GATHERING THE POOR.
An address by President Brigham Young, Delivered in the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, Sep. 16, 1855.
Concerning the Saints in these Valleys, and those who are abroad, I have a few remarks to make. The promises referred to by the brethren who have addressed you this morning are very reasonable--they are very judicious; they have promised to remember the poor in their prayers, and before their brethren in Zion. I have made the Saints some promises, and I am not aware that I have made any promises to them that I have not fulfilled, at least so far as I was personally concerned. I have promised myself that I would plead for the poor; I have done it--I have continued to do it--and I expect to continue to plead for the poor Saints. I have preached in the United States, in the British Provinces, and in the Island of Great Britain, and have invariably promised the Saints one blessing, viz., hard labor, hard fare, and plenty of persecution, if they would only live their religion, and I believe they are generally well satisfied that this promise has been amply fulfilled. If the Saints cannot endure, and endure to the end, they have no reason to expect eternal salvation.
While brother Brown was speaking of the Saints in England, that they would probably be good Saints if they were nursed, nourished, and cherished, I had certain reflections. We gather the Saints, and gather those who are poor; what for? To bring to pass righteousness, but many of them turn and go to the devil. I will relate. Before we arrived in Winter Quarters we held obligations and accounts, against the poor Saints we had emigrated to America, to the amount of about thirty-five thousand dollars, and that too out of our own individual pockets--it was not Church money. But while we were in Winter Quarters, I do not think there could have been ten persons counted, old and young, who were brought from England by our liberality. Is this fact encouraging or discouraging? The honest poor are still suffering, I mean the Lord's poor. But you may take the devil's poor and the poor devils, and they will plead a thousand times harder to be brought out of England, to have their feet placed upon American soil, than the Lord's poor, or the honest poor. The devil's poor and the poor devils will manage to get here, while very many of the Lord's poor stay there and suffer, and continue to suffer until they lay down their bodies and sleep in the tomb. Thousands and thousands of them will do this, while that portion who call so loudly for help are those who will come here and then go to the devil.
If there could be any rule by which the honest poor in England could be designated from the dishonest, if the wealthy of that nation could draw the line between them, allow me to tell you that but few of the honest inhabitants of that country would suffer as they now do for want of the common necessaries of life.
What is the cause of so much suffering there? Why the poor devils get licence for begging, and beg from house to house, making a speculation of it; they beg money, bread, and clothing, and then speculate upon it, and thus abuse their friends and their gifts.
There are thousands of houses in England kept by beggars, as fine houses as there are in that country, and their proprietors can ride in their coach and four: that there are such characters is well known among the people. Some of the large boarding houses in England are kept by them, and they hire men, women, and children to beg; they are licensed beggars. The women borrow their neighbor's children and carry them out to deceive the industrious and wealthy population, and thus they excite the sympathies of, and beg from, every passenger going into or coming out of a conveyance, and perhaps go to their homes twice or three times a-day loaded down with money. This is well known by the wealthy, but they cannot draw the line of distinction between them and the honest poor, hence they are obliged to suffer the consequences.
Were it not for this the worthy poor would be fed and clothed in England. If the wealthy of that nation could know the truth they would feed the hungry and clothe the naked, honest, just, and virtuous portions of the community. But they do not know them, and if they give a loaf of bread or a sixpence, they expect it is given to a poor devil; this makes them very careful how they give.
Has not a similar dishonesty the same effect upon us? It has, and that is what I wish to talk about. For example, a man in England, professing to be a Latter-day Saint, will go to his brother in the Church and promise, in the most sacred manner, and call God and angels to witness, and hope he may die, and not live to get to America, if he is not as prompt to his word as an angel, to pay him back at such a time, if he will lend him ten sovereigns to help him away to America; another will get five sovereigns in the same way; another will beg to be allowed to take so much out of a contribution box, promising to refund it, and saying, "When I get to the Saints, where there is liberty, and get work and good wages, I will remember you, my brethren, and send for you;" and when they get here they forget it all. This is the way with the devil's poor; the Lord's poor do not forget their covenants, while the devil's poor pay no regard to their promises. Are you afraid the devil's poor will apostatize? I am not afraid of it, though sooner of later they will. They may hang on to the Church for five, ten, or twenty years, but by and by, when they cannot endure what the Lord will bring upon them, they will falter and fall, and go by the board.
Now this is discouraging to every man who has been punctual to his word, and done just as he said he would. You will find men in England, who have said, out of their hard earnings, at ten shillings per week, five pounds, or ten pounds, handing it out as freely to their brethren as water to drink, saying, "Go to America now, and you will help me out." But these men forget their words, and when they have means they tie up their purse strings, before they will bestow their charity upon those who have assisted them.
Do I receive promises? Yes, men will promise me, saying, "If you will let me go out this year by the means of the P. E. Fund, I will refund the means again, that you may have it to send back for more." And what will they do when they get here? Steal our wagons and go off with them to California, and try to steal the bake kettles, frying pans, tents, and wagon covers; and will borrow the oxen and run away with them, if you do not watch them closely. Do they all do this? No, but many of them will try to do it. We checked a number this year who were trying to run away with the wagons, instead of paying their just debts to the Fund. They will hang on and plead poverty and sickness, and say that they cannot live unless they have this tent, or that wagon, and when they get it into their possession they will never return it, unless they are compelled to.
This conduct is discouraging to us. I will tell you a little further; it is actually the faltering, and misgiving, and misdealing of unjust persons that prevent the gathering of the Lord's poor, and that is God's truth. Were it not for that, the Saints would be gathered by scores of thousands. It is the wicked, the half-hearted, and what I call hickory Mormons that prevent a more extensive gathering of the Saints.
We have done pretty well this season, and quite a number are coming out, and I will tell you how this is operating upon me and the people. It is well known that we annually handle a large amount of means, and that we turn it over and shift it about until it will answer the end for which it was designed.
Now I can ask the world this one question, were we ever in your debt and refused to pay you? And they will all answer, "No." We can turn to the Saints in England, France, America, or anywhere upon the face of the whole earth; and ask them, "Have you lent us money, or means of any kind, and we were not on hand to pay you?" And they will answer, "No."
When brother Erastus Snow arrived, on the 1st of this month, he came in the morning and informed me that he had run me in debt nearly fifty thousand dollars; he said, "President Young"s name is as good as the bank."
My name has been used without my consent, or without my knowing anything about it, and our agents have run us in debt almost fifty thousand dollars to strangers, merchants, cattle dealers, and our brethren who are coming here.
I will tell you a little about the brethren, to show you the amount of confidence there is.
There are men who have lately arrived in town who have a draft on me, and who have hunted me up for the cash before they could find time to shave their beards, or wash themselves, saying, "I have a draft on you at ten days', fifty days', or six months' sight," as the case may be, with, "Please pay so and so. Brother Young, cannot you let me have the money immediately, for I do not know how I can live without it, or get along with my business at all?" This is the kind of confidence some men have in me. I wanted to name this. Why? Because I am hunted; I am like one that is their prey, ready to be devoured. I wish to give you one text to preach upon, "From this time henceforth do not fret thy gizzard." I will pay you when I can, and not before. Now I hope you will apostatize, if you would rather do it.
It is the poor who have got your money, and if you have any complaints to make, make them against the Almighty for having so many poor. I do not owe you anything. You have my name attached to the paper to help the poor; whether they are the Lord's poor, the devil's poor, or poor devils, is not for me now to judge. I tell the brethren that they may understand here to-day what kind of sacred confidence some of them have in the leader of this people, though I am happy to say that such cases are few. I would be ashamed to join a people, organized as we are, and be afraid to trust their leader.
It has just come into my mind how the brethren can be relieved of their present dilemma, viz., every soul of you come forward and make a donation of those drafts to the P. E. Fund. That will relieve you of the debt at once, and you can then sit down and enjoy yourselves, and lie down and sleep contentedly. This is pleading for the poor again, and I am bound to do that.
I will tell you what I have done, for I know that many of the brethren think that I am building myself up. I am, but let me tell you that if I do not build up the kingdom of God on earth I never expect to be built up; and I would not give the ashes of a rye straw for any man in this kingdom, or for all his substance, who does not build it up, and gather means for that purpose. It is true I gather a great deal of substance around me; I am obliged to do it, I cannot shun it. I must feed the poor, I must clothe them and take care of them; I must see that they have houses; and when they get so as to deserve them they must have a team, a watch, a farm, &c., and must increase; but they must work and pay for it all.
You know I preached you a short charity sermon last Sunday. I am not now preaching for the poor in England, but for Utah poor; and in Utah no man is deserving, or woman either, of fifty or even twenty-five cents' worth of flour, of a piece of meat, a garment, or the possession of any property without they pay for it with their labor, if they are able. That is for Utah, no for England, France, Ireland, &c. It is plain to you that circumstances actually compel me to do as I do. Do I feed my hundreds? Yes, I have fed them ever since I have been in these valleys, ever since I could raise the grain to do it, which I have always done until this year, and have had a great deal to spare besides.
I collect means around me, the poor must have it, and I make them work and pay for it; that makes me wealthy, and I cannot help it. I have property for sale, and say, if any man in England, or anywhere else, will expand his heart and loosen his purse strings to buy sixty-two thousand dollars' worth of my individual property, I have it for sale to help the poor. I do not want it destroyed, or to go into the hands of a mob, but I want it to go to the building up of the kingdom of God. I would prefer to let it go into the hands of the Saints, and use it to pay off those who have drafts against me. Here is brother Duel, he has a good house, and there are many others, go and buy their property, and they will take your drafts and hand them to me. [Here many voices were heard in a low tone, saying, "Yes, take my property."] Why do I hear such responses on every side? Because they know me and understand "Mormonism" as they ought. Go and throw out your drafts, it is better for you to do this than to have the money and let it go to destruction, and perhaps you with it. How many scores have come into this kingdom, who have mourned themselves to death because Joseph had five dollars of them? And yet they would let their money go into the hands of the enemies of Christ, and sit down calmly, and say, "Though I have lost that money, I am in the kingdom of God yet." If it is absolutely necessary, and circumstances cannot be controlled to keep the money from going into the hands of our enemies, we will not whine about it, but let it go, and then get more.
All cash means that are in the hands of this people should be kept there for the benefit and convenience of the kingdom of God. What for? To roll on the work of the last days, gather the Saints, preach the Gospel, build up cities and temples, send the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth, and revolutionize the whole world.
You who have got those drafts, walk up like men of God and see where you can purchase property, instead of taking the money to put in the hands of some poor apostate, who wants to go to California.
Dare any of you come and buy property? I can furnish as much as you can buy. My house on the hill yonder, I have advertised it for sale, and also my lands and barn. "What do you ask for it?" Sixteen thousand dollars; it is worth that and a great deal more, for it actually cost more. Can any of you buy it? Walk up and buy my beautiful situation on the hill, and I will put the proceeds into the Perpetual Emigrating Fund, if you will pay me the money, and gather the Saints, the Lord's poor, and the devil's poor, and the poor devils, and when we have got them here we will make Saints of them, if we can, and if we cannot, we will cast them out of the kingdom.
If the brethren all felt as some do, the Perpetual Fund means would increase rapidly, but what do they do? It was reported to you here last Conference, that there were then fifty-six thousand dollars owing to the P. E. Fund, by brethren in this Territory; some of the debtors have run away, but the most of them are here. Can these men pay anything? No, they are poor and distressed; they say, "If we let our oxen go, how can we live? If we let our cows go our families will suffer." How did your families get along before you got the cows? Another will say, "I have only one span of horses and a wagon; and I cannot pay the debt." You promised, before you left England, that you would pay it, and pledged your sacred honor, and that is forfeited to the P. E. Fund. You say that you cannot pay the debt; but I know you can if you have a mind to. Live without a cow, as you used to, pay in your houses and farms, and work until you get more. This debt is diminished but little since last Conference; I do not suppose we have gathered in more than one thousand dollars of it, and this season there are about forty-nine thousand dollars more added to it. I calculate that will rest upon my shoulders, but they are so sloping, as you may observe, that it slips off, and then I kick it off at my heels. The money will be forth-coming and all will be well, all will be right; I am not discouraged.
I have a word to say to another portion of the community, some of whom may be here to-day. A great many of the brethren are indebted to the tithing office; and I have a good deal coming to me; and I intend to put you into the screw, for we mean to make you pay these debts this season. One man says, "I owe the Church the money, it is true, but I believe I shall break and not pay it." They want to get their money into the safe and then break. If they owed a Gentile they would pay their debts, they would work, and toil, and labor, day and night, to pay their enemy; but when they owe the Church and kingdom of God they can lie down and sleep in peace, though they owe thousands of dollars, and say, "O! well, it is no matter whether the debt is paid or not." I want to have you understand fully that I intend to put the screws upon you, and you who have owed for years, if you do not pay up now and help us, we will levy on your property and take every farthing you have on the earth. I want to see if I can make some of you apostatize; I will if I can, by teaching sound doctrine and advocating correct principles; for I am tired of men who are eternally gouging their brethren and taking the advantage of them, and at the same time pretending to be Saints until they gain an advantage over this people, and then they are ready to leave. I want you to leave now; I give you this word of caution, prepare to pay the debt you owe to the Church. If I had the money due to the Church by a few individuals, I could pay every one of our individual debts and the Church debt, and have a few scores of thousands lying by me to operate upon; and in such circumstances I could operate to some advantage, and greatly benefit the Church. But it seems that there are many drones in the hive, who are determined to tie up the hands of those who rule the affairs of this kingdom, and the quicker they are thrown out the better.
I have given you some reasons why things are so slow and tardy in their progress with regard to the gathering of the Saints. Let the poor Saints strive to induce the rich to have confidence in them, by keeping their word and punctually paying those who loan them money. I am sorry to say that this is not always the case. The poor are filled with idolatry as well as the rich, and covet the means of those who have helped them; the rich, also, have the same spirit of idolatry, and stick to what they have. Let the poor be honest, let the rich be liberal, and lay their plans to assist the poor, to build up the kingdom of God, and at the same time enrich themselves, for that is the way to build up God's kingdom. May the Lord bless you. Amen.
THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND HUMAN LEARNING AND SCIENCE.
A Lecture by President J. M. Grant, Delivered in the Social Hall, Great Salt Lake City, May, 30, 1855.
I am pleased with the privilege I have in speaking for a short time this evening.
I wish to have your prayers, and by the aid thereof to speak by the Spirit of the Lord, for I have found that without that Spirit I never could command language sufficient to convey my ideas.
With all the study that I have exercised, with all the books I have read and the experience I have had, I never have been able to convey, with any degree of force, the ideas presented to my mind, without the Spirit of the Lord. Believing in this fact, I have never premeditated what I should say. Some suppose that, to treat upon theology, or any other science coming under the general term, a person must have a classical education.
I hope you, as well as myself, have often thought upon the science of theology, or upon other branches of science; but notwithstanding we may reflect upon them, and think upon them till we make our heads ache, yet my experience has proved to me that an Elder of Israel cannot impress any subject on the minds of the people, unless he has the Holy Spirit.
I might reason upon this point at some length; for instance, we have some among us who are good preachers, and who are considered good in language, but yet they are not able to impress their ideas upon other minds, unless they have the Spirit of the Lord. I find others who are not considered good speakers nor good in language, yet when filled with this Spirit they can convey their ideas in a clear manner to those whom they address. Therefore I reason like this, if a person address you and wishes to make a suitable impression upon your mind, he must have the Spirit.
Latter-day Saints are, and have been highly favored; the channel of communication has been opened from heaven to earth in our day, and has inspired this people with the gift of the Holy Ghost, and by that gift they have proved the things of God. When I read the productions of men I am apt to forget them; I go for instance, to Elder Hyde's grammar class, and I study, and read, and commit the rules of grammar to memory, but unless I keep my mind constantly upon that subject, it will fly away from me; it is like the man's rabbit, "when he went to put his hand upon it, it was not there." On the contrary, there are certain truths brought to my mind by the aid of the Spirit of the Lord, that I have never forgotten. Truths deposited by the Holy Ghost are treasured up in the mind, and do not leave it.
One trait I have had in my character from my boyhood, and that is, not to believe every story told me to be true. I well remember that my mother used to instruct and teach me that if I was a bad boy, I should have to go to hell, and that the fire there was seven times hotter than any fire I could possibly make, even if I should make it with beech or maple wood and there I must burn for ever and ever. I never believed this story, but I presume that my mother did; I could not, therefore I felt no trouble about it.
Still I was particular in my notions of certain ideas. I remember reflecting when very young--my brother had killed a quail, and in conversing upon the circumstances, he asked my mother if there was not a quail heaven, which caused me to reflect much upon the idea of a future state of the animal creation. And, when quite young, I read the sermons of John Wesley, who believed that the animal creation would have an eternal existence as well as man, therefore my ideas were strengthened upon this thing; but when I came to read the vision given to Joseph Smith upon a future state, as contained in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, I believed it, although some in our neighborhood were much troubled with the doctrine it contained, but it gave me great joy and satisfaction.
From the time I began to read books, I have been particular in relation to what I would accept for doctrine. I am aware that some persons will believe almost anything, and are not particular in relation to the doctrine they receive.
I remember well, when a boy, of hearing brother Brigham speak in tongues, and the effect it produced I shall never forget; I could feel the spirit, although I did not fully understand the tongue. I have heard others speak in tongues, but it had not the same effect, and I have marked the different impressions received under different individuals.
When a man teaches doctrine, let him keep on the track, and teach what we can realize and understand, for I do dislike to receive anything for doctrine and afterwards be under the necessity of giving it up because it is erroneous. Hence, if you desire to be constantly led in the path of truth, you will have to be led by the inspiration of the Lord. If I hear a righteous man teach doctrine which I cannot believe nor comprehend, I mark the saying, and I find, that in course of time, the Holy Spirit makes the principle manifest, and sets the matter right.
When you have a teacher upon the earth and he gives you instruction, is it for you to rise up and say that you will not abide by his counsel, that you can instruct as well as he can? If a person possesses more intelligence, and has more knowledge than his teacher, perhaps they might assume the right to teach those who are placed over them. Yet those in this church who have taken this course have betrayed their own weakness and folly. But as God has given us a teacher, it is his prerogative to teach in every sense of the word, and give unto us every lesson that we need.
Take the balance of the world from the Saints, and with all their learning--with all their vanity--with all their books, science, and education--and contrast it with the fountain of knowledge that God, angels, and the servants of God possess, and what are the world with all their boasted acquirements, when contrasted with these things? What do they understand about the principles by which man is to be exalted into the presence of God?
Take the wisest statesmen and philosophers there are in the world, and with all the knowledge they may acquire upon astronomy, philosophy, or any other branch of science known among the children of men, and they will come far short of a perfect knowledge of science in all its parts and bearings. If we could call up father Abraham, I suppose he could teach us more philosophy and astronomy in one day, than those to whom I have alluded could teach you in years. Call up Daniel, and he would tell us he learned more in one vision, concerning the history of the Medes and Persians, and of the Romans, and others, than modern historians could learn by reading for years.
"No man can understand the things of God, but by the Spirit of God." Ask a person who has preached for years, if he can remember what he said; I know I cannot. I can remember that I had the Spirit of God at such a time; I remember that I taught by the Holy Ghost at such a time, and the testimony that I bore to the people, and I realize the principle, I trusted in the Lord. I know no more about shaping my discourses than I did when I first commenced to preach, and no more than if I had never preached in my life; but I always speak from the impressions of the moment, as I receive them. I want to go into a meeting without anything premeditated, and speak from the impulse of the moment, for I feel well when taking this course. Whether I feel lively and energetic, or dull and sleepy, I shall speak accordingly.
I have passed through various scenes up and down in the world, and never failed to accomplish anything that has been given me to do. I have in my life, crossed some of the most dangerous water courses--some which no other person would attempt to cross; not that I was any more daring than they were, naturally, but by acting in accordance with the impression that I then received, and from those impressions I knew I could cross. And on different occasions, when I have carried out those impressions, it has come out just right; and when I have not done so, it has been just the reverse.
In the year 1834, when Zion's camp was moving from Kirtland to Missouri, one day I left the camp and went out to hunt in the woods of Ohio, and strayed away from the camp some 10 o 11 miles. The camp kept moving on all the time, and I entirely lost the track, and having no compass, I knew not towards what point I should travel. I kept travelling on till the after part of the day; I then concluded I would pray, but I could not get any impression where the camp was. However, I soon after received an impression from the Spirit, the same Spirit we had in Kirtland, and the same Spirit we enjoy in this place; and immediately after receiving the impression, I looked before me, and there was the camp moving on in regular order. I could see it just as clear as I did in the morning; there were the people, the wagons and horses, all in their places as I left them in the fore part of the day, and I supposed they were not more than 80 rods off. But after turning away for a moment, I again looked in the same direction, but all was gone. Still the Spirit told me to travel on in the same direction I had seen the camp; I did so, and after travelling some 8 o 10 miles, came up with them, and when they first came in sight, they looked just as I saw them in the vision.
Again, whenever I have had anything that was great or important to accomplish, I have been impressed with my own weakness and inability to perform the task imposed upon me, and that of myself I was as nothing, only as I trusted in God, and under these circumstances I was certain to speak by the power and influence of the Holy Ghost. When I have trusted in books, or in my own acquirements that I had gleaned from reading the productions of different authors, (for I used to be fond of reading the works of Brown, Abercrombie, Locke, Watts, and other metaphysical writers,) I was sure to be foiled in my attempt, for all would leave me. But whenever I have trusted in the Lord, and relied upon Him for strength, it has come out right.
I want the Saints of God, when they come to school, to be filled with the Holy Spirit; I want the Saints to pray that those who speak may do it by the power of the Holy Ghost, and by this course you will learn and understand the principle of eternal life and happiness, and will receive intelligence from the fountain of all knowledge, which will exalt you in the presence of God. You may read all the books in the universe, and study all you can upon the science of astronomy, chemistry, and theology, and make those sciences interwoven with your very nature, till they are like a straight-jacket upon you, and you may be wrapped up in them and bound hand and foot, and after all they will not let you into the fountain of all knowledge; but by taking such a course, you will have to become slaves to the learning that you have acquired. But I want the Saints to use their learning in the same manner as a boy uses the top, which is in perfect subjection to him; upon the same principle let the Saints use their learning, and when they speak, let it be by the power of God. It is not that I discard learning, but let it be used properly.
There is a fountain of intelligence, and the channel thereto is open, thank God for it, and the light of heaven bursts forth through this channel.
I will now come right down to your own houses, and among your own families. When you call upon the Lord, night and morning, and do those things which are right in the sight of God, you feel well, don't you? But if you act in a different manner, and neglect to pray, and forget to attend to those duties devolving upon a Saint of God, you feel barren in the things of God. Can you go and read, and study any science, and feel that you have the same light beaming upon your understanding, that a person has who is filled with the Spirit of God, and that light which animates a heavenly being?
Why was it that Joseph could take the wisest Elder that ever travelled and preached, and, as it were, circumscribe his very thoughts? Simply because he had the Holy Ghost. Why can our President do the same? is it because he has read books for years? No. But he has sought his God, and the Holy Ghost is in him and he is enabled to search the deep things of God. Then, I say, that man knows the most who enjoys the greatest portion of the Holy Spirit. An individual who lacks this principle may be filled with the learning of the world, but can he rise up ant tell it, unless he has the Holy Spirit? I answer, no. To impress the knowledge that he possesses upon the minds of others, he must have the Holy Ghost. I wish to enquire whether the channel is open between you and the heavens, and do you draw daily from that source? If so, then you are in the narrow path, and rejoicing in the truth. I mention this that you may come to the school prepared to receive the impression that may be given. I do not wish you to come here as though you were coming to Fun Hall, (you know this is sometimes called Fun Hall), but when you come, have your minds prepared to be instructed in doctrine, and in the love of God, and pray that you may receive a proper impression upon what may be advanced; for you must receive item after item, principle after principle, here a little and there a little, until you get a fountain of wisdom. I want you to follow the impression that would lead you to serve God, and the still small voice of God will direct you in all your ways, and you will be wrapped up and live in revelation, and it will be your food by day and by night, and it will cause the mind to expand and the heart to leap with joy. I admit that there are certain Saints who consider certain items as small affairs, but the least thing, however small it may appear to some, in its results may be great. If we as Saints of God do right, no difference about who calls us simple. I tell you, that if you have the Holy Ghost you can understand, and you can be impressed with truth, and that truth will make you free, and you will not forget those things which you receive under the impressions of the Holy Spirit.
A great many people feast upon imagination instead of feasting upon that which is tangible, and they will allow their minds to be led away by fancy, and will make out how great they will be at some future time, and how good they intend to be and how much of the Holy Ghost they expect to receive; but the idea is, what do you enjoy at the present time, and what are the blessings you enjoy at this present moment, right now? Am I doing right to-day? Is the Holy Ghost in me now? Is God's blessing with me now--(not at some other time)? If so, then all is well.
I want the Saints to be impressed with the motto of being happy all the time; if you cannot be happy today, how can you be happy to-morrow? I speak this from what I have learned myself; though it has given me much of trouble, and a great amount of perseverance, to be happy under all circumstances. I have learned not to fret myself. It has taken me a great while to arrive at this point, but I have obtained it in a measure, and perhaps many of you have obtained the same thing, but I doubt whether a great many have learned the secret of happiness.
In order to understand the principle of happiness you must not be ever complaining, but learn not to fret yourselves. If things do not go right, let them go as they will, if they go rough, let it be so; if all hell boils over, let it boil. I thank the Lord for the bitter as well as for the sweet; I like to grapple with the opposite: I like to work and have something to oppose. I used to dread those things, but now I like to grapple with opposition, and there is plenty of it on the right hand and on the left. When trouble gets in among you, shake it off, or bid it stand out of the way. If the devil should come and say, "Brother Brigham is not doing his duty, or is not doing right," kick him right out of your way; bid him depart, do not allow him to have place in your habitation, but learn to be happy.
I remember a noted deist who said that it was a poor religion that would not make a person happy here in this life: he would not give a fig for such a religion; and I would say the same; give me a religion that will make me happy here, and that will make me happy hereafter. If you have the blues, or the greens, shake them off, and learn to be happy, and to be thankful. If you have nothing to eat but johnny cake, be thankful for that, and if you have not johnny cake, but have a roasted potatoe and buttermilk, why, be thankful; or if you have a leg of a chicken, or any other kind of food, learn to be thankful, and if you have only one dollar in your pocket, learn to be as happy under these circumstances as if you had ten dollars.
One time in Nauvoo, some English brethren did not like to eat corn bread, and one of them says to another, just before partaking of some, "Are you going to ask a blessing? I am not going to thank God for nothing else but corn bread, potatoes, and salt." Brethren, those feelings should not be, we ought to be happy and shake off the blues, no difference what we may be called to pass through, but let us have the light of the Lord, the channel of inspiration open, that the light of truth may break in upon our understandings, that we may be rich in faith and in good works.
I used once to be troubled with dyspepsia, and had frequently to call upon the Elders to administer, and on one occasion, brother Joseph Smith says to me, "Brother Grant, if I could always be with you, I could cure you." How is it that brother Brigham is able to comfort and soothe those who are depressed in spirit, and always make those with whom he associates so happy? I will tell you how he makes us feel so happy. He is happy himself, and the man who is happy himself can make others feel so, for the light of God is in him and others feel the influence, and feel happy in his society. I want the Saints to live in a way that they can feel happy all the time, and then we shall enjoy the Holy Spirit; then we shall meet in heaven to part and meet again; and when we get through our work assigned us, then we may assist, if not to make a world as large as this, in organizing some little lump of clay.
May God bless, save and receive you into his kingdom, is the prayer and desire of my heart, for Christ's sake. Amen.
TRIALS OF THE SAINTS--REDEMPTION OF ZION--SECOND COMING OF CHRIST--THE WORD OF WISDOM.
A Discourse by Elder Orson Pratt, Delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, May 20, 1855.
I have been much interested in the remarks that have been made by brother Jackman, for they have been according to my feelings, they were right to the point, and many useful ideas have been thrown out before us, and his words have been full of meaning. Although he has considered himself bashful before the people, yet the Lord has put into his heart those things that are calculated to interest the Saints.
We see, from what has been portrayed before us, the trials and difficulties that we, some of us, have had to endure in this Church; we also see, from what he has explained, the patience of the people in passing through those difficulties; no murmuring, no complaining, no fault-finding, but all taking hold with one heart and one mind to do the will of God, under the most straightened circumstances.
We can contrast this feeling with what we see manifested by some of our new emigrants; some of them come in here feeling dissatisfied, having become so in crossing the plains; they will differ with each other, lose the good spirit, and allow themselves to be controlled by an evil influence; I say we can see, from the discourse of brother Jackman, a great contrast between those that first came here, and those that now come. Now the question might arise in the minds of some, "Were the pioneers who came here so much better than those persons that now come?" I think not. "Then why was there no murmuring, nor fault-finding, nor apostacy?" The reason is obvious; those who first came here had more experience in such matters than the new emigrants have, who come here almost without experience in those things which they naturally come in contact with when crossing the plains.
In fact there are very few in the world that would do any better than the "Mormon" pioneers did the first year they came here. It requires experience to enable people patiently to pass through the scenes of trial that were endured by the pioneers, and those who first came into these valleys. Take our late emigration that have crossed over the plains, and let them be driven a few times from their comfortable habitations, and let them wander for months in the cold winter, and then send them off on an expedition, such as the pioneers took to this country, and you would see them quite a different people: you would see them altered and improved by the course of experience they had passed through; they would be benefitted by certain kinds of experience which others have passed through before them; and, if attentive, they would add many important items to their former stock of wisdom and knowledge.
Consequently, it requires experience, not only for the old members, but for the new; and should the new members be permitted to come from the old countries, and meet with no poverty, no affliction, it would not be known whether those persons would endure such trials; and hence the necessity of such trials to give people experience.
It is true, they have had some things to pass through in the old country of a trying nature, but they have not had a series of different trials to encounter; therefore, there would be no telling whether they would stand or not, if called to pass through similar scenes of trials to those passed through by the earlier settlers of this Territory.
Then, it is not surprising to me that the Lord takes certain measures to bring those persons into difficult circumstances; in fact, we have the Lord's own declaration for it, that He will try this people, not in some things, but in all things, to see if they will abide in the covenant, and He says, "If they will not, then they will not abide in me."
Here, then, we perceive that each will have his share of trials, either in the beginning or in the advanced state of the Church. We do not know what they will be, only so far as God has revealed in His word. He has told us that we should be visited with famine and sword, with pestilence and distress; all these are predicted, and laid before this people in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. The Lord says, unless His servants should hearken to the words and counsels that He gives unto them, famine, trouble, and distress would overtake them. Now what benefit or what glory is there to an individual who is placed in circumstances that he cannot help but do right? For instance, suppose there were no intoxicating drinks in the world, what glory and credit would it be to an individual to say that he had kept himself from those things? If his father and his forefathers to the third or fourth generation of them, had died from drunkenness, he would have nothing to boast of; for he could not be a drunkard; therefore, I say, if this temptation was set before us as the forbidden tree was before mother Eve, and we withstood the temptation, then there would be some merit in it, far more than there is for a person to keep himself sober, because he is obliged to do so. So we may take other things in the same light.
Why did the Lord suffer the Hittites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites, and various others, to live among Israel? He had two purposes in view; one was to scourge Israel when they went astray from His commandments; and the other was to see whether they would overcome or not; He placed them where they would have temptations to test their fidelity; then, if directly in the face of the Law of God, they would falter or yield, and give way to the customs and vices of the heathen, they were not worthy of the glory of God, nor of being called His people.
But if the heathen had all been swept away, and those temptations had not been presented, where would have been the merit? It would have been very small indeed.
A commandment was given, forbidding the children of Israel to marry with the heathen; it was commanded that the sons of Israel should not take wives from among the heathen, neither should they give their daughters to the heathen.
Now there was temptation in those days, set before the children of Israel, and sometimes they would break through, and go beyond the bounds, like old Solomon, who transgressed, after God had appeared to him three times, and had given him many choice favors, and manifested Himself to him in dreams, and also when he spread forth his hands to pray God to bless the temple which he had built, then the Lord manifested Himself in the presence of all Israel, to His servant.
He was lifted up in the midst of Israel, and a kingdom and government were given to him, far surpassing all the kingdoms and governments upon the earth, and yet, after all these things, and after the Lord had given him many wives, he took that which was forbidden; he took the daughters of the heathen nations; and he, being their head and their king, set this wicked--this evil example before all Israel, so that if they had followed his foolish and wicked ways, they would have been destroyed, but from the account we have, he was overcome by the temptations laid before him, and consequently the wives that he had taken led him away, so much so, that in his old age, he, in order to please those wives whom he had taken from among the Gentiles, bowed down to their gods. Here then were two evils, first, in taking heathen wives, and the next, in tampering with, and bowing down to their gods; and the Lord will judge him for all those things, just as He will us--according to the works we perform while in this state of probation.
If Solomon, in all his glory, had been contented with all those blessings given him and had not yielded to the temptations laid to ensnare him, he would have increased in his glory and in his dominions; his glory would have increased in this world and in the future; but the Lord desired to try him.
This shows us that, though a man may be set upon a throne and be exalted high among men, yet he has his temptations, and blessed is he if he endures them and is faithful to his trust; and if he be in distress, bears it all with patience, for he will always have his trials, and no person will escape, all men must be tried and proven.
These are reflections that occurred to my mind while brother Jackman addressed us, showing the contrast between those who first came here, and those who now come. I was led to enquire, why there was such a vast difference; and the thought occurred to me that it was because of experience, for those who have been here from the first, have been pretty well buffeted, and before they came here they had learned how to submit, when the Lord saw proper to put upon them a chastisement.
Should all this people here in Utah be called to pass through such scenes as some of us have been called upon to encounter, I believe there would be many who would say, "Let us endure these things with all submission and patience before God."
In order to do this, it is necessary for us, in our prosperity, to remember the Lord our God, for if men and women will not remember the Lord, when the heavens smile upon them, and when health is in their habitations--if they will not acknowledge the hand of God then, and be thankful for the blessings that they receive, you may be sure that they will not be so well prepared to endure trials, and to pass through adversities, as those who have, in the days of their prosperity, humbled themselves before the Lord, and acknowledged His hand in all things.
There are individuals in this Territory, of a careless disposition, and you may mark them, and those that have waxed fat, and their hearts are upon the things of this world, that when tribulations come, they will be the ones to quake and fear, while those who have taken a different course will be able to stand.
I heard brother Joseph, when speaking of those that were sick in Nauvoo, make remarks similar to those that I have now made. He said, that those who would not, when in good health, call upon the Lord, and acknowledge His hand in all things, and remember him, would not have faith when it was needed--he said that those individuals would have but very little faith in the days of their calamities and affliction.
Then seek to get faith and spirit sufficient to assist us in the days of our afflictions, that we may be prepared for all the vicissitudes of life. We ought to know that we are well off at the present, but all do not realize this fact.
How often I have thought of the remark made by the Prophet; nothing can be more true than that remark; it carries its own evidence with it, that those individuals who have wealth and riches in abundance, but do not remember the Lord, when troubles come, they will be in the greatest distress, generally speaking.
I do not know what the Lord will hereafter do with this people; I have not myself a sufficiency of the spirit of prophecy to understand all the events of the future; and I doubt very much, whether there is an individual in this Church that does know; but we do know, as far as the things of the future are revealed; and we may know many things by dreams and visions, but when it comes to principles, and to what the Lord will do with this people, I doubt very much whether there is an individual in the world, that knows the changes and variety of scenes through which this people will be called to pass.
There are, in many revelations, not only in modern but in ancient prophecy, predictions touching the scenes of the last days, and the trials of the Saints; and we ought to be prepared for whatever is to come, troubles, distress, famine, war, or anything else.
The Lord has said that great prosperity awaits us, far beyond what we now have, but I doubt very much whether this prosperity will come before we have passed through some further tribulations.
There are revelations in relation to the nations of the earth and this people, that seem to indicate that we will have to pass through some things that we never have had to encounter, and it seems to me that we will have to stand forth and defend ourselves against our enemies. And we have got to be tried as Israel was, and to see whether our sons will marry Gentiles, or our daughters Gentile husbands.
Now if there were no Gentiles among us, we could not see whether there was any integrity among the people. Do you suppose that this people will be kept away from the Gentiles? No verily, the Lord does not intend that we should dwell separate from the world altogether. From this time forth, it is our duty to warn our sons and daughters, day by day, and night by night, and week by week, as has been told us from this stand to warn our sons and daughters, as God did our first parents, concerning the forbidden fruit. When He set the forbidden fruit before them, He said, "If you eat, it will make you mortal, whereas you are now immortal, but you may choose for yourselves."
Now how do we know, but when the gates of Zion shall be open to the nations, that the Gentiles will come flocking in, like a flowing stream? A flowing stream is one that runs continually; and the Gentiles will, in that day, come to us as a flowing stream, and we shall have to set our gates open continually, they will come as clouds and as doves in large flocks. Do you suppose that the Gentiles are going to be ignorant of what is taking place? "Now this will not be the case, they will perfectly understand what is taking place. The people will see that the hand of God is over this people; they will see that He is in our midst, and that He is our watchtower, that He is our shield and our defence, and therefore, they will say, "Let us go up and put our riches in Zion, for there is no safety in our own nations."
Those nations are trembling and tottering and will eventually crumble to ruin, and those men of wealth will come here, not to be baptized, but many of them will come that have never heard the servants of God; but they will hear that peace and health dwell among us, and that our officers are all peace officers, and our tax-gatherers men of righteousness.
They will come, not to be baptized, but they will come with their old traditions and customs, and they will flee to Zion with their riches, but they will come in favor of their old customs, and of their old Gentile notions of religion; and if God is merciful unto them, so as to cause them to leave their native land, that we may take them up, and teach them, and nourish them, and bring them up to the standard of truth, all will be right; but if they neglect to observe and obey the instructions given, and to follow the good examples set before them, so much the greater their curse and condemnation.
If our sons and daughters will mary among them, they are much worse than the Gentiles are; for we have been instructed, and ought to know better.
But notwithstanding all that I have said, there may be a time to come, I do not know how long it will be, but the time will come when righteousness will be laid to the line and justice to the plummet.
There will be a certain degree of freedom used with those persons who may come unto Zion, but not so far as to partake of their deeds; but on the contrary, you are strictly prohibited from joining in their evil practices.
But if the Saints act wisely they may set an example before them that will do them good, and if there is any good or righteousness in them, an upright, holy example will bring it out. All this will take place, and there are many here that will live to see those things, and I rejoice that there is but a comparatively little time for those things to be accomplished.
I look at matters perhaps a little different from some that get away off this way and then the other, and when they get disappointed will apostatize.
In order to explain my feelings I will bring up one little example; for instance, it was expected that when the Saints gathered to Jackson County, there would be a perfect paradise, and that there would be an end to trouble and to opposition. And when the Saints were driven out from Jackson County, almost all in the Church expected that they would speedily be restored; and a person was considered almost an apostate that would say, they would not come back in five years, or ten at the furthest; but the prevailing opinion seemed to be that it would take place immediately.
When Zion's Camp went up, and found the Saints all scattered abroad, what did we hear? Why, all in camp were on the tiptoe to have Zion redeemed immediately; perhaps some would stretch their faith and put it off for five years; but those were considered weak in the faith. This was their extreme enthusiasm.
I was appointed to visit all the Saints in Clay County, to strengthen them, and I proved to them from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants that it would be very many years before Zion should be redeemed; and some would believe it, and some others would think that brother Pratt was rather weak in the faith; but I endeavored to show them that such and such things had got to be fulfilled before the redemption of Zion; and time has proved the truth of what I advanced.
Now let us see if they have not got to the other extreme; twenty-two years have passed since that time, and if we look around now, is it not the other way, the very opposite? The people think of almost everything else but the redemption of Zion, and speak to individuals about it, and they put it off a great distance ahead. But I do not feel to go to this extreme. I will give you my opinion; so far as the revelations go, in speaking of this subject, I think that this event is nearer than this people are aware of.
Again, take the subject of the coming of Christ, and as far back as 1821, I remember that I came on from New York to Kirtland, Ohio, and I found many Saints thinking that Christ would come immediately. Though I had but little experience, yet I had applied myself to the written revelations, for they were not then printed, but I frequently got the privilege of reading them, and copying some of them, and therefore, I had an opportunity of judging more correctly, perhaps, than those who had not the same privilege.
No doubt they felt exceedingly anxious to have him come, as we all do, and this anxiety overcame them, and hence they were mistaken. I have no doubt that there are others in the Church that think it is a far off event, and event that will probably take place in the days of their youngest children; but from what is written, I look upon it as an event that is much nearer than is generally supposed.
It is true, there is a great work to be performed, but the Lord has a great many to perform it. If He had them all concentrated in one vast body from England, Scotland, the nations of Europe, and the Islands of the sea, he could soon accomplish the work, notwithstanding its vastness.
A great work has to be brought about; how many years, or scores of years, it will be, I know not, but from the scenes we behold among the people, the breaking up of the nations, and the signs of the times, and the present aspects of the European war, and from the shutting up and closing up of the proclamation of the Gospel in many lands, the coming of Christ seems to be near at hand, yet Zion must be redeemed before that day; the temple must be built upon the consecrated spot, the cloud and glory of the Lord rest upon it, and the Lamanites, many of them, brought in, and they must build up the NEW JERUSALEM! It is true, so says the Book of Mormon, that inasmuch as the Gentiles receive the Gospel, they shall assist my people the remnant of Jacob, saith the Lord, to build the New Jerusalem. And when they have got it built, then we are told that they shall assist my people who are of Jacob to be gathered in unto the New Jerusalem.
Only a few thousands or hundreds of thousands, then, are to be engaged in this work, and then, after it is done, we are to assist the Lamanites to gather in; and then shall the powers of heaven be in your midst; and then is the coming of Christ.
It will not be before the Lamanites come in, nor before the temple is constructed in Jackson County; but there is a great people to do the work.
I look upon these events as something that will take place sooner than many expect, and it will find many putting it away at a distance. This is evident, from the fact, that he will find them eating and drinking with the drunkard, and marrying, and giving in marriage, to the very hour of his coming.
This shows the state of the world as it is to be at his coming, and if they are to perceive one event after another, why do they indulge themselves in these things? It shows that they do not perceive that it is so near.
It will not be those who have oil in their lamps, for they are ready, and when the sound goes forth, the oil is there; but it will be the others; their lamps will have gone out, and they will have no light; and hence he comes, and men are not aware of it; he enters in and the door is shut, and five out of the ten virgins that have actually gathered, as it appears, are numbered among hypocrites and unbelievers.
How often do I think of this, and the condition of the Saints? Will the Saints be ready? With all the evidence and testimony that they have portrayed before them from Sabbath to Sabbath, is it not strange that so many will be so unprepared for that terrible day of the Lord? It will be a pleasing day to the righteous, but terrible to the wicked.
This ought to brace us up, it ought to keep up our spirits, and cause us to prepare for that time. If I should not do this, I neglect my duty. Should I do wrong because some person in the Priesthood, high in authority, does wrong? No, it should have no influence whatever over me.
We should have the Spirit of light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world, and especially those that obey the truth. And if we will yield to this influence we will not be led away from the right path; we are not to give way, no, not even to angels who may pretend to come from heaven.
The spirit upon us should enable us to do that which is right, and that which is our duty. For instance, take the Word of Wisdom, which is given for our benefit and temporal salvation. It is true, disobedience to that is not so gross a sin as some others; but still, it is given for our temporal salvation, and should be observed. Now, it would require the servants of God to preach it every two weeks, or at least every month, to persuade this people to hearken to it; and yet they know it is the word of the Lord. If I were to call a vote, I presume that there would not be one that has come to the years of understanding but what would say it is the word of the Lord.
They go away, after hearing a most glorious discourse upon this and other revelations, and perhaps they will keep the Word of Wisdom two or three days; but it makes their head ache, and them they take a little tea, and it does them good for the moment, and they think the Lord don't know what they need as well as they do. I do not say that you do say this, but your actions bespeak this. But it is such a trial! It must be a terrible trial, which the Lord said the weakest of all that are or can be called Saints could obey. A thing like tea to have influence over us, so that we can only obey the Word of Wisdom two days, and them break it, until we hear another discourse, and thus breaking our covenants, it shows the folly and weakness of man. It shows how the influence of one man prevails over another.
Why cannot you be independent beings, and say, "I will do this, and that, and the other, let my neighbor do as he may; let my neighbor do as he will, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord?" This is what ought to be.
In making these remarks I take them to myself, although I have, as an individual, been very strict in relation to the Word of Wisdom since I have been in the Valley, and years before. Do not I like the good old tea? Yes I do, and when it is sweetened up, and a little cream turned in, it is very pleasant, as no doubt also was the forbidden fruit; but it is for me to use my endeavors to have it observed, by setting a good example, that I may have influence over my neighbor and over my family; and I do use that influence as far as in consistent, but it is difficult to persuade persons from their old habits.
I wonder what those persons would do, if called to be martyred for their religion, who cannot do without violating the Word of Wisdom! I am aware that it is not by constraint, and a man should not constrain his family to obey it, but every man will have to give an account of his doings, and abide the consequence, whatever it may be, if it be the destroying angel going through the land to slay the disobedient.
A man may keep the Word of Wisdom so far as tea, coffee, and tobacco are concerned, and still come very short. If he wishes and intends to be right, he must obey this, together with all the commandments and Words of Wisdom. We must regulate our thoughts, our comings in, our goings out, and all our doings and our minds by the Spirit of the Lord, and by the counsels of His servants. Can the destroyer have influence over such a man?
Let such a man stand up and say, "Lord, I have done as you told me, I have kept your words." Could such a man be destroyed before he had accomplished his work on the earth? I question it. Well, we shall undoubtedly see a time when we shall need such confidence as this.
May the Lord bless us all for Christ's sake. Amen.
EXHORTATION TO FAITHFULNESS.
An Address by President Heber C. Kimball, Delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, April 18, 1852.
I have heard hundreds and perhaps thousands of people make the observation, that, before they would take the interest and bear what brother Young and others do, they would see the people go to the devil. We never have felt so, and I should not wish those who have had such feelings to rule me. I am satisfied of one thing, we have all got to learn to be mild and forbearing, and to do unto others as we would wish others to do unto us. That is a lesson we all have to learn, and the quicker we bring our minds to it the better it will be for us. If you look to the First Presidency to lead you, assisted by the Twelve and other leading members of this Church, you of course consider them to be good men, and we in turn consider that you ought to be good men.
I think you ought to be good men and good women, good children, good fathers and mothers, and good brethren and sisters. Why? Because you know what is right and what is wrong. There is not a little child before me here to-day, that has arrived to years of accountability, but knows what is right to a certain degree. Then why do you not all act upon the knowledge that you have, and bring your feelings and your passions into subjection, and be like the clay in the hands of the potter? When you do right you feel well, you feel satisfied, and as though you had a conscience void of offence before God and man, and before one another.
The instructions given to day by President Young were good and wholesome; did they not sound delicious upon your ears? Yes, you will all say, we know they were good. Well, then, if you know it is good, cleave to it, listen to it, and abide that counsel, for if you do you will prosper and be blessed, and, as he said, you never will be destroyed, and I know it.
Jesus says, "If you are not one, you are not mine." We must learn to be one, listen to one counsel, and subject ourselves to the will of our God. Some men, in their course, remind me of a man's trying to reach the top of a ladder, without being satisfied to commence at the first round, whereas, if they would commence at the first round, and go step by step, they would soon arrive at the upper rounds.
Again, we are like to a chain, or should be, one link being connected to the other. Then what is the use of any one's trying to leave his position? for by so doing he would break the connection. Act in your places and in your callings, and by so doing the Lord will lead you through into the celestial world, by the assistance of His servants, for as to the Lord our God's coming here in person and leading us into the celestial world, He never will do it, but He will authorize His servants to do it.
When Jesus lived on the earth, he ordained and organized a Quorum of Twelve Apostles, and said to them, "I have laid the foundation, and you must build the house." Joseph Smith did the same; he made choice of Twelve Apostles, and ordained them, and said, "I have laid the foundation, and you may build upon it, you may rear the house;" and these very persons are the ones who will lead you through into the celestial world, and they will be at your head all the time. It will be a very good thing if you take care of these men and nourish and cherish them, that when you get into difficulty, into snarly hard knots that you do not know how to untie, they may be on hand to render you assistance. Supposing you were the leaders of this people, and they get into a tangle and snarl, like a skein of thread, I tell you there would be snapping, which would only tend to render the difficulty still worse. Reflect upon these things for a moment, and listen to them upon natural principles, for I am only speaking of things as they naturally exist. We are not sufficiently patient; I am not so patient as I wish to be. I wish I was so patient that when a person abused me I could pass away from him and never notice him; but sometimes I turn round and fight a little; when they shoot, I shoot too.
I again say to you, listen to the counsel that is given to you, from time to time, and be faithful to those men who preside over you--to the President of this Stake and his Council, to brother Hunter as the Presiding Bishop, (to whom all the Bishops are amenable for their conduct), and to all other officers in their places.
Let us all observe obedience to our public officers, be subject to them and listen to them; and all do the best they can; and when we are absent, I know just how you will do, you will do exactly as I used to when my father went away. He would say; "My son Heber, I want you to go to hoeing corn, and to stick to it until I come back." I would put my best foot foremost, and if any of my play-fellows came round me, I would say, "Come, boys, let us make a good job of this corn, that when my father comes home he may rejoice in the good conduct of his son Heber." It will be the same with the boys at the public works, they will say, "Boys let us do the best we can while they are gone."
Now, brethren, do not be eye servants, do not be merely Christians and Saints while you are here, but be Saints when you are at home, in your secret closets, and in your family, &c. When you labor, be Saints and work while it is called to day you cannot do any too much.
Be faithful in your families, and in your prayer circles; be faithful to your wives and to your children; and I say to the wives, be faithful to your husbands and children; and in so doing I know God will bless us to an extent that we have never yet experienced. Let us do right when we are behind the house, in front of it, or in the inside; when we are down in the cellar, up stairs, in the meadow, or in the field; and whatever we do, let us do it in the name of the Lord our God. When we sow our wheat, our beans, peas, and potatoes, let us bow down and ask God to bless the seed and the earth, and warm it, that it may bring forth in abundance, that we may reap the best crops we ever reaped in our lives. Often, when a little child calls upon God to change the mind of its father or mother, the prayer will be heard. I recollect the circumstance of a little boy's being left in the house while his mother went on a visit; the boy used to get hold of a valuable piece of crockery so she warned him not to touch it in her absence, telling him if he did would certainly break it, and she should whip him. He took it, and sure enough it slipped out of his hands and broke. The little fellow prayed to his Father in heaven, in the name of Jesus, that his mother might not feel disposed to whip him. When she came home she had not power to punish him. Have you not as much faith and confidence in God as that little boy? It was the same with Daniel in the den of lions. The decree of the king was that he should be thrown into the lions'den. Daniel called upon his Father continually to take the ferocious feeling from the lions, that they might not have power to harm him, and it was accomplished according to his cry.
I could relate scores of circumstances, while I was on missions, of men swearing that if I went to their houses they would blow my brains out, or do me some violent bodily injury. I would go, but instead of putting their threats into execution, nothing would be too good for me, and they would say, "Come back, Mr. Kimball, for I never had such a good time in my life." I held them by my faith, and that is the way in which the devil will be bound; but as long as a person will give him a privilege of coming into his tabernacle, he will remain, for his object is to get a body. It would not be proper for me to come to your house, when you have invited a guest to sit with you, and go to casting him out, and I should have no power to do it.
We are growing pretty fast, increasing in faith, multiplying and progressing, and we must continue to improve while we live in this existence; and when we leave this state, what we do not gain here we have got to gain in another. If you do not overcome your passions here, you have got to do it there. You are not going to step right into the presence of God when you leave this state of mortality; you have got to make many covenants and fulfil them to the very letter.
What kind of people ought we to be? We should be Saints of God, and not sinners. We are about to start for the south, and several are going with us, but none but those who are of one heart and one mind.
This work is never to go down, it has commenced and it will never come to an end until it has fulfilled the will of its Author; you need not be troubled about that.
Now, brethren, be humble, be patient, be industrious, and when we come back, we want to hear the spinning wheel in every house. We do not expect the men to do this buzzing, we expect the sisters to do it. I am going to set my folks to work at spinning up the wool, to working up the old rags, and to making a little yarn for carpeting. I would sooner walk on a rag carpet made by my own family, than upon an imported Brussels carpet made in one of the best manufactories in the world.
Let us be industrious and economical, that the blessings of God and of all good persons may rest upon us, and we will multiply and replenish the earth, and our crops and herds will multiply more than they ever have. Listen to the counsel given to you, and the devil will have no business with you. The devil can hurt no man, only when he gives way to his influence. When he offered Jesus the whole world if he would bow down to him, he had no power over him; says he, "I am the Son of God, mind your own business." Then he took him upon the Temple, and said, "If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down." But he told him to get out of his way. The devil had no power over him, any more than he can have power over you, if you resist his power. When the devil has power over persons, it is because they have done something wrong, which gives him power and influence over them. You have heard tell of people having the blues; it is not good for men to be blue, nor for women either, but it is for them to have confidence in God by doing right.
God bless you, and peace be with you, and I bid you good bye for a season, and pray that consolation may be with you. Amen.
PREACHING THE GOSPEL.
An address by Elder George A. Smith, Delivered in the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, Aug. 12, 1855.
It used to be, in the days of the Prophet Joseph, a kind of common adage that "Mormonism" flourished best out of doors, and although we struggled hard at the time that the brethren undertook in Missouri to build a hewed log house that would cost about $1200, yet that tried the faith of many, and was more than we accomplished before the Saints were driven from Jackson County, and we failed to erect a building big enough to hold the Saints previous to the death of the Prophet. At the time of his death we were still trying to build a Temple, but all our exertions only resulted in our having to go out of doors for room enough.
We on the present occasion have the pleasure of sitting out of doors, and of listening to the counsel and instruction of the servants of God without being crowded, from the fact that we have Father's big kitchen to meet in, and in this capacious Bowery we can enjoy a great deal of comfort, instead of being jammed into our large Tabernacle, those of us who could get in, and the balance being obliged to go home.
It is by the request of my brethren that I arise on the present occasion to offer a few reflections for your consideration. When I was first called upon by the Prophet to go and preach the Gospel, I received a little good advice, which I have endeavored to profit by ever since, and that too, to the best of my ability.
In the morning, as I was about to start on my first mission to preach the Gospel, I waited upon brother Joseph, and asked if he had any advice to give me. "Yes," said he, "George A., preach short sermons, make short prayers, deliver your sermons with a prayerful heart, and you will be blessed, and the truth will prosper in your hands." I was a boy of seventeen at the time, and I called this my college education; I however took a second degree, calling upon father Joseph Smith, who was the Patriarch of the Church, and as I was about starting, he said, "One word of advice George A., whatever you do, be careful to go in at the little end of the horn, then, if you increase, though it be but a very little, you are sure to come out at the big end; but if you go in at the big end, you are certain to come out at the small end."
Ever since that time I have applied it, and thought often of the old gentleman's counsel, and I have found it to be very correct.
At that time Elder Sidney Rigdon, our great preacher, (the perfect comber of all the sects,) a man that could bring to bear all the big, jaw-cracking words of the English language, and who could fill up the interstices with quotations from other languages, and bring all to illustrate the Gospel of Christ, and to contrast it with the errors of the different sects to which he had formerly belonged, I remember seeing him get up to preach when there were present Professor Seixas and several other learned gentlemen who were on a visit to Kirtland, and President Rigdon wanted to show himself to the best possible advantage. I discovered his error when he first began speaking; I saw that he was in his high heeled boots, and at the commencement he soared so far above his subject that he could not get down to it; his whole discourse was a constant series of efforts to descend to a style requisite to illustrate the simplicity of the Gospel, the natural result of his commencing on too high a key--the difficulty and trouble was that he commenced on too grand a scale to carry it through successfully.
Now if he had commenced to preach to those learned men the first simple principles of the Gospel, and then, as the Spirit had opened up things to his mind, have gone into the more advanced principles, he might have succeeded as he desired, but he got up with the intention of showing his great big self, and began at the big end of the horn.
There are several young Elders present, who are going on missions, and the advice that I received may not be uninteresting to them. I have known many young Elders go out preaching, and the first thing they would do when they began to preach would be to tell what a tremendous smart sermon they were going to preach, and what wonderful results would follow; and I have seen those dashing kind of fellows carry on until they withered, and became depreciated, and went out at the little end of the horn.
Now when we present ourselves to a congregation of people, the first thing should be plainly and simply to communicate to them the first principles that we receive, in the best possible manner. But what is the best way to communicate them to the inhabitants of the earth? Shall we select the greatest jaw-cracking words in the English language, and from other languages, or shall we use reasoning the most abstruse and mysterious? The best method is to select the best and simplest way in our possession, and you will find that to be the most successful method of proclaiming the Gospel. You may note it when you will, in men that go forth to proclaim the truth, and you discover that the man who has the fewest words communicates his ideas to the people, as a general thing, in the plainest manner.
When a man uses ten or fifteen superfluous words to convey one simple idea, his real meaning is lost, he reaches beyond all the rules of grammar and rhetoric, and his idea, which, had it been clothed with simple and appropriate language, might have been good, is lost for want of more suitable words. It is like Massa Gratian's wit--"two grains of wheat hid in three barrels of chaff." It is my advice that our Elders should study brevity in all their discourses and communications to the people, and that they should speak in the plainest and simplest manner; for if they were to do this--speak so that the unlearned can comprehend, then the learned will be sure to understand, unless they have got their ears so twisted that it is vulgar for them to listen to common conversation; they are like the young gentleman who had just come from college and was desirous of making a considerable show, so when he stopped at a country hotel, he gave the following orders to the ostler--"You will extricate the quadruped from the vehicle, stabulate him, donate him an adequate supply of nutritious aliment, and when the Aurora of man shall illumine the celestial horizon I will award thee a pecuniary compensation."
The lad went into the house to the old man, crying--"Landlord, there is a Dutchman out here; I can't understand a word he says, do come and talk to him yourself." (Laughter). Now if he had said--"unharness the horse, water and feed him, and I will pay you for it in the morning," he would have been understood by the ostler. But the fact is, the world through their wisdom know not God, and have lost sight of and forgotten the simplicity of our fathers, and the plainness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the reason is, that from the beginning the plan of salvation was too plain and simple to be interesting to the learned, and it has ever since been the design of men of learning, to couch the wisdom and knowledge of the world in such high flown language that the poorer classes of mankind could not get anywhere near them, and thereby hide it in the superabundance of nonsense they made use of; they made use of thousands of words to blind the ignorant and illiterate, that they might be kept in the dark, and remain in ignorance all through the learning and cunning of men.
These are my sentiments upon that subject in brief, and however much I may break or violate the instructions I received from President Joseph Smith to preach short sermons, and make short prayers, I have always endeavored to observe those instructions, though I may have failed on some occasions. Sometimes perhaps over anxiety has led me beyond the mark, but as a general thing I have endeavored to observe them strictly, and have found it to be good to do so, and I have often and do yet frequently think of my first degree.
But I ought to make some acknowledgment and confessions probably. I well remember the first time I ever broke those instructions; I was preaching in Virginia, in the County of Tyler. There was a Methodist preacher by the name of West, that would follow me wherever I went, and when I got through preaching he would get up to burlesque me, and he would talk for an hour or two, and then he would get his congregation to sing, but with all he could do he could not get more than thirty or forty to come and hear him preach, whereas I had from three to four hundred attentive hearers. So on one certain occasion he came with his Methodist friends to the meeting, and I invited him to preach first, but no--he said he was "going to preach just as soon as I got through;" so I said to myself, "You will have to wait a pretty considerable spell, old gentleman;" and I then selected and read one of the longest chapters I could find in the Bible, and read it slowly; then read a long hymn and lined it off, and got the preacher to sing it for me, after which I preached about two hours and a half. I saw the preacher was in a terrible great hurry to get a chance to speak; the reason was, there were many at the meeting who had come from 10 to 30 miles on purpose to hear me, the country being very thinly settled, and some of them would have turned their pigs out of the pen if they had known West was going to preach in it, and the very moment I had done speaking, he jumped up and said he wanted to preach before I dismissed the congregation. When he commenced about 300 of the congregation left.
He had made a practice of following every "Mormon" Elder that came into the country, and keeping up his harangue against the truth, then his Methodist brethren would join him and sing at the top of their voices until the congregation dispersed, and it was his intention to serve me the same, but he did not succeed quite so well as he anticipated.
That was the first time that I recollect violating the instructions I had received, and I must say that I did not repent of it for a good many years, and I have not fully done so yet, for I thought that a man must be pardoned for straining his instructions on an occasion like that; and the fact is, we do not often find such men. This man followed and harassed our Elders every time they went into the country, and kept on their track until he had run them clear out of the country. When he perceived I would preach about there, he gave public notice that if I came into the neighborhood where he lived I should get a coat of tar and feathers; so on hearing this, I resolved to go and try it.
There was a man by the name of Mr. Willey, a near neighbor of the Rev. Mr. West. He was a small man of about 130lbs. weight, with a red head, and he had 13 boys with red heads, each of them weighing from 180 to 150 lbs. He had his boys perfectly drilled, and when he could not beat the opposite party at the ballot box by voting, he could always beat them by fighting; for he and his red headed boys, (for they had hair as red as my wig that I wear sometimes,) were more than a match for any party they come in contact with in the County of Tyler; when he could not beat them in the election, he always could the other way. When he heard that West, the Methodist preacher, was going to have me tarred and feathered, he sent his best looking daughter on horseback over the mountains, dressed in the finest silk, and invited me to go over and preach, and assured me that I need not fear the least danger from the Methodists threatening to tar and feather me. I sent an appointment that I would preach at his house in two weeks. Accordingly I proceeded on my way to visit the old man, filling some appointments previously given on Buffalo Creek, Monongahela county, and about 15 miles from Mr. Willey's, I met three young men, all with red heads, well mounted, and standing about 6 feet 2 inches, dressed in Kentucky jeans, but very neat and clean. They looked big enough to have been employed in Erebus, as strikers for Vulcan, forging thunder-bolts for Jupiter. They informed me that they were the sons of Mr. Willey, and that he had sent them to show me the way through the mountains. They remarked that it was rather a wild country to travel in alone, and they likewise informed me that the rumor was that West, the Methodist priest, was intending to meet me with a party of his pious brethren, and give me a coat of tar and feathers, but assured me, in the name of their father, that I need not apprehend the least possible danger.
Before I got into the neighborhood I was met by two or three other red headed gentlemen, and we shortly after arrived at the old man's residence, where I was treated with every kindness, and the first salutation was an assurance that I need not be the least afraid, or anticipate that any harm would come to me from my Methodist friends: and the beauty of it was, as I learned afterward, he had long desired an opportunity to whip the whole Methodist church; and if they had turned out to mob me, he would then have had a good chance to pounce upon them. This is an illustration of what men will do to accomplish their ends, or the objects they have in view.
And as long as I remained in that part of the county of Tyler, the old man would have two or three of these boys go along with me to show me the way through the country wherever I wished to go, and two or three more looking out. I suppose he really wanted to have the Methodists execute their threat, and attempt to mob me; but West knowing the feelings of the red headed troop, he concluded it was best not to do so.
Notwithstanding all the opposition, we did succeed in gathering a few "Mormons" in that county. I am aware that things were different then to what they are now, for then when an Elder presented "Mormonism" in a town or city, every one that is acquainted with our history knows that it was looked upon by all as a mere matter of humbug. "Why," they would say, "it will be all down in two or three weeks; these are some idle fellows going about for the sake of getting a living." But now it is altogether different; when a "Mormon" goes forth to preach, however much they may oppose him and abuse him, they know that he represents an almighty people, and that he stands in connection with and is backed up by the greatest men of the age. They know that the "Mormons" cannot be successfully contended with by argument and moral suasion, but only on the old Missourian system of mobocracy; they know that the priests have given it up years ago. "O," say they, "if you talk with a Mormon Elder, you are sure to get worsted; tar and feather them, mob them, and stone them out of the country, for if you listen to them, you will be deceived."
I remember when Joseph first got the Abrahamic records, (and let me here say that I hope those brethren and sisters who are not already subscribers to the Deseret News, will go to the office and commence to take it while that important record is being published, for it will be of great service in years to come,) there was in the State of New York a very pious Presbyterian deacon, who was very intimate with my father and mother, when they were members of the same church; and, as he was passing through Kirtland, called to see them. It was almost a violation of the pious old man's faith to shake hands with my father when he met him, but he ventured, and finally got courage enough to call, and not only shake hands, but have a little conversation.
My father told him that Joseph had got this Book of Abraham, and that he could translate it, and that it revealed some very important principles. "It is curious," replied the old man, "I really would like to see the record."
"Well, deacon," said my father, "come, I will go over with you to the Prophet's, and show you the papyrus."
"Well, Mr. Smith, but I don't know about going over now."
"O come along," said my father, "there is plenty of time before dinner, it is but a few steps--let us walk over while dinner is being prepared."
"Mr. Smith, Mr. Smith, there is great danger of being de--cei--ved! Mr. Smith--I'd rather not go!"
This is the way men feel; they are all the time afraid of being deceived; when the truth comes, they dare not trust their eyes, their ears, or their understanding; they are all the day long fearing and trembling lest they should be deceived. And at the same time, Infidelity, Mesmerism, Electrobiology, spiritual communications of various kinds and grades are taking hold of the minds of the human race, from those in the highest ranks of society to the lowest.
And here in the newspapers we will find half their columns taken up with accounts of murder, suicide, plunder, bloodshed, and every other species of crime. "And what of it," says one. Why, crime seems to be the principal feature of the day. And what is the cause of all this? The reason is because the people have rejected the truth, and therefore the light of truth has ceased to shine in their hearts.
They thirst for one another's blood, and they thirst after and desire each other's destruction, and they have no feeling for anything but blood and slaughter: and the great question the world over, but especially in the East, is whether the Emperor of Russia shall have the privilege of building as many ships as he may think proper, and putting them in the Black Sea. He says that a part of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azoff are in his dominions, and that he will do as he pleases; but the allied powers swear that he shall not, and they stake the lives of millions, and declare that he shall not build any more ships than some half dozen other nations see proper to keep in that sea. This seems to be the whole question which causes the lives of millions to be in jeopardy continually.
I say, read the <Deseret News>; read the accounts of the missions of the Elders; read the great things that are being revealed week after week--the History of the Prophet, the revelations which came through him and see how rapidly they are fulfilling, and observe how partyism and constant rangling are seizing the human mind, and how tremendously they will contend with each other, and sustain one another in lies, and speak evil of those who are good.
With these remarks I shall give way, praying that the Lord may bless you forever. Amen.
THE HISTORY OF MAHOMEDANISM.
A Discourse by Elder G. A. Smith, Delivered in the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, September 23, 1855.
I arise before you this morning, unexpectedly; but as I always feel willing to make an attempt to offer some reflections for the consideration of my brethren and sisters, I feel a degree of pleasure. While looking at the improved appearance of our benches to-day, I see quite a number of comfortable seats have been brought here, which will in a great degree dispense with the occasional breaking of temporary seats, disturbing the congregation.
The Lord has said, in a revelation given through Joseph Smith, that it is His purpose to take care of His Saints. He also promised His people, in the commencement of the foundation of this Church, to sift them as with a sieve. Some of the old Prophets, in referring to the work of the last days, speak of the sieve of vanity. The history of this people since the Church was organized, has been one continued scene of changes.
In the early years of the Church, there was a great anxiety among the brethren to travel and preach the Gospel among the Lamanites, but the rigid laws of the United States at that time, prevented any intercourse with them. The brethren used to feel animated upon the subject; the would speak in tongues and prophesy, and rejoice exceedingly in the things that were about to transpire, or that they believed would transpire when they should be permitted to go and preach the Gospel to the Lamanites.
A series of unexpected and unthought of events has at length brought about an opportunity, on our part, to instruct these remnants of the house of Israel in the best knowledge it is possible for us to impart to them.
We have now been for eight years right in their midst, where we could have an opportunity of teaching them to read, if we chose; of teaching them to work, or anything else we may take the time, labor, and expense to teach them. We are now familiar with their habits, character, and customs, to a considerable extent.
When the curse of the Almighty comes upon a people, it certainly is the work of generations to remove it. When Cain brought a curse upon his own head, and that of his household, his after generations bore the same curse.
The curse that came upon Canaan, the son of Ham, has extended to a great portion of the human race, and has continued to the present day.
For the last hundred years, philanthropists, who were ignorant of the order of God--of the irrevocable decrees of the Almighty--have exerted themselves vigorously to thwart the purposes of the Almighty, in trying to remove the curse of servitude from the descendants of Canaan; but their endeavors are vain and useless; it is labor lost, and answers no end, only so far as it serves to multiply the difficulties and perplexities which are rising in this generation, to bring about the great destruction of corruption and wickedness from the earth; in this way it all indirectly has designed they shall hold that position, it is worse than useless for any man or set of men, to undertake to put them in a position to rule.
The Lord conferred portions of the Priesthood upon certain races of men, and through promises made to their fathers they were entitled to the rights, and blessings, and privileges of that Priesthood. Other races, in consequence of their corruptions, their murders, their wickedness, or the wickedness of their fathers, had the Priesthood taken from them, and the curse that was upon them was decreed should descend upon their posterity after them, it was decreed that they should not bear rule.
In looking abroad on the earth and seeing the effects produced upon different races of men, it will be plainly discovered that there are races who have never been permitted to bear rule to any great extent.
The God of heaven is the creator and proprietor of the earth; we will admit, however, that His claim to it has been considered by men very weak for many generations; His title has been, I would not say disputed, but it has been absolutely denied for a great while, so much so, that when the Son of God came on the earth he had nowhere to lay his head; he said himself, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head."
We also read that when the Savior was taken by the tempter on to an exceeding high mountain, he showed him the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, saying, "All these will I give unto thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me," although "the poor devil" did not own a single foot of it.
This proves that Satan considered himself so much in possession of the earth, as to actually exclude the Savior's supremacy entirely, and wished to place him in a position that it might never be acknowledged; but the Savior said, "Get thee behind me, Satan, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."
The dominion of portions of the earth has changed hands frequently, and sometimes in a very unexpected and miraculous manner; the Romans overpowered it to a very great extent, and all that was considered habitable, or that was then known, was either reduced to submission to the Roman sway, compelled to pay tribute, or at least to acknowledge Roman supremacy, with a very few exceptions; this is as far as profane history extends: hence, says Luke, "And it came to pass in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city."--ii. 1, 3. This circumstance shows the existence of several emperors possessed of sufficient domains and power in the Roman empire to demand taxation of all the world.
That nation has been compared to a nation of iron in the visions of the Prophet Daniel; it has been considered, by most commentators upon the word of God, that the Prophet Daniel considered the Roman empire to be typified by the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, in which it is represented as being of iron in the great image which he saw.
I believe it came nearer exercising universal dominion than any other empire that has ever existed. Nations of the present time have obtained dominion over a greater extent of the earth's surface than the Roman empire did, yet it appears to be inhabited, cultivated, improved, and discovered to a far greater extent in proportion.
It has been said by some geographers that the empire of Russia is the most extensive one that ever existed; others, that the empire of Charles the Fifth of Germany, which included Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, and Mexico, Guatemala, and nearly all South America, was the greatest. Others say the present dominions of Queen Victoria are the most extensive of any other. Be that as it may, it is but a mere matter of speculation. Rome at its time was the only government that was considered all powerful. That this power was given by the Almighty, no man who believes in the dealings of God with men will dispute, though many who are sceptical on this subject may produce different ideas and views.
From the time Rome was founded--a small city upon the seven hills of the Tiber, to the final extent of its dominion, was eight hundred years, when it commenced to crumble, and continued so doing until it fell in pieces.
About six hundred years after Christ a prophet rose in Arabia, by the name of Mahomet, who was born in 569; he was an orphan boy; his father (Abdallah) having died, he was left in childhood, and was raised under the care of his uncle, whose name was Abu Taleb, and finally became an apprentice to learn the mercantile business; he was sent by his master several times on trading expeditions, as his agent, to take charge of his train of merchandize.
He subsequently married Kadija, the widow of his employer, who had left her, at his death, considerable wealth.
Mahomet carried on the business his master left, profitably, until he professed and proclaimed to the world to have received a mission from heaven. He was five years in making his first convert; this was rather slow progress; and that convert, when made, was only a boy of eleven years of age, whose name was Ali, the son of Abu Taleb.
It will be recollected that the climate of Arabia brings persons to maturity in body and mind much earlier than colder climates. Mahomet and Ali commenced to preach, and finally succeeded in gathering around them a considerable number of adherents.
Mahomet descended from one of the most noble families of the Koreish; he came direct in descent from Ishmael, the son of Abraham.
He was set upon by that powerful and popular tribe, the Koreish, who were determined to destroy him, as he proclaimed that their idol gods were all a humbug, and setting forth but one true and living God for them to worship. The persecution continued to increase until he was obliged to leave Mecca, and flee for his life to Medina, on 15th July, 622, which is the great Hegira or Mahometan era. On leaving his native city, Al Abbas, his uncle, one of the most powerful chiefs of the Koreish, made the Ansars, as his friends in Medina were called, promise and swear that they would not deceive, but would protect his nephew at the expense of their lives, though Al Abbas himself did not then believe in his divine mission.
Mahomet continued preaching; there was nothing in his religion to license iniquity or corruption; he preached the moral doctrines which the Savior taught; viz., to do as they would be done by; and not to do violence to any man, nor to render evil for evil; and to worship one God.
He continued so to preach until he was driven from his home. After he had commenced preaching his doctrine extensively in different parts of Arabia, and many had believed it, his persecutors at Mecca gathered a large force, and, followed him, with a determination to exterminate him and his friends. They followed him up with their persecutions until he got so mad, that he could not stand it any longer; his religion caved in, he drew his sword, gathered his followers, and gave his enemies such a drubbing that they went off ashamed. This was the battle of Bedr.
They raised a superior force of 3000 men, and had a second fight with the prophet (in 626) who could scarcely muster 1200 men; his orders not being obeyed, his followers left the field, but the prophet was determined not to be beat from the track, and concluded to fight the battle alone; his intrepidity and boldness on the occasion converted a leader of the infidel army, named Khaled, and he subsequently made him his general, and surnamed him the sword of God. This is called the battle of Ohud.
One hundred years extended the Mahometan power over more territory than the Romans gained in eight hundred years; in a very short time all Arabia bowed to his sceptre, and he was confirmed in his kingly power, and assumed the ensigns of royalty in 628.
He then sends his ambassadors to visit the neighboring nations, for he was now the monarch of Arabia, and asked them to receive his religion. They visited Khosroes the Great, king of the Persians, one of the most warlike sovereigns of his time. Mahomet's ministers presented his letters, but the Persian king haughtily tore them in pieces, ordered the ambassadors to be scourged, and sent them home in disgrace. They returned to Medina and found Mahomet mending his shoes, and reported their treatment; with tears he replied, "You need not be alarmed, boys, for many of you will lie to riot in the white palace of Khosroes."
It was thought that Mahomet's death would put a final stop to the progress of his religion; some persons gave him poison to see whether he was a prophet or not, and it was his belief that poison was the cause of his death. He died at the age of sixty-three, in 632, and was succeeded by his father-in-law, Abu Bukker, who was very faithful in sustaining the prophet during his life, and who was acknowledged as the first Khalif after the prophet's death. This man continued the war which Mahomet had commenced, for when the prophet had found that the people would not leave their idols by being preached to, he concluded the sword was the best argument; he therefore decided he would take up the line of march to his native city, sustained by a powerful army. He destroyed the idols in the Kaaba, the temple of Mecca, and dedicated it to be the great temple of Mahomet, and the centre of Mahometan worship, which position it has held up to the present time. Mahomet set his examples, gave out his laws in relation to pilgrimage, prayer, and matrimony, and adopted many rigid rules, which he kept strictly himself, and which his followers have observed for many generations; and in his last pilgrimage, in 632, 114,000 Mussulmen converts marched under his banner.
Now this man descended from Abraham and was no doubt raised up by God on purpose to scourge the world for their idolatry. Immediately after his death, his successors commenced a series of campaigns against the Roman or Greek empire, under the command of Khaled the Great, surnamed the sword of God, and Abu Obeidah. During the two years of the reign of Abu Bukker, who ascended the throne in 632, he determined to enforce the new religion upon the inhabitants of Persia. This expedition, however, failed in consequence of its being too weak; but the expeditions against the Greeks were more successful; battle after battle was fought, province after province was surrendered, and millions were converted to the new faith; and on the death of Abu Bukker, Omar Ebu Al Khattab ascended the throne in 634, and the war continued.
During the reign of Omar they conquered Syria and Egypt, overthrew the Persian monarchy, the old dynasty of the Sassanides yielded their standard (the blacksmith's leather apron), which had floated for several hundred years in triumph over the Persian monarchy, to the Saracen rule, and many who surrounded Mahomet's person in times of his greatest danger rioted in the white palace of Khosroes, which was taken by the Arabs in 637, and where they divided among themselves a spoil of sixty millions of pounds sterling, and many of the companions of the prophet wept when they saw this prophecy so literally fulfilled.
Their manner of doing business was singular; they had a way of their own. When they entered the Persian empire, led by Saud-e-Wekkauss, they received a message from Zezdejrd the king, that they were a pack of poor devils, that they came from a country which was a desert, and had not much to eat, and if they would go home and mind their own business he would load their camels with dates. They replied, that they did not come for his riches, nor yet for the fruits of his country, they knew they were poor, and had lived on green lizards and snails, but that had nothing to do with the matter, their business was to present to the king and his people the pure religion which God had revealed to them, and if they would accept of it, and obey its precepts, not one hair of their heads should be hurt, if they would not accept of it, if they would not obey it, they would require of them all to pay tribute, and if they would not pay tribute, they would cut off their heads. It was all told in three words, the Koran, tribute, or the sword.
The proud monarch could not bow to this, but called out his immense armies and placed them under the command of Rustum, the son of Furrukh-zaud and Ameir ul Omra of the empire. And a decisive battle was fought at Kaudsiah; this opened the whole of the Persian monarchy to Saracenic dominion. Saud-e Wekkauss was afflicted with a disease called the Sciatica, which rendered his joints so stiff that he could not ride on horseback; he sounded the Tekbair (<alla hu akbar>--God he is great) from a terrace of the palace in Kaudsiah, which was the signal of battle.
The Persian king drew up his hosts amounting to one hundred and twenty thousand men, while the Mahometan army amounted only to thirty thousand men. The battle commenced in the morning at eight o' clock and lasted until dark, when every Saracen lay down on the ground where he finished his day's work.
The women of the Saracens carried them food, and dressed their wounds, and carried away the wounded and dead, but the soldiers, men, and officers, never left their position until the call was given in the morning, "God is great." On account of the position which each army occupied, the one army could not present a greater front than the other; they fought the second day, the third, and the fourth, until tens of thousands were killed. On the second day the Saracens received a reinforcement of two thousand men that had marched five hundred miles under forced marches; the Persians also received a reinforcement of 30,000 men, and on the fourth day at noon the conflict was decided, after about one hundred thousand men had been slaughtered on the field.
I relate this to show you what religious zeal will accomplish. Mahomet, in his day, cautioned his people not to drink wine, or in other words, he had given them a "word of wisdom," showing that it was not proper to drink wine. There was a warrior whose name was Abu Mohudjen, of some considerable reputation at the time, who had broken this law of Mahomet; he had taken some of the good wine of Persia, in consequence of which he had been put in chains, by order of Saud, and confined in the palace of Kaudsiah, while the battle was going on so severely. The general had not left a single staff officer to communicate the word of command, from the point the Mahometan general occupied, to his officers in the field, so he had to send them by his wives, or his servants. The only man left about the house was the general, and this officer in irons, who begged of the women to beseech the general to dismiss him, and let him go and fight, but they dare not do it for fear of the wrath of their husband. He importuned so earnestly when they brought to him his provisions, declaring that if he did not die in the field, he would return again and put on the irons, that they concluded to let him go, so they gave him the general's piebald mare and a suit of his armor, and away he went to the battle field.
Saud was not long in observing the actions of the disguised warrior, whose extraordinary prowess excited his admiration. He inquired of his attendants who he was, but they were unable to give him any information. He concluded that if it were possible to suppose that God sent assistance on such occasions, it must be the immortal Kezzer, which word signifies Enoch, Elias, St. John the Evangelist, or St. George.
The Arabs, through suffering severely from the annoyance of the Persians' elephants, and from the firm and resolute resistance of the troops of Rustum where he commanded in person, were repulsed and thrown into disorder, and were only recovered by the extraordinary and unlooked for exertions of Abu Mohudjen, disguised in the armor of Saud.
After the battle the imprisoned officer returned to his quarters, and the women again put the irons on him, and nothing was said to the general about his having been set at liberty. While the general was exulting over his victory, and the immense spoil he had taken, he told his wives that the immortal Kezzer had fought for him; says he, "The prophet knew I could not ride, and I saw a mighty warrior on my piebald mare, leading the way wherever the battle was thickest."
His wives then told him who it was he saw; Saud says, "Bring him here, take off his chains, give him the piebald mare and armor, and let him drink all the wine he pleases all the days of his life." "But," says the old officer, "if I drink wine now, I shall be doing that which is contrary to the law of God, which if I could atone for by imprisonment I would drink it, but as I cannot, I will drink no more wine;" and he kept his word.
I relate this to show you what union and religious enthusiasm will accomplish: the Greek empire in Asia was crushed to atoms, and in one hundred years the Mahometan dominion was more extensive than that of the Roman empire in eight hundred years from its foundation.
Persia, Egypt, Mauritiana, and nearly all of Northern Africa, Cyprus, and Rhodes were subdued previous to 637, together with Syria, Asia Minor, and the countries now known as Turkistan, Afghanistan, Beloochistan, Circassia, and Asia Minor, and a part of Chinese Tartary. Tarick and Musa completed their conquest of Spain in 714; and had it not been for dissensions among themselves, the probability is, that the crescent would have now surmounted the top of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, instead of the cross.
Christianity had become so corrupt and divided, that none of the Christian princes were willing to unite their power with the Greek emperor to defend themselves against the Mahometan power, or to prevent them overpowering one Christian nation after another, for so they continued to do until division among themselves prevented their increasing; and now their national existence is waning little by little, until it is becoming very weak.
The battle of Tours, in which 370,000 Mussulmen were killed, which prevented the Saracens from not only overrunning France, but all Europe, was fought in the year 732, by the French, under Charles Martel, who was styled in his time, "the hammerer," because he struck such hard blows in battle. He seized on a quantity of church revenues to pay his troops, and for this the Catholics damned him to purgatory, and required his children for generations to pay for prayers for his relief, but he was the great chieftain, as far as man is concerned, that prevented the utter annihilation of the religion of the cross, and the constituting in the place thereof that of the crescent.
History is a natural theme with me, and while I have taken so much license of your time in tracing the progress of the history of nations, I will still say to you, that this Mahometan race, this dominant power of the 7th and 8th centuries, were the descendants of Abraham, which Mahometan records show in a straight-forward genealogy, from the family of Mahomet direct to that of Abraham, through the loins of Ishmael, the son of Abraham; and in this dominion there certainly was a recognition of the dominion of the sons of Abraham, and just as long as they abode in the teachings which Mahomet gave them, and walked in strict accordance with them, they were united, and prospered; but when they ceased to do this, they lost their power and influence, to a very great extent.
I am aware that it is a difficult matter to get an honest history of Mahometanism translated into any of the Christian languages. One of the best works I ever read upon the subject, and one I can put the most confidence in, is Simon Ockley's History of the Saracens; it was a translation of a Mahometan historian named Abu Abdollah Mahommed Ebn Omar Al Wakidi, who wrote eighty years after the flight of Mahomet from Mecca. Ockley prided himself in rendering the Arabic in good style, although his religious prejudices were so strong that he durst not render the sentiments he translated in full force, without rather blinding them a little. He would frequently translate as it ought to be, as nigh as he could, and then stick down a note in the margin, and say, "That was only done out of hypocrisy." He is one of the best authors, or the one I would rather read.
It is a hard matter, as I have said, to get an honest history of any nation or people by their enemies. For instance, read Governor Ford's History of Illinois, and you will find that he will contradict himself half-a-dozen times in one statement, for fear that he will not flatter the prejudices the people had against the "Mormons." He would in one place assert that he had never done anything to favor the Anti-Mormons, and then immediately afterwards declare that he could not see why the Anti-Mormons could have any feelings against him, when he had done so much for them; and then go on to enumerate how he prevented Backenstos from arresting the house burners; yet he declares he had never done anything to favor them, and wonders why that party should feel crossways to him. This is the temper of almost all men who undertake to write the history of their enemies.
Just read the reports of different generals on the battle fields of the Crimea, and you will see that every one has a different side to it. These reports have got to be received with great allowance all round.
All the Christian translations of Mahometan history, as well as of the Koran, should be received with a great deal of allowance. I would recommend the reading of Major David Price's "History of the Mahometan Empire." He was educated and trained to be a Church of England man, but had not many conscientious scruples on religion; still he had prejudices against the Mahometans, so that when you read it, you must throw your ear a little quartering. I consider Bush's "life of Mahomet" written under the influence of a violent Christian prejudice. I would prefer the account in Crichton's "Arabia" to Bush.
I would like to inspire in the minds of the youth a disposition to study oriental history, because a great deal of human nature is learned therein: how powerful dominions grew up in a short time, and how, through the violation of the principles of union, those nations have as quickly come to naught. Many useful lessons are taught on the pages of history.
Within the last eighty years our own republican government has increased its territorial limits about threefold, and it is constantly on the increase.
The fact is, if a man who is in the habit of raising trees makes his top to grow larger in proportion to the roots and the main trunk of the tree, it will break asunder or be uprooted. The American power is in danger of losing its balance by extending its limits faster than it accumulates strength to consolidate them together.
I will explain one term which I have used. At the time that Mahomet fled from Mecca, (July 15, 622,) it was the new moon: the Mussulmen therefore adopted the crescent as their religious emblem.
When the Mahometans conquered a Christian church, and turned it into a mosque, they put the crescent on the top of the cross. The old Greek cathedral church of St. Sophia, in Constantinople, is now a mosque: the cross is surmounted by a crescent. The Russians have conquered and overpowered various countries that were held by the Mahometan power, where you may now find the Greek cross mounted over the crescent, turning many Mahometan mosques into Christian churches. I give this explanation, thinking it may perhaps be information to some of our young people present.
A great deal has been said about some of the religious emperors who have had dominion in the earth being remarkably good men; but if their characters were impartially examined with any degree of criticism, it would be found that many of them used their religion as a matter of policy; as the present pretender to the throne of France of the house of Bourbon, who is so pious that it is said he goes to church six times a day, and that Pope Pius IX has christened him his own dear son; I suppose he feels that he is honest in heart, but he would like the throne of France, and there is probably a better chance to get it by making a great deal of pretension to religion than by any other process; and if he gets it, he thinks he will have a little better chance to keep it.
Such speculations have a tendency to make men religious. Like men who write to President Young, saying, "I am a Physician, and graduated so and so, and I would like you to write to me, and let me know if there aint a good chance for me to make a comfortable living in your place, in case I should embrace your religion, and settle among you." We frequently receive just such communications. These are the principles that are rankling in the breasts of selfish and ambitious men. I say, ever since Adam eat the apple it has been more or less the case.
There was Constantine the Great, who was the first Christian emperor; his dominion was termed a Christian dominion, or in other words, it was a Catholic dominion, and extended far and wide, and everything that dared to oppose it was made to suffer the most cruel tyranny. The truths of the Gospel becoming absorbed, and swallowed up by Paganism, and Christianity left only in name, there grew out of his administration Christian division, dispute, war, and distraction, which have continued to the present time.
Look in the history of the revolutions and conspiracies of Europe, and you will find that religion has always a finger in the matter, even in the present great war: it amounts to about simply this --whether the Catholic power shall exclusively control the holy places, or whether the Greek power shall. The probability is, that the Mahometans have got to surrender them to the Christian powers soon; even the mosque of Omar, which is upon the site of King Solomon's temple at Jerusalem, will soon be surrendered to some Christian power; the only thing that delays it is the Christian quarrel between the Greek and Catholic nations.
I do not consider Great Britain has waged this war so much for the sake of religion as to control the trade of India, and the way to it: England is after the purse. But all the Catholic powers that are in any way concerned in the matter are the leading influence in the business to check the growing power of the Greek Church; hence it is a religious war. But the men to whose ancestors God has given Priesthood, and to whom in the last days the privilege of receiving it has been conferred, have been abroad, and published the principles of salvation, and the voice of the Prophet of God to the world, and now the nations are left to wrangle with and destroy each other. It is an old proverb, and one of long standing, that "whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad." Peace is taken from the earth, and wrath and indignation among the people is the result: they care not for anything but to quarrel and destroy each other.
The same spirit that dwelt in the breasts of the Nephites during the last battles that were fought by them on this continent, when they continued to fight until they were exterminated, is again on the earth, and is increasing.
I was amused the other day in hearing a relation of a visit of brother Barlow to his native State, Kentucky. He said, "The people are so united in secret conspiracies that everything they do not choose to uphold, they will proscribe in every way." Says he, "If I had mended a clock or a piece of jewelry, it would have been desecrated, and the man that dared to employ me or feed me would have been proscribed by the community, through their secret organizations." That is the spirit that is abroad on the earth, and one party will unite against another, and so on, to the utter destruction of every single principle of liberty, human happiness, and human right upon the face of the earth, and bring down upon the heads of the wicked a terrible destruction, which has been predicted by the Prophets.
I have seen the same spirit operate in the midst of these mountains. I have seen individuals here who are filled with the spirit of contention--who are filled with the spirit of wickedness; I have heard them complain, murmur, and find fault, until, by and bye, they conclude Brigham is wrong, the Church is wrong, and everything is wrong, and that they would go to California, and there stay until the great day, when the Prophet should come and set things right.
This spirit will in the end lead a man to destruction; and all that will preserve the Saints in the last days from the general destruction in the vortex of ruin to which the world is rushing, will be their unity with each other, their clinging with all their might, mind, and strength to the building up of this kingdom, and making it their only interest, that they may hang together as one; knowing the text we started on, that it is the Lord's business to provide for His Saints.
If you excuse me for my Mahometan narrative, I will close my remarks, praying that the Lord may bless you, and lead you in peace to inherit the celestial kingdom in the end. Amen.
MAHOMETANISM AND CHRISTIANITY.
An Address by Elder Parley P. Pratt, Delivered in the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, September 23, 1855.