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Importance of Our Sunday Schools and Mutual Improvement Associations—The Good Work Done By Them in Qualifying Young Men to Be Missionaries—Necessity of Teaching Our Children the Principle of Virtue—Determination of Our Enemies to Destroy the Work of God—The Lord Will Build Up His Kingdom in His Own Way—He Will Stand By Us If We Are Valiant—God Raised up Men to Form the Constitution and Establish the Government of the United States—Self-Preservation Requires Us to Be United—All Reputable Men Among the Latter-Day Saints Hold the Priesthood—We Have to Contend With Mobocracy in Legal Form and Guise—this Work Depends Upon God—Our Enemies Have No Power to Injure Us—No One Has Prospered in Opposing the Work of God—The Lord Will Stand By Us in the Hour of Need—Conclusion

Discourse by President George Q. Cannon, delivered in the Tabernacle, Ogden, Sunday Morning, January 18th, 1885.

I am pleased to have the opportunity of meeting with the Latter-day Saints this morning in Ogden, and of listening to the reports which have been made by the brethren respecting the Sunday Schools, and the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Associations. These institutions furnish an index to the growth and development of the people, and the future character of those who are now and who will be members of the Church in years to come. I think a very fair estimate can be formed of what our people will be by closely observing the condition of the Sunday Schools and the Mutual Improvement Associations; because those children and those young men and young women who are now members of these schools and associations will in a very few years take their place as active members in the community, and the character of the community be largely dependent upon their characters and upon the development which they have made in the directions that these institutions seek to form them. I look upon it myself as exceedingly important that our schools should be properly conducted, and that our associations should receive that attention from those who have influence and knowledge that will make a proper impression upon the minds of those who are members. In whatever capacity I might be acting in the Priesthood, with the proper feeling of anxiety about the growth and development of the people, I could not fail to take interest in all these associations, and to see that they were properly conducted as far as my influence would extend. I do feel this interest. I have for many years felt it. It has been one of the great delights, I may say, of my life for many years, to see the growth and development of our Sunday School interest.

For many years, while laboring in the ministry abroad I saw how small was the amount of fruit resulting from the labors of myself and other Elders in the world; that we labored sometimes for years and were only able to bring into the Church a comparative few, and then, out of those that were converted and brought into the Church, there was a large percentage who did not remain, but who lost the faith and fell away. I became convinced in my mind that more satisfactory results and a larger amount of fruit could be obtained by devoting attention to the cultivation of our children, and for years before I had the opportunity, I had resolved in my own mind that if I were ever permitted to remain at home long enough I would devote attention to the cultivation of the young. I think that which has been done in this direction has amply rewarded every man and woman who have taken interest in this cause. You can better tell, probably, than I can—or at least some of you can—what the effect upon our community is—the effect of the Sunday School, and of the teachings of the Sunday Schools. You are familiar with the children. You can contrast their present condition with the condition of children a few years ago, and by making this contrast you can estimate, at pretty near its true value, that which is and has been done. So far as my observation is concerned I am satisfied that a great amount of good has been accomplished. I have been on missions when Elders have come from the valley—young men—and I have been very much ashamed to see their ignorance in regard to the doctrines of the Church, and of the history of the Church, and their ignorance of the Scriptures. I have felt that it was almost a shame that young men brought up in Zion should go as missionaries and be so ignorant concerning the most vital points connected with our religion. I am happy to believe that that has passed away to a very great extent, and that those who now go out in the capacity of missionaries do so with a more thorough understanding respecting the history of the Church, the doctrines of the Church, and a wider intelligence concerning everything connected with the Church than was formerly manifested. In our Sunday Schools I have listened to children being catechized, and their answers upon points of history of the Church, and other matters, have been given with a correctness that could not be excelled, if equaled by many of the Elders of mature years if they were interrogated upon the same points. Everyone who has visited Sunday Schools must be convinced of this. Therefore, when we hear, as we do today, that in some of your settlements nearly all the children are enrolled in the Sunday Schools, it speaks well for the future of the children. If these schools are properly conducted the effect must be immense in lifting them up from ignorance and giving them correct knowledge concerning the doctrines and history of the Church, and indoctrinating them in the principles which we view as so important for men and women to understand. It is therefore very gratifying to hear such reports, and that which we have heard today respecting the schools in Weber Stake is a very fair sample of the reports which are made in other Stakes.

We have today, so far as statistics inform us, nearly 50,000 children in Sunday Schools. These 50,000 children will in a very few years be men and women, taking their place in society, probably married, and their influence will be felt upon the future families of the people, and if they are properly taught in the principles of the Gospel and are fortified against sin, and are taught the evil effects that will result from the practice of everything that is wrong, we can imagine what an effect this will have on the entire body of the people! It is therefore very encouraging to all those who take an interest in the growth of Zion, in the development of the work of God, to know that our children, in Primary Associations, in Sunday Schools, and in Young Men and Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Associations, are receiving the instruction that is best adapted for their future good and happiness.

There are a few points that I have always deemed as of the utmost importance that our children should be taught; the more so because such teaching guards them against some of the growing evils of the age in which we live. It has seemed to me sometimes that if the Lord had not established this Church at the time He did, the future of our race would be in some respects very dark and hopeless to contemplate. The growth of intemperance, the spirit of infidelity concerning God and concerning everything pertaining to God and to righteousness, the wonderful spread of corruption, the low value placed upon virtue, and the increase of the evils that result from the absence of virtue, are of such a nature that, if you look outside this Church, the picture is a most discouraging one. God has established this Church and He has told us from the very beginning that the chief corner stone, it may be said, of this great edifice that He has reared and is rearing, is virtue. Early in the history of the Church the Prophet Joseph received revelations to this effect: that he who looked upon a woman to lust after her should deny the faith, and unless he repented, he should be cast out. What an amount of purity is embodied in this statement of the Lord to us in this revelation! A man must not only refrain from doing that which is wrong with the opposite sex; he must not only refrain from carrying his lust into the actual commission of crime, but he must be so pure in heart that he shall not look upon the other sex with a lustful eye and a lustful desire. If he does so, we are told by the Almighty that he shall deny the faith. Now, I cannot imagine how the Lord can make more plain to us than He has done in these revelations—for it is repeated more than once in the revelations that we have received—the importance of virtue, the importance of purity, purity in thought as well as purity in action. The frequent apostasies from this Church, the many who have left the Church, denied the faith, lost the Spirit of God, the most of them, no doubt, are traceable to the commission of this sin. It is, as I have said, the crying sin of the age. Outside of this Church virtue is not fostered as it should be. Of course there are exceptions. I do not mean to say that all people are corrupt; I would not be so sweeping; but in society generally there is not that value placed upon virtue that should be, and in many circles the virtue of man is derided. A man who claims to be virtuous, or who desires or seeks to be virtuous, finds himself alone, as it were, among his fellows. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that we, in training our children, should lay deep and solid in their minds the importance of virtue. They should be taught that their whole lives as Latter-day Saints depend upon the cultivation and preservation of this principle; and that if they are guilty of wrong in this direction, unless there is sincere and heartfelt repentance before the Lord, He will undoubtedly withdraw His Holy Spirit from them and leave them to themselves to become a prey to those wicked influences that are seeking constantly to take possession of the hearts of the Saints of God.

Now, we can best do this in childhood; we can teach our children in childhood and in youth, and as they grow to manhood and to womanhood we can fortify them against those evils. It has been necessary, apparently—for the Spirit has seemed to indicate the necessity of this—that there should be greater strictness enforced among our people. There has been a growth of wrongdoing in many quarters that has been most painful to all those who have the welfare of the Saints of God at heart, and who desire the prosperity of Zion. Many cases have come to the knowledge of the First Presidency and of the Twelve and of other leading men wherein people have been compelled, in order to conceal their wrongdoing, to marry, and even then have failed to cover it up. Now, such a condition of things, if permitted to continue in our midst, unchecked, would be productive of the most terrible consequences. The Spirit of God would undoubt edly be so grieved that it would forsake not only those who are guilty of these acts, but it would withdraw itself from those who would suffer them to be done in our midst unchecked and unrebuked; and from the President of the Church down, throughout the entire ranks of the Priesthood, there would be a loss of the Spirit of God, a withdrawal of His gifts and blessing and His power, because of their not taking the proper measures to check and to expose their iniquity.

My brethren and sisters: I suppose you must be impressed, as I am, with this truth, that our only source of strength is, that we shall live so that the spirit and power and gifts of our religion and the favor of our God shall be extended unto us and be in our possession. There never was a more critical period in many respects in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ than that which we now witness. I never, in my recollection, or in reading the history of the Church have seen a time nor heard of a time when the adversary of God’s Kingdom was more determined, apparently, to destroy the work of God than he is at the present time. On every hand there are the most persistent efforts made to check the growth of the Kingdom of God, and not only that, but to destroy this religion, the religion of Jesus Christ, and to throw obstacles in the pathway of its progress; and to actually deprive members of this Church of every right that men and women value—every political right, every civil right—to place us in bondage, and to make it odious in the eyes of mankind to be Latter-day Saints, or to have any faith in the religion that God has revealed to us, and of which we are so proud, and for which we are, as a rule, so thankful.

Now, we do not have wealth with which to combat the designs of our enemies; we do not have numbers; we do not have influence; there is no strength that we have that men value and that men seek for in a contest such as that in which we are engaged. We possess no advantage, none whatever, that men place value upon. But we possess advantages that we understand, and which we as Latter-day Saints highly value, and they are the best advantages, however much they may be disliked by the world. However little importance they may attach to the advantages that we possess, we know that in a contest such as this in which we are now engaged they are of the utmost importance.

To begin with we must, as I have said, be a virtuous people. We must love virtue better than we love our lives. We must be so pure, not only in our actions, but in our thoughts, that God’s favor will be with us, and His Spirit rest down upon us, and we must live the lives of Latter-day Saints, carrying out in our lives the principles that God has revealed. This is our only strength. Let us be deprived of this and we are weak, because, as I have said, we possess no other advantage. If we prevail, as undoubtedly we shall, it must be because of God’s help; it must be because He is at our right and at our left, and His power is round about us and near unto us. Looking at our position from a human standpoint everything looks dark. Men today are calculating on the destruction of this people. They think that we shall at least be compelled to abandon some features our religion. In some places and with some people it is Church and State they complain of. In other places it is that we practice plural marriage. In other places there are other reasons assigned for their dislike to us—we are too united; we do not divide into parties, wherever we go we cling together, and do not assimilate with the rest of our fellowcitizens, but are a party of ourselves, and are dangerous because of this. And various accusations are made as justification for the treatment that is extended to us. Men whose lives are so vile that they would not bear the least examination, much less exposure, make the charge against us that we practice plural marriage, and therefore that we should be dealt with in the harshest and most severe manner. On the other hand, men who are constantly seeking for political influence, who do not scruple to use that influence in the most reprehensible manner, and to the utmost extent possible, and frequently preachers, too, charge that we unite Church and State. They would gladly use the influence that we have if they had it, and use it in a manner so obnoxious to individual liberty, that it would bear no comparison to the manner influence is used among the Latter-day Saints. That would be all right if they used it, but it is all wrong if we use it. And so it is with everything else. If they could unite a people together as we are united that would be perfectly justifiable; but because Latter-day Saints unite together, that is exceedingly wrong, especially when they do so as a religious community.

For myself I want to do that which God directs. That is the wish of my heart. I want to honor my God if I know how to do it. I believe this entire people have the same feeling. They desire to do the will of God, if they can find out what that will is, and if He will communicate it to us, as I know He does, I am satisfied that the great majority of the Latter-day Saints will do that will regardless of consequences. It is the attempt to do that, that has brought us into disrepute.

God, in building up His Kingdom, does not take pattern from men. He does not ask counsel from men as to how that Kingdom shall be built up, and the methods that shall be employed to establish it. He is going to build His Kingdom up in His own way, and if it does not suit men or the nations of the earth, why, I suppose they will have to be, as they have been and as they are sometimes at present, angry with those who strive to do that which He requires. I know this that many things that men admire are an abomination in the sight of God; many things that they think most admirable God holds as an abomination. Therefore, in building up His Church and His Kingdom He is going to take His own plan of doing it, and for one, so far as I can I feel willing to allow Him to dictate how it shall be done, and then leave the consequences to Him. I know that He will bring off those who put their trust in Him victorious, and He will ask no odds of the nations of the earth. He delights in a people who are courageous and valiant, who are not afraid. He delights in people of this kind. The greatest blessing almost that we read of that was ever given to a man in the flesh was given to a man possessed of this courage. You will remember him, doubtless, when I mention His name. His name was Nephi. He was the son of Helaman, and had a brother named Lehi. He was the grandfather of Nephi, who was the President of the Twelve whom Jesus chose on this continent. Read the life of that man, and observe the blessings that God bestowed upon him. God gave him great power because of his valor and fearlessness in His cause, and it is so with every Prophet and with every man of God of whom we have any record, and it is so with every people and generation who put their trust in the Lord, and are valiant for His cause. He will give them great blessings and power, and He will bring them off victorious. He has done so in the past. He is doing so now, and He will do so in the future; and whenever you find a man or a people weakened and limber-backed, nervous, their hands shaking and their hearts trembling, you will find a people that have not very much of the strength and power of God with them; but when they are full of courage, zeal and determination, God is with them, He strengthens them, and gives them victory. He will do it every time, with every individual. You read the history of Elijah, and see how valiant he was, and how God blessed him, and I might go on and enumerate a great many more men who have been distinguished in the world’s history because of their valor. God stood by them always, and will stand by us if we are valiant. Look at the men who have been most valiant in this Church in defending, advocating and practicing the principles which God has revealed, and doing this, too, in the face of mankind who have been determined that we shall not do these things, and see how God has blessed and sustained them in so doing. Therefore, having had this experience in these matters, it is for us to be valiant in the cause of God, to show our faith by our works, and not be Latter-day Saints with our lips alone, but be Latter-day Saints in all the acts of our lives, in all our words, and in everything there is connected with us. Let us not imagine that God has established His work to take pattern in its methods of procedure and management after the corrupt nations of the earth. He has not done so.

We live under a Government, the best that ever was formed by man upon this earth—a Government in which every human being can live without interfering with the rights of others in the practice of the principles which God reveals. God has purposely arranged this. He raised up wise men to lay the foundation of this Government, and He defended them against the mother country, and enabled them to achieve victory over the greatest power there was upon the face of the earth—the power of Great Britain. He gave them power to form a Constitution under which every man and woman can dwell in perfect freedom—that is, if they wanted to do right. This land has been dedicated to liberty, dedicated by the Lord our God, and by men who have lived upon this land, to liberty, and as long as this land shall be a land of liberty it will be a blessed land to the inhabitants thereof; but when it ceases to be a land of liberty, then as sure as God has spoken, this Government will go down—that is, any Government will, that will war against the principles of liberty—and the men who are now engaged in their assaults upon us because of our religion, are traitors to this Government, and they are the most deadly enemies to the Government of the United States that can be found anywhere upon the face of the earth. They are laying the axe at the root of the tree, and are taking measures to destroy this Government, because it can only, as I have said, be preserved by maintaining the principles of liberty that are contained in the Constitution which God gave to the land, or which He inspired men to frame for the land. But in our contention for liberty—for we today are the defenders of the Constitution, and we shall have Constitutional principles to maintain and defend in the courts of the nation, we are being forced into this duty and position—God will bless us and preserve us, and carry us off triumphantly, and the words of Joseph, which were inspired by the Almighty, will be fulfilled to the very letter, namely, that the Elders of this Church will be the men who will uphold and maintain the Constitution of the United States, when others are seeking to trample it in the dust, and to destroy it. We are a free people—let others seek to bring us into bondage as they may—we are a free people, with the perfect right to worship our God and to carry into effect the principles that He has revealed. And if the whole world array themselves against us, and the combined power of the nation pits itself against this work, they must go down in the struggle, because they are occupying a false position. If fifty hundred millions of people were to say the contrary, no matter, the principle still remains true, that under the Constitution in this land, a man has a perfect right to do that which God requires at his hands as long as he does not intrude upon the rights of his neighbor.

If one man stood alone in this position, and millions of men were to say it is not so, that lone man would still be right. We have that right. God has given it to us under the Constitution of the land in which we dwell, and if men enact laws and pile one law upon another until they reach to the sky, it would not change this. It is an eternal principle, and it will stand—this principle of liberty, the liberty that God has given unto every human being—the right to do that which seemeth good in his own sight, to follow the dictates of his own conscience, as long as, in so doing, he does not trespass upon the rights of his fellow man. We stand by that fearlessly, and stand by it for ourselves, and for our children after us. I would not abate one iota, not a hair’s breadth, myself, in this feeling. I would feel that I was a traitor to myself and to my posterity if I were to yield in the least upon this. We must maintain our rights, not aggressively, not in any quarrelsome spirit, but in a spirit of quiet firmness, quiet determination to maintain our rights, to contend for them, and to never yield one hair’s breadth in maintaining them. This is our duty as individuals and as a people, and in thus determining, we band ourselves together more closely. Complaints are made of us that we are so exclusive. Why, in the very nature of things we should be fools to be otherwise than exclusive. We cannot help it. We are driven into exclusiveness by the acts of our enemies, and by the pressure that is brought to bear upon us. A flock of sheep when attacked by dogs or wolves, huddle together, and seek to protect themselves by getting into a cluster. So it is with us. It is the law of preservation, that we should get close together when we are assaulted as we have been. We cannot put trust in others who are not of us to any extent. There are, however, many honorable men, hundreds and thousands of them. If there were not, we would not send missionaries out as we do. We believe they are just as honest as we are, just as sincere as we are, and desire as much to do right as we do. I believe there are millions of them in the earth, men and women, whose desires are as good as the best Latter-day Saints. They desire to do the will of God, and to keep His commandments as much as any of us do, and are as sincere in it; but many people are ignorant and do things through ignorance which are wrong. But, as I say, self-preservation demands that we should cling together; that we should be united; that we should sink all personal differences; that we should have no preference that we would not be willing to forego for the sake of the Kingdom of God. It is an important time with us. We have enemies all around us. A determination is made manifest to destroy every one of our liberties, if possible, and to bring us into bondage. That is the design, if it can be accomplished. But it will not be accomplished. You will see it will fail, it will signally fail, and God will preserve us in our liberties, and especially will He do this if we keep His commandments, and do that which He requires at our hands.

A great many people seem to think, and some who are among us act upon the thought, that because a man holds the Priesthood, and is a religious man, and practices religion, that he should not have any voice in matters that belong to civil government. In Washington the charge has been frequently made that all the leading offices of the Territory of Utah were held by Mormon Elders, Mormon Bishops and others. I have frequently said, in answer to this, before committees of the Senate and House, that if we did not take Mormon Elders we would have no officers, for the reasons that, as a rule, every reputable man in Utah Territory, when he attains the age of majority, holds the office of an Elder, or some other office in the Priesthood. This explanation gave a very different view to men who did not understand our organization, and whose ignorance was taken advantage of. In the world there are a few men in religious societies, who hold leading positions, hold what we would call, if in our Church, the Priesthood, and the rest are debarred, and are mere laymen. But it is not so with us. The bulk of the Mormon people hold the Priesthood, and every man of repute of any age is an officer in the Church. It is said that the members of our Legislature are men who are prominent in the Priesthood. How could it be otherwise? If a man is energetic and has any talent he of course holds some position in the Priesthood, and he is very apt to hold some prominent place. But does this prevent him from acting in a civil office, and from dealing justly and wisely for the good of the people? No, we have proved to our entire satisfaction, that this is not the case.

When we look at Utah Territory today, and compare it with other Territories it will be conceded by everybody who is impartial that the position of affairs here is equal to, if not much better than the position of affairs in any other Territory and in many of the States. Has that been because there has been a union of Church and State. No, it is not due to that; for that has never existed here. Has it been because there has been one man dictating everything—has it been due to that entirely? No; for no one man has done this. But it has been because the men who have acted in these capacities have been men of wisdom, and the people have had confidence in them. Wherever we go as a people, we carry with us our religion. You cannot dissever our religion from our lives. It is a part of our lives, and, of course, because of this, we are exposed to those charges that are made against us. Yet at the same time, I do not believe there is a people to be found within the confines of the Republic who draw the line more strictly between religious and civil affairs, and between Church and State, than do the Latter-day Saints.

We are living in peculiar times. I think the youth of this community—those who are growing up now—should closely observe that which is being done. It is an important epoch. Events are taking place now that are worthy of our remembrance, and we are being put in a position to be tested thoroughly. The contest seems to be narrowed down to this point—whether we shall be able to live as a people and enjoy our rights as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or not. Formerly, the question was soon solved. A mob would form itself against us, and by force of superior numbers, and backed by a public opinion that was too strong for us to contend with, we had to vacate our homes and flee. The alternative was presented to us of flight, or the abandonment of our religion. This is not quite the alternative now presented before us. The question is, will you abandon your religion? Will you renounce those principles that God has revealed to you, and which He has declared are essential to salvation and exaltation in His Kingdom—will you renounce them? Will you renounce obedience to the Priesthood of the Son of God? If you will I expect you can enjoy some sort of peace—a peace that would be the peace of death. Who will accept it? Will any true Latter-day Saint? No; no true Latter-day Saint will accept that. What next? You cannot have your rights as citizens. You must be put under bonds. You must have penalties affixed to your practice or to your faith. If you continue to be Latter-day Saints you must be discriminated against. That is another alternative presented to us. Will we accept that? Yes. I believe that I speak your feelings. I believe I give voice to them when I say that you are willing, all of you, to take this choice and these consequences. What next? Will a mob come and drive us from our homes? Not yet. You will see fun whenever that occurs. That is not in the program as I view it at present. No mobs. What then, shall we do? We shall have to contend in the courts; we shall have to make this a legal fight. It is mobocracy in legal form and in legal guise that now attacks us. It comes to us in a shape that we can meet better than we could the old forms, when a mob banded together and came in such overwhelming numbers that we could not resist it. It may be just as wicked. The present mode of attack may be just as cruel; the ultimate object may be just as bad in every sense and in every respect; but it can be met in a different form and in a different way. We have to contend now for our rights in the courts of the land; we must see whether there is a willingness on the part of those who hold authority as judges, to give us our rights, and in this way we shall test the nation, our Government, and prove whether there is a willingness on the part of those who administer the government to give us those rights that belong to us as American citizens. If they do not, who will be the sufferers! We shall suffer to some extent; but our sufferings will be light compared with those that will fall upon the men who shall prove untrue and recreant to the principles of liberty and truth.

Now, I look forward myself with great pleasure to the future. Every step of this kind that we take is an assurance of that which is to come. We cannot press forward as a people; we cannot become the people that God designs we shall be, and that He has predicted we shall be, without having just such contests as these. They are the natural consequences of the position that we occupy, and of the growth and development of this people. But the same God that protected this Church when it was but a small handful, a few individuals, still reigns, and His promises are as much to be relied upon as they were when the mob drove the Latter-day Saints out of Missouri; as much to be relied upon as when, in that dark hour, the mob killed our Prophet and our Patriarch, and afterwards compelled the Saints to flee from their homes; as much to be relied upon as when we came to these valleys; they are just as reliable today as they were then. It is for us to so live that when we call upon Him that we do so with an assurance that we have done our duty, that there is nothing lacking on our part so far as human and mortal beings can do. We have our sins, our frailties, our many weaknesses; but God looks down in mercy upon them when we repent of them, and show a disposition to put them away from us. When we are in this condition we can call upon Him and leave ourselves to His mercy, with the full assurance that He has always stood by His faithful people, His faithful servants and handmaidens, and that He will not forsake them in any hour of extremity or of peril. He will stand by them; He will hear their prayers; and at the very time when it will seem the darkest, when it will be as though there is no power to save, God’s arm will be stretched out for our deliverance, and we shall be rescued and be triumphant. He will so control circumstances and arrange affairs, that, at the very moment when the adversary will be glorying in triumph, and gloating over the prospect before him, He will then be ready to extend His arm of deliverance in our behalf, and rescue us from the power of those who desire our destruction.

As I said in the beginning, if this work depended on us alone we would soon go down. It depends upon God. He is at the head of it. He is behind it. He is all around it. He established it. He has controlled circumstances thus far in a most wonderful manner; and when I look at that which has been done in this country, with all the efforts that have been made by the wicked, one act after another, one act of wrong piled on top of another, and see the meager results to show for their base course, I feel to praise God with all my heart for His goodness and mercy to us.

A Governor of this Territory perjured himself to do us a great wrong. He gave the certificate of election to a man who was not elected, thinking, in so doing, he was dealing Mormonism—or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—a deadly blow. What has been the result? Who is injured? Is anybody injured? I do not, myself, know of anybody that is injured, except the man who did this perfidious act, who perjured himself by violating his oath of office. I do not know of anyone else. Certainly the people of Utah are not. Go back, and look at Judge McKean’s rulings and acts. We had a reign of judicial terror in the Third Judicial District for about eight months, and no man knew when he was to be pounced upon. Prominent men were indicted and put under bonds, some for one thing and some for another. Who has been injured by this? Has anyone been injured? We have not. We have ate, and slept, and enjoyed ourselves, and been as happy as men could be. I am sure President Young, when he was living, was a happy man. It did not interfere with his happiness and enjoyment, and others who were indicted in like manner, they enjoyed themselves, and the people have not been injured. We have had a great deal of this kind of experience.

Now we are passing through a similar condition of affairs to some extent. We shall come out of this just as we have come out of other perils and trials and ordeals. We shall gain experience, and it will increase our faith to see the power of God manifested, and to see how wonderfully He controls the acts of men for His glory and for the accomplishment of His purposes. Look at the hubbub that has been raised in Congress. There has been a tremendous amount of pressure brought to bear upon that body in regard to the Mormons. Delegation after delegation has gone from Utah to Washington and appeared before Committees, for the purpose of getting bills made into laws. It will be most interesting reading in years to come, the various bills that have been presented to Congress against Utah. Every sort of scheme has been resorted to. You cannot think of anything, scarcely, that has not been embodied as a feature in some of these bills. And with what result? Have we slept any less? Have we been any more unhappy? Have we had any less prosperity? Has the sun shone less upon us? Has Heaven withdrawn its smile from us? Have our fields been less fruitful? Have our children been less numerous? Has any blessing that we value been withheld or withdrawn from us because of these things! If they have I am not aware of it. I cannot think of any evil that has come upon us as a people. I look over the past; I review the acts of the wicked; I review their combinations; I review the many conspiracies that have been formed, the many determinations that have been reached to destroy us, to cripple us, to deprive us of our rights, and I must confess to you this day, my brethren and sisters, in the presence of our Father, that I cannot think of a single thing that has been done that we could call injurious to us as a people; not a single thing. With all the force that has been arrayed against us, with all the threats that have been made about us, we have lived, we have prospered, we have increased, we have been blessed of the Lord. You know how blessed you have been in your families, in your homes. You know how much peace has reigned there; how much you have had in your hearts, and in your meetings, and in your associations. You know how free you have been from fear and from trepidation. You have not suffered in your feelings, for God has given unto you a peace that the world cannot bestow, that the world cannot take away. The world has not given unto us those blessings; the world cannot take them away from us; they are ours, given unto us by God our Eternal Father. They will still be given unto us. God’s promises will be verified to the very letter.

But you watch the men who have fought against this work. Watch the men who have apostatized from this work. Ask yourselves what their fate has been. Where are the men who have sought to oppress the people of Utah? Where are they today? Who is there among them that has prospered in this work of oppression? Go through the list of Governors, Judges, and other officers. Go through the list of those who have held any office, and who have sought the oppression of the people and the destruction of their liberties, through their spirit of antagonism to the work of God, and their desire to destroy it—go through the list of them, and ask, who among them has had prosperity and has been blessed, and to whom we can look and say, “Oh, how successful that man has been; how he has prospered in fighting the Mormons!” Is there any such man among them? You are familiar with the names of apostates who have left this work through fear or some other cause, corrupt in their lives or for some other reason? Can you recall among the long list of men who have come out and pitted themselves against this work of our God, any who have prospered and had happy lives? Is there any of them with whom you, the humblest of you today, the humblest, the poorest of you Latter-day Saints—is there one of them with whom you would exchange places today? Not one. I am sure that I can reply for the whole of you—that is, there is not one in that long list of names of men who were once members of this church, who have come out against it, with whom you would exchange places; not one.

Why then, should we fear? Why should we tremble? Why should we be afraid of that which is threatened? I tell you in the name of the Lord He will stand by us, He will stand by all His people. There is this peculiarity about our God. He is not like the devil. When the devil gets a man in a tight place he leaves him there; he encircles him in his net, he lets him get entangled in its meshes, and then leaves him to himself. That is the devil’s way. He deserts those who follow him when they most need his help. But with God, in the time of the greatest extremity, in the time when help is most needed, then He is close to His faithful servants and His faithful children; then is the time that He stands by them. In the deepest waters He is with them; in the midst of the heaviest and sorest afflictions He is at their right hand and at their left; He is around about to sustain and carry them off victorious.

God help us to be true and faithful to the cause that He has established, that in the end we may be permitted to sit down with him and His Son in His Kingdom, is my prayer in the name of Jesus, Amen.




Power Attending the Action of General Conferences—God Confirms the Authority of His Servants By Manifestations of His Power and Favor—Joseph Smith Chosen and Ordained to Organize the Church of God—The Lord Revealed to the Saints His Choice of President Brigham Young, and Also of President John Taylor—God Blesses Every Man Who Will Magnify His Office and Calling, and Gives to One Man Only at a Time, Revelation to Govern the Church—Folly and Wickedness of Witchcraft

Discourse by President George Q. Cannon, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, December 14, 1884.

It is always an impressive sight to me to see a congregation numbering so many people as this does, raise their hands before the Lord to sustain the names of men who are presented to them as holding office in the Church, and though we do this semi-annually, in our general conferences for the General Authorities, and quarterly, that is, four times a year for the local authorities, it should not be in our feelings nor in our practice the performance of an empty form, but should be done in a spirit that will be acceptable unto our Father, and in consonance with the responsibility that devolves upon the men whom we sustain. For when we thus sustain these men it means more than the mere lifting of our hands, or at least should do so. It means the sustaining of these men by our faith and by our prayers, and so far as works are required, by our works, and when we thus vote and thus act, there is a power and an influence accompanying such action as we have performed this afternoon, that are felt by those in whose favor we vote: they feel strengthened, and God our Eternal Father seals His blessing, or causes it to descend upon those who are voted for, and there is a spirit that rests down upon them from that time forward, so long as they are faithful and are thus sustained, that manifests itself unto all with whom they are brought in contact. Let this congregation lift up their hands to sever a man from the Church, and no matter how high he may be in authority, no matter what Priesthood he bears, no matter how great and mighty he may have been in the Church and in the ministry—let this congregation for just cause lift up their hands against any such man and how quickly the effect is felt, how quickly that man is stripped of his power and of his influence, and of that spirit and those gifts which have been conspicuous in his labors previous to such action, or while he was in good standing and in fellowship with God and his brethren and sisters. We have seen numerous illustrations of this in our history. Name after name might be mentioned of men who have been bright stars in the firmament, who have been stripped—by their own conduct to begin with, and afterwards by the action of the Saints of God upon their case—of that luster, of that brightness, and of that glory that seemed to attend their ministrations. And while this is the case with those who have transgressed when the Saints of God act upon their cases, so it is, on the contrary, with those who are sustained in their ministry, and in their Priesthood, and in their calling by the united, uplifted hands of the Saints of God in conference assembled, as we have done this afternoon. Men may sneer at the Latter-day Saints, and say this is but an empty form, and that it is all prearranged. Men may say what they please about this. It is prearranged according to the spirit and mind of God, so far as that can be ascertained. When men are chosen for office, the Spirit of God is sought for by those who have the right to select, and if there be doubt upon certain points men are not chosen; but when they are chosen and the mind of the Lord is sought for to know whether it will be agreeable to Him that they receive this office, or that they should act in those positions, and when they are thus selected and thus submitted, as I have said, to the Conference, then if they themselves live so as to have the Spirit of God with them, they will be clothed with it, and when they seek to magnify their office God will magnify them before the people and will show them, and the people that they are indeed His chosen servants, and that their ministrations are acceptable unto Him, that He confirms them by the outpouring of His Spirit and the bestowal of His gifts. It is a remarkable fact in this age of unbelief, in this age of doubt, in this age of darkness, in this age when men pride themselves upon there being no revelation, and no knowledge from God—I say it is a remarkable fact that in this age such as we now live in, and such as we are familiar with, God, in the history of this people is accompanying His labors, and the labors to which He assigns His servants, with the ancient power, with the ancient manifestations, and with the ancient confirmations by gifts and by mighty signs and works that He causes His servants to accomplish.

When Moses was about to depart, God required of him that he should lay his hands upon another man to take his place to act as the leader of the people of Israel. He laid his hands upon Joshua, and a portion of that spirit and power that had attended the ministrations of Moses in the midst of Israel was immediately manifested through Joshua, and God confirmed the selection and impressed upon the people by the signs and the mighty works which Joshua accomplished that he was indeed God’s chosen servant. He magnified him in the midst of the people; he was enabled to perform mighty works, and the people, if they had had any doubts whatever, had those doubts removed by those manifestations of power. You remember how the Lord showed in the sight of all Israel that Joshua was His inspired and chosen servant, for under his direction the children of Israel crossed the river Jordan dry shod. It was at the time of high water in the river Jordan; but the Jordan was stayed in its onward course, its waters stopped running, and the whole hosts of Israel, by the direction of this servant of God, passed over dry shod. In this manner God showed unto His people that He had indeed chosen this man to be His servant. And so it has been in the entire history of God’s dealings with His people. He has not left them without a testimony. He has not left them to proclaim His word unaccompanied by His power. They have not been left to argue for themselves, to plead for themselves, to protest in the ears of the people that they were the servants of God, and to constantly contend for their rights as leaders of the people of God. But in every instance when He chose a man to be His servant, He accompanied that choice by the manifestations of His power, by the outpouring of His spirit, and His gifts, so that every honest soul, every humble man and woman who sought the Lord, might know for themselves that those men were His chosen ones. A most striking illustration of this suggests itself to my mind now. It occurred at the time the children of Israel desired a king. The Lord was displeased with them for this. Samuel also felt offended, for they had rejected him and his house. They had a good reason for desiring a king, at least they thought so. The surrounding nations had kings who went out and in before them to battle and were their leaders, and they desired to have a king, especially when the two sons of Samuel, whom he had chosen as Judges over Israel, were men who had turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment. This Prophet of God, this mighty man of God, happened to have two sons who were unworthy of their father’s reputation, unworthy of the Priesthood, unworthy of their position as Judges in Israel. In consequence of this the leaders of Israel gathered together and said unto Samuel: “Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy way: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” Samuel was greatly offended with the thought. But the Lord said unto him: “Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” In other words, the Lord had led them and chosen for them those who should lead them up to that time, and now He would give them a king. He designated to Samuel the kind of man he should be, who he should be, and told him he should visit him. The person designated was Saul, and Samuel anointed him king of Israel. After he was chosen king, it seems that he went about his ordinary business, and the next we hear of him he was following the herd, driving up the cattle, when the news came to him that Nahash, the Ammonite, would only be pacified towards the men of Jabesh-Gilead upon one condition, and that was that he might thrust their right eyes out, in token of their subjection, and as a reproach upon all Israel. And then, at that time, when danger threatened Israel, when there was a necessity for a general, for a man to lead the hosts of Israel, the Spirit and power of Almighty God, and the anointing that he had received under the hands of the Prophet of God, descended upon that young man, Saul, and his anger was kindled at the insult that had been offered to his nation, and he took a yoke of oxen and hewed them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the coasts of Israel, by the hands of messengers, saying: Whosoever cometh not forth after Saul and Samuel, so shall it be done unto his oxen. And great fear fell upon the people; they gathered out, and he organized his army, and they fell upon their enemies and cleaned them out.

Now, this is an illustration of the manner in which God operates upon His servants and upon His people. This young man was following peaceful pursuits. Though he had been chosen a king, he had not seemed to assume kingly dignity, he had gone about his business; but when the crisis arose, when there was a necessity for someone to step forward and take the leading position, then the spirit of that position to which he had been anointed, and to which he had been chosen by the voice of God, by the act of His Prophet, and by the approbation of the people, rested upon him, and he emerged from his obscurity and arose in their midst a king, a leader in very deed and in truth.

And so it was, you remember, in the case of Elisha. When Elijah was about to be taken to heaven, the spirit of prophecy seemed to rest upon all the prophets. The sons of the prophets came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, “Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head today? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.” At a former time he had been plowing in the field, with twelve yoke of oxen, when Elijah came along, and Elisha dropped his work and followed the prophet of God. Afterwards, when Elijah’s departure drew near, he said unto Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee let a double portion of that spirit be upon me. And he said, Thou hast a hard thing; nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.” And sure enough, he beheld a chariot of fire and horses of fire, and he saw his master ascend in his sight to heaven, and undoubtedly that gift that he had asked for, and that Elijah said should be granted unto him if he beheld his departure, was given to this man of God, it rested upon him, and when he came to the Jordan, having Elisha’s mantle which he had dropped, he smote the water in the power of God, and cried, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” so that the waters divided, and he passed over dry-shod. God accompanied that man by His power wherever he went. A great and a mighty prophet was he; so great and so mighty, that it is related of him that after his death a band of Moabites came into the land. The people of Israel were burying a man. While in this act, they became frightened at seeing a band of men, and cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha; and when the man was let down and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood upon his feet. He was a mighty prophet, and he received those gifts and this power from God, which He bestows upon all those who receive the everlasting Priesthood, and who seek to magnify it in the spirit thereof.

Read, too, of the transformation that occurred when Jesus laid His hands upon His apostles. The lowly, the ignorant, and the unlettered fishermen were transformed into mighty men, men of power, men of influence, men who had communication with the heavens, unto whom God revealed His mind and will, and through whom He performed mighty works. These men previously were obscure men, men of humble lives, fishermen, probably one of the lowest occupations that men followed in those days, as it is in our day. It is a lowly occupation is that of a fisherman. It is not one that brings great wealth; it does not bring men into public notice; it gives them no opportunity for distinction; but these men were men whose lives were hid with God. These were Princes in disguise, men who had been chosen, like their Lord and Master, according to my view, before the foundations of the earth were laid, to be His companions in the flesh, and like Him they were born in lowly and obscure circumstances. But when He chose them, when their hearts were touched by the great truths He taught, and they came forward, in obedience to His authority, to cast their lot with Him, then the power of God descended upon them; they performed mighty works, and while they lived upon the earth the Holy Ghost was their companion, and their fame has come down to us embalmed, it may be said, through the ages that have transpired, through the ignorance, and the gloom, and the darkness, and the apostasy that have since taken place—their names have come down to us from our ancestors, and the most glorious edifices and structures that the world know anything of, are dedicated to their memories. God made them mighty in the midst of the children of men. And so it was with all the prophets. When God made promises unto them they received them. But they did not receive these things without exertion on their part, without their seeking industriously to magnify that Priesthood which had been bestowed upon them. The spirit and power of God will rest upon a man if he listens to it. It will impel him to action. If he cherishes it, it will be his constant companion. It will be with him in times when he will need it, and when he does need it, if he magnifies his calling, the spirit and power of the Almighty—that spirit and power and those gifts which belong to his particular office—will rest upon him, and he will be made equal to every emergency, to every trial, and will come off victorious.

How was it with the Prophet Joseph Smith? Whose origin could be more lowly in a land like ours than his, springing from the humblest ranks of life, of parents that were not distinguished, or of any family that was known particularly, bearing a name more common than any other name in our language. Yet this man, because God had chosen him, manifested extraordinary power. Those who saw him, those who listened to him, those who witnessed his acts, know how mighty he was in the midst of his fellow men, and how mightily God wrought through him. God chose and ordained him. He gave unto him His everlasting Priesthood. He gave unto him the full authority to organize His Church. He did so—organized this Church, the most glorious fabric that ever was established upon the face of the earth; because it is God’s Church: it is the Church of Jesus Christ, unparalleled by anything else. No other organization approaches to it in perfection; nothing lacking, every detail, beautiful, harmonious, symmetrical, leaving nothing to be desired. Such is the Church and such the organization that the Prophet Joseph was the means in the hands of God of restoring once more to the earth. The plan, the pattern, had been lost entirely. The officers that formerly filled the Church were withdrawn. The Priesthood that they held was taken back to God, and the men who bore it also were taken from the earth. There had, therefore, to be a complete restoration. It could only come from the God of heaven, and Joseph, inspired of God, was the means through which the restoration was made—Joseph, a youth, obscure, illiterate in some respects—that is, he was not what men would call learned, but afterwards, through industry and perseverance, became learned, and if he had lived, he would undoubtedly have become one of the most learned of men through the gifts God gave him. The progress he made when he did live was very remarkable. By his faith, and inspired of God, he laid the foundation of this work, and not only did this, but he laid his hands upon other men and they partook of the same spirit and influence that rested upon him. They were able to drink at the same fountain which God, through him, had opened up for them to drink at. They could go to that fountain, and partake of its holy influence, and their eyes were opened and their minds were illuminated by the power of God. They were able also to go forth in the power which He had restored, and thus once more among men was witnessed the mighty gifts that were characteristic of bygone ages, when God had a Priesthood on the earth, when He had prophets and apostles, and mighty men whom He clothed with a portion of His Spirit and power.

And when Joseph was taken, how was it then? Were the people left without some man or men to stand up in their midst to declare to them the counsel of their Almighty Father? No: the Lord did not leave His people without a shepherd. He had anticipated the dreadful tragedy which would rob us of His anointed one; rob us, the Church of Christ, of our Prophet and Patriarch. He had anticipated this, and previous to this horrid tragedy, He inspired His servant Joseph to call other men, upon whom He bestowed all the keys, all the authority, all the blessings, all the knowledge so far as endowments were concerned, so far as the power to go unto God and ask Him in the name of Jesus, and obtain His mind and will, was concerned. He bestowed upon these men the same gifts, and blessings, and graces, he had received; so that there was a body of men with all the authority, a body of prophets with all the gifts of seers and revelators—a body of men left instead of one man—a body of men were endowed with this power when Joseph was taken, and the earth was not robbed of that Priesthood which God had sent His angels from heaven to restore once more to the children of men, and to act on the earth in the plenitude of its power. There was no more need, therefore, for angelic visitation to restore it. It was not taken back to God by the slaying of the Prophet and Patriarch, but remained with mortal man here on the earth. And, then, when the question arose as to who should lead Israel, notwithstanding Sidney Rigdon stood up in the congregation of the Saints, and plead for the leadership of the people, the spirit and power of the Almighty descended upon the man whom God had chosen to hold the keys. In the midst of all Israel, in the face of the entire congregation of believers and unbelievers, God clothed His servant with such power and in such a manner that every man that had the least portion of the spirit of God, and every woman, knew by the manifestations of that spirit, and by the outpouring of the gift of God upon that man, that he was the chosen one, and that upon him rested the authority, and the power, and the gifts that had been borne by the Prophet Joseph during his lifetime. No more plainly was the power of God manifested in behalf of Elisha, after the taking away of Elijah, than it was manifested in behalf of President Brigham Young, when the Prophet Joseph was taken from the earth, and from that day, while he lived on the earth until he died, the Lord magnified him in the eyes of the people and blessed those who listened to his counsel.

When he departed there was no contention, there was no strife as to who should be the leader. The men of God had learned by experience concerning the Priesthood, and as to who should bear the keys. There was, therefore, no contention among the leaders nor among the people. There was no special necessity for any particular manifestation. But I appeal to you, my brethren and sisters, today, in this conference assembled—has not God accompanied the President of His Church who succeeded Brigham Young—has He not accompanied him, has He not accompanied his acts, his counsels and his leadership of the people by every sign, by every blessing, by every manifestation of power necessary to confirm in the hearts of Israel the truth that he is indeed the man whom God had designated, whom God had chosen, and whom God desired to lead His people Israel? I have no doubt of it, never had any. I knew it before anything was heard or anything was said. I knew it by the revelations of Almighty God to me, that God had chosen His servant John Taylor, to preside over this Church. I know it today. I rejoice in this knowledge, and I rejoice that God still continues to manifest His power through His anointed one, and through the channel of the Holy Priesthood, having but one man at a time on the earth unto whom He gives the keys to preside over the Church, and give revelations to the entire Church, as a church and as a people. He has chosen him from among the prophets, apostles, seers and revelators, to bear the keys of the everlasting Priesthood upon the earth in the flesh, he having the power and authority to act for the entire people, and to receive the mind and will of God for the entire people. And thus God up to the present time has confirmed His work by signs following: every man in his place, enjoying the spirit of God, and the gifts of his office—the President of the Twelve in his office and in his calling; blessing the Apostles who act as the council of the Twelve; blessing the Presidents of Stakes with the spirit and power and gifts of that calling—blessing their counsels and filling them with the power necessary to magnify the Priesthood to which they are called; blessing the Presiding Bishop and his Counselors; blessing the Bishops and their Counselors; blessing the High Councils; blessing the Seventies, High Priests, Elders and Lesser Priesthood; every man in his place and station receiving his portion of the gifts and blessings and power of God according to his faith and diligence, and his obedience to the commands of God, and also according to the office and position that he holds in the Priesthood of the Son of God.

God in His marvelous kindness and mercy has organized His Church in perfection, and has given to every man that bears a portion of the Holy Priesthood, if he will magnify the same, the gifts and graces necessary thereto; to given to every woman and to every child who is faithful in the Church of God, the spirit that belongs to the position of each, according to the faith and necessities of each. And thus it is that heaven is moved on our behalf; thus it is that the power of God is manifested from time to time; thus it is that the people are led and guided as they are and as they have been from the beginning until the present time, and thus it will be until the end, until the Church shall be as a bride prepared for the coming of the bridegroom, for the coming of the Lord Jesus, who is our head, and who will preside over us and over the Church and Kingdom that will be organized upon the earth.

Oh, my brethren and sisters, God is not working in vain in our midst. He is not working in hidden places. He is not concealing His hand and His power. He is ready to bless every man in His Church who will magnify His office and calling. He is ready to bestow the gifts and qualifications of that office upon every man according to his diligence and faithfulness before Him. But the idle man, the slothful man, the man that shirks his responsibility, the man that avoids duty, the duty of a Deacon, Teacher, Priest, or Bishop, Elder, Seventy, High Priest, or an Apostle, or one of the First Presidency—every man that does this God will take from him His gifts and His blessings; He will withdraw them and give them to the faithful one. He will clothe His faithful servants with the power that belongs to the Priesthood in proportion to the diligence and faithfulness in seeking to magnify their calling, and to live near unto their God. Mark this, and let it bear with weight upon your mind, for I tell you it is so. You may ordain a man to be an apostle, but if he does not seek to magnify that office and priesthood, the gifts of it will not be with him as they would be with a man who does seek to magnify his calling: no matter how great his ability, the power of God will not accompany him unless he seeks for it, for God will be sought after, and God will be plead with for His gifts and graces and for revelation and knowledge; He will be sought after by His children, and then when He is sought after, He will bestow.

Now, when I speak about one who has a right to give revelations to the Church, I do not mean by that to say that others shall not receive revelation; for this is a day of revelation. We know the sentiment of Moses when Joshua became jealous of two of the Seventy Elders prophesying. The Seventy were gathered around about the tabernacle to receive the words of the Lord from Moses, when the Spirit rested upon them, as also upon two of the men who had remained in the camp. Joshua was jealous for the honor of his master, and asked Moses to forbid them prophesying. But, no, Moses replied: “Would God that all the Lord’s people were Prophets, and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them.” He had no jealousy about prophecy. He desired that every man in the whole camp of Israel might have the spirit of prophecy, and he gave utterance to that beautiful, glorious expression which I have just quoted. So with the Elders of Israel today. Would to God all the Lord’s people were Prophets. Would to God that every man in Israel had the spirit and power and gift of prophecy resting upon him. Would to God that every woman had the spirit of prophecy resting upon her, and every child. Would to God that all the hosts of Israel, those of the Church of God, had the Holy Ghost and its gifts resting in power upon them. There is no room for jealousy in regard to the possession of this gift in the breast of a servant of God. The only feeling that it ought to produce in the breast of a faithful man is one of thankfulness, one of thanksgiving to God that others share in this blessing, that others can partake of this power, that others have received of this glorious gift from our Father in Heaven. There is no room for jealousy, therefore, in such cases. Let every man press forward humbly and obediently in the path of exaltation, in the path that leads to God. Let every man press forward. He need not be afraid that any Latter-day Saint will impede his progress. Let every man speak and act and do as though he were a servant of God, as he is, as a son of God; let him do this and rejoice in it. At the same time let him be careful not to be lifted up in pride, not forgetting who he is, but obedient to constituted authority, that authority which God has placed in His Church, and, then, if he does not forget these things, there is nothing to prevent his onward progress. If he be an Elder, if he should have the gifts and power that an Apostle should have, who will be jealous? Certainly no servant of God. If he be a Deacon, and he has gifts from God, through faithfulness, that belong to an office higher than his own, is there anyone who will not rejoice in it, or anyone who will retard him or throw obstructions in his way? God forbid that there should be.

Now, in connection with this subject, a man a few days ago—it suggests itself to my mind and I will speak upon it—brought a communication addressed to President Tay lor and his Counselors, and we read it. It purported to be a message from God—a message from God to us, that is to the First Presidency, and through us to the Church. We read the message, but could see nothing in it particularly; there was considerable said, but there was nothing tangible, or that gave us light upon any point that we did not understand before. The man said he had been in the Church three years, but he had not received the Priesthood. He had had some spiritual manifestation, in which he heard a voice say, “thou art a Priest after the order of Melchizedek.”

I wish to speak upon this point, that is, in connection with this subject that I have been speaking upon. God has organized His Church. He has placed in that Church its officers. As I have said, He has given to one man, and to one man only, at a time, the keys to preside over and to communicate the mind and will of God to that Church. While that man is in that position, seeking to magnify it, he will not speak to other men and give them revelations for His Church. I wish you all to understand what I have endeavored to impress upon you—that it is the privilege of every one to receive revelation. It is the privilege of every mother to receive revelation from God for guidance in the training of her children; to be in communication with the Father through the Holy Spirit. It is the privilege of children to have the same Spirit, and to have knowledge from God through that Spirit. What for? To teach the parents? No. If their parents are in the path of duty, it is not so; but it is, as I have said, the privilege of every man, woman and child in the Church to have revelation, to have knowledge, to be instructed of the Lord. But that does not give them the right to give revelations to the Church. God did not design it. God never has warranted or sustained any such action. Therefore, he that cometh in by any other way than by the door, you know what is said of him; he that climbeth over the wall, he that receiveth authority from some source outside of that which God recognizes, we as a people are not bound to receive anything that may be communicated to him. Out of that which is communicated in that way, there may be nineteen truths out of twenty statements; but there will be error, there will be falsehood, there will be something that will mislead, because there is not the authority from God to lead and to act. God has His own method of doing things. He chooses whom He will; He takes away, and removes from the path those that He wishes. It is all according to His good will and pleasure. He gives unto us authority, and, as I have said, He confirms it by signs following; and this Church from the day of its organization, up to the present time has never been one hour, yea I may say, one moment without revelation, without having a man in our midst who can tell us as a people the mind and will of God, who can point out to us that which we should do, who can teach us the doctrines of Christ, who can point out to us that which is false and incorrect, and who can, upon all matters that come within the range of our experience, and that are necessary for us to attend to give us the necessary counsel and instruction. This has been the case always. Therefore, a man may receive mighty signs—I heard the Prophet Joseph, when I was a boy, say that the time would come when false prophets would work mighty miracles in the eyes of the people of the earth, and they would seek to establish their authority by the performance of mighty miracles, and we have heard of such things in our day since his death—but this does not sustain a man in claiming to be leader of a people, and to give revelations from God. But there is a spirit that God gives; there is an influence that accompanies His word when it is proclaimed by His servants that seals itself upon the hearts of the honest, upon the hearts of the meek and lowly, and those who are living in close communion with God themselves seals upon their hearts the truth of that which He says: I have no fears of any of you, my brethren and sisters, if you will only live near to God. I said the leaders of this Church do not come bolstering up their own claims. It is not necessary. You are the witnesses. You are the witnesses whether John Taylor is President of the Church; whether his Counselors are the men they should be; whether the Twelve have the authority they claim; whether the Presidents of Stakes have the authority they claim—you have this testimony, you are our witnesses, and all the Israel of God, wherever they live, are witnesses of the truth of these things. You can testify because you have received—if you should live as you should do—a testimony independent of that which we can give to you, or any argument that we may urge—you have received it, if you have received it properly, from our Eternal Father. You received it in answer to prayer, direct to yourselves—not through any intermediate source, not through any man, but through the Eternal Spirit of our Father descending upon you and bearing witness to you—a testimony that these things are true. You, therefore, are living witnesses of the truth of these things, and know for yourselves whether they are true or not.

Now, I have heard that there are men among us who are professing to cure witchcraft and other evils of that kind. I believe they call themselves astrologers. More injurious ideas and practices than these cannot be introduced among a people to lead them to destruction, and I wish to warn you before sitting down, in regard to this. Do not seek for those who have peepstones, for soothsayers, and for those who profess to be able to counteract the influence of witchcraft. They who say so, seek to play upon your fears, they seek to take advantage of superstitious fears, and seek to use them for their own advantage and bring those who will listen to them in bondage to an influence and spirit that is as foreign to the spirit of God as hell is foreign to heaven. Any man who professes to have this authority, to have this power, and to use power outside of that which the Priesthood authorizes, is a man that should not be listened to; his claims are false, and his methods are from beneath and not from God. And I say to all of you, witchcraft you may defy if you live as you should do—defy it, not in a spirit of defiance, not in a spirit to bring evil influences upon you, but in the power and strength of our Father and God. No evil influence of that kind, if you live as you should do, can have power over you; you are entrenched in the power of God, in the spirit and gifts of God; you are entrenched round about so that none of these wicked influences can have power over you. I wonder if Job thought there was somebody bewitching him when his property was stolen and destroyed, when his servants were killed, when his son’s house fell and killed his children, when his boils came upon him. I wonder if he thought that he was bewitched. Why, I hear of some people, if anything happens to them, even if any of their chickens die, who are ready to say: “I am bewitched; there is somebody bewitching me.” Such expressions and ideas are prompted by the worst folly that ever possessed the mind of a Latter-day Saint. Do not such persons know that not a hair of their heads can fall to the ground unnoticed? Has not the Savior said so, our Lord and Master? And if so, do you not think He will care for us? Do not your angels stand continually before the face of our Father in heaven? And yet shall people unto whom God has made such glorious promises, and upon whom He has poured out such glorious blessings—shall they bow to these wicked influences, these spirits that are not of God, that are full of vileness and darkness and evil, and do that which they say, and seek to wizards and to soothsayers, and to diviners and to men and women who, by hidden works of darkness, profess to obtain knowledge—will the Latter-day Saints do this to take their vile remedies, and if their children are sick, seek unto them? The men and women who do this—I do not want to prophesy evil about them—are in great danger of losing the spirit and power of God, and having it withdrawn from them, and if they do not repent it will most assuredly be withdrawn from them. All who take these methods and encourage these practices I say that the anger of Almighty God will descend upon them unless they repent, and they will find that their hidden works of darkness will not avail them when the Lord feels after them, and when His condemnation rests upon them; they will find this out to their everlasting sorrow. Men who are guilty of these practices, and who seek to lead away the unwary, and to prey upon the ignorant and unsophisticated, and to take advantage of their fears, and instil superstition into the mind, cannot escape condemnation. These methods are not of God, and beware of them, all of you, and tell all your friends that it is sinful in the sight of God to yield to such influences. Pray, rather, to the Father, in the name of Jesus, to let His angels be around about you, to let His power encircle you, to let His Spirit be in your hearts and in your habitations, and rest down upon your little ones, and be of strong faith, and say, like Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” Yes, that righteous man, though God should slay him, yet he would not fail to trust Him to the uttermost.

Let these truths rest upon your minds and be not forgotten, and let us seek as a people to have the gifts and power and blessings of our Father and God resting upon us continually. I pray God for this blessing to be with you always, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.




The Second Coming of Our Savior—Preaching of the Gospel and the Signs Following—the Gathering—Hatred of the World Toward the Latter-Day Saints—No Power Can Overthrow the Work of God—Exhortations to Faithfulness

Discourse by President George Q. Cannon, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, Dec. 7th, 1884.

The speaker commenced by reading the 24th chapter of Matthew; after which he spoke as follows:

I have read this chapter to call your attention to the predictions of the Son of God concerning the last days, and the circumstances which would surround His people previous to His making His second appearance on the earth. Great interest has been manifested at different periods by the inhabitants of the earth who have believed in Jesus, respecting His second coming. Great desires have been manifested from time to time to understand the signs of His advent, and some have gone so far as to predict the day and even the exact time when He would make his appearance. According to the revelations that we have received upon this subject, the day and the hour are not revealed unto man, neither is it probable that they will be, but we have been told that that time is near at hand, and that it is our duty as the people of God, to prepare ourselves for that great and terrible day. The message which the Elders of this Church were commissioned to declare unto the inhabitants of the earth 54 years ago, and which they have since that time been declaring wherever they have gone is, that the time is near at hand for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to make His second appearance, and the Elders of this Church have been sent with a warning message to all the nations of the earth, to declare unto them that the hour of God’s judgment is near at hand; that the time for the fulfillment of the prediction of the holy Prophets has arrived, and that it is the duty of the inhabitants of the earth to prepare themselves for the great events that are about to take place connected with the last days. And in order that they might the better prepare themselves, the servants of God are commanded to call upon the people to gather out from the various nations where they are living to a place that God has designated as a place of gathering for His elect, where they might prepare themselves for the coming of our Lord and Savior. This was the message which the Elders were sent forth to bear 54 years ago, and from that time until the present they have been, to the extent of their ability, proclaiming it to the various nations to which they have had access, warning them in meekness and in humility, that the time was near at hand for the fulfillment of all that had been spoken by the mouths of the servants of God in ancient days concerning the last days. Yet, as I have said, we have had no authority given unto us, no message to designate the hour nor the day, nor even the year when the Lord would make His appearance. That has been kept by the Father. The angels did not know the hour nor the day when our Savior spoke the words that I have read in your hearing; and if the angels have since been informed of it, we have not been advised to that effect. We have been told that the time is near at hand, and as an evidence of the near approach of this event we have seen the fulfillment of many things that were told should take place. This Gospel of the Kingdom, Jesus said, had to be preached unto all nations as a witness—the same Gospel that was preached by Him and His disciples when they were upon the earth—that Gospel of the Kingdom had to be preached unto all nations before the end should come. And it is being preached in that manner now. The same principles, the same doctrines, the same plan of salvation, the same gifts and graces, the same organization of the Church, the same authority that was in the Church in ancient days—these having been restored are now being preached as a witness by the Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unto all nations, in order that every inhabitant of the earth should be warned, that every man should hear the glad tidings of salvation in his own tongue, and have the opportunity of embracing or rejecting the same, and of being gathered out and numbered with the people of God.

I need not say to you, my brethren and sisters, who are familiar with this work, that God has accompanied the preaching of this Gospel by signs following. You know this. You are living witness yourselves of the power of God, of the manifestation of the Holy Ghost, and of the gifts that pertain thereto. This whole people, called Latter-day Saints, living in these mountains, from north to south, from east to west, are a body of living witnesses of the truth of that which I say respecting the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, and its gifts upon the people; for by the power of the Holy Ghost have they been gathered; by the manifestations of the power of God have they wended their way from the various lands they formerly dwelt in, to this land—impelled by the Spirit of God to do this, in a most extraordinary manner, ready to abandon homes, ready to forsake their friends, ready to sever their connection with all that was near and dear to them previous to their reception of the Gospel. What a host of witnesses could rise up if they could be gathered together throughout these mountains! Men, women and children, who in their various languages—every language almost of Europe, and I see here some from the Pacific Islands, others from far off Africa, others from far off Australia, would testify, had they the opportunity, to the outpouring of the Spirit and power of God upon them in the lands where they dwelt when they heard the Gospel and obeyed it, as taught to them by the Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In this manner God has borne witness to the inhabitants of the earth, and is still bearing witness to them wherever they receive His Gospel, whenever they bow in humility and submission to His requirements, whether in the United States, in Canada, in Mexico, in Central or South America, in Europe, in Asia, in Africa, or in any Islands of the sea—wherever the Elders of this Church go, carrying this message of salvation, and the people receive it, they receive with it a testimony from God, not given by man nor by man’s wisdom, nor through man’s power, but through the power of the Eternal God—that testimony resting down upon them in fullness, burning within them, impelling them to do that which they never contemplated doing before—that is, impelling them to forsake all their old associations, and sever the ties that had heretofore bound them to their kindred and their homes, and to come to the land which God has designated as the place to which they should gather. In this manner God is fulfilling, as I have said, the testimony of His ancient servants, for John the Revelator, testified that there should be a cry go forth unto the inhabitants of the earth to come out from the midst of Babylon. Jesus says in this chapter that the elect should be gathered from the four quarters of the earth, from the four winds of heaven they should be gathered together, and this preparatory to His coming. And that which I have read in your hearing is abundantly fulfilled this day in our sight and to our knowledge. Speaking of His disciples and to His disciples, He said: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” If this is not fulfilled this day in our sight and in our hearing, then when can it be fulfilled? How can it be fulfilled? Today here is a people gathered in these mountains, brought from the nations of the earth, as I have said, dwelling here in peace and in quiet ness, free from strife, free from litigation, free from war, free from everything that disturbs and annoys, in every settlement from north to south, from east to west, wherever they have formed themselves into a community; living in the possession of unexampled peace. Take the settlements of this people in Colorado; visit those in Arizona and New Mexico; go north and travel through Utah and visit Idaho—go where you will, wherever they have settled, you will find a community dwelling in peace and in quietness, loving one another, obeying the law of God, striving to keep His commandments, seeking to overcome evil, endeavoring to live themselves in accordance with His requirements, and to teach their children to do likewise. These are the characteristics of the settlements of the Latter-day Saints throughout all these mountains. So far as we are concerned ourselves, we have scarcely any need of lawyers. They are very necessary as conveyancers, they are very necessary in drawing up papers, in making wills, in making deeds, in forming contracts, in doing business of this character; but so far as the practice of the law in litigation is concerned, there is no need for their services in any of the settlements of the Latter-day Saints. The law of God to us when obeyed is sufficient to lift us above these petty strifes and difficulties. We should live, if we do not, in a purer and higher atmosphere, in a region elevated far above that which is occupied by people of this character. If you travel through the settlements where the Latter-day Saints have control you will not find drunkenness prevalent, in fact, if they be true Latter-day Saints, there will be no drunkenness. You will not hear the name of God blasphemed where Latter-day Saints live; you will not hear quarrelling; you will not hear of adulteries and seductions; you will not witness Sabbath breaking; but you will see the people living in the observance of the laws of God, a moral, pure, peaceable, orderly people. These are the characteristics of the communities of the Latter-day Saints where they live according to the requirements of their holy religion. And though we are far from being perfect in these respects, though there are many things to complain of and to find fault with among us, nevertheless these characteristics do prevail to an extent that cannot be found in other communities of the same size and in the same circumstances. And yet these words that I have read in your hearing are this day fulfilled. “They shall deliver you up to be afflicted,” said Jesus, “and shall kill you” (this has been and is our fate) “and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” Most singularly has this prediction been and is being fulfilled in regard to us. There is not another community on the face of the earth today who are hated by all nations for the sake of Jesus as are the Latter-day Saints. Go where you will throughout our own nation; go where you will throughout Christendom; travel among all people and ask them concerning the Latter-day Saints, and they will tell you that they hate them, that they are a people to be hated, that they are a people that should be destroyed, that they should not be tolerated, and that measures should be taken for their entire extirpation from the earth. One of the most remarkable features connected with this work is this hatred that exists in the minds of men and women concerning it. I look upon it as one of the greatest and most striking evidences of the truth of the words of the Savior, and of the divinity of this work. There is no other people with whom I am acquainted who so strikingly fulfill the words of the Savior, and the promises which He made unto His disciples respecting the consequences of obeying His doctrine as do the Latter-day Saints. And it is not for their wickedness, because when their lives are compared with the lives of others, they stand out in striking contrast with them. This is admitted even by our enemies. They give us credit for not being adulterers, they give us credit for not being seducers; they give us credit for not being thieves; they give us credit for keeping our word; they give us credit for being honest in our dealings. Today, our bitterest enemies in this city, the men who hate us the most, who would destroy us if they had the power, never dare say that we are dishonest in our dealings. We keep our word. We abstain from drunkenness. We abstain from gambling. We do not support houses of ill fame. We maintain order and peace wherever we go. But we are accused of many crimes. We are accused of being guilty of many misdeeds. But when the proof is asked for it is something that has happened some time ago, something that somebody else knows.

We can be truthfully accused of nothing except this: that we marry wives, that we sustain them honorably, and that we keep our children and train them up in the fear of God, and make good citizens of them. This is the head and front of our offending. It is not truthfully said that we prostitute women; or that she is degraded here by making her a prey to lust. It is not said we destroy our offspring. No such charges are made against us. But the crime is that we honorably take wives in wedlock and rear children, and bring them up legitimately, teaching them the principles of righteousness as we understand them. We could vote today—you men who are disfranchised, and you women who are disfranchised—you could vote today if you were adulterers and adulteresses. Yes, in this land of ours, in this Territory of Utah you could go to the polls and cast your vote if you lived outside of wedlock, if you prostituted yourselves, if you made women the victims of vile lust, if you trampled upon everything that is holy and pure in the sight of God and of good men, you would not be disfranchised. You could cast your vote. You could hold office—that is, you could be a candidate for office, and if elected you could hold it. Therefore, it is not for adultery, it is not for seduction, it is not for crimes of this kind that we are hated, but it is because in righteousness and in truth, without deception and without fraud, we honorably and in the sight of day—that is we have done so in times past—married wives in accordance with what we believed to be the command of our Great Creator.

We are hated of all men and of all nations for Christ’s sake. It is because of our religion. If we discarded the forms of religion; if we did not attach importance to the solemnization of the marriage ordinance; if it were done in any other name, or in any other form, or for any other purpose, it would pass, doubtless, as it does in other society, without being challenged or receiving particular condemnation. But it is admitted—I have been told it hundreds of times—that it is because you make this religion. “That is why we hate it,” they say. “That is why we will legislate against it. If you had not made it religion we would not care anything about it.” When I have plead with members of Congress in Washington, and told them this institution was part of our religion, they have said: “Yes, Mr. Cannon, that is the difficulty. It is because you make it religion that we want to legislate against it. If you did not make it religion there would not be that objection to it that there is.” Therefore, as I have said, the words of the Savior are fulfilled. Because we make this the religion of Jesus, because we profess to be the followers of Jesus, and because of being His followers, therefore, as Jesus said, “you shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake;” not for anything else, but for the sake of the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whose religion we have espoused, whose followers we claim to be, and because of being his followers we do as we are doing. Most signally, then, has this prediction been fulfilled in our sight and hearing. One of the most remarkable features of the present age is the hatred that is manifested against this people. It might be that as a people of our numbers, situated as we are, so far removed from other communities in these remote regions, might escape observation, and that we might be left to pursue our own course, quietly, so long as we did not intrude upon our neighbors. We came to this land a band of religious exiles seeking a home amid these mountain wilds, content to live here if we had only bread and water, if we could get sufficient to sustain life; for the sake of that peace and quiet which was denied us in the lands whence we were driven, we were content to endure all the hardships that could possibly be encountered in this mountain region. If we could only sustain life we would have been satisfied with our home here. And we thought we might escape persecution. We thought we had got so far away that we could worship our God henceforth without let or hindrance. We did not wish to injure others. We did not wish to force our religion upon others. We had no design upon any human being, no design to injure any soul upon the face of the earth. Our hearts were filled with the desire that others might comprehend the truth as we comprehend it, that they might partake of the blessings of the Gospel as we had received them, and to do this—that is to make them familiar with these things—we were willing to spend our lives in traveling from land to land and from continent to continent, without purse and without scrip, preaching, in humility and in meekness, the Gospel of the Son of God, as we understand it as a witness unto all nations before the end should come. We went from land to land preaching this Gospel, calling upon the inhabitants of the earth to listen to our message, and this was the extent of our wrong doing. We had not, as I say, any designs against the peace of any soul upon the face of the earth, but our hearts overflowed with a strong and unquenchable desire that they might also receive the Gospel and the blessings of the Gospel as we had received them. That Gospel has brought to us happiness, peace, joy unexampled. That Gospel had filled us with a foretaste of heaven. Through that Gospel we had received the Holy Ghost and the gifts thereof, and because of that precious gift we were able to endure all the hardships and all the persecutions that the wicked might see fit to bring upon us for the sake of our religion. We were willing to do this. We rejoiced in it. We knew it was more precious than life itself, and many have been willing to lay down their lives for the sake of the Gospel. We had left everything that men held dear upon earth for the sake of this great truth that God had revealed to us, and our souls burned with an overpowering desire that others might also partake of the same blessing. Therefore we traveled from nation to nation, bearing these glad tidings and calling upon the inhabitants of the earth to receive them and partake of them as we had done.

Now, it might be thought that a people thus situated would be left alone to the enjoyment, the peaceful enjoyment of their religion. If their religion was a heresy they were the sufferers. If their religion was false they would be the ones that would receive the punishment. But not content with driving us out, not content with compelling us to flee to these mountains, the same foul and deadly spirit of persecution followed us up here into these mountain recesses. They envied us the possession of these sterile, barren valleys. That cruel spirit of persecution still followed us, envious of the quiet homes we had reared by untold and uncounted toil out of the elements that surround us. We had raised a scanty subsistence from the soil; we had struggled with difficulties and had eventually succeeded in surmounting them, that we could hope to live, live without fear of starvation at least before us. But scarcely was the experiment decided—for it was but an experiment at best—than the same spirit that had made our residence in the States intolerable and unendurable to us, followed us across these plains that stretched out between us and our old homes and the old civilization which we had left—followed us here, and it has followed us from that day until the present, it has sought to kill us, and it has sought to destroy our liberties. It has sought to do to us that which was done before—to drive us from our homes, and send us forth homeless wanderers upon the face of the earth. This has been its manifestation in our midst in this Territory, and it seems as though it would not be fully gratified or satisfied until it has made victims of every one of us; until we should be numbered with the silent dead, and our voices no more be heard in proclamation of the Gospel of the Son of God, that we have been authorized to proclaim to the inhabitants of the earth.

My brethren and sisters: I do not wish in my remarks to harrow up your feelings. I wish merely to impress you with some of the events that are occurring around about us, that you may know that they are only in fulfillment of the word of God, spoken hundreds and hundreds of years ago by the Son of God Himself, and by His inspired servants. We are only moving in the sphere that He intended we should move in; we are only enduring the trials and afflictions that in His providence He foresaw and deemed necessary for us to encounter in our passage through life, and in the establishment of His work upon the earth, and in preparing the way for the coming of the Lord. Let not your hearts fail you, therefore: be not discouraged nor consider yourselves in the least degree oppressed beyond that which is right and proper. All these things are necessary in the providence of our God. We shall have more to encounter; but we shall have the strength and the grace necessary to enable us to meet them and to bear them patiently, and to come out of them victoriously; for as you are often told, whatever may be the fate of individuals connected with this work, it is decreed in the heavens by our Eternal Father, that this work, the foundation of which He has laid, will never be taken from the earth again, it will never be overthrown. There is no power that can overthrow this work of our God. Men may be sent to prison, as Brother Rudger Clawson has, as Brother Joseph H. Evans has, as others in Arizona have, for their religion, for practicing that which they believe to be of God—men may be sent to prison by hundreds, men may be slain, as our brethren were in Tennessee lately, and as Joseph Standing was in Georgia, and as brethren were in years gone past in Missouri, as our Prophet and Patriarch were in Illinois, as our revered President was shot to pieces at the same time—men’s blood may be shed, the blood of the Saints may stain the ground, the soil may be drenched with it, but though this may be the case, yet as sure as God lives so sure will this work that He has established, roll forth and prevail. The principles of truth connected with it are unalterable and eternal. They cannot be changed, they cannot be destroyed. You might as well try to destroy the throne of the Great Eternal Himself, as to destroy this work, for it is eternal. The truths of this Gospel are imperishable. They cannot be changed; they cannot be obliterated nor overthrown. And God has said this concerning this work—that it will stand forever. It will overcome every obstacle. It will grow, it will increase. Everything done against it will only be the means of accelerating it, or pushing it forward, or insuring to it the victory that God has promised. I testify this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, for I know it to be true, and I know that every power that opposes this work will perish. God has said it, and His words, thus far have been fulfilled. Recount the list of the opposers of this work, and who is there among the vast host that has ever succeeded? Is not failure, is not shame, is not ignominy written upon every man’s character and the character of every community that has fought against this work of our God from the beginning up to the present time? The enemies of this work have perished, they have gone down into oblivion, and they have not succeeded. Look at the list from the beginning, from the 6th of April, 1830, until this day of our Lord, and go through it, and where can you find, where can you put your finger upon a man or upon a community that has prospered in fighting against Zion, against this work of our God? They have gone down, while this people have gone forward, have risen, gone upward, have confirmed to increase in influence, in power in the earth and have become more and more solidified. And it will be so to the end; for this work is designed in the providence of our God to prevail, and there is no power nor influence that can prevent it.

It behooves us as Latter-day Saints to be faithful to our God. I will tell you, my brethren and sisters, there is only one thing that can injure this work, and that is the sins of the people themselves. You can injure it, that is, you can injure yourselves in connection with it. There is no man can prevent another from receiving salvation. God has not placed it in the power of man to prevent either a man, or a woman, or a child from receiving salvation. He has placed that within the power of the individual himself or herself. If a man be damned it is because he takes a course to be damned; he breaks the laws of God. So it is with us as a people. If we are chastened, if we are scourged, if our enemies have power over us, it will be because we do not live as we should do, and this is a subject that I would like very much to speak about. I would like very much to tell my feelings upon this point to the Bishops and to the Teachers and to the officers of the Church. There are practices being indulged in among us that are sins in the sight of God, and the officers of this Church will be held accountable for them, unless they take a course to eradicate them from the midst of the Saints. There should be no man allowed to remain in this Church who is a Sabbath breaker, and when you know that there are men and women or children who are Sabbath breakers you should take steps to have them warned, to have them reproved, and if they will not repent to have them severed from the Church of God. No man in this Church should be allowed to have a standing in it who is a drunkard; God does not approve of drunkenness; and if there are any drunkards remaining in the Church, hear it, O ye Bishops, and O ye officers, you will be held accountable for their sins—the condemnation will rest upon you. The same with men who blaspheme, either young or old, who take the name of God in vain, they ought not to be permitted to remain in the Church. It is a sin in the sight of God, and He will visit a people with condemnation who per mit these things to exist in their midst. And so with fornication. No fornicator, no adulterer nor adulteress, should have a place among us. They should be warned, they should be dealt with, they should be cut off from the Church. And so with every other sin. We have been too lenient, and have permitted things to exist which are wrong in the sight of God. Now that our enemies are waging war against us, there is only one way in which we can expect to withstand assaults made upon us, and that is in being a pure people, in being a people who live according to the laws of our God. This we must be, or the favor of God will be withdrawn from us. Therefore, let the Church be cleansed. Let the Teachers visit under the influence of the Spirit of God and the gift of discernment, and where they find those that are living in opposition to, or in violation of the laws of God, let them, by the Spirit of God, which will rest upon them, teach and warn that household, and thus take steps to purify the Church. Let every Priest and every Teacher go forth in that spirit in the midst of the Latter-day Saints, and you will see good results; and then let hell boil over, let hell array itself with all its forces, let earth and hell combine against this work of our God, and they cannot succeed. I am not afraid of all hell; I am not afraid of all the earth, if the Latter-day Saints will be pure, if they will live their religion. I know that we shall triumph and come off victorious in every contest, which may God grant in the name of Jesus. Amen.




The Way to Find Out God—Testimony of the Elders—“Whoso Receiveth You Receiveth Me”—The Missionary Learns to Know God is His Friend—We Must Suffer Persecution—Fruits of the Spirit—“Mormon” Society—Trouble for the Wicked in the Future—Saints to Maintain Freedom and to Uphold the Constitution

Remarks by President George Q. Cannon, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, Nov. 23rd, 1884.

There are a few moments remaining, which it is desired I should occupy.

It is very interesting to hear the testimony of the Elders who have been on missions and who have re turned therefrom as our brethren who have spoken this afternoon, and to me particularly so in the case of young men like Brother Leo Clawson, whose voice we have heard and whose testimony has been given to us. Sending young men upon missions is an excellent method of testing their integrity and also of giving them an opportunity of proving for themselves whether the testimony they have heard from their parents and others is true. When a young man leaves home to go to a foreign land, in the midst of a cold-hearted and prejudiced world, without purse or scrip, with no funds in his pocket to depend upon to pay his way, and has to depend upon his Maker, and upon the promises which He has made, he is in a most excellent position to learn for himself the truth of the words of the Savior and the truth of the testimonies that he has heard from his parents and friends. I rejoice exceedingly that our young men have this opportunity, because it brings home to them in a most unmistakable and convincing manner the truth of those testimonies they have heard. When a man has no food to eat, when he has no friends, and is a stranger in a strange land, traveling as a servant of God, he has a good opportunity of testing for himself whether there is a God, and whether that God hears and answers his prayers. In this way faith becomes knowledge; because if a man prays to God and asks for that which he wants and God gives it to him, he then knows for himself that God hears and answers prayer. It is in this way that the knowledge of the Gospel that we have received is perpetuated in our hearts and in the hearts of our children—transmitted from one generation to another, as it has been and is being done at the present time among these Latter-day Saints. Today there is a host of young men growing up in this country who have in this manner proved for themselves the truth of that which I am now speaking of. It was in this manner that I learned most convincingly in my youth that this was the work of God. I believed it, yes, I may say I knew it to be true, but when I was sent out as a missionary without purse and scrip and compelled to feel after God and ask Him for those things that I wanted, I learned to my entire satisfaction that when I did need God’s blessings He was at hand to confer them upon me according to the desires of my heart and the necessities of my case. In this manner men who are now of middle age have grown up with this knowledge, and the youth today are in their turn acquiring the same knowledge, obtaining it through the means which God has appointed and in the manner He has designed.

There are two objects to be accomplished by the Elders going out without purse and scrip upon the apostolic plan. In the first place, they learn for themselves that God lives and that He hears and answers prayer; in the second place, they test the world. The Savior says: “Whoso receiveth you receiveth me, and the same will feed you, and give you money. And he who feeds you, or clothes you, or gives you money, shall in no wise lose his reward; and he that doeth not these things is not my disciple; by this you may know my disciples.”

We test the world in this manner and prove whether they will receive the servants of God and supply their simple wants when they travel preaching the Gospel without salary or pay of a pecuniary character; but looking unto the Lord for the reward that He has promised to bestow. When a man has been gone as Brother Clawson has, and as Brother George Goddard has—Brother Clawson for two years and upwards—he becomes acquainted with the Lord, he learns to know God is his friend, and he through his life afterwards, if he cherishes that knowledge which he has then acquired, is a faithful servant of God. There are today hundreds of our youth scattered throughout the various fields acquiring this knowledge of God, becoming familiar with the things of God, learning for themselves that which they have been taught in theory, and having it so thoroughly instilled into them, and becoming so indoctrinated in these principles, that they never will forget them.

My brethren and sisters, we can rejoice exceedingly in the prospects before us. We may be hated as our brethren have described; we may be maligned and calumniated and called all manner of evil names; but with all these things we can rejoice, because it is the legacy that was left to us and left to every follower of Jesus Christ by himself when he was upon the earth. He that lives godly in Christ Jesus, Paul says, shall suffer persecution. He did not say that they might suffer it—He did not put it in a doubtful manner—but He said they should suffer—“they shall suffer persecution.” We have proved the truth of that saying of the Apostle’s. But notwithstanding all this, we can look around us, and see what God is doing for us. We have the most abundant causes for thanksgiving and praise. He is blessing us as no other people today upon the face of the earth are being blessed. Outside of our community there is hatred, there is animosity, there is a feeling of wrath entertained against us. We are hated by those who know us not. But inside there is peace, there is happiness, there is joy, there is health, growth and development—a people growing up in these mountains that will yet astonish the world by the exhibition of those grand virtues that God is developing in our midst through the teachings of the everlasting Gospel that we have received. A union unparalleled, unexampled at this time upon the earth exists throughout our settlements and in all our associations from north to south, from east to west—a people dwelling together in peace and in love, loving each other with an intensity of love, begotten of God, and that is unknown elsewhere—the fruits of the outpouring of the spirit and power of God upon us. Men say that this is imposture; that these are the fruits of ignorance; that the binding of this people together in the manner in which we are associated in these valleys is merely the result of the combination of shrewd men. A most extraordinary spectacle this! That wherever you go throughout our settlements, in whatsoever house you enter, if the owners are Latter-day Saints, you will find there the spirit of peace and of love; a willingness to do everything possible for each other. And then when we contemplate the growth of the people in intelligence, to me it is something marvelous what God is doing for us in this direction. There is no community upon the face of the earth today among whom you will find so many men who have traveled, who have mingled with people in foreign lands, who are so familiar with the religious and social usages and with the history of the people of other lands, as you will find in this community of Latter-day Saints. Scarcely a man among us now of middle age who has not been in foreign lands, who has not traveled throughout his own country, and acquired a knowledge of human nature such as cannot be acquired under any other circumstances. The effect of this upon the community I can perceive; we all can observe it wherever we go. It is uplifting the people—not very rapidly, it is true, but still in such a manner that it is easily perceived. You can perceive the effect upon the people of the education thus gained by the Elders in traveling and preaching the Gospel abroad. Nearly all returning missionaries express themselves as our brethren have this afternoon. Brother Clawson has said that he is determined from this time forward to do his share in helping forward the work of the redemption of the human family. When such men return, bringing with them the spirit that they have upon their missions—the Spirit of God—what a strength it is to their Bishops, what a strength it is to their Teachers, what a strength it is to the entire Priesthood in the Ward where they reside, or the Stake to which they belong. And when they come back, as they do by scores, this effect is felt throughout the entire body of the people, and excellent results follow, a higher tone is developed, a higher standard is aimed at, and there is an uplifting of the people, as it were, to that higher standard.

This is going on all the time, and the effect is marked and already felt. Those who travel through our settlements see many things that strike them, and strike them more forcibly because of the different impression created by the falsehoods told concerning us. These falsehoods have their good effect in this respect; for when a man hears so much about the “Mormons,” he naturally pictures to himself the kind of society that he will meet when he goes among them. If he has never met “Mormons,” he has an idea in his mind, from what he has read, or from what he has been told, as to the kind of people he will meet when he sees them. But he is thrown into “Mormon” society. He finds that they have no horns; that they have no cloven feet; that they do not garnish their conversation with oaths; and that if he had not been told these were “Mormons,” he would not have discovered it by any outward sign. When he comes into our cities, instead of seeing drunkenness, instead of hearing blasphemy, instead of seeing the profanation of all that is holy, he sees a people dwelling in peace, he sees quietude prevailing, and the contrast strikes him very forcibly. “Why,” says he, “this is not what I expected to see; these are not the people I expected to meet; this is not the society for which I looked when I came into the settlements of the Latter-day saints in Utah.” These very falsehoods, therefore, have the effect of impressing—where men have the opportunity of mingling with the people, more forcibly upon the mind than otherwise would be the case that which they see. It takes time, however, to remove prejudice, to disabuse people’s minds. They think that there is something hidden, something that is very bad, that they have not yet discovered, and this sometimes remains in the mind a good while.

But, as sure as God lives so sure will we live down these false charges and impressions, and the day is not far distant when lovers of good government, lovers of peace, will turn their attention to these valleys in which we dwell and to this society of which we form a part. For there is trouble in the future; there is perplexity not very far off. We can hear a faint rumbling of it, as it were, in the distance. The time will come, as sure as we live, when distress and calamity will fall upon the wicked, and our own nation has a great deal to answer for. They have to answer for deeds that cannot be easily paid. The blood of innocence has stained the soil of free America—the blood of a Prophet, of a Patriarch, and of other righteous men and women who have suffered for their religion, and for no other cause than that they chose to espouse the truth and to advocate it, living lives of purity, offending no one—that is, no one who should be offended—breaking no law, trampling upon no human right. They were cruelly murdered, and we as a people were driven out by violence, driven out from the midst of civilization, driven out from our homes and our hard-earned possessions, and our track is marked with the blood and with the graves of our own people from the borders of civilization till we reached these Rocky Mountains, and for no other cause for which we could be punished legally. We broke no law; we committed no offense against the majesty of the law. We have lived lives of purity as we do here in these mountains. But prejudice was created; men became excited; mobs were formed, and extermination was decided upon, and there was no alternative presented to us but this: either to submit to be killed off, men, women and children, from the face of the earth, or to take our flight as best we could in our poverty to some remote land where we could worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience in peace and in quietness. We chose the latter alternative. We preferred to face the wilderness with all its untold terrors. We preferred to come out among tribes of Indians of which we knew nothing, and live in their midst and trust to their mercies, savages though they were, than to remain among civilized men, men who called themselves Christians. We did this thirty-seven years ago.

Fifty-four years and a half have passed since the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and in this land there has never been a man punished for killing a “Mormon,” never been a man punished for burning a “Mormon’s” house, never been a man punished for engaging in mobs and banding together for the extirpation of the “Mormons” and the destruction of their property. And this, too, in this land of boasted liberty; this in this land, the most glorious under the canopy of heaven, the most free that ever existed, the best government ever formed by human wisdom; this in this land with the constitution as free as God Himself has revealed it, so free that every human being may dwell under it without let or hindrance, without interfering with the rights of his fellow man, giving me the perfect freedom to worship God according to my own conscience, and giving no man the right to interfere with me in that worship, and giving every other man the same right, and depriving me of the right to interfere with any other man in his worship, if he worship according to the dictates of his own conscience and does not interfere with the rights of his fellow man. But in this land Latter-day Saints have been murdered, murdered for no other cause than because they believed in God and believed He was a God of revelation, and today Utah exists because of this. Because of this spirit of persecution today, Utah is a Territory, a grand Territory, and we as a people are living in these valleys of the mountains for that very cause. We are a standing monument before God and before all men of the inhumanity of man to his fellow man. This is the position that we occupy.

Will not these things be remembered? Yes, they will, and they will bring down the anger of a just God upon the nation. Not for this alone. There are other things; and the time will yet come when men will flee for safety to the land where the Saints dwell; for we design, by the help of our God, to maintain freedom, freedom for every man, freedom for every creed, freedom for every race wherever we live and can have power. All men shall have equal freedom with us, they shall be protected with us in every human right, in the exercise of every belief that they choose to indulge in as long as by its exercise they do not trample upon the rights of their fellow man. And we shall maintain organized government. Others may trample upon the laws of the land; others may seek to bring us into bondage; but we shall be free through the help of our God, and our country shall be a free country; for if others trample upon the Constitution, we will elevate it, we will bear it aloft, we will invite the men of all cities and all parts of our lands to come and dwell in peace and safety protected by that glorious instrument, and the principles it contains, that God helped the founders of this government to frame.

Therefore I say, my brethren and sisters, let us be encouraged; let us cultivate the virtues that belong to our religion; let us love each other; let us cultivate peace wherever we go, and extend its blessings as far as our influence will permit.

May God help us to endure all the trials that we may be called upon to pass through, and may He bless you my brethren and sisters, and all who are seeking to do His will, I ask in the name of Jesus, Amen.




Causes that Govern Us in Settling New Places—Our Respect for the Constitution of Our Country—We Must not Concede Principle for the Privilege of State Government—Practical Men Have Held Office—The Kingdom of God Protects All Religion—Holding the Priesthood Should not Disqualify From Holding Civil Office or Giving Counsel

Discourse by President George Q. Cannon, delivered in the Tabernacle, Provo, Sunday Afternoon, Nov. 20th, 1884.

In attempting to address you this afternoon, my brethren and sisters, I trust I shall have the assistance of your faith and prayers, that I may be led to speak upon those principles that are adapted to your circumstances and wants. We as a people are living at a time when we need the assistance and direction of the Spirit of God. To be taught by men and by men’s wisdom in our position would be of little or no avail to us, from the fact that the conditions which surround us are different in many respects from those which surround every other people. We are a peculiar people. We are not bound together by associations such as exist among other peoples. We have not come together because this land suited us, and was desirable for us to make a living in, but we have gathered to this land through force of circumstances over which, to a certain extent, we had no control. We have come together impelled by motives such as do not operate upon ordinary people, and having objects to accomplish such as are not thought of nor labored for by others. Other people, when they form settlements such as we have in these mountains, are generally drawn together, if they are new settlements, by the advantages of locality, by the opportunities for making a living or in creating wealth, or for some consideration or reason of this character—that is in the first place. Afterwards, in succeeding generations, they stay there because it is their birth place, because it is the home in which they have been reared. But these considerations have not influenced us in our settlement in these valleys. It is due to none of these causes that we are organized in communities as we are today, but it is due to causes that are higher and diverse from those that operate upon other people where they form settlements such as we have done. Hence, this being our condition, it requires wisdom, it requires strength, it requires enlightenment from God, to enable us to maintain ourselves upon the principle that we came here in the beginning for, and to escape the evils by which we are threatened. We believe that it was God who led us to this land; that it was God who prepared this land as an abode for us; that it has been His Almighty power that has preserved us thus far, and has ameliorated the condition of affairs—that is the soil and the climate and the water—that has produced changes that have made this land desirable and a delightful home for us—and that there has been a purpose and a design in all this, and that we have been the instruments in the hands of God of working out and accomplishing that design up to the present time. Hence there is, as I have said, a necessity that we should receive from the same source that has hitherto guided us, continued guidance and continued instruction, so that we shall not stop half-way in the work that we have undertaken, but by divine help be able to accomplish it.

There were some reflections that passed through my mind as I sat in your meeting this morning concerning the circumstances which surround us, that if I can get the Spirit I would like to speak upon.

In the first place it will not do to judge or measure us by the standards that obtain among other people, and by which people are measured in other places. To form a correct judgment of the Latter-day Saints, men must understand the motives which prompt them to action, the considerations which affect them, and the objects they have in view to accomplish; to form a correct estimate of our character these all must be taken into consideration. But it is often the case that we are measured by standards that do not apply to us, which may very well answer for measuring other people and other communities, but not for us, and in consequence of this we are frequently misjudged, and men and women come to incorrect conclusions respecting us. Fault is constantly found with us by our enemies because of these peculiarities which they do understand, or which if they do not understand, they pay no attention to. For instance, it is frequently said to us that we are a disloyal people, that we are not friends to the government, that we respect a power and an authority in our midst which we consider paramount to the authority of the government; and because of the circulation of this accusation and its widespread belief, we are refused rights to which we are fully entitled, which belong to us, which should not be withheld from or denied to us. It is very remarkable when we think about our numbers, how few we are, comparatively speaking—it is very remarkable that there should be such jealousy entertained about us as there is. Pharaoh and the Egyptians were never more afraid apparently of the great power of the children of Israel in their midst than our fellowcitizens, and many of them too that are in high places, appear to be afraid of us. They seem to look upon us as aliens, as an alien power, and treat us accordingly, when there is not the least justification for doing so.

Now, you remember, doubtless, Pharaoh’s treatment of the Israelites. He saw that they were increasing, and he became alarmed. “Why,” said he, “If we were going to have a war, these Israelites are becoming so numerous they may join our enemies and take away our kingdom from us. We must stop their increase.” And he counseled with his people as to the best method to stop this increase. He issued a decree that all male children that were born of the Israelites should be destroyed and cast into the river Nile, but that the female children should be spared. In this way he hoped to check the increase of the children of Israel in Egypt. There is nothing in history that has come down to us to furnish grounds or justification for this cruel action on the part of this king. But this action was well adapted to force the children of Israel into the feeling that the government under which they lived was a harsh, a cruel and an unfriendly government, and to create antipathy in their breasts against it. In this way this tyrant—as all tyrants have ever done—in trying to accomplish the object he had in view, took the very means to bring upon himself and his nation the evils that he dreaded; because if he had desired to make the Israelites join the enemies of the nation and be traitors in the midst of the kingdom he could not have taken a more effective method than that which he did take.

And so it is with us. If we had not had a profound attachment to the Constitution of the United States and to the institutions of this government, the course that is taken against us by those who have represented the government has been and is of a character to have driven us into open and avowed enmity to the government years and years ago. Without that deep-rooted attachment we should have lost all our respect for a government under which we have suffered such cruel wrongs. There could be no better evidence of the kind feeling and the loyalty of the Latter-day Saints to the government of the United States, than the fact that in our breasts and throughout these mountains, there prevails an unquenchable love and respect for the Constitution and the institutions that spring therefrom, notwithstanding we have been denied our rights and been treated with the utmost cruelty. There is scarcely an act of oppression that could be practiced that we have not had to endure, from the time the church of which we are members, was organized up to the present time. We have been falsely accused of all kinds of crimes, have been mobbed and repeatedly driven from our homes with the entire loss of our property, have been outraged, warred upon, subjected to violence of almost every description, and murdered. One by one our rights have been assailed. We have been stripped of them under forms of law; we have been denied justice, and treated with extreme vindictiveness. Our families—if those who had the execution of the laws in their hands could have accomplished it—would have been rent asunder; wives would have been torn from their husbands, children from their parents; households would have been destroyed; distrust and enmity and hatred would have been engendered in the breasts of the people one towards another—that is, if the measures that have been framed against us could have been successfully carried out as they were designed by those who framed them. Just think of it! Think of the manner the women of this community have been tempted to turn traitors to their husbands and their friends! Every inducement possible has been offered to them to turn against and betray their husbands, and the seeds of enmity have been sown, or have endeavored to be sown, in the breasts of families, and of children against parents, and against each other, throughout the entire land. When you contemplate all these acts, they equal in cruelty and perfidy, and inhumanity, any of the acts of which we read in the Scriptures. Men are shocked when they read the story of the treatment of the Israelites by Pharaoh. All the preachers throughout the land, when they read that, comment more or less upon it to their congregations, and talk about the cruelty of which that king was guilty, and praise the Israelites, and praise Moses for that which they did. At the same time they are guilty themselves of as great crimes. They are guilty of inciting a government against its citizens—its peaceful citizens—and stirring up the government to acts of harshness, of cruelty, and even some of them go so far as to defend the use of the army by the government to destroy a peaceful people from the face of the earth.

Now, as I have said, no people in the world have given greater proofs of attachment to their own government, and of devotion to those sacred principles of liberty that we have inherited than the Latter-day Saints have done in these mountains. But, as I have said, the cry is still that we are disloyal; that we unite church and state; that we have an authority in our midst that we respect and obey, while we disregard the civil authority of the land. These things are a frequent cause of complaint against us, and we are denied our rights. We today, should be a State. This Territory of Utah should be one of the United States. We should have the right to elect our own Governor, to elect our own Judges, to elect every officer in fact that executes the laws or has anything to do with the administration of the government in our own land. We have been here 37 years, and during 34 years of that time we have been an organized Territorial government, longer than any other community on the continent except New Mexico, which was organized at the same time. Other Territories have sprung up and had speedy recognition as States, and are now numbered as members of the Union years after we settled this country. There is no good reason why we should not have had this same right granted unto us; no good reason whatever. We have shown our capability for good government, for maintaining good government. Our Territory today is an example for maintaining to all the Territories and to many States, so far as good government is concerned, and freedom from debt, and everything in fact that makes life enjoyable and easy for the citizen. We are lightly taxed, and we have maintained ourselves without aid from the general government or from any other community; while other communities that have had nothing like the difficulties to contend with that we have had, have been beggars either at the door of the National Congress, or of their neighboring States and their fellowcitizens. When other places were visited by grasshoppers, the whole land resounded with appeals for aid; but though we for five years in succession, in some of our settlements, had crops destroyed by the same cause, yet no wail went up from Utah, asking the nation for help. We have been so independent, and so disposed to sustain ourselves, and to fight our own battles with the difficulties that environed us, that we have managed to get along without having recourse to this method of obtaining assistance, and in this respect our course has been unexampled.

Now, as I say, there is no good reason why we should not have been admitted as a State in the Union, except for the reason, and that has no foundation in truth, that we are not to be trusted, that we are in such a condition that if we were to get a State government there would be danger resulting from that grant of power unto us. Of course all of you, my brethren and sisters, know how untrue this is, how utterly without foundation such accusations are, but, nevertheless, they are listened to and believed.

Efforts have been made among us to change this condition of affairs. There have been, and still are, perhaps, some who call themselves Latter-day Saints, who are almost ready to lend themselves to any scheme that has for its object the obtaining of a State organization for Utah. Such persons look upon this as so great a blessing and so great a boon, that they are almost willing to forego their religious belief and to pander to those who have got power, and to make some sort of a concession to them, in order to achieve this, what they consider, very desirable end. There has been some agitation in years past respecting plural marriage, and some people, calling themselves Latter-day Saints, have been almost ready to go into the open market, and bid for a State government, at the price of conceding this principle of our religion, for the privilege of becoming a State of the Union. Those who are ready to do this are ready also to cast off obedience to the Priesthood of the Son of God, and to say, “We do not believe that men who hold an office in the Church should have any voice in the affairs of the State.” They are ready to sell out their belief as Latter-day Saints, and their veneration and reverence for that power which God has restored, for the sake of obtaining a little recog nition of their rights as citizens, on the part of those in power. It does not require much familiarity with the Spirit of God, or with the principles of our holy religion to understand exactly the position that such persons as these to whom I allude, occupy among us. When a man is ready to barter any principle of salvation for worldly advantage, that man certainly has reached the position that he esteems worldly advantage above eternal salvation. Can such persons retain the Spirit of God, and take such a course as this? No, they cannot. That other spirit will lead such persons astray, and they will be left to themselves. Will there be such persons continue among us and be associated with us? I do not question it. I expect we shall have such characters with us, during our future career as we have had in the past. We have had all sorts of people connected with this Church. As the work rolls forth, as it increases in numbers, so will these characters increase—that is, for a certain time, until the day comes when the kingdom of God and the reign of righteousness shall be fully ushered in.

Now, regarding this accusation that is made concerning the Priesthood. It is the most common charge that is made against us that we listen to the Priesthood, that we are more obedient to the Priesthood than we are to those who hold civil authority. The question may be very properly asked: Have we not had good reason for this? Should we not be most consummate fools it we did not listen to our friends instead of our enemies? From the time that President Young was superseded as Governor of this Territory, until the present time, what kind of officers have we had sent into our midst to administer the affairs of the government? Has there been a man who has come here as Governor, who has had the ability, even if he had the disposition, to guide and to counsel the people of this Territory, and to manage its affairs as well as the men among us who have had leading positions in the Priesthood? Why, there is not an instance of the kind. You take the best disposed Governor we have had—and they are easily mentioned, the few that we have had who have been well disposed—you take them and compare them with the men who laid the foundation of this commonwealth, who laid the foundation of this Territorial government, and built up this government, and there is no comparison between them. So that, aside from every other consideration, men are justified in seeking wisdom and guidance at the best fountain, at the best source. If I want counsel I will go to the men who are fitted to give me counsel. If I were not a Latter-day Saint it would make no difference to me who the person was if he could give me good counsel. If he was a man of ripe experience I would feel justified in going to that man and getting his advice.

This has been our position as a people. We have had men among us who have proved themselves in the best possible manner, beyond dispute, to to be entirely capable of directing and managing and counseling in all matters that pertain to our earthly existence. Have they not shown this through years and years of experience? The people have proved them. Now, would not the people be great fools, would it not be the height of folly for people who have this knowledge to say: “No, I won’t ask these men for counsel; I won’t go to them for advice; I won’t listen to anything they say, because if I do so, I am listening to the Priesthood; but I will go to somebody who does not know anything; I will go to some”—I was going to say ass—(laughter)—for if ever men have proved themselves to be fools, it has been some of our governmental officials—“I will go to some man of this kind and ask his counsel, and have him to tell me what to do, because I am anxious to show that I am loyal to the government of the United States.”

Now, would you not call any man who would do this an idiot, when he could have got good counsel from his friends; when he would turn his back on his friends, and go to somebody for counsel who did not know anything, not as much as he, the person, did himself about the question he submitted to him? I would say, and you would say, that people who would do such a thing were little less than idiots.

Well, now, what crime are we guilty of? If we have men among us who have more experience than they, and who have proved themselves capable of guiding the people, what crime are we guilty of in giving heed to their counsel and seeking it? Because they hold the Priesthood are their mouths to be stopped up so that they cannot speak; are they to be deprived of the rights of citizenship, and all the rights that men have that are born free, because they hold the Priesthood? Is that a good reason? A more senseless reason never was given. If these government officials and these men that represent the government are so much better and so much more capable of guiding the people, and have so much greater right to be listened to and obeyed, let them show it by their works. When they have proved it, I suppose there will be no lack of disposition on the part of the people to go to them, and to listen to them, and to expect from them all the necessary teachings and counsels. There will be no lack of disposition on the part of sensible men and women such as we profess to be; but until they do this, until they show this capability and this power, they had better hold their tongues and say nothing about others leading the people. The fact is this, and it is apparent to all of us, that there are certain men who can destroy much easier than they can build up. It required a great deal of skill to build the Temple at Ephesus: it required the highest skill in architecture: but a fool destroyed it with a little blaze. It takes men to build up, but children can burn down and destroy. It takes men to build a commonwealth, and lay the foundation of that which we see around us; it takes labor and years of experience and wisdom to accomplish such results; but any poor creature that is half-witted can destroy all these labors in a very short time, and those that have come among us in too many instances representing the government have been men of this caliber; they would like to destroy, tear down, and reduce to chaos. That would suit them far better than it would to build up.

My brethren and sisters, I would like to have us as a people look at these matters, if we can, from a sensible point, from the standpoint of common sense and reason, and not allow ourselves to be diverted from the course that we have adopted by the outcry that is made against us and by the howls that are raised about us. It would be exceedingly foolish for us to do so.

God has given unto us, as we believe and as we testify, His Gospel; He has given unto us His Church; He has given unto us the authority by which men and women are led into His Church and governed in His Church—the authority which He Himself recognizes and the only authority that He has given to man on the earth to act in His stead. We believe this, we testify of it. At the same time while we have this belief, and form ourselves into a Church organization, we never have at any time in our history attempted to make our Church organization the only organization and the dominant organization in matters that pertain to everyday affairs and to civil government. There has always been among the Latter-day Saints, great respect shown for civil authority, and for the laws of the land. In fact, as soon as possible after our first settlement here, a Legislature was organized and the provisional government of Deseret was formed, when there was no one but Latter-day Saints in the country at the time. We could have been governed by our Church organization; it was sufficient for our purpose during the winter of 1847-8, and during the summer of 1848. It was quite sufficient. There was no other organization. But as soon as the Pioneers returned, President Young and the rest of the brethren—there was no time lost in organizing a civil government—the Provisional Government of the State of Deseret—and laws were enacted in due form by the civil authority, and from that day until the present it has been respected and honored among us, and will be from this time forward, as long as this people exist. There is no people on the face of the earth that draw a nicer distinction than we between that which belongs to the Church and that which belongs to the State. But it is frequently said—and I have had to meet it often in my life time, particularly in Washington; they have said and do say, “Why, your Probate Judges are Elders and Bishops, and your other officials hold offices in the Church.”

Well, is this a crime? Is there anything in the law or the Constitution of our country, or is there anything else that is recognized as binding among men that would prevent Elders and Bishops from holding office? I do not know of anything. I do not know that a man is any worse for being a Bishop or an Elder, or any more unfitted for civil employment, or the discharge of civil functions, than if he were not a Bishop or an Elder, especially among a people organized as we are. As I say this charge has been frequently brought against us in my hearing, and I have had to meet it before committees of Congress and elsewhere. The reply I have made to such charges is this: that among the Latter-day Saints in Utah every reputable man in the community bears some office in the Church. As soon as he arrives at a sufficient age if he is a reputable man he receives an ordination in the Priesthood. The best and the most active men in our community are the men who become prominent in Church affairs. Our Bishops live without salaries, or support from the people, they, before being chosen, having shown their ability to sustain themselves. They are not like members of other denominations who are a burden to the people, or who receive an education especially for those duties, and thus live by the salaries that are furnished them by the members of their congregation. In a community where there is a class of that kind there may be some propriety in saying that ministers of religion shall not take part in the affairs of state, although there is nothing of that kind said anywhere in the constitution or the laws; but there may be some propriety in saying this where men are educated especially for the ministry—where they devote themselves to that labor and withdraw themselves from the practical affairs of life and depend upon their parishioners furnishing them support. There might be some propriety in saying to a class of that kind, “you are not fit to take part in civil affairs, and the practical, everyday affairs of life, because of your calling and because of the nature of your duties.” But we say there is great impropriety in saying that those who labor in the ministry among us shall not take part; for this reason: that all the men among us who are the most practical, the most energetic, and the most business like—from these men the ministers are chosen, that is, men who labor in the ministry as Bishops, as Elders, as missionaries, and in other capacities. They have proved that they are capable of sustaining themselves by their own efforts, and at the same time devote a certain portion of their time to public affairs. Hence, you will find among us as a rule that our Bishops are all practical men; our Presidents of Stakes and their Counselors, and the Bishops and their Counselors, the Teachers and others, are all active business men among us. They have gained experience, and because of that they are sometimes chosen to fill local offices. Take the Legislature of Utah Territory, composed as it has been of some holding positions in the Church, and you will find a body of practical men, the superiors of whom are not to be found—I say it without fear of truthful contradiction—anywhere in any Legislature in this country, men who understand the wants of their constituents and of the people, and the kind of laws that are best adapted to them. I have had some experience in mingling with men in public life, and I must say that for practical wisdom, and for a knowledge of the affairs of the country and of the people represented in Utah Territory, there was found, previous to the passage of the Edmunds law, a class of men that had not their superiors anywhere in this land, for practical wisdom and the ability necessary to lay the foundation, and to perpetuate the institutions of a great country.

Is it wrong for men who have the Priesthood, and who act in this capacity, to act in civil offices and to let the people have the benefit of their experience in these matters—is there any wrong in this? I can see none, and I am sure that no man who is a true friend to his country can. There is no good reason why these men should be excluded; in fact there is every reason why they should be invited to take part in establishing the affairs of the country. I have often said, in speaking to our brethren and sisters in various parts of the Territory, that that which we behold today in our Territory—the good order, the peace, the freedom from debt, the lightness of taxation, and all the circumstances that are so favorable to us as a people, are due to the men who have borne the Priesthood, commencing with President Brigham Young, his Counselors, and the Twelve Apostles, and the leading men in Israel—the circumstances which surround us, I say, are due to the wisdom that God has given unto them in managing these affairs. At the same time, because this is the case, there is no necessity that there should be a blending of church and state. There is no necessity for this; it is not wise to blend church and state. I do not believe that as members of the Church we should pass decrees or laws that would bind other people. I have no such belief, never did have. I do not think I ever shall have. But because a man is a member of a church, and because a man is a servant of God, and because a man bears the Priesthood of the Son of God, he should not be prevented because of that from acting in any civil capacity, from taking part in civil matters and executing the laws that are enacted by civil authority.

The province of the Kingdom of God that Daniel saw, the kingdom that would be established in the last days, is to be as a shield to the Latter-day Saints, to be as a bulwark around about that Church, and around about that Church alone? No. The apostate will have his civil rights under that kingdom. The non-Mormon, or Gentile as he is called, will have his rights under that kingdom. The Chinaman, the Negro, and the Indian—each of them will have his rights under that kingdom, and yet not be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A good many of our people confound the Kingdom of God with the Church of God. Now there is a very wide distinction between the two. A man may, in one sense, be a member of the Church of Christ, and not a member of the Kingdom of God. The two organizations are entirely distinct. The Kingdom of God when it shall prevail in the earth—as it will do—will be the civil power which will shield and protect the Church of Christ against every attack, against every unlawful aggression, against every attempt to deprive it of its legitimate rights. At the same time it will protect the Methodist just as much as it will the Latter-day Saint; it will protect the Roman Catholic just as much as it will the Methodist; it will protect men of every creed; it will protect the worshipper of idols in his civil rights, in his rights as a man and as a citizen. A man may be an infidel; a man may have been a Latter-day Saint, and denied the faith and lost his standing in the Church of God, and yet so far as the civil authority is concerned, so far as the power that is wielded by that which we call the Kingdom of God is concerned, that man will receive the amplest protection; he will have the fullest enjoyment of his rights.

President Taylor told us this morning—told us as plainly as it could be told—the manner in which all men should be treated. And that is the design of God; and therein our friends in the east are trampling upon the true principles of liberty in their attacks upon us, and in their treatment of us. Such treatment will just as surely bring down condemnation and destruction upon a government that practices these things, as that the setting of the sun will bring darkness upon the earth. It is not possible for men to continue in such a course of oppression and wrong doing as has been pursued by our fellowcitizens that have had the reins of government in their hands, without involving themselves in trouble. It is impossible that they can perpetuate their power, and conduct themselves as they have been doing towards us and towards others. There are eternal principles of justice that cannot be violated without injury to the person who violates them. A government that lends itself to the oppression of its citizens, will sooner or later receive punishment. That which it sows it will reap. It will be a harvest that will be most bitter and sorrowful for those who reap it.

We are now citizens of this Territory. We fled here. As Latter-day Saints we came here as exiles, seeking for a home in the wilderness. God led us to this land, in which, notwithstanding all that maybe said to the contrary, we have laid the foundation of this Territory, we have made this land a peaceful, a happy land. There is no man in the country, no matter what his creed may be, that is oppressed or has been oppressed by the Latter-day Saints. We have not been tyrannical in the exercise of our power. We have not discriminated against those not of us. We have given them the same rights that we have ourselves. The same peace that we have desired to enjoy we have been willing that they should enjoy, and we have extended these privileges to them in common with ourselves. We have sought in no manner to interfere with their belief, nor with the exercise of it. The Roman Catholic in Salt Lake City, has been as unmolested as the Latter-day Saint has been. We may not believe in their religion; we may think the Methodist religion a poor religion to believe in and practice, and so with other forms of religion; but while we believe this, we have no right, neither have we ever exercised any power towards restraining them or restricting them, or in any manner depriving them of the free exercise of their rights of conscience and of faith, and no government can stand and prosper that will do it upon this land, for God has made promises concerning this land that no government can stand that will do this. None of us has any right to interfere with the faith and the worship of our fellowcitizens, unless their faith and their worship interfere with our rights. That is a proposition that is easily comprehended. If I do not interfere with any man’s right by my worship, and by that which I consider right to do to my Maker, no man has any right under any form of government to interfere with me.

Hence it is that all this action concerning marriage is wrong—this interference with marriage—it is all wrong from beginning to end, especially in view of the fact that it is an important principle of our religion. We are ready to testify that our belief in marriage and our practice of it, is interwoven with our hopes of eternal salvation. Select every man who has had more wives than one and retained the faith of the Gospel; take him and his wives and interrogate them respecting their faith, and every one would say: “this principle is so-intimately interwoven with my hopes of eternal salvation, that I would be afraid that I would be damned if I did not obey it.” I believe that in nine hundred and ninety-nine cases out of a thousand where people are in the faith they would make this response.

Well, now, what right has any number of people—there may be unnumbered millions who say this is not religion—but what right have they to do this? If there was only one person on the face of the earth that entertained that belief, and he were alone and all the rest of mankind were opposed to him, it would be just as precious to him as if millions entertained a belief in common with him. Therefore, because there are millions who say it is not religion, this does not make it so. We testify in the most solemn manner that it is a part of our religion, and that we cannot forego this principle without feeling that we forego our salvation, our eternal exaltation, by so doing.

Then the question arises in the practice of this principle—do those who practice it infringe upon the rights of their fellowcitizens? Is society disturbed? Are there wrongs done to society at large by the practice of this principle? Let those who have lived among us answer this question. There never was a more peaceful society than our society—that is, not for the past few hundred years at least. Go through our settlements, and is there quarreling, is there strife, are there bad examples set to the rising generation, is impurity taught, or any examples of impurity shown? No, there is not. We all know this, and we know that in practicing our religion we do not infringe upon the rights of our fellowcitizens.

But this attempt has been made just as it was in ancient days. I look upon it as a revival of the same spirit that prompted Pharaoh to seek the destruction of the male children among the Israelites. If we were guilty of those crimes so fashionable in the world whereby the increase of families is prevented, I do not suppose there would be one word said about our system of marriage; I have no idea there would be. But the fact that we do raise children—the fact that our houses and settlements are full of healthy offspring, is a standing protest against the crimes of the age; it is a standing protest against those abominable practices that are destroying the foundation of many communities within the confines of the United States, and they are determined—those who are guilty of these things—that we shall not exist. The loudest outcry against us, and the most devoted efforts against us, come from the region where these dreadful practices prevail, where women murder their offspring before they are born, are guilty of this prenatal murder, among the people of the United States who think themselves the most enlightened. Twenty-five years ago when I was laboring in the ministry in that region I visited one of the towns, and the President of the branch of the Saints there, (an old resident, whose ancestors were among the first settlers of the town) told me his wife was continually jeered at—and this was 25 years ago—by her associates, because she bore children, and bore them regularly—that she did not take means to prevent the increase of her family! If I had not known him I could scarcely have believed it, it was too horrid. I have learned since, however, that that is a common practice in that region. The feature of that society that impresses most vividly a traveler from Utah is the fewness of children in what are called the best families. And yet it is from there that the principal outcry is raised against us, and the determination expressed to break up our families and to destroy us.

God has gathered a few people out from the nations of the earth, out of Babylon. But shall they partake of these influences? I say to you, my sisters, you teach your daughters against this accursed practice, or they will go to hell, they will be damned, they will be murderers, and the blood of innocence will be found upon them. A man that would sanction such a thing in his family, or that would live with a woman guilty of such acts, shares in the crime of murder. I would no more perform the ordinance of laying on of hands on a woman who is guilty of that crime, if I knew it, than I would put my hands on the head of a rattlesnake. We must set our faces like flint against such acts. These dreadful practices are coming up like a tidal wave and washing against our walls; for there are women among us who secretly—so I am told, I know nothing about this personally, but I am told there are women among us who are instilling this murderous and accursed idea into the breasts of women and girls in our midst. Now just as sure as it is done, and people yield to it, so sure will they be damned, they will be damned with the deepest damnation; because it will be the damnation of shedding innocent blood, for which there is no forgiveness; and I would no more, as I say, administer to such women, baptize them, or perform any ordinance of the Gospel for them, than I would for a reptile. They are outside the pale of salvation. They are in a position that nothing can be done for them. They cut themselves off by such acts from all hopes of salvation.

As a people we should encourage marriage. I am always delighted when I hear President Taylor speak as he did this morning on the principle of brothers taking their brothers’ widows to wife. There are many young women among us pining away, that should be mothers in Israel, that should be raising posterity, because the brothers are so indifferent to the rights that belong to the institution of marriage as to let these young women stay in this condition. And there is one thing that I am impressed with, and that is, there will be considerable condemnation rest down upon the Elders of this Church for their neglect in these matters. Women are led astray and fall into the hands of wicked men because of relatives to the dead neglecting to do that which is their duty; acting as though the Lord cannot reward a man for keeping His law. “Oh,” says a man, and as President Taylor has remarked, “I want to raise up a family for myself.” He forgets God can bless him and his seed after him. Look at the case of Boaz and Ruth. He took Ruth, who was the wife of his kinsman. She had no children, but he took her when another kinsman who had a prior right to her, rejected her. From that alliance sprang the noblest men that were in Israel—Obed, Jesse, David, Solomon, and through Boaz and Ruth came the Son of God. And that was a proxy case, as it is called. Ruth was the wife of Boaz’s kinsman who had died. Boaz took her to wife, and raised up an honorable posterity. And it is a wicked thing among us to allow such cases to go uncared for. A young woman is left a widow, sometimes without a son to represent her deceased husband; she should be cared for, and not left to fall into bad hands, as frequently is the case among us for the want of care on the part of those whose duty it is to attend to such matters.

My brethren and sisters, God is watching over us, and He holds us to a strict accountability for the things He has revealed to us. He has revealed to us eternal principles. Let us be faithful to that Priesthood which He has gives unto us; let us honor it, and not be intimidated by the outcry that is raised against us that we are doing wrong because we listen to the Priesthood. There is no such thing as wrong connected with this. God has inspired His servants, and has given them wisdom to manage the affairs of this people, and to guide them in spiritual matters. They have full authority to do this, and they will do it if the people will listen to them, and then in temporal matters they will guide them as far as they have the opportunity. Because they are Priests of the Most High God, they are no worse for that; they are not handicapped because they have the Priesthood. In a civil capacity they can act as fairly, justly, wisely, as those who do not have the Priesthood. They do not act with any less wisdom or any less power because they have the Priesthood than they would do if they did not have it. I have heard so much of this sort of talk that to me it is perfectly ridiculous. They talk about our management of elections, and management of other affairs. I will tell you my experience, and I have had some experience in these matters. I have attended caucuses elsewhere; I know the machinery that is used; I know the wire pulling; I have seen it in operation, and I say to you that there is not the interference on the part of leading men here with the will of this people that there is in the States in political circles. And I tell you this: that leading men in other communities seek to exercise more influence and lay their plans to have their wishes carried out to a far greater extent than the leading men of this community do among us—I mean those who have the Priesthood. There is a disposition on the part of the leading Priesthood to let the people have their way, not to interfere with their selections. There is that disposition, and it is encouraged, and the desire is to have all the people be wise and exercise wisdom, and have the Spirit of God to discern who are suitable for office. If the people could do this I can tell you that President Taylor and his Counselors, and the Twelve, and the other leading men of Israel would be very glad indeed. But you know as well as we do that there are unwise men among us who would, if they had the power, destroy the people; not because they would design to do it, but because of their ignorance; they are ignorant and would do it, without knowing what the consequences would be; and on this account it is right that experienced men should give the people the benefit of their knowledge, not however, interfering with the rights of the people, not in the least; and it never has been done, at least within my knowledge, in my public experience among the people. And I repeat there has been less of this among us, considering the influence the Priesthood have, than in any other community or any other people that I am acquainted with anywhere in the land. I wanted to say this much, because I know there is a great deal of misapprehension upon these points. There are men, agitators, who talk about interference on the part of the Priesthood, and try to breed disturbance and confusion among the people, unsettle their minds and have them think there is something very wrong going on here. I speak of it to remove these wrong impressions, and to disabuse the minds of those who entertain them, for they are not correct. There are more caucuses, more plans, more pipe laying, more log rolling, more wire pulling in the States in one day, than you will see in a month or a year among us. They resort to all sorts of devices to get their man elected under promise of preferment and office. Why, there is scarcely a man that gets an office in the United States that is not bound by pledges of this kind. A man cannot be Speaker of the House of Representatives, without being hampered by promises he is compelled to give in order to get the position, promises to put this man on this committee, and the other man upon another committee, some to be chairmen of committees, and so on. So with the President of the United States. Probably Grover Cleveland will be an exception, because he has not been much in public life: but it is a rule that the nominees of the different parties give certain promises as to what they will do, and who will get leading positions. They are just as much fettered as though chains were on their wrists and ankles. They cannot move only in a certain direction. All freedom is taken away. A President is nearly killed after he gets his position in endeavoring to satisfy the clamors and wishes of those who claim they elected him to office. This is the case all through the government. There is no office, even to that of a constable, but is obtained in the same way.

I hope we shall never be in such a position as this, for it would lead to the destruction of liberty and free government among us, if we should ever give way to these things. Let men go into office free and untrammeled. Let them be elected because they are the men most suitable, and not because they want the office. Let us, as a people, endeavor to find men who do not seek for office, and who do not want it, but who take it because it is the wish of their fellowcitizens. And let us keep our salaries so low that men will not scramble for office and live on the people as officeholders, than which there is nothing more hateful in a free land.

I pray God to fill you with the Holy Ghost, to guide you in the path of righteousness, to enable you to avoid the many evils abroad in the world, and as Zion progresses to avoid evils that will crowd upon us; because as Zion increases there will be new temptations and circumstances thrown around us that will be a trial to us, unless we have the aid of our God to help us contend with and overcome them; and that we may have this aid is my prayer in the name of Jesus, Amen.




The Law of Marriage in Ancient Israel—Its Application to Us—The Latter-Day Saints Distinct From the Rest of the World—Evils Resulting From Marriages Between the Saints and Those not of Our Faith

Discourse by President George Q. Cannon, delivered in the Stake Meetinghouse, Ephraim, Sanpete County, November 16th, 1884.

I will read a portion of the 7th chapter of Deuteronomy:

“Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.

“For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.

“But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.

“For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.

“The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:

“But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

“Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

“And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face.

“Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.

“Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers:

“And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee.

“Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male nor female barren among you, or among your cattle.

“And the Lord will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee.”

These words that I have read in your hearing are found in the 7th chapter of Deuteronomy. In many respects these are most applicable to us as a people; for the same covenant which the Lord made with the children of Israel, and which are contained in part in this chapter, have been renewed unto us. We are their descendants; God has revealed this, and it is manifest that we are the descendants of the house of Israel, by the operations of the Gospel among us. No doubt many of you have been led to wonder in your experience how it was that you should receive the Gospel, and that others who had equal opportunities with you, probably belonging to the same household, and numbered among your friends and acquaintances; that when you received the Gospel, they could see nothing desirable or attractive about it, while your hearts were kindled into a glow, and felt like fire within you when you heard the testimony of the servants of God concerning the Gospel that He had revealed. Nothing that I know of more plainly demonstrates the fact that this is the blood of Israel, that has been gathered out: that we are of the chosen seed, though we have been mixed, or our fathers have been mixed, among the Gentiles. God has saved to himself a seed among all nations; and when the Gospel came to the lands where this seed dwelt, there was, on their part, a natural affinity, a natural attraction to the principles of righteousness, and they received them gladly, and were gathered out by the wonderful power of God to this land, and are numbered now among His Saints. The covenants that our Father made with his ancient chosen people have been renewed in our day and unto us, and there is no promise that was made in ancient days unto the house of Israel, that has not been renewed unto the Latter-day Israel. Every blessing that God promised and that I have read in your hearing, besides many others that are contained in the Scriptures—all these have been fully renewed unto the Latter-day Saints, and they are accompanied by blessings as we see them around us today, and as has been related by Brother Woodruff, in regard to our settlement of these valleys. God intended—and I wish that we all could realize it as it really is—God intended when He preached unto the people the Gospel, and gathered them out from the various lands where they lived, to make of them a peculiar and a distinct people upon the face of the earth. Nothing is plainer than this to those who will open their eyes to see, and their hearts to understand the providences of our God. As soon as the Latter-day Saints join the Church, they become a distinct people. All of you, those of you, at least, who embraced this Gospel before you gathered, know this. You know that no sooner were you baptized into the Church, than you were distinguished from all those who surrounded you. If you had brothers, if you had sisters, if you had parents, if you had friends, who did not receive the Gospel, did not enter into the Church, you became distinct from them, they felt that you were different from them, and you felt that they were different from you. The love that your kindred had for you, previous to your espousal of the Gospel, in many instances turned to hatred. The friendships that had existed between you before you embraced the Gospel, turned into enmity, and they with whom you were most closely associated and towards whom you felt the strongest ties of friendship, became your open and avowed enemies. There are instances even where your own parents, your own brothers and your own sisters rejected the claims of kindred, and turned their backs upon you, and treated you as though you were aliens to them, and had no claim upon their affection, and that they had no desire to mingle with you, or to be any longer connected with you. This has been the case in almost every instance where people have joined this Church and their kindred have not joined it. And that distinction has not been confined to the homes where the Saints embraced the Gospel; but it has continued here and until the present day. A Latter-day Saint may be descended from the oldest families that have peopled this continent, his ancestors may have fought the battles that freed this land from oppression; he may be entitled to all the rights and privileges that belong to a native of this country, and yet if he be a Mormon not a single claim of that character is recognized. He is looked upon as a stranger and an alien. He is looked upon as a man not having the rights of full citizenship that others who are not of his faith are entitled to and enjoy. When we travel among the people as Latter-day Saints, we are conscious ourselves that there is a distinction between us and them; they are also conscious that there is this distinction, and that we are a different people. You can no more cause these Latter-day Saints, while they remain such, to mingle with the world and be one with them, than you can cause oil and water to mingle. There is no affinity between the two. You may shake oil and water together in a battle, and while you are shaking it, you imagine that the water and the oil have mingled; but the moment you let the bottle stand, the water sinks to the bottom and the oil rises to the top. The two elements do not comingle, they are entirely distinct, and you may shake them, and boil them, or do anything of that character, and you cannot cause them to become one fluid. So it is with this people called the Latter-day Saints and the world. There is a difference. God has created the difference. God has called us out from the world for the express purpose of making us His people, and placing upon us His name, that we may be known as His peculiar people in the midst of the nations of the earth.

Now, when I say this I do not say that, because of this, we are the enemies of mankind; I do not say this because I think there is no opportunity for them and us to unite, that there is no platform upon which we can stand and become united; I do not say this; because there is a platform upon which we can all stand and be a united people; but until we do stand upon that platform, this division and this distinction of which I speak will exist. We belong, because of our obedience, to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, to what is known as the Church of Christ, while those who have not embraced this Gospel and entered into covenant with God, belong to the other church—that is the church which is called in the revelations of God, the whore of all the earth, or the mother of abominations. That is the distinction which exists between the Latter-day Saints and the rest of mankind.

My brethren and sisters, there are some principles which it seems to me we should comprehend clearly in connection with our position as Latter-day Saints; and one is that which is alluded to in this chapter that I have read in your hearing, namely:

“Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.

“For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.”

This was a command that was given unto Israel with great force and emphasis. They were commanded from the beginning that they were not to marry with those who did not belong to their family, or did not belong to the Israel of God, or were not the covenant people of God. And it was not a new law; it was not a law that was given to Moses, and through him to the children of Israel for the first time. If you will read back to the days of Abraham, you will find that the same sentiment filled the heart of Abraham, the patriarch, concerning his posterity. When he wanted a wife for his son Isaac, he took his eldest servant of his house and made him swear by the God of Heaven that he would not take a wife unto his son of the daughters of the Canaanites, a race with which he did not want his son to intermarry. And he sent his servant back to Mesopotamia, to his old country and his kindred, it being where his brother Nahor had lived, to find there for his son Isaac a wife that should be suitable to him. The servant took this oath, and he went feeling that God had given unto him a mission and that he would be prospered in obtaining a wife for the son of his master. He prayed unto the God of his master to give him success, and give him a sign by which he might know the girl that the Lord designed for his master’s son. And according to his faith so it was done. Rebekah came to the well, and as he had prayed so she did, and she proved to be the very girl that God had designed for Isaac, and the very girl that Abraham in his heart desired that his son should have. She was Abraham’s grand niece, and his wife Sarah’s grand niece, a double cousin of Isaac’s, her grandmother, Milcah, being Isaac’s mother’s sister, and her grandfather, Nahor, being Abraham’s father’s brother. You know it is said in the Bible, that Abraham married his sister. But though called his sister, she was not his sister, in our sense of the relationship. She was the daughter of his brother Haran; but at Haran’s death, Terah—Haran and Abraham’s father—brought up Haran’s children as his own. Two of these children were girls. One of them married Nahor, a brother of Abraham’s, and the other married Abraham, both of them sisters of Lot. They were, therefore, nearly related.

So you see that in those early days the same sentiment pervaded the minds of the servants of God, respecting the families with whom they should intermarry. You will remember also that this same Rebekah afterwards, when fear was begotten in her heart respecting her son Jacob, and the enmity of his brother Esau, said to Isaac in substance: “I do not want Jacob to marry the daughters of this land, I want him to marry the right blood, to marry into the right families.” Isaac sent Jacob back to his mother’s people, and commanded him not to take a wife of the daughters of Caanan; but to marry into his mother’s family. He did so; he married his two cousins, Leah and Rachel, the daughters of Laban, his mother’s brother. And from these families and from that blood sprang the promised seed. It was the lineage through which the Priesthood ran; it was the lineage that was entitled to the blessings of the father, and on this account they were very particular as to whom they should marry. Isaac was the promised seed, and his father and mother were exceedingly desirous that he should marry in the right direction, and if you will notice that this is the same sentiment that God inspired His servant Moses to speak unto the children of Israel. They were commanded to marry among themselves, and not to marry among the outside nations that had not the faith that the children of Israel had. Because, as it is said here:

“Thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.

“For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods.”

And this was the case with Esau. He was not a man of faith, he was not a man unto whose seed the promises were given as they were to Jacob; because he married the daughters of the land in which they lived, that is the daughters of the Hittites, one of the Canaanite nations, a race not entitled to the blessings and promises which God had given unto those of the family of Abraham, and the families connected with him.

And in every instance that is on record in the Bible where the children of Israel disobeyed this command of God, judgment and calamity always followed. It was so in the case of Samson. You remember Samson, a mighty man in some respects, a man whom God raised up to redeem His people, but he married strange women. He married a woman of the Philistines, and the result was that it brought about his destruction. And we need only refer to the great king who sat upon the throne during the golden days of Israel, a man who was considered the wisest man that ever lived—King Solomon. His heart, we are told in the Scriptures, was turned aside from the Lord our God, because he took to himself strange wives, women of the nations with whom God had commanded Israel not to marry, and because of this he was led as he grew in years into idolatry. He built in the groves where the strange nations performed their idolatrous rites, places of worship, and to gratify these wives he went and worshipped with them; and God in His anger, because of this, said that the nation should be rent asunder; and in fulfillment of this word the greater portion of the kingdom was taken from the house of David, and given to another. Ten tribes rebelled, and there was left to Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, only the tribe of Judah for his inheritance, this kindness to the dynasty in leaving to it the tribe of Judah as an inheritance, was not because of favors to Solomon, but because his father had served God all his days with a perfect heart, except in the case of Uriah the Hittite. God raised up enemies to Solomon, and at his death as I have said, rent the ten tribes from his son Rehoboam, and gave them to Jeroboam. This was in consequence of the violation of this command of God respecting the intermarriage of His people with strange women. In every instance on record in the Bible, it will be found that the violation of this law resulted in destruction, not only to those who made these marriages, but to their posterity after them. The history of the kings of Israel and Judah illustrates this. The kings who married strange women, women of those nations that God had forbidden Israel to marry, were never prospered; misfortune to themselves and the nation always followed these alliances. One of the most wicked kings that ever sat upon the throne of Israel married a woman of this description. Her name was Jezebel. She was a king’s daughter too, a woman of noble birth, but one of the most wicked women that ever lived. To gratify her desire she incited her husband to murder, and to almost every other crime that could be committed. She was an idolatrous woman and she brought numberless miseries and condemnation from the Lord upon not only her husband’s house, but upon the whole house of Israel because of her wickedness.

In looking around and traveling among our people, I have been deeply impressed with the consequences that follow these improper marriages among us. My attention has been called many, many times to circumstances of this character that have taken place among us. Not infrequently there is some case that comes up to us for counsel where women have made alliances of this character; and women among us have been more apt to do it than men. There have been a few instances of men marrying strange women, losing the faith and becoming alienated from the Church of God, but it has not been of such frequent occurrence among us with men as it has been with women. The alliances which our daughters, our sisters or our female relatives have formed of this character have been attended with the worst results, and it is a matter that should receive attention from us as a people; our minds should be directed to this. It should be the aim of every father in Israel to have his daughters married to those who are of the right lineage, who have a claim upon the blessings of God, through their descent, added to their own faithfulness in keeping the commandments of God. I deem it of great importance to us as a people, that we should look to this. When I hear of girls in our Church marrying those who are not of us, who have not our faith, I have said to myself—and my experience in watching these matches has warranted me in the thought—that such a proceeding was sure to be attended with trouble to those who entered upon it. The offspring of such marriages do not bring satisfaction or happiness to the hearts of their relatives who are faithful to the truth, and in many instances they bring trouble and sorrow to their hearts. The mother’s head is bowed with sorrow, if she retains her faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because of the acts of her children. There are some men who have so much Gentile blood in them, that their offspring partake of it, and of the unbelief of the father, and in such cases it is impossible for a mother who has such a husband and children, with all her faith, with all her zeal, with all the pains that she takes, to instill into the minds of her children faith in the God of Israel, and faith in the covenant that He has restored. They seem to belong to another flock. It seems as though they have no susceptibility for the truth. There is no good soil in their hearts to receive the seeds of truth, the Gospel of the Son of God. It is just like this: my family, who live on the banks of the Jordan River, have occasionally secured some wild duck eggs, and put them under some tame ducks, and hatched them. But the wild duck as soon as he grew large enough to fly, generally took his flight and left the home nest. It was not natural to be tame. And so it is frequently with marriages. A girl of our faith may marry a Gentile, and he may be a pretty good man as far as his conduct is concerned, he may be a good citizen, a truthful man, but there will be a lack of susceptibility to the truth about his offspring. There will be a lack of faith there. Some of the children may have a little faith in the truth, but many of them, probably, will have no faith whatever, and will give the mother uneasiness and trouble and sorrow, and she will have no satisfaction whatever in her children. I have in my mind today, an instance where a man joined the Church, in the very early days of the Church, one of the oldest families in the Church, but he had not much faith. He married one of the most faithful women I have ever known in my experience in the Church. She has raised a large family, and by dint of faith and perseverance, finally succeeded in bringing the family to the valley. But the husband was always in the background. It required all her faith, and all her exertions to keep him from breaking out against the Church, and from losing even a nominal membership in it. She has had a large family of children. One of her sons, whom she has brought up with all the care possible, teaching him constantly the principles of the Gospel, and endeavoring to foster faith in his heart, is today an avowed enemy of the work of God, of the Church of which the mother is a faithful member. Several of the children seem to partake of that unbelief, that inclination to apostatize, which they seem to have inherited from their father. But it illustrates that which I have endeavored to impress upon your minds, that when women make alliances of this kind, they are not sure, in the least degree, as to the character of their posterity. They may have faithful children, but as likely as not, like the wild ducks I spoke of, they will go back to their old element, and to their old associations, and it seems impossible to prevent them from doing so.

I have no doubt all of you have had some experience of a similar character here in your midst. Have you ever seen a marriage on the part of a faithful member of this Church, either man or woman, with one that is not faithful, that has resulted happily for all concerned? Can you not call to mind instance after instance where it has been attended with the worst results? Where the woman after awhile, tired of living in that condition, has been compelled, if she did not wish to lose all hope of salvation here and hereafter, to break the tie and to sever herself from the man with whom she had lived in early life, into whose hands she had committed herself as a maiden, and by whom she had raised children—compelled to sever herself from him, if she expected to obtain eternal life in the Kingdom of God. I know many, many such instances as these, and I think that as a people we should be exceedingly careful about these matters. I would rather my daughters—speaking about them—I would rather they would be the fiftieth wife to a good, faithful man, who had kept the commandments of God, and unto whom promises had been made—I would rather they would occupy that relationship, and raise children by him, than that they should be allied to a man unto whom the promises of God had not been made. But, says one, good men’s sons are not always good. I know that, we all know it. Adam, our Father, had Cain; he was a wicked man; but that does not alter the principle, it does not affect that which I am speaking of. Adam’s posterity had blessings sealed upon them that cannot be taken from them. There was no reason why Cain should not have inherited all the blessings that Abel did, and that afterwards Seth possessed, if he had been disposed to avail himself of them; and it may be that where men have the Priesthood, the power and authority of it, and the blessings that pertain to it, sealed upon their heads—it may be that like it was in the cases of Terah and Abraham, if they belong to the rightful lineage there will some one of that seed arise and be a faithful man, and attain unto all the blessings that God has promised unto such faithful persons. You remember very well how it was with Terah, the father of Abraham. He was of the chosen seed, but he was an idolater. Yet he was heir to the promises, and because of that Abraham, through that heirship, and through descent, or the blessing that came through that descent, was able to go unto God and to plead for and receive the blessings that God had promised through the fathers unto him and unto all who belonged to that chosen seed. And so it may be with us. There may be faithful men who will have unfaithful sons, who may not be as faithful as they might be; but faithful posterity will come, just as I believe it will be the case with the Prophet Joseph’s seed. Today he has not a soul descended from him personally, in this Church. There is not a man bearing the Holy Priesthood, to stand before our God in the Church that Joseph was the means in the hands of God, of founding—not a man today of his own blood—that is, by descent—to stand before the Lord, and represent him among these Latter-day Saints. But will this always be the case? No. Just as sure as God lives, just as sure as God has made promises, so sure will someone of Joseph Smith’s posterity rise up and be numbered with this Church and bear the everlasting Priesthood that Joseph himself held. It may be delayed in the wise providence of our God. There are many things that we cannot understand, cannot see the reason why they should be so; but these promises are unalterable; God made them to Joseph during his lifetime; and they will be fulfilled just as sure as God made them. He (Joseph) will have among this people, someone descended from his own loins, who will bear the everlasting Priesthood, and who will honor and magnify that Priesthood among the Latter-day Saints. Therefore it is a blessing from God, for a woman to bear children to such a man, or to any man who bears or holds the everlasting Priesthood of the Son of God, and who magnifies his calling, and through magnifying it, receives promises from God to himself, and his posterity after him. Hence it is, my brothers and sisters, that remarks are made from time to time about plural marriage, patriarchal marriage. It is designed of God, that it should be so. There are but comparatively few men among the family of mankind, who are capable of leading the daughters of Zion into the Celestial Kingdom of our God—comparatively few—for the Lord says: “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Out of all the sons of God, there are comparatively few, I say, who are capable through their faith and faithfulness, and through their keeping the commandments of God, of leading the daughters of Zion in the path of exaltation, and leading them into the Celestial Kingdom of our God; and therefore it is of the utmost importance that in these matters we should be exceedingly careful. We should seek by revelation, if we can obtain it—and it is the privilege of all to obtain revelation, that is, all who live as they should do—we should seek by revelation to obtain a knowledge for ourselves, respecting these matters. Our daughters should be taught to control their feelings and affections, and not let them go out without any regard to these circumstances to which I have alluded. A woman should be exceedingly careful, a girl should be exceedingly careful, and parents should be exceedingly careful in instilling into her mind the principles that must be observed by her and by her husband to obtain exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom of God. How often is it the case among us, that women desirous of salvation are compelled to leave their husbands that become drunken, that become apostates, that become careless and indifferent, that do something or other that forfeits their standing in the Church of Christ? And then what is to become of such women? According to our faith no woman should be connected with a man who cannot save her in the Celestial Kingdom of God. What I mean by this is: if a man apostatizes and breaks covenants and loses his standing in the Church of Christ, he is not in a fit condition to save himself, much less to lead his wife aright. He cannot lead her in the path of exaltation, because he has turned aside from that path; he has gone into another path. If she follow him, she will follow him to destruction; she will take the downward road. She will never find, while following him, and he in that condition, the path of salvation. Therefore, how careful men should be, that in marrying they should marry into good families, and not marry into apostate families. Did you ever see any good result from a man taking the daughter of an apostate, that has been brought up an apostate? I never have. That woman and her companions, if there is not great exertions made, will lead that man’s heart away after other gods, away from the God of Israel, away from the covenant, away from everything that is holy and true. She will constantly fight him unless she is an exception to the general rule. There are instances where girls come out of such families, and are good, faithful women; but speaking of this as a rule it is not a safe proceeding. How can fathers and mothers of the Saints who marry into families that are not in the Church, or that are apostates—how can they mingle together upon terms of equality? The grandchildren, having in them the blood of the apostate, and the blood of the faithful man, can they come together on the same platform and be united with each other, part of them being out of the Church and part of them in the Church? No, they cannot. There is a distinction there, and there must be a letting down of the bars on the part of those in the Church to associate with others out of the Church, on terms of equality, or else there must be a rising up of those who are not in the Church to the platform of those who are in the Church, in order that they may be on anything like terms of equality. There must be some breaking down in some direction. The apostate must sink his difference and try and feel like the Latter-day Saint, or else the faithful family must yield a little in their feelings in order to mingle upon anything like terms of friendship or equality with those who are not in the Church.

My brethren and sisters: I consider that these are very important principles, and should be seriously considered. There is too much laxity among us in Salt Lake City, and elsewhere, upon this point. There are young men and young women, one or the other frequently belonging to good families, who are married not by the Priesthood, but by some civil authority, in order to accommodate the feelings of the girl, or of the young man, or of the families of one or the other. Can such marriages result in happiness? No, they cannot; they cannot result in happiness on the part of a man who claims to be a Latter-day Saint, or on the part of a girl who claims to be a Latter-day Saint. It cannot be a happy marriage. The fruits of such unions cannot be satisfactory, that is, to the faithful Saint, at least, and it is contrary to the mind and will of God. Our people are commanded to marry in their own Church. We are commanded to marry those of our own faith, and not to go outside of our Church for partners. Instead of being married by Justices of the Peace, or by other civil authorities, God has placed in His Church a Priesthood and one of the offices and functions of that Priesthood is to marry the sons and daughters of God—to marry them one to another in the new and everlasting covenant, and to seal upon them and their posterity the blessings that pertain to that new and everlasting covenant; and any man who desires to be a happy husband and to have a happy home, and any woman who desires to be a happy wife and a happy mother, and to have joy in their associations, will never permit themselves to be drawn aside to be married by any authority except that which God has instituted, namely, the authority of the Holy Priesthood. Our daughters should seek, by all the faith that they can exercise before God, to obtain good husbands—husbands who will build them up instead of holding them down; who will strengthen their hands in the work of God, who will make them mothers of a righteous seed and posterity, with whom they can rejoice in the eternal mansions of our Father and our God; and no woman who has the faith of the Gospel within her, will want to bear a child to a man of whom she will be ashamed, and who cannot lead her into the presence of the Lamb. She will rather exercise faith before the Lord that God will give unto her a husband in whom she can trust, in whom she can have confidence, whose word will be as the word of God to her. And in the midst of the troubles, afflictions and trials that belong to this mortal existence, she will feel comforted by the knowledge that her husband is indeed a man of God, a man who will be true and faithful to her under all circumstances. This is a constant cause of strength and comfort to every woman, to know that she has wedded a man whom she can trust, upon whom she can rely, who will never fail her, that is, as far as human nature will permit a man to be free from infallibility. This is the course we should all take.

But, says one, what shall be done with those who are not of this class.

I do not have a word to say against them. I do not want to say one word against this class. Let them marry. Let the Gentile marry with the Gentile. That is right. I have no objection to this. I do not want to say one word against their men or against their women. Let them marry among themselves. But I say to the Latter-day Saints, marry in your own Church. Let the Latter-day Saints marry faithful men, let them marry faithful women, and let them raise up a posterity which God will bless, and upon whom they can ask the blessing of our Father; and when they pass away, they can leave their blessing to be perpetuated upon them and their posterity as long as the earth itself shall last. That is what I say to the Latter-day Saints. At the same time I would not preclude any “non-Mormon,” or Gentile as they are called, from marrying; but let such marry their own class and among their own people. I say we have no right to allow them to marry our daughters, and we should use every influence against it. It is not right to allow apostates to marry our daughters, nor for our sons to marry apostates. This is all wrong, and we should guard against it, and use all the influence in our power to prevent it. And those who are weak in the faith and want to be married by officers of the law, let them choose those who have the same faith and feeling as they have; but let no faithful daughter or faithful son of faithful parents be influenced to marry such persons, and marry in that kind of a way. This is what I say to you this morning, and the counsel I would give to all my brethren and sisters. Let the apostates marry the apostates. Let the Gentiles marry the Gentiles. There are millions of them in the world. There is no need for them to take our daughters, nor to marry our sons. The apostates also can find plenty of their own kind. Let them marry them. I would not throw a straw in their way, I would do nothing to interfere with them; but let the faithful Latter-day Saints marry faithful Latter-day Saints. Let them seek unto God in the name of Jesus, that they may obtain women of virtue, women of probity, women of faith, women of steadfastness, women that will be a glory to the men throughout time and eternity, and who will raise them children in whom they can rejoice; and let the women seek in like manner to obtain men upon whom they can look with respect and love in the midst of every trial, in the midst of every affliction, no matter what the circumstances may be; that their faith may be unmoved in all the trials, difficulties and afflictions that pertain to this mortal life; that they may tread the straight and narrow path as long as mortality lasts, and then enter into the celestial kingdom of our God, when they obtain their resurrected bodies, united as husband and wife, for time and for all eternity.

Now, this is a privilege that God has given unto us His children, and I trust that as His children we will exercise it. Remember, my brethren and sisters, that as wise a king as Solomon, a man unto whom God appeared and unto whom God spake, was led away by strange women and lost his power, became an idolater, and God scourged him and his posterity for his wickedness in this respect. I have in my mind today a man among us who in like manner allowed his affections to go after a strange woman, and took her to wife, and when I think about his circumstances, it reminds me in a small degree of the fate of Solomon; the same result is in his case, and it will be in every case. I do not care how strong the man may be, he may have strength enough to hold the woman, to overpower her influence, but it is a risk that should not be taken; for if a man does he will almost be sure to be overcome, and fall into trouble.

I pray God the Eternal Father, to bless us as a people; to bless you, my brethren and sisters, and to give you strength and wisdom and grace to govern your families and yourselves, so that you will always be found in the path of righteousness, the path that leadeth unto the Lord, which I ask in the name of Jesus. Amen.




Similarity of Circumstances Surrounding Former and Latter-Day Saints—God is No Respecter of Persons—Revelation to Enoch—Christ Preached to the Spirits in Prison Between the Times of His Crucifixion and Resurrection—All Must Hear the Gospel, and Be Judged Thereby—We Must Progress or Retrograde

Discourse by President George Q. Cannon, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, November 9, 1884.

I will read a portion of the 3rd chapter of the first epistle of St. Peter, and a portion of the 4th chapter; commencing at the 12th verse of the 3rd chapter:

12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?

14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;

15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.* * * *

1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;

2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:

4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:

5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.

6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.”

These words, my brethren and sisters, embody to us today, though written by the Apostle Peter, 1,800 years ago, the Gospel of life and salvation. They are exceedingly appropriate to Latter-day Saints, as doubtless they were when written to former-day Saints. The circumstances which surrounded our brethren and sisters in former days, no doubt were similar in many respects to those which surround us in this one day, probably, with this difference that we are not scattered to the same extent they were; we have been gathered together from the nations where the Gospel was preached to us, and are now living in one community in these mountains. But the same doctrines, the same principles, the same powers of evil, the same powers of good, the same Spirit of God, and the same spirit of evil, were extant then, and were experienced then by the Saints who took upon themselves the name of Christ, as they are by us who now live.

Since I have come into this stand my mind has reverted to a conversation which I had a few days ago with a minister of the Dutch Reform Church, who was passing through this city, and who was introduced to me, and had a good many inquiries to make respecting our doctrines. When I told him how God had revealed Himself in these last days, how He had restored the Everlasting Priesthood, the ordinances of life and salvation, the Gospel in its original purity and power, accompanied with the Holy Ghost and its gifts, and had organized the Church as in ancient days, and related to him what God had said concerning all the churches in Christendom, he had the question to ask, which is so frequently asked of all our Elders when they travel and declare the same message, “Why has God left the Christian world for so long a time without these blessings and these powers and these gifts that you now claim as belonging to your Church and having been restored from heaven? And what has become of those Christians whom you say died in ignorance of the fullness of the Gospel of salvation?”

These are very pertinent questions. They are questions frequently asked of all our Elders. They are questions which suggest themselves to the minds of every thinking man when he is told that God has restored the truth in its original purity, with the power and authority of the Priesthood which have been so long withdrawn. Our ancestors we may have known, at least some of them; we may have known the morality of their lives, the purity of their intentions, the goodness of their motives, their exemplary conduct; and if we do not understand the principles of the Gospel when we are told the message that the Elders have to bear, the inquiry naturally arises, “Is it possible that my grandfather, my grandmother, my uncle, or perchance my father and my mother, have not gone to heaven, that they are not in the presence of God? Why, better people I never knew, and I have always thought,” says the inquirer, “that they really had gone to heaven, and now you tell me that unless I am baptized I shall be damned, and yet they are dead and have not been baptized.”

I expect many feel as the heathen king once felt. He was a king of the Franks, one of the old races that invaded what is now called France. He had surrendered his old convictions sufficiently to consent to receive the rite of baptism. A Catholic Bishop from Rome was to sprinkle him. But before submitting to be sprinkled the thought suggested itself to the king to ask the question what had become of his ancestors. The Bishop, more ready than politic, said, “They have gone to hell.” “Then,” said the king, “I will go to hell with them; I shall not be separated from my ancestors,” and he refused to receive the rite of baptism.

Now, I expect that there are many people in the world who, in the absence, or for the want of knowledge concerning the plan of salvation would almost feel the same when told that if they did not obey the Gospel, they would be damned. But when people are enlightened concerning the plan of Jehovah, the Gospel of the Son of God, they can easily reconcile justice and mercy as being attributes of the Great Being whom we worship. As I remarked to this gentleman, “I might easily answer your question by propounding another question to you. You are a Christian minister; you preach what you believe to be the Gospel; what has become of the millions of heathen who died in ignorance of that Gospel which you profess to obey and accept as the plan of salvation—the millions of heathen who never heard the name of Jesus Christ, the only name given under heaven whereby man can be saved—what has become of them?”

“Oh,” said he, “but they were not Christians.”

Said I, “Do you think that God makes a distinction between the souls or the spirits of men? Is there one class of spirits for whom He has a greater respect than He has for others! Is a Christian soul more valuable, or more precious, in the sight of our Great Creator, than the soul of a heathen? I do not believe it myself. I have no such idea.”

But he could see a wide distinction between those who were Christians and those who were not.

Nevertheless the difficulty still remains, and it will ever remain to those who do not comprehend the plan of salvation as revealed by the Lord Jesus Christ. We must remember that God’s work is not confined to this life; that God’s plan of salvation extends throughout eternity; that according to our belief it began to operate in eternity, if it ever began at all—for it never really in truth began, it always operated, operated from eternity and will operate to eternity, for all the children of men, for every human soul. The plan of salvation devised by our Father and God, is intended to save every human being that will be saved; to reach them all, unless, during this probation, they commit what is termed the unpardonable sin, the sin against the Holy Ghost, and become sons of perdition, in which even salvation ceases (so far as they are concerned) to operate; they put themselves outside of the pale of salvation.

There is a very interesting revelation contained in the new translation by the Prophet Joseph Smith, which is found in the Pearl of Great Price. The revelation says:

“And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying, How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains? And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity? And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and yet thou art there, and thy bosom is there; and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever; And thou hast taken Zion to thine own bosom, from all thy creations, from all eternity to all eternity; and naught but peace, justice, and truth is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end; how is it that thou canst weep?

“The Lord said unto Enoch; Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day that I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency; And unto thy brethren have I said, and also gave commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection; and they hate their own blood; And the fire of mine indignation is kindled against them; and in my hot displeasure will I send in the floods upon them, for my fierce anger is kindled against them. Behold, I am God; Man of Holiness is thy name; Man of Counsel is my name; and Endless and Eternal is my name, also. Wherefore, I can stretch forth mine hands and hold all the creations which I have made; and mine eye can pierce them also, and among all the workmanship of mine hands there has not been so great wickedness as among thy brethren; But behold, their sins shall be upon the heads of their fathers; Satan shall be their father, and misery shall be their doom; and the whole heavens shall weep over them, even all the workmanship of mine hands; wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer? But behold, these which thine eyes are upon shall perish in the floods; and behold, I will shut them up; a prison have I prepared for them. And That which I have chosen hath plead before my face. Wherefore, he suffereth for their sins; inasmuch as they will repent in the day that my Chosen shall return unto me, and until that day they shall be in torment; Wherefore, for this shall the heavens weep, yea, and all the workmanship of mine hands.”

A most important revelation, this, to Enoch, showing unto him the fate of the wicked after his city should be translated and taken to heaven. The inhabitants of the earth should grow worse and worse, more abandoned than ever in their wickedness, until the time should come for the Lord to send forth His floods and drown the inhabitants of the earth except Noah, and those who received His testimony. All this was shown unto Enoch; and he was shown that those who had thus acted, or who should thus act, “would be consigned to prison, they would be consigned to a place of torment, and because of their sufferings, because of that which they should have to pass through, the heavens themselves wept over their fate.” Enoch was told that they should remain there until the day of the Lord Jesus Christ, or in these words: “And that which I have chosen has plead before my face. Wherefore, He suffereth for their sins, insomuch as they will repent in the day that my Chosen shall return unto me.”

That is, after the Savior’s advent in the flesh, after He has suffered for their sins; until then, when He should return unto the Father, they should remain in this prison and in this condition of torment. “Wherefore, for this shall the heavens weep, yea, and all the workmanship of mine hands.”

Those millions of spirits who had thus committed sin and iniquity until it could be borne no longer, until the earth groaned under their wickedness, and cried aloud as with a human voice against the wickedness upon its surface of which those inhabitants had been guilty—those millions of spirits were swept off with a flood, the whole family of man was destroyed, except Noah and those seven souls who received his testimony, a part of his family, and a part only, for there were children that Noah had who rejected his testimony, and who also shared in the destruction that came upon the inhabitants of the earth. But those eight, including Noah, were the sole surviving remnant of the entire family of man. The antediluvian world numbered millions doubtless; millions were swept away from the face of the earth, and consigned to a place of torment, or to a prison. In this prison they were immured, doubtless in utter darkness—in the condition that is so expressly described by the Savior Himself, when upon the earth—in outer darkness, where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, a place of torment, where they were kept until the Savior Himself came in the flesh, and proclaimed unto the children of men the Gospel of life and salvation.

Jesus Himself, on one occasion, went into the synagogue after His baptism by John the Baptist, and there was handed to Him a book containing the prophecy of Isaiah, or as it is written in the New Testament Esaias. He took it and read these words: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” He there proclaimed in the words of the Prophet Isaiah, the exact character of the mission that had been assigned Him by His Father in heaven. He was not only commanded to preach good tidings unto the meek, and to bind up the broken hearted, but He was sent to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that were bound. Thus was a part of His mission foretold by the Prophet Isaiah a long time before His birth. He Himself confirmed the correctness of the prediction by reading it in the ears of the people; and when He left the earth, after having established His Gospel upon it, after having commenced the work of salvation here, after having ordained men to the authority of the everlasting Priesthood which He held, the Priesthood of Melchizedek, after having done this and was slain by wicked men, suffered for the sins of humanity in the flesh, He then went, in the words that I have read in your hearing from this epistle of Peter, and preached to the spirits in prison which sometime were disobedient when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah. He went and proclaimed liberty to the captive; He went to open the prison doors to them that were bound. He alone could do this. No Prophet that preceded Him had the authority, for none of the Prophets that had preceded Him had this mission assigned them. It was His duty as the Son of God, as the Redeemer of the world, after, as I have said, committing the Gospel to men in the flesh, after ordaining men to preach that Gospel and administer its ordinances in the power and authority of the everlasting Priesthood, to preach to those spirits in prison. It did not take a great while to commence the work; for He was crucified on Friday, and was resurrected on Sunday; but in the interim, while His body laid in the tomb, His Spirit, as is correctly stated in one catechism—I believe that of the Episcopalians—“descended into hell,” and, according to the mission that had been assigned Him, according to the revelation that God gave to Enoch before the floods descended upon the wicked world, according to the predictions of Isaiah, and according to the power and authority which He exercised as the Son of God He went and opened the prison doors to them that were bound, preached to them the everlasting Gospel, once more, and gave unto them the privilege of receiving it in the spirit even as though they were in the flesh. Therefore says Peter, “by which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison which sometime were disobedient when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing.” Then he goes on and he says—after telling the Saints how they should live, how the wicked should act, and how they should be treated—he says: “For this cause was the Gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”

Now, say some, “Oh, this means when men are dead in their sins. This is what Peter means—dead in their sins.”

It does not mean any such thing. That is not the meaning of it. It means just what it says. It means that the Gospel shall be preached to them that are dead; that the Savior should carry the glad tidings of salvation to them, and not only to those who were disobedient in the days of Noah, but to all the spirit world, to every soul of Adam’s race that had up to that time died who had not received the Gospel in the flesh. He commenced the work there just as He did here. He commenced, as I have said, by preaching the Gospel, by revealing it to His disciples, by giving them the authority to preach it, and then He descended into Hades or hell, and He there, doubtless, chose His ministers, the men who had the authority of the Holy Priesthood, and set them to the same labor that was commenced on the earth, the labor of preaching His everlasting Gospel to all the spirit world, to the millions of spirits who had died either in disobedience to the Gospel of Christ, or in ignorance of that Gospel, never having heard the sound of it. The Gospel was sent to the entire spirit world, except, as I have before stated, to those sons of perdition who had committed the unpardonable sin, or the sin against the Holy Ghost, and the labor has doubtless continued from that day until the present time in the spirit world. In the authority and power of the everlasting Priesthood the servants of God have been calling upon the inhabitants of that world to repent and believe in Jesus: first to repent of their sins and be willing to receive the Gospel of the Son of God in its fullness and in its purity, just as men would receive it in the flesh—that is, be willing to comply as far as possible with all its requirements, and also to have this further willingness, that if they were in the flesh they would submit to and receive every ordinance of the Gospel of life and salvation. They must not only believe in Jesus, as I have said, and repent of their sins; not only be willing to go that far, but be willing to go the full extent of the requirements of the Gospel, be willing to obey every ordinance and every law that is necessary, and say in the spirit, “Oh, if I were in the flesh I would be baptized for the remission of my sins; I would have hands laid upon me for the reception of the Holy Ghost; I would be willing to obey every law of God, my Eternal Father, if I had the opportunity in the flesh of doing so.”

Jesus illustrated this principle and the work which lay before Him very beautifully, in the case of the thief on the cross. One of the thieves reviled Him. The other turned and rebuked his companion for reviling the Savior, and asked the Savior to remember him when He came into His kingdom; for you must understand that the idea had become prevalent then that Jesus was a king, and they had written over His cross in three languages, “Jesus, King of the Jews,” partly in derision, doubtless; but it was the truth. Pilate asked Him if He was not a king, and this robber, doubtless, shared in the feeling that Jesus was a king. Therefore he besought Him to remember him when He came into His Kingdom. Jesus said to him: “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” “There I can speak to you,” He might have said, “more fully than I can now. This is our dying hour, and I am not in a position to preach to you or explain to you the plan of salvation that I have; but wait awhile, before this day ends you will be with me in paradise, and there I can make full explanations to you concerning all that you desire to know.”

And this in reality was the case. That day they were in paradise together. Jesus was in a position to preach to him in the spirit as He had done to men in the flesh. And you will remember—although it seems almost unnecessary to repeat it to this congregation who are so well instructed; but there are young people who are not so familiar with these doctrines, and, therefore, for their benefit I quote the Scriptures. You will remember when Mary, after she missed the body from the sepulchre, rushed forward to a man, supposing him to be the gardener, and asked him where he had laid the body. She did not recognize Him at first, but as soon as He made Himself known she essayed to clasp Him in womanly affection. He, however, told her to stand back, not to touch Him. You must not put your hands on me, Mary. Whatever your relations may be to me, you must not touch me now. “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father and to my God and your God.” This was His expression when His body had been resurrected from the tomb. He had not yet been to His Father—that is, directly to the immediate presence of His Father. Therefore it was not fit that any mortal should put hands upon Him. It was not the privilege even of Mary, closely connected as she was with Him—it was not her privilege to put her hand upon her resurrected Lord. He had not yet ascended to the Father.

Thus you see the Scriptures corroborate that which I have said in this respect. His body had lain, as I before remarked, from Friday until Sunday, in the tomb, and then it was resurrected. But during that period His spirit had been engaged preaching to the spirits in prison; they heard the glad tidings of salvation from the Savior. His voice penetrated the depths of hell, the gloom of darkness, and it awakened hope within their hearts. He proclaimed liberty to the captive. He opened the prison doors to those that were bound. He preached unto them the acceptable year of the Lord: for the time had come for them to be redeemed from their prison house in which they had been so long incarcerated for the sins committed in the flesh.

This is the Gospel of salvation that God has revealed. Every human being that has ever been born upon the face of the earth, every human being that ever will be born will hear these glad tidings of salvation proclaimed by those who have authority to administer it unto fallen man, whether they lived before Jesus, whether they lived at the time of or since Jesus, or whether they will live yet in the future. They cannot hear the Gospel. They cannot be judged until they do hear it. Every principle of salvation will be proclaimed to those who have died without the privilege of hearing it in the flesh—they must hear it in the spirit world as well as those who hear it in the flesh. Therefore, we need not be in any anxiety concerning our ancestors; we need not puzzle ourselves with questions as to the fate of the heathen; we need not be disturbed in our feelings to reconcile the justice of God with His mercy, or His mercy with His justice, to the children of men. None of these questions need trouble us, for the reason that by the revelation of these glorious principles God’s mercy is reconcilable in the most perfect manner with His justice. We see by this that God will not consign any soul to endless torment without first giving him an opportunity of receiving or rejecting the Gospel. If he be consigned to torment it will be as a punishment for violating law. Where there is no law there is no transgression of the law. There can be therefore no punishment if a man does not comprehend the law. If it is not made plain to him, its binding force does not operate upon him; but when he understands it, when his mind comprehends it, when it is declared to him, then it begins to operate upon him, and if he reject it, then the penalty begins to operate also, and unless he repents and obeys that law he will receive severe condemnation. Therefore in the spirit world there are grades of punishment just as there are grades of spirits. Some are ignorant. Some men who never heard the name of Jesus have lived according to the light that God gave them; for God has given to every man that is born into the world, according to the revelations we have received, His Spirit. He has given unto every man and woman His Spirit, not the gift of the Holy Ghost, but His Spirit by which they are led and guided. Some call it the light of conscience, the voice of conscience. No man ever committed a wrong that listened to that voice without being chided for it, whether he be Christian or heathen, whether he has lived according to the light of the Gospel or been in entire ignorance of it. Every man has within him a spirit which comes from our Great Creator, and if we grieve it not it leads us, guides us, though we may not know the Gospel, as has been the case with many thousands and millions of human beings. It leads all the children of men when they listen to it; it leads them in the path of peace, in the path of virtue, in the path of happiness; but if they violate that spirit or grieve it, if they go contrary to its monitions, if they harden their hearts against and sin against it, then it departs, and another spirit takes its place, namely, the spirit of the evil One.

Thus it is that the heathen, many of them have lived lives most exemplary, lives which are the admiration of posterity. Men not confined to one race, not to one nationality, but men of every race, men of every clime, men of every language, have received the same spirit and have been enlightened by it and their lives have been noble and admirable, and no doubt have been acceptable to God our eternal Father. Therefore, when you think about your grandparents whom you have known, when you think about your parents or some other relatives whom you have known, who died in ignorance of the Gospel, you have known their lives, you have known how good their desires were, you have known how they conformed to the law so far as they understood it, how moral they were, how exemplary, how correct in their conduct, in their conversation and in their dealings—when you think of these, you need not be afraid that they have lost anything because they died in ignorance of the Son of God. I tell you that God’s providence is over all His children, and He will reward every man and every woman according to his or her works, and He will reward those who have lived exemplary lives, those who have been moral, whether they be heathen or Christian, whether they have known the name of Jesus or not, whether they have the Bible, or the Koran, or some other book, or no book at all; whatever may have been their condition and circumstances, if they have lived according to the light that God has given them, and to laws that they understood, God will reward them, and will eventually bestow every blessing upon them which they are capable of receiving. Yes, those poor people who persecute us, those people who would, in their ignorance destroy us, we can well say to them and concerning them that which Stephen said, when about to give up the ghost. They stoned him. They treated him most cruelly for his belief. He had declared to them the Gospel; but they stoned him to death. Before he died he said—and it’s the spirit which every man of God, who comprehends the purposes of God, and the plan of salvation will cherish and always give utterance to under all circumstances—“Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” They were ignorant. He therefore besought the Father to forgive them. They did not know what they were doing. They did it ignorantly. This was proved by the fact that the young man at whose feet lay the clothes of those who committed this bloody deed, afterwards became a flaming light in the Church and Kingdom of God, and ultimately laid down his life for that Gospel which he had witnessed Stephen die for, and which at the time he thought was a righteous judgment upon Stephen.

My brethren and sisters, we can of all people be charitable. As the Apostle Peter says: “Above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” And not only among ourselves, but have charity for an ignorant world who know not what they do in fighting against God, in fighting against His truth, in seeking to destroy His Priesthood from the face of the earth: they know not what they do. We would save them if we could. We would carry the Gospel of salvation to them. We are ready, as we have been, to endure all things for the sake of the souls of our fellow men. We have gone from continent to continent, from land to land, from island to island, wherever there was a door open, to preach the Gospel. We have forsaken home, forsaken wives and children, and all the endearments of home, everything that men love and hold sacred, even to the sacrificing of our lives for the salvation of our fellow men—gone without purse or scrip, gone forth in the midst of shame and ignominy, in the face of persecution of the most cruel and sometimes of the most dreadful character. We have done this, we are still doing it, we shall do it, until every soul under the broad canopy of heaven shall hear the Gospel of the Son of God, this message of life and salvation which has been entrusted to us. Every mortal shall hear the glad tidings of salvation. They shall be judged by this message. They shall receive the blessings of God or His condemnation, according to their willingness to receive or their determination to reject the Gospel; and then when this life is ended, when this mortal is laid aside, we shall go into the spirit world, endowed with the same Priesthood and authority of the Son of God; clothed with that authority; enveloped with it, even the fullness of it; we shall go into the spirit world and continue this glorious labor of warning our brethren and sisters who once were in the flesh, until throughout the spirit world the Gospel of salvation shall be heard from one end of it to the other. It is a never-ending work that which we have taken upon ourselves. It will never terminate until this earth shall be redeemed, until the power of Satan shall be subdued, until wickedness shall be banished from the earth, until He reigns whose right it is to reign, and every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Then will this labor cease so far as the family of man is concerned; but it will never cease until all who belong to this earth, whoever were born upon it—no matter in what age, no matter what time, no matter what nationality, shall be redeemed who can be redeemed.

Now, my brethren and sisters, you have some little idea of the character of the work in which we are engaged. Do we set too much value upon our Priesthood—when we talk about Priesthood and authority—when these are the labors that attend the Priesthood and that devolve upon it? No, we cannot value our calling too highly. And I say to you that you have entered upon a pathway that leads back to God. You may dally by the wayside; you may fool away your time; you may be idle, indifferent and careless; but you only lose thereby the progress that you ought to make. Unless you commit the unpardonable sin, you will have to progress. It is written in the eternity of our God that every soul must progress that does not retrograde. Therefore, make good use of the time you have. Now is the time of your probation, now is the time of harvest, now is the summer of your days. Let it not be said, the harvest is past, the summer is ended, and my soul is not saved. But let us bear in mind that now is the probation that God has given us. Let us make use of it by doing the works of righteousness, by keeping the commandments of God, by having our eye on the mark of our high calling in Christ Jesus; which may God grant in the name of Jesus. Amen.




Priesthood—Its Authority Necessary to Administer in the Ordinances of the Gospel—This Principle Well Illustrated in the Life and Example of the Prophet Joseph—Jesus Officiated By Virtue of the Melchizedek Priesthood—Descent of the Priesthood From Adam—Necessity of Temples in Which the Power of the Priesthood Can Be Exercised for Those Who Died Without the Gospel—Restoration of the Priesthood in These Last Days—The Legitimate Acts of Those Holding the Priesthood Are Acknowledged and Ratified By the Lord—Binding Power of the Holy Priesthood—Opposition of Satan to the Priesthood—Virtues of the Latter-Day Saints—Conclusion

Discourse by President George Q. Cannon, delivered in the Tabernacle, Ogden, Sunday Morning, October 18th, 1884.

I will read a portion of the 7th chapter of Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews.

[The speaker read the whole of the 7th chapter.]

Proceeding he said: This chapter that I have read in your hearing is the 7th chapter of Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews. In this entire book of Hebrews, Paul reasons with the Jews, unto whom the epistle was addressed, to show them that Jesus, the Son of God, whom they had crucified, was a Priest after the order of Melchizedek, and that the Priesthood which had been taken away during the days of Moses in the wilderness, had been restored through Him. The Jews entertained the idea that Priesthood necessarily came through the tribe of Levi, and that the power and the authority thereof—that is, to minister in all things pertaining to the Priesthood were confined to that tribe, and that no one had the right outside of that tribe to officiate in the ordinances pertaining to God and to mediation between God and the people or the people and God. But Paul very clearly proved in his reasoning with them that there was a Priesthood higher than that which had been exercised by the descendants of Aaron.

It is well for us, who, as a people, believe in Priesthood, that we should understand the nature and character and power of the Priesthood which God confirms upon man when He calls him to act in His stead in the midst of the people. As a people we differ in our views upon these points from almost every other church. There are one or two sects in existence which attach a great importance to Priesthood, but the most of them which form the so-called Christian world reject the idea of Priesthood, and deny that it is necessary for it to he bestowed upon man. This feeling has doubtless arisen as a consequence of the abuses that have grown up through the maladministration of what is termed the Priesthood. In rebelling against the Catholic Church and its pretensions men have gone to the other extreme, and have discarded the idea of Priesthood entirely, and claimed that all men are alike before God; that all men are equally endowed with authority from God, and to exercise the power and the authority that were originally bestowed upon those who held the truth.

In these last days, in the organization of this Church, God, in His infinite wisdom, impressed upon his servant Joseph Smith the necessity of there being a rebestowal of the Priesthood, in order to give him the authority to officiate in the ordinances of the Kingdom of God. This must have been impressed upon the prophet’s mind at a very early day, from the fact that, notwithstanding he had been brought up among the protestant sects, and had doubtless shared in the views which they entertained respecting the right of all men who were impressed by the spirit, and who were prompted by an inward call to act as ministers of God, he refrained from attempting in the least degree to do anything in the name of God or of Jesus Christ until he had received the power and authority from on high through the bestowal of the Priesthood upon him. The revelations he had received from the Lord, with the ministration of holy angels, did not, he plainly perceived, authorize him to act as a minister of the Lord in the administration of ordinances. He never attempted to do anything in administering ordinances, or anything that a Priest might do, until he had been ordained of God through the administration of John the Baptist. Then, and not till then, did he officiate in the ordinance of baptism. Much as he and his companion desired that ordinance; much as they desired to become participants in the blessings that flow from the reception of an ordinance of that holy character, he never attempted, until he had been thus empowered from on high, to administer it.

Now, the prevalent idea in the world has been that if a man should be so favored as to receive the ministrations or visitations of angels, or to receive any manifestations of what might be termed a supernatural character, he would be completely invested with the power necessary to preach the Gospel unto his fellow men and to administer all the ordinances thereof. But the Prophet Joseph not only received the ministrations of angels, but actually had revelations from God, which are written in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and which are now the word of God to the Church. He received these revelations through the inspiration of the Almighty. He also by means of the Urim and Thummim translated the Book of Mormon; was, in fact, a seer as well as a revelator; had the spirit of prophecy to predict those things that should take place in the future, and many events that have since taken place were prophesied of by him before he was really ordained of God to administer the ordinances of life and salvation. I know that this is an exceptional instance. It may be possible that there is not another like it in the history of our race where a man was so highly favored of God, endowed with such authority, such power and had such manifestations of the mind and will of God as he received without having the Holy Priesthood. But it accords with the ideas so frequently expressed by the brethren respecting the Prophet Joseph and many others, that they were ordained before the foundations of the world were laid to come forth and accomplish the labor and the work that they did. There is no room for doubt in regard to the truth of this statement that is so frequently made. In the early boyhood of the Prophet Joseph, he was moved upon in a mysterious manner to seek unto God. By the exercise of a faith that was uncommon, and in fact it may be said unknown upon the earth, he was able to receive the ministrations of God the Father, and of His Son Jesus Christ; thus showing in the very beginning of his career, that he was a man or a spirit that was highly favored of God—a man to whom God desired to give particular manifestations of his kindness and goodness and power, and this was followed up from that time until his death by continued manifestations of the favor and the will and the power of God unto him. But it is a remarkable fact—and I wish to impress it, I think it is worthy of remembrance by all of us—that notwithstanding the Prophet Joseph had all these manifestations, and was, as I have said, a prophet and seer and revelator, he never attempted—notwithstanding the ideas that were so prevalent among mankind, and especially in the region where he lived and where he received his education—to officiate in any of the ordinances of the house of God, or of the Gospel of salvation, until he received the everlasting Priesthood. When that was bestowed upon him; when he received the Priesthood after the order of Aaron, and was ordained by the angel who alone held the keys, who was a literal descendant of Aaron, and by virtue of that descent entitled to the keys of that Priesthood, having exercised the authority thereof while in the flesh—then and not till then did he administer the ordinance of baptism for the remission of sins. And then he refrained from acting in ordinances belonging to the Melchizedek Priesthood, that higher Priesthood, by the authority of which the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost is administered unto the children of men. Having authority to baptize in water given unto him, he did not go any further, until the Lord in His kindness and mercy bestowed upon him, through the administration of those apostles who held the keys after the death of our Savior, the authority to administer in those higher ordinances and to exercise the power and authority of this higher Priesthood. This illustrates most perfectly how careful men ought to be in acting in the name of God, not to overstep the bounds of the authority conferred upon them, but to carefully keep within those limits that are assigned to them in which to exercise authority. It is a lesson unto us as a people. We should be particular ourselves and should impress every man with the great care that he should exercise to confine his acts to the authority which he has received from the Almighty.

Jesus himself, no doubt, was equally careful in regard to the authority which He held. He was called to be a Priest after the order of Melchizedek—that is, this higher Priesthood. He exercised the authority thereof among the children of men. He still is a Priest after that holy order. It was by virtue of that Priesthood that He officiated in the ordinances that He administered unto men. Though the Son of God, the Savior himself, did not attempt, because of His sonship, because of His high descent, to officiate among the children of men aside from and independent of the authority of the Holy Priesthood, that is, the Priesthood after the order of Melchizedek. It was by virtue of that Priesthood and authority that he officiated, that he administered the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, which John the Baptist announced unto the people he would do when He came. Jesus in administering that baptism and conferring that blessing, did so by virtue of and in the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood. He would not, as I have said, have dared to do this independent of that authority; so in laying His hands upon His Apostles He conferred upon them this power and this authority. He commanded them to go forth and administer unto the children of men by virtue of that power and authority, and the Church that He built up, and this Church of His that is now established in these last days, and the officers of it, derive their authority from that source. It has come down legitimately from the days of Melchizedek; in fact it has come down from our great father Adam. He received the Priesthood of the Son of God; He was ordained to that Priesthood, and it has come down by lineal descent from him unto all his children who have that authority today and who exercise it upon the earth. It can be traced in the same manner as the descent of man can be traced. It can be traced to Father Adam. He received it through angelic administration. It was bestowed upon him and upon his son Abel and upon his son Seth, and from them it has come down through the line of the Priesthood—from Seth to Enos, from Enos to Cainan, from Cainan to Mahalaleel, and so on down until the days of Noah, who received it from his grandfather. These men were ordained in their various generations to this Priesthood, the Priesthood after the holiest order, the Priesthood after the order of the Son of God. By virtue of this Priesthood Noah and his sons ministered and labored, as we are told, among the children of men to persuade them to forsake their sins and to turn to righteousness, lest the Lord should overwhelm them with a flood. This flood had been predicted long before it came. Enoch had beheld it in vision, and he went forth, as we are told in the record that has come down to us from him, and labored to the best of his ability among the children of men to avert the dreadful consequences of this threatened flood, which he had been informed by the Lord would overwhelm the inhabitants because of their wickedness. He labored in this Priesthood for 365 years and upwards—that is, he walked with God for that length of time—and by the exercise of that Priesthood he obtained such great power from God that he and his people were translated. Zion was not. It was taken to the bosom of the Lord. The Priesthood, however, was still left. His son Methuselah received it, and he bestowed it upon Lamech, and Noah received it, from Methuselah, and the sons of Noah received and exercised the authority of it in the midst of the children of men in order to save them, but were unsuccessful. Melchizedek received it, and because of his greatness and the power that he attained unto with God, he became so distinguished that the Priesthood after the order of the Son of God has been called after his name from that time until the present, to avoid, as we are told in the revelations, the too frequent repetition of the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Then Abraham received it, and he bestowed it upon his children. Moses, however, received it through a different line, as we are told. He received it from his father-in-law, Jethro, and exercised it among the people. It was the same Priesthood that his ancestor Abraham held, and by it he performed the mighty works that he accomplished.

To return again to Melchizedek. We find here that Paul in speaking about him says that he was “King of peace.” And he goes on to say, as we have it translated, that he was “without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life,” and the whole Christian world have gone astray over this expression of Paul, not being able to understand it, thinking that that which I read in your hearing referred to Melchizedek himself, when in reality it was the Priesthood he bore. It was after the power of an endless life. It had no beginning; no end. It is eternal as our Father and God, and it extends into the eternities to come, and it is as endless as eternity is endless, and as our God is endless: for it is the power and authority by which our Father and God sits upon His throne and wields the power He does throughout the innumerable worlds over which He exercises dominion. It is the power and authority by which the Son of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, has attained unto that which has been promised unto Him, and by which He has become the Savior and the Redeemer of the world.

This Priesthood, as I have said, came down unto Moses, but the children of Israel would not have it in their midst. We are told very plainly in the revelation that Moses sought diligently to sanctify his people and to lead them into the presence of God by means of this Priesthood, but they would not have it. The ordinances of godliness that were administered by it were not acceptable to that generation; they rejected them, and besought Moses to stand between them and their Father and God, for they could not endure His presence. Hence the Priesthood was taken away, and there was no exercise of the power and the authority of it among the Jews, except occasionally, when Prophets received authority from the Lord, until the days of the Savior, when it was restored once more in its fullness and in the plenitude of its power to the earth, and men began to exercise the authority thereof.

My brethren and sisters, we are building temples at the present time in which we have ordinances administered unto us for those who have died. Why is this necessary? It is because the Priesthood of the Son of God was withdrawn for a long period of time from the earth. The children of men have been born, they have lived, they have died without any of the ordinances being administered unto them by those who held the Priesthood of the Son of God. It is true that many sought after God in a certain manner and according to the light they had, and many obtained some degree of knowledge concerning God. Some of them had a testimony of Him through their faith and died at peace with God. Many of our ancestors lived in this condition, and God bore witness to them by His Holy Spirit that He was pleased with them. But what of that? Is that all that is necessary to place them in a saved condition? By no means. Something more than that is necessary to obtain for them the full remission of their sins and to place them in a condition where they can be saved and exalted in God’s presence. As I said to you in the beginning, something more was necessary for Joseph than that he was a Revelator, a Seer, and a Prophet to constitute him a servant of God empowered to administer the ordinances of life and salvation. A Wesley, a Luther, a Calvin, a Wycliffe, and a host of others who have arisen in the world, imbued with the highest and purest motives, and the highest and most intense desires for the salvation of their fellow men, have labored zealously to turn men to God, and to bring them to a knowledge of the Savior; but they have not had the authority of the Holy Priesthood. They themselves could not usher people into the Church of God. They could not legitimately administer an ordinance pertaining to the salvation of the human family. Yet God, in many instances, accepted of them, where they sought unto Him according to the best light they possessed; He accepted of them and their labors, and He witnessed unto them, by the outpouring of His Spirit upon them, that He was pleased with them and He whispered peace to their souls. In every land, in every nation, and among the people of every creed, men and women of this kind have been found, and according to their faith and diligence their works have been acceptable to our Father. Men have thought that the Christian lands and the Christian people, so called, have been the most favored of God in this respect. No doubt they have, because they have had knowledge concerning the Savior that other lands and other peoples have not had; but in pagan lands, where the name of Jesus has never been heard, where men have sought after God and endeavored to live according to the light that He has given unto them and the Spirit that He has bestowed upon them, and which He bestows upon every man and woman born into the world, He has accepted of them, and in the day of the Lord Jesus, the heathen will have part in the first resurrection. Our ancestors have, in common with others, been destitute of the power and the authority of the Holy Priesthood. Hence we build temples; hence we go into these temples and attend to the ordinances of life and salvation for our kindred who have died in ignorance of this power, or were in a position where they could not have it exercised in their behalf. They could not be baptized for the remission of their sins; they could not have hands laid upon them for the reception of the Holy Ghost; they could not have any other ordinance administered unto them, because the authority to administer was not upon the earth, and whatever might be done in the name of God or in the name of Jesus, by those who thought they had the authority, or who assumed to possess it, was of no avail so far as salvation was concerned; so far as acceptance by the Lord our God is concerned it was as though nothing had been done. Hence it is that in these last days, God having in His great kindness and mercy, opened the heavens once more and sent from heaven that authority which has so long been withdrawn—God having done this, we are put in possession of the authority to administer to each other the ordinances of life and salvation, and not only to administer to each other, but to exercise that authority in behalf of those who have lived before us, lived in ages that are past, so that we can connect generation unto generation until we reach back to the time when our ancestors did hold the Holy Priesthood. In this manner the work of salvation will progress, until throughout the millennium, temples will be built, and the servants and handmaidens of God will go into these temples and officiate, until all who have been born upon the face of the earth, who have not become sons of perdition, will be redeemed, and the entire family be reunited, Adam standing at the head.

You can see, my brethren and sisters, the importance there is in our having the Priesthood of the Son of God in our midst. You see how necessary it is that it should be exercised and exercised properly. You can see how necessary it is that the ordinances of life and salvation should be administered by those who are legitimately ordained to this authority. When a man lays his hands upon the head of his fellow man and professes to bestow authority, the mere profession of that authority will avail nothing unless he has indeed the authority and has it legitimately. A man who may profess to have the authority; a man who may say I have ordained this person or the other person, unless he has the authority to do so is a mere pretender, and his acts cannot be recognized nor acknowledged of God. I believe the time will come when it will be necessary for every man to trace the line in which he has received the Priesthood that he exercises. It is therefore of great importance in our Church that records should be kept, and that every man should know whence he derives his authority—from what source, through what channel he has received the Holy Priesthood, and by what right he exercises that authority and administers the ordinances thereof. I believe this is of extreme importance, and that where there are doubts as to a man’s legitimately exercising that authority, that doubt should be removed. Every man should be careful on this point, to know where he gets his Priesthood; that it has come to him clean and undefiled, legitimately; and when men are cut off from that Priesthood by the voice of the servants of God, there is an authority on the earth which God recognizes in the heavens, and that man is cut off from the Priesthood. He said in ancient days in speaking to His Apostles:

“Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain; they are retained.”

“Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

In these last days God has, in like manner, restored this same authority of the Holy Priesthood. He has restored to man the power to bind on earth and it shall be bound in heaven. He has restored the authority to remit sins on earth, and He, the Great Eternal, our Father in heaven, says that when these sins are remitted they shall be remitted, but when they are not remitted they shall stand against those who commit the sins.

Therefore, there is this authority in the Church, and you can witness the exercise of it, and the power of it, in your own experience. When ever the voice of the people of God, and the authorities that God has placed in His Church, whom He has ordained—whenever they lift up their hands against a man to cut him off from the Church, to withdraw from him the authority of the Priesthood that he has exercised, in every instance without a single exception, from the beginning of this Church until today, God has most signally and wonderfully manifested His approval of their acts and has withdrawn from that man (whosoever he may be, however great and mighty he may have been in the Church), His power and His blessing. It was so with Oliver Cowdery, the companion of Joseph, the man who received with him the Priesthood, upon whose head John the Baptist laid his hands, and upon whose head, also, the Apostles Peter, James and John laid their hands. These glorious blessings and favors that God gave to him did not prevent his falling into sin. When he did fall into sin and the Church and the Priesthood united in lifting their hands to cut him off from the Church, and take from him the Priesthood and the authority that he had so powerfully exercised and which God had favored him with so much, God recognized the action. Other men fell, also. Six of the original twelve fell into transgression. They were men of ability, men of talent. Some of them were greatly favored. Lyman Johnson had wonderful manifestations given unto him; but when he fell into transgression and the Church with the Priesthood united in lifting up their hands against him the power and authority that had distinguished him before was withdrawn and he became as other men. And so with all of them. So with Sidney Rigdon, that mighty man, that eloquent man, that spokesman for the Prophet Joseph, of whom the Book of Mormon had spoken for hundreds, yes, it may be said for thousands of years before his birth. He also, when the Priesthood and Church in Nauvoo lifted up their hands against him, fell like Lucifer, who once was a mighty angel in the presence of God, and exercised great authority; like Lucifer he fell, and the authority and power that had attended him were withdrawn, and he became like unto other men. This has been the case in every instance. Can you point out an exception? Look at them wherever you see them, the men that have held the Priesthood, who were bright and influential and powerful, whom God blessed, whose administrations God sealed when they were in the possession of that authority, exercising it in purity and in singleness of purpose—when this was the case He was with them; but when they went into transgression and fell and the Priesthood was taken from them, they became weak, and their strength was gone. They are marked among the people wherever you see them. Thus showing that God in these last days confirms the promise that He made unto His servants, that whatsoever they bound on earth should be bound in heaven, and that whatsoever they loosed on earth should be loosed in heaven.

It is by the exercise of this power in our midst that we are preserved. God has given it unto us. It is true He has placed this authority and power, it may be said, in earthen vessels. He has chosen weak men, fallible men, men who are subject to all the failings and weaknesses of human nature. But, nevertheless, it is the authority of God. It is the authority by which He has built up His Church in all ages. It is the authority, the only authority upon the earth that can act in His name. When a man has this authority and goes forth and confines himself to its legitimate exercise and keeps within the bounds of his authority, God is with him; God confirms that which he does; God places His seal and His blessing and approval upon his acts; and though all the earth should endeavor to undo them and to say they are of no effect, they will stand, nevertheless, and in the Courts of heaven will be recorded and confirmed. There is no power among men that can disannul these acts, that can revoke or invalidate them in any manner. It is this that raises this Church beyond the power and reach of man. Courts cannot affect in any manner the decisions or the acts or the ordinances that are administered by the servants of God. That which is done in the name of the Holy Priesthood will stand and will be fulfilled both in the world and out of the world, both in time and in eternity. Hence it is that when an Elder goes forth in the authority of the Holy Priesthood, and baptizes a candidate who has repented of his sins, God confirms that ordinance; God remits the sins of that individual; God by bestowing His Holy Spirit witnesses unto that soul that his sins or her sins are remitted. In like manner when an Elder lays his hands upon the head of a man or a woman who has been thus baptized and says unto that individual, “receive ye the Holy Ghost,” God in heaven, bound by the oath and the covenant that He has made, bound by all the conditions that pertain to the everlasting Priesthood, will cause the Holy Ghost to descend upon that soul, and he or she will be filled therewith. He receives the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, and it stands on the earth and it stands in heaven recorded in favor of that soul if he continues to observe the conditions under which that baptism and confirmation are administered. There is no human power that can deprive that individual of the fruits of that blessing which has been thus sealed upon him by authority of the Holy Priesthood.

So with other ordinances. When men go forward and attend to other ordinances, such as receiving their endowments, their washings, their anointings, receiving the promises connected therewith, these promises will be fulfilled to the very letter in time and in eternity—that is, if they themselves are true to the conditions upon which the blessings are promised. And so it is when persons go to the altar and are married for time and eternity. When the man who officiates says: “I seal upon you the power to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection, crowned with glory, immortality, and eternal lives,” just as sure as that promise is made, and the persons united (to whom the promise is made) conform with the conditions thereof, just so sure will it be fulfilled. There is no power anywhere in existence that can invalidate the force, the efficacy, or that can prevent the fulfillment of that promise when it is pronounced upon a man and woman by the authority of the Holy Priesthood—that is, there is no power but that which they themselves can exercise. It is a remarkable fact, that there is no blessing that God has promised unto us that any human being, that any angel, or any devil can take from us. There is no power of that kind that can take it from us. But a man himself, by sinning, can rob himself of his blessing; he can prevent its fulfillment; but no human being can do it beside himself. Remember this, Latter-day Saints; remember it, and treasure it up in your hearts, that you have salvation within your own keeping. If you are damned, you damn yourselves; you will be the instrument of your own damnation. It will not be because God will damn you; it will not be because Satan has such power that he can take away every blessing from you; it will not be because of anything of that kind. How will it come about? It will come to every soul by wrongdoing on the part of that soul. He or she alone can bring condemnation on himself or herself. There is no other power can do it. Hence if we are damned we shall have no one to blame but ourselves; we shall have no one to condemn but ourselves; it will be the result of our own agency, the exercise of that power which God gave to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden when he said, “of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shall not eat.” He gave them their agency. He said to them: “You can eat of every tree but one, and you can eat that also; but I forbid you to eat of it, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; if you do eat of that tree you will have to endure the penalty.”

In the exercise of their agency they did eat of that tree, and the result was expulsion from the garden of Eden and death. And so it has been with all the rest of the human family from that time unto the present. Every one of us will bring upon ourselves either salvation or condemnation as the case may be, according to the manner in which we exercise our agency before God. It is by this Priesthood and the exercise of it, that the blessings of God will flow unto us. It is by this Priesthood that we are bound together. God has surrounded us by bonds that are indissoluble. They cannot be separated. Time cannot wear them out. They will endure throughout eternity. It is a most wonderful tie, the binding tie of the Holy Priesthood. Never were a people upon the face of the earth since the Priesthood was among men, so bound together as we are being bound; and this is the glorious feature of the tie that binds us together; it can only operate upon those who are righteous; it can only have effect when righteousness prevails and where people live in such a manner as to receive the promises of God. A man who practices wrong may have all these blessings pronounced upon him; he may have been baptized and have had hands laid upon him; he may go through the Temple and have wives sealed to him and have every blessing promised unto him that is promised to the most faithful of the children of God, and yet if he does not live so as to be worthy of these blessings he will not receive them; he will, sooner or later, be bereft of them and left destitute. This is the glorious feature of this great tie that God has restored to the earth. It only binds the righteous. It does not bind the wicked to the righteous. It does not bind the wicked to the wicked. Its power and saving force can only be exercised or enjoyed where righteousness prevails. Hence when the people of God come forth in the resurrection, they will come forth pure. There will then be a separation of the wicked from the righteous. The righteous will enjoy their own society. In this probation it seems to be designed in providence of our God that we should all be mixed up together—no thorough separation. When we came to these valleys we thought we had left the world behind us. We thought that because these mighty mountains, which reared themselves on every hand as an impassable barrier between us and the rest of the world, Babylon was left behind. We thought we could live comparatively pure lives, and that we would be comparatively free from the associations of the world. But such ideas have been dispelled—very rudely dispelled—by that which has occurred. Babylon followed us. We find that these mountains are not sufficient to divide us from the rest of the world; that we must share with the rest of mankind the evils and the blessings that pertain to this mortal condition of existence. We have these circumstances to contend with. We are mixed with the wicked. The tares and the wheat grow together, and will grow until the harvest. This seems to be designed in the providence of our Father. But the time will come when there will be a separation, a final separation, of the righteous from the wicked, and that separation will be brought about by the exercise of the Priesthood which God has bestowed. That Priesthood will draw up from the earth the pure, the holy, the worthy. It will draw them up to the society of God. Everything that is not pure will be left behind. Then we will feel and know the value of that tie. By it the man will draw his wives to him; by it the father and mother will draw their children to them; by it generation will be linked to generation, until all will be united clear back to our father Adam, the father of the human race on the earth. All this will be accomplished by the power and authority of the Priesthood.

Do you understand, then, why the Priesthood of the Son of God is hated; why the lives of the servants of God are sought after; why it is that they are sought to be imprisoned and ensnared in various forms? It is because the adversary of souls knows full well that if this Priesthood remains on the earth, then farewell to his authority, farewell to his kingdom, farewell to the dominion that he has exercised over the children of men. It cannot continue its existence. He knows that as well as we do. He understands it perfectly. Hence he has ever sought to destroy from the face of the earth the men who have held the Priesthood of the Son of God. He was not satisfied until the earth drank the precious blood of the Savior of the world, and the life of every man who has held the Priesthood, and has exercised it from the days of righteous Abel down to the present time, has been sought for to a greater or less extent by they adversary of souls. He has used men as his agents to accomplish this. He cannot himself come here and exercise his power in his own person, because it was forbidden him, and his angels who rebelled with him, in consequence of their great transgression, that they should have tabernacles of flesh. This was their punishment, that they should not have tabernacles of flesh. But from the day he entered into the serpent in the garden of Eden to the present he has sought, through the agency of man or beast, the lives of those who have held the Priesthood. In this way he has sought to exercise his power and authority among men. He did so with Cain. Read in the Pearl of Great Price what he did with him; how he tempted him, and how Cain succumbed to his temptation. He said to Cain, “believe it not,” and he has been using the same words to all the children of men from that time to the present. “Believe it not!” When the servants of God have proclaimed the truth Satan has ever been ready to say, “believe it not!” He has instilled into the minds of the children of men hatred for the truth—that is, every one that has been willing to listen to him. He has entered into them, taken possession of their souls, and has used them to accomplish his wicked purposes. He has done this through man. He could not do it without he had some tabernacle to operate through. He could not deceive Eve—or did not deceive her—except through the means of the serpent. He entered into the serpent. The serpent was willing, doubtless, to let him enter, and he spoke through the serpent. It was the mouth of the serpent, but it was the voice of Satan that beguiled the woman. He was determined that God’s work should not prosper in the earth. He has determined that the children of men shall do as he wishes. He has been angry from the beginning because his plan was not adopted; because the Father did not see proper to select him to save man without the exercise of man’s agency; because of this he has determined that he will destroy the work. He has drenched the earth with innocent blood to accomplish his purpose. He is still engaged in that work. He would destroy us if he could. See what is being done all over the Territory. See the agencies that are at work. See how many men are being used by the adversary of souls to accomplish his purposes in regard to this people—a people unexampled for sobriety, for temperance, for industry, for frugality, for kindness, for good order, for all the virtues that men revere. Where can you find a people like them? There is no place upon the face of the earth where these virtues are better exemplified in the lives of the people than they are in Utah Territory. What woman cries aloud in our streets because of being defiled? What woman cries in vain for protection in all our land, from east to west, from north to south? Has the cry of distress gone up? Has the cry of the poor and the oppressed ascended from these valleys unto God unheard by the people? Do orphans and widows mourn and weep because of the circumstances which surround them? No, not in any part of our land. Not a beggar to be seen throughout all our settlements. No cry of distress either from man or beast. Virtue is upheld. Women are shielded as safely as they were when they were infants in their mother’s bosoms—shielded from harm, shielded from the seducer, from those who would wreck their happiness. This is the case throughout all our society. Do drunkards flourish among us? Are they encouraged? We know they are not. Are persons encouraged in litigation and quarrelling? No; nowhere in the land is there anything of this kind. Peace prevails; good order prevails; quarrellings are seldom heard; virtue is protected and encouraged. Marriage is encouraged everywhere. Yet on this land we are threatened as a people because of these things. Our liberty is jeopardized. All kinds of machinery are put into operation to destroy us, or to entrap and ensnare us, and deprive us of liberty.

Thank God, my brethren and sisters, for the restoration of the Priesthood. Thank God for the blessings we receive every day. Thank God for the persecutions we are called upon to endure. As the Savior said, let us rejoice and be exceedingly glad because the wicked array themselves against us in this manner. It is a testimony to us that we are not in harmony with the wicked; that we are not taking the course that Belial would like us to take; that we are pursuing the path that God has marked out for us. We can do this with perfect safety, and with the perfect assurance that it will all come out right. As I have said, there is no power that can separate a virtuous man and woman who have been united by the power of the Holy Priesthood; no power can do it; they must do it themselves if done at all. These ties that bind us together will endure through time and eternity. Let us so live that we shall never forfeit our claim upon the promises of our God, and that we may ever be faithful from this time forward, until we receive the fulfillment of all those promises in the presence of God and the Lamb, I ask in the name of Jesus, Amen.




The Fulfillment of Ancient and Modern Prophecy—God the Friend of the Saints—Persons Guilty of Adultery Having Had Their Endowments Cannot Again Be Baptized

Discourse by President George Q. Cannon, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Morning, October 5th, (Semi-Annual Conference) 1884.

I will read a portion of the 29th chapter of the Book of Isaiah, commencing at the 7th verse:

“And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, even all that fight against her and her munition, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision.

“It shall even be as when an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite: so shall the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against mount Zion.

“Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.

“For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.

“And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed:

“And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.

“Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:

“Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.”

There is much more in this chapter which I will not read, but which all can read at their leisure. In sitting and looking at the congregation these words have come to my mind:

“Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.”

Truly have these words been fulfilled in our eyes and in our hearing. God our Eternal Father predicted by the mouth of His Prophet Isaiah, concerning the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and the manner in which it should be received; and we today are living witnesses of the fulfillment of these things. God our Eternal Father has done and is doing a marvelous work and a wonder in the midst of the inhabitants of the earth. He is causing the wisdom of the wise to perish—He has caused it—and He is bringing to naught the understanding of the prudent, especially those who fight against Mount Zion, or against the covenant people of God. The manner in which our Father and our God has spoken concerning the great work of the last days with which we are identified, is very remarkable. When we examine the prediction of the holy prophets, it is wonderful how plainly everything connected with this work, so far, has been fulfilled; and as we have been told this morning—and we are told whenever the Spirit of God rests down upon the Elders of this Church to speak concerning the future—we have the strongest assurance that can be given by God to any people that as that which has been predicted in the past has been completely fulfilled up to the present time, so all the predictions which have been made connected with this work, or concerning it, will also be fulfilled to the very letter; not one word will fail, not one iota of the word of God concerning Zion will fall to the ground unfulfilled.

This work commenced, as we know, in obscurity, in weakness, with no particular demonstration in the sight of the world. A few individuals only knew concerning it. There were no remarkable manifestations for the world to gaze upon, for the world to wonder at, connected with its birth. It was born according to the will of God. The Church started out a good deal like we have started out—helpless. What is there more helpless, weak, puny, insignificant, it may be said, in many respects, than a human being when it is born into the world. Yet that being if nurtured properly, if trained as it should be, has before it a career of never-ending glory. That little puling infant may become, in the eternity of our God, a God, to sway power and dominion in the eternal worlds, to be the father of unnumbered millions. Yet at its birth who would anticipate such a future for it. So it was with the Church of our God. Born in weakness, cradled in obscurity, it came forth according to the command of God; not attended, as I have said, by any great demonstration that the world could gaze and wonder at, but attended by the blessing, the power and the promises of our Eternal Father concerning its future. It required faith on the part of those who then received it to believe that such a glorious career as was predicted concerning it, awaited it. No human being unenlightened and uninspired by the Spirit of God, could have anticipated such a future for this great work; and yet in these early days, when it was in this condition which I have attempted to describe, the Prophet Joseph and those who received revelations with him, looked forward to its future, and saw that which we behold today in actual reality; they saw in vision that which we participate in today, and far more than anything that we have yet seen. I have often been struck with the remarkable character of the predictions which Joseph, inspired of God, gave utterance to concerning this work. As I have said, scarcely a step in its advancement was hidden from him; scarcely a step but what was foreshadowed by him through the Spirit of God, which rested down upon him. Men doubt the divinity of this work. Men question the spirit of prophecy, or the divine mission of Joseph Smith. His life is maligned and misrepresented; his character derided and held up to contempt and scorn; yet it is not much to say, it is not much to anticipate, that before many years pass away, he will be recognized by the children of men as one of the mightiest Prophets that ever trod the footstool of God our Eternal Father. It is because his life has not been understood; it is because the work which he was the means in the hands of God of founding, is not comprehended; it is because his life has not been understood; it is because the work which he was the means in the hands of God of founding is not comprehended; it is because everything connected with this Church is beclouded by misrepresentation and falsehood that men assume the attitude they do towards this the great work of our God. In the very beginning of this work Joseph told the Saints, left on record the statement, as to how it would be received by the children of men—the hatred with which it would be met, the violence that would be manifested towards it, the various troubles through which it would have to pass. All these things he told, by his prophetic voice, as though their history had been written, as though they had taken place. Most graphically he has described to the Saints the results that should attend the increase of the work. At the first he said it should excite the animosity and hatred of a township. It did this. God in his mercy did not permit persecution to become so strong in the inception of the work, in the days of its weakness, that it could be overwhelmed. He restrained the power of the wicked, so that the growth and strength of the work would be commensurate with the opposition it had to contend with. As its circle enlarged, as its influence extended, opposition grew proportionately. From townships it extended to cities. As the work grew and outspread these limits, it excited the opposition of counties. As its influence continued to grow, from one county it extended to adjacent counties all the time growing, all the time increasing, all the time meeting with as much opposition as it could well bear up under. Wonderfully has the providence of our God been exhibited in the care exercised over His growing Church and His increasing people! Had it not been for this care, my brethren and sisters, we should not have the happy privilege that we enjoy this day of meeting together in peace in this Tabernacle. Had Satan been permitted to wreak his vengeance upon the Church in the commencement, it could easily have been extinguished in blood. Had the same power that was exercised against the Church in the days of Nauvoo, when the blood of our Prophet and Patriarch, and our present President, drenched the soil of Illinois—had that same spirit been permitted to have wreaked its vengeance upon the Church in the early days, it could, with no more excitement than was then raised, have completely extirpated the Priesthood from the face of the earth. But God, as I have said, in His wonderful providence, restrained the wrath of the wicked in the early days of the Church. Brother Franklin D. Richards has told us this morning, that for eight years after the birth of a child it is free from the power of temptation and Satan. God restrains the power of Satan—forbids him to exercise it over the tender child. And so in like manner did He restrain the power of Satan in the early days of this Church, so that there was a limit to its exercise over the Church in its weak condition. But as power increased, as the gifts of God were manifested, as the keys of the Priesthood were revealed unto the children of men, so did the wrath of the wicked, so did the violence of mobs, so did the combinations that were formed with the object of destroying the work of God increase in their strength and in their numbers. As the work progressed, so did the spirit of opposition progress, one keeping pace, apparently, with the other, and there is a wise purpose in this when we contemplate the great destiny that awaits this people. We can see the wisdom and the purpose of our God in permitting persecution to keep pace with the growth and the advancement of the work. It is just as necessary that we should be developed in our strength; it is just as necessary that we should be developed in our faith, as anything else connected with the work of our God. If it were not for this, we could not become the people that God designs; we could not fulfill the destiny that He has in store for us if it were not for these terrible ordeals to which this Church and this people have been subjected in the past, and to which they are now exposed, and which, doubtless, will continue to increase as the Church increases, until the day comes when the Kingdom of God will triumph over every obstacle and be fully established upon the earth.

But as I have remarked, as the Kingdom has grown and spread, so have the words of our beloved Prophet been literally fulfilled. Men say, “Oh, if you will only get a revelation concerning polygamy, if you will only lay polygamy aside, you will no longer have any opposition to contend with; if you will only conform to modern ideas concerning your domestic institutions, we shall have nothing to say against you. The opposition that finds now such strong support will be deprived of its war-cry and of the sympathy of thousands which sustain it at the present time—they will be deprived of this and you will go along like the rest of the churches, without having to suffer from the opposition and the hatred that are now manifested against you.”

Vain thought!—a thought that is only expressed by those who know nothing of the character of this work, who are not familiar with the history of this dispensation, and who judge of the effects of such movements by their human knowledge and the experience that they have with other systems. This system which God has established, this great work of our God, cannot be measured by human thoughts; the effects of this work and that which it is accomplishing on the earth, that which it will accomplish on the earth, cannot be estimated by anything that is known among men. It is entirely unique, unlike anything else that has ever been upon the earth since our Savior laid the foundation of that dispensation—there has never been anything like it among men, and therefore every calculation concerning it, every prognostication and every suggestion is at fault in regard to this work of our God. For, be it understood, as we well understand it as a people, that before the public revelation of plural marriage the opposition to this work was stronger, according to the strength of the people, than it has been since. Therefore, those who understand this work, know very well that anything of this kind—unless indeed the people should apostatize—would have no such effect as our friends in many instances think it would have.

As I have remarked opposition has continued to grow and increase until today, as we have been told and led to expect, upwards of half a century ago. Not only has it been a township, not only has it been a county, not only has it been a state that has arrayed itself against the work of God, and instituted measures for its overthrow and entire destruction, but today this great fact stares us in the face, it presses itself upon our attention, we cannot shut our eyes to it—this great fact, that today the United States in its governmental capacity, has pitted itself against the work of our God, and has passed measures for its complete overthrow and destruction. Most wonderfully has God thus far fulfilled every word that has been spoken by the mouth of His inspired Prophet! And shall we who witness the remarkable fulfillment of this prophecy—shall we today shrink from the issue that is presented to us? Shall we in view of all that God has said to us concerning the past, and all which he has predicted concerning the future? Shall we falter? Shall we tremble or grow weak in our knees? Shall we become palsied in our efforts and let go of that great work of our God which is entrusted to us? God forbid that there should be any weakening, that there should be any faltering, that there should be any lowering of the flag, or any weakening of the flag, or any weakening of the knees, or any trembling of the heart, in view of all that presents itself before us, however appalling the vision may be to mortal sight. God forbid that there should be anything of this kind in the hearts or in the actions of any man or woman who calls himself or herself a Latter-day Saint. For be it known unto you, my brethren and sisters, be it known unto all the earth everywhere, that God, years and years ago, told us by the mouth of His inspired Prophet, that these things, the fulfillment of which we now behold, would actually take place, and that we should have these things to meet and to contend with and to overcome.

What shall be the future result? Is this to be the termination, is this to be the end? No. As the Church increases, so will the opposition to it increase, until it will extend itself beyond the confines of our own nation to other lands and to other nations, until, in fact, the whole earth that has not received, or will not receive the Gospel of the Son of God, the message of salvation, of which we are the unworthy bearers, until, I say, all the nations of the earth will array themselves against the work of our God, and exert their power to destroy it, as a township did, as a county did, as a state did, or as the United States are now doing, and then the work of our God will rise in its sublimity, in its strength, in its Godlike power and assume its place, its rightful position among the nations of the earth. The puny infant, born on the 6th day of April, 1830, will become a stalwart man, full of power, full of the gifts of God, full of the excellencies that belong to perfect manhood in the sight of God, and will assume its fit and proper place de signed by God for it among the nations of the earth. This we may look forward to, this we may expect, and if we do not make calculations on these things we fail to comprehend the character of the work which He, our God, has established on the earth. Men wonder at our temerity—men wonder at the hardihood we have. They are surprised that we should dare think as we do. Only a few days ago we saw the statement of a friend in the Deseret News, appealing to us to get a revelation to do away with plural marriage; because if we did not, war and bloodshed would be the result. Have we not been threatened with this from the beginning? Yes, we have. We have had this ordeal to meet; we have had war threatened; we have suffered from bloodshed; but the burden of the Lord has been upon us, the hand of God has been over us. Though our pathway has been beset by all these difficulties, nevertheless the burden of the Lord has been upon us to carry forward this Gospel and to establish this work, let the consequences be what they may to us individually. We have the promise of God, that so far as the work is concerned it will stand, it will increase, until it fills the whole earth. We know not what the consequences may be to us individually. Each man must do his duty, and do his part faithfully, courageously, manfully, in the sight of God, being willing to endure all the consequences, with a full knowledge that God will save, redeem and exalt him if he will only be true to the holy Priesthood which he has revealed.

Then is not this a marvelous work and a wonder? Has not the wisdom of the wise in connection with it, perished? Has not the understand ing of the prudent been brought to nought? Has it not baffled all the calculations of human wisdom? Has it not overcome all the obstacles that have been put in its pathway by human strength and by all the ingenuity which human beings have been able to devise or employ or command? Certainly it has; and today human wisdom and human prudence are as much at fault as they ever were, and it will continue to be the case until all that God has predicted concerning this work will be literally fulfilled.

My brethren and sisters, when we look at this work by the light of the Holy Spirit, when God enables us to comprehend some of His designs and purposes, we can see how wonderfully He has wrought in our behalf, how wonderfully he has preserved this people. We today are a great people, it may be said. In some respects we are. We are few in numbers, it is true; but God in His wonderful providence has prepared this land, this glorious land, this mountain region, it seems as though He had prepared it beforehand for the ingathering of His people, and as a dwelling place for them. A better habitat cannot be found on the face of the earth, for the Latter-day Saints than this mountain region. A better or more admirably adapted people for these mountains cannot be found. The training we have had in the past admirably fits us for the labor of establishing cities, towns, villages and hamlets, opening farms, and developing all the resources of these mountain valleys. No other people are so well qualified for this labor as we are. No other land is so well adapted for such a people as this land that we now inhabit. The people and the land have been found. The people and the land have come together. The land is here. The people have found the land which is so surprisingly fitted for their habitation. And there is no people that I know anything of, who can compete with us in these mountain valleys. They are ours by right of possession to begin with, by right of settlement, and they are ours by right of our capacity to inhabit and hold them, and they are ours by right of the blessing and the favor of God our Eternal Father, bestowed upon us and upon the land itself. And, as President Taylor suggests, they are ours by purchase as well as by those other rights.

Shall we be uprooted from this land? Shall we be extirpated? This is a question that presents itself very often, doubtless, to our mind. In the providence of our God, will we be permitted to maintain our foothold here, and to continue to increase and to spread? We have the answer to these questions in our own possession. It depends upon ourselves.

“Oh,” says one, “It don’t depend upon you, it depends upon another power. It depends upon this: whether you will abandon your peculiar practices; whether you will lay aside your peculiarities of doctrine and of religion, and conform to the views, to the institutions, and the practices that prevail in the nation of which you form a part.”

These are the comments of those who are not of us respecting this question or questions, which I have asked. They think it depends upon our abandonment of those peculiar features which make us a distinct people from the rest of the nation. On the other hand I state here in the presence of heaven, in the presence of the Great God, our Eternal Father, that it does not depend upon this. It depends—I affirm it, and I am willing to stake my reputation upon it as a servant of God—it depends entirely, without question, without qualification; upon the Latter-day Saints themselves, whether they will continue to live in this land and to occupy it, and to enjoy the valleys and the peace which God has vouchsafed unto all who dwell here. I know that looking at matters naturally, we are in danger of being overwhelmed, extinguished. A people feeble as we are, a people possessing no greater resources than we have; a people of no greater numbers, of no greater wealth, of no greater influence in the earth—why, it would seem a bold and rash thing to say that we can withstand all opposition that may be brought against us. If God were to permit the world to launch its thunderbolts against this work; if God were to permit the world to unite against this work, to combine and to put in operation its forces against this work, I am willing to admit that there would be great danger of our complete overthrow and destruction, in fact it might be said there would be scarcely a question concerning it. But remember, my brethren and sisters, that this is the work of God. This is not the work of man. It has not been the wisdom of man that has guided this work. It has not been the wisdom of man that has sustained it. It has not been the wisdom of man which has defeated the plans of our enemies. It has been the wisdom and power of the Great God, our Eternal Father. He has chosen his instruments. But, then, how weak they are! How feeble they are! How insufficient their efforts and their words would be if He did not supplement them by the bestowal of His power, and by that overruling providence which controls all the affairs of the children of men, controls all the results according to His own good pleasure. But God our Eternal Father, will not forget His people. He will not forget the promises which He has made, and it is upon these that we must rely. It is for these that we must live. We must live—live, brethren and sisters—let it sink deep into your hearts. We must live ourselves so that we shall have the fulfillment of the promises of God granted unto us. If we so live, there is no power on earth that will be permitted to combine itself, or to array itself, or to exert its force against this work to its injury, or to retard its onward progress. Hear it all ye Latter-day Saints! Hear it! If I could speak so that the whole world would hear the utterance I would like to sound it in the ears of all mortal men—that there is no power that will ever be permitted to array itself, or to combine itself against this work of our God, to retard its onward progress from this time forward until the full consummation will be achieved—that is, if the Latter-day Saints themselves are faithful to God, if they will keep the commandments of God, if they will sanctify themselves and cleanse themselves from sin, and live pure and holy lives. If they will do this, then the success and the triumph and the continued growth and advancement of this kingdom and the continued maintenance of these valleys and these mountains are assured unto us as a people. There is no doubt of it. I say in the name of Jesus Christ, that it will be so. I promise it in His name, and in the authority which I have received from Him—that if we will comply with these requirements and conditions, there is no power upon earth nor in hell that can disturb this people, that can uproot us, that can unsettle us in these valleys and in these mountains; for God has given unto us this land, and from this time forward, we will go on increasing and spreading and enlarging until all that God has said shall be literally fulfilled concerning this work that He has established upon the earth. He will do a marvelous work and a wonder. He will cause the wisdom of the wise to perish; He will bring the understanding of the prudent to naught in all their calculations against this work which He is establishing on the earth, and with which we are connected. Glory to God in the highest for the privilege He has granted unto us, poor, weak mortal creatures, to be identified with His great work and have such glorious immutable promises given unto us! Oh! how our hearts should swell with gratitude to our God! How profoundly grateful we should be and how thanksgiving and joy should well up in our hearts unto our God for having given unto us the privilege of being connected with this great work.

Now, will those connected with it not have their trials? Oh yes. Those who would reign with Christ must suffer with Him. Those who would reign with the Prophets; those who would gain the glory that God has in store for the righteous must suffer with the Prophets and Apostles.

I have spoken in my remarks concerning the great work of our God. I have not yet alluded to individual cases connected with it. What will be the fate of individual members of the Church of God? That depends upon ourselves. But whether we remain connected with the work or not, this I know: I know that this work will roll forth in the manner in which I have, in my humble and weak way, attempted to describe to you. I know that. But whether I will be faithful depends upon myself. I beseech Him in the name of Jesus, that I may be faithful; that whatever may come in my pathway I may never, no never flinch, never weaken in my fidelity, in my courage and in my zeal for this glorious work of our God. I would rather die this instant in your presence, than ever falter in regard to this work. I love it. It is God’s work. I dedicated myself in my childhood to the cause of God, and I have endeavored through my life to be faithful to Him. If we will be faithful to our God He will redeem us, no matter what the circumstances may be through which we may be called to pass. We may wade through sorrow. We may have to endure persecution. We may have to meet with death. We may have to endure imprisonment and many other things that our predecessors had to endure. God may test us in this manner. Every human being that is connected with this work will have to be tested before he can enter into the Celestial Kingdom of our God. He will try us to the uttermost. If we have any spot more tender than another, He will feel after it. He will test all in some way or other. But like the promises that have been made in regard to the work as a work, so are the promises made to us as individual members of the Church. We have had certain promises made to us. We have had blessings sealed upon us. God has acknowledged them in the heavens when they have been sealed upon our heads by the authority of the Priesthood which He has restored. And you may notice it that as the work of our God has increased we have also increased in the power of the Priesthood. When Joseph Smith committed the keys of the Priesthood unto his brethren, and rolled the burden upon their shoulders of carrying forward this work—in his urgent haste to build the Temple of Nauvoo, in his urgent haste to commit to his fellow servants all that God had committed to him—from that day the Kingdom of our God has grown in majesty and in strength, and at the same time has called forth opposition such as it never met with before. Every Temple that we build excites additional hatred, increases the volume of opposition, the volume of hostility, and the threatenings of the wicked. Every Temple that we have thus far completed—and every Temple of which we lay the foundation—has been another testimony in favor of God, and has brought strength to the people of God, in enlisting the hosts in the eternal world upon our side; but at the same time there has been stirred up, from the very depths of hell, all the damned, Satan and his legions, to unite with their agents upon the earth in an endeavor to destroy this work, and to do everything in their power to obliterate it from the face of the earth: for hell is engaged at the work we are doing: hell is stirred up at that which we are accomplishing. Satan sees that which he dreads. He sees a people guided by the holy Priesthood. He sees a people gathered together according to the promise of God, filled with the power of God, led by His everlasting Priesthood, and seeing this, he is determined to exert every power, every influence that he can muster for the purpose of preventing the spread and growth of this work. He is determined to do this, and we can see it. But his power and influence are restrained; because, were it not so, the strength of the people of the Church of God is not such as to withstand the power of the evil one without succumbing to it. God, therefore, permits the opposition power to grow in proportion to the strength of the Saints, and if the contest be a sharp one, a keen one, a violent one, the sooner it will be ended. Because there is a termination to all this. There is a time coming when this opposition must cease and when God will stretch forth His arm, as He has already done, to accomplish His great work on the earth. As the nations of the earth reject the Gospel, He will pour out the judgments that are set to follow the preaching of the Gospel. God will fight for Zion. God will remember Zion. Her name is written on the palms of His hands. He never can forget Zion. A woman may forget her nursing child—and that is a very difficult thing to do—but our God will never forget Zion, never forget the promises made to His people. He looks down from His holy habitation, and sees the humble efforts of His people. He sees their devotion to His cause. He sees their willingness to lay down their lives for the truth. Our God is not ignorant of this. His eye is upon this people, and His blessing will be with us. There is no power that can prevent the outpouring of His Spirit upon us; no power whatever.

We are rearing, as I have said, temples. And who shall enter into the temples of our God? Shall the drunkard, the whoremonger, the blasphemer, the Sabbath-breaker? Shall the man who does not train his family as he should do, who is not living a godly life? I tell you, my brethren and sisters, the time has come when a higher standard of purity must be observed by us as a people than has been in the past. We must live worthy of these blessings which God has bestowed upon us. If we do not God will withdraw His Spirit; God would condemn His servant who stands at the head of this Church, were he to permit wickedness to enter into these holy places. Therefore, the servants of God are strictly charged concerning these things. O, you adulterers! O, you whoremongers! O, you drunkards! O you Sabbath-breakers! O you dishonest men, and you hypocrites who have a place and a name among the Latter-day Saints! I say, woe! unto you unless you repent of your sins, unless you forsake everything that is evil and humble yourselves before God, and ask forgiveness from Him; for I tell you the Spirit of God will be withdrawn from you, and you will be left to yourselves and become as withered branches only fit for burning, unless you heartily, sincerely, profoundly, from the bottom of your hearts, repent of all your sins and put them far from you. God will not bear with you any longer. The sinner in Zion will tremble. That day will come. Fear will come upon the hypocrite. Therefore, repent of your sins before it is too late. And if you do you may enter into the holy places which God has provided. But O ye Presidents of Stakes and ye Bishops, you must be on the watchtower about these things, for God will hold you accountable. The sins of the people will be found upon your garments in the day of the Lord Jesus, if you do not cleanse impurity from the midst of your wards. If you recommend men who are unworthy, through tenderness of heart and through sympathy, when they are wicked, I say to you, in the name of Jesus Christ, that the condemnation of God will rest upon you, and He will hold you to a strict accountability. For God has not chosen men to preside without laying upon them responsibility of a very grave and weighty character. He holds us accountable for these things. When a man has a relative and he condones the offense of that relative, through sympathy, he will not be free from responsibility. Now let it be known throughout all Israel, as the word of the Lord to us for the present, through His servant who stands at the head, that a man who commits adultery, a man who has had his endowments, cannot be baptized again into the Church. Let it be known throughout all Israel, as the word of God through His servant, who stands at the head, that a man who has had his endowments and commits whoredom, cannot now be received into the Church again. These must be cut off; because the law that was given in the early days of the Church concerning a man committing adultery once and being received back into the Church does not apply today. There has been a higher law since then, namely, the endowments, and men have taken upon themselves, and women also, sacred obligations in holy places. Therefore, hear it and understand it. Let it be given out in all the congregations of the Saints; let it be known everywhere throughout the land of Zion, so that if a man is tempted to do that deed, or a woman, that they will pause in view of the terrible consequences which await its commission—that they will pause and ask themselves the question—can I do this at the expense of my salvation and my exaltation in the presence of God? God has labored with us for fifty-four years and six months. He has revealed unto us His laws in plainness and power, so that all can understand, and if there be any now that do not understand, it is because they have not availed themselves of their privileges and opportunities. My brethren and sisters, this land must be a land of Zion to us. It will be a land of Zion to all who keep the commandments of God. It will not be a land of Zion to the adulterer, the seducer, the blasphemer, the Sabbath-breaker, the man who does not pay his tithing, to any who do not keep the commandments of God; but to those who do keep the commandments of God, and who keep themselves pure, it will be a land of peace, a land wherein they and their children after them can dwell in peace and righteousness. But let us be warned in this the day of our probation. Let us walk humbly before our God. Let us live so as to have his revelations constantly within us; let us live so that His Spirit shall burn in our hearts and in our bosoms and in our bones like a very fire, that in the end we may be saved and exalted in His Celestial Kingdom, which I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.




The Latter-day Saints Attract Much Attention—They Are the Victims of Scandal and Falsehood, But Have Been Sustained By the Spirit of Peace—God Has Revealed to Us the Purposes of Our Existence—God is the Father of Our Spirits—He Has Given Us An Agency—God Foreseeing that Adam Would Fall Prepared a Redeemer—We Are Here on the Earth to Prove Our Integrity and to Obtain a Knowledge of Good and Evil—The Conscience of Man is the Spirit of God Prompting Us to Do Right—God in His Wisdom Hides From Us the Glories Beyond the Veil—Conclusion

Discourse by President George Q. Cannon, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, September 28th, 1884.

We are living in a very peculiar age, and as a people we are doing a work which attracts the attention of mankind. Our name is known for good and evil in all lands. At no time in the history of mankind that we have any account of, has there been a people of our number who have attracted as much attention and created as great an interest in the minds of the public as these have who live in these mountains and are known as “Mormons” or Latter-day Saints.

The age in which we live is one in which intelligence travels with great rapidity. Knowledge is communicated with ease, and by means of the newspaper, the telegraph wire, and other facilities which the age affords, everything connected with us as a people is heralded from one end of the earth to the other in common with all the acts of the children of men. Unfortunately, however, with these facilities for the transmission of true knowledge, there are also equal facilities for the transmission of falsehood and misrepresentation. We have been the victims of falsehood and slander. Herculean efforts have been made to create false impressions concerning the Kingdom of God and the Church which our Father in heaven has established. It is well for us, however, that we have been prepared for this. In the commencement of this work of our God they who received it were warned of the character of the warfare that would be instituted against them. The Lord revealed in great plainness that it might cost them everything they held dear upon the earth, and that the warfare that would be waged against them would be one of unceasing hatred. These difficulties and trials, therefore, have not come upon the people without some degree of preparation for them. The Lord gave the spirit of prophecy and revelation unto His servants and unto His people to prepare them for these events, and there is nothing that has yet taken place connected with this work of our God that has not been made manifest through the revelations which He has given. This has been a great cause of strength to the people and has prepared them to bear with some degree of equanimity and fortitude, the trials and the afflictions to which they have been subjected. It is well for us that this has been the case. It is well for us, also, that accompanying the work of our God, there has been a spirit of peace bestowed upon those who have espoused that work. If this had not been the case how unfortunate our lot would have been! How unbearable! We could never have endured that which we have been called to pass through had there not been this spirit of peace that God promised in the beginning to bestow upon us. I doubt myself whether there can be found anywhere within the confines of the globe another people living in greater peace, in the enjoyment of more happiness, pure happiness, than can be found in these valleys from north to south. While all manner of evil has been spoken against the Latter-day Saints, while our names have been everywhere cast out as evil, God has given compensation to us by bestowing upon us these blessings to which I have referred.

It is well for us to look at the circumstances which surround us and to take a proper survey of all the events that lie before us, that are likely to take place in the future connected with us. God has given unto us the truth. This we have received accompanied by abundant testimonies. Those who have entered into covenants with God, who have gone down into the waters of baptism in obedience to His requirements, submitting to the ordinances that He has instituted for salvation, and have done this in sincerity and with purity of purpose, have received for themselves testimonies from God respecting the divinity of the work with which they have become identified. It is of the utmost importance that we should cherish this spirit and feeling, that it should be with us constantly in our movements, in every act of our lives, and that we should so live that the Holy Ghost will rest down in power and in testimony upon us. It is not only necessary that those who stand at the head should know for themselves concerning this work, its divinity and the purposes of God connected with it, but that every member, however humble and obscure, should in like manner receive of that spirit and enjoy its presence and its power, have its gifts resting down upon him or her. Each member should stand as a living witness of the truth that the Father has revealed, and which each of us who have complied with His requirements have received.

God has placed us here upon the earth to accomplish important purposes. These purposes have been in part revealed unto us. Probably it is not possible for men and women in this mortal state of existence to comprehend all the designs of God connected with man’s existence upon the earth: but much has been revealed upon this subject to us as a people. In this respect, if in no other, the Latter-day Saints should be the happiest, the most contented, the most joyous of all people that live; for not only has the knowledge of the past been communicated to us, but the present, that which is connected with our probation here, and also much knowledge concerning the future.

Now, if a man can only know whence he came, why he is here, and that which awaits him after this life, it seems to me that he has abundant causes of happiness within his grasp. Much of the unhappiness and uncertainty that prevail today in the minds of mankind arise from ignorance upon these points. Hence, we see the course that many of the children of men are taking. If a man knew exactly why God sent him here, the object that He had in giving unto him a mortal existence, do you think that men or women who had this knowledge would be guilty of suicide, would have any disposition to cut off their own existence and to destroy that gift which God in His mercy has given unto us? I do not believe that any human being who properly comprehends the object that God has had in placing man here upon the earth, and who has a desire to carry out that purpose, would ever attempt self-destruction. He would shrink from such an act with horror, and would never dare to destroy the earthly tabernacle given him by God. In these respects, as I have said, we possess rare advantages. It is a great favor from God to have this light. There is no unwillingness on His part to communicate it; but there is an unwillingness on the part of the children of men to receive it when it is communicated.

The Bible tells us we came from God. The Bible tells us He is the Father of our spirits. How is He the Father of our spirits? This is an important question, and one that each of us should endeavor to understand. I think it is of the utmost importance that the Latter-day Saints should understand and be able to comprehend this question thoroughly; because upon the proper understanding of this, must, to a great extent, depend their actions in this life.

It has been argued that because we have no recollection of any previous state of being, our existence must, therefore, have commenced at our birth—that that was the inception of existence so far as we are concerned. This is the general belief throughout Christendom. No body of worshippers who call themselves Christians, that we have any account of, have any belief in a pre-existent state for man. They consider his birth into mortality as the beginning of life for him. Yet the belief is universal among them that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the Redeemer of the world, had a pre-existence. It is the cornerstone of their faith. If Jesus did not have life till He appeared in mortality, then their faith in Him is vain, for He would not be God. But they profess to believe that He is God, the Son; that He dwelt in the heavens and was the Creator of all things before He took upon Himself humanity. In believing this they are correct. But why they should be willing to believe this concerning our elder brother Jesus, and at the same time be unwilling to believe that the whole family of man also existed in the heavens with the Father before they came here, is not clear. Those who saw the Savior while in mortality saw nothing in Him to distinguish Him particularly from other mortals. Doubtless those who were enlightened by the Spirit of God could perceive evidences of His superiority over ordinary men, and of His divinity. But did Pilate? Did the Pharisees and Scribes? In the eyes of the latter classes He was a common man and a vulgar impostor who deserved an ignominious death. His divine glory was veiled from mortal eyes. Would anyone have suspected from the appearance of the Savior, from His teachings, from His treatment of His disciples, that He differed so widely from them as to be of an entirely distinct species? Certainly not. He taught to them and to others the great doctrine of equality. If they would obey certain laws, conform to certain requirements, they were to be His equals, that is, be one with Him, as He would be one with the Father. In this teaching He offended the Jews. Their dislike to these ideas of His, found expression in the words: “that thou being a man, makest thyself God.” His disciples had the right to think from all that He taught, that if He had been with the Father before coming into this mortal life, they also had been there. If they were to be so closely associated with Him in the great future what was there to suggest to them that they had not been intimately connected with Him in the past? If He had been chosen from before the foundation of the earth to do the work which He was then doing, what inconsistency would there be in their being chosen also, as His ministers and associates, at the same time? To look at them as they traveled and labored together throughout Jewry, there was nothing unreasonable in the idea of their common origin.

The Lord Jesus was undoubtedly selected for the great mission of redeeming the world, because of His great qualities and His peculiar fitness as one of the Godhead. It is written of Him: “Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness; therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”

Who were his fellows? Were not all the distinguished of heav en’s sons there—they who afterwards made their appearance on the earth as Prophets, Apostles and righteous men? If He was chosen above all His fellows, and anointed with the oil of gladness, is it not consistent and reasonable to suppose that His faithful Apostles were also chosen and anointed to perform their part in the great drama of human existence for the enactment of which the earth was to be prepared? If He had companions in the heavens, or to use the language of the Scriptures—“fellows,” is it reasonable to suppose that He left them there while He came down here and took upon Himself mortality? Does it violate in the least any idea that we derive from the sacred records, to think that His “fellows” also came here, and, as He did, also obtained mortal tabernacles?

If we grant that His “fellows” in the heavens came here, as He did, and obtained mortal bodies, what shall we say of the undistinguished millions who have crowded their way forward into mortal life from the beginning? Shall we divide humanity into classes, and say one class had a heavenly existence before coming here, while another class sprung into existence at mortal conception or birth? If we are not justified, by either Scripture or reason, in placing the Redeemer of the world in a class by Himself, so far as pre-existence is concerned and in separating Him in this respect from His “fellows,” how can we find warrant for dividing the rest of the family of God, into two classes—one as having a pre-existence, and another as not having any life till they arrive here?

If it were possible for the Lord Jesus to descend from the mansions of glory and take possession of a mortal tabernacle, and be born of a woman in the shape of an infant, is it not equally possible that we all did the same? Everything that we know concerning the mysteries of this life justifies us in thus believing. But we are not left to speculation upon this point. God has revealed this in great plainness. The Bible proves to us that Jesus existed with the Father, and that He descended from His high estate in the regions of glory to become a mortal man; for He speaks Himself in praying to the Father, of the glory he had with the Father before He came here, that glory having been revealed to Him. Now, is there anything difficult or incomprehensible in the thought, that we all in like manner, existed with the Father, and with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, before we came here? The Lord in speaking to Jeremiah, reveals to him in great plainness, that he had a pre-existence. In the first chapter of Jeremiah, He tells him that before he was formed in the womb He knew him, that He chose him to be a Prophet, that he had been designated for the work that he had to accomplish; and thousands of others among mankind have felt—though they knew nothing by recollection of their previous existence—that they were called and designated and destined to accomplish great works upon the earth.

The revelations that have been given unto us as a people have communicated this doctrine unto us. We are taught in the record of Abraham, which has been translated and given unto us, that prior to man’s coming upon the earth, he had an existence with the Father, and that we all, all the inhabitants of the earth, every man and woman and child that has ever been born upon the earth, or that ever will be born on the earth—have had an existence with the Father, before coming here.

With these views that I have endeavored to set before you we can have some understanding concerning the object of man being placed upon the earth. If we are the children of our God, then God our Eternal Father has had an object, a great object to accomplish in placing us here on the earth. Jesus had a mission to perform. He came and took upon Himself mortality. A mortal probation was assigned Him. It was a part of the plan of salvation, not only connected with His exaltation, but with the redemption of the human family. There has been a purpose in all this. This earth has been created for a purpose. Man is here for a purpose. Death is in the world for a purpose, just as much as life, and all these are a part of the Divine plan connected with man’s existence in the past, at the present and for the future.

A great many have stumbled and have questioned the justice of our God, and have also gone so far as to question the very existence of God, because of the earthly circumstances which surround the children of men. It has been said by those who have taken this view that if there were an all-powerful Being, such as God is described to be, He would interpose in behalf of the children of men, and deliver them from the trying scenes and circumstances which they frequently have to pass through. The fact that man is in such a condition and is surrounded by such circumstances is frequently urged as an evidence that there is no God, that there can be no God, possessing such attributes as are ascribed to Him by those who believe in Him. Many people have been deluded by this kind of reasoning; they have be come infidels, and rejected all belief in God and in any providence connected with man and with man’s existence upon the earth. They have abandoned themselves to complete unbelief upon this point. But those who have sought after God, those who have humbled themselves before Him, and obtained knowledge from Him in the way that He has appointed—though to them all may not be perfectly plain—do perceive and acknowledge the providence of God in all the circumstances which surround them. They perceive His hand and acknowledge it in all the events connected with their mortal existence, and with the mortal existence of their fellows.

God has had a purpose in withdrawing himself from man; it has not been a part of His purpose to reveal Himself in His fullness, in His glory, in His power, unto His children upon the earth. Many, not understanding why this should be, and unable to comprehend any purpose in it, have stumbled and yielded to doubts and been ready, because of this, to deny His existence. Now, it has been a part of the plan of salvation, as revealed in all the records that have come down to us from the beginning—from the days of our Father Adam until now—it is a part of the plan of salvation, I say, connected with man’s existence upon the earth that God should thus withdraw himself, as it were, from man, and that a veil should be drawn between himself and man, and that if knowledge of Him be obtained, it should be obtained by the exercise of great faith and continued labor on the part of His children. But why, it may be asked, is this necessary? Why is it that God has not revealed himself with great fullness and power unto all the inhabitants of the earth, and left them in complete possession of all the knowledge necessary to prove to them that He is God? Questions of this kind are frequently propounded by men. They ask: Why does He not reveal Himself fully to His creatures? Why should He leave them a prey to doubt? Why should He leave them in darkness? Why should He give opportunities to the adversary of their souls to assail them as He does for want of that knowledge which He might communicate so easily. These are important questions, and they are questions which as Latter-day Saints we should understand.

We must remember, to begin with, that God our Eternal Father has given unto each of us our agency. There is no human being born on the earth from whom God has withheld his or her agency. We have as much right to exercise our agency in our sphere as God the Eternal Father has to exercise His agency in His sphere; just as much. It is not sacrilege, it is not any infringement upon the power of Our God to indulge in this thought or to have this belief. It does not detract in the least from His glory, from His power, nor from our dependence upon Him as an infinite and almighty Being to entertain this view of ourselves. Jesus said when He was upon the earth: “Be ye perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” How could we be if man did not have the power within him, through the agency which God has given him, to be thus perfect. Everywhere throughout the divine record where God has communicated His mind and His will to men, this principle is plainly manifest: that man has had given unto him, in the greatest freedom and without limit, the power to exercise his own agency. It was so in the beginning—in the very commencement of the work of our God upon the earth when He placed Adam in the garden and gave Eve unto him for a wife. He set before them the principle of knowledge—that is, He told them what they should do; He told them what they should refrain from doing. He told them that if they did certain things, certain penalties should follow. Had such a thing been possible and consistent with the purposes of Heaven, He might, at the very beginning, have prevented Adam from exercising His agency. Instead of saying to him, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat except the tree of knowledge of good and evil,” and leaving him free to eat of the fruit of that tree, He might have put it out of his power to touch or taste it. But not so; He gave him the opportunity of exercising his agency; He told him he could eat of every tree freely, except the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but that he should not eat of it, “for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” There was no attempt on the part of our Father to interfere with the agency of Adam in this respect. He left him perfectly free and in the exercise of that freedom Adam did partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. His wife, Eve, was deceived in eating of the fruit; she partook of it, being beguiled, yet in the perfect exercise of her agency, and after she had partaken of it, and become subject to the penalty that God had pronounced—the penalty of death and expulsion from the garden—then she came and told Adam what she had done. Adam was fully conscious of all the consequences that had attended this act. He knew perfectly well that the penalty would be executed—that that Eve had become mortal, that death had entered into her tabernacle, and the penalty that God had pronounced would be fully executed; that she would be thrown out of the garden and that they would be separated forever—that is, so far as this life was concerned. He knew this, and, fully conscious of all the consequences which should follow his partaking of the fruit, he partook of it. In doing so he was not deceived. He partook of it because of his desire to fulfill the commandments of God. God had given unto him this woman for a wife; they were bound together by immortal ties; but because of this act of hers there must necessarily have been a separation that would have endured as long as her mortal life endured. Adam understanding this, partook of the fruit, and as is said by the Prophet Lehi, “Adam fell that man might be, and men are that they may have joy.” If he had not fallen; if he had not partaken of that fruit, there would have been no human race on the earth. He understood this, therefore he partook of it and accompanied his wife. It was a part of the plan that was understood in the heavens before Adam was placed in the garden. God by His foreknowledge understood perfectly that Adam, in the exercise of his agency, would fall. Therefore He prepared a Redeemer in the person of His Son Jesus Christ, who we are told was “a lamb slain from before the foundation of the world.” God having seen that Adam would fall, that death would come upon him, and that a Redeemer would be necessary in order to redeem man from the effects of the fall—for unless there had been a Redeemer provided, Adam and all his posterity would have slept an eternal sleep, they would have been consigned to the tomb, and there would have been no redemption therefrom because of the penalty that had been pronounced by the Father upon him if he committed this act—God knowing all this provided a Redeemer. That Redeemer was the Son of God, Jesus our Savior, in whose name we all approach the Father, in whose name salvation is given unto the children of men. It was arranged beforehand that He should come and perform His mission in the meridian of time—lay down His life, as it was known that He would do through the wickedness of bad men.

Now, it may be said, why did not God prevent man and woman from taking this course? Because, as I have before said, it was right that they should exercise their agency. God—shall I say could not? Do I detract from His majesty and His glory by placing a limit on His power? I will say that God would not, because it would be in violation of His own laws; it would be in violation of those eternal laws which our God Himself recognizes, for Him to have interfered and deprived man and woman of their agency. But, knowing the consequences of their actions, He prepared a way for their salvation and their redemption, and thus it is that we are born on the earth. It was part of the design that we should be subjected to all these afflictions and trials and ordeals that belong to this mortal state of existence. This was part of the plan.

I have been told by objectors that God ought to reveal Himself in fullness. Why does He not do it? Because if He were to do so, we should be deprived of the opportunities of proving our integrity which we now have. He has marked out the path for us to walk in. He has designed that we shall struggle; that we shall exercise faith; that we shall contend with the temptations of the adversary; that we shall overcome evil; and by a continued exercise of faith progress in the course that He has assigned to us. It is absolutely necessary that we should be tempted and tried in order that we should receive the glory that He has in store for us. What would our salvation amount to; what would heaven amount to if we had never been tried, if we were to be placed in heaven without trial, without effort, without exertion upon our part to overcome evil and to contend with those influences that abound in this mortal state of existence. It would not be such a heaven as God inhabits, and such a heaven as He designs that all His children shall inhabit. For let me say to you, my brethren and sisters, God designs that we shall be like Him. He designs that His children shall attain unto the Godhead—that is if they will obey the laws necessary to bring them up to that exaltation, and before they can attain unto that, before they can enjoy that, before they can be in a condition to appreciate that, they must pass through just such scenes of trial and tribulation and affliction as we are subjected to in this mortal condition of existence.

There is an interesting passage in the new translation of the Bible, in the Pearl of Great Price, that I have often been struck with. It shows clearly the feelings of our first parents after they had been thrust out of the Garden of Eden. I will read a paragraph or two:

“And Adam called upon the name of the Lord, and Eve also, his wife, and they heard the voice of the Lord, from the way towards the garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not, for they were shut out from his presence.”

That was one of the consequences of the fall. They were shut out, and man has been from that time to this shut out from the presence of the Father.

“And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flock, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.* * * *

“And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.

“And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and daughters.”

Now this couple blessed God because of their transgression. Their eyes were opened; they had become as Gods; for the devil in tempting Eve, had told a truth when he said unto her that when she should eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil they should become as Gods. He told the truth in telling that, but he accompanied it with a lie as he always does. He never tells the complete truth. He said that they should not die. The Father had said that they should die. The devil had to tell a lie in order to accomplish his purposes; but there was some truth in his statement. Their eyes were opened. They had a knowledge of good and evil just as the Gods have. They became as Gods; for that is one of the features, one of the peculiar attributes of those who attain unto that glory—they understand the difference between good and evil. In our pre-existent state, in our spiritual existence, I do not know how extensive our knowledge of good and evil was. That is not fully revealed. But this I do know, that when we come to earth and become clothed with mortality we do arrive at a knowledge of good and evil, and that knowledge prepares us for that future existence which we will have in the eternal worlds; it will enable us to enter upon a career that is never ending, that will continue onward and upward throughout all the ages of eternity. It is for this purpose that we are here. God has given unto us this probation for the express purpose of obtaining a knowledge of good and evil—of understanding evil and being able to overcome the evil—and by overcoming it receive the exaltation and glory that He has in store for us. Here we are subjected to the power of the adversary. He can tempt us, try us. Satan has power in the earth, and in the exercise of his agency he tempts the children of men. He has rebelled against God in the exercise of his agency; for he was a great and a mighty angel in the presence of our Father and our God. But in the exercise of his agency he rebelled against the Father and drew away with him one-third of the hosts of heavens, who likewise exercised their agency and followed him in preference to following the Lord God, their Father; and in the continued exercise of his agency he tempts us. He has power over us to that extent in this fallen condition. At the same time we have the sweet influence of the Spirit of God pleading with us to do that which is right, pleading with every human being that does not drive it from him; for every human being has a portion of the Spirit of God given unto him. We sometimes call it conscience; we call it by one name and we call it by another; but it is the Spirit of God that every man and woman possesses that is born on the earth. God has given unto all his children this Spirit. Of course it is not the gift of the Holy Ghost in its fullness; for that is only received by obedience to the commandments of God—to the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But it is a Spirit that pleads with men to do right. The heathen have it. There is no degraded Indian in these mountains or valleys who does not have a portion of that Spirit pleading with him to do that which is right. It pleads with all the heathen, the Pagan as well as the Christian; the Methodist and Baptist as well as the Latter-day Saints. Everywhere throughout the earth where man dwells this Spirit rests upon him. It comes from God. It pleads with man to do right. It pleads with man to resist the blandishments of Satan. No man ever did a wrong but that Spirit warned him of it to a greater or less extent. No man ever put his hand forth to do a wrong to his neighbor without that Spirit telling him it was wrong. He never put forth his hand or influence to wrong the gentler sex—to commit sin in that direction—without that warning voice which is in every human being telling him of the sin. On the other hand, there is the influence of evil, the influence of the Adversary enticing men to do wrong, leading into paths of sin, leading them away from righteousness and from God; infusing doubt, infusing unbelief, infusing hardness of heart, infusing rebellion against everything that is holy and pure. We are all conscious of the existence of these two influences within us. There is no child that has reached the age of accountability and in the possession of his or her faculties but what has had these two influences pleading with him or her—one entreating to do right, the other enticing to do wrong, to commit sin and to violate the commandments of God. If we cultivate the good influence it will lead us into the truth (if we are not already in possession of the truth) when we hear it. It was through this Spirit that you Latter-day Saints accepted the Gospel in the various lands where you heard it preached. That Spirit that came from God taught you by its sweet and heavenly influence that it was the truth you heard, and when you espoused it you had a feeling in your hearts that you cannot describe. It was the testimony of the Spirit of God that this was indeed the truth of heaven, and it led you to obey the commandments of God; and to receive in greater fullness and power the gift of the Holy Ghost, which you have received through obedience to the commandments that God has given.

Time will not permit me to say a great many things that I have on my mind. I see the time is nearly expired. But I wish to say that we had an existence before we came here. “But,” says one, “I do not remember anything about it.” No, you do not. You do not remember the day you were born on the earth, yet you will not deny that you had an existence at that time. When you were a year old you do not remember beginning to walk, yet you will not deny that you had an existence then. God, in His wisdom, has withdrawn the recollection of these things from us. If we could understand the glory we once had with our Father in heaven we would be discontented in dwelling in this condition of existence. We would pine for the home we left behind us. Its glory and its beauty, its heavenly graces and delights were of such a character that we would pine for it with that homesickness that men have some partial knowledge of here on the earth. It is said that at one time in the French army, the bands were forbidden to play certain airs because of the effect they had upon the Swiss soldiers whom they employed. These Swiss airs would arouse such sensations of homesickness as to cause the Swiss to throw down their arms and desert and go back to their native valleys and mountains. Now, if such a feeling of homesickness can be brought about in that way, how much more would it be the case if we could recollect our association with our Father and God in the eternal world! Wisely, in the providence of God, this knowledge is withdrawn from us. We can have a glimpse occasionally, through the revelations of the Spirit to us, of the glory there is awaiting us, and sometimes when men and women are approaching death—when they are ready to step out of this existence into the other—the veil becomes so thin that they behold the glories of the eternal world, and when they come back again—as some have, we all probably have met those who have been snatched from death—they come back to this mortal existence with a feeling of regret. They have had a foretaste of the glory that awaited them; they have had a glimpse of that glory that is behind the veil; and the love of life is so completely lost—the love of earthly home and friends is so completely taken from them, that they desire with all their hearts to take their exit from this life into that glorious life which they knew was on the other side of the veil. Has not this been the case in many instances? Certainly it has. Therefore our God in His wisdom has withdrawn this knowledge from us, and left us to seek for and obtain that aid and strength necessary to enable us to successfully battle with and overcome the powers of evil that assail us on every hand.

My brethren and sisters: it is for us to contend with the evils that surround us, patiently bearing all the afflictions and trials that belong to this mortal life. We should remember our destiny, and at the same time look forward to that glorious future that God has prepared for us. We should be filled with the most noble aspirations. We should never condescend to commit any low, mean, unworthy act when we consider who we are, and what we are, and the glory that God has promised unto us if we are faithful to Him. Let us keep those things in mind. Let us bear patiently the afflictions that come upon us. Let us contend earnestly for the faith that God desires we should have, seeking unto Him for that knowledge which He has to bestow, and though we may not behold His face now, yet we will behold it, and will dwell eternally with Him and His Son Jesus in the heavens, if we keep the commandments He has given unto us.

May God grant that we may do so, is my prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.