CHARACTER AND BEING OF GOD--CREATION--SALVATION OF THE DEAD--THE UNPARDONABLE SIN--RESURRECTION--BAPTISM OF THE SPIRIT, ETC.
A Discourse, by President Joseph Smith, delivered at the Conference held near the Temple, in Nauvoo, April 6, 1844. Reported by W. Richards, W. Woodruff, T. Bullock, and W. Clayton
Beloved Saints,--I will call the attention of this congregation while I address you on the subject of the dead. The decease of our beloved brother, Elder King Follett, who was crushed in a well by the falling of a tub of rock, has more immediately led me to that subject. I have been requested to speak by his friends and relatives; but inasmuch as there are a great many in this congregation who live in this city, as well as elsewhere, who have lost friends, I feel disposed to speak on the subject in general, and offer you my ideas so far as I have ability and so far as I shall be inspired by the Holy Spirit to dwell on this subject.
I want your prayers and faith that I may have the instruction of Almighty God and the gift of the Holy Ghost, so that I may set forth things that are true and which can be easily comprehended by you, and that the testimony many carry conviction to your hearts and minds of the truth of what I shall say. Pray that the Lord may strengthen my lungs, stay the winds, and let the prayers of the Saints to heaven appear, that they may enter into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth; for the effectual prayers of the righteous avail much. There is strength here; and I verily believe that your prayers will be heard.
Before I enter fully into the investigation of the subject which is lying before me, I wish to pave the way and bring up the subject from the beginning, that you may understand it. I will make a few preliminaries, in order that you may understand the subject when I come to it. I do not calculate or intend to please your ears with superfluity of words, or oratory, or with much learning; but I calculate to edify you with the simple truths from heaven.
In the first place, I wish to go back to the beginning--to the morn of creation. There is the starting-point for us to look to, in order to understand and be fully acquainted with the mind, purposes, and decrees of the great Eloheim, who sits in yonder heavens as he did at the creation of this world. It is necessary for us to have an understanding of God himself in the beginning. If we start right, it is easy to go right all the time; but if we start wrong, we may go wrong, and it will be a hard matter to get right.
There are but a very few beings in the world who understand rightly the character of God. The great majority of mankind do not comprehend anything, either that which is past or that which is to come, as respects their relationship to God. They do not know, neither do they understand the nature of that relationship; and, consequently, they know but little above the brute beast, or more than to eat, drink, and sleep. This is all man knows about God or his existence, unless it is given by the inspiration of the almighty.
If a man learns nothing more than to eat, drink, and sleep, and does not comprehend any of the designs of God, the beast comprehends the same thing. It eats, drinks, sleeps, and knows nothing more about God: yet it knows as much as we, unless we are able to comprehend by the inspiration of Almighty God. If men do not comprehend the character of God they do not comprehend themselves. I want to go back to the beginning, and so lift your minds into a more lofty sphere and a more exalted understanding than what the human mind generally aspires to.
I want to ask this congregation--every man, women, and child, to answer the question in their own heart, what kind of a being God is? Ask yourselves; turn your thoughts into your hearts, and say if any of you have seen, heard, or communed with him. This is a question that may occupy your attention for a long time. I again repeat the question--What kind of a being is God? Does any man or woman know? Have any of you seen him, heard him, or communed with him? Here is the question that will peradventure from this time henceforth occupy your attention. The Scriptures inform us that "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent."
If any man does not know God, and inquires what kind of a being he is,--if he will search diligently his own heart--if the declarations of Jesus and the Apostles be true--he will realize that he has not eternal life; for there can be eternal life on no other principle.
My first object is to find out the character of the only wise and true God, and what kind of a being he is; and if I am so fortunate as to be the man to comprehend God, and explain or convey the principles to your hearts, so that the Spirit seals them upon you, then let every man and woman henceforth sit in silence, put their hands on their mouths, and never lift their hands or voices or say anything against the man of God or the servants of God again. But if I fail to do it, it becomes my duty to renounce all further pretensions to revelations, inspirations, or to be a Prophet; and I should be like the rest of the world--a false teacher, be hailed as a friend, and no man would seek my life. But if all religious teachers were honest enough to renounce their pretensions to godliness, when their ignorance of the knowledge of God is made manifest, they will all be as badly off as I am, at any rate; and you might just as well take the lives of other false teachers as that of mine, if I am false. If any man is authorized to take away my life because he thinks and says I am a false teacher, then, upon the same principle, we should be justified in taking away the life of every false teacher; and where would be the end of blood? and who would not be the sufferer?
But meddle not with any man for his religion; and all governments ought to permit every man to enjoy his religion unmolested. No man is authorized to take away life in consequence of difference of religion, which all laws and governments ought to tolerate and protect, right or wrong. Every man has a natural and, in our country, a constitutional right to be a false prophet as well as a true prophet. If I show, verily, that I have the truth of God, and show that ninety-nine out of every hundred professing religious ministers are false teachers, having no authority, while they pretend to hold the keys of God's kingdom on earth, and was to kill them because they are false teachers, it would deluge the whole world with blood.
I will prove that the world is wrong, by showing what God is. I am going to inquire after God; for I want you all to know him and to be familiar with him; and if I can bring you to a knowledge of him, all persecutions against me ought to cease. You will then know that I am his servant; for I speak as one having authority.
I will go back to the beginning, before the world was, to show what kind of a being God is. What sort of a being was God in the beginning? Open your ears and hear, all ye ends of the earth; for I am going to prove it to you by the Bible, and to tell you the designs of God in relation to the human race, and why he interferes with the affairs of man.
God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens. That is the great secret. If the vail was rent to-day, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible,--I say, if you were to see him to-day, you would see him like a man in form--like yourselves, in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image, and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked, and conversed with him, as one man talks and communes with another.
In order to understand the subject of the dead, for the consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends, it is necessary that we should understand the character and being of God, and how he came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity, I will refute that idea, and will take away and do away the vail, so that you may see.
These are incomprehensible ideas to some; but they are simple. It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did; and I will show it from the Bible. I wish I was in a suitable place to tell it, and that I had the trump of an archangel, so that I could tell the story in such a manner that persecution would cease for ever. What did Jesus say? (Mark it, Elder Rigdon.) The Scriptures inform us that Jesus said, "As the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power"--to do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious--in a manner, to lay down his body and take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life, as my Father did, and take it up again. Do you believe it? If you do not believe it, you do not believe the Bible. The Scriptures say it, and I defy all the learning and wisdom and all the combined powers of earth and hell together to refute it.
Here, then, is eternal life--to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you,--namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one,--from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power. And I want you to know that God, in the last days, while certain individuals are proclaiming his name, is not trifling with you or me.
These are the first principles of consolation. How consoling to the mourners, when they are called to part with a husband, wife, father, mother, child, or dear relative, to know that, although the earthly tabernacle is laid down and dissolved, they shall rise again, to dwell in everlasting burnings in immortal glory, not to sorrow, suffer, or die any more; but they shall be heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. What is it? To inherit the same power, the same glory, and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a God and ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have gone before. What did Jesus do? Why, I do the things I saw my Father do when worlds come rolling into existence. My Father worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom, I shall present it to my Father, so that he may obtain kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt him in glory. He will then take a higher exaltation, and I will take his place, and thereby become exalted myself. So that Jesus treads in the track of his Father, and inherits what God did before; and God is thus glorified and exalted in the salvation and exaltation of all his children. It is plain beyond disputation; and you thus learn some of the first principles of the Gospel, about which so much hath been said.
When you climb a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the Gospel: you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the vail before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world: it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave. I suppose I am not allowed to go into an investigation of anything that is not contained in the Bible. If I did, I think there are so many <over-wise> men here, that they would cry "treason" and put me to death. So I will go to the old Bible and turn commentator to-day.
I shall comment on the very first Hebrew word in the Bible. I will make a comment on the very first sentence of the history of creation in the Bible--<Berosheit>. I want to analyze the word. <Baith>--in, by, through, and everything else. <Rosh>--the head. <Sheit>--grammatical termination. When the inspired man wrote it, he did not put the <Baith> there. An old Jew, without any authority, added the word. He thought it too bad to begin to talk about the <head>! It read first, "The head one of the Gods brought forth the Gods." That is the true meaning of the words. <Baurau> signified to bring forth. If you do not believe it, you do not believe the learned man of God. Learned men can teach you no more than what I have told you. Thus, the head God brought forth the Gods in the grand council.
I will transpose and simplify if in the English language. Oh, ye lawyers, ye doctors, and ye priests, who have persecuted me, I want to let you know that the Holy Ghost knows something as well as you do. The head God called together the Gods and sat in grand council to bring forth the world. The grand counsellors sat at the head in yonder heavens, and contemplated the creation of the worlds which were created at that time. When I say doctors and lawyers, I mean the doctors and lawyers of the Scriptures. I have done so hitherto without explanation, to let the lawyers flutter, and everybody laugh at them. Some learned doctor might take a notion to say the Scriptures say thus and so; and we must believe the Scriptures; they are not to be altered. But I am going to show you an error in them.
I have an old edition of the New Testament in the Hebrew, Latin, German, and Greek languages. I have been reading the German, and find it to be the most correct translation, and to correspond nearest to the revelations which God has given to me for the last fourteen years. It tells about Jachoboy, the son of Zebedee. It means Jacob. In the English New Testament it is translated James. Now, if Jacob had the keys, you might talk about James through all eternity, and never get the keys. In the 21st verse of the fourth chapter of Matthew, my old German edition gives the word Jacob instead of James.
The doctors (I mean doctors of law, not of physic,) say, "If you preach anything not according to the Bible, we will cry treason." How can we escape the damnation of hell, except God be with us and reveal to us? Men bind us with chains. The Latin says Jachabod, which means Jacob; the Hebrew says Jacob, the Creek says Jacob, and the German says Jacob. Here we have the testimony of four against one. I thank God I have got this old book; but I thank him more for the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have got the oldest book in the world; but I have got the oldest book in my heart, even the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have all the four Testaments. Come here, ye learned men, and read, if you can. I should not have introduced this testimony, were it not to back up the word <Rosh>--the head, the father of the Gods. I should not have brought it up, only to show that I am right.
In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it. When we begin to learn in this way, we begin to learn the only true God and what kind of a being we have got to worship. Having a knowledge of God, we begin to know how to approach him and how to ask so as to receive an answer.
When we understand the character of God and know how to come to him, he begins to unfold the heavens to us and to tell us all about it. When we are ready to come to him, he is ready to come to us.
Now, I ask all who hear me, why the learned men who are preaching salvation say that God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing? The reason is, that they are unlearned in the things of God and have not the gift of the Holy Ghost. They account it blasphemy in any one to contradict their idea. If you tell them that God made the world out of something, they will call you a fool. But I am learned, and know more than all the world put together. The Holy Ghost does, anyhow; and he is within me, and comprehends more than all the world; and I will associate myself with him.
You ask the learned doctors why they say the world was made out of nothing; and they will answer, "Don't the Bible say he <created> the world?" And they infer, from the word <create>, that it must have been made out of nothing. How, the word <create> came from the word <baurau>, which does not mean to <create out of nothing>; it means to <organize>--the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos--chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time He had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed: they may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning, and can have no end.
I have another subject to dwell upon, which is calculated to exalt man. But it is impossible for me to say much on this subject. I shall, therefore, just touch upon it; for time will not permit me to say all. It is associated with the subject of the resurrection of the dead--namely, the soul, the mind of man, the immortal spirit. Where did it come from? All learned men and doctors of divinity say that God created it in the beginning. But it is not so. The very idea lessons man in my estimation. I do not believe the doctrine. I know better. Here it, all y ends of the world; for God has told me so; and if you don't believe me, it will not make the truth without effect. I will make a man appear a fool before I get through, if he does not believe it. I am going to tell of things more noble.
We say that God himself is a self-existent being. Who told you so? It is correct enough; but how did it get into your heads? Who told you that man did not exist in like manner upon the same principles? Man does exist upon the same principles. God made a tabernacle and put a spirit into it, and it became a living soul. [Referred to the old Bible.] How does it read in the Hebrew? It does not say in the Hebrew that God created the spirit of man. It says, "God made man out of the earth, and put into him Adam's spirit, and so became a living body."
The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is coequal with God himself. I know that my testimony is true; hence, when I talk to these mourners, what have they lost? Their relatives and friends are only separated from their bodies for a short season: their spirits which existed with God have left the tabernacle of clay only for a little moment, as it were; and they now exist in a place where they converse together the same as we do on the earth.
I am dwelling on the immortality of the spirit of man. Is it logical to say that the intelligence of spirits is immortal, and yet that it had a beginning? The intelligence of spirits had no beginning, neither will it have an end. That is good logic. That which has a beginning may have an end. There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal with our Father in heaven.
I want to reason more on the spirit of man; for I am dwelling on the body and spirit of man--on the subject of the dead. I take my ring from my finger and liken it unto the mind of man--the immortal part, because it has no beginning. Suppose you cut it in two, then it has a beginning and an end; but join it again, and it continues one eternal round. So with the spirit of man. As the Lord liveth, if it had a beginning it will have an end. All the fools and learned and wise men from the beginning of creation, who say that the spirit of man had a beginning, prove that it must have an end; and if that doctrine is true, then the doctrine of annihilation would be true. But if I am right, I might with boldness proclaim from the housetops that God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all. God himself could not create himself.
Intelligence is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle. It is a spirit from age to age, and there is no creation about it. All the minds and spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement.
The first principles of man are self-existent with God. God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself. The relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge. He has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences, that they may be exalted with himself, so that they might have one glory upon another, and all that knowledge, power, glory, and intelligence which is requisite in order to save them in the world of spirits.
This is good doctrine. It tastes good. I can taste the principles of eternal life, and so can you. They are given to me by the revelations of Jesus Christ; and I know that when I tell you these words of eternal life as they are given to me, you taste them, and I know you believe them. You say honey is sweet, and so do I. I can also taste the spirit of eternal life. I know it is good; and when I tell you of these things which were given me by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you are bound to receive them as sweet, and I rejoice more and more.
I want to talk more of the relation of man to God. I will open your eyes in relation to your dead. All things whatsoever God of his infinite wisdom has seen fit and proper to reveal to us, while we are dwelling in mortality, in regard to our mortal bodies, are revealed to us in the abstract and independent of affinity of this mortal tabernacle; but are revealed to our spirits precisely as though we had no bodies at all; and those revelations which will save our spirits will save our bodies. God reveals them to us in view of no eternal dissolution of the body, or tabernacle. Hence the responsibility--the awful responsibility that rests upon us in relation to our dead; for all the spirits who have not obeyed the Gospel in the flesh must either obey it in the spirit or be damned. Solemn thought!--dreadful thought! Is there nothing to be done? No preparation--no salvation for our fathers and friends who have died without having had the opportunity to obey the decrees of the Son of Man? Would to God that I had forty days and nights in which to tell you all! I would let you know that I am not a "fallen prophet."
What promises are made in relation to the subject of the salvation of the dead? and what kind of characters are those who can be saved, although their bodies are mouldering and decaying in the grave? When his commandments teach us, it is in view of eternity; for we are looked upon by God as though we were in eternity. God dwells in eternity, and does not view things as we do.
The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead. The Apostle says, "They without us cannot be made perfect;" for it is necessary that the sealing power should be in our hands to seal our children and our dead for the fulness of the dispensation of times--a dispensation to meet the promises made by Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world for the salvation of man.
Now, I will speak of them. I will meet Paul half-way. I say to you, Paul, you cannot be perfect without us. It is necessary that those who are gone before and those who come after us should have salvation in common with us; and thus hath God made it obligatory upon man. Hence God said, "I will send Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord; and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."
I have a declaration to make as to the provisions which God hath made to suit the conditions of man, made from before the foundation of the world. What has Jesus said? All sins, and all blasphemies, and every transgression, except one, that man can be guilty of, may be forgiven; and there is a salvation for all men, either in this world or the world to come, who have not committed the unpardonable sin, there being a provision either in this world or the world of spirits. Hence God hath made a provision that every spirit in the eternal world can be ferreted out and saved, unless he has committed that unpardonable sin which cannot be remitted to him either in this world or the world of spirits. God has wrought out a salvation for all men, unless they have committed a certain sin; and every man who has a friend in the eternal world can save him, unless he has committed the unpardonable sin. And so you can see how far you can be a saviour.
A man cannot commit the unpardonable sin after the dissolution of the body, and there is a way possible for escape. Knowledge saves a man; and in the world of spirits no man can be exalted but by knowledge. So long as a man will not give heed to the commandments, he must abide without salvation. If a man has knowledge, he can be saved; although, if he has been guilty of great sins, he will be punished for them. But when he consents to obey the Gospel, whether here or in the world of spirits, he is saved.
A man is his own tormentor and his own condemner. Hence the saying, They shall go into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. The torment of disappointment in the mind of man is as exquisite as a lake burning with fire and brimstone. I say, so is the torment of man.
I know the Scriptures and understand them. I said no man can commit the unpardonable sin after the dissolution of the body, nor in this life until he received the Holy Ghost; but they must do it in this world. Hence the salvation of Jesus Christ was wrought out for all men in order to triumph over the Devil; for if it did not catch him in one place, it would in another; for he stood up as a Saviour. All will suffer until they obey Christ himself.
The contention in heaven was--Jesus said there would be certain souls that would not be saved; and the Devil said he could save them all, and laid his plans before the grand council, who gave their vote in favour of Jesus Christ. So the Devil rose up in rebellion against God, and was cast down, with all who put up their heads for him.
All sins shall be forgiven except the sin against the Holy Ghost; for Jesus will save all except the sons of perdition. What must a man do to commit the unpardonable sin? He must receive the Holy Ghost, have the heavens opened unto him, and know God, and then sin against him. After a man has sinned against the Holy Ghost, there is no repentance for him. He has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened unto him, and to deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it; and from that time he begins to be an enemy. This is the case with many apostates of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
When a man begins to be an enemy to this work, he hunts me; he seeks to kill me, and never ceases to thirst for my blood. He gets the spirit of the Devil--the same spirit that they had who crucified the Lord of Life,--the same spirit that sins against the Holy Ghost. You cannot save such persons; you cannot bring them to repentance: they make open war like the Devil, and awful is the consequence.
I advise all of you to be careful what you do, or you may by-and-by find out that you have been deceived. Stay yourselves; do not give way; don't make any hasty moves: you may be be saved. If a spirit of bitterness <is> in you, don't be in haste. You may say that man is a sinner. Well, if he repents, he shall be forgiven. Be cautious: await! When you find a spirit what wants bloodshed--<murder>, the same is not of God, but is of the Devil. Out of the abundance of the heart of man the mouth speaketh.
The best men bring forth the best works. The man who tells you words of life is the man who can save you. I warn you against all evil characters who sin against the Holy Ghost; for there is no redemption for them in this world nor in the world to come.
I could go back and trace every subject of interest concerning the relationship of man to God, if I had time. I can enter into the mysteries; I can enter largely into the eternal worlds; for Jesus said, "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." (John 14th chap., 2nd v.) Paul says, "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead." (1st Cor. 15th chap., 41st v.) What have we to console us in relation to the dead? We have reason to have the greatest hope and consolations for our dead of any people on the earth; for we have seen them walk worthily in our midst, and seen them sink asleep in the arms of Jesus; and those who have died in the faith are now in the celestial kingdom of God. And hence is the glory of the sun.
You mourners have occasion to rejoice (speaking of the death of Elder King Follett); for your husband and father is gone to wait until the resurrection of the dead--until the perfection of the remainder; for at the resurrection your friend will rise in perfect felicity and go to celestial glory, while many must wait myriads of years before they can receive the like blessings; and your expectations and hopes are far above what man can conceive; for why has God revealed it to us?
I AM AUTHORIZED to say, by the authority of the Holy Ghost, that you have no occasion to fear; for he is gone to the home of the just. Don't mourn; don't weep. I know it by the testimony of the Holy Ghost that is within me; and you may wait for your friends to come forth to meet you in the morn of the celestial world.
Rejoice, O Israel! Your friends who have been murdered for the truth's sake in the persecution shall <triumph> gloriously in the celestial world, while their murderers shall welter for ages in torment, even until they shall have paid the uttermost farthing. I say this for the benefit of strangers.
I have a father, brothers, children, and friends who have gone to a world of spirits. They are only absent for a moment. They are in the spirit, and we shall soon meet again. The time will soon arrive when the trumpet shall sound. When we depart, we shall hail our mothers, fathers, friends, and all whom we love who have fallen asleep in Jesus. There will be no fear of mobs, persecutions, or malicious law-suits and arrests; but it will be an eternity of felicity.
A question may be asked--"Will mothers have their children in eternity?" Yes! yes! Mothers, you shall have your children; for they shall have eternal life; for their debt is paid. There is no damnation awaits them, for they are in the spirit. But as the child dies, so shall it rise from the dead, and be for ever living in the learning of God. It will never grow: it will still be the child, in the same precise form as it appeared before it died out of its mother's arms, but possessing all the intelligence of a God. Children dwell in the mansions of glory and exercise power, but appear in the same form as when on earth. Eternity is full of thrones, upon which dwell thousands of children reigning on thrones of glory, with not one cubit added to their stature.
I will leave this subject here, and make a few remarks on the subject of baptism. The baptism of water, without the baptism of fire and the Holly Ghost attending it, is of no use: they are necessary and inseparably connected. An individual must be born of water and the spirit in order to get into the kingdom of God. In the German, the text bears me out the same as the revelations which I have given and taught for the last fourteen years on that subject. I have the testimony to put in their teeth. My testimony has been true all the time. You will find it in the declaration of John the Baptist. [Reads from the German.] John says, "I baptise you with water; but when Jesus comes, who has the power (or keys), he shall administer the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost." Great God! where is now all the sectarian world? And if this testimony is true, they are all damned as clearly as anathema can do it. <I know the text is true.> I call upon all you Germans who know that it is true to say aye. (Loud shouts of aye.)
Alexander Campbell, how are you going to save people with water alone? For John said his baptism was good for nothing without the baptism of Jesus Christ. "Therefore, not leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit." (Heb. 6th chap., 1st to 3rd v.)
There is one God, one Father, one Jesus, one hope of our calling, one baptism. All these three baptisms only make one. Many talk of baptism not being essential to salvation: but this kind of teaching would lay the foundation of their damnation. I have the truth, and am at the defiance of the world to contradict me if they can.
I have now preached a little Latin, a little Hebrew, Greek, and German; and I have fulfilled all. I am not so big a fool as many have taken me to be. The Germans know that I read the German correctly.
Hear it, all ye ends of the earth--all ye priests, all ye sinners, and all men. Repent! repent! Obey the Gospel. Turn to God; for your religion won't save you, and you will be damned. I do not say how long. There have been remarks made concerning all men being redeemed from hell; but I say that those who sin against the Holy Ghost cannot be forgiven in this world or in the world to come: they shall die the second death. Those who commit the unpardonable sin are doomed to Gnolom, to dwell in hell, worlds without end. As they concoct scenes of bloodshed in this world, so they shall rise to that resurrection which is as the lake of fire and brimstone. Some shall rise to the everlasting burning of God; for God dwells in everlasting burnings; and some shall rise to the damnation of their own filthiness, which is as exquisite a torment a the lake of fire and brimstone.
I have intended my remarks for all, both rich and poor, bond and free, great and small. I have no enmity against any man. I love you all; but I have some of your deeds. I am your best friend; and if persons miss their mark, it is their own fault. If I reprove a man and he hates me, he is a fool; for I love all men, especially these my brethren and sisters.
I rejoice in hearing the testimony of my aged friends. You don't know me: you never knew my heart. No man knows my history. I cannot tell it: I shall never undertake it. I don't blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I could not have believed it myself. I never did harm any man since I was born into the world. My voice is always for peace.
I cannot lie down until all my work is finished. I never think any evil, nor do anything to the harm of my fellow-man. When I am called by the trump of the archangel and weighed in the balance, you will all know me then. I add no more. God bless you all. Amen.
THE WORK OF REFORMATION--THE UNITED STATES' ARMY--LABOURS OF "MORMON" MISSIONARIES--JUDGMENTS OF GOD, ETC.
A Discourse by Elder Orson Hyde.
Dear Brethren and Sisters,--I am highly pleased with the privilege I now enjoy of speaking to you. I wish to call your attention to a subject which, to me, is of vast importance, and no less so to you.
The commencement of what has been termed our reformation was more than a year ago; and first attended with the desire only of correcting some irregularities among us and of awakening the Saints to righteousness, to purity of life, to sanctification, and holiness before the Lord. Our efforts were attended with results highly satisfactory to the upright and the good. We were led on by this spirit of reformation to expose and rebuke the evils of those among us who did not belong to the Latter-day Saints. This kind of preaching made them angry; yet their anger did not cause us to soften our speech or to modify the tone of high moral sentiment which we wished and were determined should be enforced. "Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you; but rebuke a wicked man, and he will hate you." This truth we saw abundantly exemplified. Their pens were then set in operation against us, and many false accusations were sent to the States by them, over fictitious names, no names at all, and also over their own real names. But the latter class, not being fortified with truth and honesty, felt unable to endure the just frowns of a community so belied. They had recourse to flight; and then told the awful and pitiful tale in the States, that they barely escaped with their lives,--a fine cover for their unrighteous deeds. They hoped by this feint and hypocritical pretension to excite public sympathy in their favour, and to arouse indignation against the Saints. Jesus spoke plainly of just such persons, saying: "Ye are they who justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God."
For this very plain preaching, which they were compelled to hear or hear of, they threatened us with troops of the United States; and they left no stone unturned to excite the Government to send troops. This idea was a momentary damper upon some spirits; but sober second thought asked the question--"Shall I, through fear of an army being sent here, be guilty of collusion with sin and of failure to expose and rebuke it?" The noble-minded and fearless servants of God said, "No! No!! No!!!" The work of reformation and purification went gloriously on; and by-and-by the word of assurance and comfort came to us through our Prophet and Seer--the fearless Brigham, who dares to do right--"Sanctify yourselves before me; put iniquity far from you; assert your rights, and stand up to them; and behold, and lo! I will fight your battles, and the children of Zion shall be victorious; and the name of your God shall be magnified in the eyes of your enemies. Trust in me; be valiant and fear not, and the kingdom is yours." I may not repeat the word of the Lord through his servant verbatim, but give it according to memory. I am not, however, far wrong.
On the 24th day of July last, rumour came to us that United States' troops were actually being fitted out to come here to chastise us. Just ten years ago that very day, when the pioneers first entered the valley, brother Brigham said, in view of the injustice and cruelty inflicted upon us by our enemies, "If the United States will now let this people alone for ten years to come, we will ask no odds of them or any one else but God." The saying passed out of his mind and out of the minds of the pioneers who heard it, until ten years from the very time, when he and some thousands of others were in Big Cottonwood Kanyon, celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Saints' entrance into this valley.
This announcement of troops by the express brought the saying vividly to many of the minds of the old pioneers. No heart appeared sad--no countenance gloomy; but the lamp of joy was evidently lit in every heart and blazed in every countenance. We regarded it as an omen of deliverance by the arm of the Almighty. From that very hour the prayers of this entire people, old and young, male and female, by day and by night, have been and still are offered up unto the God of heaven, in the name of his son, Jesus Christ, that the army sent here by the United States may never be able to accomplish their design; for the design of the Government in sending them, and that too, upon evidence known to be incorrect, proved to us that iniquity was to be sustained and righteousness suppressed. Will our prayers be heard and answered? I believe they will. I do believe that God is about to come out of his hiding-place and to vex the nation according to his word through the martyred Joseph (See Book of Covenants, second European edition, page 282.) Do I believe that the United States will be divided? Yes, I do; and the prayers of all the Saints throughout the world should be to that effect; for they wage war against the kingdom of God, and have fallen upon that stone with an army; and let them be broken, even according to the words of Jesus.
"If the army now invading Utah should be overthrown," says an unbeliever, "are you not fearful that a much larger one will be sent to chastise you?" No sir; I am not. If we honour our God by keeping his law, no army of this world can ever prevail against us; and the greater its numbers, the greater and more complete its overthrow. If the Red Sea be not the trap in which the enemy will be caught, there will be a snow or hailstorm, a whirlwind, an earthquake, fire from above or from beneath, or the sword of the Lord and of Brigham. I only fear that we may not live so that God will hear and answer our prayers. If we get any important petition granted by any legislative body, we must have some influence enlisted in its favour; and if we expect God to grant our petitions, we must so live before him as to have influence with him. To have influence with the king is next to being king ourselves.
We do not desire to shed the blood of our enemies. We have never desired it. But our prayers should be, that the power and strength arrayed against us may be broken by the providence of God, or by the arm of his power; that they may be smitten with confusion and darkness; that the means they may adopt for their success may be providentially overruled for their overthrow; that they may be wasted away like the early frosts, and be scattered about like chaff before the wind, until, as the martyred Joseph said, just before he was murdered by Governor Ford's mob, there shall not be a potsherd of them left. This prayer should not be confined to our enemies on our immediate borders; for they are only the blind tools of a power that has decreed our overthrow; but should extend, with increased faith and zeal, to that very power that handles these tools.
Brethren, the army sent to operate against us has been stopped in the vicinity of the ruins of Forts Bridger and Supply. By what power or agency were they stopped? Col. Alexander assured Governor Young that he had abundant means or power at his command to come into Salt Lake Valley. Add to this the fact that one Mormon was taken prisoner by the Colonel's order, and it is said that orders were found on his person to annoy the enemy in every way he could, but not to kill any or fire a gun. I know nothing of any such orders. Still the enemy claim that they found such orders upon the person of their "Mormon" prisoner. Now, if Colonel Alexander really believed his own statement to Governor Young, that he had abundant means at his command to force his way into the city, and if he believed the pretended orders said to be found with his "Mormon" prisoner to be genuine--that nobody was to be killed nor a gun fired, why did he not march in with his army? He had plenty of force to do it, and the assurance, according to his showing, that the "Mormons" were not to kill any nor fire a gun? What kind of reason or apology can he make to the Department for not marching directly into the city. That is his business, however, not ours.
It was not "Mormon" numbers, according to his views, neither "Mormon" bullets that arrested the progress of the army; but it really was the united faith and prayers of the Saints of God that set bounds to their progress. Having, therefore, this evidence that God Hears and answers our prayers,it should inspire us with redoubled zeal, union, faith, and energy to continue to call upon the Lord until every power that lifts an arm against his kingdom crumbles and falls like the mighty image that the Babylonish monarch beheld in the visions of the night.
Our enemies have eyes, but they cannot see. They may say that the tardy movements of the forces in concentrating, together with an unexpected snowstorm, in which many of their animals perished, were the causes of their hindrance on Ham's Fork; but who caused the tardy movements of the collecting forces? and who sent the snowstorm? The same invisible hand that forced off the wheels from Pharaoh's chariots that caused them to drag heavily. The prayers of the Saints by day and by night are more potent that the multitude of soldiers, armed with Sharp's and the Minie rifle. Yet the Saints should be liberally endowed with both.
If we continue in all humility before the Lord, full of faith and diligent in prayer, with hearts full of integrity, and honour the words of our Prophets and leaders, and the United States continue their hostile movements against the Saints, it shall be with them as it was with the man upon the scaffold lifting at the granite rock, when the scaffolding gave way and fell, and with it the man; and the stone, falling on the top of him, ground him to atoms.
The United States' army is sent by the President. He is the highest power which they know or recognize. Did they know any higher, they would never have come here. Has that army a chaplain Prophet that can obtain the word of the Lord for them, or one whose prayers the Lord hears? We say no, and they cannot say yes; neither dare they. The policy of the Government will not allow of a chaplin Prophet to lead its armies; and a man inspired of the Lord--one who can say, "Thus said the Lord"--would not lead them under their present policy.
The whole army and nation are blind enough to be led by mere men who lay no claim to the inspiration of the Almighty, and not one among them that can receive the word of the Lord. The man whose prayers the hears can obtain his word touching the duties of the sphere in which he is legitimately called to act. Yet the nation despise the "Mormons" because they are led by a man who can receive the word of the Lord for them, and whose prayers the Lord hears and answers. The evidence of this is before us, day by day, and year by year. A fashionable chaplin, who is master of much flowery language, may formally tell the Almighty how great and glorious he is--how high is his throne, and how vast are his dominions; and yet the God of Israel will never thank him for the information, neither praise him for his sweet rhetorical sentences. But the man that is chosen of God, and armed with the power of revelation and the visions of heaven, is the man to lead the Latter-day Saints. No less will satisfy them. To the rule of no other will they willingly submit. Govern Utah who will, Brigham Young or his duly chosen successor can alone govern the "Mormons." Freemen have the right to choose their own rulers. The world often will the men whom God appoints, but the Saints choose them. Here is the difference. The Saints may be killed--that is, their bodies; but their spirits can never yield to the powers of this world. And our God says that, if we will be valiant, pure, and faithful, we never shall, worlds without end.
What is the real design of the Government in sending troops to Utah? This winter, or during this session of Congress, special legislation is contemplated; a stringent law against polygamy to be enacted; and the troops are sent here in advance to the passage of such an act to make themselves comfortable and strongly establish themselves in these valleys and hold themselves in readiness to enforce that law when enacted. Then they would say, "Now, Mr. Mormon, we have got you!" Anything for a lawful pretence to raise a fuss with the "Mormons," to destroy them from the earth! But everlasting thanks to Zion's God! He has said, "Sanctify yourselves before me, assert your rights, and I will back you up and fight your battles. You have long pleaded with the Government and people of this nation, and they would not hear you; and now, verily, said the Lord, I will plead with the nation for you."
According to our faith in God is our boldness to meet whatever may come. Brethren, let us be valiant. A mighty host may gather against us; but if God be with us, we may have a seven months' job in burying their dead; and their weapons of war may furnish us fuel for years, so that we shall not have to go to the kanyons for this indispensable auxiliary to our domestic comfort and happiness. A mighty slaughter is to occur in the armies of the Saints' enemies in some country where firewood is scarce, and a high value placed upon their weapons of war for that purpose.
It is said that a new Governor has been appointed for Utah, judges, secretary, &c. I do not pretend to know much about governmental usages or etiquette; but, to my coarse understanding, it would seem no more than proper for some department at Washington to have notified Governor Young of such appointments direct, and also of the object in sending an armed force with them, if, indeed, such force be really sent by the order of Government. The fact of our mail being unanimously taken away from us, in connection with the silence on the matters before spoken of, left us to conclude that death and destruction were determined on as the let and portion of the "Mormons" in Utah. The public papers that happened to reach us seemed also to breathe this kind of spirit, which were our main index to the real intentions of the Government. If, therefore, persecution and death must come, we concluded that we might better make the job cost our enemies all in our power, by selling our lives and liberties as dearly as possible. These were and are the feelings of the masses. Our leaders speak for themselves. In this position we have been greatly encouraged from a source that we deem infallible, provided we live in obedience to the commands of Him who holds all power both on earth and in heaven. I deem it unnecessary, however, to argue the merits of the case, but patiently await its issue,--at the same time to be active in the vigorous discharge of every known duty to God and man.
Our Elders and missionaries have laboured throughout the nations of the earth incessantly for the last twenty-seven years. We have endured and suffered shame. The great ones of the earth have generally spurned us from their presence. The holy and sanctified clergy have been most bitter against us. We have been very often like our Master, without a place to lay our head. We have slept by the wayside, under the trees of the forest, in sheds, and in barns, without money, and often without food; yet we have been cheerful, and in reality have lacked nothing. Our feet have bled with walking, and our hearts with sorrow over the blindness of the people; yet we have been joyful in our God. The four quarters of the globe and the islands of the sea have heard our voice and testimony. We have laboured and have not fainted. Though weak, combatting the world, the flesh, and the Devil, and though our enemies have reproached us with being a set of ignoramuses, dupes, villains, impostors, and fools, we have cried aloud and spared not.
In the midst of all this, our Prophets have been murdered, our brethren and sisters, friends, and families mobbed and driven from place to place, and from time to time living in tents, waggons, and in the open air. They have been maimed, crippled, and slain without mercy; and none have laid it to heart. "Your cause is just, but we can do nothing for you," is the heartless sentiment of an unbelieving and persecuting world. These are some of the circumstances under which the "Mormons" and "Mormon" missionaries have carried the Gospel to the nations of the earth. But those few that have ministered to the wants and necessities of these labourers and of these persecuted people shall in nowise lose their reward.
These missionaries and labourers are now called home. The Lord says, "It is enough." "Come out of her, my people," is now the voice of God to his servants in every land and nation. The vials of his wrath cannot be poured out until you, like Lot, flee from the countries doomed to feel the vengeance of God. To you, my faithful brethren abroad, the Spirit of Christ has often whispered, during the last six months, "Go home--go home." Your guardian angels have said it to you in dreams and in visions, and we expect to see you come. Scores have already arrived. God bless them and you too, if you listen to the whisperings of that voice that speaks truth to the heart.
What now remains to be done? Your testimony is borne--your words have bone into all the earth. Read in the Book of Covenants, page 102, and you will find the answer in part--"After your testimony cometh wrath and indignation upon the people; for after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her; and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand. And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds; and all things shall be in commotion; and surely men's hearts shall fail them, for fear shall some upon all people," &c.
Again, the sign given in the Book of Mormon, showing when the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled and they abandoned to the judgments and wrath of Almighty God, and showing also when the covenants of the Father with the house of Israel shall be fulfilled, is this important declaration--"I will take the fulness of my Gospel from among the Gentiles," &c. It might be considered treason to quote further. With our Elders and missionaries comes the fulness of the Gospel from among the Gentiles, who, like the leaky ship, are abandoned to the mercy of the winds and the waves.
I, for one, care but little about the stoppage of the mails; yet it would afford me some satisfaction to have the current news of the day. There is, however, an <upper> telegraph which the powers of this world cannot cut, neither suspend in any way. By that we can know all the news that are really essential to us as a people, if we strive to be in communication with it. This upper telegraph is the revelation of God. All things that are really essential for us to know will be made manifest unto us by the Lord; "for he doeth nothing, but he revealeth his secrets to his servants and Prophets." This is the sort of mail that we should patronize. It is conveyed with despatch and with safety. It goes at all times of day and of night, and is sure to bring an answer to our communications. The Government would think it strange to read from our records, made and penned more than twenty years ago, the very things which it is now doing in relation to us. But to read the issue, it would think stranger still. I read both more than twenty years since; and when I see things fulfilling every day and every year, it inspires me with assurance and joy. Have light in yourselves, says Jesus; and if our eye be single, our whole bodies will be full of light. God knows all things that are going on in the universe; and if we possess his mind, his Spirit, and his will, we may know at least some things that are going on in the world, even without a mail.
Brethren, the Lord is hearing and answering our prayers. The time to favour Zion is come. And now, I beseech you, let there be no contentions or disputations in your midst; for Jesus says, "Blessed are ye, if there be no disputations among you.: Dishonesty, covetousness, nonsense, and folly should all be purged from our hearts and purged from our wards; and if the guilty will not cast away such principles, let him go to the army, to the States or wherever he likes, so that he does not abide in our midst. "He shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend and that do iniquity." Cleanse the inside of the platter or territory, so that God and angels may dwell with us for our defence. Bishops, High Priests, and Seventies, arise in the majesty Jehovah's strength, and cause the moral atmosphere that surrounds you to be pure and healthful, if you have to raise a storm of thunder and lightning to effect it. Fear not! only hurt not the oil or the wine. Be wise, and yet be strong. Remember that a good man does not steal, neither lie. He is not an idler, suffering his family to want. He does not take the advantage of his neighbour. He does not absent himself from your ward meetings, neither decline bearing his part of the burdens that are laid upon you. You will generally find a good man right where you want him, in person, in spirit, and in the means that he controls. He never has many excuses to make, but is on hand. He is always ready. A good man pays his Tithing, pays his devotions to God in all sincerity and faith, pays his just debts so far as he is able, is careful about contracting debts, lives well, yet prudently, and generally has something to bestow for charitable purposes. He never has much difficulty with his neighbours, readily yields to the counsel of his Bishop or other superior officer, worships no horse, ox, mule, ass, farm, or house, but worships the true God of heaven. Remember that all victory and glory that God is well pleased with are obtained by our diligence and prayers of faith.
Remember your fasts, your solemn assemblies, sacraments, and charities. Mark those in your wards that do not attend your meetings. Thieves and iniquitous persons do not, as a general thing, like to attend the house of worship. Slothful, prayerless, and worldly-minded persons often calculate to go to or return from the kanyons on the Sabbath, or go visiting on that day, or manage to hunt cattle on the range, or transact some business by which they can have a plausible excuse for not attending the house of worship. The flaming truths which they would be compelled to hear--the rebukes and chastisements there dealt out to such characters are not agreeable to their ears.
The persons that cannot profit by merited rebukes and chastisements cannot profit by blessings and communion with the Saints. Priests, Teachers, and Deacons, be active in the discharge of your duties. You are watchmen in your wards, and stand in a similar relation to your Bishops that the Apostles do to the Presidency. Great responsibility rests upon you. Every person in your wards should be known to you, and his business or occupation also. You should not only know the man or the woman and his business, but should likewise know his spirit and be able to weigh it in the balance of truth.
Shepherds of Israel, watch well your flocks. Keep them healthy and vigorous. Encourage good with kind and generous words, and fear not to deal with offenders or rebuke sin in a manner that corresponds with the nature thereof and also with the dignity of your high and holy calling. The great object is to be alive and awake to every duty, and to be "armed with righteousness and the power of God in great glory."
Our enemies are trying to come here to teach this people civilization and pure Christianity by killing our men and sleeping with our women. It seems that we have been prejudged and condemned to death. The halters are prepared by the waggon-load, and knots already tied (so says report). If they had the chance, they would probably go through the forms of law trials with us, with great kindness and moderation affectedly; but death is in the pot, and we must eat it. As we have been foreordained in Washington to be hung or shot, we must suffer it, built or not built. If we repent, we must be damned; and if we do not repent, we must be damned. The ropes are all prepared! But if we do our duty, that proud Haman will yet see the despised Jew in a position which he will have cause to envy. Though the course of our enemies stands in their power and not in their justice, yet they shall come to an inglorious end, and none shall help them; and let all Israel say, Amen.
May the blessings of the Highest be and abide with the upright in heart, now and for ever! Amen.
"THE KINGDOM OF GOD OR NOTHING."
A Sermon by Elder John Taylor, delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, November 1, 1857. Reported by G. D. Watt
I shall take the liberty, this afternoon, of selecting a text. In the Second Epistle and last verse of the Gospel according to St. Brigham to Colonel Alexander, will be found the following words:--"WE SAY IT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD OR NOTHING."
We revere the testimony of ancient men of God, as recorded in what are often termed "the Scriptures of divine truth;" and it is quite common for men to refer to what the Prophets have said and to reason from their words. Now, I have been of the impression, for some length of time, that the sayings of modern men of God are of as great importance as the sayings of ancient men of God, and a great deal more applicable to our condition.
In looking at the Epistle to Colonel Alexander, and considering the important things said in it, I was particularly struck with the last words, which compose my text--"The kingdom of God or nothing."
In other days, men have had their theories and their ideas about Christianity, Paganism, &c., which were referred to this morning. But we believe in living Priesthood--in present revelation--in the Church and kingdom of God as it now exists on the earth, as well as in things that were spoken of by ancient Prophets: consequently we believe in adapting our lives and actions to the position that we now occupy as servants of the true and living God--as God's representatives on the earth--as those who are destined to lay the foundation of that kingdom which shall stand for ever.
What is the kingdom of God? This is a question that is in almost everybody's mouth. Every Saint is interested in this question. We need not go into the nonsense of sectarianism: we will let it go entirely, hook and line; for we know enough about it to care nothing about it, nor about the absurd ideas entertained by sectarians of the Kingdom of God.
The question is, What is the kingdom of God? How do we stand related to it? What is our position and what are the duties devolving upon us to-day, tomorrow, and every day of our lives, as servants of the living God?
In the Epistle I have referred to, there is something said about the struggles we have endured, the privations we have suffered, the difficulties we have passed through, the wrongs and indignities that have been heaped upon us continually, and the persecutions that have been multiplied upon us as a people, even from the day of the organization of this Church to the present. There was in it a strong, marked, and determined expression. It gave Colonel Alexander and whomsoever it concerned to understand that it was time that these things should cease--that this people as well as every other people should have their rights, and these rights they were bent upon having at all events, not fearing the result,--that we, as a people, are determined to be free; for with us it is--"The kingdom of God or nothing."
When we talk about kingdoms, we talk about governments, rule, authority, power; for wherever there is a kingdom, these principles exist to a greater or less extent. The kingdoms of this world have their powers, authorities, rule, regulations, law-givers, &c., according to the kind of government they adopt. Hitherto we, as a people, have been amalgamated to a great extent with other nations. It is true we have had a Church government, Church laws, Church discipline, and by the holy Priesthood associated with this Church we have governed the people. Still we have been subject to another government, power, and authority, to Gentile rule, Gentile dominion, Gentile laws, to Gentile usages and customs, to which we have been willingly subject, so far as they were righteous; and it was told us by the Lord, that if we observed the laws of God, we need not break the laws of the land.
The laws of man we have kept faithfully, adhering tenaciously to the principles of the Constitution of the Government, under which we have lived. We have not transgressed them in one iota, but have maintained our relationship honourably with the nation we have been associated with.
The first thing we did when we came to this land was to organize a government for our protection, which was according to the pattern set us by our neighbours--Oregon, for instance; then represented our case to the United States.
We came out here because we were disfranchised, exiled, robbed of our rights as American citizens, and forced to wander in the wilderness to seek among the savages of the forest that freedom denied us by Christianity. Did we in this transgress any laws of the United States, depart from any usage, or act contrary to any established custom or law of the Government? We did not. We applied for the sanction of Congress to our doings, and it was a matter of astonishment and surprise that we should take such steps, after the usage we had received. Our course was applauded by statesmen, senators, members of Congress, and the authorities of the United States generally; and all our transactions, constitution, and laws were approved gladly, considered right, and according to the usages and laws of the United States.
By-and-by we petitioned for a Territorial Government and obtained it. Our enemies have all the time been complaining of us that we have infringed upon the Constitution and laws of the United States. But I ask, Wherein have we done it? Who appointed our Governor? The President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, according to the usage which exists, but indeed contrary to any right they possessed; still he did it. Who appointed our Judges, United States Marshal, Secretary of State, and Indian Agency? The President of the United States.
Has there been another Governor appointed? I suppose there has; but he has not yet been qualified. No man has authority to act in the gubernatorial capacity in this Territory at the present time, according to the laws of the United States, but Governor Young. No Governor has a right to act here, although he may have been appointed by the President of the United States, until he comes here and is qualified. No man has ever come yet to be qualified, and consequently Governor Young stands legitimately in that place.
What law have we transgressed? I have tried to find out. We have examined the Constitution of the United States and the laws pertaining to these matters; and if anybody here or elsewhere can point out any law that we have transgressed as American citizens, they know more about it than I have been able to learn; and I should like such a person to put me in possession of that information.
What next? Why, on the back of this, after lying about us, slandering, abusing, and imposing upon us, trampling upon our rights, and sending the meanest curses among us that ever disgraced the footstool of God--men they are ashamed of themselves, they have now sent an armed force contrary to law and right and to the principles that ought to prevail in the United States. They have no more right to do this than I have to cut any of your throats.
There is no authority guaranteed to the President of the United States to perpetrate so diabolical an act as the one he has engaged in. Why is it that this is done? Is it because we are worse than other people? No. After raking up everything they could, before I left the States, the only thing they could find against us as a people was that we had burned some books belonging to the United States' Court; and since that I have seen published affidavits, totally denying any such thing, by the Clerk of that Court.
The President of the United States has now taken upon himself the responsibility of sending into this Territory an armed force to trample upon the rights of 100,000 American freemen, on purpose to subserve a political interest, for the benefit of his own party. It becomes a serious question with us what to do under these circumstances.
Shall we lie down and let those scoundrels cut our throats? is the first question. Shall we untie our neckcloths and tell them to come on and cut and carve away as they please, and knock down, drag out, and introduce their abominations among us--their cursed Christian institutions--to prostitute our women and lay low our best men? Shall we suffer it, I say?
There are certain things that are sacred to us and to every man and woman. If we submit to a thing of that sort, we submit to see the very institutions of our own nation trampled under foot--the Constitution of our country desecrated and rent in pieces. We submit to see the bonds severed that have bound this nation together, and blood, anarchy, and and (sic) confusion prevail.
If they have a mind to cut each other's throats, we have no objections. We say, Success to both parties. But when they come to cut ours, without ceremony, we say, Hands off, gentlemen. We are not so religious as to sit down meekly and tamely submit to these things. We understand something of the difference between what some call treason, or treasonable acts, and base submission to the will of a tyrant, who would seek to bring us into servile chains--into perfect submission to his sway.
We are engaged here in protecting ourselves, our wives, and families,--in guarding everything that is sacred and honourable among men from invasion and oppression of some of the most corrupt wretches that ever disgraced the footstool of God.
"This is pretty plain talk," say you. I meant to talk plain: I do not wish to be misunderstood. I have lately been conversant with some of their proceedings, having been in their neighbourhood for some time recently. Some of our brethren, who went among them with messages, have said that such was the filth and obscenity of their language--cursing, swearing, and every meanness, that, rather than stay all night with them, they chose to go off some distance and lie on the ground. If these are the feelings of our brethren, some of whom are rough and uncouth in their manners, we know not how our sisters would feel in such delectable society.
We will not submit to such a state of things for ever. If you, our enemies, are determined to invade our rights, trample upon our liberties, snatch from us the rich boon we have inherited from our fathers, to make us bow in vile subservience to your will, we will resist you: we will not submit to it. We will say, Stand back and give us our rights. We will act the part of freemen, and we say it shall be "The kingdom of God or nothing."
Why is it that we are persecuted? It is because we believe in the establishment of the kingdom of God upon the earth--because we say and know that God has established his kingdom--because the principles of righteousness are introduced among the the (sic) children of men, and they expose the evils, corruption, priestcraft, political craft, and the abominations that everywhere exist. They lay naked before all men the abominable acts of the human family. It is not because there is evil among us, but because there is goodness, truth, holiness. It is because God has spoken, and his word has had effect on our hearts, to govern and influence our conduct.
It is because of these things that the present crusade has been set on foot against us, and no doubt it began to rage at the very time that you were humbling yourselves before God, when you commenced the reformation and were repenting of your sins and making restoration. At the time the Spirit of God began to be manifested among you, the spirit of the Devil began to rage among them against you, stirring them up to pluck you down, root you up, and destroy you from the face of the earth.
Why was it that you had the reformation among you, that you were stirred up to repent of your sins and make restitution? It was because you had the holy Priesthood in your midst--the spirit of prophecy and revelation,--because you had men among you who could commune with the Most High and contemplate his purposes and designs towards the human family. It was because they saw evils existing among you and dare tell of it, and the Spirit of God pointed the word at your hearts, which brought you to repentance.
If we had corruption, grog-holes, rowdyism, and every kind of pollution among us, and were this place permitted to be a perfect sink of iniquity, where the gambler, horse-racer, black-leg, and every evil character would be tolerated, then we should be hail fellows, well met, with our enemies. The wicked would bow and scrape to us all over the earth: they would call us gentlemen everywhere, and we should be respected. It would be as it was with a few of our brethren who had to play a ruse upon some of the Missourians. The "Mormon" boys were flying from a mob and had to pass a meeting-house when the people were coming out from their prayers. These pious souls suspected that the brethren were "Mormons."
"You are 'Mormons,' damn you," said they.
"We are not, damn you. Let go of my horse, or I will knock your damned head off."
"Oh, we discover you are not 'Mormons,' gentlemen: we are under a mistake;" and they let them go.
Who is it that is acquainted with this people and does not know that they are better, more pure, more virtuous and true to their God and his laws, and more faithful to the laws and Constitution of their country than any other people? I know the difference, for I have been among others and seen their actions.
What is the cause, then, of the evil planned against us? IT is because we are the Church and kingdom of God. Have we ever left our houses to interfere with other people anywhere? Did you ever hear of a crusade by a set of "Mormons" upon any other people? Did the "Mormons," when in Nauvoo, go to Carthage, La Harpe, Warsaw, or to any place, and interfere with the rights of anybody? Have we done it here? Have we gone to Mexico, California, Kansas, Nebraska, Oregon, Minnesota, or to any of the surrounding districts, to interfere with their business or rights?
If there has been such a crusade, I have remained altogether ignorant of it, as to when it took place, who were engaged in it, and how many.
If we do not interfere with anybody else, what right has anybody else to interfere with us? I speak now as an American citizen. I speak, if you please, as a politician. On this ground I ask what right any people or number of people have to come and interfere with us? There is o such right in the catalogue, gentlemen.
They, however, do interfere with us; and what is the cause of it? It is because of the kingdom of God--because of the truth of God--because of the Spirit of God and certain principles that exist among this people. And what are they? It is polygamy that they are so incensed against. They need not draw down such a long face about that, for they themselves do a thousand times worse than that, were it even as heinous a crime as they say it is.
It is not polygamy that they are so horrified at. I know their meanness and abominations, and have told them of them scores of times. There have been from the foundation of the world two principles and powers--the principles of darkness and the principles of light, the principles of truth and the principles of error, the Spirit of God and the spirit of the Devil;--and there has been a mighty struggle between these two principles and powers.
Hitherto the good, the virtuous, the pure and upright, the men of God, the Saints of the Most High have been trampled under foot and cast out--have wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, dwelt in deserts, dens, holes, and caves of the earth, of whom the world was not worthy; and the spirit and power of darkness have prevailed over the powers of light, error over truth, and the spirit of the Wicked One over the Spirit of God, to a certain extent; so much so, that truth, equity, and righteousness have always been at a discount, and men of God have been deprived of their rights and robbed of their inheritances.
God has had a certain design to accomplish, associated with the human family; and I suppose that everything which has taken place has been just. I am not going to find fault with God or the Devil. I suppose the Devil is as necessary as any other being, or he would not have been.
The righteous have been trampled under foot, but it is well with them. It was not their day. The time for them to reign and have dominion was not come. While wrapt in prophetic vision, they could view the events that were to transpire in the last days, and prophesied of a kingdom that should be set up and stand for ever. They looked with joyful anticipation to this day. They expected a time when a certain power would exist on the earth, that would be more powerful than the powers of darkness, when the righteous should no more be trodden under foot, cast out, and oppressed,--when the kingdoms of this world should become the kingdoms of our God and his Christ, over which he should rule for ever.
Men in our day have got hold of many odd ideas. The Millerites, for instance, have talked about Christ's coming to reign on the earth at a certain time; and they were all going to be transfigured, changed, caught up, &c. In France and elsewhere, they had their social systems; but they knew no more about God, Christ, or anything of this kind than the Devil, I was going to say; but they did not begin to know as much as the Devil about God and his ways. These Socialists talked about a great millennium, and people went to them, expecting them to be a very righteous, praying people. They were something like the man whom the Indian thought was a "Mormon;" but when the Indian found out that he did not pray, that convinced him to the contrary. They did not regard God or his laws, but took up a little twig of Christianity and planted it on to their infidelity. They were going to ameliorate the condition of the human family and bring about the millennium.
In relation to the kingdom of God, what is it? Is it a spiritual kingdom? Yes. Is it a temporal kingdom? Yes. Does it relate to the spiritual affairs of men? Yes. Does it relate to the temporal of men? Yes. And when it is fully established upon the earth, the will of God will be done upon the earth precisely as it is done in heaven.
It is the will of God we are trying to do at the present time, in trying to fulfil his law, submit to his ordinances, and obey his commandments--not in one little item, but in every action of our lives, seeking to be perfectly submissive to the admonitions of the Almighty.
Was the kingdom that the Prophets talked about, that should be set up in the latter times, going to be a Church? Yes. And a State? Yes, it was going to be both Church and State, to rule both temporarily and spiritually. It may be asked, How can we live under the dominion and laws of the United States and be subjects of another kingdom? Because the kingdom of God is higher, and its laws are so much more exalted than those of any other nation, that it is the easiest thing in life for a servant of God to keep any of their laws; and, as I have said before, this we have uniformly done.
Who made this earth? The Lord.
Who sustains it? The Lord.
Who feeds and clothes the millions of the human family that exist upon it, both Saint and sinner? The Lord.
Who upholds everything in the universe? The Lord.
Who provides for the myriads of cattle, fish, and fowl that inhabit the sea, earth, and air? The Lord.
Who has implanted in them that instinct which causes them to take care of their young, and that power by which to propagate their species? The Lord.
Who has given to man understanding? The Lord.
Who has given to the Gentile philosopher, machinist, &c., every particle of intelligence they have with regard to the electric telegraph, the power and application of steam to the wants of the human family, and every kind of invention that has been brought to light during the last century? The Lord.
Who sets up the kings, emperors, and potentates that rule and govern the universe? The Lord.
And who is there that acknowledges his hand? Where is the nation, the people, the church even, or other power that does it? You may wander east, west, north, and south, and you cannot find it in any church or government on the earth, except the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
What is the cause of all the darkness, confusion, and misery that abound, the imprisonment and chains, and the thousand evils that afflict mankind, embracing all the wars, bloodshed, and distress of nations? It is because they do not acknowledge the hand of the Lord in all things nor understand his will. They pursue their own course, and do not seek the wisdom and intelligence of God.
Why is it that thrones will be cast down, empires dissolved, nations destroyed, and confusion and distress cover all people, as the Prophets have spoken? Because the Spirit of the Lord will be withdrawn from the nations in consequence of their wickededness, and they will be left to their own folly.
Who has a right to rule the nations, to control kingdoms, and govern all the people of the earth? Are you a father? Have you wives and children? Do you feed, clothe, and provide for them? Yes. Have they a right to rebel against you? If they did, what would you think of such children?
Such is the position of the whole human family; such is the position of the whole world--of every society, religious, political, social, or otherwise; and none of them acknowledge God or are obedient to his laws.
Now, then, suppose you had a farm, and you put people on it to work--you fed and clothed them, and expected them to be obedient to you; but instead of that, while you were feeding, clothing, and taking care of them, they were abusing you, departing from your laws, transgressing your precepts, and listening to somebody else who was your enemy, instead of listening to you;--would you let them remain for ever on your farm, or would you by-and-by put somebody else in their place that would be more faithful to you?
The transactions of men are even more outrageous against the Lord, and the only excuse for them is their ignorance. What! are Christians ignorant? Yes, as ignorant of the things of God as the brute beast.
Let us look at it a little further. If you wished the welfare of your family, would you not chastise them? You would, if they did wrong. Would you not try to make them submit to your law? You certainly would; and if they would not, after you had pleaded with them and chastised them, you would disinherit them. The Lord said of Abraham, "I know he will fear me and command his children after him to do it.? It was this principle that recommended him to the favour of God.
What would you think of the conduct of a God who would let the human family continue for ever to transgress his law without interfering? You would think he was getting foolish and in his dotage--that he did not understand himself nor correct principles in allowing a lot of bad boys to rise up and increase around him, letting evil principles exist instead of righteous ones, and the wicked afflict and persecute the good with impunity.
The time was to come, and is now, that God has set up his kingdom upon the earth, and he is determined that men shall be in subjection to his laws. Can the Lord go to any other people but this and declare his will? He cannot. There is not a nation, kingdom, power, or people,--there is not a political, moral, social, philosophical, or religious society in the world that would receive the word of God, except this people.
If there cannot be a people anywhere found that will listen to the word of God and receive instructions from him, how can his kingdom ever be established? It is impossible? What is the first thing necessary to the establishment of his kingdom? It is to raise up a Prophet and have him declare the will of God; the next is to have people yield obedience to the word of the Lord through that Prophet. If you cannot have these, you never can establish the kingdom of God upon the earth.
What is the kingdom of God? It is God's government upon the earth and in heaven.
What is his Priesthood? It is the rule, authority, administration, if you please, of the government of God on the earth or in the heavens; for the same Priesthood that exists upon the earth exists in the heavens, and that Priesthood holds the keys of the mysteries of the revelations of God; and the legitimate head of that Priesthood, who has communion with God, is the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator to his Church and people on the earth.
When the will of God is done on earth as it is in heaven, that Priesthood will be the only legitimate ruling power under the whole heavens; for every other power and influence will be subject to it. When the millennium which we have been speaking of is introduced, all potentates, powers, and authorities--every man, woman, and child will be in subjection to the kingdom of God; they will be under the power and dominion of the Priesthood of God: then the will of God will be done on the earth as it is done in heaven.
This places man in his true relationship to the Most High; and while others are boasting of their own intelligence, powers, authority, rule, greatness, and might, our boast, glory, might, strength, and power are in the Lord. Do we have any temporal blessings? We acknowledge the hand of God in it. De we have spiritual blessings? We acknowledge the hand of God in it. Do we do wrong and receive chastisement? We acknowledge his hand in it, and consider it a blessing. Are we in difficulties? We acknowledge the hand of God therein, and consider that it is necessary we should be tried and proved in all things, that we may be counted worthy to associate with the intelligences that surround the throne of God. Do we have prosperity? We acknowledge the hand of God in it, and pray him for wisdom to use properly what he has put in our hands. Do we possess scientific knowledge--knowledge on agriculture or any other kind of knowledge? We acknowledge his hand in it. Are we here in these mountains, surrounded, as a people, by the barriers of the everlasting hills, brought out from our enemies to inherit these valleys? We acknowledge the hand of God in it. Does an army come to make war on us? We acknowledge the hand of God in it. We feel that we are in his hands, and say "It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth good unto him, and we will seek to do what is right on our part. Have we to go to war? We will acknowledge the hand of God in it. If we are told not to kill our enemies, we will not kill them, but cultivate a spirit of meekness and humility, doing what the Priesthood of God dictates--what the servants of the living God tell us. In peace and prosperity, war and adversity, we will lean on the hand of God, and acknowledge it, and say, "Hallelujah! the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth."
What is it we are seeking to do? Is it to get a farm, a house, or a possession of any kind? Who is anxious about such things, which are here to-day and gone to-morrow? They are well enough in their place.
Some of you are tried because you do not have many things you would like to have. If you had those things, you would not be tied in that point, and it is therefore necessary you should be placed in that position. It may be necessary, after awhile, that you should be tried with more of the things of this life than you know what to do with.
With none is the Lord God angry except those who do not acknowledge his hand in all things. What does it matter whether we are farming, building, planting, fighting, or anything else, if we are doing as we are told? Who cares? I do not. Let matters come in whatever way they have a mind to, it is all right, if we do right.
As eternal beings, associated with eternity that was and with eternity that is to come--beings that dwelt in eternal light before we came here, we are now seeking for salvation, preparing for celestial inheritances in the eternal worlds. This is what we are after: we are trying to lay a foundation for ourselves, for our progenitors, and for our posterity, that will endure and extend while countless ages roll; and we are taught the principles by which we may obtain this salvation by the holy Priesthood--by the revelations of God communicated to us through that Priesthood.
And now, having been forced from the United States, after having been driven time and time again from our homes by our murderous enemies--having fulfilled all the requirements that God or man could require of us, and kept every law necessary for us to observe,--after all this, and more, I say, shall we suffer those poor, miserable, damned, infernal scoundrels to come here and infringe upon our sacred rights?
["NO!" resounded throughout the Tabernacle, making the walls of the building tremble.]
NO! It shall be "The Kingdom of God or nothing" with us. That is my text, I believe; and we will stick to it--we will maintain it; and, in the name of Israel's God, the kingdom of God shall roll on, and all the powers of earth and hell cannot stop its progress. It is onward, onward, ONWARD, from this time henceforth, to all eternity.
[Voices of "Amen."]
"Are you not afraid of being killed?" you may ask me. No. Great conscience! who cares about being killed? They cannot kill you. They may shoot a ball into you, and your body may fall; but you will live. Who cares about dying? We are associated with eternal principles: they are within us as a well springing up to eternal life. We have begun to live for ever.
Who would be afraid of a poor, miserable soldier--a man that gets eight dollars a month for killing people, and a miserable butcher at that--one of the poorest curses in creation? Mean as the Americans are, they will not, many of them, hire for soldiers. But the Government must hire foreigners for eight dollars a month to come out here to kill us! Who is afraid of them? Let them come on or stay and wiggle, it is all right.
We are the Saints of God; we have the kingdom of God, and the devils in hell and all the wicked men on the earth cannot take it from us. We shall rule and have dominion in the earth, and they cannot help themselves. They can take their own course. They may fight against us, if they like, or they can back out and leave us; but the kingdom will go on. They may take what course they please: the kingdom is ours, and we are Christ's, and Christ is God's.
It is for us to live our religion, keep God's commandments, and we shall be saved: we shall thus have the honour of doing something for the kingdom of God, in rolling back the flood of darkness that is enveloping the universe, and preparing ourselves for dominion on the earth and eternal exaltation in the kingdom of God for ever.
God bless you and preserve you in purity and holiness before him, that you may inherit all you anticipate, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ! Amen.
TRUTH, LIFE, AND LIGHT--GOD ACTS THROUGH AGENTS--OBEDIENCE PRODUCED KNOWLEDGE, WHICH SUPERSEDES FAITH--THE SPIRIT OF MAN--REVELATION AND OBEDIENCE THERETO, ETC.
Remarks by President Heber C. Kimball, made in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, Sunday Morning, November 8, 1857. Reported by Leo Hawkins.
I have almost a good mind to talk a little,--that is, if you want I should; but I certainly do not want to, without you want I should. And then again, if I felt really like it, I should talk, whether you wanted I should, or not. The reason I make that expression is because I am called to a holy calling, with our President, or brother Brigham. He is my leader, and I am his brother and servant. I am his fellow-servant,--that is, I am one with him; and my calling actually required me to talk, and to teach, and to instruct, and to exhort, and to invite all men to embrace the Gospel and plan of life and salvation.
Jesus, in the 1st chap. of John, 4th verse, says, "In him was life, and the life was the light of men."
Also, in the 8th chap. and 12th verse, "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."
And in the 14th chap. and 6th verse, "Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.:
Well, you have heard me express, several times, that truth if life, and life is light. Well, it is true, because Jesus says, "I am the life and the light of the world; and no man that is born upon the face of this earth can obtain eternal life except they go by me. They must come by me or through me to obtain eternal life."
Brethren, I want you to understand, if you will treasure up principles of truth as you would treasure up gold and silver and precious stones--if you will treasure up truth, every truth that you treasure up, that truth is life, and that life is light. Do you not see that if you treasure up the principles of truth in you, and you have your treasury full of them, then, of course, your treasure is saviour of all? Why? Because life is light, and light is life. Do you not see, if you have got the true principles dwelling in you, if you treasure up truth, you are bound to have life; and then, if you have life, you are bound to have light; and if those true principles dwell in you, and they abound, do you not see you cannot be unfruitful? You are bound to be fruitful in the knowledge of God and in the accomplishment of his purposes.
If you do not take a course to treasure up truth, you never will be prophets and prophetesses; for it is in treasuring up truth, and life, and light. If these principles be in you, and they abound, you will be like a well of water springing up into everlasting life. It will be everlasting, do you not see, if it springs up; and that will bring us back to the fountain of life, from whence springs life and light. Do you not see it spring from God. It emanates from him; and if it is in us and abounds, it will be in us as a well of water springing up into everlasting life, from whence it sprang.
Well, here are a few ideas before you,--something I had not thought of before I got up. Well, I am called and ordained to be a teacher and to instruct; but if you do not receive my instructions and the principles of truth that emanate from me, then you are not profited; for the Lord says, "If a man offers you a gift, and you do not receive that gift with gladness and joy, then, of course, the man that offers the gift is not blessed; but if the receiver receives it with joy, then the man that gives the gift has joy in giving it. Do you not see it? Well, upon the same principle, if God confers gifts, and blessings, and promises, and glories, and immortality, and eternal lives, and you receive them and treasure them up, then our Father and our God has joy in that man. Do you understand me? I do not know whether you get my idea or not; but, to save my head, I cannot talk any plainer. You know I am called simple. Well, I wish I was simpler and could convey things with greater simplicity that I do. Why? Because I have not a spirit within me to wish to talk one word to you except good sense, and light, and information, and instruction to the child that sits before me to-day. Do you not see God is not pleased with any man except those that receive the gifts, and treasure them up, and practise upon those gifts? And he gives those gifts, and confers them upon you, and will have us to practise upon them. Now, these principles to me are plain and simple.
Do you suppose that God in person called upon Joseph Smith, our Prophet? God called upon him; but God did not come himself and call, but he sent Peter to do it. Do you not see? He sent Peter and sent Moroni to Joseph, and told him that he had got the plates. Did God come himself? No: he sent Moroni and told him there was a record, and says he, "That record is matter that pertains to the Lamanites, and it tells when their fathers came out of Jerusalem, and how they came, and all about it; and, says he, "If you will do as I tell you, I will confer a gift upon you." Well, he conferred it upon him, because Joseph said he would do as he told him. "I want you to go to work and take the Urim and Thummin, and translate this book, and have it published, that this nation may read it." Do you not see, by Joseph receiving the gift that was conferred upon him, you and I have that record?
Well, when this took place, Peter came along to him and gave power and authority, and, says he, "You go and baptise Oliver Cowdery, and then ordain him a Priest." He did it, and do you not see his works were in exercise? Then Oliver, having authority, baptised Joseph and ordained him a Priest. Do you not see the works, how they manifest themselves?
Well, then Peter comes along. Why did not God come? He sent Peter, do you not see? Why did he not come along? Because he has agents to attend to his business, and he sits upon his throne and is established at head-quarters, and tells this man, "Go and do this;" and it is behind the vail just as it is here. You have got to learn that.
Peter comes along with James and John and ordains Joseph to be an Apostle, and then Joseph ordains Oliver, and David Whitmer, and Martin Harris; and then they were ordered to select twelve more and ordain them. It was done. Do you not see works were manifest? They received the truth, and thus you and I are here today; and if it had not been for the practice, you and I would not have been here, would we?
Well, practice makes perfect: it makes perfect men and perfect Apostles, and Prophets, and Elders, and Teachers, and Deacons; and how can you be perfect without it? It is by our practice and living up to our profession that we increase and grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth.
There are a great many things, probably, that are taught you from this stand--that is, from individuals. They are taught to you; and you, probably, have not got faith and confidence in them. Well, now, I do not care whether you have or not: if you will go and do as you are told, you shall have a knowledge, although you had not a particle of faith when you began. That is curious religion; but there is no knowledge on any other principle, only by obedience.
Some time ago I brought up a figure. Say I, John, Timothy, Jack, Peter--I do not care who they are--you go up above the arsenal and dig a well, and dig ten or twelve feet, and you shall find a good spring of water. "Well," says brother John, I have no confidence in that, that there can be water got there, neither have I any confidence in you as an Apostle." Say I, I do not care whether you have or not: go and do as I tell you, and you shall be paid for it. You go and dig a well, and dig twelve feet, and find a good spring of water. Now, do you not get the knowledge of that water without a particle of faith or confidence? It is in the works.
Some say, "What is the use of my doing this, or that, or the other thing? I have no faith in it." I do not care a dime for your faith. They produce the knowledge; and then, do you not see, knowledge swallows up faith before you ever had it?
Did you ever know anything to swallow a thing when it was not? Yes, the Methodists' God has neither body, parts, nor passions; and yet they have swallowed him.
Well, now, this is a kind of curious doctrine, but it is true doctrine; for I never knew much faith in exercise in a man, except that man had good works, by going and doing as the servants of Gad say, to produce faith and knowledge.
Now, I will ask you a question--a scriptural question. I do not know where it is. It is in the Bible. I cannot refer to chapter and verse. I want to refer you to the case of Naaman, the Assyrian, who was smitten with leprosy. How much faith had he? He had not a particle; but his servant, who had faith, prevailed upon him to go down to Jordan. When the Prophet spoke to him and told him to go and dip himself seven times, and he should become whole, he had not a particle of confidence in it. He went down with his riches to buy health, but he could not buy it: he had to do as the Prophet told him. He went down and dipped himself seven times and was healed. Do you not believe, then, he knew things? Said he, "I know now they are the men of God. I know now that God lives, and their words are true; for I did as they told me, but I had not any confidence in them, and I was healed."
Does not that agree with me? I merely bring that up that you may not find fault with my doctrine. Do you not see that is the principle that we must be actuated by? I care not whether you have any faith or not: you go and do as you are told to do, and that produces knowledge; and how long will it be before we shall be presented into the presence of Jesus Christ, the Son of God? It will not be but a little while. Now, there are a great many people, even to this day, with all the reformation that has been in our midst, who make a practice of telling lies. It is impossible for them to tell a story, except they put into the interstices of that story lies of their own manufacturing. Do you not see that destroys? They make a practice of it. They cannot transact business except they must lie a little. How long, do you suppose, it will take that man to get to heaven and to enter into celestial glory, where lies or anything that is impure cannot exist? It will take him as many millions of years as there will be millions of years to come.
Perhaps some people may think that if we do lie and are dishonest, and so forth and so on, when we die, the death that comes upon us and the change that comes upon us will change and take away those lies, and we shall find ourselves basking in truth. So such thing. I may tell a lie to you--I may be dishonest to my neighbours and ungodly, then I may get up and go out of doors; and I want to know what better am I when I go through that door than I was this side of it? Has it changed my nature? No--not one particle.
I will refer to brother Morley's words. He says, "The mind makes the man." That is true. What is the mind? It is that character that was made and fashioned after the image of God before these bodies were made,--that is, our spirits. What is the mind? It is the spirit that was made before this body. Do you know it? Well, now let me tell you, it is that spirit that makes the man. I care not how humble he is--if his nose is three feet long and all his body was disfigured--I will tell you, if there is a good spirit in that man, and that spirit cultivates wholesome doctrine and lives to God, you love him. It is the spirit that is in the man that makes the man, which is the mind that you were speaking of, father Morley. You meant so, did you not, father Morley? ["Yes."] Well, you did.
Well, our change from this state of existence does not change our character. The character must be made and formed before it goes through the vail, if he is going to continue with the servants of God, the Prophets.
Now, brethren, you have got a spirit in you, and that spirit was created and organized--was born and begotten by our Father and our God before we ever took these bodies; and these bodies were formed by him, and through him, and of him, just as much as the spirit was; for I will tell you, he commenced and brought forth spirits; and then, when he completed that work, he commenced and brought forth tabernacles for those spirits to dwell in. I came through him, both spirit and body. God made the elements that they are made of, just as much as he made anything. Tell me the first thing that is made on earth that God did not organize and place here in this world. Not a thing.
Well, it is the mind or spirit that is in the man that makes the man. Was that spirit a wicked spirit when it was organized and brought into existence? No--no more than our little children are sinners. But we have been led--that is perverted, or rather led away from these true principles--led into evil principles by others. Well, then, of course, we are not exactly as we were when we were organized. No; we have taken other men's books and reasonings, and fell into other principles--led away from nature,--some say, "nature's darkness." I do not know anything about such a thing as nature's darkness. If we were as we were in our first creation, we should be as innocent as little children, every one of us. Perhaps you do not see these things as I do; but I have not any notion of my own to communicate unto you.
You see I am the simplest fellow there is. I wish to God I was more simple than I am: I should be nearer to what I was in nature. I do not know how to use what they call big words. I never studies them. I have no taste particularly for them; and if I had, I should not know where to put them, and should be very apt to stick the head to the feet, and the feet to the head. I do not know where to apply them. Well, what are they? You may ask brother Taylor, and he will tell you they are conflabberation of all languages. Conflabberation! Well, that's a good word, is it not? That is, they are French, English, Irish, Dutch, Hebrew, and Latin, and they are all kinds of words; and there are not many of them that have good sense. Well, they are a mixture; every language is a mixture. I have not studied them.
Do you want to blame me? Cannot you understand me in my simple way of communicating to you? After all my simplicity and simple words, and trying to simplify my words to the capacity of the people, there are lots of you who do not understand the words I use--the words I was taught from my youth in my simplicity.
Well now, brethren, I tell you I have said what I have said; and my God grant that it may inspire your hearts--that it may exalt your minds--that you may treasure up these truths, as far as they are truths; and I know nothing to the contrary but what they are truths; and if you do, or anybody else, I would be pleased to be corrected,--that is \, to have the real thing presented instead of them. Is it to my injury, because I did not happen to get it, and somebody steps forward and puts it there? Does it injure me? No: it communicates to me that I had not got,--that is, a truth; and truth is life, and life is light. Do you not see what I get by it?
In regard to our situation and circumstances in these valleys, brethren, WAKE UP! WAKE UP, YE ELDERS OF ISRAEL, AND LIVE TO GOD and non else; and learn to do as you are told, both old and young: learn to do as you are told for the future. And when you are taking a position, if you do not know that you are right, do not take it--I mean independently. But if you are told by your leader to do a thing, do it. None of your business whether it is right or wrong. You will get water, if you dig away. That is rather presumptuous doctrine with some people; but with me it is not.
I have heard men teach in this stand that I was under no obligation to do anything, except I had a revelation. I do not believe the doctrine at all. I don't care who preached it. I am not the leader--I am not the Prophet, nor the chief Apostle. I do not hold the keys independently. I have no keys, only what I hold in brother Brigham; and then brother Brigham has the word of God: he must do thus and so. He comes to me and says, "Brother Heber, I want you to do thus and so." Wait till I go home, get into my private room, and ask God that I may get a revelation! Aint that pretty, brother Taylor? Well, I will not talk just as I think. If I did, I would knock this pulpit head over heels, when I think of such folly. Go and get a revelation, when God has spoken through my head!--and then the tail goes off, and gets down on his knees to get a revelation, when the head has got one!
Now, I have heard that doctrine preached here, that they must have a revelation before they are bound to receive that word and go and practise it, just as it would have been with those men I employed to go and dig that well by the arsenal. "Wait, sir." I will not wait a minute. Go along, or I will employ men that will do it. "I am going to get a revelation to know if there is water there." They do not know that by believing on any man's testimony they increase in knowledge, wisdom, and the power of God. They forget that. Do you not see that I can learn more to be led than I can to lead, if I have the right man to lead me? Brother Brigham is my leader: he is my Prophet, my Seer, and my Revelator; and whatever he says, that is for me to do; and it is not for me to question hi one word, nor to question God a minute. Do you not see?
I will tell you what it is right for me to do. If there is time, (and if there is not, it is not necessary,) go along and bow down before the Lord God. Say I, "Father, help me to be faithful and do the words of Brother Brigham, my leader, that I may see glory in it, and that I may see immortality and eternal lives in it."
I am teaching you, Elders. Now, if I am not right, I am wrong. I leave it to you to judge whether I am right or wrong. It is curious for me to talk, but it is not for me to question his words any more that it was Naaman, the Assyrian. Said he, "What better are the waters of Jordan? Why are not the rivers of Damascus and the water round Jerusalem just as good? Why is there not as much virtue in them as there is in Jordan? Why, there is; but the virtue is in the man of God telling him what to do. There was virtue in doing what the servant of God told him to do. If he had told him to have gone and got into a mud hole, it would have had the same effect as that water. It is in the words of the man of God, and God lets his angels go along wherever he goes, and the angel of God goes along and touches the man with the touch of his finger, and says, "Be thou made whole!" Why? "Because the servant of God says so, and I have come here to help to fulfil it." Either side of the vail they are active to see that your words are fulfilled. If they are not, they are not with us, nor we with them.
What difference does the vail make? None at all. To us there is a vail, but to them there is no vail. They can see through the side of a house as well as through the air. I know that by experience. "Well, now," some one says, "What good does it do for two or three thousand men to be in the mountains? Why, I don't know that it is any of our business. It says, "Uncle Sam cannot come. We are ready; we are on the spot." Well, what else? It gives those men an experience that they cannot have on any other principle. They are getting an experience--of what? To cultivate them for something greater, which will come next year; and if it does not come then, it will come some time. I do not say it will come next year. You never heard me say it would; but you and I want to live our religion and do as we are told, not questioning a word for a moment. You have got to stop that. It is enough for others to do that, without our meddling with those things. I am speaking to the Elders of Israel.
Well, these things are all right. You learn to do as you are told; and those that have not been baptised into the Church, I say, Go and be baptised, and put on Christ by baptism, that you may receive the Holy Ghost and be one with us: that is all I have got to say to you.
Bless your souls, I pray my Father to bless brother Brigham, with his Counsellors, that they may be one; to bless the twelve, that they may be one with us; to bless the Seventies, that they may be one with the Twelve, and the High Priests one with the Seventies, and the Elders one with the High Priests, and the Priests one with the Elders, &c.; that we may all be one and partake of the same Spirit, and same power, and same Holy Ghost, and same religion. That is my exhortation to you: I cannot preach any other.
If that takes place, I want to know what any power has to do with us? As we relax our power and live our religion--do you not see, as we relax, that the Devil will gain power upon us? Suppose, now, I was to take a rough-and-tumble with a man and wrestle with him: I wrestle a spell pretty valiantly, and almost gain power over my antagonist; I have almost gained power over him, and I begin to slack up to get a little breath: do you not see that that antagonist is bound to put me down if I slack up? Well, if you slack up your religion, living faithfully, praying, exhorting, and living to God, do you not see our antagonist is gaining power over us? But let me tell you, gentlemen, we will take it just as God dictates; and if he says rough-and-tumble, let us take it rough-and-tumble, and pitch them headlong where they belong.
Well, now if you will do just as you are gold, you will increase in knowledge ten thousand times faster than you will be pray six hours; and if you follow that course, you will not advance in your religion one-hundredth part so much as that man that will do just as he is told, no matter what.
If you are told to watch, watch. Can you pray when you are watching? I do: I pray all the time. Well, live your religion--that is not <your> religion, but the religion of Jesus Christ, and serve your God. Cease all your contentions. Are there not contentions enough in the world? Are there not contentions enough with that army and with the devils in hell, without there being any with us? These things should subside: they should take an avalanche, like the snow. You know the snow will take a slide down the sides of the mountains. They call that an avalanche. I should call it ia hell of a full of a fuss,--that is, it is a convulsion. Well, excuse me for that language.
Well, there are those troops over yonder. They are not here, are they? Well, some of you thought they were coming here, and several ray away, supposing they were coming. Well, I am glad of that, and I wish every other one that feels so would put off. We will help them. Brother Brigham has fulfilled his word: he said if he could find any man or woman that wanted to go, he would send them to that happy place. Well, he has sent Mrs. Mogo. No doubt she will die a happy death.
This great Mr. Johnson, the Commander of those troops has come, I suppose. Brother Groesbeck has come in with his company from the States. God gave him wisdom, and he is here, and he escaped those troops. Mr. Johnson says he is going to obey the President's orders, and says he will come in; but by the time he goes up and down Ham's Fork a few times, it will take away his strength. If you do not believe it, try some other Ham's Fork. I had as lieve sit on a bayonet as a fork. He has had a fever all the way, and will have a chill when he has lost his strength. He will have an all-killing chill. He will not come here. We have told you all the time they will not come. But he may attempt to come, and then he may not. That is just as God has a mind to.
I feel the Lord designs the thing should move along and no blood be shed, because I do not consider God is so anxious that we should be blood-thirsty men as some may be. God designs we should be pure men, holding the oracles of God in holy and pure vessels; but when it is necessary that blood should be shed, we should be as ready to do that as to eat an apple. That is my religion, and I feel that our platter is pretty near clean of some things, and we calculate to keep it clean from this time henceforth and for ever, and, as the Scripture reads, "Lay judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet." We shall do that thing, and we shall commence in the mountains. We shall clean the platter of all such scoundrels; and if men and women will not live their religion, but take a course to pervert the hearts of the righteous, we will "lay judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet," and we will let you know that the earth can swallow you up, as it did Korah with his host; and as brother Taylor says, you may dig your graves, and we will slay you, and you may crawl into them.
I do not mean you, if you are not here. I mean those corrupt scoundrels. Well, this is just as brother Brigham has said here hundreds of times.
If those troops could have come in here, let me tell you, all the finest and smartest devils would have entered into the smartest bodies and come here to overturn us. You will not catch a mean, low, inferior, stupid devil in a smart man. I will tell you the Devil has his smart men. Says he, "You get into a smart body." Smart spirits do not get into inferior bodies. Would you? No. Well, then, do you suppose they would do what we could not do under the same circumstances?
Was not Lucifer a pretty smart lad? Just look at it--son of the morning--when all heaven wept when he fell. He was a smart man. It takes a smart men--that is, one who thinks he is, to act the devil. Well, I merely speak of these things.
Well, they would come from Dan to Beersheba, and from California to France,--that is, wicked and abominable spirits would have come into this valley when those troops came, do you not see? The blacklegs, and highway robbers, and whoremongers, and whores would have gathered into this place, if those troops could have come into this place to have slain our leaders. Let me die an honourable man living my religion rather than to bow down to their cursed yoke again, as the Lord God liveth. They have made us stiffen our upper lip, and now we have got to keep it stiff--I mean the upper lip; and if you grow as you ought, five years will not pass away before your lips will be five times as thick as they are now. Joseph had a high lip, and he was a beautiful men--one of the most lovely men I ever saw, especially when the Spirit of God was in him; and his countenance was as white as the whitest thing you ever saw.
Let all these domestic broils and family difficulties cease, ye Elders of Israel; and if you have got things that will not sleep and will not rest, live your religion, and I would take my johnny-cake and go into the mountains and spend my days defending the house of Israel, before I would stay at home and quarrel one moment. Is it not better for you? Well, now stop these little broils at home in your families: that is the end of all trouble with us; and God will bless us and will bless the earth, and the air, and the elements, and we shall be blessed with fruits and grain, and with every other thing that our hearts can desire.
Is there anything that we ever saw of thought of but what is in the elements, the air we breathe, and the earth we walk on?--and blessing be to God that I live on an earth that lives. Well, that is a curious idea. I heard a Methodist preacher preach that once at Miller's Corners, in Bloomfield, Ontario County, New York, and thought it was a curious idea. Well, it is truth.
Now, I will prove this to you, if any of you doubt it, by true philosophy--by natural philosophy. Do you believe that a dead woman can conceive from a live man and bring forth a live child? Do you believe it, any of you mothers? Do you believe it, any of you fathers? No, you know better. Well, if a woman will not produce when she is dead, then the earth cannot produce living things if it was dead.
Does the earth conceive? It does, and it brings forth. If it did not, why do you go and put your wheat into the ground? Does it not conceive it? But it does not conceive except you put it there. It conceives and brings forth, and you and I live, both for food and for clothing, silks and satins. What! satin grow!? Yes. What produces it? The silkworm produces it. Does the silkworm produce except it conceives? No, it eats of the mulberry tree. Where does the mulberry tree come from? It comes from the earth. Where did the earth come from? From its parent earths.
Well, some of you may call that foolish philosophy. But if it is, I will throw out foolish things, that you may gather up wise things. The earth is alive. If it was not, it could not produce. If you find a piece of earth that is dead, you cannot produce anything from it, except you resurrect it and restore it to life. If that is not true philosophy, it is nothing that I have produced. It is what every man knows, if he can only reflect. But I thought it was curious doctrine when that Methodist spoke of it.
How could my head produce hair, if it was dead? Neither can the earth produce grain, if it is dead. Now, brethren, do you not see the propriety of our blessing the earth--the earth that we inhabit and cultivate? If you do not see the propriety of it, for heaven's sake do not bless the sacrament again. Do not take a bottle of oil to the prayer-circle to be blessed, when you do not believe the earth can be blessed.
If you have got half-an-acre, you can bless it, and dedicate it, and consecrate it to God, and ask him to fill it with life. Well, then, if you can bless half-an-acre, why can you not bless a whole acre? And if you can bless an acre, why can you not bless all this Territory? Just reflect for a moment. If you can bless a gill of oil, then you can bless a pint. When you bless a pint, you can bless a quart, and so on until you can bless a bottle of oil as big as this valley.
Bless God! Yes, I bless my Father and my God pertaining to this earth; I bless his Son; I bless everything in heaven and on earth. Now, you may call that improper, when you do it, all of you, indirectly. Bless my Father! Suppose I had an earthly father here, and he had received the Gospel and was a Patriarch, I would bless him and put all the blessings of him that I had power and strength; that is, I would put all I had on to him; then I could get it back; then I could bless his father, and his father his father, and the blessings I would put on my father would go clear back until it came to the Father and God from whence it came, and then it comes down to us again, just as the sap and nourishment in the three: if it does not go into the root, it never would go into the top; and every limb and branch pertaining to that tree has to give up a portion of the nourishment they receive, and then we are all impregnated with the roots.
Well, I am talking these things as plain as I can. Perhaps some of you do treasure them up. Be we live on an earth that lives: if we do not, we cannot produce nor get produced from it. You never will get peaches if you do not plant and let the earth conceive; but if the earth conceives, and you nourish it, you are bound to have peaches, and apples, and currants, and plums. If you cultivate and partake of the elements that God has made, you will have houses, and barns, and granaries, and everything else. God has made it. All we have to do is to take it from the earth. But you say it is all dead, do you? Oh folly! There is nothing that is dead that lives, nor shall we ever die temporally nor spiritually; for that tabernacle that I live in is life; and when it goes back to the earth, it goes back into a living creature. For what purpose? To become analyzed, and cleansed, and purified, that I may receive it again, more glorious than this body. How can I obtain it? On no other principle only to do just as I am told. You have got to learn that lesson. I have got to learn it; and if I have got to learn it, I can prove that you have got to do as I do.
You are very exact in military tactics. Here is Squire Wells, and he is under the direction of our Governor; and then every other officer in his turn must be dictated and governed as he is dictated. Does Squire Wells run to every man? No: he gives his order to the officer next to him, and so on till it goes down to the fourth corporal. See how accurate you have to be in that discipline. Should not you be more so in the kingdom of your God?--and if you do not, you are not making progress.
Why are you not wide awake? Cultivate, make, take, and increase, and bring forth those things that you need. You do not believe the gate is going to be shut down, do you? Mr. Johnson says there shall not an article or a train come in, except the Governor lets him come in. The Governor will not, except he grounds arms; and if he will ground arms, he will ground arms; and if he no ground arms, then he no ground arms, and he cannot come here. Gentlemen, your leaders all say he cannot come here. Why, if he want to come here himself, with a few of his council,--if they really want to come to see the Governor, they have the privilege; but they would have to ground arms. I am not going to take that word back. They have got to ground arms from this time henceforth. But we have shouldered arms, and it is present arms; and do you not see that the next thing is to take aim?
Joseph, when he was in Nauvoo, on the house top, drew his sword from the sheath and said it never should be sheathed again. Brother Brigham has said the same, and brother Heber will back him in it, and so will every officer in the kingdom of God. What say you, brethren, will we go it? If so, raise your right hands and say Aye.
[One loud "AYE" rang through the congregation.]
We are not going to bow down to the wicked any more. I had rather die as I am and fight my way than ever to go into their hands again. They probably, if they had had only sense enough, might have caused us to bow down our heads and got the bow on Old Bright's neck. They will not pay the debts contracted by their own officers. They send the most damnable and contemptible scoundrels that they could to rule over us, and they abused us all the time, and God wanted they should. If they had not, perhaps we should have bowed down and got the yoke on our neck. Now, perhaps, they will try to draw back and say, "Let us give them a State Government and a few hundred thousand dollars, and see if we cannot pet them." When you see a thing of that sort, look out for the Devil: he will be behind that curtain. When I see anything of that kind, I am suspicious.
We shall prescribe a course for the United States to take after this. Well, you do not believe that, do you? Do as you are told, and see if it does not come to pass. You cannot tell whether I am a true man, unless you listen to me.
Well, these are my feelings. God bless you, brethren; God bless you, sisters; God bless this earth, and these valleys, and every honest person that comes into these valleys! If their soldiers desert and come in here, may the Lord God bless them, that they may have the Spirit of God on them while they stay here! We live to let live, and we will treat them with kindness and gentility, if they stay here and behave themselves. But they cannot whore it here; for gentlemen, if there is anything of that kind, we will slay both men and women. We will do it, as the Lord liveth--we will slay such characters. Now, which would be the most worthy to be slain--the women that had had her endowments and made certain covenants before God, or the man that knew nothing about it? The woman, of course. She must be guilty according to her knowledge. These little officers that were brought up as pets at West Point boasted all the way what they were going to do with our leaders: they were going to take our Governor and hang him, and take his wives and use them at their leisure; and they were going to serve Heber in the same way, and all others that lifted their tongues against our enemies. They have not yet done it, have they?
Well, these are my feelings. They are out there: they have been sitting on Ham's Fork so long, it has begun to ulcerate, as that nasty fop, Douglas, uses the term,--that little nasty snot-nose: you cannot call him anything half so mean as he is--the nastiest of all nasties that God could suffer on the earth. We have been a friend to him and everybody else, and we have no done any harm. We mind our own business. We came to this land because we were just obliged to do so; and I have been broken up and driven five times; but, as the Lord God liveth, I do not go again, nor any other man or women that will live their religion. Let us do right, as a people, and we never will go from this place until we please and God pleases to have us.
We were brought here for a purpose to secure us, and for us to stand to our rights and privileges as citizens of the United States, and claim protection. What are they coming up here for? To kill your leaders; and when they kill us they will kill every man and woman that will sustain those men. Well, they are not here--God be praised! Hallelujah! Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and goodwill to all good men! My soul says Hallelujah! Praise the Lord, my soul, and give glory to him, and let all Israel say Amen!
[The assembly responded, "Amen."]
Am I not happy? These are the people of God. They shall live and they shall prosper, and everything that is attached to the righteous shall be righteous and grow righteous. Yea, I bless the earth and everything that is on this earth; but I feel, in the name and by the authority of Jesus Christ and my calling, to curse that man that lifts his heel against my God and his cause and kingdom; and the curse of God shall be upon him: the angels of God shall chase him, and he shall have no peace. The President of the United States and his coadjutors that have caused this thing shall never rest again, for they shall go to hell.
Brother Morley says he has no right to teach. I am blessing them with the power that is on your head. Why do you not do it? That is the blessing of a Patriarch, to bless the house of Israel. I bless you as a people--not only this people here today, but I bless all that are in the east, west, north, or south. God bless our head and every member that is attached to it! Bless the house of Israel, with the head of the vine, and with every wine and every branch that pertains to it, with every particle of fruit, that it may be choice in the house of God in these mountains! Amen.
SOURCE OF TRUE HAPPINESS--PRAYER, ETC.
A Sermon by President Brigham Young, delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, November 15, 1857. Reported by G. D. Watt
I am happy for the privilege of standing before the Saints. It is a great pleasure to me to associate with those whose feelings are concentrated in the establishment of peace and righteousness upon the earth.
Before I heard the Gospel as again revealed in its purity through Joseph the Prophet, I was tolerably well acquainted with the spirit, disposition, tact, and talents possessed by the children of men; and though I was then but about thirty years of age, I had seen and heard enough to make me well acquainted with the people in their acts and dealings one towards another, the result of which was to make me sick, tired, and disgusted with the world; and had it been possible, I would have withdrawn from all people, except a few, who, like myself, would leave the vain, foolish, wicked, and unsatisfying customs and practices of the world. Sorrow, wretchedness, death, misery, disappointment, anguish, pain of heart, and crushed spirits prevail over the earth; and apparently, the whole of the intelligence of mankind is directed in a way to produce cruel and unnatural results.
Since I have been in this Church and kingdom, I have endeavoured to learn and treasure up wisdom and good understanding, and then not to forget them. I have endeavoured to gather to myself every principle that would promote righteousness in me and those who would hearken to my counsel.
Read the history of any kingdom or nation, and trace through all the channels from the history of nations and kingdoms to that of families and individuals who have not known God nor observed his commandments, and you will find that sorrow and disappointment have been intimately mingled in all the gaiety, luxuries, and pretended enjoyments of their mortal lives. They have found a bitter sting in their happiest moments and a deadly poison in their cups. There is no man or woman on the earth who can enjoy solid satisfaction--unalloyed peace and comfort, but in the holy spirit of our religion--in the Gospel of salvation: that is the only source of true happiness. Read the history of those who can command the wealth of the world to minister to their happiness, and they find it not in authority, station, nor wealth. From the monarch upon his throne to the most degraded beggar upon the streets, all who enjoy not the Gospel are destitute of the source of true happiness. It is not to be found among them.
When the portals of heaven are opened and the Priesthood of God is given, he so blesses the people that they can truly understand the principles that tend to peace, to glory, immortality, and eternal lives. That and that alone can give true satisfaction to our spirits, which are organized to receive and continue to increase in principles of light, intelligence, power, and glory,--organized to be preserved to eternally associate together--to have the privilege of beholding each other's faces--of enjoying each other's society and the society of holy beings who have been tried as we have and have to be, and to enjoy, love, converse with, and look upon the faces of those beings who have been glorified throughout all ages that are countless to us. Their identity has been preserved, and they enjoy the smiles of their friends and associate with their companions who have in a mortal state passed through the same ordeals they endured while in this existence. Fathers and mothers associate with their children, children with their parents, brothers with sisters, and sisters with their brothers--all in their family circles dwelling in the midst of the glorified. What else can satisfy a truly intelligent human being--the immortal spirit that is tabernacled in a mortal tenement? Nothing.
What would induce an intelligent individual to suffer his eyes to be put out and to live without seeing objects around him--the faces of his family, friends, and connections? Would money? What would hire an intelligent person to be deprived of the sense of hearing? Could money buy his hearing? What would hire you to suffer the destruction of the organ of speech, or to be deprived of any of the more important members of your organization? The things of this world could not induce you to suffer the destruction of any of the vital powers of your organization; yet the world are seeking after the paltry, perishable things of time and sense. They are their glory--their pretended comfort--their god, and their daily study and pursuit. But the members which God has placed in our tabernacles are worth all the world to us. We have the power of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and feeling, enabling us to converse and associate with each other; and money cannot buy these blessings from us.
Stop then, and consider what use you will make of these powers. Will you go wild after the things of this world, as do the majority of the inhabitants of the earth, with whose ways you are well acquainted? How long will they endure? Their breath is in their nostrils; to-day they are--to-morrow they are not. What prospects have they for futurity? Have they any promise? Yes. What is it? Death. Have they the promise of life eternal? They have, upon certain conditions; but they are no more about those conditions that did certain characters that Paul wrote about: they are even like the dumb beasts that are entirely ignorant of futurity. Fatten an ox and lead him to the slaughter, and he knows nothing of what awaits him. So it is with the great majority of the inhabitants of the earth: they have no knowledge of their future condition; they merely know that death will terminate their present career. We are blessed with the words of eternal life, with the everlasting Priesthood, and the keys thereof, with principles that, if rightly acted upon, will secure to us those blessings we now enjoy, and which you hear the brethren often speak about.
I am happy; I am fully of joy, comfort, and peace: all within me is light, for I desire nothing but to do the will of my Father in Heaven. I delight not in unrighteousness, but in righteousness and truth. I seek to promote the good and happiness of myself and those with whom I am associated. We have the privilege of securing to ourselves that eternal bliss that can never fade away, and of preserving our identity, that, when millions of ages have rolled away, we can then behold each other as we do today, and can converse together. One thousand years hence, probably many of this congregation will talk over difficulties we are now passing through.
You hear some of the brethren surmise that we are going to have trouble. You need not expect any trouble, except you take a course to bring it upon you. You need never expect to see sorrow, unless your own conduct, conversation, and acts bring it to your hearts. Do you not know that sorrow to you can exist only in your own hearts? Though men or women were in the mountains perishing--though they be in overwhelming depths of snow, freezing to death, or be on a desolate island starving to death for want of food,--though they perish by the sword or in any other way, yet, if the heart is cheerful, all is light and glory within: there is no sorrow within them. You never saw a true Saint in the world that had sorrow, neither can you find one. If persons are destitute of the fountain of living water, or the principles of eternal life, then they are sorrowful. If the words of life dwell within us, and we have the hope of eternal life and glory, and let that spark within us kindle to a flame, to the consuming of the least and last remains of selfishness, we never can walk in darkness and are strangers to doubt and fear. Yet we see people among us who are still selfish, and that principle we must abandon: we must strip off selfishness, and put covetousness far from us. We must become of one heart and mind, in order to fully enjoy the blessings we anticipate.
Brother Phineas correctly observed, in his remarks, that if ten men are united in these mountains, they are not to be overcome by their enemies. Are this whole people perfectly united? I fear not. When I undertake to present before this people the true principles of the Priesthood, I almost shudder, because so many do not yet understand them and cannot receive them. I go into my room where we have our prayer-circle, and among twelve men there will perhaps be twelve different prayers offered up--one praying for one thing and another for another thing. You may reduce the number to three, and let them be clothed for secret prayer; and while one is praying aloud, each of the others will be praying for that which the one that is mouth is not praying for, unless they are better taught in regard to prayer than is the Christian world. Ask the people if they understand the principle of prayer, and many reply, "We do not know: we pray with all our might;" and at the same time it is a scene of confusion and distraction of mind.
We are in a land of liberty; and our fathers have taught us--especially those born in America, that every man and woman and every child old enough to speak, argue, read, reflect, &c., must have minds of their own, and not listen to anybody else. They are taught to shape their own opinions, and not depend upon others to direct their thoughts, words, or actions. That system of teaching reminds me of the old saying, "Every man for himself, and the Devil for them all." Such views, though entertained by the human family at large, must be checked in this people. Yet when I undertake to strip off the garb of erroneous tradition, and to teach the people true principles of faith, prayer, and obedience, there are many who cannot receive those principles in their understanding and hearts. I have told you, and will now tell you again, that you have to bring your minds right to the authority of the Gospel--to the true Gospel line. Let an Elder pray here, and then ask a brother in the congregation what has been prayed for, and he cannot tell you. Ask a sister what has been prayed for and she cannot tell you. She may say, "I was so fervent in prayer myself that I did not hear what was prayed for." And so it is with hundreds of people who congregate here. And I think that I may venture to say that you will scarcely find an individual in the whole congregation that can tell what the person who prays has prayed for. Do you not know that to be a fact? I will appeal to your own minds.
When a man opens or closes a meeting with prayer, every man, woman, and child in the congregation who professes to be a Saint should have no desire or words in their hearts and mouths but what are being offered by the man who is mouth for all the congregation. If all would follow out that principle, where would it lead the people? They would act with one heart and mind in all their acts through life, and promote the kingdom of God on the earth.
How many times I have attended prayer-meetings among the Methodists, in my youthful days, when perhaps one hundred men and women would all be praying aloud at once? I did not then know but that it was all right. I neither said nor cared anything about it. It often used to be father Joseph Smith's custom, when he took the lead of a fast-meeting, to request all present to pray aloud at the same time, and there would be as many different prayers as there were persons. Where was the concentration on a single and united thread of faith? It is like the cable that holds the ship. Unwind a cable, and you will find several hundred small cords; unwind the small cords, and you will find fourteen strands in each cord; unwind each strand, and there are thousands of fibres; and you have parted the cable of a ship fasted to a sure anchor, and the ship is free and wafting unmanageable before the furious tempest. So it is with prayer. You say you want to be united and want the blessings of heaven.
How many times have I said here, within the last three months, I pray that God would so lead us and our enemies that there will be no blood shed? And how many have come to meeting and prayed in their hearts that "our enemies would come on, for we want to slay them, for we have been mobbed and hunted enough;" and another would pray the same prayer, with a disposition to desire the spoil. One of the brethren prayed in camp that the snow might fall 40 feet deep on our enemies. I am satisfied if it falls only four or five feet deep.
I will tell you my faith in regard to the brethren now in the mountains. General Wells takes the charge; and when I write to him, I counsel him to do as the Holy Ghost shall dictate him, and inform him that whatever he may order and perform, he has my faith and influence to sustain him.
I pray God to turn away our enemies, to put hooks in their jaws and turn them wherever he will, with their gold, their horses, and all they possess. They do not know the "Mormons;" they are strangers to this people, and are full of wrath and malice towards us; but they know not why. They know not that they are stirred to anger against us by the enemy of all righteousness. Should those who instigated the sending of this army undertake to come here, there will be another scenery, for they are more or less acquainted with us and know that we are the most upright people on the earth; and they will not be able to shield themselves in the garb if ignorance. I will not talk about them, for you know their history, and you know and have seen much of the squalid wretchedness of the wicked inhabitants of the earth. Is there honour or virtue among them? Where is the man or woman among them that is to be trusted? If there is here and there any semblance of goodness or virtue, it is at once overcome by every fiendish art in their power. Women are overcome by sycophants, by those who rule the nation, and those who have power and influence in the various States, parties, and religious sects. Man is overcome by man; they cuddle, and wink, and gamble, and run to-and-fro in abominations of every grade, and lift their voices for and against each other, as did the Paddy in his petition to the king for an office, wherein he stated that he would vote for or against him, fight for him or fight him, just as he wished it.
Colonel Alexander--probably one of the best men in the army now near Bridger ruins, told one of our messengers, when replying to a piece of advice I had given him to resign his commission rather than be found operating against an innocent people, that he was compelled to remain in the army; for, if he resigned, he knew not how to manage to sustain his family. He said, "I have no other means of support: I cannot throw up my commission, for then I should have no means to support my wife and children." As an American, shame and confusion would overwhelm me, were I to even think of trying to sustain my family by siding with tyranny and oppression. That is the only circumstance I wish to name. They are sent ostensibly to civilize this people. But I do not wish to talk much about such nonsense. The whole world are wrapt up in the garment of corruption, confusion, and destruction; and they are fast making their way down to hell, while we have the words of eternal life.
How ought we to live? Look at yourselves and see whether your faith is concentrated with those who are appointed of the Lord to lead you and have rule over you. See whether all your desires are one with theirs. If not, it must come to that point. Let every Saint, when he prays, ask God for the things he needs to enable him to promote righteousness on the earth. If you do not know what to ask for, let me tell you how to pray. When you pray in secret or with your families, if you do not know anything to ask for, submit yourselves to your Father in heaven and beseech him to guide you by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and to guide this people, and dictate the affairs of his kingdom on the earth, and there leave it. Ask him to put you just where he wants you, and to tell you what he wants you to do, and feel that you are on hand to do it. These are a few of my reflections upon that point, and only a very few of them.
Let this people be brought to the straightforward thread of the Gospel; and what more have we than what has been taught us from the beginning of this work? Nothing. And the only difficulty there has been is, that we were not prepared to receive it. Do you know how to direct your own minds? Where is there an honest man or woman on the face of this earth--one who has any knowledge of the Supreme Being, any feeling of the operation of an invisible agency, but what pleads with that God, whether they know him or not, to dictate their minds, affections, and conduct? Where is there and honest man or woman on the earth, but what that is their desire?
Many do not know what to pray for. They need some one to dictate them. Will the Lord come and personally dictate them? You know that he will not. Will he send his holy angels to talk with you? You could not endure their presence: you are in a sinful world. What do you need? That invisible agency, called the spirit, to dictate your minds.
The whole world are sadly in want of what they call a master-spirit. That is what the Government of the United States are deprived of. There is not one to be found among them, neither in the Cabinet of the President nor in the Senate of the United States. They are all gone, and there is no one in their midst competent to lead and dictate in the affairs of our General Government; but, as they say, it is with them a period of mediocrity. It has been acknowledged by Great Britain that the master-spirits are fled: there are none in the British Parliament, and they know not what to do. Let this people come to that condition, and say that they have no person capable of dictating and leading them, and you will be in the whirlpool of delusion. It will be every man for himself, and you would not know to do: you would not know how to dictate your own affairs. It is this which overwhelms the world in confusion and makes it Babylon, while the Priesthood elevates mankind and dictates the husband, the wife, and the children, and all they have.
A feeling exists in the minds of many of this people that they would be glad to submit to their presiding Elder or Bishop, but they do no think that he has knowledge sufficient to lead them. Says a wife, "I would be glad to submit to my husband; but I wish I had a husband that I could look upon as my superior--that I could look up to and receive his words and counsel: that would be my highest delight. O that I had a husband capable of dictating me; but, alas! I have not." Go among some of the children, and they say, "I would be glad to mind my parents in all things, but I believe that I know more than they do."
Go into one of our cities, and you find somebody on the whiz, whiz, like the wind passing through a broken window in December; and so it goes throughout the settlement. Somebody has imagined that the President does not understand his duty and is not capable of dictating, and that is all the Devil wants to begin with. If he succeeds in getting one toe into the stocking, he will work until he get his whole foot in, and confusion and discord will reign predominant. How many times have you observed such instances? You have not lived in the Church one year without seeing them.
In such cases a presiding Elder may not always know but what he has done something wrong, and may be suspicious that this or that is not right. My maxim is, and it is a rule I have established in the Legislature of this Territory, never to oppose anything unless the one making the objection can present something better. Do not oppose when you cannot improve. If you are not capable of dictating your brethren, do not say that you will dictate them until you have found out a better path than the one in which they are walking. Before you oppose your Bishop as a man unworthy of your best feelings, first point out a better path to him; and then you shall have the right of going to the higher authorities to show that you know more than your Bishop.
Is there a fault in some of the presiding Elders? Yes. What is it? Some of them are subject to a feminine, pusillanimous feeling. A man rises up and says, "I will dictate and oppose my Bishop," and some of the Bishops will dodge, and say, "I do not know but that I am wrong: wife, am I right or wrong?"--and say to every brother they meet, "What do you think about it?" and run round and get the opinion of everybody, to know whether they will sustain him or not. When men learn their duty and calling, and walk up to the best light they have, then, if they do not know precisely how to guide to the best advantage, they are right, if they do the best they can, and can tell all who find fault, "I ask no odds of you: I have done as I have, and have done the will of God, according to the best of my knowledge." And let every man treat his wives and children in the same way; and when a wife says, "O no, my dear, I think I understand this matter as well as you do, and perhaps a little better; I am conversant with all the whys and wherefores, and am acquainted with this little circumstance better than you are, and I think in this case, me dear, that I know better than you;" reply, "Get out of my path, for I am going yonder, and you may whistle at my coat-tail until you are tired of it." That is the way I would talk to my wives and children, if they intermeddled with my duties. And I say to them, If you cannot reverence me, tell me where the man is you can reverence, and I would speedily make a bee-line with my carriage and servants and place you under his care.
I told the people in Nauvoo, before they wished me to stand as their President, that if there were any Latter-day Saints that did not wish to take the counsel of the Twelve, they could go to hell their own road: we asked no odds of them, for the Twelve were capable of building up the kingdom of God on the earth. You know whether I here ask much odds or not. I also told them that if they were not Saints at that critical juncture, they ought to repent of their sins, and get the Holy Ghost, and not live another twenty-four hours without the Spirit of revelation within themselves, for who knows but what you are the elect; and you know that false prophets were to arise in the last days, and, if possible, deceive the very elect, and that many false shepherds would come and pretend to be the true shepherds. Now, be sure to get the spirit of revelation, so that you can tell when you hear the true Shepherd's voice, and know him from a false one; for if you are the elect, it would be a great pity to have you led astray to destruction. But if you are not the elect of God through the sanctification of the Spirit of truth upon your hearts, then you can go as quickly as you please, for we do not want you.
We feel just the same now. Every man and woman that will not strive to sanctify themselves before the Lord God, and to possess within themselves the spirit of revelation to know the voice of the true Shepherd from a false one, the quicker they go out of the Territory the better it will be. Take ten men whose hearts, when they pray, are upon one sentence and upon one idea at a time, when they ask God for anything, or to bring this or that to pass, do you think that the powers of hell can hinder what they ask for? No. It is as true as the heavens--as firm as the mountains that rest upon these valleys--as sure as eternity, that nothing can fail which they agree upon; for God will grant it.
What is our difficulty? When I go to my prayer-room, among men who have been with me for years, there is too great a diversity of feeling and desires to be in accordance with the Gospel. There is too much of Babylon in that. When that is the case, and when I am praying for one thing and others for another, our faith comes in contact and we do not receive what we ask for. How many times have I said that I would rather have one hundred true Saints in the mountains than five millions that are not Saints, if I had to contend against the whole world? What, with the sword? Yes. Let me have the Gideonites that can kneel down and lap the water, and one will chase a thousand to flight. Whether the Lord will require this people to use the sword, or not, I do not know, neither do I care; but I believe that if the faith of this people were united, all hell cannot get armies in here to disturb our settlements.
How gladly I would tell the people what to pray for. But if I tell them, in ten minutes afterwards they pray for something else. It is too much so in the Quorum of the Twelve and among my Counsellors. Go into meetings, and you may hear thirty different prayers, if there are so many offered up, for everything but what I tell them to pray for. You may think I undervalue you. I do not. I tell you that if we strive with all our powers. by-and-by the time will come that we will be Saints indeed. I have not said that we are Saints. We are trying to be, and we profess to have the keys that will lead us in the path of eternal life. When we become so advanced that we are no more in darkness and doubt, nor in any way under the power of the Devil, then we have a certain victory over ourselves and over every foul spirit; the Lord God is sanctified in our hearts, and we are his servants and handmaids--his children, that can never be destroyed.
Take the congregation now before me, and they pray a thousand different prayers. To-night, mothers, wives, and little children, observe how the head of the family prays, and see if he does not pray for nearly everything but what he should pray for. Perhaps I am wrong, but I think that he will be sure not to pray for the things he ought to. He will pray that himself and family may have plenty to eat and live in peace, and probably stop at that. His prayer will be something like a certain old man's blessing at his meals: "O Lord, bless me and my wife, my son John and his wife,--us four and no more: Amen." You will hear the brethren pray, "O Lord, bless me, and my wife, and children; but the rest I care nothing about." When you pray, pray for the things that the kingdom needs, and be not so very careful about yourselves. Your selfish notions out to be out of sight. Pray God to promote his kingdom and preserve you in it, and not as I have known a tolerably good man to pray. He was so ignorant that he would cheat a widow woman out of her last cow, and then go down on his knees and thank God for his peculiar blessings to him! Do not be so abominably ignorant. Instead of thanking God that you have been able to wrong one man out of a horse, another out of a yoke of cattle, &c., pray that he will give you the disposition to make the most righteous use of the property he has entrusted to your care. Pray that this people may be preserved--that the kingdom of God may roll on--that our Elders on the islands in the Pacific, in the United States, and in foreign lands may be so blessed as to come safely home. Pray for the honest in heart, and that the ungodly may be so filled with fear and trembling that they may leave us, that we may live here as Saints, and build up the kingdom of our God, and prepare for the return of this people to the centre stake of Zion, where we can lay the foundations for a New Jerusalem. Pray for the promotion of this cause and kingdom, instead of praying that you may be able to wrong somebody out of something.
All eternity is before you, and everything you can ask for will be given to you in due time; for the heavens and the earth are the Lord's, and the fulness thereof. If I have horses, oxen, and possessions, they are the Lord's and not mine; and all I ask is for him to tell me what to do with them. A great many say that the Lord takes and gives as he pleases, and I think that if I act as the Lord does I shall do pretty well. Again, some say that the Lord is going to fight our battles, and enquire, "What is the use of our brethren being out in the mountains?" He will use his people as he pleases; and in the sequel you will find that God fought the battle, and not we.
It has also been observed that God will provide for you. Still many want to shade a little, rather than to work hard for an honest living. Such practices must be put away, and this people must become sanctified in their affections to God, and learn to deal honestly, truly, and uprightly with one another in every respect, with all the integrity that fills the heart of an angel. They must learn to feel that they can trust all they possess with their brethren and sisters, saying, "All I have I entrust to you: keep it until I call for it." The world have no confidence in each other; but that principle must prevail in the midst of this people: you must preserve your integrity to each other.
Live your religion. How much you are exhorted--how much have we pleaded with you to live your religion--to live in the light of God's countenance--to live with the Holy Spirit so reigning in you as never to be led astray, that you may know how to promote the kingdom of God on the earth. Let selfishness be out of sight, and ask the Lord to preserve you in the truth, and do with you as he pleases, and dispose of you to his glory.
May God bless you. Amen.
INJUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT TOWARDS THE SAINTS, ETC.
Remarks by Elder Orson Hyde, made in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, November 1, 1857. Reported by J. V. Long
Dear brethren and sisters,--I arise to address you for a short time this day. I shall be as brief as possible and detain you but a very short time.
The last Eastern mail, I think, brought me a pamphlet or tract written by Elder Orson Pratt, of Liverpool, England. Subject--"Gathering of the Saints and building up the kingdom of God." The whole matter is handled in a masterly way, free from blind obscurity, unchecked and unrestrained by fear, and untramelled by the religious or political dogmas of the age. It is the product of a clear head, of a strong heart, and of an unflinching hand. In short, it is <Heaven's eternal truth>. I do exceedingly regret having mislaid it, for I would like to send it to Senator Douglas, with a request that he read it faithfully before he applies the knife to < "cut out the loathsome ulcer." > Having read it, then, if he shall be disposed and able to cut, cut away and carve up to suit his own peculiar appetite and that also of his friends. Will some person having said tract or pamphlet be kind enough to mail it to Honourable Stephen A. Douglas, Washington City, D.C.?
But, let all men, however, know, that if what the honourable gentleman calls the "loathsome ulcer" be cut out according to his views and suggestions, the United States will be cut off from being a nation, and her star of empire set, and set in blood!
The "Mormons" can hardly be made to believe that the United States intend to set in good faith towards them until they hang the murderers of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and punish the murderous incendiaries that killed our men and burned our grain and houses on Green Plains, Illinois. Nor yet, until they punish Missouri and cause the wrongs of the Saints in that State to be redressed. Whenever the United States Government shall begin its work of justice, at that end of the "Mormon" question it will find it not so vexed nor yet so knotty as many complain of its being. And moreover, such a course pursued by the Government would tend to convert the "Mormons" to the belief that sincerity, good faith, and even-handed justice towards them were the paramount considerations and rules of action of the Federal Government.
A few officials, so notoriously corrupt that they became frightened at their own shadow, ran away, having greatly feared that what they justly merited might come upon them. An army is raised at their instigation to force them back upon us again, or some others, not the men of our choice, and to aid them to punish us for alleged crimes which they have trumped up But it will be hard for the "Mormons" to bring their feelings to accept any federal officers at the point of the bayonet or at the cannon's mouth, nor yet while troops are about them or on their borders. The contest appears very unequal, it is true; yet a wasp may worry a bear; and God, by his providences, has sometimes over-thrown the strong by the agency of the weak. In that God do we hope for succour and trust for strength and deliverance.
When we were driven from Missouri and Illinois, leaving all our property, except what little we could take in the hurry, there was no army sent to reinstate us, neither to punish our persecutors. Then thousands of our men, women, and children were forced away from their homes at the point of the bayonet, at mid-day and at mid-night, in the burning rays of a scorching sun, and in the gloomy shades of a wintry night. Our judges, magistrates, and civil and military officers were all forced to go, and no army was sent to reinstate them or to punish the persecutor and the oppressor. Oh, ye rulers of the land, look at your injustice! When the innocent cried to you for help--when the persecuted for conscience' sake implored your fatherly interference, and, with tears of blood, said to you, "Help us, lest we perish," you then said that our cause was just, but you had no power. But now that the wicked and guilty profligate cries to you to protect him in his corruption and force him upon us contrary to our wishes, you find yourselves invested with all the power necessary to urge an unhallowed warfare against the very people whom you refused to protect. O Lord God Almighty, in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, I ask thee to let the arm and sword of they justice interpose, and decide this matter according to thy righteousness, and get to thyself honour and a name that shall never be forgotten.
It may be said that sovereign, independent States are different from a dependent Territory. This is a door through which many specious technicalities are sought to be introduced in justification of the present action and former neglect of the General Government. But "Mormons" care nothing about such technicalities. They hold the Government responsible, and so also does the God of nations and of armies. Therefore, however strongly it may be urged that the General Government's intentions are good towards us, this singular people will not believe a word of it until said Government shall redress their wrongs in Missouri and Illinois. Whatever explanation may be given to the present movement of troops for Utah is immaterial. It will stick to the present Administration, in its true light and character, like the mark of Cain, Nero, and Herod--a religious persecution against an innocent patriotic people who know their rights and dare assert them! Though every "Mormon" in America should be slain, it will only add to the enormity of the present Administration.
As well might we be made to believe that the student could solve every problem of Euclid, who had never learned simple addition, as to believe the Government our impartial friends while they decline to redress our wrong. The conduct of the "unjust judge" towards the "poor widow" might raise the blush of shame upon our national cheek, if the nation possessed as fine sensibilities and as much discernment as that "unjust judge". He saw that his own peace, ease, and happiness depended upon his avenging the "poor widow." And if the peace, ease, and happiness of these United States, in future, do not depend upon their redressing "Mormon" wrongs, (though they may not fear God, neither regard man,) then the Lord does not speak by me . The nation will soon find out whether "wrath and indignation some upon the people in the shape of earthquakes, thundering, and lightnings, tempests,--the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds; and all things being in commotion, while fear comes upon all people." The nations may have occasion to consider the treasures of hail and snow reserved for the last days--even the day of battle for the controversy of Zion. They may yet learn that the nation and kingdom that will not serve Zion shall perish; yes, that such nations shall be utterly wasted.
The prophetic glass before the eyes of the ancient Seers brings the rays of Jehovah's power to a focus on this earth, in these our days. For kings and rulers to manage their responsibilities in these critical times is an affair which no servant of God, truly enlightened, covets or desires. It will soon be known who are guilty of treason and rebellion against the only true Sovereign of earth and heaven. It may be necessary for the alien enemies to establish a precedent in relation to treason. Then the judgment with which they judge may be dealt out to them in equal measure, pressed down, &c. Woe unto the world because of offences! They must come to try the Saints and to establish a rule by which the Saints, in turn, may judge the ungodly.
The kingdom and government of God are the only legitimate jurisdiction that ever did exist. And other kingdoms and jurisdictions stand before God in the same light that many divorces stood in the days of Moses. "For the hardness of your hearts, Moses wrote you this precept; but from the beginning it was not so." For the hardness of men's hearts, God has suffered them to exercise temporary jurisdiction. But does this temporary jurisdiction authorize them to oppose him when he begins to take to himself his great power and to reign? No. The little stone cut out of the mountain without hands will roll and fill the whole earth, while the great image will be broken and fall, and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our God. Now, therefore, O ye kingdoms of this world, resist the decree of Jehovah, if you can and if you will. Fall upon this little stone cut out of the mountain without hands, and be broken, if you wish. But know ye that the way of the transgressor is hard, and his final cup is bitter. God bless the meek and pure! Amen.
SHEDDING BLOOD--GOD'S PROVISION FOR HIS SAINTS
Remarks by President Heber C. Kimball, made in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, November 15, 1857. Reported by G. D. Watt.
If this people will live up to their profession--that is, every Elder, High Priest, Teacher, Apostle, and every person in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they never will be troubled; that is, we shall never be under the necessity of shedding much of the blood of our enemies. You have heard me say often that I do not believe God designs that we should delight in shedding blood.
In a revelation which God gave to Joseph Smith, he says, "It is not pleasing in my sight for man to shed blood of beasts, or of fowls, except in times of excess of hunger and famine." Go and read it for yourselves. If he is not well pleased with us when we shed the blood of beasts when we have no need of it, would it not be much more displeasing to him were we to shed the blood of man unnecessarily? It is not the Spirit of God that leads a man or women to shed blood--to desire to kill and slay. When the time comes that we have need to shed blood, then it will be necessary we should do it, and it will be just as innocent as to go and kill an ox when we are hungry or in the time of famine.
Brother George A. referred to one revelation where the Lord says, "It is my business to provide for my Saints." Some people rest assured that God is going to open the heavens and rain down manna, or send the nations of the Gentiles in here and let us take the spoil, because he has said he will provide for his Saints in the last days.
Many have not even planted a peach tree, an apple tree, a plum tree, nor a currant bush in their gardens. There are many gardens, within half-a-mile of this Tabernacle, destitute of fruit trees of any kind. And again, you may see many city lots that are not cultivated nor planted with corn, wheat, potatoes, or any other vegetable; but the people who own them expect that God is going to provide for them without their co-operation.
I will ask you a question, you that have not raised even a kernel of grain on your gardens--What is the reason of this? Is it not because you have not planted it? You have not had a peach nor an apple. Why? Because you have not planted the trees; and do you ever expect to? No, not while the earth stands, water runs, and grass grows. Such people never will be provided with these necessaries, except some other man provides them.
Here is the earth, the air, the water, and you have been exhorted to cultivate these valleys and raise grain, and provide for yourselves individually and collectively. But, say you, God said to Joseph, "It is my business to provide for my Saints in the last days."
"Behold, it is said in my laws or forbidden to get in debt to thine enemies; but behold, it is not said at any time that the Lord should not take when he please and pay as seemeth him good; wherefore, as ye are agents and ye are on the Lord's errand, and whatever ye do according to the will of the Lord is the Lord's business; and he hath set you to provide for his Saints in these last days, that they may obtain an inheritance in the land of Zion. And behold, I, the Lord, declare unto you, and my words are sure and shall not fail, that they shall obtain it; but all things must come to pass in their time. Wherefore, be not weary in welldoing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great."--<Doc. & Cov., sec. xxi, par. 6>
We have been driven from our native land and birthplace, many of us, and God has brought us into these rich valleys, and says he, "Go to and cultivate, and raise grain, and provide for yourselves seven years' provisions. That is the way he is going to provide for you--to tell you, like a good father tells his sons, how to provide for yourselves. "Here I will provide land for you, and seed," &c. Now, go to and cultivate the soil, increase the seed, and provide for your wants. Now, that is good logic--good reasoning: it is not vain philosophy.
In this congregation there are hundreds of men who have not a mouthful to eat, only as they get it from their neighbours from day to day, or from week to week; and if others had not gone to and raised provisions, they would have perished, every one of them, for a temporal subsistence. Is God going to rain down manna? He will not do it until we are brought into circumstances to require it. Will he remove a mountain? No--not until the house of Israel are brought into such straitened circumstances that there is no way for their escape, except God removes a mountain for their deliverance.
The Lord says, "In the last days it is my business to fight the battles of my Saints." If it is his business, he will take his children to do it; and we are his children. You may think that comes right in contact with the revelations of Jesus Christ; but it is not so. Why does our President, our Governor, order out three thousand men to be in the mountains? To fulfil your prayers. What do you pray for? "O Lord," say you, "I ask thee, in the name of Jesus Christ, to hedge up the way of our enemies, that they may never come here." We had to send some three thousand men to fulfil your prayers. Who is going to fight the battles of the Lord, if not his people? They have got to stand in defence of this kingdom and Church of God in the last days.
If our enemies are prevented from coming here, they are prevented because of the Saints of God. Would they have been prevented from coming here if our brethren had not gone out there and hedged up their way? God will take his few valiant servants in the last days, and with them use up the world and bring every kingdom and dominion into subjection to the kingdom of God.
Do you suppose you are going to sit here on your seats and in your habitations, and never step forth to the help of the Lord? Nearly one year ago, the last who came in with handcarts were brought in out of the mountains. Would they have been in our cities and congregation to-day, had we not gone out and brought them in? Through our faith and works they were saved from death; and many of them have brought forth sons and daughters unto God in the valleys of the mountains. Would they have done this if we had not stepped forth and manifested our faith by our works in delivering them from death?
I think there is a Scripture somewhere that says, "By your works you are justified;" and again, "Obedience is better than sacrifice." It is the works that God expects. I may have faith as much as I please, and sit in my house and keep my boys at home, and exhort this people to stay at home; but will that hedge off the way of our enemies? No.
Will our enemies come here? No, except we let them. God gives us that privilege. We have the right to let them in here or keep them out; and we choose to keep them out, and we shall do it by the help of God, and we shall prevail over every nation, tongue, and people; and every president, king, governor, judge, and every Latter-day Saint that lift their hands against this Church and kingdom shall be confounded and frustrated in their attempts. What! a Saint do this? Yes, a Saint that turns back unto the Devil takes into his tabernacle the worst spirits, which make him many times worse that he was at the first.
When pigs are washed in soap-suds, they look clean, and you would think them almost nice enough to live in the house; but no sooner have you washed them that they will go into the nastiest mud-hole they can find and muddy themselves all over from head to foot. Now, do they not look worse than before they were washed? It is just so with you, when you turn from your righteousness; you are worse than before you entered into the Church of Christ.
Make your preparations this present season to go to and cultivate the soil, and raise everything you can, and then we shall have plenty. We have done the best we can; and if our enemies come upon us, God will throw them into our power, and they will become subject to us. "How," says the Lord, "Take that spoil and consecrate it unto my people." The Lord will provide for his Saints when necessary, and in his own way.
Are these things interesting to you, brethren? They are what you have to do, every man of you that belongs to the house of Israel. Are there goats in our midst? Bless your souls, if there were not, there would be more diseases than there now are. It is said that goats because of their strong smell, have power over diseases. Take a little assafoetida and put it on a child's stomach, and certain contagious diseases will not come unto it, probably because the assafoetida stinks so much worse than anything else.
I do not say there are many goats now. There is, however, one goat,--I do not know whether it is in the congregation or not. His face is longer than Lorenzo Dow's; and when you see such a man as that, you may know who I mean. Amen.
OPPOSITION TO THE GOSPEL AND THE WORK OF GOD--HONESTY, ETC.
A Sermon by Elder Orson Hyde, delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, November 15, 1857. Reported by G. D. Watt.
A question arises in the minds of some few, and perhaps in the minds of a great many--"How will our present difficulties terminate? I would like to know the sequel. We have been kept in suspense for a length of time, and I would like to know the final issue."
In my opinion, there is no person that can know the final result of the present movements until it is seen. We have faith in relation to it, and the assurance of the Almighty that all will be well; but the exact how and manner in which it will be brought about we cannot tell; for it is by faith that we move, and not by sight. But in the course of some remarks which I may make, you may, perhaps, be led to a satisfactory conclusion as to what the final issue may be, and not only the final issue, for we are already satisfied about that, but with regard to the progressive stages leading to it.
It is said in the good Book that "Not many wise, not many mighty, not many learned are called; but God hath chosen the poor of this world and rich in faith to be the heirs of his kingdom." We are furthermore told that he has "chosen the weak things of this world, and things that are not, to bring to naught the things that are, that no flesh should glory in his presence." Now I will quote from a modern writer:--"Say first of God above, then man below, How can we reason but from what we know?"
I will go back to the days of the commencement of this Church, when a young man of no particular literary qualifications was called upon to bring to light truths that have been hid for ages--truths in themselves grand and sublime; yet, when brought forth, they were clothed in language not so eloquent as might please the ears of many of the learned. They were not dressed up in the style of modern oratory; and because of this, they were rejected by the fashionable and religious world. The religious world had been taught and completely moulded after the fashion and learning of this world, so that a man could not be considered a qualified orthodox preacher, unless he had been through college and acquired the learning of the age.
Here, then, an illiterate youth rises up with a system of true religion, that lays the axe at the root of every other system in Christendom. Look at the odds that were apparently against this young man, even Joseph Smith, the martyr, the Prophet of the Most High--without learning--without resources or friends to back him up--with the whole tide of popular sentiment arrayed against him, backed up by all the learning of the world. If we look at him through a worldly eye, the odds were materially against him.
You are acquainted with the history of the Church, and well know how matters went on. You know the many trials to which Joseph the Prophet and his friends were subjected, and the difficulties with which they had to contend. But was there ever an instance when the enemy gained an advantage over the truth of heaven or thwarted the purposes of this illiterate young man? No. Did they not call to their aid all the learning and craftiness of the world in proportion as the cause he advocated increased? And did they succeed any better? When the cause became more extensive among men, did opposition succeed any better that at the commencement? Not a all.
In process of time, the Elders went forth preaching this Gospel; and remember, there were not many learned--not many mighty that were called, and I may say, none at all. With the limited abilities they possessed, they went forth to proclaim a system of truth that laid the axe at the root of the false religions and false philosophy of the world; while the learning, popularity, and resources of the world were arrayed against us, which we had to meet; poor and limited in abilities, in learning, and worldly qualifications, we were despised and regarded as a set of outcasts.
With all the powerful odds against us, the truth greatly gained ground. Let me appeal to the experience of all present, while I ask you if you have ever known an instance where a faithful Elder, who has kept his garments clean and unspotted from the world, has ever been confounded while administering the word of life as proclaimed through that illiterate young man, Joseph Smith? To be sure, a few who may have got the "big head," or been puffed up in their own imaginations, have been foiled, or those who have been in transgression. God despises a victory gained by such characters. He will not acknowledge or own a victory gained in this cause by a corrupt and wicked member of his Church. I do not know positively how that is, however, and I will not stop to investigate it. Suffice it to say, it is the pure in heart that God delights to work with. Just like any good mechanic, when he wishes to make a nice piece of work, he wants tools that are sharp and clean to do it with. He will not work with dull and rusty tools to execute a nice job of work.
So it is with our heavenly Father: although he may use seemingly awkward instruments, yet they are polished after his mind and will; and he, being the master builder, knows what pleases him best.
Has the greatest champion against "Mormonism" ever been confident enough in his own success and triumph in any debate with the Elders of this Church to publish his own arguments with those of his opponent? I do not know but there have been such instances, but not one now occurs to my mind; while, on the other hand, our faithful Elders have not been afraid or ashamed to publish both sides of the question for all eyes to look upon.
Often we have seen pieces in public journals, and also books published against us in burning zeal, and flaming with vengeance against us, and seemingly calculated to overthrow us, exposing what they called the wickedness of the "Mormons," beguiling and duping their hearers with cunningly-devised falsehoods. Very many cases of this kind we have seen, and have also seen their end. The Almighty has put his hand over them, and they have sunk so low that the strongest prejudiced hand against us will not now reach down to bring them up. Their power has become weakness, and their influence is blasted for ever by the breath of the Almighty.
Does the everlasting Gospel lose its influence with the good and pure of mankind? Upon those who are not disposed to work righteousness alone is its influence lost--upon those who shout, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians;" but with the honest, simple-hearted sons of men it is just as sweet now as ever it was; and to them its charms increase, notwithstanding all the trials and difficulties they endure for its sake.
"This Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come." Was it the Gospel of the kingdom that was preached in ancient days--in the days of the Apostles, that went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world? It was the Gospel, but I conclude that it was not the Gospel of the kingdom; for that was to be revealed at the time when the kingdom of God should be established on the earth, to stand for ever. "And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached as a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come."
Where has this Gospel been preached? Through the United States of America, in Europe, Asia, and Africa. I do not say that it has been sounded distinctly in the ears of everybody living; but I do say that the sound has gone into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.
I recollect a certain saying in a revelation that was given to the Saints in the early days of this Church. The Lord said, through Joseph Smith, that it became every man, after being warned, to warn his neighbour, that all may be without excuse. If all the people who have heard the word had been as faithful in warning their neighbours as the few Elders who are now under the sound of my voice have been in warning those with whom they have been associated, and to whom they have been sent, and among whom they have laboured, would not the whole world have been fully warned at this time? Yes.
In another revelation to the first Elders of this Church, who had been forth preaching in their weakness, (being called in at Kirtland, Ohio,) the Lord told them to wash their feet in testimony that they were clean from the blood of this generation, and goes on to say, "Let those who are not of the first Elders of my Church remain in the vineyard, for their garments are not yet clean." Those first Elders had laboured but a short time in the vineyard--perhaps one or two years, when it was said, "Your garments are clean."
There are Elders who have laboured from sea to sea, from island to island, from country to country, and have spent the vigour and strength of their days in the work of proclaiming the Gospel. May we not say, upon the same principle, that their garments are clean from the blood of this generation? If so, what does it imply? That we shall not be held under condemnation if we never preach to them again. And there is another thing implied in this: If this generation shall rise against you to slay you for your religion, and because you are righteous, your garments being clear of their blood, and you slay them, their blood is upon their own heads. This is what I understand by being clear from the blood of this generation. It is an important saying. In my opinion, it means more than a casual observer would attach to it. It is a deep saying. If you have warned, them--have called upon them to repent--offered them the blessing of eternal life through the Gospel, and they thrust it from them, let what will happen to them, your garments are clean from their blood.
Now we see that the Gospel has gone into all nations, countries, and kingdoms; for the man that has been warned should have warned his neighbour, and the nation that has been warned should have warned its neighbouring nation, &c.; so they are without excuse before God, whatever excuse they may plead before man.
We can see the unabating success of the Gospel from the time Joseph got the plates until now, and the defeat and downfall of every opponent that has risen up to oppose its progress. If there had been any purpose in God that this work should be overthrown, would he not have suffered it to be done before this? For all means that could possibly be invented by the powers of earth and hell have been brought to bear against it, and every man who has risen up against it has gone down, and his published works have become a stink in the nostrils of even this wicked generation, to say nothing of the Saints. The wicked themselves are even ashamed of their sayings and of their writings against the cause of truth. Their expositions of "Mormonism," as they call them, are hardly cold from the press until they are dead, their influence killed, and there is no sale for their books. The words of the Apocalypse very appropriately apply to their case--"No man buyeth their merchandize any more."
I will venture to say that no publication has ever been issued against this work, only for the purpose of getting gain. Men have not been inspired to oppose it for the sake of the souls of men, but to save their craft, their salary, their party, their honour, and their credit in the sight of men.
The system of truth revealed through Joseph Smith is not clothed in language so eloquent as this literary generation would desire. As a general thing, you know, a real polished scoundrel wears the finest cloth--the most fashionable garb, that he may be looked upon as an honest man by those who judge from outward appearances and not righteous judgement. The truth is not always clothed in the nicest style, or according to the ideas of this world; but the Lord sends it forth in the shape of a stone of stumbling and rock of offence. He is not pleased to conform to the views of this generation. They have got to take salvation just as he offers it to them, or else take damnation: they can have their choice. It is not for them to serve up the dish they shall eat; but it is for the Almighty to dress it as suits himself; and if the sinner take it, it will heal him.
The patient does not prescribe nor tell the doctor what he wants of him,--that is, supposing the doctor to be what he ought to be. He examines the patient, knows the nature of the disease,and prescribes accordingly. The patient takes the medicine, and asks no questions for conscience sake.
So it is with our heavenly Father. The world is diseased; and he has prepared a remedy, and served it up as suits himself, not consulting the vitiated appetites of this consumptive generation to whom he administers it. It is like a root out of dry ground: it is without form or comeliness, without beauty, that men should not desire it. Awkward and unclothed as it is with worldly wisdom, behold, the illiterate Elders of Israel are sent with it, and they have marched through the colleges and literary institutions of the learned world, and have defeated those who dared to come out to oppose and put them to flight; and all their learning, iniquity, cunning, and worldly wisdom were turned into foolishness.
A little boy, filled with the Spirit of the living God throws out an idea that completely knocks in "pie" all their calculations. A simple sentence from the mouth of an uneducated youth often dissipates their profound wisdom in folly and nonsense. They know not what to do. They attempt to grasp a thing without form or comeliness. They know not where to get hold of it; and then they think they have hold of it, it slips through their hands. Such has been the great success of the preaching of the word.
Now, then, if they resort to force of arms or to brute force to overpower us, may we not safely calculate that the results will be similar to those in the mental contest?
"Say first of God above, then man below,
How can we reason but from what we know?"
So far, we do actually know and understand. It is demonstrated by our experience, and we are prepared to say that it is truly so. Behold, the wicked are unwilling to be converted by the gentle means the Lord God of Israel has introduced. They are satisfied that they cannot prevail against us by argument; and even polygamy, in all the glaring forms they may please to give it, offers obstacles to formidable for them to encounter by argument, Scripture, philosophy, or truth. But "overcome it must be," say the enemy; and "we will not rest until we have resorted to the last extremity. We will try the force of arms!" "Very well, if that is your mode of warfare," says the Almighty, "I do not desire it; but I will show you that I am not only a man of reason, Scripture, and truth, but a man of war too. If force of arms is your plan and mode of attack, you will find me ready to meet you in that and in every method you may adopt."
Behold, they rise up in war against the Saints. The Saints heretofore, when attacked on moral and Scripture principles, have stood up to oppose the enemy. If they had not done this, the enemy would have overpowered us. We have always met him with the truth and the simple arguments which God has furnished us with, and have always been successful; and perhaps, had we stood up to oppose him with force of arms, we might have been equally successful: but I cannot say how that is. The time, probably, had not come for us to take that position; and consequently, when it came to force of arms, the enemy must needs be made the aggressor. He was permitted to prevail against us for the time being; and whether that was not the very means of putting us in a position whereby we could successfully oppose him in that way, when the time did come, we can easily judge. I guess it is all right and has worked for our good; and herein we can discern that our heavenly Father has exemplified a glorious truth to us, that all things shall work together for good to them that love God and are the called according to his purpose.
If we had taken this position in Missouri or in Nauvoo, before breakfast they could have ordered their affairs and come upon us, and it would have required a standing army of the angels of God to defend us. But the time had not yet come; therefore the Lord suffered them to prevail until he should get us where he wanted us' "And then shall the prophecies of my servants be fulfilled in the scenes that shall transpire with you." It never could have been said, "The mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the tops of the mountains," if we had remained in the valley of the Mississippi.
The Lord considered it necessary that we should be removed into the chambers of the Almighty, or to some place prepared to receive us, where he might display his power, and get for himself a name and honour that shall never be forgotten. Sometimes a defeat is equal to a victory. I recollect of reading an account, the saying of a celebrated General, after he had gained a victory and lost a great portion of his men. One of his officers congratulated him on his victory. "Ah!" said he, "Another such victory would entirely ruin me."
Sometime victory is worse than defeat. I consider that the defeat the Saints have suffered is tantamount to victory, and better than victory, because we have come to a place which the Lord wanted us to uccupy [sic].
We say, against all the learning, science, skill, talent, &c., of this world, which were arrayed against us, making the odds almost enough to discourage any people but the Latter-day Saints, We have prevailed; and when they come to force of arms, this must also be overcome. They will use the force of arms; for, say they, "The 'Mormons' must be overcome, or they will take away our place and nation, and we shall be overthrown, and there will be no stopping these people, if we let them go on any further." And some think it has gone so far now that they cannot stop it. I endorse the sentiment. They have let it go too long for their purpose.
I believe, when the Almighty conceives a work to do, he will carry it through in some way or shape. Behold, we are here, a little people collected together in the mountains, and are short of the munitions of war, while on the other hand the whole world if full of them. We are short of clothing, but tolerably plenty of food. And then look at the terrible odds that is arrayed against us. See their thousands of well-trained troops and the millions of money at their command. They can bring any sized army into the field, all armed and equipped with a splendid outfit. This is a powerful odds against us.
The science of war has been studied by them from the beginning. They have kept a school at West Point, in which they have trained and qualified their officers to take command, and they are schooled in all the tactics of modern warfare, except ours.
At the call of the President of the United States, there are thousands who will enrole as volunteers, and will be all armed and equipped, with money in their pockets and grub in their sacks, and no end to it either.
Are all these any worse for us to overcome, in our present condition, that is was to overcome the learning, strength, and moral influence and power that were arrayed against us when we were but a handful, and called to go and preach the welcome message of the Gospel? Is the odds any greater? I say not. The God who taught and sustained us in proclaiming this Gospel in its simplicity will also sustain us in whatever opposition may arise against us, provided we have the Spirit of God in our hearts, and were not in transgression, we could handle them without mittens, because the Lord was with us.
Just so sure as we as a people are pure and undefiled before God our heavenly Father, there is no power that can prevail against us. I do not care if they have all the paraphernalia of war the world can produce, the Almighty has got weapons of warfare they never thought of, and means of defence for his people, and he delights to throw his shield over those who serve him and keep his commandments. The odds may appear against us in the eyes of the world; but when we contemplate that God is for us,and that all the holy angels in heaven are enlisted in our behalf, and we have purity, and sincerity, and truth in our hearts, these are bulwarks which they cannot scale. God grant that we may be shielded with this kind of armour!
I want not to speak in relation to a few things that pertain more particularly to individuals. You know, to be honest, when there is no temptation to be otherwise, is no particular credit to us. For me to have a chance to put forth my hand and steal my neighbour's food, when I have plenty, and I do not do it, is no particular credit to me for being honest. Suppose I am clad with all the clothing I desire, and my family also is well provided for in this article, for me to go and steal clothing would be outrageous in the extreme, and there would be not credit due to me for refraining from such an act. The time to test our real merit and integrity is when we are pinched with hunger and thinly clad: then is the time to test us. I do not say that a person going to steal under those circumstances would be any more justified. For a person to be forced to steal food, to save his life, is a circumstance that very rarely occurs with a just and righteous man. Should a good man, however, be reduce to such extremes, there is generally among the Saints, provision made against such emergencies, rendering stealing unnecessary under any circumstances. We have heard of some instance where garments have been washed and hung out, and have been taken by some person in the day time, and shirts and other articles not necessary to mention.
Brethren and sisters, I wish merely to say, Let our hands be clean, and try to the utmost of our power to get what we really need, and get it in an honourable and lawful way. We do not want to spoil the victory that lies right before us by dabbling in things that are not our own, neither convenient. If I were to apologize for such acts upon the principle of scarcity and want, it would be a license for everybody to "pitch in" that had a disposition to do so, and nobody would be safe. Let us be on the watch--watch ourselves, and suffer not any unlawful act of ours to tarnish the glorious victory that awaits us. Let us hold on and do the best we can, and let our neighbour's things alone, unless we can persuade him to sell them to us, or give them to us. Do not let us weaken our own confidence before God. But we need to march, shoulder to shoulder, upon the principles of purity and integrity; and as we have stood shoulder to shoulder heretofore, and carried this Gospel to the nations of the earth and been pure in heart before God, have we ever failed in accomplishing the purposed of Heaven? No. And I tell you, inasmuch as our hearts are pure as a people, full of integrity and the Holy Ghost, no power shall ever prevail against us from this time henceforth and for ever. I feel in my soul and pray God to bless the pure in heart, who seek to do his will, live their religion, and honour their God; and we shall yet see the desire of our souls and be satisfied.
The priests of Christendom now say, "We cannot stand before this man," and they warn their flocks to keep away from the Latter-day Saints. "Are you reading that 'Voice of Warning?' Lay it out of your hands and put it out of your houses, for it is a dangerous book. Put away from you their tracts and books, for they are dangerous; and keep away, keep away from those dangerous men that are turning the world upside down." That is the cry throughout the world. What will be the cry when they come up against us and try the force of arms? It will be--"Let us not go up against Zion, for the people thereof are terrible: keep away, keep away." The one cry follows in the wake of the other. What makes the people of Zion terrible? Answer: Strict honesty and integrity before God. That is what will bring the cloud by day and the shining of a flame of fire by night; and upon all the glory there shall be a defence. God will surround the people of Zion as it were with a wall of fire, and he will make bare his arm in the eyes of the nation that wars against her, and she will be like a beacon light to seafaring men; and men will come and bring their clothing and their treasures, and we shall have an abundant supply of such things. Let us take care of what we have, keep it clean and patch it up, take care of our sheep and raise all the flax and wool we can, and the Lord will make up the balance; and if we do right we shall find that we have an overflowing treasury of every good thing; which may God grant, for Christ's sake. Amen.
OPPOSITION TO "MORMONISM," ETC.
Remarks by Elder George A. Smith, made in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, Sunday Morning, November 15, 1857. Reported by J. V. Long.