The Object of Cooperation—It is Right to Sustain One’s Friend—Economy Should Be Observed By All—Our Friends Are They Who Aid Us in Time of Need—Keep the Sabbath Day Holy

Discourse by Joseph F. Smith, delivered in the Ogden Tabernacle, Saturday Afternoon, July 18, 1884, being the Quarterly Conference of the Weber Stake of Zion.

I am pleased to see so many of the Saints assembled here on this the opening day of conference, and I certainly hope that those who have taken the trouble to come to conference on the first day may be amply repaid for so doing.

We ought, I think, to be very willing to perform any duty that may be required of us as Latter-day Saints, on the Sabbath day, and at other times appointed for the gathering of the Saints. We should come together for the purpose of being spiritually strengthened and encouraged, that our faith may be increased, and that we may learn the duties devolving upon us as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

We are not nearly as united as we ought to be. If the people of Huntsville, whose Bishop has been reporting them, had been united as Saints should be, and as I trust they will be some day, the probability is that they would have been much better off financially than they now are.

Cooperation is a principle that President Young was very much concerned about, and that he endeavored, with his brethren, to impress upon the minds of the people throughout the land. Under his administration our cooperative institutions were established, and by his efforts, many of the people, especially in the southern part of Utah and in Arizona, became united together in organizations that were called “the United Order.” The object was cooperation, that the principles of union in labor as well as in faith might be developed to its fullest extent in the midst of the Saints. We all believe in being united in faith. We all profess to believe that there is one God, one faith, one baptism, and that we should be one people; but notwithstanding we profess this, our individuality stands out very prominent. Many of us cannot see just the same as our brethren see, and we cannot possibly be wholly united with them. We do not expect—I do not expect at all events—that the people will come to see eye to eye all at once. I believe this to be a work of great importance, and one that will not be accomplished without years of experience, and perhaps we will have to suffer many chastisements and reproofs before we are brought to a unity of the faith. Yet we ought to try to see eye to eye as far as possible. Our being united does not destroy our individuality at all. We can be just as strong in our in dividuality when united in regard to the purposes and designs of the Almighty, as we can possibly be when in opposition to these purposes and designs, and to our brethren who are united in regard to the things of God. Indeed I think it evinces a stronger characteristic of individuality for men and women to bring themselves into harmony and union with the purposes of the Almighty than to be divided against them or separate from them. Of one thing I am certain, and that is, that we ought to seek to become acquainted with the principles of economy. We ought to use the best wisdom, judgment and understanding we can obtain in our temporal as well as in our spiritual affairs and concerns. You take a community like the community of Huntsville, or any community of Saints in a Ward, isolated, perhaps, in a little valley, and if there is union and cooperation in their midst, thousands and tens of thousands of dollars can be saved in their own pockets; while, on the other hand, if individuals are left to do as they please, thousands of dollars will go out of their pockets into the pockets of speculators and others. I know that to be true. As Bishop Hammond has very truly said, there is in Huntsville from half a dozen to a dozen mowing machines, when two or three would be ample to do all the work which is required to be done in that place with these machines. This being the case, as stated by the Bishop, then all the thousands of dollars which have been expended upon these superabundant machines and other implements, have gone out of the possession of the people into the pockets of outsiders and strangers; whereas if they had been contented with having just enough, they could have devoted the balance of their means in other directions, or have placed it in such a position as that it would bring them interest, instead of being operated and used by their enemies, perhaps, for their political or religious destruction. There is no reason why the principle of unity should not operate in the midst of the Latter-day Saints, except that we are too selfish. It should not be “every man for himself;” but we are many of us covetous. We desire in our hearts to have everything our neighbor has, whether we need it or not. In order to be like our neighbor; in order that we may associate with him, and that our daughters may associate with his daughters, and our sons with his sons, we must have as fine a house, as costly furniture, as many horses, as many plows, reaping and mowing machines, and headers, as many cows, as many sheep, and as many luxuries, whether we can afford it as well as our neighbor can or not. Now, all this is extremely foolish. It is wrong. We see a vehicle which costs $200, more or less, and we do not absolutely need it—only we must have it to be like our neighbor—would it not be better to put that money in the bank, or lend it to somebody in business, and thus while benefiting others with our capital, secure interest upon it for ourselves. Certainly it would. In that way the money would be a help to you; whereas if you purchase the wagon you do not require, in addition to paying an exorbitant price in the purchase which is generally the case, the wagon will very likely be left exposed to the sun and wet—as wagons too frequently are left by a great many of the people—and soon becomes useless. Some men think nothing of buying a very nice carriage, spring wagon, or other wagon of some kind, and treating it in this way until it is ruined and worthless. The same with valuable agricultural machinery; too much of it is bought and used for two or three days, or two or three weeks in a season, or for a whole month in a year—say a reaper, or a mower, and where is it the rest of the year? Outdoors, in the sun and rain, and before it can be used next season, it must be taken to a blacksmith’s shop for repairs; for through exposure it has become rusty, the wood season checked, every joint loosened. This is the way some people use their agricultural implements whereas with very little trouble they might be stored away in the shed, kept dry and secure, and ready for service when the next season came round. But the better way of all is—in a small community where every man knows his neighbor, and where all are on neighborly terms, to consult together, and to form into cooperative bodies for the purpose of transacting the business necessary to be transacted outside of their little community. By thus consulting together, and using the combined wisdom of the community as to the number of reapers, mowers, etc., they will need to do the work of the community, a great deal might be saved. One man need not own the machinery. They could all join together, each contributing a certain sum towards its purchase, which they could use to mutual advantage, and see that it is well housed and taken care of when out of use. In this way a community could save thousands of dollars year after year, and I know the principle is a correct one for the people of Zion. It is a principle of economy. Money is something which a man ought to be able to take care of, and use wisely if he has it; if he does not know how to take care of it, it will escape from his pockets, it will take the wings of the morning and flee away.

I think we ought to be united in all these things, in the purchase of machinery and of the vast amount of merchandise that we consume, that we do not manufacture or produce among ourselves. The very foundation of all real prosperity is home industry and home manufacture. This lies at the foundation of the prosperity of every permanently prosperous community. It is the source of wealth. I think, therefore, we ought to encourage home industry. We ought to cooperate together, if there is any kind of business in which there is a profit, let us operate together and have the benefit of that profit among ourselves, instead of giving it to strangers. Why should we encourage the stranger to come here and import wagons to sell to us when we have got the brains and the money to sustain that business among ourselves? Why should we not rather do such things ourselves, and supply business and employment for our own people, many of whom are idle, and be independent of the world, and if there is a profit in it, put that profit in our own pockets, and use it for the comfort and happiness of our wives and children? It is a fact—at least it was reported to me as a fact by a person who is supposed to be acquainted with the business—that one man who deals in wagons and agricultural implements in Utah Territory, put $30,000 into his pocket in one year, and he is only an agent for the company he deals with. I presume that the company put an equal amount into their pockets as the result of his labors; but the agent, as I was informed, put $30,000 in his own pocket as the result of his business. Who is it that buys the wagons, the plows, the harrows, the reapers, the mowers, etc., in Utah Territory? Is it the Gentiles? No, it is the Latter-day Saints. Those who are not Latter-day Saints are not engaged in agriculture as a rule. If there are any of them tilling the ground they are exceptions to the rule and they are very few and far between. They are not the people who use the wagons. They may it is true, use some of them at the mines in hauling, etc., etc. The vast bulk of this class of merchandise is consumed by the Latter-day Saints. The result is that the Latter-day Saints put that $30,000 into the pocket of the man I allude to. That same man sat on a Grand Jury and helped to indict a man for marrying, acknowledging and maintaining his wives. That same man stands head and shoulders above many of his fellows in opposition to the Latter-day Saints, and in using his power abroad as well as in Utah against the interests of the people from whom he gets his money.

I do not feel that the Latter-day Saints are using their best wisdom, or acting upon the principle of the highest intelligence, when they sustain and patronize such men, especially when they have got the skill, the intelligence and the means to do all such business independent of all strangers or foreigners. I know they can do it if they will only cooperate together and do business upon business principles. Our honesty with the world is proverbial. It is the universal testimony of outsiders that trade with us here, that the Latter-day Saints are the most honest and best paying people they ever did business with. I believe this is true. If a Latter-day Saint owes a Gentile and also a brother, it is said, he will pay the Gentile every time in preference to his brother. Well, I do not know that this is right. I think if he cannot pay the full amount to both, it would be proper to pay each a proportion. Would not this be just as honest—instead of paying all to the Gentile and leaving your brother without anything? I think so. I do not know that we do this sort of thing to any extent; but I have sometimes heard of people that were thought to be very good payers to the outsiders, but were not so prompt in paying their brethren. I do not think that is exactly right. I think we ought not to go in debt at all beyond what we can pay. The Lord commands this. We ought to live within our means if possible, and if it is not possible and we keep living beyond our means, it is only a question of time when we won’t even have credit, our friends won’t trust us, and we will have to live within our means or die, or steal, as someone has added. When it comes to that kind of thing I feel as Dr. Johnson did when the beggar accosted him, “Why don’t you go to work?” said the Doctor. “I cannot get any work, I cannot get anything to do, and you know, Doctor, I must live.” “Well,” said the Doctor, “I don’t see the least necessity for it.” (Laughter.) When a man won’t pay his debts, or will not live within his means, when he knows what his income is: when a man will continue to get in debt to his neighbors as long as he has got any credit, knowing all the time that he cannot pay his way—well, I do not know that there is much necessity for that man to live. Perhaps the world would be as well off if he should pass away quietly somewhere. Every Latter-day Saint ought to learn—and especially every youth in Israel ought to learn—that everyone of them should try to make the world a little better for their being in it, if they possibly can. We all ought to try to do some good. If we will do that, then there is some necessity for our living. God will bless us in our labors and efforts; and if we will cooperate together in our temporal affairs and conduct our business on correct principles, the world will be better for us, and we will be better off in the world. We will have more means to build up the kingdom of God; we will have more to use for the gathering of the poor, for the building up of Zion, for the benefit of the Saints, and for our own benefit, and we will have much more power in the world. Money is a powerful agent in this degenerated age. It is said that knowledge is power. Knowledge should stand above money or wealth. But in the present condition of the world money takes the lead.

This ought not to be the case with us. The Lord says in the scriptures, “make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness.” What for? Obviously that you may have power and influence with the unrighteous.

Now, if we had wealth—and we are bound to have it by and by—those who worship wealth would either covet it and hate us and try to destroy us to get it, as some are doing, or else they would be bound to acknowledge the power we could wield through the possession of wealth. Well, now, we need not be at all afraid of the former. They cannot destroy us; for the Lord is our friend, and we are His friends. He will not suffer them to rob and plunder us; and take away from us our possessions; or if He does, he will give us more abundantly; because if we possess riches they will be the Lord’s. We will dedicate them to Him, if we do our duty, and they will belong to Him, and surely the Lord will protect His own. We should not despise these things, but should endeavor to use them for the accomplishment of the all-wise purposes of the Almighty. The Lord has said, Zion shall become the richest of all people. The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness of the earth is His. The cattle upon a thousand hills are His. The gold and the silver and all the mineral wealth of these vast mountains belong to the Lord. And although the wicked may get possession of them for a little while, yet they will perish by and by, and leave all their wealth behind. They cannot take it beyond the grave. By and by the Lord will overrule these matters in such a way, that the righteous, those who love God more than they love the world, and will use their means to the honor and glory of God, shall be made possessors of the earth and the fullness of it. It will be theirs to use for every purpose that is right and legitimate—to manipulate armies if necessary—to manipulate nations, or the world if necessary, to the carrying out of the purposes of Almighty God. We do not want to lavish it upon the lusts of the flesh. We should not desire it for that purpose.

If we do, God will withhold it from us, I hope; for no man should have wealth to gratify the lusts and desires of the flesh. We should use it to the honor and glory of God’s name, and to the building up of His Kingdom.

We ought; therefore, to cooperate together in our mercantile institutions. It is as much a duty to sustain these as any other duty devolving upon us, or now as at any former time. We should patronize our brethren. We ought to see eye to eye in regard to these things. We ought to be united in everything. We should cheerfully extend a helping hand to our neighbors from time to time. If our neighbor is oppressed, if he lacks knowledge or understanding or skill in the management of his affairs, you that have skill and experience and know how to husband your strength and means, ought to take pains to instruct your neighbor or brother who is not as thoroughly posted as you are. The instructions he receives in this way will benefit him and will not injure or impoverish you. We ought not to be miserly in regard to anything we possess, that is good. We can freely impart to others and not diminish our own store. We can impart our experience for the benefit of others. If our brother is about to buy something that is apparently not required, it would be a benefit to the poor man, who lacks judgment, for the Bishop or his counselors, or for his Teacher to go to him and endeavor to show him the mistake he is about to make. I think we ought to cooperate together in all these matters, be one in all respects, and not be like the world, “everyone for himself and the devil for all.” The Lord has told us in a revelation through the Prophet Joseph Smith, that except we are one, we are not His. He has said that we must be united. We must be one. We should see eye to eye. We should help each other; help our neighbor and our brother. The Savior very beautifully describes who is our neighbor in the example of the good Samaritan. Who is your neighbor? Who is your brother? Why, the man that ministers to you in the time of need; the man that is your friend in the time of adversity; the man that extends a helping hand and saves you from error; the man that gives you the benefit of his experience and of his superior intelligence—he is your neighbor, your friend and your brother. Those who have embraced the Gospel—and especially those who are endowed with the authority of the Holy Priesthood, and are called to be saviors upon Mount Zion—ought to be the first and foremost in this good work of being saviors of their neighbors, and of their fellow creatures on the earth. It is our duty to teach correct principles, to instill them into the hearts of our children, and into the hearts of our neighbors, and to see that these principles are grounded in our own hearts; for except a man has been converted himself, and has a knowledge of the truth, it is folly for him to undertake to teach others the right way. But when the principles of the Gospel are thoroughly established in our own hearts, we can then go in the midst of our fellow creatures and say, “Come and follow me.” We can do this consistently. We are called to be teachers of these principles to the inhabitants of the earth. We are called to be God’s people, not a people of the world, for we have come out of the world. We ought to be united in all things temporal as well as spiritual. With God all things are spiritual. There is nothing temporal with Him at all, and there ought to be no distinction with us in regard to these things. Our earthly or temporal existence is merely a continuance of that which is spiritual. Every step we take in the great journey of life, the great journey of eternity, is a step in advance or in retrogression. We are here in mortality, it is true; but we are ahead of that condition we occupied before we came here and took upon us mortality. We are a step in advance of our former state. What is the body without the spirit? It is lifeless clay. What is it that affects this lifeless clay? It is the spirit, it is the immortal part, the eternal being, that existed before it came here, that exists within us, and that will continue to exist, and that by and by will redeem these tabernacles and bring them forth out of the graves. This whole mission of ours is spiritual. The work we have to do here, although we call it temporal, pertains alike to our spiritual and our temporal salvation. And the Lord has just as much right to dictate, to counsel, to direct and guide us in the manipulation and management of our temporal affairs, as we call them, as He has to say one word in relation to our spiritual affairs. So far as He is concerned there is no difference in this regard. He looks upon us as immortal beings. Our bodies are designed to become eternal and spiritual. God is spiritual Himself, although He has a body of flesh and bone as Christ has. Yet He is spiritual, and those who worship Him must do so in spirit and in truth. And when you come to separate the spiritual from the temporal, see that you do not make a mistake. Some are inclined to say, “the Lord has a right to manage my spiritual affairs, but I will not allow Him to interfere with my temporal affairs.” Why, bless your soul, temporal things pertain to spiritual things. They minister to the spiritual man though they may be clothed with a tabernacle of flesh. The Bishop has as good a right to counsel the members of his Ward in relation to the purchase of merchandise or machinery, where and when he can do so wisely, as he has to counsel them in regard to spiritual matters. He has just as good a right to do the one as the other. He is a father to the people of the Ward. He is placed over the people for the purpose of leading them in the way of truth and righteousness, and it is his business to look after the temporal—if you chose to make any distinction between the temporal and spiritual—as well as the spiritual things. And President Taylor has as much right to direct the people in temporal things as he has in spiritual things. We ought to acknowledge that right, and ought to do it freely and cheerfully, because we should see that it is right. We are under no compulsion to do so if we do not see that it is right; but at the same time it is a correct principle, and every Latter-day Saint ought to have intelligence enough to know that this is the best thing for him to do—to be united, to be one with his brethren.

Now, you are going to have an election of county officers by and by. What are you going to do about it? Are you going to split tickets? Are you going to the polls to scratch off names, and put on the name of somebody else? I should hope not. I do not care who is put in office, only so far as we must obey the commandments of the Lord in these things. We must choose righteous men, good men to fill these positions. Hence if you will only get good men to fill these offices no one should care who they are, so that you have agreed upon them, and were one. We want you to be one both in temporal, political and religious things, in fact, in everything you put your hands to in righteousness. We want you to be one, one as God and Christ are one, seeing eye to eye. Do not try to crush anybody, or build yourselves up at the expense of your neighbor. Do not do it; it is a custom of the world, and it is a wrong principle. It is said in the Scriptures that the chil dren of the world are wiser in their generation than the children of light. What does that mean? Why as I see it, when you go into Catholic communities, you will find that Catholics send their children to Catholic schools, and not to Protestant schools. You will find them patronizing Catholic merchants. They do not patronize Protestants. If there is anybody to put up for office they will put up their friends and vote for them. If you travel as missionaries throughout the world you will find this to be true. I have seen it in San Francisco, in New York, and in Great Britain, and upon the Continent, and wherever I have been, and yet it is accounted criminal for Latter-day Saints to follow this rule. We might commit treason against the United States if we did not send our children to Gentile schools, or if we did not patronize Gentile merchants. If a Gentile wanted to run for an office, and we did not vote for him, why, we are in rebellion against the government of the United States. I am going to tell you in a few words, what I think about these matters. I think the Latter-day Saints ought to send their children to be educated by those who are their friends, and not by their enemies. I think the Latter-day Saints ought to patronize their brethren and sustain them, in preference to their enemies. I believe that the Latter-day Saints ought to cooperate together and do their own business instead of asking the Gentiles to do it for them. I believe the Latter-day Saints ought to unite together in regard to all these things, and do their business upon the most wise and economical principles, instead of every individual doing it himself, wasting his means, sustaining his enemies, and getting materials he has no use for. That is what I believe in regard to these matters.

Today is Saturday, I am glad of it; for somebody would say I was breaking the Sabbath if I were to preach to you in this way on the Sabbath. But this is Saturday. It is the Jewish Sabbath. It is only unto man that there is a Sabbath. The Lord has set apart one day in seven upon which man should rest, because it is needful for the body and the mind. We should worship the Lord upon that day. Man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for man.

It is for us to do our duty and live our religion on one day the same as any other. Let us serve the Lord in righteousness all the day long, and He will be our Father and Friend, and our enemies shall have no power over us. This is my testimony in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Divine Mission of Joseph Smith—Prediction and Promise Fulfilled—Many Others Will Yet Be Verified—The World’s Hatred of the Saints—Indisputable Evidence of the Divine Origin of the Church—No Power Can Destroy It—Missionaries Should Go to the Fields to Which They Are Called—The Effects of Obedience and Its Opposite

Remarks by President Joseph F. Smith, delivered at the General Conference, on Sunday Morning, April 6th, 1884.

As the time remaining is so short, I think I could not do better than devote it to continuing the subject dwelt upon by Brother Cannon.

The Doctrine and Covenants, as well as the Book of Mormon, contains indisputable evidence of the divine calling and mission of Joseph Smith. For instance, I will refer the congregation to the revelation given Dec. 25th, 1832, in relation to the great war of the Rebellion, with which all are more or less familiar. A portion of that revelation has been literally fulfilled, even to the very place indicated in the prediction where the war should commence: which, as was therein stated, was to terminate in the death and misery of many souls. Again, in the revelation given in March, 1831, to Parley P. Pratt and Lemon Copley, the following remarkable prediction is found:

“But before the great day of the Lord shall come, Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness, and the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose. Zion shall flourish upon the hills and rejoice upon the mountains, and shall be assembled together unto the place which I have appointed.”

Who, let me ask, unless he was inspired of the Lord, speaking by the gift and power of God, at that remote period of the Church’s history, when our numbers were few, when we had no influence, name or standing in the world—who, I would ask, under the circumstances in which we were placed when this prediction was made, could have uttered such words unless God inspired him? Zion is, indeed, flourishing on the hills, and is rejoicing on the mountains, and we who compose it are gathering and assembling together unto the place appointed. I now ask this congregation if they cannot see that this prediction (which was made many years before the idea prevailed at all among this people that we should ever migrate and gather out to these mountain valleys), has been and is being literally fulfilled? If there were no other prophecy uttered by Joseph Smith, fulfillment of which could be pointed to, this alone would be sufficient to entitle him to the claim of being a true Prophet.

Again, in the revelation given Feb. 24th, 1834, this remarkable promise and prophecy is found:

“But verily I say unto you, I have decreed a decree which my people shall realize, inasmuch as they hearken from this very hour unto the counsel which I, the Lord their God, shall give unto them. Behold they shall, for I have decreed it, begin to prevail against mine enemies from this very hour. And by hearkening to observe all the words which I, the Lord their God, shall speak unto them, they shall never cease to prevail until the kingdoms of the world are subdued under my feet, and the earth is given unto the saints, to possess it forever and ever.”

Is there a person within the sound of my voice, or anywhere else upon the face of the wide earth, who can say that this promise has failed, that this prediction is not founded in truth, that so far it has not been fulfilled? I stand before this vast congregation, and am at the defiance of any human being to say, that this was not pronounced by the spirit of truth, by the inspiration of the Almighty, for it has been fulfilled, and is being fulfilled, and that, too, in the face of opposition of the most deadly character: and what remains will be fulfilled literally and completely. And it is the fear in the heart of Satan that this will be the case, that causes him to stir up his emissaries to oppose the Kingdom of God and seek, if possible, to destroy this great and glorious work. For it is a living fact, a fact that fills the hearts of the righteous and Godfearing with unspeakable joy and the hearts of the wicked and ungodly with consternation and jealous fear, that this work of God, this work of re demption and salvation in which we are engaged, is moving forward and is destined to continue in its onward march until the kingdoms of the world shall be subdued and brought under the law of Almighty God. And that this will come to pass, I can assure you, the enemy of all righteousness comprehends as well as we do. Yes, he knows that this will eventually be the case, better than many who profess to have received the Holy Spirit in their hearts; and, therefore, he is diligently seeking to stir up the hearts of the wicked to fight against the Saints of God, until they are discomfited, and Zion is free.

These predictions concerning the triumph of the cause of God over wickedness, and the triumph of the Saints of God over the wicked who contend against them, were uttered by Joseph Smith in his youth, in the early rise of the Church when, to all human appearance, their fulfillment was absolutely impossible. At that time there were but few who could believe, that dared to believe the truth of these predictions. The few, comparatively, that did believe when they heard, were those whose minds had been enlightened by the Holy Spirit of promise and who, therefore, were prepared to receive them. As these predictions have been fulfilled, so those not yet fulfilled will come to pass in the due time of the Lord; and as this latter-day work has so far grown and assumed force and power in the earth, so it will continue to do, and there is no power beneath the Celestial Kingdom that can prevent its growth, or the consummation of all that has been predicted concerning it.

I do not wonder that the enemies of righteousness are stirred up about this matter. I am not surprised that the wicked rage and the heathen imagine a vain thing. I am not astonished when certain men get mad, or that their souls are vexed within them, that their minds are perplexed, and that they feel wrought up with anger against a people who have never injured them or theirs. One thing I am surprised about in relation to this matter is, that the Latter-day Saints themselves should not be as strongly aroused in the interest of the Kingdom of God, as the enemies of truth are against it. When I contemplate the situation as it is presented to my mind, I am astonished that so many of the Latter-day Saints should be so indifferent and neglectful of duty that they cannot, apparently, appreciate the importance of living their religion. I am surprised that there should be any necessity for reformation among the Latter-day Saints, that is, if I should be surprised at all; though surprised is not the appropriate word to use, the word grieved, perhaps, might be used with greater propriety in this sense. If I would allow myself to indulge in a feeling of sorrow, I might indeed feel grieved that any of us should find ourselves in a condition to require reform in our lives. It certainly cannot be in consequence of the lack of evidences of the divinity of the work in which we are engaged, as there are so many such evidences transpiring every day in our experience; in fact the whole spectacle of this latter-day work is overwhelming in undeniable proof to the people of God, at least, that it is His work; while the whole world, on the contrary, are arrayed against it, because they cannot see the light. You who have obeyed the requirements of the everlasting Gospel, and have been chosen out of the world, having received the gift of the Holy Ghost, through the laying on of hands, it is your privilege to receive the witness of the Spirit for yourselves; it is your privilege to discern the mind and will of the Father respecting your own welfare, and respecting the final triumph of the work of God. Why, then, should we be told that “Mormonism” is true? Why should we need any further proof that Joseph Smith was a true Prophet, or that his predictions are being fulfilled? Why should it be necessary to prove that the word of God has come to the world through him, and that that word is indisputable, that the world cannot gainsay it? The doctrines and revelations believed in by the Latter-day Saints have now been before the world for 54 years, and during that time what the world has been pleased to call “Mormonism” has been to them an unsolved problem. The sound of the Book of Mormon has rung in the ears of the civilized world since the year 1830, when it was published, and the report of it had gone forth and was being agitated some time before that; and during the 54 years that that book has been made public to the world, there has been no stone unturned by the most learned men of the age to disprove it, and make it appear a delusion and imposition. In this, however, they have signally failed, not being able to produce a single argument that cannot be successfully met by even the boys of this community. This may seem a broad assertion, but it is nevertheless true. Our Elders have been sent out as missionaries to the different nations now for the last 50 years, during which time they have testified to the truth of the Book of Mormon, and have invited investigation of its pages. And although many in their day and time have arisen either to ridicule or disprove the truths it contains, their efforts have been futile, resulting only in their own dismay. It cannot be disproved, for it is true. There is not a word or doctrine, of admonition, of instruction within its lids, but what agrees in sentiment and veracity with those of Christ and His Apostles, as contained in the Bible. Neither is there a word of counsel, of admonition or reproof within its lids, but what is calculated to make a bad man a good man, and a good man a better man, if he will hearken to it. It bears the mark of inspiration from beginning to end, and carries conviction to every honest-hearted soul. And because the Book of Mormon is a true and authentic record of a people who once lived and flourished on this American continent—and because God Himself has undertaken, through us, His weak and erring children, to establish His rule and government on the earth in answer to the prayers of His Saints, ancient and modern, and according to the counsels of His own will—because it is verily so, devils rage and the willfully wicked are angered and seek the life and liberties of the Saints, and the destruction of the work of the Lord; but in the name of Israel’s God, they never will be able to accomplish their purposes against us. As I have often said, so I repeat, the best time the world ever saw, or ever will see, to destroy “Mormonism,” was on the 6th day of April, 1830. But they did not do it then, and so they let the opportunity slip: and have ever since been blindly struggling in the hope of doing something towards it. But the more they struggle, the wider of the mark their efforts will be. This is my testimony. If I had the power, and was called upon to do it, I would go to the ends of the earth and would lift up my voice in testimony of this fact to every nation, tongue and people, for I know that it is true.

Before I close I want to say a word to our young men who are called as missionaries. When a man is called to go on a mission, and a field of labor is assigned him, he should, I think, say in his heart, not my will be done, but thine, O Lord. We find it a little difficult sometimes to get the right men to go to certain distant lands to preach the Gospel. It is sometimes thought, especially among our young Elders, that Great Britain is the finest field of labor in the world; and, consequently, they want to go there. They do not like to go to the Southern States; they do not much fancy the Northern States; they do not care to go to New Zealand, or to the Sandwich Islands. When we call men to go to Great Britain, it is gratifying for them to respond cheerfully to the call; and when we call others to go to the Northern States, to New Zealand, or to the Sandwich Islands, we do not want any to come and say, they want their field of labor changed to England. We expect every man to be on hand to go wherever he may be called, and then he may expect the blessing of the Lord to attend him in his labors. I have been thankful only once since I went to the Sandwich Islands on my first mission, and that has been ever since.

Soon after I was sent, there was a very bright, intelligent man called to go to the Islands, and it was one of the causes of his apostasy. “What,” said he, “send me, a linguist, a man well read, an educated man, and an Englishman at that, to preach to heathens?” He felt that he was not looked upon with that consideration and respect that his scholarly attainments commanded; he felt that he was slighted; and apostatized, and returned to his native land, where he wrote a book against us, and has since died. When Brother George Q. Cannon was called to go to the Islands, he had no such feelings. He learned the language, and translated the Book of Mormon into the Hawaiian language. He performed a glorious mission, and is now one of the First Presidency of the Church. And singular as it may appear, out of the number of Elders that have been on missions to the Sandwich Islands, I can count more Apostles, more Presidents of Stakes, Bishops, and leading men, than can be found in the same number that have gone to any other country. Why is this? Perhaps it is because they manifested their willingness to descend below all things, that they might rise above all things. If a man in this Church would be exalted, let him humble himself; and he that would exalt himself, God will abase.

God bless Israel, and pour out His Spirit upon the household of faith, and strengthen us to do the labors required of us, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Desirable Condition of the Saints—Characteristics of Prophets—The Governing Power of God in Human Affairs—Man’s Ingratitude Toward God—The Enlightening Power of God’s Spirit—Man’s Origin, Probation and Destiny—A Base Conception of the Object of Life—The Savior’s Noble Example—The Source of True Happiness—Great Truths Revealed Through Joseph Smith—Eternal Associations and Destiny of the Saints—How to Attain to a Knowledge of the Things of Eternity

Discourse by President Joseph F. Smith, delivered in the Assembly Hall, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, February 17th, 1884.

I trust that the Spirit of the Lord may direct what I may say. It is sometime since I stood before a congregation in this building; my labors have been directed in a great measure in other settlements where I have enjoyed seasons of pleasure and profit, witnessing a good spirit and a lively feeling among the Latter-day Saints wherever it has been my privilege to meet with them. I believe that the same good spirit prevails among the Latter-day Saints in this City and throughout this Stake of Zion, and that there is generally a feeling of confidence and faith in the hearts of the Saints in the work of the Lord, and in His servants. This is gratifying, when we realize the importance of our being united, and of our faith being centered in the Lord, and in the great work God has begun in the earth in these last days. Without unity and confidence no faithful Latter-day Saint can be truly happy.

Brother Abraham Hatch has dwelt upon the idea he had when a boy, in relation to the characteristics of a Prophet. I presume that his idea was similar to that entertained by most of the civilized world today, and yet I do not think that there is any ground or reason for such opinions respecting the character of men who have been inspired of God. While he was speaking upon this subject, my mind reverted to some of the ancient Prophets whose words have been handed down to us as words of inspiration, and so far as my mind can recall, all those eminent men of ancient days were, I believe, young men when they were called to their respective positions. From the first man Adam, down to the latest inspired man of God of which we have any account in the Scriptures, they were all chosen, so far as my knowledge goes, when they were in their youth. Abraham became an inspired man when very young. He was called to be a Prophet and Patriarch in his youth. His sons Isaac and Jacob, were not at all old men when the prophetic inspiration fell upon them. And when we come down to later times we find that the Prophet Samuel was chosen and dedicated unto the Lord in his childhood. He was a Prophet from his youth up. David was a youth, Daniel was a youth, Isaiah was a youth, and so far as I recall to mind, the Prophets were all young men when they were called to the work that they had to perform. Jesus himself, the greatest of all Prophets, only attained His thirty-third year when He was offered as a sacrifice upon the cross. Most of the Apostles who were chosen by our Savior were young men, and those who have been chosen in this dispensation were all of them, in the beginning, young men, some of them almost beardless, much less having flowing beards, grey and bald, wrinkled and old, as we see the prophets and patriarchs pictured by modern artists, representing the modern conception of them. President Taylor himself, when he was called to the apostleship—which is a prophetic calling—was only a young man about thirty years of age, and there were many younger than he, and all the way down to the present time nearly every man called to the prophetic calling has been called in his youth, grown up under the inspiration of the Almighty, and has developed under the influence and power of the Spirit of the living God. There is, I think, good reason for this. The young mind is much more plastic, much more susceptible of impressions and of influence than the older mind. A youth can be conformed, so to speak, in his ideas, thoughts and feelings, to the will and requirements of heaven, much easier than in old age. Nevertheless, I believe that God is able to inspire any man who is good, faithful, pure and righteous in his desires; God delights in the willing mind and in those who keep His laws and commandments. Men have been raised up in almost all ages of the world to perform certain works, or accomplish certain missions; they having been inspired for that work and mission from their infancy, and it may be even before they were born into the world. No doubt all the prominent men who have figured in any dispensation of the Gospel since the days of our father, Adam, until the present, were inspired of the Almighty from their childhood, and were chosen and selected even from or before their birth. God has His eye upon the world; He overrules and controls all things, notwithstanding He is shut out from the councils of men by their unbelief. His authority is not admitted by the world. The children of men ignore His right to govern and control, to dictate or to counsel in the earth. Nevertheless, He governs and controls the nations of the earth and individuals, and all things are subject to His power. I do not mean that all mankind are obedient to His will; I do not mean that they are willing to acknowledge Him, or that they know Him. I am rather inclined to the opinion that they are ignorant entirely of Him and of His power, and that they do not conceive it possible that He governs and controls the affairs of the nations of the earth. Nevertheless, He does so, and while “man proposes, God disposes;” while the leaders of the nations of the earth plan and scheme, and seek to govern according to their ideas, yet God Almighty overrules their acts and brings forth results which, in accordance with His wisdom, are designed to hasten and ultimately consummate His grand and glorious purposes in the earth. And I believe that one of the greatest sins of which the inhabitants of the earth are guilty today, is the sin of ingratitude, the want of acknowledgment, on their part, of God, and His right to govern and control. We see a man raised up with extraordinary gifts, or with great intelligence, and he is instrumental in developing some great principle. He and the world ascribe his great genius and wisdom to himself. He attributes his success to his own energies, labor and mental capacity. He does not acknowledge the hand of God in anything connected with his success, but ignores Him altogether, and takes the honor to himself; this will apply to almost all the world. In all the great modern discoveries in science, in the arts, in mechanism, and in all the material advancement of the age, the world say: “We have done it.” The individual says, “I have done it,” and he gives no honor or credit to God. Now, I read in the revelations through Joseph Smith, the Prophet, that because of this, God is not pleased with the inhabitants of the earth, but is angry with them because they will not acknowledge His hand in all things. I am inclined to acknowledge the hand of God in all things. If I see a man inspired with intelligence, with extraordinary ability and wisdom, I say to myself he is indebted to God for that wisdom and ability, and that without the providence or interposition of the Almighty, he would not have been what he is. He is indebted to the Lord Almighty for his intelligence, and for all that he has; for the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. God originated and designed all things, and all are His children. We are born into the world as His offspring; endowed with the same attributes. The children of men have sprung from the Almighty, whether the world are willing to acknowledge it or not. He is the Father of our spirits. He is the originator of our earthly taber nacles. We live and move and have our being in God our Heavenly Father. And having sprung from Him with our talents, our ability, our wisdom, we should at least be willing to acknowledge His hand in all the prosperity that may attend us in life, and give to Him the honor and glory of all we accomplish in the flesh. We are particularly dependent upon the Almighty for everything we possess of a worldly character. There is not a man on the earth possessed of the wisdom or power of himself to cause even a spear of grass to grow, or to produce a kernel of wheat or of corn, or any fruit, vegetable, or any material whatever which is essential for the sustenance, the happiness and the well-being of a human creature in the world. It is true we can go to the earth, we find it prepared to a certain extent, and we cultivate, plow and plant, and we reap the harvest; but God has ordained that the fruits of our labor shall be in subjection and in obedience to certain laws which He Himself controls, and which He has kept out of the power of man. Man may boast of having a great deal of wisdom; of having accomplished a great deal in this 19th century; but, if he did but know it, he derives the ability by which he accomplishes these things from God his Father, who is in heaven. He does not possess the power in and of himself.

I read a Scripture something like this: that “there is a spirit in man.” Now, if that should stop here, there would not be perhaps anything very remarkable about man; for the spirit of man knoweth only the things of man, and the things of God are discerned by the Spirit of God. But while there is a spirit in man, it is further stated that “the inspiration of the Almighty giveth it understanding.” There is not a man born into the world but has a portion of the Spirit of God, and it is that Spirit of God which gives to his spirit understanding. Without this, he would be but an animal like the rest of the brute creation, without understanding, without judgment, without skill, without ability, except to eat and to drink like the brute beast. But inasmuch as the Spirit of God giveth all men understanding, he is enlightened above the brute beast. He is made in the image of God Himself, so that he can reason, reflect, pray, exercise faith; he can use his energies for the accomplishment of the desires of his heart, and inasmuch as he puts forth his efforts in the proper direction, then he is entitled to an increased portion of the Spirit of the Almighty to inspire him to increased intelligence, to increased prosperity and happiness in the world; but in proportion as he prostitutes his energies for evil, the inspiration of the Almighty is withdrawn from him, until he becomes so dark and so benighted, that so far as his knowledge of God is concerned, so far as the future or hopes of eternal life are concerned, he is quite as ignorant as a dumb brute.

I was remarkably struck upon this point only a short time ago by the expressed opinion of an individual who is considered to be very intelligent—a philanthropist, going about the country, and said to be doing a great deal of good, who remarked in my hearing that the future was a blank; that we knew nothing about it; that we knew nothing as to the condition of the spirit after death; nor as to the pre-existence of spirits; and that all these things must be left without consideration as matters wholly beyond our reach. This, in substance, was the opinion expressed by this very intelligent person who is going about the country doing so much good. I do not doubt that individuals may go about doing good, relieving present necessities, throwing out practical ideas and suggestions, as to temporal concerns and administering reproof that will be greatly beneficial to very many in their present worldly condition. But in view of the possibilities of the great and eternal hereafter, and the important contingencies of the past, involving our origin and our destiny, some of us are so constituted that we cannot content ourselves to rest such vital matters here, in the midst of so much ignorance, uncertainty and doubt. We desire to know something about the future and the past, as well as of the present. What is the object of our being? Whence have we come? Whither are we going? What consequences are dependent upon this life? What is to be gained or lost? To whom are we responsible, seeing we do not owe our existence to our earthly parents alone, nor to chance or hazard? Is there any reward or punishment hereafter for good or evil committed in the flesh? We desire to know something about these things, if it is possible to know anything about them. What is the standard of right and truth, and who is the great example? Those who say in their hearts that it is impossible to learn anything about these things; that it is sufficient to content ourselves with that which we can see and hear and handle, and with that which only materially affects our present existence; that that is all we have to concern ourselves about, can be but little removed beyond the brutes, or the animal creation. Such may be classed with those whom the Savior referred to in the parable of the rich man who said, “Take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” In other words, “Let us have pleasure in that which we possess or enjoy today.”

This reminds me of a remark that I was told a certain man—said to be learned in the law—had made in reference to the religion of the Latter-day Saints. He remarked something like this: “You believe in having joy; you claim that your religion is for the purpose of securing to you the greatest amount of joy. Now, on the back of this you deny yourselves of this, that and the other. Your people are called upon to deny their appetites, to control their passions, and to crucify the flesh, etc. My enjoyment consists in whatever I can get that is good to eat, to drink or wear; whatever ministers to my bodily ease, or comfort, to the gratification of my tastes and appetites. I deny myself nothing that I like or desire. Hence, I drink, I smoke, I chew, and I do as I please.” He might have added, perhaps, “I curse and swear, I gamble, I commit whoredoms and take advantage of every circumstance I can to augment my pleasure and gratify my lust and my ambition, all these contribute pleasure to me and constitute my greatest joy and happiness.” Such was the confessed moral status of this legal individual to whom I refer. But I consider (and I believe that every right-minded person will heartily agree with me), that such a conception of the object of human existence is groveling, vile and contemptible. No pure-minded person can perceive anything noble, exalted, pure or praiseworthy in a life so selfish, narrow and gross. There is nothing liberal or manly in such avowals, much less in the practical results of such a life, and coming from a man of years, of legal expe rience and knowledge to a youth with a view to misleading him, is infamous. Following this theory, we observe a man wallowing in the gutter, bloodshot, bloated, ragged, hideous and filthy, his family neglected at home and destitute, his children barefoot, naked or bundled in rags—and starving for food—objects of pity and disgust—without the shadow of a chance for mental improvement—with only the blighting, withering example of a besotted husband and father for their guiding star. And why all this? Because this misguided, fallen human creature is seeking joy in the gratification of his appetite! This theory may be followed in all its leadings, to similar and equally appalling results. No man is safe unless he is master of himself; and there is no tyrant so merciless or more to be dreaded than an uncontrollable appetite or passion. We will find that if we give way to the groveling appetites of the flesh and follow them up, that the end will be invariably bitter, injurious and sorrowful, both to the individual and society. It is hurtful in example as well as in its individual effects; dangerous and hurtful to the unwary; while the denial of these appetites—the crucifixion of the flesh, so to speak—and an aspiration for something noble; whenever possible, doing good to our fellow creatures, hoping for the future, laying up treasures in heaven where moth and rust cannot corrupt, and where thieves cannot break through and steal—all these things will bring everlasting happiness; happiness for this world and the world to come. If there is no pleasure in the world except that which we experience in the gratification of our physical desires—eating, drinking, gay associations, and the pleasures of the world—then the enjoyments of the world are bubbles; there is nothing in them, there is no lasting benefit or happiness to be derived from them.

It seems to me that the example which was set to us by our Savior is the example we should seek to follow. Did He prostitute His intelligence for the gratification of the lusts of the flesh? Or did He go about doing good—healing the sick, opening the eyes of the blind, giving speech to the dumb, hearing to the deaf, cleansing the lepers, forgiving sin, relieving the distressed? Was not that the example He set before the world? Was not that the course He commanded His disciples to pursue? I think it was. There is something in such a course that is praiseworthy and noble. It will bring true and lasting pleasure; while the pleasures of the world are only temporary and fleeting. The Spirit of God brings unspeakable pleasure to all who enjoy it—it leads men to do good, to deny themselves some things that they may the better be enabled to do good. It certainly affords more pleasure to give than to receive. It is so said in the Scriptures. It is more blessed to administer comfort and joy to our fellow creatures than to have them administer to ourselves. But under the spirit and influence that the world is under at present, this is not the view that is generally taken. Men of the world are rushing headlong after that which will as they suppose contribute to their own pleasure. They don’t care how they get pleasure so that they get it. As a general thing gold or money is the thing which administers most to their pleasure and joy. In a few years, however, they will be called away from this world, when their wealth and everything else they have cherished will have to be left behind. They cannot take their gold with them, because it belongs to the world. When they get behind the veil, that which served to make them happy will be gone beyond their reach. The source of their pleasure will have fled. There will be nothing left for them to enjoy in that other sphere. They had their enjoyment in this. They did not frame their minds for other enjoyments. They served their bodies, their fleshly desires, and the result is they have served the devil, they are, therefore, his children, and they have no pleasure in God, nor He in them. What is there in this world that can give so much joy or so much pleasure as to know that our sins are forgiven; that we stand acceptable to God our Heavenly Father; that we have not injured any of our fellow creatures; that we are free from any indebtedness or encumbrance; that we are not in bondage to the world, nor to our fellow creatures? This gives one far greater pleasure than anything the world can give. Money cannot give it. The wealth of the world cannot bestow this enjoyment upon man. The honors of men do not affect this question at all. If we can only realize before God our Father, that our sins are forgiven, that we are free from transgression, and that our spirit is right and pure in the sight of God—this should be a greater source of happiness than anything the world can give. To know that we possess the gift of the Holy Spirit—that is, the right to claim the aid and assistance of the Spirit of God to direct us in our labors and course in life, is far greater than the wealth and the honors of this world. To know that we enjoy a portion of those rights and privileges which belong to the Priesthood, which is after the order of the Son of God, is a source of greater joy and pleasure to righteous men than all that the world can give. To know that we are in fellowship with the Saints; to know we are held in confidence by them; to know that we have their faith and prayers, is worth more to the honest-in-heart than all that the pleasures of the world can bestow. To know that we have enjoyed privileges by which we have secured to ourselves peculiar blessings for time and eternity is beyond all comparison with earthly things. We would not exchange the least of the gifts that have been bestowed upon us by and through the authority of the Holy Priesthood for all the world can produce; because that which cometh from God is eternal and will not perish. If I were to be deprived of the privileges I have referred to, all else of an earthly character would be worthless, senseless and evanescent to me. We want something that reaches out into eternity. We want to know where we came from, and where we are going. Where did we come from? From God. Our spirits existed before they came to this world. They were in the councils of the heavens before the foundations of the earth were laid. We were there. We sang together with the heavenly hosts for joy, when the foundations of the earth were laid, and when the plan of our existence upon this earth and redemption were mapped out. We were there; we were interested, and we took a part in this great preparation. We were unquestionably present in those councils, when that wonderful circumstance occurred to which President Taylor has so often referred of late, when Satan offered himself as a savior of the world, if he could but receive the honor and the glory of the Father for doing it. But Jesus said, “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.” Wherefore, because Satan rebelled against God, and sought to destroy the agency of man, the Father rejected him and he was cast out, but Jesus was accepted. We were, no doubt, there, and took a part in all those scenes; we were vitally concerned in the carrying out of these great plans and purposes; we understood them, and it was for our sakes they were decreed and are to be consummated. These spirits have been coming to this earth to take upon them tabernacles, that they might become like unto Jesus Christ—being “formed in His likeness and image,” from the morn of creation until now, and will continue until the winding-up scene, until the spirits who were destined to come to this world shall have come and accomplished their mission in the flesh.

This we have learned. How have we found it out? I answer, through the prophet Joseph Smith, by revelation and the inspiration of the Almighty upon our own minds, by which we are able to ascertain the truth respecting the predictions of the Prophet Joseph Smith, respecting the truth of the sayings of the ancient Prophets, respecting the truth of the Scriptures, respecting the validity of the promises that God has made to the children of men; for every man has the privilege of obtaining the inspiration of the Almighty—or the gift of the Holy Ghost—to know for himself and need not depend upon Joseph Smith, nor upon Brigham Young, nor upon John Taylor, nor upon any of the prophets who wrote and spoke as the Spirit of God gave them utterance, upon these principles. We have learned these things. We have learned whence we came, why we came, and whither we are going. We are not here to seek the joys of the flesh, and yet the Lord does not design that we should go about sorrowful, or that we should deny ourselves of any legitimate pleasure. The Lord never intended that we should go around fasting, mourning, grieving, weeping and wailing, while we sojourn in mortality. Jesus said, “When ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance. * * But appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret.” In other words, appear to the world to be happy. This is the privilege of every Latter-day Saint, and indeed the privilege of every soul that lives. There is abundance of joy to be obtained aside from the joy which ends in suffering and sorrow. Seek those joys that bring no alloy with them, those joys which are unremitting, eternal in their nature. Do good.

Again, where are we going? We come here and sojourn in the flesh a little season, and then we pass away. Every soul that is born into the world will die. There is not a soul that has escaped death, except those upon whom God has passed, by the power of His Spirit, that they should live in the flesh until the second coming of the Son of Man: but they will eventually have to pass through the ordeal called death; it may be in the twinkling of an eye, and without pain or suffering; but they will pass through the change, because it is an irrevocable edict of the Almighty. “In the day that thou eatest thou shalt surely die.” This was the edict of the Almighty, and it pertains to Adam—that is, all the human race; for Adam is many, and it means you and me and every soul that lives and that bears the image of the Father. We shall all die. But is that the end of our being? If we had an existence before we came here, we certainly shall continue that existence when we leave here. The spirit will continue to exist as it did before, with the additional advantages derived from having passed through this probation. It is absolutely necessary that we should come to the earth and take upon us tabernacles; because if we did not have tabernacles we could not be like God, or like Jesus Christ. God has a tabernacle of flesh and bone. He is an organized being just as we are, who are now in the flesh. Jesus Christ was born of His mother Mary. He had a fleshly tabernacle; He was crucified on the cross; and his body was raised from the dead. He burst the bonds of the grave and came forth to newness of life, a living soul, a living being, a man with a body, with parts and with spirit—the spirit and the body becoming a living and immortal soul. You and I have to do the same thing. We must go through the same ordeal in order to attain to the glory and exaltation which God designed we should enjoy with him in the eternal worlds. In other words, we must become like Him; peradventure to sit upon thrones, to have dominion, power, and eternal increase. God designed this in the beginning. We are the children of God. He is an eternal being, without beginning of days or end of years. He always was, He is, He always will be. We are precisely in the same condition and under the same circumstances that God our Heavenly Father was when He was passing through this or a similar ordeal. We are destined to come forth out of the grave as Jesus did, and to obtain immortal bodies as He did—that is, that our tabernacles are to become immortal as His became immortal, that the spirit and the body may be joined together and become one living being, indivisible, inseparable, eternal. This is the object of our existence in the world; and we can only attain to these things through obedience to certain principles, through walking in certain channels, through obtaining certain information, certain intelligence from God, without which no man can accomplish this work or fulfill the mission he has come upon the earth to fulfill. These principles are the principles of the Gospel of eternal truth, the principles of faith, repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins, the principle of obedience to God the Eternal Father; for obedience is one of the first principles or laws of heaven. Without obedience, there can be no order, no government, no union, no plan or purpose carried out. And that obedience must be voluntary; it must not be forced; there must be no coercion. Men must not be constrained against their will to obey the will of God; they must obey it because they know it to be right, because they desire to do it, and because it is their pleasure to do it. God delights in the willing heart.

I am looking forward to the time when I shall have passed away from this stage of existence, that I shall be permitted to enjoy more fully every gift and blessing that has contributed to my happiness in this world; everything. I do not believe that there is one thing that was designed or intended to give me joy or make me happy, that I shall be denied hereafter, provided I continue faithful; otherwise my joy cannot be full. I am not now speaking of that happiness or pleasure that is derived from sin; I refer to the happiness experienced in seeking to do the will of God on earth as it is done in heaven. We expect to have our wives and husbands in eternity. We expect our children will acknowledge us as their fathers and mothers in eternity. I expect this; I look for nothing else. Without it I could not be happy. The thought or belief that I should be denied this privilege hereafter would make me miserable from this moment. I never could be happy again without the hope that I shall enjoy the society of my wives and children in eternity. If I had not this hope, I should be of all men most unhappy; “for if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” All who have tasted of the influence of the Spirit of God, and have had awakened within them a hope of eternal life, cannot be happy unless they continue to drink of that fountain until they are satisfied, and it is the only fountain at which they can drink and be satisfied.

Now, we desire to know something about this, and in the name of Israel’s God, I say we do know something about it. How do you know I know it, because God has revealed it, through His ancient and modern Prophets. I know it, because it has been testified of, by all the ancient worthies of God, from the foundation of the world to the present. I know it, because it is the theory of God’s plan of salvation. I know it, because it has been expounded and made plain, not only by the Prophets, but by the Savior Himself. I know it, because the Spirit of the living God testifies of it in my heart, and tells me it is true. I know it is true by all the senses by which I can determine the most simple fact. I see it with my eyes, I hear it with my ears, I understand it with my heart, I comprehend it in part according to the intelligence with which God has endowed me. I am convinced of it and hence I am happy; for I know that I am in the discharge of my duty. This is the happiness I am after. Is it not the happiness we all desire? I think it is.

May God bless this congregation, and all the household of faith, and help us to live for the future, for eternal pleasures, exaltations, thrones, principalities, dominion and power; may God help us to live for these things; may He give us a knowledge of them, that we may comprehend them as He comprehends, that we may take the course that He has marked out for us to pursue, in order that we may secure unto ourselves the riches of eternal life, is my humble prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

The Hatred of the World Towards the People of God—Their Accusations Against the Latter-Day Saints—The Truthfulness of the Accusations Refuted—The Latter-Day Saints Will Compare Favorably With Any Other People on the Face of the Earth—Why, Then, Are They Proscribed?—Because the World Hate Them—Persecution the Lot of the Saints—Past Persecutions and Their Result—The “Mormon Problem” Still Unsolved, and More Difficult of Solution Than Ever—Let the Saints Live Their Religion and the Lord Will Bring Them Off Triumphant

Discourse by President Joseph F. Smith, delivered in Paris, Idaho, Sunday Morning, August 19, 1883.

I have been extremely interested this morning in listening to the very excellent remarks of Brother Cannon. I feel that in answer to the desires and prayers of the congregation the Lord has blessed Brother Cannon in his remarks, and that through him He has made plain many very important truths and principles, upon which it will be well for the congregation to reflect and to treasure up in their hearts.

My mind was led to reflect, while Brother Cannon was speaking, upon the inconsistency, harshness and unreasonableness of the world in their attitude towards us as a people, and upon the manner in which they have sought to deal with what they term “the Mormon Question.” The words of the Savior in relation to the hatred of the world towards the people of God flashed through my mind: “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Jesus and His disciples were everywhere spoken against. Everybody, almost, reviled them. When Jesus cast out devils, it was said to have been done by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of devils; that He healed the sick by the same power; that He restored the sight of the blind by the same power; and all the works of mercy and charity which He performed were attributed to the power of Satan. It is very much the same in this dispensation. No matter how good you may be—you who profess to be Latter-day Saints—no matter how virtuous you may be, you are set down by the world as adulterers. No matter how honest you may be, you are called dishonest. No matter how innocent you may be of all the crimes that are known, the sectarian world declare you are unfit to live because of your corruptions and abominations. No matter how charitable you may be, they claim that you lack the elements of charity and of mercy. Consequently they think it behooves them, and “the powers that be,” to move against you for your destruction. It was for this reason that the Congress of the United States, a little while ago, was compelled, by an influence and a power that it could not, or dare not resist, to pass a most unconstitutional, a most unjust and wicked act for the purpose of depriving an innocent and unoffending people of their legitimate rights—rights that belong to them under the constitution of our country.

Have we sought to injure anybody? Have we sought to deprive any people of their rights? Have we sought to tear down or to destroy any part of the earth? Are the vile charges that are made against us true? No, they are not. You know they are not. There is not a man or a woman under the sound of my voice this morning but know as they know they live, that the charges that are made against the Latter-day Saints are false. They say that we have been, in years past, in the habit of committing murder! We are charged with having murdered strangers that came amongst us! We are charged with having murdered apostate Mormons because they had apostatized from us! We are charged with oppressing the people, and with keeping them under tyranny! And those who make these charges claim that it is because of their influence in Utah—the influence of the world—of the public press—the presence in our midst of officers of the law who have been sent by the President of the United States to rule over us; that this murderous propensity, and this power for evil that has here tofore been exhibited by the Latter-day Saints, have been checked!

Now, who is there that is acquainted with the history of Utah, or with the history of this people, but know that all these things that have been villainously charged against this people are libelous and as false as hell. Who does not know that such a reign of terror never did exist in Utah or among this people anywhere? I came to Utah in 1848; I have been a resident among this people from my childhood; I have been cognizant of nearly everything that has transpired of a public character among the Latter-day Saints for the last 30 years, and I am a witness and can and do bear my testimony that all these charges are false, and that the people today are a fair example of what they have always been from the beginning. Who of you are murderers? Who of you, professing to be Latter-day Saints, are thieves and robbers? Who of you, professing the same thing, are adulterers and whoremongers? Who of you, professing to be Latter-day Saints, curse and swear and blaspheme the name of God? Who of you would oppress your neighbor or would rob him of his rights? Who of you, professing to be Latter-day Saints, would not be ready to protect the rights and to maintain the liberties of the stranger within our gates as you would to protect your own rights or those of your neighbor? Is not this the case today? Yes. Was it ever different to this? Was there ever a different condition of things existed in the midst of this people? You very well know that there never was. Men who have done wrong in times past have been held accountable for their acts to the law by the officers of the law. Men who today are ungovernable and commit crimes are amenable to the law and must answer for their crimes. This has always been the case. The Gospel net has gathered of every kind. But is a whole community to be held responsible for individuals whose propensities lead them to commit crimes? If we are to be judged upon that principle, who will be exempt from the same judgment? If God should judge the world in this manner He would execute the whole world—none would be exempt. I think as a community or as communities, we will compare favorably with any on the face of the earth. I think there will be found far less crime among the Latter-day Saints than may be found in other communities of like numbers anywhere else. I believe there is less crime, less wickedness, less drunkenness, and fewer offenses of any kind among the Latter-day Saints than can be found among any other people of equal numbers in the world. And in saying this I am not boasting of the Latter-day Saints; for, surely, if we are Latter-day Saints, crime and wickedness should have no part in us. No man professing to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should be guilty of anything that would cause the blush of shame to appear in the face. On the contrary we ought to live above suspicion; we ought to live free from crime, free from wickedness and sin of every description. Therefore, to say that the Latter-day Saints are the best people I know of in the world is not saying anything more than should be said and can be said honestly and truthfully. We ought not to be guilty of sin. The teachings of the servants of God have been toward righteousness, honesty and virtue, and towards everything that is calculated to elevate and ennoble mankind. This has been the burden of the teaching of the servants of God from the day that the Church was organized until the present time; and if the Latter-day Saints are not the best people upon the earth, it is because they have not hearkened to the counsel that has been given them.

Why, then, should we be proscribed? Why, then, should the people of the world malign us and seek to blacken our names and our characters? Why should they seek to bring persecution and evil upon us? The answer is to be found in the words of the Savior. “I have chosen you out of the world, and therefore the world hate you.” So long as you maintain the principles of the Gospel; so long as you defend and practice the principles of virtue, of truth and of righteousness; so long as you stand by the doctrines of Christ, which have been revealed through Joseph the Prophet, through Brigham Young, the Prophet, and through President Taylor and the oracles of God; so long the world will be arrayed against you, so long they will hate you and will seek to bring evil upon you unless they repent. There is no question about it. Many people will not be convinced. Brother Cannon has alluded to people who visit us. They may be favorably impressed upon some points; but still they retain in their hearts a prejudice they have received concerning us, and they carry it away with them notwithstanding what they see. This is according to what Jesus said. They have eyes, but they see not; they have ears, but they hear not; they have hearts but they do not understand. It is also said that “there are none so deaf as those who will not hear, and none so blind as those who will not see.” Many of those who visit Utah, come filled with such an amount of prejudice that they will not allow their senses to be convinced of the truth. Hence they go away as prejudiced as when they came. Nevertheless, when men come with their minds divested of prejudice, who can see and are disposed to see, and are liberal-minded enough to look at things in their true light, they do in a measure get correct views and ideas in relation to us. A few such men have come to Utah, and gone away enlightened, and have told the truth to the world. But notwithstanding they tell the truth they are generally disbelieved as we are when we tell it. We would naturally suppose that a man like Judge Black, who on legal matters was an authority in the world, would be believed; but the moment that man, with all his talent and prestige, stood up in the halls of Congress and undertook to reason upon the constitutional rights of the people called Latter-day Saints, he was denounced and the soundness of his conclusions questioned by judges, lawyers and statesmen. He was held up to ridicule because he dared to discourse upon the constitutional rights of the people called Latter-day Saints. And it has been so with everybody else that has dared to speak a word in favor of the people of God having their rights. It was so with those who dared to speak in favor of the Son of God and His disciples. Those who dared to do so were considered unworthy of being believed on oath; their testimony could not be received; they were partial. And it has become so in relation to this people. Let any man lift up his voice in the defense of the people of God, and he will at once be denounced by a certain influential class and his influence among that class of people who seem bent upon persecuting the Latter-day Saints will wane, no matter how much they may have honored his counsels prior to that.

Will this continue to be the case? Yes, more and more; for as we increase in union, in faith, intelligence, and in political and religious influence, the hatred of the wicked will increase against us. Then will the heathen rage and the wicked imagine a vain thing; and their efforts to destroy us will proportionately increase. But will they succeed? Will they accomplish their desires? Just in proportion as they have done it hitherto, and no more. When they drove the Latter-day Saints out of Missouri, and had the Prophet and his companions confined in Liberty Jail, the world rejoiced in the belief that the backbone of “Mormonism” was broken. But they had reckoned without their host. They had not based their calculations upon the facts. The sequel proves that they had committed a grand mistake. Notwithstanding that General Clark, on the square in Far West, said to Joseph and his companions, that their doom was sealed and their die was cast, they were reckoning without their host. They had not calculated upon the power of God in these matters. They simply thought they had Joseph Smith in their power, and that by destroying him they would destroy “Mormonism.” But the Lord delivered him from his enemies. And from Missouri he came to Illinois. “Mormonism”—as it is called in the world—from being a village grew into a city—the City of Nauvoo, one of the most beautiful cities in the west of America. We became possessed of chartered rights, and wielded an influence which controlled the county of Hancock, in the State of Illinois, and which materially affected the political status of other counties surrounding. We grew from a handful to an armful, and then the rage of the enemy was again stirred up until they finally succeeded in taking the lives of the servants of God, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. At this they rejoiced and congratulated each other, and concluded that they had done a good thing. “Mormonism” would now cease to trouble the world? But again they had reckoned without their host. Again they had based their calculations upon false premises. They had not considered the power connected with this work. They had not contemplated the nature of the power of God. From Nauvoo we were thrust out into the wilderness, but we sought out and located in Utah by the guidance of the Almighty. As Brother George A. Smith used to say, “We came willingly because we were obliged to.” We had no other place to go to. But so far as accomplishing the object they had in view—the destruction of “Mormonism”—we know that they failed. From a city we have grown to a Territory in the United States, and we have been able to honestly control the Territorial government despite the desires, the cunning, the craftiness, and all the fraudulent efforts of our enemies.

Now, if it was difficult for the world to deal with the question of “Mormonism” in 1838, it was still more difficult for them to deal with it in 1844. If it was difficult for them to deal with and handle this “Mormon Question,” as they call it, in 1846, when the people were made wandering outcasts upon the desert; I say, if it was a difficult thing for the Government of the United States and for the enemies of this people to deal with the “Mormon Question” then, is it not a far more difficult question for them to deal with today? As they turn over the wall, lo! It becomes higher and broader than it was before. As they kick the mustard plant? Lo! The seed is scattered, and it takes root and springs forth and increases on every hand. Every effort of our enemies has utterly failed. Let them continue their efforts. Let them do their worst. God Almighty is at the helm, and if they can succeed in turning over the wall again they will find that it has grown larger since they last tipped it over. But they do not want us to grow in political power. They do not want us to be, religiously or otherwise, a separate and distinct people from the rest of the world. They want us to become identified and mixed up with the rest of the world, to become like them, thereby thwarting the purposes of God. They hate our union; but they apparently do not sense that persecution has a tendency only to make us more united.

Well, it is for us to live our religion. Let us attend to our duties as Latter-day Saints. Let us continue to be humble and faithful before God. And if the time should ever come when the Lord will see fit to allow our enemies to drive us from our present homes, the result will be similar to what it was when they drove us out of Nauvoo. They will drive us from the Territory of Utah into a half a dozen of States, and we may possibly take possession of them all. They won’t believe me, and they won’t believe the Elders of the Church when they tell them these things plainly. They won’t believe us any more than they would believe Joseph Smith in his day, or Brigham Young in his day. But what these inspired men said is coming to pass. Every word that they uttered in relation to the building up of Zion, and to the progress of the kingdom of God upon the earth will be fulfilled, and not one jot or tittle will fail. You and I as individuals may fail, but the work of God cannot fail. It is His work. He hath decreed its consummation, and no power on earth or in hell can alter the decree. The work is marching forward, and if we do not keep pace with it, we must eventually be left behind. Better far for us to keep up with the rank and file, and to walk shoulder to shoulder with the authorities of the Church; with those who have the spirit of the Gospel in their hearts; with those in whose bones burn the fire of truth and the testimony of Jesus Christ, who are continually exhorting the people to be diligent in keeping the commandments of God. We should do what is right. We should be virtuous, honorable and charitable, and we should be liberal in our hearts to all mankind. We can afford to be liberal. We have received that which pertains to eternal growth, to eternal increase, to eternal happiness; we have received that which pertains to dominion, and power, and glory and to thrones and principalities. Freely we have received, and freely we can afford to give; for in giving we do not diminish our own store. We can afford, therefore, to exclaim (in relation to our enemies), “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” We can afford to have sympathy for them, to beseech God in the name of Jesus, to have mercy upon them, for they know not the consequences of their acts. It is for us to work righteousness; for, as President Young remarked in the Temple at St. George, in 1877, the more righteous we are, the more united we are; the more diligent we are in keeping the commandments of God, the less will be the power of our enemies; their power will diminish in proportion to our faithfulness. Yet our enemies will rage and their anger will increase against the work of the Lord; and I presume it is a true saying, that “whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.” The heathen—the so-called Christian nations—will become mad with rage against the Latter-day Saints; and thus the world will go on until they are ripened for destruction. We can afford to be calm and patient and await God’s deliverance; for we know that He is our friend; that He is on the side of the righteous; and that He will bring them off triumphant if they continue faithful, which may the Lord grant in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Delusive Spirits—Proper Channel for Revelations to Come Through—The Calling of Joseph Smith—Indication of An Impostor—Private Antipathy to Be Curbed and the Priesthood to Be Sustained—Only One Man Appointed to Hold the Keys of the Kingdom at a Time—Men not to Judge Those Who Preside Over Them—How to Secure Justice

Discourse by President Joseph F. Smith, delivered at Ogden, Sunday Morning, June 21st, 1883.

There has, perhaps, never been a period in the history of the Church when the delusive spirits that are abroad in the world, deceiving the children of men, were more active than they are and have been for the last few years. I have never in my recollection heard of so many pretended prophets and revelations, special messages, missions and manifestations to various individuals, as have come to my notice within the last few months or perhaps years. Some claim that they are in constant communication with angels, others that they have received a direct command from God to accomplish a certain mission, others claim to be Christ, and therefore assume the right to dictate and direct the labors of the Presidency and Twelve, and undertake to correct and set them right and to show them wherein they lack inspiration, etc., and wherein it is necessary that a strong arm should be raised up in order to steady the ark of Zion. There has been a great deal of this kind of spirit manifested of late among men who are and have been in the Church for years; and not only such, but by men who never have been members and who have no knowledge of the character of this latter-day work. Messages from the spirit world, communications from the departed through mediums, people that permit themselves to be used for this purpose by lying and delusive spirits.

It has sometimes been sorrowful to see respected members of the Church, men who should know better, allow themselves to become the tools of seductive spirits. Such men seem, for the time at least, to lose sight of the fact that the Lord has established on earth the Priesthood in its fullness; and that by direct revelation and commandment from heaven; that He has instituted an order or government that is beyond the capacity, and that is superior to the wisdom and learning and understanding of man, so far, indeed, that it seems impossible for the human mind, unaided by the Spirit of God, to comprehend the beauties, powers, and character of the Holy Priesthood. It seems difficult for men to comprehend the workings of the Priesthood; its legitimate authority, its scope and power; and yet by the light of the spirit it is easily comprehended, but not understanding it men are easily deceived by seductive spirits that are abroad in the world. They are led to believe that something is wrong, and the next thing that transpires, they find themselves believing that they are chosen specially to set things right. It is very unfortunate for a man to be taken in this snare; for be it understood by the Latter-day Saints that as long as the servants of God are living pure lives, are honoring the Priesthood conferred upon them, and endeavoring to the best of their knowledge to magnify their offices and callings, to which they have been duly chosen by the voice of the people and the Priesthood, and sanctioned by the approval of God, so long as the Lord has any communication to make to the children of men, or any instructions to impart to His Church, He will make such communication through the legally appointed channel of the Priesthood. He will never go outside of it, as long, at least, as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints exists in its present form on the earth.

The Church of God has been organized, the kingdom of God has been established, and the Gospel has been restored to the earth for the last time; and this work which has fairly began will never cease, but will continue to spread abroad and increase in the earth, and gather to its fold the righteous, the honest, the pure, the meek and the poor of the earth, until “the kingdom” shall be exalted to power and glory in the midst of the world; and it will reign triumphant when Babylon will be broken to pieces, and will fall to rise no more. These are the promises that have been made to us. This fact is indicated by the revelations of God to man through ancient and modern prophets, and through angels that have visited the earth in this dispensation of the fullness of times.

It is not my business nor that of any other individual to rise up as a revelator, as a prophet, as a seer, as an inspired man, to give revelation for the guidance of the Church, or to assume to dictate to the presiding authorities of the Church in any part of the world, much less in the midst of Zion, where the organizations of the Priesthood are about perfect, where everything is complete even to the organization of a branch. It is the right of individuals to be inspired and to receive manifestations of the Holy Spirit for their personal guidance, to strengthen their faith, and to encourage them in works of righteousness, in being faithful and observing and keeping the commandments which God has given unto them; it is the privilege of every man and woman to receive revelation to this end, but not further. The moment an individual rises up assuming the right to control and to dictate or to sit in judgment on his brethren, especially upon those who preside, he should be promptly checked, or discord, division and confusion would be the result. Every man and woman in this Church should know better than to yield to such a spirit; the moment that such a feeling presents itself to them they should rebuke it, as it is in direct antagonism to the order of the Priesthood, and to the spirit and genius of this work. We can accept nothing as authoritative but that which comes directly through the appointed channel, the constituted organizations of the Priesthood, which is the channel that God has appointed through which to make known His mind and will to the world. It was necessary prior to the organization of this Church, that God should select from the inhabitants of the earth some person through whom to reveal His will to mankind; and it pleased Him to select for this purpose the youthful and untutored boy Joseph Smith, as David of old was His choice, but as there was no Priesthood on the earth when Joseph was called, legally constituted by the authority of heaven to officiate in the name of the Lord, it was necessary therefore that someone should be selected as the first Elder for the beginning of this work, for there has to be a beginning, and he was the one foreordained for the position which he occupied and filled. After calling and setting him apart for the work of introducing and establishing this Gospel of the kingdom, the Lord of course recognized him as His mouthpiece, as His authorized agent, if you please, and it would be absolutely inconsistent, unreasonable and absurd to suppose that after God had called one man and appointed him to this work, that He should pass him by and go to somebody else to accomplish the same purpose. No sensible person would accept for one moment such a proposition. To seriously contemplate any such idea would be charging the Almighty with inconsistency, and with being the author of confusion, discord and schism. The kingdom of God never could be established on earth in any such way.

Through Joseph then, the Lord revealed Himself to the world and through him He chose the first Elders of the Church—men who were honest in their hearts; men whom He knew would receive the word and labor in connection with Joseph in this great and important undertaking; and all that have been ordained to the Priesthood, and all that have been appointed to any position whatever in this Church, have received their authority and commission through this channel, appointed of God, with Joseph at the head. This is the order, and it could not be otherwise. God will not raise up another prophet, and another people to do the work that we have been appointed to do. He will never ignore those who have stood firm and true from the commencement, as it were, of this work, and who are still firm and faithful, inasmuch as they continue faithful to their trust. There is no question in my mind of their ever proving themselves unfaithful, as a body; for if any of them were to become unworthy in His sight, He would remove them out of their place and call others from the ranks to fill their positions. And thus His Priesthood will ever be found to be composed of the right men for the place, of men whose backs will be fitted for the burden, men through whom He can work and regulate the affairs of His Church according to the counsels of His own will. And the moment that individuals look to any other source, that moment they throw themselves open to the seductive influences of Satan, and render themselves liable to become servants of the devil; they lose sight of the true order through which the blessings of the Priesthood are to be enjoyed; they step outside of the pale of the kingdom of God, and are on dangerous ground. Whenever you see a man rise up claiming to have received direct revelation from the Lord to the Church, independent of the order and channel of the Priesthood, you may set him down as an impostor. God has not called you to go out to the world to be taught, or to receive revelations through apostates or strangers; but He has called and ordained you and sent you forth to teach and lead people in the paths of righteousness and salvation.

It is the duty, therefore, of every Latter-day Saint to seek for the spirit of truth, and to desire with full purposes of heart, and seek diligently for the gifts of wisdom and understanding that will lead and guide into all truth, that will enable us to comprehend the purposes of God, and this most perfect, most harmonious organization which God has instituted by His own wisdom in these last days for the gathering of Israel, and for the communication of all His purposes as made known through His servants the Prophets. Men may become dissatisfied one with another, they may become dissatisfied towards the Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve, or others, and may say in their hearts, “I do not like such an one; I do not believe he is as good as he should be, he has too many faults and weaknesses and, therefore, I cannot and will not acknowledge his authority, as I have not faith in the man.” Doubtless there are those, too many perhaps, who feel that way, but the trouble is, and that is the worst of it, just because they have become dissatisfied with the individual and harbored feelings of bitterness in their hearts against their brethren, they lose sight of the designs of the Almighty; they turn against the authority of the Holy Priesthood; and through their blindness, allow themselves to be led astray, and at last turn away from the Church.

Now, how should it be? I will tell you. In the first place every person should know that the Gospel is true, as this is everyone’s privilege who is baptized and receives the Holy Ghost. A man may be grieved in his feelings because of some difficulty between him and President Taylor, or Cannon or myself; he may have feelings in his heart which lead him to think that he could not sustain us in his faith and prayers; but if this should be the case, what is the course for him to pursue? He should say in his heart, “God has established His kingdom, and His Priesthood is upon the earth; and notwithstanding my dislike for certain men, I know that the Gospel is true, and that God is with His people; and that if I will do my duty and keep His commandments, the clouds will roll by and the mists will disappear, the spirit of the Lord will come more fully to my relief, and by and by I will be able to see—if I am in error, wherein I erred, and then I will repent of it, for I know that every wrong thing will yet be made right.” I think all men should feel that way. A man may not have confidence in his Bishop, or in one or both of his Counselors; circumstances might be such that according to his judgment the Bishop or his Counselors might be in the wrong, and his confidence in them, whether right or wrong, would therefore be destroyed; but because he may feel so, would it be right or consistent in him as an Elder in Israel, to set himself up as the judge of the Bishop or his Counselors and the whole Church? If one were to get in a position of this kind he would be like some others I have heard of, John and David Whitmer, for instance, two of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, and Wm. E. McClellan, and William Smith, two of the Twelve Apostles, some of whom are still living, and many others, both living and dead. Do you think you could convince those of this class that they had apostatized from the Church? No; these men are firmly convinced in their own minds that they never apostatized. They stoutly and indignantly deny that they ever apostatized or turned away from the Church, but say that Joseph Smith and the Twelve Apostles apostatized, and all the Church had apostatized and become very wicked, and that God has cut the Church off, but that Brother David Whitmer and Brother Wm. E. McClellan, William Smith, and others are the only members of the Church in good standing, and they are all at variance with each other. If I were to raise my hand against my Bishop, against the Twelve or the First Presidency, because I did not like them, that moment I should place myself in the position that these men now occupy, and that scores of others who have passed away have occupied, and say: “The Church has apostatized, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and John Taylor, have apostatized, but I am firm in the faith; all the people have gone astray because they will not acknowledge me.” There is where the man is who rebels against the authority of the Priesthood, and at the same time endeavors to hold on to the faith. Never is there but one appointed at a time to hold the keys of the kingdom of God pertaining to the earth. While Christ remained on the earth He held them; but when He departed He committed them to Peter, he being the President or Chief of the Apostles; and it was his right to direct and to receive revelation for the Church, and to give counsel to all the breth ren. After Satan and wicked men had prevailed against the Church, crucified the Savior and killed the Apostles, the keys of the kingdom were taken from the earth. John the Revelator describes it most clearly. And from that time until Joseph Smith was called by the voice of the Almighty, and ordained to hold those keys, no man held them upon the earth that we know of. It is true the Lord did appoint other Twelve upon this continent, and His Church flourished and prospered in this land for many years, but the Lord declared that Peter, James and John, and the Twelve that walked with Him at Jerusalem, held the Presidency over them. God may reveal himself to different nations, and establish among them the same Gospel and ordinances as He did anciently, if necessity require, but if these nations should be joined together there would be one head, and all the rest would be subordinate. So that from the time that the keys of this Priesthood were taken from the earth until they were received by Joseph Smith, no man ever possessed that Priesthood, nor the keys thereof, with authority to build up the Zion of God, and prepare a church or people for the second coming of Christ, “as a bride is adorned for the bridegroom;” unless it may have been among the lost tribes, yet of this we have no knowledge, but if so they would receive those keys necessary to administer in the ordinances of the Gospel for their salvation. We know not of their existence or the condition in which they are placed. The Gospel that is given to them is suited to their needs and condition, and is for their salvation, not ours, and yet it will be the same Gospel. And God will not call one from them to give to us the Priesthood, or to give to us keys and blessings, or to point out the organization of the kingdom of God, because He has established that Priesthood here, and we have it. If He has any communication to make to us He will send His messengers to us. And in this way He will deliver His law and give His mind and will to the people. He will do it through the ordained channels of the Priesthood which He acknowledges and which He has established in the earth. He will go nowhere else to do it, neither will He send us to them unless they should be without the Priesthood and it becomes necessary to take the blessings of the Gospel to them, and I presume that will be the case.

When Joseph received the keys of the Priesthood he alone on the earth held them; that is, he was the first, he stood at the head. It was promised that he should not lose them or be removed out of his place, so long as he was faithful. And when he died, President Young was chosen by the voice of the people, and sanctioned by the voice of God. He held the Priesthood which was after the order of the Son of God, with the keys which pertain to the presidency of that Priesthood upon earth. He received it from the hands of Joseph, directly from him or by his authority; and he held it until his death. When he died that mantle fell upon John Taylor, and while he lives he will hold that authority inasmuch as he is faithful. So it was with President Brigham Young, he held it on condition of his faithfulness. If any man in that position should become unfaithful, God would remove him out of his place. I testify in the name of Israel’s God that He will not suffer the head of the Church, him whom He has chosen to stand at the head, to transgress His laws and apostatize; the moment he should take a course that would in time lead to it, God would take him away. Why? Because to suffer a wicked man to occupy that position, would be to allow, as it were, the fountain to become corrupted, which is something He will never permit. And why will he not suffer it? Because it is not the work of Joseph Smith; it is not the work of Brigham Young or of John Taylor. It is not the work of man but of God Almighty; and it is His business to see that the men who occupy this position are men after His own heart, men that will receive instructions from Him, and that will carry out the same according to the counsels of His will. You may depend that he will see to it, and risk nothing upon this head. Hence you will have no reason to find fault or to rise up in judgment upon President Taylor or upon President Young, or upon the Prophet Joseph Smith, or upon the Twelve Apostles. We have no right to rise up in judgment upon the President of the Stake, or upon our Bishop, or upon the Priesthood in any shape or form, unless we can do so agreeably to the laws of the Church. If they decide against us inasmuch as God has conferred the keys of this Priesthood upon them, and the kingdom is here, and its authority is here, and the Priesthood is here, and the organization of the kingdom of God is here—and inasmuch as the decision is reached and rendered agreeably to the laws and commandments of God, then it would be our bounden duty to humbly submit, and bow to it and acknowledge it. You or I might think it hard, and possibly feel that it was unjust, but as it would be impossible to make it otherwise, we must submit. “What,” says one, “submit to an unjust decision? No, sir!” Who says it is unjust? You or I say it is; but twelve High Councilors and the Presidency of the Stake say it is just, and in holding to our idea of the unjustness of the decision, we put our judgment against that of fifteen disinterested men. Who then is to decide on the justice of the case? They, not me; and it is my business to acknowledge it and yield to it. There is, however, a supervisory authority in the First Presidency; and they may exercise in some degree the pardoning power, for unto them is given power under the laws of God to forgive. “Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them, and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.” President Taylor holds the keys of that authority in this Church. You may appeal then to the Presidency of the Church, and they may inquire into the justice or injustice of the decision and see if the case is entitled to a rehearing. But if the decision of the High Council should be confirmed, then you have no other appeal on earth. And yet God has given to us the broadest latitude peacefully to defend our individual rights, agreeably to just and righteous laws. He permits us first to be tried by the Bishop and his Counselors; and even before that we have the opportunity to settle our difficulties amicably without going to a trial; or if we cannot settle them amicably among ourselves we are permitted to call in our Teacher to assist us if possible to be reconciled to one another; and if that cannot be done we can then bring the matter before the Bishop to be formally tried. If we have reason to believe the decision to be unjust, we have the right then to appeal our case to the High Council, and then, if the First Presidency so decide, there may be a rehearing. So that the Lord has given unto us every possible chance to vindicate our rights, defend our causes, and maintain our standing in the Church. No man is asked to bow to unrighteousness; but to say that the decision rendered by the Bishop’s Court or High Council is an unjust decision is to say one of two things, namely, that these men, from three to fifteen of them, every one of whom should possess the spirit of the Gospel, and the inspiration of the Almighty, and is quite as likely to understand such circumstances as the litigants are all in error and lack judgment, or that they are willfully wicked and unjust, while one individual, and he a party to strife, alone is right.

The moment a man says he will not submit to legally constituted authority of the Church, whether it be the Teachers, the Bishopric, the High Council, his Quorum or the First Presidency, and in his heart confirms it and carries it out, that moment he cuts himself off from the privileges and blessings of the Priesthood and Church, and severs himself from the people of God, for he ignores the authority that He has instituted in His Church. These are the men that generally get crochets in their heads, that get inspiration (from beneath) and that are often so desirous to guide the Church, and to sit in judgment upon the Priesthood. The only safe way for us to do, as individuals, is to live so humbly, so righteously and so faithfully before God, that we may possess His Spirit to that extent that we will be able to judge righteously, and discern between truth and error, between right and wrong; and then we will know when a decision is rendered against us that in 99 cases out of a hundred we are in error, and that the decision is right; and although we may at the time not be fully able to see and feel its justness, yet will be constrained to say that inasmuch as there are sixteen chances against one for me to be wrong, “I will gracefully and humbly submit.” The pith of the matter is, the Lord has established His Church, organized His Priesthood, and conferred au thority upon certain individuals, councils and quorums, and it is the duty of the people of God to live so that they shall know that these are acceptable unto Him. If we begin to cut off this one and that one, and set their authority aside, we may just as well at once set God himself aside, and say he has no right to dictate. Amen.

Prosperity of the Saints—Danger to Be Avoided—How Blessings Are to Be Obtained—Free Agency—Triumph of the Work of God Testified of—“Mormonism” not Easily Destroyed—Prophecies to Be Fulfilled—Self-Denial Required of the Saints

Discourse by President Joseph F. Smith, delivered at the General Conference, Salt Lake City, Sunday, a.m., April 8th, 1883.

There never perhaps was a time since the Church was organized when the people of God were more prosperous or so numerous as they are today, notwithstanding all the efforts that our enemies have directed against us. But while we have triumphed over opposition and all the forces of the wicked that have been exerted against us by newspaper and pulpit and the power of Congress, it is meet that we should acknowledge the hand of God in all our victories. It has certainly not been by the wisdom, power or intelligence of man, that we have been delivered until now, but by the favor and blessing of God in our behalf. And we are today a living monument of God’s special mercy, favor and protection. He has not only blessed us with the privilege of becoming acquainted with His laws, and with the plan of salvation, but He has gathered us to a goodly land; and notwithstanding its former sterility, barrenness and forbidding aspect, He has modified the elements, blessed the earth, and has made these valleys desirable as a home for the Saints. And He has blessed us with an abundance of earthly things besides bestowing upon us the richest of all blessings that man can enjoy in this life—the Holy Spirit and a knowledge of the new and everlasting covenant.

We should have the utmost confidence in the power and wisdom of the Almighty to consummate the work which He has begun, from our experience and knowledge of the past. This is no day for trembling or fear; it is not a day for doubt or misgiving; God has demonstrated His power and superior wisdom in so many ways and at so many times, during the history of this people, in delivering them from the grasp of their enemies, that for us now to doubt Him, whatever the position in which we might be placed, would be an indignity to our Great Preserver, an insult to God. It seems to me impossible for any Latter-day Saint, in the face of all the Lord has done for this people, to doubt for a moment His ability or intention to frustrate the designs of wicked, ambitious men, and to continue His work in the future to ultimate victory and triumph over every obstacle or opposing foe.

The only real danger that I foresee in the path of the Latter-day Saints is in the results which natu rally follow the possession of wealth—pride and vanity, self-indulgence and forgetfulness of God, and a disregard of the sacred obligations and duties that we owe to Him and to one another; and this because of the abundance of earthly blessings which He in His goodness has bestowed upon us. It is said that in adversity we are inclined to feel after the Lord, but that in prosperity we remember Him not. It appears to me that in this lies the greatest danger that threatens us today. This does not apply to the whole people perhaps, for we are not all rich in this world’s goods, but to individuals, and they are not a few, but many, who are being blessed—if it proves a blessing—with an accumulation of wealth, and I am sorry to say that many seem to be indulging in speculation to that extent that their whole souls appear to be wrapt up in the love of the world. It is very evident that some of us are yet “of the world,” for like them, “the more we get of it the more we want;” and it does seem impossible to satisfy the cravings of such minds for the perishable things of time. As individuals gather around them riches and become engrossed with the care that naturally attaches to them, they are prone to forget the “pit from which they were dug,” or the “stone from which they were hewed”—to forget God upon whom they are quite as dependent when possessed of wealth as when in the most abject poverty. For wealth does not make men independent of God, neither does it relieve them from the obligations that they owe to each other. The rich are as dependent upon God for the light of His Spirit to guide them, and for the blessings and ordinances of the holy Priesthood as are the poorest of the poor. The Lord, in this regard, is “no respecter of persons.” The station or worldly condition of man is not regarded by the Almighty. It is man’s righteousness and humility; it is the willing mind and the obedient heart that is acceptable to Him, and unless we are righteous and humble, willing and obedient, He will withdraw His Spirit from us, and we will be left to ourselves, as others have been before us, “to reap what we sow.” If the time should ever come (which I do not anticipate), when the majority of this people will be swallowed up in the cares of the world, I know of no remedy to check the evil and thus prevent the destruction of the Church more effectually than to be subjected to the power and persecutions of our enemies, to be driven and smitten perhaps until we shall be humbled and brought to a sense of our obligations to the Lord Almighty, and learn wisdom by the things we have to suffer.

There are blessings which pertain to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to the world to come, which cannot be secured by personal influence nor be bought with money, and which no man by his own intelligence or wisdom can obtain except through compliance with certain ordinances, laws and commandments which have been given. And it is well, in my judgment, for the Latter-day Saints to continue to bear in mind that the inestimable blessings of the Gospel have been bestowed upon them through their faith, that a remission of sins has been obtained by baptism and repentance, and that it is only through continuing faithful that they can retain the gifts and blessings which pertain to eternal life. There are many blessings, however, which are common to the human family, which all enjoy, without regard to their moral status or religious convictions. God has given to all men an agency, and has granted to us the privilege to serve Him or serve Him not, to do that which is right or that which is wrong, and this privilege is given to all men irrespective of creed, color or condition. The wealthy have this agency, the poor have this agency, and no man is deprived by any power of God from exercising it in the fullest and in the freest manner. This agency has been given to all. This is a blessing that God has bestowed upon the world of mankind, upon all His children alike. But He will hold us strictly to an account for the use that we make of this agency, and as it was said of Cain, so it will be said of us: “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” There are, however, certain blessings which God bestows upon the children of men only upon the condition of the rightful exercise of this agency. For instance, no man can obtain a remission of his sins but by repentance and baptism by one having authority. If we would be free from sin, from its effects, from its power, we must obey this law which God has revealed, or we never can obtain a remission of sins. Therefore, while God has bestowed upon all men, irrespective of condition, this agency to choose good or evil, He has not and will not bestow upon the children of men a remission of sins but by their obedience to law. Therefore the whole world lies in sin and is under condemnation, inasmuch as light has come into the world and men will not avail themselves of that light to put themselves in a proper position before the Lord. And this condemnation rests with tenfold force upon all those that have yielded obedience to this law, and have once received a remission of their sins, but have returned unto sin, and have forgotten or disregarded the covenants they made in the waters of baptism. All men are blessed with the strength of their body, with the use of their mind, and with the right to exercise the faculties with which they are endowed in a way that seemeth good in their sight, without regard to religion. But God has not and will not suffer the gift of the Holy Ghost to be bestowed upon any man or woman, except through compliance with the laws of God. Therefore, no man can obtain a remission of sins; no man can obtain the gift of the Holy Ghost; no man can obtain the revelations of God; no man can obtain the Priesthood, and the rights, powers and privileges thereof; no man can become an heir of God and a joint heir with Jesus Christ, except through compliance with the requirements of heaven. These are universal blessings, they are great and inestimable privileges which pertain to the Gospel and to the plan of life and salvation, which are open and free to all on certain conditions, but which no creature beneath the heavens can enjoy, but through walking in the channel that God has marked out by which they can obtain them. And these privileges and blessings when obtained may be forfeited, and perhaps lost for all eternity, unless we continue steadfast in the course that is marked out for us to pursue. It is well, in my judgment, that the Latter-day Saints do not lose sight of the great privilege that has been bestowed upon them. No man can become a citizen of the Kingdom of God but by entering in at the door: there are thousands and tens of thousands, aye millions of people who will never become citizens of the Kingdom of God in this world, because they fail to exercise the agency and the power that has been given to them in the right direction. Nevertheless, they enjoy many of the blessings that are bestowed upon the world in common. The sun shines upon the evil and the good; but the Holy Ghost descends only upon the righteous and upon those that are forgiven of their sins. The rain descends upon the evil and upon the good; but the rights of the Priesthood are conferred, and the doctrine of the Priesthood distills as the dews of heaven upon the souls of those only that receive it in God’s own appointed way. The favor of heaven, the acknowledgment of the Almighty of His children upon the earth as His sons and His daughters can only be secured through obedience to the laws which He has revealed. Riches or the wealth of the world cannot purchase these things. Simon Magus desired to purchase the power to cast out devils with money, but Peter said unto him, “Thy money perish with thee.” These blessings, powers and privileges are not to be purchased but by the atonement of Christ; they are not to be obtained by personal influence, wealth, position or power, or in any other way but the direct way in which God has decreed that they should be obtained. Now, so long as the Latter-day Saints are content to obey the commandments of God, to appreciate the privileges and blessings which they enjoy in the Church, and will use their time, their talents, their substance, in honor to the name of God, to build up Zion, and to establish truth and righteousness in the earth, so long our heavenly Father is bound by His oath and covenant to protect them from every opposing foe, and to help them to overcome every obstacle that can possibly be arrayed against them or thrown in their pathway; but the moment a community begin to be wrapt up in themselves, become selfish, become engrossed in the temporalities of life, and put their faith in riches, that moment the power of God begins to withdraw from them, and if they repent not the Holy Spirit will depart from them entirely, and they will be left to themselves. That which was given them will be taken away, they will lose that which they had, for they will not be worthy of it. God is just as well as merciful, and we need not expect favors at the hand of the Almighty except as we merit them, at least in the honest desires of our hearts, and the desire and intent will not always avail unless our acts correspond. For we are engaged in a literal work, a reality; and we must practice as well as profess. We must be what God requires us to be, or else we are not His people nor the Zion which He designs to gather together and to build up in the latter days upon the earth.

I am aware that this is the last day of Conference, that there are many to speak and much to be done, therefore brevity is desirable. I find, too, that it is difficult for me to speak loud enough to be heard by this vast assembly.

I rejoice in the work of God. I have never seen a moment since I became acquainted with the principles of the Gospel when I had the least doubt in my mind of their truthfulness. I have never feared, and do not know what the feeling of fear is as to the result of this work. I know that God is able to bear it off, and that He will do it. I fear often for mankind and for myself, knowing my own weaknesses, better, perhaps, than any living being except God. I often have fears and trembling for myself when I am made to feel my own weakness and see myself as I am seen by the Lord. But as to the work of God, it cannot fail, for God has decreed its consummation; and whilst man may oppose it and his efforts fail, the work of God will never fail. Now mark it! As I have often said, the most favorable opportunity that the adversary of men’s souls ever saw to destroy this work was on or before the 6th day of April, 1830; but failing to accomplish it then, notwithstanding the efforts that were put forth in this direction, failure to do so in the future must only be the more apparent. There is more to grapple with now than then. “The kingdom” has taken deeper and stronger root in the earth, and its branches have expanded and spread out into many lands. There are more people to kill off now than ever before, and we are rapidly increasing. There is no use of thinking this work will be destroyed by martyring a few of the people, although they might be our leaders. “Mormonism” is a living principle in the hearts of all true Saints, every soul of whom must be destroyed before it can be wiped out. It has been, through the overruling providences of the Almighty, allowed to grow until it has attained strength and power in the earth: and thanks be unto God, the Ruler and Maker of heaven and earth, I feel it in my very bones, that the Kingdom of God is beyond the reach and power of the devil or his agents. And in this condition it will remain, ever advancing, inasmuch as the Saints keep the law of God. If we should become corrupt and wicked, He has said that we shall be removed out of our place, and every individual who will not keep His commandments will fail. For no man can stand in this Church but upon the foundation of righteousness and truth; and whenever we undertake to build upon the foundation of error and falsehood, selfishness and sin, that moment our foundation will crumble beneath our feet; the sands will be washed away, and we will fall. But so long as this people continue faithful, God will be their friend, and He, be it remembered, is the Almighty, and this is His work. The stone representing this latter-day work, has been cut out of the mountain without hands, and will roll forth according to the decree, and no power will be able to stop its onward march. I do not feel to boast, only in the strength of our God; and I do feel from the inmost recesses of my heart to praise His holy name, and to thank Him that I have been permitted to see the Kingdom where it is today. And those who come after will live to see the consummation of the prophecies that have been uttered concerning it by ancient and modern Prophets verified and not one word will fall to the ground unfulfilled. Not one jot or tittle will pass from the law or the Prophets; but all will be fulfilled, and I am as sure of it as I am that I live. What would you or I take in exchange for this knowledge, this witness of the Spirit? Nothing could be offered that would be an equivalent; it is worth everything else in the world. It is a stay, an anchor to the soul, a comfort and a joy to the heart forever. It is with me, as it is with every man and woman that has received the knowledge of God, through the operations of the Holy Spirit, and that is true to the same—the kingdom of God or nothing; I have no more interest in the kingdom of God than any individual member of the Church. In other words, there is not a man in the kingdom of God that is capable of attaining to the glory of the celestial kingdom but has as great interest in the welfare of this work, in the consummation of the purposes of the Almighty, as I have myself, or as Brother Taylor, Brother Cannon, Brother Woodruff, or any of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve. We are all interested. Every man should feel that it is his work, his kingdom, his church, and that the principles of the Gospel are his principles, for he has embraced them and espoused them, or at least unless we have embraced the Gospel and received the principles thereof in our hearts that they have become a part of us, that we might become identified with the designs and purposes of the Almighty in the earth, we are not converted, nor are we worthy to be saved in the kingdom of God. It is written—and it is as true as that the sun shines—that except a man is willing to sacrifice every earthly tie or consideration for the Gospel’s sake, he is not worthy of the kingdom, nor of Christ. This is according to the declaration of Jesus while He was upon the earth. It is the testimony of Joseph Smith, and that of all the holy Prophets since the world began, who have said anything upon this subject, that any man who is not willing to sacrifice everything else for the Gospel’s sake is not worthy of it, and the day will come when he will come short; so that the sooner we are converted to the truth, the better for us and our posterity. They will receive inheritances, and the blessings of God will follow upon them through us, just as they follow upon the seed of Abraham, because of the blessings and promises bestowed upon their father Abraham. The promises were made to Abraham, and the blessing followed upon the heads of his children, and will continue unto the last generation, because the promise was made to Abraham who was worthy of it, and he will claim the promise for his posterity. So it will be with you and me. The blessings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have been conferred upon us, and they will be inherited by our posterity if we prove worthy of the privilege, and live for it.

May God bless and help us to learn the truth and abide in it forever, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Consolation Which the Bereaved Have—Other Calamities Worse Than Death—Effects of Sin—What is to Be Gained By Faithfulness—How All Will Be Judged—The Resurrection—Proofs of Christ’s Resurrection—The Speaker’s Testimony

Discourse by President Joseph F. Smith, delivered at the Funeral Services of the late James Urie, in the Sixteenth Ward, Salt Lake City, February 2nd, 1883.

It is a very difficult matter to say anything at a time of sorrow and bereavement like the present that will give immediate relief to the sorrowing hearts of those who mourn. Such griefs can only be fully relieved by the lapse of time and the influence of the good spirit upon the hearts of those that mourn, by which they can obtain comfort and satisfaction in their hopes of the future. For the loss of a father or mother in the family there is no adequate reparation; no remedy in this world which will supply such a loss, and about the only consolation we have is in the hope that we may so live that we may be permitted to meet again with our beloved, faithful and true friends who go before, or who come after us, and enjoy their society once more in another sphere or state, which will be immortal. If we can only be satisfied in our minds by the witness of the good spirit, to know that the course we pursue in this life is such as will secure to us this privilege, then, in this reflection there is a degree of comfort and satisfaction, if not of joy, notwithstanding our separation, in time, from those that we have loved and cherished, for although they are gone from us, we know we shall meet them again in a better and more enduring sphere. I remember my feelings when first called upon to part with one of my children—my firstborn. It seemed to me to be an irreparable loss—a calamity, and if I had not restrained my feelings I should have felt that it was cruel for the Lord to suffer one so bright, so pure and innocent to be taken away by the hand of death, after remaining with us just long enough to become the joy of our hearts and the light of our home. Indeed it was a severe trial of our feelings to part with one who seemed so indispensable to our happiness, and for a time it seemed that the substance of our joy and hope had fled forever; but I have learned that there are a great many things which are far worse than death. With my present feelings and views and the understanding that I have of life and death I would far rather follow every child I have to the grave in their innocence and purity, than to see them grow up to man and womanhood and degrade themselves by the pernicious practices of the world, forget the Gospel, forget God and the plan of life and salva tion, and turn away from the only hope of eternal reward and exaltation in the world to come.

Far better, in my judgment, follow them to their graves before they have commenced such fearful acts, or fall into such fearful errors. I would rather a thousand times die while I have the faith of the Gospel in my heart and the hope of eternal life within me, with the prospect of becoming worthy of inheriting a crown of eternal life which is the greatest gift of God unto man, than to live in possession of all the world affords and lose that gift.

It would be far better for me and my whole family to die in the faith than to live and deny it and bring shame, disgrace and ruin upon us forever.

The Gospel has been revealed to us in this dispensation. The revelation of the Gospel is a reality; there is no fiction about it. It is a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. The plan of salvation has been revealed for the redemption of the world. Shall we deny it after we have become acquainted with its glorious truths?

No person can turn away from the truth into darkness and error and into “by and forbidden paths,” and continue in that course without forfeiting all claim to the blessings and privileges of the first resurrection.

If the truth had not been revealed to the world and mankind had been left in ignorance in relation to these principles, it would have been a very different thing; there would have been some excuse for them; but the fact that light has come into the world, that the truth has been revealed and the way of salvation marked out and made plain and simple for all to walk in it, makes it absolutely necessary for all to come to the knowledge of the truth, to walk circumspectly, and to keep the commandments which the Lord has given. It would be immeasurably better for us to lay down our bodies now, in the faith of the Gospel, than to live to ripe old age and turn away from it, thereby forfeiting our claim upon eternal life.

If we live and turn away from the truth we will be separated throughout the countless ages of eternity from the society of those we love. We will have no claim upon them, and they will have no claim upon us. There will be an impassable gulf between us over which we cannot pass, one to the other. If we die in the faith, having lived righteous lives, we are Christ’s, we have the assurance of eternal reward, being in possession of the principles of eternal truth and shall be clothed with glory, immortality and eternal lives. While we sojourn in the flesh we pass a great portion of our life in sorrow; death separates us for a short time, some of us pass behind the veil, but the time will come when we will meet with those who have gone, and enjoy each others’ society forever. The separation is but for a moment as it were. No power can separate us then. God having joined us together we have a claim upon each other—an undeniable claim—inasmuch as we have been united by the power of the priesthood in the Gospel of Christ. Therefore it is better to be separated in this life for a little season, although we have to pass through deprivation, sorrow, trouble, toil, widowhood, orphanage, and many other vicissitudes, than to be separated for all eternity. By complying with the principles of the Gospel we become heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. The anticipation of these great privileges brings happiness to us now, and strengthens our hopes of exaltation and eternal reward in the kingdom of God hereafter. No other power but that of God, through the knowledge of truth, can give such enjoyment, peace of mind, consolation and happiness to the sorrowing hearts of mortals. The Gospel has been revealed for the salvation and exaltation of the children of men, and if they would only receive it, it would bring, finally, unalloyed and perfect happiness to all, even a “fullness of joy.”

Let us look into the future. We should not brood over the hardships which we have passed through. This is a world of sorrow, of care, of probation; a world of disappointment, anxiety and toil. We find it as it is, and many of us help to make it no better. When God organized the world, he pronounced it good, but men have transgressed the laws and departed from the paths of life. Mankind do not live by principles of justice, truth, righteousness and equality. They are violators of the law, and will come under its condemnation. I am sorry to say that mankind bring evil and therefore suffering upon themselves. Men rise up and oppress their neighbors. Many take delight in oppressing their fellow creatures, and they do it because they have not the Spirit of God or the love of the Gospel in their hearts. They hate justice and righteousness and are strangers to mercy, because they know not God nor His law, nor comprehend the results of their own acts. Whereas, if they were imbued with the good spirit, they would comfort and elevate those by whom they are surrounded. Were men to use properly the blessings which God has given them for the good of all mankind, we could soon see the effects in the amelioration of the world; but many are so fallen and degraded that they care nothing for themselves nor for anybody else.

Many are lovers of pleasure and lust more than lovers of God. They delight in the lusts of the flesh, the gratification of their appetites, having virulent desires, living in corruption, debauchery, revelry and all manner of wickedness. Many people do not know how to be happy, not knowing how to use the blessings that God has given unto them. If they had all the world, they would use it for the gratification of their own base passions and desires, to their own destruction. But if they possessed the right spirit, they would seek to promote the peace and happiness of mankind and extend the influence of the Gospel of light and truth to all the world. They would love purity, virtue, honesty, sobriety and righteousness. We should use the blessings that we receive to the glory of the Lord. We should comfort the mourner and provide for those who are in need. If we were to use the blessings that God has given unto us to His honor and glory, all would be happy; but we do not all see nor do alike. Inasmuch as we do not use our gifts or talents that are given unto us of God for the elevation of mankind, we know too well the sad results. They are misery and ruin for time, and perhaps for all eternity.

Every man will have to render an account of his stewardship, and every one of us will be held responsible for his own works, whether good or evil. We will be judged for the deeds done in the flesh; if they have been evil we will have to pay the penalty and satisfy justice and the demands of a broken law. Those that have sinned against the Holy Ghost will have no redemption. All will be saved with this exception, and come out of the “prison” and be exalted and receive a reward and an inheritance in the mansions prepared for them in the house of God. God does not judge men as we do, nor look upon them in the same light that we do. He knows our imperfections—all the causes, the “whys and wherefores” are made manifest unto Him. He judges us by our acts and the intents of our hearts. His judgments will be true, just and righteous; ours are obscured by the imperfections of man. We are required to obey the laws of God revealed unto us in the Gospel. It is for Sister Urie and her little ones to comply with these laws throughout their lives. It is for the widow and the fatherless to live to the principles of the Gospel, be faithful and keep the covenants they have made. If they do this, they will be exalted in His kingdom, and they will receive all that their hearts can rightfully desire. They will receive the reward, if they are faithful, and will lose nothing. God will not suffer the righteous to be deprived of the blessings they justly merit; they will gain their exaltation. No eye hath seen, no ear heard, neither can the heart of man conceive of the glory and exaltation that is laid up in store for the faithful.

This is my testimony in relation to this matter. I have known Brother Urie for quite a number of years; he was a man who had a good heart; he was a friend to mankind, so far as it lay in his power to be, which he has proved by many acts of kindness to his fellow man. He has acted sometimes unwisely towards himself and family. I am sorry to say this, but we cannot ignore the fact, it is too well known. I do not believe that he has injured any individual but himself and family. They will forgive him, we will forgive him, and I trust God will forgive him for this folly. I do not believe that he would have harmed a hair of any man upon earth, or raised a finger to injure anyone. He has befriended the cause of Zion and the Elders of Israel. He will receive his reward if he has been true to his covenants with God. I do not believe for a moment that he forsook them or ever denied the faith. He will answer for the wrong which he has committed against himself and family. God will not forsake him, inasmuch as he forsook Him not and was true to Him, and he will be preserved, but he will have to suffer the consequence of his folly and pay the debt. This I will say, if I had the power, as a savior upon Mount Zion, I would forgive him, and nothing would give me more joy and pleasure than to administer reclamation, salvation and exaltation to Brother Urie.

Let us obey our religion. Keep the commands of God, and bring up our children in the way of life and salvation, teach them the principles of the Gospel, to be virtuous, honest and pure, that they may lead pure and holy lives and cleave to the faith, that they may all come off victorious and receive the crown and the blessing of endless lives. Bishop Kesler was saying that we are mortal beings. It is true all of us are clothed with mortality, but our spirits existed long before they took upon them this tabernacle that we now inhabit. When this body dies, the spirit does not die. The spirit is an immortal being, and when separated from the body takes its flight to the place prepared for it, and there awaits the resurrection of the body, when the spirit will return again and re-occupy this tabernacle which it occupied in this world.

This great and glorious principle of the resurrection is no longer a theory as some think, but it is an accomplished fact which has been demonstrated beyond all successful contradiction, doubt or controversy. Job, who lived before the resurrection of Christ, possessing the spirit of prophecy, looked forward to the time of the resurrection. He comprehended the fact. He understood the principle and knew the power and design of God to bring it to pass, and predicted its accomplishment. He declares—“I know that my Redeemer liveth and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth;” he further says, “and though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” He looked forward to something not yet done, something which had never been done in this world before his day. It was not accomplished till long after his time. Having received the spirit of the Gospel and of revelation, he was enabled to look down into unborn time and see his body which had moldered and crumbled into dust raised from the dead. What he saw by the eye of faith has become actual history unto us, and we possess not only the history of the fact but a knowledge by the testimony of the Holy Ghost of its truth. We are not therefore situated as Job was, we live in the “latter times” which are pregnant with grand and glorious events, among the greatest of which is this glorious principle of the resurrection of the dead, which is no longer a mere prediction, a cherished hope, or a prophetic promise, but a reality; for long before our day it has actually been accomplished. Christ Himself burst the barriers of the tomb, conquered death and the grave and came forth “the firstfruits of them that slept.” But says one, how can we know that Jesus was put to death or resurrected? We have plenty of evidence to show that Jesus was crucified and resurrected. We have the testimony of His disciples and they produce irrefutable evidence that they did see Him crucified, and witnessed the wounds of the nails and spear which He received on the cross. They also testify that His body was laid away in a sepulchre wherein no man had lain and they rolled a great stone to the door and departed.

Now the chief priests and Pharisees were not satisfied with the crucifixion and burial of our Lord and Savior, they remembered that while living He had said that after three days He would rise again, so they established a strong guard to protect the sepulchre and set a seal upon the stone lest His disciples should come by night and steal the body away and say unto the people, “He is risen from the dead,” and thus perpetrate a fraud upon the world.

Lo and behold! By this act those unbelieving guards became actual witnesses to the fact that a heavenly personage came and rolled away the stone and that Jesus came forth. The disciples witness and testify to the resurrection, and their testimony cannot be impeached. It therefore stands good, and is true and faithful.

But is this the only evidence we have to depend on? Have we nothing but the testimony of the ancient disciples to rest our hopes upon? Thank God we have more. And the additional evidence which we possess enables us to become witnesses to the truth of the testimony of the ancient disciples. We go to the Book of Mormon; it testifies of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in plain and unmistakable terms; we may go to the book of Doctrine and Covenants containing the revelations of this dispensation, and we shall find clear and well-defined evidence there. We have the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the testimony of Oliver Cowdery, and the testimony of Sidney Rigdon, that they saw the Lord Jesus—the same that was crucified in Jerusalem—and that He revealed Himself unto them. Joseph and Sidney testify to it, as follows—

“We, Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon, being in the Spirit on the sixteenth of February, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two—By the power of the Spirit our eyes were opened and our understandings were enlightened, so as to understand the things of God—Even those things which were from the beginning before the world was, which were ordained of the Father, through his Only Begotten Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, even from the beginning; Of whom we bear record; and the record which we bear is the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the Son, whom we saw and with whom we conversed in the heavenly vision.” (Doc. and Cov., sec. 76, verses 11-14.) They were called to be special witnesses of Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection.

We have also the testimony of the ancient disciples who lived on this continent of the crucifixion and resurrection. You will find their testimony recorded in the Book of Mormon. The disciples who lived upon this continent knew what transpired at Jerusalem; the Lord shewed them these things. After His resurrection He manifested Himself to His disciples on this continent, and showed them the wounds He had received on Calvary. They were convinced that Jesus was the Christ and the Redeemer of the world. They beheld Him in the flesh and they bear witness of it, and their testimony is true. We have the testimony of many witnesses. We have the testimony of eleven special witnesses to the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon, which book testifies of Christ’s resurrection, containing as it does the records of the ancient prophets and disciples of Christ on this continent, thus confirming their testimonies.

Is it all the evidence we have? No. Joseph Smith boldly declared to the world that if mankind would sincerely repent of their sins and be baptized by authority they should not only receive a remission of their sins, but, by the laying on of hands, they should receive the Holy Ghost, and should know of the doctrine for themselves. Thus all who obey the law and abide in the truth become witnesses of this and other equally great and precious truths. Today there are thousands of Latter-day Saints living in Utah and throughout the world who have attained to the possession of these things, both men and women. If we witness by our acts, and from our hearts our determination to carry out the mind and will of the Lord we shall have this double assurance of a glorious resurrection, and be able to say as the Prophet Job said—his was a glorious declaration—“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall (again) stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” Thousands have received this testimony and can witness unto God and testify from their hearts that they know these things.

I bear my testimony, and surely it is of as much force and effect, if it be true, as the testimony of Job, the testimonies of the disciples at Jerusalem, the disciples on this continent, of Joseph Smith, or any other man that told the truth. All are of equal force and binding on the world. If no man had ever testified to these things upon the face of the globe, I want to say as a servant of God, independent of the testimonies of all men and of every book that has been written, that I have received the witness of the Spirit in my own heart, and I testify before God, angels and men, without fear of the consequences that I know that my Redeemer lives, and I shall see him face to face, and stand with Him in my resurrected body upon this earth, if I am faithful; for God has revealed this unto me. I have received the witness, and I bear my testimony, and my testimony is true. The testimony of the Latter-day Saints is in addition to and consonant with that of the disciples of Jesus Christ who lived at Jerusalem, those who lived on this continent, the Prophet Joseph, Oliver, Sidney and others, of our crucified and risen Redeemer, because they received it not of them, but by the same spirit by which they received it. No man ever received this testimony unless the Spirit of God revealed it unto him.

We will see Brother Urie again. Sister Urie will meet him on the other side of the grave. The spirit and body will be reunited. We shall see each other in the flesh, in the same tabernacles that we have here while in mortality. Our tabernacles will be brought forth as they are laid down, although there will be a restoration effected; every organ, every limb that has been maimed, every deformity caused by accident or in any other way, will be restored and put right. Every limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame. We will know each other and enjoy each other’s society throughout the endless ages of eternity, if we keep the law of God. It is for us to remain true and faithful and keep our covenants, and to train our children up in the paths of holiness, virtue and truth, in the principles of the Gospel, that we may with them be prepared to enjoy the perfect and eternal day.

May God bless you, and my earnest prayer is that the Lord will bless Sister Urie and her dear little ones in this bereavement; that He will preserve their lives, establish them firmly in the faith of the Gospel and in the love of the truth, that they may be worthy to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection, crowned with glory and eternal lives. I pronounce this blessing upon them, inasmuch as they live faithful, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Interest in the Work of God—Faith in the Destiny of the People—“Mormonism” a “Knotty Problem”—No Freedom for the Saints—Good Effect of Sifting—Growth of the Kingdom—Commandments to the Saints—Travels of the Saints Compared With Journeyings of Ancient Israel—Inspiration of President Young

Discourse by President Joseph F. Smith, delivered in the Tabernacle, Provo City, Sunday Afternoon, December 3, 1882.

I am deeply interested in the welfare of Zion. There is nothing that tends to benefit the people of God in the least degree in which I have not a deep and abiding interest. My feelings and desires are interwoven and centered in this latter-day work. I should have no other interest, desire, or feeling, and so far as I know I have not. I am thankful for this, because it does not seem to me to be any task to do, so far as I am capable, whatever the Lord calls me to do in the work of the ministry, or in the building up of Zion. I am proud to say this comes natural to me. I have no praise to bestow upon myself for it, and I ask none. I have no credit to claim on that score. I have this disposition and desire and I thank God for it. I feel that if Zion prospers all is well, and if Zion does not prosper, then my own happiness and prosperity is in jeopardy. For I expect nothing outside of the Gospel. I expect to gain no favors of the world. I do not court nor expect the love or sympathy of the ungodly. I do not care for their favor. I do not seek nor desire their society any further than it may be possible to do some good. If I am sent to preach the Gospel to them I am willing to go and labor among them and do all the good I can; but when I get through with the labor that devolves upon me, by virtue of that calling and appointment, I feel—and I speak from experience when I say this—like other missionaries, most grateful for the privilege of getting home. I never was particularly pleased to go away. I went on a mission when I was quite a boy—some 25 years ago—and I have been engaged in missionary duties and labors more or less ever since. I have never been out of the harness, nor laid my armor on the shelf, nor have I sought to be released from that day to this. I have always been on the altar, so to speak, ready and willing to do whatever is required of me to the best of my ability. I am just as willing today as I ever was in my life. I expect to become more and more willing as I gain experience, as I get older—that is, if it is possible to advance in that direction, and I presume it is.

I have great faith in the destiny of this people. I never had any doubts or fears in regard to the destiny and final triumph of the people of God. I can remember the time when I was quite a little boy, when we were hurried very unceremoniously across the river Mississippi from the city of Nauvoo just previous to the bombardment of the town by the mob. I had a great anxiety then—that is for a child—to know where on earth we were going to. I knew we had left home. We had left it willingly—because we were obliged to—we left it in a hurry, and we were not far away when we heard the cannonade on the other side of the river; but I felt just as certain in my mind then—as certain as a child could feel—that all was right, that the Lord’s hand was in it, as I do today. My feelings have been the same from that day to this. I know that Zion is onward and upward. I know that God has charge of His great latter-day work; that His hand is extended over His people for good; that He will work out their deliverance; that He will bless them and increase them upon this land until they shall become powerful and terrible to the wicked nations of the earth. We are now, it would appear, becoming troublesome to the nation of which we form a part, so much so that one of the greatest men of the nation, feeling unable to deal with this question of “Mormonism,” this “knotty problem,” actually called upon the government of Great Britain to help to stop the progress of this work. You know what Secretary Evarts did a few years ago—he actually appealed to the several European governments to pass laws, or do something else to prevent the “Mormons” coming from their respective countries to this “asylum for the oppressed, this land of liberty.” I am happy to say, however, that the wisdom exercised and manifested by some of the notable ones of Great Britain was greater than that exercised by some of the notable ones in our own land. They had sense enough to know that they had no business to deal with any such question, and they rather snubbed the poor deluded Secretary, and through him the Government of the United States, by telling them that it was a matter over which they had no control. There—in the “effete governments of the old world”—a man might worship God, the devil, or a yellow dog, and it would be all right; but in the United States—the much-vaunted “land of liberty”—while a man might worship the devil, or a yellow dog, he must look out and be very chary how he undertakes to worship the true and living God; for if he undertakes that he will have trouble on hand the first thing he knows. The Methodists may worship a God without body, parts or passions, who sits on the top of a topless throne, and the Government will say nothing about it; but as sure as you undertake to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jesus and the Apostles, they are after you with “sharp sticks” in the shape of inimical laws, unconstitutional enactments, missionary judges, governors, marshals, etc. We have proven this, and we know it is true. It is not because we have not the truth; it is not because we have not revelation; it is not because we have not Prophets, Apostles, and inspired men; it is not because we have not the Priesthood; because if we had not these we would be like the rest of the world, and they would be no more concerned about us than we are concerned about them. Why are they not as troubled over the rest of mankind as they are over us? Simply because they have nothing to fear from them; they are all sailing in the same boat, all going down the same stream; they are all “birds of a feather,” if you please. But here is something that is opposed to that downward tendency; here is something that is going up the stream, something that is going in an entirely different direction from the rest of mankind. And they howl about it, and say, “If we let this kind of thing go on we shall lose our place and nation.” Something has got to be done, they say, to stop the onward progress of this abominable “Mormonism.” Now, mark it—this abominable “Mormonism!” If a man is a thief in Utah, it is because he is a “Mormon.” If he is a liar, it is because he is a “Mormon.” If he commits adultery, it is because he is a “Mormon.” If he commits murder, it is because he is a “Mormon.” It is not because he is an adulterer; it is not because he is a murderer; it is not because he is a liar; it is not because he is a thief, that he does these things, but it is because he is a “Mormon!” Now, why is this? Is it because the world do not know to the contrary? No, it is not, for they do know better—that is, the great majority of mankind that know anything about us. I acknowledge that there are a great many in the world who do not know anything about us; they simply believe the slanders of a few malicious scribblers concerning us. But it is not the ignorant and deceived that are seeking to bring trouble upon this people, but the crafty, whose crafts are in danger. They cry out, “delusion! delusion!” in order to distract attention from their own delusions, from their own sins and corruptions. They try to scare the people away from their own infamies, and turn them upon the Latter-day Saints. But it is a poor miserable dodge and will not succeed. Their crafts are not only in danger, but they are doomed to fall. But the truth is not in danger, and it is destined to continue until it accomplishes its mission. This is my testimony, and I predict this without any fear of being a false prophet. I do not fear to prophesy this, because the Lord God Almighty has foretold it. God has declared it by his own voice, and by the voice of angels, and of Prophets, and I believe their testimony. I know by the Spirit of God in my own heart that their testimony is true; I know that the kingdom of God will succeed and finally triumph. While I say this, I do not say we will not have to pass through tribulation, that we may not have to be scourged for our weaknesses, follies and shortcomings; for I do not know any more effectual way in which the Lord could bring us to our senses, that the chaff, the smut and the refuse may be sifted out and the wheat preserved, than to suffer to be scattered among us the influences of the world, the leaven of unrighteousness, that that which is no part of the body of Christ may be separated and the good perfected, cleansed and purified. Those who are corrupt do not belong to the body of Christ’s Church; it is only that which is pure and holy that can have a part therein. We have all got to be fashioned, modeled and reformed, before we can become like unto our Savior. A man who is deformed by iniquity, lack of faith, by wicked and unrighteous practices, can never reflect the image of his Creator, until that deformity is removed. We must purify ourselves before God, and this is what the Gospel of the Son of God—by some called “Mormonism”—teaches us to do. We say that “Mormonism” is onward and upward, and as I have said, I have never had any fears as to the ultimate triumph of the kingdom of God. Upon what are our hopes based? What is the foundation of our expectation in regard to this matter? Is it that all the people will do right? Do we expect or hope that all the people will be saved with a full salvation? Do we expect or hope that all the people that are now numbered among the Latter-day Saints will be true and faithful to the end? No; we may justly fear that many will fall by the way. But there will always be a sufficient number of this people, and of their children and children’s children, and of the honest in heart who are at present in darkness but who will yet come to a knowledge of the truth, who will be sufficiently faithful to the covenants that they make with God, that the Kingdom will never fall or be left to another people. I judge this from the history of the past. It has been so from the beginning until now, and this is a glorious assurance to me, besides the testimony of the Holy Spirit in my heart, that this will be the case in the future. Notwithstanding many have fallen by the way and have manifested intense hatred towards the work of God in which they were formerly engaged, and have done their utmost to destroy it, notwithstanding all opposition of this character, the Kingdom has grown steadily and unmistakably from the day it was organized, April 6th, 1830, until the present moment, and it will never cease to grow. We may be brought under affliction, if not under bondage. Now for my own part I do not care to be brought under greater bondage than I am under at the present time. I feel in my heart as though I was under as much bondage as I care to bear without some more help from the Lord and from my brethren. When I am restrained by unjust laws or bills of attainder from exercising the rights of citizenship, from worshipping God according to the dictates of my own conscience, and openly practicing the principles of my religion, which are in strict accord with the holy Scriptures, the Bible; when I am legislated against contrary to the constitutional law of the land, and my rights interfered with and trampled upon without a cause, I feel that is about as much bondage as a free born American citizen, never convicted of any crime, ought to submit to. That is the case at present to a certain extent; but we are not yet very much hurt. It cools our affections a little for “Uncle Sam,” or the administrators of government, but draws us nearer to God and closer to the precious principles of the Constitution, and excites our sympathy for our misruled country. But all the powerful engines that have been framed for the destruction of the liberties of the Latter-day Saints have hitherto proven in the main failures. The framers of these engines of destruction, and base plots, have not been able to accomplish by them the objects for which they were intended. In consequence of this, our enemies are dissatisfied with themselves and with the Government because of their failures. It is not because we have opposed them; it is not because we have used any violence; it is not because we have resisted any wicked and corrupt law, for we have said but little; we have simply let them do as they pleased, knowing that they are in the hands of the Lord, who will suffer them to go just as far as will subserve His purposes, and when they have gone that far He will say to them, as He says to the mighty deep, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.” They can go no further than He permits them, and inasmuch as we do right and keep the commandments of God, we need have no fear; but if we play into their hands, cater to them, encourage them, and give them of our strength and support, then we may some day expect to be caught in their meshes, for as Paul says: “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey.” When we become servants of the enemies of the people of God, we will find we have got unmerciful masters. We have come to these mountains to serve the Lord. We have not come here to serve ourselves, nor to serve man, nor to serve Babylon. The voice of God has been to us, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” And, furthermore, it is said, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” This is the call that is made upon the Latter-day Saints. Now what will it avail us if we come out from Babylon and bring the customs of Babylon with us? What will it avail us if we come out from among the nations of the earth and mingle with the ungodly, the infidel, worship idols, and do all manner of evils? What good will it do? I can tell you what harm it will do. It will just add that much more condem nation to those who have been called to be not unequally yoked with unbelievers, etc.; they will be held that much more culpable before the Lord; “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom the Lord has committed much, of him will men ask the more.” We know what is good, and if we do it not, we then are guilty of sin. Much has been given unto us, therefore much is required at our hands. If our righteousness exceeds not the righteousness of the modern Pharisees and Scribes, what better are we than they? We are called to be the salt of the earth. What say the Scriptures? “If the salt shall lose its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? The salt shall thenceforth be good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. I give unto you to be the light of the world; a city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Therefore, let your light so shine before this world, that they may see your good works.” That is our calling. We are not called to be infidel to the work God has commenced upon the earth, to be infidel to the truths He has revealed unto us, but we have been called out from the midst of the earth that we may be the servants of the Lord, that we may be His chosen people, that we may raise up a righteous people, and that we may so live that God will acknowledge and own us, and that we may claim Him to be our Father and our God.

When we came out here we came out from the midst of bondage and very much oppression and tyranny. Some of the brethren were talking to us yesterday about bondage; and it is said in the revelation that “ye must needs be led out of bondage by power, and with a stretched-out arm.” Now, the Lord also promised that He would raise up a man that should lead the people out of bondage; and, further, He promised that when He should raise up that man His angels should go before them and also His presence, not as it was in the days of the children of Israel in the wilderness, when His angel went up before them, but not His presence; but in the last days the Spirit of God and the angels shall go before the people and shall follow after them.

There are some wonderful events to transpire in the future, but one of the most wonderful events has already transpired, but that event, I suppose, like that witnessed by the children of Israel in the dividing of the waters of the Red Sea and their pilgrimage to Canaan, will be left to other generations to appreciate. I do not think that the children of Israel thought a great deal about their crossing the Red Sea in the way they did. Perhaps they thought it was done upon natural principles. They probably attributed the separation of the waters to some natural causes, and failed to see the hand or power of God in it any more than the people of Missouri, in 1878, saw the power of God in a cyclone there, which was so powerful that it lifted the water and mud out of a large lake in its course clean to the solid ground or bed rock, leaving a dry pathway from shore to shore about a quarter of a mile wide, carrying away and scattering thousands of fish over the country for miles away, and it was some little time before the water flowed back to its level in the lake. This was accounted for, I suppose, on scientific principles. It was the power of this electric storm that raised the water out of the lake, swept it clean to bed rock, carrying everything before it, and leaving a path upon which people could walk dry shod! They do not think God had any thing to do with it. But by and by their children may think the power of God was manifested even in this. Doubtless the children of Israel learned to thank God for dividing the waters of the Red Sea and allowing them to pass through dry shod, while the Egyptians who were pursuing them were drowned.

A wonderful event has occurred in these last days among this people, an event many times more wonderful than the marching of the children of Israel from Egypt to the holy land. It is only a short distance from the river Jordan to the land of Egypt—only a few hundred miles—and yet they wandered about for forty years seeking the goodly land, until every last one of them, except two, had fallen asleep because of their rebellious spirit, and only their posterity were permitted to enter the holy land. Now, what has happened in this dispensation? This people have crossed deserts that are beyond comparison with those traversed by the children of Israel. They were not fed by manna it is true, although they were fed with quails in great abundance on at least one occasion, and they performed a journey nearly four times as great as that performed by the children of Israel—which occupied them forty years—in the course of a few months. Now this was a wonderful thing. We had to make the roads, build the bridges, “kill the snakes” and withstand the attacks of the Indians while crossing the trackless deserts. And when President Young first set his foot upon the ground where the Temple now stands in Salt Lake City, by the testimony of the spirit of God that was in his heart, by the inspiration of the Almighty, he exclaimed to the pioneers: “Here we will make our resting place, and here is the spot upon which we will build the Temple.” He had before seen an ensign descend and light upon the mountain peak which is now called from that circumstance “Ensign Peak”—which was an indication to him that this was the resting place God designed for His people. God led this people from the midst of their persecutors, delivered them from prison bars and fettering chains, delivered them from bondage, brought them out here and made them free—as free as any people upon the earth. I am at the defiance of the world today, to show me an equal number of people anywhere that enjoy greater freedom or liberty at this moment than the Latter-day Saints do, notwithstanding the efforts of our enemies to the contrary. It cannot be done. We were led out of bondage by the power of God. The angels of God and the power and presence of the Almighty accompanied us, so much so that notwithstanding the country was covered with sagebrush and crickets, presenting the most forbidding appearance, President Young was enabled to point out where the Temple and city would be built. He said: “You may go north and south, east and west, and explore the country all over, but when you have done it, you will come back and say that this is the spot where we are to settle.” And that has been the universal experience and unwavering testimony of the people that have enjoyed the spirit of their religion from that day to this. There is nowhere between here and the Pacific coast, nowhere between the frozen zone in the north and Old Mexico in the south, where this people could enjoy more liberty or prosper better than we have done and do in the midst of these mountains. Over thirty years experience has proven this beyond the possibility of doubt, and this is an evidence that those who led the people were inspired of God, inspired to teach, inspired to build, inspired to cultivate and reclaim these deserts, inspired to dedicate the land and the waters unto the Lord, that they might have His blessing poured out upon them, that they might be changed from sterility to abundant fruitfulness, and this the Lord has done for the people.

Now, it is quite possible that the Lord will raise up somebody in the future who will be powerful and mighty to lead the people to rebuild the waste places of Zion, but when He does, the power of God which has been manifested in the leading of this people in the past will not be forgotten nor despised, but will be more apparent to future generations than to this, and will be regarded quite as remarkable and as wonderful as anything that will occur in the future to them that participate in the scene. When God leads the people back to Jackson County, how will he do it? Let me picture to you how some of us may be gathered and led to Jackson County. I think I see two or three hundred thousand people wending their way across the great plain enduring the nameless hardships of the journey, herding and guarding their cattle by day and by night, and defending themselves and little ones from foes on the right hand and on the left, as when they came here. They will find the journey back to Jackson County will be as real as when they came out here. Now, mark it. And though you may be led by the power of God “with a stretched-out arm,” it will not be more manifest than the lead ing the people out here to those that participate in it. They will think there are a great many hardships to endure in this manifestation of the power of God, and it will be left, perhaps to their children to see the glory of their deliverance, just as it is left for us to see the glory of our former deliverance from the hands of those that sought to destroy us. This is one way to look at it. It is certainly a practical view. Some might ask, what will become of the railroads? I fear that the sifting process would be insufficient were we to travel by railroads. We are apt to overlook the manifestations of the power of God to us because we are participators in them, and regard them as commonplace events. But when it is written in history—as it will be written—it will be shown forth to future generations as one of the most marvelous, unexampled and unprecedented accomplishments that has ever been known to history.

I believe with all my heart that President Brigham Young was a man mighty and strong whom God Almighty raised up to lead this people out of bondage. What do you believe about it? And I believe He did it by the power of God and the help of his brethren. I know that he did it, and I know since that event that this people have been comparatively, to a great extent, free from malicious courts, from imprisonments, from chains and fetters, from mobocracy, and from injury by persecution, and they have thriven, prospered, multiplied, built and inhabited, planted and reaped the fruits of their labors and rejoiced in them ever since. And we have never been in bondage since, and we need not have been under what bondage we are if we had only done our duty, kept the commandments of the Lord, followed the counsels of His servants implicitly and without doubt in our minds, we would have been as free today as we were the moment we set foot in these valleys.

This is my testimony in relation to this matter. God has led His people out of bondage, and he has given them these strong mountain fastnesses for an inheritance. This will be a land of Zion unto us. We shall rejoice in it and prosper exceedingly, if we continue to do our duty. Amen.

Greatness of the Work Inaugurated and Accomplished By the Prophet Joseph Smith—Sketch of the Prophet’s Early Life—Refutation of the False Charges Made Against Him and the Latter-Day Saints—Character of Our Traducers—Divine Nature and Value of the Book of Mormon

Discourse by President Joseph F. Smith, delivered in the Assembly Hall, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, October 29th 1882.

Brother Woodruff in the course of his remarks made the assertion that Joseph Smith was the greatest Prophet that has ever lived of whom we have any knowledge, save and except Jesus Christ Himself. The world would say that he was an impostor; and the Lord said that his name should be had for good and for evil among all the nations of the earth, and this much, at least, so far as his name has become known, has been fulfilled. This prediction was made through the Prophet Joseph Smith himself when he was an obscure youth, and there was but little prospect of his name ever becoming known beyond the village where he lived. It was at an early period of his life and at the begin ning of the work that this prophecy or revelation was given, and it has been truly verified. Today there is not another man, perhaps, who has figured in religion whose name is so widely known, and the report of whom has gone so far and is so widespread among the nations as that of Joseph Smith. In connection with the work of which he was the instrument in the hands of God of laying the foundation, his name is spoken of in nearly every civilized nation upon the globe for good or for evil. Where it is spoken of for good, it is by those who have had the privilege of hearing the Gospel which has come to the earth through him and who have been sufficiently honest and humble to receive the same; they speak of him with a knowledge which they have received by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, through obedience to the principles which he taught as a Prophet and as an inspired man. They speak to his praise, to his honor, and they hold his name in honorable remembrance. They revere him and they love him as they love no other man, because they know he was the chosen instrument in the hands of the Almighty of restoring the Gospel of life and salvation unto them, of opening their understanding of the future, of lifting the veil of eternity as it were from before their eyes. Those who have received the principles which he promulgated know they pertain not only to their own salvation, happiness and peace, spiritual and temporal, but to the welfare, happiness, salvation and exaltation of their kindred who have died without a knowledge of the truth. The work in which Joseph Smith was engaged was not confined to this life alone, but it pertains as well to the life to come and to the life that has been. In other words, it relates to those that have lived upon the earth, to those that are living and to those that shall come after us. It is not something which relates to man only while he tabernacles in the flesh, but to the whole human family from eternity to eternity. Consequently, as I have said, Joseph Smith is held in reverence, his name is honored; tens of thousands of people thank God in their heart and from the depths of their souls for the knowledge the Lord has restored to the earth through him, and therefore they speak well of him and bear testimony of his worth. And this is not confined to a village, nor to a State, nor to a nation, but extends to every nation, kindred, tongue and people where the Gospel, up to the present, has been preached—in America, Great Britain, Europe, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and upon the Islands of the sea. And the Book of Mormon, which Joseph Smith was the instrument in the hands of God of bringing forth to this generation, has been translated into the German, French, Danish, Swedish, Welsh, Hawaiian, Hindostani, Spanish and Dutch languages, and this book will be translated into other languages, for according to the predictions it contains, and according to the promises of the Lord through Joseph Smith, it is to be sent unto every nation and kindred and people under the whole heavens, until all the sons and daughters of Adam shall have the privilege of hearing the Gospel as it has been restored to the earth in the dispensation of the fullness of times.

The world presume that we have not received a knowledge of the truth. Those who are in ignorance in regard to the character, life and labors of Joseph Smith, who have never read his revelations or studied or investigated his claims to divine authority and are ignorant of his mission, revile him, sneer at his name, and ridicule his claims to prophetic inspiration, and call him all impostor. Jesus was also called an impostor in His day, except by a few that hearkened to His instruction, and believed His testimony. The great majority of mankind then living who knew of Christ, deemed Him an impostor, and considered him worthy to be put to death; precisely the same feeling existed towards Joseph Smith.

The disciples of Jesus Christ anciently were regarded in the same light as their Master, the Savior; so it is not at all surprising that the people of the world today, who know not the truth, should pronounce Joseph Smith an impostor and try to ridicule the doctrines which he taught; but in so doing they make themselves ridiculous, for they know little or nothing about them; indeed, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred where the doctrines of the Latter-day Saints—which are no other than the doctrines which were taught by the Savior himself or contained in the Bible—are ridiculed and pronounced false and evil, they are so pronounced by a class of people who, being ignorant of, or willfully perverting the truth, build aerial castles in order that they may tear them down, or “make a man of straw” to shoot at so that they can create a great noise and excitement about the “Mormons,” and thus we are often charged by those who abuse us and write and preach against us with believing and practicing the most absurd things—things which no Latter-day Saint ever dreamt of believing or accepting as a principle of his faith. As I have said, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred the Latter-day Saints are accused by their enemies of believing doctrines which they do not believe, and which are not the doctrines of the Latter-day Saints at all. They accuse us of every abominable thing. They call us murderers; they say we are immoral, ignorant, superstitious; they call us dupes, they say we are deceived, that we are enslaved by the Priesthood; that we are fettered and in bondage. Now, is it true that the Latter-day Saints are ignorant? If so, then I am sorry for the great majority of mankind, for millions of them are in a far worse condition than we are, in this respect. I will say here, and not without good and sufficient proof to back it, that the Latter-day Saints will compare favorably with any other people upon the face of the earth for good, sound common sense, and every other good thing. Hence, to say that the Latter-day Saints are an ignorant people is saying only what may truthfully be said of the whole world. Taking the best evidence that we have to prove the facts, the statistics of the schools as compared with the statistics of the schools in the various States and Territories and of European countries, it appears that the people of Utah stand in the front ranks in relation to education, and are in advance of many of their neighbors and stand equal with many who have far greater advantages than they have. Yet we do not boast of being very intelligent; and only claim the credit which belongs to us, that we stand on a par with our neighbors and with our fellow citizens throughout the United States; and for that matter, will compare favorably with any people on the face of the globe.

But we are called an “immoral people.” Well, is the world so very moral? Are our accusers so very pure and holy and so extremely righteous that they should accuse us of being immoral? Consistency would demand that he that is without guilt should throw the first stone. But it is a fact that in our case our bitterest accusers—and this has been well demonstrated hundreds and perhaps thousands of times—are themselves reeking with corruption. Generally those who are the most immoral themselves are the first to make the charge of immorality against the Latter-day Saints! But I deny the charge in toto, and I assert, without fear of successful contradiction—that there is not an equal number of people upon the face of the globe today who present to the world as much pure and simple morality and virtue as do the people called Latter-day Saints. In other words, there is not a more moral people upon the face of the earth today than the Latter-day Saints, taking them all in all. Not but what there are some “black sheep” among them. But who can fathom the depths of crime and corruption which exist in all the great cities of the world? You may go to the rural districts throughout the United States, and gather therefrom the most virtuous of our country to the number that are gathered together as Latter-day Saints, and I will venture to say that there are half as many children murdered among them annually, either before or after their birth, by their own mothers or fathers, as are born to the Latter-day Saints in the same period. The Latter-day Saints are proverbial for NOT murdering their children. They have hosts of them, and they do not try to destroy them neither before nor after birth, but endeavor to rear them to manhood and womanhood, that they may teach them the principles of the Gospel of Christ—the highest code of morals known, that they may be able to bear off the kingdom of God upon the earth, and to regenerate the world. This is the object for which the Latter-day Saints are raising children, that God may have a pure and a righteous people. How much time Latter-day Saints neglect their opportunities or privileges or fall short of their duties in regard to training their children, and instructing them in the principles of morality, virtue, purity and uprightness, is difficult to say; but of this I feel sure that while they are the best people that I know of there is great room for improvement in this direction.

But, it is said, the immorality of the Latter-day Saints consists in their marrying more wives than one! We are not charged with the crime of frequenting houses of ill fame, of fostering illicit intercourse, of infidelity to our wives—of child murder, of drunkenness, profanity, dishonesty, cruelty or indolence, or if we are the charge is utterly false, but our great offense is in marrying our wives and protecting them and our children as all honorable men should. God forbid that I should undertake to compare the honorable marriage of the Latter-day Saints with the debauchery and sexual crimes of our accusers! If our actions and our faith in regard to marriage are called wicked and immoral by them, in the name of God and humanity what will you call the crimes of those that accuse us? There is no adequate term in the dictionary of the English language with which to make a comparison, hence “Mormon” plural marriage cannot be degraded to the level of a comparison with the sexual crimes and iniquities of the world; there is no similitude between them. One is the antipode of the other—one is virtuous, pure and honorable, and the other is corrupt, treacherous and debasing to the utmost degree. Our system of marriage promotes life, purity, innocence, vitality, health, increase and longevity, while the other engenders disease, disappointment, misery and premature death—that is the difference. Hence there is no resemblance for they are not allied to each other at all.

The people of Utah are charged with having committed terrible murders and robberies. “Danites” or “Destroying Angels” are talked about by sensational writers and believed in by the uninformed. Now, what is the fact? Utah stands head and shoulders above every other Territory in the United States so far as the crime of murder is concerned. You cannot find a western Territory or State within the United States where there has not been a hundred percent more murders, lynching and lawlessness than can be found in the annals of Utah. Take the State of California, the State of Nevada, and all the surrounding Territories, and it will be found that there has been less violation of law, fewer murders and less lynching in Utah than in any one of these from the beginning. There is no man that knows anything about the history of the western States and Territories for the last thirty years but knows this to be absolutely the fact. But because a few horse thieves and murderers have per chance been summarily dealt with by officers of the law—who were the appointees of the United States, and acting under the authority of the parent government and the laws of the Territory—the whole people of Utah are accused of being murderers. I attended a Methodist revival meeting held in a big tent in this city a few years ago by some itinerant preachers, who had spent but a few days in Utah, and were totally ignorant of her history, and it fairly made one’s blood run cold to hear them relate their pious suspicions of the horrible murders that had been committed in Utah. They thought, or pretended to believe, that if the rocks of these mountain gorges could only speak, that nearly every rock could some terrible tale unfold of horrible secret murder and rapine. The most damnable nonsense that was ever uttered by man. But this is the sort of preaching that is generally done against the Latter-day Saints by this class of men, and as I have said, those who denounce the doctrines of this people as heresies and as abominable, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred know nothing whatever of the facts. If the Latter-day Saints had not been Latter-day Saints, if it had not been for their religion, and their faith in God and in His omnipotence to deliver them from the power of their enemies; or if the Territory of Utah had been inhabited by the same number of people composed of the various sects and denominations of Christianity, so-called, and the one-thousandth part of the infamies that have been perpetrated upon this people had been perpetrated upon them, many of the perpetrators of these infamies would have been long ago summoned to their final abode by “Judge Lynch.” But the patience of the Latter-day Saints, and their willingness to leave their cause in the hands of God has spared them from shedding the blood of their enemies, and preserved them from violence or harm. Men that have not deserved to live, and would not have been suffered to live in any other community under the same circumstances, have equal protection with the very best citizens, and no man would harm a hair of their heads. We have too much good sense to make martyrs of such characters, and consequently they are left alone to pursue their nefarious course. Sometimes it seems rather hard to bear it, but it is the best to do so, I suppose. We are engaged in the work of the Lord, and He will bear it off victorious.

Let us return to the Prophet Joseph Smith. He was accused of nearly everything that was vile, by his enemies, who, as is well known by the Latter-day Saints, were generally entirely ignorant of his true character and mission. What did Joseph Smith do? Was human blood found upon his hands? No, verily no. He was innocent. Was he a slanderer and vilifier? No, verily, he was not. Did he wrongfully and unjustly accuse men of wickedness? No, he did not. Did he institute an order of things that has proven injurious to the human family? Let the people who have become acquainted with his doctrines, and with the institutions which he established upon the earth and his own life’s labor answer. He was born December 23, 1805, in the State of Vermont. His parents were American citizens, as had been their ancestors for generations. In the Spring of 1820 he received the first supernatural or heavenly manifestation. He was then fourteen years of age. Ordinarily we do not expect a very great deal from a boy who is only fourteen years of age, and it is not likely that a boy of that tender age could have become very vicious or wicked, especially when he was born and reared on a farm, apart from the corrupting vices of great cities, and free from contact with the debasing influences of vile associations. It is not likely that he spent many idle moments during the working years of his life up to fourteen years of age; for his father had to labor for his living and earn it from the soil by the labor of his hands, being a poor man with a large family to support. In 1820, as I have said, Joseph Smith received a revelation in which he claimed that God had declared that He was about to restore the ancient Gospel in its purity, and many other glorious things. In consequence of this, Joseph Smith became very notorious in the neighborhood where he resided, and people began to regard him with a great deal of suspicion. He was at once called an impostor, and a few years later he was styled by his enemies, “old Joe Smith.” His fame became known throughout the United States. He was called “a money digger,” and many other contemptuous things. If you will look at his history, and at the character of his parents, and surroundings, and consider the object of his life, you can discover how much consistency there was in the charges brought against him. All this was done to injure him. He was neither old nor “a money digger,” nor an impostor, nor in any manner deserving of the epithets that they applied to him. He had never injured anybody, nor robbed anybody—he never did anything for which he could be punished by the laws under which he lived. When he was between 17 and 18 years of age, he received another heavenly manifestation, and some great and glorious things were revealed to him, and for four years subsequently he received visits from a heavenly messenger. He did not claim he was in communication with wicked men or demons from the lower regions. He claimed he was in communication with Moroni, one of the ancient Prophets who lived upon this continent. He was a good man when he lived here and it is not likely that he had become wicked since he went away. This personage, he claimed, revealed to him the mind and will of the Lord, and showed him the character of the great work that he, in the hands of God, was to be instrumental in establishing in the earth when the time should come. This was the labor that was performed by the angel Moroni, during the four years intervening between 1823 and 1827. In 1827 he received from the hands of the angel Moroni, the gold plates from which this book [Book of Mormon] was translated by him through the inspiration of the Almighty, and the gift and power of God unto him. I heard it read when I was a child, I have read it many times since and I have asked myself scores of times, have you ever discovered one precept, doctrine, or command within the lids of that book that is calculated to injure anybody, to do harm to the world, or that is in contradiction to the word of God as contained in the Bible? And the answer invariably came, No, not one solitary thing; every precept, doctrine, word of advice, prophecy, and indeed every word contained within the lids of that book relating to the great plan of human redemption and salvation is calculated to make bad men good, and good men better. Did Joseph Smith, during the three years intervening between 1827 and 1830, while he was laboring with his hands for a scanty subsistence, dodging his enemies and trying to evade the grasp of those who sought to destroy him and prevent the accomplishment of his mission, struggling all the while against untold obstacles and depressing embarrass ments to complete the translation of this book, have much chance of becoming wicked or corrupt? I do not think he had. When he had finished translating the book he was still only a boy, yet in producing this book he has developed historical facts, prophecies, revelations, predictions, testimonies and doctrines, precepts and principles that are beyond the power and wisdom of the learned world to duplicate or refute. Joseph Smith was an unlearned youth, so far as the learning of the world is concerned. He was taught by the angel Moroni. He received his education from above, from God Almighty, and not from man-made institutions; but to charge him with being ignorant would be both unjust and false; no man or combination of men possessed greater intelligence than he, nor could the combined wisdom and cunning of the age produce an equivalent for what he did. He was not ignorant, for He was taught by Him from whom all intelligence flows. He possessed a knowledge of God and of His law, and of eternity, and mankind have been trying with all their learning, wisdom and power—and not content with that, they have tried with the sword and cannon—to extirpate from the earth the superstructure which Joseph Smith, by the power of God, erected; but they have signally failed, and will yet be overwhelmed by their efforts to destroy it.

Again, the world say that Joseph Smith was an indolent person. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized April 6th, 1830. Joseph Smith was martyred in Carthage, Illinois, on the 27th of June, 1844—14 years after the organization of the Church. What did he accomplish in these 14 years? He opened up communication with the heavens in his youth. He brought forth the Book of Mormon, which contains the fullness of the Gospel; and the revelations contained in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants; restored the holy Priesthood unto man; established and organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an organization which has no parallel in all the world, and which all the cunning and wisdom of men for ages has failed to discover or produce and never could have done. He founded colonies in the States of New York, Ohio, Missouri and Illinois, and pointed the way for the gathering of the Saints into the Rocky Mountains; sent the Gospel into Europe and to the islands of the sea; founded the town of Kirtland, Ohio, and there built a temple that cost about a quarter of a million of dollars; he founded the city of Nauvoo in the midst of persecution; gathered into Nauvoo and vicinity some 20,000 people, and commenced the building of the temple there, which when completed cost one million dollars; and in doing all this he had to contend against the prejudices of the age, against relentless persecution, mobocracy and vile calumny and slander, that were heaped upon him from all quarters without stint or measure. In a word, he did more in from 14 to 20 years for the salvation of man than any other man save Jesus only, that ever lived, and yet he was accused by his enemies of being an indolent and worthless man! Where shall we go to find another man that has accomplished the one thousandth part of the good that Joseph Smith accomplished? Shall we go to the Rev. Mr. Beecher or Talmage, or any of the great preachers of the day? What have they done for the world with all their boasted intelligence, influence, wealth, and the popular voice of the world in their favor! Joseph Smith had none of their advantages, if these are advantages. And yet no man in the nineteenth century, except Joseph Smith, has discovered to the world a ray of light upon the keys and power of the Holy Priesthood or the ordinances of the Gospel either for the living or the dead. Through Joseph Smith, God has revealed many things which were kept hid from the foundation of the world in fulfillment of the Prophets—and at no time since Enoch walked the earth has the Church of God been organized as perfectly as it is today—not excepting the dispensation of Jesus and His disciples—or if it was we have no record of it. And this is strictly in keeping with the objects and character of this great latter-day work, destined to consummate the great purpose and designs of God concerning the dispensation of the fullness of times. The principles of baptism for the redemption of the dead, with the ordinances appertaining thereto, for the complete salvation and exaltation of those who have died without the Gospel, as revealed through Joseph Smith, is alone worth more than all the dogmas of the so-called Christian world combined. Joseph Smith is accused of being a false prophet. It is, however, beyond the power of the world to prove that he was a false prophet. They may so charge him, but you who have received the testimony of Jesus Christ by the spirit of prophecy through his administrations are my witnesses that they have not the power to prove him false, and that is why they are so vexed about it. In my humble opinion many of our enemies know that they lie before God, angels and men, when they make this charge, and they would only be too glad to produce proof to sustain their accusations, but they cannot. Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. He lived and died a true prophet, and his words and works will yet demonstrate the divinity of his mission to millions of the inhabitants of this globe. Perhaps not so many that are now living, for they have in a great measure rejected the Gospel and the testimony which the Elders of this Church have borne to them; but their children after them and generations to come will receive with delight the name of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the Gospel which their fathers rejected. Amen.

Love for and Forgiveness of Enemies—Such Things Possible Without Association and Assimilation—The Saints Exhorted Against Bartering Away Their Inheritances—The Idolatry of Riches—Man Cannot Build Up Zion, But God Can and Will

Discourse by President Joseph F. Smith, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Saturday Afternoon, (in General Conference) October 7, 1882.

I have been requested to occupy the remaining portion of the time, and I trust in so doing I may enjoy the liberty of the Spirit and the faith and prayers of the Latter-day Saints, that the time I may occupy may be profitably spent, as I have no desire to hold the attention of this vast congregation unprofitably; but I realize that without the aid of the Spirit of the Lord I am not capable of imparting to this congregation the word of life.

I am thankful for the opportunity that we enjoy of meeting together under such favorable circumstances. I am pleased to see the vast numbers that are in attendance at this conference, and I trust that we may be amply repaid by the instructions which we receive, for the time and trouble which it has cost to attend. In order, however, that we may receive the blessing which we need, it is necessary, in my judgment, for all to come with the Spirit of the Lord in their hearts, in the spirit of prayer, and the love of truth, having a desire for the upbuilding of the kingdom of God, and for the accomplishment of all the purposes and designs which have been made manifest concerning this great work.

Jesus taught the doctrine that we should pray for those that despitefully use us; that we should love our enemies; that we should do good to them that do evil to us; that we should not return evil for evil, but good for evil. There is no particular credit due to any person who returns good for good. Even the publicans and sinners did this, but it is somewhat difficult to return good for evil. Nevertheless to do so was enjoined by the commandments of the Lord Jesus. We are to love our enemies; do good to them that hate and persecute us; and when we are persecuted, persecute not again; when we are derided, deride not in return; if we are injured, seek not to injure those who injure us; that which is required at our hands is to establish peace on earth and good will to man. Hence, when we forget the object of our calling and step out of the path of duty to return blow for blow, to inflict evil for evil, to persecute because we may be persecuted, we forget the injunction of the Lord and the covenants we have made with God, to keep His commandments. It is a difficult matter, I am aware, for human nature to become subject to these scriptural injunctions. It is difficult for men to curb their passions, to restrain their feelings, and to resist the temptation to rebel and administer measure for measure, but it is enjoined upon us. We have been actually commanded in the revelations given to us in this dispensation to forgive our enemies, without their asking forgiveness. It is laid down that if your enemies come up against you to destroy you, the first time, if the Lord delivers you out of their hands, you shall forgive them; and if they come the second time, you shall forgive them; and if they come the third time against you, the Lord has said they are then in your hands to do with them whatsoever you will; but it will redound to your honor, credit and glory if you forgive them the third time, even if they have not repented and have not asked forgiveness. Now this may seem to be rather a difficult requirement; nevertheless it is so written and is so required of the Latter-day Saints. But how often shall we forgive them if they repent of their sins and ask forgiveness? Jesus has laid down the law that we should forgive them as often as they will repent and ask forgiveness. I am speaking now of individual trespasses; of people who offend me or you or trespass against us; I am not speaking of those who trespass against the immutable, the righteous and the holy laws of God; they come under another law, and God and His servants will reckon with them. It is for us to obtain the spirit of forgiveness, to feel to love those that are so ignorant as to do evil to their fellow creatures without a cause; we should feel as Christ felt, when upon the cross. He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” It was urged yesterday by one of the brethren, that we could scarcely claim this for many of those who were engaged in persecuting the Saints today, for they do know what they are doing, and they are not ignorant of the course that they are pursuing. They are in a position to learn the truth, if they would, and to comprehend the fact that they are lying about us. Yet how do we feel towards them for this offense? Do we feel that we should retaliate? Do we feel that we should execute vengeance upon them because we know that they are telling falsehoods, and are misrepresenting and slandering the people of this Church? No. For years and years we have sat quietly down and listened to their abuse, insults, slanders, misrepresentations and falsehoods, which they have spread broadcast throughout the land to the utmost of their power, and no man has so much as said, “Why do you so?” They enjoy the utmost liberty to lie and slander and go to the fullest extent of their power to accomplish their wicked and nefarious desires and purposes, and we are willing to risk the judgment of God in these matters in His own due time. We do not propose to keep ourselves eternally in hot water, wrangling, contending and snarling with our enemies; if we did we should soon become as sour, as vicious, as foul, as low and as contemptible as they are themselves. Well, do you love them? Now here is the rub! Do you love these slan derers, these liars, these defamers, these persecutors of the innocent and of the unoffending—do you love them? [several voices, No, no.] I can scarcely blame you. [Laughter.] But that is not according to the law of God. I want to tell you how I feel towards them. I love them so much that if I had it in my power to annihilate them from the earth I would not harm a hair of their heads—not one hair of their heads. I love them so well that if I could possibly make them better men, convert them from the error of their ways I would do it, God being my helper. I love them so much that I would not throw a straw in their way to prosperity and happiness, but so far as possible I would hedge up their headlong and downward course to destruction, and yet I detest and abominate their infamous actions and their wicked course. That is how I feel towards them, and that is how much I love them, and if this is not the love that Jesus desired us to have for our enemies, tell me what kind of love we should have for them? I do not love them so that I would take them into my bosom, or invite them to associate with my family, or that I would give my daughters to their embraces, nor my sons to their counsels. I do not love them so well that I would invite them to the councils of the Priesthood, and the ordinances of the House of God, to scoff and jeer at sacred things which they do not understand, nor would I share with them the inheritance that God, my Father, has given me in Zion; I do not love them well enough for this, and I do not believe that God ever designed that I should; but I love them so much that I would not hurt them, I would do them good, I would tell the truth about them, I would benefit them if it was in my power, and I would keep them to the utmost of my ability from doing harm to themselves and to their neighbors. I love them that much; but I do not love them with that affection with which I love my wife, my brother, my sister or my friend. There is a difference between the love we should bear towards our enemies and that we should bear towards our friends. Do not say that it is hatred of our enemies when we would keep them from hurting themselves and their neighbors, do not call that hatred, that is love for them. If it were possible to find one of this class of people who had been deceived, and who had slandered the Saints of God ignorantly, as Paul did, and we could prevail upon him to repent of his sins, to turn away from wickedness, and to acknowledge God and His laws, then we should love him as a brother, as a friend, and as a neighbor. That would be the difference. But we do not love to associate with our enemies, and I do not think the Lord requires us to do it. If He does He will have to reveal it, for I cannot find it anywhere revealed. I have never read it in any of the books, I have never heard it taught that we are to love our enemies so much as to become like them, or condescend to their vile and contemptible ways, or as to share the inheritance God has given us with them, or as to suppose for a moment that the wicked and the ungodly will ever inherit the kingdom of God, or enter into His presence, or enjoy the society, blessing and award of the faithful; they never will, they cannot, for they are not worthy; they have not obeyed the law and therefore cannot receive the blessing thereof.

We should keep ourselves aloof from the wicked; the dividing line should be distinctly drawn between God and Belial, between Christ and the world, between truth and error, and between right and wrong. We ought to cleave to the right, to the good, to the truth, and forsake the evil. I am going to read a little scripture upon this subject, lest our friends or this congregation should feel that counseling the Latter-day Saints to keep aloof from the wicked and ungodly, to not divide their inheritances with them, etc., is unwarranted by the scriptures. I will read a little scripture on this very point, which will be found in 2nd Corinthians, 6th chap., beginning at the 14th verse: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” Now, here is the law of God upon the subject; it is the word of the Lord: “Come out from among them and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing.” What affinity can we have for them? Let them alone, let them go their own way. Help them to all the happiness that it is possible for them to obtain in this world; for it will be all that they will ever get, unless they repent of their sins, and forsake their wicked ways.

In conclusion I desire to say a few words in relation to some remarks that were made by one of the brethren yesterday. It is written in the scriptures that, “The kingdom and dominion, and greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” This passage of Scripture was in part quoted yesterday, by one of the brethren who spoke in the Conference, and then the question was asked, “When will the kingdom be given to the Saints?” The answer was, “When the Saints become wise enough not to turn it right over into the lap of the enemy the moment they obtain possession of it, and not till then.” There never was a truer saying than this. It takes several things to make a kingdom. First, there must be a king; second, there must be a people; third, there must be territory or a place for the people to dwell. Then come the laws and the rules of government of the kingdom. Now, the territory or dwelling place is a part of the royalty of that kingdom, is it not? Could you have a kingdom without a place to put it? No. We must have a place to put the kingdom, and it is as necessary to have such a place as it is to have the king and the people. Now, which is worst, to sell out our interest in the king, the people or the territory to the enemy? If you betray the king to the enemy, you are a traitor. Yet there are some people who betray the king; they do not care much about Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and they sell out their interest in Him, or betray Him with very little compunction of conscience. And there are some people, as I have heard, that sell their neighbors or betray them.

I have heard of some people who had sunken so low that they would sell anything for money; mother or father, or brother or sister, or friend or neighbor would never stand in the way. They would do anything to obtain money; money is their God. Such people would sell out their interest in their king, their people, and their country, for money. We only want to find out who will sell God and the people for filthy lucre and we bring them to trial, and in a very short time we manage to sever connection with them. We say he has departed from the faith, and we cut him off from our fellowship in the Church. But what do we do with those who sell their inheritances to the enemy? Why we pat them on the shoulder, we hug them to our bosoms, we love and cherish them and it is all right; no apostasy there! But suppose we should all sell our inheritance, we should then have to move to some other clime. It may not be considered prudent to thus publicly express our feelings on this subject, as slanderers and vilifiers are apt to wrest the truth and misquote, and misrepresent the facts. Yet I feel as though I would be chargeable with a neglect of duty if I did not say at least this much on this subject, and I am not afraid nor ashamed to meet this view of the matter. If men will sell out their homes, and their inheritances to the wicked and the ungodly for money, when, I ask, will they be prepared to go and build up the Center Stake of Zion? Who of this class will be called to do this work? And will they have an inheritance in the New Jerusalem? Why, I suspect they would pull up the paving stones and sell them for money; they would steal the diamonds, pearls and precious stones from the pearly gates of the New Jerusalem, and sell them for the coveted “cash!” I am opposed in my feelings to parting with my inheritance to those that would destroy the people of God from the earth; and God helping me I never will do it. And, furthermore, if I have an inheritance I will see, so far as I have it in my power, that it is placed in such a position that neither I nor my family shall turn it over to the enemy. You can do as you please, I am telling you what I am going to do, what I will do, God being my helper. You can do the same if you want to. It is a free country—that is, it would be if it were not for some things, which the brethren have mentioned here, and I have not time to reiterate them.

May the Lord bless this congregation and the Saints universally. May He bless all who are assisting to build up Zion and the good of the earth everywhere. Zion will be built up, for God will do it; and no man should deceive himself by entertaining the opinion, the thought or the feeling in his heart that it is he that will build up Zion, for men cannot do it. God has said: “I will do it; it is my work; it is my kingdom; I have cut the stone out of the mountain with mine own hands, and I will roll it forth; I will accomplish my purposes and my designs and my people shall triumph.” God hath said it, and He will do it, and man will not do it, for he cannot do it, though he will be the agent in the hands of God in accomplishing much good. God will bestow great power upon His servants and will bless them with light and wisdom, knowledge and understanding, power and authority, and the keys of the Priesthood to accomplish a great and mighty work. But He will have the honor and the glory; for it is he that will give the power to accomplish the work; man has no power in and of himself to do so.

May God bless us, and give us power to overcome evil with good, is my prayer in the name of Jesus, Amen.