hearts faint, for I say not unto you as I said unto your fathers: Mine angel shall go up before you, but not my presence. But I say unto you: Mine angels shall go before you, and also my presence, and in time ye shall possess the goodly land.”

Here is a very definite and positive assurance that this work is His, that he is particularly to figure in it himself; that he has not entirely committed it, even to angels; as represented in the parable, so beautifully expressed in the Book of Mormon, where the husbandman calls upon his servants to come and help him to prune his vineyard for the last time; we are given to understand that so we are called to be helpers to the Lord our God, to prune his vineyard for the last time.

We should not allow the cares or corruptions of the world to lead us to forget that the work in which we are engaged is the Lord’s work; we should never forget that the work to which all are called, God has undertaken to direct Himself; especially as it was commenced in former dispensations, but, for obvious reasons, remains to be consummated and perfected in the dispensation of the fulness of times in which we live. The Lord has also told us specifically in his revelations that it is his business to provide for his people. Most encouraging words—calculated to increase confidence in the hearts of all those who walk by faith before him.

Furthermore, he has condescended to tell us in the revelations given through the Prophet Joseph Smith, “For behold, I do not require at their (the Elders) hands to fight the battles of Zion; for, as I said in a former commandment, even so will I fulfil—I will fight your battles.” Doctrine and Covenants, section 105, verse 14.

One after another passages might be repeated relating to the designs and purposes of God, all going to show that he has not let out the work to be done by chance or to be controlled by others, but that he will direct it himself.

Have we not evidence of these facts? We have as pointed and conclusive evidence of these things, already before us, as the Apostle Paul had when he told the Hebrews that, through faith the worlds were framed by the word of God; through faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should afterwards receive for an inheritance, obeyed; by faith he sojourned in the land of promise, etc. Let us look at two or three prominent features of our history for evidences of his divine favor in overruling affairs for our welfare according to the counsels of his own will.

In former times there was much destruction of life and a great deal of contention between the enemies of God’s work and his people. The latter have at different times gone forth, and that by the holy command of heaven, to mortal combat. The Lord has told us in his revelations of the last days concerning the laws which governed warfare in the days of Abraham, of Lehi and Nephi, etc., which are detailed very minutely in the Doctrine and Covenants. He says:

“Behold, this is the law I gave unto my servant Nephi, and thy fathers, Joseph, and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham, and all mine ancient prophets and apostles.

And again, this is the law that I gave unto mine ancients, that they should not go out unto battle against any nation, kindred, tongue or people, save I, the Lord, commanded them. (Doctrine and Covenants, sec. 98, verse 32, 33.)”

For an account of the laws that justify warfare the Saints can read this section from the 23rd verse to the end.

In those days there was more contention or mortal combat permitted and required, in order to maintain the rights of God’s people and establish righteousness before his face, when idolatrous and all manner of worship, except that of the true and living God, prevailed among the nations generally. But it is not given unto us that we should contend with weapons of war; that inasmuch as we serve him, he will fight our battles for us. How has he done this? Have we forgotten how he managed to keep us out of the late terrible fratricidal war, when our great country was divided in a sanguinary struggle? How did he graciously regard us? It was by telling us to arise and go hence.

Some of you well remember in what haste we gathered our little remaining substance in Nauvoo, leaving our homes in the winter season, and how we crossed the river on the ice. History attests the fact that we left none too soon to escape the dire necessity of taking up weapons of war against our fellow man. The great reason why David was not allowed to build a house to the Lord, was because he had been a man of blood. He had commenced to gather his thousands of talents of gold and silver together, and was ready to build, but the Lord told him he should not, that he had been too much a man of war, had shed too much blood; but that he might get the materials together, and that Solomon, his son, should build a temple to his name. It is plainly to be seen, in the wisdom of God, that the Saints are not to take that course; but on the contrary, the Lord requires of them that they preserve to themselves pure hearts and clean hands to build His Temples. Was not this a great and wonderful manifestation of his loving kindness, was it not a demonstration to a great people of his tender mercy in preserving us from that fratricidal strife that arose in the nation? Where is the heart that cannot be thankful for this? Here is one great, we may say, worldwide demonstration of his kindness and goodness to provide for his people, and to preserve them from dire calamities, the direst of calamities that overtake the human family. Let us then sense the feeling and spirit of the ancient prophet Isaiah when speaking of the judgments of the latter days, that the watchmen should lift up their voices and speak comforting words to Zion. And what should they say? “Thy God reigneth.” That is the word to us, brethren and sisters. “Thy God reigneth.” Let us learn to know and sense it, put our trust in him, and learn that it is he that builds up nations, and it is he that levels them to the dust; that it is he that raises up and makes rulers and people to become mighty in the earth, and that it is he that permits them to go down into insignificance, shame and contempt.

How has it been when our enemies in our midst, in violation of a sacred principle of the Constitution, have said that we should not bear arms, which we had been wont to do in celebrating the anniversary of our national independence, and for our own protection in this new and Indian country, and that too in accordance with a provision of the Constitution; when we submitted in silence to this indignity, what has been wrought out in our behalf? As if the heavens took momentary record of it, from that day to this the enmity that has existed among the unprincipled, low and degraded Lamanites upon our borders has been hushed to silence; the manner in which we have dealt with them has been felt for good. Terrible wars have been prevented by the influence of the Latter-day Saints among them, until today it is not necessary that any, in this region of country, should have arms to protect themselves unless it be from professed friends. Is there no God in this? Look all around us, God has made even our adversaries to be at peace with us. He has made the blessings of peace to be multiplied around us, until the very occasion for weapons of defense is removed. The wicked had no sooner forbidden us to bear arms when God in his tender mercies and parental solicitude removed the very occasion of defense, leaving us at peace with all around us. The glorious tidings, “peace on earth and good will to man,” have come sounding to us through the ages, and they are being echoed and reechoed to us by the voice of those who hold the keys of the kingdom, and we see it not only in word but in power and demonstration of truth.

These are none other than the blessings of God unto us, my brethren and sisters. We ought to think of these things; we ought to acknowledge in gratitude this dispensation of his providence; and we should make it our business to sanctify ourselves before him; yea, let the man that has taken to his cups depart from them; and let he who has drunk of the spirit of the world, and who fraternizes with the ungodly, turn from the error of his ways, wash himself from the filth of unrighteousness and purify himself before God, and call upon his name that he may forgive and extend his pardoning favor. It is to be deplored that there are so many that are so easily to be civilized by this damning “civilization” that has come among us; it is an occasion of sorrow to the Latter-day Saints that so many are so easily drawn away to affiliate with the ungodly. When we remember the mercies and blessings of God to us, it is a fitting time to turn and seek his face and favor afresh, and renew our covenants before him, and become worthy in his sight.

I might enumerate many other instances of the goodness and mercy of God unto us, how he fed the suffering Saints with quails on the banks of the Mississippi, how he sent gulls to rid us of the crickets when they threatened us with starvation here.

I must refer to the time when the Lord permitted the United States to send an army to Utah. It was told to us that there were a million of bayonets in the States ready to be turned toward Utah. We did not count them, but we know the details of their coming and how the soldiery arrived here. They came with their mouths full of ribaldry, full of threatenings, full of animus and destruction towards President Young, his family, the Apostles, and towards all that were immediately associated with them, threatening to hang them like Haman upon a tree. But God in his mercy before they got here very much cooled their ardor; and when they arrived they came as harmless as any 4th of July celebrators. They marched in quiet through our streets, no man daring to commit an indignity as they passed.

Our Heavenly Father sanctified this to our good, for while they scattered much means among us, scarcely an act of hostility was committed, and, when the time of terrible destruction came they marched away to the violence of death. Is not the hand of God to be seen in this? If so, should we not acknowledge with thanksgiving his mercy in thus making us the objects of such care. We ought to bestow the best efforts and energies of our lives to build up his kingdom, establish his righteousness, and make him our friend for time and eternity.

I would not dwell too lengthily upon these things, although they show the divine goodness and tenderness. Is there a loving father that deals more affectionately with his children than this? Could the Lord deal more lovingly with us? It is to be feared that his tender mercies are so abundant, and we become so used to them as to grow ungrateful.

A few words in regard to the fundamental law established for the guidance of the people of this great nation, called the Constitution of the United States, that instrument was framed by our forefathers, who purchased the power to do so with their blood; they were men who went into the revolutionary war pledging their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor, and placed everything they possessed upon the altar of liberty. The Constitution they adopted has been admitted by European statesmen to be the grandest palladium of human rights known upon the earth. The flag of our nation has commanded respect in every part of this habitable globe, whether on land or sea.

All representatives and officers of the government, state or national, from the highest to the lowest, lift up their hands to heaven and swear that they will observe that Constitution and the laws of the nation or State, as the office may require, to the best of their knowledge and ability, so help them God. When Congress so far descends as to make special laws, and send forth its legislative missiles to us bearing the odor, power, and character of at tainder, and ex post facto laws; when they can provide, directly or indirectly, for conviction without trial by jury; when they frame and pass measures having for their object the deprivation or spoliation of rights common to all citizens, and that in direct opposition to the provisions of the Constitution, as appears on the face of the Edmunds’ bill, they themselves violate that oath of office which they took before God and their country. They may, standing in high places, think that it does not become citizens to question their acts; but citizens of this Republic are the sovereigns of the nation; and when the Constitution was created it was provided that every power not granted by that instrument was retained by the people. Public men, in the true spirit of the Constitution of our government, are the servants of the people, put in office to administer the will of the people as defined in that instrument.

When men in high places forget themselves, and in violation of their oaths dictate or forbid what shall or what shall not be observed as religious rites, they become amenable to the higher laws, and will have to answer to the charge of perjury to an immortal court, from whose decisions mortals have found no mode of appeal by any bill of exceptions.

The principles upon which our government is founded are most excellent, and to all intents and purposes most satisfactory. The great and learned Webster, Clay, and their contemporaries, considered them a standard of liberty—far above that of any other country upon our globe; something that every American had cause to be proud of. If the American nation will be governed by its doctrines, it will extend to the whole human family the precious boon of liberty, and will make this land in reality an asylum for the oppressed of all nations. But we have come to a time when Congress has undertaken to dictate our ethics, to declare what we may or may not accept as tenets of religion. This is a right or power that is not conveyed in the Constitution; but on the contrary, Congress is expressly prohibited from making any law establishing any form of religion or preventing the free exercise thereof; this right of worshiping God according to the dictates of one’s own conscience is the right of every American citizen.

Aside from what may be pronounced legal, there is an equity side of the court to which all Godfearing people have recourse. One principle of which the courts of the nation seem to have taken no consideration, but which the Latter-day Saints cannot afford to pass unnoticed, is this: Wherein it is given in the Constitution that the States shall make no law to impair the obligation of contracts. I wish to ask the people, not in the legal sense, but in the sense of equity, of righteousness and eternal truth, if the marriage relation is not to all intents and purposes a contract? Do we not enter into a covenant, a contract, an agreement with our wives. Yes; not only a contract, an agreement of a civil nature, as it is regarded in the world, but our contracts are of a higher order, of a more sacred nature extending as they do in perpetuity from time into eternity. Now, if it is a violation of States rights to pass a law impairing the obligation of contracts in common financial matters, is it not a graver and more serious violation of the Constitution to pass a law impairing the obligation of contracts as between man and wife? It is laid down by the most eminent law writers of our country that properly maintained marital relationship is the true basis of all human society; it needs the solemn covenants of husband and wife to be taken into account, and then what follows? The reasons why contracts and faith in them should not be violated is because of vested rights that accrue under those contracts; and have you any vested rights, my brethren and sisters, under the contracts that you have made with your wives and husbands, have you not acquired under those covenants and contracts the most precious of vested rights—those of sons and daughters given you in the flesh? These are possessory rights, the value of which bear no comparison with any thing that can be called goods or chattels. We look upon the increase of our families, as the foundation of our eternal dominion, we cannot but look upon any hand impairing the obligation of these contracts as striking at the very root of our prosperity. Our children are our vested rights growing out of these holy relations, rights not only of a temporal but of an eternal, and finally immortal character, and of the highest possible consideration.

I apprehend while I talk upon this subject, that it is very improbable that the courts of the world would regard these matters in any such light, but they are matters which pertain to the laws of the living God before whose court we shall all appear and our rights be vindicated; those who have undertaken to deprive us of these rights will also appear and on such a writ of errors as will bring them effectually within the jurisdiction of the court.

The Lord has given unto us these rights, which we are learning to appreciate, but which the world know nothing of. Is it to be wondered at that they do many things, as did those who slew the Savior, concerning whom he said, “They know not what they do?”

The rulers of our land have undertaken to set snares for our feet, to bring us into subjection to the political will of the Republican party to teach us how to promote party discord, be oppressed with heavy taxes and become burdened with debt. Let us put our trust in the living God, and see that while we violate no law of man unnecessarily, that we do not violate any of the laws of God, so that we may be entitled to His protection and that his blessing may abide with us.

Not desiring to occupy too much time, I would exhort my brethren and sisters to renew their diligence in trying to honor the Lord by keeping his commandments, remembering our obligations to each other; that we continue preaching the Gospel to the nations, gathering the honest in heart who receive the word through the ministrations of the Elders; and inasmuch as this is God’s work we have no need to fear. There are those who dwelt here in 1848-9, who for days and weeks, scarcely tasted bread. Those who have passed through these scenes will never fear anything that may come upon us again. I often think of the peculiar circumstances of the Savior when upon the earth, who when Herod the Great sent word to him, inquiring who this Jesus of Nazareth was; the answer of the Savior being, Go tell him that the birds of the air have nests, and the foxes have holes, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head. Think of it my friends; He by whom the worlds were created, who gave the law upon Mount Sinai; He who communicated with the brother of Jared, directing him to cross the sea and people this continent; He who was and is our great Ruler came and dwelt in the flesh, instead of making himself the possessor of houses and lands and earthly substance, had not where to lay His head. And after passing through a life of sorrows he was tried for His life, when the judge washed his hands, saying, he found no fault in Him. The fact was He was above the law, He was without sin, and of the things of which they tried to convict him he was not guilty, wherein he said he was the Son of God, which they, in their blind ignorance, looked upon as blasphemy.

Now, we are charged with blasphemy, because we believe and declare that the holy Priesthood has been restored to us from heaven. It is made blasphemy to believe that Peter, James and John were sent from heaven to earth to ordain Joseph and Oliver, and because, as they had been instructed to do, they ordained others to the same Priesthood, and then commissioned them to go to all the world and preach the Gospel. This is put forth and published as one of the blasphemies that we believe in which has made us to incur the displeasure and wrath of this self-righteous generation. While we contemplate that the Prophets of God have been slain, their blood ruthlessly shed, and the nation has never made an expression to exculpate themselves from the act, they have never even expressed their disapproval of it, but, on the contrary, multitudes have said, they were glad of it, but that they disliked the way in which it was done.

While this is upon the nation and until they wash their hands of it, we can but look upon them with sorrow and apprehension and dread for thus acquiescing in breaking and overriding the fundamental laws of the land; for if these things can be inflicted upon us they can be done to others. And they have been to others. Do you not recollect when the army came here, it was the nation’s first effort against the “Mormons,” against what they were pleased to term a “twin relic”—polygamy; and having extirpated the “twin relic” of the south—slavery, which was deemed necessary to secure the triumph of the republican arms, now the attack is made again upon the people representing the remaining “relic.” They and we are in the hands of God, and it becomes us to move on in all our duties quietly, peaceably and prayerfully. The nation, of course, can cause us a great deal of bodily and mental suffering if God permits. They have already shown what they are capable of doing by their deprivations and arbitrary rule in the south; and we have every reason to believe they would do as much for us were it the pleasure of the Almighty to permit them.

The few men now sitting in Congress, from the Southern States, who had the manhood and the moral courage to protest against the measure, which has since become a law, aimed directly at our liberty and rights, knew from experience the effects of military law, and those usurpations which have tended to ruin their country after the desolation caused by the war. They had been through the furnace, they could feel anew the burnings of the fire, and they could see the grief into which we are to be crowded.

The question with us is, are we sufficiently devoted to the interests of the kingdom of God to enable us to confidently believe, without a doubt, that he will sustain us in all that we may be called upon to pass through? If we are he certainly will not permit any more to come upon us than we can endure and that will be for our good; because he is that God who is nearer to us than a friend or a brother.

He had told us that those who kept his commandments had no need to break the laws of the land. We made no law nor passed any ordinance contrary to the laws of the land; the lawmakers of the nation made the law which brought us in conflict with our government; and, therefore, we must look to him to overrule this conflict, and trust that he will do better for us than we know how to ask or even to think for ourselves; provided, we pursue the path of duty faithfully and steadfastly.

I pray that we may so take consideration of our ways that we shall not feel vindictive to those who are vindictive towards us; but, on the contrary, rise above such a feeling upon the more elevated platform which was introduced by the Savior, in which he taught his disciples to do good to them who despitefully used and persecuted them. This is a lesson that we have not fully learned.

May the Lord bless and prosper all who seek to do his will, and may his mercy be multiplied to all nations until the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God, and until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ; may we live and our generations after us to perform efficient and faithful service in bringing about his purposes. Oh, that our enemies might see the error of their ways, repent as in dust and ashes and place themselves in a condition to receive the favor of God, and thereby escape the terrible judgments that must sooner or later overtake those who willfully battle against the truth.

It remains for us to continue to bear our testimony to the world, to build our Temples, in which to per form the work for ourselves and our dead, essential to salvation and exaltation in his kingdom, and to build up a Zion to the glory of God. That this may be our determined purpose to a faithful consummation, I humbly pray, in the name of Jesus, our Lord. Amen.

Preaching of John the Baptist and Restoration of the Gospel Compared—Opposition to Revelation—Gifts of the Holy Spirit—Polygamy—Human Laws Founded Upon the Revealed Law of God—Celestial Marriage Prominent in the Law and the Prophets

Discourse by Elder F. D. Richards, delivered at the General Conference, held in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, October 6, 1879.

In contemplating the condition of the work of the Lord as it is on the earth today, and as we have had to contemplate it from the light of history in its existence in former periods of time, we find a very striking analogy exists.

I scarcely need tell my congregation this afternoon that we as a people bear a significant relation to the people of the United States in a political point of view, and without undertaking to review the various periods of the earth’s history, and the relationship which the work of God at different times has sustained to its inhabitants, it may perhaps be enough to refer to one circumstance in the days of our Savior. When John the Baptist had gone forth among the people of Palestine, telling them that the kingdom of heaven was at hand and calling upon all who entertained faith in his mission to come and be baptized—it appears that he created quite a sensation among the people, insomuch that all they of Jerusalem and Judea and the regions round about went forth and were baptized by him in great multitudes, as recorded in Mark, i, 8. This had a political effect upon the rulers of that day, and when John was followed by Jesus and his wonderful works, they began to say—“If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans will come and take away our place and nation.” It was very directly a matter of political significance and importance.

I recollect that some fifty years ago, in the days of my youth, and in the land of the Puritans, I used to hear and to see aged matrons as well as reverend ministers wringing their hands and lifting up their eyes with holy horror, because there was a great evil in the land called slavery. They could scarcely eat or drink in peace, or worship God with the spirit and understanding, by reason of a terrible sense of condemnation resting on their consciences—because their brethren in the Southern States believed in slavery. This came to be worked up by the preachers in the pulpits, by the politicians in their stump speeches, by the parents of households, and fulminated by the press, until in nearly every class of society there was a continual stir and sensation about slavery in the Southern States. This terrible evil had become one of such vast importance that it must some day bring a national scourge, and in their great anxiety and horror over this, and their determination to put it away, they stirred up the fire until the North were at enmity and hostility against the South, and the South were at enmity and hostility against the North. We well recollect what were the consequences of the recent terrible conflict that devastated and demoralized so much of our beloved country. While this fanaticism was raging in the North, and silent preparations for defense were going on in the South, none seemed to consider the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives, or the taxation necessary to pay a few hundred millions of war debt, and still less the demoralizing influences thereby fastened upon the country.

About the same time, or very soon after, when the Elders began to preach the Gospel in that region, I recollect that there arose quite a sensation about this people that professed to have new revelation. It to seemed strike these same conscientious, religious people with consternation that anybody should dare to say that God would now reveal himself to the human family; that it was the most impious blasphemy to preach that the priesthood had been restored, or to assert that the Holy Ghost was given in the latter days, or that the gifts of the Spirit were made to abound among the children of men. No indeed; it was not to be tolerated any more than the doctrine of slavery. There were here and there a few, though but very few in proportion to the general population, that did receive this very alarming doctrine among those professing religious belief in the mission of our blessed Redeemer. It will be borne in mind that at the time I now speak of, the doctrine of plurality of wives had not been heard of as a doctrine of the Church in the last dispensation; but it was the gifts of the Spirit, it was the doctrine of present revelation, it was the terrible repulsive idea that there could be a man raised up in our day who should be a prophet that should bring again the word of the Lord and speak his mind and will to the people, that created a fresh outburst of pious indignation in the minds of those who were so devout, and who claimed to occupy the “cradle of liberty.”

It was but a short time after this—stepping along rather rapidly in the history of events—till the doctrine of plurality of wives was revealed to the Saints, away in the West, on the banks of the Mississippi, though not publicly proclaimed until 1852, in Utah. But the sound of this sacred scriptural doctrine, when it came to be made known, seemed the very acme of all that was corrupt, abominable and ungodly, and they who professed to believe in the doctrine of polygamy were not deemed fit to live on the earth. Consequently, if I were to take a text to preach from. I would take “Where are we now?”

About the year 1854, or 1856, the terrible odium of these two principal doctrines, and polygamy especially, had attached such a political hold on the minds of the religious community, that they were prepared to place these as two planks in the party platform, which was to be adopted as a ground upon which a President was to be elected. The celebrated Senator Douglas, after we had come out from the midst of the people and come into the wilderness, a thousand miles from any settlement of civilization, announced to the country that if he were made a candidate for the presidency of the United States, his opinion was that “the loathsome ulcer must be cut out from the side of the body politic.” That was his political faith in regard to this one of the twins. President Buchanan was elected with a clear understanding that the abolition of polygamy was one of the jobs he was undertaking. He tried his hand at this first, but on finding that it took two years for his army to reach the field of their operations, and then in their decimated condition were dependent upon polygamists for subsistence, the prestige of the campaign dwindled down to what was commonly known as the “contractor’s war on the Treasury.”

When, in 1860, the Republican party came into power, it assumed the obligation which President Buchanan had failed to discharge in regard to the “twin relics;” and, to avoid repeating the mistake which he had made, turned its attention to the other twin. This soon furnished occasion for a recall of the remaining troops in Utah to the other field of conflict.

I feel more interest in narrating these facts, because our rising generation, as well as many Saints who have immigrated to our midst from abroad, are not familiar with the circumstances, which have brought us to our present position. A little patience and I will notice some of the circumstances attendant upon what has been done, and perhaps we may judge therefore what has to be done, if it ever gets done at all.

Formerly, the Representatives and Senators from New England went to Washington laden with petitions to Congress to abolish slavery, in the District of Columbia, even more strongly than priest and people have recently been asking Congress to abolish polygamy. Ex-President John Q. Adams presented lengthy petitions containing thousands of names on many yards of paper, and became known as the Member who manufactured public opinion by the yard. These applications were repeated year after year. Be it remembered that the District of Columbia is not a State, but is governed by direct legislation of Congress. And what was the result of the strenuous and powerful efforts of the most brilliant and profound statesmen of the North, contested, of course, by the best statesmen from the South? The result was that slavery was not abolished in answer to the petitions of the Northern people, but it continued a political question, and became a powerful factor in the politics of the country. If an anti-slavery State was admitted into the Union from the North, a pro-slavery State was admitted from the South. Compromises were made between parties for the admission of certain States, until some of the Southern States declared for secession, and on the question of their right to do so the war commenced, and not on the direct question of the abolition of slavery.

From the firing of the first gun the demon of war seemed to inspire the contending parties with the most bitter enmity and rancorous hate towards each other, while multitudes met their near kinsmen in mortal combat. Year after year the war raged, till the Southern armies were recruited by their slaves; the Treasury of the nation was rapidly depleting; fierce engagements and wasting disease had done their work and recruits were enlisted for three years, or till the end of the war, and President Lincoln, by proclamation, abolished the slavery of several millions of negroes, not as a political measure, but as a measure justified by the exigencies of war. I state these facts without any argument as to whether slavery should be justi fied, or condemned. Their great ancestor said they should be servants of servants among their brethren, making their servitude the fulfillment of prophecy, whether according to the will of God or not.

But where are we today? We find slavery disposed of, but what of polygamy? This question is assuming proportions which seem to overshadow us so completely that even John Chinaman gets no special consideration in Utah.

About the time of the “Bull Run Stampede,” in 1862, when officers, raw recruits, and congressmen fled from the battlefield and took shelter in the Capital, Congress passed a law making plurality of wives, bigamy, or polygamy if you please, a penal offense. Now it should be distinctly understood that this offense is not sinful because Congress has made it penal. There is no ungodliness in it, because God has revealed it, he has commanded it. Congress of the United States says that it must not be permitted. Well, then, “Where are we today?” What have we to expect? This law has been passed—although we had hoped that Congress and the nation had sufficient virtue, enlightenment, liberty, and the spirit of the constitution of the fathers left among them, that they could see that this was not a sin or an evil—yet we find they have closed their eyes against this, and have determined that it is sin, while corruptions of every kind are permitted to be carried on in the country, such as prostitution, feticide, infanticide, etc., that because we have embraced the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we must be demolished or give up our religious faith. The highest court of the nation has declared polygamy unconstitutional, yet in its nature it is the only potent remedy by which to eradicate the so-called social evil, with all its concomitants, from the land. Yet they cannot see it, and they declare that all who engage in polygamy shall suffer from two to five years imprisonment and not exceeding a $500 fine.

Now I want to place it clearly before you, my hearers, that this is no longer the business of a party, it is today the voice of a nation. Mr. Secretary Evarts in his circular letter sent to ministers in foreign countries, says in the last clause that “this government has determined to prosecute polygamy to the extent of the law and to eradicate the institution from the country.” These are his words. That is authority so far as authority from the United States government goes. We find the same thing reiterated in the charge to the grand jury in this city, a short time ago, that the voice of forty to fifty millions of people must have its rule and that one hundred thousand must be sacrificed or as many of them as insist on the doctrine of polygamy. That is about where we are today. Now I ask my brethren and sisters—are you prepared for whatever comes on this question? Did you when you entered into the waters of baptism make up a reckoning what the Gospel of Jesus Christ was worth? Have we considered that it was worth fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, houses and lands, wives and children, and our own lives also? If we did not we figured up wrong, for he that is not willing to forsake all things and make them secondary to a whole-souled belief in and faithful obedience to the Gospel, is not worthy of it. I ask my brethren and sisters who have come from the antipodes of the earth to this place for the Gospel’s sake, if you came prepared and having made such a reckoning? Jesus says in one of his parables, “Which of you, intending to build a tower sitteth not down first and counteth the cost whether he have sufficient to finish it, lest, haply after he hath laid the foundation and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him saying, this man began to build, and was not able to finish.” Now that is about the way with us. There is no use our laying the flattering unction to our souls that government is not going to do this. We have got an example of what they have done to the Southern States, and have no doubt they are just as ready and willing to do that much to abolish polygamy among us if God will let them. They have come to that point. They have pronounced against polygamy and are ready to invite, hire and bribe men’s wives to aid in the conviction of their husbands, I have no doubt of it; you need not have. They are here telling us plainly that this is their business, and we need only to look around us and see where we are today.

Now, as regards this matter, nobody need tremble at all. I do not think that any who have received the Holy Spirit, and learned of the revelations of Jesus Christ, and know of their influence, need fear, or that anybody’s heart who is faithful before God, need be any heavier than it is in the habit of being, or that their faces need be any longer than they are used to be. Not at all; we must look upon this as only a part of the “all things” we agree to endure for the Gospel’s sake and our salvation. Now, they may go to law, and fix up, as we see already, packed juries, just such as they want, so that no Latter-day Saint who is a believer in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, whether he believe in polygamy or not, can have any place among them, or any say as to who are innocent or who are guilty. We have evidence that they will do all this and having done this much, it would be very easy for them next winter to fix up such laws concerning juries and testimony as will enable them to carry out what they have undertaken. We give them credit for all this, and we have evidence they will do it, from the fact that the Constitution has been no limit to their former enactment. Indeed, it has virtually been cast overboard, and liberty taken to enact any such laws as might be desirable to carry favorite measures, and it will be just as consistent for them to do anything they please in regard to polygamy; and thus one thing after another, until they shall have attained the object which they have determined to accomplish.

The true issue of this question is not exactly between us individually and the courts, or the government. The issue is between the two governments. If they who make us offenders are at a loss to know which is the higher law, they will have plenty of time to find out. It is a violation of both the letter and the spirit of the Constitution, and of good and true government of this nation, that there should be any law made that should restrict our belief or practice of any religious doctrine, which does not infringe upon the rights of others. The Constitution expressly says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Neither is there anything in the Constitution that tells Presidents, Congressmen, Judges or juries, what shall be religion, or what shall not be religion.

In the days of Jesus, their Senate and House of Representatives, their supreme and lesser courts were comprehended in the Sanhedrin, or Chief Council, which was an institution of the Jewish government to determine all matters, secular or religious. In our day, although there is no law except the law of God that determines what we may accept as religion, and what we shall not, there is a principle which I call your attention to, that will enable us to understand our position in relation to each other and to our fellow men. I may perhaps illustrate this best by stating a circumstance which took place a few years ago, while I was in Europe. A gentleman from one of the European States had emigrated to this country and had become an American citizen. He returned to his native country to attend to some business. While there that government undertook to enforce from him some act of subordination, as though he were still a subject of that government. What was the result? The government of the United States, when appealed to, informed the authorities of that land that his rights as an American citizen must be respected. We see, then, that when a difficulty arose that abridged this man’s liberties, the responsibility was upon the parent government of asserting and maintaining the rights of this man’s citizenship. The authorities of Europe as well as America lauded the wisdom of Daniel Webster in this case, and the man was delivered.

Now, in our case, the government has determined that polygamy shall be abolished, but the government of heaven had previously determined that polygamy should be established, and that sin and wickedness shall be rooted up; that men and women shall have the right to obey that higher law in their marital relations.

This is our position, this is where we are today. We have accepted this doctrine, this principle of faith from the Lord Jesus Christ, and we, or some of us, have lived it more than thirty years in this Territory. And in the matter of our appeal, inasmuch as the government is determined to eradicate this item of our faith, and us with it, of course, and inasmuch as we can get no redress therefrom, our appeal must be to the government of heaven, to which we have vowed allegiance. Jehovah will hold a contention with this nation, and will show them which is the higher and eternal law, and which is the lesser and more recent law. While they are carrying on this high-handed proceeding, regardless of life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness, the God of heaven and earth will notify the earthly government that the rights and liberties of His citizens must be respected and maintained.

The whole procedure is inconsistent, and utterly at variance with the fundamental principles of law. The great legal apostle, Blackstone, has plainly stated, and every lawyer knows, that human laws and governments are professedly derived from, and founded upon the revealed law of God, which he gave to Moses on Mount Sinai, and every man of them who rejects the revelations of Jesus Christ, must know that he is condemning himself in the thing he professes to allow. The eternal law of celestial marriage and plurality of wives stands out with singular prominence in all the law and prophets, and is evidenced in the personal humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Plurality, as believed and practiced by the Latter-day Saints, is no crime in and of itself; it presumes no deception or fraud; it infringes upon no other rights, but vests additional rights in him who accepts the heavenly doctrine, whose Author has said, “It shall be visited with blessings and not cursings, and with my power, saith the Lord.” It cannot therefore be malum in se, but is only malum prohibitum, by the Act of Congress.

With this view of the subject before us, what have we to do? What is our privilege and our duty in the premises? It is that we draw near to God, the Author of our faith, in humility and in obedience to all his requirements, remembering our covenants sacredly before Him, that our cause may reach His ears, and when He sees our trouble He will in His own good time step forth and deliver us. We have erred and sinned more or less, some of our children may have departed from the way of the Lord. If we have violated the Sabbath, taken the name of the Lord in vain, or violated any of our covenants, it is time for us to turn to the Lord and do so no more. If we do this, He in his own due time will say, “Hitherto shall thou come, but no further: and here let thy proud waves be stayed.” While, then, we see all the blandishments of civilization among us, while we see all the troubles that human governments can make, in our view we have only to trust in God as Daniel did. Notwithstanding the edict of the King, he worshipped the True and Living God. So must we. And peradventure all these things must happen to us. There are a great many among us who say, “Lord, Lord,” and do not pretend to do the things which God requires of us. We have to keep the commandments of God, we have to sense it, and to learn the lesson in all sobriety. Have we any time to waste with these outside characters? Have we any time to dally around grog shops and play in billiard saloons? No, my brethren and sisters, we have not. It is our duty to be alive to our work, day by day, knowing that the eyes of God are upon us. It is He that will do all things marvelously well for us; it is He that will fight our battles for us. Then the only way for us to gain deliverance is to remain devoted to his service, that we may help to build up His kingdom, and be found worthy of that assistance which He has promised to render us in the time of need.

There are two sides to this question. Peradventure it may be necessary that our enemies should carry out the works of their father, the devil, that they may show sooner or more fully to the heavens when the purpose and measure of their wickedness is full. As to the ultimate establishment of truth on the earth, there is no question. The prophets have all prophesied of it, the angels have looked forward to it with glorious anticipation, and we have the testimony of the Holy Ghost that this work shall be accomplished. The thing for us to do is to live true and faithful to our religion, irrespective of what may be going on around us.

That the Lord may inspire us by his Spirit to be faithful to our duty, to draw near to him, leave the wickedness of the world alone, and sanctify ourselves before him, is my earnest prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Improved Circumstances of the Saints in Utah—Potency of the Law of Tithing

Discourse by Elder Franklin D. Richards, delivered at Logan, Cache County, Saturday Morning, June 28, 1873.

We used to sing and hear a song entitled: “There is a good time coming, wait a little longer.” It appears to me that we are now enjoying one of the good times in these meetings. I realize that it is so, for one, and I doubt not that the good Saints of Cache Valley also appreciate the same. If we can only preserve in ourselves that freedom of spirit which will enable us to comprehend the present, as it really is, we may rejoice indeed in knowing that the good time has overtaken us. It is not with us now as it has been, when scantiness and even hunger have been in our habitations. At present, so far as the comforts of life are concerned, the people are enjoying a competency of food and raiment, house and home, kindred and friends. While these things have come forward to us, the means of advancement in every sphere of usefulness are in reach. The imple ments to accomplish more labor are in our hands. They have overtaken us and are overtaking us, and will continue to do so, by means of which the amount of good which the Saints have been enabled to do in any given time in the past, is very small compared with the measure of good which they will be enabled to accomplish in the future. A little while ago it was not oftener than once in six months that we heard from the States. It is only a little while since it took us three and four months to travel from the States to this place, now it is only a matter of as many days. Once it took all of six months to hear from the old countries, say London; now we hear that “yesterday, President George A. Smith attended Conference with the Saints in London.”

By these things we can see that we have come upon times when, if we are up to the scratch, we live very fast. It is no vain, untrue or humorous saying that we are living in a fast age. In matters of intelligence and business transactions we live weeks in a day, if we wisely direct our time and energy, when compared with those who have preceded us.

When we contemplate this, and the rapidity with which Divine Providence is rolling on the events of the latter dispensation, crowding upon our attention the great labors and considerations of this latter-day work, it certainly does seem necessary that we preserve in ourselves that life and activity that we can come up to the standard of his readiness to direct and dispose of us, that we may be able to receive his word and the counsels of his servants and execute and carry them out. I am very sure that the good people of this county do not think they are likely to get out of business since President Young told them, yesterday, that they might soon see a Temple close by here on the bench. The good work seems to be advancing upon the hands of the Saints, mills, railroads and telegraphs, are coming to our relief and aid.

I should like to say a few words upon the subject of Tithing, and I believe I will just touch upon it. It is a subject that was talked about yesterday with some emphasis and importance, and one that has seemed to present features of more than ordinary interest to my mind for some time back. People of all denominations are very ready to say that the “earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,” and I do not suppose we could find a Saint in all Israel, or in these valleys of the mountains at any rate, but what would utter that sentiment and think he did it with real good Christian cordiality. But when we come to con sider the matter as it really is, we find that our feelings and actions do not after all exactly coincide with this expression. I heard a man say, but a few days ago, “I bought such a piece of land—I paid for it and it is mine.” I wonder if that man, just then, thought the earth was the Lord’s? I do not think he thought that particular patch was. It is one thing for us to acknowledge with our lips and to consider in our hearts, that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, but it is quite another thing for us to realize it, and to place ourselves in a true and proper attitude on that question, dealing with the Lord our God in relation to it with the justice, sincerity and propriety that we would with each other here on the earth.

If a man has obtained possession of a piece of land and put up a house thereon, and he rents that to another person, he actually does expect that that person will pay him the rent due for the use of it. It is one of the plainest business transactions of life; and the man who occupies that house and land can hardly feel to say—“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof;” instead of saying that, he says—“This house and piece of land belong to that man, and I have to pay him rent for it.” These things make us realize our bearing and position one with the other in regard to business transactions.

But who is it that has placed the earth and its surrounding elements subject to the powers, governments and inhabitants of the earth? It is he who created them, and he it is who says that the earth and its fullness are his; and when we look at this matter and consider it carefully there is something about the subject of Tithing that commends itself strongly to our attention; and if we will be honest with ourselves and honest, with our God we must look at it in a very different light from what many do.

When the Bishop or his clerk goes round to settle up Tithing, he finds a class of persons who act as though they felt it their bounden duty to get the figure of their Tithing down to the lowest possible scratch; and when they have done this they feel thankful that they have got off with paying so little, without any regard whatever to the figure they should have paid. Well, it is not given to the Bishops exactly to tell a man—“You must pay so much.” There is the greatest possible liberality manifested, so as to give every man an opportunity to act upon his own agency in saying what he has made and what he has done with the means which have been placed in his hands, and what he ought to pay as interest or Tithing, so that when the Lord brings these matters to adjudication, we shall be judged out of our own mouths.

The matter of Tithing is one that the churches of the world have taken up as well as the Saints, even the Church of England has an idea that its members should pay Tithing. They have learned this from the Church of the living God. The institution of Tithing is one which is emphatically binding upon us, and is as essential to our salvation and exaltation in the kingdom of God, so far as temporal things are concerned, as the ordinance of baptism for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost are in the spiritual part of the Gospel. Take it into account and consider it when and how you may, and you will find that the man or men, who consider Tithing of no moment, and who think they have obtained a blessing in shirking the payment thereof, will dry up and taper off in their faith, and before they know it they and their household will be suffering in the darkness of the world, in sin and transgression.

The law of Tithing is an obligation laid upon all the people of God. It has been so in every age, and we have no account of the prosperity and progress of God’s people without Tithing being a standing law in their midst, which they continually observed. That is not all, my brethren. The Church of the Lord had this among them before ever the Gentiles knew what it was to assess and collect taxes, and it is from this that they learned to do so. The law of Tithing was in the household of faith, the Church of God on the earth, before the old Babylonish nations were founded, and they as well as the sectarians have learned pretty much all they know from the people of God at one time or another. Tithing is an institution which has prevailed from the beginning, and it looks to me as though it was the consideration required by the Lord—the Creator of the earth, from men who dwell upon it, as a material something by which they may acknowledge to him, in deed and in truth, that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, and by means of which they can restore to him, in the order of his appointment that which is his.

The brethren sometimes say—“I pay my Tithing. This is mine. I have given so much.” Yours, is it? How is it yours? Was it not read here to us yesterday—“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” If we have withheld and kept back any portion of our Tithing, then have we robbed God, for that full tenth is not ours in any sense of the word, it is the Lord’s, and if we keep it from him we rob him of that which is his. We should keep correctly in our minds and understandings that which is ours and that which is the Lord’s. When the sons of God shouted, and the morning stars sang together for joy at having the earth prepared to come and dwell upon, to pass through this state of existence, did we not then realize that it was being prepared for us, but that it was his, and that we were coming to dwell upon it as his? Shall we forget this obligation and position? Let us be careful not to do so.

President Smith alluded to the potency of this law of Tithing, and the terrible consequences of disobeying it as illustrated in the present condition of scattered Israel, who prospered as a nation when they brought their tithes and offerings into the storehouse of the Lord. And how terribly and emphatically did President Young portray the readiness with which, at his will and pleasure, the Lord could turn these streams, for the watering of our beautiful valleys, into the earth, and cause these delightful hills and plains to become as barren as Judea. I think we ought to look at this subject more carefully, and if possible in its true light. The more I see and think of it the more there is about it new to me, and the more there is to make me feel that therein lies an obligation between us and our God that we should consider and be careful to discharge.

If there is any man amongst you who wants to take a wife, does he not have to obtain a certificate from his Bishop that he pays his Tithing? If any of you want to be baptized in the font in the house of the Lord for the generations of your dead, do you not need a certificate from your Bishop that you pay your Tithing? And if we want any of the blessings necessary for our exaltation we shall find it so, and more so as we advance in the future. We fathers in Israel, we heads of families, looking towards the patriarchal office and desiring to stand at the head of our generations forever, ought to think, not only about ourselves, but about those who will come after us. If our record shows that we have been faithful in all things, and have never forgotten to pay our Tithing, our posterity can come to the house of the Lord and ask, as a right, for the blessings they need for themselves or their dead.

I think if we will all consider this matter in the light in which the Scriptures, the revelations of divine truth hold it, and the light in which modern revelation and the teachings of the Priesthood hold it, we shall discover in the law of Tithing an immense and eternal weight of blessing and glory, and instead of wishing to avoid, shirk and narrow it down to the least admissible figure, we shall desire to add to and enlarge it, that it may be for us and our children a source of honor, exaltation and blessing forever.

Brethren and sisters I rejoice with you, more and more, all the day long in the principles of the Gospel. I desire to be more and more useful in helping to promulgate them in the earth. I have pleasure in the labors of the Church. I rejoice exceedingly in the advancement of the cause of truth, and realize that we have to be wide awake in order to keep track of, and along with, the purposes, plans, devices and providences of God, that we may work with him, that he may work with and through us in bringing to pass his purposes, and the great and glorious events connected with his work in the last days.

That we may so live as to be able and pliant instruments in his hands, ready to do every good word and work, in bringing again Zion, establishing righteousness and truth in the earth, and hastening the day for the return thereto of the presence and glory of God, is my desire in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Israel to Be Exalted By Righteousness—The Elders Should At All Times Rebuke Iniquity

Remarks by Elder F. D. Richards, Delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, Sunday morning, March 22, 1857.

In these times, when Israel as a people in these mountains are reviewing their past lives, and are taking into consideration so carefully as they now are doing the course of life which they shall hereafter pursue, it should be the diligent study of the Elders, when they rise up to speak to the people, to address them by the dictation of the Holy Ghost upon such subjects and such matters as shall strengthen them in their faith, increase the energy and power of the people, and lead them to do good and that which is well-pleasing in the sight of God. For it is with the people of Israel in the latter days, as it was in former days, that righteousness has got to exalt this nation—I mean the nation of Israel; therefore the more diligent and faithful we are in sustaining the Priesthood and practicing righteousness, the more rapidly shall we acquire strength from God, become sanctified from our sins and weaknesses, and become a pure and strong people in the earth, such as the Lord wishes us to be, that by us His will may be done on the earth as in heaven.

This people that were not a people have become a people, even the people of God. They must have the bread of life continually as well as those who administer unto them in the word of life. We not only need it who rise up to preach, but every man and woman needs it; they need it in their families; they need fresh supplies from heaven by the ministrations of the Holy Ghost daily, hourly, and every moment, to qualify them for their duties.

Now, in what way can we best promote the favor of God, so that he will give us the bread of life, so that he will give us strength and energy, and so that he will empower us, that we may adopt and live by every word which we hear from our beloved Prophet, and thereby increase confidence in each other, as he taught us last Sunday. This should be the design of every man and woman—at least, so it appears to me.

We have had a most blessed winter in which to acquire knowledge of ourselves. Indeed, I think that this people can say they never had such a winter before. The Prophet and Apostles had taught us the things of the kingdom so fully that we could not seek for more revelation; but we have been reviewing ourselves and our conduct to discover wherein we have not lived up to what has been revealed; and so great have been the apparent deficiencies, that the people have nearly all realized, when they examined themselves, that there was a great cause for lack of confidence in themselves and in each other. This has been a general feeling; and it becomes us to bestir ourselves and obtain strength by the power of the Holy Ghost, so that we may overcome every evil propensity, resist the adversary of our souls in whatever shape he may present himself, and live our religion.

This is not a work that belongs only to the First Presidency, or to the Twelve, or to any of the Presidents of the Quorums only, but it belongs to every man and to every woman. If we could feel this and realize it individually, we certainly should prevail against and escape from those influences that do tend to impair our confidence in God and each other: there is no doubt of it. It had become so that iniquity could be found dwelling among us, passing in our streets, and stalking forth rampant in our midst, almost without a frown, and unrebuked. So extensive had this become, that those who had not committed sins had become partakers of the influence and of the spirit of those who had, and this because they had not been swift to rebuke and disfellowship sin and sinners. The righteous had become partakers of other men’s crimes; hence this sleepy, deadening, and damning influence among us, because we have not put sin away from us as diligently and faithfully as we should have done.

This winter the people have been looking at this, and they have got to see themselves in a different light to what they ever have before. Shall it be so in the future? Let the Saints determine it shall not; and when men and women see in themselves or in their neighbors the workings of sin and iniquity, let them rebuke it at once, and thereby put an end to transgression.

We have got to purge out all ungodliness from our own souls, and we have to help others to do it also; and especially, if I may be allowed to make any distinction, it should be the business of the Bishops, because they have the oversight of the people in a Ward capacity, and they can have an eye through the Church which many of the Presidents of Quorums cannot have. When a man rises in the morning and calls upon God to qualify and strengthen him for the duties and warfare of the day, he should go out with a determination to carry that feeling of hostility to sin with him, and not only war the good warfare himself, but be able to help his neighbor to do battle also.

Some people deal honestly because they are watched and are obliged to; but a truly honest man will do right because he loves righteousness and honesty the best. These things indicate greater things. It is said a straw will show the way the wind blows. If a man is willing to be dishonest, or to do anything or permit anything that will bring mischief upon you in your absence, your interests would not be safe in his hands. That spirit will lead him to persuade your wives and children away from you, when you are dead, if he can, or to let someone else do it unrebuked; and upon the same principle the spread of good and great things are made to depend and to bring their consequences.

We do see and hear occasionally instances of the kind where men take measures and endeavor to rob the dead. This awful dishonesty in eternal things is the fruit of dishonesty in smaller matters. If men will do honestly in small things, and perform their duties as servants of God to each other, they will by-and-by be honored for their acts, and vast responsibilities will be laid upon them with safety; but if men in this Church will be dishonest in the smaller matters of everyday life, they will soon be overthrown thereby; and so it is with every species of unrighteousness. Then let all be diligent to cleanse themselves of all that is evil upon its first appearance.

When men go to the canyon for wood or lumber, those that have this difficult labor to perform should take with them a rich portion of the Holy Spirit; and they should realize that they have it to enable them to live their religion there—that God protects them in the canyons as well as any other place: and let them take all their religion with them that they carry to or from this Tabernacle. If they find that the elements are changed from what they are in the city or in this Tabernacle, let them know that they require more of the Gospel. Do not leave your religion at the mouth of the canyon, or with the gatekeeper; do not leave it with your wagon; but take your religion and the Spirit of your God with you clear up to where you get your wood. It will help you to keep your axe sharp: you will not be so likely to get hurt yourself, or to lose your bowpins, chains, or axe. Your cattle will be more kindly; for you will not beat them so much, and they will do more work for you. You will not be so likely to break down your wagon; but you will be able to do a better day’s work, bring home a better load, and to feel more thankful for it.

If you find a man there that is swearing and profaning the name of the Lord, remember that you are an Elder in Israel, and that you are authorized to call him to an account. If you find a man that will blaspheme the name of the Lord, do not forget to remind him that the Lord whose name he blasphemes gave him strength to go there, and that He caused the trees to grow, and has permitted him to go and help himself to the timber; and inform him that he should do it decently and without blaspheming the name of the Giver. If you cannot influence him with these importunities, and if you cannot prevail upon him to do right, as an Elder in Israel lay hands upon him, and do it as one having authority; and if you will do this, you will cause the name of God to be honored in the canyons. I mean that you should lay hands on as ministers of God—as those who have authority to talk to men in the canyon, and thereby give them to understand that they shall not blaspheme the name of God in your presence. If you will do this, I tell you the Holy Ghost will rest upon you and enable you to ferret out iniquity—to honor the truth and the priesthood which you hold.

I talk to you Elders who want to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord. If you will do this you will soon have more confidence in yourselves; your neighbors will have confidence in you, and will find out that you are preachers of righteousness. The man whom you rebuke will also learn that he must stop blaspheming and swearing in your presence. This is one of the subjects that the Elders of Israel should feel themselves called upon to act in. It is not only so in relation to the brethren who hold the Priesthood, but it is so with every right, good-meaning man; and it is that man whom the Lord will love; for while you are doing this you are honoring God. If you will talk to and labor with them in this manner, you will bring about much salvation; and should you have to administer the whole ordinance, they will bless you for it, and God will bless you.

We have to rebuke iniquity whenever it is presented before us; and if we have not already commenced, we should begin, one and all, to sanctify the name of the Lord our God in these valleys. How are we going to do this while we allow blaspheming, and swearing, and all manner of wickedness to go on in our midst? Let no man of God suppose that he has not authority to oppose sin. Suppose Phinehas had said, “I am not Moses, nor Aaron, nor Caleb, nor Joshua, and I am not called to rebuke sin in Israel,” he would not have secured to himself the “covenant of peace;” but because he rose up and slew the adulterer, God sealed the priesthood upon him and his seed forever. The Lord will seal blessings upon you if you are jealous for the honor of His name and are valiant for righteousness and truth. His Spirit will strengthen you in body and in spirit. This is life.

I tell you, brethren, we have been too careless in these matters, and because of this we have been partakers of other men’s sins. All are called upon to divest themselves of sin, and then to aid their neighbors, if need be.

It is not only in going to the canyons, in going to the fields to plow and to sow, that the Lord desires this people to rise up and put iniquity away from them, but in everything with which we have to do.

It is by works of righteousness that we shall become a holy and happy people whose God is the Lord, while sinners will find our society too uncomfortable to dwell in. If we thus live our religion, we shall have confidence in ourselves, in each other, and in our God.

I do not wish to talk much or long; but I feel like calling upon the men in the Priesthood, and upon men that have not received any ordination, and also the women, and requesting them not to hear the name of God, or of his servants, or the doctrines of the Gospel blasphemed with impunity, but to sanctify the name of the Lord in this city, in this Territory, and in all Israel; for this is the way that this people will become sanctified.

Brethren, may the Lord enlighten our minds, that we may see our duty and do it, and that we may also assist others to walk in the way of life, become ministers of righteousness and saviors in his kingdom. This is my prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Offers of Mercy—The Great Dispensation in Which We Live

A Discourse by Elder Franklin D. Richards, Delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, January 11, 1857.

Brethren and sisters, I have no apology to make this morning for presenting myself before you. It becomes my duty and privilege to address you a little while, longer or shorter as I may be led to do, upon such things as shall be suggested to my mind.

I desire with your kind attention, your solicitations also to God that the Holy Spirit may rest upon me and upon you, and that we may all be edified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a pleasing idea to me to reflect and behold that the people have come together this morning so generally, to this Tabernacle. They have come anticipating being fed with the bread of life, and I feel as though the present is a time when the Lord is willing to administer unto His people the bread of life and salvation; that it is a time when the Saints may with one heart and one mind call upon Him for great blessings, and I may say a great many of them. We should ask for those blessings first and foremost which everyone needs for their own present salvation, increase of faith, increase of the knowledge of God, and an increase in ourselves of everything that is good and praiseworthy for Saints to enjoy through the revelations of the Holy Spirit.

This, it appears to me, is the legitimate object for which we should seek now a blessing at the hand of God. It is His good pleasure to bestow upon us according to our needs, and this He will do if we seek unto Him in faith.

When I contemplate the present situation of the people, if I were to think of one text more than another, that I could like to talk about it would be this: “Whoso confesseth and forsaketh his sins shall find mercy.” I have not been in the habit of taking a text for a long time, but there is something in this directly applicable to this people, that whoso confesseth and forsaketh his sins shall find mercy. This is a favor and a blessing that is now extended to the people of God to an extent, and with a liberality that has never before been witnessed in this dispensation, and it appears to me that such has never been known upon the earth. A time when the Lord has spoken so openly, so abundantly, and so extensively to His people, and told them that if they will but confess and forsake their sins they shall be forgiven and be saved. I say the like (as it appears to me) has never before been known. I con ceive that we as a people have the very greatest occasion to seek the mercy and blessings of God because of the condition we are in, and because of those things which He has committed unto us. We all have been taught and do understand that the time in which we live is a time of times; a time when the consummation of that which is great and good, and which has been promised shall be brought about here upon the earth; a time when characters shall make and do make their appearance upon the earth who have been reserved for the performance of this work, for generations. It has not been for them to labor in the flesh in former dispensations, but they have been reserved until now in order that the greater purposes of God may in this dispensation be accomplished, that all who are in Christ may be gathered in one, and a work be done in this our day, which has never been done before. All the revelations and prophecies go to show and declare this. We live then in a time of times; we live among, as we may see, those who are men of men, rulers of rulers, for such I hold those who are rulers in Zion to be, and they are taking hold of those principles, of that knowledge and that power, which shall qualify them to sway such a scepter of righteousness as has never been exercised over the earth. These qualifications we could see in our Prophet that is gone, and also in others that are with us.

With these men before us here continually, we have seen exemplified a measure of that knowledge, understanding and power that is offered us in the keys of the endowment that are given in the House of the Lord, by which we may grow to a knowledge of all that affects our salvation and exaltation in His kingdom. This manifests a degree of liberality, a degree of munificence such as has never been bestowed upon the people generally in any age of the world. We are indebted to the Lord our God for this knowledge, and are responsible to Him for the use we make of it, for He has not given us all this that we may feast our souls and sit down and go to sleep. He has not given it to us for this purpose, but for us to act upon it, and by the use of it become strong to carry out His work on the earth. He has given us this power and means of obtaining knowledge from the heavens, that we may exercise the principles of righteousness and truth, in order to prove ourselves worthy of those greater things that are yet in store for the faithful, and that are yet to be revealed, through a constant scene of trial and of proving. What has been the case in Israel? Why the fact has been that as soon as the people got those blessings which they obtain in the “House of the Lord,” that seemed to be the end of the law unto them, it seemed to be the height of their ambition, and they sat down and went to sleep, or became covetous and greedy of gain, whereas the powers conferred were tools or instruments in their hands to enable them to work for God.

This is the course that has been pursued by the people generally, and those whom we can say the least of in relation to transgression have some sins to atone for and make restitution. We have been nearly all more or less in the dark. Yes, all the quorums in the Church except the First Presidency. God be thanked His light and power has been in them to watch, while the rest have slumbered. The Twelve take this as strongly to themselves as any, and have acknowledged that they have been asleep. Yet we have been abroad laboring to bring people to the knowledge of the truth, to the knowledge of God, a knowledge and power such as they never could have before received on the earth, hence the condemnation that we are brought under is beyond that which any other people could be under; then what has been the mercy of God? It is that now while in these circumstances, nearly all have got to sleep, and some in the darkness of their minds have wandered far from the Lord, and have committed sins that in their own estimation and judgment cause them to feel that they are worthy of damnation for having violated their holy covenants. And does the Lord go to and cut them off? Or does He send a chastisement and destroy them with plague, and sweep them off from the earth? No, this is not the tone of our Heavenly Father to us this day, but His voice to us is, that if we will now turn from and forsake our sins and draw near unto Him, that He will forgive and never cause the sins of this people to be remembered against them, but will blot them out from His remembrance forever. What unbounded love and tender mercy are here evinced to this people, while asleep, and enveloped in the dark shadows of death to that fearful extent that the word sleep will not properly express the state of the people. We have been mesmerized and could not be brought out of it without the most extraordinary means being used. We had become like “icebergs,” we were so cold and dead, that when President Young got up to speak he could not free his mind, and has not been able to do so for the last several times that he has spoken, feeling that there was not room in our hearts to receive his words. And what a sight was it in Israel to see the Social Hall filled, with the chief authorities and Elders of the Church, a body of men upon whom rests the responsibility of administering salvation to this earth and its inhabitants, and to see such a fog there, and such darkness that the Presidency could not there free their minds, but had to lift the almighty sledgehammer to break the flinty rock. The mesmerism of the devil was so great, so strong that it required the most stringent teachings to bring the people to the standard of truth, and to a sense of their condition.

This you have all realized more or less in your wards, and at your habitations, truly awful it has been to contemplate. Yet for all this the word of the Lord unto us is not judgment, nor pestilence, nor plague, nor famine, nor sword, if we will now awake, repent and live our religion.

Whoso confesseth and forsaketh his sins shall find mercy, but they who do not, have not the promise of mercy. I wish this morning to warn you against taking a course which will prevent the blessings and mercy of God coming unto you, for now is the time that is most exceedingly opportune in the favor of God, and it is a time that will work upon those that are transgressors, that are dishonest with themselves and with others, and that will endeavor to avoid the truth and shun the light, avoid the standard and add sin to transgression, the Lord God will harden their hearts that they cannot enter into His mercy. Although we thus speak we have the assurance that the people will as a people with heartfelt penitence and obedience turn unto Him and be saved. There never was a time in this dispensation or in any other that has been so full of mercy in His calling upon us and giving us an opportunity to feel after Him, and if we do this we shall find Him to be a God at hand and not afar off; we shall find Him in our habitations and it is for every man having the Priesthood to seek after God with all his might, mind and strength, and to obtain the spirit and power of his calling and ordination. There are a great many among us who have not yet obtained this spirit and power. There is a great difference among those who dwell in the light of Zion. Some walk in the light of others, and some walk having the light in themselves. There are those, and always have been, and always will be, while saviors and saved dwell together, that walk in the light of others, and do not get it into their own souls. They do not seem to think that they ought to or can have the light in themselves. If you look, you have an illustration of it in the difference that exists in the heavenly bodies. The sun has light of itself to warm the earth and the inhabitants of the earth, has power to give heat, light, and vegetation to this earth, and to other heavenly bodies. The moon and other planets do not appear to have light of themselves, but they reflect the light of the sun.

It is right and our duty brethren, for us to take the light that is offered, and to take hold of the counsel that is now given to us and turn from our errors, make all that is crooked straight, and make restitution to all that we have injured that we may go into the waters of baptism and come out clean from everything that would hinder us from receiving the light, and that we may receive the Holy Ghost; that it may be our constant companion, that the light of the Lord may be in us. If all things are not made right with each other we shall not be in a position to obtain the blessings promised, but if we make all right the Holy Spirit will be poured out and be a light to our feet, and a lamp to our path. We shall by it receive strength and power to magnify our calling. This is the duty of our men, and it is the duty of our women to seek this light and strength, and this help from the Lord. But it is especially the duty of men, the Elders of Israel, it is for them to lay hold, by the power of faith, and by their Priesthood. Yes brethren, if we have been mesmerised it is for us to wake up and do our duties that the light may go forth from us to others. This is not done in a week, nor in a month, but by a constant series of works and diligence, and that will bring the light of heaven upon us which has been shut out from our souls. As you see that some of our brethren that administer to you in your wards, increase in the power of their callings so every man that has a part in the Priesthood must prevail and obtain favor with God, and get light in himself, get rid of his sins, and all his hardness of heart, for the time is coming when everything that can be shaken will be shaken, and we must have this light and strength within us, or we never shall stand the times that are yet to try our souls. Of course when we got dull and paralyzed, our duties were left for someone else to do.

Quorums, families, and individuals have alike failed to magnify their callings. They have looked over the Teachers, the Bishops and High Councils, and there was no authority but the First Presidency that could settle a little family dispute; such has been the dullness of the quorums and the condition of the people generally that they seemed lifeless until the Presidency have had to bear the burdens, discharge the responsibilities and perform the labors of nearly every other Quorum and Council in the Church.

Who is there that has any part of the Priesthood, and who has received his endowments but that ought to be able to administer in his household all those things which are necessary for life and salvation? They ought to be ready at all times to manifest their authority as men of God, and administer not only to all in their families but to perform the duties which they owe to the Church and the world also.

Surely to say we have been “asleep” does not tell the condition we were in, but now, notwithstanding all our transgressions, backslidings, hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, “whoso confesseth and forsaketh his sins shall find mercy.” What a broad saying it is of the Prophet Brigham that we shall be forgiven of all our sins, except such as cannot be forgiven in this world nor in that which is to come. What an extent of kindness and mercy is now revealed unto us by our Heavenly Father in this accepted time which is peculiarly a day of salvation.

I will tell you how I feel about it; I consider that those who will not make a thorough work of it and obtain the Holy Spirit to dwell in them, it will be a hard case for them ever to find favor with the Lord.

If you and I and all Israel had lived up to our privileges what might we have been able to do for the kingdom? In purity and in power we could have increased the numbers and strength of it mightily, we could have had that faith that one would chase a thousand and two put ten thousand to flight. It is a power that will disperse wickedness, and the words of righteousness will be felt like the voice of thunders; men have now got to arouse themselves to activity and power in works of righteousness and faith. The First Presidency have been drawing us too long.

I do not feel to detain you much longer as brother Kimball and brother Wells have come in, but will say a few words more. We have now offered to us the great and glorious blessings of God’s favor renewed upon us. If we lay hold of this by faith and obtain the strength of our calling in the spirit and power thereof, it seems to me that we shall be blest far beyond our present or past conceptions. When I think of this I feel like exhorting the people to take hold and get the spirit and power of their calling, for all can plead guilty of neglecting their duty, if they are not guilty of more and overt transgressions.

Now if we will do to all as we wish them to do unto us, we shall be pre pared to sit down in the presence of God and our Elder Brother, and then we can be one with them and they with us. Do not let it be so, that while the door of mercy is open, that any will seal it against themselves, for it would have been better for them not to have been born.

These are the times for us to wake up and take hold with the energies of our souls that light may come back to us, and that we may have light in our understandings, that we may have power to administer to those around us, and to do those things that are required at our hands; and I can say, brethren and sisters, that in future it shall be my study, my faith, and my prayer and my labor to obtain these blessings with you, and to stand in my place and calling and obtain grace to magnify them, and have faith like those who have gone before us, that are and have been laboring before us, and they are all laboring now, they are waiting and watching for the completion of the work that is laid upon us, that they may receive the blessings and promises given to them in ages that are gone. It is not to be wondered at when we contemplate the condition of the world what a vast deal is depending upon our exertions, but when we look at the extent of our follies it is wonderful that the Lord should give us such wholesale forgiveness. For the sake of ourselves, our families, the living and the dead, we should all turn to God with full purpose of heart and sanctify ourselves that there may be a people whom He will delight to own and bless, that He may fully establish this work and establish righteousness upon the earth forever.

May the Lord grant us power to do this, in the name of Jesus Christ: Amen.

The Handcart Enterprise—Returning Missionaries—Exhortation to the Saints to Rescue the Brethren and Sisters on the Plains, Etc.

A Discourse by Elder Franklin D. Richards, Delivered in the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, Sunday Morning, October 5, 1856.

My brethren and sisters in the Lord, I rejoice exceedingly in being permitted to go to the nations of the earth to engage in the discharge of duties laid upon me, and in getting back in safety to your midst. To see how you have increased in numbers, and how you have extended abroad, truly indicates that the work of the Lord is onward here, and it is onward too in the old countries, where the Gospel has been preached with success.

I cannot take the time now to rehearse the varied circumstances and incidents of my mission, for the main thing before us now is to help in the brethren who are on the Plains. The subject of immigration by handcarts is one that will do to talk about; I have learned that by experience in the little I have had to do with them; it will also do to pray about, and it does a great deal better to lay hold of and work at, and we find it to work admirably.

We have not had much preaching to do to the people in the old countries, to get them started out with handcarts. There were fifteen or twenty thousand waiting for the next year to roll around, that they may be brought out by the arrangements of the P. E. F. company. Those who had any objections to this mode of traveling we wanted to wait, and see if the experiment would work well.

The subject is popular in those countries, and the hardest part of my talking was to find the means to bring out the many that were urgently teasing me to let them come. When the first handcart company came in it was a soul stirring time; banners were flying, bands of music played, and the citizens turned out almost en masse to greet them. But they will yet come with handcarts by thousands, and when they get here, they will be most likely to enjoy “Mormonism.”

This time we have not been preaching them easy and smooth things, for we had heard of the hard times you have had in the valleys, and we have invited them to come and share with you; and we have given them to understand that in coming here they came to work out their salvation.

The Saints that are now on the Plains, about one thousand with handcarts, feel that it is late in the season, and they expect to get cold fingers and toes. But they have this faith and confidence towards God, that He will overrule the storms that may come in the season thereof and turn them away, that their path may be freed from suffering more than they can bear.

They have confidence to believe that this will be an open fall; and I tell you, brethren and sisters, that every time we got to talking about the handcarts in England, and on the way, we could not talk long without prophesying about them. On shipboard, at the points of outfit, and on the Plains, every time we spoke we felt to prophesy good concerning them. We started off the rear company from Florence about the first of September, and the Gentiles came around with their sympathy, and their nonsense, trying to decoy away the sisters, telling them that it was too late in the season, that the journey would be too much for their constitutions, and if they would wait until next year, themselves would be going to California, and would take them along more comfortably.

When we had a meeting at Florence, we called upon the Saints to express their faith to the people, and requested to know of them, even if they knew that they should be swallowed up in storms, whether they would stop or turn back. They voted, with loud acclamations, that they would go on. Such confidence and joyful performance of so arduous labors to accomplish their gathering will bring the choice blessings of God upon them.

I would like to say a word to the sisters here, for they have a tremendous influence sometimes. Let me say to some of those that came out in the earlier years of our settlement in these valleys, you thought the journey quite long enough, and that if it had been a week, a fortnight, or a month longer, you did not know how you could have endured it. Many of you came in wagons, bringing the comforts of life with you in abundance.

Sisters, think of those fatiguing times, and stir up your good men in behalf of those who are footing it, and pulling handcarts thirteen hundred miles, instead of riding one thousand as you did. The aged, the infirm and bowed down, and those who have been lame from their birth, are coming along upon their crutches; and they think it is a good job if they can walk the most of the way through the day, and avoid riding all they can.

Indeed persons of nearly all ages and conditions are coming. There are also delicate ladies, these who have been brought up tenderly from their youth, and used to going to school and teaching school, playing music, &c.; but when they received the Gospel they had to bid goodbye to fathers, and mothers, and were turned out of doors; that taught them the first principles of gathering up to Zion. And the idea that there was a place here that could be truly called home, inspired them to go along, to the astonishment of their friends, and kindred, and that of the Gentiles on the way.

When I think of the devilish doings of those abroad, I feel wroth in my soul to see what the Saints have to put up with. The wicked found, after trying their best, that they could not coax away even the most tender and delicate from their toil of drawing their handcarts, from fifteen to twenty miles a day. The Saints are happy to perform this labor, and make the welkin ring at night, when their day’s toil is over, with their songs of praise and rejoicings. I could but think of the way Israel walked in olden times, when the Lord rained down manna for bread, and they were not allowed to keep any till tomorrow, and in that wilderness required of them to build a gorgeous tabernacle and carry it on their shoulders.

I have thought that the gathering of the honest in heart in these latter times is much like that good old mode; and it must be good, because it is in the Bible. The Gentiles found that they could not turn away the good and the faithful, who are back in the hills pulling their handcarts.

Many of those now back are poor, and had not enough to get away from their homes with, and now they have scarcely a change of clothing. If they can have some slices sent out to them, and a few blankets to make them comfortable at night, and flour enough, with what beef they have along, to make them a good meal in the morning, they will make those handcarts work powerfully. But if they are tenderfooted through going shoeless, and when they lay down at night, if they lay cold, it will tend to retard their progress very much, however good their faith and resolution may be.

I realize in talking to you, and applying to you for help to aid those brethren and sisters, that it is as just and worthy a cause as can be espoused. I pray you, as you regard those on the Plains, as you wish them to come and share with you the words of life and the ordinances of the House of the Lord, and as you desire Zion to be strengthened, and righteousness to take the place of wickedness on the earth, to arise up and bring those Saints in, for it is late in the season, and ten to one they will have snowstorms to encounter; though the Lord will not let them suffer any more than they have grace to bear. It is our highest privilege to do all we can to ameliorate the sufferings of those brethren that are thus trying to work out their emigration.

President Young wrote to me a year ago, stating that if I got his letter I should have joy in carrying out his plans; I testify here that I never entered into any measures that filled up my soul with joy, faith, and energy so much as this plan for gathering of the honest poor. It was late when I began the work, but we could not get at it any sooner. We have wrought with our might, and brother Daniel Spencer has been a pillar of strength upon which the hopes of thousands have rested securely. I rejoice exceedingly with him in the excellent feelings that his own conscience and bosom inspires him with when he remembers his labors.

Brother Wheelock has been like an angel among the churches in the old countries and they have been strengthened in the work we are called to do. We did not stop to enquire whether the plan was a feasible one or not, that was none of our business; and when the word said handcarts, we understood it so.

Brothers Van Cott, Grant, Kimball, Webb, and others have labored with all their mights this season. I assure you it has been by some hard thinking, hard working, and doing the best we could unitedly that we have accomplished what we have. But our souls cannot be satisfied nor rest, until we feel assured that the brethren and sisters now on the Plains are brought forward, and made as comfortable as the circumstances of the case will admit of.

Before leaving England, on the 26th of July, I had the pleasure of welcoming brothers Pratt and Benson to that interesting and important field of labor. We had a joyful Conference at Birmingham, and a Council of the general authorities of the Church in those countries. Those brethren expressed themselves very satisfactorily and cheeringly, as to the condition in which they received the work at our hands; they spoke with great energy and power. The fire of the Lord was felt through that Conference, and will be felt in all the Conferences through the Pastors and Presidents who were with us, counseling on the condition of the work of the Lord in the European missions. The cause of truth is progressing there as well as here.

It gives me great joy, on returning, to see what an advancement there is in the increased outpouring of the Spirit of God upon this people. Those that stay here continually cannot so abundantly realize and appreciate this, as those can who go out into the world for a season and return again.

I feel thankful for the privilege of being with you to try to partake of that Spirit, and improve with you in the work of reformation. I realize every time I go out from you, that the works of darkness are more consolidated and powerful against the cause of God on the earth, hence the Saints need increasing strength and power. I feel joyful to come back here, and feel the spirit and influences that are here.

The brethren that abide here year after year, do not know the power that is in them by the workings of the Holy Ghost, and the exercise of the holy Priesthood; but when they get out in the field of battle, where they have to contend against the adversaries of truth, then they can realize the strength of the Lord upon them, they can realize that He is with them, and makes their labors successful.

It is, I believe, as comforting a thought as the human soul can enjoy, to realize the worth of home, while abroad in the world. When you were first called to receive the Gospel, many of you were at once alienated from your homes and nearest kindred, and have never found a place where you could feel at home, until you found it among the Saints. This is the only home for the righteous on the earth, and blessed is that Saint who can appreciate it, and enter into the righteousness and power of it, and enjoy its benefits in their true light and spirit.

I felt today that I could love to sit and drink in the Spirit’s gracious influences. I could feel, while on my way in from the Weber, that there was a spirit here watching over the people, such as is not to be found anywhere else on the face of the earth. It is nourishing and cherishing to the servants of God, and the whole Church in these mountains. How thankful we ought to be. The Lord has brought His Zion here to strengthen her; to admonish, reprove, build up, and prepare His Saints for the events that are coming. And I pray the Lord to give us hearing ears and understanding hearts, that we may always have ready hearts to do His will.

In ten years past, last July, I have been sent to England on three missions; and out of that ten years I have been absent from home something over seven. I have made a good many acquaintances and friends in the old countries; I have labored with joy in my field of labor, and God has blessed me. My heart has been made glad, and I have been enabled to bless others.

During the last two years, we have sent out eight thousand Saints; and nearly double that number have been added to the Church by baptism in that country. I fear that I have almost become a stranger in Israel; there are but few that I am acquainted with here, and it helps me to appreciate the privilege of getting home, and of seeing brother Brigham and Heber, and Jedediah, and the Saints in Zion.

The Elders that go out to labor in the world, are from time to time called upon to measure themselves, and they have labors and duties laid upon them that no man can perform, except in the name of his God. And it behooves every man and woman to strengthen themselves in the name of their God continually, to have their armor on, and keep it bright, as the President said to us last night; I do not intend to lay it off.

I thank God for the strength He has given me among the nations; I praise His name for these good brethren that were with me. I never labored with a company of brethren with more joy, satisfaction, and good cheer; I mean these brethren who went with me, Joseph A. Young, William H. Kimball, George D. Grant, and others. They have been like the deer on the mountains to carry the expresses of the Saints, and to render any and all kinds of help in hard times. They are men for whom the Lord has much regard; and though their words might not come forth in the same smooth shape as those of some men, yet they hit as hard when they were called upon to chastise the wicked; and they also comforted those that needed comfort.

They took hold with me, shoulder-to-shoulder. I do not wish to take much credit to myself, for what I have done has been accomplished in the name of the Lord; my brethren out of the Office and in the Office helping me to their utmost. I wonder and am astonished, when I think of what the Lord has brought His people through in the last days. What would have put another people under ground, they have surmounted by the influence and power of the Eternal.

Already we are a great people, there is hardly room for us, yet we are but as a drop of the bucket to the great work before us which has yet to be done; and the more there is accomplished the more we see there is to do, and doubtless it will keep on so, worlds without end.

I want to grow up with the Church: it fills my heart with praise, and melts me into contrition, when I think I am called upon to engage in such a work. I wish to employ all my energies and influence, everything I can control in its interests. I ask the Lord to lend me the blessings and comforts of this life for the time being, and to inspire me to use them to His glory, whether it be a family, or earthly substance.

It is one thing for a man to learn to live away from home, and to preach the Gospel and magnify his calling there, and it is another thing for a man to learn to live at home, and magnify his calling here. I want to obtain grace, that I may magnify my calling at home and away from home, and I desire the continuation of your confidence, love and faith, that I may live and wisely improve upon that which is not my own; that in the end I may receive the true riches.

Concerning the handcart companies this year, it is an experiment. We cannot yet tell you exactly what it costs to come through in that way; but we know that it is going to cost those on the other side of the mountains cold feet, and a great deal of affliction and sorrow, unless we help them. The word today is, mules, wagons, flour, shoes, and clothing. I entreat you, as you value yourselves, and the interests of this people, do to those brethren and sisters that are out on the Plains as you wish to be done by.

Many of you have been permitted to live at home to enjoy the comforts of life, and you have accumulated to yourselves wagons and teams, and now is a time for you to do good with them. I feel to thank the Lord my God; my heart is full of thanksgiving and praise to Him, for blessings bestowed upon me and upon His people, while I have been gone. When we were crossing the Plains, men, women, and children were destroyed, but the Lord has preserved us, and permitted us to arrive in time to attend Conference.

May He ever help us to appreciate His goodness unto us, and thereby we be led to do good unto others so long as we dwell on the earth, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Advice to Immigrants

An Address by Elder Franklin D. Richards, Delivered at the General Conference, Great Salt Lake City, October 6, 1853.

Brethren and Sisters—It seems to have fallen to my lot this afternoon to speak to you. Whether I may speak lengthily, or occupy but a short time, will be as I am led and dictated by the Holy Spirit.

I rejoice in the opportunity, for many reasons. The first and greatest is it is a blessing for a man who is called of God to teach the people, to exercise himself in his office and calling, and try to magnify it, for he is thereby made a blessing to the people, and is himself edified, often, yea, I may say generally, quite as much as they are.

I rejoice this afternoon in the privilege of meeting so many of my brethren who have just arrived from the old country. I behold faces in the congregation with whom I have within a few years past been wont to assemble in England, in Scotland, in Wales, and in other places. There we used to rejoice together. The Spirit and power of God rested upon us while we contemplated the things of God, that are calculated to pre pare us for the life which is to come.

I feel to congratulate you, my brethren, who have newly come in, and who constitute so goodly a number of my hearers this afternoon, upon your safe arrival in these beautiful valleys; for you have now accomplished one of the greatest undertakings of your lives. Once, had you been told that you would forsake father, mother, brethren, sisters, kindred, and friends, and that you would do it under the stigmatized appellation of “Mormon”—to come so great a distance, to traverse one-third of the circumference of the globe, it would have been as incredible to you as to any of us. While you were near the close of this great task, doubtless some felt that had it been one hundred miles further, they scarcely could have endured to the end of the journey; yet, to some of us, this wonderful, great undertaking is but a small thing; we have done it several times, and expect to do it many times more. I congratulate you, however, on your having accomplished the task, and feel, as your brother in the Lord, to welcome you here in the midst of God’s people, and to pray with sincerity that the spirit of Zion may rest upon you.

You have come to this place with feelings and views as varied as the degree of faith in, and knowledge you have of, the Gospel, and the measure of spirit in which you walk. There are some who, in their own estimation, are well qualified and fully prepared to judge of the propriety and impropriety of everything that exists here; and such, while they may find some few things answer pretty well, will find many things which, in their opinion, are not right, and really need reformation.

Brethren, you who have just arrived in the Valley, I wish to direct my words to you this afternoon, to sound a word in your ears that may not be lost upon you, and it is worth your while to hearken to it. You may dwell in this society, and never know what manner of spirit you are of, nor the power of God that dwells in the Priesthood in your midst; and, on the other hand, you may come here in a right frame of mind, and hearken to the Spirit of God through the man whom He has appointed to watch over us, and know that the words of all God’s servants are the words of life to you; and their faces will shine with wisdom in your eyes. If you possess this frame of mind, you will be prepared to drink in intelligence from day to day, from their counsel and examples, that will lead you on in the bright and shining way that was discoursed upon this morning.

In the first place, I will offer a word to all, whether they are mechanics or common laborers. No matter what calling you may follow in life, you have need, at this juncture of your existence, to observe and treasure up one thing carefully and faithfully in your minds, namely, if you live a proper life before the Lord, you know that you have the fellowship of His Spirit, so that you know your prayers are heard and answered, because you receive the things you ask for. If you live so as to always have the witness of the good Spirit, you will be saved today and every day, and thus it will constantly be well with you. But if you are heedless of this day, and calculate on tomorrow, you have no assurance that you will realize your hopes tomorrow. The only certain stepping stone to the great good you may have tomorrow in the midst of this people is, that you be faithful to your covenants with God, and secure thereby the fellowship of the Spirit, and walk in the counsels of it today; if you do this, you will have the good that is for you tomorrow.

If you have come into this place nearly penniless, and, in many respects, comparatively destitute, and with no one to take you by the hand, or your friends are not here, or, if they are, and do not hail you as you think they ought, be of good cheer, and let not your hearts be sad, knowing you are doing right, and have gathered according to the word of the Lord.

If you look about you and see the Saints who have been here some years, and the choice locations taken up by them, and you are still at the foot of the hill apparently, do not fret your souls; remember that those brethren made the roads to this place, killed the snakes, or gently turned them out of their path, made the bridges, opened the canyons, made the fences, ploughed the ground, and worked in the wet and cold, in the midst of hunger and privation, to the best of their ability, more than any portion of this people have. Have they not worked to obtain what they have now got? If you look at it with a single eye, it is marvelous to see the kingdom of God at this day. After being here only six years; after being driven from Nauvoo, and suffering the toils of a wilderness life among savages and wolves, to see it at the present time is indeed comforting and cheering; the aspect is promising beyond all we could have anticipated, or almost what could have been wished. Does it not make your souls rejoice in the Lord, that He has established His people, and to realize that you are blessed above measure in having a name and a place in this city or territory? You are better off this afternoon in this place, in rags, and begging your bread, than in England, Scotland, or Wales, earning one hundred pounds per annum. You would there be dwelling among the cloudy mists of Babylon, where you dare not say your souls were your own. You could make but little advancement in your holy religion there; but here you can receive words of life from those whom God has appointed to lead His people into the way of salvation. Be careful now, that the good Spirit which has accompanied you in the old world, and dwelt with you in the ship across the sea, and has sustained you and your teams while crossing the plains—be careful that you retain it, and make it your counselor here.

I know how natural it is for the Saints who come from abroad to be very diligent in inspecting God’s people, to see if they are as righteous as they ought to be; but they forget they have a duty to perform to themselves. As one of old said, “the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing,” but they forget to look at themselves; the spirit of murmuring and complaining takes possession of them, and you may see them wandering about in sorrow, affliction, and grief; and what is worse than all, they have brought it upon themselves, because they have not retained the fellowship of the Holy Spirit through faithfulness of conduct, and away they go to California. I felt to speak these things to you, that you might be admonished at the present time to faithfulness, and that you might rejoice in the assembly of God’s people, that you had been brought over the mountains to this place in safety. I feel to magnify the name of the Lord to see so many of you, and pray that those who are still journeying on the plains may be safely brought in.

In coming here, you cannot, as individuals, know all things that are before you. You are now dwelling in a society that differs from any you ever dwelt in. The circumstances of life are all different, and the business arrangements different, to those you have been used to in the old country. It is necessary that you look about you for a season, find out whom you are among, and know the condition and nature of the elements and state of the society, that you may drop into business through the fellowship of your brethren and sisters, and take hold with them in the different branches of business that are carried on here for the comforts of life. You Elders, who have been in that country, preaching and building up Branches of the Church there; you that have taken up your cross, and gone from your homes, and warned the inhabitants of the earth where you have labored, the Lord went with you, when you went in the name of Jesus; His Spirit was upon you, and you were the means of building up Churches, and of doing much good in various ways; that same Spirit will be with you when you go to labor in the canyons, or do anything else, if you will nourish it, and not cast it from you. Peradventure in the canyons you may need its premonitions most when your life or limb may be in jeopardy. This, my brethren, is the rock upon which many Saints split—they leave the way of truth, they step aside from the rugged path of duty which they have been wont to walk in, and, feeling a degree of ease and safety, as they suppose, on arriving here, they forget their prayers, and that they have need to continue to increase their fellowship with the Holy Spirit; they leave off their duties, and, ere they are aware of it, they are left to themselves.

It is said that the females are the ones by whom the nations are ruled. It is certain that the females have necessarily great influence upon the whole community, and especially upon the rising generation. Allow me a word with the sisters. In your associations and visiting with those about you, when you find a sister or brother that can speak evil of dignities with impunity, and can find fault with what is being done by the Church, and cannot do any good themselves (for such folks cannot do anything themselves but bark and snarl like the dog in the manger), when you get into the society of such people, you will take notes, if you do as I do, and seek the company of those who will speak well of the brethren and sisters, and then you may expect they will speak well of you. When you associate with those who speak well of the truth, their counsels will edify you, and their words will be seasoned with grace to your edification and instruction, and the clouds of adversity that rest down upon you will vanish away.

You will find Saints living about you, that have the good Spirit, and can give you the word of comfort, and take you by the hand and pour the oil of consolation into your heart, and do you good in the name of the Lord. If you seek that kind of society, you will tend upwards towards the realms of light, in duty and intelligence. By taking this course, you will be cultivating the same good Spirit in your own hearts, that you see in the hearts, examples, and general conduct of your brethren and sisters around you, and which is most conspicuous in those who are called to lead and direct in the Priesthood. On the other hand, if you come in here, with the intention to be right down sharp, careful to watch and to criticize your brethren very closely, you will find all the evil you look for, and see imperfections which the cloak of charity and good will would have covered, had you possessed it yourself. You never were among a people where men talked as they meant, and meant what they said, so near as in this place. If you feel to take advantage of your brother or your sister, you may, but it will not be good for your soul; it will be money badly earned. But if you come here with a frank and honest heart, and prepared to speak and act without hypocrisy, and just as you feel, you will find yourselves among a community of brethren and sisters that are ready to aid, comfort, and bless you. If you look with your eyes, as I did with mine when I came home from England, you will find your brethren and sisters to be such kind of beings, whose good works you will wish to emulate.

Take the wisest course to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of the truth; and the only way is by attending diligently to your prayers, and walking in the light of God’s Spirit. You will find that condescension in the hearts of your brethren, that love and charity abounding in their bosoms that if you are in adversity and need they will extend a helping hand, and comfort you, and do you good, and will not charge you one hundred percent interest either. I have to say that if you have come to these valleys determined, as for you and yours, to serve the Lord, you will find it the easiest thing in the world to fellowship with those whose hearts run together like two drops of water, and you will be blessed, as also will those with whom you associate. You have arrived at a juncture of your life where two ways branch out; if you wish to travel downward, the great depot of that route is California; if upward, the great depot on that road is this city, these men that surround me in this stand. You do not know what you may be called upon to do. I do not know what I may be called upon to do before this Conference comes to a close, in addition to what is already laid upon me here at home. It is necessary to be always ready; and if you live as you ought, you will always be ready, and nothing will come wrong to you; and if you always live that way, you may always be as happy as you wish to be.

The work we are called unto in these last days, calls upon us not to narrow our minds down to the building of a piece of fence, to the enclosing of a piece of land, or to the putting up of a house, alone; but it is our duty while seeking to make an inheritance here, to reach out our prayers in faith and supplication for the general good, and with becoming liberality feel after those who are to enjoy the same blessings we enjoy. We have our duties to ourselves and families to perform, and our daily and hourly duties to our God; but there is a duty we owe, in common with all God’s people, to those who are not yet gathered from the house of bondage. How many of the Israel of God are there sitting in darkness, in distant nations, that have not the light proclaimed to them? Have we come home here to sit down in ease, and let them go down to the grave in ignorance? If we have, we mistake the matter, and in the end will find we shall come short of that glory and reward we anticipate. You have come here to obtain inheritances for yourselves and families, and for your generations forever, in righteousness, as God shall give you power to do. You have, in connection with this, to build up the kingdom of God, to pay tithing, and be ready to fill every office and duty that is put upon you, making the kingdom of God the first and foremost in your affections and attention, and yourselves and families a secondary consideration; and this Gospel has to be borne off among the nations of the earth.

How good it is for us to hear, by the monthly mails, how many there are continually witnessing afar off to the forgiveness of sins through the Gospel. We ought to remember them, and be prepared for whatever may be expected at our hands in those far off regions. Let us not settle down, and become sordid in our affections to anything earthly. It is our duty to seek first the kingdom of God, and the promise is that other things shall be added unto us.

The Lord has manifested His readiness, and determination of purpose, to pour out knowledge and intelligence upon His people, as fast as they are prepared to receive it. Since I left you the last time in the old country, the revelations of the Lord have been sent forth, which had never before been made public, and we have all been led along by degrees in the knowledge of life and salvation. Yet a great amount of advancement has yet to be made while we are in the flesh, greater duties are rolling upon us as fast as we can perform those we are already engaged in. We look around us here upon the house of Israel, the Lamanites, and while our hearts are opened towards them for good, they are not backward to administer death to our brethren. Is this always going to be so? No. The Lord God will work upon them in His own way, until they become one with us in building up the kingdom of God.

The Priesthood in the last days has to be manifested in sufficient power to bear off the kingdom of God triumphant, that all Israel may be gathered and saved. If all Israel will not be sanctified by the law which their Moses first offers them, they will peradventure receive a law of ordinances administered to them, not according to the power of an endless life. Men will be saved in the last days as in former days, according to their faith and willingness to receive the word of God, and walk in it.

We may speak in terms of wonder and admiration of what has been done, and yet where shall these things grow to? They must grow until they spread over all the face of the earth, and control the powers that exist upon it. There must be other revelations fulfilled in our return to Jackson County, and building up the New Jerusalem there; the Lord prepare us for that day, that we may be able to stand the exhibition of glory that will there be made manifest. Before that comes to pass, something must be done here, there is a temple to be built in this city. You, brethren, who received your blessings and endowments in the temple that was built in Nauvoo, have been made witnesses of the wisdom and power that have gone forth to the nations of the earth from that place, and of the power that was realized in the quorums of the Priesthood; no tide of oppression could be raised powerful enough to bear down the authorities of God’s kingdom; we see the wicked who came to rule us turned back to their own place, and the Priesthood appears greater than the powers of earth. The powers of the Priesthood must be made manifest before the eyes of all the world, and become transcendently above every other influence. You have sure grounds for confidence, for every step and every turn this Church makes, is calculated to increase confidence; and if we live so as to have our eyes washed with the eye water of the Gospel, we can ourselves realize the rapid growth of Christ’s kingdom, and the growth of grace in ourselves and in others necessary to lead us on to perfection. You have come here to cultivate perfection in yourselves in the name of the Lord; and if you do that, and try to be useful, and willing to do anything here or anywhere else you are instructed to do, you will be made fit for the performance of any essential good in the kingdom of God.

Well then, brethren and sisters, while all is auspicious around us, and everything calculated to encourage us to do good, let us be up and doing, and try to keep the commandments of God with all our hearts, and we shall find it easier and easier to do it. Let us be prepared always for every duty that is laid upon us, and the grace of God will be sufficient for us under every circumstance.

When I was called to preside in England, I felt as though I never could magnify that calling, it appeared too great for me. But if we feel right, we shall feel like the Prophet of old, the Spirit of the Lord will be sufficient for us in the performance of every duty. I pray that the spirit of Zion may be given to you who have newly come in, that you may go on your way rejoicing, and be able to do the will of God here and abroad. May the blessings of God be and abide upon you by day and by night, and increase you on the earth, in blessings and riches forever, is the prayer of your brother Franklin.