MAHOMETANISM AND CHRISTIANITY.
An Address by Elder Parley P. Pratt, Delivered in the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, September 23, 1855.
My brother, George A. Smith, has wished us to excuse his Mahometan narration, but I would feel more like giving a vote of thanks to the Almighty and to His servant for so highly entertaining and instructing us.
I am aware it is not without a great deal of prejudice that we, as Europeans, and Americans, and Christians in religion and in our education, so called, have looked upon the history of Mahomet, or even the name; and even now we may think that Mahometanism, compared with Christianity as it exists in the world, is a kind of heathenism, or something dreadful, and the other we look upon as something very pretty, only a little crippled; and for my part, I hardly know which to call the idolatrous side of the question, unless we consider Mahometanism Christianity, in one sense, and that which has been called Christianity, heathenism.
Mahometanism included the doctrine that there was one God--that He was great, even the creator of all things, and that the people by right should worship Him. History abundantly shows the followers of Mahomet did not take the sword, either to enforce their religion or to defend themselves, until compelled to do so by the persecutions of their enemies, and then it was the only alternative that presented itself, to take up the sword and put down idolatry, and establish the worship of the one God; or, on the other hand, be crushed and cease to be, on account of the idolatrous nations around them; they seemed to act on the defensive, although it might legally be considered aggression.
The Greek and Roman Churches, which have been called Christian, and which take the name of Christians as a cloak, have worshipped innumerable idols. On this account, on the simple subject of the Deity and His worship, if nothing more, I should rather incline, of the two, after all my early traditions, eduction, and prejudices, to the side of Mahomet, for on this point he is on the side of truth, and the Christian world on the side of idolatry and heathenism.
In the first place, the latter lay it down as a point of theology, and it is a foundation point too, that there is one only true God, consisting of three persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but without body, parts, or passions. Here is the exact image and likeness of an idol established through the principal creeds of Christendom, that is, if it is an image at all, or if it makes a shadow at all, it is that of an idol: it is a being that never existed in heaven, earth, or hell; it will not make even a shadow. Indeed, it is a thing literally motionless and powerless, as much so as any term that can be used to mean nonentity.
Jesus Christ, whom we worship as the Son of God, and the Savior of the world, has body, parts, and passions, and he is like his Father; he is the express image of his Father's person and the brightness of His glory, whom we also worship. They are individual personages organized as a pattern after which men were created; they have tabernacles, and are in every way personages and intelligent beings.
Therefore, that something, or that nothing, that imaginary being, that idol that is recognised in the creeds of Christendom in general as a god without body, parts, or passions, has nothing to do whatever with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or with the Son of God that came in the meridian of time, who was crucified, died, and rose again from the dead, and ascended on high to lead captivity captive, and give gifts to men. Inasmuch as he and his Father are organised with body and parts, with limbs, joints, flesh, and bones, that are immortal and eternal, they have no part or lot, or communication whatever, with that imaginary being which is recognised in the principal creeds of Christendom as <their> God, viz., a god without body, parts, or passions. Therefore, in that sense, in the very foundation of their creeds they are idolators; and instead of saying that Mahometanism prevailed against Christianity, and that Christianity was in danger of being done away by its prevalence, we would rather say, that where Mahometanism prevailed, it taught and established one truth at least, viz., the true and living God, and so far as this went, it did preserve people from worshipping idols. And had the crescent waved on the tower of London, or on the church of St. Paul, instead of the cross, and had the Mahometan religion been enforced instead of the Roman religion that was enforced for a series of generations, and had tradition riveted what the sword enforced, then that nation and the surrounding nations would have been worshippers of one true God instead of idols; they would have recognized it in theory at least, whether they would have worshipped Him <in spirit and in truth> or not. But now they do not recognize Him in theory, for they acknowledge as their god an imaginary being without body, parts, or passions.
Setting aside this one point, they acknowledge and worship innumerable idols, pictures, images, &c., amounting almost to an infinite number, in every place where Christianity has been blended with the civil power, and enforced and established by law under the one great standard called Catholic--imaginary deities that are the works of men's hands, and to which they actually and literally bow down. This may not be the case so fully in these United States, where there is a kind of balance of power, and religion, and population, and influences of various kinds acting as checks upon each other; but go to those countries where there are no such checks or balances of power; go to Chili, Spain, or any other of the states or nations where the Roman cross, instead of the crescent, or any other ensign, is the standard, where there are no Protestant influences and Protestant dissensions to interfere with the prevailing power, and, as a matter of course, all the subjects of that realm have by law one religion prescribed to them, supported and enforced by civil authority, to the prohibition of all others. In such countries, you can contemplate that religion in all its open and unveiled idolatry; it is there you will see more fully exhibited the practice of worshipping images, of bowing down to dumb idols in the shape of pictures, images, saint worship, angel worship, &c., &c.
I have seen al this with mine eyes, and heard it with mine ears. They will pray to the Virgin Mary, so called, in the form of a painting, which they set up to be prayed to. They also set up other canonized saints in like manner, painted on canvas and other substances.
But I will not confine this practice to those countries alone, but in a city of the United States I have beheld a public procession of a vast majority of the populace united in one grand bowery, extending around the public square, and pictures and images of saints were posted in the roads, and an extra bowery was prepared for each of those images or paintings, decorated in all the pomp and splendor the people could command, and while in procession they would kneel down in the dirty streets and public squares, though dressed in the richest silks and satins that money could purchase; persons so richly attired were bowing down on their knees, or prostrating themselves in the dirt and dust at every place where there was an image, and were devoutly offering up prayers.
This is the idolatry that prevails more manifestly in the countries where religion is the law, but it also prevails right in our own country, because there is a liberty of conscience to worship what you please.
Now, if we take Mahometanism during those dark ages, and the corruptions that are so universally prevalent over the earth, and the idolatrous systems of religion, falsely called Christianity, and weigh them in a balance; with all my education in favor of Christian nations and Christian powers, and Christian institutions, so called, with all my prejudices of early youth, and habits of thought and reading, my rational faculties would compel me to admit that the Mahometan history and Mahometan doctrine was a standard raised against the most corrupt and abominable idolatry that ever perverted our earth, found in the creeds and worship of Christians, falsely so named.
It might not have been a very pure standard, for the fulness of the Gospel, with its Priesthood, ordinances, powers, and gifts were not there, because that pertained to another branch of Abraham's family.
Ishmael and his descendants were blessed by the Lord, who said, "I will make of him a great nation, and kings shall come of him, and he shall have dominion;" yet there was one thing not said on the head of Ishmael. It was not said that in him should the elect seed be chosen, who should bear the keys of the eternal Priesthood, and salvation, in which all nations should be blessed: this was said on Isaac, the brother of Ishmael, the heir; and it was also said of Jacob and of Abraham; therefore, the blessings that were peculiar, that pertained to the fulness of the Gospel that pertained to the eternal Priesthood, that pertained to the coming of Christ, and to the things of his ministry, and to those that were called with the same calling, and in which all nations should be blessed and redeemed, could not be given to Ishmael and to his descendants, but they belonged by election to the chosen seed to whom the promises were made, viz., the children of Abraham through Isaac, and through Jacob; but the Lord said of Ishmael, "I will make of him a great nation, because he is thy son; I will bless him because he is thine, and kings shall come of him." So the Lord seems to have fulfilled, more or less, from those early days until the present, the promises that He made to the children of Abraham, that were not particularly designed to hold the keys of the Priesthood.
All that a nation could have, without the keys of the everlasting Gospel, without the gifts and powers pertaining to those keys, and without the fulness of the Gospel, the people of the East seemed to have been blessed with, so far as the Lord saw fit to bestow upon them blessings during those dark ages.
A great portion of the oriental country has been preserved from the grossest idolatry, wickedness, confusion, bloodshed, murders, cruelty, and errors in religion that have overspread the rest of the world, under the name of Christianity, or mystery of iniquity.
An open defiance of God is no mystery; open drunkenness, and revelling debauchery, and all manner of wickedness and immorality professed by sinners who profess to be nothing else, are no mystery; they do not deceive anybody; but when all manner of wickedness, idolatry drunkenness, and corruption is cloaked under a sacred name, under an outward sanctity and holiness, and under as high and dignified an appellation as Christian, it is a mystery of iniquity; and that has overspread a great portion of the world, and has borne rule until the present day, sometimes under the name of Roman universality, sometimes under the name of the Greek Church, and at other times under various classes and names.
Many that were honest have been deceived by this mystery of iniquity, who have esteemed things to be sacred, which were abominably corrupt; and corrupt superstitions have been revered because of the great names and sanctified professions that were attached to them.
If such institutions actually professed wickedness, they would go for what they were worth; but when a thing professes to be holy, and takes the name of Christ as its founder, and the holy Prophets and Apostles, to carry out all manner of oppression, all manner of idolatry and idol worship, all manner of priestcraft and kingcraft, and more or less instigating division among nations and governments, all to carry out bloodshed, cruelty, the rack, the inquisition, and holding of men in bondage, ruling them with a rod of iron, it is a mystery of iniquity calculated to deceive millions. The Apostle John, speaking of this same power, says, "By thy sorceries were all nations deceived!!"
The Mahometan operations, in the hands of the descendants of Abraham and Ishmael, seem to have warded off that deception and mystery of iniquity in some measure, so that it has not entirely overrun their country, morals, and institutions.
Though Mahometan institutions are corrupt enough, and need reforming by the Gospel, I am inclined to think, upon the whole, leaving out the corruptions of men in high places among them, that they have better morals and better institutions than many Christian nations and in many localities there have been high standards of morals.
There are, no doubt, sections of country, and different localities in Asia, where the people have not walked strictly according to the regulations and laws given by Mahomet, and observed by his true followers.
But returning to the general corruption that has prevailed nationally, politically, and religiously, under the name of Christianity, leaving out Christ and his Apostles, I do think there has been no idolatry in the world, under any form or system, that could surpass it. It is the mystery of iniquity the great whore of all the earth. It has brought the whole earth under a lasting curse, having departed from the laws of God, changed the ordinances, and broken the everlasting covenant, in consequence of which the earth is destined to be burned, and few men left.
So far as that one point is concerned, of worshipping the one true God under the name of Mahometanism, together with many moral precepts, and in war only acting on the defensive, I think they have exceeded in righteousness and truthfulness of religion, the idolatrous and corrupt church that has borne the name of Christianity.
There is one thing for which I like Mahometanism better than the present Christianity of the world; if prisoners are taken by them, no matter of what country or religion, and they become lawful captives, doomed to slavery, according to their rules, they will take them from their labor, order them to wash their bodies, and put on clean clothes, give them plenty to eat to refresh them, until they have rested and have full power and vigor of both body and mind to investigate and study the Mahometan religion. If the captives embrace the true religion, as they call it, they are set free from slavery, and permitted to marry among them. But if the captives still reject the religion of the Mahometans, they are made to return to their slavery.
I want to know where the Christian nation is that does this--that will take their lawful captive that may have some other religion, and set him free from servitude, and give him time to wash and clothe himself, and think, and investigate, when both body and mind are enjoying their full power, and if they embrace their religion, then permit them to become citizens.
I will not detain you; I have been more lengthy now than I intended. We would do well to look into the bearings of the history of nations, and the dealings of God with them, as impartially as we can, at all times, and cull out all the good there has been, is, or may be, and acknowledge the hand of God in all things, in His dealings with the nations as well as in other things. I acknowledge His hand even in this Gentile reign, whose corruption I have been hinting at. It has had its day, which has been a long and dark one; the nations have groaned under its sway; all nations have felt its withering power; all nations have been deceived by its darkening and mysterious influences; they have groaned in ignorance and corruption under the hand of oppression, and tyranny, and wrong, until the head and heart are sick, and they are ready to wake up and seek something better.
I acknowledge the hand of God in it; it was to have its day, that the nations might know fully, and experience the difference between light and darkness, mystery and truth, peace and war, liberty and oppression; between truth and falsehood, between the rule of Satan, of priestcraft and kingcraft, and the reign of the kingdom of righteousness; that they might have enough of their own way, and be filled with it until they would be glad to seek the Lord.
That same God has promised His Apostles and Prophets a day when there should be an end of superstition, and ignorance, and falsehood, of priestcraft and kingcraft, and end of Gentile polity; that their fulness would come in, and the prophecies of the holy Prophets would be fulfilled, and the reign of iniquity would complete its time; and then what? A Chaos? No, but an organization, a kingdom, a government, a power which should stand for ever, and no more pass away; and what was that? Why, the God of heaven should set it up; suffice it to say, the kingdom of God.
May the Lord bless you all. Amen.
FAITH-PRACTICAL RELIGION-CHASTISEMENT-NECESSITY OF DEVILS.
A Sermon by President Brigham Young, Delivered in the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, October 6, 1855.
As we have assembled in the capacity of a Conference to attend to business, we should earnestly seek to enjoy the spirit of our calling. We are called to be Saints, and if we have the spirit of Saints we shall have the spirit of our calling, otherwise we certainly do not enjoy the privileges that the Lord designs we should. The Lord is ready and willing to give His Spirit to those who are honest before Him, and who seek earnestly to enjoy it.
If Saints, assembled to worship the Lord and transact business pertaining to His kingdom, should not have the aid of His Spirit they would be likely to commit errors, it would be strange indeed if they did not, and to do that which they ought not, even in business transactions; they would fall short of accomplishing their own wishes, and of course far short of fulfilling the designs of heaven. We see many led astray, because they have not retained the spirit of Christ to guide them.
When any of this people, who believe the Gospel, forsake the duty which they owe to God and His cause, they are at once surrounded by an influence which causes them to imbibe a dislike to Saints and to the conduct of Saints; they receive a false spirit, and then the Saints cannot do right in their eyes, the ministers of God cannot preach right nor act right, and soon they wish to leave the society of the Saints, and that too, as they suppose, with a sanctified heart and life. They wish to withdraw from this, as they believe, wicked people, fancying all to be wicked but themselves, and wish to separate themselves until the people are as holy as they flatter themselves that they are, when they calculate to return again. Others will lose the spirit of their calling, and realize that they have lost it; they are wicked, and know it, and will have more confidence in others than in themselves. But the self-righteous will go away and wait until we as a people are sanctified and able to endure their presence, and think that then they will, perhaps, gather among us again.
People are liable in many ways to be led astray by the power of the adversary, for they do not fully understand that it is a hard matter for them to always distinguish the things of God from the things of the devil. There is but one way by which they can know the difference, and that is by the light of the spirit of revelation, even the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ. Without this we are all liable to be led astray and forsake our brethren, forsake our covenants and the Church and kingdom of God on earth.
Should the whole people neglect their duty and come short in performing the things required at their hands, lose the light of the Spirit of the Lord, the light of the spirit of revelation, they would not know the voice of the Good Shepherd from the voice of a stranger, they would not know the difference between a false teacher and a true one, for there are many spirits gone out into the world, and the false spirits are giving revelations as well as the Spirit of the Lord. This we are acquainted with; we know that there are many delusive spirits, and unless the Latter-day Saints live to their privileges, and enjoy the spirit of the holy Gospel, they cannot discern between those who serve God and those who serve Him not. Consequently, it becomes us, as Saints, to cleave to the Lord with all our hearts, and seek unto Him until we do enjoy the light of His Spirit, that we may discern between the righteous and the wicked, and understand the difference between false spirits and true. Then, when we see a presentation, we shall know whence it is, and understand whether it be of the Lord, or whether it is not of Him; but if the people are not endowed with the Holy Ghost they cannot tell, therefore it becomes us to have the Spirit of the Lord, not only in preaching and praying, but to enable us to reflect and judge, for the Saints are to judge in these matters. They are to judge not only men, they are to be judges not only in the capacity of a Conference to decide what shall be done, what course shall be pursued to further the kingdom of God, what business shall be transacted, and how it shall be transacted, and so on, but they will actually judge angels.
We sit here as judges, and suppose that business which would prove injurious to this people should now be presented for them to decide upon, or suppose that the leaders of this people had forsaken the Lord and should introduce, through selfishness, that which would militate against the kingdom of God on the earth, that which would in the issue actually destroy this people, how are you going to detect the wrong and know it from the right? You cannot do it, unless you have the Spirit of the Lord. Do the people enjoy that Spirit? Yes, many of them do. Do they enjoy it in as great a degree as it is their privilege? A few of them do, still I think that the people in general might enjoy more of the Holy Spirit, more of the nature and essence of the Deity, than they do. I know that they have their trials, I know they have the world to grapple with, and are tempted, and I know what they have to war against.
But let us ask ourselves individually whether we fight this warfare to such a degree that we do overcome in every instance? In every contest do we come off victorious? Here we have to do with our passions; here is fallen nature, that we can never get rid of until we lie down in the grave, it is sown in the flesh and will remain there, but it is our privilege to overcome that, and bring it under subjection in our reflections, in our meditations, and in all the labor that we perform, though we may be tried, tempted, and buffeted by Satan. It is our privilege to have power to rule, govern, and bring under subjection even our momentary passions; yes, it is our privilege so to live and overcome them that we never would have a temptation to think evil, or at least would never speak before we took time to think, but all would be in subjection to the law of Christ. Do we live up to this privilege?
People may ask, are we not good Saints? Yes, I can say that this people are a good people, and they wish to be Saints, and many of them strive to be Saints, and many of them are Saints. I realize the weaknesses of men; I am not ignorant of my own weaknesses, and this is where I learn every body else, their dispositions and the operations of the spirit upon the inhabitants of the earth; to learn mankind is learn myself.
This is a good people, they are a righteous people; yet there are some who are filled with folly, there are some who are inclined to do wickedly and seem to love wickedness; there are some who are filled with idolatry, and it seems as though it were impossible for them to overcome the spirit of the world, to keep from loving it and from cleaving to it and to the things of the world. I will appeal to the people as judges--are you capable of judging in matters pertaining to the kingdom of God on earth, unless you have the Spirit of truth within you?
Some may say, "Brethren, you who lead the Church, we have all confidence in you, we are not in the least afraid but what everything will go right under your superintendence; all the business matters will be transacted right; and if brother Brigham is satisfied with it, I am." I do not wish any Latter-day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied. I wish them to know for themselves and understand for themselves, for this would strengthen the faith that is within them. Suppose that the people were heedless, that they manifested no concern with regard to the things of the kingdom of God, but threw the whole burden upon the leaders of the people, saying, "If the brethren who take charge of matters are satisfied, we are," this is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord.
Every man and woman in this kingdom ought to be satisfied with what we do, but they never should be satisfied without asking the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, whether what we do is right. When you are inspired by the Holy Ghost you can understandingly say, that you are satisfied; and that is the only power that should cause you to exclaim that you are satisfied, for without that you do not know whether you should be satisfied or not. You may say that you are satisfied and believe that all is right, and your confidence may be almost unbounded in the authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ, but if you asked God, in the name of Jesus, and received knowledge for yourself, through the Holy Spirit, would it not strengthen your faith? It would. A little faith will perform little works; that is good logic. Jesus says, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."
A grain of mustard seed is very small; nevertheless if you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, and should say unto this mountain, "Remove hence to yonder place, it would be done; or to that sycamore tree, "Be thou planted in the sea;" or to the sick, "Be ye healed;" or to the devils, "Be ye cast out; it would be done."
Suppose that I had faith like a grain of mustard seed, and could do the things which Christ has said are possible to be done through that faith, and that another man on the continent of Asia had the same faith, we could not accomplish much because but two would have all the power of Satan to combat. Do you suppose that Jesus Christ healed every person that was sick, or that all the devils were cast out in the country where he sojourned? I do not. Working miracles, healing the sick, raising the dead, and the like, were almost as rare in his day as in this our day. Once in a while the people would have faith in his power, and what is called a miracle would be performed, but the sick, the blind, the deaf and dumb, the crazy, and those possessed with different kinds of devils were around him, and only now and then could his faith have power to take effect, on account of the want of faith in the individuals.
Many suppose that in the days of the Savior no person was sick, in the vicinity of his labors, but what was healed; this is a mistake, for it was only occasionally that a case of healing a sick person or casting out a devil occurred. But again, suppose that two-thirds of the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the regions round about had actually possessed like faith in the Savior that a few did, then it is very probable that all the sick would have been healed and the devils cast out, for there would have been a predominance of a good power over the evil influences.
Let two persons be on the continent of America, having faith like a grain of mustard seed, and let one of them be situated on the Atlantic and the other on the Pacific coast, and most of the sick would remain sick around them, the dying would die, and those possessed of devils would continue to be tormented, though once in a while a sick person might be healed, or a blind person be made to see. Now let each one of those individuals have another person of like faith added to him, and they will do as much again work; them let there be four persons in the east and four in the west, all possessing faith like a grain of mustard seed, and there will be four times as much done as when there was but one in each place; and thus go on increasing their number in this ratio until, by and bye, all the Latter-day Saints have faith like a grain of mustard seed, and where would there be place for devils? Not in these mountains, for they would all be cast out. Do you not perceive that that would be a great help to us?
If I had power of myself to heal the sick, which I do not profess to have, or to cast out devils, which power I have not got, though if the Lord sees fit to cast them out through my command it is all right--still if I had that power, and there was no other person to help me, the people would do as they do now, they would hunt me almost to death, saying, "Won't you lay hands on this sick person? Won't you go to my house over yonder?" and so on. I am sent for continually, though I only go occasionally, because it is the privilege of every father, who is an Elder in Israel, to have faith to heal his family, just as much so as it is my privilege to have faith to heal my family; and if he does not do it he is not living up to his privilege. It is just as reasonable for him to ask me to cut his wood and maintain his family, for if he had faith himself he would save me the trouble of leaving other duties to attend to his request.
Let this faith be distributed and it makes all things easy, but put one or two dozen men to hauling a wagon containing a hundred tons' weight, and the labor is very heavy, whereas if the whole of the Latter-day Saints would put their shoulder to the load it would be moved easily. It is with the mental powers as it is with the physical, and that is why I wish you to consider the matter, and why I lay those things before you. Let the Latter-day Saints have faith and works, and let them forsake their covetousness and cleave unto righteousness.
I have given you a short discourse upon faith and practical religion, and now I say to the Elders of Israel, to the Bishops of the different wards, and to the Presidents of the different Branches, if there is any business you wish to bring before this Conference, pertaining to fellowship and the conduct of individuals, you can have the privilege. We were accustomed, some years ago, to attend to such business before our General Conference, and it is our privilege to do so again, if we choose, or if there is any occasion.
In all High Councils, in Bishops' Courts, and in all other departments for transacting our business, the Church and kingdom of God, with the Lord Almighty at the head, will cause every man to exhibit the feelings of his heart, for you recollect it is is [sic] written that in the last days the Lord will reveal the secrets of the hearts of the children of men.
Does not the Gospel do that? It does; it causes men and women to reveal that which would have slept in their dispositions until they dropped into their graves. The plan by which the Lord leads this people makes them reveal their thoughts and intents, and brings out every trait of disposition lurking in their organizations. Is this right? It is. How are you going to correct a man's faults, by hiding them and never speaking of them, by covering up every fault you see in your brother, or by saying, "O, do not say a word about his faults, we know that he lies, but it will not do to say a word about it, for it would be awful to reveal such a fact to the people?" That is the policy of the world and of the devil, but is it the way that the Lord will do with the people in the latter-days? It is not.
This is a matter that seems to be but little understood by some of the Latter-day Saints, it may be understood by a portion of them, but others do not understand it. Every fault that a person has will be made manifest, that it may be corrected by the Gospel of salvation, by the laws of the Holy Priesthood.
Suppose that a man lies, and you dare not tell of it; "Very well," says the man, "I am secure, I can lie as much as I please." He is inclined to lie, and if we dare not chastise him about it he takes shelter under that pavilion, cloaks himself with the charity of his brethren, and continues to lie. By and bye he will steal a little, and perhaps one or two of his brethren know about it, but they say, "We must cover up this fault with the cloak of charity." He continues to lie and to steal, and we continue to hide his faults; where will it lead that person to? Where will he end his career? Nowhere but in hell.
What shall we do with such men? Shall we reveal their faults? Yes, whenever we deem it right and proper. I know it is hard to receive chastisement, for no chastisement is joyous, but grievous at the time it is given; but if a person will receive chastisement and pray for the Holy Spirit to rest upon him, that he may have the Spirit of truth in his heart, and cleave to that which is pleasing to the Lord, the Lord will give him grace to bear the chastisement, and he will submit to and receive it, knowing that it is for his good. He will endure it patiently, and, by and bye, he will get over it, and see that he has been chastised for his faults, and will banish the evil, and the chastisement will yield to him the peaceable fruits of righteousness, because he exercises himself profitably therein.
In this way chastisement is a benefit to any person. Grant that I have a fault, and wish it concealed, would I not be likely to hide it? And if the Lord would not reveal it I might cling to it, if I had not the spirit of revelation to discern my fault and its consequences. Without the influence of the Spirit of the Lord, I am just as liable to lie and abide in false principles, false notions, and unrighteous actions as true ones. It is so with you.
If your faults are not made known to you, how can you refrain from them and overcome them? You cannot. But if your faults are made manifest, you have the privilege of forsaking them and cleaving unto that which is good. The design of the Gospel is to reveal the secrets of the hearts of the children of men.
When men intimate to me, whether in public or in private, that their faults must not be spoken of, I do not know how worldly-minded men feel in similar cases, but like Elijah, when he mocked the priests of Baal, I feel to laugh and make derision of such men.
Do you suppose that I will thus far bow down to any man in this Territory, or on the earth? Do you suppose that I will suffer myself to be so muzzled that I cannot reveal the faults of the people when wisdom dictates me to do it?
I fear not the wicked half so much as I would a musquito [sic] in my bedroom at night, for he would keep me from sleeping, but for the unrighteous, those who will act the villain and conduct themselves worse than the devil, to insinuate that I have not the privilege of speaking of their faults makes me feel like laughing at their folly. I will speak of men's faults when and where I please, and what are you going to do about it?
Do you know that that very principle caused the death of all the Prophets, from the days of Adam until now? Let a Prophet arise upon the earth, and never reveal the evils of men, and do you suppose that the wicked would desire to kill him? No, for he would cease to be a Prophet of the Lord, and they would invite him to their feasts, and hail him as a friend and brother. Why? Because it would be impossible for him to be anything but one of them. It is impossible for a Prophet of Christ to live in an adulterous generation without speaking of the wickedness of the people, without revealing their faults and their failings, and there is nothing short of death that will stay him from it, for a Prophet of God will do as he pleases.
I have been preached to, pleaded with, and written to, to be careful how I speak about men's faults, more so than ever Joseph Smith was in his life time; every week or two I receive a letter of instruction, warning me to be careful of this or that man's character. Did you ever have the Spirit of the Lord, so that you have felt full of joy, and like jumping up and shouting hallelujah? I feel in that way when such epistles come to me; I feel like saying, "I ask no odds of you, nor of all your clan this side of hell."
I have wise brethren around me who will sometimes say, "Don't speak so and so, be very careful, now do be cautions;" and I have been written to from the east; I have package after package of letters, yes, a wheel-barrow load of them, saying, "O, brother Brigham, I would beseech and pray and plead with you, if I only dare, to be careful how you speak. Would not this or that course be better than for you to get up in the stand, and tell the Gentiles what they are? Would it not be better to keep this to yourself?"
Do you know how I feel when I get such communications? I will tell you, I feel just like rubbing their noses with them. If I am not to have the privilege of speaking of Saint and sinner when I please, tie up my mouth and let me go to the grave, for my work would be done.
It was for this that they killed Joseph and Hyrum, it is for this that they wish to kill me and my brethren; we know their iniquity, and we will tell of it when the Spirit dictates, or talk about this, that, or the other person and conduct at the proper time.
There are people in our midst who grunt at this course, and at the same time have evils that I think are hardly worth notice, for I do not think that such persons will be good for anything even should they happen to get into the kingdom of heaven, though I suppose they are good in their place if we can find out where it is, but as yet I am ignorant of it; I presume that the Lord knows where it is, but I do not. I wish to say to the Elders of Israel, to all people, I shall tell you of your iniquity and talk about you just as I please, and when you feel like killing me for so doing, as some of the people did who called themselves brethren in the days of Joseph Smith, look out for yourselves, for false brethren were the cause of Joseph's death, and I am not a very righteous man. I have told the Latter-day Saints from the beginning that I do not profess much righteousness, but I profess to know the will of God concerning you, and I have boldness enough to tell it to you, fearless of your wrath, and I expect that it is on this account that the Lord has called me to occupy the place I do; I feel as independent as an angel.
Some of you have been brought before the High Council, charged with this fault and with that, and you say it is too much for you, that you cannot bear it. But you have got to bear it, and if you will not, make up your minds to go to hell at once and have done with it. If you wish to be Saints you must have your evils taken away and your iniquities exposed, this must be done if you remain in the kingdom of God. If you do wrong, and it is made manifest before the High Council, don't grunt about it, nor whine about your loving, precious character, but consider that you have none; that is the best way to get along with it. Myriads have scandalized me since I have been in this Church, and I have been asked, "Brother Brigham, are you going to bear this? Do you not know that such and such persons are scandalizing your character?" Said I, "I do not know that I have any character, I have never stopped to inquire whether I have one or not." It is for me to pursue a course that will build up the kingdom of God on the earth, and you may take my character to be what you please, I care not what you do with it, so you but keep your hands off from me.
If you are brought before the High Council, or before a Bishop's court, and it is proven before either of those tribunals that you are covetous, don't fly in a passion and become so excited that you are ready to burst. I may see fit to expose some men who have not paid their tithing; now if you are going to get nervous about it and are afraid of bursting, let me know, and we will slip and egg shell over you and your precious characters. What precious characters some of you had in Wales, in England, in Scotland, and perhaps in Ireland.
Do not be scared if it is proven against some, before the Bishop's court, that you did steal the poles from your neighbor's garden fence. If you did, it would be far better for you to get right up and own it, for you have in reality lost your character before God, angels, and men, and then refrain from such evils and try to establish a good character. It would be better for you to do that, than to become angry when your faults are made manifest. If it is proven before the High Council that you did steal a beef creature, don't get angry, but rise up and acknowledge that you did steal it.
If it is proven that you have been to some person's wood pile and stolen wood, don't be frightened, for if you will steal, it must be made manifest. Some one may say, "Why I did not think Saints were guilty of such deeds!" Nor I either. Such crimes are committed by people who gather with the Saints, to try them, to afflict and annoy them, and drive them to their duty. Do you not suppose that it is necessary to have devils mixed up with us, to make Saints of us? We are as yet obliged to have devils in our community, we could not build up the kingdom without them. Many of you know that you cannot get your endowment without the devil's being present; indeed we cannot make rapid progress without the devils. I know that it frightens the righteous sectarian world to think that we have so many devils with us, so many poor, miserable curses. Bless your souls, we could not prosper in the kingdom of God without them. We must have those amongst us who will steal our fence poles, who will go and steal hay from their neighbor's hay stack, or go into his corn field to steal corn, and leave the fence down; nearly every ax that is dropped in the kanyon must be picked up by them, and the scores of lost watches, gold rings, breast pins, &c., must get into their hands, though they will not wear them in your sight. It is essentially necessary to have such characters here.
After we had given the brethren such a scouring two or three months ago, about returning lost property when found, one or two men brought in two or three rusty nails of no value, which they had picked up; this was tantamount to saying to brother Sprague, "If we had found your purse, or if we had found Brigham's purse, we would see you in hell before we would return it." We wish to impress upon you the necessity of your bringing the ax you find, the hay fork, or any other lost property which you find, to the person who is appointed to take charge of such property, that the owners may again possess it. But if you should pick up a piece of rotten wood, and bring it to brother Brigham, or Dr. Sprague, with a show of honesty, and in derision of the counsel you have received, it would be like saying, "If we could find or steal your purses, you should never see them again. We are poor, miserable devils, and mean to live here by stealing from the Saints, and you cannot help yourselves."
Live here then, you poor, miserable curses, until the time of retribution, when your heads will have to be severed from your bodies. Just let the Lord Almighty say, "Lay judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet," and the time of thieves is short in this community. What do you suppose they would say in old Massachusetts, should they hear that the Latter-day Saints had received a revelation or commandment to lay "judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet?" What would they say in old Connecticut? They would raise a universal howl of, "How wicked those Mormons are; they are killing the evil doers who are among them; why I hear that they kill the wicked away up yonder in Utah." They do no kill anybody down there, do they?
As for the inhabitants of the earth, who know anything about the "Mormons," having power to utter worse epithets against us than they do, they have to get more knowledge in order to do it; and as for those enemies who have been in our midst, feeling any worse than they do, they have first to know more; they are as full of bad feeling now as they can hold without bursting. What do I care for the wrath of man? No more than I do for the chickens that run in my dooryard. I am here to teach the ways of the Lord, and lead men to life everlasting, but if they have not a mind to go there, I wish them to keep out of my path.
I want the Elders of Israel to understand that if they are exposed in their stealing, lying, deceiving, wickedness, and covetousness, which is idolatry, they must not fly in a passion about it, for we calculate to expose you, from time to time, as we please, when we can get time to notice you.
During this Conference, I do not want to think where the "Mormons" have been, and how they have been treated, but I want to think of matters that will make my heart light, like the roe on the mountains--to reflect that the Lord Almighty has given me my firth on the land where He raised up a Prophet, and revealed the everlasting Gospel through him, and that I had the privilege of hearing it--of knowing and understanding it--of embracing and enjoying it. I feel like shouting hallejujah [sic], all the time, when I think that I ever knew Joseph Smith, the Prophet whom the Lord raised up and ordained, and to whom He gave keys and power to build up the kingdom of God on earth and sustain it. These keys are committed to this people, and we have power to continue the work that Joseph commenced, until everything is prepared for the coming of the Son of Man. This is the business of the Latter-day Saints, and it is all the business we have on hand. When we come to worldly affairs, as they are called, they can be done in stormy weather, if we attend to the kingdom of God in fair weather.
May God bless you. Amen.
TIMES FOR ALL THINGS--PRAYER--CHASTISEMENT--UNITY--FAITHFULNESS--REVERENCE FOR SACRED THINGS--REFORMATION.
Discourses by Presidents B. Young, H. C. Kimball, and J. M. Grant, and Elder E. T. Benson, Delivered July 13, 1855, at a Conference held at Provo City, Utah Territory.
PREST. B. YOUNG--As the people have now begun to assemble, I take the liberty of making a few remarks. I request those who profess to be Saints to exercise faith, and to endeavor to realize that the worship of God is sacred, and beneficial to His people. It is true that we have much to do of a temporal nature, as it is termed; many duties pertaining to daily business and the affairs of this life devolve upon us.
This is necessarily the case, for if we are to build up the kingdom of God, or establish Zion upon the earth, we have to labor with our hands, plan with our minds, and devise ways and means to accomplish that object.
There is a time for all these duties, and there is also a time to serve the Lord by praying, preaching, singing, meditating, watching, and fasting. Inasmuch as there is a time for all things, and as this is the time that we have unitedly set apart for the express purpose of worshipping the Lord, and of enjoying His Holy Spirit by calling in our reflections pertaining to earthly things and objects, that we may attend more immediately to a deep reflection and contemplation of heavenly things, it is necessary for these my brethren, who have accompanied me to this place, to bring their thoughts to bear upon the things that are present, and while we are here, to let Great Salt Lake City remain where it is--don't bring it here.
Those who have left their families at home, and are away from their houses, cattle, fields, flocks, herds, and other possessions, and also all who have assembled from the different settlements in this county, one and all, let all your affairs, those that you were obliged to leave at home, stay where they are, and you stay here and worship the Lord.
In this way every person who has assembled here can feel to leave their affairs and effects where they belong, and bring their minds to bear upon the spiritual things of the kingdom of God. Then they can have their minds enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and understand that which will make them rejoice.
If those are our feelings and determinations, the candle of the Lord will be lighted within our hearts, but if we keep our minds constantly upon our families and effects, we shall be but little benefitted by coming here; this is true in regard to each one of us.
Where our hearts are, there our thoughts will be: and if our thoughts are bound up in our earthly possessions, we had better remain at home and attend to what we have most set our affections upon, and not pretend to try to obtain happiness from any other source.
There is a time for all things, and this is the time for meeting according to appointment. I am frequently requested to come out and hold meetings among the brethren, but I do not recollect that we have at any time appointed a three days' meeting here, though we have previously been here and held one during two days. Much instruction has to be given to enable us to overcome our passions, and to govern and control our feelings and disposition.
Those Elders of Israel who have travelled and preached much have had a good opportunity for experience, and have learned that they cannot, figuratively speaking, take their families, friends, and goods with them, or if they did, they accomplished but little good.
Those who go out to preach the Gospel and at the same time say, "My poor wife and my poor children; and I shall be glad when my mission is out," seldom do much good.
I think that the help mate was designed to take care of the children, house, and gardens, and see, as far as possible, that all is cared for and preserved, as they anciently did. Some went out to war, but they must always leave a few at home to stay with the goods, or whatever they had to be taken care of.
Elders who have had an experience in this matter know whether they carried their families in their feelings, or not; but it is our privilege to train our feelings and dispositions, and to bring all into subjection to the dictates of wisdom, even that wisdom which proceedeth from our God.
When an Elder goes out to preach he ought not to let his mind be filled with care for his family, only when he is praying about them; and if they have lived by faith, all right; and if they have died during his absence, all right; they are the Lord's; and say, "that He gave them to me, it is all right; at the same time I would like to have them, but blessed be the name of the Lord."
An elder has possessions great or small, much or little, and instead of carrying those possessions in his feelings he ought to leave them, and say that they are the Lord's, and say, "I give my spirit and body and what is committed into my hands, I am only a steward over it; I yield its care to Him, since He sends me from my home so that I cannot directly look after it." That man can go as free as the air, and will feel that he has in his possession the Spirit of the Lord, which should be considered of paramount importance.
When people assemble to worship they should leave their worldly cares where they belong, then their minds are in a proper condition to worship the Lord, to call upon Him in the name of Jesus, and to get His Holy Spirit, that they may hear and understand things as they are in eternity, and know how to comprehend the providences of our God. This is the time for their minds to be open, to behold the invisible things of God, that He reveals by His Spirit.
Again, suppose a family wish to assemble for prayer, what would be orderly and proper? For the head of the family to call together his wife, or wives, and children, except the children who are too small to be kept quiet, and when he prays aloud, all present, who are old enough to understand, should mentally repeat the words as they fall from his lips; and why so? That all may be one.
If the people will ask in faith, they will receive, and let all mentally ask precisely as does the one who is spokesman. Let all leave the cares of their work behind them; let the kitchens take care of themselves, and let the barns, the flocks and herds take care of themselves, and if they are destroyed while you are praying, be able to freely say, "Go, they are the Lord's; He gave them to me, and I will worship Him; I will assemble my family and call upon the name of my God."
By leaving business and the cares thereof where they belong, and attending strictly to worship in its season, if not at first, you soon will be united, and be able to bring every evil principle into subjection. If all are bound up in this manner, don't you see that it will make a mighty cord of faith?
I will now ask this congregation, how many of you thought of mentally repeating my prayer as the words came to your ears? Did you realize that the order of prayer required you to mentally follow the words of the person who was praying? With us every one should mentally repeat the same words and ask for the same things as does the one who leads vocally, and let all say, amen. There are times and places when all should vocally repeat the words spoken, but in our prayer meetings and in our family circles let every heart be united with the one who takes the lead by being mouth before the Lord, and let every person mentally repeat the prayers, and all unite in whatever is asked for, and the Lord will not withhold, but will give to such persons the things which they ask for and rightly need.
In some denominations the hearers are accustomed to cry out, "Amen, amen, amen, hallelujah, praise the Lord," &c., during the prayer service, and immediately let their minds wander to the ends of the earth. That is not the right way to pray, but let every one throw off care for their effects, for the Lord knows all about them; He protects them while we are with them; and He is equally able to protect them while we are absent; therefore, while engaged in worshipping Him, let every heart be concentrated upon the subject before them. If this congregation will take this course, I promise them that they will go to their dwellings satisfied that the Almighty has been with us to strengthen us; but if our minds are like the fool's eyes, we shall be profited but little.
There are several here who will address you, and suppose that they should chastise us a little, do we not deserve it? Still, perhaps some will complain of the speaker for chastising them, when perhaps the first sentences which meet their eyes upon opening the Bible, will convey the idea that every son and daughter whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth, but those who are not chastened are bastards and not sons.
Says one, "I am willing to be chastened, but I am not willing to have that brother who has just come from England, or some other country, chasten me, but if some one high in authority should do it, I would kiss the rod and reverence the hand that gave it;" but the man who will only receive chastening from the Lord Himself is not in a proper state of mind before Him.
The Latter-day Saints have been chastened much and often. Many in this congregation have had their corn and wheat stacks burned in consequence of their religion, and have often been called to part with their fathers and mothers, their wives and children, in consequence of their religion. They have been chastened here and there, and perhaps some may think we are being chastened now by the drought and insects. I am willing to take it as a chastisement, and to learn that wisdom and knowledge which I had not before it happened; and if every man could realize and understand it, they would receive it as a prize and as lesson that would qualify them for future duties. Though our chastisements are often hard to be borne, those who bear them patiently, willingly, and submissively, will find that they yield the Gospel fruits of righteousness insomuch that they will know how to be Saints indeed.
Chastisement often comes upon the Saints of God on account of the wicked, and that also will redound to the benefit of the humble and faithful. If we receive chastisement for our sins, it will teach us to forsake our sins, and become righteous, for we receive chastisement because there is wickedness among us, and it is permitted to come to prevent our turning from the path of duty, and is always designed for our good. In all these things we have to acknowledge the hand of the Lord, and to be passive the things of His kingdom, that we may govern and control natural things, and all those with whom we have to do, that those we preside over may become eternal heirs of the celestial kingdom of our God.
It seems to be hard work for me to speak here this morning, and I will give way and let the brethren occupy the remaining time this forenoon. The ideas that I have laid before you, if you think of them and lay them to heart, will do you good; and in our protracted meeting we may be spiritually benefited, and receive joy and satisfaction. I feel to bless you all the time, and pray that we may be prepared to build up Zion and to inherit the fulness of the glory of God on the earth; this is my prayer continually. May the Lord bless you. Amen.
PREST. H. C. KIMBALL-- We have heard what has been said by our President, and in my feelings, though I may not always manifest it, I am one with him in all my acts. Brethren and sisters, please to give me your attention, and let your property take care of itself; that is according to the instruction we have had to-day.
Brother Brigham is the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and it is our duty to give strict heed to his counsels and instructions. This is one thing which this people, universally, individually, and collectively, have got to implant in their minds, and unless you get this lesson firmly settled in your minds, he can never be of so much benefit to you as he otherwise could, for as sure as you live and dwell here upon this earth, wherever you are inclined to stop, to wait or to lie down, he will leave you there; yes, he will leave you in that very spot, and attend to some more important business, and in some future day he, or some other one, will have to take you and teach you the first principles of the doctrine of Christ, and again try to lead you into the kingdom of God. He will not always dwell here in the flesh, that is, in this mortal body.
I look at this people in the north and in the south, and watch their progress in raising grain, building houses, &c., and I am pleased to see what I behold; and although I do not see such progress as there might be, still I see a great deal, and our extension and progress are far beyond that of the world, under like circumstances. But we do not make the progress that we would, if we strictly listened to the word of God, as it proceeds from our President, our leader and Prophet.
Do we bring about that amount of restitution that we might? I say, no. We should have the faith that we would have if we all carefully listened to the instructions that have been already given us this day. They are of great importance to all, and are as necessary to our salvation as baptism for the remission of sins, or any other life giving principle, they are necessary in order that we may become one.
How can we become one upon any other principle? It is impossible to be of one heart and one mind, except we observe all the counsel given from time to time.
I know it has been a practice with me, since I came to a knowledge of the truth and of prayer, when kneeling with my brethren, to pray for the things which they pray for; and we pray continually, "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come here on earth, and thy will be done as it is in heaven." Don't you all desire this? Well, you may continue to desire from this time to the day of your death, and you never will be gratified, except you individually and collectively practise the things you are taught, and are one.
You have got to be one in all things. Are we all one in this community? Is that the case in this place? You have not progressed as much as those around you, nor as much as you would have done if you had been diligent all the time, for then your station and faith, your works before God, and power with Him would have been far greater than they now are.
We have surpassed the world now; but if we were, and always had been, of one heart and one mind in all our efforts to advance the interest of the work of the Lord, we should have been far ahead of what we are now, and could put to defiance death, hell, and the devil, and all who are in opposition to this work; but we cannot now do all that we could if we had kept all the commandments of the Lord, and been of one heart and one mind.
What was there in the prayer this morning, but what every one of you desired more than gold, silver, and precious stones? Then pray for those things, and practise accordingly.
As for the kingdom to come, and the will of God being done upon the earth as it is done in heaven, it never will, except we practise and carry out the purpose of the Almighty in our daily walk and conversation, and seek to be of one heart and of one mind, and to do unto others as we wish them to do unto us.
I wish that all who call themselves Saints would rise and shine, for the light and glory of God are come upon us, therefore let us rise up and keep His commandments, and serve Him and glorify His name.
As for any man's going into the celestial glory, or entering through the straight gate into the celestial world, there never will a man or woman go there, except they obey the celestial law which gives them that privilege. I know it is the case, but some think that if brother Brigham, brother Heber, and others go there, they will take the rest with them, but I can tell you that they will not do it, for justice stands at the door and demands its claims, and though mercy stands pleading on the other side it cannot rob justice, for justice must have its demands, and will claim that which is its won, and mercy cannot claim that which is not its own, and neither can rob the other. By observing justice and mercy we can enter through the gates into the city and obtain that glory which we are all anticipating.
Brethren and sisters, reflect where we are, what we are, and what we are doing; how careless and unconcerned some of us often are in relation to those things that we are counselled to do.
I was noticing this morning that the public square and the public buildings are not where brother Brigham first stuck the stake, no, nor within half a mile of that spot. I am only touching upon this one thing to show you how it has been, not to hurt your feelings: and this and like conduct is the reason why there has not been more improvement, and why the Indians burn your wood and kill your cattle and horses, and, in short, is the reason why they do this, that, and a thousand other disagreeable things. Perhaps there is not a perfect unity of faith and feeling towards those appointed to preside in this place. Should any dissension exist here among this little flock of sheep? No.
Whoever is guided by those whom God appoints is the wisest man, although he may appear to be one of the most simple that can be found. Do you not believe that? I know it, for, although he may be rather rough in external appearance, he will be filled with wisdom, inasmuch as he abides the counsel of those placed over him, for it is God who does the work, and He can make a wise man out of one who is very simple in the eyes of the world.
I know some think that they accomplish the work, but it is God that does it. When I place myself passively, like a violin in the hands of a performer, and let the Almighty lay His bow upon me, can He play a good tune upon a rusty fiddle? I have seen and heard a good musician produce some of the best music on an old rusty instrument. It does not matter if you hold out till your hair is as thin as mine, you will have to acknowledge that it is God who gives us wisdom and furnishes us unto good works.
When a man is appointed by the proper authorities and set apart to preside, uphold and sustain that man, for he has power with God; and God will give him revelation for your guidance in the way of all truth, and he will know the mind of the Lord by day and by night.
The difficulty is that no man can be appointed to an office here, nor in Springville, nor in Peteetneet, nor any other place, but what there is some man whom many of the people think is a little smarter, and they think that they know a little better than the one who is appointed. Notwithstanding all the instructions that President Brigham Young has given to this people, many still think that they know better than he does, and they do not like his counsel, but reject it and treat it as the words of some wicked man.
These feelings exist, and I do wish that this people were of one heart and of one mind. You cannot and will not listen to the instructions of those placed to counsel you, until you are more united; but when you are united you will listen to the words and counsels of those placed here to counsel and govern you, as strictly as if President Young was constantly here.
When people will not listen to the instructions of their President, do you suppose they would listen to the instruction of the Lord Himself, if He were here? No, they would not. Do many of you believe that this is brother Brigham? If you do, you do not believe that his words are all for your good, and are those which are given to him for your salvation.
You believe that Joseph was a Prophet, but many could not believe even this when he was alive, but now that he is dead they can believe it. Jesus was a Prophet, though few believed so when he was upon the earth, but when he left them, nearly all could believe his divine mission.
This has always been the case in regard to all the Prophets, for the sons of those who killed the Prophets living in their day adorned the sepulchres of those whom their fathers had put to death, and crucified the Son of God.
Why cannot the people acknowledge a Prophet while he is living? It is because their acts and feelings make them like the old infidel who said, "Old Bright, although I love you so much, I would freely give you away, if by so doing I could know that there is a God." I presume many of you would give your pet cow, ox, or horse, if by that gift you could know that brother Brigham is a Prophet. He is what he professes to be, and a good deal more; I wish you all be of one heart and of one mind, and make this place like the garden of Eden, the blessings of the Almighty, both temporal and spiritual, will rest upon you.
My mind is cheerful and comfortable, except when I see and reflect upon the carelessness, stupidity, and worldly affections of many of this people, whom I love and delight to be with, then I mourn over them.
Let us go on unto perfection, not leaving the doctrines of Christ, repentance from dead works, and baptism for remission of sins, but, keeping them in mind, go on to perfection. Do not make calculations a second time to lay a foundation for repentance and baptism; but walk humbly and faithfully before the Lord our God, and listen to the counsels that He gives to us through His servants.
In all the counsel and teaching that I give, I lay myself liable to be corrected, and if found in error I am willing to acknowledge it at once. Then why should not you be willing also? I am ready and willing to come to the light, that I may be scanned, purged, and purified, that I may love God with all my heart, might, mind, and strength, and my neighbor as myself.
Perhaps many feel a little sober because our bread is cut off, but I am glad of it, because it will be a warning to us, and tech us to lay it up in future, as we have been told. How many times have you been told to store up your wheat against the hard times that are coming upon the nations of the earth? When we first came into these valleys our President told us to lay up stores of all kinds of grain, that the earth might rest once in seven years. The earth is determined to rest, and it is right that it should. It only requires a few grasshoppers to make the earth rest, they can soon clear it. This is the seventh year, did you ever think of it?
There is very little grain in Great Salt Lake county, and but little between here and that county, and none south of this place, except at Peteetneet, but I expect we will have some potatoes, squashes, corn, and so on, and do first rate.
When we first came here, and lived on thistle roots, segos, wolf skins, and like articles of food, we considered that we were doing well; then let us go to, and strive by the help of God to be Saints.
We are going ahead, and if you who live here are not, we shall leave you behind. Fathers and mothers, families, old and young, all who are in favor of going ahead and serving the Lord our God, say, aye. (The response to this call was simultaneous and unanimous.)
Those who wish to go home and attend to their families, their farms, and their cattle, say, no. (No response.)
If you will be humble and faithful from this time forth, the Lamanites will never trouble you, but will come and humble themselves at your feet and do your chores. Why is it that they trouble you now? Because a portion of the same spirit which actuates them exists among some of you. Is not this the case? Tell it out, have you not some of the same feelings towards them which they evince towards you?
If you are not careful, wrong feelings will get power over you, and you will begin to murmur and grumble. If you will be one, there will be no more trouble from this time forth, and this has got to be done, or there will be trouble. We must be one, in order that this earth may be regenerated, and that we may have peace, unity, and love prevailing. Quarrelling in this Church! Can that be the truth? Yes, and it is hard to tell anything else but truth when speaking of vices and follies of men.
Let us listen to our President, sever ourselves from the world, cling to our God, and to His cause, and turn our minds and thoughts to Him, and the building up of His kingdom on the earth. There is everything here in the mountains with which to beautify our homes and make our cities glorious; then let us go to work with all our mights, and be faithful from this time onward.
May God help you, and bless you in all things that pertain to you, is my prayer. Amen.
PREST. J. M. GRANT--The instructions given in the forenoon, to have your thoughts concentrated, and your faith, prayers, and practice one, must be admitted by all to be of the utmost importance to the Saints of God. If we do not enjoy the Spirit of the Lord, there are reasons that we ourselves can assign for the absence of that Spirit. The practice of Saints, if good, will always bring the Spirit of the Lord, and keep that Spirit with them from day to day.
I am aware that the Spirit is grieved with different individuals for different causes; some do not attend to their prayers in the season thereof, they do not attend to their duties of the present moment, they do not concentrate their feelings, but allow their minds to wander like the fools's eyes to the four winds of heaven, hence they are left to grope for themselves as the blind for the wall. But those who live up to their duties, the duties of the present hour, and always make those duties the primary duties of life, live in the light of the Lord, and walk in the path laid down by the Savior of the world; they are never in the dark, for the light of the lord is shining upon them.
While there are such items connected with our faith and duty, as were laid before us in the morning, we may do well to give some additional advice in relation thereto.
I have noticed in my travels among the Saints, from time to time, that their profession was long and loud in relation to their strength and faith in "Mormonism," and in fact they would be much offended if called weak in the faith; they will speak well of faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, the healing of the sick by the administration of the Elders, and of some of the general views of the Church, and claim to be very strong, very devout, and very much attached to the cause, and would feel much offended indeed if any one should even suspect that they were weak in the faith; and at the same time perhaps those individuals, who make such high professions of faith and devotedness, will acknowledge that there are certain important truths revealed from heaven which they would ridicule, scoff at, and trample under their feet.
They will also permit their children to ridicule them, and will laugh them out of their doors by the aid of their children and those friends who visit them, and yet claim to be strong in the faith, to be firm in the principles of "Mormonism," and Latter-day Saints of good standing. When the Prophet Joseph was living and gave such revelations to the Church as God gave to him, those persons could not endure them all, there were doctrines which they would not receive as from God.
I, as one individual, would give all such persons this advice--whatever you do, and whatever you may have been guilty of, for you are guilty of many improprieties and, probably, of many unvirtuous acts of life, forsake that which is not right, and begin to walk in the light of life.
Do not allow yourselves to laugh at, or treat with scorn, any revelation of God; and I would further advise that you do not allow your wives, sons, or daughters to do it, but rear the standard of truth, and make it one of the leading points of your faith to support that standard in your families, and among your friends, and thus have the law of God made honourable.
Inasmuch as the Almighty God has revealed certain doctrines and sanctioned certain practices, and seeing that the Almighty has said that these revelations and practices are true and righteous, I therefore advise that you do not allow the same to be trampled under foot as salt that has no savor. Again, let no man, whether Gentile or Jew, Israelite or Greek, nor your wives or children, nor any whom you have jurisdiction over, throw out any jeers upon, nor sneer, laugh, and scoff at, any portion of the law of God. Some items of doctrine are especially obnoxious to some men and some women who have peculiar feelings respecting them, and because of such feelings they begin to laugh at those who are favorable to those items, and attempt to spoil the good leaven.
My advice in all such cases is, just tell them that there is the hole which the carpenter made, and they can go through it, for you will have the law of God reverenced by all who reside in or visit your habitation. I merely give this advice as some that might be applied to the Saints; as some of the every day and practical advice. I allude to the entire law of God, to all that the Lord our God has revealed, whether it pertains to the building of tabernacles or to the building of temples, or to faith, repentance, baptism, or the laying on of hands, or to the matrimonial relations, or to any doctrine or principle which relates to the salvation and glory of man.
I say as one, that I have no fellowship for that man who will permit any person, over whom he has any rightful control, to ridicule the law, or any portion of the law, of God. I have no fellowship for those who allow any such proceedings in their houses, neither have I any fellowship for those who ridicule the law of God in any respect; and I shall be glad when they take their exit to California, or to the States, for they are, in their persons, in their actions, and by their words, detrimental to their neighbors and the circles in which they move.
You who live here and round about, whether you are governed by a proper spirit in all these matters of doctrine I know not, but whether or not, these ideas will not hurt you. It is too late in the day to preach poor pussyism here, for you will have to live up to these practical duties of life, one and all, and be one, to pray often in public as well as in private, to honor God and His word in all your ways, and to see that His law is not dishonored by any under your control.
I am aware that some of you suppose that this is a great meeting, a three days' meeting, and of course you expect to hear some great mysteries pertaining to the kingdom of God. Well, you have heard them this morning, and I wish to offer some further teaching on the practical duties which pertain to family government. I know some men, who have been in this Church twenty or twenty-two years, who are as they were, stereotyped editions, and who admit strangers into their houses, and allow them to blaspheme, to curse, and swear.
I wish to see those who profess to be Saints act as Saints ought to act. In the Church of the living God I believe that every man and woman that will admit evil practices, ought to be called up and dealt with for their fellowship, and if they will not reform, regulate their households and set them in order, they ought to be cut off from the Church. It is humbug to talk about first regulating a city, a county, or a territory; but start with a family at a time, and let the Bishop who presides see what is going on with every family, and when a family is found which will admit of God and His laws being ridiculed, cut them off from the Church. If any are found who will curse and swear, and break the law of the Sabbath, bring them up and deal with them for that; and if any are known to steal, deal with them for that act.
The Church needs trimming up, and if you will search, you will find in your wards certain branches which had better be cut off. The kingdom would progress much faster, and so will you individually, than it will with those branches on, for they are only dead weights to the great wheel.
First get the families united, then get the wards, the towns, the cities, and the counties regulated, and you will have every part of the Territory right; but this spirit of ridicule must not be allowed. Is a man who loves God going to have the law of the Almighty ridiculed? Many of those who profess so much, will feign publicly acknowledge and support the very doctrines which they and their friends deride and permit to be scoffed at, and at the same time they will practise unlawfully, in secret, those things which they accuse others of.
I would like to see the work of reformation commence, and continue until every man had to walk to the line, then we should have something like union; but you might as well cast little pebbles in the air to stay the wind as to undertake to make those walk right, pray right, and do right who are full of the devil. People must be right in their works, and be brought to know and practise their duties. You have got doctrine enough and revelation enough, and perhaps one difficulty is that you are too full of them. One doctrine which you need is to make your families, your streets, and every thing about you clean, and to prepare proper outhouses. Purify yourselves, your houses, lots, farms, and every thing around you on the right and on the left, then the Spirit of the Lord can dwell with you.
Do you suppose, when I go into a house that is filthy, that I believe that Saints of God dwell there? No, I believe that they are a filthy set of beings. Saints must practise cleanliness and purity, and show by their prayers, by all their works, and in their families, that they are reforming, and forsaking all and every kind and species of filthiness and evil practice, no matter what it is, no, not though it takes the hair off from your heads; no matter if it be high, low, rough, or smooth, the Almighty has given you a law to obey and reverence; and if you practise those doctrines which you have embraced, though all hell foam against you, by the power of God you will triumph and ask no odds of any one.
Talk about the Saints coming up to the Church of the first born, to the state of perfection which Enoch attained; if men and women ever attain to this, they have got to be pure in all their habits, pure in their spirits as well as in their doctrines, for the Lord has told us what is right and required in those things.
We have the best code of laws and the best men to teach us there are upon the earth, therefore all that is wanted is for us to practise those lessons which are taught us by the servants of the living God, and to love God with all our hearts, and live continually in the fear of the Almighty. Then when you come to meeting, you will not hear chastisement and reproof, but you will hear the peaceable things of the kingdom, and you will hear men and women speak and sing the sweet things of the kingdom of God.
In conclusion, may that light which is in you increase till you are prepared to bask in the perfect light of God. May God bless and save you, is my prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.
ELDER E. T. BENSON -- I feel thankful for the privilege and blessing that I now enjoy with my brethren, and for the privilege of bearing my testimony to the peaceable things of the kingdom of God. I have been indeed edified to-day by the remarks that have been made, and for one I mean to try to practise the teachings, and carry them out to the letter, according to the ability that I have.
Although some people may think that those items are small, and not what they expected to have on this occasion, still they are just such doctrines as I expected to hear; and I shall continue to expect to hear them until we become more perfect in the Gospel than we are at present, for we must learn to practise what has been committed unto us as a people and as individuals, before we shall be taught any greater things. You may search into your own hearts, among your families, and in the midst of your own neighborhood, and you will find that those things which have been touched upon, are what grieve the Holy Spirit, and cause more or less dissension in our midst.
When Jesus commissioned the Apostles, telling them to go and preach the Gospel to every creature, and baptize every one that believed, he promised that they should receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, which would lead them into all truth, and show them things past, present, and to come. We all know that the Spirit is a sure guide for all the Latter-day Saints; hence, we also know that the dictation of that Spirit will not lead to confusion, neither will it bring darkness, hatred, malice, and envy, and it will not lead a man into error, but it will lead and direct him into all truth. That Spirit which we received by being obedient to the Gospel covenant will be our constant guide and companion in sickness and in health; and what is the feeling of that individual who enjoys the sweet and benign influences of the Holy Ghost? He acknowledges the hand of God in all things, whether in life or in death, in prosperity or in adversity; it matters not what his situation may be, all is right with him. He merely wishes to know what there is for him to do, and he is all alive in "Mormonism."
Such an individual is willing to be taught the simple things of the kingdom, and he will not ridicule "Mormonism" in any respect, neither will he suffer it to be done under his roof, nor upon his possessions, and he is willing to lay down his life for it, and Jesus said, "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." I was actually astonished when I used to hear some of the brethren, at the time the Prophet Joseph was martyred, say they were afraid he was in transgression, and had incurred the displeasure of the Almighty, for no Latter-day Saint ever believed it for a moment. Why? Because there were the words of Jesus, that he had the greatest love who could lay down his life for his friends; and Jesus himself had this love, for he laid down his life for his friends; and by his death and resurrection opened up the way to eternal lives.
It is the little things that we need to observe now, and as brother Brigham says, the observance of the small things is what brings us the great blessings of the Almighty. Look, and think of the position of the people here, and in various other places throughout the Territory of Utah; do they all strictly honor the principles which brother Grant has been speaking upon? Most of them say they do, but I wish to see the works.
A man who has labored from the commencement of the work has embraced certain principles because God has commanded him, not because he wanted such principles to be established, not that his appetite was of such a nature that he desired something of the kind, but because the great Jehovah had so commanded through His Prophets; and hence these things cannot be ridiculed by the Saints; the counsel of the servants of God cannot be treated with contempt, and set at naught, without condemnation following. Still you will find some who ridicule and treat as naught the holy principles of our religion, and say, "I am sound in faith; I am filled with religion, but I cannot put up with that awful doctrine, polygamy."
It is not best to make a great profession in these days, but let our actions and works correspond with our profession, and that will show that we have embraced the truth for the love of it, and not for gain. Let persecution come, let drought, famine, and distress come, for the Lord has designed them; and when these things come, we can eat thistle roots and drink buttermilk, and honor God, and have His Holy Spirit with us. We can do this because we have embraced the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the faith of Abraham. Abraham did not stand and argue with the Lord, in order to find out whether Sarah was to bear him another Isaac in the place of the one he was commanded to offer up, but he believed that God would order all things right, and his faith was accounted to him for righteousness.
Shall we not have confidence in God's Prophets, and in those whom He has placed to teach us? Those who are not satisfied with them are constantly grumbling and growling about their circumstances and the prosperity of the Church, but when we have the Holy Spirit, all is right, and we feel satisfied; the visions of the Almighty and of the heavens are before us night and day, and we have confidence in the holy Gospel, in the work of the Lord, in the Priesthood, and in those who hold that authority upon this earth.
When people have the keys of the Priesthood and the light of heaven, they ought to use the blessing of God as not abusing them.
I wish to bear my testimony to the truth of what you have been taught this day, for it is faithful, and has been dictated by the Holy Ghost. When I enjoy the spirit of this Gospel and the power of the Priesthood, do you wish to know how I feel? I feel that I could preach my way through all manner of opposition. Do I rejoice? Yes, all the time; when I lie down and when I rise up. Latter-day Saints never should be troubled by any small matters, but when troubles do arise, say, "The Lord's will be done in all things; I am short-sighted; I cannot see afar off, and unless my mind is lighted up by the Holy Spirit, I cannot do much good."
Do we enjoy ourselves without that Spirit? I will ask my brethren and sisters now present, do we enjoy as much as it is our privilege to enjoy? Can we enjoy the Holy Spirit when we are finding fault with our neighbors? No, we cannot. God has set in His Church, firstly, Apostles; secondarily, Prophets; then pastors, teachers, helps, governments, and spiritual gifts; for the perfecting of the Saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, and to prevent the members thereof from being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine; and they are to continue until we all come to a unity of the faith. I think you are pretty well satisfied in Provo with those who are placed over you, for you know that they are appointed by the authority of heaven, and it is the right of those who appointed them to dictate you and all others; it is therefore your duty to give heed to those placed over you in authority, and if you do, you will enjoy the Spirit of God to a great extent, even to your hearts' satisfaction.
We are called upon to uphold, by our faith, works, and our prayers, those who are over us; we have raised our hands to sustain and uphold them, and will we turn round and find fault with that which we have sanctioned? Can you enjoy the Spirit of God if you do this? No. In order to enjoy that spirit you must reverence all the members of the Priesthood, no matter who may be in possession of it. Do you ever hear brother Brigham, brother Heber, brother Jedediah, or the Twelve Apostles, censuring the Bishops, or any other person, without a cause? No, never. They give them all the influence and power that they can, in order that they may be bold before the people, and have influence to carry out the things that are given to them to accomplish. Where there is a lack of confidence and proper reverence, people are afraid of the Prophet of God.
Does brother Brigham ever tyrannize! No, he blesses the Saints all the day long, and bears with the sins of the people, as much so as any other Prophet of God ever did, and asks God all the day long, to forgive them; and he continues to do this so long as there is a spark of integrity left in the individuals over whom he is watching.
We do not expect to be purified and become perfect at once, so much so that the old cloven foot can have no influence among us, but I expect that the vision of the Prophet Daniel will be fulfilled, and we are the persons to carry it out. I feel to continue to work righteousness, and the time is soon coming when all will have to walk to the line.
Jesus says, "Except ye are of one heart and of one mind, ye are not mine;" and we have to shape our minds until they become alike. there are not many ways of getting to heaven, for God is one, and His way of saving mankind is one.
"But," says the old sectarian priest, "going to heaven is like going to mill; if your wheat is good the miller will never inquire which way you came." Let others say as they please, we know that we have got to walk in that straight and narrow path which has been pointed out to us, and that the course which saved men in former days will save the people in these days, and that the same principles that will save us will save others. If we would carry out practically all that we have received, and not trouble ourselves about any more until that was done, it would exalt us to a higher state that we now enjoy. I have something good to do; I am all right. Here are our blessings now; we taste the blessings of this congregation to-day, and our place and our blessings are at present in this bowery, and not away off somewhere else. If our feelings are centred here, then are we blessed indeed; but if our minds are wandering, they cannot be full of joy, for they must be concentrated on the things of God and His kingdom so long as this meeting continues; then we shall feel refreshed, and I presume we all need to be.
[After making a few remarks about the traditions, habits, and practices of the Indians, Elder Benson continued as follows--]
It is our duty, brethren and sisters, to go to work and bring these natives to an understanding of the principles of civilization, to teach them to till the earth, and earn their bread by the sweat of their brows; and if they are needy and ask us, we should feed them, and at all times be an example to them. We have not been as faithful as we ought to have been in many of these things.
I have a little Indian boy and girl, and certainly it is repugnant to my feelings to have to put up with their dirty practices, but I have passed a great many of these things by; and this I have done because I knew what our duties were. In a short season we shall be rewarded for all that we do to civilize this lost and fallen race. The little boy will soon be quite bright, his mind is becoming clear and perceptive, and if he sees a horse, a man, or any other object, he will always remember them. True, he yet has some of his Indian traits, and I presume it will be some time before they are all erased from his memory.
And even some Saints are guilty of many filthy habits, for some, when they are sick and ought to observe cleanliness in the fullest degree, will send for the Elders to lay hands upon them, and say, "I was taken sick a week ago last Sunday, and have been so bad that I have not washed since, and I have not had a clean shirt on, or clean sheets upon the bed."
God has condescended to speak to His Saints, and has instructed them to wash their bodies with pure water, and to observe cleanliness of body as well as of spirit; this is necessary, and belongs to our religion. We should also have wisdom, and exercise it in both eating and drinking, ever keeping a guard over ourselves in all the practices of life, and listen to the still small whisperings of the Holy Spirit which never leads a man into error.
I know that the Lord directed brother Joseph by His Spirit, and he never went wrong. What guides brother Brigham? The same Holy Spirit of promise, and blessed is that man who understands the things of the Spirit, for it will direct him aright and lead him in the way of life, and open up his mind to behold the things of eternity; and the very moment that a man sees with this Spirit, he understands the mind of God.
Many have been led astray, and have believed that they could get to heaven without being united with the body of the Church; but if we are ever saved, we must be concentrated in our feelings, and our power, objects, and faith must be one in the kingdom of God. When we are one, we feel to rejoice in the things of God, and all goes well.
May the Holy Spirit guide you from this time, henceforth. Amen.
INSTRUCTIONS TO NEW COMERS.
A discourse by President Jedediah M. Grant, Delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, September 24, 1854.