Scope of the Gospel—Different Degrees of Glory—Free Agency—“Liberty” With a Vengeance—Trials Necessary—Former and Latter Trials—The Spirit of Gathering Illustrated—Judgments Predicted—Zion Already Attracting Attention—Encouragement for the Citizens of Deseret—Blessings Invoked

Discourse by President John Taylor, delivered in the Bowery, Deseret, Monday, June 18, 1883.

I am pleased, as I said last night, to meet with you. I am pleased to talk about the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, and also about other matters that some think are not so directly associated with the kingdom of God, and yet they are; for all things temporal and all things spiritual, all things that are associated with our bodies and with our spirits, everything that is calculated to promote our happiness and well-being on the earth and to procure for us an exaltation in the kingdom of heaven, are things that are associated with the Gospel and that belong to us as Latter-day Saints. The God who is the Father of our spirits is He that organized our bodies. The God that made the heavens is He that made the earth, and we are dependent upon Him for every blessing that we enjoy. We had very little to do with our coming here, and now that we find ourselves here, we are incapable of sustaining ourselves. We must be sustained of God. There is not one among you here today could leave this place unless God gave you power. We hardly realize these things. In God we live; in Him we move and from Him we have our being. And He has gathered us together, for the purpose of instructing us and preparing us to do a work that He designs to accomplish in the interests of the living and of the dead, in the interests of the whole human family, that exist, or that ever have existed upon the face of the earth. He has gathered us here under the influence and auspices of the Gospel, that we might, under His tuition and guidance, and under the influence of the Holy Priesthood that exists in the heavens and on the earth, bring to pass all things that have been spoken by the holy Prophets since the world was. God is interested in the whole of the human family. He cannot take them all into the celestial kingdom, for they are not all prepared to go there, and you cannot prepare them and He cannot, because they have to be governed by certain laws and certain principles and certain feelings, and if they are not governed by these and will not be governed by a celestial law, they are not prepared for a celestial glory. There are some that may be governed by a terrestrial law, and may be prepared for a terrestrial glory, but not for a celestial glory. Still, they are God’s children, and He is doing the best by them He can. Many of you here that have sons and daughters, do the best by them you can. Some of them you cannot do well by, because they will not do right. Now, the Lord had more sons than one. Lucifer rebelled. Adam had more sons than one, and Lucifer came down and operated upon one of them, and Adam could not help himself. He had another son who feared God, and was willing to be guided by the laws of God. Because of this, Cain killed his brother, the same as a great many would like to kill us under the same influence and by the same spirit. Now, as I have said, Adam could not help the action of his son. Cain yielded obedience to the spirit of the wicked one, and he became a man that fostered every kind of evil. He loved Satan more than he loved God. He loved the works of darkness more than he loved the light, and that spirit has existed in the world through all the ages that are past. It existed before the flood and it came down through the flood. It existed among the ancient inhabitants of this continent. It existed among the sons of Lehi. And if you read the Book of Mormon you will find the same principles—one party in favor of right, the other in favor of wrong; the one in favor of obedience to the laws of God, and the other in opposition to the laws of God. The Scriptures say that it must needs be that there be an opposition in all things; and Jesus said it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to them by whom they come. This principle of opposition was manifested in the heavens. Satan was a personage there who had peculiar ideas, very singular ideas. He wanted to do the same as many men want to do today—to take away the free agency of man. Some men would like to take away our free agency and tell us how we must worship and what we must worship. Because Satan wanted to deprive man of his free agency, he was cast out of heaven and he came to the earth to teach that principle, and it has pre vailed more or less in every age and under every government. We sometimes hear it said that we are living under the most liberal government there is on the earth. I sometimes say, God save the mark! God save the mark for that liberality that will not allow men to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences, that will enact laws to prevent men marrying wives, while men having many mistresses are sustained. The men who comply with the laws of God are prohibited from voting, while the licentious, the adulterer, the whoremonger, the brothel keeper, the pimp, the procuress and the prostitute have this privilege, and are protected by law and sustained by lawgivers; while they profess to be shocked at our supposed immorality they foster and encourage by their enactments every kind of licentiousness and crime. Such principles as these are from beneath and not from God, no matter under what government they exist. We do not want to proscribe any man in his religious faith. It is none of our business. God did not interfere with Cain. He put a mark upon him. He deprived him of blessings and exaltations. He could not have him associate with the Gods, for He had cast Satan out of heaven who was Cain’s instructor: Cain was the son of Adam. He listened to the teachings of Satan, and he became what is called the great “Master Mahan,” full of wickedness and full of evil. He killed his brother for two reasons: one was that he did not like his religion, and another was that he wanted his property, the same reasons that influence people against us; and then there is not much love lost between us, for we do not admire their religion. But we do not want their property, their houses and their lands, nor anything that they have, only as we obtain such blessings properly, consistently, honorably and justly, and that is the kind of feeling we ought to have.

But why is it that these things exist? There is a place that some of us hope to inherit, which is called the Celestial Kingdom of God. There is a certain class of people who will obtain a seat in that kingdom, and there are millions and millions who will not. Jesus in speaking on this subject said: “Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there are that find it.” Now, then, in reference to celestial glory, it is necessary that men should be tried here upon the earth, for men upon other earths have been tried as we are being tried. And it was necessary, too, strange as it may appear, that Jesus should be tried. Yes, for it is written, “It became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through suffering.” What! make Him perfect through suffering? Yes. What! had He to be tempted of the devil? Yes. Was He not tempted of the devil in the wilderness? Yes. Did not the devil come and offer Him all kinds of inducements as he does to us? Yes. And did Jesus maintain his integrity? He did. There is a scene that John the Revelator saw upon a certain occasion. He was caught away in the Spirit and he saw an innumerable throng. They were clad in white raiment, and they sang a new song. And he was led to inquire: “What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?” And he was answered: “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night.” Well, how did the world treat such people? It generally treated them very scornfully. Paul tells us, that by faith Moses endured, as seeing him who is invisible; by faith women received their dead raised to life again; by faith men wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. Now, why was it that men that were aiming at an exaltation among the Gods should be so persecuted and cast out by men? For instance I might mention a few of them. I might refer to Job and the kind of trials he passed through; I might talk about Abraham and the trials he was called upon to pass through; I might mention Moses and the trials he had to endure; I might bring to your minds many other prominent men of God, but I will come to Elijah, who was a man that feared God and wrought righteousness. The people had departed from the Lord and trampled under foot His precepts, etc. So much so that Elijah was obliged to flee and hide himself in a cave away from the face of man. While in the cave the word of the Lord, “a still, small voice“—came to him saying, “What doest thou here Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword: and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” Well, it was a critical position to be in, but it was just as critical for many others who lived in ancient times. And this spirit of murder and persecution still exists. It was exhibited in the mobbing and drivings of our people from Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and other places, in the martyrdom of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum in Carthage jail, more recently in the assassination of Elder Joseph Standing, and again only a few days ago in an attempt to murder Brother John T. Alexander, one of our Elders in Georgia, the particulars of which you have doubtless read in the newspapers. In the face of such diabolical outrages as these, there is not much room to boast about our liberties. But I merely refer to these things to show that the spirit that actuated men in former times is at work today; irrespective of times, forms of government, places or circumstances.

Nevertheless, as I have said, it is necessary that we pass through certain ordeals, and that we be tried. But why is it that we should be tried? There is just the same necessity for it now that there was in former times. I heard the Prophet Joseph say, in speaking to the Twelve on one occasion: “You will have all kinds of trials to pass through. And it is quite as necessary for you to be tried as it was for Abraham and other men of God, and (said he) God will feel after you, and He will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings, and if you cannot stand it you will not be fit for an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom of God.” Some people have wondered why so many of the Twelve fell away. God tries people according to the position they occupy. Joseph Smith never had many months of peace after he received the truth, and finally he was murdered in Carthage jail. I was with him on that occasion, and therefore know a little about it. And as I told this young man whose life had been attempted in Georgia; said I, “Brother Alexander, they shot at you and didn’t hit you, but when they shot at me they hit me; so that you got off a little easier than I did.” But all these personal things amount to but very little. It is the crowns, principalities, the powers, the thrones, the dominions, and the associations with the Gods that we are after, and we are here to prepare ourselves for these things. We are after eternal exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom of God. And we want to feel that this is the main object of existence, that this is why we were born, and that God has revealed Himself from the heavens, restored the Holy Priesthood and gathered us together in order that we might form a nucleus through whom He could communicate His will; through whom He could accomplish His work upon the earth and introduce the Gospel of the Son of God to the nations of the earth and gather together His elect from the four quarters of the globe; through whom He could introduce upon the earth the principles that exist in the heavens, that we might be taught to do the will of God on the earth as it is done in the heavens, that we might be a pure people, a virtuous people, a holy people, free from the vices and corruptions of the world, and that we might learn the laws of light, truth and intelligence from the fountain of all intelligence, for we are told the glory of God is intelligence. This is why we have been gathered together. It is rather a singular thing to see a host of people gathering here from all the nations of the earth. You cannot prevent people from gathering here. They are brought under the influence of the Gospel and they cannot help themselves. They have to come.

Now, I will here relate a circumstance associated with the gathering, that took place in Liverpool, I suppose, about 43 years ago. We had just been driven out of the State of Missouri, and were in the midst of very hard times. You sometimes think you have hard times now. Why, you do not know anything about it. They tell us they persecute us for polygamy now. What did they persecute us for when we had no polygamy? Yet we were driven from our homes, and many of our people—some of them old revolutionary soldiers—were shot down like dogs in many instances. We were driven from pillar to post, from one place to another, robbed, pillaged and despoiled of everything we had. There are many of the brethren and sisters here, I presume, who are acquainted with these things.

Well, the Twelve were told to go to the Far West, some 200 miles distant from Quincy, Illinois, where many of the Saints were then staying. We did not have railroads then whereby we could travel as we do now. We had to go with our teams, and we had to go among a people that would kill everyone of us as quick as they would rattlesnakes. We were told to go and lay the foundation stone of the Temple, and thus fulfill the revelation that had been given on the subject. Arrived at the spot we prayed and sang hymns. We had with us a man to lay the foundation stone, the man that was appointed, by revelation for that work—Alphe us Cutler, Bishop A. A. Kimball’s grandfather. The stone was duly laid according to the order which was designed, after which—right upon the foundation stone—Wilford Woodruff and George A. Smith were ordained into the Quorum of the Twelve, and Norman Shearer and Darwin Chase into the Seventies. Chase apostatized and was afterwards with the soldiers under Col. Connor’s command who had a fight with the Indians on Bear River a number of years ago, where he was mortally wounded. Many people declared that this revelation would never be fulfilled. But it was fulfilled; and we took our departure for Europe.

Now, it was not a nice thing, after being pillaged, robbed and driven from our homes to leave our families and proceed on a mission to Europe. But the Twelve had to do it, and they did do it. There were two that did not go—John E. Page and William Smith, and both of them apostatized. The wrench that the Prophet Joseph spake about was too much for them. But the rest went. They felt it was an honor to go on that mission even under such unpropitious circumstances.

The Prophet Joseph told us just before we left that we must not preach the gathering to the people, because at that time there was no place to gather to. “Preach the first principles of the Gospel,” said he, “but do not say any thing about the gathering.” We did as he directed us. The principle of gathering was not preached; but a great many came into the Church—a great many thousands were baptized. Myself and an uncle of Brother Joseph F. Smith—that is, his mother’s brother—ministered in Liverpool; we raised up a Church there; I remember on one occasion a certain sister came to me and said: “Elder Taylor, I have had a singular dream, and I do not know what it means.” We had not preached, as I have said, the principle of gathering, because Joseph told us not to preach it. “What is the nature of the dream?” I enquired. “I thought,” said she, “there were a number of Saints standing on the pier head, (the place where the vessels start from), and they seemed as if they were bound for somewhere. They said they were going to Zion, and they sang the songs of Zion; and you were with them. Now, can you interpret the dream for me? “I guess I could,” said I, “but let it alone for the present.” We could not prevent people from being impressed in this way, we could not help the Lord giving them dreams, neither could Joseph Smith. It was the privilege of the Saints to have revelation for themselves. John the Baptist had appeared to Joseph Smith and conferred upon him the Aaronic Priesthood, and he conferred it upon others. Peter, James and John came and conferred upon him the Melchizedek Priesthood. Then Moses, among others, appeared to him, and bestowed upon him the keys of the gathering, whereby Israel should be gathered from the four quarters of the earth, including also the ten tribes. Joseph had conferred this upon the Apostles, and the Apostles had conferred it upon others, and when they laid their hands upon the people and told them to receive the Holy Ghost they received it. Joseph Smith might tell us it was not wisdom to preach the principle of gathering; but we could not help the Lord revealing that principle through the medium of the Holy Ghost, which was to teach us all things. The Holy Ghost had operated upon this woman—and upon many others at the same time—in this way. Afterwards we received a letter from Brother Joseph stating that we might teach the principle and instruct the people to gather to Nauvoo. Now I could interpret the dream. I could have done so before had I not been prohibited. What, then, is it that makes people desire to come here? Here are people from Germany, Scandinavia, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and from different parts of the United States—what in the name of common sense made you desire to gather here? Why, men that held the Priesthood of the Son of God had, among other things, been instructed to teach this principle, that it was a gathering dispensation, the keys of which had been conferred upon Joseph Smith, he in turn had conferred the power upon others, and the Elders went forth and preached this Gospel with the power associated therewith. That is the great secret why people gather here. We have come here in order that we may fulfill the will of God, and the word of God, and the law of God. We have come out of Babylon. We have come out of confusion. There is confusion in the world everywhere; confusion amongst religionists, politicians, infidels; and there is no one anywhere, outside of this Church to say, “thus saith the Lord.” Men do not know how to approach God, and none are willing to listen to His teachings but the Latter-day Saints, and it is sometimes hard work for them to do it. Men teach their own theories, ideas and opinions, and hence confusion and disorder prevail in the world. Hence, in order that God may have a people who will carry out His designs and accomplish His purposes, He has introduced the Gospel, and under its influence people have been gathered together to this land, as we see them here today, and as they are to be seen throughout the length and breadth of this Territory. The world, as I have said, is full of confusion, and there will be worse confusion by and by. We had a great war upon this continent some years ago; but there will yet be wars pass through these United States, and through other nations, until it will be mournful to hear the report of the bloodshed, the sorrow and trouble that will be caused thereby, as also by pestilence, famine and earthquake, and the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds, and storms and tempests, etc., etc. We have been gathered together from among the nations of the earth in order that God might have a people who would obey His law; who had been baptized into one baptism; who had all been partakers of the same spirit, and who had, as I said before, learned to approach the Lord in the proper way; for there is a medium opened out whereby men can approach God and learn His mind and will.

Did God place in the Church in former times Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers and Evangelists for the perfecting of the Saints, for the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ? He has in these last days done the same thing, only more perfectly, because the dispensation with which we are associated is “the dispensation of the fullness of times.” It is a dispensation that embraces all other times.

What, then, have we to do? To preach the Gospel to the nations of the earth. What else? To gather the people together, all those who have made a covenant with God by sacrifice. They were to come from the east and from the west, and from the north and from the south. They were to be gathered one of a city and two of a family, and brought to Zion that they might be taught and instructed in the principles of eternal life. And I want to say that God having gathered us together, and we having entered into a covenant with Him, He expects us to obey His law, and be governed by the principles He has revealed. We are here to build up the Church of God, the Zion of God, and the kingdom of God, and to be on hand to do whatever God requires—first to purge ourselves from all iniquity, from covetousness and evil of every kind: to forsake sin of every sort, cultivate the Spirit of God, and help to build up His kingdom; to beautify Zion and have pleasant habitations, and pleasant gardens and orchards, until Zion shall be the most beautiful place there is on the earth. Already Zion is attracting the attention of the people of the world. I have all kinds of people calling on me—Lords, Admirals, Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, Members of the Parliament of England, of the Reichstag of Germany, and the Chamber of Deputies of France—all classes come and they say, “You have a most beautiful place here!” Why, yes. And by and by the kings of the earth will come to gaze upon the glory of Zion, and we are here to build it up under the instruction of God our Heavenly Father. Zion shall yet become the praise and the glory of the whole earth, and, as I have said, kings and princes shall come to gaze upon her glory, and we shall be able to teach their senators wisdom, and their philosophers intelli gence; for we shall be all taught of God. God has called upon us to do this work, and He expects us to do it. We must preach the Gospel, and we will preach it; and if we have to meet with opposition and with death staring us in the face, all right. We are for God and His kingdom, and for the principles of truth and righteousness. We need not trouble ourselves about the outside, for God will take care of them and of us. He will say to the nations of the earth—to this nation and to other nations—as was said to the waves of the mighty ocean: “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.”

I will tell you a feeling I had some years ago. I was over at Fillmore. From there you can see right on to this desert. And I thought—as I looked across this immense valley—if there was only water there, what a magnificent country that would make! I remember I thought thousands and tens of thousands could inhabit that land if it only had water. I did not then know the position of things. I have now had an opportunity of visiting Deseret and looking at the river, and am pleased to find you have such an abundant supply of water. An immense population could be sustained with the amount you have. I suppose the river shows its best now; the water is high; but if that water could be properly manipulated, it does seem to me—provided you can conquer the mineral in the soil—that a vast amount of land can be put under cultivation and an immense population sustained. I am told that you are troubled with saleratus in the land, but I am also informed that you are learning to conquer that by flooding the land instead of making furrows for irri gation. Already, in some places, where they have been troubled with saleratus they have the richest and most productive soils. Those lands which were not too much saturated with the mineral are in many instances the most fertile that we have in the Territory. You certainly have a fair opportunity for development; having a large area of land, which I am told is productive, and with the proper application of the water, and a concentration of effort I can see no reason why this cannot be made a very flourishing, beautiful and populous place.

President Taylor next proceeded to counsel the Saints in regard to sundry local affairs. He appreciated the difficulties they had had to encounter in that region owing to the nature of the soil and the giving way of the dam on one or two occasions. He complimented them, however, on what they had been able to accomplish in spite of all difficulties, and counseled them to persevere, promising that their efforts to subdue and conquer the land would be blessed of the Lord. He also counseled them to come closer together. At present, it appeared to him, they were scattered over too much ground. It would be better to get together and begin building a nice little town on each side of the river (if that suited them), than to be scattered as they are now. In this way the place could be made attractive. Good buildings of all kinds could be erected. Trees could be planted in the streets. Gardens and orchards could also be planted in the various lots. And in this manner Deseret might be made a very desirable place.

He concluded as follows:

God bless you. God bless your lands, that they may be fruitful and that the labors of your hands may be blessed; and God bless the waters, that they may be nourishing and strengthening to your lands, and be pleasant to use for drinking and for culinary purposes; and God bless your gardens and your orchards—that is, when you get them—that fruitfulness may rest upon them; and God bless the President of your Stake and his counselors, and Brother Lyman and his brethren of the Twelve who labor among you from time to time; and God bless your Bishop here, and all the Bishops of this Stake and their counselors, that the Spirit of God may rest upon them, the spirit of truth and intelligence, to enable them to carry out all things they desire in righteousness, that this land may be blessed of the Lord; and God bless your wives and your children and all the people, that salvation may flow unto them, and that they may walk in the paths of life; I ask my heavenly Father to seal upon you these blessings, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Improvement Among the People—Interest Manifested by the World in the “Mormons”—Evidences of Divinity in the Work—Same Effects Follow the Gospel in Different Ages—Authority Restored—Proofs of Joseph Smith’s Divine Mission—Persecutions Endured By the Saints—Reasons for the Same

Discourse by President Geo. Q. Cannon, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, May 27th, 1883.

It is some weeks since I have had the opportunity of meeting with the Saints in this Tabernacle. Our time has been spent in visiting the various settlements north and south, and has been spent most agreeably in holding quarterly conferences. A great change has been effected in our Territory within the past few years in furnishing facilities for traveling to and fro and visiting the settlements which were once quite remote from this city. I have no doubt that these visits are appreciated by the people who are visited. They certainly are by those who make the visits. The growth and the development of the people, their increase in the knowledge of those principles that pertain to salvation as well as to this earthly existence, is so apparent that it is exceedingly gratifying to witness it. The Lord is very visibly working out His great designs and purposes in connection with this work with which we are identified. Every one who is connected with the work and who realizes its character does seek, as I believe by observation, more diligently to comprehend the nature of the duties and responsibilities which rest upon him or her. The various organizations in the shape of Primary Associations, of Sunday Schools, of Mutual Improvement Associations, of Relief Societies, as well as the meetings of the various quorums of the Priesthood, are all having a very marked effect as I can observe myself, upon the people. I probably am in a better position than many to judge of the effect of these organizations; for the reason that it has not been my privilege to visit the settlements of late years so extensively as some of my brethren. I notice a great increase of zeal, of devotion, and above all, of knowledge concerning the work of the Lord and the labors connected therewith. And I am thankful that this is so, for certainly with the increase of the facilities to which I have referred in our Territory, there has been a corresponding increase of evils which have to be contended with and overcome, and knowledge and understanding and wisdom are necessary on the part of the Latter-day Saints to enable them to cope successfully with these evils. In our former condition of isolation it was not a matter of such great moment for the people to be trained as they now are. They were not exposed to the influences of an adverse and hostile character like they are today. With the change in circumstances there has come a corresponding change, it may be said, in strictness of organization, and, as I have remarked, I am happy to say a corresponding increase of knowledge. We have many things to cope with at the present time, which those who resided here 25 years ago knew little or nothing about. And it is an excellent feature of this system which God has established, that it is so admirably adapted to all the circumstances which may surround the children of men. God bestows wisdom according to the occasion and to the necessities of the case, and He gives strength and power to those who seek after them in the right spirit. He has done so from the beginning and He will do so until the end.

When the Elders of this Church have gone forth and preached the Gospel, calling upon the inhabitants of the earth to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and repent of their sins and to be baptized for the remission of them, those who submitted to these requirements received the strength and the grace necessary to enable them to contend with the difficulties which immediately surrounded them. God poured out His spirit upon them. God gave unto them a testimony concerning the truth of the work with which they had identified themselves. He gave unto them the strength necessary to overcome all the obstacles which laid in their pathway, and they were filled with joy and peace, and from that day until the present the man or the woman who has thus bowed in submission to the requirements of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ has been sustained, upheld, strengthened and delivered. The strength and the grace, the gifts and the blessings which God has promised have been abundantly bestowed and have made the individual who has received them equal to every emergency. And that which is true concerning individuals is true concerning this entire people in their collective capacity. As difficulties have increased, as obstacles have had to be overcome, and the condition of affairs has changed and seemingly grown more threatening, they have had strength and grace and power given unto them commensurate with the trials they have had to meet. And God’s hand has thus been manifested in the most wonderful manner in the eyes of those who believe and who have had faith, and they have had causes for thanksgiving and praise to God every day that they have lived.

Now, the whole work from its inception until the present time is a marvel and a wonder. It may be termed phenomenal in the earth. It is unlike anything else that we know of. It differs from every other system that is extant among men. There are features connected with it which cannot be witnessed anywhere else. Human nature exhibits itself, it may be said, in new forms. Characteristics are developed in connection with this work which may truly be said to be unique. You cannot witness their exhibition among any other people, nor in any other land. And it is a remarkable thing that though the Latter-day Saints number so few, comparatively speaking, there is no topic today that can be broached in the hearing of any of the people of Christendom that excites the interest that “Mormonism” does. And yet if you ask men the reason of this, it would be difficult for them to account for it. They only know that the fact exists; that to them and to the word at large it is a topic of unflagging interest. The “Mormons” are looked upon as a peculiar people. Let a “Mormon” travel anywhere in the United States or in Europe or in other lands, and it be known that he is a “Mormon,” he will attract more attention than any other man. Why is this? Is it because the people are so numerous? Is it because they are so wealthy? Is it because they exercise such political power? Is it because they wield such influence in the affairs of the children of men? No, it cannot be said that any of these causes exist to any extent. The “Mormons” are not a numerous people. The “Mormons” are not a wealthy people. The “Mormons” do not wield political influence to any extent, nor influence of any other character outside of their own society. What, then, is it that constitutes this, I may say, attractiveness or this interest in men’s minds concerning this organization? “Oh,” says one, “it is because you marry more wives than one. You believe in plural marriage, and that excites interest and causes talk and attracts attention; it is that that makes you so noticeable.”

Perhaps so. But it is not many years since we did not believe in this, since it was not a practice of this Church, and yet in those days a “Mormon” was as much an object of curiosity as he is today—that is, in proportion to the celebrity that attended the name. “Mormonism” was as much talked about according to the extent it was known as it is today. It excited as much curiosity. It aroused as much hatred. It called forth as much persecution, in fact, the most severe persecution that, as a people, we have ever endured, we received prior to the announcement by our Church that we believed in this peculiar doctrine. I have no doubt that our espousal and advocacy of this doctrine has given us considerable notoriety. It has added to our celebrity. But our celebrity has not consisted alone in this. As I have remarked, our organization aroused as deep antipathies prior to the revelation of this doctrine as it has ever done since.

Now, we have our own method of accounting for this great interest that is taken in this work. It is admitted too freely for the truth that we are an illiterate people. It is said that we are under the control of impostors, shrewd men, who lead the masses and bend them to their will. This is said concerning us everywhere. To account for the ingathering of the people from the nations of the earth men have recourse to many theories, or to several at least, one of which is that our Elders go out to the ignorant and unlearned and the downtrodden, and depict in glowing colors the beauties of this land of ours and the blessings that they will receive if they will only gather here; and that by these glowing tales and by persuading them that they can have all the wives they want when they come here, they induce the ignorant hordes of Europe to come to this country. This is one of the popular methods of accounting for the ingathering of the people from the nations of the earth and their adhesion to the “Mormon” cause.

Well, now, if this were true, I would consider it one of the greatest miracles ever wrought among men, for this reason, that people influenced by such notions could not be held together in a land like this. It would be an impossibility to bind people together in such bonds as exist among the Latter-day Saints in Utah Territory, if they were people of this character. They would fall to pieces by their own corruptions. There would not be any cementing influence among them to hold them together one month if these were the influences which drew them here. But no observing man or woman who travels through this Territory, and mingles with the people can be deceived by any such nonsense as this. They would see in a few days that there was some other influence, that there was some other power, that there was a principle of union among this people that could not originate in such a system as “Mormonism” is popularly represented to be.

What, then, is it that causes the Latter-day Saints to be so much noticed? What is it that has drawn them together from the various nations of the earth and produced this phenomenal condition of affairs that we witness here? Is it the shrewdness of men? Is it the power and authority of men? Then for God’s sake and for the sake of suffering humanity, let some men band themselves together and do, in the name of God and true religion, that which the Latter-day Saints are accused of doing in the name of imposture and false religion. Here is an opportunity for Christendom to test this matter. They have learning, they have wealth, they have everything at their back—the popular sects, who claim to be orthodox and to worship God according to the Bible, and to divine truth, have all these—if they can do, in the name of God and true religion, that which we are doing, as they say, in the name of a false religion and as impostors, let them go to work, unite themselves together, and accomplish something like this for the sake of suffering humanity. The Latter-day Saints are gathered from the nations of the earth—the poor, the unlearned, the ignorant. Our Elders preached the Gospel to them as they understood it, and under its influence and by its influence they are successful in gathering out a few. This Territory is being peopled by them. They are being taught how to live, how to better their earthly condition, how to improve their minds, how to acquire sound education and sound knowledge; they are being taught to live in love, in peace, to avoid litigation, to avoid strife, to avoid contention, to avoid everything of this character, and to love one another. How successful we are in this let those who travel through the Territory bear testimony. If we had our way there would be no drinking saloons from Franklin in the north to St. George in the south. If the courts would let us have our way, we would banish drunkenness from our land, or rather we would keep it from our land as we did in the beginning, for there was a time when there was nothing of the kind to be witnessed. But, unfortunately for us, it seems, some of our charters were defective. We found we did not have the power that we thought we had. The courts ruled against us, against the exercise of such power as we wielded, and we were compelled to let down the bars. Hence in Ogden, in Salt Lake City, and perhaps in some other few places, there are drinking saloons. But if we had our way, as Latter-day Saints, there would be no drinking saloons, there would be no houses of ill fame, there would be no gambling saloons, there would be nothing of this character permitted in our cities or in our settlements. We would not only be free from litigation and strife, as I have said we are as a people, but we would be free from those other evils, those other vices.

Now, we know very well that according to the word of God as it has come down to us in this sacred volume [the Bible] union and love were two of the great characteristics that attended the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. “By this,” says one of the Apostles, “we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” Jesus taught His disciples to be one. He prayed to the Father that they might be one as He and the Father were one, and not only that they might be one, but that those who should believe in their words might be one also. That prayer of the Savior was answered upon His disciples. They were distinguished everywhere for their oneness and for their love, and wherever they went preaching the Gospel that Jesus committed unto them, those who obeyed their teaching and submitted to the ordinances which they administered, received the same spirit.

Now, it is a remarkable feature of this organization called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that the same effects follow the proclamation of its principles; not in one land, but in every land where it has been carried by the Elders of this Church.

When Joseph Smith in his youth had revealed to him that God was about to restore the old Gospel in its ancient power and simplicity, and accompanied by its ancient gifts, and was told that the authority to administer its ordinances should also be restored, it seemed, I suppose, to look at it naturally at that time, as though it would be an impossible thing to accomplish. The earth was full of religion, so called. There were any number of men professing to be followers of Jesus Christ, any number of men professing to be His ministers, professing to have the power and authority to administer the ordinances of His Church, until men were actually confused and distracted in their thoughts—and especially when they came to select the form of doctrine that they wanted to espouse—by the multiplicity of sects, each one claiming to be the true church of Christ. But Joseph Smith was told that this would be the effect when God would reveal His Gospel. It was foreshadowed to him in the plainest possible manner that which we now behold. The effect of the preaching of the true Gospel would be that persecution would be aroused. He was shown the hatred he would have to contend with, and all the adverse influences that have had to be overcome from that day until the present. Joseph Smith was told that there was no authority upon the face of the earth to administer the ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was told that there was no church which God recognized as His own, while there were many that had parts of the truth, portions of the Gospel. There was no church which God acknowledged amid the multiplicity of sects as His. He was told to wait until the Lord should give the power and communicate the authority. Now, though he had received this communication from heavenly messengers, Joseph Smith did not presume to take one step towards organizing a church because of the fact that he had received communications of this character. According to popular ideas, if a man had received a communication of this kind from heaven it would have been sufficient justification to him to have gone to work and organized a church. But he did not do this. He waited, and a heavenly messenger, as he testifies, came and laid his hands upon his head and ordained him to the authority that was necessary for man to hold in order to baptize his fellow men in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. When he received that authority he commenced to baptize, and not till then. But there was still a power lacking. The Apostles had a power beyond that which John the Baptist exercised. John said, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire”—referring to the Savior. And when He came He came in the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood, as it is termed. John held merely the authority to baptize for remission of sins. But he could not lay on hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost. And when, on one occasion after the death of the Savior, Philip went and preached the Gospel to Samaria, and people were converted and baptized, he did baptize them, but he did not lay on hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost. He did not have, apparently, the authority to do so. But when the Apostles heard that people in Samaria had received the Gospel, they sent unto them Peter and John, who, when they came, laid their hands upon them and they received the Holy Ghost. In like manner Joseph Smith received the authority by divine or by heavenly administration to baptize men for the remission of their sins, but he had not then the authority to lay on hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost. He afterwards did receive it, as he testifies, through the administration of the three Apostles, who presided over the Twelve in the days that they lived upon the earth, namely, Peter, James and John; they came to him and laid their hands upon him and ordained him to the Apostleship, the same authority that they themselves held, and authorized him to go forth and to build up the Church of Christ as it was built up in ancient days; and then having baptized people he commenced to lay on hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost.

“But,” says one, “I do not believe in the administration of angels. I think that angels have ceased to come. While I believe that many ancient servants of God did receive the administration of angels, I think they have ceased to administer, and when I hear people assert that they have not, it always creates in my mind a feeling of doubt, and I think anybody an impostor who asserts he has received the administration of angels in these days.”

Perhaps so. But suppose that the statement that Joseph Smith says the angel made to him should be true—that there was no church upon the face of the earth whom God recognized as His, and whose acts He acknowledged—suppose this were true, and that from the Catholic Church down to the last church that was organized there was no one church that held the authority in its primitive power and purity—suppose this were so, how in the world can the authority be restored unless heavenly messengers do come and bring it from heaven? If the Priesthood, and the authority, power and gifts of the Priesthood were taken from the earth and taken back to heaven, how can man ever receive it again unless some beings from the heavenly world come and restore it to man again? You can readily see that if you grant one proposition, the other must necessarily follow. There must be divine communication from heaven or the authority could not be restored. But how shall we tell that it is restored—by what signs? What are the evidences by which we can judge of the restoration of this divine power?

Joseph Smith went forth and he ordained other men to go forth—gave them the authority under God, he being commanded of God to impart this authority to others who were suitable, on the same principle that Moses imparted the authority to Aaron, “being called of God as was Aaron.” And they went forth and called upon the people to believe in Jesus and to repent of their sins, and to be baptized for the remission of them, and they promised them that if they would believe in Jesus Christ, repent of their sins and be baptized in His name for a remission of them, they should receive the Holy Ghost, and it should produce the same effects upon them in these days that it did upon those who received it anciently. Now, here was a promise that no man that we know anything about was authorized to give aside from him. In all the churches of which we have any knowledge, there has yet to be heard the promise made by one of its ministers to the humble believer who submits to its ordinances, that he shall receive the Holy Ghost as they did in ancient days, with its accompanying gifts and blessings and powers. But Joseph Smith made this promise. The world have the opportunity of testing it. If people did not receive the Holy Ghost, then he was an impostor. If they did receive it, then his ministry was sealed by the power of God, and it was indisputable. The best possible means was given to the human family of testing his claims and his statements. He was either an impostor, trying to deceive the people, or he was a man of God, for it cannot be supposed that heaven would lend itself to an imposture, or that heaven would aid in any manner in fostering a deception. But wherever the Elders of this Church have gone preaching this Gospel, declaring unto the people these tidings, there have been men and women who have come forward and submitted to the ordinances which they administered, and who testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, that they did receive the promised blessings; and they have gathered out from the various nations of Europe, some from Asia, some from far-off Africa and the islands of the sea, and every state in the United States; they have gathered out, until now they are numbered by thousands and tens of thousands throughout these valleys, and wherever you mingle with the people and talk to them, either in their own habitations, by their firesides, in the streets, in the public gatherings, or wherever they may be, the universal testimony of these people called Latter-day Saints is that they, in obedience to the requirements which were communicated unto them by the servants of God, received the promised blessings, and the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon them, and the gifts thereof have rested down upon them. And as an evidence of this we see this union that I have spoken of. We witness this love. We see the gathering of the people together. We see such a love as is unexam pled anywhere upon the face of the earth—the love that exists in the midst of the Latter-day Saints in these mountains. You may traverse the wide earth and go to every religious denomination, and even to those of Pagan belief, and nowhere else will you see such an exhibition as this I have spoken of, as you witness here. And yet these people are illiterate. These people are unlearned. These people are weak. These people have come from various nations of the earth. These people have been brought up in different creeds, belonging to different churches, speaking different languages, they have been trained in different habits; not of one nation, not of one form of thought, not gathered together from one township, or from one neighborhood, but from various nations and neighborhoods with this diversity of belief—that is, of former belief and education and training. Now, what would this principle accomplish amongst a more homogeneous people than ours?—a people more united than ours originally, more one in thought and training—what, I say, would this principle accomplish among such a people as this that I allude to? Why, we can imagine what it will be in years to come, as the rising generations of this people grow to manhood and womanhood under the influence of this principle—we can imagine what the results will be a people banded together as no other people upon the face of the earth are by the bonds of the new and everlasting covenant, by the bonds of the Holy Priesthood that God has restored to the earth, and by the administration of those divine ordinances which constituted the power of the Church of Christ when it was upon the earth. It is the old Gospel restored again. You cannot point to a single feature that characterized the Gospel of Jesus as it was administered by His Apostles that is not to be witnessed among the Latter-day Saints—not a single feature. I defy the world to point to a single one. Every characteristic that made it great, that made it a power in the earth, that made it divine, belongs to this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Were the ancient Saints persecuted? So are we. Did they die for the truth of their principles? So have many of our people. Did they have to flee from their homes? Were they driven by their enemies because of their religion? So have we had to flee from our homes in this nineteenth century, in this land of boasted liberty, the proudest nation and the freest nation upon the face of the globe—we have had to flee to these mountains and take refuge here because we believed in those ancient principles, and because we contended for the restoration of this ancient power. And now even in these mountains our homes are envied and men would destroy us; not because we are vile; not because we do injury to our fellows; not because our land is a land of wickedness, because it is not; not because we are full of strife and war upon our neighbors and seek to destroy them; not because of any of these things is our destruction sought; but because we believe that God has spoken from the heavens; because we believe in a Church that has Prophets and Apostles, and has the Holy Ghost and its gifts in it; because we believe in living together in love and not fighting each other, and are not pitted against each other in parties; and because of this we are considered dangerous, and our existence is considered a menace to our neighbors. Hear and think of it! That a people with the virtues that I declare we possess, are looked upon as a menace to our neighbors, and that our destruction is a desirable thing.

Now, while we do not profess to have the faith that we should have—we could all do with more—yet it is the aim, it is the object of the teachings of the Elders of this Church to endeavor to instill into the minds of the people faith in God, to have them contend earnestly, as the Scriptures say, “for the faith which was once delivered to the Saints.” While this is the aim and the object of the teachings of the Elders—and we are well aware of the weakness of the people—yet we do testify, in the most solemn manner, that God has restored the ancient gifts that were in the Church. The sick are healed. There are hundreds of families in this Territory, thousands of them who never think of anything else but sending for the Elders, as the Apostle James said they should do, in cases of sickness. “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick,” said the Apostle. Now, among the people called Latter-day Saints, this is an almost universal practice, and we solemnly testify that—while we are far from being what we should be, far from having that faith we should have—there are numerous instances of the sick being healed by the laying on of hands. You know this, my brethren and sisters. Not only have the sick been healed, but the blind have been restored to sight, the deaf have been made to hear, and the power of God has been manifested in accordance with the promises he has made. And it is the outpouring of the Spirit in this manner, the confirmation of God’s promises upon the people, that makes the Latter-day Saints so united. It is not the strength of imposture. It is not the delusion of shrewd men. It is not because wicked men have deceived this people. It would be impossible to hold them together under such conditions. To do so would be a greater miracle than that which we now behold in the existence of the people. To see a people united together and scattered as they are over this extent of territory held together by a few impostors—no, such a thing is abhorrent to reason. No man with reason can believe such a statement, and accept that as the solution of this organization—that is, of the problem connected with it. No man can think it. There is something more than this. There is some power beyond this; for, as I have said, if it were not so, we should have some exhibition on the part of good men in establishing such a system as we now behold. One would think they would show their power in organizing. But it is the outpouring of the Spirit of God. Men and women and children, throughout all the congregations of the Latter-day Saints in all these settlements, if they had the opportunity, would bear solemn testimony, in the name of Jesus Christ, that they did receive those promised blessings, that that was the cause of their continuing their association with the people of God, and that that was the reason of their gathering with them to this land or of their coming here.

Now, I know that in talking in this strain it may sound strange to many who have no knowledge of these things. They may think it a very strange thing that men should testify in our day concerning the existence of these things. But let me ask you: Where is the man of God of whom we have any account in this book, from Genesis to Revelation, that did not have communication with God? Where is there one? Not one. You have no account of a single individual who was a servant of God from the days of Adam, our father, to John the Revelator, who did not have communication from our Father in Heaven. God communicated with the people always when they were faithful.

“But,” says one, “we have none now, and we have not had, and therefore God has ceased to communicate His mind and His will to His children.”

Do not deceive yourselves. This is the cry of men who themselves are destitute of this power and of this knowledge, and who take this means of accounting for it, and of making people believe that the present condition of things is the condition that should exist and that God designed to exist.

I do not wish to reflect upon any other body of people or upon any sect; I believe there are thousands of excellent people in the world—people as good as any that are numbered in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—scattered through all the sects and in the Pagan world and in the infidel world. I do not confine my feelings of admiration to those who believe even in Jesus, the Son of God, whom I view as my Redeemer and my Savior. I believe that there are thousands, and it may be said millions of well-meaning, good people, whom God loves, that are numbered among the Pagans and that are numbered among the infidels to Christianity. But at the same time while I thus believe, I know that God has revealed His everlasting Gospel to be preached to the inhabitants of the earth, and when light comes, if men reject it, condemnation follows. And this is the condemnation of our present generation. A great prophet has arisen in their midst. They do not believe it. They do not believe that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God. They basely and cowardly slew him. Yet he was a Prophet of God, just as much as Elijah, or as Isaiah was, or as any of the ancient Prophets were, and he has founded a system that will grow, that will increase, that will yet be the dominating power in the earth, because the promises of God are to this effect. And this is the sin of this generation. This man came in their midst bringing to them gifts from God, bringing to them a message of love and salvation, and they cruelly and basely slew him in the most abominable manner. But like all the Prophets, his blood has not been avenged. Who ever heard of people being punished for killing a Prophet? Who ever heard of the people turning round and punishing his murderers? Such a case is not known in the history of the world. And it is true concerning Joseph Smith. His blood stains the soil of one of the sovereign States of the nation. He was slain under the pledged honor of that State that he should be protected, and yet his murderers have never been punished. And as I say, this is the sin of this generation. A church was organized by the command of God, and members of that church have been cruelly treated. They have been driven from their homes. Their pathway has been marked by the graves of those who have died in consequence of their suffering. Our track can be traced, or could be traced from Illinois by the graves of our people— men, women and children—who died of suffering, because they chose to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences. And who is there that has raised his voice and said one word against this? A few men have done so—a few honorable men—have protested against it; but the great body of the people have assented to it, and have not only assented to it, but they have endeavored to follow us to our retired homes here and destroy us. They are not content we should live in this wilderness land which we found so dreadful, in many respects, and so hard to conquer. We have come here. We have conquered. We have subdued the land by continuous, persistent, and unlimited toil, and we will not cease our exertions to make this a beautiful land, and to extend hospitality to all who visit us. But we have been envied our little possessions—the fruits of our toil, the hard earnings of the last 35 years; we have been envied these; and there are those who think that the best thing that could be done with us is to extirpate us from the face of the earth, blot us out of existence. Now, I say that this is the sin of this generation. God has sent a mighty Prophet who predicted, among other things, the civil war that took place in 1861. It is on record in this book (the Book of Doctrine and Covenants). Joseph Smith warned this nation of it—twenty-eight years before it occurred. He told them the cause of it, and the consequences that would follow. This great Prophet has been in their midst, and they have slain him, and have de stroyed as far as possible those who believe in his doctrine. God will hold this generation to a strict accountability for these acts, just as sure as He did the generation who slew the Apostles and those who lived contemporaneous with the Apostles. We may be a feeble people, but we are God’s people; no more than our fellow men in some respects, only so far as we obey His laws more than they do; but nevertheless we are God’s people, and God will not allow His children to be slain without cause, nor be cruelly treated. He reigns in the heavens. I thank God that He has revealed himself, and that we know Him. He reigns. His justice never sleeps. We will be protected and preserved, and His anger will be poured out upon those who have merited it by their transgression. We therefore call upon them in the name of Jesus, to repent of their sins, to turn away from wickedness and return to righteousness. And if they desire to know whether we tell the truth, let them go to God in the name of Jesus and ask Him, and we will be satisfied with the answer. That is what our Elders tell everybody wherever they go. They tell them to ask God in the name of Jesus, whether the testimony they bear be true or false. Is not this fair? Certainly it is.

May God help you, my brethren and sisters and friends, to receive the truth and to cling to it all your lives, to love it more than life itself, that in the end you may be saved and exalted in the Kingdom of God. Amen.

Duties of the Latter-Day Saints—How Children Should Be Trained—An Academy for Sanpete—The Kind of Teachers to Select—Education Advocated—Intemperance Condemned—Sin to Be Exposed—Unworthy Men not to Be Sustained in Office—Example of a Darkened Mind—Providence Over the Saints

Discourse by President John Taylor, delivered at Manti, Saturday Morning, May 19, 1883.

The Gospel, it has been said, is the power of God unto salvation; its object is to elevate humanity. There are evils of various kinds existing in the world; and we ourselves are not free from evil in some of its forms, which should not be the case. We are here, as a people, gathered out from the various nations, not to imitate the world, unless it be in that which is good—for there are many good things among the people of the world, which we may imitate with profit—but that we may put ourselves in possession of every truth, of every virtue, of every principle of intelligence known among men, together with those that God has revealed for our special guidance, and apply them to our everyday life, and thus educate ourselves and our children in everything that tends to exalt man. We, therefore, must avoid the evils of the world, which some of our so-called Christian brethren are striving to introduce into our midst; we must shun those corrupting influences as we would a viper, and we must further use our influence against evil in every form, and in favor of the good. It becomes the Latter-day Saints to cherish in their hearts the spirit of Zion; to live pure lives, that Zion may indeed be Zion to them. We are told that God is love, and that they that dwell in God dwell in love. Love is one of his attributes; another is justice, another is truth; another is integrity, another is knowledge. And we are likewise told that “the glory of God is intelligence.” We should seek to know more about ourselves and our bodies, about what is most conducive to health and how to preserve health and how to avoid disease; and to know what to eat and what to drink, and what to abstain from taking into our systems. We should become acquainted with the physiology of the human system, and live in accordance with the laws that govern our bodies, that our days may be long in the land which the Lord our God has given us. And in order to fully comprehend ourselves we must study from the best books, and also by faith. And then let education be fostered and encouraged in our midst. Train your children to be intelligent and industrious. First teach them the value of healthful bodies, and how to preserve them in soundness and vigor; teach them to entertain the highest regard for virtue and chastity, and likewise encourage them to develop the intellectual faculties with which they are endowed. They should also be taught regarding the earth on which they live, its properties, and the laws that govern it; and they ought to be instructed concerning God, who made the earth, and His designs and purposes in its creation, and the placing of man upon it. They should know how to cultivate the soil in the best possible manner; they should know how to raise the best kind of fruits adapted to the soil and climate; they should be induced to raise the best kinds of stock, and to care for them properly when they come into their possession. And whatever labor they pursue they should be taught to do so intelligently; and every incentive, at the command of parents to induce children to labor intelligently and understandingly, should be held out to them. Again, the subject of architecture should receive attention from you; and your children should be encouraged to improve in the building of houses, and not be satisfied to merely copy after what their fathers did in the days of their poverty. The building rock at your command is of the very best, and it is easily procured; what remains for you to do is to put the material together in such a shape as shall reflect your best judgment and intelligence consistent with due regard to health and convenience. The building of the Temple here will no doubt have a tendency to awaken the desire on your part to improve in this direction. I have noticed that the building of our Temples affords a great many young men the opportunity of learning trades which perhaps, otherwise would not be the case; and by the time such a building is erected they become competent tradesmen, prepared to work in the various branches of mechanism that they learn on these buildings. Improvement in all things relating to our spiritual and temporal welfare should be our aim in life, and we should encourage in our children this desire to improve, and not feel all the time, “come day, go day, God send Sunday.” It is highly necessary that we should learn to read and write and speak our own language correctly; and where people are deficient themselves in education they should strive all the more to see that the deficiency be not perpetuated in their offspring. We ought to take more pains than we do in the training and education of our youth. All that we can possibly do by way of placing them in a position to become the equals, at least, of their race, we ought to take pleasure in doing; for in elevating them we bring honor to our own name, and glory to God the Father. To do this requires labor and means, and it also requires perseverance and determination on the part of all concerned. A short time ago a number of our young men left Salt Lake City to go on missions to the United States and to Europe. They were mostly young men that had been trained and educated in the University of Deseret, the Brigham Young Academy of Provo, and the B. Y. College of Logan, and the High School at Ogden. They were fine looking young men, and quite intelligent, and a credit to any community or people. Sometimes the Lord chooses such men as Brother Woodruff and myself to do His bidding, as He in former times called fishermen and others, and inspired them with intelligence sufficient, at least, to cope with and confound the wise. I think there is a Scripture that says that He chooses the weak things of the world to bring to naught the things that are, that no flesh might glory in His presence. That is true, and is well enough in its place; but we cannot expect the Lord to do this always, it is for us to do our part, that is to cultivate our intellectual faculties and to prepare ourselves to be used by Him, having at all times an eye single to His honor and glory. He has shown us how to build Temples, but He does not build them; that is our part of the work. I do not think that Peter or Paul knew much about Temple building, but they knew something pertaining to the ordinances of the Temple, but more especially of the Gospel, for God taught it to them. But we are told to seek for intelligence by study and through faith, and to acquaint ourselves with the laws and governmental affairs of nations, that all may know how to take part in the affairs of the world. God has said that through His people He will teach nations, and “the Gentiles shall come to thy light and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” (Isaiah lx. 3.) He will pour out upon His people knowledge and inspire them with wisdom, so that they will be able to teach all classes and conditions of men. That time is yet to come, but we must prepare ourselves to act in that position, and the way to do it is to commence with our children. I was pleased to hear that President Canute Peterson and other leading men of Ephraim had secured a building, which is at present in an unfinished condition, with the intention of converting it into an academy. You need such an institution, and by right you ought to have one in all your larger towns; and your school teachers should be the best you can get. They should be men of faith in God; men who believe in and have a knowledge of the Gospel; men capable of imparting true and correct ideas with regard to God and His works, and the laws that govern them, as well as being able to impart a regular scholastic education. I would advise Brother Peterson and those associated with him in this enterprise, to carry on to completion the work they have begun; and I would say to you here in Manti, bestir yourselves in the same direction. Whatever you do, be choice in your selection of teachers. We do not want infidels to mold the minds of our children. They are a precious charge bestowed upon us by the Lord, and we cannot be too careful in rearing and training them. I would rather have my children taught the simple rudiments of a common education by men of God, and have them under their influence, than have them taught in the most abstruse sciences by men who have not the fear of God in their hearts. As God is the fountain of all light, all truth and all intelligence, and He has organized matter and made what we term the laws of nature, and in the study of His laws is discovered the highest and most intellectual development—as “the glory of God is intelligence,” the more we appreciate and comprehend those principles the nearer we approach to the intelligence developed by the allwise Creator; the acme of scientific development in the world is predicated upon a knowledge of the laws of nature in its multifarious forms. We need to pay more attention to educational matters, and do all we can to procure the services of competent teachers. Some people say, we cannot afford to pay them. You cannot afford not to pay them; you cannot afford not to employ them. We want our children to grow up intelligent, and to walk abreast with the peoples of any nation. God expects us to do it; and therefore I call attention to this matter. I have heard intelligent practical men say, it is quite as cheap to keep a good horse as a poor one, or to raise good stock as inferior animals. And is it not quite as cheap to raise good intelligent children as to rear children in ignorance.

There is another thing I wish to speak of. Sometimes we bear too much and too long with the workers of iniquity. For instance, I heard of a certain Bishop whose First Counselor was in the habit of drinking, and his second Counselor also drank occasionally. The Bishop in excusing the weakness of his Counselor would say that he had a great many good traits, that he was a good meaning and kind hearted man, and that he wanted to save him if he could; and the man was permitted to indulge his appetite. Time passed on and the man apostatized, which he was sure to do if he kept on long enough. In sending in his resignation, he said he had had enough of “Mormonism,” which I have no doubt was really the case; I have no doubt either but that long before that “Mormonism” had had enough of him. The Bishop had tried to save the man, but what of the people? How about the Teachers? Could they, or could the Bishop himself preach against a practice that the Counselors were guilty of? If he or they were to do so, it would not amount to much while the evil was being winked at in high places. By means such as this, evil and a loose morality may be introduced into a settlement because of a laxity by men in authority, in the performance of their duty. When I heard of this I inquired why the President of the Stake did not see that the Bishop did his duty inasmuch as the Bishop omitted to act in the matter. What right have these men in authority to overlook such things? I tell you, they have no right at all. And what is the result? It began gradually to be a question with a great many of the people in that neighborhood whether this really was the work of God or not; the spirit of doubt and carelessness found place among them, and this because the presiding authority declined to purge out iniquity from their midst. Then if a man repents, some say they do not know whether it is best to expose such things or not. Yes, drag them into daylight all the time, and let every man be known for what he is; for no presiding officer can afford to take the responsibility upon himself of tolerating the defalcations of those who are violating their covenants and trampling under foot the laws of God. In saying this I would not ignore another principle that is mentioned in the law of the Lord:

“And if he or she do any manner of iniquity, he or she shall be delivered up unto the law, even that of God. And if thy brother or sister offend thee, thou shalt take him or her between him or her and thee alone; and if he or she confess thou shalt be reconciled. And if he or she confess not thou shall deliver him or her up unto the church, not to the members, but to the elders. And it shall be done in a meeting, and that not before the world. And if thy brother or sister offend many, he or she shall be chastened before many. And if anyone offend openly, he or she shall be rebuked openly, that he or she may be ashamed. And if he or she confess not, he or she shall be delivered up unto the law of God. If any shall offend in secret, he or she shall be rebuked in secret, that he or she may have opportunity to confess in secret to him or her whom he or she has offended, and to God, that the Church may not speak reproachfully of him or her.”

Further, I wish to say something in regard to adultery. We are told in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, (sec. xiii, ver. 24, 25, 26.)

“Thou shalt not commit adultery; and he that committeth adultery, and repenteth not, shall be cast out. But he that has committed adultery and repents with all his heart, and forsaketh it, and doeth it no more, thou shalt forgive; But if he doeth it again, he shall not be forgiven, but shall be cast out.”

This was in the early ages of the Church, in February, 1831. But who is here referred to? Is it a man who has entered into the new and everlasting covenant, and has been sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, and by that covenant has been united to his wife for time and all eternity, and his wife to him? No, it refers to those who have not entered into this covenant, who have not taken upon themselves obligations of that nature in a Temple or Endowment House; to the latter class who shall be found guilty of this sin, the word of the Lord comes unqualifiedly, they shall be destroyed. The Lord does expect us to be a pure people, a virtuous people, a people whose bodies and spirits are pure before Him. If wrong doing be practiced in our midst, the Lord expects His Priesthood to ferret it out, or He will hold them responsible. We cannot commit sin with impunity. We cannot violate the laws of God and enjoy His Spirit; nor can we permit the laws of God to be trampled upon and still receive His approbation.

Quite recently a certain Bishop wrote me, stating that one of his Counselors dabbled in astrology; that he had been known to consult it in reference to the sick. He wanted to know what I thought of it. I told him to drop that Counselor, that he was not fit to be a Bishop’s Counselor, nor to hold the holy Priesthood. We must not permit such practices to exist among us; and if that Bishop declines to do his duty, I shall be in favor of removing him, for not carrying out the law of God. Again, we hear of fraudulent acts sometimes, and we permit them to be passed over. What are laws for? What are Bishops’ Courts and High Councils for? That when men transgress the laws of God, they shall be tried according to the laws of the Church, and if found guilty, and are worthy of such action, they shall be cast out; that the pure and the righteous may be sustained, and the wicked and corrupt, the ungodly and impure, be dealt with according to the laws of God. This is necessary in order to maintain purity throughout the Church, and to cast off iniquity therefrom. For the Spirit of God will not dwell in unholy temples. You fathers, look after your sons; you mothers, look after your daughters; see that they grow up in purity and righteousness.

There was a very painful circumstance occurred in my office a day or two ago. A certain man had apostatized—indeed, he had been an apostate a number of years; he had two wives, both of whom applied to me to be divorced from their husband. I asked them why they desired to be divorced, and they answered that their husband had apostatized from the Church, and to all appearance would remain in that condition. The husband expressed his sorrow at having to part with his wives, and said he could not help his faith. I told him I did not wish to interfere with his faith, nor the religious views of any man; but that I would much rather see him a believer than a disbeliever. But I explained to him the position that his wives occupied. Said I, when you married them you were a member of the Church, in full fellowship; you believed in God and the order of His holy house. Yes, he said, that is so. I then said, Let me tell you another thing, I have heard Joseph Smith say, and I presume you have—he was an old member of the Church—that in this world we may pass along comparatively unknown, but when we appear behind the veil, we shall have to pass by the angels and the Gods, and this can only be done by the righteous and the pure. He stated that he had heard the same thing. I said further, you are the head of this family, and as such you ought to take the lead; but can you lead your wives past the angels and the Gods? No, (I said) you cannot do it, for unless you change your course you will not be there; you have trifled with the things of God, until, as you now see, a serious crisis is commencing to overtake you. The result was, he and they parted by signing the divorce. He said in a feeling way, “I cannot forget my wives, they are dear to me;” and again excused himself on the ground that he could not help his faith. But he might have helped it if he had kept the commandments; but having trifled with the things of God, the Holy Spirit gradually withdrew, at last leaving him to himself. I really felt sorry for the man, and he too felt the position keenly. In parting with him I took him by the hand and said to him, You have put yourself in this position, and I cannot help it. No, he said, you have treated me right. But (I continued) if the time ever comes that I can be of use to you in leading you back in the paths of life, I shall be happy to serve you. He thanked me, and left.

I mention this that you husbands, may be impressed with a sense of the responsibility that rests upon you, and that you may be careful of your acts and walk in life. God expects you to be true to your vows, to be true to yourselves, and to be true to your wives and children. If you become covenant breakers, you will be dealt with according to the laws of God. And the men presiding over you have no other alternative than to bring the covenant breaker to judgment; if they fail to do their duty we shall be under the necessity of looking after them, for righteousness and purity must be maintained in our midst.

I am pleased to say that I perceive an increasing desire on the part of the people to recognize and stand by the right; and I attribute our late deliverance from the hands of our enemies to this fact. When there was one of the greatest furors ever gotten up against us, He turned their wrath, and the remainder He restrained. A certain gentleman well acquainted with railroad matters, referring to our political situation at that time, summed it up like this: That we, numbering only a hundred and fifty thousand in the Territory, were confronted by fifty millions of people; that the conflict appeared to him like two trains, a large one and a small one, traveling in opposite directions on the same track and about to come in collision; and as a matter of course the small train would be demolished. It was very natural, of course, that he as well as the world generally, should regard it in that way. But I told him that I thought that God could and would take care of His people. Happening to have some communication with this same gentleman some time afterwards, I told him that the large train had been shunted off on to a side track, and the Democrats had provided them the switch, while the small train was still moving on its course uninjured. And if we will continue to do right, keeping ourselves pure and unspotted from the world, and the officers of the Church will see that purity is preserved in the Church, and evil of every kind rooted out, God will direct our course and deliver us from the evil that wicked men design to bring upon us, and no power will be able to move us out of our place. Amen.

Prophecies Relating to Our Day—Apostasy Foretold—God’s Work Reestablished—Restoration of the Gospel—Modern Revelation Opposed By Preachers—Unwarranted in Declaring that the Canon of Scripture is Full—Man By Searching Cannot Find Out God—But One True Gospel—Effect of the Gospel in the Days of the Apostles—How the Gospel Was Restored—How It is Being Preached—A Gathering Dispensation—Opposition to the Work of God—Destiny Before the Saints

Discourse by Elder Chas. W. Penrose, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, May 18th, 1883.

We are living in the latter days, at a time which all the prophets of God, who lived upon the earth in former times looked forward to with anticipation. The servants of God whose writings have been handed down to us in the book called the Bible, were all blessed in their day and generation with some foresight in regard to the last great dispensation of God’s mercy to man. The Spirit of God opened up to them views concerning the great latter-day work, which God should perform, in which He would consummate His purposes, in which He would perfect His work, in regard to the people of this earth. And they were strengthened in the performance of the duties devolving upon them by glimpses of the latter-day glory. They were called to pass through very trying circumstances. As the Apostle Paul says: “They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” Generally speaking, the prophets of God were rejected by the majority of the children of men. By the spirit of prophecy which rested upon them, they could perceive how small would be the impressions which they would be able to make upon the people who lived in their day, and they saw also that although they might be able to accomplish some good in the name of the Lord, yet the adversary would come in like a flood, so to speak, and overwhelm the influences which they were able to bring to bear. They saw that the work which they were engaged in could not continue, but for a little while. But they looked down to the last days when the kingdom of God should be established on the earth, when it should not be prevailed against nor be overcome, but should remain and continue to grow and increase and spread forth, until its influence should extend to the uttermost parts of the earth, until all things should be subdued unto the Lord, until the wicked should be destroyed, until misrule and tyranny and oppression and falsehood and false doctrine and the powers of evil should be banished from the earth, and the light of God should stream forth to lighten every land, and the kingdoms of this world would become the kingdoms of our God and His Christ, and He should rule from pole to pole and from shore to shore. In this they rejoiced exceedingly, and they were encouraged to perform the work entrusted to them, by the foresight that God gave to them of the great latter-day work. The Apostle Paul referred to this dispensation in these words: “Having made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth.” By this we see that the Apostle Paul—and he was imbued with the same spirit and understanding as his brethren of the Apostleship—looked forward to another dispensation than that in which they labored, which is generally called the Christian dispensation, because it was introduced by Jesus who was the Christ. Paul called the dispensation that was to come after His day, “the dispensation of the fulness of times,” and declared in that dispen sation God would gather together in one all things in Christ; not only the things in the earth, but also the things in the heavens—they should all be gathered together in one.

Now, the Apostle Paul, and others in his time—like those ancient prophets to whom I have referred—had the understanding that the work in which he was engaged, although it would accomplish that whereunto it was sent, would only make its impression for a time and for a season; that the time would come when darkness would come in again; when false doctrine would prevail; when the servants of God would be taken from the earth and false prophets and false teachers would arise who would, (to use the Apostle Peter’s own words) “bring in damnable heresies;” who would turn away the hearts of the people from the truth. The Apostles saw that the time would come when the people would be “heady and high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof;” when false teachers would arise and “make merchandise of the souls of men, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction,” “and many,” we are told, “shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” John, the beloved disciple, wrote a glorious vision that God gave to him when he was upon the Isle of Patmos, being banished there for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus, and in that vision the Lord showed to him that a spurious church should arise which would have influence over all the earth. It was pictured to him in the form of a woman sitting upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, and upon her forehead a name written, “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of Harlots.” And he saw that she held in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication, and he beheld that all nations were made drunk with the wine that was in that golden cup. It was not merely to be partaken of by a few, but by all nations. He also saw that the time should come—foreseen by Isaiah the prophet—“When darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness the people.” When Jesus was upon the earth He told His disciples that the time would come when false Christs and false prophets would arise, and when because of the iniquity that should abound, the love of many would wax cold. And we find by searching both the Old and New Testaments that the prophets of God who lived in former times and had dispensations committed unto them, saw that the time would come when the work which they performed would seem to be lost from the earth; apostasy would ensue; people would go after other Gods; they would transgress the laws, change the ordinances, and break the everlasting covenant. But the ancient prophets had a glimpse of what God would do in the latter days. They saw the time when He would establish His work in the earth no more to be thrown down forever; when He would establish His kingdom not to be left to another people, not to be overcome, not to be trampled under foot, but to arise and shine and the light thereof go forth to all the world, that kings might come to its light and the Gentiles to the brightness of its rising.

Now, my brethren and sisters, we are blessed with the privilege of living upon the earth in the latter days, in the time to which all the prophets looked forward with pleasure, with rejoicing and with thanksgiving; the time just preceding the coming of the Son of man, not as the babe of Bethlehem, not to be born in a stable and cradled in a manger, not to be “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,” not to be lifted up on the cross and His life’s blood poured out because of the wickedness of men, but as King of Kings and Lord of Lords; to come vested with all power on the earth and in the heavens; to “sit upon the throne of His father David,” and to “reign from the rivers even unto the ends of the earth;” to subdue all things unto himself; to abolish wickedness, to banish evil, to bind Satan and his hosts, and to fill the earth with light and glory and the power of God; that the lion and the lamb may dwell together; that enmity may depart between man and man, and between man and beast; that nation may not lift up sword against nation, and that people may study the art of war no more; but that peace may be ushered in, and that the power of God and the Spirit of God may be poured out upon all flesh, and all nations be influenced thereby. We are living upon the earth in the time preceding these great events—in the latter days, in the last dispensation.

The question may arise, is this great dispensation which the prophets foresaw, and which Paul spoke of, already ushered in? Has the dispensation of the fullness of times been introduced for the benefit of the children of men? Or are we still under the old dispensation opened up by the Savior and carried on for a time by the Apostles? That is a serious question, though if left to the Latter-day Saints to answer, one that would be settled in a very short time; for go where you might in this Territory, and ask the Latter-day Saints concerning it, and they would answer, “I know the dispensation of the fullness of times is ushered in; I do not merely believe it, but I know it as well as I know that I live.” And if you were to ask them how they know it, they would answer, “By the revelations of the Holy Ghost.” They would tell you they know that God has again spoken from the heavens, that angels have descended from the courts of glory and communicated with man, and that through the direct agency of divine and holy beings, this great and last dispensation of God’s mercy to man has been opened up. They would tell you further, that they know it will remain and prevail; that all that has been designed must be accomplished under its auspices; and the work which has been begun must continue and grow—because it is the work of God—even until the whole earth is subdued unto Him, and all things are prepared for the coming of Him whose right it is to reign; and that no man or nation or government or influence or society, or all combined, can have the slightest influence or power to stop its onward spread.

It would be interesting perhaps to consider how the dispensation of the fullness of times was to be opened up. We read that the works of God are one eternal round, “He is the same yesterday, today, and forever;” without variableness or any change whatever. As He acted in ancient times, then, so may we expect Him to act in latter times. That if He has a work to perform amongst men, He will commence and carry it out in the same way that He did formerly. Whenever darkness has covered the face of the earth, and the people have gone astray, we find, by reading the Bible, that God spoke from the heavens, that He sent heavenly messengers to some man or men whom He, not the people, chose, to whom He communicated His mind and will, and whom He authorized to preach to the rest. They went with “the burden of the word of the Lord,” they did not go forth preaching for doctrine the commandments of men. They did not aim to please the eyes or the ears of the people. They did not as a general thing possess much learning; in fact, they were to some extent ignorant, that is, they were not versed in the learning of the world. “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the earth to confound the things which are mighty.” But have we any intimation in the Scriptures that God would act like that in the last days? If we had not, we might reason from what He has done to what He will do. But we have any amount of testimony in the Scriptures, written in both Testaments, as to what He will do in the last days. In the first place we read that, “God will do nothing except he reveals his secret to his servants the prophets.” And we are told in the revelation from which I quoted concerning the general apostasy, when all nations shall become drunken from drinking the contents of that golden cup in the hands of the mother of abominations, an angel should come and bring to the earth again the everlasting Gospel. You will find what I refer to in the 14th Chapter of Revelation, and the 6th and 7th verses. John says. “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the ever lasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” And after this he declares that there followed another angel, saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”

Some one may enquire, Did the things that John saw in the vision signify events that had taken place already, or were they to take place in the future? That can be easily settled by reading the 1st verse of the 4th chapter of that book, which reads as follows: “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” And in the 14th Chapter he says that he saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven “having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” So this Gospel that John saw the angel bringing to earth was for the benefit of generations to come, for the Christians as well as those who are termed the heathen. We who are styled “Christians” are in the habit of calling all other nations heathen; I am inclined to believe that there are a great many people who are “Christian” heathen.

This revelation that was given to John will seem very strange to a great many people, who are under the impression that the everlasting Gospel has been upon the earth ever since it was taught by Jesus Christ and His Apostles. But if that were so, what need would there be for the Lord to send an angel with it. As I before explained, John saw the time when the whole earth would be under the influence of that wicked power which he saw sitting on a scarlet colored beast, and out of the cup which she held in her hand, all nations were to drink—not merely the heathen nations, but all the nations of the earth without exception. I am well aware that this will not sit very comfortably on the bosoms of some of our Christian friends. But what we are after, or should be after, is truth; and we should be desirous to obtain the truth notwithstanding that it may come in contact with our preconceived notions. John saw that the whole earth would go astray; and all the Apostles spoke more or less of the time when people would depart from the Church, when they would “not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts they would heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;” and says the Apostle, “they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables;” their teachers shall “preach for doctrines the commandments of men;” and the Apostle might have added, that if they did not preach to suit the people, they would discharge them and hire others. The time was to come when “darkness would cover the earth, and gross darkness the people,” but preceding the destruction of Babylon the great archangel was to come to earth with the everlasting gospel to preach to all nations; and the burden of his message was to call upon the people with a loud voice, saying, “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters,” signifying that the people had gone astray and were worshiping some other god or gods.

It is the general view that after the days of Jesus and the Apostles there were to be no more angels to visit the earth. This has been taught to the people diligently. What for? Because the men who teach this doctrine do not receive any visitations from heaven themselves. They have no communication with the powers on high. The heavens to them are indeed as brass. They pray, but they do not expect to receive any answer to their prayers, except in some mystical fashion which neither they nor anybody else can understand. They do not expect to receive answers to their prayers as the prophets of old did. And they have taught the people for hundreds of years that there is to be no more communications from heaven. And why? Because they pretend to greater light; because they claim to live in an age of gospel blaze, and Christianity, as they term it, has attained such a high standard of excellence that they need no divine revelation. And yet when you investigate their condition, you will find they do not comprehend the Gospel; they differ amongst themselves, they contend with each other even on fundamental principles. They have no positive knowledge in regard to the things of God. Some of the clergy teach what they believe, and others teach what they do not believe, being infidel at heart. It is true there have been sincere men who have labored for the benefit of humanity, and who have done a great deal of good; and they will be re warded by the Almighty for all the good they have accomplished. But wherein they have presumed to minister in the name of the Lord when He never authorized them to act for Him, they have run before they were sent, and will have to answer to Him for their presumption. Wherein men have administered in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and at the same time acknowledge that they have had no communication with those higher powers, declaring that the Holy Trinity has ceased to speak to men, they show by their own words and make actual confession that they have no authority. They could not possibly have any, because there has been no communication from those individuals who alone had the right to give it, and wherein they have presumed to act in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost without authority, they must give an account when they appear before the bar of God. But the ministers who have preached religion for hundreds of years have no definite knowledge in regard to these matters and have to tell what they think and what their opinions are, and they disagree with each other in regard to their opinions. Yet they tell the people there is no need now for any revelation from on high; that there is no need for angels to come to the earth and make plain the way of life and salvation, because, forsooth, they know so much. The canon of Scripture they say is full; and God ceased to speak after He gave that revelation to John on the Isle of Patmos.

“Well,” someone perhaps will say, “does not the book itself say so?” No, it does not, but these ministers have taught that it does. In the last chapter of the Book of Revelation are we not told that, “if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book?” Yes; but we are also told that, “if any man shall take away the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” The angel merely told John what God told His servants in former times, that when He gave a revelation, man should not add to it. He told the same thing to Moses—“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it.” That is quite right. But man is prone to do that which is forbidden. When God reveals anything, someone is sure to add to or take away from it, and try to “improve” it or make it void. Hence the angel told John that no man was to take away from the words of the book of this prophecy. What book? The book that John was writing—the Book of Revelation. It does not refer at all to the Bible. There was no such book as the Bible then. Those books that are now compiled in the Bible—and a great many more that are not there—were scattered abroad, and hundreds of years after that, they were hunted up and examined; those that we now have were selected from a great mass of manuscripts and compiled; others were thrown away as non-canonical. The canon of Scripture was not made up by John, but was made up in the way I have described; and there is no intimation anywhere from God to man that He would give no more revelations; but the whole Bible from beginning to end proves the contrary. We are told to fear God and work righteousness, and call upon His Holy name and He will be nigh to answer, “Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shall be opened unto you; for everyone that seeketh findeth,” etc. That is the word of the Lord. It does not say that God would not give any more revelation; but it does say that man shall not add to that which God does give. In that very revelation we are told that an angel came to John and gave him a little book and told him to eat it. He ate the book as he was told. Then the angel said to him in explanation: “Thou must prophesy again before many people, and nations, and tongues, and kings.” If John was to prophesy to nations, and people, and before kings, would not that be the word of the Lord? Yes, just as much as that which he wrote in the book. So it does not follow that there was not to be any more revelation. The injunction is that man shall not add to or take from any revelation that God gives, and that has been a standing rule in all generations.

But if this passage in the last chapter of the Book of Revelation could be so construed as to make it appear that there was to be no more revelation, such a construction would conflict with what we find in the 14th chapter of Revelation to the effect that an angel was to come “having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation and kindred, and tongue, and people.” And if we turn back to the writings of the old prophets we find that they looked forward to the time in which you and I live; to the time when this work should be consummated; to the time when no one should need to say, “Know ye the Lord: for they shall all know Him even from the least unto the greatest of them.” Why? Because “they shall all be taught of God.” They looked forward to the time when “the Spirit of God shall be poured out upon all flesh;” so that all mankind shall feel the influence and be brought into union and harmony and communion with the Great God, the author of their being. That spirit will measurably rest down upon the brute creation. “The lion and the lamb will dwell together, and the little child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den.” The earth itself shall feel the influence of that divine spirit, and cease to bring forth thorns and briars, and in the place thereof “shall spring up the fig and the myrtle tree;” and “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of God, as the waters cover the sea.”

How can man know God without revelation from God? “Man by searching cannot find out God.” Wise men have been seeking to find out the secret of Deity for hundreds of years, and the more they study, the more they ponder, the less they know about Him. God is not to be found out in that way. Man cannot find out God, but God can manifest Himself to man. The only way that the Lord can be made manifest to man is by revelation. Jesus Christ thanked His Father, when he was praying, that God had “kept those things hid from the wise and prudent and revealed them unto babes.” “Even so, Father:” said He, “for thus it seemed good in thy sight. And no man knoweth the Son, but the Father, neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.” That is the only way.

Now, according to the Scripture I have quoted to you, an angel was to come to the earth and bring back the Gospel!—the Gospel that had been lost, the everlasting Gospel, the Gospel preached by Jesus and His disciples, the Gospel preached of old; for we read that it was preached to Abraham, and that it was preached to the Jews before the law of carnal commandments was given, and then God gave them a lesser law because they would not receive the greater. When Jesus appeared He merely came to bring to the earth that which was lost. He came to restore the Gospel that was preached in the beginning to the patriarchs, that was believed in by Abraham, and by receiving which he was able to commune with the Father, who called him His friend, and who said: “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord.” So we read in the 18th chapter of Genesis. The same Gospel that Abraham received; the Gospel preached to the people before Abraham’s day; the Gospel preached to the Jews before the law of carnal commandments was given; the Gospel Jesus and His disciples preached, and of which John the Baptist came as the forerunner, baptizing people for the remission of their sins in the river Jordan—that same Gospel has been restored in the day in which we live. There is but one everlasting Gospel. There are a great many so called gospels that men have made, but they are not the true, everlasting Gospel; for as the Apostle Paul says: “though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” There is but one straight path to the celestial city. There is but one gate into the kingdom of God, and “he that tries to climb up some other way will be accounted a thief and a robber.” So said Jesus. This everlasting Gospel then was to be brought to the earth by an angel, and was to be preached to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.

Now, when Jesus, the Son of God, was upon the earth, after His resurrection from the dead He appeared to His eleven Apostles—for one had apostatized, having sold his Master for a few pieces of silver—and gave them a commission. He said: “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And 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.” And the disciples went forth according to His word and preached, and God confirmed the word with signs following. Wherever they went they preached this one Gospel, and God blessed those that received their testimony. The Holy Ghost accompanied their preaching, and bore witness to the hearts of the people, and all who obeyed the Gospel were made of one heart and one mind—Greeks, Romans, Jews and Gentiles, bond and free, Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Herodians, etc., people from all the various sects, and some that did not belong to any sect, infidels also, when they ac cepted the testimony of the Apostles and were baptized, and had hands laid upon them, received the Holy Ghost, and were made of one heart and one mind; they had one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one hope of their calling. And we read in the New Testament that when they met in their assemblies one would speak in tongues, another would interpret, another would prophesy, etc. The Lord poured out His Spirit upon the people and gave them visible manifestations of His power, in addition to the inspiration of the Holy Ghost which made them all see and comprehend alike, and which bore witness to the divine mission of Christ and to the mission of the Apostles whom He had sent forth. These signs were seen in their midst, which comforted and made them strong. But after a time the people began to go astray. Wicked men took the Apostles and put them to death. Some were cast unto wild beasts; some were thrown into caldrons of boiling oil; some were crucified; others were tormented in various ways, persecuted and afflicted and slain. Then others began to depart from the faith, bringing in damnable heresies. Others began to preach for hire and divine for money, making merchandise of the souls of men. And thus the apostasy went on until darkness covered the minds of the people, and paganism was introduced into the Christian church. And the time came when that wicked power spoken of in the Revelation overcame the saints. The Spirit of God left the polluted church. The body became dead. Just as when the spirit of man leaves his body, the carcass begins to crumble; every particle seems desirous to get away from every other particle. So it was after the time that the Apostles fell. The Holy Ghost left the church. The spirit of revelation departed from the body and dissolution set in. Darkness ensued. Apostasy prevailed. In one of the homilies of the Church of England it is declared that: “Clergy and laity, men, women and children, of all ages, sects and degrees of whole Christendom (a most horrible and dreadful thing to think) have at once been buried in the most abominable idolatry, and that for the space of 800 years or more.” This was because there had been no Holy Ghost in the church, no revelation from heaven, no real communion with the powers on high. Instead of true worship there was idolatry. People had gone into darkness, and it had covered the earth—all nations and sects and parties, “clergy and laity, men, women and children of whole Christendom.” From that time to the present, sect has multiplied upon sect, and creed upon creed, but there has been no uniting power. The Holy Ghost not being in the church, the body has been segregated, every part separating from other parts, like the toes which Daniel saw composed part of iron and part of clay, the one refusing to mingle with the other.

In this generation came forth a young man bearing the testimony that the Lord had sent an angel from heaven to reveal the everlasting Gospel; and he bore testimony that the angel had appeared to him, and conversed with him in a heavenly vision. And he testified further that a servant of God who had once lived upon the earth, who was no less a personage than John the Baptist, had come to him and ordained him and Oliver Cowdery to the lesser Priesthood; that he had come as a forerunner of Christ, that the way might be prepared for His second advent. He still further testified that Peter, James and John appeared to him and ordained him to the same Priesthood which they themselves held, namely, the higher or Melchizedek Priesthood, committing unto him the Keys of the Apostleship and of the dispensation of the fullness of times, the dispensation when all things are to be gathered together in one, including the gathering of Israel, and the bringing back of the lost ten tribes, and the gathering of the elect of God from the four quarters of the earth, that they may be assembled in holy places so that they may not be moved when the judgments of the latter days are poured out, and that they may be prepared for the building up of the latter-day kingdom. It was very easy for the young man to say this, but what evidence is there to substantiate the truth of his assertion? The evidence is here. This young man claimed to hold this divine authority to preach the same Gospel that Jesus preached, promising the same testimony, the same signs and the same power that attended the ministrations of the servants of God in olden times. Now, an impostor could bear testimony that he received this communication, but an impostor could not draw down the Holy Ghost upon the people; an impostor could not open the heavens; an impostor could not cause these blessings and signs to come, convincing believers of the divinity of the work which he represented.

The facts are these: People began to believe in his testimony because they found that he taught the same doctrines as those contained in the Scriptures; some went forth and were baptized. And upon all that yielded obedience to the require ments of the Gospel he laid his hands, and the Holy Ghost descended upon them. Some received visions; some received the gift of healing, and others the gift of prophesying, etc.—the same powers which were enjoyed by the primitive Church were enjoyed by the Church established by the inspiration of God, through Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the 19th Century. He, under the divine command, ordained men to go forth and preach this Gospel. Some went to England, some to Scotland, some to Wales, others to France, to Germany and Scandinavia, and to different parts of Europe, while others preached extensively through this nation; and wherever they went and the people believed their testimony and were baptized for the remission of their sins, and submitted to the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost, they all bore testimony that God Almighty had revealed to them by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, that He had in very deed sent his angel from heaven and opened up the dispensation of the fullness of times.

Here we have a people dwelling in these mountain valleys who have been gathered from the different nations under this influence. Our Elders go out, not to entice the people to leave their homes; they do not go as “emigration agents,” as some people allege they do, but they go to preach the everlasting Gospel, and they do it as did the ancient servants of God; they are not paid for preaching, but they pay their own way, as a general thing, to their fields of labor, and then travel “without purse or scrip.” I have traveled extensively myself, as have many of the men within my hearing, without purse or scrip preaching the Gospel of Christ; and wherever the people received my testimony I baptized them and laid hands upon them, and they testified that the Holy Ghost came upon them, the gifts of that spirit were bestowed, and the sick were healed, in many instances instantaneously, by the power of God. I speak of this, not as a personal matter, but because this is the universal testimony of my brethren, wherever they have been sent among all nations.

This is not the work of man; it is the work of God, and it is God that bears witness to it. This is why this people are here. They have not come for gold or silver; they have not come simply to better their temporal circumstances; but they have gathered here “as the elect of God,” the voice of God having gone forth in connection with this Gospel. “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues; for her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” And the time is nigh at hand when the other angel will proclaim, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen.” This is the time that Jesus said His angels should go forth to gather His elect from the four winds, previous to His coming. And said He, “then shall this gospel of the kingdom be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.” The testimony of our Elders who go forth is that this is “the gospel of the kingdom,” and this is “the dispensation of the fullness of times;” and that the period has come for the establishment of the latter-day kingdom; when the people of God shall be gathered from the four winds previous to the destruction of the wicked, the breaking up of the kingdoms of this world, as Daniel saw them in his vision, that they may pass away and be found no more, and that “the kingdoms of this world may become the kingdom of our God and his Christ.”

The people who dwell in these mountain valleys labor to build up homes, to redeem the land and make it a desirable place to live in; but they are here chiefly, and as their primary object, to serve God and learn of Him. They are here in fulfillment of predictions made by Micah, Isaiah and Daniel. Isaiah declared, “It shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths,” etc. The prophecies of these ancient men of God are being fulfilled literally; and this people called Latter-day Saints have come here to learn of the ways of the Lord. They learned something of his ways in the lands where they were born, and the word tasted sweet to their souls; communion was opened up between them and the heavens, and they received a testimony for themselves. They did not have to depend upon the testimony of Joseph Smith, or of Brigham Young, or of John Taylor, or of the Apostles whom God has called in our day, but they obtained one for themselves. They were all baptized with one spirit into one body, and all received of the same influence; all obtained a similar testimony; and the gifts and graces of the everlasting Gospel are enjoyed by them, according to their several faiths and desires for God and the truth. This, therefore, is the beginning of the great latter-day work, the restoration of the Gospel, the opening up of the dispensation of the fulness of times. The work now is to gather the Saints of God. First of all the Gospel is to be preached to the Gentiles and then to the Jews. “The fulness of the Gentiles” has not yet “Come in,” but the time is close at hand when it will come in. After that the Lord will say, “Turn ye to the Jews also.” The servants of God are going out among the Gentile nations preaching the Gospel of the kingdom, and bearing testimony that it is His cause; not preaching what they think, or giving expression to any opinions they may have formed, but from knowledge of the will of God through the testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophecy which they obtained by bowing in obedience to the ordinances of the Gospel. They know what they preach. They do not go out with the “enticing words of man’s wisdom,” but to preach the everlasting Gospel as God has revealed it, as He has manifested it from on high. They are not sent to preach to please the popular ear, but to deliver in plainness, as the Spirit shall give them utterance, the message of salvation, whether the people believe it or not. And our missionaries find that the same spirit exists today that the servants of God had to meet and contend with anciently. The wicked oppose the message of truth they bear; and the most vehement opponents to it are those who profess the most piety. They have it in their hearts to destroy or bring trouble upon this people. Why? They do not know why themselves. It is because they shut their own hearts to the truth like the Pharisees of old, who made long prayers that they might be heard and seen of men, and not entering the kingdom themselves, they will not suffer those who would, to enter therein. They have the same spirit in their hearts that slew the prophets and put Christ to death. When our Elders go out, instead of meeting them with argument, these men stir up the people to oppose them by force. They have stirred up Congress to pass inimical laws to oppress the “Mormons,” to deprive them of the commonest rights of citizens, to take their leaders and put them to death. This is the spirit that has been arrayed against this Church from the beginning. Joseph Smith and Hyrum his brother, were slain in Carthage jail. What for? For the word of God and the testimony of Jesus; because they taught the truth as it came from God and claimed to have divine authority, to have received power from on high. They could not oppose the testimony of these men by truth, nor by Scripture, nor by argument, neither could they overcome them by law. But as the mob said that put these servants of God to death: “The law cannot touch them, but powder and ball shall.” This is the spirit by which the prophets of old were put to death. This is the spirit by which Christ was crucified on the cross. This is the spirit by which Peter was crucified head downward. This is the spirit by which others were thrown unto wild beasts and some were cast into caldrons of boiling oil. And this is the spirit that is exhibited in the latter times by some who claim to be ministers of the Gospel.

The work of gathering has commenced, then. That is part of the work of the dispensation of the fullness of times, the gathering of the people of God in one. The Saints of God will be gathered. The wicked may do what they please. They may pass laws; fulminate decrees; send circular letters to the governments abroad to prevent “Mormon” emigration; but as God lives and rules and reigns on high, this is His work and He will bring it about in His own way and time and there is no power on the earth that can thwart His purposes. His people will come from the east and gather from the west. The Lord will say to the north, “Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from afar, and my daughters from the ends of the earth.” And they will gather to Zion as the prophet foretold, and build up temples to the living God, that His ordinances may be performed therein, and that they may learn of His ways and walk in His paths. Then the Gospel, as I before remarked, will be preached to the Jews. The way is now being prepared for this. The work is moving on for the gathering of the Jews to their own land that they may build it up as it was in former times; that the temple may be rebuilt and the mosque of the Muslim which now stands in its place may be moved out of the way; that Jerusalem may be rebuilt upon its original site; that the way may be prepared for the coming of the Messiah, who shall be seen in the midst of those whose ancestors nailed him to the cross, and who, when they see the marks in His hands, shall say in answer to their inquiries, “These are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.”

This is only a small part of the latter-day work that is to be performed. We are just in the beginning of it. The Gospel has to be preached. The Saints must be gathered. The ten tribes must be brought from the north. The Gospel must be preached to the Lamanites, those red men of the forest, who are a branch of the house of Israel, whose forefathers came from old Palestine to this continent. The Lord is working among them by visions and dreams and by the manifestations of His divine power. What else? Why we are building temples in this land. We have built one in St. George, and have others in course of construction in this city, in Logan, and in Manti. Some people say: “What are you spending so much money for in building temples? Why don’t you put it to better use?” People who talk thus do not understand our position. This is part of the work we have to perform. We have temples to build, that the Lord may reveal many more things to His people concerning this latter-day work, and we are building them according to the pattern He has revealed, that we may attend to ordinances that He has made manifest; ordinances for the living and also for the dead; that we may be baptized for our dead, so that the spirits who have been preached to in prison may be brought forth, and that ordinances they cannot perform for themselves in the spirit world may be performed for them here in the houses we are building. There are many more things connected with this great dispensation that I have no time to refer to—and would not if I had time—because they belong only to the people of God, to those who have entered into the everlasting covenant, to those who have received the Holy Ghost, and who understand the things of God; for “no man knoweth the things of God, but by the Spirit of God.” But this work will go on; the Saints will be gathered, and temples will be built, and Israel will be redeemed, and the kingdoms of this world will become more and more divided; and the sects and parties of Christendom will become more and more contentions even than they are today. Infidelity will increase, for the Spirit of God is being withdrawn from them, because they receive not the truth when it is presented to them. And nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and people against people. War will be poured out eventually upon all nations; the only place where there will be peace and safety will be in the Zion of God. The judgments we read of in the revelations will all be poured out just as the Prophets have predicted and just as John the beloved has declared. All the woes that John saw are bound to be poured out upon the inhabitants of the earth; every word will be fulfilled, not one jot or tittle will pass away without its fulfillment.

We are here in these mountains that we may escape these troubles; that we may not partake of the sins of Babylon, that we may not share in her plagues. God has called us out from the world that we may be different from the world; that the object we live for may be different from the object which men have in view in the world; that we may not live for worldly gain, but live for God, for humanity, for the spirit of the Gospel; live to gather Israel, live to build temples, live that we may attend to the ordinances pertaining to our own salvation and exaltation, and those that pertain to the salvation of our dead. That the word of God may be fulfilled; that His kingdom may be established upon the earth no more to be thrown down forever. That the light of God may go forth from Zion and His name be honored in all the earth, and that He may reign from pole to pole and from shore to shore forever and ever. Amen.

Blessings Enjoyed By the Saints—Improvement—A Perfect Law—What Would Result If the Saints Obeyed the Word of God in All Things—Perfect Organization of the Church—No Excuse for the Saints Who Sin—How Satan Can Be Bound—Exemption From Disease As a Reward—Exhortation

Discourse by President Geo. Q. Cannon, delivered at the Quarterly Stake Conference, held in Logan, Cache County, Sunday Morning, May 6th, 1883.

I feel greatly pleased at the opportunity of meeting once more with the Saints in Conference in this place. It is nearly two years since I have had this privilege, during which time many important events have transpired. There is one thing, however, connected with the work of God which is very gratifying, that notwithstanding the perils through which we have passed, though our liberties have been menaced, and the perpetuity of the institutions of the kingdom of God have to human appearances been endangered, we still meet together this day in this Tabernacle unembarrassed from the efforts of our enemies and free to worship our God according to the dictates of our own consciences. This land to which God led us and in which He has planted us is still a land of liberty to us and to all those who are of our faith. To me this is a cause of profound thankfulness, for it is an evidence that God has not forgotten us, that the promises which he has made are still kept in remembrance by Him, and that as a people we have been living so as to receive the fulfillment of those promises and the benefits which flow from them. And there is no doubt in my mind that if the Latter-day Saints will still continue to do as they have done, will be faithful to God, and to the covenants we have made with him, and will persevere in the path which He has marked out and which we have commenced to tread, that we shall still be preserved, that we shall still have our liberty, that our enemies will not have power to disturb or interrupt us to any extent, or to bring down upon us those evils which they have sought after so diligently.

I believe that the testimony of the servants of God concerning the condition of the Saints in this Stake, and in other Stakes is true, and that as a people the Latter-day Saints are striving to live nearer unto their God, and to put in practice more perfectly those holy principles which He has revealed unto us. I believe there is more diligence being manifested in the various Wards and throughout the various Stakes than has been manifested in the past. I believe that there is a higher standard of life being sought after by the Latter-day Saints. I believe that the Priesthood themselves are seeking more diligently to carry out the counsels which God has given and to set examples unto the people that they shall imitate, and I know that the Spirit of God rests down upon His servants to make them more rigid in the enforcement of the laws that God has revealed unto us concerning the government of His church, so that there may be more purity, a higher standard of purity enforced and maintained among us than has been in the past.

We have had from the beginning of this work revelations given to us concerning the lives that we should lead. We consider the Christian world who have this Bible as their guide, very delinquent, because they do not live up to the commandments which are herein contained, because they come short of obeying the requirements that God has made through the Gospel as contained in the Bible, the Old and New Testament. But I often think of our own condition. We have in this book, the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, which is the word of God to us, a perfect law. Here are contained the requirements, here are contained the ordinances that God requires this people, called Latter-day Saints, to obey. Now, let me ask you, brethren of the Priesthood, let me ask you, brethren and sisters of the Church, how many of us who are here today live in accordance with the requirements of God’s word as contained in these revelations? I can truthfully say that as a people we do not live up to the requirements that God has made of us. I can truthfully say that as a people we do not obey God’s commands to us—the revelations which are contained in this book, and which we receive as the word of God, not to a past generation, not to a people who lived 1,800 years ago, but the word of God to us who live now and who constitute this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is our rule of life. This is the law for our guidance. It is embodied in this book. And how many of us, I ask again, live in conformity with it? How many of us have obeyed and do obey the word of God as it is here revealed and as it is here printed and given to us? And yet we condemn the sectarian world—all of us who have gone forth to preach the everlasting Gospel—for not obeying God’s word given 1,800 years ago, and have said that in consequence of this the gifts and graces and the blessings of the Gospel have been withheld from them. We have thus reasoned, we have thus proclaimed to the people and said to them that the cause of the absence of the gifts, the cause of the disappearance of the power, the cause of there being no faith in the land among the children of men to receive the blessings and the gifts of God, was to be found in the fact that they had not obeyed the commandments of God as revealed to them, or as revealed to the ancients rather, in the New Testament by the Son of God. Yet, I believe, notwithstanding what I now say respecting us, that there is a growing disposition among the people—I can feel it myself among the Priesthood, and I believe it extends to the whole body of the Church—a growing disposition to obey the word of God, as it is given to us in its plainness, in its simplicity and in its fullness, and because of this grow ing disposition God, having mercy upon us in our weakness and in our infirmities, blesses us as He does, and He saves us from our enemies. But you can readily perceive, if you will reflect a few moments, how much the power of this Church would be increased in the land and before the heavens if the Latter-day Saints were all to obey the word of God as it is given to us in His latter-day revelations. You can readily perceive how united and strong a people we would be, and how much the heavens would be moved in our behalf, the power that would be evoked and that would be brought down to aid us and to deliver us if we only lived in strict conformity to the words of God as they are contained in this book (the Book of Doctrine and Covenants). Each man and each woman can interrogate himself and herself upon this point. Each man can ask himself in the light of the Holy Ghost, how near he comes to fulfilling all the requirements which are here made, or how far he is from arriving at that perfection which these revelations demand, and each woman can do the same, and we can in this mirror of divine truth look at ourselves in our true light and see our reflection by the Spirit of God as it is revealed unto us in these revelations.

For one I know that I am far, individually, from coming up to this perfection. Yet it has been the labor of my life to be a Latter-day Saint. It has been the strongest wish of my heart all my days to be a Latter-day Saint, to be a perfect man if I could be before the Lord. Yet when I read these revelations; when I see the requirements which God has made of us as a people, I bow myself before the Lord and confess in His presence that I am far from being that which I should be, and it may be said that the same is the case with the Church.

Now God designs that we shall be just such a people in every respect as these revelations describe. God did not give us these revelations in vain, they were not spoken idly, they were not given through the prophet of God without a purpose. There was a design on the part of God in giving them, and when you come even to the very weakest, it may be said, of the revelations, or that which is the least obligatory upon us, that which was given merely as a word of counsel—the Word of Wisdom I refer to—we can judge of the rest by the manner in which that is observed among us as a people—a matter which pertains to our bodily life and health, and which is so simple that the weakest can receive and obey it. There will be a people raised up, if we will not be that people—there will yet be a people raised up whose lives will embody in perfection the revelations contained in this book, who will live as the doctrines here taught require, as the laws here revealed show unto us, and they will be raised up, too, in this generation, and such a people will have to be raised up before Zion can be fully redeemed, and before the work of our God can be fully established in the earth. In this book, as I have said, is the pattern of the Zion of God. Here are embodied the doctrines, precepts, laws, ordinances—everything in fact that is necessary in order to make us a perfect people before the Lord.

The perfection that we have arrived at today is due to these revelations. The organization of this people is such as is not to be witnessed anywhere else on the face of the earth. You may travel from one end of the land to the other; you may travel from the equator to the poles, and in no land and among no people will you find such an organization as that which we have in this land, or rather that which belongs to this Church. And it is due to the fact, that God gave commandments through His servant Joseph Smith, by which we have been organized upon a principle and a platform that is superior to anything known among men. There is nothing to equal it. This Church in its organization is adapted to a branch, to a small handful of people. It was well adapted to the condition of the six persons who composed the Church on the 6th day of April, 1830. It is as well adapted to the condition of the Saints today, covering hundreds of miles of territory, as it was to the six persons who composed the Church at that time. It will be as well adapted to the government and organization of the people when the Church of Christ shall extend itself throughout the earth, and when the whole people will become the people of God, when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ—just as well adapted then as it is now. God organized it; God has prepared the way for it; and when Zion is organized properly, it will be found to be as admirably adapted to the wants of the children of men as the organization of the Church is today to the wants of the people. There will be nothing lacking. In every particular it will be found adequate to the wants of humanity. The evils under which mankind groan today, are attributable to the false organization of society. The evils under which we groan as a people and from which we suffer are not due to any lack of knowledge as the method or the means that will correct these evils, but they are due to the fact that we ourselves fail to conform to the organization which God has prescribed, which God has revealed.

I wish we could all understand this; but it is true, it is as true as God lives, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is admirably adapted, in fact, perfectly adapted to save man from every evil under which he groans today. What has it done for us? Why, as far as it has gone it has saved us; it has saved us from every evil so far as we have gone. And as for adultery, to which allusion has been made, and fornication, there are no people on the face of the earth that will be damned with a greater damnation for that sin than we, if we be guilty of it. Why? Because there is no necessity for it. The necessity that men may plead as an extenuation for their practices with the opposite sex in the world ceases to exist in the midst of the Latter-day Saints. What necessity has any man to meddle with any woman that does not belong to him? In other lands the laws make men adulterers in many instances. That is a hard saying, but it is a true one. Men are driven by their passions, very frequently, because of unjust laws, to commit crimes that their souls revolt at. But is it so with us? No. God has given unto us a more perfect law. He has commanded us to marry, all that can marry; and there is no man among us that can plead that which others may in a different state of society; no man can do that amongst us; and therefore I say that those men and women among us who commit adultery and fornication will be damned with a deeper damnation than any other people, because there is no necessity for it. If a man wants a wife he can get one among the Latter-day Saints. You organize society aright, as God contemplated in these revelations, and those evils under which we now groan—this dishonesty and this disposition to take advantage of each other—will be done away with. God has devised a plan and has revealed it, that in its operations will relieve mankind from those evils and the commission of those sins to which they are now subject. When we are organized properly theft will cease among us, for the temptation to steal will be removed. Organize us properly, and the temptation to take advantage of our neighbor will cease, because there will be no profit in it or connected with it. And it is all contained in this book. God has revealed it fifty years ago in plainness to this church, and we for fifty years have been crawling along at our slow gait without obeying the word of God, that is so plainly revealed, and that might relieve us, if we did obey it, from all those evils.

Now, my view of the Gospel is, that when it is obeyed by mankind the power of the devil will cease. That is my view respecting a part of the power that will be brought to bear to bind Satan. Satan will be bound because he will not have power over the hearts of the children of men. Why? One reason will be because they will have obeyed the more perfect law which will have relieved them from his power. You take the majority of the Elders of this Church, who are faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and Satan has but little or no power to tempt them to commit adultery, to commit sin with their neighbor’s wife or with the opposite sex; they are to a great extent relieved from that, and so far as that crime is concerned Satan has but little power to tempt them, because they have obeyed a more perfect law. In the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as God has revealed it unto us, there are laws so perfect that when this people called Latter-day Saints shall obey them they will be so far lifted up above the power of Satan that he will have but little power to tempt them. But we never shall be emancipated from the power of Satan until we do obey these laws of God. An obedience thereto will bring emancipation to us and to every human being on the face of the earth, and it is upon no other principle that emancipation can be brought. It will not be as many suppose by our being withdrawn, without volition on our part, from the influences of Satan; but it will be by our obedience to the laws of God, by our conforming to the requirements which He makes of us, by our putting into practice all those higher laws which God has revealed, and which He designs we shall practice. Any soul that is waiting for some outward deliverance, waiting for some time to come when by some extraneous means, and independent of our action and the exercise of our agency, deliverance will be brought, he will wait in vain, I am afraid. Not that I would convey the idea that God is not going to help us, that God is not going to do it by His power; I would not convey any such idea, because I know and you know that without God’s help all our efforts are powerless, and it is vain to seek to do anything in and of ourselves; we cannot do it. Human nature is too fallible to do anything of this kind; but we must exercise the powers God has given to us by obeying His law, by conforming to His requirements. In this way we will be emancipated through the blessing and aid of God upon us, and in this way the earth will be redeemed from the power of Satan. The more people obey the laws of God, as God has revealed them, and as they are embodied in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the nearer they approach unto God, the more they become like Him, the more power they get over themselves and over the adversary. If there could be a man or a community found who lived in strict obedience to all the laws taught in this book [Doctrine and Covenants], you would find almost a perfect people; yet would find a people in the condition of the people of Enoch—that is, they would be approximating to that perfection which he and his city obtained, and which caused them to be translated.

When God revealed the Gospel, He designed that we should obey these laws. He taught us in the first place that it was necessary to have faith in Jesus Christ, then to be baptized for the remission of sins, then to have hands laid upon us for the reception of the Holy Ghost. Then the people that were scattered were taught to gather out from the nations of the earth. Every law that they obeyed brought salvation. Every time they bowed in obedience to the requirements of God, they brought, by their obedience, salvation to themselves and to their families, so far as their families conformed to the requirements. When they got to Zion, if they obeyed the law of tithing, it brought salvation. And so with every other law that God has taught in the revelations that have been given unto us, and the men, as I have said, who have the most faithfully complied with those requirements have emancipated themselves, through the blessing of God, the most perfectly from the power of Satan. I look upon the men and upon the women who have entered into the new and everlasting covenant concerning patriarchal marriage as being more advanced than their brethren and sisters who have not obeyed that law. And if a community were found who would enter upon the order of Enoch as God has revealed it and who would hold themselves and their property subject to that law, I should look upon them as still more in advance and still nearer to that perfection which God designs to bring about in Zion among the Latter-day Saints. It should be the aim of every man and every woman in this Church to thus conform to the law and to the will of God, because by so doing they bring salvation to themselves and to their children, and if they persevere in doing so, God will bless them in their efforts, and they will eventually be brought to live with Him and to dwell in His presence, and to receive the exaltation and glory that He has in store for them. Now, I have obeyed those laws thus far, because I know they have these effects. I obey the Word of Wisdom—or try to obey it—because I know it brings a blessing. And in like manner I obeyed the ordinance of baptism; in like manner I submitted to have hands laid upon me for the reception of the Holy Ghost; in like manner I pay my tithing; in like manner I have gone on missions and done that which God has required of me, because in each and every act of this kind I knew that God intended to bring salvation to me if I would be obedient. And I obeyed the doctrine of patriarchal marriage, upon the same principle, because I knew that it was a principle of salvation and of exaltation, and that if I would be exalted in the presence of God I must obey the law. So it will be with other laws which are yet in the future, and which God will reveal to us as we grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. He will continue to give revelation upon revelation, precept upon precept, and He will reveal unto us more light and more knowledge and give unto us more power and more of the gifts and graces of the Gospel as we become more perfect in keeping the laws He has already revealed.

It has been said—and I think all who have had any experience know that it is true—that in families where the Word of Wisdom is obeyed there is greater faith in administering the ordinances of the house of God unto those who are sick. We have a Bishop in Salt Lake City who, I believe, took an account of the number of those who were sick in his Ward, and he brought a statement to the President’s office to the effect that in the families where the Word of Wisdom was strictly observed fewer deaths had occurred than in families where the Word of Wisdom was not observed. Diphtheria or some other disease was raging at that time in the city, and in his ward in particular, and his mind was turned to this matter, and after making inquiries he satisfied himself that there were more cases of healing and restorations to health through the administrations of the Elders by the laying on of hands in families where the Word of Wisdom was observed than in families where it was neglected, and that deaths were more frequent in the latter.

[President Taylor: There were none died in the families where the Word of Wisdom was observed.]

President Taylor says there were none died in the families where the Word of Wisdom was observed. Is it not natural that this should be the case? Have we not as Elders proclaimed to the world that the sectarians do not have the gifts and graces of the gospel because they do not keep the word of the Lord, do not keep the commandments of God? Has not this been our testimony to the nations of the earth? Yes, all of us who have gone forth to proclaim the word have thus testified time and time again. Will not that rule apply to us as a people? Certainly it will. The men who obey the laws of God most perfectly, and the women who do so, have the greatest faith, and God will bless them in proportion to their faith; He will bless their families according to their faith; the gifts of the Spirit will be manifested more in their behalf than upon those who deliberately violate or are careless concerning the word of God. This is certainly true. So it is with every law that God has given. The nearer we approach unto God, the more perfect we live in accordance with the revelations He has given, the more faith undoubtedly we will possess, the more God will hear us, the nearer the heavens will draw to us, the more the heavens will be opened to us to hear our cries and to answer our petitions. And, as I have said, the day will come, if we obey the laws that God has given, that Zion will be redeemed and the adversary will not have power over us to tempt us, and try us, and to afflict us as he does at the present time.

It may be thought I am enthusiastic in thus speaking, but I think I am not; I do not think I am the least enthusiastic on this point—that is more than I am warranted in being from that which God has said unto us as a people. I do not expect any salvation or redemption for Zion upon any other principle than this I speak of. I do not expect that Satan will be bound in any other way. Of course God will bring His power to bear; He will do it. God will have the glory of it, because it cannot be done by man. Man’s power is insufficient to accomplish it. It must be done by man’s obedience, by man’s submission to God’s law, by man’s continually doing that which God commands him and requires of him, and in this way alone can it be brought about.

It may be said, as has been said, that the seed of the righteous shall multiply and increase in the land and possess the land. But supposing we do not marry, supposing we remain single, can that blessing be brought about? In our case, certainly not. It requires obedience to law on our part to bring about the fulfillment of that promise. We must marry as a people. Men must take wives. The daughters of Eve must marry the sons of Adam in order to bring about the fulfillment of that promise. But supposing this people were to refuse to marry, neither this prophecy nor promise could be fulfilled through them; it would have to be fulfilled through some other people. Obedience is necessary on the part of the people to bring about the fulfillment of this prediction, and so also respecting the binding of Satan. God bestows the gifts and graces of the Gospel according to their obedience, and it should be the aim of every man in this Church not to rest satisfied with his own condition until he has bowed in obedience to the laws of God. If a man had but one wife, and the Spirit of God moved upon him to take more than one, should he refuse to obey the promptings of God in that respect? Not to gratify lust, not to gratify any improper passion, but to obey the law of God, because if he did not obey that he could not receive the blessing. So with all the laws in this book which are yet unfulfilled. If there be a law that we have not fulfilled, it should be the aim of every individual in this Church to prepare himself to fulfill that law as fast as he can. I look upon this as an obligation devolving upon every man, woman and child in Zion; not upon the First Presidency alone, not upon the Twelve alone, not upon the Presidents of Stakes alone, not upon the High Councilors alone, but upon every man and every woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; going on from the first principles to perfection, carrying out in our lives all the laws that God has revealed to us, until Zion shall be fully redeemed, and the way be prepared for the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

It is very wonderful to me what God has done and is doing with us as a people. When I look at this work; when I contemplate how the Prophet Joseph commenced it and how it has grown; when I see this immense congregation assembled here this morning, I cannot help thinking that if the Prophet had lived to behold such a scene, his heart would have been filled with gladness. There has been no word, no promise given unto us by the servants of God from the beginning that has not been thus far fulfilled, and the remainder will be fulfilled. God is carrying forward this work with an irresistible power, and those who will not obey the law of God will be left behind. This is an awful thought to me, there is something awful in the reflection. When I read the history of the Church and see the names of many men who have been prominent in it, I ask myself, where are these men today? Where is their posterity today? Men who in their day and generation were mighty in this work, who helped to establish it, who helped to spread it. And they have disappeared. Their names are lost from among the Saints of God. Their families have disappeared—gone into oblivion. When I think of it the thought is almost too awful to contemplate—the idea of being lost in connection with this work, this work in which all our hopes are centered, and which is dearer to us than life. Who is there among us today, who has the Spirit of God, who would not rather be taken out and shot on this public square than lose the spirit of this work, than be separated from the church and lost to all hope, all the promises, and all the glorious prospects of our salvation and redemption? Why, it is the most awful thought I can contemplate. The thought of it fills the soul with horror. But there is only one way in which we can remain connected with this Church, and that is by keeping step with it, by marching onward, obeying the counsel that God gives through His servants, and by being pure in all our thoughts, in all our words, and in all our actions. In no other way can any human being—however great his attainments, however great the blessings he may have received, however great the promises which have been given unto him—ever remain connected with this work.

Therefore, let us be obedient. Let us correct our lives if we are in fault. Let us repent of our sins and put them far from us. If we have sinned let us humble ourselves before God, and in the very depths of humility ask forgiveness of our transgressions, and let us lay ourselves and all we have—everything that God has given to us, every faculty of our mind, every power of our body, everything that God has placed within our con trol, all the property and everything that he has placed in our stewardship—let us hold all subject to His will and to His counsel, willing to go, willing to come, willing to give, willing to withhold, willing to do everything that God requires of us with glad hearts, for in doing so we secure unto ourselves our salvation and exaltation.

My brethren and sisters, you who have tasted of this precious word of God; you whose souls have been filled with the Holy Ghost; you who have felt its joy, its peace, and the glorious feelings that it produces in the human heart—would you forego this for anything else upon the face of the earth? Would you exchange it for anything else? No, you would not. You have seen the time—every one of you who have had the Holy Ghost resting down upon you—when you have felt as though you would rather part with your lives than you would part with that spirit.

Well, now, be entreated of me, a humble servant of God, this morning, to repent of your sins and put them away from you; repent truly and sincerely of your follies, hardness of heart, rebellion, stubbornness—repent, I say, in the name of Jesus, and bow yourselves before Him, and entreat Him for the outpourings of His Holy Spirit until your hearts are filled therewith and you have received a forgiveness of your sins. And then when you have done that, go forward, seeking diligently to comply with all the requirements of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as it has been revealed unto us, until we shall be brought back into the presence of our God and be crowned with glory, immortality and eternal lives, which I ask in behalf of all, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Gospel Like Leaven—Labor Required of the Elders—Promises to Abraham—Honorable Men in the American Nation Formerly and Now—Liberty in Religion and the Elective Franchise Claimed As Rights—The Saints Cannot Afford to Do Wrong—Relationship to God—Exhortation

Discourse by President John Taylor, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, (Annual Conference) April 8th, 1883.

We have had a very interesting Conference, and a great many very excellent principles have been presented to the people. As I told the Priesthood last evening we are occupying a very peculiar position in the earth, a position that has not been of our own seeking. God has set His hand to accomplish His purposes upon the earth, and for this purpose He has revealed Himself from the heavens, as we have heard since this Conference commenced. In pursuance of this He has mani fested Himself and His Son Jesus Christ, and has restored the Holy Priesthood by and through the medium of a Priesthood, or various parts of a Priesthood that existed in former ages—those holding that everlasting Priesthood, which administers in time and in eternity, have been commissioned from the heavens to come to the earth to bring to pass the very things of which they themselves had prophesied. Although we are, comparatively speaking, a small people, few in number, yet as it was in the days of Jesus so it is today. The Gospel is like a little leaven put into a certain portion of meal, and it is working and operating, and the ultimate result will be that the whole lump will be leavened. Not that everybody that is in the world will obey the Gospel; but the Lord will have His own way in manipulating His affairs, and great tribulation will overtake the inhabitants of the earth. As you have heard, many of the wicked will slay the wicked; but after these things have taken place the good, the honorable, the virtuous, the pure, those that are desirous to serve God will all have their position, and that thing will be fulfilled which was spoken of by Jesus—“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” The time will yet come when the Saints of the Most High will take the kingdom and hold dominion under the whole heavens. These are principles that are familiar to us all. In the meantime, however, many important events have to take place, and a great labor has to be performed, and will be performed by the agencies which have been introduced by the Lord, and which will be hereafter introduced by Him for the accomplishment of His purposes, and the bringing to pass of His righteous will. For this purpose the Holy Priesthood has been restored; for this purpose the message of life and salvation has been proclaimed to the nations of the earth; for this purpose after the reception of the Gospel, the people have been gathered together in order that the Lord might have a people who would be under the influence of His Holy Spirit. We have all been baptized by one baptism, and have all partaken of the same Spirit, and wherever these ordinances have been administered according to the order of God, and have been received by the faithful among the nations of the earth, these effects have always followed. I have been among the nations myself, and I have baptized people and confirmed them at least in three different languages, and the same spirit rested upon all of those different peoples, and so it is throughout all nations. The Lord has said he would gather together His elect from the four quarters of the earth. And how does He do it? By operating upon the minds of those who obey the Gospel. Jesus said in His day and it is true today—“My sheep hear my voice and know it, and follow me and a stranger they will not follow because they know not the voice of a stranger.” It is under the influence of this Spirit that we have been gathered together. We used to sing:

Whither shall we follow, follow, follow; Whither shall we follow, follow thee? All the way to Zion, all the way to Zion, All the way to Zion, We will follow thee.

What made you gather here? The impulse of the Spirit of the living God, and you could not keep away. We have representatives here from very many nations today. Here are Elders who have preached the Gospel in many nations. A few years ago we had some twenty-five nationalities represented at one of our public demonstrations. And thus our work is to go on and spread and increase. The Apostles, the Seventies, the Elders, and men who have received the light of truth, will spread forth that light to others of the family of God throughout the world. This is a labor resting upon the Elders of Israel, and until it is accomplished we shall not have fulfilled our mission here upon the earth. Then, again, we have other works to perform associated with the Church, with the Kingdom, and with the Zion of God. I think sometimes that we as a people are a good deal sectarian in our feelings, and it is necessary for us occasionally to look at the pit from whence we were dug, and the rock from whence we were hewn. We are all too ready to cry out, as the sectarians do in their different orders,

“The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord are we.” And we are apt to forget sometimes the mission that God has placed upon us, which is a mission of mercy, a mission of light, a mission of intelligence, a mission that is calculated to elevate the world of mankind, even all those who will receive and obey it. It is not intended for us alone; it is intended for all men. Who are the world, and who are we? We say we are the children of God our Heavenly Father. That is true; we are the children of God our Heavenly Father. And is God our Father? The Scriptures say so. But what of the rest of the world—say of this nation, and all other nations—what of them? Whose children are they? They are also the children of our Heavenly Father, and He is interested in their welfare as He is in ours; and as a kind and beneficent father towards His children, He has been seeking from generation to generation to promote the welfare, the happiness, and the exaltation of the human family. And let me say here, that He is the fountain of life, the fountain of light, and the fountain of intelligence, as we used to say in the Church of England when I was a little boy, and I suppose they say so now; “it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture,” He provides for us. We sometimes talk about the hand of God being over us. Of course it is, and will be over us forever, if we will only serve Him, for He is always true. But His hand is over the nations of the earth also. He is interested in the welfare of this nation and all other nations and all other peoples as well as in our welfare. What was the greatest blessing conferred upon Abraham? One was that his seed should be numerous as the stars of heaven, and as the sand upon the seashore. I do not know that he would have got along very well in this land nowadays; they would have been after him for polygamy. People do not believe so much in these things now as they did formerly. Nevertheless, the Lord told him to take another wife; but, then, perhaps the Lord made a mistake, He had not studied modern Christianity; He was, to use the language of the advanced Christian, behind the times. But whatever may be thought or said about it, according to the record that has come down to us, He used to talk to people in that day.

But let me refer you to another blessing connected with Abraham, namely, that in him and his seed should all the nations of the earth be blessed. Or, in other words, that God would honor him by making of him and his seed agents through whom He would communicate truth, intelligence and salvation to the world. It is said “the glory of God is intelligence,” and He is desirous to impart this intelligence to the human family, that through it they may be exalted to the Godhead. Abraham’s posterity were to stand as messengers of God, as legates of the skies, commissioned of the great Jehovah to proclaim His word to fallen man, even to His children; for God has made, we are told, of one blood all the families of the earth, and has given unto them a portion of His Spirit, if haply they would feel after Him, although He is not far from any one of us. For in Him we live, and move, and have our being. And under the influence of His Spirit man has accomplished very much good; and today there are hosts of honorable, upright men who in their hearts fear God, but they have not yet found the right way. But in the providences of His mercy He has gathered a people from the nations that they may be taught and instructed in regard to the laws of life and salvation. And this has been brought about in fulfillment of ancient prophecy. Jeremiah, for instance, in referring to it said, that he would take them one of a city and two of a family, and bring them to Zion. And what was He to do with them when He should get them there? He would give them pastors after His own heart who should feed them with knowledge and understanding. And the same great event is referred to by other Prophets.

I was very much pleased with the remarks made by Brother Erastus Snow, with regard to our own nation, in which he said that it had been by and through the power of Almighty God, and in accordance with the words of the Lord as contained in the Book of Mormon, that the people were, in the first place, impelled to come here, and after coming here, to contend for human freedom upon this land; and it was by and through the power of God, that the fathers of this country framed the Declaration of Independence, and also that great palladium of human rights, the Constitution of the United States. There is nothing of the bigoted, narrow, contracted feeling about that instrument; it is broad and comprehensive. And they had a bell in Philadelphia, which I, and perhaps many of you have seen, upon which was written, “Proclaim liberty throughout the land, and to all the inhabitants thereof;” but I was sorry to see that the bell was cracked. I suppose it got cracked after the grand effort that was made to proclaim liberty throughout the land; and I have thought since that it has not been soldered up yet. But with all the weaknesses and imperfections associated with men, the government of this nation has been a great bulwark for human freedom, and I felt proud at the time when Mr. Edmunds, with his colleagues, introduced his bill, known as the Edmunds’ bill, that there was such a number of gentlemen who had the manhood and the moral courage to oppose it in the bold and manly way in which they did, showing plainly that they cherished in their bosoms the principles contained in the Constitution. I respect such men, and they command the respect and esteem of all honorable, right-thinking people. They could afford to render themselves unpopular in the eyes of religious bigots and fanatical politicians, but they could not afford to be amongst those that are ready to tear down the bulwarks of human freedom, and trail in the dust the flag of our country. They did not believe in our religion. Of course, that is a matter of their own, it is none of our business, neither is our religion any of their business, which they understand and appreciate. There are two things that I have felt very decided upon ever since I could comprehend anything; one was that I would worship God as I pleased without anybody’s dictation; and that I would dictate to no man his faith, neither should any man dictate to me my faith; and the other was that I would vote as I pleased. And I entertain the same sentiments today. When the Commissioners, operating under the Edmunds’ law, made their extraordinary rulings and authorized the administering of the test oath, declaring who should vote and who should not, I could not help remarking that people were acting very foolishly, that they did not know what they were doing; but whether they knew it or not their attempts to wrest from this people their rights and liberties, were no more or less than indirect attempts to tear down the bulwarks of American liberty. But in this inexcusable attack upon human rights and the principles of liberty we can take no part. What then will we do? They have no right, it is true, to interfere with us in the way they have done; they have no right, it is true, to prohibit us from voting without a hearing and without a trial; they have no right, it is true, to present to us a test oath, it being illegal and contrary to our rights as American citizens. But we will submit gracefully for the time being, withdraw from the polls, rather than act in the capacity of obstructionists; and when the time comes we will test these proceedings according to the laws of the land, and the principles of liberty guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, which we recognize and respect. Have we yielded up our franchises? No, we have not. Will we ever do it? No, never; no, never. Have we in the least backed down from the principles by which we have been guided from the beginning? No; we still mean to live by them and to maintain them, and to contend for our rights, not by dynamite or nitroglycerine, but to do so legally and constitutionally, not only in defense of our own rights, but the rights and liberties of our children and those of every free man throughout the land. This is the course we purpose taking.

As I before stated we have been called from the nations of the earth by Him who is our Father, we being His children. And He has told us to ask, and we shall receive. He has told us to seek and we shall find; to knock and it shall be opened to us. Very well. What shall we do? We will use the best means we can to defend our rights; and after we have done this we will then go to our Heavenly Father and ask Him to help us. Will He do it? Yes. Has He done it? Yes, and we acknowledge His hand in regard to these things. He has heard our prayers without noise, without tumult. He has told us thus far that if we will continue to obey Him and to observe His laws, He will deliver us and direct us even to the end. And we need have no fears whatever about the result. He has promised us that inasmuch as we do His will and keep His commandments, He will fight our battles. And I feel confident and perfectly easy, and I felt just as easy during the furor and commotion that raged through the land a few months ago as I do today; knowing, as I do, that if we will perform our part, the Lord will not fail to do His. Because others act foolishly we cannot afford to imitate them. We profess to be the Zion of God, the pure in heart. We profess to be men and women of integrity, of truth and virtue, and to have faith in God. This must not only be our profession, but our practice; we must carry out and fulfill the word and will and law of God. Jesus taught His disciples how to pray. Said He: “Our Father who art in heaven.” That is, your Father and my Father, the God and Father of the spirits of all flesh. “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,” O, God, we reverence thee; we observe thy law, and we wish to keep thy commandments, and purge ourselves from all evil, that we may be acceptable to thee. “Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come.” We reverence thee, O, God, and attribute to thee all that we have in this world, and all that we expect to have in the eternities to come. “Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come.” Thy what? Thy kingdom come. That is the rule of God, the government of God, the dominion of God, the time when men will not be ashamed to acknowledge God as their Father, their friend and benefactor. “Thy kingdom come.” When all will submit to thy rule, to thy law, to thy jurisdiction, to thy dominion; that thy will may be done on earth as it is done in heaven. How was it done in heaven? God spake, chaos heard, and this world rolled into existence; and so did other worlds under the same divine impulse and power. And all those systems that revolve around us were made and are upheld by the mighty power of God, who governs in the heavens above, and upon the earth beneath, and among the worlds. Whether men acknowledge that or not, the time will come on this earth when every knee shall bow to Him, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is the Christ, to the glory of God the Father. That time will come. It is not here now; but as I have said He has introduced this Gospel as the entering wedge, as the little leaven by which he can operate, that He may have a people under the influence of the Holy Ghost, a people that can hold communion with him, like so many thousand strings penetrating the eternal worlds and drawing down blessings from the Almighty, drawing fire, and life, and intelligence from Him; for we ourselves are sparks struck from the blaze of His eternal fire, emanating from God our Father, and we wish to operate with Him and for Him and under His guidance, for the accomplishment of His purposes here upon the earth. This is what we are here for. Now I come to another point. We pray “Thy will be done on earth, as it is done in heaven.” How is it done there? As I said, God spake, chaos heard, and the world rolled into existence, and it is supported by the mighty power of God, and who can stay His hand. Do you think that if all the Legislatures, all the Congresses, all the Parliaments, and all the Reichstags, all the Chambers of Deputies and Senates of the earth were to get together and pass a decree that the sun should rise five or ten minutes, or half an hour later or earlier than it does—do you think it would have any effect upon it! I do not think it would—I think it would still go on in its usual course, and they would feel that they were dependent upon God. Do the world know that in Him we live and move and have our being? Does this congregation know that there is not one of them could leave this house unless God permitted it and sustained them in so doing? Do the nations of the earth comprehend that they are in His hands, and that he puts down one nation and raises up another according to the counsels of His will, and none can say, “Why doest thou thus.” What have we to do? To begin with, we should deal justly and honorably with all men, and should seek to protect all men in their rights so far as we have the power to do so, and then to maintain our own on the same principle. And what then? Fear God and observe His laws, and we ought every one of us to place ourselves in communication with the Lord, and He has tried to make us understand this, but it seems very difficult for us to do so. It was in former times, and it is now. He says, “Ask and ye shall receive.” Is it not a very simple thing? “Seek and ye shall find.” Is it not very easy. “Knock and it shall be opened unto you.” But says He, you do not understand it aright. Now, let me mention a thing to you. If a child ask of you bread, would you give it a stone—you fathers and you mothers? I think not. If the child asked a fish would you give it a scorpion?” Why, no. The mother would say, “Sammy, or Mary,” as the case might be, “you want some bread—well I will give you some with butter and molasses.” The mother would try to meet the wishes of the children, and sometimes give them a little candy to boot. Now, then, says the Lord, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give His Holy Spirit to them that ask him.” It is very plain when you get at it, and it is very simple, and people wonder sometimes, they think it an astonishing thing that God should hear people’s prayers. Why, bless your souls, that is the strongest fort we have, and when we get into any difficulty in the nation or anywhere else, we humble ourselves before the Lord—and we all need to do this, for we all have our weaknesses and imperfections; and it is necessary that He should be very merciful to us. And He is, and knows how to bear with us. We need also to know how to bear with one another, and to place ourselves in communion with God, and in doing this to purge ourselves from everything that is wrong and evil. And I tell you—you Elders of Israel, you brethren and you sisters, that if you will begin to do the will of God on the earth as it is done in heaven, the power and blessing of God will rest upon you and upon this people, and no power will be able to injure you from this time forth. God expects us to do His will, to carry out his purposes, and if His will is ever done on the earth as it is done in heaven, where in creation will it start, if it does not start here? Let every man put himself right, and every woman and every family do the same, and all the Priesthood in all its various departments and ramifications, and let every one walk up to the line and perform his duty, and in the name of Israel’s God, Zion shall arise and shine, and the glory of God shall rest upon her. Our progress is onward and upward, until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our God and His Christ, and loud anthems be sounded from among the nations—glory and honor and power and might and majesty and dominion be ascribed unto Him that sitteth upon the throne and unto the Lamb forever and forever. Amen.

A Comparison—Wrath of Man Made to Praise God—Fall of Senator Edmunds—Fate of Those Who Oppose God’s Work—Persecution for Religion Unavailing—Case of the Huguenots—Intemperance—Startling Statistics—Drink, the Cause of Other Evils—Appeal to the Saints

Discourse by Elder Moses Thatcher, delivered in the Large Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Saturday Afternoon, at the Annual Conference, April 7th, 1883.

I feel very grateful indeed for the happy and peaceful circumstances with which we are surrounded this day, and I cannot help realizing how different they are to those which surrounded us a year ago. The pressure from the outside world at that time was very great, and the power of him who has been an oppressor from the beginning was exercised throughout this nation for the hurt of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But when perils have threatened we have learned to appeal to the invisible forces of heaven against the visible forces of earth, and in no age of the world with which I am acquainted has the right ever failed to succeed if those who maintained it were directed, sustained and upheld by the power of God our eternal Father. When men make it their special mission to contend against this great work, they do not realize that God is a power, they cannot comprehend that exercise of faith that turns aside the shafts of our enemies and delivers us from the snares which shrewd politicians and wicked and ungodly priests lay to entrap the people. How well I recollect a conversation I had about a year ago, with a very thoughtful man, a man connected with the Church, but who at times is given to view things from the natural standpoint. It was shortly after the arrival of the Commissioners who came to Utah to administer the provisions of the Edmunds’ law. This brother was not ignorant of the exertions which has been made throughout the Union to secure the enactment of that and other proscriptive measures, nor was he ignorant of the intent of leading politicians in the Republican party to forge chains with which to bind us, while depriving us of our liberties. He understood full well the means which had been used; he was not ignorant of the tearful waves of prejudice which had swept every State in the Union. Realizing what the intentions of the wicked were, and understanding the mighty power of a mighty nation, he felt exercised and desired to know if something could not be done to compromise the question; in other words; if it was not possible to submit to the President and Cabinet certain propositions by which the people might be enabled to maintain their rights and liberties. I have not forgotten what my reflections were while listening to his remarks, and I remember the reply which I was led to make. It was this: We had been gathered from the nations of the earth. We came to these mountains to serve God without respect to the thoughts or suffrages of other people. We came here to maintain liberty of conscience and freedom of worship, the provisions of the Constitution of our common country, and not to compromise them upon any terms whatever; that I knew of no earthly wisdom upon which we could safely rely in maintaining those rights; that if the religious, political and social affairs of the people were given over to the management of a hundred of the wisest uninspired men to be found in Zion, they would utterly fail to accomplish the purposes of God, though they might in their efforts to please man, sacrifice liberty and the freedom of conscience, violate the sacred provisions of the Constitution, and make those whom they sought to serve pliant slaves, unworthy of the blessings which of right belong to a free people; that the adoption of such a policy would, within six months, place us in such a condition of confusion and misery that God alone could relieve our distress; that if, on the other hand, we would exercise faith in Him, live our religion, be prayerful and humble, He would bring us off, as He has done many times before, victorious. Can we not see how the Lord has stayed the passions of men and made their wrath to praise Him? Let us reflect upon the difference between the power exercised by the great leading light of the Republican party during the passage of the Edmunds’ bill in the Senate of the United States a little over a year ago, and the exercise of the influence of the same man a year later. Senator Edmunds, when he first called up his bill was, in the Senate, almost supreme. By the power of his intellect and the fierce invective of his tongue, he ruled, as it were, absolute master, and his bill, unconstitutional and unjust, passed the Senate with but little opposition. Few statesmen cared then to measure arms with him, but mark the results when God did so a year later.

Had the faith of this people changed? Did we believe more in the laws of God in March, 1882, than we did in March 1883? Certainly not. Why then was Senator Edmunds unable to carry out his views and measures regarding this people in the latter as he had succeeded in doing in the former year? Because God is a force in the world and its affairs, whether men acknowledge it or not. His power always has been, and always will be greater than man’s power.

Men may think what they please and sneer at what they may be pleased to call fanaticism, but this I know, shame and confusion was the part of Senator Edmunds when, after six hours vain endeavor to force the passage of another infamous measure against us, he stood up in the Senate and confessed that he could see by the ruling of the presiding officer, and by the votes of his opponents, that it was impossible to carry the measure which he had in hand, and therefore moved for an adjournment. Was his defeat, chagrin and shame accomplished by the wisdom of man? We think not. We at least are willing, as we always have been, to acknowledge the hand of God in these things. God not only holds the destinies of nations in His hands, but He holds also the destiny of individual man. He can humble those who measure arms with Him, as He has done many times in the past. We fear not the power, nor do we gloat over the fall of man, public or private, but we have learned by experience that when they rise up and contend against this people and the principles of liberty and right, God marks them, and their course thenceforth is not upward but downward. In March, 1882, when in Washington, D.C., in company with other brethren, visiting Brother George Q. Cannon, then our honored delegate, I remember the sentiments expressed by some members of the Republican party. They would come privately and say: “We view this bill—referring to the Edmunds’ bill—as infamous in its measures; we can see that it is unconstitutional, that it seeks to rob a whole people of their political rights. But our profession is that of politics; we have no other business, and numerous petitions are coming here daily from our constituents, praying us, commanding us, to pass some law for the suppression of “Mormonism.” Now what shall we do? If we comply not with their demands our constituents will, at future elections, reject us at the polls.” Was not a similar argument used by the Jews, when they said, “If we let him thus alone, all men will believe in him, and the Romans shall come and take away our place and nation?” Fearing that, they crucified him, and what was the result? The very thing they sought to save was that which was speedily lost. When weighed in the balance they were found corrupt, cruel, vindictive, murderous; unable to maintain principle, defend justice, or do what they knew to be right. A disposition to oppress swayed their hearts and tyranny marked their actions to such an extent, that God rejected them as a people, scattered to the four winds and made of them, in the midst of nations, a hiss and a byword.

In this connection let anyone who feels disposed, take the pains and trouble to look over the Congressional Record and see how those who were willing to sacrifice principle at the shrine of everything that was wrong, willing to sacrifice the liberties of a people poor and oppressed, examine and see how many of that character have been returned. Have not more than fifty percent of them been rejected at the polls? Ask the democrats how this has come about, and why it has come about, and they cannot tell you. Ask the Republicans and they cannot tell you. But ask God, who holds the destinies of nations and peoples in His hand, and He can tell you. On the other hand examine the record of those who fearlessly stood up in defense of Constitutional liberty, maintained inviolate their oath of office, sustained the right, and were true to themselves. They too felt the pressure of priestly inflamed public sentiment, but bowed not to its tyrannical demands. They too realized the dangers and perils that might beset their efforts for future recognition at the polls, but having moral courage they planted themselves on principle, not prejudice, and their constituents, in a great measure, have endorsed their policy and sustained their heroic conduct. If I have been correctly informed, a much greater percentage of those who sustained right on the “Mormon” question in the 47th, have been returned to the 48th Congress, than of those who pursued the opposite policy. We should entertain no fear of men or nations, for they cannot prevent the Almighty from accomplishing His purposes, or bringing to pass His decrees. History, so far as I have been able to trace, no where records success gained by hatred and persecution over men pledged to principle, justice and truth.

Mens’ convictions, religious beliefs and just religious practices cannot be persecuted out of them. The nearest approach to success in this direction was, perhaps, the massacre of St. Bartholomew in France, wherein seventy thousand defenseless Huguenots perished miserably, victims of the malice and cruelty of Roman Catholicism.

That shocking butchery of men, women and children was acquiesced in by Charles IX, then King of France, and when his ally Philip III, of Spain heard of it he laughed, the only time he was known to laugh in his life. The Pope of Rome illuminated the eternal city, caused medals to be struck off, mass to be performed, and named Charles “the defender of the faith,” in commemoration of those horrid deeds of blood and misery.

Notwithstanding the Pontifical approval bestowed upon the king for that seventy thousandfold murder, he was till his death daily and nightly haunted by the thought of his victims until his misery and remorse caused, it is said, drops of blood to ooze through the pores of his skin. Through these cruelties the Huguenots received a fearful shock, but the consciousness of men continued to assert independence and the right to worship God untrammeled continued to grow. The freedom we now enjoy is but the fruit of the struggle for right, which persecution ultimately solidified, united and made strong in the broad, deep foundations of the freest nation on earth; thereby preparing the way for the mission of Joseph the Prophet. Much improvement had been made, but in relig ious matters Joseph found the people insincere, and the practices of the Christian world inconsistent and unsound. Guided by the light of heaven he struck a death blow at the idolatrous worship of a bodiless, passionless God, which the teachings of false priests had erected in the imagination of the people. In doing so he disturbed a sea of malice which since has known no rest. But though that angry sea may roll fierce billows of persecution, skepticism, infidelity and priestly hypocrisy must yield, for Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Almighty came as a forerunner and teacher of true faith in God that cannot be conquered; it will prevail. God’s kingdom will rise and shine. They say we are endeavoring to establish a theocratic government. What is theocracy? The kingdom and government of God. Who will contend against it—will the Latter-day Saints? No. It is our duty to contend for it, and to assist to build it up. It is a government of purity. It is a government of the people, and for the people; it maintains liberty and right, and is always opposed to oppression and misrule. I would like to dwell upon the subject, but time will not permit, as I desire to touch upon another at present, of deep interest to us.

We have been called out from the nations of the earth to serve the Lord. “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” In this connection I desire to touch upon a few practices existing among us that are not pleasing in the sight of God. Intemperance is one of them; the use of alcohol, the use of intoxicating drinks that fevers the blood and maddens the brain, incites to sin, debases man, destroys his better judgment, drives the Spirit of God from his heart, and renders the daughters of Zion unsafe in his company. What is the condition of the Christian nations in this respect today? Two hundred thousand men and women crowd the poorhouses, prisons and asylums of Great Britain alone. Seventy-five percent of them the wretched victims of alcoholism. Can we think a business legitimate and honorable that deprives a hundred and fifty thousand men and women of comfortable homes, drives them wild, and sends them as driveling idiots and paupers to the asylums and jails of a Christian nation, which derives a revenue from the liquor traffic of $150,000,000 per annum, and finds even that enormous sum inadequate to meet the expenses entailed by reason of its use? We cannot consistently so consider it.

Aside from the debauchery, misery, ruin and death caused by the use of intoxicants, the waste in Great Britain is simply startling. Seventy-five million bushels of grain—equal at our present rate of production to what Utah would yield in forty years—is annually consumed in the manufacture of liquors there. The inhabitants of Britain expend yearly for intoxicating drinks over $640,000,000. During the past seven years they have expended for the same purpose more than sufficient to cancel their national debt, or build a new house for every family in the kingdom, and schoolhouses in which to educate all their children.

Had the money expended there for liquor during the past half century been invested in five percent interest bearing securities, it would now be equal to the entire capitalized wealth of the nation, including her cities, railroads, ships, factories, mines, farms, fields and gardens. And yet in view of these figures, taken from parliamentary returns, we hear of the cry of want and complaints of oppression. Do the people not oppress themselves in the use—excessive use of things that weaken and corrupt their bodies and darken their minds?

Is the condition of our own nation in this regard much better? But little if any. In 1882, according to official reports, the people of the United States paid nearly twice as much for liquor as they did for bread. More than the entire value of the products of all our woolen, cotton, boot and shoe factories. An amount equal to seventy percent of the wages earned in all the manufacturing institutions of the country, during the same period. Three hundred millions of dollars, more than was paid for Governmental, state, territorial, county, city and school taxes combined. Enough to school the children of a nation numbering 300,000,000, or six times as numerous as ours for the same year.

The nation consumes in liquor the value of all the public and private libraries of the country every sixty days, and spends annually nine times as much for drink as for printing and publishing.

Now what can we say for the people of Utah? In the main they are temperate, but there is room for much improvement. Here, I have no means for acquiring exact knowledge from statistics, but I venture the assertion that more money is spent even in Utah for alcohol than is expended for the education of our children, or the support of the Territorial government. Do we not expend more means in the purchase of stimulants than we pay to sustain the Church and Kingdom of God on earth? And in doing so are we not, though perhaps thoughtlessly, undermining the virtue of our boys, and the chastity of our girls? Do not inebriates and harlots usually go hand in hand, and saloons and houses of ill repute grow up side by side?

Had we the means of ascertaining the facts I am satisfied we should find that nine out of every ten cases of the lapse of virtue among us, could be traced to the use and influence of liquor of some kind. I am led to this conclusion by positive knowledge in a few sad cases that have come under my personal observation. Again, the love of liquor is transmissible. No man, therefore, can be a true servant of God while entailing misfortune and misery—perhaps decrepitude and idiocy upon his posterity. If any among us cannot control their appetite for drink, at least let them not transmit their thirst as a heritage to their children, who should be begotten in purity and brought forth untrammeled by unnatural and debasing appetites that tend to the lust of the flesh. A man addicted to intemperance cannot subject himself to the will of God, nor can he govern his passions to the sanctification of his body, failing in which he cannot reasonably expect to govern others in righteousness for their salvation. How then, are such worthy to stand at the head of families in Zion? To me few sights are more painful than to see a sorrow stricken wife bending over the wash tub and working like a slave to support herself and children; and perhaps her drunken husband, who warms his miserable, useless body on the sunny side of walls frequented by others of his kind. If we could gaze through the sorrowful eyes down into the pain-stricken hearts of such wives—and there are some even in Zion of that kind—we should hardly find a blessing there for those who lift the tempting cup to the lips of their fallen husbands. It is true the liquor traffic, among Christians, is regulated by law and disposed of generally under license, but that does not make it an honorable business, nor does it in any way, so far as I can see, restrict the evils that follow its use. To regulate and license the manufacture and indiscriminate sale of whiskey may, in some places, be a necessary and unavoidable evil, but such laws as moral and reformatory agencies have certainly proven failures. The poor, half-starved children, depraved men, and ruined women that nightly visit the gin palaces of London, Liverpool, New York, Chicago, and other great cities, speak unmistakably of failure. The crowded prisons, poorhouses, insane asylums, testify of failure. The gambler who resorts to forgery as a means with which to retrieve his fortune, the sot that wallows in the gutter and blasphemes the name of God, the raving maniac whose reason drink has dethroned, the murderer who took the life of his brother while intoxicated and dies with a curse upon his lips as he falls through the trap of the gallows, all testify of the woe, utter failure and irreparable ruin wrought by the use of alcohol, made easy of access by the regulations of law.

Let me, in the name of the Lord, urge the Saints to abstain from its use. It weakens the body and impairs the mind. When the highest order of physical excellence is required, science interdicts its use. Men trained for great bodily effort and long endurance are forced to be temperate or be defeated. Those who compete for collegiate or literary honors understand the value of tem perance. In view of these facts, the Elder, High Priest or Seventy who is addicted to the use of liquor, is unfit to perform the labors which God requires of him. Is it possible that we as Elders of Israel, at home and abroad, cannot see the results of these things? Do we not know that like begets like? Do we not know that men whose blood is fevered and whose judgment is blinded are not fit to multiply and replenish, not fit to be in that holy law of matrimony ordained and made sacred by the Almighty? Let the world talk about and deride the institution of celestial marriage. What concerns us more in Utah is the fact that there are not men enough who understand the laws of life, and who stand pure and holy, upon the higher basis of that sacred law, to become the husbands of all the pure and today marriageable women in Zion. God foresaw what the nations would do. We were told yesterday by Elder Erastus Snow that men of great influence in the world were preaching the doctrine of human limitation, which leads to murder. And yet these very men will preach morality to you and me. While killing their own offspring, and urging others to do it, they tell us we shall not obey the laws of God pertaining to increase. I say we will. And upon natural principles, upon scientific principles. The boys and girls who live according to the law of the Lord will become the head and not the foot. They will have stronger bodies, stronger minds, and by the force of the “survival of the fittest,” will, eventually, under the direction of divine revelation, govern the affairs of the world. It has been so predicted; God has decreed it, who will prevent it? Let us therefore unite in turning our faces against the evil practices so prevalent in the world. Let us begin to understand and live according to the laws of nature, realizing that violations thereof bring penalties which sometimes are transmitted to the third or fourth generation. In the transmission of life God has devolved upon His creations the highest and most delicate functions, and which, if abused, entail misery and often premature death. God has His glory in the perpetuation of life. With wonder and admiration, we behold life everywhere. We see it struggling in the vegetable kingdom and breathing in the animal creations. Cut down and trample under foot the noxious weed, and yet by the law that governs its increase it struggles upwards, and unless utterly destroyed matures seed for new life, and thereby perpetuates itself. All nature responds to the eternal law of increase. Man, being prompted by him who rebelled in heaven, alone seeks to defeat life, and bring confusion and death. While he and his emissaries strive through the commission of horrid crimes, even murder, to limit human increase, let us as Saints sanctify body and soul being pure in heart and mind, a fit lineage through which noble spirits may possess tabernacles unto the glory of God the Father of spirits. Let fathers and mothers in Zion beget children, as Samuel the ancient prophet was begotten, and I tell you there is no power on earth or in hell that can stop the progress of this people. We will increase and spread abroad until Zion shall arise and shine, and the Kingdom of God shall have supremacy and sway forever. Amen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Past and Future of the American Continent—The Law of the Lord and the Law of the Land—The Efforts of Our Enemies Turned to Our Advantage—Light and Liberty of the Latter-Day Saints—The Work of the Lord Among the Nations—Judicial Folly and Injustice—Faith Inseparable from Works—Parable of the Talents Exemplified

Discourse by Apostle Erastus Snow, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Friday Afternoon (Annual Conference), April 6, 1883.

If the Lord gives me strength to make myself heard, I shall feel it a pleasure to occupy a little time this afternoon, accorded to me by my brethren.

I feel to express unto my heavenly Father, and to my brethren and the people, my gratitude for their prayers and faith for the blessings of God to me in permitting me to appear before you on this occasion, and to feel the degree of health and strength which is vouchsafed to me, thus enabling me to continue my efforts and labors with my brethren and the people of God. For some two or three months my health has not been of such a nature that I could labor with the satisfaction which has attended me heretofore; and I fully realize what Elder Woodruff said this morning concerning the aged Elders of Israel passing away, and that the responsibility and labor of bearing off this kingdom will soon rest upon the generation which is growing up in our midst, upon which will devolve the work of carrying the Gospel to those who have not heard it among the nations of the earth, and gathering Israel and establishing Zion and building up and maintaining the Kingdom of our God upon the earth, which must be done through faith, by righteousness, and by defending and maintaining the rights of man and the liberty and freedom which God has ordained for the welfare of all flesh, for the protection and blessing of the human family, and which it has been His purpose to establish and maintain upon this American continent. Latter-day Saints, especially those who have grown up with this people, as I have done from my childhood, and witnessed the manifestations of the overruling providence of God in guiding the destinies of this people, inspiring His servants who have led and directed the movements of this great people, and in defending them and fighting their battles by the sword of His Spirit, and the invisible powers that have labored with us and for us—I say to those who are able to see and comprehend these things, it is clear and plain that God has had His eye upon this American continent as the place where He first commenced His great work on the earth, where the greatest manifestations of His power were exhibited in the days of the fathers before the flood, when the fathers were gathered in the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman and received their last instructions and blessings from Father Adam, the Patriarch of this earth, and where Enoch gathered his people and established Zion, and where Noah preached righteousness to the people and prepared the ark of safety, and where He has determined ultimately to establish His Zion and gather together His people, establish, maintain and defend His government and the Priesthood which he has revealed for the salvation of the human family, where He will bring again Zion that He has taken away, even the Zion of Enoch; for when He shall bring again Zion, says the Prophet, the Lord will appear in His glory. And He has long been laboring in His own marvelous manner among the nations of the earth, turning and overturning, to bring to pass His purposes and to gather together His elect; and He has moved upon the oppressed of many lands and climes—those who sought for enlarged freedom and liberty and whose minds reached out for more light and more truth, and whose understandings were expanded—to gather upon this American continent, and implanted in the hearts of our fathers a love of freedom and liberty and equal rights. He led them through schools of oppression. They passed through many difficulties, and endured the rule of tyrants. They bore oppression and suffered until they learned how to appreciate freedom and liberty, and how to detest misrule, tyranny and oppression; they struggled to burst the shackles that bound the human soul; they struggled for freedom of thought, of speech, of action; they struggled unitedly to burst the bonds, to break the yoke, from off their necks; they vied with each other in this labor of love from north to south, from east to west, in all the colonies which were early planted upon this continent. The Lord guided their labors to a successful issue, resulting in freedom from the tyranny of the effete governments of the old world; He directed the combined efforts and labors of those men in consolidating the result of their labors and framing the system of government under which we are now permitted to live.

[At this point part of the congregation moved from the body of the Tabernacle to the gallery causing a stay in the proceedings. Quietness having been obtained the speaker continued.]

I was saying that God our heavenly Father had moved upon the nations and sent out from the nations of the old world streams of emigration to the new world, who were panting for freedom and liberty, and who struggled to burst the bands with which they were bound, and the yoke from off their necks, and were striving to learn how to be free. And in penetrating the new world and its wilds, and in grappling with and overcoming the difficulties attending the forming of new settlements and planting colonies in the new world, they learned the value of freedom, and therefore studied to preserve it; and they labored to establish a form of government under which it might be maintained. In all these works and labors we discern an overruling providence, and manifestations of the mercy and loving kindness of God to His people, and the revelations of His Spirit imparted, to a greater or less degree, unto the wise and patriotic fathers of our country, who were thus enabled to unite upon the best form of government existing among men, or which, perhaps, ever has existed, unless it has been those which God himself directly revealed through the Patriarchs and Prophets of older times. But so far as any political organizations of government upon this earth, the Republican or Democratic form of government established in these United States—(the foundations of which were laid by our fathers over a hundred years ago), is the best calculated to promote the objects sought, and to maintain the rights of man, and the guarantees of religious and political freedom, of any form of government known to mankind. But that it or any other form, in this imperfect and sinful world, is altogether perfect is not to be expected, and therefore cannot endure forever. But we regard the present form of government of this nation as embodying the greatest amount of virtue and principles best calculated to maintain and preserve the rights of man.

In the early history of this Church a revelation was given through the Prophet Joseph in which the people are commanded to observe the Constitutional laws of the land, and to uphold by their votes and sustain upright and honorable men to administer them; which also stated that He had inspired the fathers to establish this form of government for the good and benefit of man. I will read a few paragraphs found on the 342nd page of the Doctrine and Covenants, new edition:

“And now, verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them.

“And that the law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.

“Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;

“And as pertaining to the law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.

“I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free.

“Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn.

“Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for dili gently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.”

I deem it of much importance that these principles should be well understood and thoroughly impressed upon the minds of the Latter-day Saints throughout the world, and especially those dwelling upon this American continent and within the pale of this government, that they may implant in the hearts of our children a love of freedom and human rights, and a desire to preserve them, and to aid in maintaining and defending them in all lawful and proper ways; and to study the constitutional laws of the land, and make others acquainted with them; knowing the principles contained therein, and of learning how to apply them to ourselves, to our children, and to our fellow men who are willing to be governed thereby; study them that we may also learn how to use them in suppressing tyranny, misrule and other evils that affect mankind; for God has ordained this form of government in this age of the world, and has chosen His own instruments to further His great purposes on the earth—the organization of his Church, the proclamation of the everlasting Gospel, the establishment of His Zion, and bringing to pass His wonderful works which He predicted by the mouths of the ancient Prophets. And this political system and order of government is a power in His hands established, preserved and defended thus far by Him, which He will continue to use as long as the people are worthy of it, as long as they will maintain their integrity, uprightness and virtue; and at no time will the Latter-day Saints, as a people, ever stand approved before God in violating those principles or slackening their efforts to maintain and defend them. They are closely allied to the teachings of the ancient Prophets and Apostles, to the doctrines, practices and teachings of the Savior and His disciples, and they are the best means and aids of extending and promoting those principles on the earth. Whatever some may have thought of the maladministration in our government and of the efforts of individuals and sometimes of large factions, to abridge the rights of the people, and of their blind zeal and efforts to reach the Latter-day Saints, and to stamp out the religion we profess—whatever may have been thought of the efforts of such individuals, cliques, or factions, and of their warfare against us; and who in that warfare trample under foot constitutional provisions of our Government—undermine the foundations upon which it rests—we must never in our feelings charge any of these things to this system of government, or to the principles enunciated is the Constitution, which we are commanded to observe and keep. We must charge it always where it belongs—to the bigotry, the ignorance, the selfishness, ambition and blind zeal of ignorant and corrupt politicians, their aiders and abettors, and all this should only serve to make us try more earnestly, anxiously and faithfully to combat such efforts upon constitutional grounds, calling upon God to help us therein.

We were told this morning by Brother Woodruff—quoting the word of the Lord given through the Prophet Joseph Smith concerning the promises He has made to His people—that inasmuch as we will be true to ourselves, true to God, true to our covenants and to our holy religion, that He will fight our battles, defend and maintain our cause, make it triumph and flourish, so that the wicked shall have no power to prevail against us. These promises have often been repeated to us, and last October we had a renewal of this assurance and this promise in the word of the Lord given unto us through His servant President John Taylor, and at a time and period, too, when many in our midst were weakening and their knees were beginning to tremble a little, and there were others who were inclined to falter and doubt, and fear was upon some. Our enemies—especially the bigot, the hypocrite, the demagogue, the political quacks of the country—rejoiced, thinking that they were succeeding in their efforts to weave webs around us, to forge fetters for our feet and yokes to place upon our necks, and to lash us into obedience to them. But the great majority of the Latter-day Saints were calm in their feelings as a summer’s morning, trusting as they have ever done in the promises of God, inspired with faith and hope in his overruling providence; and while we were doing what we might do properly under the Constitution and institutions of our country for the maintenance of our freedom and liberty, leaving the rest with God, exercising faith in His promises, continuing to pray for His blessing to attend our efforts and to hedge up the ways of our enemies; yet we have waited calmly for the result of the promises of God, and the answer to our prayers and the fulfillment of those things that have been spoken to us; and how signally have we seen them fulfilled. We have seen the very means which the enemies of this people have devised, and intended for their enslavement become before us as chaff, as thorns crackling under the pot, as a broken yoke to be used to kindle the fires of freedom and liberty. In former times the efforts that have been made in Congress and out of Congress to press the representatives of the people to hostile and unconstitutional legislation as a means to help religious bigots to suppress the doctrines of Christ, the ordinances of life and salvation, the rule and reign of righteousness among the people of God—I say, in their efforts to reach our religious principles and faith, and the exercise of those principles under that faith, and to crush it out from the earth—in their efforts to do so, they have moved upon statesmen to violate the Constitution of our country and the principles of human freedom on which our government has been founded in order to accomplish this purpose. But all those who have thus stultified themselves before the world, and before the heavens, and have done violence to their oath of office and to the Constitution, to the rights of man, and to the principles of freedom and liberty, have weakened, have gone down, the scepter of their power has fallen from their grasp, they have been dishonored before the heavens and before their people as a rule, and sooner or later we will witness others going down into the pit of forgetfulness as their predecessors have done. For the Lord has decreed it. And today the young men of Israel who are assembling in their Improvement Associations in all the Stakes of Zion, in all the Wards and settlements of the people throughout the land, and in their quorum meetings, and in their political assemblies, are all learning and cultivating these principles of liberty in their minds, introducing and extending them among the rising generation, the sons of Zion, and not only the sons, but the daughters that are coupled with the sons, the wives that are coupled with the husbands, in this labor of love, the struggle for the maintenance of freedom and liberty. It is a source of satisfaction to me that the Lord has moved upon His servants and the Legislature of our Territory to be among the first to lead the van of human progress in the extension of the elective franchise to women as well as men, and to recognize the freedom and liberty which belongs to the fairer sex as well as the sterner; for the Gospel teaches that all things are to be done among us by common consent, and the Prophet Joseph commanded and introduced in our midst the custom we are following today, that of presenting to all the congregations of Israel, at our General Conferences, and our local or Stake Conferences, the General Authorities of the Church, to be justified or condemned by the voice of the people, to be upheld and sustained by the confidence, faith and prayers of the people; or otherwise to be reproved by the votes of the people for their misdeeds or maladministration. These are things continually before the people, as well as the revelations which God has given unto us, and which are written and taught in our Sabbath schools and public gatherings, and to all who come within the scope of these instructions, viz., a love of freedom and liberty.

The leaders of this people are charged with being blind, leaders of the blind; and the people are charged with being blind, led by the blind. I deny the charge and brand it false. We know and understand perfectly that our leaders are neither blind nor are the people blind. On the contrary, we have received the light, the light of truth, the light of God. We have come to the understanding that every soul of man, both male and female, high and low, is the offspring of God, that their spirits are immortal, eternal, intelligent beings, and that their entity depends upon their agency and independent action, which is neither trammeled by God himself nor allowed to be restrained by any of His creatures with His sanction and approval; that the whole theory of God’s rule and government in heaven and on earth is founded upon this principle of agency—self, independent action. And it is upon the free and independent exercise of this agency that the decree of God is founded, that all men shall be judged according to the deeds done in the body, none having it in his power to say that he was not at liberty to exercise this agency untrammeled.

So far as relates to the administration of government and the exercise of political power, or the exercise of any manner of influence—political, religious or social—every man and every woman will be held accountable to God for the manner in which they exercise it. Kings and emperors, presidents and statesmen, judges and all officers of the law, will be held responsible for the administration of the power reposed in them. And if, while acting officially, they disregard their oath of office and violate the principles that should govern them, they become guilty of maladministration, and will be held accountable unto God, and should be strictly accountable to the people who place them in power. But every individual, in an individual capacity, will be held answerable to God for all his acts of whatsoever character, and so far as, in the exercise of that agency, men trespass upon the rights of their fel low men they must be held answerable to their fellow men for such trespass and wrong. And for this purpose human government is instituted, approved by the people, to hold each other responsible unto each other or unto the community, for the abuse of their freedom and liberty, and for this purpose laws are enacted and judges provided to judge according to the law, and to administer the law when it becomes necessary to punish transgressors. And God has commanded us in the revelation which He gave to us, that in case Church members violate a law of the land, they shall be delivered up to be dealt with according to the law of the land; that if they shall murder, rob or steal, or commit perjury or any other crime of which the law of the land takes cognizance, they shall be delivered up to be dealt with for their offense. But that for all manner of iniquity they shall be delivered up to the law of God to be dealt with according to the law of God; and those laws which are given unto you, as the laws of God, for your government in the Church must be treated as such. And it becomes our duty as good Saints, as those that are bound together by the ties and in the fellowship of the Gospel, as those that have covenanted to serve God and to keep his commandments, to work righteously and to deal justly one with another, that if we violate the principles of the Gospel and the laws which God has given unto us, that we shall be delivered up to the judges in Israel, and the Teachers shall labor with such, and their labors of love shall be directed earnestly to the reformation and repentance of all persons that have done wrong and done violence to the feelings, faith and fellowship of their brethren and sisters. And for every manner of sin shall they be held accountable unto the Councils of the Church, to the Bishops who are common judges in Israel; and to the High Councils. And though we may succeed in winning them to repentance, and they turn away from evil and will do so no more, and succeed in eliciting the sympathy and forgiveness of their brethren, still, if they have violated a law of the land, they must be made subject to that law, and to endure the penalty. And if they pay the penalty with patience, which is but the legitimate fruits and testimony of genuine repentance, satisfying all that they appreciate their wrong and determine to do so no more, when the penalty is paid, they may with renewed determination begin to serve their God, and prove to their brethren that their repentance was genuine and sincere. And although we are required to forgive all men, God says that He reserves to Himself the right to forgive whomsoever He will, because he searches all hearts and knows, as we cannot know, how far their repentance is genuine, and how far they ought to be forgiven. It is important that we as Latter-day Saints, understand what God requires of us towards each other in the Church of Christ, and also what He requires of us towards the State. For the constitutional laws of the land are for the protection of the rights of all flesh; the liberties of Saints as well as those of sinners. And if sinners can afford to dishonor the law, surely Saints cannot, neither can they justify others in so doing; neither can Saints afford to override the laws of God, or to wink at others who may do so.

God will not hold us faultless if we do. He requires us as Elders, as Apostles, as Presidents, as Bishops, as Seventies, as parents, to teach (wherever it is our prerogative and duty), correct principles, and observe them ourselves and seek to enforce them upon others. And it is not alone the duty of High Councils and Presidents of Stakes, and of Bishops and their Counselors to labor to correct the errors of the people, but it is the duty of every Elder, High Priest and Seventy—and especially the Priests, Teachers and Deacons that are appointed and called to be standing ministers in the Church, to visit the house of each member and become familiar with every family, and every individual member of the family, and their daily walk and life and conversation; and ascertain whether they are living as Saints should live; whether the heads of families preside in righteousness in their houses; whether their houses are set in order; whether they have an altar erected whereon are offered up their daily, morning and evening devotions; whether every member is taught to reverence and respect that altar; whether each individual prays in secret as well as responds to the calls made upon him to pray in the family circle and in public; whether each one that has enrolled himself in a quorum attends his quorum meetings and is obedient to the President of his quorum, his counsels and instructions; and if they are enrolled in the Mutual Improvement Associations, whether they sustain that institution and the leaders thereof, and are performing well their part; whether the parents are faithful in sending their children to Sunday school and to other institutions of learning; whether they teach their children to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy, etc. These are duties and obligations that we cannot ignore, that God will not justify us in neglecting, and those who are called to bear a part of the holy Priesthood cannot be justified if they neglect all these duties, or any portion of them; for the Lord has said, “blessed are they who hear my sayings and shall keep them all, for the same shall be great in the kingdom of heaven; but if anyone shall fail or neglect to observe and keep the least of these my sayings and teach others to do so, the same shall be least in the kingdom of heaven.” For the Lord is not to be mocked; and though we may excuse ourselves in many ways for carelessness and neglect, and we may supplicate for forgiveness, as we are in duty bound to do for all our transgressions and shortcomings, yet we cannot in any wise plead justification, or suppose that God will justify us, for He has said He cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, and yet He showeth mercy and kindness unto thousands of those who repent and seek to turn away from their follies.

Over fifty years have passed away since the light of the glorious Gospel in its fullness began to dawn upon us, and still we are measurably walking in darkness. Yet the Lord has said that we are the only people and the only church—speaking as a whole—upon the face of the earth with which He is well pleased. As a whole we are the best people He can find. He has sent out His word throughout the earth. He has sent His servants abroad carrying, as it were, a torch in their hand—the light of the Gospel, inviting all to come to it, that as many as love the light may see it and follow it as one would follow a light in a dark place, or until the dawn of day. The Holy Spirit has been upon His servants and in the gathering together of this people. It is the Holy Ghost that has moved upon the people in the islands of the sea, in all the different nations of Europe, in the various parts of America, and in all lands where the light of the Gospel has been carried and the testimony of Jesus has been sounded. It is the testimony of the Spirit from on high bearing witness to and moving upon the hearts of the people that has drawn them into the light of truth and that has gathered them together with the Church of Jesus Christ. It was not worldly prospects held out before them that induced them to gather. I speak now of the people as a whole and not individually; for there may be individuals who have been influenced by worldly considerations, by personal, selfish motives. But all such, sooner or later, get their eyes open and see their folly and sin and wickedness, and repent, or they are purged out from among the Latter-day Saints. They apostatize, they turn away from us; they go back into Babylon, and they strike hands with our enemies and fight against God, and go down into perdition; for none can remain and continue to stand among the Saints of God, and hold fast to the principles of the Gospel, and enter into life only on the pure principles of virtue, integrity and righteousness, as we heard this morning, and as we are told by the Lord in certain revelations to the Church, namely, that the powers of the Priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and the powers of heaven can in no wise be used except on the principles of righteousness. And no man or woman can continue long in sin in the midst of the Saints, where the Gospel is preached in power, and where those who minister, do so in the power of their Priesthood and by the Holy Ghost, without being purged out from their midst. For that spirit will reveal and make manifest what sort they are. If the law of the Lord is properly administered among them and they are found violating it they will be judged according to the law of the Lord, and be separated from the Saints. And although we do not look for entire separation of the sheep from the goats, of the tares from the wheat, until the Great Judge Himself shall come to complete the separation, it is nevertheless expected that all men who act as judges in Israel should be helps in separating the sheep from the goats, the tares from the wheat, as fast as they are made manifest, and the tares may be plucked up without destroying the wheat; and it becomes our duty to do it. But He enjoins us to be wise lest we in our zeal and anxiety destroy or pluck up some of the wheat that may be growing under the shade of the tare, whose roots may be intermingled with it. We must therefore be prudent. It is better in some instances to allow the tare to remain until its character be more fully developed and made manifest, until it can be plucked up without endangering the wheat.

I testify unto all Israel, and unto all the world, that God has called us, and required us to observe and practice these things; and that it is not the work of man, and that the institutions of this Church are not the institutions of man. And when we speak of the institutions of our common country, we say in the main, though God has used man in instituting this form of government, and in establishing its institutions and maintaining freedom upon this land, they are nevertheless the institutions of heaven; and God has revealed unto us that He did estab lish them by the hands of wise men, whom He raised up for that special purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood. It is therefore part of His great work, as much so as the part of revealing the keys of the Priesthood to Joseph, and the ordinances thereof, for the salvation of His people. For the political organization upon the land was designed by heaven to be a protection to the righteous. “But,” says one, “is it not designed to protect the wicked?” No, not in wicked acts, but in their freedom and liberty, to think and to speak and to act, and to choose for themselves; for in those rights all must be protected. God has always protected them, both in heaven and on earth. And he designed that all men should protect one another, and if necessary be united for the protection and welfare of all flesh. Not that the laws of the land or the laws of God will protect the wicked in doing wickedly, but on the contrary, will condemn and judge them. They are left to choose for themselves their course of life in exercising their agency in all things pertaining to themselves and the service of their God, and to use freedom and liberty in doing good, that which is right; but there is no such thing as liberty to do wrong and be justified in that wrong, neither on earth nor in heaven, neither by the laws of God, nor the just laws of man.

Now, the Supreme Court of the United States, in its great zeal to establish and maintain monogamy upon this American continent, and to strike a blow at the patriarchal order of marriage, believed in by the Latter-day Saints, in its decision in the Reynolds’ case announced the doctrine that religion consists in thought and matters of faith and concerning matters of faith, and not actions, and the government is restrained by the terms of the Constitution from any efforts to curtail this freedom and liberty. Wonderful doctrine! A wonderful strain of judicial thought to announce to the world, this wonderful doctrine that the government should not attempt to restrain the exercise of thought, or the exercise of faith! I would like somebody, that knows how to defend this doctrine, to tell me how any one man, or any set of men on the earth could go to work and catch a thought and chain it up and imprison it, or stop its flight, or root it out of the heart, or restrain it, or do away with it. Let them go to and try to chain the lightning, stop the sun from shining, stop the rains from descending and the mist from arising from the ocean, and when they have done this, they may talk about restraining men’s faith, and exercising control over the thoughts and faith of the people. The fathers who framed our Constitution were not such dunces, I am happy to say, as Attorney General Devens, who put that nonsensical language and doctrine into the mouths of the chief justices of the Supreme Court of the United States—the fathers who framed our Constitution, I say, were not such dunces, they did not attempt to place constitutional restrictions upon the lawmaking power, to restrain them from interference with faith and thought and the exercise of religious opinion; but they did attempt, and they did it in plain language, to restrain the lawmaking power from any effort at making law for the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. And the exercise of religion implies something more than mere faith and thought. I may think about being baptized for the remission of my sins, I may believe it is right I should do it, I may be convinced that God has required it of me, and I may think I ought to do it, and think I will; but all this faith and all this thought don’t amount to as much as you can put in your eye, until I arise and go forth to be baptized, and when I do this, then I exercise the faith which is in me, and it produces the works. This principle may be equally true of everything else pertaining to the exercise of religion. I may believe it is right for me to be enrolled with a religious community that meets to worship, and I may believe it is right and a religious duty to meet with them from time to time to celebrate the supper of the Lord and partake of bread and wine, and when I partake of the bread and of the wine in commemoration of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, it is but the exercise of that faith which is in me. I may believe that God meant what he said when He gave that general commandments to His children to multiply and replenish the earth, and I may think about it; but it is my duty, if I want to raise potatoes, to plant the seed; if I desire to raise fruit I must go to and plant the fruit trees; if I desire to cultivate the earth I must use the proper means necessary to cultivate and improve it before I can gather the fruits of it. And then to do the other thing, to form a union as God has enjoined in the holy bond of matrimony, we must enter into that bond for the purpose of multiplying our species and thus bring forth the fruits of our bodies. I may believe this doctrine, as contained in the revelations of God; but what will this amount to unless I exercise myself in it. I shall remain a bachelor, worse than a hermit—a parasite in the commonwealth—unless I rise up and put my faith in practice and exercise myself in my religious belief.

I say also, when the time comes that God sees in the midst of His people an increase of the female element, and the wicked ready to devour that element and appropriate it not in the way to “multiply and replenish the earth,” but for the gratification of fleshly lust, and will actually take and employ hellish means to prevent the increase of their species, and show that they are not only beneath the brute, but beneath the vegetable creation, by refusing to bear fruit, thereby placing themselves in the category of the trees that are dried up, fit only to be cast into the fire, he can take measures to counteract this evil. And I say before God, angels and men, that every man and woman who joins in unholy wedlock for the gratification of fleshly lust, and studiously plan to frustrate the command of God in the multiplication of their species, show that they are unworthy—what shall I say?—unworthy to be classed among the honorable of the earth. And we have reason to believe that many have done, and are today, in the great cities of Babylon, taking steps to destroy their own offspring, committing infanticide and feticide, all of whom, and their aiders and abettors, are but ripening for the damnation of hell. And when God sees this damnable doctrine taught, and taught by such men as Mr. Henry Ward Beecher and other modern divines falsely so-called, who teach the world that it is a positive evil to multiply and increase so greatly in the land—when such doctrine is taught by leading lights, and so readily accepted by the masses, the Lord says, the time has come for Him to take measures to counteract this great evil, by introducing laws in the midst of those who fear Him and work righteousness and live according to the principles of life; men who are upright, honest and faithful, men who are willing to assume the responsibility; to take the daughters of Eve to wife and multiply and replenish the earth, for those men are unworthy of them. It is as Jesus said concerning the man who hid it in a napkin; he laid it carefully away, and by and by brought it out, saying, here it is as I received it, not having increased at all; in other words, we are just where we were when we started. Another one says I received two talents; and have increased to four, another says I received five talents, and now have ten: the master says to the one who hid his talent, who perhaps laid it carefully away and kept it nice, watching over it with the greatest care; or in other words, to him who did not multiply and increase, but on the contrary took pains to avoid doing so, “Take from him that which he seems to have and give to him that has ten; for he that has and improves upon that which he receives, shall receive more abundantly.”

May God bless and keep us in the way in which He can sustain and defend us, and lead us onward, as He has done hitherto, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.