The Gospel Trumpet—Salvation More Than Baptism and the Laying on of Hands—Responsibilities of Believers—Labors and Opportunities of the Spirit World—The Office of the Holy Spirit—Knowledge of the Gospel, Certain and Sure—Its Fruits Good, and Manifest in the Lives of Those Who Receive It

Discourse by Elder Joseph F. Smith, delivered at the Forty-Sixth Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Saturday Afternoon, April 8, 1876.

It is with humility, desiring that the Spirit of the Lord may rest upon you, my hearers, as well as upon myself, that I arise to address you. I am requested to “blow the Gospel trumpet.” I do not know that I shall be able to make myself heard by this large congregation, unless all keep quiet and exercise that faith which it is our privilege to do when assembled in a worshiping capacity.

If we are in the line of our duty, we are engaged in a great and glorious cause. It is very essential to our individual welfare that every man and every woman who has entered into the covenant of the Gospel, through repentance and baptism, should feel that as individuals it is their bounden duty to use their intelligence, and the agency which the Lord has given them, for the promotion of the interests of Zion and the establishment of her cause, in the earth. Those who are not faithful in the discharge of these duties cannot be wholly acceptable to God; for they are more or less in the condition of the Church which was complained of by the angel to the Apostle John, as being neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm, and therefore only fit to be “spewed out,” or to be disowned of God. Manifoldly more deserving of this rebuke and chastisement are those who are not only indifferent to the interests of the cause of God and its growth in the earth, but who murmur and find fault and who, instead of putting their shoulders to the wheel, actually try to retard its progress by using what little influence and means they possess to obstruct the onward march of the kingdom.

It was said by the Son of God, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” This was said to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, who evidently believed that Jesus was sent of God, but who went to him by night, being ashamed to be seen seeking so humble a person in the day time, having, no doubt, that feeling of worldly pride which animates the bosoms of many of the present generation, he dared not identify himself with the Savior of the world, because his reputation and standing in society would be sacrificed. But he marveled at the saying of Christ, and upon further inquiry the Savior explained by declaring that, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” And I may say still further, that being born of the water and the Spirit alone, will not enable a man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. There is something still beyond, which is just as necessary as this, the first ordinance of the Gospel, which must be observed and honored by those of this new birth in order that they may obtain the full salvation which is sought after.

On this particular occasion the Savior was speaking of Baptism, and in order to impress it upon Nicodemus, that it might be understood then, as well as to be in force in all future time, so that people need not be deceived, he spoke thus emphatically on this point of doctrine. It therefore matters not how devout, honest, or sincere we might be in the profession of our faith in God, or in the system of religion we might have adopted, and which we believe to be the everlasting Gospel, without this ordinance of baptism we cannot be saved—but first having repented of our sins with that repentance which needeth not to be repented of, in other words, putting away from us every evil, and shunning even the appearance of sin, then to be baptized by one authorized of God for the remission of those sins, and for the reception of the Holy Ghost, we thus becoming heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ; true branches, having been grafted into the true vine, bearing fruit of the good seed, bringing forth an hundred fold to the honor and glory of God. I repeat, it matters not how honest we may be or profess to be in our convictions, without this repentance and baptism and reception of the Holy Ghost, which constitute the new birth, we are not of the family of Christ, but are aliens, estranged from God and his laws, and in this fallen condition we shall remain, whether in the body or in the spirit, for time and for eternity, unless we render obedience to the plan devised in the heavens for the redemption and salvation of the human family,

The Latter-day Saints may say, We were taught this doctrine by the Elders in our native lands, and we believed it and repented of our sins, and were baptized, and we received the gift of the Holy Ghost, which was a testimony to us that we had done the will of the Father, and since then our testimonies have often been confirmed through the manifestations of the power of God, and the renewal of His spirit in our hearts. Why, therefore, say they, is it necessary to refer to these things now? Perhaps a reason may be found for so doing in the fact, that, judging from the actions of many who profess to be Latter-day Saints, it would seem that they had come to the conclusion that they had completed their work, that the requirements of the Gospel were all complied with, and nothing now remained but for them to enter upon the inheritances promised to the faithful. We perhaps forget, in consequence of the things of time, which so tempt our fallen nature, that, having been born anew, which is the putting away of the old man sin, and putting on of the new man Christ Jesus, we have become soldiers of the cross, having enlisted under the banner of Jehovah for time and for eternity, and that we have entered into the most solemn covenants to serve God and to contend earnestly for the establishment of the principles of truth and righteousness on this earth continually while we live. And having been “bought with a price,” that is, having been redeemed from the power of sin through the atoning blood of the Savior, as the Apostle says, “We are not our own;” we are his, and we are dependent on him, not only for the light and knowledge which we have received by virtue of the Gospel restored in this dispensation through the Prophet Joseph Smith, but for all temporal blessings, and even for our very earthly being. Therefore, it is not consistent with our high and holy calling to allow ourselves to become careless and indifferent to the interests of the cause we have espoused, lest we fail through our inconsistency, and return “like the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire,” and peradventure be found traitors to the sacred cause in which we have enlisted, and forfeit the gift of eternal life to which we have been made heirs. There is a course marked out for us to walk in—it is that strait and narrow path which leads back to the presence of God; the lamp to light our onward march is the Holy Ghost, which we received on or after our new birth. If we falter and turn aside, our lamp will burn dim and finally go out, when lo, the Comforter, the source of revelation, will leave us, and darkness will take its place; then how great will be that darkness! In proportion to the light we possessed will darkness overpower us, and unless a speedy repentance is made the darkness will increase within us, until we lose sight of our calling and forget Him who redeemed us and claimed us for his own. The Apostle Paul, in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, says: “Know ye not that ye are the Temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the Temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the Temple of God is holy, which Temple ye are.” His language is applicable to us as Latter-day Saints, and destruction must overtake us, which is as certain as it is that God is a just being, if we render ourselves unworthy of the calling and name we bear by failing to perform the duties devolving upon us.

In referring to the subject of baptism as essential to salvation, it may be asked by some, What would become of those who heard not the Gospel, and who therefore had not the opportunity of being baptized, claiming as we do that the Gospel was taken from the earth in consequence of its being rejected when proclaimed by Jesus and his Apostles. I would say to such that God has made ample provision for all his children, both the ignorant and the learned; those who have not had the Gospel preached to them in the flesh, will hear it in the spirit, for all must have the plan of salvation presented to them for their acceptance or rejection before they can become amenable to the law. “For,” says Paul, “where there is no law there is no transgression.” To those who have not heard the Gospel in the flesh, if they have not already heard it preached in the spirit, they most assuredly will, and that, too, by men who have previously preached it on the earth, who have died faithful servants, they will continue their labors in the spirit world, and those who receive the Gospel from them will “live according to God in the spirit,” and all who hear it will “be judged according to men in the flesh,” “for,” says the Apostle Peter, “for this cause was the Gospel preached also to them that are dead.” (1 Peter 4:6.) When, therefore, the law is revealed to them and they become instructed in it, then will they be held responsible. If they receive it, their kindred or friends who remain upon the earth perhaps, during the Millennium, will act for them, that is, they will be baptized for and in their behalf, for the remission of sins, and be confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ, in the same manner as that work is being done now; there being only one faith, one Lord, and one baptism, which law is eternal and unchangeable, and therefore it is applicable to the dead as well as the living in all ages and climes; and further, no living creature who has become subject to sin and the power of death in consequence of mortality, can evade this law and be redeemed, for it is the door to the fold of Christ, which fold cannot be entered, only through the door. So great and important is this labor, and so necessary for the salvation of the human family, both the living and the dead, that, as the Prophet Joseph said, it will occupy the whole period of the Millennium to consummate it.

In connection with this work is that spoken of concerning Elijah the Prophet, namely, “the turning of the hearts of the children to the fathers, and the hearts of the fathers to the children,” which if not done the whole earth will be smitten with a curse.

The kingdom of God must be erected upon the principles which Christ has revealed, upon the foundation of eternal truth, Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone. These holy and sublime principles must be observed and honored in our lives, in order that we may obtain an exaltation with the sanctified in the kingdom of God.

The beauty of these principles is they are true, and the satisfaction derived from their adoption is the knowledge which we receive convincing us of this fact. We have not believed a fable, neither are we cherishing a cunningly devised scheme, but we have been inducted into the truth, having Christ for our head, who is our forerunner, our great High Priest and King. It is true, there are few comparatively who acknowledge allegiance to him, and there are many of these who do not apparently comprehend the im portance and binding character of their covenants, or allegiance. This is greatly to be regretted, not that the loyal and faithful subject will lose anything in consequence; but because they who refrain from exercising themselves in his cause will sustain the loss, a loss, too, which they cannot now estimate. It is indeed sorrowful that any should be indifferent to this all-important matter. Who is there of those that have been, or now are, associated with this Church, who have not felt the power of the Holy Ghost, and realized in some measure the benefits of that Spirit through the knowledge which it imparts? This question will meet all of us, those who turn away from the truth, and those who are and will remain indifferent to the cause of Zion, as well as the faithful, when we shall appear before the bar of God, to render an account of our deeds done in the flesh.

The Holy Ghost is a personage who acts in Christ’s stead. Just before the risen Redeemer left the earth he commanded his disciples to tarry in the city of Jerusalem until they should be endued with power from on high. They did so, and agreeable to promise the Comforter came whilst they were met together, filling their hearts with unspeakable joy, insomuch that they spake in tongues and prophesied; and the inspiring influence of this holy being accompanied them in all their ministerial duties, enabling them to perform the great mission to which they had been called by the Savior. We are informed that, on a certain occasion, whilst engaged preaching the Gospel, many who heard them were convinced of the divinity of their mission, and they cried out, saying, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” They were not told to come to the anxious seat to be prayed for, or to believe in Jesus, for they already believed and were convinced; but “Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” The office of the Holy Spirit is to enlighten the minds of the people with regard to the things of God, to convince them at the time of their conversion of their having done the will of the Father, and to be in them an abiding testimony as a companion through life, acting as the sure and safe guide into all truth and filling them day by day with joy and gladness, with a disposition to do good to all men, to suffer wrong rather than to do wrong, to be kind and merciful, long-suffering and charitable. All who possess this inestimable gift, this pearl of great price, have a continual thirst after righteousness. Without the aid of the Holy Spirit no mortal can walk in the straight and narrow way, being unable to discern right from wrong, the genuine from the counterfeit, so nearly alike can they be made to appear. Therefore it behooves the Latter-day Saints to live pure and upright, in order that this Spirit may abide in them; for it is only possessed on the principle of righteousness. I cannot receive it for you, nor you for me; everyone must stand for him or herself, whether of high or humble birth, learned or unlearned, and it is the privilege of all alike to be made partakers of it.

I know that God lives, and that he has revealed himself. I know that the Holy Ghost has been conferred upon the children of men, and that the Gospel has been restored to the inhabitants of the earth in its fullness. I know that the Holy Priesthood, which is the power of God delegated to man, has been restored to the earth. I do know that God has delivered his people and that he will continue to deliver us and lead us on in his own peculiar way from conquering to conquer, from victory to victory, until truth and righteousness gain the ascendancy in this His earth, inasmuch as we remain true to him and to one another.

The question may arise in the minds of some, How do you know these things?

Perhaps I can, in part at least, answer the question by asking another—How does the child, or youth, immediately know when he performs the first wicked act of his life? Is there not within him a consciousness of right and wrong? This is a portion of divinity which lights everyone who is born into the world, which acts as a monitor to the heart and soul, and never fails to impress the mind with an unmistakable sense of right and wrong.

This same spark of divinity, this monitor which speaks unmistakably to the understanding of the child, disapprovingly of his wrong, will speak, in just as unmistakable language, approvingly of good and righteous deeds. Therefore I know what I declare to be true, because my conscience approves of my obeying the requirements of the Gospel; this inward monitor testifies to my spirit that in rendering this obedience I do right, and gives me the selfsame assurance when I am in the discharge of any other duties, whether officiating in the capacity of an Elder or in the performance of those duties which, as an individual, I owe to society.

Is this the only way? No, I know it by the sight of the eye, by the hearing of the ear, and by the feeling of the heart. I know that “Mormonism” is true, because the fruits of it are pure and good. The fruits of our religion can be seen and heard, and their influence can be felt. For instance, here is a brother who does not take the name of the Lord in vain; he does not steal, nor lie, nor commit adultery, neither would he bear false witness against his neighbor; he honors his parents and seeks to do to others as he would wish to be done by; he bears the full fruit of the Spirit which he has received by virtue of his obedience to the Gospel, which is “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance;” his influence is good, and you know that he has drunk at the pure fountain, that he has gathered his figs from the fig tree, for were it otherwise his actions, the fruits of his life, would be of an opposite nature. Further, this unmistakable assurance, which is derived through yielding obedience to and practicing the principles of eternal life, is continually being confirmed, as it were, by “line upon line and precept upon precept,” through the revelations of the Holy Spirit, which is a continuous and unfailing source of intelligence, of joy and happiness, drawing him who possesses it nearer unto God, and will eventually cause him to appear like unto his Maker.

It is the feel who has said in his heart, “There is no God,” and it would indeed be a weak and foolish mind that would rest satisfied without knowing beyond a doubt the Author and Source of his religion when the opportunity of ascertaining the fact is extended to him.

I know the fruits of my religion are good, they are flavored with the sweets of heaven, and they impart health and life to the soul, and I know that God, the Creator of heaven and earth, is its author. No man need wonder whether this be really true or not, for all may know for themselves, all may partake of the fruit of the vine and eat and live, all may drink of the eternal spring, and drink and thirst for more. These things I declare to you to be true and faithful. I have been acquainted with them from my youth, and I have felt their influence from my childhood. I have seen the effect of their opposite, and I know whereof I speak. I cannot deny these things, neither can any man who has ever known them, although he may apostatize from them, except he deny himself and his God.

The man who embraces what is called “Mormonism,” but which is really the Gospel of the Son of God, and lives according to its precepts, will never lie nor steal; he will not dishonor his parents nor despise his poorer brethren; he will never, no never, speak against the Lord’s anointed, nor be ashamed to own his God, to whom he owes homage and gratitude now and forever; he will never do a dishonorable act, nor fail to acknowledge God in all things, neither will he refuse to render im plicit obedience to the revelations of God which are applicable to him. It is true, man may err in judgment, he may be wanting in many things because of his fallen nature, but the system of salvation is perfect. Jesus, the Only Begotten of the Father, in whom there was no blemish, is its author; he is the Standard to all the world, and will be forever. He had power to lay down his life and take it up again, and if we keep inviolate the covenants of the Gospel, remaining faithful and true to the end, we too, in his name and through his redeeming blood, will have power in due time to resurrect these our bodies after they shall have been committed to the earth.

Let us, then, my brethren and sisters, be valiant for the truth, maintaining our integrity to God and our brethren in all meekness, that we may at last come to the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, whom to know is life eternal; this is my prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.

What the Lord Requires of His Saints

Discourse by Elder Joseph F. Smith, delivered at the Forty-Sixth Semi-Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, on Sunday Morning, Oct. 10, 1875.

I have been very much interested and instructed during our Conference, and in rising at this time—a few moments only remaining before the close of our forenoon meeting—I feel that I can only bear my testimony to, and express my conviction of, the truths that we have had delivered unto us during our meetings from the first day of our Conference. We have had instructions here upon spiritual and upon temporal matters sufficient, if they were carried out, to make this people the best, purest, noblest, and greatest people that inhabit the world. The instructions that have been given unto us in regard to temporal matters, and in regard to bringing us to a union of faith and works, are calculated in their nature, if adopted and carried out in the practices of the Latter-day Saints, to make them the most independent people that live upon the face of the earth, depending indeed only upon the Lord our God, the giver of every good and perfect gift. I can see, as clearly as it is possible for me to see the light of the sun, that if the instructions that were given here yesterday, and the day before, in relation to uniting ourselves together in temporal affairs, were carried out by the people, we would soon no longer be beholden to the world, and it would be said of us, that we were dependent upon no power upon the earth but the power of God. It is very different, however, with us at present, for now we are very dependent, notwithstanding the vast amount of blessings that the Lord has poured out upon us—blessings of the soil, of the labors of our hands, of the elements that surround us. He has given us an abundance of everything our hearts can desire in righteousness, insomuch, as it was remarked yesterday, that we have become almost recreant to these blessings; we squander and waste them, run over them, trample them under our feet as it were, and regard them as of very little importance, or worthless. The Lord truly has blessed his people; he has poured out his Spirit upon us, opened our way, delivered us from our enemies, blessed and enriched the soil, tempered the elements, and made them favorable to us, turned away cursings, and given us blessings on every hand, and has prospered us in the earth. But we have been careless, and in a measure blind to the presence and value of the blessings that have been poured out upon us so abundantly, and have failed to recognize, as we should at all times, the hand of God therein. We have also come far short of appreciating our brethren the Prophets, who have borne the burden in the heat of the day; who have stood boldly and fearlessly, filled with wisdom and intelligence from above, to give us counsel, and to guide and direct us in the channels of prosperity, peace, and happiness.

Will we come to a knowledge of the truth? Will we learn to appreciate the blessings that we enjoy, and to realize from whence they come? Will we begin to follow more faithfully the counsels that are given to us by the servants of the Lord, and come together in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, that we may become perfect men in Christ Jesus, even to the fullness of the measure of his stature?

There is a circumstance recorded in the Scriptures, that has been brought forcibly to my mind while listening to the remarks of the Elders who have spoken to us during Conference. A young man came to Jesus and asked what good thing he should do that he might have eternal life. Jesus said unto him—“Keep the commandments.” The young man asked which of them. Then Jesus enumerated to him some of the commandments that he was to keep—he should not murder, nor commit adultery, nor steal, nor bear false witness, but he should honor his father and mother, and love his neighbor as himself, &c. Said the young man—“All these I have kept from my youth up, what lack I yet?” Jesus said—“If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come and follow me.” And we are told that he turned away sorrowful, because he had great possessions. He would not hearken to, or obey the law of God in this matter. Not that Jesus required of the young man to go and sell all that he possessed and give it away; that is not the principle involved. The great principle involved is that which the Elders of Israel are endeavoring to enforce upon the minds of the Latter-day Saints today. When the young man turned away in sorrow, Jesus said to his disciples—“How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!”

Is this because the rich man is rich? No. May not the rich man, who has the light of God in his heart, who possesses the principle and spirit of truth, and who understands the principle of God’s government and law in the world, enter into the kingdom of heaven as easily, and be as acceptable there as the poor man may? Precisely. God is not a respecter of persons. The rich man may enter into the kingdom of heaven as freely as the poor, if he will bring his heart and affections into subjection to the law of God and to the principle of truth; if he will place his affections upon God, his heart upon the truth, and his soul upon the accomplishment of God’s purposes, and not fix his affections and his hopes upon the things of the world. Here is the difficulty, and this was the difficulty with the young man. He had great possessions, and he preferred to rely upon his wealth rather than forsake all and follow Christ. If he had possessed the spirit of truth in his heart to have known the will of God, and to have loved the Lord with all his heart and his neighbor as himself, he would have said to the Lord—“Yea, Lord, I will do as you require, I will go and sell all that I have and give it to the poor.” If he had had it in his heart to do this, that alone might have been sufficient, and the demand would probably have stopped there, for undoubtedly the Lord did not deem it essential for him to go and give his riches away, or to sell his possessions and give the proceeds away, in order that he might be perfect, for that, in a measure, would have been improvident. Yet, if it had required all this to test him and to prove him, to see whether he loved the Lord with all his heart, mind, and strength, and his neighbor as himself, then he ought to have been willing to do it, and if he had been he would have lacked nothing, and would have received the gift of eternal life, which is the greatest gift of God, and which can be received on no other principle than the one mentioned by Jesus to the young man. If you will read the sixth lecture on faith in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants you will learn that no man can obtain the gift of eternal life unless be is willing to sacrifice all earthly things in order to obtain it. We cannot do this so long as our affections are fixed upon the world.

It is true that we are in a measure of the earth, earthly; we belong to the world. Our affections and our souls are here; our treasures are here, and where the treasure is there the heart is. But if we will lay up our treasures in heaven; if we will wean our affections from the things of this world, and say to the Lord our God—“Father, not my will but thine be done,” then may the will of God be done on earth as it is done in heaven, and the kingdom of God in its power and glory will be established upon the earth. Sin and Satan will be bound and banished from the earth, and not until we attain to this condition of mind and faith will this be done.

Then let the Saints unite; let them hearken to the voices of the servants of God that are sounded in their ears; let them hearken to their counsels and give heed to the truth; let them seek their own salvation, for, so far as I am concerned, I am so selfish that I am seeking after my salvation, and I know that I can find it only in obedience to the laws of God, in keeping the commandments, in performing works of righteousness, following in the footsteps of our file leader, Jesus, the exemplar and the head of all. He is the way of life, he is the light of the world, he is the door by which we must enter in order that we may have a place with him in the celestial kingdom of God.

May God grant that we may see and comprehend the whole truth, and be submissive to the requirements of the Gospel and obedient to the Priesthood of God upon the earth in all things, that we may obtain eternal life, is my prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.

God Preserves His People—Internal Foes the More Dangerous—Redemption of the Dead—The Priesthood

Discourse by Elder Joseph F. Smith, delivered at the Forty-Sixth Semi-Annual Conference of the Church or Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 1875.

It is always a source of pleasure to me to meet with my brethren and sisters in the Gospel covenant. I rejoice exceedingly in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that I have the privilege of being numbered with the Saints of latter days. I am thankful for the blessings that we enjoy as a people in these valleys. I feel grateful for the many evidences we have experienced of God’s mercy and protection. I am thankful that I have been able to see his hand in our deliverance from the powers and machinations of our enemies, from the earliest period of our existence as a people; and I am thankful that I am able to see the hand of the Lord over us at present as conspicuously and as clearly as at any former period of our history.

We read in the revelations that have come to us through the Prophets, both ancient and modern, concerning the purposes of the Lord in the latter days, and the restoration of the Gospel to the earth by a holy angel, that it is to be preached to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people under the whole heavens, that every son and daughter of Adam shall have the privilege of hearing it, embracing it, partaking of its blessings, and of being saved by its power. We read that the Lord is going to do this work, and that he is going to cut it short in righteousness; that it is his design to gather out the honest in heart—those who are willing to hearken to his counsels and obey his laws. It is his design to gather all such out from the nations of the earth, that he may make of them a people worthy of his name and his blessings, and prepare them to meet him when he shall come to make up his jewels; when he shall come to take vengeance upon the wicked and ungodly, who know not God, and who keep not his commandments upon the earth.

The hand of the Lord has been visible in the gathering together of this people for the last twenty-eight years; yes, for the last forty-five years, and no more so in that than in everything connected with the labors of his servants, their counsels unto, and their guidance of, the people by the inspiration of the Almighty that was in them from the very beginning. At no time in the history of this Church has the hand of the Lord been withdrawn from this people, his power shortened, or his eye slept, but his eye has been upon us, his hand has been over us, and his providences have been in our favor. Circumstances have been overruled for good, the hand of the enemy has been turned away paralyzed, the efforts of the wicked to destroy us have resulted in our good and in their own discomfiture. The greater the efforts on the part of our enemies to destroy us, the greater the growth of the Church and kingdom of God, and the closer has our union been, the better have we been able to see the hand of the Lord over us, and the inspiration of the Almighty in the counsels of his servants, and the more have we been inclined to respect and abide by the counsels given. The very fact that the spirit of bitterness in the hearts of the wicked toward us at the present time is as virulent as it ever was, and is every way similar to that manifested against the former-day Saints, against the Savior when he was upon the earth, and against his disciples, or the people of God in any former age of the world, is an unmistakable evidence that the Lord God Almighty is with us today as much as he ever was since the organization of the Church, or as much as he ever was with any people he ever acknowledged as his since the world began. I do not believe there ever was a people who were guided by revelation, or acknowledged of the Lord as his people, that were not hated and persecuted by the wicked and the corrupt, and perhaps no people were ever more persecuted than this people would be, if it were in the power of the enemy today to persecute us, as it was in the power of Nero and the Romans to persecute the Saints in their day. There never was a time when it was more fixed and determined in the heart of the wicked to fight against, and destroy the kingdom from the earth, than now, and their failure will be due only to the impossibility of the task they have undertaken. And this is an evidence to everyone that possesses the least spark of the light of the Holy Spirit—and should be to all mankind—that the kingdom of God is established, that his Priesthood is here, that the Saints, or many of them, are magnifying their calling and honoring the Priesthood, and also the Lord, both with their lives and with their substance, which are his.

For my part I do not fear the influence of our enemies from without, as I fear that of those from within. An open and avowed enemy, whom we may see and meet in an open field, is far less to be feared than a lurking, deceitful, treacherous enemy hidden within us, such as are many of the weaknesses of our fallen human nature, which are too often allowed to go unchecked, beclouding our minds, leading away our affections from God and his truth, until they sap the very foundations of our faith, and debase us beyond the possibility or hope of redemption either in this world or that to come. These are the enemies that we all have to battle with, they are the greatest that we have to contend with in the world, and the most difficult to conquer. They are the fruits of ignorance, generally arising out of unrebuked sin and evil in our own hearts. The labor that is upon us, is to subdue our passions, conquer our inward foes, and see that our hearts are right in the sight of the Lord, that there is nothing calculated to grieve his Spirit and lead us away from the path of duty.

Those only who possess the light of the Spirit of God and the faith of the Gospel, which can only be possessed through faithfulness and obedi ence to the requirements of heaven, can discern and know the voice of the true Shepherd when they hear it. We need not expect to be able to discern the right from the wrong, the truth from error, and light from darkness, unless our eye is single, and we have declared ourselves for God and his work. If we are divided in our thoughts, affections, and interests, like the rest of the world, we need not expect to comprehend the will of the Lord when made known to us, no matter how powerfully or directly it may come. It will be all the same to us unless we are in a position to receive the light and the truth when it is offered unto us.

What shall we do if we have neglected our prayers? Let us begin to pray. If we have neglected any other duty, let us seek unto the Lord for his Spirit, that we may know wherein we have erred and lost our opportunities, or let them pass by us unimproved. Let us seek unto the Lord in humility, determined to forsake everything that would be an obstruction to our receiving the intelligence and the light that we need, and an answer to our prayers, that we may approach him confident that his ears will be open to our petitions, that his heart will be turned unto us in mercy, that our sins may be forgiven, our minds enlightened by the influence and power of God, that we may comprehend our duty and have a disposition to perform it, not to postpone it, not to set it aside, nor to say in our hearts, “We must serve the world or the devil a little longer; we are not yet prepared to serve the Lord fully, to give up our evil habits, to lay aside this and that folly, and walk straightforward in the path of duty; we must sow a few more wild oats before we can fully make up our minds and determine upon serving the Lord and doing his will upon earth as it should be done, and as we know how to do it, if we but yield obedience to the light that has come into the world.” But when we see what is necessary to be done, it becomes our duty, and we should go to with all our might and do it, no matter what our desires may be to the contrary. Whatever comes from the Priesthood by inspiration we should be willing to receive as the counsel of the Almighty, which we must of necessity obey and execute in order that we may be accepted of him.

This is a lesson that we, as God’s people, should cheerfully learn. Do you think, my brethren and sisters, that we can climb up some other way, or enter in at some other door? Do you think that we can take the things of God and bring them to our standard, or square the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by our rule? Do you think that we would ever succeed in an effort to dictate to the Almighty the terms of our salvation? If we think so we are mistaken, deceived; we cannot do it. The purposes of the Almighty are unchanged and unchangeable, his laws endure, and he is the same yesterday, today and forever. His purposes will ripen and be consummated, and his designs be completed. Therefore, if we do not conform to his will, obey his laws and yield to his requirements in this world, we will be consigned to “the prison house,” where we will remain until we pay the debt to the uttermost farthing. This is a Scriptural, a reasonable, and a true doctrine; for it is a doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Saints understand it, but there may be some here who do not, and for their benefit, as well as to refresh the memories of those who may not have reflected for a little season upon this principle, I will re fer to it as briefly expressed in the third and fourth chapters of the first Epistle of Peter. There you will see that Jesus himself preached the Gospel to the spirits in prison, “which some time were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” This may seem strange to some, that Jesus should go to preach the Gospel unto the wicked, rebellious antediluvians; whose bodies had been destroyed in the flood because they rejected the testimony of Noah, who had been sent to rebuke their iniquities and warn them of destruction decreed against them if they did not repent, nevertheless it is true. From this Scripture we not only learn the condition of those who are cut off in their sins because of their wickedness in rebelling against the laws of God and rejecting his servants, but such of them as have not sinned against the Holy Ghost, however wicked they may have been in this world—save committing that unpardonable sin—will have the privilege of hearing the Gospel in the spirit world; “for,” as the Apostle says, “for this cause was the Gospel preached also to them that are dead.” “Yes,” says one, “dead in sin, but not dead as to the flesh.” But the Apostle does not say so, but to the contrary, for the dead here referred to had perished in the flesh and the Apostle continues—“That they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit;” that is, out of the body until the resurrection from the dead. But first they must remain in hell—the “prison house,” until they have paid the penalty of their sins in the flesh, even to the “uttermost farthing.” “But,” says one, “is this possible?” The people in Europe, where we have been preaching, were struck with wonder and astonishment when we mentioned this doctrine, and say they, “We had supposed that, ‘as the tree fell so it should lie,’ and that ‘there was no salvation in the grave.’” Neither is there any salvation in the grave, and “as the tree falls, so it lies,” but this is pertaining to the flesh. Does the spirit lie with the body? Is the spirit confined in the grave? No. As the body falls, so it will lie until the resurrection; there is no salvation in the grave, but in Christ, who is the “light of life,” and the spirit soars beyond the grave; it does not slumber in the dust, but is wafted to the place prepared for it in the spirit world, to receive its reward or punishment, having passed the first judgment of God, there to await his mercy, and the resurrection from the dead and the final judgment of the great last day.

Thus we see those wicked, unrepentant antediluvians who even had the privilege of hearing the Gospel in the flesh, as preached by Noah, and who rejected the message of that servant of God, were actually visited in the “prison house” by the Savior himself, and heard the Gospel from his own mouth after he was “put to death in the flesh.” Their prison was opened, and liberty was proclaimed unto them in their captivity, in fulfillment of the prediction of the Prophet Isaiah, as you might read in his 61st chapter, that they may come forth, when they shall have fulfilled the decree of judgment upon them in the prison, or hell, to do the first works necessary unto salvation, which they refused to do in the beginning.

Here will come in the principles of baptism for the dead, and of proxy and heirship, as revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith, that they may receive a salvation and an exaltation, I will not say a fullness of blessing and glory, but a reward according to their merits and the righteousness and mercy of God, even as it will be with you and with me. But there is this difference between us and the antediluvians—they rejected the Gospel, consequently they received not the truth nor the testimony of Jesus Christ; therefore they did not sin against a fullness of light, while we have received the fullness of the Gospel; are admitted to the testimony of Jesus Christ, and a knowledge of the living and true God, whose will it is also our privilege to know, that we may do it. Now if we sin, we sin against light and knowledge, and peradventure we may become guilty of the blood of Jesus Christ, for which sin there is no forgiveness, neither in this world nor in the world to come. Jesus himself declares (Matt. 12, 31), that “all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” This is not a new doctrine that has just been revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith, or President Brigham Young, but it is the doctrine of Jesus, a part and portion of that Gospel which is the power of God unto salvation or unto damnation. For whosoever will believe, repent, and be baptized for the remission of sins shall be saved, and he that believes not and is not baptized shall he damned. And he that believes, is baptized and receives the light and testimony of Jesus Christ, and walks well for a season, receiving the fullness of the blessings of the Gospel in this world, and afterwards turns wholly unto sin, violating his covenants, he will be among those whom the Gospel can never reach in the spirit world; all such go beyond its saving power, they will taste the second death, and be banished from the presence of God eternally.

I feel well in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that it is true, and I never like to have an opportunity pass me without bearing my testimony to it. I, therefore, bear my testimony to you, that God has restored the Gospel, that Joseph Smith was and is a true Prophet, and that President Young is his rightful successor.

I have been surprised before now at hearing remarks from the disaffected and apostates against the Priesthood, as if there was something terrible concealed beneath that term. What constitutes the Priesthood? A legal and direct commission from God to man. And who are clothed with its authority and power? President Young? Yes. But is he the only man who holds the Priesthood? No. Nor are his counselors and the Twelve, the only ones who hold it, but the High Priests, the Seventies, the Elders, Priests, Teachers, and Deacons, all hold a portion of the Holy Priesthood. There is scarcely a member of the Church who is not numbered in the ranks of those clothed upon by this power; certainly it is so with every man who has received blessings in the house of the Lord, inasmuch as he has continued faithful, and of such is the Church composed, for the unfaithful cut themselves off in a measure both from the Church and from the power and privileges of the Priesthood, and are not to be relied upon. Therefore, when the Priesthood—or those holding it—are ridiculed, reviled, or persecuted, the blow is aimed, and the evil is designed, against the whole Church and not individuals, although as our enemies single out individuals as targets on whom to vent their wrath and spleen. A blow openly aimed at President Young, is secretly destined against the whole people constituting the Church over which he presides; any attempt to proscribe or destroy him or his brethren as individuals, because of their influence or position among the people, is so far indirectly an attempt to proscribe and destroy the whole community of which they are but members, and every member of the community should, and so far as guided by a proper sense of justice and right, most assuredly does, consider himself or herself personally assailed and aggrieved by any such attempts. How contemptible in the eyes of this whole people, therefore, must they be who rail against the Priesthood, and at the same time make themselves so conspicuously loud in their professions of friendship to the masses. They leave the covering of their designs too thin to conceal their hypocrisy and their determined bitterness and enmity against the people and the work of God.

A deacon in the Church should exercise the authority of that calling in the Priesthood, and honor that position as sincerely and faithfully as a high Priest or an Apostle should his calling, feeling that he bears a portion of the responsibility of the kingdom of God in the world, in common with all his brethren. Every man should feel in his heart the necessity of doing his part in the great latter-day work. All should seek to be instrumental in rolling it forth. More especially is it the duty of everyone who possesses any por tion of the authority of the Holy Priesthood to magnify and honor that calling, and nowhere can we begin to do so to better advantage than right here, within ourselves, and when we have cleansed the inside of the platter, cleansed our own hearts, by correcting our own lives, fixed our minds upon doing our whole duty towards God, and man, we will be prepared to wield an influence for good in the family circle, in society, and in all the walks of life.

We should seek to do, and to be, good. It is true that Jesus says there is none good but one, that is God; we must accept this in the fullest sense of the word, but there are other degrees of goodness, so that we may be good, righteous, and even perfect in our spheres, as God is good, righteous, or perfect in his exalted and glorious sphere. These excellent qualities of mind and soul should govern our lives in the midst of our families and neighbors, among our brethren of the household of faith, and in all our intercourse with mankind, that we may win souls from error, ignorance, folly and crime, to God and his Christ, and help them to stand until they become strong in the faith, and thus become saviors of men upon Mount Zion, worthy of the name of our God.

May the Lord bless you and all Israel, and especially his aged servant who stands at our head, and his associates in counsel, the loved face of one of whom, on looking round, I find gone from our midst, but his lifelong example still lives with us, and will live forever. Amen.

The Instructions Given Are Intended for All the Saints—The Latter-Day Work An Individual Work—Men and Women Are Responsible for Their Own Acts—Obedience is Essential to Salvation—The Present Sinful Condition of the World the Result of Disobedience—Counsel to the Saints on the Necessity of Living Exclusively for the Building Up of the Kingdom of God

Discourse by Elder Joseph F. Smith, delivered in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, at the Semi-Annual Conference, October 7, 1873.

To say I have been very much interested in the instructions that we have had at this Conference is but faintly to express my feelings. We have had much very excellent teaching, which we will do well to give heed to. I cannot believe that the congregations that have attended this Conference will cast lightly aside these teachings. Certain it is that all the preaching that can be done by those who are most competent, and most richly endowed with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, will not benefit the people in the least, unless they will receive it, and will realize that the counsels which are given are designed expressly for themselves. It is not for us to say, “that does not mean me,” and “that applies to my neighbor;” or “that has reference to the doings of so and so.” We should each feel that the instructions given have direct reference to ourselves individually; that counsel or that commandment is for me, and it is for me, as a individual, to put it into practice. This is the only course that will benefit, and fit us for the responsibilities that will de volve upon us in the future. It will not do for us to say—“If brother so and so, or sister so and so, will observe and carry out that counsel, I shall be satisfied to remain as I am.” We cannot obtain blessings from God by taking this course; the only way to secure them is by diligence on our own part. When we are prepared, by our own works and diligence, to receive the blessings that God has in store for the faithful; then, and not till then, shall we receive them. It will not do for us to be satisfied for our brother to prepare himself to receive the blessings God has promised to his children, and to rest content with seeing him receive the light of truth, the blessings of the Gospel, and manifest a willingness to work righteousness in the earth. That will not reach us, only so far as we adopt his course and follow his example.

This is how I look at the requirements which God has made upon his people collectively and individually, and I do believe that I have no claim upon God or upon my brethren for blessing, favor, confi dence or love, unless, by my works, I prove that I am worthy thereof, and I never expect to receive blessings that I do not merit. Who does? I do not know that anybody does, yet if we were to judge by the actions of some, we must come to the conclusion that they are satisfied by seeing others live their religion.

I love the society of the good, honorable and pure, of those who love virtue and work righteousness. To associate and be numbered with such and to have my portion and my lot with them in this life, and to live so that I can secure that association in the life to come, throughout the countless ages of eternity. I take no pleasure in the society of the wicked, for this reason—the pleasures of the wicked will cease and be forgotten, and the wicked will die and will not be regretted, their names will be cast out from the presence of God and from the things of the righteous forever and ever. I, therefore, want no part with them, but I want to cast my lot with those who are securing to themselves eternal riches and happiness. To obtain these blessings I must be found walking in their footsteps and following their examples, otherwise I shall come short.

This is how I understand the principles of the Gospel and the work we are engaged in. It is an individual work. You and I must secure the blessings of eternal lives for ourselves, through obedience and the mercy of God. We have the volition of our own wills and we can choose evil or good, the society of the wicked or that of the good; we can enlist under the banner of Christ, or under that of Belial. We have this option, and can do whichever we choose. Therefore we must look well to our ways, and see that we choose the right course, and build upon a foundation that will not wash away. We have got to learn to stand or fall for ourselves, male and female. It is true that we are taught in the principles of the Gospel that man is the head of the woman, and Christ is the head of the man; and according to the order that is established in the kingdom of God, it is the duty of the man to follow Christ, and it is the duty of the woman to follow the man in Christ, not out of him.

But has not a woman the same volition that the man has? Can she not follow or disobey the man as he can follow or disobey Christ? Certainly she can, she is responsible for her acts, and must answer for them. She is endowed with intelligence and judgment, and will stand upon her own merits as much so as the man. That is why the brethren, during this Conference, have been teaching the sisters that they must refrain from the fashions of Babylon. They must use their own judgment and agency as to whether they will obey this counsel or not. If they will not obey it, they will be responsible as much as the men are responsible for their acts. The man is responsible for the woman only so far as she is influenced by, or is obedient to, his counsels. Christ is responsible for the man so far as the man walks in obedience to the laws and commandments he has given, but no further, and so far will his atoning blood redeem and cleanse from sin; so far as they obey them will the principles of eternal life revealed in the Gospel have effect upon the souls of men, so also with women. So sisters, do not flatter yourselves that you have nothing to answer for so long as you may have a good husband. You must be obedient. Obe dience is the first law of heaven. Without it the elements could not be controlled. Without it neither the earth nor those who dwell upon it could be controlled. The angels in heaven would not be controlled without it, and in fact without obedience there could be no union or order, and chaos and confusion would prevail. When we are obedient we may be guided to the accomplishment of all that is required of us by our heavenly Father, for it is on this principle that the designs and purposes of God are accomplished. The elements are obedient to his word. He said, “Let there be light and there was light.” He commanded the land and the waters to be divided, and it was so. When Christ commanded the storm to be still, and the sea to be calm, the elements were obedient to him. The earth, and all the worlds which God has made are obedient to the laws of their creation, for this reason there are peace, harmony, union, increase, power, glory and dominion, which could not exist without obedience. For the lack of obedience the whole world today lies in sin, for except the little existing among this people, obedience cannot be found on the face of the earth. Go to the religions of the day, do you find obedience manifested by the people? No, but you find man everywhere self-willed and untractable, therefore confusion and anarchy reign. It is said in the Scriptures that all things are possible with God; but he only works in accordance with the principles by which he himself is governed; and hence he cannot convince nations of the truth against their will. As the poet says—

Know this, that every soul is free, To choose his life and what he’ll be; For this eternal truth is given, That God will force no man to heaven. He’ll call, persuade, direct aright— Bless him with wisdom, love and light— In nameless ways be good and kind, But never force the human mind.

That is the way that God deals with man, therefore I say, he cannot work with this generation. They have set him aside and made themselves supreme. They have fulfilled the words of the prophet Paul when he said, “That in the last days perilous times should come, for men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affections, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof,” &c.

No one could better describe the condition of this generation, and yet light has come into the world, but it is rejected, and for this reason the world lies in sin, and under condemnation. The people of God lie under condemnation too, so far as they are disobedient to the counsels of God’s servants. We talk of obedience, but do we require any man or woman to ignorantly obey the counsels that are given? Do the first Presidency require it? No, never. What do they desire? That we may have our minds opened and our understandings enlarged, that we may comprehend all true principles for ourselves; then we will be easily governed thereby, we shall yield obedience with our eyes open, and it will he a pleasure for us to do so.

The Lord does not accept obedience from men except that which they render cheerfully and gladly in their hearts, and that is all that is desired by his servants. That is the obedience we ought to render, and if we do not we are under condemnation.

What matters what the world say in regard to us? Nothing. What do I care? Have I spent thirty years of life, with the opportunities that have been afforded me, and am yet ignorant of the way of eternal life. If I have, then I am to be pitied. “Why then,” says the blasphemer, “do you yield obedience to the servants of God?” Because it is meat and drink to me to do so. Because it is for my safety and for my best good. I ask no odds of the world. I have learned that it is the very best thing that I can do, and I should be a fool indeed not to do that which is for my best good. I intend to do it, and I do not care what the world say about me.

I am sorry to say that there are some of those who profess to be Latter-day Saints, who meet with the Saints on the Sabbath and partake of the Sacrament, witnessing that they are willing to take upon them the name of Christ, and to follow him through evil as well as good report, and yet in their hearts they oppose the plans and projects of those whom they pretend to upheld and sustain. I know and could call the names of some of these men. Shame on them! I say, in the name of manhood, come out and show your colors! Say you will not be obedient, and cease to be hypocrites, cease lying in the presence of God, and trying to deceive yourselves and your brethren. Tell us what you are, take your stand where you belong, and do not deceive the unwary. You cannot deceive those who have the Spirit of God, for they can discern your hearts.

I love the cause of the Gospel. I love this people, because, of all others on the face of the earth they have enlisted under the banner of King Emanuel. They have covenanted with God to keep his com mandments, and they are the most willing of any on the face of the earth to hearken to God’s inspired servants. I love them for this reason, and I want to be identified with them, not only in time but throughout eternity. Without them I would have no home, no friends. I want none without them.

Let us keep the commandments and counsels that have been given to us, let us not be hearers of the word only, but let us be doers of it as well as hearers. Let us put away the foolish fashions of the world, live up to the truth, and seek to find out God, whom to know is life eternal. The road to this knowledge is obedience to his laws and to the whisperings of the still small voice in our own hearts. That will lead us into truth if we will hearken, and do not blunt the monitor that is within us. Let us do our duty, and be for God and his kingdom. Let our motto be—“The kingdom of God or nothing.” Because in the kingdom there is everything, and outside of it nothing at all. We heard here, the other day, from the President, that the Gospel embraces everything that is good and true or desirable to the pure in heart. I have said that outside the kingdom of God there is nothing, but there is something. What is it? Disappointment, sorrow, anguish and death, and everything that will make us miserable; while everything that is good, desirable and worth possessing eternally is to be found only in the Gospel of Christ.

Says one, “Do not people who are not Latter-day Saints have a great many blessings and enjoy a great many good things?” Certainly they do, they enjoy gold, silver and worldly honors—they have a plentitude of greenbacks, houses, lands, carriages, horses, luxury and ease. Dives had all these, in this world, while Lazarus crawled at his feet and begged for the crumbs that fell from his table; but afterward Dives lifted up his eyes in hell and saw Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom enjoying the good things that he had formerly possessed in the world, and he begged Abraham to send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water to alleviate his parching tongue. But even this poor boon was denied him, he being informed that there was an impassable gulf between them; and said Abraham to Dives—(in effect), “When you were in the flesh you had Moses and the Prophets, you had the Gospel preached to you, but you rejected and refused to obey it. You had your good portion and your enjoyments in the world, now you are denied them, they are given to Lazarus.” How long do the honors, wealth, and pleasures of the worldling last? Until death claims him for its own, then he ceases to enjoy them, because he has failed to secure his title to them, they have not been sealed upon him by the authority of the Priesthood of the Son of God, which has power to bind on earth and it is bound in heaven. If they have wives and children, when death calls them they are no longer theirs, because they have not been sealed unto them by the power of God. They do not obey the truth, they do not receive the ministrations of the Priesthood, and consequently they are deprived, not only of their wealth, but of their wives and children.

We are not living only for the few miserable years that we spend on this earth, but for that life which is interminable; and we desire to enjoy every blessing throughout these countless ages of eternity, but unless they are secured to us by that sealing power which was given to the Apostle Peter by the Son of God, we cannot possess them. Unless we secure them on that principle, in the life to come we shall have neither father, mother, brother, sister, wife, children, nor friends, nor wealth nor honor, for all earthly “contracts, covenants, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, connections, and associations,” are dissolved in the grave, except those sealed and ratified by the power of God. It is said in the Scriptures that the earth and its fullness are the Lord’s, and that they are to be given to the Saints of the Most High God, and they are to possess them forever and ever.

You know that those who have not faith in the Gospel call us exclusive and uncharitable; they say—“You cast out all except those of your faith.” Then enroll yourselves under the banner of King Emanuel, to whom the earth and its fullness belong, and when it shall be given to the Saints of the Most High God, you will come in for your share, and only in that way can you do so. Obedience to the Gospel of Christ is the only way to secure blessings for the life that now is, or that which is to come. We are not talking in parables, neither are we ignorantly repeating the words of the ancient Apostles. Our declarations are founded upon modern revelation and inspiration, and we know whereof we speak. We know that angels have come to earth and that God has spoken in our day, that he has raised up Apostles and Prophets, restored the holy Priesthood, and shown himself to man and revealed his truth to those who dwell on earth. We know these things, it is this that makes us bold to declare it to the world. We are not ashamed of it, because we know it is the power of God unto salvation.

May God help us, and all who love the truth, to keep an eye single to his glory and to the building up of his kingdom on the earth, that we may be among those who shall be counted worthy to possess the earth and its fullness forever and ever, is my prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.

The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper

Discourse by Elder Joseph F. Smith, delivered in the 13th Ward Assembly Rooms, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, Feb. 9, 1873.

While preparing the Sacrament the thought was impressed upon my mind to make a few remarks on the subject, although I will not promise to confine myself to it. I desire to be led by the Spirit of the Lord.

The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is a very important and sacred ordinance; however simple it may appear to our minds, it is one which will add to our acceptance before God, or to our condemnation.

It was instituted by the Savior in the place of the law of sacrifice which was given to Adam, and which continued with his children down to the days of Christ, but which was fulfilled in his death, he being the great sacrifice for sin, of which the sacrifices enjoined in the law given to Adam were a similitude.

The Lord designed in the beginning to place before man the knowledge of good and evil, and gave him a commandment to cleave to good and abstain from evil. But if he should fail, he would give to him the law of sacrifice and provide a Savior for him, that he might be brought back again into the presence and favor of God and partake of eternal life with him. This was the plan of redemption chosen and instituted by the Almighty before man was placed on the earth. And when man did fall by transgressing the law which was given him, the Lord gave to him the law of sacrifice, and made it clear to his understanding, that it was for the purpose of reminding him of that great event that should transpire in the meridian of time, whereby he and all his posterity might be brought forth by the power of redemption and the resurrection from the dead, and partake of eternal life with God in his kingdom. For this reason Adam and his posterity, from generation to generation, observed this law, and continually looked forward to a time when there should be provided for them a means of redemption from the fall and restoration from death to life, for death was the penalty of the law transgressed, which man was powerless to avert, the fiat of God being, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” and this penalty was to follow upon all flesh, all being as helpless and dependent as he was in this matter. Their only hope of redemption from the grave and the power of death was in the Savior whom God had promised, who should suffer death, but being without sin, having himself never transgressed any law, being without blemish, pure and holy, he should have power to break the bands of death and from the grave rise to immortal life, thereby opening the way for all who should follow him in the regeneration to come forth to life again, redeemed from the penalty of the law, and from the sin of transgression to eternal life. In anticipation, therefore, of this great sacrifice which was to be offered for Adam and his seed, they offered sacrifices, more or less acceptably, and in conformity to the pattern given, in proportion to the knowledge of God and of the Gospel which they had, and their faithfulness from generation to generation, to the days of Jesus.

They would take the firstlings of their flocks, the best fruits of their fields, and those things which were emblematic of purity, innocence, and perfection, symbolical of him who was without sin, and as “a lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” and offer sacrifices unto God in memory of him, and the matchless and wonderful deliverance to be wrought out for them by him.

Undoubtedly the knowledge of this law and of other rites and ceremonies was carried by the posterity of Adam into all lands, and continued with them, more or less pure, to the flood, and through Noah, who was a “preacher of righteousness,“ to those who succeeded him, spreading out into all nations and countries, Adam and Noah being the first of their dispensations to receive them from God. What wonder, then, that we should find relics of Christianity, so to speak, among the heathens and nations who know not Christ, and whose histories date back beyond the days of Moses, and even beyond the flood, independent of and apart from the records of the Bible. The ground taken by infidels, that “Christianity” sprang from the heathen, it being found that they have many rites similar to those recorded in the Bible, &c., is only a vain and foolish attempt to blind the eyes of men and dissuade them from their faith in the Redeemer of the world, and from their belief in the Scriptures of divine truth, for if the heathen have doctrines and ceremonies resembling to some extent those which are recorded in the Scriptures, it only proves, what is plain to the Saints, that these are the traditions of the fathers handed down from generation to generation, from Adam, through Noah, and that they will cleave to the children to the latest generation, though they may wander into darkness and perversion, until but a slight resemblance to their origin, which was divine, can be seen. Yet this is a stumbling block to some and there are those who endeavor to make progress on this foundation against the work of God, but it is absolute folly. How do we know that the Bible accounts of Adam and the succeeding generations are correct? How do we know anything pertaining to God and his dealings with men anciently? We know many things by tradition, naturally, by intuition. “There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth it understanding.” There is an inherent principle in man that leads him to faith in a superior or a Supreme Being, who has designed and created all things. The Bible account, being the most rational and indeed only historical one of the creation and the dealings of God with men, we are constrained to accept it, in the main, as truth. Then we behold the wonderful works of God spread out before us, the starry heavens, the sun and moon, the earth on which we dwell, and its times and seasons, its fruits and grains, its herbs and varied productions, its fountains and rivers, mountains, valleys and plains, and the mighty deep, all teeming with life and animation; also the laws that govern these vast creations, and man, the crowning work of God on this earth, the masterpiece, if you please, whom inspiration teaches us is the offspring of that eternal being who is the Creator of all things, he being the most perfect in his organization, possessing greater attributes, powers of reason, and intelligence than all other beings, constituting him the “lord of creation,” and the nearest in resemblance to the Creator. We look at these things and we cannot but come to the conclusion that this is not the work of chance, but the result of matured omniscient designs and purposes, that man is the son of God, possessing the attributes and image of his Father, and in the beginning much of this intelligence, insomuch that he was the companion and associate of God and dwelt with him, and knew no sin. The Lord gave him the earth as a possession and an inheritance, and laws for his government, that he might fill the measure of his creation and have joy therein.

We look at these things in this manner, and they appear rational and true, and we are convinced that they are true, that the Scriptures, the Bible and Book of Mormon, are of divine origin.

But is this all we have to convince us of the truth of these things, and to confirm upon our minds the principles laid down as the Gospel of Christ, which is called “Mormonism?” These are the only means of knowing in regard to the truth of religion that the world claim to have, or that we had prior to becoming acquainted with the doctrines of this Church, and we were in a measure satisfied because it was the best light we possessed. There are thousands of the most intelligent and best educated men that live, and some of the greatest and brightest minds in many nations now engaged in the dissemination of what they believe to be the Gospel of Jesus Christ, claiming no other means of knowing the truth, than tradition and reason, and they appear to be satisfied with their convictions and faith. Millions of dollars are expended annually in promulgating their religion, they “compass land and sea to make proselytes,” with no other acknowledged evidence of the truth of the Bible, or of the divine mission of Jesus Christ, than that I have cited.

But we go farther than this, although to my mind this mode of reasoning is conclusive so far as it goes, and no doubt is left as to the existence of our Father and God, or that he created all things for a wise purpose, for his glory, and for the glory and happiness of His children, that the earth and the fullness thereof are God’s, although designed for man and his use; and finally to be given to him as an everlasting inheritance, when he shall, through obedience, prove worthy of it. But, as I said before, we go farther than this—there is “a more sure word of pro- phecy, whereunto we do well to take heed.” There is revelation, a means of direct communication from God to man, a power which can rend the veil between us and God, open the eyes of our understanding, and bring us into proximity to him, so that we may know him as he is, and learn from his own mouth and from the mouths of his holy messengers his laws and will concerning us, as anciently. This is the principle by which Adam knew God in the garden where he was placed in the beginning. God came to him day by day, and conversed with him as one man converses with another, giving him instructions and counsel, for man was pure. And when he was cast out, God did not forsake him, but appeared to him, sent his angels to communicate with him concerning the plan of salvation, and gave him the Holy Ghost to be a light in his path through the world, made dreary to him by being banished from the immediate presence of God.

Men have enjoyed privileges from that day to this, in proportion to their worthiness, through every Gospel dispensation, thereby obtaining a knowledge of God for themselves, not being left to the traditions of the fathers and to reason alone. From time to time the Lord raised up Prophets, to whom he has appeared, either himself or by his messengers, as to Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and all the Prophets from the beginning, revealing his will and making known his requirements, so that they have had a positive knowledge given to them of God himself.

We claim that in this dispensation this key of knowledge has been restored to man, and we stand upon the same footing with the ancients, and are not left in uncertainty or doubt, the truth of the Gospel being confirmed upon our understandings by inspiration and revelation from God, “line upon line, and precept upon precept,” until we have obtained a knowledge of God, “whom to know is life eternal.”

The ordinances of the Gospel have been restored in their purity. We know why the law of sacrifice was given to Adam, and how it is that relics of the Gospel are found among the heathen.

When Jesus came and suffered, “the just for the unjust,” he that was without sin for him that had sinned, and was subject to the penalty of the law which the sinner had transgressed, the law of sacrifice was fulfilled, and in the stead thereof he gave another law, which we call the “Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper,” by which his life and mission, his death and resurrection, the great sacrifice he had offered for the redemption of man, should be kept in everlasting remembrance, for said he, “This do in remembrance of me, for as often as ye eat this bread, and drink of this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.” Therefore this law is to us, what the law of sacrifice was to those who lived prior to the first coming of the Son of Man, until he shall come again. Therefore we must honor and keep it sacredly, for there is a penalty attached to its violation, as we shall see by reading the words of Paul: 1 Cor. xi, 27, 30.

“Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

“For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

“For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.”

And it is even more plainly given in the Book of Mormon, which I will read. Nephi, 8th chapter, 9th verse, page 471.

And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words, he turned his eyes again upon the disciples whom he had chosen, and said unto them: Behold verily, verily I say unto you, I give unto you another commandment, and then I must go unto my Father, that I may fulfill other commandments which he hath given me. And now behold, this is the commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall not suffer anyone knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily, when ye shall minister it; For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul; therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood, ye shall forbid him.”

These are some of the injunctions and commandments that are given in relation to the partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Now let us be careful what we do, that we may not incur the penalty affixed to the transgression of this law, remembering that the ordinances which God has given are sacred and binding, that his laws are in force, especially upon all that have covenanted with him in baptism, and upon all unto whom they come, whether they embrace them or not, as Jesus said, “This is the condemnation of the world that light has come into the world, but ye love darkness rather than light.” Therefore all men will be held accountable for the use they make of the light which they possess. For this reason we are commanded to preach the Gospel unto every creature, that those who obey and are baptized may be saved, and those who reject it may be condemned.

I bear my testimony to these things. I know that Joseph Smith was and is a Prophet of the living God, and President Young is also a Prophet of God, and that by inspiration and revelation, and not of man. God bless you and help us to be faithful, is my prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.

No Time to Do Wrong—Save the Children

Discourse by Elder Joseph F. Smith, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, September 3, 1871.

I have been unexpectedly called upon to stand before you to give expression to my feelings, and I trust while so doing that I may be led by the spirit of the Lord. It behooves “Mormon” Elders to be always prepared—“minute men,” for they do not know at what moment they may be called upon to perform some duty connected with their calling. The Savior admonished his apostles and followers, saying, “Be ye always ready,” and he illustrated it by a parable to the effect that if the good man of the house knew the hour the thief would come he would be prepared for him, and his house would not be broken open. So with the Latter-day Saints, and especially those who bear the priesthood, for they are liable, at any time, to be called upon to go and preach the Gospel to foreign nations, or to get up in the midst of the Saints to bear testimony of the truth, to exhort to faithfulness and diligence, and to show forth the light that is in them in persuading their fellow beings to do that which is right in the sight of God. We should be prepared all the day long for any emergency, no matter whether it be life or death. Life is very uncertain with us, we do not know this moment what the next may bring forth; therefore the religions of the day will not answer for the Latter-day Saints any more than they will answer, in reality, for those who profess to believe in them, because they are unsound. It behooves us as the children of God to be always prepared for every duty and for every event that may transpire in life, that we may not be taken unawares, caught off our guard or out of the path that leads to eternal life. The Lord may call us when we little think of it, or require labors at our hands when we are not prepared; which would be an awkward position, and very unpleasant to a person who had any regard for his character, before God, and in the society of his friends. There is no time to lay off the armor of Christ; there is not a moment in the lives of the children of men when they can afford to serve the devil; it is always the best to be on our guard, be honest, and honorable in the sight of God and man, which is the path of safety.

Not because honesty is the best policy, but because it is the duty of every individual on the face of the earth to be so; and because, so far as we the Latter-day Saints are concerned, we have voluntarily covenanted with the Lord to keep his commandments and to forsake sin. We have done this because we have been convinced that this is the only way to find favor with God and to obtain salvation in his presence.

Then there is no time to swear, no time to cheat our neighbor or to take advantage of him, there is no time to waste and fritter away in foolishly decorating our bodies, or to acquire means to devote to that which will grieve the Spirit of the Lord and disqualify us to receive solid blessings from his hands. The Latter-day Saints have no time to drink whiskey, or to waste in following the silly fashions of the world. There is too much to do and too many labors for us to perform to have time for anything of this nature. Yet how often do we see those who profess to be Later-day Saints—who should be the servants and handmaids of God—those who have received the holy priesthood, turning away from the path of rectitude and following after the foolish fashions, frivolities and vices of a corrupt and depraved world? I am sorry to say that this is seen too often! But if there was only a single instance of it among all the Latter-day Saints it would be too often, for, as I have already said, we have no time for anything of the kind. The world is before us, wherein are millions of our fellow beings in darkness, who have never had the privilege of hearing the truth. We are chosen to be ministers of the Gospel unto them. Every man and woman who professes to be a believer in the Gospel revealed in this last dispensation should live so that their light may shine; their character should be such that no one on earth could take exceptions from it. They should live pure, holy, virtuous lives before God. Their acts should speak louder than it is possible to speak with words, their conduct should evince the truth and sincerity of their professions. But when people come into our midst what difference do they see between the conduct of many calling themselves Latter-day Saints, and that of the world at large? Not any. Says the stranger, “I do not see but you ‘Mormons’ are about the same as other people. You can smoke cigars, frequent whiskey and billiard saloons, or perchance gambling places (if any), and take the name of God in vain, the same as anybody else.” And I have been told that if you go into these places you will be almost sure to find there some who are called “Mormons;” young men, and old, sons of the prophets, if you please, and that this practice is increasing in Salt Lake City—the central city of Zion where dwell the priesthood and the authority delegated by heaven for preaching the Gospel and administering the ordinances thereof, for the salvation of the children of men. What difference, then, can they see between these and other folks? For it is this class that they do see, and yet many that are falling into these disreputable habits are men who hold the priesthood—Elders in Israel and their sons; and perhaps strangers who come here have seen and heard some of them preaching the Gospel abroad, and when they come here they find them spending their time and means in whiskey and billiards, and in other foolish and wicked ways—indeed every way but the right way. What do such habits speak for men who indulge in them? Shame and disgrace. I want to tell my brethren and the strangers before me today that we have no fellowship for any such men, no matter who they are. They may call themselves Latter-day Saints, and you may have seen them abroad preaching the Gospel; but when you find them indulging in the course I have indicated they have fallen, dishonored their calling, disgraced themselves; they are no longer Latter-day Saints, but apostates, and we have no fellowship with them, for they are unworthy of the Redeemer’s cause. That cause has for its object the reclaiming of the world from sin; the overturning of everything that tends to degradation and evil and to the shame and degeneracy of the people, and the Saints are the chosen instruments in God’s hands to accomplish this work, and we mean to prosecute it to the uttermost—to fight the good fight of faith, and though many may turn aside, the work is onward and upward, and it will grow and spread until the purposes of God are consummated. He has commenced his great work—his strange work and his wonder, and he will roll it forth with rapidity and will consummate his plans in the day in which he has set his hands to gather his people, and that is this day, the evening of time—the closing moments of the last hour of the seventh day as it were. We are living in that eventful time, and the Lord has set his hand to gather his people. He has called them forth out of Babylon. His voice is calling aloud to the inhabitants of the earth to come out of Babylon that they receive not of her plagues and that they partake not of her sins.

We do not want to bring Babylon here—the gathering place appointed by the Lord for his people; but we want to take every precaution and to adopt every preventive measure in our power to stay the inroads of the evils which characterize Babylon, which are so condemned in the laws of God, and which are so repugnant to the spirit of the gospel. We do not want these things here; but we are not supreme; we cannot govern as we would wish. Not that we desire to rule with an iron hand, oppressively. It would not be oppression to me, for the proper authorities to say—“You shall not take intoxicating liquors; you shall neither manufacture nor drink them, for they are injurious to your body and mind,” nor would it be to any Saint—but what oppression it would be to a certain class! Yet I hope to see the day when, within the pale of the kingdom of God, no man will be allowed to take intoxicating liquor; and make—I was going to say, a beast of himself. But I do not name it, rather to make a degraded man of himself. Beasts would not degrade themselves as men do. The habits of the brutes are decent in the eyes of God and angels when compared with the conduct of drunken, debauched men, who pollute mind and body by the commission of every species of vice and crime. I want to see the day when no man in the midst of this people will be allowed to touch intoxicating drink to become drunken. But if we were to attempt to enforce this rule, what would be the hue and cry? “Tyranny, and oppression;” and armies would be sent here to use up the “Mormons;” and yet if such a rule could be enforced it would be a blessing, and no man can deny it; and if it were enforced it would only be carrying out the principles of “Mormonism.”

Do the “Mormons” drink it? Yes, to their shame, disgrace and the violation of their covenants, some of them do; and while on this subject I will say that no one supposes for a moment that a confirmed and unrepentant drunkard will ever be permitted within the gates of the celestial city. We all understand this, but I want to bear my testimony that those who prostitute mind and body by the debasing use of intoxicating drinks and the crimes and evils to which it leads will never have part in the celestial kingdom. “But,” says one, “did not some of the ancients get ‘boozy’ once in a while?” If they did they had to repent of it. I do not excuse them any more than I would you or myself, for taking a course of this kind. Yet God sees as we can not see. He takes all things into consideration. He does not judge partially as we are liable to do. When He places a man in the balance He weighs him righteously, but when we judge a man we are apt to judge unrighteously, because we are not omniscient. But what necessity is there for a healthy person to take intoxicating liquor? Does it ever do him any good? No, never. But does it never do any good to use liquor? I do not say that. When it is used for washing the body according to the revelations God has given, and when absolutely necessary if used with wisdom for sickness, it may do good, but when it is used to the extent that it destroys reason and judgment it is never used with impunity. All who thus use it then violate an immutable law, the penalty of which must inevitably follow the transgressor. It is against this practice that I am speaking. If there be any guilty of it here this afternoon, and I have no doubt there are, I wish them to take warning.

Is intemperance the only evil that is making an inroad among the Latter-day Saints? No, I will tell you another. When coming up here to meeting I noticed in the neighborhood of forty boys between my house and this Tabernacle who were sitting in the shade, on the road sides, lounging in groups—hanging around the corners. Who are they? They are boys who have been born in the valleys and their parents claim to be Latter-day Saints. I asked myself, “What is the character of the fathers and mothers of these boys?” And I came to the conclusion that they are hypocrites or apostates, and I can come to no other. Why? If they practiced what they professed to believe they would teach their sons correct principles, and their religious duties—to attend meeting on the Sabbath and use their time in a profitable and Christian-like manner, instead of turning them out to contract habits which will ruin them and make them infidels. Now the parents of these boys have either apostatized and do not care enough about their children to teach them correct principles; or, while professing to be Latter-day Saints, by their acts regard the salvation of the gospel as worthless and therefore they are hypocrites and need to repent in either case.

I would advise my brethren, and I take the advice to myself, to look after their sons as well as their daughters, and see where they are on the Sabbath; see that they do not go a fishing, riding or hunting, or waste their time in idleness, contracting pernicious and injurious habits—habits that will lead them to destruction, so that when we are called upon to answer for the time and talents God has given us we may not be found wanting; and when it is asked, “Did you train your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?” “Did you set an example worthy of imitation, that their blood may not be on your skirts?” and you can answer, “Yes Lord, I did all in my power to teach my children and to rear them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. I did all in my power to make men and women of them who would honor the name of God.” If this course be taken by parents very few children will be uncontrollable; or come to the terrible end that awaits them if parents neglect them and show by their course that they had as lief they would go to the devil as not.

I can see where this is tending. It is to unbelief, immorality and abominations of every kind; and I am sorry to see that it is increasing rather than diminishing among us. I preached about this a few months ago, and I will keep the subject before the brethren and sisters, if enabled by the good Spirit, until they will prize their children enough to look after them, and to know where they are and what they are doing, and that the company they keep is such as they ought to keep, and that they attend to their duties, for they have duties to attend to as well as you and I have. If we, as parents, controlled our children as well as many parents in the sectarian world do theirs, they would not only be taught to regard the Sabbath day as holy, and thereby keep the commandment of God, but they would come to meeting and listen to the instructions given, store their minds with knowledge and an understanding of the truth, instead of going in gangs about the streets, using obscene language, throwing rocks at and scuffling with each other, going riding, walking, fishing, hunting, &c., on the Sabbath day, and taking a course which will lead to confirmed idleness, drunkenness, profanity, and even blasphemy and every abomination, for the devil will “find mischief for idle hands to do,” just as sure as you are born, especially among the children.

Now, my brethren and sisters, will you try to take care of your children, and look after them on the Sabbath day, see where they are, bring them to meeting and teach them something they do not know? I recollect, when on my mission in England, I visited a number of my relatives there. They were what we call sectarian; they did not believe the true Gospel; they did not believe that God could or would speak from the heavens in this dispensation, nor that an angel had visited the earth in this day, nor that the Gospel had been restored in its ancient purity and perfection, nor that the priesthood was restored again, and that men were legitimately authorized to officiate in the ordinances of the house of God for the salvation of mankind. But what a great contrast there was between the way they trained their children and the way some of us train ours! They made no pretensions to new revelation or to special acceptance with God, but when the Sabbath day came their children were called in, and if they did not go to meeting, they were taught to take a book and read, and the parents sat down and taught them, and they read by turns and explained passages of Scripture and history, and they talked to and instructed one another, and thus they spent the day, and when evening came the children had learned something, their minds were improved, and they were better than when the day began. The course I am denouncing is not general, but there is far too much of it. If we turn out our children on the Sabbath for a holiday, careless where they are or what they are doing, God will not hold us guiltless. Children are subject to their parents, and the parents are responsible for the conduct of their children until they arrive at years of maturity.

Look after your children, brethren and sisters, and when winter comes, in two or three months from now, see there are not five or six hundred children skating and sliding in the streets on the Sabbath. It was so last winter. This is not the way for Latter-day Saints to train their children; it is not living our religion, and herein we come under condemnation before God, and it is where men and women point the finger of scorn at us. They say, “Here are men and women who profess to have received revelation from God, and they are letting their children go to the devil as fast as they can, and care nothing about them.”

Says one, “These are truths, but they should not be told in public.” If my brethren did not want to hear such things from me they would not call me up to speak. But they do; that is to say, when a man will get up and teach the people the truth, warn them of their follies and of the evil consequences thereof, they rejoice in it, because it is good, it is that which we need. We do not want to be palavered and soft-soaped; we do not want anybody to get up here and tell us how good we are, for the Lord looks at us as we are, and he will judge us according to our works. I want to quote to you a passage of Scripture, the words of Jesus. Said he, “Except your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees you can in no wise enter the kingdom of heaven.” This passage applies right home to us; and unless our righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees of the day in which we live, we will come short of the kingdom of heaven as sure as we live. We cannot expect anything better than what we see from men and women who profess to be Latter-day Saints, who will run after the follies and fashions of the world, and give up everything in the shape of honesty and integrity for the sake of accumulating wealth. If men and women will do this, I do not wonder at their children going at random on the Sabbath day. I am not surprised to hear them curse and swear and profane the name of God. If men and women will run after the follies and fashions of the world—if women will paint and bedizen themselves to attract the gaze of men, they have not the spirit of the Gospel; God is not with them, truth will not abide with them; they will go to hell and be damned unless they repent. You daughters of Israel, born of parents as true to the Gospel as men and women can be on the earth, who are dressing and painting to show yourselves, wasting your time and spending your fathers’ means corruptly and wickedly in the sight of God, he will send a curse on you if you do not desist. I say it in the name of Jesus Christ. I say the same to mothers who encourage their daughters in this kind of conduct, for the responsibility rests more with them than their daughters. They should not allow it. Says one, “I cannot help it.” But I would help it. If a daughter of mine persisted in such a course, I would put a stop to it, or I would cut the tie between us and she should go her own road. She should not take my name, with my sanction, before the world in that course, nor would I be less careful of a son. “But,” says one, “they will do it anyhow.” If so, let the responsibility be on their own heads and not on the parents’. Let us do our duty to our children, train them in the way they should go, give them the benefit of our experience, teach them true principles and do all we can for them, and when they reach years of maturity, if they walk in evil ways, we may mourn and bewail their follies, but we shall be guiltless before God so far as they are concerned.

Teach your children so that they may grow up knowing what “Mormonism” is, and then if they do not like it, let them take what they can find. Let us, at least, discharge our duty to them by teaching them what it is. The Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians and all the sectarian world do it, and why should not we? Can you find a Catholic that will send his children to a Protestant school, or a Protestant who will send his to a Catholic school; they, each, send their children to their own schools, and they take all the pains and use all the means in their power to rear their children in their own faith, being convinced that is the proper course for them to pursue. It is right that they should do so. But some Latter-day Saints are so liberal and unsuspecting that they would just as soon send their children to Mr. Pierce down here as to anybody else. I would not do it. However good a man Mr. Pierce may be, he should not teach one of my children as long as I had wisdom and intelligence to teach him myself, or could find a man of my own faith to do it for me. This is true doctrine, and no man can take any exceptions to it. I am talking to Latter-day Saints, you who have covenanted to keep the commandments of God, professed to receive the Gospel and entered into the Kingdom of God, by baptism; and I have a right to talk to you, we have a right to talk to each other and admonish each other when there is wrong, and we will do it.

Then look after the children, and our own morals and conduct, so that we may be as a light set on a hill and not under a bushel; that we may be the salt of the earth, that has not lost its savor and is good for nothing. If I were once to be seen in a brothel, gambling hell, billiard saloon, or in any disreputable place, would I have the boldness to stand in the position I occupy today? No I would not. Would I have the courage if called, to go and preach the Gospel abroad? No. I would be ashamed to do it, at least until I had made some recompense and restitution for the wrong I had done, and had satisfied God, my brethren and my conscience by renewing my covenants. Suppose that some of you Elders who have fre quented these whiskey and billiard saloons on Main Street, should be called on missions, and when you go you meet with people who have seen you there! They would be very likely to point the finger and say, “I saw you in a whiskey shop, billiard saloon,” or in some disreputable place, “and now you come to preach the Gospel and set yourselves up as a light unto the world!” That is what many of the so-called Christian ministers of the day are doing all the time, and that is what has brought their Christianity into such disrepute. Ministers may take that course, but what of their Christianity? Nothing; it is all humbug and “bosh,” and the people know it, and the time has come when a man has to be judged by his works, even by his fellow beings. If a man does not bring forth fruits worthy of the profession he makes, do not believe in him nor walk after him; but when you see a man that brings forth good fruit you may know that he derives it from a good fountain that can be relied on.

This is as the Latter-day Saints should live, and when we take into consideration the great labor before us, the frailties and weakness of human nature that we have to overcome, and the obstacles in the path to the accomplishment of God’s work, we have no time to waste in drunkenness, idleness, or in following after the follies and fashions of the world. Our whole time should be occupied in that which is profitable to ourselves and our fellowbeings. May the Lord help us to be faithful in living the religion of Jesus Christ, is my prayer. Amen.

The Gospel and the Things of the World—Consistency—Works As Well As Faith—The Word of Wisdom

Discourse by Elder Joseph F. Smith, delivered in the Tabernacle, Ogden City, Nov. 12, 1870.

In rising before you this evening I desire an interest in your prayers that I may be able to speak to our mutual edification. I realize, most truly, in my own experience, that it is a very difficult matter to rise before a congregation of Saints and preach the Gospel without the assistance of God’s Spirit; I do not feel capable of doing it, and I therefore pray that that Spirit may be enjoyed by us who are here this evening. I feel that we have had a good and profitable time today, if we can but treasure up the instructions which have been given. But the great difficulty is—we are too careless, listless and unconcerned in relation to what is taught us from time to time; we do not weigh, with that thought and care that we should do, the instructions and counsels which we receive. We allow other things to occupy our minds; the cares of the world, the desire for gain, the anxiety to promote our own interests and to provide for the necessities of life choke out the word of God to some extent. This is too much so with the Latter-day Saints, and it is pre-eminently so with the world at large. They do not believe the Gospel when they are taught it, which is the reason that our Elders meet with so little success abroad. The world has grown so indifferent to the Gospel, that it is almost impossible to excite inquiry regarding it. Perhaps one cause of this is that there has been too much teaching and too many varieties of it, and the minds of the people are unsettled and filled with speculation regarding the principles of salvation. They see men preaching various doctrines, hence they conclude that they who claim to be ministers and presume to preach have neither the authority to do so, nor the spirit of the Gospel, the knowledge of the truth or the testimony of Jesus, and they are losing confidence in them. People who reflect cannot do otherwise, for, however much the various gospels are taught to the people, nothing but dissatisfaction, doubt and disappointment result therefrom. There is no prospect, to all earthly appearance, of their ever arriving at a knowledge of the truth; in fact, the Christian world today are in exactly the position described by the ancient Apostle—they have a “form of godliness, but deny the power thereof;“ and “they are ever learning, but never come to the knowledge of the truth.”

But while this is the condition of the world, why should we, who have received the Gospel, as revealed in our day through Joseph Smith, sink to a level with them in our faith and actions? Having received the Gospel, it is our privilege to receive the testimony of the same; and if we have not, it is our own fault, for it is promised freely to every man and woman who will obey it; and there is not a son or daughter of Adam with common reason, but he or she is entitled to a perfect knowledge of the Gospel of salvation upon rendering obedience to its requirements; and if all who do so do not receive the promised blessings, it is their own fault, and not the fault of the Gospel or its Originator. The Gospel plan is broad and ample, and its Author has promised that they who seek shall find, and to them that knock the door shall be opened. James, the Apostle, says, “If any lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.” This is well known in the world, for the Scriptures are read there, and they are aware of the existence of these promises; and I presume that many of them endeavor to ask for what they need in conformity with the teachings of the Scriptures; for they do certainly realize, to some extent, that they need wisdom and understanding which they have not, and which seems out of their power to obtain. But why do they not get what they ask for? The promise is very pointed, and is given in language that cannot be mistaken. James explains this. Says he, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed.” “For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.” But he who asks in a proper manner, who humbles himself before the Lord like a little child before its earthly parent, and is willing to trust in God, and comes before him doubting nothing, that man, or that woman, will receive what he or she shall ask for. God has said it; He has promised it by the mouths of His servants, the Prophets and the Apostles, and the promise is sure and unfailing; and if there is any fault, it is on our part, and through our own lack of faith, meekness and humility before the Lord.

The Apostle James says that “ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” We may ask blessings of the Lord, from now to all eternity, and if we ask with pride and ambition in our hearts, and with a desire to increase our worldly possessions for our own aggrandizement, God will not grant what we ask. Hence the necessity of learning how to approach our Creator, and of asking Him according to the way He has appointed.

When we meet together it is for the purpose of listening and being instructed and uniting our hearts in prayer to God, not as individuals, but as a community, that by our combined supplications we may obtain from His hands that which we need. We do not come together, as some do, to admire fashionable attire; but we meet to worship God, and to be instructed regarding the principles of salvation, that we may be strengthened and encouraged in the prosecution of the labors devolving upon us, in overcoming the evils of our own fallen natures and bringing ourselves into subjection to the law of God. Those who come together for this purpose will receive their reward.

There are evils in the midst of Israel as well as in the world, arising from pride and neglect of duty. Many have no anxiety for anything but the things of the world. A man, for instance, has a farm and flocks, and they engross his whole time and attention. If he does take a little time to rest from his toils in the field and attends meeting, he comes drowsy and thoughtless, and leaves no better than when he came. He has learned nothing; in fact he did not come to be taught. He came, perhaps, simply because it was customary, or because some of his family or neighbors came, and not because he felt any interest in being there himself. If an angel should address a congregation of such individuals, his words would have no effect. The words of an angel would have no effect on the minds of women who attend meeting to look at the bonnets of their neighbors, or to see how the fashions change, any more than upon the minds of men who do the same thing for form’s sake. Such persons have no conception of truth, and have no place for its reception; it is shut out from their understanding, and they sit like figure heads, and derive no benefit from the instructions of the servants of God. So far as their influence goes, if they have any, it is as a damper thrown upon those around them.

I do not believe it would be necessary to preach so much to the Saints, as it now appears to be, if we lived our religion, and would exercise one-tenth part of the faith that we should exercise for our own good and the good of Israel; but, under present circumstances, it seems to be absolutely necessary to preach day after day and week after week to the Saints to keep them anywhere within the bounds of the Gospel. We are so easily led astray, so easily benumbed and chilled in our perceptions of truth. If there ever was a time that we needed to live the religion of Jesus Christ it is at the present. We should begin to realize that every man and woman is an agent, and exercises a certain amount of influence in the sphere in which he or she moves. Parents have an influence over their children; children have an influence over each other; neighbor has an influence with neighbor; and although we may not perceive that our example has any influence or weight, I assure you many times injury has been done by acts that we regarded as trifling through the influence they had upon our neighbors or children. Who can tell the result of a promise, made and not kept, by a father to his child? Will the child grow up in the belief that the father and mother guilty of this practice, mean what they say, or that they say one thing and mean another? From the conduct of the parents in this respect the child is very likely to take license to follow their example, and perhaps to do worse. Who can tell how long evils of this nature will tell upon children, transmitted through them to their posterity? Yet we see fathers and mothers set an example before their children which they themselves condemn and warn their children against. The inconsistent conduct of parents has a tendency to blunt the sensibilities of children, and to lead them from the way of life and salvation, for if parents teach their children principles which they do not practice themselves, that teaching is not likely to have much weight or effect, except for evil. We do not look at and reflect upon these things as we should. What will a child, when he begins to reflect, think of a parent who, professing to believe that the Word of Wisdom is part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and has been given by revelation, violates it every day of his life? He will grow up to believe that his parent is a hypocrite and without faith in the Gospel. They who take such a course incur fearful responsibilities. We cannot be too consistent in our course, neither can we be too faithful in fulfilling promises.

What confidence would you have in a man who will tell you, “Tomorrow morning I will pay you what I owe you;” but when tomorrow morning comes he does not fulfil his word? You meet him during the day and says he, “Brother, I forgot all about that little matter, but I will call in the morning.” The morning comes, but he does not come, and so it passes on day after day, and that promise remains unredeemed. You may extend this to any other promise or profession. If men are untruthful and fail to meet their obligations, you come finally to the conclusion that they are dishonest and all confidence is lost in them. They cannot be trusted in anything, and you are compelled to regard them as little else than liars and swindlers, and you avoid having anything to do with them. Yet there are such men who have been down into the waters of baptism for the remission of sin, and have covenanted with God to forsake every evil. What does such a profession of repentance amount to? No mouth profession of repentance is acceptable to God unless it is carried out in practice. We must have works as well as faith; we must do as well as pretend to do. The majority of the Latter-day Saints that have been gathered to these valleys any length of time have made covenants with God that they will keep His commandments, and walk in the counsels of the Almighty at all hazards; yet many, nevertheless, continually dabble in the contemptible customs of corrupt and degenerate human nature. Instead of raising themselves to the standard of the Gospel, they are content to descend to the level of the wicked and corrupt. Many of the Elders of Israel who have responsibilities resting upon them, with which they will find they cannot trifle with impunity, are taking this course all the time. What wonder, then, that the Spirit of the Lord is grieved? What wonder that the Latter-day Saints need to be preached to continually? It is no wonder to me when I contemplate the condition of the people of these valleys, and especially Salt Lake City, Ogden, and our cities contiguous to the railways.

What is to become of us, if we are to give way to every temptation, and ape every poor skunk that comes from the world? I mean those who do not regard themselves as gentlemen; I do not mean men who profess to be gentlemen and who carry out their professions, and there are many such in the world. I now have reference to that class who do not scruple to do any mean thing to serve their purposes or gratify their desires. Some of us, I regret to say, feel to follow their examples in our dealings, habits and customs. What will God do with us? What are we worth? What will we come to? What will God Almighty make of us? What kind of an exaltation, glory and reward will we gain if this is the height of our ambition and the strength of our morality, integrity and stamina in the cause of Jesus Christ? It will be said to such, “Depart from me, ye cursed, I never knew you.” “What, Lord, never knew me? Why, I am Elder B—. I lived at Ogden, or Salt Lake City, and associated with Thy servant Brigham, with the Apostles, and with the Elders of the Church. I bore the Holy Priesthood; I have healed the sick by the laying on of hands; I have cast out devils in Thy name, and you don’t know me?” “No, I don’t know you; depart from me, ye cursed.” “Why?” “Because you are a hypocrite, a liar, a sophist, a poor, weak, miserable creature, who didn’t live near to God and had not strength to overcome the follies and weaknesses of your own nature, but were ready and willing to fall right into the habits and follies of the people from the midst of whom you were gathered that you might escape their plagues and the destruction to which they were doomed.”

I would not give much for a man that could not be a Latter-day Saint in one place as well as another. If a man cannot be a Latter-day Saint in the mountains, canyons and fields, or in the midst of strangers, as well as at home under the droppings of the sanctuary in the midst of his brethren, he has not got the pure metal in him, and the time will come when he will be tried and will fall, just as sure as he lives. I want to see men live their religion everywhere, and while performing every kind of labor. The idea is quite prevalent with a certain class of Latter-day Saints, that if they engage in mining they must adopt all the habits of the miner—they must swear a little, swagger a great deal, drink liquor, tea and coffee, because they are in the mountains mining, as was the case at our drill to some extent. For the first two or three meals the tea or coffee was scarcely thought of; but before the camp broke up I noticed several good brethren who never missed having tea or coffee at their meals, and they endeavored to justify themselves because they were on a campaign. I enjoyed my cup of cold water while there, and had as good health as any of them. I don’t believe that wrong is right anywhere. God has said it is wrong to take hot or strong drinks. I believe that He meant what He said, and that it applies to me today, tomorrow, next week, and through my whole life, whether in the canyons or at home, or wherever my lot may be cast. I also believe that it applies to the whole Church, that no man or woman can consistently rear a family in the Church unless they will strictly observe these counsels of God given for the guidance and salvation of all Saints. I believe that men and women who are rearing families and neglect these things incur fearful responsibilities.

God has given much to us, and He will require much at our hands. He has restored the Gospel with its gifts, blessings and powers; He has restored the Holy Priesthood, and has organized His Church on the earth; He has deigned to acknowledge His people, and has signally blessed them since the Church was organized to the present moment. We have professed to receive that Gospel, acknowledged the name of God, and have been gathered out from the nations of the earth for the purpose of being purified ourselves, that we may have power to save our children, setting before them worthy examples, and rearing them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, so that God may have a pure and righteous people, whom he will delight to acknowledge and honor. This is one object of our gathering together; but take heed lest, through our unfaithfulness over the little God has imparted unto us, He will be unable to bestow the great blessings which He has in store for the faithful. The Lord will give to those who merit. His compassion is turned to us continually, but we do not realize it.

I rejoice in being able to testify to you that we have received the Gospel that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, and that he was instrumental in the hands of God in revealing principles that are calculated to unite the whole human family in the bonds of fellowship, brotherhood and love, and making of them one people, with one King, on the face of the earth. I know this, and I bear my testimony to it, as one having received a knowledge thereof, for I do know that this is true. But, notwithstanding this knowledge, salvation depends upon ourselves; we are agents, and can choose or reject the Gospel, follow the examples of the Savior or Lucifer. It is left optional with us. We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, and have the privilege of attaining to glory and exaltation in the kingdom where Jesus and the sanctified dwell, but it is left optional with us to choose or refuse. God has declared that He will require nothing at our hands but what He will enable us to perform. If He asks and requires duties of us that are difficult for us to perform, looking at them naturally, He will give us power to accomplish them. But unless we are worthy, and use all the energy and intelligence that we possess naturally, the promise on His part will not be fulfilled, because it is made on conditions that we do our part.

I would now warn my brethren and sisters to look well to their ways in future, and to let their words and examples be such as to ensure upon them the blessing and approval of God. If they profess to be Latter-day Saints and desire to continue steadfast, they should prove before God and their brethren that they have repented of their sins with a repentance that needs not to be repented of; for if we repent only in profession and say that we are Latter-day Saints when we are not, it is a mockery before God, and we incur the penalty for hypocrisy which will be awarded to us sooner or later.

He called forth the Prophet Joseph Smith in this dispensation to be His agent in establishing His Gospel upon the earth, that the honest in heart, like the gleaning of grapes when the vintage is over, might be gathered out as the Apostle John beheld in vision while on the Isle of Patmos. He saw an angel flying through the midst of heaven, crying aloud, “Come out of her, O, my people.” The same great truth is also contained in the revelations given through the Prophet Joseph, and the Saints are being gathered from the uttermost parts of the earth that they may receive the ordinances and blessings of the Gospel, that they may be prepared to rear, to the name of God, temples and cities and communities worthy of His continual blessings and favors.

This is the work before the Saints; and the residue of the inhabitants of the earth will be visited with the judgments of the Almighty, and “Babylon the mother of harlots,” will fall to rise no more. I tell you, in the name of Israel’s God, that this world and its inhabitants are doomed; their doom is sealed, and the only way of escape is the Gospel of the Son of God, the door to which is baptism for the remission of sins, after repenting of and forsaking every practice that tends to degrade and degenerate the human race. Nothing but this will save the world from the doom that is hanging over it, which God has decreed shall be poured out upon it. When the testimony of His servants has gone forth in the midst of its inhabitants.

They are first to be warned by the testimony of His servants, afterwards by the voice of thunders and lightnings, earthquakes, famines, pestilence and devastation; and He will send them in their midst until they are wasted away, whether the world believe it or not; they may laugh the declaration to scorn and derision, and regard it as fanaticism; but that little stone seen by the Prophet Daniel, which was taken out of the mountains without hands, is beginning to roll, and it will as surely break in pieces the great image, as that the great image exists. The kingdom of God exists, and it will become a great mountain and fill the whole earth, just as Daniel foresaw. I am a witness to this, and so are the Latter-day Saints. We do know that God has revealed these things, and all who desire can test what we say, and prove whether we speak of ourselves, or are commanded of God. The path is clear, so that all may know whether we speak the truth and have received the Holy Ghost and the Gospel of the Son of God or not—repent of your sins by forsaking them; be baptized by one having authority, for the remission of sins, and have hands laid on you for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and you shall know whether the doctrine we preach is true or false, and whether or not this is, as we say, the only way in which man can obtain eternal life. We invite all men to walk in this path, and we are fearless as to the result, for in my own experience, in hundreds and thousands of instances, I have received a witness and testimony that this is the truth. Thousands of Latter-day Saints can bear the same testimony, and we desire that all the honest in heart may receive this testimony, and know for themselves. I bear this testimony for the benefit of those who know not, but desire to gain a knowledge of the truth; and also for the benefit of the weak, if there be any here, who may be called Latter-day Saints. I have borne this testimony to strangers abroad, and I do it here for your encouragement. Amen.

The Sacrament—A Saint of God—The Eternity of Our Religion—Matrimony

Remarks by Elder Joseph F. Smith, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Jan. 10th, 1869.

It is a great privilege to meet together as the Saints of the living God. It is a great privilege, after a lapse of 1,800 years; to participate in the memorials of the shed blood and broken body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And whilst we are doing this we look forward to the time when Jesus will again come, and when we shall eat bread with Him in the Kingdom of our God. These are thoughts that naturally crowd upon the mind while partaking of the Sacrament of the Lord’s supper. The ordinance has a tendency to draw our minds from the things of the world and to place them upon things that are spiritual, divine, and heavenly; and that are in accordance with the nature, desires, and attributes of man. It is a great privilege to have one day in seven set apart for the worship of the living God. Men differ in their opinions as to what day it ought to be. That is a matter, however, of very little importance. We meet together as servants and handmaidens of the Lord Jesus Christ, and we participate in the emblems of his broken body and shed blood. We think, we reflect, speak and cogitate upon things that are calculated to elevate our minds, to impart comfort to our spirits, and to bring peace, joy and happiness, whether reflecting upon things of the past, present or future.

To be a Saint of God is to occupy a high position before God, angels and men. The light of truth, the revelations of Jehovah, and the holy priesthood, which the Saints of God enjoy, are the greatest boons that Heaven can bestow upon mortals. In this respect we stand alone in the midst of the nations of the earth; and in this respect we approach nearer to the object of our creation and the designs of our being than any other people that exist, at the present day, on the face of the whole earth. Notwithstanding our many weaknesses, imperfections and follies the Lord still continues His mercy, manifests His grace and imparts unto us His Holy Spirit, that our minds may be illuminated by the light of revelation. He is still leading us onward, very slowly, it is true, in the paths of life, in the way that leads to principalities, powers, thrones and dominions in the eternal worlds.

We stand, as I have already said, a distinct and peculiar people; for whatever our weaknesses and imperfections may be, and they are many, there are no people at the present day who enjoy the privileges we are in possession of. Who is there that is acquainted with God? To whom has He communicated His will? Where are the people who today rejoice in the blessings of revelation? Where shall we find, today, an organization of the holy priesthood? Where shall we find a people to whom God communicates His will? Nowhere. There are no people who profess this, or lay claims to associations of this nature, or to blessings similar to those we enjoy. You may search in vain among the nations of the earth for such a people. You may investigate the various religious, social and political systems that exist upon the face of the earth and it is nowhere to be found. We stand alone in this particular among the nations of the earth—the blessed of God, the adopted of the Lord, the chosen of the Great Jehovah, to whom He has deigned to manifest His will, and reveal His purposes; and by whom he designs to build up His Kingdom and to establish righteousness upon the earth.

We occupy then, as I stated before, a very important position, and it is well for us, Latter-day Saints, to consider well our pathway, to reflect on our actions, and to seek to pursue that course whereby we shall be able to magnify our callings, honor our God and our priesthood, stand approved before God, angels and men, and acquit ourselves in all respects as Saints of the Most High God: that we may ask and receive the blessings of Heaven upon us, upon our wives and children, upon our progenitors, and our posterity worlds without end.

Our religion is not a religion of a day, a month, a year or a lifetime; but it reaches back into eternity, operates in time and stretches forth again into eternity. It embraces every truth that ever did exist, that exists now, or ever will exist. It is adapted to the wants and capacious desires of immortal minds. It emanated from God and leads back again to Him, and it is very properly said that in Him we live and move and have our being. As immortal beings we are interested in the light of that truth which He has developed and in the blessings of the everlasting Gospel of which He is the author. And standing in this capacity it is well for us to consider the course we pursue.

We are living in an age pregnant with greater events than any other age the world has ever seen. There have been times when God has specially manifested Himself to individuals and nations, and when the revelations of His will have been made known, to a certain extent, to His people, and when His people have been gathered together; but there never was a time so important as the present. It is not merely the word of the Lord to one man or to a few men, or a peculiar dispensation to the Israelites or the Nephites; but it is the dispensation of the fullness of times when God will gather together all things in one, and when He will settle up the affairs of the nations of the earth, and the people of the earth, whether they be living or dead, whether they have slept thousands of years or have yet to come into existence. It is the time in which He has organized His church according to the pattern that exists in the Heavens, in which all the various organizations and priesthood that ever existed are concentrated. This is the age when the Saints are no longer to be trodden down, or wickedness and iniquity triumph, but when the righteous shall bear rule and the dominion of God be established. If there ever was a time when covenants were entered into associated with the people of God on the earth, it is now. If there ever was a time when the dead were to be redeemed, it is now. If there ever was a time when God’s mercy was to be extended to His people, it is now.

The very introduction of this Gospel, as first proclaimed, was, “I saw an angel flying through the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach to every nation, kindred, tongue and people; crying with a loud voice fear God and give glory to Him for the hour of His judgment is come.” The Gospel has been proclaimed among the nations of the earth. These Elders have been as messengers to the nations, clothed upon with the holy priesthood and the power of God, and have borne their testimony thereunto. And we have done more than this, we have been fulfilling the word of the Lord given anciently to His servants by the spirit of prophecy—gathering His “people together, those who have made a covenant with Him by sacrifice.” We have been gathering the people together for years. What for? Why the Lord says, I will take one of a city and two of a family, and bring them to Zion, and I will give them pastors after my own heart who shall feed them with knowledge and understanding. They have been fed heretofore with the theories and dogmas of men, but I will pour out my spirit upon my people and instruct them in the principles of righteousness, that I may have a people who will listen to me and will pursue the course I shall dictate.

We are here today, that we may be instructed in relation to all things pertaining to our associations with each other, our intercourse with the world, our political organization, in things pertaining to our welfare—our blessings, anointings, endowments, sealings and covenants, and the building up of the Kingdom of God upon the earth. We have not gathered that we may accumulate riches, or possess the honors of this world only; but that we may have the blessings of eternity, and enjoy the spirit of truth; that we may be so led as to secure to ourselves the favor and approbation of the Almighty. Hence we are taught some of the smallest things that men can think of, and also the greatest and most sublime principles that have ever entered into the heart of man. We are taught all principles that are interwoven with the interest, peace and happiness of society here, and that will prepare us for associations with God in the eternal worlds.

We have here our Schools of the Prophets, in which we are taught how to manage our temporal affairs and how to avoid the snares that exist in the world; whom to deal with and whom to let alone; how to raise stock, how to cultivate our farms, and how to conduct all the affairs incident to human existence. We are also taught about God and eternity; about our associations before we came here, our relationship to God at the present time, the destiny of this and other worlds and everything pertaining to this life and that which is to come.

The fact is the Gospel of Christ embraces all truth. It found us, when first revealed, ignorant, dark, benighted, besotted, depraved, corrupted and degenerated, ignorant of God and of almost every true principle. It is humiliating to reflect that, after all our boasted intelligence and knowledge of collect principles, government, morals and religion, we should be found so weak, ignorant, degraded and debased. It is humiliating in the highest degree to reflect, that, after all the boasted intelligence of men, we can scarcely find one true principle in existence. Men say, “we have been taught good morals.” To a certain extent good morals are taught, but even their teachers did not know them correctly; they exist in most instances in principle only, and not in practice. They think they have had some tolerably good religion, but their religion is little better than that of the ancient heathens who used to bow down to sticks and stones. What knowledge do men possess of God? None what ever. The most intelligent among the most enlightened nations of the earth, when you come to scan their ideas, what are they? A God without body, parts and passions. And this is the God they worship and adore, a being that exists everywhere and yet is nowhere, no personal presence or associations. I remember a Jew coming to me once to talk to me on this subject. He was a very learned man. Among other things he was almost afraid to mention the name of Deity; but he spoke of Him as being everywhere, but as having no personal presence. He could not conceive the idea of a being having an existence like a man, and having a body, parts and passions, and yet at the same time being felt everywhere. I said, “here is a candle, is there not?” “Yes.” “Is that light connected with that candle?” “Yes.” “Has that a stationary and positive existence there?” “Yes.” “What is this light all around here, it emanates from that candle, does it not?” “Yes.” Then why can’t God exist on the same principle as that candle, or as the sun and other things exist? But yet that is the acme of perfection, the sum total of the intelligence of the nations of the earth in relation to the being of a God. They have no ideas of Him. How can they have? They have been without revelation. He has not communicated His will nor revealed Himself to them; then how can they have any ideas of that of which they have had no opportunity of obtaining knowledge? It is impossible. Faith, we are told, comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. And how can they hear without a preacher, and how can he preach except he be sent? And as they had nobody sent among them by God to communicate His will, they were all ignorant together. We were part of them; we were dug from the same pit and hewn from the same rock, and had no more knowledge than they; and if we have any knowledge of God and correct principles now, it is because God has revealed them to us through the medium of this Gospel which He has made manifest in these last days through Joseph Smith. What knowledge have we, of ourselves, of our relationship to eternity? None. Where is the man on the face of the wide earth who has a claim to a wife in eternity? There is not one outside of this church. They do not profess it, they know nothing of such a principle. The extent of their covenants is that they are married until death parts them, and that ends the matter. Who is there who has any idea of associating with their children in the eternal world? They think about it. There is nature, or a kind of instinct that leads to reflections of this sort. But they have not the privilege of entering into covenants of this kind. There are a great many other principles connected with this Gospel of which, as the scriptures say, they are as ignorant as brute beasts that were made to be taken and destroyed.

Do they have any correct ideas at all in relation to matrimony? None in the least. Their actions, feelings and propensities are corrupt, depraved and brutalized. They are ignorant alike of religious, social and political matters, and they know not how to manage anything committed to their care. What do they know about governing the world? Who knows how to regulate the affairs of the nations? The man cannot be found; but anarchy, disorder and confusion prevail to a very great extent throughout the nations of the earth, and the seeds of dissolution are sown among the whole of them. The rulers of the earth know not how to unite and cement their people or to regulate their affairs, for it can only be done on the principle of revelation. What are the armies and navies of the nations for? Why is it that England, France, Portugal, Spain, the United States and the various nations of the earth must have their armies and navies? Why is it that they need millions of men and a vast amount of treasure for their protection? Because the nations regard their neighbors as bands of robbers who will commit acts of aggression upon them unless they have sufficient force to repel them. And yet they wipe their mouths and say, “we are very civilized, enlightened and intelligent.”

This is the condition of things among the nations of the earth. They watch one another with the greatest scrutiny. The various officers who manage their national affairs want to know how many thousand soldiers there are in the army of the nation contiguous, and whether it is safe for them to reduce their armies or not, just the same as we do here when we have hundreds of blacklegs in our midst, and have had to increase the number of the police to guard ourselves against their inroads and aggressions. They know it is the nature of men to aggress upon and take advantage of their fellows, and to rob, plunder and destroy, and that to preserve their nationality they must maintain a force sufficient to repel the inroads of their neighbors. This is their position, without saying anything about the debauchery, fraud, corruption and wickedness that abound to so great an extent amongst them. And this is civilization, this is Christianity; this is the height of the glory and intelligence of the 19th century.

Now, something is needed to regulate these things. We read of a time when Jesus shall rule and when the Saints of the Most High shall take the Kingdom and have the dominion, and when He shall rule from the rivers to the ends of the earth. People are afraid when they hear the Saints talk about rule and dominion that they too are going to turn national robbers, and take the sword to slay and destroy and lay waste whenever they have the opportunity. Such is not their feeling or desire; that is God’s province. He will make the wicked slay the wicked, and will turn and overturn until He accomplishes His purposes. He has introduced the wedge of truth. It begins to penetrate among the people, and many begin to quail in consequence of it. It will continue to spread, grow and increase until it will cover the whole earth. He desires in the first place to impart to us some of the leading or first principles of the Gospel of life, truth and intelligence that we may be the honored instruments in His hands in establishing truth, in rooting out iniquity and bringing to pass His purposes upon the earth.

This is what we are aiming at. This is why we meet together, why we are gathered together, why we preach. This is why we have our Schools of the Prophets, why we administer in the ordinances of the House of God. This is why we build our temples and endowment houses that we may be taught and instructed, sanctified and set apart; that we may be full of the Holy Ghost and the power of God, that we may stand forth as the elect of God, as the chosen of Jehovah to bring to pass the things spoken of by the prophets. This is the aim of all our associations and operations in life and in everything pertaining to the holy priesthood. If God placed formerly in His church apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers for the perfecting of the Saints, the work of the ministry and the edifying of the body of Christ, He has placed in His church in these last days, presidents, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, bishops, high councils and all the various organizations of His church for the perfecting of His Saints, the establishing of righteousness, the building up of His Kingdom, the triumph of peace, the overthrow and destruction of wickedness and the powers of darkness, and for the introduction of everything calculated to exalt and ennoble man in both time and eternity.

May God help us to be faithful in the name of Jesus. Amen.

The Testimony of the Latter-Day Saints—Their Duties—the Testimony of the Spirit of God

Discourse by Joseph F. Smith, delivered in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Nov. 25th, 1868.

Somewhat unexpectedly I am called to stand before you, but I do so with pleasure, as I have a testimony to bear to the work we are engaged in; and it gives me pleasure when an opportunity is afforded to give expression to my feelings in relation to that work. That we have the Gospel and have enjoyed its blessings, and that the ordinances of the Gospel have been administered to us as Latter-day Saints, there are thousands of witnesses in this Territory and in many places in the world. The testimony of the truth of this work is not confined to one or to a few; but there are thousands who can declare that they know it is true, because it has been revealed to them.

We as a people are increasing in numbers, and the Lord Almighty is increasing His blessings upon us, and the people are expanding in their understandings and in the knowledge of the truth. I feel grateful to my heavenly Father that I have been permitted to live in this generation, and have been permitted to become acquainted, somewhat, with the principles of the Gospel. I am thankful that I have had the privilege of having a testimony of its truth, and that I am permitted to stand here and elsewhere to bear my testimony to the truth that the Gospel has been restored to man.

I have traveled somewhat among the nations preaching the Gospel and have seen something of the condition of the world, and to a certain extent have become acquainted with the feelings of men, and with the religions of the world. I am aware that the Gospel, as revealed in the Bible, cannot be found in the world; the ordinances of that Gospel are not administered in any church except the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If we make ourselves acquainted with the tenets of the religious world we shall find that they have not the Gospel nor its ordinances; they have a form of godliness, and I have no doubt, are as sincere as we who have obeyed the Gospel as revealed from heaven in these days. But they are devoid of the knowledge which we possess, and it is from the fact that they deny the source by which they might receive this knowledge—namely, revelation from Jesus Christ. In their minds they have closed up the heavens; they declare that God has revealed all that is necessary, that the canon of scripture is full, and that no more will be revealed. Believing thus, they close up the avenue of light and intelligence from heaven; and this will continue so long as they continue in their present course of unbelief. They will not listen, as we have heard this afternoon, to the testimony of men who tell them that the Lord lives, and that He is able to reveal His will to man today as ever. They will not heed this testimony, consequently they close the door of light and revelation. They cannot advance, nor learn the ways of God nor walk in His paths.

We testify that the barriers which separated man from God have been overcome, that the Lord again communicates His will to man. “But,” says one, “How shall we become acquainted with these things? How can we know that you are not deceived?” To all such we say, repent of your sins in all sincerity, then go forth and be baptized, and have hands laid upon you for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and that spirit will bear record to you of the truth of our testimony, and you will become witnesses of it as we are, and will be able to stand forth boldly and testify to the world as we do. This was the path pointed out by Peter and the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, when the spirit of the Lord Almighty rested, upon them with great power to the convincing of the hearts of the people, who cried out, “Men and brethren what shall we do?” And Peter said unto them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” This was the counsel given them, and inasmuch as they obeyed it they were entitled to the testimony of the Holy Spirit which would bring peace and happiness and reveal to them their duties and enable them to understand their relationship to God.

If we look at the condition of the world today we must come to the conclusion that peace is not likely soon to be established on the earth. There is nothing among the nations that tends to peace. Even among the religious societies the tendency is not to peace and union. They do not bring men to a knowledge of God; they do not possess that “one God, one faith, one baptism, and one hope of their calling” that are spoken of in the scriptures. Every man has gone according to his own notions, independent of revelations, and hence confusion and division exist, their churches are broken up, and they are quarreling and contending with each other. And as it is in the religious, so it is in the political world, they are all divided, and the more energy they put forth to make proselytes, the greater are their contentions, and the further they go from the mark. This is the condition they have been in, and the course they have been pursuing for almost eighteen hundred years, until, today, they have become so divided that I think it would puzzle anyone to tell how many religious denominations there are in Christendom. There are thousands too, who, in consequence of the strife and contention among the religious sects, have become entirely skeptical respecting religion of every kind, and they have concluded that there is no God, at any rate that there is no God among “Christians”—that all religionists are fanatics and are deceived. The sectarian systems of religion are calculated to lead men of reflection and intelligence into skepticism, to cause them to deny all interference of God with men and their affairs, and to deny even His right to interfere.

The Lord Almighty is the Creator of the earth. He is the Father of all our spirits. He has the right to dictate what we shall do, and it is our duty to obey, and to walk according to His requirements. This is natural, and perfectly easy to be comprehended. The Gospel has been restored to the earth, and the priesthood again established, and both are enjoyed by this people; but those unacquainted with the workings of the Gospel and the priesthood look upon us with wonder, and are astonished at the union that exists in our midst. We move as a man, almost; we hearken to the voice of our leader; we are united in our faith and in our works, whether politically or religiously. The world cannot understand this, and they behold it with wonder.

Let me tell my brethren and friends that this is one of the effects of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have become united in our faith by one baptism; we know that Jesus Christ lives, we know that He is our Savior and Redeemer, we have a testimony of this independent of any written books and we testify of these things to the world. This unison in the midst of the people called Latter-day Saints, and their prosperity are hard for a great many to understand. I have, however, heard it said, that we have not made such rapid advancement in material prosperity as we boast of, and that we are not so wealthy as our neighbors. But when our circumstances, and the condition of the country when we came here are considered, I think this statement cannot be sustained. When we came here we were penniless, and we have not had the advantage of wealth or commerce to help to enrich us, but all we possess, is the result of our own physical labor and the blessing of God. We have labored under great disadvantages in freighting our goods and machinery over these vast plains, and besides this we have had a barren soil and drouth to contend with, and when all these things are considered I think we have been prospered more than any other people. And as it has been in the past so will it be in the future—we will increase, and extend our borders, for this is the work of God, we are His people, and He will continue to bless us as He has done hitherto.

Our business is to learn our duties one towards the other and towards our leaders. This is a lesson that we seem rather slow to learn. But it should be with us, as Br. Miller said this morning, when our leaders speak it is for us to obey; when they direct we should go; when they call we should follow. Not as beings who are enslaved or in thralldom; we should not obey blindly, as instruments or tools. No Latter-day Saint acts in this manner; no man or woman who has embraced the Gospel has ever acted in this way; but on the contrary they have felt to listen cheerfully to the counsels of the servants of God as far as they were able to comprehend them. The difficulty is not in getting the Latter-day Saints to do right, but in getting them to comprehend what is right. We have obeyed the counsels of our leaders because we have known they have been inspired by the Holy Spirit and because we positively have known that they have been given for our good. We do know and have always known that our leaders have been fathers to us, and that they have been inspired with wisdom superior to that which we possess. For this reason we take hold of everything they present to us for the good of Zion.

We are engaged in the great latter-day work, of preaching the Gospel to the nations, gathering the poor and building up Zion upon the earth. We are working for the triumph of righteousness, for the subjugation of sin and the errors of the age in which we live. It is a great and glorious work. We believe it is right to love God with all our hearts, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. We believe it is wrong to lie, steal, commit adultery, or any act forbidden by the Gospel of Christ. We believe in all the teachings of the Savior and in everything that is good and moral, and calculated to exalt mankind or to ameliorate their condition, to unite them in doing good. These are among the principles of the Gospel, and these principles have been taught to us from the commencement of our career as members of this Church. These principles are carried out among us to an extent not to be found among any other people. We do not believe in worshipping God or being religious on the Sabbath day only; but we believe it is as necessary to be religious on Monday, Tuesday and every day in the week as it is on the Sabbath day; we believe that it is as necessary to do to our neighbors as we would they should do unto us, during the week as it is on the Sabbath. In short we believe it is necessary to live our religion every day in the week, every hour in the day, and every moment. Believing and acting thus we become strengthened in our faith, the spirit of God increases within us, we advance in knowledge and we are better able to defend the cause we are engaged in.

To be a true representative of this cause a man must live faithful to the light that he has; he must be pure, virtuous and upright. If he comes short of this he is not a fair representative or this work. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the perfect law of liberty. It is calculated to lead man to the highest state of glory, and to exalt him in the presence of our Heavenly Father, “with whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning.” If there is any folly to be seen in the midst of this people, it is the folly and weakness of man, and is not because of any failing or lack in the plan of salvation. The Gospel is perfect in its organization. It is for us to learn the Gospel and to become acquainted with the principles of truth, to humble ourselves before God that we may bring ourselves into subjection to His laws, and be continually willing to listen to the counsels of those whom the Lord has appointed to guide us.

We know that God has spoken; we testify of this. We stand as witnesses to the world that this is true. We ask no odds of any man, community or nation on the face of the earth in relation to these things. We bear a fearless testimony that they are true. We also bear testimony that Brigham Young is a prophet of the living God, and that he has the revelations of Jesus Christ; that he has guided this people by the power of revelation from the time he became their leader until the present, and he has never failed in his duty or mission. He has been faithful before God, and faithful to this people. We bear this testimony to the world. We fear not, neither do we heed their scorn, contempt or sneers. We are used to it. As Br. George A. has said, we have seen it and heard it, and have become inured to it. We know in whom we have believed. We know He, in whom we trust, is God, for it has been revealed to us. We are not in the dark, neither have we obtained our knowledge from any man, synod or collection of men, but through the revelations of Jesus. If there be any who doubt us let them repent of their sins. Is there any harm in your forsaking your follies and evils, and in bowing in humility before God for His spirit, and, in obedience to the words of the Savior, being baptized for the remission of sins, and having hands laid upon you for the gift of the Holy Ghost that you may have a witness for yourselves of the truth of the words we speak to you? Do this humbly and honestly, and as sure as the Lord lives I promise to you that you will receive the testimony of this work for yourselves and will know it as all the Latter-day Saints know it. This is the promise; it is sure and steadfast. It is something tangible; it is in the power of every man to prove for himself whether we speak the truth or whether we lie. We do not come as deceivers or impostors before the world; we do not come with the intention to deceive, but we come with the plain simple truth and leave it to the world to test it and get a knowledge for themselves. It is the right of every soul that lives—the high, low, rich, poor, great and small to have this testimony for themselves inasmuch as they will obey the Gospel.

Jesus in ancient times sent His disciples forth to preach the Gospel to every creature, saying they that believed and were baptized should be saved, but they that believed not should be damned. And said he, “These signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils, they shall speak with new tongues, they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.” These are the promises made anciently; and there are thousands in this Territory and in this congregation who can bear testimony that they have realized the fulfillment of these promises in this day. The healing of the sick among us has become so common that it is apparently but little thought of. We have also seen the lame made to walk and the blind to receive their sight, the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak. These things we have seen done by the power of God and not by the cunning or wisdom of men; we know that these signs do follow the preaching of the Gospel. Yet these testimonies of its truth are but poor and weak when compared with the whisperings of the still small voice of the spirit of God. The latter is a testimony that none who enjoy it can deny; it cannot be overcome for it brings conviction to the heart that cannot be reasoned away or disproved, whether it can be accounted for on philosophical principles or not. This testimony comes from God and convinces all to whom it is given in spite of themselves, and is worth more to me than any sign or gift beside, because it gives peace and happiness, contentment and quiet to my soul. It assures me that God lives, and that if I am faithful I shall obtain the blessings of the celestial kingdom.

Is this unscriptural or contrary to reason or to any revealed truth? No, it is in consonance with and in corroboration of all revealed truth known to man. The Lord Almighty lives, and He operates by the power of His spirit over the hearts of the children of men and holds the nations of the earth in His hands. He created the earth upon which we dwell, and its treasures are His; and He will do with us according as we merit. As we are faithful or unfaithful so will the Almighty deal with us, for we are His children and we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.

We have a glorious destiny before us, we are engaged in a glorious work. It is worth all our attention, it is worth our lives and everything the Lord has put into our possession, and then ten thousand times more. Indeed there is no comparison, it is all in all, it is incomparable. It is all that is and all that ever will be. The Gospel is salvation, and without it there is nothing worth having. We came naked into the world and shall go hence the same. If we were to accumulate half the world, it would avail us nothing so far as prolonging life here, or securing eternal life hereafter. But the Gospel teaches men to be humble, faithful, honest and righteous before the Lord and with each other, and in proportion as its principles are carried out so will peace and righteousness extend and be established on the earth, and sin, contention, bloodshed and corruption of all kinds cease to exist, and the earth become purified and be made a fit abode for heavenly beings; and for the Lord our God to come and dwell upon, which He will do during the Millennium.

The principles of the Gospel which the Lord has revealed in these days will lead us to eternal life. This is what we are after; what we were created for, what the earth was created for. The reason that we are here is that we may overcome every folly and prepare ourselves for eternal life in the future. I do not think that a principle of salvation is available only as it can be applied in our lives. For instance, if there is a principle calculated in its nature to save me from the penalty of any crime; it will avail me nothing unless I act upon it this moment. If I do this and continue to do so I act upon the principle of salvation, and I am se cure from the penalty of that crime and will be forever so long as I abide by that principle or law. It is just so with the principles of the Gospel—they are a benefit or not, just as they are or are not applied in our lives.

Then let us be faithful and humble; let us live the religion of Christ, put away our follies and sins and the weaknesses of the flesh, and cleave to God and His truth with undivided hearts, and with full determination to fight the good fight of faith and continue steadfast to the end, which may God grant us power to do is my prayer in the name of Jesus: Amen.

Embarrassments in Arising to Speak—The Different Religions—None Perfect Except Revealed From God

Discourse by Elder Joseph F. Smith, delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, Feb. 17, 1867.

Very unexpectedly to me I have been asked to stand before you for a short time this afternoon; and although to me it is a great task to attempt to speak to so many, yet it is a pleasure to be able to express my feelings in relation to the truth. I do not know why it should be embarrassing or a task for me to rise before the Saints, for I feel, when I am in their midst, that I am in the midst of the people of God and my friends, whose faith is in common with, and whose desires to a great extent are the same as my own. I feel that I am in the midst of those who are praying to the same God, desiring the accomplishment of the same purposes and objects, and who are ever willing to lend their faith and prayers for the assistance of those who are called upon to officiate in the ministry, and who are not looking for a fault nor seeking to make one an offender for a word, but whose feelings are drawn out after the truth, and who desire to hear words that will be comforting, instructing and beneficial to us all. Why under these circumstances, one should feel embarrassed to rise up here is a little singular to me, and always has been. But it is so, unless he who speaks is filled with the Spirit of the Lord to such an extent that he cares for nothing but God and his approval.

I suppose that this embarrassment is, to some extent, owing to false notions—to pride, perhaps, and to feelings that are more or less common to us all, though not founded upon any correct principle. Why should we fear one another? Why should we fear to discharge the duties devolving upon us as the servants and people of God, under any circumstances or in any place? Why should we fear to stand up and speak the truth, although aware of our weakness and feeling our dependence on God? Have we not the promise that God will give us strength according to our day, and that he will help those who desire it to accomplish all the good that is in their hearts? God has made this promise, and it is our duty to go forward and engage in the work he requires of us, fearlessly and with a determination to carry it out regardless of man. God being our helper.

I have felt this way when traveling in the world, perhaps more so than it would be possible for me to feel here; for when one is thrown upon his own resources, or I may say upon God for assistance, he realizes that he has but few friends; he lives nearer to God, exercises more faith, is more diligent in prayer, and is, therefore, more alive to the duties devolving upon him than when associating in the midst of his friends. I have often reflected why I should tremble and fear to stand before the Saints, the Prophet, or the Apostles, and let them hear my voice, or to give expression to my thoughts. Again, I have thought was there anything in me, any secret feelings that were not right, or that I feared were not right, and for expressing which I would be censured; and even were this the case, how foundationless is such a fear, for were there any thoughts and reflections within me not of God, or not true, why should I be fearful to express them where they might be corrected? Would it not be better to express them and have them corrected, than to harbor, cling to, and reason upon them until I convinced myself that they were right, when to have them corrected would perhaps prove a very great trial to me, if not my overthrow.

When I look at and think of myself I do not know that I now entertain or have ever entertained a thought which I would be ashamed of my friends or the servants of God knowing. I desire so to live continually that my thoughts and feelings may be right before God, that my heart may be pure and open to the influences and dictations of the Holy Spirit, that I may be led wholly by the truth, and in the path that leads to eternal life. These should be the feelings of every Saint; if they are not mine, they should be, and when I look at and think of myself, I feel that this is the case. Yet we are all fallible and all liable to err, susceptible of prejudices and assailed by good and bad influences. In every condition of life we are more or less liable to be influenced and controlled in our thoughts and actions by the circumstances by which we are surrounded; the result is we are sometimes alive to the truth and faithful before the Lord, full of kindness, of friendship and love towards our brethren—the servants of God—and towards the work in which we are engaged; and sometimes we are lukewarm and indifferent about these things. I would love to see the time when we could so live in the enjoyment of the Holy Spirit, every moment of our lives, that no circumstance nor influence could be brought to bear against us that would change that even tenor which is inspired and called forth by the influences of the good Spirit.

Will this time ever be? While surrounded by so many imperfections, clothed in mortality, and subject to the weakness and failings of the flesh, will the time ever be when we as a people, with such glorious promises, privileges and rights, and with such inestimable blessings, shall enjoy the Spirit of God to the exclusion of every other influence that exists? Will we ever be able to enjoy the Spirit of the Lord, while in mortality, to such a degree that we can govern ourselves and not give way one moment to an evil thought or passion? I do not know; but this I do know, that we now have all that is necessary to enable us to attain to this perfection in the truth and the knowledge of God. If we have it not now, I do not believe we ever will. “Why,” inquires one, “what have we now?” We have the promise of Almighty God that he will give his Spirit to guide, strengthen, and assist every individual to accomplish all the good in his heart, if he will only come up to the standard he has established. Besides this promise which the Lord has made, we have the holy priesthood, a powerful auxiliary in our hands if used properly, to enable us to overcome the evils that surround us in the world. But when engaged in our daily avocations, or tried by poverty, sickness, enemies, false friends, or when we are spoken evil of, we too often forget that we hold the priesthood, that we are Elders in Israel—the servants of God—chosen to accomplish his great work in the last days. The result is we regard ourselves simply as men mixed up with and surrounded by sin, and we are apt to drink into the spirit around us, forget God, our callings, and the responsibilities resting upon us, and become like others, through giving way to evils which they practice.

I have seen individuals, of whom we might expect better things, give way to evils of this kind until I have heard them say, “What is religion?” “In what way is one religion better than another? Mormon, Jew, Catholic, Protestant, or any and all religious denominations in the world are all after the same thing, and there are good and bad in all, and there is about as much evil among the Latter-day Saints as among any other religious denomination.” “Why,” say they, “look at the Methodists, some of them are as pious, good and faithful and are as good citizens, neighbors and friends as any you will find among the Latter-day Saints or any other denomination; or go among the Catholics and you will find some as honest, virtuous, upright, and charitable as any you will find among the Latter-day Saints.” This being their opinion they decide that one is just as good as another. Now it is true that, so far as moral worth is concerned, we may find hundreds of thousands in the world who are honest, moral and upright to the best of their knowledge. I believe that among the inhabitants of the earth today, notwithstanding the vast amount of corruption and sin and the almost universal moral degradation, there are thousands of good, honest, well-meaning people.

So far as they have light and knowledge and understand the principles of truth, so far do thousands of the inhabitants of the earth today honor them in their lives. But that does not constitute them the people of God, neither does it argue that they have the holy priesthood, nor that the Gospel in its purity and fulness has been revealed to them; nothing of the kind. Then I say that they are wanting. Although I feel liberal in my heart towards mankind, and willing to accord this truth to the benefit of the honest in heart; yet I am compelled to acknowledge that they are lacking. And because there are good people out of this Church as well as in, that does not argue that we have not the priesthood, that God is not in communion with us, that we are not in fellowship with him, nor that we are not the people he has chosen, through whom to accomplish his great work in the latter days. It simply proves what the prophets and the servants of God have often said, that there are honest people in the world who are not in this Church, and for that reason the Gospel is preached to the nations, that the honest may be gathered into the fold and family of God, that they may take a part in the building up of his kingdom in the last days.

When you compare the systems, creeds, and governing principles among the sects and religious denominations in the world, where will you find one that is perfect, or that is calculated to lead men back to a unity of the faith and to God? Where will you find a system or a denomination of religious people in the world who have such principles embodied in their faith? You cannot find such a system, if you go beyond the pale of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Well,” inquires one, “are those principles embodied in our faith? Is that principle of government here that is calculated to unite not only this Church but the whole human family in one faith? Are we not to some extent divided one against another, and have we not selfish thoughts and feelings, and do we not have strife in our midst, and do we love one another with a brotherly love and act under the influence of the good Spirit all the time?”

If we did act under its influence and followed its dictation continually, we would be one, and bickering, strife, and selfishness would be laid aside, and we would look after and be as zealous for our neighbor’s as for our own good. But we still see in our midst controversies, differences of thought and opinion, one up and another down, and the same thing regarded in a different light by different persons, &c. Why is this? Because the Gospel net has gathered in of every kind, and because we are only children in the school; because we have learned only the first letters, as it were, in the great Gospel plan, and that but imperfectly. And one cause of the diversity in our thoughts and reflections is that some have had greater experience and comprehend the truth more perfectly than others. But does this prove that the Gospel we have embraced does not contain those principles necessary to unite all mankind in the truth. No, it does not. What are these great principles that are calculated to unite the whole human family, and to cause them to worship the same God, adhere it the same counsel and be governed by the same voice? They are the principle of revelation, the power of God revealed to his people, the belief in the hearts of the people that it is God’s right to rule and dictate, and that it is not the right of any man to say it shall be thus and so; nor are the people required to obey these principles blindly—without knowledge.

When we learn the truth and understand what is for our greatest good, we will feel in our hearts that it is God’s right to rule and reign, and to say to us what shall be, and that it is our privilege to obey, and there will not be a feeling in our hearts contrary to his dictation. We will then feel that whatever is, is right; and in this we cannot then rightly be called superstitious, blind, or deluded, for that would be impossible because we will then be governed by higher light and intelligence—by that intelligence which convinces us that God lives, reigns, made the earth and all things it contains, that he is the Father of all, that we are his children, and that all things are in his hands. We will then comprehend this, and, consequently, will feel that it is his right to say and ours to do. But how is it today? We do not practically comprehend these facts to their full extent, our own selfish interests more or less blind us, we measurably stand in our own light and choke the channel of blessings from heaven, and cannot fully receive from the Giver of all good that blessing, exaltation, and glory that he is ever willing to bestow upon all who will acknowledge and love him and worship him in spirit and in truth.

This is a great and important work—one that we do not fully comprehend. When the Spirit of the Lord rests powerfully upon us, we realize it to some extent; but we do not always have that Spirit in such copious measure, and when we are left to ourselves we are weak, frail, and liable to err. This shows to us that we should be more faithful than we have ever been, and that day and night, wherever we are and under whatever circumstances we may be placed, in order to enjoy the Spirit of the Gospel we must live to God by observing truth, honoring his law, and ever manifest a vigorous determination to accomplish the work he has assigned us.

I thank the Lord that I have the privilege of being associated with this people; and, whatever men may say or do, I desire that the testimony of the truth may continue with me, that I may ever realize for myself that the Gospel has again been revealed to man on the earth.

It seems to me that today, or I may say this present moment is a moment of trial for this people. I have often heard the President say, in relation to our having been driven from our homes, hated and mistreated by our enemies and the enemies of truth, that we were not then particularly tried. I believe it. I believe that then we were more happy and better alive to the work we are engaged in than many are today. I believe, of the two, take the period when the Saints were driven from the State of Missouri, or subsequently, when we were driven from the State of Illinois, and compare it with the present day, that today is the day of trial for this people. When you go along the street, and meet a man or a woman, do you know whether he or she is a Latter-day Saint or not? There was a time when we could walk up and down the streets and tell by the very countenances of men whether they were Latter-day Saints, or not; but can you do it now? You cannot, unless you have greater discernment and more of the Spirit and power of God than I have. Why? Because many are trying as hard as they can to transform themselves into the very shape, character, and spirit of the world. Elders in Israel, young men, mothers and daughters in Israel are conforming to the world’s fashions until their very countenances indicate its spirit and character. This course is to the shame and disgrace of those who are so unwise. It is not so much in the settlements, but go where you will in this city and you can see some of these foolish ones. And when the line is drawn and the choice made, there are many, who we think today are in fellowship with the Lord, that will be left without the pale. Yet they are now going smoothly along, and we meet, shake hands and call each other brother. We meet here in this Tabernacle and partake of the Holy Sacrament together as brethren in the bonds of the covenant, and go smoothly along together; but it is not all gold that glitters. It is not all as it appears; the surface is deceptive, and while many think that it is no harm to pattern after the foolish, wicked, nonsensical notions and fashions of the world and the character of worldlings, taking them into our homes and making them our companions, and think that we are just as good Saints with as without them, by and by we will wake up to the astounding fact that we have been deceived and misled.

Why did God call us from the world and denounce it? Why did he say that none were good, and that the religious worship of the world was not acceptable to him, but was a mockery and an abomination in his sight? Why tell this to the Prophet and say to him, “I will make you an instrument in my hands to gather out my people from the world, that I may have a righteous and pure people who will worship me in spirit and in truth, and who will not draw near to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me?” It was because the world was corrupt and had gone after the fashions and follies of men; because the people were led by the doctrines of men, put their faith in man and made flesh their arm; and had forsaken God. They boasted of themselves, in their own strength, glory, might and power, and said that they cared not for God, as was manifested on an occasion during the late rebellion, in a convention that was called, I think at Chicago. A proposition was made that they conquer the South; someone proposed, “by the help of God;” but they unanimously voted that they would do it without the help of God, or not at all. They would have the glory of it themselves, they wanted none of the help of God to do it. God was out of the question with them, for they gloried in their own strength.

And the world, today, glory in their own wealth, power and knowledge, and for this they are an abomination in the sight of God; and he has raised up a Prophet and has put forth his hand for the last time to gather his people and to do his great and marvelous work. He is sending forth his missionaries to preach the Gospel to the nations of the earth, to gather out the honest and those who will serve him with full purpose of heart, that they may be gathered from the midst of the world’s wickedness and corruption, to a place where they can better serve the Lord and accomplish his purposes. Then, when we are gathered, when the Lord has delivered us from the hands of our enemies, brought us out of bondage with his outstretched arm and planted us in the midst of these mountains in peace and surrounded us with blessings, and has enriched the soil so that it yields its strength for our good, and has made of us a peculiar people—when the Lord has done this for us—today some will cringe and bow to the degrading fashions of the world, and court the society and habits of the wicked. Such conduct is a crying shame on those who, professing to be Latter-day Saints, act so unwisely. We profess to have forsaken the world and to live accordingly to the requirements of the Gospel, and it behooves us to walk worthily of so excellent a profession.

We cannot trifle with the things of God. Many talents have been committed to us; if we put them in a napkin and hide them in the earth, we shall be beaten with many stripes; but if we use them wisely, we shall receive great blessings and rewards. If we wish to see the work of God carried victoriously forward, if we wish to accomplish the purposes of the Almighty, and have a desire to carry out his will on the earth, that it may be done here as it is in heaven, we must live as we profess, be guided by the whisperings of his Spirit and the teachings and counsels of his servants. Who is there among us that does not feel an interest in the work of God. Those who do not will be cut short, they will loose their inheritance, and the rights and privileges guaranteed to man through his faithfulness.

It grieves me when I hear young men, who have been born and reared in this Church, speaking indifferently of the truth, and as apt to take up an argument against as in its favor. I thank the Lord that I have never been guilty of that to my knowledge; but I do not claim any particular credit on this account, for I was taught from my childhood that the great work in which we are engaged is true, and designed for the salvation of mankind. Until I was fifteen years old I did not know this, but I believed it, my heart was in it, and my feelings were enlisted, and any opposite influence, obstacle or power with which I came in contact, even in my childhood, roused me in a moment, and I felt that I was for the truth and the people of God.

When I was sent on my first mission, though only fifteen years of age, I began to learn and sense things for myself, I began to receive and bear testimony of the truth. In my weakness I endeavored to preach the Gospel, to tell people the truth, and to explain to them the way of life. This gave to me a knowledge and fixed my faith and feelings, and made them to me seemingly unchangeable. But we are changeable, weak and frail, we know not today what we may do or what may occur tomorrow. This is a frail, poor, low condition for the offspring of God to be in, yet it is our condition exactly. Notwithstanding this, men today will boast of their greatness, power, wealth, descent, associations, influence and honors, when the poor, insignificant, miserable things may be dead and food for worms tomorrow. That great thing that boasted of his influence, is proud and stands up in majesty today, may be food for worms tomorrow. O, the foolishness of man!

It is for the people called Latter-day Saints to make God their boast, to ascribe to him the honor and power, and to say within themselves, O Father, we are thine. That is the way all mortality should feel. They should feel that the earth and its fulness are God’s, that the gold and silver, the cattle on a thousand hills, the rich fields, the streams of water, the rivers, lakes, ocean, and all they contain are his. He made them; they are not ours, for he has not given them to us; we have not earned them; but when we have earned them, when we have proved faithful over a few things committed to us here, when we have proved wise stewards over the little things, when we have fought the good fight of faith, endured to the end and worked out our salvation, then the earth and its fulness will be given to the Saints of the Most High, and they shall possess it forever and ever. But it is not ours yet, neither is it man’s, neither will it be, until he has earned an inheritance upon it by his faithfulness, diligence, good precepts and examples, and by his endurance to the end in the truth, and not till then. And when we think that by simply bearing the name of Saint, or associating with good men and women, we shall secure an inheritance on this goodly earth, that will yet be purified and made like a sea of glass for a dwelling place for the just, we shall find that we have deceived ourselves, and will see the crown and inheritance designed for us taken away and given to this one or that one who lived on the earth when we did, but who, instead of having only the name of Saints, were Saints in very deed.

I was very much pleased with Brother Hyde’s discourse on this subject a few months ago; it was a most excellent description of things as they are and as they will be, and it was true. If we do not now know that it was so, we will have to learn; and if we are not willing to receive instruction and counsel, we will have to learn through experience and stern necessity, and be made to realize our condition and dependence on God.

In the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, when the latter, looking beyond the yawning gulf that separated him from Paradise, saw Lazarus enjoying bliss in Abraham’s bosom, and wanted an angel sent to warn his friends on earth, the Lord Jesus said, if they will not believe the Prophets and Apostles, neither would they believe though one should be raised from the dead. So in these days, if the Prophets, Apostles and Elders called of God and commissioned to preach the Gospel are not believed by the people, neither would they believe an angel, or one raised from the dead. I once felt that this was a pretty hard saying, but I am now convinced that it is true. I always, perhaps, conceded that it was true, yet at times I felt, would it not be possible for an angel to convince the people when we could not.

Since then I have seen and conversed with men, have known the feelings of their hearts and seen that they were just as full of the darkness of hell as they could be. So full and firmly rooted were they in darkness and ignorance and in a determination not to receive the truth that, though angels and ministering spirits had taught them, they would still have preferred to remain in ignorance and unbelief. I was forcibly reminded of this a short time ago, when in conversation with Alexander H. Smith. Do you suppose an angel would convince him? He said that no human testimony could convince him. Affliction and the chastisement of God might affect his body, but could not touch his heart; it is like adamant, and there are thousands and thousands in the same condition—shutting out the very possibility of truth’s reaching their understandings. They will not receive the testimony of men, yet they will quote and reiterate the testimonies of men whom we know to be as wicked and corrupt as the devil; but when Prophets and Apostles ordained under the hands of the Prophet Joseph, and who are carrying out the very plans and purposes made manifest through him, bear testimony of these things, their testimony is rejected, for they will not receive the testimony of men. It is simply this—we will not have the truth, we cannot bear it, and you cannot force it upon us—we do not want it.

This is a free country; the kingdom of God is a kingdom of freedom; the Gospel of the Son of God is the Gospel of liberty. Men can worship God, if they wish to, but, if not, they may go and worship stones, the sun, moon, stars, or anything else that they wish. We will protect and respect every man in his rights, so far as they do not interfere with the rights of others, for every man must answer for his own deeds.

I sometimes hear the Latter-day Saints instructed about the way they should treat strangers; they are told to extend to all men due respect and kindness. You would not be a Latter-day Saint if you did not; you would not manifest the Spirit of the Gospel did you not show them due kindness, and respect; but remember, at the same time, that you do not compromise yourselves. In trying to be kind and courteous to others, we sometimes place ourselves in their power, and as sure as we do, bad men will take advantage of it. How was the counsel given by the Savior to the Apostles, “Be ye therefore as wise as serpents, and as harmless as doves.” But this generation is wiser than the children of light—the Saints. Why? In one particular, because, when we embrace the Gospel we feel well, so thankful to the Lord, so full of gratitude, that we are thrown off our guard, suspect no evil, nor look for sin in any man, and so invite them into our circles, and, by and by they get the upper hand of us; we begin to loose faith and to think that the devil has not such an awkward cloven foot, that his horns and tail are not quite so long, nor he quite so deformed, black, and hideous as we thought. We have been deceived; we thought that the devil had long horns and tail, a cloven foot, and was black, hideous, and grinning; but when we find him out, he is a gentleman in black broad cloth, with a smooth tongue, pleasant countenance, high forehead, and so on; quite a good-looking fellow. That is the kind of a person we find the devil to be, and we will find him in more persons than one, and that too right in this city.

I feel well and thankful to have the privilege of being a Saint; and I hope, brethren and sisters, that anything good that is said to us we will feel like carrying out in our lives. It is our duty, and we should never fail to do so.

May God bless us and all Israel, and keep us in the paths of truth.

Notwithstanding what I have said here today about the vanity and foolishness amongst us, especially in Great Salt Lake City, yet I believe, as has been frequently said, that taking this people as a whole they are the best on the earth; and I believe that more good people can be found here that can be found in the same number anywhere else on the earth, and that if one-third, one-half, or two-thirds of this people should fall away and go astray, the number then remaining would be sufficient to carry off the work victoriously, for it is God’s work, and he has decreed that it shall be fulfilled according to the predictions of the Prophets. May God grant it, and help us all to be faithful, that we may be numbered among those who obtain a crown and inheritance, is my prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.