NATURE OF MAN--HAPPINESS--INFLUENCE OF GOD'S SPIRIT UPON MANKIND, ETC.
Remarks by President Brigham Young, made in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, July 3, 1859. Reported by G. D. Watt.
It is good for those who profess to be believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, and to practise his doctrines, to keep his principles before them. It is good to speak often one to another concerning the things of the kingdom of God.
Man is a mystery to himself, and but few of the inhabitants of the earth inquire into their own organization--their being, their capacity, or even into principle. The nations of the earth come and go, and every person of reflection discerns a deep mystery in man. There is a spirit in man, and that spirit is more or less enlightened and instructed by a superior spirit; yet the hearts of men are absorbed in the things of time, and they wear out their lives in their efforts to preserve them. This is the reason why so many pass like a cloud. They are here; they take no thought only to subsist as long as they can, and they are gone forever.
Of those who have leisure and means to improve their minds and make themselves very useful, there are but few who do not squander their time and means. They do not improve upon their talents; or, as brother Heywood observed, they do not improve upon the capital they possess. There is a great amount of ignorance in the world; and most people are lacking in researches concerning their own origin. Some have not the opportunity, others have not the time, and with the majority their education is such that they have not the disposition for those researches. But above all, they waste the knowledge that is naturally within them--their natural endowments. All men should study to learn the nature of mankind, and to discern that divinity inherent in them. A spirit and power of research is planted within, yet they remain undeveloped.
There is one very predominant trait in the human family--the seeking for power. The great majority constantly study to gain influence--they traverse the world over to attain it. This trait is, in a great measure, derived from their traditions. As the master acts, does, says, and believes, so does the servant. As the parent marks his steps through life, so the steps of the children are measured, and the millions of consequent peculiarities have to be taken into account in dealing with the human family. Tradition seizes upon the scholar when he first commences his education, and, more or less, clings to the human family through life; and we have to deal with people according to their understanding. They are only capable of receiving a certain portion at a time.
What will satisfy the mind? Will gold? Will silver? Will houses, lands, and possessions? Search the world over, and you will at once discover that they will not. Will power and influence over their fellow-beings satisfy? They will not. They may give a momentary satisfaction; but it soon passes away like a morning cloud, and the possessors are still labouring and striving to attain more. This was exhibited in the career of Alexander the Great, who conquered almost the whole of the then known world, and was still so dissatisfied with himself and with his life--with his power and possessions--that he died in debauchery at an early age. He obtained power, wealth, fame, and renown, and was still so dissatisfied that he mourned, and wept, and threw away his life ere arriving at middle age.
What would satisfy the children of men, if they had it in their possession? Only truth and the true principles and conduct flowing from its observance. True, certain classes of the inhabitants of the earth are pretty well satisfied with themselves, through their researches in the philosophies of the day, and especially in the science of astronomy, which gives the greatest scope to the mind; and yet they are not fully satisfied. What will satisfy us? If we understood all principles and powers that are, that have been, and that are to come, and had wisdom sufficient to control powers and elements with which we are associated, perhaps we would then be satisfied. If this will not satisfy the human mind, there is nothing that will.
Is there any such thing as happiness upon the earth? There is; and could people understand its beginning--its germ, they would strive to obtain truth and to increase in true knowledge: then the person calculated to receive much would have enjoyment in proportion, and one capacitated to receive but little would be satisfied therewith. Is there such knowledge upon the earth? There is. Are there true principles? There are, and we heard a portion of them this morning in the doctrine of salvation.
If people understood true philosophy--eternal philosophy, they would understand that there is an eternity of matter. Astronomers estimate that there is between us and the nearest fixed star matter enough from which to organize millions of earths like this. There is an eternity of matter, and it is all acted upon and filled with a portion of divinity. Matter is to exist; it cannot be annihilated. Eternity is without bounds, and is filled with matter; and there is no such place as empty space. And matter is capacitated to receive intelligence.
If we could so understand true philosophy as to understand our own creation, and what it is for--what design and intent the Supreme Ruler had in organizing matter and bringing it forth in the capacity that I behold you here to-day, we could comprehend that matter cannot be destroyed--that it is subject to organization and disorganization; and could understand that matter can be organized and brought forth into intelligence, and to possess more intelligence, and to continue to increase in that intelligence; and could learn those principles that organized matter into animals, vegetables, and into intelligent beings; and could discern the Divinity acting, operating, and diffusing principles into matter to produce intelligent beings, and to exalt them--to what? Happiness. Will nothing short of that fully satisfy the spirits implanted within us? No.
You can daily observe the operations of the spirits of men in the streets of this city. There you can now see the world exhibited as it is. You can see people hurrying from the east to the west, from the west to the east, from the north to the south, and from the south to the north. Have they an object in view? Ask the traveller whether he has; ask the bystander whether there is an object in his mind. Whether I stand or walk, whether I labour or rest, lie down or rise up, in all my acts in life there is an object. I have something in view, you have something in view, and so has the whole human family, as also all intelligence of every grade.
What principal object have human beings in view? Happiness. Give me glory, give me power, give me wealth, give me a good name, give me influence with my fellow-men, give me all these, and it does not follow that I am thereby made happy; that depends altogether upon what principle those acquisitions were gained. Absolute tyranny never can produce happiness, neither can an influence unjustly gained and used; but give me influence with the children of men, and can that alone produce happiness? It cannot. What will give a man joy? That which will give him peace. What will produce joy and peace? If a man gains influence from the confidence he enjoys through his integrity, his honesty, goodness, uprightness, virtue, and truth, that influence will satisfy his mind; and influence gained in other courses cannot.
Many have been hated, despised, and hunted, on account of their influence with their fellow-beings. Has any one in our generation? Yes. Are there not scores of men and women here who are familiar with the death of our Prophet? Why did people hate him? Because of his influence. Did he gain or exercise an unrighteous influence? By no means. He possessed a righteous influence over the spirits, feelings, passions, and dispositions of all who delighted in truth and goodness, so far as he associated, and could guide them at his pleasure.
Am I hated for the same cause? I am. I am hated for teaching people the way of life and salvation--for teaching them principles that pertain to eternity, by which the Gods were and are, and by which they gain influence and power. Obtain that influence, and you will be hated, despised, and hunted like the roe upon the mountains. The way to obtain that influence is pointed out--by whom? By him through whom the worlds were created, and who has redeemed this earth and all things upon it.
He gave his life a ransom to atone for the sins of the world, and he has pointed out the way. His law is sacred, omnipotent, eternal; and that is the law to obey. Let the Lord speak, and let the people obey. That is the way to gain that happiness which all mankind are seeking, and no other course can satisfy the noble, Godlike spirit placed in man, who is formed for the express purpose of preserving his identity to all eternity. Without strict observance to the laws by which worlds were and are created--to the words of the Eternal, no being can inherit eternal lives.
These are the principles that this people, who are by many deemed to be the most ignorant, outlandish, corrupt, base, vile, and wicked people on the globe, have imbibed, and are striving to practise, and through so doing are hated all the day long. Ignorant? Yes, we are ignorant; but we are on the high road to that eternal knowledge that fills the bosoms of the Gods in eternity. If we are faithful to the end, we have the promise that we shall obtain that crown of glory and eternal life that will give us the satisfaction we are seeking. These principles are true; and let me observe to all, Saints and sinners, young and old, wise and ignorant, Do not mistake any points of doctrine you hear preached. The spirit in man is always enlightened, more or less, by the Spirit of the Holy One of Israel--that Being who gave the law.
When he pleases to bless the children of men, he is able to accomplish his purpose. If he is disposed to permit a Nebuchadnezzar to see a finger writing on a wall, it is his privilege to do so. If he is disposed to talk with an Enoch, or to show himself to the brother of Jared, it is his privilege. And if he is disposed to pour out the Holy Ghost upon the house of Cornelius before he embraced the Gospel in the usual way by baptism for the remission of sins, it is his privilege. The principle is, God must be obeyed. And even after Cornelius and his house had received the Holy Ghost, they did not, like some in our day, rise up and say, "We have no need to be baptized." Why did not Cornelius tell Peter that he had received the Holy Ghost, and was as good a Christian as he? But, no; he must send to Joppa for one Simon Peter, who would tell him words whereby he and his household could be saved. What words? To be baptized in water. Peter did not tell them to receive the Holy Ghost, for they had received it.
They had already been endowed with the Holy Ghost, and it was the right and privilege of him who laid down his life to redeem the children of men to bestow that Holy Ghost where and when he pleased. If Cornelius had refused to have been baptized, he never would have received the influence of the Holy Ghost afterwards. He must obey the outward ordinances to secure to himself eternal lives--to attain the blessings consequent upon obedience.
Jesus of Nazareth, who appeared to Saul of Tarsus in the way, opened the vision of his mind, and conversed with him, and told him what to do. Did he tell him that he was a Christian, that his sins were forgiven, and that there was nothing more to be done? He did not. Did he intimate to him, in the least, that he was prepared to go and preach the Gospel? Not in the least. It could be said to him, "I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest;" and Paul could cry out, "Lord, what shall I do?" Go to Damascus, and you will there find a man, named Ananias, who will tell you what to do. Paul was led into the city, and immediately sent for Ananias. After the Lord told Ananias to go, he refused, for he had heard of the persecutions by Saul--of his dragging men and women to prison; but the Lord informed him that he had appeared to Saul on the way; and told him to go and converse with him, and fear not. What did Ananias tell Saul to do? To go and be baptized; for the same Jesus who appeared to you on the way told me to come and tell you what to do.
It is the Lord's privilege to give the Holy Ghost to whom he will, and it is not for us to question him in his right, power, and privilege--in the extent of his doings. He blesses the human family; he raises up nations, kingdoms, and governments, and controls in the armies of the world. He rules in the heavens, and makes the wrath of man praise him, and gives his Spirit when and to whom he pleases. Shall I say that he has given it to his Saints all the day long? Yes; for I know that he has. Have they enjoyed the light of the Spirit of revelation? Yes; and so, more or less, has every being that has been born upon this earth. I never passed John Wesley's church in London without stopping to look at it. Was he a good man? Yes; I suppose him to have been, by all accounts, as good as ever walked on this earth, according to his knowledge. Has he obtained a rest? Yes, and greater than ever entered his mind to expect; and so have thousands of others of the various religious denominations. Why could he not build up the kingdom of God on the earth: He had not the Priesthood; that was all the difficulty he laboured under. Had the Priesthood been conferred upon him, he would have built up the kingdom of God in his day as it is now being built up. He would have introduced the ordinances, powers, grades, and quorums of the Priesthood; but, not holding the Priesthood, he could not do it. Did the Spirit of God rest upon him? Yes, and does, more or less, at times, upon all people.
Christ is the light of the world, and lighteth every man that cometh into it. Were it not for the light that is in the people, they would not hate us; they would not exclaim as they do--"We came here to cut your throats, but we cannot quite accomplish our purpose." That is what they came for: they had no other intent, except, in addition, to plunder and destroy our property, and pollute our wives and daughters. What causes them to hate us? The light that is in them--the Spirit of the Almighty that rests on the nations; which proves the old Scriptures to be true, where they state that the report of the work that the Lord would bring forth in the last days should make the people tremble and quake. The light that is in them convicts them and teaches them that the doctrine the Elders of Israel preach among them is the Gospel of salvation; and say they, "We will not have it." Have you not heard many of them say that they would rather go to hell than believe it? "I will not believe what you preach, though I go to hell for disobeying it."
That Spirit that is in them--the inspiration of the Almighty which giveth understanding--convinces them that the doctrine is true. Were it false doctrine, it would be thought no more of than any other of the numerous isms in the world. They would pass by it as kindly and as easily as they do Socialism, or any other doctrine. But it convicts the people. Am I sorry for them? I am. My soul aches for them, because they cannot resolve and act in accordance with the dictates of that Spirit which ever prompts the human heart aright. But rise up and declare, "We will not believe this doctrine." What then? You must suffer. Thousands are suffering now; ministers are groaning in pulpits, and deacons and lay members are groaning in congregations; there are groans in secret places, in public places, in highways and by-ways: everywhere people are in pain, in sorrow, in misery; and, in short, are in hell. What is the matter? "'Mormonism' is yet in existence--it is not destroyed." Why can they not muster courage enough to say, "Our independent organizations we will use, and will not suffer the Devil, nor fathers, mothers, priests, neighbours, worldly reputation, riches, or anything else, to deter us from embracing and practising the principles of eternal life?" That course would at once start them on the road to happiness. "But," says the Devil, "If I let you go, you will get out of my power and reach, and I cannot get you again." Suppose the world should turn round and say, "Mr. Devil, we have been co-partners long enough!"
I remember that when I made a profession of religion, after being called an infidel by the Christians, I often used to get a little puzzled. The Evil One would whisper to me that I had done this, that, or some other thing wrong, and inquire whether that looked like a Christian act, and remark, "You have missed it; you have not done right, and you know it; you did not do as well in such a thing as you might; and are you not ashamed of yourself in saying that you are a Christian? You profess the religion of Jesus Christ, and now manifest such weakness!" Said I, "Mr. Devil, it is none of your business. You may go behind, or before, or in any other direction; but you and I have dissolved partnership; and what I do, I am accountable for to a more glorious Being than you are. So long as we were in partnership, I had to give an account of my doings to you; but now it is not for you to fret yourself about my doings, for you have no interest whatever in the matter." And thus I have acted with him from that time until now.
I have experienced and learned much since I embraced the Gospel, and have become thoroughly convinced that the world lieth in ignorance, and are wandering after a shadow--that is, false principles. There is no solid peace and joy, no permanent comfort and consolation to be found between--shall I go to the extremes? Yes, the sectarian extremes--the top of the topless throne, and the bottom of the bottomless pit. There is not a particle of permanent happiness between these two extremes to the noble spirits within us. It is only to be found in the principles of eternal life that open the gates of heaven to all believers. The mans that places his affections upon the gold, the silver, the goods, chattels, and precious things of this earth, and seeks for power over his fellow-man upon false principles, will never realize the happiness that the noble spirit within him is designed to enjoy.
Then cling to the principles of life that open eternity and reveal to us what we are, making known to us our relationship to God, which to the world is a great mystery.
In the year 1850 I entertained one of my Baptist friends some two or three weeks. I could not persuade him to preach, but asked him a great many questions; and I found him just where I had left them years ago. I asked him questions with regard to the doctrines taught in the Bible. Could he answer them? No: he was as ignorant as a child of the great plan of salvation. During his stay, I preached in the old Bowery; and when I came to the point that I knew he was looking for--to tell who God the Father and God the Son are--I dropped the subject. When we arrived home, he said, "Brother Young, why did you not go on a little further? You drew my whole soul out to learn something that I never had learned." I said to him that I did not proceed further because he was there. He then remarked--"I have been preaching thirty years, and I was very anxious to learn the true doctrine upon the very point you spoke of today. I have heard much about your people, and I tarried here to learn. Why could you not have told us more?" I replied--"I wish you to teach." "But I do not know anything about the subject." "I will so couch my questions that you soon will. Do you believe the Old and New Testament?" "Yes." I then asked him a few questions with regard to the coming forth of the Son of Man, as he is called in a few places. "Do you believe that he was born of the virgin Mary?--that he was the son of Mary?" "Yes." "Do you believe that the Apostle told the truth when he said that he was begotten by the Father?" "Yes." "Why do you dispute it, then, or throw a doubt upon it? Was he not flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone, if the history given of him is true?" "O yes." "Whom did he look and act like? and whose errand did he come to do?" I then turned and read--"Whoso hath seen me hath seen the Father," and inquired, "Do you believe that?" "Yes but I never before viewed the matter in the light it now appears." "Is he not the very express image and likeness of his Father in heaven? The Bible says he is. Do you believe the Bible?" "Yes."
In a short time he answered my questions; and I took him back to Adam, and gave him to understand clearly who the Bible taught that he was. I learned from my Baptist friend that his sect were just where I left them twenty-five years ago.
As brother Heywood has just remarked in your hearing, the people do not improve on their capital. Every man and woman that has talent and hides it will be called a slothful servant. Improve day by day upon the capital you have. In proportion as we are capacitated to receive, so it is our duty to do. Some learn more and faster than others--more readily see and comprehend the bearings of their lessons and the relationship they sustain to their fellow-beings. Then will every one who secures an exaltation be happy? Yes. Will all be of one mind there? Yes. Should we not be one here? Yes. Should every man be a President? Should every man be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve? Should every man be the President of our Government, or a King? No; but each should possess the Spirit of the Lord; and through observing its teachings, every one will be rewarded and enjoy according to his capacity. Each vessel will be filled to overflowing, and hence all will be equal, in that they are full.
Every man and woman will receive to a fulness, though the quantity will vary according to the extent of their capacity, and each will be crowned with glory and eternal life, if faithful. He that endures to the end the same shall be saved. Not to run for a season and then turn away; but those who endure to the end will receive a fulness of joy which will give them satisfaction.
But, as Jesus said, these things are spiritually discerned. And though he was diligent in teaching his disciples, their traditions were such that, after he had been with them a long time, there were many points that they did not fully understand. When the question was asked Peter, "Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?" he replied, "Some say thou art John come to life again, and some that thou art one of the old prophets risen from the dead; some say one thing, and some say another." "But whom say ye that I am?" "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God." "Flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven." Why cannot you at once understand that you must imbibe in your faith and hold to that principle of revelation? Men cannot reveal the principles of eternal life to you; flesh and blood cannot; scientific books cannot; history cannot; another man's experience cannot; no, nor the whole world, with their wisdom and power; for they must be revealed from our Father which is in heaven.
Peter was blessed, because he had eyes to see; and when he saw with his spiritual eyes, he acknowledged it. He was not so proud and highminded as to turn round and deny. If the conviction of their own minds had free course, and were not trammelled through their erroneous traditions, millions and millions would hail this day with thanksgiving. They would rather see it than to be assured that the whole Rocky Mountain range was solid gold. If all Cherry Creek bottoms, and Pike's Peak, and the mountains around were a mass of pure gold, they would walk over it and say, "We will go to Utah and learn for ourselves, though we have to go on our hands and knees. Let us find the fountain of eternal intelligence--the way of life: let us find that which will satisfy the noble spirits God has placed in our tabernacles.
What is their condemnation? Light--truth--the true Priesthood--has come among them. And will they receive it? No. "They choose darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil," and their sins remain upon them. They are the ones who must suffer the loss, and not those who will be faithful.
There is not a man or woman on this earth that I hate; but I do most cordially hate their wicked acts. I am at war with false principles--with wickedness, sin, and abomination; and I expect to continue my warfare until I overcome.
Let this people continue to strive, to toil, and hold fast to the cause of their God, and they will conquer. I am for never forsaking the ship, and for never ceasing to watch the sails and the compass--for never ceasing my operations, until God shall reign King of nations, as he now reigns King of Saints.
People say, "If we only knew that this work was of the Lord, we would be satisfied." How can you know? Yield to that Spirit that influences the heart--that Spirit of the Almighty that gives your spirits understanding and teaches you truth from error, and God will take you by the hand and lead you by the right hand of his influence and power to victory and glory. The whole world might be saved. Will they be? No.
I am at war with evil principles, and I shall contend against them, and continue to do so until I see the kingdoms of this world bow to the sceptre of King Immanuel. Will any man be deprived of his rights when that is the case? No; but they will find it a Republican Democratic Government. "But we thought that the government you are talking about was a theocratic government." It is; and it is the only true form of government on the earth--the only one that possesses all the true principles of republicanism. It puts every man and woman right, puts everything in its place, and gives to each one his due according to his works; for so will they be judged in that day.
May the Lord bless those who are inclined to do right and follow out their religion. And I pray continually that they may elude the grasp of hypocrites and ungodly men--of those who are determined to hate God and his righteousness. I intend to persevere in the path of righteousness until I overcome; and, with the help of God and the Saints, I will out-general the wicked. And I declare to-day that every person endeavouring to do right shall have his rights in due time, and rejoice in the God of freedom; which may God grant. Amen.
CELEBRATION OF THE FOURTH OF JULY.
A Discourse by President Brigham Young, delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, July 4, 1854.
I realize the nature of my position in rising to speak to an assembly of intelligent gentlemen and ladies on such an occasion as the present. I probably feel my incapability more than can be perceived by my hearers. Still my mind is active, and my understanding is fruitful, whether I have ability or not to express that which is in me.
While my friends have been speaking, I have been much amused, edified, and delighted, especially in having Whiggery and Democracy so ably illustrated. I do not think they could have been exhibited more easily more naturally, more to the understanding of all, and more true to the spirit and universal deportment of those two leading parties of the nation, as they now exist, than they have been by my predecessor in the stand to-day; and I presume I am speaking the feelings of the greater part of this assembly.
While brother George A. Smith was speaking upon the rise and progress of the American Revolution, a few items ranging in the same line occurred to my mind, which I have a desire to express in the hearing of this assembly.
The revolutions made by the Government of the United States, with regard to real progression generally, are small indeed; so small that it is impossible to perceive any advancement. It is true the Constitution has been revised by the voice of the people; but wherein is it bettered? Some say it is bettered; but as to the light and knowledge that now exist with regard to the true spirit of republicanism, the revolution is on the retrograde motion. No one will question for a moment that many revolutions in the United States have become in a great degree popular, notwithstanding they have been in many instances unconstitutional and in open violation of the statute laws, and have been winked at by the most influential officers of the Government. There has been a progressive revolution since the close of the war, but not in virtue, justice, uprightness, and truth. It has become quite a custom, and by custom it has the force of law, for one party to mob another, to tear down and destroy Catholic churches, drive citizens from the ballot box, disallowing them the right of franchise, and persecute, plunder, drive from their possessions, and kill a great people. Revolution in the United States is progressing; but to the true spirit of Democracy and the science of government, the Revolution I refer to is strictly opposed.
With regard to Democracy and Whiggery, no person can exhibit them better and in a true light than Judge Shaver has to-day. The General Government, as a whole, do not understand truly what Democracy and Whiggery really are.
What would my friend George A. Smith tell you with regard to these two political bodies that now rule over our country, were he to address you upon this subject? He would tell you that one of them is a monster having many heads, and the other is a monster with no head at all. The impulse that is given to the Government is like that of the animal creation: when they are hungry, they are impelled to eat, and to drink when they are thirsty. When this necessity presses upon them, all the sensitive powers are on the alert to search for food. All their natural impulses to action originate in the appetite: they receive them from the demands the interior of the animal makes upon the creature. It then becomes the duty of the head to search out a method to supply these demands with food suitable to the nature of the animal, which administers health, strength, vigour, growth, and beauty to the whole body.
What ought to be the Government of the United States? And what are Whiggery and Democracy as they now exist? Nothing, and a little less.
I believe in a true Republican government; but where is the man capable of exhibiting in their true character the principles of such a Government? I do not profess to be that man: still I believe I am as capable to search into the merits of the subject, and can understand the general principles of true Republicanism as well as any other man, though I may not be capable of setting it before the people in its perfection. I can, however, talk a little about it.
Is there a true Republican government on the earth? There is. Do you inquire, Where is that government? I answer, It is here. I am a true Republican;, if I understand what the term signifies. But I put my own definition upon such terms; for in many instances our lexicographers have widely mistaken ideas, and widely disagree upon the meaning of words. They may trace the etymology of words, through the living and dead languages, to their roots, as they suppose; but there is a great probability of their being mistaken still.
A government that is perfect would be called Democratic. True Republicanism, and what is meant or understood by true Democracy, is the same; but the full extent of true Democracy cannot be told by any man at this time. In entering upon a point that I do not fully understand, and can in nowise fully explain, I shall content myself to talk about it according to the extent of my capacity and the understanding I have of the subject, and leave the little I have to say with the people. The question, What is a true Republican government? is easily answered. It is a government or institution that is perfect--perfect in its laws and ordinances, having for its object the perfection of mankind in righteousness. This is true Democracy. But Democracy as it is now is another thing. True Democracy or Republicanism, if it were rightly understood, ought to be the Government of the United States. They might have had that government long ago; but as it was said by my predecessor in the stand, "Whom the Lord would destroy, he makes mad;" consequently, he must take away the wisdom of that man, or of that people. No man or people possessing wisdom will give vent to wrath, for that is calculated to weaken, to destroy, to blot out of existence.
When the Supreme Ruler of the universe wishes to destroy a nation, he takes away their wisdom in the first place, and they become insensible to their own interests, and they are filled with wrath; they give way to their anger, and thus lay the foundation of their own destruction. To him who seeks to save, he gives wisdom, which enables any people, nation, or individual to lay the foundation for strength, increase, and power. When we look abroad upon the nations, we can see this truth verified; and when we look at home in our own nation, it is no less verified. We see that wisdom is actually departing from the lawgiver, and the knowledge and the discretion the judge possessed years ago have vanished. We discern that the very policy adopted by the nations to fortify them in strength is calculated to sap their foundations. The axe is laid at the root of the tree, and all nations are filling up the cup of their guilt.
Supposes I were speaking to the assembled millions of the inhabitants of the United States, what counsel or advice could be given to them that they might regain what they have lost? Can any temporal means be adopted to save them from the vortex of ruin into which they are fast approaching--a doom which they never can avert without sincere repentance? Yes, there is seemingly a human policy, if adopted, that would snatch them from destruction. What is it? Let the people rise <en masse> to lay the foundation of a wholesome, independent, free, Democratic (as the people call it), Republican government--a government which, if carried out, will be perfect in itself.
Let us look at it in another point of view. Suppose this people inhabiting these mountains are broken off entirely from the nations of the world, rendering no allegiance to any earthly power combined or isolated; free to make laws, to obey them, or to break them; free to act, to choose, and to refuse, and, in every sense of the word, to do as they please, without any fixed order of government whatever; and they wish a Constitution--a system of government for mutual protection and advancement in the principles of right, to be framed according to the best wisdom that can be found in this community;--I say, let them govern themselves by a Republican system of government, selecting a man from their midst to preside over them. And whom should they select to fill so important a station? The best man they can find. Should they keep him in office only four years? Should they make a clause in their Constitution that a President shall serve at most for only two terms without a vacation in his services? That is an item that should not be found in the Constitution of the United States, nor in the constitution made by this or any other people. We should select the best man we could find, and centre our feelings upon him, and sustain him as our President, dictator, lawgiver, controller, and guide in a national capacity, and in every other capacity wherein he is a righteous example. Though we find as good a man as there is in the nation, yet we should not lay facilities before him to become evil, were he so disposed. Great care should be exercised to guard against placing such a power at the command of any mortal.
Shall we give him twenty-five thousand dollars per annum, and make him superior to any other honest man in the Territory, State, or kingdom, in things pertaining to this world? or lay inducements before him to become proud, haughty, and neglectful of the true interests of the people? No. For if he is capable of ruling the people and dictating them, he is capable of taking care of himself. If we cannot find a man willing to control and guide us without our pouring the gold and silver into his coffers and exalting him above the rest of us, then we will take one less capable, who will do it for nothing.
Do you ask why I would recommend this course? I answer, Because of the weakness of man. Were we to elect a man to preside over us in this capacity, and give him three, four, five, eight, or fifteen thousand dollars a year, the streets would be full of demagogues; you would see them perched upon every ant-hill, croaking out their stump speeches for this or that man to be our ruler; and the paid lackeys of each candidate for office, in the streets, in the public places, and in the houses of the citizens, would be using their influence for their employers in their respective circles, and wherever they would be listened to.
Whether such a man as a ruler will do good to the people, is not thought of, either by the candidate or by his lackeys; but the one is after the thousands of dollars, and the other his paltry fee. The welfare the people they do not consider. What will be the best policy to pursue for the good of the people at large is not in all their thoughts.
Let the people see to it that they get righteous men to be their leaders, who will labour with their hands and administer to their own necessities, sit in judgment, legislate, and govern in righteousness; and officers that are filled with peace; and see to it that every man that goes forth among the people as a travelling officer is full of the fear of the Lord, and would rather do right at a sacrifice than do wrong for a reward.
What would be the result, if this course was adopted by the people of the United States? It would destroy the golden prospects of those who were seeking for gain alone, and men would be sought for, in the nation, State, or Territory, who were for the people, and would seek earnestly for their welfare, benefit, and salvation. We want men to rule the nation who care more for and love better the nation's welfare than gold and silver, fame, or popularity.
Are there any such in the United States? Yes, plenty of them among all classes of men, though they have little or nothing to say about politics. Many of them are much like one Mr. Hovey, from Cayuga County, New York, that I once asked if he was going to the election? "No," he replied, "I will never give another vote in the United States." I asked the reason for such a course. "Why," said he, "they will set up the Devil as a candidate for the office of President, then set up his apostate brother, who has forfeited his inheritance, and run him in for sake of opposition." There are plenty of men who would do that and worse. The nation, however, is not lost yet; there are as many as five righteous men in the city, at least.
Let the people lay the foundation for carrying out the Republican Government which was instituted by our fathers, instead of maintaining a government of anarchy, confusion, and strife. Were this people here an independent people, and had the privilege of selecting their own officers, and I should be chosen to dictate them in their selections, I would watch and guard faithfully their rights, and see that they selected men who had not the dimes in view. The motto should be--"If you do not labour for the good of the people, irrespective of the dimes, we do not want your services; for if you labour for the money, you seek to benefit yourselves at the people's expense." I make this application and turn it eastward, which you know is the way the world rolls. If the Government knew what the wants of the people were, they would take away the salaries of political demagogues, and stop their running and their stump preaching, from one end of the land to the other, to make proselytes to their cause. This would have a tendency to put an end to party names, to party jealousies, and to party conflicts for ever. And the people should concentrate their feelings, their influence, and their faith, to select the best man they can find to be their President, if he has nothing more to eat than potatoes and salt--a man who will not aspire to become greater than the people who appoint him, but be contended to live as they live, be clothed as they are clothed, and in every good thing be one with them.
It is yet in the power of the people of the United States to lay a foundation to redeem themselves from the growing consequences of past errors. What would be the result, were the United States to take this course--viz., to strike out that clause in the Constitution that limits the services of a President to four years, or the term of service of any good man, and continue to revise the Constitution and laws as they become familiar with their defects; then reduce the salaries of all officers in all the departments? Would not such a course revolutionize any kingdom or government, and be very likely to produce union and prosperity?
Are there any more improvements that might be made? Yes. If we are what we profess to be--a Republican Government, there is no State in the Union but what should be amenable to the General Government holding to the old English rights in Rhode Island. Then Congress, with the President at their head, could meet and veto every act made by any department of the Government, if it was necessary. So let Congress come together when any of the States transcend the bounds of right, and hold them amenable for their actions. The General Government should never give any portion of the nation license to say they are free and independent. This should only apply to the nation as a whole. We have a little experience in this kind of independence. For instance, the Government of the United States were willing to take my money for lands in Missouri, which were in the market; but the people in that sovereign, that free, and independent State rose up and mobbed me, drove me from my possessions, and confiscated my property to themselves; and the General Government has no power to redress my wrongs. This is only one instance among many of the kind which I might enumerate to show the impolicy and down right mockery of such boasted independence. While such outrages remain unredressed, this nation never should defile the sacred term by saying they have a REPUBLICAN GOVERNMENT.
The General Constitution of our country is good, and a wholesome government could be framed upon it, for it was dictated by the invisible operations of the Almighty; he moved upon Columbus to launch forth upon the trackless deep to discover the American Continent; he moved upon the signers of the Declaration of Independence; and he moved upon Washington to fight and conquer, in the same way as he moved upon ancient and modern Prophets, each being inspired to accomplish the particular work he was called to perform in the times, seasons, and dispensations of the Almighty. God's purpose, in raising up these men and inspiring them with daring sufficient to surmount every opposing power, was to prepare the way for the formation of a true Republican government. They laid its foundation; but when others came to build upon it, they reared a superstructure far short of their privileges, if they had walked uprightly as they should have done.
What shall be done? Let the people, the whole American people, rise up and say they will have these abuses regulated, and no longer suffer political demagogues to gamble away their money, but turn them out of office to attend to their own business. Let the people make a whip, if not of good tough raw hide, of small cords at least, and walk into the temple of the nation, and cleanse it thoroughly out, and put in men who will legislate for their good, instead of gambling away their money and trifling with the sacred interests of the nation which have been entrusted to their keeping.
I would not speak so plainly, were it not that statesmen use the same privilege, and that, too, in the halls of Legislatures. We can never get a true Republican government upon any other principle. The object those have in view who look and long for the gaudy trash of this world should be removed, that men may occupy the high and responsible seats of the nation who will care for the welfare of the people, and cannot be bought with money, or that which it can purchase.
Can the Constitution be altered? It can; and when we get a President that answers our wishes to occupy the executive chair, there let him sit to the day of his death, and pray that he may live as long as Methuselah; and, whenever we have good officers, strive to retain them, and to fill up vacancies with good men, until there are none who would let the nation sink for a can of oysters and a lewd woman.
The signers of the Declaration of Independence and the framers of the Constitution were inspired from on high to do that work. But was that which was given to them perfect, not admitting of any addition whatever? No; for if men know anything, they must know that the Almighty has never yet found a man in mortality that was capable, at the first intimation, at the first impulse, to receive anything in a state of entire perfection. They laid the foundation, and it was for after generations to rear the superstructure upon it. It is a progressive--a gradual work. If the framers of the Constitution and the inhabitants of the United States had walked humbly before God, who defended them and fought their battles when Washington was on the stage of action, the nation would now have been free from a multitude of place hunters who live upon its vitals. The country would not have been overrun with murderers and thieves, and our cities filled with houses of ill-fame, as now; and men could have walked the streets of cities, or travelled on conveyances through the country, without being insulted, plundered, and perhaps murdered; and an honest, sober, industrious, enterprizing [sic], and righteous people would now have been found from one end of the United States to the other.
The whole body is deranged; and the head, which ought to be the seat of sense and the temple of wisdom, is insensible to the wants of the body, and to the fact that, if the body sinks, the head must sink also.
I want to tell a political anecdote; or, at least, I will tell it so nigh that you will guess the whole of it. Two fellows were stump speaking for office in the State of Illinois: one of them was a lawyer, of flowery, eloquent speech; and the other was a rough and ready homespun mechanic, but a man of sound sense. The lawyer made his speech in flaming language, interlarding it with expressions of sensitive regard for the people's interests. The mechanic mounted the rostrum, and says he--"I cannot make a speech to cope with this man's speech; but I can tell you what he and I want. He wants your votes. Now, if you will give me your votes, when I get into office, you may----and be damned." They both felt so; and there are but few exceptions to this practice. Office-seekers are full of tricks and intrigues of every kind to get an office, and then the people may----and be damned.
The progress of revolution is quite considerable in every government of the world. But is the revolution for the constitutional rights of the people in progress? No: it is on the retrograde. I know how they can be brought back to the people, and the Government be redeemed and become one of the most powerful and best on the earth. It was instituted in the beginning by the Almighty. He operated upon the hearts of the Revolutionary Fathers to rebel against the English King and his Parliament, as he does upon me to preach "Mormonism." Both are inspired by him; but the work unto which they are called is dissimilar. The one was inspired to fight, and the other to preach the peaceable things of the kingdom of God. He operated upon that pusillanimous king to excite the colonists to rebellion; and he is still operating with this nation, and taking away their wisdom, until by-and-by they will get mad and rush to certain destruction.
Will the Constitution be destroyed? No: it will be held inviolate by this people; and, as Joseph Smith said, "The time will come when the destiny of the nation will hang upon a single thread. At that critical juncture, this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction." It will be so.
With regard to the doings of our fathers and the Constitution of the United States, I have to say, they present to us a glorious prospect in the future, but one we cannot attain to until the present abuses in the Government are corrected.
You have heard our Judge relate an incident, which is only one more among numberless abuses perpetrated by the rulers of the nation. The particulars of this incident can be found upon our dockets, showing that the President of the United States assumes to himself power to remove a circuit Judge. I am not a lawyer; but I wish to propound a question--By what law, constitutional or statute, has the President a right to remove a United States' Judge, except for illegal conduct or inability? It is, to say the least, a flagrant assumption of power. What business have they thus to remove our Judges? What end have they in view? I'll tell you. It is--
"Tickle me, tickle me, O Billy, do;
And, in your turn, I'll tickle you."
I have perhaps detained the congregation too long. May God bless you! Amen.
A Discourse by President H. C. Kimball, delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, July 16, 1854.
There can be no person, who is at all acquainted with the Scriptures, but must be satisfied that the remarks that brother Herriman has made this morning are strictly true. They are fully substantiated by the Bible, which you all profess to believe, and which the professing world say they believe.
Brethren and sisters, let your minds be composed and settled down in the Spirit of the Lord, and have his Spirit to be with you always, and especially when you come to the house of worship.
It is a common thing, not only in this Church, but in the churches of the sectarian world, for people to say, "Come, let us go to meeting to-day, and try if we cannot get warmed up in our hearts and refreshed by the Holy Spirit." Now, that is customary among all religious people. Well, whom do you expect to refresh you here, if you are not refreshed when you come to meeting? For you should always have your hearts warmed up, and your bodies pure, when you visit the house of the Lord. Make not the outside of the cup and the platter clean alone, but also the inside. People who keep the inside of the cup and platter clean are very apt to wash the outside of it. You all hate to eat food from a filthy dish, and to drink water out of a dirty cup; but you love to eat out of a clean dish, and sleep in a clean bed. Every person naturally loves to see a clean house and clean garments, if they themselves are filthy.
Upon the same principle, inasmuch as we will repent of our sins and turn from them, and then go down into the waters of baptism--into pure water, and be immersed--overwhelmed in the same, that our sins may be remitted--washed away, (not however, for the washing away of the filth of the flesh, but to answer a good conscience before God and man,) and then receive the imposition of hands by a man having authority, that we may receive the Holy Ghost,--I say, the Holy Ghost, being a pure spirit or influence, even after all this is done, will have an objection to perform his office in an impure tabernacle. That is the reason why a great many never receive the Holy Ghost, because they say they are pure, and lie to God, and also to the Holy Ghost.
This is the Gospel that was taught you by the first Elders who bore the joyful message to foreign nations; and the moment the Holy Spirit rested upon you in your first introduction into this Church, you actually felt the Spirit of prophecy and revelation. I know this to be a fact when we introduced the Gospel into old England. Here is brother George D. Watt, our reporter, for instance. I never told him anything about gathering to the land of America--that it was the promised land. One night, we met with a small company of the new members in Preston, Lancashire, and brother George commenced reading the Book of Mormon. After a little, he rose up and said, "The land of America is the promised land; it is Zion, and we shall be gathered there, although you have not told us anything about it." He prophesied that within two weeks after he was baptized. The Holy Ghost dwelt in you to show you things to come. It showed brother George that this was the land of Zion, and that the Saints in all nations had to be gathered there: it brought it to his remembrance, if he had ever thought of the thing before and forgotten it. This is the effect it had upon you. I presume there is not a single individual but what can exclaim, "It was really so."
That same Holy Ghost inspired you to speak in new tongues, to prophesy, to interpret tongues, to see visions, and have dreams to edify and comfort you. It was with you when you went out, and when you came in,--when you lay down, and when you rose up. That is the office of the Holy Ghost--to dwell and abide with those who keep the commandments of the Almighty in faith believing. He delights to dwell with such; but he does not delight to dwell in unholy temples. You know that naturally, because there is not one of you, unless you make a practice of being filthy and dirty yourselves, that ever wishes to go into a filthy place.
Now, if these are your feelings, for heaven's sake do not ask the Holy Ghost to dwell with you, when you do not pursue a course to cleanse the body, not only internally, but externally, from the crown of the head to the soles of the feet. You know this is what I believe to be sanctification.
I have heard brother Gifford talk about sanctification, and I understand the principle of sanctification was laid before you by President Young. What would sanctify you and prepare you to enter into the presence of God, and to enjoy his Spirit?
We read in the Bible that the Lord told Joshua to sanctify Israel; for, says he, "there is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel." And on the morrow they sanctified themselves by stoning to death Achan, the son of Carmi, who stole the wedge of gold and the Babylonish garment. They also stoned to death his wife and his children, his oxen and his asses, and burnt them with fire, together with his tent, the silver, the gold, and the garment, in the valley of Achor.
Thus all Israel put to death the transgressor, and sanctified themselves before the Lord. Would it not be an excellent course to pursue with this people, to sanctify them to the fullest extent of the word? There are individuals in these valleys who profess to be Latter-day Saints; but do they by their works make their profession honourable? No; their works and their profession are very dissimilar indeed. I think it would be an excellent thing for this people to be sanctified from such persons, and have them cleansed from our midst, by making an atonement.
You may say, "You might put this into practice; but it would extend to many who are passing through here, who steal and plunder, and drive away cattle and horses." But let me inform you that there are many instances of that kind, where they are encouraged, or property is put into their hands by characters who dwell here and profess to be Saints.
When you undertake to prune a diseased tree, you commence your operations at the root of the evil, and continue to trim it out to the top of the tree, or as far as it extends, and throw the diseased branches into the brush-heap and burn them, as I used to do when I was logging, and then take the ashes and make potash and soap with them, and then cleanse away filthiness with it. This is what I call sanctification.
So you see I am in full fellowship with my brethren, though I was not here last Sunday when the subject was introduced: I can bear testimony to every word they said as being true, because I never knew them to tell a lie. My feelings are, I wish to God wickedness was done away from our midst. My brethren and myself have often reflected and remarked upon the happiness we should enjoy when we could fully separate ourselves from the world, from wicked men, wicked women, and wicked practices.
Previous to our coming to these valleys, I wished and prayed that, when we went to the valleys, there would not any of the wicked persons follow us who are eternally hanging on our skirts. These are my feelings and desires now, and the earnest wishes of hundreds and thousands of men and women who dwell in these valleys.
I know there is a good people here--a better people than dwells in any other portion of the world. And the emigrants who are going to California are perfectly astonished, when they arrive here, to see that we are a civilized people. They are astonished beyond measure as they gaze upon this people, whom they supposed to be a poor, miserable outcast race of beings. Did any of them ever go into a city where there were more peace and prosperty [sic], and as few loafers, since they were born? We never saw any loafers in our streets until they came. I am not saying anything against them, but I am noticing the views they entertain about us. They have expressed it many times, that they never were so astonished as when they came into these valleys and found a civilized and industrious people--a people who knew how to build up a city, and incorporate it, and enforce the laws. And a day will come when we shall put them in force more strictly. God is only waiting upon you in his compassion, that peradventure you may repent of and forsake all evil, and turn to him.
We are the people of God; we are the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the foundation of which, in these last days, was begun by the Almighty sending an holy angel to Joseph Smith to reveal to him his will and establish the everlasting Gospel that was preached in the days of Jesus, even faith, repentance, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the ordaining of Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, Evangelists, Pastors, Patriarchs, Bishops, Deacons, Priests, and Elders. This is the true Church of God, although there may be a few in the valleys who do not live up to their holy profession; but because they are unfaithful to their God and to their religion, it does not affect in the least the truthfulness of the principles of heaven. I see some turn away from this Church because of the conduct of others. This has nothing to do with our faith; but we are to have our faith grounded. It is for us to dig deep, and lay our foundation upon a rock, that when the winds blow, and the storms and hurricanes beat upon us, we may still find ourselves firmly established upon the rock of truth.
I will tell you, gentlemen, (I address myself to those who have nothing to do with us as a people,) this is the Church and kingdom of our God; and the day will come, eventually, when the nations and kingdoms of the earth will become the "kingdoms of our God and his Christ." This doctrine is found in this good old book, the Bible, which all of you profess to believe, and have to kiss to give validity to your oaths, when you are sworn before a magistrate to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
We believe in every man having his rights, and being sustained in them. And we wish you to understand that we are not exactly such a people as many suppose.
It is believed in the world that our females are all common women. Well, in one sense they are common--that is, they are like all other women, I suppose; but they are not unclean, for we wipe all unclean ones from our midst: we not only wipe them from our streets, but we wipe them out of existence. And if the world want to practise uncleanness, and bring their prostitutes here, if they do not repent and forsake such sins, we will wipe the evil out. We will not have them in this valley, unless they repent; for, so help me God, while I live, I will lend my hand to wipe such persons out; and I know this people will.
Such things cannot exist here. The civil authorities will never make a law admitting of prostitution in the City of the Great Salt Lake: it never can be permitted while we live. We know it is the custom among some nations to authorize by law such abominations, giving licenses to houses of ill fame. But remember, if ever it is allowed among this people, it will be when righteousness has ceased to dwell in their midst. It never can be allowed in this community in male or female, whether they belong to the Church or not; and we will wipe out such abominations, the Lord being our helper.
That is sanctification. Our holy religion is to purify, purge, cleanse, and sanctify this people. We care not what people think or say about our course in this respect; it is our religion, and we will not have corruption where we dwell, if we can help it. That is one reason we were not permitted to live in the States: we were determined, by the help of God, to be virtuous men and women. So they drove us, from time to time, and from place to place, until they drove us into the mountains; and I assure you, I, for one, feel thankful to my God that I live in these mountains, and that there is no man or woman who loves righteousness but what will fell as I do.
The Lord has led us up stairs until we have entered into the chamber; and, for heaven's sake, let us not pollute it, for fear we should be led down stairs again. We are now high up towards the presence of the Lord, and he feels to bless us, and his hand is over us for good; and he will curse every hand that is raised against us, if we will do right; and our enemies will go backwards and nor forwards.
My prayer is, by night and by day, that every man and woman that bless this people, and desire to do them good, may be blessed of the Lord God; and I know he will bless them. But every man and woman who shall raise a weapon against this people, or devise evil against them, my prayer is, that they may be cursed; and they certainly will be cursed, and God will frustrate all their designs, and he will lead his people on from victory to victory until they triumph over all their enemies.
What do you say, brethren and sisters? Do you not think it best for us to do right, each person individually being led by the dictations of the Holy Spirit, listening diligently to those who are appointed to lead, govern, and dictate this people? You know what I mean by this. President Young is our governor and our dictator. It is for me to walk with him, and for you to walk with those who go before you.
I know how it is in the world, for I have lived there. I was born in vermont, and raised, the most of my days, in the State of New York, Ontario County, and so was President Brigham Young; yet many emigrants who came through our valley thought we were moose, camels, or dromedaries. They did not know what we were; they, no doubt, thought we had horns on our heads: they had no idea we had eyes and legs like human beings; but they supposed we were some kind of nondescript animal. I know this is so: I have been in the world, and they cannot think we are human!
However, whether we are human beings or not, I know that I was born in Vermont, among the rocks, and have lived the greater portion of my days among those who are without God in the world; and I know their corruptions--yes, as well as they do. I know the wickedness in their cities, in their synagogues, and in their high places. I understand it all. Still they calculate that we, who have more than one wife, shall not have land in proportion to our families. Well, we are ready to buy what we need, when it comes in market.
This we learn from the public prints; so there can be no harm in my talking about what is published all through the United States. If a law was put in force throughout the Union--namely, that no grant of land shall be given to any except those who have but one wife, and no mistresses, many of the first class of the nation would have to console themselves with as little land as the "Mormons."
Our wives are publicly acknowledged by us, and we sustain them as such, and we hold them sacred. How is it with the world? Do they have mistresses for illicit intercourse, hired and sustained to satiate their want on appetites? We cannot have any land, because we honourably marry and sustain our wives; but others are entitled to privileges, notwithstanding their secret abominations.
We are a people who want to purify ourselves, and be clean from such characters, and bring up our children in the way they should go. One of my sons and brother Brigham's oldest son went to England this season through the United States. They never knew what was in the world before, for they never were there under the same circumstances. In their letters to us, they wrote something like this--"My God, my God, help us to get safely back again to the mountains; for we had no idea of the awful corruptions of the world we live in, until we travelled through the United States." And they have yet seen only a small portion of the ungodliness, wickedness, and corruption of the New and Old Worlds. The old countries are corrupt indeed; but the new are not a whit behind them in the blackness of their wickedness.
These are my views, and the Lord knows that I believe in the principles of sanctification; and when I am guilty of seducing any man's wife, or any woman in God's world, I say sever my head from my body. These have ever been my feelings from the days of my youth. This is my character, and the character of President Brigham Young. It was the character of Joseph Smith and of Jesus Christ; and that is the character of the Apostles of Jesus, and that must be sustained by this people.
If we pursue that course, do you not think we are bound to rise and to prosper--that is, in Jesus Christ? Yes; and we will stand to him, and to his cause, and to him who is placed to govern and dictate the kingdom of God on the earth. By taking this course continually, subjecting ourselves to the Priesthood, we never shall fall,--no, never. We shall never get into a difficulty but what we can get out again. But let us be careful to get into it lawfully, and we shall prosper, and shall rise triumphantly over every difficulty, on that principle; and on the ship of Zion we shall bravely live through every storm, though they may be heavy; and though rocks and quicksands and the Devil and the world may be in our way, they cannot move us from our path.
Let us do right, and sanctify ourselves before the Lord God, and purify our habitations (I mean the tabernacles of our spirits), and then our houses, and our children, and our servants, and our handmaidens, and everything there is about us with which we have to do, and then use all with clean hands and pure hearts. If we take that course, do you not suppose God will stand by us? There is not one of you but what knows this naturally.
Now, when you go home, every one of you begin to live as you were told last Sabbath and the Sabbath before, and do right, and seek to build up the kingdom of God; pay attention to all things that God requires of you by his servants.
Many wish for the time when President Brigham Young and his brethren will be relieved from attending to temporal matters, and attend to spiritual matters altogether. You will have to wait for this until we get into the spiritual world and have to deal with spirits. All things pertaining to this world, both spiritual and temporal, will be dictated by the Prophet of God--by our President. He dictates how to build a Temple--how high, how wide, how many rooms it must contain, whether it shall be of this, that, or the other form; and the Tithing House and all public works pertaining to this people are dictated by him. Some wish to rid him of having anything to do with temporal matters. That cannot be, in the nature of things; for, as one of the ancients said, "As the body is dead without the spirit, so is faith without works, being alone." So, as long as the body, which is temporal, is joined to the spirit, he must have to do with temporal things.
Reflect upon it. The spirit is joined to these bodies to quicken them, that we may have to do with temporal matters; for when the spirit leaves vegetable or animal organization, the body dies, or returns to the earth. There is not a being in heaven or on earth, but what has had a body, has one now, or will have. Cease your works, and then your faith is dead. I care not for a man's faith unaccompanied by works, and his works must correspond with his faith. He must be virtuous, and enjoy the Holy Ghost, and the revelations of God, that when a man speaks, you may know it is by the same Spirit, and you will be edified; then you never will be deceived.
My prayer is for you to be faithful, active, and retain the Spirit of the Lord God, and go a head, and fight manfully, purifying yourselves from all iniquity.
I never had a bloodthirsty spirit; for I never fought in my life, but I always yielded before I would have any difficulty with any man. But let the Spirit of God Almighty rest upon me, and see if I do not walk up to the battle's front. I had that spirit when I was in the world, and it is never in me only when the Lord puts it there.
Let us be pure and keep the commandments of God, and let the world say and do what they please. These are my feelings all the time.
May God bless you, and help you to do right, whether other people do right or not. This is my prayer and blessing upon you, from this time henceforth and for ever. Amen.
EVIDENCES OF THE BIBLE AND BOOK OF MORMON COMPARED.
A Discourse by Elder Orson Pratt, delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, January 2, 1859. Reported by G. D. Watt.
I will commence my discourse by reading the testimony of three witnesses of the Book of Mormon.
[The speaker here read the testimony referred to.]
I will also read the testimony of eight witnesses.
[The speaker then read it.]
Brethren and Friends,--I appear before you to-day for the first time for many months, feeling grateful to our Father in heaven for his condescension and mercy unto us as a people, that we are once more, through his kind providence, permitted to assemble ourselves together in this Tabernacle for the purpose of public worship.
Whether I say much or little, it is my sincere desire to be dictated by the Spirit of the living God. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was established upon the earth in the year 1830. Had it not been for the Book of Mormon, which I now hold in my hands, such a Church would not have had an existence. The probability is, there would have been no settlements formed in this Territory, no cities to adorn these dreary wastes, no tabernacles erected for Divine worship, and no congregations assembled to hear the words of life. The vast solitudes of these deserts would have been interrupted only by the howling of wild beasts, or the still more dismal yells of the ferocious savage. But this wonderful book has wrought a vast change; and these sterile regions now "rejoice and blossom as the rose." This book professes to be sent forth as a Divine revelation from God.
If it be an imposition, as many of our opposers say, then this Church is an imposition also, and our faith and hope are vain. On the other hand, if the Book of Mormon be a Divine revelation, as the witnesses have testified,--if God has indeed brought forth the ancient history of the American continent, and the writings of the ancient Prophets and Apostles that once inhabited this land,--if he has done this, and re-established his kingdom and Church upon the earth, then our opposers, that condemn the book, will be found under condemnation. If this book be of God, it must have sufficient evidence accompanying it to convince the minds of all reasonable persons that it is a Divine revelation. If it has been translated by the gift and power of God, through the means of the Urim and Thummin, and angels have been sent from heaven to bear testimony of its truth, then all the inhabitants of the world are concerned and have an interest in it.
It is not the few individuals only who are within the walls of this Tabernacle that are interested in its truths; it is not the few individuals only who inhabit this Territory and the few Saints abroad in the world who are interested in it; but all the nations of the earth, without one exception,--their presidents, governors, and rulers,--their popes, archbishops, and bishops,--their learned and unlearned of every religious society, whether Jews, Mahomedans, Pagans, or Christians, are all equally interested in it, if it be what it professes to be.
If the Lord will assist and strengthen me by his Holy Spirit, which I believe he will do, thorough your prayers, I will endeavour to bring forth some few of the evidences which establish the Divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon.
I shall compare this evidence with the evidence for the Divine authenticity of the Bible. If the two books are supported by an equal amount of evidence, then all are required to have the same faith in the one as the other. But if the divinity of the Book of Mormon does not rest upon as sure a foundation as the Bible, then the people will have some little reason for rejecting it.
In the first place, I shall examine what evidences the present generation have to believe the various books incorporated in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be of Divine origin. It must be recollected that the book called the Bible was translated from manuscripts 247 years ago by King James' translators. The manuscripts from which the Bible was taken are not now in existence. Up to the year 1749, they were deposited at a Spanish University, called Alcala, anciently named Complutem. The librarian sold them to one Toryo, who dealt in fireworks as materials for making skyrockets. (For authority, see Marsh's Michaelis, vol. 2, part 1, page 441.)
The oldest manuscripts of any of the books of the Old Testament at the present day date from the twelfth century of the Christian era. You will find proof of this in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the 8th edition, vol. 4, page 695, which series is now being published in Edinburgh, Scotland. That celebrated work says, "The sacred books of the Old Testament have come down to our times in MSS., the oldest of which date from twelfth century. Nothing is known of the history of the text previous to that period after the return of the Jews from their captivity."
It is believed by the learned that the Old Testament Scriptures were all destroyed by the Assyrians nearly six hundred years before Christ. The Apocrypha informs us that Esdras was inspired to re-write them. In this manner it is conjectured that the Jews again came in possession of their sacred writings. These books again perished in the great persecution of Antiochus.
(For further information upon this subject, see Brett's Dissertation in Bishop Watson's Collect, vol. 3, page 5.)
The history of the inspired writings anterior to the Babylonish captivity is very brief. The number of copies were very few. In the days of Josiah, all of the Jews seem to have been destitute of a copy of the law. During the reign of that king, in repairing the house of the Lord, a copy of the book of the law was found; and when presented to the king, he went five messengers to Huldah, the prophetess, saying, "Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found." The messengers returned and reported to the king that the book found was indeed a Divine revelation, and the king caused all the inhabitants of Jerusalem to be assembled to hear the words of the book. (See 2 Chron. 34.)
For a long period previous to finding the book, the Jews had been ignorant of the Scriptures, and had fallen into the grossest idolatry. A new revelation through the prophetess Huldah seems to have been sufficient to convince the king and all Israel of the divinity of the book. They must have been inclined, in that age of the world, to believe the history of the servants of God more than in this age; for now the people generally require a vast amount of evidence. The testimony of a dozen witnesses is scarcely regarded.
I have already observed, through the persecutions raised against the house of Israel, their books were destroyed; yes, even the tables of stone, for some reason, were taken from them, and all Israel were left without even a copy of the law, until accidentally they happened to find one that had been hid in the house of the Lord, as I have already named; and they were so ignorant with regard to this copy that they were obliged to send for Huldah one of the prophetesses in Israel, to inquire of the Lord to know if it really was his word. They found a book, but they did not know whether it was true or false; and they thought it important that it should be determined by the immediate word of God.
Why not this generation go and do likewise? Why not inquire of the Lord whether the Book of Mormon is a Divine revelation? The copy found anciently contained the words of the Lord. And the people were so rejoiced that the whole nation of Jews gathered together to hear it read, and rejoiced over it, and gave heed to its precepts. They were not like the present generation; they did not fight it, and testify all manner of evil against it, and publish lies against it; but they believed it on the testimony of the prophetess.
It is very probable that the Jews copied these sacred writings upon various materials. Bishop Watson informs us that "the Hebrews went so far as to write their sacred books in gold, as we may learn from Josephus, compared with Pliny." He further says, "Those books which were inscribed on tablets of wood, lead, brass, or ivory, were connected together by rings at the back, through which a rod was passed to carry them by." "The first books," continues Bishop Watson, "were in the form of blocks and tables, of which we find frequent mention in Scripture, under the appellation of <sepher>--that is, square tables. That form which obtains among us (he quotes from Pliny,) is the square, composed of separate leaves, which was also known, though little used among the ancients."
These copies of the Scriptures were destroyed, so that the Jews were again left destitute of the sacred writings. How they again obtained a copy, this generation are not informed.
Esdras informs us in the Apocrypha that he was inspired of God to write a great number of the books of the Old Testament Scriptures, so that the Jewish people might again be in possession of them. But how are this generation to know whether Esdras was a true Prophet or not? How are they to know that he was actually inspired of God to perform so great a work? It seems that the learned have no confidence in him, or they would not have placed his books among the Apocryphal writings as being doubtful.
But soon after the days of Esdras the sacred books again perished. How did the Jews again obtain copies? None of the learned can answer this question. For seventeen long centuries, the history of the sacred text is unknown. We are informed by learned writers that about three centuries before Christ the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek, called the Septuagint; but have we any copies of the Septuagint? No. You may search all the archives of the nations, and you cannot find one of these ancient copies. Fifteen hundred years after this supposed translation, you find some Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. Let us inquire into the situation of the manuscripts from which our present Hebrew and Greek Bibles were formed. We are informed by St. Chrysostom, and ancient Christian writer who lived soon after the days of Christ, that "many of the prophetical monuments have perished; for the Jews being careless, and not only careless, but also impious, have carelessly lost some of these monuments; others they have partly burned, partly torn in pieces."
We are also informed by St. Justin, another early Christian writer, that the Jews actually did destroy a great number of the prophetical books, in order that the world might not perceive the agreement between the ancient Prophets in the Old Testament and Christianity. Here, then, we have the testimony of early Christian writers that many of the prophetical books of the Old Testament were destroyed.
We are also informed by the Catholics, "That many, and very many of the canonical books of Scripture have quite perished, and not so much as appeared in the days of the very ancient fathers; so that nothing but the names of those books have come unto us." (See Mumford's Question of Questions, sec. 1. 7.)
We are also informed, by those manuscripts that are dated from the 12th century of the Christian era, that the few books that were preserved during the long reign of persecution and error had become very much altered and mutilated,--so much so, that when the learned gathered a large number of manuscripts together, they found no two that agreed. A great variety of readings in these manuscripts discouraged many of our translators, some three centuries ago, from translating the Old Testament, lest the world should turn to atheism. If they had translated them all, they would have had several hundred Bibles, all clashing and differing from each other.
It must be recollected that the Catholic canon of Scripture was not formed until the year 397. Prior to that period, the people were left, some of them to believe in this manuscript, and some in that,--some to reject this one, and some that; and many of the Christian fathers in the second and third centuries of the Christian era were entirely unable to determine what manuscripts were spurious, and what one to receive as divine. Mumford speaks thus upon this subject:--
"If you fly to the tradition of the Church only of the first four hundred years, remember that the Council of Carthage, just after the end of those years, alleged the ancient tradition of their fathers, which they judged sufficient for defining our canon. They, who were so near those first four hundred years, knew far better the more universal tradition of that age than we can, twelve hundred years after it. True it is, (nothing being defined till then,) private doctors were free to follow what they judged to be truest; and as you find them varying from our canon, some in some books, some in others, so you will find them varying from one another, and varying also from you" (meaning the Protestant Canon). "For, in those first four hundred years, Melitus and Nazianzen excluded the Book of Esther, which you add. Origin doubts of the Epistle to the Hebrews, of the second of St. Peter, of the first and second of St. John. St. Cyprian and Nazianzen leave the Apocalypse or Revelations out of their canon. Eusebius doubts of it."
Mumford further says:--"All those holy fathers agreed ever in this, that such books were evidently God's word which had evidently a sufficient tradition for them. Now, in the days of those fathers who thus varied from one another, it was not by any infallible means made known to all that those books about which their variance was were recommended for God's infallible word by a tradition clearly sufficient to ground belief; for the Church had not as yet examined and defined whether tradition did clearly enough show such and such books to be God's infallible word. But in the days of St. Austin, the third Council of Carthage, anno 397, examined how sufficient or insufficient the tradition of the Church was which recommended those books for Scripture about which there was so much doubt and contrariety of opinions. They found all the books contained in our canon, of which you account so many apocryphal, to have been recommended by tradition sufficient to found faith upon. For on this ground (Can. 47,) they proceeded in defining all the books in our canon to be canonical. Because, say they, we have received from our fathers that those books were to be read in the Church. Pope Innocent the First, who lived Anno Domini 402, being requested by Exuperius, Bishop of Toulouse, to declare unto him which books were canonical, he answers, (Ep. 3,) that having examined what sufficient tradition did demonstrate, he sets down what books are received in the canon of the Holy Scriptures, in the end of his Epistle, chap. 7. To wit, just those which we now have in our canon; and <though he rejects many other books, yet he rejects not one of these."> (See Mumford's Question of Questions, sec. 3, pars, 4, 12.)
The Pope of Rome gathered together these contending persons in the form of a council, and they sat in judgment upon various manuscripts professing to be divine. That quarrelling and contending Council decided that a certain number of books should be admitted as divine, and should form the true cannon of Scripture, and that no other books should be added. We are informed that this Council rejected a vast number of books. Some of these rejected books were considered by part of the Council of Divine origin.
The manuscripts of the New Testament which these ancient apostates in the third Council of Carthage pronounced canonical have never reached our day. The oldest manuscripts of the New Testament which this age are in possession of are supposed to date from the sixth century of the Christian era. We have none of the original manuscripts written by any of the Apostles or inspired writers. We have five manuscripts in existence that were supposed to have been written as early as the sixth or seventh century after Christ. Three of these you will find deposited in the Royal Library of Paris.
1st. The Vatican Manuscript, noted 1,209. This was probably written by the monks of Mount Athos; first heard of as being in the possession of Pope Urban the eighth. Some of the leaves are wanting; the ink in some places faded. The letters have been retraced by a skilful and faithful hand. (See Unitarian Editors of the Improved Version of the New Testament, and Marsh.)
2nd. The Clermont or Regises Manuscript, 2,245. This dates from the seventh century. It was found in the monastery of Clung, called Clermont, from Clermont in Beauvais, where it was preserved. Thirty six leaves of it were stolen by one John Aymon, and sold in England, but since recovered. it is Greek and Latin, and contains the Epistles; but that to the Hebrews by a later hand. Like other Greek-Latin Codices, the Greek has been accommodated to the Latin. (For authority, refer to Wetstein, Unitarian Editors, Professor Schweyhausen, quoted by Bishop Marsh, vol. 2, page 245.)
3rd. The Ephrem Manuscript. This also is said to have been written in the seventh century. It was first discovered by Dr. Allix, in the beginning of the eighteenth century. It is in great disorder; many leaves lost, many wholly illegible; and the whole is effaced to make room for the works of Ephrem, the Syrian, under which the scared text may be perhaps deciphered by transparency. (See Unitarian Editors of the Improved New Testament.)
The Vatican, Clermont, and Ephrem Manuscripts will be found in the Library at Paris.
4th. The Alexandrian Manuscript. This was probably made in the sixth century; Cassimer Odin says the tenth. It was deposited in the British Museum in 1753. Cyril, Patriarch of Constantinople, presented it to Charles the First in 1628, by his ambassador, Sir Thomas Roe. It was written by the monks for the use of a monastery of the order of Acoemets, <i.e.>, vigilant, never sleeping. Its original text is no longer visible; written with uncial letters; no intervals before the words. It has been altered from the Latin version, and was written by a person who was not master of the Greek language. (For authority, see Cassimer Oudin, Wetstein, &c., &c., as quoted by Bishop March in his Michaelis' Introduction, vol. 2, page 185, and following.)
5th. The Cambridge Manuscript, or Codex Bezae. Concerning this, Bishop Marsh says--"Perhaps, of all the manuscripts now extant, this is the most ancient." Theodore Beza used it for his edition of the New Testament. It was found at Lyons, in the monastery of St. Irenaeus, A.D., 1562. Beza himself owns of it that it should rather be kept for the avoiding of offence of certain persons, than to be published. It was deposited in the University Library at Cambridge, England. Uncial letters; no intervals between the words. It is very ungrammatical. It varies from the common Greek text in a greater degree than any other. (See Unitarian Editors, Bishop Marsh, vol. 2, page 229.)
Besides these, there are above twenty manuscripts of later date in large letters, of different portions of the New Testament; and some hundreds in smaller characters. It appears, from the superscriptions of very many manuscripts of which we are in possession, that they were written on Mount Athos, where the monks employed themselves in writing copies of the Greek Testament. Some manuscripts, ascribed to the highest antiquity, have been discovered to be the composition of impostors as late as the seventeenth century, for the purpose of foisting in favourite doctrines and imposing upon Christian credulity. The Montford and Berlin MSS., for instance. (See Marsh, vol. 2, page 295.)
All the most ancient manuscripts of the New Testament known to the world differ from each other in almost every verse. And the same is also true in relation to those of the Old Testament also. One of the ancient Christian writers, Jerome, in his commentaries upon the Prophets, complains of the corruption of his manuscript Greek copies. Bellarmine testifies that the Greek copies of the Old Testament are so corrupted that they seem to make a new translation, quite different from the translations of other copies. All, therefore, is uncertainty, not only in relation to the Hebrew manuscripts, but also the Greek. If, soon after the beginning of the Christian era, the Old Testament manuscripts were by the Jews partly destroyed, lost burned, and torn in pieces so that the learned of that early age could not obtain anything but the names of the lost books, it is not to be supposed that we, who live some seventeen hundred years later, are in possession of copies more pure and genuine than Jerome, Bellarmine, and other ancient writers.
In relation to the manuscripts of the New Testament, Mr. Cressy writes in these words--"In my hearing, Bishop Usher professed that, whereas he had of many years before a desire to publish the New Testament in Greek, with various lections and annotations; and for that purpose had used great diligence and spent much money to furnish himself with manuscripts, yet, in conclusion, he was forced to desist utterly, lest, if he should ingenuously have noted all the several differences of reading which himself had collected, the incredible multitude of them almost in every verse should rather have made men atheistical than satisfy them in the true reading of any particular passage." (See Exomol. Ca. 8, Nu. 3.)
The learned admit that in the manuscripts of the New Testament alone there are no less than one hundred and thirty thousand different readings. (See Encyclopaedia Brittanica [sic], eighth edition.) It is true that many of those differences are of no particular consequence, as they do not materially alter the sense. But there are many thousands of differences wherein the sense is entirely altered. How are translators to know which of the manuscripts, if any, contain the true sense? They have no original copies with which to compare them--no standard of correction. No one can tell whether even one verse of either the Old or New Testament conveys the ideas of the original author.
Just think! 130,000 different readings in the New Testament alone! How our translators could separate the spurious from the genuine is more than I can tell. How they could distinguish between the original communicated to the ancient Prophets and Apostles, and 130,000 different readings that were introduced in the dark ages by copyists, is not easy to determine.
But, admitting that we had an ancient copy of the Bible, or the Old and New Testament,--supposing the translators by some means were put in possession of such a copy, and that the individuals whose names are attached to many of those books professed to be inspired, yet how is this generation to determine whether those authors, if they were indeed the authors, were inspired men? How do we know they were inspired to write those books? The Latter-day Saints believe that the Bible in its original was the word of God, and was written by Divine inspiration. But we do not believe it because history informs us of this, or tradition tells us so; but we believe it because the Book of Mormon, confirmed by the ministry of angels, informs us of the fact.
But how is this generation to know that those ancient authors were inspired of God? Do they bear testimony of their own inspiration? Bishop Ghillingworth, Hooker, and many other learned commentators have told us that the Bible cannot bear testimony of its own inspiration. If the Bible cannot prove its own inspiration, how are people in the present and past ages to know that these books are inspired? It is true, we are informed that some individuals wrote by commandment; and some, we are told, wrote according to their own opinions. How are we to detect that part which they were inspired to write from that part which was written according to their own opinions? We cannot, without new revelation. Without some testimony of a higher nature than tradition, we never can learn these matters.
Having made these few remarks in regard to the Old and New Testaments in their present condition and bearing, and having learned that they are very imperfect in their present state, and that they have been translated from manuscripts that cannot be depended upon,--that there are no original copies in this day with which the world are acquainted;--having established these facts, now let us turn to the Book of Mormon, and see if it rests upon evidences of the nature of these I have already presented to this congregation.
The Book of Mormon professes to be translated not from manuscripts containing 130,000 different readings, nor by the learning of men who can render a translation as they please; neither does it profess to be translated from altered, mutilated manuscripts manufactured by monks or impostors upon Mount Athos to impose upon Christian credulity; but it was translated from the original plates themselves--the very plates on which the inspired writers themselves wrote: and they were also translated, not by the learning of men, but by the power of God and the inspiration of the Almighty.
We are told, in the beginning of the Book of Mormon, that three men--Oliver Cowdery David Whitmer, and Martin Harris, saw the plates, or the original from which this book was translated by Joseph Smith, jun.; he having obtained the plates in the western part of New York through the ministration of an holy angel, as he testifies, from where they were deposited by an ancient Prophet that inhabited America some 1,400 years ago. He testifies that he was sent by an angel of God to bring these gold plates to light--that he obtained with them the Urim and Thummin, and translated the book. But, before the Lord would permit the book to go to the nations, he was determined that they should have more than one witness. Joseph Smith's testimony was not to go forth alone. Therefore, in 1829, about one year before the rise of this Church, or before this book was offered to the world, three other names were called upon by an angel from heaven.
"Perhaps," you may say, "they were deceived." Let us examine whether there was any possibility of their being deceived. They had learned, by reading the manuscript from which this book was printed, that the Lord, when he should bring this book to light in the latter days, would bear testimony of it in a miraculous and wonderful manner to three witnesses, besides the translator. These three men, after having learned this fact, met together, and went and saw Mr. Smith, and inquired of him whether it would be their privilege to behold these plates and know from heaven that this book was true. Joseph Smith inquired of the Lord concerning the matter; and the Lord gave them a promise that, if they would sufficiently humble themselves, they should have this privilege.
They, in no connection with Mr. Smith, who made the fourth individual, went out into the open field, near a grove of timber, a little distance from the house of Whitmer, in Fayette, Seneca county, New York. They bowed down before the Lord in broad daylight--not in the night; so there could be no deception: they humbled themselves before him called upon his holy name with all their hearts; and while they were thus engaged in calling upon the name of the Lord, they saw in the heavens above a glorious light, and a personage descending. This personage came down and stood before them: he laid his hands upon the head of David Whitmer as one of the three witnesses, and said, "Blessed be the Lord and they that keep his commandments;" and then he took the plates and turned them over, leaf after leaf, excepting a certain portion of the leaves that were sealed up, which Mr. Smith was not permitted to translate; but that portion he had translated was turned over, leaf after leaf, and presented before their eyes, and they saw the engravings upon the plates.
This angel, clothed in brightness and gory, stood before them with the plates in his hands, showing them the engravings upon them. They also heard the voice of the Lord out of the heavens, commanding them to hear record of the things they saw and heard to all nations, kindred, tongues, and people. The testimony which they have borne I have read in your hearing.
Now, was there any possibility of these three men, together with Mr. Smith, who was in their company, being deceived? If they were deceived, then there is the same reason to suppose the Apostles were deceived, who profess to have seen Jesus ascend into heaven from the Mount of Olives. There would be the same reason to suppose that Peter, James, and John were deceived when they saw Moses and Elias on the Mount of Transfiguration; if these men were deceived, then there is no truth nor certainty in anything that ever was beheld; for no persons could bear testimony in stronger language than these three witnesses have done in the Book of Mormon.
Joseph Smith, jun., could not be deceived himself; for it was by an angel that he was commanded to go to the place where the records were deposited; it was by an angel he was told to take them from the place of their long deposit, together with the Urim and Thummim; and it was by the Urim and Thimmim [sic], connected with prayer, that he was enabled to translate the plates into the English language: consequently, he could not be deceived.
We have proved that the other three witnesses could not be deceived; consequently, four men bear testimony that they not only saw the plates, but also that they saw an angel of God: they also heard his voice, and saw the plates in his hands and the engravings upon the plates, and heard the voice of God out of heaven commanding them to bear their testimony to all people upon the face of the earth to whom the translation should be sent.
Can you find, among all the nations and kingdoms upon the earth, one individual that can bear testimony that he has ever seen the original of any one of the books of the Old and New Testament? No. We defy the world to produce a true copy of the original of any book of the Bible, and prove it to be such. They may search their libraries from beginning to end, and examine all the archives of the nations and they cannot find an original copy, or even a copy written centuries after the original writer was known to exist.
The learned have conjectured that some of those five manuscripts I have mentioned were written in the sixth century; but this is disputed. Cassimir Oudin says that the Alexandrian Manuscript, instead of being written in the sixth century, was made in the tenth. With regard to the times of their being written, no dependence can be placed.
But here four men actually beheld the original plates, saw an holy angel, and heard the voice of God. Are they the only witnesses? No: there are eight other men, whose names and testimony I have read before this congregation,--persons with whom I am individually acquainted as well as with the translator and the three witnesses I have already named. I have been at the house where this Church was organized. I have seen the place where the angel descended and showed them the plates.
Eight other witnesses testify that Joseph Smith showed them the plates, and that they saw the engravings upon them, and that they had the appearance of ancient work and curious workmanship. They describe these plates as being about the thickness of common tin, about eight inches in length, and from six to seven in breadth. Upon each side of the leaves of these plates there were fine engravings, which were stained with a black, hard stain, so as to make the letters more legible and easier to be read. Through the back of the plates were three rings, which held them together, and through which a rod might easily be passed, serving as a greater convenience for carrying them; the construction and form of the plates being similar to the gold, brass, and lead plates of the ancient Jews in Palestine.
Thus we see that twelve individuals saw the plates before the contents were placed before the world, and before they were called upon to believe in them. Is not this a sufficient testimony and evidence? If the world would not believe twelve men who have seen the originals, handled them with their hands, beheld the engravings upon them,--four of whom had seen the angel of God and heard his voice;--if they would not believe this, would they believe the evidence and testimony of ten thousand individuals? Jesus declares--"In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established."
When we appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and go into his presence, we are informed we shall be judged by his word. "My word shall judge you at the last day," says Jesus. "The words that I speak unto you shall judge you." If, then, the words which he spake, and which he inspired his Apostles and Prophets to declare to the people, are to be the laws by which mankind are to be judged at the last day, it is necessary that they should have some little evidence and testimony concerning his words.
We are presenting this evidence and testimony before you; and if the Lord gave four witnesses, and by them condemned the antediluvian world--namely, Noah and his three sons;--if their preaching, their testimony, and works of righteousness condemned the antediluvians, and they were overthrown by the flood, why may we not suppose that four witnesses alone, if God did not see proper to send any more, would condemn any other generation?
We find that Lot was the only witness who was sent to warn the inhabitants of Sodom, and to call upon his kinsmen to flee from the midst of those cities, in order to escape the terrible judgments announced against them. He testified that an angel of God came to him and told him that the Lord was about to destroy those cities: he said that this angel lodged with him over night, and that the Lord had sent him as a witness; and his testimony condemned his kinsmen and the inhabitants of Sodom, and they were overthrown and perished in their wickedness.
Who was sent to the inhabitants of Nineveh to warn them? Only one witness--namely, Jonah. He was sent to a strange nation--to a people that were unacquainted with him: they could not tell by any natural appearance whether he was a righteous man or an impostor. He had a curious story to tell them, that he came part of the way to their country in a ship, and part of the way in the belly of a whale. But how could they know that he came in the belly of a whale, or that he was not an impostor? Yet the Lord told them, through Jonah, that if they did not repent, they would all be destroyed in forty days. They concluded to repent, and the Lord spared them, which made Jonah angry.
When the Lord sent a preparatory message to prepare the way for his son, he sent one witness, instead of raising up four. John the Baptist went forth into the wilderness, clothed himself in a curious style, living on locusts and wild honey, and began to preach repentance to the inhabitants of Judea and Jerusalem, and to the Jews throughout the land. How were they to know he was a messenger to prepare the way before the Most High? Yet they certainly would be condemned for not receiving his testimony; for Jesus himself said--"The scribes and Pharisees rejected the counsel of God against themselves in rejecting John."
How did John convince the vast multitudes that he was sent to testify of the first advent of the Son of God? We are informed by one of the Evangelists that "John did no miracle," as great a Prophet as he was; yet the people were condemned because they rejected the counsel of God against their own souls, by rejecting his testimony. How much greater, then, will be the condemnation of individuals who reject four witnesses, instead of one!
If the present generation have the testimony of four witnesses sounded in their ears,--if the Book of Mormon, containing their testimony, is published and sent forth in the different languages of the earth, and the people have the privilege of hearing and reading that testimony, will it not produce far greater condemnation upon them than what came upon the Jewish nation in ancient days, by rejecting the testimony of one witness only?
We see, then, that we have the advantage of this generation so far as evidence concerning the Book of Mormon is concerned. There are men now living that have seen the original of the Book of Mormon--that have heard the voice of God. Where is there a man who has heard the voice of God testifying concerning the truth of King James' translation? Where is there a man on the face of the earth that ever had it confirmed to him by the administration of an angel? But here comes evidence in favour of the Book of Mormon such as any court of justice is obliged to receive.
But are we to receive the testimony of all individuals that may come and pretend to have heard the voice of God and to have seen angels? May not impostors come forth and say they have seen angels? I reply that there is this distinction to be made: A man that is sent of God, who has a true message, will always be able to present something connected with the nature of the message and the circumstances surrounding it, which will prove it to be true. If there should be a thousand individuals bearing witness that they had heard the voice of God and seen angels, we shall always be able to detect the impostor from the servant of God by examining the doctrine. There are evidences distinguishing a true message from a false one, that the whole world may be enabled to discern between the two.
For instance, there is no individual upon the face of the earth who can directly prove that Joseph Smith did not see the angel of God and obtain the plates: no individual upon the face of this earth can prove that the three witnesses did not see the angel and the plates: consequently, their evidence cannot be directly negatived, unless they deny their own testimony, which they have not done. The only possible way to condemn these men as impostors is to examine the nature of their testimony, to see whether it is reasonable and scriptural.
Is there anything unscriptural in hearing the voice of God, or in an angel's descending from heaven, bearing testimony to a book in which all nations are interested? It is a book sent to prepare the way of the Lord for his second coming. Was it unreasonable for the Lord to send angels to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Was it unreasonable for them to take dinner with Abraham, and for him to wash their feet?--for Lot to lodge them in his house?--for Joshua, Gideon, Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Peter, Paul, or the wise men and shepherds of Israel, or for Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Zachariah, or for various other holy men and women to see angels sent from heaven? It was neither unreasonable nor unscriptural.
Paul says, "Are they (the angels) not all ministering spirits sent to minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation? If, then, they have this office assigned to them, to minister to the heirs of salvation, it is not an unscriptural doctrine that they should minister to those four men. It is just as reasonable that God should send an angel to four men in the last days, and introduce his kingdom and preparatory work for the second advent of the Son of God, as it was for an angel to be sent to Zachariah in order that a messenger might be raised up to prepare the way for his first coming. The one in a little more reasonable than the other; for the latter-day coming is to far transcend in glory and power his first coming, when he appeared among the Jews. At his second coming the earth will tremble and roll to-and-fro like a drunken man; the mountains shall fall, the valleys be raised, the crooked places made straight, and the rough places smooth, when the Lord is revealed in his glory and power.
If all these things are to be fulfilled, Israel gathered, the fulness of the Gentiles brought in, and Zion built up,--if the great Latter-day Work mentioned by the ancient Prophets has to be fulfilled, then it would not be unreasonable that an angel should be sent from heaven to begin a work of this magnitude.
But, perhaps, you may admit that it is perfectly scriptural and reasonable that an angel should be sent; but, then, you may ask if there may not be something connected with the Book of Mormon which would render it inconsistent, and not entitled to credit, and which would prove that its pretences were an imposition.
In reply, I ask, What is there about the Book of Mormon that is inconsistent? What does it profess to be? It professes to contain the history of part of the tribe of Joseph, who came out of the land of Jerusalem 600 years before Christ, and colonized the American continent. These Indian tribes are their descendants. When they first came here, they were a righteous people, and had with them the Scriptures, containing the law of Moses. When they came here, they made plates of gold, and on them they recorded their history, wars, contentions, &c. These plates were handed down among the ancient inhabitants of America for a thousand years after they came here. Their prophecies were recorded from generation to generation. Jesus Christ appeared to them on this land after his resurrection, just the same as he did to the people in Palestine, and showed them the wounds in his hands and in his feet. He descended before them in South America, and put an end to the law of Moses, which they practised on this continent; and he introduced the Gospel in its stead, taught them faith and repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins, as in Jerusalem. He taught the people to come with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and humble themselves, and be baptized by immersion for the remission of their sins, and had his servants lay hands on them for the gift of the Holy Ghost, as Paul and Peter did.
The teachings of Jesus were recorded on these gold plates, and they were handed down until some 400 years after Christ. Many sacred revelations are recorded on them, and prophecies that reach to our day, and down to the end of all things.
If you search this record from beginning to end, you will find the historical part perfectly consistent. You cannot prove that Joseph Smith is an impostor from any inconsistencies in the historical part of the work.
If you search the discoveries of all the antiquarians that have written since the discovery of America concerning the ancient inhabitants of this land, you cannot put your finger upon one particle of evidence from their researches that will come in contact with the Book of Mormon.
If you examine its prophecies, you will find many that the Jewish records speak nothing of--prophecies that relate to the Indians, and that relate to the rise of this Church, to the Millennium, and to many things that the other Prophets have not touched upon; and also many of the events predicted in the Jewish Bible were delivered to the Prophets in this land. Compare the prophecies of the Jewish records with those in the Book of Mormon, and you will find no clashing or jarring; consequently, you cannot condemn the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith and these witnesses to be impostors from the prophetic declarations of that book.
Try its doctrine, and you will find that the Gospel taught in ancient America 1,800 years ago is like that taught in ancient Judea and the regions round about. Did the ancient Apostles in Palestine teach faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins? So did the ancient Apostles and Prophets in America. Did the Apostles in Judea practise the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost? So did the ancient Israelites of America. Did Jesus and his disciples organize the Church in Asia with revelators and inspired men in it--with prophets and prophetesses, with dreams, visions, and revelations? So did the ancient Israelites in America do the same thing. They, the ancient Apostles, organized the Church with miracles and gifts, with power to heal the sick, to cast out devils, to work miracles, and with power over the elements. The Book of Mormon tells us that the Israelites on ancient America organized one after the same pattern. Consequently, if we examine the whole structure of the Church in Palestine and the structure of the Church in ancient America, we find no jar; so, no man upon the face of the earth can condemn Joseph Smith and these three witnesses from any inconsistency in their doctrine.
Compare the miracles that are recorded in the Book of Mormon with those recorded in the Bible, and you will find no unreasonable miracles in the one, more than in the other. There is no fish story in it--nothing about a man's being carried in a whale's belly three days and three nights; though, if such a story was in it, we should believe it, the same as we do the Jewish history of Jonah. There is nothing said in this book about three men being put into a furnace of fire, heated seven times hotter than ever before, and yet the three men receiving no harm. We believe the Bible when it records this great miracle; but there is nothing which to the atheist is so apparently inconsistent as that.
The miracles recorded in the Book of Mormon were of such a nature as to be worthy of the exertion of Divine power. If the sick were healed, it was because Jesus had promised his servants they should lay their hands on them, and they should be healed. If they prophesied, it was concerning future events, because the Lord wanted them to understand that which was to come.
Is there anything in this book that contradicts any scientific truth? You may ransack all the libraries in the world, and gather together all the books of science, and compare with this book, and you will find no clashing; consequently, where is your ground for condemnation? You cannot condemn it from its historical, prophetic, and doctrinal writings, or because of any unreasonable miracles said to have been wrought among the ancient Israelites on these lands, or because it contradicts any scientific truth, or because it is unscriptural or unreasonable that people should see angels in these days.
We defy this whole generation to bring up any testimony to condemn the truth of this book. It will face this generation from this time until the second coming of Christ, and then through the Millennium. And when this generation come up from their graves at the great and last day, the books will be opened, and by the word of God declared on this continent and on the Eastern continent the inhabitants of the earth will be judged.
You may bring all the lies and newspaper stories you can hatch up, and all the misrepresentations you can conceive, and use them against the Divine truths of the Book of Mormon, to save your crumbling apostate systems from utter ruin; you may pile up your falsehoods like mountains; you may fill your railroad carriages to the brim with them, or you may send them by the electric current the world round, and it will not stop the onward progress of the truths of "Mormonism" revealed from heaven: it cannot stay the arm of the Almighty from building up his kingdom in the last days, or hush the voice of his servants from warning the nations to repent and to turn away from their lyings and whoredoms, and from all their wickedness and abominations which they continually practise before the Lord.
The word of God is something that cannot be destroyed; but it will appear in the day of judgment, and you and I will be judged by it.
I believe the Book of Mormon; I believe it because I consider that I have not only the testimony of these twelve witnesses, but a vast amount of other evidence and testimony such as you have not in relation to the things that are contained in the Jewish record.
For instance, what evidence and testimony have the present generation and the generations that have lived during the last seventeen centuries that Jesus Christ, the great Redeemer of the world, arose from the dead? You have the testimony of four individuals, and no more, provided that their testimony has not been corrupted, altered, and mutilated in the oldest manuscripts now known. Who are they? Matthew, John, Paul, and Peter. The other four writers of the New Testament have not said a word about seeing Jesus after his resurrection. The New Testament was written by eight men--Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James, and Jude. Four of these men have given their testimony that they saw Jesus after his resurrection; the other four have told us nothing about it.
But it may be asked, "Does not the Apostle Paul testify that Jesus was seen by upwards of five hundred brethren at once?"
But none of those five hundred brethren have spoken of this, or handed down their testimony.
Perhaps it will be argued that the four witnesses that saw Jesus--namely, Matthew, John, Paul, and Peter, performed great miracles, and thus established their testimony; and consequently, we are bound to believe them.
But how do you know that they performed miracles?
"They have told us so."
How do you know they tell us the truth? Were you there to behold the miracles they wrought? Only six of the eight writers of the New Testament say anything about miracles. Suppose they all testify that there were wonderful miracles wrought, have we not as good reason to believe eight men that testify to miracles in these days?
If all the men of this stand have kept journals, (and some of them have for a quarter-of-a-century,) and if they have recorded what their eyes have seen and their ears have heard; and if the several hundred Elders in this large assembly have done likewise, and recorded all the miraculous things their eyes have seen and their ears heard; and if the generations to come should gather up our journals and manuscripts, and entitle them, <The Acts of the Apostles and Elders of the Nineteenth Century>, they would find tens of thousands of miracles recorded in these journals where the sick have been healed, the eyes of the blind opened, the ears of the deaf unstopped,--where the lame have been made to leap as an hart, and where people have been raised up from the last stages of cholera, in the name of Jesus Christ, and where those who were born blind have had their eyes opened.
Would they not have as much reason to believe the journals and writings of the Latter-day Saints in relation to the miracles wrought as you have to believe the testimony of the six writers of the New Testament on the same subject? Who are the New Testament writers? They are interested witnesses, every one of them.
"But the world saw their miracles."
How do you know?
"These six writers say so."
Have you the testimony of any of the world that they actually saw even one miracle wrought by the Apostles of Jesus Christ? No, you have not.
Perhaps you may say that when the lame man at the beautiful gate of the Temple was healed, it was done publicly before the multitude.
How do you know this? Luke says so in the acts of the Apostles, and you believe it on his testimony alone. How do you know that Jesus Christ was transfigured on the mount?--that Moses and Elias appeared to Peter and James and John on that occasion? Have Peter, James, and John given their testimony? Not a word; but Matthew, Mark, and Luke--three men who were not present, who did not see the transfiguration, and who did not see Moses and Elias, say so; but their testimony is second-handed.
We believe that Peter, James, and John actually did see holy angels--did behold Moses and Elias, and see Jesus transfigured, upon second-handed testimonies given on the subject.
Now, we have the testimony of individuals themselves concerning the Book of Mormon,--not the testimony alone of Elders Richards and Woodruff, or of any of these Elders,--but the testimonies of persons who beheld the angel and heard his voice.
Therefore, the testimony establishing the truth of the Book of Mormon is far superior to that establishing the Bible in its present form.
I do not know but I am wearying you; but I have endeavoured in my simple way to lay before you the evidence and testimony you have for believing the Jewish record, compared with the evidence and testimony you have for believing the ancient records of America, called the Book of Mormon; and any persons who will carefully examine this subject will be obliged in their own hearts to say there is a hundredfold more evidence to prove the Divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon than what we have to prove the Palestine records.
But this is not all. We do not rest our evidence alone on the testimony of these twelve witnesses; our hopes are built upon a foundation surer than all these external testimonies. The Latter-day Saints are not that enthusiastic people who open their mouths and swallow down doctrines because they are popular, because their fathers believed them; but we believe a doctrine because we have evidence to substantiate it; and then, in addition to this, we seek for more truth and knowledge.
The Book of Mormon informs us how we may not only have faith in that book because of the evidence and testimony accompanying it; but how we may obtain a knowledge concerning its truth. The Book of Mormon informs us, as well as the Holy Scriptures, that if we will repent and be baptized, we shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
We have tried the experiment. We have repented of our sins, we have turned from our transgressions, and humbled ourselves, like little children, before the Lord; we were buried in the water, and brought out of the water; then hands were laid upon us, and we received the gift of the Holy Ghost, and this gave us a knowledge of the truth.
What are the effects of the Holy Ghost? Jesus says, in the last chapter of Mark, "These signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they shall cast out devils, speak with new tongues, take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
The promise of the signs was not to the Apostles alone, but he said unto them, "Do you go and preach the word in all the world; and he that believes your testimony and is baptized shall receive salvation, and those that will not believe shall be damned; and these signs shall follow them that do believe." We have believed, repented, been baptized, and received the gift of the Holy Ghost; and we found the promise verified. If it were not so, we should then know it to be an imposition. If we found that Jesus did not fulfil his promise after we fully obeyed his word, we should then know the same to be false.
Let me say to this congregation that there would not have been a Church of Latter-day Saints five years upon the earth, had he not fulfilled his promise after we had obeyed his word, because he made this promise not only in the Book of Mormon and the New Testament, but by direct revelation through the Prophet, that if the people would do thus and so, they should be blessed with such and such gifts. Now, suppose the people, after having tried it, did not receive those gifts, the whole Church would have apostatized, and turned and declared it all false--Book of Mormon, Bible, and everything else. Why? Because these books made a promise on certain conditions, which was not fulfilled.
But when the people believed and were baptized for the remission of sins, and filled with the Holy Ghost, and the visions of the future were opened to them, and the spirit of prophecy rested upon them, and they beheld the sick recovering, the blind receiving their sight, and the deaf hearing, "Surely," said they, "this must be of God; for the Lord never would have confirmed an imposition to us by granting the gifts of the Gospel."
But may not the Devil perform miracles? Satan was to come with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they had pleasure in unrighteousness. "Now, how do you know but these are some of the strong delusions?"
But prove to us that we have had pleasure in anything contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ--that this people have not obeyed the Scriptures of of [sic] eternal truth. Those signs that were to come, and these living wonders, &c., were to be practised by individuals that had pleasure in unrighteousness and who rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ--they were to go forth like the magicians in the days of Moses to withstand the power of Moses. We see them on one hand turning the water to blood, and Moses doing the same; in short, Moses performed numerous miracles
(by the power of God), and the magicians did the same. How are we to distinguish between the two? Moses believed and obeyed the words of the Most High God, and the magicians were fighting against him, and yet they did miracles--not in the name of God, but by their enchantments; and so it is with all wicked miracle-workers from their day down to the second coming of Christ: they perform their lying wonders by the power of Satan--by the means of somnambulism, spirit-rapping, spirit-writing, or whatever it may be. But when people repent, and are baptized, and perform miracles in the name of the Lord, such miracles are designed to profit and benefit mankind--such as laying hands on the sick that they may be healed, speaking and interpreting tongues; hence you may know them to be of God: therefore it is easily to be distinguished which of the two powers should be received, and which should be rejected.
May God bless all those who love the truth, whether Jew or Gentile, bond or free,--whether it be those who have received the Gospel and Book of Mormon, or those who are inquiring to know concerning its truth. If they desire to know the truth, may the God of heaven, who has sent forth his angel and confirmed the truth unto many, pour out his Holy Spirit upon them, and enlighten their minds, inasmuch as they go before God with an honest heart, that they may know, as the Latter-day Saints know, that this work is a message from the Almighty, to be proclaimed to every nation, kindred, and people upon the face of the whole earth. And when they know from God that this work is true, they will not be tossed to-and-fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, but they will be built upon a foundation upon which they can rest secure. Though the whirlwinds of persecution may beat upon them--though they may be hated, derided, and suffer the loss of all things, time after time,--though they may be driven to-and-fro, and scattered from city to city, and from synagogue to synagogue, and their Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles be put to death, yet, with all this distress and poverty brought upon them by being robbed and plundered of their lawful possessions, and with all the injury they may sustain from year to year, they will have something in the midst of it all that will give them joy, peace, and happiness; and that something is a KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH,--not merely a faith that the foundation on which they are built is of God, but a knowledge that they are established upon a rock that cannot be moved, which is a firm as the throne of Jehovah, and as secure as the eternal attributes of the Almighty.
May God bless us and prepare us for his heavenly kingdom, and save us therein, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
ADHERENCE TO "MORMONISM"--PERPETUAL EMIGRATION FUND.
An Address by President Heber C. Kimball, delivered at the General Conference, in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, October 6, 1854.
We have heard a very beautiful relation from Elder T. D. Brown, of the mission at the South. It seems that everything we undertake in righteousness prospers, and the Devil and his agents cannot help themselves, if we are faithful.
The Zion's ship that was spoken of to-day, which runs in Snag harbour, has prospered from the first day it was launched, and every man and woman who stick firmly to that ship will prosper from this time henceforth and for ever. That I know, for I have been on board that ship, and am now sailing upon it.
The first time I went to England, I was on board of Zion's ship, and Joseph came to me while I was sailing, and put into my hand a rod; and I presume, if I have dreamed once of being aboard of that ship, I have dreamed it a hundred times. I have been in it in the midst of dangers and in the most dangerous places. I have seen trees and stumps, mountains and rocks, and everything else that could be placed in her course thrown before her to stop her in her course; but she can sail through a mountain or on dry land as well as upon the water. I have this in dreams; and I will say to the brethren, Just so long as you keep aboard of that ship you will prosper. I do not care whether it is in the midst of the Lamanites or among the Jews--whether it is in Italy or in Denmark, in Europe or in America, we will prosper, and I know it. That is my testimony.
As brother George A. Smith was saying, there are some who want to enjoy ancient "Mormonism,"--that is, as "Mormonism" used to be when it was a small sapling. But it is now becoming a lofty tree, and its branches are beginning to shoot forth all over the nations of the earth; ancient "Mormonism" has grown to such a degree. Many have been in the background, and have left the tree, and it has grown to that extent, they do not know it. That is the trouble with them: they don't know what "Mormonism" is. But this is "Mormonism" and this is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and President Young is the true and legal administrator and delegate sent from God, and we are his brethren, and he is on board of Zion's ship, and he is the captain; and if we will stick to it, we shall never run foul of the rocks; and whoever he tells to take hold of the helm, he will tell them in what direction to steer; and she is such a good sailer [sic], and so true to the helm, she will run right between or over all snags.
Do you believe it, you old "Mormons?" ["Yes."] Well, then, why don't you grow with the tree, and with the branches thereof? Brother Brown would grow faster living on bread and water, and water and bread, with a little milk. Gentlemen, if you don't look out, the ship will get out of reach, and the tree will grow out of your knowledge, so that you will forget what manner of a tree it was; because, as the tree grows, it changes in size and appearance, just the same as a child as it grows to manhood; and if you had not been with him all the time, you would not know him, although he were your own son.
The text that President Young gave us bears upon my mind considerably, and it is a thing we ought to take into consideration; not me alone, but every man and woman that belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; not only those who are indebted to the Perpetual Emigrating Fund, but all ought to throw in their mites and enlarge this Fund. The means can be paid in here, and the poor can be brought out from the nations. Hundreds have come on this year on the strength of this Fund. It is the duty of those who have been brought out by it to go and work forthwith for means to pay their indebtedness. It does not belong to you, but it belongs to those who have made the Fund: it belongs to that Company, and to every individual, if they have not placed in it any more than a picayune or a halfpenny.
Look at the poor in old England. I have heard that some have feelings against me, because I have spoken of the poverty of the people in that country. I know more about its poverty than the natives of the country do. Those who come from there don't know as well about it as we do. In the last letter that came from my son William, he wrote that "I feel to weep and mourn and lament, when I behold the poverty of the people: they are starving to death, and there are scores and hundreds of my brethren in the poor-houses of the country: the husband is put in one poor-house, the wife in another, and the children in another."
That is the case with our brethren there; and while you are here in the midst of luxuries--while you are enjoying these blessings of the Lord, can you see your own brethren afflicted? it is not only so in England, but in Ireland, in Scotland, in Denmark, and in Sweden, and in all the nations of the earth. Do they enjoy what we enjoy? No. Although there are some who want to return to their native country, to enjoy their own habits and customs, yet there is no rational man or woman who wants to return.
Brethren, did you ever reflect upon these things, and try to find out what you could do? Supposing there were not any more Saints than what are in this room to-day, if we were to put forth our hand as one man, what could we accomplish? There are people enough in this congregation to accomplish more than the whole Church has, if they would only believe and act upon the instructions given them. Solomon says, The liberal man deviseth liberal things, and by his liberality shall he live. I have proved the truth of this saying to my fullest satisfaction and to my astonishment, time and time again. When I have been poor and penniless, and could not raise five dollars, I have gone to work, by the counsel of my President, and built me a good house, and furnished it; and says brother Brigham, "you shall build that house, and you shall have your fit-out." I did it according to his word, and it was clear of debt, and I had a good fit-out.
I have done the same here upon the same principle; and said the President, "Brother Kimball, take one load of rock, and a load of sand, and a load of clay, and say to the masons and joiners, Go a-head; for I never built a house yet, but I was better off when I had done it than when I began." And brethren and sisters, that is the reason I keep on building. [Voice in the stand: "you will get poor if you stop."] Therefore I go a-head. Many will sit down and count the costs--how much it will cost to put a potatoe in the ground, and then how much it will take to raise a hill around it; and they find out the expense is so great, they will never plant a potatoe nor make a hill, and they never will accomplish anything. Do you know that is true?
Let us go to work now and enlarge this Fund, and let us do it at this Conference; and let those who are indebted to it go to work immediately and pay up. We shall probably hold this meeting for a time, and your hearts shall be enlarged; and if you could only go home while they are enlarged, and all the puckering strings loosened, and back the thing right up, the Perpetual Fund would be rich. I know that men and women have consciences that want to screw this way, and twist that way, and every way under God's heavens, before they can come to the right thing. If you want to grow and thrive, and want to have the Spirit of the Lord, and the Holy Ghost to be with you, and have dreams and visions, and gold and silver, and herds and flocks, wives and children, and every other good thing, go a-head in every duty, and never falter one moment, and tell the devil to kiss your foot.
The Devil is on the puckering line, and he will pucker every Saint and every man there is upon the earth, so that they would let their fellow-beings lie down in a furrow of the field and starve to death; and these are you brethren and sisters, if you only but knew it just as much as your brethren and sisters are according to what you call the flesh. This is the feeling of many--"Well, if I could only get dad, and mammy [sic], and grand-dad, and uncle John, and aunt Nancy, and Sally here, I would not care a damn for all the rest." Who cares about having only Nancy and Sally? Let us have Susan and Polly and Timothy and Andrew out, too. What do you say? [Voice in the stand: "Let us bring them all out."] Yes, let us bring them all out. The wars, distress, and confusion among the nations are increasing the value of provisions. It was just as much as you could do to live, when you were there.
What do you say, brethren and sisters? I do not want you to say anything, unless you go a-head and do what you say. Shall we go a-head and enlarge these funds, and pay up our debts? [Voice in the stand: "Aye."] Well, all who are in favour of paying up your debts to the Fund, to the Church, and everybody else, I want you to signify it by raising your right hands, and then say, "Aye." ["Aye."] And when you come tomorrow, bring along your pennies, and let us keep gathering and enlarging the pile, and keep enlarging it, and gather the Saints together from the four quarters of the earth. We are the persons to do that business; and when we have accomplished our part as servants in the flesh, God will send angels he has had in reserve to accomplish what we cannot accomplish. But he will make us buckle up to the work; and if we should happen to lie down and sleep before we have done all we might do here, he will tell us to awake and go about our business, and accomplish that we might have done while we were in the flesh. You have got to do it, as sure as the sun ever rose and set; you may wait as long as you have a mind to before you begin.
My feelings are for us all to concentrate our energies with the head of this Church;, and put the wheel in operation, that, when another year comes, we may see a hundred times more come out by the Perpetual Emigrating Fund than we have ever seen.
I believe I have stuck to the text pretty well. May God bless you, and help you to be faithful and fulfil your covenants, from this time henceforth and for ever. Amen.
WISDOM MANIFEST IN ALL GOD'S DEALINGS WITH THE SAINTS.
A Discourse by President Brigham Young, delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, March 28, 1858. Reported by G. D. Watt.