Devotion to God—How It is Made Manifest—Divers Opinions—Liberty to Worship God—Jesus Christ the Savior of the World—His Apostles Were Unlearned Men—They Were Rejected By the Masses—Writings of the Prophets—Persecution for Righteousness’ Sake—Selfishness—Love of Darkness Rather Than Light—Compromise of Principle—Infamy of Sacrificing Truth to Gain Place—God Must Be Obeyed Rather Than Man

Discourse by George G. Bywater, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, Aug. 2, 1885.

Brethren and sisters and friends: We have met this afternoon to commemorate the death and suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ in His crucifixion on Calvary’s cross as an atonement for the sins of the world. We have met here to worship God. The spectacle of a worshiping congregation is not new either in Utah or throughout Christendom at large. A country or a people who are devoid of the sensibilities of the obligations which they owe to the Supreme Ruler of the universe, to the creator of the world and all things that in it are, would be considered pagan, would be considered an uncivilized people. In speaking of civilization Emerson once said that a nation without a well-defined language, without clothing, without a system of marriage we call heathen, we call barbarous, and he might have added with propriety and like truthfulness, that a people who assemble not to pay their devotion to the Great God, the architect of the universe, and the common Fa ther of the human race, are an uncivilized people. While we admit this to be true there are other facts associated with and belonging to this subject of the worship of the Deity, that present themselves very forcibly to our view, and I may enumerate a few of them.

As I have already said, the assembling together of a people in a congregational capacity to pay their adorations to God their Heavenly Father is not a strange or an exceptional spectacle, but is common throughout the world. Nevertheless there is great diversity of opinion regarding divine worship; there are varied methods of paying those adorations to the Supreme Being. The worship that they offer to Deity is presented in ritualistic forms and described methods, in systematic modes; in the form of homilies, in the exercise of prayer, of singing of psalms, of the administration of sacraments, that differ very widely the one from the other. But who on account of this diversity of opinion, who on account of this presented variety of modes of bowing before, or of lifting up unto the Supreme Being our hands in adoration and praise, or in the discharge of our devotional obligations would say, that, but one, two, three, or any restricted number should be guaranteed the liberty, the freedom, the religious toleration, the political and moral right of bowing the knee before God, and of lifting up their voices in praise and prayer to Him who made the sun, the moon and the stars, and who created all things that live and move and have a being? Show me a people, cite to me a nation or a family of nations that have come to the conclusion, that have made a predetermined decree that none shall worship the God of Daniel, or none shall worship the Dianah of the Ephesians, or none shall worship the golden image made by Nebuchadnezzar—you show me a people, a community, or a nation, or family of nations, that are fettered and bound by this proscriptive spirit and the dogmatic institutions and traditions of their times, and I will show you a people that are fettered with chains forged in the fires of bigotry and superstition and that will prove to them a barrier to national and universal progress.

The subject that we have had presented before us by my respected brother who preceded me is a very interesting one, interesting from more sides than one, interesting from every side, interesting from center to circumference, in part and in entirety. It is the subject of the liberty to worship God according to the dictates of a people’s own conscience, unrestricted and unrestrained by arbitrary or compulsory measures. He has referred to historical instances related in sacred history to circumstances under which and by the development of which the spirit of persecution, the spirit of intolerance, the spirit of tyranny and oppression has manifested itself. It is a well known and universally recognized fact throughout all Christendom today, that, Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world; that Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, the redeemer of the human race, is the captain of our salvation, and that there is no other name given under heaven whereby man can be saved but the name of Jesus. This will be readily and clamorously conceded, persistently avowed, and zealously declared, by every church that lays any claim to the name of Christian throughout the whole world; that he was the founder and finisher of that faith which can alone save the family of man; that through His life, death and resurrection, in connection with the principles of immortality and eternal life which He brought forth to the knowledge of the world, in His own person, fulfilling very many of the prophecies relative to the dispensation of the fullness of times—that through Him, and through Him alone, should salvation come unto Israel, and a fallen world be redeemed. The Apostles he was pleased to select from among the unlettered, the uncultivated and the undistinguished among His fellow men, were called to be ministers of his word, to be ambassadors of the message of salvation, to be His heralds of peace—peace on earth and good will to all men. It is true He selected them from among the humble fishermen that were following their occupation of fishing on the sea of Galilee. It is true He did not select them from the learned doctors of the law. It is also true that they were men that had not attained to any high repute, or had been elevated to any dignified or scholastic position in the land, either ecclesiastical or political. They were graded as the offscourings and dregs of the human race. They were, so to speak, the dregs of human society. Yet today, in this age of boasted Christian enlightenment, in this age of boasted Christian freedom—pardon me for the remark—they claim that these men were the servants of the Lord, men that bore in their possession the principles of life and salvation unto all the world, and these men were in their day bold to make affirmations such as fell very unwelcomely, very unacceptably upon the ears of the elite, of the educated, of the refined, of the professional classes of Jewish and of Roman society, and also upon those who were cultivated in Greek literature, and constituted the most refined element of human society. Yet they were bold to declare, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” What do our Christian friends say? What do our pulpit declaimers announce to their congregations when they select such positive declarations, such strong doctrinal enunciations as the one I have quoted and many more like unto them—what do they say? Oh, they tell their Christian friends that they lament the darkness, the moral blindness, the intellectual and doctrinal opaqueness of that age; that had they lived in the days when Jesus sojourned among men, when He went about speaking words of kindness, uttering sentences of love and mercy, expressing His good will to the whole human family, and seeking to promulgate the principles of peace in a distracted age; say they, “Oh that we had lived in the days of Jesus; oh that we had had the privilege of bowing down at His feet like Mary and Martha; oh that we had had the opportunity of surrounding Him when the precious words of life fell from His hallowed lips—the lips of Him who spake as never man spake; oh that we had had this privilege.” And the tears of penitence for the sins of the dead who had gone centuries before them trickle down their face and stain the pages of the sacred scriptures from which they select their texts when they refer to the blindness and hardness of heart of the people who treated with ignominy and contempt the world’s greatest reformer, the world’s universal redeemer, the Son of God Himself. What do they say of them? “Oh,” say they, “how strange it is, how remarkable it is that those people with the writings of the blessed Prophets—with the writings of Hosea, of Jeremiah, of Amos, of Joel, of Habakkuk, of Zechariah, of Malachi, and of all the prophets in their possession, wherein are found so many prophecies relating to the coming of the Messiah, relating to the ushering in of a new dispensation, relating to the inauguration of a reign of peace such as the world had never seen, such as God had not promised unto the children of men, until the period of the world’s history when Shiloh should come—how remarkable with all this that they did not receive the Son of God. “If we had lived in these days,” say they, “we believe that we would have been able to see the hand of God; we would have marked His divine footprints among the people; we would have recognized by our ears the voice of the Good Shepherd; we would have listened with hearts subdued with humility, with minds illuminated by inspiration, to the marvelous and inimitable truths uttered by the Savior of the world. Oh, how wicked it was for those people to be so hardhearted; how wicked it was not only for the common people but for the rulers of the Jews, for the members of the Senate, for the doctors of the law, for the lights of the generation, the leading men of the period in which they lived that they should be guilty of such inhuman, such unnatural, such unjust conduct as to persecute men against whom no charge in truth and in verity could be found except it was that they were pleased to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, to announce unto the world of mankind that a dispensation of divine providence had been ushered in, wherein a change should take place over the minds of the people; wherein a new order of things should be developed, and wherein the Mosaic law with all its sacerdotal rites and ceremonies were to be consummated and brought to a termination in the fulfillment of the prophecies, and in the introduction of a higher and a purer law.” These are their feelings; the ministers preach to the people after this fashion, and read to them such passages as these:

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

“Rejoice and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

This language, my beloved friends, is of a very forcible character. Probably a few reflections upon the sentiments incorporated in these declarations of uninspired men may not be altogether uninstructive or unprofitable unto us at this time.

We learn from these declarations that Jesus Christ and his followers had their names cast out as evil. If these historians record veritable facts—and we have no right to question the historical verity of these statements, because they are established and verified by secular history: if then, they are true it becomes every thinking student of history, every earnest and avowed student of natural theology or sectarian lore, to understand what it was that constituted the essence of the disagreement, what constituted the gist, the kernel, if you please, the special reason why the existing spirit, faith and teachings of the Jewish people, and of the Roman people, in the commencement of the Christian era, were so opposed to the doctrines of Jesus Christ and His apostles. I have already referred to the general recognition by the Christian world of the doctrines of Christ and His apostles as being the foundation of the hope of all enlightened nations for salvation before God; for salvation in eternity, for the redemption of the human race. What, then, was it that was the cause of the opposition which was so pronounced, so persistent and so prolonged against Jesus Christ and His followers. This opposition was not confined to a narrow region. It was an opposition that was not limited within any special circle; for we read of one inquirer who appears to be a man of very general information addressing himself, in the term of an inquiry in his own behalf, and in behalf of those whom he represented, to the Apostles, saying:

“We desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken against.”

It was not a matter of conjecture with him. It was a matter of conjecture with him as to what the Apostle Paul thought: for Paul was a man of letters, a man of a very extended range of experience and observation; so much so that one of the learned rabbis of his time told him that much learning had made him mad. But he was inquiring respecting his (Paul’s) information concerning the Church of Christ, a body of religious worshipers with whom he was identified, and in the midst of whom he was an authorized Apostle.

“We desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest; for as concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken against.”

“We know!” “What do you know, sir?” “We know that it is spoken against.” “Where is it spoken against, sir?” “It is everywhere spoken against.” Hence we see the universality, the general character of the opposition that was raised against the doctrines of the humble and despised Nazarene. Why was it, my friends, that they were opposed to Him? Why was it that His cause was so much misrepresented; that he was charged with keeping company with publicans and sinners, and considered worthy of death? Simply because he introduced an organized system of principles, of ordinances and divine institutions that were antagonistic, not in their essential nature to the welfare of mankind, but antagonistic to the existing dogmas, theologies and schools of philosophy that were then in existence. They were, moreover, systems of theology, and schools of philosophy and organized methods of procedure—in matters theological as well as matters doctrinal and political—that were becoming exhausted. They had reached the period of their decrepitude. They had attained unto the period of old age. They had manifested within them the elements of social, moral and organic decay. Their deteriorating effects were becoming painfully apparent. They were becoming ill-adapted to the newly developing condition of things; inapplicable to the unfolding environments of those times; and God, who sits enthroned in the realms of purity and of truth, had given these systems for the sake of His people. Whatever there was of a regenerating progressive nature in these systems, God sustained. He sustained them until the day star had dawned for a brighter and more glorious epoch in the world’s history, when the shepherds were visited by messengers of light from the realms of the Eternal Gods, crying, “Peace, peace on earth and good will toward all men.”

But my brother who preceded me spoke of selfishness. He touched a chord that seems to me to be unbroken and of a very extended length. I think it reaches over all the ages. I think it has come down from the border times of prehistoric history. I think it is found right through human nature, crude and cultivated, civilized and uncivilized.

The doctrine which the Savior taught touched this feeling of selfishness. It touched the personal vanity of many. The supporters of the systems that I have alluded to—I have no time to name them; there may be many of you who are historically well informed and know all about them; you know there were a number of philosophical schools in existence in Athens and elsewhere at that time; you are acquainted, no doubt, with the dogmas of the period. Suffice it to say that the most violent and determined opposi tion that Jesus of Nazareth met with in His day and generation was from the very class of men that the Christian world today have supposed and thought He ought to have derived the greatest possible support. Our Christian preachers and ministers tell their congregations that the learned doctors of the law who had little else to do but study the technicalities of the laws, to familiarize themselves with the genius of their construction, with the wisdom that promulgated them, with the necessities underlying the need for their legislation; these ministers tell us that they of all other men ought to have discovered the signs of the times, ought to have been able to read them, and in reading them to have discovered that the set time had come for God to bring forth His Son Jesus Christ, and to usher in a reign of peace. But it was from this class of people that Jesus met with the most violent and persistent persecution.

And how is it today, my friends? How is it today with the Latter-day Saints? I want to propound a few questions to my friends, as well as to those who have no desire to be considered our friends. I have one word to say to them. I would say, as my brother before me has said, would to God that they could be inspired by the same divine intelligence, by the same supreme wisdom and enlightened by the same heavenly understanding that chased away the darkness of ages, cleared up the obscurity in which the human mind was enveloped in the days of Jesus; would to God they were sincere and devout and honest, consistent believers in the Bible, the word of God. Then we would not have so much trouble in reasoning with our friends. We have no trouble today in obtaining an intelligent reply from our Christian friends when we ask them, Why did Jesus and His Apostles receive persecution at the hands of the Jews and of the Romans in their day, both as religious and political communities? Why did they do it? The answer would be freely given. Because they loved darkness rather than light; because they would not purify their lives by the regenerating principles of Christianity; because they would not deny themselves of those forbidden fruits and of those unrestrained passions which ran riot, and which the adherents of the Christian religion pronounce against; because Jesus upbraided them for sin and iniquity. It was because he told them the truth against themselves that they were opposed to Him. What were the principles He taught? “Oh,” says our Christian friend, “they are to be found in the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and in the epistles of the Apostles. You will find there the teachings that Jesus and His Apostles taught, and there, too, are found the reasons for all the opposition and persecution which they endured even unto death, even to the ignominious death of crucifixion.

Well, suppose we were to ask the question now, what is the reason that the Latter-day Saints are everywhere spoken against? What is the answer? Well, we would be answered variously, but all in harmony with one certain note of disapproval. The answer would be: “You are unlike us. You choose to profess a religion and a polity different to us. The constitution of your social structure is at variance with our ideas of morality. We are enthusiastically, frantically, and mercilessly incensed against your social system. We cannot endure it. You must believe as we do. You must think as we do, and if you don’t choose to think and believe as we do, you must act as we do, or you cannot be in fellowship with us.” Now, my friends, this is the spirit of the age in which we live, and I am respectfully at the whole world’s defiance to present to me or any other intelligent Latter-day Saint a solid, logical or truthful argument of a contradictory nature. There never has been and there never will be an opponent whose acumen is equal to the task of formulating reasons rational and sufficiently cogent to overthrow the doctrines of the religion of the Latter-day Saints.

Now, then, if the people in the days of Jesus and His Apostles were as consistent—or, pardon me, rather inconsistent—as the people of our day are, they would persist in maintaining that these doctrines should not be taught in Judea, nor in the regions round about, nor in Pamphilia, nor in Rome, nor in Galatia, nor anywhere. You must renounce these doctrines they said. But they did not renounce, and they put them to death. Ah! That is the secret. Do you, then, Christians—the professed promulgators of Bible Christianity—do you choose to repeat the deeds of your forefathers? Do you choose to imitate the examples of the persecutors of the humble and despised Nazarene by persecuting, imprisoning and putting to death men and women who profess precisely the same theology, who worship the same God, who bow at the same sacred altar as Jesus and His Apostles did, who advocate the same doctrines, who administer in the same ordinances, and who in every doctrinal particular are following their divine Master and fellow laborers, the Apostles of old? “Ah!” says one, “it is not that exactly. If you would only promise that you would remove from your religion every objectionable feature that it now presents to the Christian world we would hail you as brethren, as fellow Christians.” What did the Jewish people do? What did the Roman people do? They told Jesus of Nazareth in effect that if he would strike out of the constitution of the new faith every principle and doctrine that was uncongenial, if not with the prophecies which they professed to believe in, at all events, with their construction of them; if they would only put these away, then they could live with them. What would our divines today think of Jesus and His Apostles if they had permitted to be handed down to history that in consequence of the opposition which the revelations of God had evoked in the human mind, and had caused the public pulse to beat high, to arise to feverish temperature, until they came to this conclusion: if we let these men alone they will take away our name and nation; we cannot stand it; crucify him! crucify him! release unto us the thieves—Barabbas, anybody except Jesus of Nazareth; crucify him! crucify him!—His blood be upon us and upon our children forever; this was the cry of the populace; and had He made this affirmation, that in consequence of the determined opposition, of the broad and deep-seated enmity that was engendered in the hearts of the people against the revealed will of God, it was best to cease to proclaim His glorious principles, it was best to stop the administration of His ordinances, it was best to surrender their allegiance to Almighty God, and bow in crouching servility to their fellow men, in deference to them and rebellion to the God of heaven. What would our Christian ministers think of such a body of men as that of Jesus and His Apostles assuming a position of that kind before them? How well they have declaimed in favor of the martyrs of Christianity. With what burning eloquence they have extolled the heroism, the stoutheartedness of the men and women who were willing to go as lambs to the slaughter, like their divine Master, rather than prove recreant to the sacred obligations they had assumed. What would they say of such a Christianity? They would say, Fie! upon such miserable stuff; fie! upon such men and women who should attempt to lay hold of such glorious and benignant principles as those of Christianity. They would say, the touch of such men and women upon such principles was a contaminating touch; it would have been an upas breath that they would have breathed when vindicating Christianity; while they themselves were so inadequate to the responsibilities—being devoid of the inspiration pertaining to the truth—and so indisposed to live a life of purity which those principles required at their hands.

If you would so judge of the former-day Saints, how would you judge of the Latter-day Saints? What would you think of us if we were to tell you that we would cease to believe in the religion of Jesus Christ? It is true you do not know what it means, and hence we pity you. It is true that we know we are of God: we know that these principles and revelations are divine; we know that they have emanated from Him who cannot lie; we know these things, and if you knew them would you ask us to deny our faith, to prove recreant to our trust, to become unworthy the confidence of our families and of honest men around us on every hand. A gentle man in this city was known to say—and he said it in language more forcible than eloquent, and you will excuse me for not repeating it, because it might be considered sacrilege in a sacred desk to do so—he was known to say: “If I knew what you say to be true, I would go to prison—I would not deny it for anybody.” Well, what would you think of a man who would deny that which he knew to be true, or say no when the truth required him to say yes? Could you trust him as a Free Mason or an Odd Fellow, or in any other capacity where true heartedness and genuine human worth is to be appreciated and sought? Certainly not.

Well, now, my friends, we have made some very plain remarks this afternoon. Permit me in conclusion to say that I am very sorry that we are forced into this uninviting situation; but being forced into it, pushed into it, if you please, driven into it, legislated into it, what can we do? What would you advise us to do? Your advice would be this possibly: “We believe that you people only say that you know this work in which you are engaged is of God. We do not believe you do know. We think you are like the rest of the Christian world, and that your knowledge is no more divine, or that you have any closer communion with God than the rest of the sects of the Christian world, and they don’t profess to know, only to believe. Therefore you are very presumptuous to say you know these things. You ought to know better. You had therefore better place yourselves in accord with us, come a little nearer to us, and just say you don’t believe certain principles in your religion, and we will tolerate the other portion.”

My friends, if we were placed in this position of our own doing, we would gladly come to terms, we would gladly settle this question before the setting of another day’s sun. But when we know that God has spoken from heaven; when we know as well as we know that we live that the revelations which we have received—against which the world are now fighting—are of God, born of heaven, of heavenly descent, we can but say in conclusion that we will do all we can, we will keep every law that it is possible for us to keep, we will honor our government to the best of our ability; but if we are asked to choose this day whom we will serve, God or Belial, what do you take us for? Hypocrites, knaves, fools, asinine actors in the drama of life, or what? No, my friends, I will say as one of old said: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” We know the principles are right; we know they are eternal, no matter what may be the consequences. Suppose some of us are put to death, what of that? By putting us to death they simply place us be yond their power—they can do nothing more. As Jesus said, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Now, if we are philosophers, if we are men of wisdom, if we are students of the principles of intelligence and of truth, why certainly we will make a wise selection, we will elect to serve Him who created us, and we trust that God our heavenly Father when He has so far matured His purposes, which are essential to the consummation of the end for which He has permitted this crusade to be waged against us, will be pleased to soften the hearts of those around us as He did in former dispensations, and as He has done with our own nation in our own day—that He will mold and temper the dispositions of men, and that He will make the wrath of man to praise Him, and the residue He will restrain. May God grant this is my prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.

The Gospel of Christ or Ancient Christianity—Its Growth and Progress Despite of Opposition—Christ’s Sermon on the Mount—Similarity of Ancient, to Modern Opposition to the Truth—The Early Apostasy and the Gospel’s Latter-Day Restoration—The Object of Anti-“Mormon” Legislation not the Suppression of Immorality—The Saints Willing to Abide the Issue

Discourse by Elder Geo. G. Bywater, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, August 27, 1882.

“I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” These words were uttered by the Apostle Paul, who, prior to his acceptance of the Christian religion was a vehement persecutor of the new cause that had sprung up in Galilee, and in the regions round about, but who upon being divinely inspired in a miraculous manner became convinced of the power of this Gospel of which he speaks in the language I have just quoted. It will be remembered that at the period of the world’s history when these words were enunciated by the inspired Apostle the Christian religion was not then as it is now, the professed religion of a large portion of the inhabitants of the earth. It was then a new cause; it was then considered a sect which was everywhere spoken against. The doctrines and principles of this new faith appear, from the history of its incipient development, to have aroused very bitter feelings in the hearts of the professors of the popular creeds and philosophies of that age. The history of the rise and progress of Christianity presents to the intelligent student a history of many of the most important principles and lessons connected with the unfoldment of civilization and the purification of the moral ethics of that age and through the succeeding ages, I may add, even down to modern times. The readers of sacred history, as well as the students of universal history, know full well that there has been in the history of the struggle of our common humanity, rising upward from the lower strata of society or masses of the human family who could not well be denominated societies in the sense in which the term is employed today; they, I repeat, know full well the struggles which have been made by mankind to emancipate themselves and to be emancipated through the instrumentality of the light and intelligence that surrounded them and the revelations of God to man—what mighty struggles those have been! They know, furthermore, that there never has been in all past history any marked strides made in the growth and progress of men’s intellectual and moral nature, but that growth has been attended with a series, I will not say uninterrupted, but with a series of persistent oppositions, a series of impeding obstacles thrown in the way, and the most intense hate has been manifested by the maintainers or supporters of orthodox systems of popular creeds and time-honored institutions. We can look back through the ages that have gone by, we can take a retrospective glance into the ages that have rolled into eternity, and there see the things that have marked distinctively those ages, and which are the landmarks of human history, and there we can discover, my brethren, sisters and friends, the effects to which I am now alluding, that there never has been any great improvement made, nor marked advancement effected, no growth attained, but it has met with opposition, which has been the child of ignorance and of superstition, and has been succored by that spirit and power which we denominate, in the language of the Scripture, the spirit and power of evil, the power of the devil. Today Christianity is accepted professedly, by every enlightened nation on the face of this globe. There is not a nation speaking the spoken languages of the world but what recognizes the cardinal principles of the Christian religion as possessing vitality and power that has emanated from a source divine, and that which is best adapted to the amelioration of the condition of our common humanity. When we compare, when we draw lines of comparison between those grand and immutable principles that possess within themselves a potency, and that carry in their very nature the sanctity and purity of the source from whence they have come, bearing upon themselves the seal of divinity, and remembering the opposition which those principles met with by the learned doctors of the law, by the expounders of the writings of Moses and the Prophets, by those who were living in expectancy of the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah, in the coming of Shiloh, and then to discover, as the ages and centuries have gone by, the growth and strength that these fundamental doctrines have acquired; and although generations have come and generations have gone, melted away and become absorbed as the dew before the morning sun, yet the result of the labors of these generations have been witnessed in their accumulating forces, in their beneficent and redeeming influences almost imperceptibly advancing over the minds and seating themselves in the hearts and affections of the good and the great that have lived in every age, where those principles have been proclaimed in the ears of man. When we reflect upon these things and then take a careful review of what it has cost in life and its energies, the potency of its powers that have been employed and apparently consumed, the places thereof being supplied by new stores unfolded in the rising generations, from generation to generation, until, towering up high and perceptibly above the dogmas and traditions of the heathen world, those downtrodden principles, those doctrines that have been everywhere spoken against, have been accepted, professedly, by the Christian world as the Balm of Gilead, as the power by which the nations were to be healed of their moral maladies, by which they were to be enlightened from their heathen darkness, and by which they were to be elevated to an intellectual and moral plane that should bring them up to the high destiny which their Creator had ordained for them, and to bring to pass that perfection which was augured, not only in the religion of Jesus, but also plainly indicated in the constitution of man. Today we have a nominal acceptance of Christianity as a revealed religion. There are but few people living who are so obtuse in their minds, or who are so morally degraded in their nature, or so far lost to every sense of personal respect and Christian propriety, as to deny the goodness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of which the Apostle Paul avowed himself as not ashamed—very few indeed. The 5th, 6th and 7th chapters of Matthew containing the sermon on the Mount are an embodiment of divinity, are a compilation of principles, are an association of ideas, that are unparalleled and are inimitable in the writings and learning of the world. They contain the principles that constitute the groundwork upon which correct nature is to be established. Now then, my friends, if this be true in the light of modern science, of modern philosophy, in the light of the civilization of the nineteenth century, these principles appear as brilliant, undimmed and as transcendent in luster as any of the axiomatic principles, proverbs, and sayings of the learned and the wise of all the ages that are gone by. Zoroaster never chronicled their equal; Matthew never penned a compilation of such principles as are to be found there; Confucius never left on the record of his time principles that reach down into the innermost depth of human nature, and there bring up into man’s destiny the design of his creator as has been revealed in those principles. And yet, my friends, these were the doctrines and principles that were opposed, mark me, and the propagandists of those principles were the men that were followed up with the most untiring opposition, that were persecuted with the most relentless hand; the men who represented these world-redeeming doctrines, the purifying, elevating institutions of Christianity were the men that suffered martyrdom, the men that lost their lives that they might find them, even lives eternal, and they lost them, too; at the hands of men who were considered the representative men of the time, the learned expounders of prophecy, the expounders of law, the teachers of the principles of civil and criminal jurisprudence, men who were deeply versed in the lore of the time, familiar with every branch of the literature of their age, and yet these were the most cruel and uncharitable elements which Christianity had to cope with in its growing influence in the day when the Apostle Paul averred that he was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it was the power of God unto salvation to all who would believe.

Today we have the principles of this same Christianity presented to the world in the same attitude, presented with the same conditions—avowed with the same sincerity, and its doctrines inculcated with the same assiduity and zeal that marked the Apostles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ over 1,800 years ago. And does it meet with any opposition today? Need I ask this question? Scarcely. The people called Latter-day Saints have for a number of years proclaimed the Gospel of Christ in its primitive simplicity, in its primitive integrity, in its primitive organization, and in all its evangelical details, to the inhabitants of this nineteenth century—which by some people is denominated the full blaze of civilization, almost approaching the same, the highest pinnacle, the last possibly attainable point of elevation in the growth of moral worth and intellectuality and power—and if it meets with the opposition which we know it has met with, we are confronted in our own minds with the inquiry—who are the men, what are the character and denomination of the people who raise their voices against the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in its apostolical purity in this the dispensation of the fullness of times? Is it the infidel? Is it the atheist, the man who believes that there is no God nor any controlling power but that which exists in the forms of matter we behold? Is it the man who ignores the Supreme Being, the ruler of the universe? Is it that class of people who live without God, and without hope and without faith in the world to come? Not exactly that class; but it meets with opposition from precisely a corresponding class of men that this cause met with in the early days of Christianity, namely, from Christian ministers, from the propounders of the doctrines of Christianity, from commentators, from men who profess to have studied the law of God, and the revealed religion of Jesus Christ—these are the men who today, in our midst, here in Salt Lake City, in our cities and villages throughout this Territory and elsewhere, claim to be the followers of the meek and lowly Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified, the Redeemer, as the Savior of the whole world, of all mankind, the men who tell you he came into this world and that he endured persecution and every form of ignominy, every form of calumny and reproach in order to introduce the glorious principles of Christianity, to introduce the doctrine of faith in God as the Supreme Creator of the universe, faith in his Son Jesus Christ as the world’s Redeemer, faith in the Holy Spirit as the only guide of mankind unto all truth, the spirit of truth which was promised by Jesus that should come and make the ministry of his Apostles effective, and reveal unto them things past, things present, and show them things to come. Men who teach these principles are the men who oppose the teachings of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ which was preached by the Apostle Paul, which was preached by Peter, which was preached by all the Apostles, and above all, which was illustrated, not only in the teachings, but in the entire life and ministry of Christ, and of his immediate followers. Well, is this not very strange? Has it never occurred to some of our people that there must be some cause for this? Why was it that the Jewish Rabbis and teachers of the law, those men who looked so contemptuously upon the poor despised Nazarene and his equally contemptible followers, the fishermen, whom he had gathered together as his disciples from the sea coast of Galilee; men who had studied the prophecies, men who claimed to have Abraham for their father, men who claimed to be well-disposed towards every agency which tended to bring to pass the fulfillment of prophecy and execute the terms thereof—why was it that they of all other men should be the men from whom the Savior and his disciples met the severest opposition? Has it ever occurred to us that this is a strange inconsistency? If this position had been developed among a people and had been exerted by a class of men and women who were unbelievers in revelation, who were professedly infidel to the doctrines of prophets, to the teachings of patriarchs, to the spirit and revelations of Evangelists and of Apostles, we would not be surprised; but we find that the most powerful agencies that had been brought to bear for the suppression of Christianity, for the overthrow of its doctrines, for the retardation of its success throughout the land, were fostered by men who, from their professed adherence to the scriptures of divine truth, to the writings of Moses and the Prophets which they claimed to be in possession of, should have been its warmest friends; it should have received from them the most effective support; but on the contrary, it received from them the most heartless and unprincipled opposition. And it appears that there was but one solution to the problem, and that solution in their minds was this: This man is a promoter of sedition, we must have him taken out of the way, and so clamorous became the demand for the surrender of the great teacher and founder of Christianity, Jesus of Nazareth, that the populace cried, “away with him, away with him, crucify him, crucify him;” and when the judges of the land, after investigating the charge brought against him, had discovered there was no cause for death in that man, and, moreover, as it was announced “in this just man;” while they did not choose to impugn the judgment of the judge as to his purity, or call in question his reading of the law, yet they nevertheless cried out “his blood be upon our heads; never mind if it is not right, never mind if it is not legal, we do not care for that, away with him; release unto us Barabbas; give us a robber, give us a thief, give us any kind of individual and release him in this jubilee of release to criminals; give anyone a chance but Jesus of Nazareth.” This was the state of affairs. And why did they want to get rid of him? Why did they wish to dispose of him in this way? What had he done to them? What doctrines had he taught that were in opposition even to the law or to good morality? None whatever. He was acquitted before the highest tribunal of his land, and one of our ablest jurists, Alexander Innis, in reviewing the trial of Jesus of Nazareth, concluded that in the light of the nineteenth century, in the advanced state of the science of jurisprudence, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was a judicial murder. He went about continually doing good. He berated men for their sins, to be sure. He chastised them for their iniquity. He did call them hypocrites, he did call them some uncomplimentary names, but they richly deserved it, and any man who is acquainted with the history of the times, with the morality of that age, with the depths of degradation to which men and women had sunken, and the almost extinction of the first conception of morality, knows full well that his accusations were only too just, that there was no other cause for their ire being raised against him other than it was true, and they could not endure it. There are a great many people in this world of ours, in this age, as there were in the age of which I am speaking, who cannot endure sound doctrine. They prefer having men who will teach them plausible and flattering theories, who will pander to their power, who will cringe before the influence of wealth, who will bow down at the shrine of the almighty dollar, and who dare not let Jesus and his Apostles lift up their voices and proclaim against the crying evils of the land. As Latter-day Saints we are teaching the same principles, the same doctrines; and I need not say here, that there are no Christian ministers today that attempt from their pulpits to take up the subject of our religion, to take up any of the leading doctrines and principles of our faith, and with the word of God in their hand and with sound reason brought to bear upon the doctrines taught by the Latter-day Saints and by those taught in ancient times, to show that our doctrines are anti-scriptural, that they are unbiblical; but they will say that they are unchristian, that it is not in accord with the popular sympathies and popular sentiments of the times; that it is not in accord with men’s ideas of morality, of respectability and of cultivation. Yet show me where there are any doctrines or principles taught by the Latter-day Saints that are not in the strictest accord, in the most perfect harmony, in the closest union with the teachings and doctrines taught centuries ago? There are not any to be found; and yet we hear the cry of immorality; we hear the cry of barbarism, of infidelity, of names that I hardly like to repeat, applied to the Latter-day Saints just as they were applied to Jesus and the Apostles, 1,800 years ago.

My friends, if the popular prejudices of the first or second century of the Christian era had continued to be the dominant influence of the world and had suppressed the promulgation of the principles of Christianity and the maintenance of their claim upon men and women, where would your boasted Christianity be today? Where would your enlightenment be today if the revelations of Jesus Christ had been swept out of existence, if the world had been deprived of them entirely, what would be our state at the present time? It is true we have had a long reign of apostasy; it is true that from 1,400 to 1,500 years have passed away without any semblance of the Church of Christ upon the earth. We have had apostate churches, we have had churches built up according to the doctrines of men; we have had sects and parties multiplied by the hundreds; but we have never had a Christian Church. When the Church of Christ of Former-day Saints, with its Prophets, Apostles, and inspired men; with its miracles, gifts and powers disappeared from the earth, and the great “Mother of Harlots” that sitteth upon many waters, established a church, and she begat children in her own likeness, until the whole world has been filled, comparatively speaking, with the effects of the degraded system that has grown out of an apostate Christianity—I say, that from the time the Church of Christ disappeared from the earth until it was restored and built upon the foundation of living Prophets, Apostles, Evangelists, and the living powers of the Holy Ghost, there was no Christian church upon the earth. And this has all taken place, not for the purpose of giving any class of men an opportunity of lifting themselves up in the pride and vanity of their hearts, because they have become instruments in the hands of God in bringing to pass the restoration of those things which were predicted by the ancient Prophets, and were to be fulfilled in the last days, but it has been brought to pass in the fulfillment of measured prophecy, of explicit and well-defined terms of revelation with no ambiguity or uncertainty about them; the terms are as explicit, the conditions are as comprehensive, as clear and as conspicuous as the terms of any contract that was ever made between any two intelligent beings.

I must, however, bring my remarks to a close. I am thankful for the opportunity of announcing my feelings; of announcing our views as a people with regard to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We offer to the world the same Gospel that was proclaimed anciently—faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; repentance of sin; baptism for the remission of sins, and the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost. And how is it that we meet with opposition? We have the same opposition that the enemies of Christianity waged against the Former-day Saints. Some people are finding fault with the treatment that we are receiving today at the hands of our government. I think many of us are laboring under a mistake. Some people are astonished at the partiality that is manifested in the law, and in the conditions in which the law is to be applied to one class of the citizens of this Territory and not against another. We are laboring under a mistake. The government is not seeking to legislate against immorality; and if we think they are doing so we are deceiving ourselves. I consider myself that there is more consistency to be accorded to those who are administrators of the laws of our nation and the makers of those laws than some of us are inclined to credit them with; but if we expect that the recent law which has been enacted to apply to the people of Utah—to “polygamists and bigamists”—is intended to suppress the social evil, it is a mistake; it is not to touch anything outside “the marriage relation;” there is no infringement on the liberties of abandoned people; they can do as they please. The object of the law is to restrict marriage; is to restrict the legitimate and divine associations of the sexes; and if we suppose that it is intended for anything else we are laboring under a mistake. Let us be consistent, my friends, and wait. If our government wishes to deal with this question first, it has the right to do so; if it wishes to do it, it has the right to do it in the sense that the age regards might greater than right; but we are in the hands of the All-wise and Supreme Ruler of the universe. We are in the hands of Him who setteth up kings and who dethroneth kings; who buildeth up empires and casteth down thrones at His will and pleasure. We are willing to abide the issue. It is God and the rulers of our land for it. We cannot measure arms with them only with our principles, but they will not fight us on that ground; they slink back out of sight, they will not touch us with the divine records in their hands; they dare not come to the front and challenge a comparison of the principles of Christianity with the record upon which they profess to found their faith. Excuse the freedom I have taken to express these thoughts; but I am a little astonished at the apparent inconsistency manifest in the legislative discriminations enacted against the Latter-day Saints, and would say, Oh consistency, thou art a jewel rarely to be found.

May God sustain this people; may He fill their hearts with faith and hope and confidence. We will seek to live our religion, and to pray to the God of Daniel, the God of Moses, to the God of our forefathers, to the God of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, to the God of the universe, the Father of all; that He will direct and guide us in this great contest—I mean the contest that is being waged between pure Christianity and the errors of the world, until this earth shall be filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the mighty deep. This is my prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Human Rights—Origin, Duty and Destiny of Man—Correct Knowledge Due to Divine Revelation—Truth Ever Absolute and Unwelcome to the World—God’s Authority Unrecognized—The World’s Present State and Future Prospects

Discourse by Elder George G. Bywater, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, June 4, 1882.

Among the loftiest conceptions of the world of mind, relative to the purposes and being of man, has, in human wisdom, been formulated to be the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This sentiment has found an echo in every age, when the intelligence with which man is inherently endowed has been favored with a development to a degree adequate to this conception. And although this principle in the general bearing upon human interests is accepted by the intelligence of all countries and all peoples, we discover that our principles and sentiments are in advance of the moral and intellectual culture requisite to their full and complete development. But wherever and whenever the best cultivated minds have been moved to pronounce their conceptions upon the destiny of man, they have ever incorporated those principles and those rights in their constitutional manifestoes. And amid the multitudinous concerns and divine interests, in which the human mind is engrossed, there is always a sacred spot reserved for the welcoming and christening of those principles in the human heart. Moreover, whenever these principles have been invaded and the sanctity of the conditions involved in them has been imposed upon by ignorance and superstition or unbridled and uncultivated passions, they have ever resulted in sorrow, distress and anguish to the family of man.

In speaking a few Sabbaths ago I made reference to the genesis or origin of things, and quoted an inquiry which was very beautifully put by the intelligent individual who made the inquiry, namely, “Whence are all things, and whither do all things tend?” and then remarked that the highest and loftiest aim of man must necessarily be to obtain the conception of his origin and his final destiny. Short of this, his life would be an aimless life, and his acts would be acts without intelligent motives; they would be disconnected: they would bear no reference to the past, no reference to the future, but would be acts produced as the result of the force of circumstances, urging an acquiescence and recognition of the pressure by which he was surrounded, and yielding to the authority of that force.

But to the free and intelligent man and woman who ascend above the narrow zones and stratas of human life, who rise to a higher plain of intellectuality and who begin to perceive the vast extent over which human interests are spread and the undoubted right of association of those interests to go in one grand fraternal whole, in one bond of human unity, they must be led to inquire into those matters, and in doing so to satisfy themselves, at least, according to their highest standard of knowledge, and their widest scope of experience and observation, so that they might have in view an object, a mark, a prize towards which they should aim, a prize for which they should run a race, a work to be performed for which they should receive a reward; impelled by the eternal, heaven-born endowments which, under favorable influences and proper circumstances, they would feel awakened within them, impelling them, urging them to advance to a higher standard of moral and intellectual excellence, and be able to perform a work for the advancement of their race, for the amelioration of the condition of human society, that they might leave the world, in some small degree though it may be, the better for their living in it.

We conceive, my brethren and sisters, that these are motives that no well-directed line of thought can escape, that these are feelings that no heart imbued with the genuineness of its nature, which we inherit as the patrimony of our Father and God can entertain, without being moved thereby; and we certainly could not become oblivious to these considerations whatever may be the conditions or conceptions in which we find ourselves and those with whom we are more immediately associated in the fabric of human society—we must feel that this great, grand, dominating principle is ever presenting its modest claim upon our allegiance, that we should not only desire to enjoy the right to life but the right to liberty, and the right to pursue happiness according to our highest conceptions of that happiness and that liberty.

As Latter-day Saints we feel that this is our prerogative; we feel that the words which I have quoted, although I stated that they were formulated by human wisdom, but I beg to qualify that statement by a word or two to convey my meaning more clearly to you upon this subject. It is true that we draw a line of demarcation between human wisdom and wisdom from above—between the human and divine; that we draw a broad line by which we distinguish the one from the other; but when we express ourselves in harmony with the common principle which enters into the structure of our faith, as Latter-day Saints, we find that this line becomes more and more attenuated; we find that it loses that distinctness which we once thought should ever exist between what we call temporal and spiritual, and we find ourselves, being guided by the inspirations of our faith and the principles which we have espoused, coming nearer and nearer into a union, and more closely in harmony with that sentiment expressed by one of the ancient prophets: “Fear God and keep his commandments: this is the whole duty of man.” This sentiment was uttered long centuries ago, when men, according to modern writers and speakers, were supposed to enjoy only the light of Paganism, guided by the government of barbarism in the lower stages of the scale of human elevation—in the dark ages. But, my friends, if there is a sage or philosopher that has ever uttered a sentiment or declared a principle or enunciated a law by which he would give birth to his conception of the philosophy of life, of the purpose of human existence, that could express it more forcibly, more philosophically or in stricter harmony with the principles of exact science than this ancient Prophet, then I know not his name nor am I acquainted with him as an author.

Permit me, in a few words, to illustrate my meaning upon this principle. We will suppose that a master builder has conceived a plan for a magnificent structure, for a beautiful residence, for a temple of worship, for a temple of science, for a temple of freedom, a temple of truth; and he would embody, as the result of his deep and practical investigation into the wants and necessities embodied in his conception, a necessary provision to meet those wants, to supply those necessities, and to accord with the character of the work, or the results to be produced after the work should be completed, that there was no part of the plan conceived as being unnecessary or beyond what was called for, or any part of the structure that was built for nought, and that might as well be disposed of as to have it; but he would feel that he had completed his ground plan, the several floor plans, even to the topmost stone or the last elaborate and artistic touch of the painter’s brush or mechanic’s chisel, according to the genius of decorative art, that it was all necessary to carrying out the external principles and character and importance of the work to be performed and of the results to follow the completion of this labor. If this be true in works of art, if this be true also in the various labors of life, in the domain of agriculture as well as the domain of art, in every department of nature as well as in every department of art, we see design and purpose, we see invention and system, we see the indelible mark of intent upon every part designed to constitute the entire and perfect whole; and we would say that the man who would conclude that the work of such an architect, of such a master builder, was unnecessary, was simply an utterance of mind that was unfavorable to more mature investigation of such matters, and consequently could not be considered a competent judge upon such a subject.

We regard man as the highest form of intellectual and moral existence with which we are acquainted. We regard man as the most perfect embodiment of all the creations of nature with which we are acquainted. He possesses the highest development of a nervous system, the most complex organization in all its parts, the most fruitful brain, producing the grandest results witnessed in every form of animated existence; and if this be true—and I have never yet seen a man who could be considered by his best friends to be sane who doubted it—then we must admit that if man who is created with a complement of capabilities, with a capacity for advancement in knowledge of a variety of degrees and kinds, and that he is adapted in his mental and moral nature to perform works that are productive of the highest possible good, not only to himself as an intelligent being, but to all subordinate or inferior forms of life with which he is surrounded, we certainly cannot fail to come right into the presence of this inquiry: “Whence are all things, and whither do all things tend?”

Many and wide are the specula tions indulged in by men who feel free to give themselves the most unbounded latitude in their speculations, forming theories not only devoid of ingeniousness, not only devoid of truth and symmetry, but possessing some features of fascination for the intellectual and good among mankind; yet, where do we find in the whole realm of mind, where through all the ages that have gone by, men that have wandered and gleaned information from every open avenue among the various civilizations which the words of history give unto us a knowledge of, is there a more rational and consistent solution of this question than is found in the writings of the most ancient historian and primitive lawgiver, Moses: “God made man in his own image; in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

If then, my friends, we have an origin—and there is no doubt but that we have; and there are very few men with whom I have come in contact that have ever hesitated to admit man’s origin. It will therefore be rational to enquire whence are we. But to trace back through the ages that have elapsed and take a retrospective gaze into the past and endeavor to unearth the history of lost civilization; to exhume from the buried ruins the intelligence that existed upon the surface of this globe during the long, long centuries that have gone by, and there glean the very cream and gather together the most precious sentiments ever enunciated by sage or philosopher, can we find anything superior to this? No, we cannot, my friends; there is none on record. Pardon my freedom in making so broad and conclusive a statement; but I speak after many years’ reflections, and after considerable research.

And although, my beloved brethren and sisters, many grand and cherished principles have been brought to light by man’s will and power of investigation, by seeking to open nature’s temples and explore her departments and endeavor to comprehend law through phenomena, and formulate the laws of nature in harmony with the connected and continuous occurrences of events, with the uniform appearance and reappearance of her operations, and they have been gratified with the glorious results which have followed the earnest, the honest and indefatigable labors of good men, men who have sacrificed friends and homes and associations, who have bid adieu to their dearest friends on earth, sacrificing all the comforts and luxuries with which they were surrounded to embark on the ocean of peril and uncertainty in pursuit of principles which they felt were to be discovered, and results to be attained by persistent and indefatigable labor. They have traveled to earth’s utmost bounds; they have endured hardships, and many of them have sacrificed their lives in order to accumulate a fund of human knowledge to add to those experiences which seem indisputably necessary to build up society upon its more enduring basis. Yet, my friends, have they ever brought to light by their researches, without naming those worthies for whom I entertain profound respect, a great many of them, have they ever introduced to the human family such a plain, such a clear, lucid and satisfactory explanation of the principles of which I have spoken, and to which I am now alluding—the design of man and his final destiny upon the earth—as is given in the records of revelation. It is true that the scientific man is satisfied that there is a high destiny awaiting man; that there is an ultimatum pertaining to his being that science cannot unfold, that philosophy cannot teach, that man’s experience and observation cannot gather the materials for the solution of; but they see a grandness in the structure of the human frame, they see a profoundness in the constitution of his mind; they see such a variety of adaptations and combinations in his person that augurs for him a higher life and nobler results and grander purposes, than are presented within the narrow realm of his mortal sphere, in which he now sojourns. But to say what that life is, to explain what will be his future destiny and the future destiny of the human family at large, the earth and the universe, who can tell? The wisest of men here bow their heads in humility, their countenances become more or less suffused with expressions of humiliation. They stand in the presence of the future, the effect of which they feel, but the character of which they do not comprehend; and they will say with Professor Proctor and others, that whatever may be the laws that will bring to pass the resurrection of the world, as the prophets have said, it will die and pass away; what will be the laws and powers and forces that will make themselves manifest in the resurrection or regeneration of matter, they do not know, but they believe that there exists in nature an intelligent power which will conduct her operations to eternal perpetuity.

My friends, we are indebted to revelation as the source of knowledge; we are indebted to God and angels, and the spirit of revelation, for our understanding of those divine principles which afford a clear and final solution to these important and vital inquiries. As Latter-day Saints we appeal to this source; and while we do not ignore any truth, come from where it may, or wherever found, whether upon Christian or heathen ground, we hail the light of the everlasting Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ which has been revealed in our day and dispensation as the only unerring, as the only truthful and unqualifiedly certain mode of interpretation by which we can attain to a knowledge of these things. We may say, the works of God and the word of God both constitute the avenues of human information, and that whoever ignores the one deprives himself of much of the benefits which flow from accepting the other; that there are two doors which open to the temple of truth, and they are both indispensably necessary to engage man’s full capacity and to endow him with the principles of knowledge, and with the purposes of his being here upon the earth, together with his origin and final destiny.

My beloved friends, I feel grateful for a knowledge of these things; I feel thankful that God has restored again the fulness of the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and that we are living in the dispensation in which God has foretold through his ancient servants the prophets that he would make known his mind and will concerning the earth and its inhabitants, and his purposes in relation to them; and that he will bring to pass all of his great and grand designs as they have been foreshadowed in the volumes of revelation from the earliest period of his speaking to the children of men to the present hour. And as Latter-day Saints we rely especially and entirely upon him for absolute truth. Although men deny this, they say there is no such thing as absolute truth, that all truth is relative. But we have learned, through the revelations of God, and taking them as a standard, that there is a great deal of false reasoning here. Truth is absolute in its nature. Man’s apprehension of it may be only partial and imperfect; he may know too few of its sides, comprehending it not in its entirety; and, therefore, to form a perfect and unerring judgment as regards its force and power and character requires a thorough application of its elements. I aver that truth is absolute. It is admitted by our wisest men that the existence of God is an absolute existence; we accept this admission, and say that whatever truth emanates from him, is an absolute truth. It may be beyond our comprehension. Truth may come unto man in relative quantities. It may be revealed in the form of line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. It nevertheless comes to us in the character and absoluteness of his character, and this, we say, is stamped upon every principle that emanates from his divine presence.

As a community of people we have received this Gospel; we have embraced its first principles. We have gathered ourselves together to these mountain valleys in fulfillment of prophecy to be further taught of him. We are entering into the development of that work which has been the theme and burden of the prophetic song of men who lived long ages ago. We live in an age of revelation. We live in an age of Prophets and Apostles and inspired men. But who believes this? Here is a question, who believes it? It was asked in the day of the Savior, When the Son of Man cometh shall he find faith on the earth? When and where, I ask, has a dispensation of God to the children of men found a universal acceptance? We know of no time in the world’s history when the intelligence of the masses of mankind has been of that advanced and refined culture as to accord the right to the Creator of the universe to dictate a government for the children of men. They have ever assumed the role en masse or in the great majority, that they had the right to dictate to themselves. This is strikingly illustrated in the parable of the Savior, in which is represented a vineyard and the giving charge of it to stewards to cultivate it and take care of its fruit. This having been done, the Lord of the vineyard sends his servants or messengers to investigate as to the management and working of their stewardship. But when they came, making known their business to those in charge, were they received as they should have been? No, but on the contrary, they agreed among themselves that it was their right to manage their own affairs according to their own will and in their own way, and that it was their right to dictate to themselves. Vox populi, vox dei. We are the voice of God; we know what is best for ourselves, etc. And they took the messengers that were sent unto them by the master and owner of the vineyard, and beat one and stoned another, etc.; and they returned and reported the cruelties that had been inflicted upon them. By this act they ignored the right and authority of the Master to make any inquiries as to the management of affairs. Finally the Lord of the vineyard said: “I will send my Son, surely they will reverence my Son.” He came, and they recognized him; said they, “He is the heir, let us kill him.”

My beloved brethren and sisters, and friends, this is a very truthful, a very forcible illustration of the spirit that has been manifested by the generation of the children of men in our own age, when God has again sent a divine messenger, crying repentance to the people and inviting them to forsake their sins and return to the Lord their God, and recognize his right to dictate to them the form of government they should live by.

How is it today in this nation, that boastingly iterates and reiterates from one part of our common country to the other the rights of men which are embodied in the noble Constitution of the country, and expressed in the words I quoted, “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Do they recognize God’s right to rule? No, my friends, and I must say, pardon the allusion, in the sarcastic though too truthful article of Mrs. Gail Hamilton, with regard to the power and effects of science and the power and effect of the Christian world in their prayers for our late lamented President Garfield, when she tauntingly throws up to them that they have no faith; that the prayers of the whole world were turned, that the whole Christian world bowed itself, asking and pleading with heaven to save unto us our President; but the only prayer answered was that of the wretched and despised Guiteau, the assassin. There is too much truth in this sarcasm. Would we rule God out of the government; would we rule Him out of the Constitution, claiming the right to rule ourselves and dictate the conditions upon which we would live, or would we say with one of old, that “to fear God and keep his commandments is the whole duty of man.” It is with regret that we have to record the admission, that the general sentiment of today, is, that God has nothing to do with human affairs, which only expresses the real state of things as they now exist. But then this is merely a fulfillment of a prophetic utterance. In the latter days, said Timothy, many false prophets should arise and also false teachers, who would teach the doctrine of devils. Forbidding to marry (but tolerating prostitution); that men would become “covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers,” that they would be “without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of them that are good.” That they would also be traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. “Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.”

What is the state, not only of our own glorious Republic, but of the governments of the world—whither are we drifting? We have eyes, but whether we can see enough of the circumstances that are to constitute the grand panorama spoken of in Holy Writ, is another question. It may be that they are too close to our doors to be seen distinctly, and that we are unable in consequence to comprehend their magnitude and foretell their results. Be that as it may, we nevertheless are right in the presence of these sorrowful facts of human history.

May we, as Latter-day Saints, be faithful, trusting in God. May we be like Daniel of old, though the king should forbid we should pray; though princes and rulers should tell us we shall not worship God only as we are permitted to, that we must accept and abide by popular opinion and bow in deference to popular prejudices, shaping our convictions after the ethics and theories of men, may we still trust in Him, and still be found at the post of duty and devotion.

Is this the age of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Is this the age when we are to enjoy those immunities and guarantees which the highest conservators of human wisdom, the founders of our great Constitution were enabled to give unto us, to bequeath unto us as their patrimony? Alas! alas! It is in this instance as in that expressed by Oliver Goldsmith:

Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates and men decay.

When men will tell you that the constitution is not sufficient; that we have grown beyond it—that there is no sacredness to be attached to any institution that comes short in its provisions to supply means by which party purposes and popular prejudices can be fostered and carried into execution, that all these things must go by the way—I fear for my country; I fear for any nation and any people so situated. For remember, this is not the only age that mankind has lived. We go to Egypt, we go to Chaldee and to Central Arabia, and we find these relics of an ancient civilization, many phases of which would put to the blush the vanity and pride of the intelligence of the age in which we live. They have gone; the genera tions then living have melted away. And the generations that now live will pass away; but God lives and rules, and his purposes will roll on. And, pardon me, I will close my remarks with another couplet:

“Yet I doubt not through the ages One eternal purpose runs, And the thoughts of men are widened By the process of the suns.” And by the development and the upholding of the principles of nature God is consummating his designs, which will terminate in the salvation of man and the perfection of the earth as a residence for the redeemed of all past ages, when the light of the sun will not be needed, for the glory of God will be the light, and intelligence and truth shall flow as the mighty ocean, and knowledge shall cover the great deep, and no man then need say, Know ye the Lord, for all shall know him from the least to the greatest; and every man in every place will meet a brother and a friend.

May God in His own due time hasten these things, and we, His children, be prepared for every dispensation of His providence, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus, Amen.

The Peculiarities of the People of Utah, Etc.

Discourse by Elder George G. Bywater, delivered in the Assembly Hall, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, Jan. 30th, 1881.

The appearance of the congregation before me awakens within my mind a number of pleasurable reflections. There is one unerring method of determining the value of all subjects, of all objects, of all matters pertaining to the interests of our common humanity; and that method is the rule by which the results are attained, and the determination of the character of those results, whether they be good or whether they be evil. And this method moreover is not only applicable in determining the various secular conditions and circumstances of mankind, but it is equally unerring in determining the higher phases and conditions of the life of man. It reaches upward into the realms of mind and invades, if you please, or spreads itself over the entire field of human thought, embracing not only our secular but our spiritual interests.

When Jesus of Nazareth, the Savior of mankind, was on the earth sojourning for a few brief years with the children of men, he gave expression to this most beautiful and highly philosophic rule: “For every tree is known by its fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. By their fruits ye shall know them.” It is the contempla tion of the elementary principles embodied in this rule that has awakened within my mind the reflections I have referred to, while gazing upon this congregation seated in this beautiful place of worship. It is true that the spectacle presented before our minds when contemplating the surroundings of the people of the Latter-day Saints—the comforts of life they are enjoying, and the material blessings that they have become possessed of—does not alone determine the divine character of the spiritual philosophy, the system of principles and doctrine which constitute their faith. For when we travel in the world, and extend our observances over the great centers of what is called the civilized world of mankind, we can behold on every hand stupendous edifices, gorgeously denominated cathedrals draped in the most costly tapestry and finished in the most elaborate manner, bespeaking a high cultivation of art and a development of science in its most advanced stages, with every means improvised to render the object and purpose of those structures efficient to the ends designed. And a reference to these representations of man’s industry and skill, and to the exhibition of that wisdom, which is at once the standard of the intellectual growth and advancement of the race and age in which they were brought forth enables us to judge comparatively of the growth of wisdom, and the growth of intelligence which has become the heritage of our race, and which we inherit through the very mysterious and complex nature of our spiritual and physical constitutions. But that which imparts greater value to the physical labors of the Latter-day Saints, producing the unmistakable phenomena presented here today and in other places throughout the Territory of Utah, and wherever the Latter-day Saints are assembled together in their more scattered conditions of life, following the varied pursuits thereof, in developing the various branches of labor which have been developed in society, and which society demands the performance of, is the uninviting character and crude quality of their surroundings on one hand, and the indomitable energy awakened by the inspiration of their faith on the other hand, elucidating to a demonstration their faith to be the gift of God, and that their works, so far as they are the products of that faith, to be the works of righteousness. Therefore we lay claim to considerations of an equal character, to considerations of equal merit, to the respect and gracious judgments that are awarded to the builders of the various centers of civilization, and that are conferred upon those active agents and instrumentalities by which they have been established among men.

But that which actuates my mind, my brethren and sisters, and more especially on the present occasion, is the peculiar character and constitution of the faith we have espoused; and upon this subject, as I have been invited by my brethren to address you for a short time, I respectfully ask your attention.

What is it, I would ask, that constitutes the peculiarities that distinguish the people of Utah from the rest of the world of mankind, from the divisions of human society variously denominated Christian—Christian Presbyterians, Christian Episcopalians, and the Christians of the various denominational titles by which they respectively desire to be recognized as distinct and separate societies? I ask, what is it that marks so peculiarly the distinction between the Latter-day Saints and the rest of their fellow creatures? We claim them to be our fellow creatures, whether they are willing to claim us as their fellow creatures or not. We know we have proceeded from the same boundless, the same limitless, the same immutable source of life from which they sprang as also our forefathers, and indeed all the generations of the children of men, back to the border lines of ethnological territory and earliest dawn of human history. This distinction of which we speak may be stated in a very few words, however unacceptable that statement may be to those of our friends, or those who ought to be our friends, who differ from us. It is in this—that in the profession of Christianity we have accepted it as a whole; we have not regarded fractional Christianity, sectional Christianity, modern Christianity, as the embodiment of those principles and teachings which the great Founder of our faith came into this world incarnate to reveal, and which He left as a heavenly legacy to the children of men—children of the great common Father, with whom we, with Him, once existed, He being the first begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, the firstborn of many brethren. And we chose to accept Christianity in its complete and entire constitution; uninoculated by the precepts and doctrines of men, pure from heaven, unfolding to our understandings the incomparable plan of human redemption. We have accepted the Christian revelation as proclaimed by angels and inspired Prophets and Apostles and Evangelists of every degree. To us it is a modern revelation, and we accept it with all the obligations which it has imposed upon us as conditions of salvation; with all its constituted and organized officers; with all its divinely instituted ordinances, and with all its pure and heaven-born principles that it embodies. The truth and elements which go to make up that system of worship, that system of faith, that system of belief, or, in other words, that system of divine knowledge, possess in their nature every virtue requisite, and every element of worth, and every force and principle of energy that can reach man—man in his entirety, man as a whole, not some particular phase of his nature, as they are not designed to develop one particular characteristic of his being. The teachers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are not evolutionists who choose to develop one particular characteristic to the extreme, and to suppress others to an abnormal condition, thereby producing results the most derogatory and pernicious in their government over the constitution of the being. We have embraced the Gospel which has been revealed for the express purpose of meeting man’s every want, and of furnishing an intellectual regime and mental discipline adequate to the unfoldment of every attribute and quality of man. In this constitutes the essential dif ference, the distinctive discriminative features between the Latter-day Saints and the rest of the so-called Christian world. It is upon this ground that our friends differ from us; that our fellow men wage war against us. They, however, would tell you, no. They would say it is because we have institutions and practices that are antagonistic to the moral ethics of the age; that we support practices and lend our defense to doctrines that are repugnant to the moral sense of Christianity, to the enlightened races of mankind; that they do not at all oppose us on the ground that we believe the Bible, that we accept the doctrines of the Lord Jesus Christ—because we believe in prophecy and revelation—but that we have come in contact with would be customs and usages, with the popular interpretation of moral principles and moral conduct; and that, therefore, we have rendered ourselves obnoxious to the Christian world. And that, therefore, because we are in the minority, forsooth, it would be in good grace for us to abandon that which the majority so strenuously oppose and so persistently reject. And they claim that we must do it.

Now, my friends, I have stated in a very brief manner the feelings of the Christian world. I do not speak of any other phase of society, because the rest of the world of mankind are not in pursuit of divine knowledge; they are not searching for those principles which bring life and immortality to light; they are generally committed to the science of moneymaking; they have exerted and brought into play all the energies of their being to develop trade and commerce, and to engage in developing all of the secular interests of the world, not only of one nation, but so broad and expansive have become their ideas, that they have become purely international in their scope of utility; they have crossed the expanse of oceans and penetrated the continents, and taken into consideration the welfare of other races as well as of that of their own, financially, secularly. But the Christian world oppose us upon the ground of our being offensive to them because of our institutions. Now, my friends, brethren and sisters, it is a consolation to us when we read the pages of prophecy; when we open the sacred volume and pore over its historical pages and take a retrospective glance into the history of the past, and learn that similar charges were brought against the Founder of our faith, against Jesus of Nazareth, and also against His Apostles and Prophets and the Patriarchs; and that it is with the unbeliever in revelation, and with those who are influenced by proscribed principles and spirit of any age in which they lived to oppose progress, to oppose development in any direction.

There is one great difficulty in the way of progress and that is invested interests, not less so in religion than in the avenues of commerce and trade. Whenever there have been any great principles brought forth in the mechanical world, in any department of mechanism from the agricultural through all the ramifications of society, they have rarely escaped opposition. And, indeed, this obstruction in the way of progress, is not confined to mechanical pursuits. There is a spirit with large capitalists and men who have invested deeply and extensively their capital in the manufacture of any commodity, produced for the world’s market, which arrays itself against growth and progress made in any direction excepting only where it will especially benefit them. There is opposition; their invested interests stand in the way of progress; and it is not only in temporal affairs, but it is also in religion, in theology. One great reason why the doctrines of the Latter-day Saints are opposed by the so-called Christians, is, because they place at a discount their fractional faith, their fractional currency of belief, so to speak, and they do not wish to have their faith discounted; they do not wish to be placed in the unenviable light as to be regarded as only professing a fragmentary Christianity. And in this they only manifest the same envious traits that have marked the history of our race in all the great phases and stages of progress which the world has made.

I must here, my friends, make one remark in relation to the spirit of persecution that is in the world, and which, by the way, is a very anomalous phenomenon, very much so indeed. Christianity, in its fundamental principles, has running through it a broad vein of charity; and that spirit of mercy and love permeates every avenue of it, and thrills with sensitive pulsations through every brain, heart and vein of its unfeigned believers. There is no duty to be performed, no services rendered which the doctrine of the Christian revelations requires of its devotees, of its accepters, but that enjoins the administration of mercy and forbearance, and long-suffering, and gentleness, and tenderness, and meekness, and brotherly kindness, and all those excellencies and virtues which grace the character of an exemplary Christian. And I may here say, and I do so with feelings of shame and regret, that the bitterest persecutions that have ever been waged upon the world’s battle fields have been waged by men who have professed the doctrines of the meek and lowly Jesus. Yes, the most overwhelming torrents of human blood that have ever stained the world with its gory hue, have been let out by the violent hands of those who professed to administer in the sacred things of God, who professed to be inspired by the spirit of the Divine Master. And of all classes of men and women that I have ever met or that I have any knowledge of, theological and religious fanatics have been the most unreasonable, the most unapproachable, the worst of infidels to the Christian cause. This is a broad statement to make; it is, notwithstanding, made with due consideration. It has not been hurriedly pronounced, for I have given this matter some thought, some study and some little observation. And I am convinced my friends, that the ignorance and superstition that have produced the direst evils, the knowledge of which has been recorded upon the pages of history, have not been the legitimate outgrowth of the principles of Christianity, but of Christianity falsely so-called; they have been the product of unenlightened ideas, they have been the result of misguided zeal, that was not according to knowledge; and they have been too frequently manifested in directions and among communities where better results and more genteel and gracious things were expected to predominate.

Now, the history of the Latter-day Saints is one that has been before the world for a number of years in many of its phases, not probably in all its bearings, not in all its features; but there are many salient points in our history that indicate and that most unmistakably, to the impartial student of history, that the hostile attitude assumed by theological demagogues and their partisan adherents towards the Latter-day Saints is very similar to the conduct of the world towards the former-day Saints, and stands in offensive comparison with their parade of Christian benevolence and religious toleration. In this particular, history repeats itself. The revelations of truth have ever awakened the spirit of persecution in misbelievers. And our Lord Jesus Christ assigned a very acceptable reason why this is so. He says that “men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.” Now, upon this point I do not wish to be understood by my brief quotation of this text that I consider mankind incorrigible, that the race is hopelessly sunken in depravity and sin. No, my brethren, I have more faith in the potency of the plan of redemption, and more faith in the remaining stamina and integrity of human nature itself, than to give up the hope that God will fail to fulfil His purposes in the creation of man. On the contrary, I believe that He will develop His heavenly designs in the Godlike combination of the attributes and qualities that constitute man a moral and spiritual being. I have faith that man will yet stand forth erect in the likeness of his Maker, in whose image he was first created. Man will then be filled with the glory of God, which is intelligence and truth; his divine origin will then be self-evident; and the truth of what the historian Moses has said of the genesis of man, will receive the concurrent sanction of science and religion.

We have received this Gospel from its first principles, through the varied stages of progress which it has made, and which has been made since its restoration in the dispensation in which we live, until today. And here we must confess that the verity of the Savior’s words have been most fully established, that the truth comes not to us in its fulness; comes not to us in its complete and entire character; but it comes to us as a beautiful little bud upon a choice and tender plant that blooms; it comes to us as a growing protuberance on the top of a stem; it comes to us presenting the appearance of something more to follow; it swells: it enlarges; the leaves that modestly and beautifully cover up the internal structure of that bud begin to open and expand through the vitalizing energies of the sun, whose radiating rays impart warmth and life and vigor to the growing plant. And it grows stronger and higher; it branches, and spreads, and opens more and more until the blossom is spread open to full view, and kisses the sunbeams as they descend through the vestibule of Nature’s laboratory into the sanctum sanctorum, if you please, where the formative principles and coordinating laws reside. The plant has passed through many stages of unfoldment from its germinal origin to its maturity—its maximum attainment. It has spent its energies in self-development and in elaborating provisions for a new existence. The environments change. The winter of its life has come. It passes into a season of rest, to be again called into new life and enlarged activity when spring time comes again. This exemplifies the great law of growth and progress in universal nature, not only in the “lily of the valley,” but in the realm of universal nature where God presides.

Now the Gospel has come to us something after the fashion pre sented in this little figure, It was not given to us in its entirety; it came to us line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. We are, moreover, informed in holy writ, that Jesus, who was the likeness of the Father and the express image of His person, in whom dwelt the fulness of the Godhead bodily, that He did not receive of that fulness at first, but received grace for grace; He increased, He grew in knowledge and in favor with God and man; and He is the great prototype, the great exemplifier of our faith. And so has been the growth and faith of the Latter-day Saints.

When we received this faith, we received it in the simplicity of our hearts. We received it as a message from God, not comprehending it in its entirety any more than the child when he is conducted to school and placed in a primary class to receive his first lesson, is capable of understanding all at once the several courses of study and the various branches of knowledge which he has the capacity to acquire. No, my friends, he learns little by little; he learns first to distinguish between the various forms of the characters to which are attached specific and distinct sounds, and by which they are to be known. He learns to attach the proper value to each and all as they stand in relation to one another in the alphabet; and after mastering that, learns to arrange and rearrange and change and modify the relationship of those characters, producing various results according to the principles of orthography and orthoepy. Thus he acquires a knowledge of the language he speaks. So with every other branch of knowledge in like manner, the study of theology being no exception to the rule.

So far as our history is concerned; so far as the opposition which we have met in propagating this message of mercy, and of heralding forth to the world the glorious news and “glad tidings of great joy,” which shall be unto all people, namely, the plan of redemption, we anticipate opposition; it is nothing new; it is nothing marvelous when we understand human nature. Not at all. We sometimes speak unadvisedly; we sometimes marvel at things which happen, but of which, upon more deliberate reflection, we would not, because there is nothing strange in this. We see rivalry in all things, in all the various phases of society; we see competition and rivalry in the present crude and undeveloped state of human intellectuality, in the present—if I may be allowed the expression—immoral state of society; and I maintain that society is in an immoral state when the good of all is not contemplated, when the greatest good to the greatest number is not the dominant principle, is not the inspiring motive, is not the moving and propelling incentive urging men forward in the various concerns of life. I say again, that unless there is a motive which pervades all our actions, taking into contemplation the good of the whole and not of a part, society so conditioned is not, in a proper sense, in a moral condition. The condition of society contemplated in the Gospel embraces this expressed injunction, that we should help to bear each other’s burdens; that we should do unto others as we would have others do unto us. And requires, moreover, that whatever other gifts, whatever other qualities, whatever other characteristics may be distinguished in our conduct toward our fellow men, or whatever other features may disappear and subside in the rolling tides of the ages in the developing of our nature, assimilating it more and more in the image of God, that there are certain attributes that will never fail, namely, faith, hope, and charity. These will forever abide.

And when I consider these facts as inseparably connected with the system of salvation left by Jesus our elder brother, our Lord and Savior, what are we to think of the attitude of the Christian world toward us. How very uncharitable they are! How very unlike the Savior in His conduct, in the judicial murder of the crucifixion upon a Roman cross—“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Do our Christian friends feel so towards us? Do they who think we are deluded; that we are beguiled by false conceptions of righteousness, that we have been decoyed by some impure motives to the maintenance of institutions that are damning in their character upon man, do they exercise this forgiveness towards us? No, my friends. But as there is a kind of Christianity referred to in the Scriptures, whose propagandists appear in sheep’s clothing, garbed with all the sanctity of innocent lambs, but within are ravening wolves, we are confined to the Savior’s rule of judging men and things—“By their fruits ye shall know them.” But it is our duty to emulate the examples given us by Him in whom was no guile. When Jesus came into the world, did He seek to exterminate everybody? Or His followers, poor fishermen, Did they seek to destroy and institute persecution against those who differed from them in opinion? No. Have the Latter-day Saints exhibited this spirit towards the world? No, they have not; and we modestly and friendly challenge the universal world to cite us to any feature or trait that may be found in any chapter of our history wherein we have sought to wage war against man or woman because they did not believe as we did; to coerce them to the acceptance of our faith; to drag them into prison or drive them with the sword because we could not make disciples of them. No, my friends, such a disposition even is contrary to the genius of our faith. We have invited respectfully, the most competent expounders of the doctrines of the various sects when they have chanted to come among us, to enunciate their views from our pulpits and in our lecture rooms, to our own congregations. We have never closed our door against them, although we have been so very exclusive; although we are so peculiar a people, and so arbitrary in our priestly rule as charged by our liberal accusers. But when our missionary Elders have gone forth to the world, it has been a very rare thing, indeed, to meet with such a favor; and when such an opportunity has been proffered, we have known how to prize it. When ministers have opened the doors of their meetinghouses or churches, offering us the use of the same to preach to their assemblies, we have acknowledged most respectfully the receipt of such favors. Who do you think is the more charitable? Where are we to draw the line of demarcation between the charity of the “Mormons” and that of other dissenting Christian churches, and their feelings and sentiments towards us? It would not be a difficult thing to draw this line; but I forbear this afternoon.

I will simply say, it affords me pleasure to realize that God has thus far presided over our destinies; that we have been held, as it were, in the hollow of His hand. We have been a handful of people with the prejudices of an unbelieving generation running high tide against us. We have been looked upon as unworthy a passing notice. But a change has come over the vision of their minds. Now everybody is giving us notice. God has permitted us to gather strength, and that, too, in the face of the bitterest persecution and the fiercest opposition which we have had to contend with, and that which God has designed to develop and establish in the earth will triumph all the more by being thus opposed. The more the effects of resistance are brought to bear against it, like the shaking of the forest tree, very frequently promotes its growth: it disturbs its roots; it loosens the soil around it and it commences to put forth fresh energy, increasing in strength and size; and like the mustard tree, the more it is kicked the farther the seed is scattered.

Now this is the view I take of the results of opposition which we have had; and we have excellent precedents for believing this, not only in the day and age in which we live, but all past history contributes to the support of this belief and its supply of material is ample for the argument. Now, this is not only the case with reference to the truth itself, but it is a principle inherent in nature, that sometimes a bad cause is also fostered by the opposition it meets with. So that those of our friends whether here or elsewhere who suppose that opposing the truth will produce an arrest of its growth, and extinguish the life it contains, the vitality embodied in it, are simply poor readers of human history, are simply ignorant of the facts of history, and are ignorant of the various phases of human nature, as that human nature has been de veloped in the varied schemes that have sprung into life during the centuries past and gone. But when we take these indestructible principles that outlive the ages; when we take a truth that is universally so, one that is a truism in its nature, and when we take our association of those truths together and constitute a system, and then undertake to wage war against that system, my friends, it is a very costly experiment; it is a losing game. For “truth though trampled to the earth will rise again.” You cannot destroy that which cannot die. You cannot put life out of that which is life itself. You cannot extinguish the power that is limitless in its resources. You cannot do it.

Now, I do not purpose occupying your time but a few moments longer. I have directed your thoughts over quite a breadth of ground in quite a rambling manner. I have not felt disposed to take a subject and direct your thoughts specially to it; for I am aware when subjects are spoken of, and questions are sprung, the mind involuntarily follows out and conducts itself through a series of reasons and deductions until it arrives at legitimate conclusions, satisfying itself or otherwise as the case may be; but I have brought up a number of questions showing the general character of the work in which we are engaged. I am convinced that God has directed our destiny, and that His hand is still over us for good; and that we are the happy recipients of many proofs of His divine favor. He has withheld from us the chastening rod of our enemies; He has dispelled the clouds which have gathered around us in sable thickness, and has shed forth the light of heaven upon us, which has caused our hearts to rejoice in the God of our salvation. We have received the doctrines of Jesus Christ: faith in Him; repentance of sins, and baptism for the remission of sins; and we have essayed and covenanted to live a new life in Christ Jesus; to seek to do good to all men, and evil to none; and like Daniel of old, to be faithful to the statutes and to the decrees and behests of Jehovah, the decrees of man against us notwithstanding; we having come to the conclusion in our own minds that God and a few good men form an overwhelming majority. And we shall see and yet learn that truth will triumph and prevail. But it may be—and we have promises moreover to that effect—that clouds of darkness will gather; that threatening storms will rise; that the impending dangers will be so imminent as to cause the countenance of some to pale and their knees to tremble and their faith to falter. But, then, the darkest hour is before the dawn of day. So shall we find that God, when He shall have been fully convinced of our integrity, having proven us as gold is purified through fire, will abide by the results of obedience to His covenants; that we shall come off more than conquerors through Him who loves us, even Jesus Christ our Savior.

May His Spirit and His grace sustain us in the discharge of every duty, in the developing of every divine institution and in maintaining every correct principle, and in promoting peace and righteousness upon the earth, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. Amen.

The Gospel As Preached By the Saints—Opposition By the World to the Diffusion of Truth

Discourse by Elder George G. Bywater, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, June 29, 1879.

We are assembled here this afternoon as a congregation of worshippers; we have come together to worship God according to the dictates of his word; according to the revelations of his divine will, as it has been made known to the people of the Latter-day Saints. We represent a faith, a spiritual constitution, an organization of ideas which incorporates our sense of duty, our duty to our God and our duty to our fellow men. This is not a new occasion; this is not a new announcement. We have existed as a people in the midst of the nations of the earth for a third of a century. Our doctrines are not new, our principles of which these doctrines are composed, are not of the 19th century; they are not the outgrowth of the intelligence of this age; they are not the products of that intellectuality which is by many regarded as the biggest standard of advancement, as the most elevated platform of thought. Our principles are from eternity to eternity. The Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the name commonly applied to the religion we profess, was preached aforetime unto Abraham; was revealed unto our fathers, the ancients. Many of its fundamental principles, several of its divine ordinances and very many of the hopes that inspired and caused to heave with heavenly emotion, and delight the bosoms of the purest men and women of this age, or of ages preceding this of ours, were principles that had been re-revealed in ages and dispensations gone by. But we claim to have received this Gospel in the dispensation in which we live as a new revelation; not new principles, but a new revelation of old principles, of ancient doctrines, of institutions that the greatest benefactors, philanthropists and humanitarians that ever graced the human race, were more or less made familiar with. We are here today, beloved friends, as the result of the operations of the ministry of this Gospel, as a people occupying this section of country called the Territory of Utah. We are fruits, we are results of the ministry of reconciliation brought forth through the mission of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its fulness and primitive purity in the day and age in which we live, and to us as a people when we thus address each other and reiterate these truths in each other’s hearing, we are not an nouncing that which we do not understand, but we simply do so to remind each other, to stir up our thoughts, to put into activity our reflective powers and calling forth those intellectual energies which are awakened by the revelation of these principles of life and immortality in the development of our faith, and to stir up our minds, that they may become more pure and to bring to our remembrance things that are past, as well as cause to pass before our minds the circumstances, the duties and the incidents of the present, and thus carry with us the history we are creating, and produce by the combined action of our past and present labors those results which the Gospel in its entirety and its power and influence exercises over the heart of man in bringing to pass that human regeneration so long spoken of by the prophets; so long ago sung of by the inspired psalmist and the songsters of Israel, which should characterize the features, that would mark the development of God’s purposes in this humanity, in this great mass of intelligence, which he has created and given a conscious existence to upon the earth.

In speaking in this manner, my brethren and sisters, I desire to do so as making a few preparatory remarks to what may be said by my brethren who may follow after me, as I shall not occupy your attention but for a limited portion of time this afternoon. I wish to say, however, in addition to what I have already said with reference to the character of the Gospel, that we need not look to any other source for an evidence of the divinity of the mission in which we are engaged, the divinity of the revelations which have been entrusted to us in this dispensation of the fulness of times, for an evidence of its divine character and heaven-born nature, or for the proofs of its practical result as to ourselves. We can, my friends, examine our own experience; we can review, each individual one of us, the several chapters which each day’s acts, conversations and the results of our labors as individual members of this body ecclesiastical and of this Church militant, and see what have been the fruits which these principles have borne in our lives, and moreover see how far we have conformed to those conditions upon the blessings of the second birth, the regeneration of the human heart under the inspirations of the spirit of the Lord have been vouchsafed, and see whether our professions are professions merely, whether they are simply wordy acknowledgements or whether we preach those most practical of sermons in the actions of our lives, in the practices of our everyday conduct, so as to verify the correctness of our testimony and to justify our friends and ourselves in the conclusion that we are honest and sincere in the worship of the Lord our God according to the revelations of his will.

Brethren and sisters, we have received revelations from God, the unbelief of the world respecting those revelations to the contrary, notwithstanding. We have received those glorious truths pertaining to the regeneration of man, pertaining to his further development and to his final and complete redemption; or, in other words, to use, perhaps, language more familiar to some minds, the more perfect development of man. We have received those glorious principles; we have accepted them in the simplicity of our hearts as truths from God, and we have realized in our individual experiences that our testimony is true; that the principles we have embraced are true; that they have verified themselves in our experiences and verified the promise made by our Redeemer in the declaration to his disciples: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” Our principles are simple; they are perspicuous; they are clear; they are self-evident: they become self-evident to every mind capable of perceiving the relation which these principles bear to our conditions of life, including the physical and mental.

The plan of human redemption, which we call the Gospel of the Son of God, is composed of principles and doctrines that are pure, that are in perfect harmony with every want of our natures, with every rightful desire, with every legitimate unfoldment of our being, physical or mental, material or spiritual, whichever terms we choose to select to express the materiality or spirituality of our being. I repeat, that the Gospel of the Son of God contains every provision and is enriched with every quality, is endowed with every element necessary to the perfect enjoyment of all the powers of man and of all the capacity with which he is endowed for the development of his power and intelligence.

In speaking upon this subject, my brethren and sisters, we are led to the further consideration of the eternity of our being; we are conducted thereby into premises which spread out on the right and on the left; we are guided in our reflections under the inspiration of principle—for every truth possesses its own principle of life, its own quality of power, its own characteristic energy, and whenever that truth is received by a sentient being, by a conscious being, by a being possessed of consciousness of the quality of the ego feeling, and when the complement of his intellectual faculties are not impaired; when they are awakened to a beautiful exercise by the laws of thought, by the force of principle, by the impress of objects, and when the man is awakened as a thinking intellectual being, he is unavoidably open to receive a portion of the inspiration which they inherit; and the more advanced he is, the more elevated he becomes in the plane of intelligence, the greater will be his susceptibility and capability to receive of that inspiration; and the more he indulges in the contemplation of the higher and loftier aims of life, the more value he attaches to every principle of morality and virtue, to every principle of revelation from God, to truth of every kind and more especially those truths that have an immediate bearing upon his present condition, as well as those truths which affect his future state.

There is much of the knowledge that has been conferred upon the family of man, there is much of that intelligence and understanding which man has been brought into possession of that we cannot use immediately in regulating our affairs socially, or in any other work in the structure of society. But the principles to which I am now directing your attention; the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, are fundamental principles; they are cardinal elements, they are the foundation stones, if you please, of the great superstructure of humanity; they reach the fundamental conditions of its being; they possess the virtue of delving down into the most intricate recesses of our natures and of causing to well up from our inmost natures those qualities and excellencies, those virtues, those deeds which are praiseworthy and of good report, and command veneration, those deeds which have adorned the lives of all men who have made themselves benefactors to their race, and who have shone as the reformers and regenerators of society. No matter by what name they have been called, if they have done good in any capacity or sphere; if society today owes anything to the past, to the great motor force that has affected the interests of humanity or guarded the conditions of its welfare, or has directed its energies in any degree to produce a condition that is desirable in the history of our race, we owe it to that class of men, we owe it to men that have been firm and true to their convictions of what was right; we owe it to men who have stemmed the current of popular prejudices or who have dared to row against the stream of popular opinion; we owe it to men who have sacrificed the good will of those who were floating with the tide of popularity, and to men who have stood firm and true and inflexible to their convictions of right. Have there been such men? Yes, my brethren and sisters. I rejoice that through the sable darkness, that through the almost impenetrable clouds that intervene between us today and the ages of the past we can see glimpses, scintillas of light that illumed time, and I revere and honor the memories of such men who did what they could to fulfil the purposes of their Great Creator, the Father of the human race, and the Creator of all things that are. I honor their memories. If they were not in the possession of so much truth as those who followed them; if their philosophy was not as sound, and if in their theo logy there were greater incongruities, yet it must be remembered that they were not so far advanced as to be able to perceive their errors, and if they were devoted and sincere in the course they pursued, living up to the best light they possessed, I, for one, cherish with fond remembrance the memories of such people.

But there is a very anomalous mental state existing in the midst; of the human family, which is not a new one, however. It is the constant battle that is being waged by antiquated theories and principles, which are perhaps established in the hearts of the majorities, whenever a new truth is introduced to the world; whenever a principle that has not been recognized distinctly as such has not entered into the constitution of their own religion, philosophy, politics or science. Whenever a new truth is introduced, the stubborn and inflexible conservators of antiquated notions and ideas are unwilling to widen the area of their thoughts, and extend the boundary of their reflections still outward. And it is refreshing when we discover one here and there the world over entertaining the sensible views expressed in the language of Humboldt, the German naturalist: “Weak minds complacently believe that in their own age humanity have attained to the culminating point of intellectual greatness, forgetting that by the internal connection existing among all natural phenomena, in proportion as we advance, the field to be traversed acquires additional extension, and that it is bounded by a horizon, which incessantly recedes before the eyes of the inquirer.” How forcibly true, how substantially correct are these words spoken by this noble man, one of the brightest minds of the 19th century! Are we able to extricate ourselves from these thoughts, from this dwarfed condition of ideas? No, I fear not. And is it not as true today as it ever has been, that whenever an individual or a community of individuals introduce into the world any principle or doctrine which they conceive to be in the most perfect accord with the principles of truth already revealed, they are sure to be met with the same old cry; the same weapons of warfare that are strewn around over the battle grounds of the ages are eagerly clutched by some of the sturdy veterans who will grab at anything—infidel, skeptic, heterodox, fanatic, immoral, and it matters not what the odium attached to such words may be, as long as they think they can be used to arrest the progress of truth, of principle, of doctrine which has not been incorporated in their views.

We talk about our progressive enlightenment; we talk of our advancing intelligence; we speak eloquently of the march of intellect, and yet we are free to condemn every effort that is made by the world’s most staunch advocate of human progress, in feeling after the foundation of society, in feeling after the foundation of faith, in seeking to determine the soundness or the unsoundness of principles, and if we discover that our fathers ate sour grapes, and we their children have had our teeth set on edge, we wish to administer some panacea to remove the difficulty, to change the elements that are sapping the foundation of that society which we are trying to build up, and supply its place with elements of a homogeneous texture, of a more durable fiber, and reconstruct it upon the basis developed by the principles of the everlasting gospel, which brings life and immortality to light, and we are confronted with the cry of “fools,” “fanatics” and a very great number of uncomplimentary terms. But I have long ago, my friends, come to the conclusion that there is a great deal said when there is a very little meaning to be drawn from what has been said in relation to these men. They are “as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.”

We, as Latter-day Saints, have embraced the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What is that Gospel? It is faith in God; it is an avowed confession of the existence of a Deity, that there is a supreme intelligence that not only governs, but built the universe, the great architect of the heavens. We believe in his existence; that he is a rewarder of all them that diligently seek him. We believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, his only begotten son, who came into the world in the meridian of time to announce the message of mercy, who proclaimed principles of eternal truth, who made known the conditions whereby mankind could attain salvation, could elevate himself by the means provided in this great scheme of man’s redemption from his low estate, that he might ascend the ladder that Jacob saw, having its feet placed upon the earth and its top reaching to heaven, whereby he might climb round after round, receiving line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, until he shall become a perfect man in Christ Jesus our Lord. We believe then in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. We believe in the gospel he received and the principles of that gospel which have been handed down to us by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the four historians who compiled the history of his ministry and recorded the principles he taught. We believe them to be eternal truth; we believe them to be essential to the salvation of mankind. We believe in repentance of all past sins; a genuine and sincere repentance—not a professed repentance, but a repentance which need not to be repented of; a repentance which brings forth fruits meet for repentance, namely a forsaking of sin, a forsaking of every evil habit of which we have a knowledge of their being evil, turning away therefrom and seeking to the Lord our God with full purpose of heart, adorning our lives with his doctrine, with his sacred precepts and principles, believing that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and before honor is humility.” We believe in baptism for the remission of sins and in the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost.

Now, we believe all this and much more. Our doctrines have been before the world for many years. Our Church works contain a very full and clear exposition of our views in relation to our faith, in relation to our principles affecting our life here and hereafter, and yet we discover, my friends, that we are unpopular, that we are not to be included among the Christian elements of society; we are considered Pagans, heathens, outlaws, barbarians, an immoral and reprobate race. And let me ask, how was it in the days of Jesus, this great prototype of human perfection, this great master-teacher of the purest of all truth? Our Christian ministers today speak eloquently from the pulpit to their congregations, telling them that there is no name given under heaven whereby man can be saved but the name of Jesus; and yet when men go forth as our Elders do, declaring in all soberness that they have the message of life and salvation revealed from the heavens, which is the power of God unto salvation to all that believe and obey, and ask these men permission to preach to them and their people the Gospel of the meek and lowly Jesus, this same once despised Nazarene, in their pulpits or lecture platforms, and they at once express themselves fearful least we should inoculate them with this dreadful contagion. What do we preach? The selfsame principles that Jesus taught. We do not take it as expressive of a high and lofty mind to be combative, to court discussion, but we are at the defiance of the unbelieving world to prove one principle of our fundamental doctrines, revealed to us in this age by Joseph Smith, or by Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, that is not in perfect harmony with the highest conceptions and the most pure natures the world ever had, and is not in perfect consonance with the declarations of holy writ. We have had men contradict us, we have had people tell us that we are duped and led astray, but their simple assertions are of no weight or value unsupported by legitimate argument. Our doctrines are biblically pure, they are doctrinally sound according to the embodiment of divinity contained in this most ancient of books, called the Bible; not only our first principles, but all other principles pertaining to it, including our social institutions, which is the great bone of contention with the moralists of our day. I dare not permit myself to talk upon this question at the present time. I am so thoroughly disgusted with the rottenness and the canting hypocrisy of society, and with the infidelity of its social relations, and with the entire degeneracy of the morality of our age, to talk upon this subject, particularly with men who have jumped at conclusions and who have reached them without measuring every step they have taken, without analyzing the elements of the doctrines they call in question; but we can say in meekness of heart and in confidence, without hypocrisy and without a zeal that is not in accordance with knowledge, but with a zeal that is being fanned into a glow that becomes honest men, that we know our doctrines are of God and the whole world who oppose its principles lie in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.

I feel grateful, my brethren and sisters, that we have a religion that is self-sustaining; that we have a faith whose foundations are God and heaven, whose bulwarks are immutable, indestructible truths. We may fight them as did the ancients; our enemies may fight those doctrines as did the unbelieving Jews, and the surrounding unbelieving Sadducees and Pharisees, and the various discordant faiths, during the ages that are past; but truth, like the diamond, is unchangeable in its nature, it is unbedimmed in its own eternal luster. You may heap upon it the odium of grosser materials; you may endeavor to conceal it from the gaze of the world or cover it up in reproach, it is a diamond still, and like truth, it will one day triumph and conquer, and roll forth in its own, naked and unborrowed luster and brightness and vindicate its own claims. So it will be with the truth of the Gospel we have embraced. We have received it from God, and we have but one thing to fear. I am not afraid of the prejudice of the world; I am not afraid of the influences that are and might be brought to bear against us by people and communities or the universal world who are opposed to the progress of humanity, who are stereotyped in their views, who make no advancement in that path of the righteous which shines brighter and brighter unto the perfect day; but I fear more for our own neglects, our own selfishness, our own yielding to the depravities of human nature, our own backslidings from God and the covenants we have made, than anything else. I have no fear of the final triumph of truth; I do not shake or tremble while contemplating the results of the great work which the Lord has recommenced in this dispensation, which is one of the many dispensations which have preceded it, for God will so conduct the issues of his work, the labors of His Priesthood, the operations of His ministry and the final consummation of His purposes as to cause to be torn asunder all false systems, false politics, false religions, false philosophy and false bonds and obligations of society; and in the place thereof he will fill the earth with true and correct knowledge. Then every man in every place shall meet a brother and a friend; then no man shall have need to say to his brother, Know ye the Lord, for all shall know him, from the least to the greatest. This will be the final result; this will be the finish, the consummation of the purposes of Jehovah in perfecting the earth and the sanctification of his children who dwell thereon. They shall no more see as through a glass, darkly, but face to face; becoming heirs with God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ to a kingdom and government in which dwelleth righteousness and peace. This will be the final triumph, fight it who may.

I will conclude my remarks, thanking you for your attention, and feeling pleased for the opportunity of expressing my feelings with regard to the great, latter-day work. Let us carry out the oft-repeated precept of President Young, which he reiterated in our hearing: “Brethren and sisters, live your religion;” “Fear God and keep his commandments; this is the whole duty of man.” And then we shall learn one day that all things work together for the good of them that love God; that truth is mighty and will prevail. And that this may be the result of the experience of each and every one of us, is my prayer, through Jesus Christ. Amen.