CR October 1897
THE SIXTY-EIGHTH SEMI-ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS.
First Day-Morning Session
First Day-Morning Session
The Sixty-eighth Semi-Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints convened in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, at 10 a.m. on Monday, October 4, 1897, President Wilford Woodruff presiding.
Of the general authorities present on the stand there were of the First Presidency Wilford Woodruff, George Q. Cannon and Joseph, Smith; of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Lorenzo Snow, Franklin D. Richards, Brigham Young, Francis M. Lyman, John Henry Smith, George Teasdale. John W. Taylor, Marriner W. Merrill and Anthon H. Lund; Patriarch John Smith; of the First Seven Presidents of Seventies Seymour B. Young, C. D. Fjelsted, B. H. Roberts, George Reynolds and Jonathan G. Kimball; of the Presiding Bishopric William B. Preston, Robert T. Burton and John R. Winder.
Heber J. Grant of the Quorum of the Twelve was absent in consequence of his being in feeble health.
Conference called to order by President George Q. Cannon.
The choir sang:
“Zion stands with hills surrounded
Zion kept by power divine;
All her foes shall be confounded,
Though the world in arms combine.”
Opening prayer by Elder Anthon H. Lund.
Singing by the choir:
“Captain of Israel’s host, and Guide
Of all who seek the land above.
Beneath the shadow we abide
The cloud of Thy protecting love.”
President Wilford Woodruff
President Wilford Woodruff
I thank God my Heavenly Father that I have again the privilege of meeting with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the capacity of a Semi-Annual Conference. This is our Sixty-eighth Semi-Annual Conference. We have passed through a great variety of history from the organization of the Church until the present day. I trust that while we are assembled together during this Conference the Spirit of God may be with us, and with the Apostles and Elders who are called upon to speak to us, that we may be edified by the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and be prepared for that work which still rests upon us to carry out. We have a great work upon our hands. It has been a labor from the organization of the Church until the present time. We have the world to preach to. That is one of the duties God requires at the hands of the Elders of Israel. We are held responsible for this work and the building up of the kingdom of God according to the best light and knowledge and revelation which God has given unto us. We ought to be thankful to the Lord for His mercies unto us. I feel as though His hand has been visible in the establishing of His Church here in the Rocky Mountains, from our first arrival as Pioneers in the valleys of the mountains, when we found a barren desert, until the present. The hand of the Lord has been with this people and with the Elders of Israel, and will continue to be. The Lord is in earnest, in fulfillment of His promises from the creation of the world down to this day, with regard to His dispensations to man. I hope and trust that while we dwell in the flesh we all may realize and understand this. It is a great blessing to receive the Gospel of Christ, to receive the Holy Priesthood, and to be called to labor in the Priesthood for the salvation of the children of men. This labor is upon us and will remain upon us until the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds of heaven, to reward every man according to the deeds done in the body.
I pray God to bless you and to pour out His Spirit upon us all, that while we are assembled together in this capacity we may have union of heart and spirit, and the Spirit of God resting upon us, to dictate and direct us in our labors. Amen.
Elder Anthon H. Lund
Elder Anthon H. Lund
Missionary Work Effective.-Good Effect of Conferences.-Object of the Saints to Build up Zion.
I am pleased to have the privilege this morning of meeting with you, my brethren and sisters, and of hearing our President address us. I am glad that he is with us and able to talk so that we can all hear him. This has been our Jubilee year fifty years since we arrived in these mountains; and we have all reflected more or less upon the history of Zion since the people arrived here when this region was a wilderness. We have made comparisons between today and then, and all have, no doubt, felt to thank the Lord that He has so richly blessed His people, and though they have gone through times of trial, yet they have seen His overruling providences in their behalf. Zion has prospered; the people have been blessed, both temporally and spiritually; and while they have tried to build up Zion at home, they have not forgotten the great duty resting upon them of sending men to the different nations to preach the Gospel. And the Lord has been with them, so that they have been able to bring thousands into the fold of Christ. The best of reports are coming to us from the different missions, showing that the Lord is still with His servants, and that their efforts are crowned with more success than has attended their labors for many years past. This makes us rejoice, seeing the work of God prospering.
We have come together this morning to attend our Conference. I have often thought what a great blessing to the Saints are these conferences, bringing them together from the different parts of Zion, to where they can renew their old acquaintances, and where they can meet together under the spirit and influence of the Lord, and listen to instructions given them which are calculated for their best good. These are times of refreshing unto the Saints. And this is not something which has been evolved out of the system that God has revealed; but it was at first ordained and appointed unto the Saints to come together on these occasions. There is this difference between the work of God and the work of man the work of God has a perfect Author, what He commands is not an experimental thing, but is something that was seen beforehand. The consequences were known before the law was given. By studying the word of God as given through His prophets, we find that He knew as well thousands of years ago what was for the best good of His people as today, and that when the prophets spoke of Zion they saw it understood how it should be built, and could foretell the Lord’s dealings with His people.
We have come to this country to build up a Zion unto our God. I hope that we have not forgotten the object of our coming. I hope that we can be classed among the laborers in Zion. The Lord has declared that the laborer in Zion shall work for Zion, and he adds, “if they labor for money, they shall perish.” I believe it is the Prophet Nephi who wrote these words. He wrote them in a chapter that is devoted to our time. After having described what should come to pass between his day and the present period of time, he speaks of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and of Zion. I have often thought how strange it is that men cannot see the internal evidence which the Book of Mormon contains of its truth, when they can read passages so plain.
The idea of building up a Zion was not a common idea among the different denominations that Joseph Smith was acquainted with. Men have thought that Mormonism is a system made up of other religions. We deny this. We hold that it is given of God; that it is the same Gospel, the everlasting Gospel, as given in former days to the people, and again restored today. When you examine the Gospel as restored through the Prophet Joseph, you find that it has many characteristics which are not found among other denominations or religions. The idea of gathering was not believed in by any of the religious people then; but in the Book of Mormon, published before this Church was organized, we are plainly told that there should be a gathering; that the people should be gathered from the different nations of the earth.
The Prophet Nephi, in speaking of Zion, gives us characteristics that should be found in the Zion of the latter days. Among them was that there should not be priestcraft; and he defines priestcraft as preaching for gain and for influence among the people. This the Lord forbids. He says that the people should work for Zion. That should be the object of their coming together, the one aim and purpose of their lives to work for Zion, and not to make anything else the object of their lives. If they make money their object, He says they shall Perish. How often have we seen this fulfilled! Those who have forgotten why the Lord called them from their homes and gathered them here, and who have made money their sole object, have perished spiritually; they have lost the faith which was once so strong in their breasts that they were able to leave everything that was dear unto them and gather here. We want to take this lesson to heart. We want to be laborers in Zion, and work for the cause of Zion, and not for other objects that is, not to make them the only objects of our lives. It is not forbidden us to work for money. We have to do this, to make our living; but the Prophet meant that we must not make it the sole aim of our lives, to enrich ourselves and gain wealth. The love of money is the root of all evil, has been said, and said truly. Not the money itself; for rightly used, I believe it is a blessing. But I am afraid that many are not willing to use this blessing aright. We certainly should not make it the one thing that we seek. We want to place our labors where they can do the most good for the upbuilding of Zion upon the earth. If we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, these other things, He has promised, shall be added. We have found the kingdom of God; but we want also His righteousness. That means that we do right in all things between man and man, and that we do not forget to do right towards our Heavenly Father, and also towards ourselves.
The Lord has asked us to do certain things. We will find that they are for our own good. These commandments have been given by a kind Father to His children. He has seen our conditions and our circumstances, and what He has ordained has been calculated for our greatest benefit. When such is the case, we should all feel that we want to keep His commandments. We want to benefit ourselves. In fact, this feeling is so strong with us that often we forget what is righteousness, on account of our selfishness. But if we will work truly for our own benefit, then we will keep the laws of God, we will seek His righteousness, we will try to build up His Zion upon the earth, and we will listen to the counsels which He gives us through His servants. If we do this, the greatest amount of happiness will be ours, and we will be able to do our share towards carrying out God’s purposes on the earth.
May God bless His Saints. May His kingdom prosper. May His servants be blessed in their labors. This is my prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Elder Marriner W. Merrill
Elder Marriner W. Merrill
The Divine Origin of the Church-Officers not Self-appointed-Profanity Condemned-Obedience Brings Harmony-Each May Have a Witness of the Truth-A Prediction Fulfilled-Safety in Counsel.
I have an evidence of the truth of this work. I have a testimony from the Lord. I know that this work is true. I know that Joseph the Prophet was chosen as an instrument in the hands of the Lord to establish the gospel in the earth in this dispensation. I had evidence of this a great many years ago. It has been over forty-four years since I became associated with the Saints in these mountains, and I have been like the rest of you, I have had my trials, my dark times, and periods of affliction and sorrow. I believe that all Saints have their trials, if they are trying to do right and serve the Lord. The Spirit of the Lord has not always been with me. I have been left to myself many times. But in these times of trial, the testimony that I had from the Lord of the truth, of the divinity of this work has been a great consolation to me. I have not lost it yet. I hope I may never lose it. I believe it is possible for people to lose the testimony and evidence they have had In regard to this work, and to get into the dark, and become dissatisfied, and complain and find fault with the brethren. I have always looked upon it as a very dangerous thing for a member of the Church to find fault with the servants of God, to criticise the actions of the Priesthood, because in my experience here with the people I have witnessed many, apparently good men and good women, turn away from the Church through indulging in this spirit of fault-finding and criticising the actions of the Priesthood.
Now, we must remember that there is not a single officer in the Church who has selected himself. There is not one of the Presidency, nor one of the Apostles, that has sought the position he occupies today. These men have not desired the position, and have not asked for it. But the Lord, in the dispensations of His providence, has placed them in office in the Church. And when we complain, and find fault, and criticise, we must surely know that we are criticising the actions of the Lord, because He is the one that has brought these things to pass and placed these men in their positions, for the reason, I suppose, that they were the ones He wanted to carry on His work. The officers of this Church have been called to these positions, and we ought to remember this. We ought to sustain this work, sustain the organization of the Church, and sustain the Priesthood. Let all other things be a secondary consideration. The Savior said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” That is the first thing for us to do; then other things will be added unto us as we may need them. As I said before, I know this work is true; and if I deny the work of the Lord, it will be because I get into the dark and lose the spirit of it. We are liable to do this. Hence it is not safe for a Latter-day Saint to forget his prayers, and to forget the Lord. We should make it the practice of our lives to entreat the Lord in the morning, and in the evening, and at midday, and have within our hearts the spirit of prayer.
I am aware that there are families in the Church that neglect their prayers. Heads of households neglect to call their families around them and entreat the Lord for His protecting care over them during the day or during the night. Is there anybody under the sound of my voice that neglects to do these things? If you do, you fall that much in living up to the requirements of the Gospel. There are in some parts of the Church people who profane the name of Deity. Now, they ought to know that this is wrong. Yet this spirit of profanity is too prevalent in some parts of the country. As officers and as members of the Church, we ought to rebuke such conduct in our brethren, and tell them kindly that it is not a proper thing to do. It is a bad example. It brings the displeasure of the Lord. It drives away the Holy Spirit, and we are not in a position to have the heavens opened to us, and to have our prayers reach into the ears of the Lord. If there are any Latter-day Saints here that indulge in profanity, I want to exhort you to cease from this time forth, and turn unto the Lord with full purpose of heart.
When we are living in the light of the Gospel, our feelings will harmonize with the Presidency and with the Apostles and with the Elders that are trying to carry on this work. I say our spirits will harmonize with theirs, because I want to bear record and testimony to you that they are doing the very best they can for the people and for the advancement of the work of God, and the Lord is with them and He will bring them off victorious. Hence the importance, my brethren and sisters, of trying to cultivate the spirit of humility, of meekness, and of kindness, and attending to the labors that pertain to us in the Gospel. There is something for everybody to do. We have all we can possibly do if we live the religion of Jesus Christ. We cannot afford to neglect our duties in the Gospel. Life is too short for us to think of such a thing. We are liable to be called to an account any time. Scores of people that were here at the last Conference are not here now perhaps, because of circumstances and conditions which they have passed through. This may be the case with some of us who are here. We may never come to another Conference; we may never hear the voice of President Woodruff or the servants of God again. We do not know that we will, unless God has revealed it to us. No man knoweth the things of tomorrow, unless God reveals them to him. We know the things of yesterday, if we have not forgotten them; but we do not know of the things of tomorrow. Hence the importance of all Latter-day Saints living according to the light that has been revealed to them.
Every man and woman has the right to have a testimony of this work. We may have the evidence for ourselves. The hands of the Elders of the Church have been placed upon our heads, and it has been said unto us, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost,” and we have a right, if we have sincerely repented of our sins and turned unto the Lord with full purpose of heart, to a witness. My conviction is that no man need be without a testimony of this work, whether he be young or old. The Lord is no respecter of persons, and we may know for ourselves, for our private use and good. Not that we may have revelation or a testimony for somebody else, only for ourselves. The heavens have been opened, and they are open to the faithful people of God today. Our prayers may be heard and answered, if they are right and inspired by the Holy Ghost. This is the privilege of the Latter-day Saints. The world do not have these things, because the Lord has not revealed the Gospel to them, only as He has done it through His ministering servants. He has organized His Church in the earth, and the Gospel is being preached as a witness to the world.
How literally the words of President Woodruff have been fulfilled that he uttered when the Temple was dedicated! He said that the scale would turn, and the people of the world would be more kind to us than formerly. We have seen this verified wherever our Elders have gone. They find people raised up to comfort and to bless them and to listen to them. It is so in these United States, more so, I presume, than it ever has been; it is so in all the world. The words of the servant of God have been verified in regard to these things. We have many testimonies before our eyes daily with regard to this work, and woe be to the men and the people that fight against God and against Zion! Woe be to us who have had the truth and have once known the light, if we turn away from the work of God! Our condition will be far worse than that of those who have never heard the Gospel.
Hence, my brethren and sisters, the importance of our listening to the counsel of the servants of God. We have a perfect organization existing throughout the Church, so that no man or woman need be left in doubt with regard to the counsels of the Priesthood. We can listen to them if we are so disposed; and we ought to do it as much now as we ever have done. I can remember in my experience here when we thought it not wise or safe to enter into enterprises or do things without counseling with our brethren. We thought in the midst of counsel there was safety, and in former years we sought the counsel of our brethren more than we do now. Not that every man shall run to the Presidency of the Church or to the Apostles to get advice, because, as I said before, the organization is complete, and you need not go far from your own wards to get the mind of the servants of God. If the Bishop is not able to give the necessary counsel, the President of the Stake may be. If he is not able to give it, he may apply to the Presidency of the Church for it. If this organization was considered and respected by the Saints, everything would work harmoniously and smoothly, and every man and every woman would get the proper counsel for their guidance.
I feel, my brethren and sisters, the importance of our being humble and consistent in our lives, in shunning evil and the appearance of evil, and to teach our children in a proper manner. Do you not know that it is a very bad example for any family of Saints to neglect their prayers before their children? The children will grow up and they will not know what it means to have family prayers. The Lord has said He will be sought after, and He said to ancient Israel that if they would draw near unto Him, He would draw near unto them. We need to draw near to the Lord, that He may draw near unto us. We need the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We are not able to stand alone. We need the counsel and encouragement of our brethren; we need the advice and encouragement of each other. We may think we can stand alone; we may think we can go on our own responsibility; but we will fail in the end, because the Lord has designed that the counsel of His Priesthood shall be respected among the Latter-day Saints. We ought to sustain our Bishops, and not speak evil against them, or against the Counselors, or the Teachers, or the officers of the ward. Let not our tongues be found speaking evil against our brethren. It tends to darkness and to sin, and will lead whoever indulges in it out of the Church, unless he or she repents speedily. It is a dangerous thing to be found criticising the authorities of the Church not that they are perfect men, because no man is perfect. It is possible that I may do wrong that I may give some wrong counsel; but that can easily be corrected, because here are the living oracles of God, and they are worth more to the Latter-day Saints than all the Bibles, all the Books of Mormon and all the Books of Doctrine and Covenants that are written. The Bible is a good thing, the Book of Mormon is a good thing, and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants is a good thing. They are the words of the Lord. But I say that the living oracles of the Church are worth more than all of them. If we could have but one of them, give me the living oracles of the Priesthood for my guidance. Of course, it is proper and a good thing to have it all, because the living oracles of the Church work in harmony with what is written, and their counsel will not come in conflict with the words of the Lord in former ages. But the conditions of mankind change. The counsel that was suitable for the Saints forty years ago may not be so suitable today. Hence the importance of having in our midst the living oracles of God.
I feel that it is a good time to be Saints. It is a good time to turn unto the Lord and live, and not turn away from the Lord and die. I tell you that God has revealed himself in our day and time. He has raised up our Presidency and the Apostles for the guidance of the Church, for the establishing of His work and the building up of Zion on the earth; and we cannot do without them. We would be scattered to the four winds if we did not have the living oracles of God in our midst for our guidance. I feel happy in this work. I hope I will continue to the end. I have not only had one testimony from the Lord of its truth, but many have been added from time to time. I have seen the marvelous workings of God visible in my behalf, and I feel this morning to praise the Father because of His goodness and mercy, and because of His sparing my life to bear record of His name and to bear testimony to my brethren and sisters and friends of the truth and divinity of this great work. God bless you. Amen.
Elder John W. Taylor
Elder John W. Taylor
The Written Word Insufficient-Prophets Raise-up at Different Periods-God has Revealed Himself also in these Last Times.
Dear brethren and sisters and friends: I pray that the Spirit of the Lord may direct me in what I shall say this morning. I feel to bear testimony, to commence with, to the truth of the remarks that have been made by those who have preceded me. I desire to draw the attention of this congregation to a statement of Elder Merrill wherein he said that the living oracles are of greater importance than the written word. I desire to dwell somewhat upon this point, in order to bear testimony to this position; for it is a sweeping assertion. As Elder Merrill made this remark, my mind reverted back over the history of the world and the dealings of God the Eternal Father with the children of men ever since the days of our father Adam. We find in the beginning that the children of men multiplied from our forefather Adam and became very numerous upon the earth, and they had in their midst the written word of God. But they departed from it. What was needful under these circumstances? Why, it became necessary for the Lord to raise up a prophet, and he inspired His servant Noah to call the people unto repentance I mention this fact to show you that while they had the written word of God in their midst, yet they had all departed from it. They needed the living word. As the prophet says, “the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” Another ancient prophet says, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.” Under the circumstances that I have alluded to, it was necessary for the Lord to raise up a mighty prophet, and Noah therefore began to preach the Gospel of repentance unto that people. He preached for about 120 years with what success you all know who have read the scriptures. Eight souls, including himself, were saved in the ark.
Then when these eight souls began to multiply and replenish the earth and they became a great and numerous people, while all the dealings of God with His people were carefully recorded and the word of God, as far as it was written, was handed down to them, was that sufficient to save and to guide them? No. It was necessary for the Lord to raise up another prophet; and various prophets in turn were raised up. But the people went so far away from the truth that they became idolatrous and offered human sacrifice. While the Lord had given them commandments concerning the principle of atonement by the blood of animals, etc., they began to enlarge upon God’s law and instituted the practice of offering human sacrifices. The Lord was very much displeased with this. Nevertheless they had the written word before them, but they gave no heed to it. It became necessary to raise up a mighty prophet. Therefore, the Lord came down in the midst of these idolaters and appeared unto Abraham, who was the son of Terah by his second wife. The Lord had respect to Abraham, for he was a good man, and He said unto Abraham:
“Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee:
“And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
The Lord commanded Abraham to leave his father’s house, because his father, Terah, was preparing to offer him as a sacrifice unto his god.
Here is another instance where you will see the necessity of the Lord revealing himself and raising up a prophet, because all the children of men had gone into idolatry and had gone astray from the plan of life and salvation which the Lord had previously revealed unto them. Nevertheless they had the written word in their midst. Did the written word save them? No. Would the written word have accomplished the object of turning that great people from idolatry? No, What was necessary? It was necessary to do just what was done for our Father in heaven to come and make a personal visit to Abraham. Afterwards the Lord said, in speaking of Abraham, “I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.” Therefore, He pronounced upon him the great blessing that his posterity should become as innumerable as the stars in heaven and as countless as the sands upon the seashore. When the children of God understand true wealth and that which will make them as God, they will find it in presiding over their posterity in their turn, as our Father is now presiding over His, and in the fact that they have wives and children, their posterity increasing and multiplying, and the principle of the continuation of lives.
I desire to pass along a little further. The children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob began to increase and multiply upon the face of the earth, and became a great people. Nevertheless they fell short of keeping the commandments that the Lord had given unto them. But they had the written word in their midst. Did that save them? No, it did not. They went into bondage unto the Egyptians. What was the matter? Was it that there was nothing written in regard to the dealings of God with His people prior to their day that they were in this dreadful condition? No. It was because they had transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances, and had turned away from the laws of life and salvation. Under these circumstances, what was necessary? It was necessary to raise up a man who could communicate with God the Eternal Father. Again the written word failed to save the people. The Lord appeared unto Moses in the burning bush, and commanded him to go forth and call to his assistance his brother Aaron, and say unto Pharaoh, in the name of the Lord, to let His people go forth into the wilderness. Would the written word ever have prevailed upon King Pharaoh to release the people of Israel? No. It was necessary for the Lord to show forth His mighty power in bringing upon that people the plagues of the earth, according to the voice of His servant Moses, whom He had inspired. It was necessary also for the Lord to smite down the first-born of all the Egyptians. Would the written word have accomplished that? Moses went forth, after having conversed with God, filled with a portion of His Spirit and power. He did not go forth with the written word of something that had transpired in the days of Noah, saying, Behold, Noah was called of God to preach righteousness, and the people did not repent; therefore they were destroyed with a flood. No; King Pharaoh undoubtedly was acquainted with the history of the world, but that had no more effect upon him than the blowing of the wind. But when the Prophet Moses came into his presence, and the plagues were poured out, one by one, upon the people, according to the will of God as predicted by His servant Moses, he began to soften in his heart. Finally, when the firstborn of Egypt were destroyed, the Israelites had time enough to get out into the wilderness; but they had no sooner got out than they were immediately followed by the hosts of Pharaoh.
I mention this to show you the necessity of another prophet being raised up. I tell you there might have lived in ages past hundreds and thousands of prophets, but that is not sufficient for the day and age in which we live. I will pass on rapidly, for I have only four minutes left in which to speak; but I desire to talk to the subject as well as to the “mark” while I am on my feet.
There is another remarkable circumstance I wish to refer to. The Lord our God desired that a mighty temple should be built unto His high and holy name, after the days of which I have spoken. Was there anything in what the Lord had said to the Prophet Noah, or to the Prophet Abraham, or to the Prophet Isaac, or to the Prophet Jacob, that would teach the children of men how to build a temple unto God? No; there was no written word of this kind. What was necessary, therefore? It was necessary that the Lord our God should reveal His mind and will unto His servant the Prophet, that he might know how to build a temple; and He raised up a man to build a temple unto the name of God. This was King Solomon. A little later on we find another peculiar circumstance which transpired, verifying the ideas of Elder Merrill in his testimony here today. We find that King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream concerning some of the future history of this world, portraying what the mind and will of God was concerning some things down even to the day and age in which we live. But the dream went from him, and he wanted this dream brought back to his mind with the interpretation thereof. Could he by reading the instructions of God to Solomon as to how to build a temple learn how to bring that dream back again to his mind? No; it was necessary for the Lord to call upon His servant Daniel, who went forth, and by the power of the Holy Ghost he told the dream and gave its interpretation to Nebuchadnezzar.
I tell you the changing scenes of life are such that we need men, living men, that are inspired of God. As Christ said to the devil, when he tempted Him, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” I desire, my friends, to bear this testimony unto you. Let me quote from the 12th chapter of Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians, and pass by all the remarkable circumstances wherein God the Eternal Father had to continually keep raising up Prophets and Seers, in order to straighten the people out; for the history of this world shows that just as soon as the people have a little time to multiply and to increase, they have turned away from the word of God. When Christ came, He instituted a peculiar system among the children of men, and Paul speaks of some things that He established in His Church.
“God hath set some in the Church, first Apostles, secondarily Prophets, thirdly Teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.”
In his epistle to the Ephesians, Paul also speaks on this subject. He says:
“And he gave some, Apostles; and some, Prophets; and some, Evangelists; and some, Pastors and Teachers;
“For the perfecting of the Saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ:
“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”
We are told also in the same epistle that God has placed these in the church “till we all come in the unity of the faith.” I ask you, my friends, have we come to a unity of the faith in the world? We are divided, and subdivided, into hundreds of sects and parties. Then what is necessary? Why, as in the other circumstances to which I have referred, it is necessary that the Lord our God should raise up a mighty prophet, to correct the children of men in this great error which they are making all over the world. And in accordance with this necessity, the Lord has in this time, as in all ages, come to the rescue, and He has raised up the Prophet Joseph Smith, as a prophet, seer and revelator. He came down and communicated His mind and will unto the Prophet Joseph in person, as He did unto our father Abraham, and unto Jacob, and unto Moses; and He has commanded, as President Woodruff has said here today, that this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness to all nations, and then shall the end come. Is not all the sectarian world today praying, “Our Father who art in heaven, thy kingdom come, and thy will be done?” Let me say unto you, my dear friends, when it does come it will come with apostles, with prophets, with inspired men, with men who are raised up as men were in olden times. Peter said, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.” In those days they spake not as the Scribes and Pharisees, but as men having authority. They spake not according to the will of man, but whatsoever was revealed unto them that spake they unto the children of men.
God bless you, my dear friends, and lead you into the ways of all truth. May He pour out His Holy Spirit upon every soul that is in this Conference, that the Latter-day Saints may be made to rejoice, and that those who are not of us may be pricked in their hearts and come to a knowledge of the truth, that we may all be saved and exalted in His kingdom, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Elder George Teasdale
Elder George Teasdale
The Doctrine Preached by the Saints the Same as that which was Taught by Christ.
I am grateful unto God our Eternal Father for the privilege of attending this Conference. I think the Latter-day Saints may congratulate themselves in the testimony that hath been given unto us, that has relieved us from all doubt or anxiety concerning our spiritual welfare today or in the future. The doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ is different to anything else. To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ is to believe in His doctrine. If we believe in His doctrine, we believe in the ordinances of the house of God. We understand somewhat concerning our relationship to our Father in heaven. He taught His disciples to pray, “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.” This is the sentiment of the Latter-day Saints those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, who have accepted the doctrine of Jesus Christ, who worship the living and true God, who have repented of their sins, who have been baptized by immersion, by one having authority, for the remission of their sins, who have been sanctified in the precious blood of Christ, which follows the water, and who have received the witness of the Spirit in the gift of the Holy Ghost that was given unto them by the ordinance of the laying on of hands. The principles that we advocate are the principles advocated by the Lord Jesus Christ in His day; and are the only way to be saved from death, hell and the grave.
We have our missionaries, in large numbers, preaching this everlasting Gospel, who are taking the glad tidings of great joy to the inhabitants of the earth, testifying that God has again spoken from the heavens, that He hath restored to the earth His Church, that He hath living Apostles and Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers, for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ. We also testify to the truth of these principles, because in our experience as individuals we know that the signs follow the believer; we know that the path of counsel is the path of safety; for whenever we have followed it we have always been well satisfied. The ways of God are not the ways of man, neither are His thoughts their thoughts; but as the heavens are above the earth, so are His thoughts and His ways above ours. Men for ages have had the Scriptures. They have had the dealings of God with the inhabitants of the earth in the records that we have. But have they been enabled to understand the philosophy of salvation? Have they been enabled to understand why it was necessary that all men must repent, and be baptized (immersed) for the remission of sins? Have they been enabled to understand why it was essential that they should be born of the water and of the spirit, or they could in no wise inherit the kingdom of God? These principles are made plain to us, because the Lord has revealed them. He has restored His new and everlasting covenant. He has restored His holy Gospel. We are His witnesses of this, and we testify that which we do know, and we bear testimony to that which we have seen and that which we have felt.
But the world will not receive our testimony. We take the Bible and show that these principles are in harmony with those taught by the ancient Apostles. It is no new doctrine. It is the old doctrine. It is the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life. And we are endeavoring to train our children and the people to have faith in God, to trust in the Lord, to honor Him, to reverence His name, to love Him, and to keep His holy commandments. In our Sabbath schools we show the children what has been done by faith. In our exhortations to the people we refer them to what has been accomplished by faith; believing in God, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, believing in His ordinances, and practicing them, that they may make their calling and election sure. We are striving to do this ourselves, simply because we want a salvation; we want to be associated with the Church of the firstborn; we want to see the kingdom of God established upon the earth in power, that the kingdom of heaven may come and the will of God be done upon the earth as the angels do the same in the heavens.
I will say to our friends visiting at this Conference, if you have not heard this Gospel before, I want to bear testimony to you that I came out of the world; that I heard this Gospel in the world; that I accepted of its principles, and the promises made to me by those who introduced it to me have been fulfilled. I know that the spirit of prophecy exists. I know that the gift of tongues exists. I know that the power of God is manifested, when faith is exercised, in the laying on of hands unto those who are sick and afflicted, in the anointing with oil and the prayer of faith. I know that the signs follow the believer, as the Lord Jesus Christ promised eighteen hundred years ago. The Lord has again revealed His will. He taught His servant Joseph Smith His doctrine and the necessity of these ordinances of His house, and has taught the necessity of adding works to our faith.
What would be the use of the Scriptures to us if there were no living men having authority to officiate in the ordinances of the house of God. Where there is no authority of the Priesthood there cannot be any ordinances, to be of any effect. You can easily understand that the things of God are not known by the spirit of man, but by the Spirit of God; and when the Lord withdraws His Spirit, and when His authority is taken from the earth, then men of wisdom, so-called, change the ordinances, break the everlasting covenant, and instead of baptizing by immersion, that men may be buried with Christ by baptism, they pour or sprinkle water upon a child’s face and call that baptism. Now, if the ordinance of baptism that was given unto us by the Lord Jesus Christ was being buried with Christ in baptism, how would it be possible for us to be justified by having a little water sprinkled in our faces when we were little children and knew nothing about it? So much for the wisdom of men. No man knoweth the things of God, except by the Spirit of God. When they had living Apostles and Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers, sent of God for the work of the ministry, then the p
The Lord has taught us these principles today in the revelations that He has given. He has given us the ordinance of baptism, the ordinance of the laying on of hands; and when we look into the Scriptures we find that it was just the same eighteen hundred years ago. The Scriptures bear testimony, or we can quote from the Scriptures to show the people that it is no new doctrine. We have a living testimony, too, in the which we know that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that there is efficacy in His precious blood, and that if we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship with our brethren, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin. We have faith in these principles, and we honor God. We manifest it in our works. We are not teaching false doctrine. We are not deceiving the people. We are teaching them the truth, and we call upon all men everywhere to repent and to come unto God with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and worship Him in the name of Jesus Christ.
If you are honest in your hearts, and desire to know God, whom to know is eternal life, He will lead you into His fold, as he has done us; He will reveal to you the principles of life and salvation, as He has done to us; He will give you a living testimony, as he has given us. We invite all men to come unto Christ. We prove our doctrine by the Scriptures. We know that these principles are true. We know it in our experience and in our associations; we know it by the signs following the believer, and we are grateful to God our Eternal Father, beyond expression, that we have the privilege of being called by His name, and we love to do His will and honor His ordinances. Every man that has the fellowship of the Spirit of God loves the ways of the Lord. He cannot help it, it is so glorious. The Gospel has been of great benefit and worth unto me. It redeemed me from the darkness I was in; It redeemed me from priestcraft, from superstition and folly, and has given me the privilege of the glorious light that shines in Zion. But the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not. Why do the people love darkness rather than light? Because their deeds are evil. That is the interpretation that Jesus Christ gave, and I believe it. Why should we not be united in the worship of the living God? Why should we not be laboring for the building up of His kingdom? What is the use of broken cisterns that hold no water? What is the use of trusting in the wisdom of men, or in the arm of flesh? Why not trust in the living and true God? Why not wait upon Him, and place our faith in Him? Why not dedicate ourselves unto His kindly care and protection? I know that He lives. I know that He hears and answers prayer. I know that He blesses the administrations of His servants. How do I know it? Why, in my experience. There is scarcely a day passes but we have some witness concerning the mercy of God and His goodness. I have never been enabled to express my gratitude to my Father in heaven, and I have always been willing to preach this Gospel, because it has always been such a blessing to me.
I remember during the time I was on a mission I published two tracts “The Glad Tidings of Great Joy” and “The Restoration of the Everlasting Gospel.” What did I do it for? Because this Gospel has been such a benefit and blessing to me that I wanted to do all that I could to tell my brethren and sisters of the world everywhere concerning it. We are the friends of mankind. We have shown it by taking our lives in our hands over and over again to teach them the truth. We plead with them to be reconciled with God, and to embrace these glorious principles. I was trained in the scriptures. The people say that we do not believe in the Bible. If that be the case there are no people on the earth that do believe in the Bible. We do believe in it, and we believe in the doctrines of Christ. It was a simple tract that came into my hand The Only Way to be Saved, by Apostle Lorenzo Snow and then afterwards the Voice of Warning, that caused me to reflect and brought me to associate with this people and to wait upon the Lord. It aroused the spirit of faith in me.
Now, my beloved brethren and sisters, let me say unto you, as the Apostle said of old, have faith in God; for without faith it is impossible to please Him. This is what the Lord requires of us. He will be enquired after. As far as salvation is concerned, it is between the individual and God, between the child and the Father. He is our Father in heaven. We entreat you to put yourselves in harmony with Him; humble yourselves before Him and cry unto Him as a repentant sinner, and ask Him for light and truth. He will not deceive you, and truth. He will give it you. He will not deceive you, but guide you in the strait and narrow path which leads to everlasting life.
I bear my testimony concerning the Presidency and the Apostles, with whom I have been associated for some time. I know that they are men of God. I know that they labor for the establishment of the righteousness of God upon the earth. I know that they are men called of God. I have had their hands on my head, and they have predicted concerning me, when I have been sent on missions, and I know that they had the spirit cf prophecy, because those predictions were fulfilled. Then in my associations with them in the work of the Lord. I know that they are men of God; and I know that the Latter-day Saints who are living their religion are the happiest people on the face of the earth, and the Lord blesses them and gives unto them the righteous desires of their hearts. I am grateful unto God for this privilege that I have of bearing my testimony this morning in this Conference, and I pray that we may be kind to each other, that we may love God and keep His commandments, that when we shall have finished our probation upon the earth, we may enter into His glorious rest, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
The choir sang the anthem:
Lift up your heads, O ye gates.
Benediction by Patriarch John Smith
First Day-Afternoon Session
First Day-Afternoon Session
Singing by the choir and congregation of the hymn which begins:
“How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word.”
Opening prayer by Elder John Nicholson.
The choir sang:
“Softly beams the sacred dawning
Of the great Millennial morn.”
Elder John Henry Smith
Elder John Henry Smith
Necessity of a strict observance of the Sabbath-Permissible enjoyment and recreation on week days-Effects of Sabbath-breaking upon our children.
I am happy in the opportunity of listening, as I did this forenoon, to the remarks that were made by our brethren who spoke to us; and I was especially pleased that President Wood-ruff was enabled to be here and open this Conference by speaking for a short period of time. I trust that during the time I may occupy, I may be permitted to enjoy the same spirit that was enjoyed by our brethren in their conversation this morning. I have no subject upon my mind at this moment, but I trust that the suggestions of the Spirit may point out the direction in which I should go, that I may be enabled to touch upon some subject or other that shall be of interest to you.
During the past few months, in visiting the stake conferences and also in attending meetings in various wards, I have been very strongly impressed with the necessity for a much more strict observance of the Sabbath day than the Saints have been giving to it, and in talking to the people I have been more impressed to speak upon that matter than upon any other.
No people in the world have been dealt more generously with in the line of enjoyment proper enjoyment than the Latter-day Saints. Other religious peoples take little of those lighter enjoyments, and seem to regard them as sinful. But to us the Lord has been generous, in that we have been permitted to enjoy ourselves in witnessing representations upon the “mimic stage,” to also have some pleasure in parties, and to enjoy ourselves in dancing. A great many religious people regard these representations upon the stage, also dancing, as improper and wrong; but I myself am most happy in the thought that our Heavenly Father, in the introducing of His work and in seeking to establish among His children a correct understanding of the obligations and requirements of life, has permitted us the opportunity of lightening our minds, changing our currents of thought, and devoting ourselves to reasonable and proper amusements, that the mind might be freed from its constant load or strain occasioned by its so continuously pursuing the directions of those weightier conditions and obligations, and the continuance of thought upon them, by which the mind becomes overcharged and, as a result, produces sickness and feebleness, without there is some way in which it can be relieved. To my mind, the spirit and feeling and sentiment engendered in legitimate and proper amusements produces a most pleasing and satisfactory effect and result upon the mind that is thus permitted to throw off its weightier thoughts and enter upon legitimate and proper amusements, freeing it and enabling it to carry its weightier burdens more easily and more fully and more thoroughly.
But I notice that while this spirit of amusement is legitimate and proper in the sphere of our every-day life, the tendency seems to be growing among many to disregard the Sabbath day and to change it from the day of worship, the day of rest, the day upon which we may be enabled to commune with our own thoughts and to reach out after the inspiration of the Spirit of God that tendency, I say, is a growing one, to change that day into a day of pleasure; and to my mind, as I look around and note that tendency, I am sanguine that it is not for the best, but, upon the contrary, that, unless proper means shall be adopted to change this tendency, the sacred character of that day and the obligation that rests upon us as the children of our Heavenly Father to worship Him, is going to result badly; and it looks to me that an earnest effort should be made by the Elders of the Church to more deeply impress upon the minds of those of middle age and upon the younger and growing generations, the sacredness of that day. There is no reason that can be assigned among the Latter-day Saints why it should be turned into a day of pleasure-seeking, a day of recreation.
The opportunities given in which we can enjoy ourselves with propriety in our social gatherings during the week should be appreciated by us; and while we may be required to labor, our time being largely utilized in the various employments upon which we enter in order to obtain our livelihood, these opportunities for recreation present themselves continuously before us. I feel in connection with this matter that we need and we need it very badly too, taken as a whole to have the entire time that comes as the Sabbath day to devote our minds and our hearts to communion with that Spirit that comes from on high. Laboring and struggling daily and hourly to meet the physical needs of man, or to gratify some desire in the line of amusement, our minds are taken away from that regard and respect to the Sabbath day, and that regard and reverence and respect to the requirements of our Heavenly Father in connection with the softening of our minds and putting our spirits in touch with Him, that the tendency to simply go to Sabbath school or to attend one service upon the Sabbath day, either in the Tabernacle or in the ward meeting houses, or other buildings, and then to hitch up our teams and drive about the city, or into the canyons, or to be found following up the streams and fishing, and indulging in these species of recreation, to my mind is not in keeping with the spirit and nature of the work the Lord has set us to do. I believe that so far as may be practicable, our animals should have the same opportunities for rest upon the Sabbath day that we have. It is true that there may be circumstances arising, in order to discharge the legitimate and proper duties that rest upon us, that we may be compelled to drive our teams, or that we may be compelled, through sickness or otherwise, to be found not performing in its strictness the duties attendant upon us as members of the body of Christ; but with the generous opportunities that have been given to us for amusement, the chance that is ours to change our current of thought, and the requirement laid upon our Father’s children, not alone in the ages that have gone by, but in these days that they should remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy, we can avoid these evils.
Again in this dispensation, the Lord has renewed His covenant with His children, and pointed out to them the course they should pursue in regard to His work. Yet day by day or Sabbath by Sabbath, in mingling among the people, in noting the conditions that arise, as the tendency to the violation of the Sabbath and to disregard the sacredness of that holy day increases, I see that infidelity will increase, because to indulge upon that day in the same species of labor or careless amusement common upon other days, and to neglect and disregard the obligations we owe to that day rendered sacred by our Father in Heaven, upon which we should approach Him, will increase the spirit of disregard for our Heavenly Father in the breasts of those who indulge in it. I do not wish, in any sense, to become cranky, as we sometimes say of our brethren who strike upon a hobby and seem to work at it continuously, but, to my mind, there has grown to be a reckless disregard of that sacred requirement of holding holy and sacred the Sabbath day, in the minds of a great body of people who profess to be Latter-day Saints. It is not confined to the boys and girls who drift away from the restraints that should exist in the home, but it is manifest among those of more mature years. It is seen in many places and under many conditions, and it is repeated Sabbath after Sabbath, from month’s end to month’s end, and from year’s end to year’s end, and I trust that the faith and respect and reverence that should be shown in connection with the sacred observance of that day, devoted by our Heavenly Father to the enlightenment and uplifting of His children in the knowledge of Himself, shall not be held so lightly as it seems to be growing to be in the minds of many people who profess to believe upon His name, but that, wherever it may be possible, they will obey His wish, and hold sacred His day, that with themselves and their households, they will attend the services of the Church, and, if unable so to do, within the sacred folds of their own home circle will study the scriptures and seek to impress upon their minds a knowledge of His purposes, as shown in the sacred things which have come to us.
I feel that in connection with this matter, a change should take place with us; and while we may not be enabled to avoid some seeming violations of that sacred day, I believe that the spirit of every member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints should be directed to a more careful and thoughtful and prudent observance of the obligations which attach to us in connection with that day; that those teams and our vehicles, that those that are dependent upon us, shall be made to feel and sense the sacredness of that day and their duty to their Maker; that their minds may be eased of the strain of their week-day labor, and have communion with the Holy Spirit, that spirit that brings joy and gladness, that awakens hope, that puts us in sacred touch with our Heavenly Father, and renders us obedient to His holy wish, that that spirit may be with them and direct and guide them into its strict observance. I believe that carriage riding and buggy riding in this city and in these larger cities among the Saints, has grown to be a crime, and that our Heavenly Father is not pleased with it. That is my spirit and feeling in regard to that matter. President Cannon asks, “What about bicycles?” Well, I say this, my brethren and sisters, in regard to this question of riding of horses and bicycles, the driving of teams, and such like upon the Sabbath day: I recognize that many are so situated, being miles away from places of worship, that they must of necessity drive their teams in order to take their families to their legitimate and proper places of worship, I have nothing to say with reference to this matter, but when our teams are hitched up every Sabbath afternoon and driven for hours and hours for pleasure, I think we trench upon ground upon which we should not enter. I think, brethren and sisters remembering the goodness of our father to us, that while the rest of the religious world feel that it is a crime upon their part to have social enjoyments, our Father has permitted us to have these, going upon the basis that reasonable pleasure is legitimate and right, and drawing our minds from the weighty loads that come to men and women in their struggle of life; but O, let us hold sacred that day that our Father has named as the day upon which we, as His children, taught in the principles of righteousness, should show our love for Him, and our love for the principles involved in good government, in the balancing and shaping of the mind in its currents of thought along religious channels, and not be in a condition that our minds shall be given wholly to the enjoyment or pursuit of pleasure alone, or to the weighty obligations of life, to the course that they pursue.
My brethren and sisters, I ask that you who are under the sound of my voice this day will bear in remembrance that God has decreed that the Sabbath day should be held sacred and holy in His sight, and He expects us, His sons and His daughters, to so regard it in our ministrations and labors, to only discharge such duties as rest upon us, that are impossible for us to avoid but which come legitimately and cannot be avoided. My witness to you is that they who remember the Sabbath day, who shall take the rest proposed in the change of thought, who shall do it in attendance upon the sacred service, where the worship of God is present, will live longer lives, will be made more acceptable in every respect to our Heavenly Father; and in their children and their children’s children will the impress of that spirit to hold sacred the day of rest and worship be manifest in their lives, which will bring joy and satisfaction to the fathers and mothers because of the course that they pursue.
I pray that the Spirit of the Lord may indeed be in our midst, that the determination shall be a fixed and established one that in the homes of the Latter-day Saints wherever they may be situated, shall be found a people who revere and respect the sacred day which God has designated as a day of rest, that that day shall not become a day of pleasure but, upon the contrary, a day of worship, of reverence, and love for the Supreme Being, and that each one will seek to do his Father’s bidding in this respect, and keep His commandments. Amen.
Elder Francis M. Lyman
Elder Francis M. Lyman
Sacred ground-Maintaining Repentance-Tenderness of heart-Mosiah’s teachings-God never fails.
Twenty-five minutes will not be a very long practice at the mark straight ahead of us, but I will endeavor to talk straight, with the help of the Lord and with the help of your faith and prayers, my brethren and sisters, and trust that something may be said that will be profitable to us.
While listening to the brethren today, I have thought of this sacred spot, this building, this sacred ground where the Latter-day Saints are wont to assemble twice a year from all over the Church, coming here to listen to the living oracles, the men who have been chosen by the Lord, upon whose shoulders rests the responsibility of this Church and this work which the Lord has established, and O, what a sacred spot this is destined to be! When I think of the great designer of this building, President Young, and his brethren who have occupied the stand, the pulpit here, and how freely the word of the Lord has come to the people by the inspiration of the Almighty, words of wisdom, words of intelligence, words fraught with the power of God, I think what wonderful occasions have been in this building: How we have rejoiced together, and how we have been fed and stimulated to go forth from this central spot to our various fields of labor, to serve the Lord anew, to renew our energies, our covenants and obligations to the Lord and to more faithfully keep His commandments, that we may make good our great undertaking; to repent of our sins and to obtain forgiveness: to make a repentance genuine and eternal; for I am brought to believe that it is possible for men to repent and then to unrepent, and to fail to keep their repentance good; and I believe that the victory is in retaining our repentance and making it good, so that the Spirit of the Lord may dwell richly with us. I believe that it has been a fault with the Latter-day Saints, with us all, perhaps, without exception, that we have not properly maintained our repentance and kept it good; that we have, after we have embraced the Gospel and have received baptism properly, slackened our course; that we have become careless; that we have not maintained the broken heart and the contrite spirit, for be it known, it is necessary that men should have the broken heart, the tender and soft heart, and the contrite spirit, or they are not worthy of that great ordinance of baptism of water and of fire and of the Holy Ghost. And when we have reached this point, that we have complied with the revelation which is so clear and pointed, so definite that no one can mistake, I believe that that same condition must be maintained. I believe that my heart should be as tender today as it ever was. I cannot afford to be hard-hearted, I cannot afford to be stubborn, I cannot afford to be haughty and high-minded; but I must be contrite in spirit and my heart broken and tender, for the Lord has prescribed that all those who humble themselves before God and desire to be baptized should come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the Church that they have truly repented of their sins and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve Him to the end. He says: “All who truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins shall be received by baptism into this Church.” I take it that this requirement is necessary to entitle us to baptism into this Church, and no person is entitled to baptism who comes not to that condition. And if it be necessary that that condition is reached, or shall be reached, by those who would be baptized into this Church and have their sins washed away, to entitle them to receive the Holy Ghost, I believe that it is necessary also that that repentance and that broken heart and that contrite spirit and those good works before the Church, should be continued, and manifested to the end of life, if we would have the blessing of eternal life. King Benjamin, in talking to his people, in the fourth chapter of Mosiah (Book of Mormon), says:
“And again I say unto you, as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of His goodness, and have tasted of His love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth you exceeding great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and His goodness and long-suffering toward you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves, even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel; and behold, I say unto you, that if ye do this, ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of Him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true. And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due.”
Further, King Benjamin says, in this same chapter:
“And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you; that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God, I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants. And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order, for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again: it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore all things must be done in order. And I would that ye should remember, that whosoever among you that borroweth from his neighbor, should return the thing that he borroweth, according as he doth agree, or else thou shalt sin, and perhaps thou shalt cause thy neighbor to commit sin also. And, finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them. But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember and perish not.”
What great favor we enjoy, my brethren and sisters, that we have come to the plan of life, that we have come to know the way that leads to life and salvation, to know the Lord, to become acquainted with Him, having learned of Him through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, to know that Jesus is the Christ, to know that He is the Son of God and the Savior, and that we have been taught the principles of repentance, and that we have been brought to understand it and appreciate it! How important it is, then, that we should remain faithful, that we should persevere, that we should maintain the conditions upon which we entered into this Church. It is not that a certain condition is necessary for us to come through the door and then that we may unbend and do as we choose; but it is important that we should keep the faith. It is important that we should keep our hearts broken and tender, and our spirits contrite, and meek, and lowly of heart, that we should remember the Lord day by day, and that we should honor Him and keep His commandments and work righteousness, for we have the power. The power is in us. The Lord has given it to us, and the Lord has given to all men the power to do good and to honor Him and to keep His commandments. Naturally all men are endowed with this power from on high. There is planted in the hearts of all men that spark of intelligence and of righteousness from God, and that perception of the truth known as the conscience of man. It is a monitor established in the heart of every man and every woman, by the inspiration of the Almighty. And that conscience should be kept unsullied. It should be kept free, uncontaminated, and it should improve, for, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, to which those are entitled who humble themselves before God, the consciences of men should become so tender and so susceptible of impressions that they would rebel against the insinuation of evil, however small it might be. For the conscience, instead of being “seared with a hot iron,” should be improved, should be intensified and made stronger and better in the hearts of the Latter-day Saints, for we are entitled to a superior power and intelligence.
The Holy Ghost, that brings us in communion with the Father, and that establishes us as the living oracles-not alone the Presidency of the Church, not alone the Apostles, not alone the officials of the Church generally, but I say that the Holy Ghost in the hearts of the Elders of Israel makes them the living oracles of God, and they are entitled to speak by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost; they are entitled to know the truth, and not to be deceived. They are entitled to be led and counseled as they cannot be led by the written word, as we heard this morning, and yet no people of the world prize more the revelations of the Lord that are written than do the Latter-day Saints. But it has been the living oracles of God that produced the written word, and that always must produce the written word not the written word that produces the living oracles. But the living oracles are those men whom God has chosen and has inspired and given responsibility to. Those are the living oracles of God, and they are the men that the Lord sustains and strengthens and preserves, and to whom He reveals His mind and will. And they labor among the people, they live among the people, and they go to the world and preach the Gospel, advertising the principles of life and salvation abroad to the world, calling men to repentance and to reformation. These are the living oracles, and we should be the living oracles, and we should keep good the obligations that we are under to the Lord, and the promises we have made to Him, for He never fails. Our Heavenly Father has never failed. He cannot fail. His promises are all good to us. The failures are upon our part. It was no failure it has never been a failure on the part of the Lord, in the choice of brethren to serve Him and to bear His responsibility, to bear His Priesthood and authority among men. The failures have been the failures of men, on account of the weaknesses of men, of human nature. But where men lean upon the Lord and trust Him, and are humble and faithful, as all men can be, God always sustains and never deserts them. He cannot desert them. It is not possible that a man can fail if he does the will of God. No man ever did fail in this work and kingdom if he maintained his repentance and reformation if these are kept good from the beginning to the finish, no man can fail. Where men do fail, it is because of their own faults and of their own weaknesses, and not the fault of the Father. And there is no fault or mistake of the Father in the choice that is made, and every man who is called to position in this Church is called by the Father, by revelation, and not otherwise. The mind and will of God is known on every occasion, and we need have no fear when the purposes of the Lord are announced. When the design, the rule and the order of the Church are announced by the Prophet of God, know all Israel that God hath said it; and we know He hath spoken. We know when we hear his voice. We know His spirit, and we know the voice of the true shepherd. And this is my testimony to you, my brethren and sisters, today, in regard to this great work.
And I say these sacred precincts where the Prophets of God have dwelt and labored among us all these years, and where the inspiration of the Almighty comes as a flood, and where the will of God is announced to all Israel, should be most dear to us. What a blessed privilege! O, if we appreciated it as we ought to do, this house would never hold the congregation on any occasion. We would be crowding the very grounds about it, as well as the galleries, and every spot would be filled, if we only appreciated that God is here, that the Holy Ghost is here and is with His servants. How great has been the opportunity and privilege that is granted to us, and how we ought to appreciate it, and how we ought to be humble, how we ought to repent and leave off every wickedness and evil and iniquity, and how straight we should walk to the line, keeping the commandments of God, shunning not only evil but the appearance of evil!
I quite endorse the remarks of Brother Smith in regard to the sacredness of the Sabbath day. That should always be observed. We cannot be too careful in regard to all these things, and everything, in fact, in life; and we want to be prepared, my brethren and sisters, for the coming of the Son of Man, for His coming is near; it approaches, and it will be upon us before we know it, and before we are prepared. Let us then, I say, repent and make our repentance good from this time henceforth, and say nothing that would mortify us, or that would grieve the Spirit of the Lord, or make us ashamed.
I pray that the Lord will sustain us. I pray for President Woodruff, our great leader, the man whom God has honored with long life. How his life has been preserved! And we pray that he may continue to be preserved and stand at our head, and be filled with the power of God. And I pray for my brethren, the Presidency, the Twelve, and for the Elders of Israel, and for all who are in official positions among the people, at home and abroad. I pray for those who are laboring, who have responsibility upon their shoulders, all the brethren and all the sisters, that God will bless us, and enable us to do His will, accomplish His purposes, and be worthy of the trust that He has committed to us, that when we have finished, we shall be selected as His jewels, and that it may be said of us “Well done, good and faithful servants, enter into the joy of thy Lord.” Amen.
Elder Brigham Young
Elder Brigham Young
God’s work in other Worlds-What a Christian Is-Sabbath observance-Preparation to meet the Savior.
I am gratified to be here in this assembly today. The last Conference, in April, I was unable to attend, and I believe that I am a living monument of the mercy of God for on two occasions in the month of April last April I thought my time had come. But the brethren who administered to me, under the influence and power of God, raised me up and through His mercies I have this privilege of meeting with the Saints in Conference today. Thank God for it.
I am pleased and edified in the remarks that have been made. I rejoice in the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to them that believe, and I see a vast congregation before me, the majority of whom have believed and have identified themselves with the work of the latter days, which God has instituted to save His sons and daughters who have dwelt upon the earth, who do dwell upon the earth, and all who shall come upon the earth. This great work has to do with all the creations of God, and this movement is in harmony with other labors, that are going on in other planets, and we will find that instead of being isolated and strangers to them as we are now, we will mingle with people who are not of us today, people, possibly, of other planets. And while we now consider that it is a great thing to become acquainted with the nations that dwell upon the earth, then it will be the prerogative of the saved to visit other creations and other organizations planets that have come into existence and are peopled by the Almighty that we may visit them and become acquainted with them as we now become acquainted with foreign people. This work extends to all the people. This work extends to all the creations of God. It partakes of God, and therefore the attributes that are planted in man are like unto His attributes, and we shall become acquainted and see as we are seen and know as we are known.
I am thankful that the brethren have touched upon our weaknesses. We claim to be Christians. What is a Christian? It is one who does the will of the Father, that lives in obedience to the commandments of Christ. If I do not these things, I am not a Christian. Men have asked me by what power does a certain individual heal the sick? Is it in the name of Jesus? “O, no.” Question the individual who is operating, and he may tell you, “I know not by what power I do this.” Then I don’t want anything to do with that power. When one who is endowed with the Priesthood and the Spirit of God pronounces a blessing in the name of Jesus Christ, that man is acting as a Christian, in that respect at least. When there is any religious denomination that labor, that worship in any other name, they are not Christians; and I leave it to you and to the world to define who are Christians in this generation. I do not want to malign any one, but, my brethren and sisters, I take this as a key, and no man nor woman need stumble when the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are taught and they are lived up to, that man or that woman who so lives is a Christian in the true sense of the word. If a religious denomination claim to have revelation and institute a doctrine and eschew Christ and put Him away, they are simply grafting on to this enlightened age a system of heathenism, and it will not be long before they will erect their heathen gods, as has been done in other ages of the world. However they may look upon it, it is true. If these people are Christians, if these men and these women are Christians, then they will do that which Christ has commanded.
I am a witness that He has commanded us to observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy; and I will say this, that there is not, in some respects, observed in this city anything like the order that I found in Carthage on a visit to that place some years ago; that is the spot where the Prophet Joseph and the Patriarch Hyrum were murdered in cold blood. You could not buy a drop of liquor in that town. You saw no ragged loafers, nor fences down, nor men wandering about the streets, but everybody was busy, everybody seemed to have something to do. I was astonished, because I had always looked upon that town as the worst in the United States. But it was ahead of this city in Zion, in the order that was maintained there. There is nothing in a name. It is said by one of the poets, “What’s in a name?” I may bear the name of a Latter-day Saint, but I will tell you that I have not the flavor nor the odor of a Saint when I do not the will of the Father. It is said that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But when I do not live the religion of Jesus Christ, I have not the confidence to present to the people, nor the Spirit of God in me to be witnessed by the congregations of the Latter-day Saints, and I cannot deceive them, it is impossible. No man can deceive this people. He cannot do it, because they are so strongly entrenched, every man and woman that is living his or her religion. First, we have the Presidency of the Church to give us revelation, to instruct us, and if God our Father has anything for us to do particularly outside of the instructions already given, it comes through that channel. It comes through His mouthpiece, and it is passed from one grade to another in the Priesthood. And it comes to us, “Thus saith the Lord,” if need be. Then we have within ourselves that living light and intelligence, that when the word of the Lord comes, it seems like waters coming together, pure and undefiled, waters that blend together and are undistinguishable when they meet and are mingled. That spirit is absorbed by us, and we feel that what is given unto us is for the consolation of our Souls.
Now, I ought to receive whatever God sends me. It is a very hard job sometimes. If it doesn’t agree with me, it is because I am crossgrained. But we should learn this lesson, that God will hold us responsible, because the means, as has been said, are in our power by which we can walk a straight line without deviation. Although we have weaknesses, yet we can walk the straight line back into the presence of our Father. He has given us this power, and He holds us responsible for its use, Just as the ten talents were given, and those who had them were held responsible for their use. God holds you and me responsible for the talents he gives us, or has given us, and if these talents are allowed to lie in the ground unproductive, we may pray to Him but it will be in vain, comparatively, for there will be nothing for us by way of reward. But when they are improved, we develop until we become like God, for the attributes which He has implanted within us are godlike in every particular. If we do these things, Latter-day Saints, God will approve of us.
Now, why not go to from this time forth and say in our hearts, and put it into active life, that we, as far as we are individually concerned, will observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy, and so far as we have influence over our families, that we will see that this is the case also with them. Why not do this? If this one thing were done it would be a great relief to the Latter-day Saints. We complain of hard times. Why? Because, as it was said this morning by the first speaker, so many of us are laboring for money, not for Christ and his Church. If we had labored and considered “first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” all things would be added. This is true, or else we have been misled. I believe it to be true, to be the revelation of God. Are all things added to us? Well, there are a great many things that I wish had never been added; but I believe “all things” meant all good things, and we have seemed to have a great many very bad things added to us in this community and throughout the State. Then that is positive evidence that we have not obeyed the injunction laid upon us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all things would be added to us. I do not believe this day that there would be one soul wanting labor, wanting employment, not one soul needing food, shelter or clothing, if we had sought first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. All would have been provided for. I believe that these things have come upon us through our weaknesses. That is my belief. I believe I suffer today through debt, suffer in my feelings today in not being able to meet my obligations promptly, because I have not sought the kingdom of God and His righteousness, first and foremost. Now I believe that the Lord will help us out if we will from this time forth begin to observe the Sabbath day, and if we will go to our sacrament meetings and partake of that sacrament worthily; if we will attend to our prayers; if we will know where our children are after dark, and where they are in daylight, our sons and our daughters; if we do not allow them to form into clubs, and go riding horseback, in carriages, wagons and buggies, on bicycles or on foot, wandering up the canyon, wandering into the hills, or off somewhere playing cards, or doing something of this kind. If we will watch them, God will watch us and give us power; if we do not watch them, He will not take much notice of any of us, I am afraid. He has given us these things as duties. It is our place to attend to them. I do not blame the children so much as I blame the older ones, because the child may be led.
We have influences to contend with here that are inimical to the Church of Christ. A lady stopped me on the street the other day, that is she looked like a lady and I think she was. She said, “O, I can’t stand your endowments.” “Why, what do you know about our endowments?” I said. “O, the wickedness! I see you have been industrious, but O how wicked! O, that endowment house, what a terror it has been to me! I am not very old, but I have heard of it all my life!” She was a lady from the East. Well, I talked with her a little while. She asked me if I was a Mormon. I told her, just as Brother Joseph F. said on one occasion when a boy and a stranger interrogated him, “Yes, I am a Mormon and died in the wool.”
Well, now, brethren and sisters, here are our duties. O, I wish I could bring them home to you and to me. I want to be preached to just as much as anybody. I am one with you, as you can see, so far as debt is concerned. O, I am bound to go right along with you. I wish I could tell you how I view my own actions. I haven’t language to do it I would like to tell you how I view those who break the Sabbath day, how I look upon those who go out to pleasure resorts upon the Sabbath day, I do not care how much people ride in a carriage if they are doing the will of the Father, if they are going to their meetings, if they are going to perform some duty; but when we start out on Sunday and slash and race, I think we are breaking the Sabbath day.
Brethren and sisters, God has commanded us to listen to the voice of inspiration from our brethren that we have heard this day, especially to the voice of our leader. Listen to him. His words are to me like “apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Every word that falls from his mouth, the simplest word that he utters, is to me a revelation, although his words may not be quick and powerful; but every word that he utters in conversation is revelation to me, for I look upon him as the vicegerent of God upon the earth. Listen to him. Listen to his counsels and to the counsels of his brethren, and let this Conference mark the epoch of a reformation, mark the beginning of a reformation in the midst of this people. Let us go from this Conference when it is ended with a determination in our hearts that as for us we will serve God with our households as near as possible. This is the resolution that is wanted. This is what is needed in the hearts of the people. And let us be diligent day and night, diligent in keeping the commandments of God, for what was said here I know to be true, that the coming of our Lord and Master is not far away from us. It will surprise us very much, when the cry goes forth, “Lo, the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him.” I for one want to live so that when that cry is sounded it will be the most joyous message that ever saluted the ears of a human being. That is the way I want to live, and I would like the people of the whole world not only the Latter-day Saints, but the people of the whole earth, to live so that when that cry goes forth we may go out to meet Him with our countenances elevated to our Savior, beaming with joy and gladness, to meet the Redeemer, the rewarder of the acts that we have performed. God help us in this; God give us strength, for we are weak, and enable us to lift ourselves above our surroundings, above the world, and to set an example worthy of imitation by all men; which is my prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.
President Wilford Woodruff
President Wilford Woodruff
The Written Word Joseph and Brigham In Kirtland Present Inspiration.
There are a few moments I would like to spend in talking upon one particular point that has been spoken about today. Brother Brigham has referred to it, and our brethren this forenoon alluded to it. It is in regard to the written word of God and the living oracles. Perhaps you may think that Brother Woodruff is hardly a suitable man to speak upon this subject, seeing he is President of the Church, but I think you will find I am when I get through. I will refer to a certain meeting I attended in the town of Kirtland in my early days. At that meeting some remarks were made that have been made here today, with regard to the living oracles and with regard to the written word of God. The same principle was presented, although not as extensively as it has been here, when a leading man in the Church got up and talked upon the subject, and said: “You have got the word of God before you here in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants; you have the written word of God, and you who give revelations should give revelations according to those books, as what is written in those books is the word of God. We should confine ourselves to them.” When he concluded, Brother Joseph turned to Brother Brigham Young and said, “Brother Brigham I want you to take the stand and tell us your views with regard to the written oracles and the written word of God.” Brother Brigham took the stand, and he took the Bible, and laid it down; he took the Book of Mormon, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and laid it down before him, and he said: “There is the written word of God to us, concerning the work of God from the beginning of the world, almost, to our day.” “And now,” said he, “when compared with the living oracles those books are nothing to me; those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now, as do the words of a Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation. I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in the books.” That was the course he pursued. When he was through, Brother Joseph said to the congregation: “Brother Brigham has told you the word of the Lord, and he has told you the truth.”
And now, I wanted to speak a word upon this subject. Whenever the Lord requires any Prophet, Seer, Revelator, Apostle or leading man of the Church to speak, the Spirit of the Lord is with him to give counsel to the people from time to time as he is moved upon, and such as the people ought to hear. But I want you to understand this one thing: the Holy Priesthood and power of God do not stop there; it does not stop with the Presidency, it does not stop with the Twelve Apostles, it does not stop with our leading men of Israel; there is not a man on God’s footstool that is sent forth into the world to preach the Gospel but ought to have the Spirit of the Lord upon him and the revelation of God to him. And by that power these valleys of the mountains have been filled with the inhabitants of the world today; by that power this Tabernacle has been built; by that power have the Elders, from the organization of this Church until today, performed their work. There is no end to the Holy Ghost and the power of God and the revelations of God to man. This is our position today before the world. Every man should have the Holy Priesthood with him, of some kind or other, when he goes to preach the Gospel; he should occupy some position of that kind. The Holy Ghost should be with that man. The Holy Ghost is with that man, revelation is with that man, if he lives his religion and does his duty before God.
I have before me the Twelve Apostles who were boys who were young men when they were thrust into the vineyard in their boyhood, as it were, when they went forth to the islands of the sea and the nations of the earth, and they have done that work in their young days by the inspiration and the power of God, and He will be with them until the end. We should all understand this. The Bible is all right, the Book of Mormon is all right, the Doctrine and Covenants is all right, and they proclaim the work of God and the word of God in the earth in this day and generation until the coming of the Son of Man; but the Holy Priesthood is not confined particularly to those books, that is, it did not cease when those books were made. It belongs to every man that goes forth into the world, and these are our principles, and these are our rights, and these are our duties, and these are our gifts. The Holy Ghost is not confined to any one man, but every one should have it. As the Lord said to Orson Hyde and the brethren with him, that were going to preach the Gospel: “Go forth and speak as you are moved upon by the Holy Ghost, and when you speak as you are moved upon by the Holy Ghost, that is the word of the Lord, that is the mind of the Lord, that is His Spirit, that is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes.”
Well, I felt I wanted to name this in this connection. This subject has been brought up so strongly here today, I felt I wanted to bear my testimony of these things. God bless you. Amen.
The choir sang the anthem,
“We give thanks to Thee, O Lord of the harvest.”
Benediction by Elder B. H. Roberts.
Second Day-Morning Session
Second Day-Morning Session
The choir and congregation sang the hymn which begins,
Redeemer of Israel Our only delight.
Opening prayer by Elder Elias S. Kimball.
Singing by the choir:
High on the mountain top
A banner is unfurled,
Ye nations now look up,
It waves to all the world.
Elder Franklin D. Richards
Elder Franklin D. Richards
Books cannot give Authority nor administer Ordinances-The Gospel is a practical System-No Religion but Christ’s reveals the Resurrection-The Christian Sabbath and its Importance-The only true Gospel and Priesthood.
In arising to address this vast congregation, I earnestly desire a continuation of that liberality of spirit which was enjoyed yesterday by those whose privilege it was to minister unto us, realizing that without it we shall not be edified in the truth and the knowledge of God. In arising to speak upon and testify of the work of God, it is desirable to know what to speak about as well as what to say about it. Yesterday I felt peculiar pleasure and joy of spirit in listening to the testimonies of the brethren, because of the simplicity and force of many of the truths that were uttered. One of them came forcibly to my mind, as well as to the rest of the hearers, concerning the value and importance of the living oracles to the Church of God on the earth as being the principle of precedence in the midst of God’s people over written instructions that are given by men. Inasmuch as the Elders speak by the Holy Spirit, the word of the Lord is that their instructions should be scripture “shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord and the power of God unto salvation.” When the declaration was made concerning the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants how deficient they would be in administering salvation, if they alone were enjoyed by the people. Now we know just how it has worked with all Christendom, to have the Bible without having authority to administer the ordinances mentioned in it. Now we may possess either of these books, or all of them, and they can not baptize a single man, or woman, into the Church. There is not power enough in all the books to do it, nor is there power in all the books to give any man authority to do it. Consequently, then, it requires the authority from the Lord to be present to administer in all His ordinances. The highest authority that we have known the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, stated, that it was not possible without the birth of the water and of the spirit to enter the kingdom of heaven. Said He to the learned Nicodemus, “Except a man be born of the water and of the spirt he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” That was a declaration of principle that was inexorable. He who created this earth and causes it to travel round the sun every three hundred and sixty-five days and six hours, established those great eternal principles that rule the heavens, also the law that except a man be born of the water and of the spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God; and one is Just as much a law of nature as the other. The latter is the law of nature and of grace to man. Who could administer these ordinances except they received the authority from God to do it? These books can neither baptize, nor confirm us. They cannot confirm upon us the Holy Ghost nor a membership in the Church of Christ, neither can they administer to us any other of the ordinances which we are receiving, and in which we rejoice so much, in the house of our God. It requires nothing less than a present living minister in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to administer in all the ordinances, in counsel, and in directing all the affairs of the Church of Christ. We have learned this, and understand it, or else we do not know where our safety lies.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a system of things which, in order to be known and understood, must be lived. A man cannot preach with effect and power to another the forgiveness of sins through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, or baptism for the remission of his sins, unless he has himself been baptized for the remission of his sins and has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ himself. No man can administer in the ordinances of the Gospel of Christ with effect and with power, unless he has first been made partaker of them himself; and that is how we cannot, any of us, preach the power of the resurrection, because none of us have been raised from the dead. When, by and by, the time of the resurrection comes, men will teach it to us who have been raised from the dead, and who understand and have the power of it and the keys of it. That is why you cannot be baptized for your dead in the house of the Lord, until you have been first baptized and received ordinances yourself. The Gospel has to be lived tn order to be realized and its power received. The man who goes forward with real repentance of heart for all his sins and covenants with God that he will serve Him the rest of his days, according to the best of his ability, with the grace of God bestowed upon him, and goes forward and receives this ordinance, rejoices in this Gospel; because this is the first step in it, and when a man does this with full purpose of heart and enters upon keeping the commandments of God he receives the Holy Spirit. The promise made to him is true, and is fulfilled, and everybody under the sound of my voice that has ever pursued that course knows that it is true. They know that in entering into the service and keeping the commandments of God they receive the Holy Spirit, when administered to by those who are authorized of God; and it gives to one the gift of tongues, to talk in a language that he does not know himself. That same spirit gives to another the gift of interpretation of what the first has been talking about, to the edification of all who have listened. It gives to another the gift of healing, that if he is sick, afflicted and distressed, and is living his religion, he can call upon the Elders, receive their blessing and be healed. If he is a minister, of the Lord himself, and labors to receive it, he will have the gift to administer the anointing to others, and they will be healed; or he may receive the gift of prophecy, of faith, of wisdom, of visions, of dreams, or to hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit giving inspiration to his soul. It requires a man to live in the continual state of humility and obedience towards God, of repentance for every imperfection, folly and vanity, and an effort to depart therefrom, and to sanctify himself by the working of the Spirit and the belief of the truth unto everlasting life. This Gospel brings with it the gifts, the blessings and the grace of God, so that the faithful Saint, as he goes along in the straight and narrow path, knows of the goodness of God, that he is in fellowship with the Lord; that he is not alone and without God in the world, but that the angels are about him, and the care of the Lord is over him.
Well, now, we have a Gospel that is full of joy and consolation. It opens up principles of intelligence, and revelation, of the knowledge of things past and present and to come. There are a great many other religions in the world, and some very powerful ones. For instance, there is the Mohammedan religion, and those people have a faith of their own, and they are very numerous, about 175,000,000, they estimate, I believe. They have their prophet, they have their faith, they have their ideas of futurity, and they are a sort of cousin in the relation to father Abraham’s family. His son, Ishmael, and Isaac’s son, Esau, in their seed, constitute a great portion of that class of people. They have had apostles raised up among them, from the seed of Abraham as they say, and they entertain a certain amount of faith. In fact, the promise of the Lord, wherein he said he knew Abraham, that he would command his children after him, is manifest in that people, in that they believe in one God, and they claim one prophet, Mohammed. Then, again, we look to the eastern world, in China, for instance, where are said to be about four hundred millions of human beings, and they believe in doctrines given them by Confucius and by Buddhah, and others. But those four hundred millions are given up to the worship of idols. They are idolaters, with the rest; and so we may go on over the world, and find scores of the so great branches of religion that have had their heads and chiefs, their faiths and beliefs. What I want to call your special attention to in this connection is this: Has any one of them ever had a man of their number pass through death, rise again from the grave and declare to them the principles of having obtained through him or by him, a resurrection been lifted up to immortality through their faith? We do not find it in history anywhere in the earth that they have ever had such a testimony or evidence of a resurrection and immortality beyond the grave. All that they have given to them is the exercise of a certain faith that lasts them through this life. But the Gospel of the Latter-day Saints, which is the Gospel of the former day Saints, as well, is different from any believed in by any other people as to all these things, and people who believe in the real Gospel of Jesus Christ the Gospel that He instituted, have something more and better and beyond what any other portion of the human family have to look to.
The great Captain of our salvation went into the grave with marks in His hands and in His feet and in His side, and He came forth out of that grave in three days, and He did not go away without being seen. He made Himself known, communicated with them, associated with them, in fact, and gave them a certain knowledge of the truth of the sayings he uttered Himself to Moses a good many years before, on the mountain. He said to Moses: “this is My work and My glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” This is His great work. The human family had, through transgression, come under the law of sin and death, and He had come to restore that which was lost, and to bring to pass the resurrection, to open the prison doors to the spirits in prison, them that were bound, and declared the acceptable day of the Lord, and bestowed gifts to men. This is the kind of a Captain of our salvation that we have, one who has revealed this knowledge. Said He, “As the Father hath power in Himself to lay down His life and take it again, so hath He given unto the Son power to lay down His life and to take it again,” and He did so. Now where is there another among those strange religions that do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Redeemer that entertain any such knowledge and understanding of eternal life and of the resurrection of the dead? That He has obtained these, we have abundant testimony. Stephen said he saw Him sitting at the right hand of God, while he, Stephen, was being persecuted and stoned to death; and Paul said he had seen and heard things not lawful for a man to utter. And the Savior, after He had done those wonderful works in His own land, came over here to America, and there was here no chance for deception, because He showed them the wounds in His hands and in His feet. He was the same person that went down into the grave and came out triumphant over the grave. Now, if any of these other religions have had any man that has gone through the grave and risen again, they certainly have been very lacking in kindness not to come and show their fellow worshippers of that knowledge and that power and that great attainment. But the Lord Jesus has shown unto the Saints composing His Church in the different parts of the world, the gifts and blessings of immortality and eternal life which He came and brought to light. The Apostles understood the same thing. Paul, in writing to Timothy, says that “life and immortality is brought to light through the Gospel.” So then, we have the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as something that endures beyond the grave, while the knowledge that the rest of the human family possesses only leads them to the grave, and beyond that is to them darkness and ignorance, and they know nothing about the future, comparatively speaking.
Jesus came and taught the people upon this land; He came here and ministered repeatedly. The Book of Mormon tells us that He came oft, and broke bread with the Saints here, and instructed them and testified to them; on one occasion He came and told them to gather together their sick, afflicted and distressed, and bring them before Him and He healed them. He made a business of it, as Joseph Smith went through the land of Nauvoo or Commerce and Montrose healing every one who was sick, of the people of God, and as the Savior wished to do in the land of Palestine. There He complained that He could not do many mighty works because of their unbelief; but here on the land of America, He found a greater measure of faith. He called together the people and healed their sick and distressed. On another occasion He blessed their little ones, and those little ones spoke and uttered things incomprehensible to mortals, and angels came down and surrounded them, and ministered unto them. And while the Savior Himself began with a degree of fearfulness concerning their unbelief, before He got through He said: “Now My joy is full.” Yes, this great Redeemer, the author of life and immortality, came over to this land and labored among the Nephites, and said here, what we have no account of His saying in that other land, at any time: “Now, My joy is full.” On the contrary, on the other land, He sorrowed and He wept because of their unbelief and their hardness of heart, and He couldn’t do many mighty miracles among them because of their unbelief. Thus we have a Savior that has gone through the grave, a Redeemer that has triumphed victoriously over hell, and the grave; and it is said the last enemy that shall be destroyed will be death.
We see, then, that the Latter-day Saints have not only the advantages of the Holy Ghost here, and the power of faith; but O, the love that fills our hearts when we hear the pure principles of the Gospel taught to us! How happy we have felt as we sat together while the Apostles ministered unto us the bread of life. How joyful the people feel when they are full of love to each other. The principle of charity and the blessedness of the Everlasting Gospel belong to this people as it belongs to no other people.
I rejoice greatly in this Gospel, because it opens up unto us transcendent joys, blessings and glories in the future, which we have knowledge of, which our Savior taught, and which are taught to us here in our times, and which He has condescended to reveal again in these last days. Think of what this Savior has done for us here, and has gone to the Father to intercede for us, to forgive us of our sins, to heal us of our back-slidings; and has condescended, after the lapse of eighteen hundred years, to come with His Father, the glorious Father. The Creator of all came and introduced that Savior, His Son, to the boy Joseph Smith, when fourteen years of age, and taught him to commence a great and mighty work, of which we are today some few of the fruits. The Father said, “This is my beloved Son, hear him.” And the Son taught Joseph, and sent His angels to administer to him, to teach, to bless, to bring forth the Book of Mormon, and to build up the Church again, bringing it forth out of the wilderness through great suffering; and we ought not to forget that the truth is a costly article, and always has been. It has cost the best men that have ever lived in the flesh, their mortal lives, and may yet again. It is a work that is made altogether of what has been considered as sacrifice. Indeed, the old Prophet said, “Gather together my Saints, unto me, they that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” That is the principle upon which we are brought together. We sacrifice our sins, our pleasant enjoyments and worldly lusts, and turn unto God and serve Him.
This Sabbath day may become a very grave question if we are to build up the New Jerusalem. It was one of the first things that the Lord complained of through the prophets anciently, that they had polluted His Sabbath, and they had profaned it, and they had not observed it: and when they got so they could do these things with impunity, they left off paying their tithing, and the Lord told them they had robbed God, the whole nation of them they had robbed Him because they had withheld the tithing which they owed Him. And when they could do a few of these things, they went on in their transgressions into fornications, adulteries and murder, from one step to another, to the most heinous crimes, until, finally, they could crucify the Lord Jesus Christ. We must look out that we do not roll any manner of sin as a sweet morsel under our tongue, but strive with penitence day by day to put away from us everything that is contrary to godliness that would hinder the working of the Spirit within us, that we may be able to get grace for grace, and go from faith to faith, until we can become pure in heart, for we are assured in the word of the Lord that nothing that is unholy or impure can enter into His presence. What a saying! No wonder the brethren said to Him. “Lord, are there any that shall be saved?” when we look at the touchstone, look at the criterion, look at the rule by which these things have to be brought about. And we should labor continually, striving to subdue ourselves and to put away the vices, the sins and the besetments that do so daily and so easily beset us, until we bring this living body of clay into the subjection of the Spirit, that our souls may live.
The Sabbath is the day that the Lord has appointed for a time of rest. He says that He finished His work, and that He rested on the Sabbath day, the seventh day. When the Lord came, in His day, He instituted the first day of the week, and ever since then it has been “His day,” and He says, that we may keep ourselves unspotted from the world, we are required to meet together on His day and offer our sacraments, and make our acknowledgements, and our confessions, paying our devotions to the Most High. It is a common thing for the people to violate that sacred law concerning the Sabbath day. Many of the people, if they go on a journey, take pains in their calculation to make the Sabbath count one day in the trip; and many things are put off for Sunday especially. I would like to have it taken up with the people, and have the women make calculations on Saturday, and have the food cooked on that day, for the Sunday, and then go to meeting, instead of roasting over the stove cooking, and see to having a little more leisure and good instruction, and feed the soul, instead of being so much at work and having so much to do on that day. The Lord said to Israel: “Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work, for on the seventh day, the Lord thy God rested from His labors; and thou shalt not do any work, neither thy son nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor the stranger that is within thy gates.” Now it was a strict rule and law and commandment to Israel anciently, and you will find if you will look into the Book of Mormon that it was so there, and is going to become just as binding upon God’s people in all time as it ever was with them, and we ought to be looking to it and practicing on it, so that we can do right, so as to be able to do the right thing when we get to it.
I testify to you, my brethren and sisters, that this Gospel is the Gospel of all others on the earth, the only one that is worthy the attention of mortals, as fast as it can be brought to their consideration. And as we have been blessed to learn these principles and to know them, and to know of the things of the future, and to know of some things of the past, we have reason to rejoice above all other people, and we have reason to deny ourselves of all unrighteousness just as fast as we can, and to learn the way of life and to hearken to the counsels of those that are called of God and to walk in His ways, and to receive continually the word of the Lord and His direction in all our affairs. I rejoice greatly in the work of the Lord, and I pray that His blessings may abound unto the people, that He may incline our hearts to keep His laws, to walk in His ways, for the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. The testimonies of the Lord are sure, and they even make wise the simple.
Now a word about the Priesthood and its restoration: Think of it! This same Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, ordained Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery Apostles by Peter, James and John, His servants, Joseph and Oliver having received this apostleship, confirmed it upon twelve brethren of the Church, and those brethren have conferred it upon us who are in the stand today; thus some of us received this holy apostleship but the fourth in succession from Jesus Christ. And the fact is that the Priesthood has come down to us as the Lord promised when He said He would be with His Apostles always “even unto the end of the world.” And He says to us concerning Peter, James and John: “Whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be Apostles, and especial witnesses of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry, and of the same things which I reveal unto them; unto whom I have committed the keys of My kingdom, and a dispensation of the Gospel for the last days and for the last times; and for the dispensation of the fullness of times in the which I will gather together in one all things both which are in heaven and which are on earth.” These are the men that have received this Priesthood these that sit around me this morning. It was received from those resurrected men that have come to labor with us. This is the Priesthood by which we officiate, and it is not something that has come down through the ages and been lost. This is the Priesthood that was taken away into the wilderness anciently, and has been restored in these latter-days in its purity, in its simplicity and its power, And those who give themselves to it fully and faithfully in all humility, receiving the instructions and counsels of those holding that Priesthood, should be worthy of all acceptation, and we ought to realize it and avail ourselves of the benefit of it, and be found in no case speaking against each other or the Lord’s anointed.
May the Lord give us His Spirit, intensify it in us, in our hearts, and train us in the principles of righteousness and truth, and help and inspire us in every good word and work, and then He will do better for us than we know how to ask or even to think. Amen.
Elder Lorenzo Snow
Elder Lorenzo Snow
Personal appearance of the Savior-Promises made to the Elders-Have they been Fulfilled-Union of the Priesthood-Proper respect in Families.
Brethren and sisters and friends, I hope during the short time that I address you this morning I may have the benefit of your prayers, and the exercise of your faith.
At these general Conferences it is the privilege of everyone who attends to receive instruction, suited to his individual needs and benefits, of great worth, and if we pay proper attention to what is said and exercise the proper faith, there will be no disappointment.
Now, I wish to read a few verses from the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 110, which describes one of the most important events of our day.
“The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened. We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us, and under His feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and the hair of his head was white like the pure snow. His countenance shone above the brightness of the sun, and His voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying: I am the first and the last. I am He who liveth. I am He who was slain, I am your advocate with the Father. Behold your sins are forgiven you, you are clean before me, therefore lift up your heads and rejoice. Let the hearts of your brethren rejoice, and let the hearts of all my people rejoice, who have with their might, built this house to my name. For behold, I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here, and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house, yea, I will appear unto my servants, and speak unto them with mine own voice, if my people will keep my commandments, and do not pollute this holy house. Yea, the hearts of thousands and tens of thousands shall greatly rejoice in consequence of the blessings which shall be poured out, and the endowment with which my servants have been endowed in this house; and the fame of this house shall spread to foreign lands, and this is the beginning of the blessing which shall be poured upon the heads of my people. Even so. Amen.”
We have heard, brethren and sisters, very excellent principles, explained to us yesterday, and this morning by Apostle Richards, and our hearts have been made to rejoice in the contemplation of the positions that we occupy, of the prospects that are before us, and of the glorious records that many, and I hope all, have made in the past. It is strange, that there are so few that have come to an understanding that God has revealed Himself unto His people, that His voice has been heard, as I have just read to you, and for what He has accomplished through the Holy Priesthood that He has caused to be conferred upon many of His servants. Thirteen hundred or thereabouts of the servants of God are now traveling through the world as oracles of God and testifying of these most extraordinary facts, and are promising in the name of the Almighty, by virtue of the divine authority they possess, that those who will obey the Gospel which they are authorized to administer, shall receive a knowledge of these important truths. It is a marvelous fact that there are thirteen hundred men who are now promising in the name of the Lord and explaining how every person may know, and know effectually, know by revelation, that their promises are of the Almighty, that they have authority to thus prophesy, prophesy of that which is most important; in fact, there could be nothing of greater importance to mortal man than that which pertains to their prophecy, and all men have a right or the privilege of ascertaining, in a very simple way, whether that prediction is from God.
This is indeed strange and wonderful. It is strange and wonderful to the world because such things have never been heard of or known for centuries. What is their prediction that is of such high importance to all people? Why, this: Having stated before the congregations of the world that they are authorized to preach the Gospel of life and salvation, that they are authorized to promise the gift of the Holy Ghost, that shall lead into all truth and show things to come, and shall testify in reference to their authority, then to make this prediction that such as will obey the simple principles of the Gospel, shall receive a perfect knowledge, a knowledge not by the reading of books, the Scriptures or any past revelations that may have been given, but they shall receive a knowledge of this from God Himself. Well now, all that is required of these individuals to know that which pertains to their salvation, exaltation and glory is simply to do that which has been made plain, very plain indeed by Jesus Christ and by the Apostles, as contained in the Scriptures of truth; to perform a few acts in relation to the principles of life or a few acts that will put them in possession, after proper preparation, of this important knowledge.
Jesus Christ went down into the waters of baptism and was immersed there by John the Baptist, who had authority thus to do; and many others, in the days of the Apostles, performed those ordinances that pertain to the everlasting Gospel. They were baptized for the remission of their sins by one that possessed the authority which, those Elders that I mention now, possess. They possessed the authority to administer those ordinances immersion in water for the remission of sins, the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost. These simple acts were actually performed by the Apostles in former days, and by the Seventies that were sent forth, and by all who were sent to preach the fullness of the Gospel. All that these Elders require in order that their predictions may be fulfilled is that people now shall do likewise.
Jesus said on a certain occasion, that He would build His Church upon revelation: that is, Peter having received a revelation that Jesus was the Son of God and so saying Jesus replied, “Upon this rock will I build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The system of salvation and exaltation and glory was of such a character that there was this grand feature about it, all persons might receive a perfect knowledge of its divine source.
When we take into consideration the difficulties those have to meet who obey these principles we see the necessity that they should have a perfect knowledge of that which they have received, and thus the Lord bestows upon them the means by which they can contend against the difficulties and the Persecutions and secure the blessings connected with these promises. When people follow the counsels of these servants of the Lord who are abroad preaching the Gospel, if they do not come to a knowledge of the truth of these promises from heaven after they have obeyed, they ought to declare this: they should announce this failure to their friends, and to the public. I suppose, I am now addressing six or eight thousand people, and probably three-fifths of them have come from the distant nations of the earth, to these mountain vales, and these are the principles that we taught them, that they should receive a knowledge of this work, they should receive the Holy Ghost that would testify to them of the truth of the saying of these Elders that they had authority to administer the ordinances of the Gospel. Now, I ask, why are you here? Why are you sitting upon these seats? Why are you teaching your families and friends that these principles are of God, that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, that Jesus came down and talked with His people, the sons and daughters of God, as He did in former days? Why do you teach these principles, and why do you sit here instead of repairing to your homes and declaring that you never received any such divine testimony, as was promised you?
I think if strangers came to me, as Elders now go to the nations, and testified to me that they had authority to promise that the Holy Ghost would rest upon me after repenting of my sins, forsaking them, and obeying their message, and I did not receive any extraordinary or miraculous manifestations, I certainly would not leave my friends, country, and home, as thousands and thousands have done. But it is a fact that I am speaking to thousands here that have come from long distances, from many nations of the earth, that are here and have been here for years and years; why is it they do not rise up and deny that they or their friends ever received this testimony? In these verses that I have read in your hearing, it is declared that the Son of God appeared in the Kirtland Temple sixty one years ago, and spoke there to His friends.
Years ago on my Palestine tour, I was one day upon the Mount of Olives, where Jesus left the earth and ascended to His Father, witnessed by persons that were there present, and I did not doubt that I was at the place where, as I read in the Testament, that Jesus took His departure from. While I looked around and gazed about, I believed that I was there at that place; I believed that Jesus did actually take farewell of the world and go to His Father, because certain individuals say and did make a declaration that that was the fact. Now I did not see these persons that testified to this extraordinary occurrence. I saw no such persons; because it was over eighteen hundred years ago that this extraordinary circumstance occurred. But this that I have been reading in your hearing, occurred in this age. I was personally acquainted with the parties who saw this wonderful manifestation intimately acquainted with Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. I was acquainted with Joseph Smith for years. And I know Brother Oliver Cowdery to have been a good man, honorable, honest, and truthful; although years after this, Oliver Cowdery left the Church for a while. He became proud and exalted, and left the Church; but the spirit and the testimony never left him, and after suffering the afflictions of the Lord, he repented and was very glad to come back into the Church, and he got back just in time to go into the other world, and that is just about the whole of it so far as Oliver Cowdery was concerned.
Well now these things are worthy the attention of the Latter-day Saints, and when we take them into consideration and bring them home to our understanding, what follows? Why, that we should be the best people that God has upon the earth, and far better than any other. The Lord has given us a Prophet to give counsels in reference to that which pertains to the general interests of the Latter-day Saints continually, and He has blessed him abundantly. There is not one that can dispute the honesty and integrity of Brother Wilford Woodruff, our President. We know him. Years and years he has been testifying of these things of which I have been speaking, and he says he knows them, he says he understands them distinctly; and we ourselves should know them. Perhaps not quite as extensively as he knows them. For instance, an astronomer may know a thousand things in reference to the revolving of the earth in its orbit around the sun, and know a great many facts in reference to the sun that thousands are ignorant of; and yet these thousands that are perfectly ignorant of those many things, know one thing that this astronomer knows, they know that there is a sun, they see there is a sun; they know it just as well as he knows it. In reference to this Gospel and our prospects in the next life, there are thousands that know it just as well as President Woodruff knows it; and when the resurrection is spoken of, they know it just as well as President Woodruff knows it. In reference to “Mormonism,” as it is sometimes called, there are thousands that know it just as well as Joseph Smith knew it. They know it because God has revealed it to them perfectly.
There is no man that knows the truth of this work more than I do. I know it fully; I know it distinctly. I know there is a God just as well as any man knows it, because God has revealed himself to me. I know it positively. I shall never forget the manifestations of the Lord; I never will forget them as long as memory endures. It is in me. There is something to labor for, there is something to sacrifice for. When the Elders go forth among the nations, they dare to say this; they dare to say that God has revealed himself. They dare to say that God has spoken to His sons and daughters as He did in former days, and they dare to say that He has heard the prayers of the house of Israel, He has heard the prayers of the honest in heart, and He has come down as He did in the days of Israel when they were in Egyptian bondage to deliver them; He has come down to relieve the distressed, and to confer upon them knowledge, intellectually, spiritually, and to place them in a country where they can be blessed and saved from that half-starvation in which many have been found where the Gospel reached them.
Well, these are glorious principles that God has revealed to us, and our prospects are grand and glorious. Why, we could talk through all the days, the weeks and the months about the grand things that the Lord has prepared for those that are faithful and continue to the end. There should be greater union in our midst than we find today. There is a perfect union in the quorum of the Twelve. Should there not be a perfect union in that quorum? Most assuredly, every one would say Yes, a perfect union in the quorum of the Twelve Apostles; and whoever may be appointed to fill the places of those that are vacant, this union will still continue with us. And there is also a perfect union with the First Presidency, and should there not be? Every one will say, certainly, there should be. And should there not be a perfect union with the seven presidents of the Seventies? There most assuredly should be; we all say Yes. Should there not be a perfect union with the High Councils of the various Stakes of Zion? Certainly there should be, and there is a way to accomplish that union. And the same way with the various other organizations and quorums. Should there not be a perfect union with the presidencies of Stakes? Certainly, and if I were a president of a Stake, I would not rest day or night until I had union with my counselors. Should there not be a union with the Bishop and his Counselors? Most assuredly there should be.
Well, what is more important? Should there not be union in the family? Should there not be union with the husband, who is the High Priest in his family and expects to be with them in the next life, should there not be a perfect union with him and his wife, or wives, and his sons, his daughters, his sons-in-law, and his daughters-in-law? Most assuredly there should. And why should any man be satisfied, why should any husband and father of a family rest satisfied until he effects a perfect union, that is, just as far as a perfect union can be accomplished? And in this matter the father should make himself just as perfect as a man can in this life be made perfect before his family. And the wife should make herself just as perfect as a woman can possibly do in this life. And then they are prepared to make their children just as perfect as they are willing and are capable of being made perfect. And the father and the mother should be very careful. The wife should never in the presence of her children speak disrespectfully of her husband. If she thinks her husband has done wrong (he might have done), she should never speak of it in the presence of her children. She should take him out of the presence of her children and there tell him of his faults, in a pleasant way, but never in the presence of the children speak disrespectfully of the father. And the father the same. He has no right to speak disrespectfully of his wife in the presence of her children. And I pray God to give the husband and wife the spirit and the understanding to correct themselves in such matters. I know that a great many of the difficulties that now appear, and the disrespect that we find in reference to the Priesthood, among young people, arises from this fact, that there have been difficulties in the home circle, and there has been disrespect expressed in their presence, of the father by the mother, or of the mother by the father. Now I know these things are so.
Well, I see my time has expired. God bless you, my brethren and sisters, and fill you with His Holy Spirit, that we may become sanctified, that we may be worthy to stand in the presence of God in time to come. Amen.
President Joseph F. Smith
President Joseph F. Smith
The Law of Tithing-Blessings Predicated upon its Observance-Practical Illustrations of its Results-Personal Testimony.
I cannot say that I feel in excellent condition to address the Conference this morning, but it is desired that I should say a few words, or read a few words, to you, as the Spirit may direct. Before entering, however, upon my remarks, I, perhaps, should make an apology, for it is really not agreeable with my feelings to diverge, in the least, from the channel of the remarks which we have received during this morning’s service and throughout all the day yesterday; for the brethren have been led on spiritual matters, and they have spoken to us, by the Spirit, and have given unto us many very important truths, suggestions and admonitions, and I would delight to continue in the tenor of those remarks for the short time that I may occupy, but if I do not, it will be because I feel impressed that there is a duty resting upon me which I will endeavor, by the blessing of the Lord to perform.
I desire to remind the congregation that we are coming to the close of the fruitful season of the year, and while many of the people have perhaps not gathered as heavy crops as they would like to have gathered, and as they may have gathered in the years past, yet, taking our country, and valleys, as a whole, we are led to believe that the harvests have been bounteous, and that the Lord has blessed the earth this year, and has given to the husbandman excellent fruits for his labors; and it is desirable that we should reflect upon this matter for a little season. In connection with this thought, I will take the liberty to read to you a few of the written words of the Gospel on temporal matters, which I think apply to us in our present condition and at this time.
In answer to a question, “O Lord, show unto thy servants how much thou requirest of the properties of the people for a tithing?” the Lord answered:
“Verily thus saith the Lord, I require all the surplus property to be put into the hands of the Bishop of my Church of Zion, for the building of mine house, and for the laying of the foundation of Zion and for the Priesthood, and for the debts of the Presidency of my Church. And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people. And after that, those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them for ever, for my Holy Priesthood, saith the Lord. Verily I say unto you, it shall come to pass, that all those who gather unto the land of Zion shall be tithed of their surplus properties, and shall observe this law, or they shall not be found worthy to abide among you. And I say unto you, if my people observe not this law, to keep it holy, and by this law sanctify the land of Zion unto me, that my statutes and my judgments may be kept thereon, that it may be most holy, verily I say unto you, it shall not be a land of Zion unto you. And this shall be an ensample unto all the Stakes of Zion. Even so. Amen. (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 119.)
Again it is said:
“Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice and a day for the tithing of my people, for he that is tithed shall not be burned at His coming, for after today cometh the burning. This is speaking after the manner of the Lord; for, verily I say, tomorrow all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble, and I will burn them up, for I am the Lord of hosts, and I will not spare any that remain in Babylon.” (Doc. and Cov. Sec. 64, v. 23, 24.)
I do not read the following words because I think they are entirely applicable to the Latter-day Saints, nor because I suppose for a moment that there is not a large proportion of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have never in their hearts even thought of robbing God. But there are those among us who, even though they may not have thought seriously that they were guilty of robbing God, they carelessly and through their negligence place themselves in a position in which the children of Israel found themselves anciently when the Prophet uttered these words against them, and I propose to read them as they are, and let them apply to whomsoever they will, and whoever are not guilty, of course, will feel clear in their consciences toward the Lord.
“Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years. And I will come near to you to judgement; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts. For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the store house, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed, for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts. Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee. Ye have said, It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered. Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man snareth his own son that serveth him. Then shalt ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.” (Mal. iii, 4-18.)
Now I want to read another little passage of Scripture. It is ancient, however, but it has an application; and if I read it, you who hear it will be able to make the application, possibly, to suit yourselves, or to suit your neighbors. Rather let us make the application to ourselves, each of us, and let each of our neighbors do the same.
“And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought, in abundance, the first fruits of corn, wine and oil and honey and of all the increase of the field, and the tithe of all things brought they in abundance. And concerning the children of Israel and Judah, that dwelt in the cities of Judah, they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of holy things which were consecrated unto the Lord their God, and laid them by heaps. In the third month they began to lay the foundation of the heaps, and finished them in the seventh month. And when Hezekiah and the princes came and saw the heaps, they blessed the Lord and His people Israel. Then Hezekiah questioned with the Priests and the Levites concerning the heaps; and Azariah, the chief priest of the house of Zadock, answered him and said. “Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the Lord we have had enough to eat, and have left plenty, for the Lord hath blessed His people, and that which is left is this great store.’ Then Hezekiah commanded to prepare chambers in the house of the Lord, and they prepared them.” (2 Chronicles xxxi: 5-11.)
No doubt, a good deal more could be read from the Scriptures in relation to this principle of tithing, which God has revealed to us in this dispensation, and which He requires at our hands, that we may sanctify, by obedience to His law, this land that it may become indeed a land of Zion unto us; and the promise is, that if we will obey the laws of God, if we will put our trust in Him, if we will draw near unto Him He will draw near unto us, and He will reward us with His favor and His blessing. He will rebuke the devourer, and He will cause that the earth shall be fruitful, that it shall yield in its strength to the husbandman, the tiller of the soil, and to the herder of flocks, He will increase his kine, and will prosper him upon the right hand and upon the left, and he shall have an abundance, because he puts his trust in God; he draws near unto Him, and he is willing to prove Him, to see whether He will not open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings upon him that he shall not have room to contain them. Let every man who has received the Gospel of Jesus Christ receive this saying, and hearken to these words, for all they are worth. Some men may esteem them lightly, and those who do will, without doubt, fail to draw near, they will neglect to prove the Lord, they will not fulfill the commandments that He has given, and they will never know that God tells the truth, and that He is able to fulfill His word and promise unto His people when they are willing to obey and keep His law. While they who appreciate these promises, who obey these laws that were given anciently, and have been renewed again in the dispensation of the fullness of times, for the blessing of the people, for the building up of Zion, for the feeding of the widow and the orphan, for the spreading of the Gospel of Christ to the nations of the earth, and for the gathering of the people from the four quarters of the earth, those who hearken to these words, prize them as the truth, and apply them in their practice throughout their lives, will come to know that God is a rewarder of those who diligently serve Him, and that He is able to fulfill His promises unto them.
A short time ago I met with a brother I need not call his name, for he is but one among thousands who can bear the same testimony that he bore, and he bears that testimony not only by the word of mouth but by the evidences of thrift, of prosperity, of progress and of improvement which surround him in the midst of the deserts, this season he has gathered in rich harvests, his farms having produced in abundance, while the farms of many of his neighbors are clogged with weeds, and their harvests have been only one-half or one-third what his has been. How do you account for it? I account for it in the fact that God has blessed him, and so does he, for he is an intelligent man, a man that not only labors wisely and prudently, but in the fear of God, and in the desire of his heart to obey His laws. Said he to me and my companion with whom we were travelling: “God has blessed me because I have striven to keep His laws, and because I have been true to my family.” He went out there upon the desert seven or eight years ago, impoverished by persecution and exile, being driven from his home and from his affairs, compelled to wander in exile for years, part of the time preaching the Gospel. He returned seven or eight years ago, and settled down upon the desert. Today, out of the earth, the burning sands, he has produced beautiful homes, he has fruitful fields, which are spread out before the eyes of any man who wishes to go and look upon them. He pays his tithing, he remembers his offerings, he is obedient to the laws of God, and he is not afraid to bear testimony to his friends and neighbors that it is through his obedience that God has blessed and prospered him, and made him what he is today. He is not the only one, there are others that are prospered in like manner. And I testify it is because God has blessed him, and his soil, and his labors, and has given him the increase, securing to him the blessings for which he sought and labored. He has acted in good faith with the Lord, the Lord has known his heart, and has blessed him accordingly, and he is prosperous today in that desert, while as to many of his neighbors go and look for yourselves at their broad acres. They tell the story for themselves. His lands are clear from noxious weeds, because he has labored, and taken care of his lands, and that by his industry and intelligent application of labor, showing that God has inspired him, and enlightened his mind. The Lord has blessed him in his basket and in his store, in his labors and in the thoughts of his mind, he has been inspired and enabled to accomplish the work that he has done; I testify that it is because of man’s faith in the promises of the Lord, and his desire to obey His laws, that he is blessed and prospered of Him.
I have been blessed. I have been prospered. I might have been more faithful, and I might have been more greatly blessed. But the Lord has blessed me insomuch that I have not lacked for anything that was needful for my welfare. I have not had luxury, nor “rolled in wealth,” but God has fed and clothed me, with all of mine, and He has given us health and strength of body. And yet we might have done our duty better and been entitled to greater blessings, no doubt. I aim to pay my tithing. Now there is no use of my saying this unless it be true, because the evidences are there in the books. If I say I pay my tithing when I do not, Brother Heber J. Grant or some of the brethren who look after these things, men of figures, would go to the books, and they would say, “You said you pay your tithing, but you do not. We know just about what your income is, and here is what the books say.” So I would stand condemned at once if I were to say to you that I paid my tithing when I did not pay my tithing, because not only the Lord would know I had not done it, but my brethren would know also that I had not done it, because the books show exactly what I have paid. No matter about that, the fact is this, I believe what I preach, and I do not preach that which I do not believe. I am not here for that purpose. I have not been called to that mission, or for that business. I preach that which I believe and that which I do know to be true; and I do know that if men will obey the laws of God, God will honor and bless them. I have proven it all my life through. I saw it manifested in circumstances which occurred in my childhood, and I know that God has blessed the widow and the fatherless when they have been obedient to His laws and have kept His commandments.
I can tell you the history of a widow woman, with a large family, who was more particular, if possible, to pay to the Lord what belonged to Him than she was to pay to her neighbors to whom she might be indebted, and she never was indebted to her neighbors, thank God, for anything that she did not pay to the last cent, because the Lord blessed her with plenty, and in her latter years she did not have to borrow of her neighbors, nor did she have to call upon the Church for support either, but she paid thousands of dollars in products and money into the storehouse of the Lord, although she was a widow with a large family to support. I know this. I can testify of this, and that the Lord Almighty blessed her, not only in the products of her fields, but in her flocks and herds. They were not devoured. They were not destroyed. They did not lie down and die. They increased. They did not stray away; and thieves did not steal them. One reason for that was she had a little boy that watched them very carefully under her direction, and prompting. Her eye was upon everything, she had supervision over everything, she directed those whom she employed, and her children; and I am a witness and here sits another witness [Patriarch John Smith] that God, the Eternal Father, blessed her and prospered her while she lived ,and she was not only enabled to maintain herself and children that were left to her in poverty, in a day of trial, and when she was driven out into the wilderness, but she was able to feed scores of the poor, and to pay her tithes besides. Verily the Lord prospered her, and she was blessed. I remember one time when that same widow went to the tithing storehouse in this city with a load of potatoes in the spring they had been kept over winter. And one of the tithing office clerks said to her, “Widow -., I don’t see any use of your having to pay tithing; you ought not to pay tithing. You ought to keep what you have.” She said to him, “William, you don’t know what you are talking about. I pay my tithing that I may be blessed.” “Would you deprive me,” she said, “of a blessing?” “No,” he said, “I would have you keep your tithing and bless yourself with it.” Said he, “There are a number of able-bodied people here that are well qualified to work and produce their living, but they are living from the tithing, and I don’t see that a widow should be required to pay her tithing to feed those that are not working for it.” Now these are about the words of this man, who was employed at the tithing office. But “no,” said the widow, “I propose to pay my dues to the Lord; I propose to pay my tithing, and any man that would prevent me from doing this would deprive me of a blessing.” Where is that man and his family today? He apostatized. He didn’t last long in the Church. He turned away, and went back to the east somewhere and took his family with him. He probably long since has gone to his rest. And not one of his family is in the Church. I bear testimony of these things because I know what I am talking about. I want to tell you a little more: While this widow was paying her tithing and being blessed, there was a little boy who really thought that tithing office clerk was about right. That widow’s boys had to work very hard, and they knew how those potatoes were raised. They knew how the corn and other grain was raised, they knew what it was to take care of the sheep, and the horses and the cows that were tithed, and all about it. They knew how it was done, for they had it to do. And one of the little boys of that widow thought that clerk was more than two-thirds right about it. By and by the widow died, but she left very comfortable property for her children, dug out of the desert here: the children were young, and I confess to you that they were not as faithful in paying their tithes and their offerings as their mother was; they had lost their mother, and what was the result? In a few years, everything that she left them had gone to rack and ruin. That was the result. The cattle were turned out upon the range, and that was the last they ever saw of them. The neighbors’ cattle broke into the fields and destroyed the crops, and they did not reap the harvests they had done before; and it was only a few years after the death of the widow when the children had not much to show for what was left them, and it was not until they became old enough to appreciate the truth, and to commence to obey the laws of God and keep His commandments, that the Lord began to bless them again, to build them up, to increase their substance, and to give them what was necessary for their good. And as they have obeyed the commandments of God, the Lord has blessed them. He will continue to do it while time endures, if they continue faithful; and throughout the countless ages of eternity they will reap the reward of fidelity to the cause of truth and to the laws of God; and so will all the people of Israel. I testify of this to you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
The choir and congregation sang the hymn commencing:
Come, let us anew our journey pursue.
Benediction was pronounced by Elder Edward Partridge.
The choir sang the hymn which commences:
Come dearest Lord, descend and dwell,
By faith and love in every breast.
Second Day-Afternoon Session
Second Day-Afternoon Session
Opening prayer by Elder Abram Hatch.
Awake, ye, Saints of God, awake!
Call on the Lord in mighty prayer,
That He will Zion’s bondage break,
And bring to naught the fowler’s snare,
was sung by the choir.
President George Q. Cannon
President George Q. Cannon
Importance of sustaining the Authority of God-Good effects of reading the Written Word-Skepticism in secular literature-Evil results of Ignoring the Counsels of God’s Servants.
In standing up this afternoon to address you, my brethren and sisters, I do so with the hope that I shall have your faith and prayers, and that the spirit that has rested upon our brethren who have spoken thus far during the Conference will be given unto me also. To arise before a congregation of this size is almost appalling, and no man that realizes the responsibility of teaching the people, it seems to me, would dare do so unless he felt that the Lord would assist him and be with him.
We have heard a great many excellent instructions during yesterday and this morning. We have had spiritual instructions, and also instructions concerning practical duties, although there is nothing connected with our religion that is not really practical. We can apply that word to all the duties that devolve upon us as individuals and as a people.
We have heard considerable concerning the authority that God has restored. I feel that this is an important theme, and one that cannot be dwelt upon too much in our hearing. There has been noticeably, it seems to me, considerable change in the Church in relation to that authority, and its claims upon and its standing among the people. Anything that contributes to weaken that authority or to lessen its value in the minds of the people is something to be avoided and, I believe, to be dreaded. The success and the triumph of the work of God thus far can only be attributed to the fact that the Lord has placed in His Church His Priesthood, and has given it authority; for to its guidance, to its influence and activity among the people, can be ascribed the prosperity of this work of our God. To no other cause can we attribute the deliverances that have been wrought out in our behalf. Its operations have been most beneficent. We have heard considerable concerning it in the remarks that have been made. But I have noticed myself among the Latter-day Saints that where the people of God pay attention to the written word, and cherish and observe the written word, they are always better prepared to hear the oral instructions of the servants of God; they are better prepared to receive those instructions; they have greater interest in seeking to obtain instructions, than they have when they are careless about the written word of God. I have felt for some time that there is an indifference, not to call it by any stronger name, among the Latter-day Saints in regard to the word of God. I would like to ask this congregation, how many of you read the Book of Mormon, the Bible, the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and the discourses of the Elders as they are published? How many of you make a practice of reading the word of God as it is in these records, and as it appears in published discourses? I am afraid that if you were interrogated upon this point many would say, “I have not read the Bible for such a length of time; I have not read the Book of Mormon for such a length of time; I have not read the Book of Doctrine and Covenants for such a length of time; I do not read the discourses of the Elders that are published; I do not take the paper that contains them; I prefer other papers.”
I hope I am not doing the people of God injustice in making this statement; but I believe that comparatively few of the Latter-day Saints are in the habit of reading the words of God that He has given to us in the records that have come to us. I believe there are families, from what I hear and what I notice myself, that do not open the Book of Mormon, or the Bible, or the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, from one month’s end to another. These books, if they are in possession of families, too frequently lie covered with dust, untouched, and not read. Do I do any injustice in making this statement? If I do, I am glad of it that is, I would be very glad if what I say is not correct, and that the Book of Mormon, the Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants and the discourses of the Elders are perused regularly, and sought for with avidity. If we talk about the living oracles and want to pay respect to them, how shall we do this? Shall we do it by never reading their words by paying no attention to that which they say? That is a very poor way of doing. We ought to listen to their words.
When we cannot hear their words, we should read them; for they are the words of the authorized servants of God. I feel that there is a great neglect among us in this respect. I notice it in my own family, I notice it in other families, and still in my own family I do the best I can in these matters. But you will find that, among certain classes, scientific works are more read, magazines are more read, novels are more read, publications that do not contribute to faith are more read, and the result is that we are in danger of a wave of infidelity and unbelief sweeping through our land, to the injury of the faith of the rising generation. It is a thing that fills me with more fear than almost any thing else concerning ourselves and our children. You cannot take a magazine up the best and most popular magazines without finding articles in it that are I was going to say designed but their purport and the drift of their arguments are opposed to the truths that are contained in the Bible, Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. Talk with young men who go to universities and colleges, and you will find that many are more or less imbued with these ideas. I need only refer to a few the age of the earth, prehistoric man, the creation of man, man’s entrance upon the earth, the nature of man’s descent. The truth concerning these principles, is being undermined and weakened so that at the present time, if it were not for the Bible, the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants, we ourselves would be at sea. But those who do not receive the Book of Mormon and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants as divine are in a deplorable condition; they do not know what is true. Many of the clergy are in the same position as the rest of the world; they have adopted the new ideas concerning these scientific discoveries. Hundreds of clergymen, who call themselves ministers of the Gospel, do not believe in Adam and Eve and their creation; do not believe in the Mosaic account of creation; do not believe that man is a son of God, descended from God; but they believe that the earth has been in existence and peopled by man ages before the period given in the Mosaic account. There is no doubt that the earth is much older than many of us think it is. But they mingle truth with error, and they build up fallacies, and they are propagating them; and the Latter-day Saints, who read this literature, and do not read the word of God, are in danger of losing their faith.
We have in these three books to which I have referred the pure word of God at least in two of them uncorrupted, undefiled; and we can read them with a knowledge that they are true. We have the word of God in the Bible; but it has been translated by uninspired men. And no matter how men may pile up arguments and build theories they may build them as high as these mountains of ours, and they may appear to be true, yet we know they are not true where they come in contact with these records of ours, because we know that these records are true. God has revealed them, and the Book of Mormon has been translated by a man of God and has come to us in purity. Therefore, when we read about our father Adam and our mother Eve, read about the fall of man, the creation of the earth or the peopling of the earth, about the Son of God and His atonement to redeem us from the fall, we know that those principles are true and from God.
It is important that we as a people should understand these things, and that we should build our faith impregnably upon the rock of revelation, constant revelation; not alone the revelation given two thousand years ago, but also the revelation given today, and which comes to us in its purity.
I have been impressed very much of late with the danger to which our young people are exposed. When the parents neglect to read the word of God, when they prefer novels, magazines, or any kind of light reading, and do not set the example by reading that which God has given to us, you may expect the children to do the same. They will not take up the Bible, the Book of Mormon and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants to read, because when they read these illustrated papers, these catchy prints, these light novels, everything of a serious nature loses its interest. To people who are fed on highly seasoned food, a plain diet is not inviting; men who have been accustomed to stimulants crave stimulants. People who read the class of literature I refer to are in the same condition mentally; they desire the sensational, and reading which does not have some of this element in it possesses but little interest. The result is, our books and our discourses. that which God reveals go without being perused.
I do not want to dwell on this it is not necessary. I leave it with you to reflect upon it. I look upon it as a most serious matter that should be called to the attention of this Conference. I wish I had language to make you all realize the danger we are in from mischievous literature, and the necessity for a reformation in our reading habits. Do not wonder at your sons and daughters going astray and losing the faith, when they do not read the word of God.
Do you know what I believe about the living oracles? I believe that the bondage we are in today I want you all to hear what I have to say, for I want to say it considerately the bondage we are in today is due to the neglect of this people in listening to counsel; and not only in not listening to it, but in not seeking it. We are in bondage in debt. As a community we groan under a load of debt. We have, it is said, hundreds of unemployed people. I do not know how many there are, but reports come to the effect that they are numerous. Why is it? If this people had listened to the counsel of the servants of God, or had sought it, would this be the case? Certainly not, in my opinion. God has not led us here to these mountains to starve. He has not given the spirit of gathering to these Latter-day Saints in the remote parts of the earth and brought them here to walk the streets in idleness, with their hands in their pockets. He has not given his spirit to such an extent that the authorities may have to repress it, and say to the Elders abroad, “Restrain the people; do not let them come here for the present.” Why, what an incongruity, what a strange thing, to say that God would give the spirit of gathering to the people to come where they could not get employment, and where they would go hungry and have to live on charity; or, after they had come, return to their own lands, as some have done. To me, the very sight of this condition is an evidence that there is something wrong, or something has been wrong.
Let me refer to the railroads here. How many Latter-day Saints are employed on the railroads in this State? I wonder who can answer. Who built these railroads? How many railroads are there in this State that the Latter-day Saints did not build and own? There are but few in this State of Utah that they did not build and own or control. Hundreds of Utah men were employed on these railroads. Suppose that every man that had owned any share in them had said to himself, “I shall not part with my stock in these agencies, if I can help it; I shall maintain my holdings in these roads, so that my fellow citizens can get employment on them, and the policy not been adopted in our State of sending to remote states for people to do the work that our own citizens can do,” what would have been the result? Why, today, instead of our people walking around unemployed, as many have to do, they would find abundant employment. I do not want to risk a guess at the number that would be employed; you can guess as well as I.
Herein we are reaping the consequences of our selfishness and want of prudence. Do you wonder at it, when God has told us so plainly what we shall do? When God has placed men to guide us and to counsel us, and their counsels have been neglected and disregarded? I wonder that God has been so merciful with us as he has been in these things, and that He has not scourged us more than He has. I look upon the highest duty that I have in connection with the service of God after personally laboring to make myself pure and to conform to all the requirements of the Gospel my first duty after that is to build up Zion. God sent me to earth for that. He has given me His Spirit for that. He has gathered us together to build up Zion. It is the highest, the noblest, the plainest duty that God has assigned to us, as a people and as individuals. Up to this hour I have never labored for anything else. I would not go anywhere to build up anything else. I have never had the inclination to do it. I wanted every minute of my time, every faculty of my mind and body, every power and talent that God has given me, to be devoted exclusively to the building up of Zion. I have no other aim in life, and I want no other aim. Now, if this be my motive, I should not do anything at any time to injure Zion. If I own stock in a railroad, or in any other public enterprise, and am offered a good price for it, I should first ask myself, Is the sale of this consistent with the building up of Zion? Through the invitation of President Young, I was one of the original incorporators of one of our railways. I could have sold my interest in that at several times for a considerable sum of money. But I desired the control kept here, and I said, No, I will not sell. But the control passed out of the State, and though the stock has decreased very greatly in value, I have had the satisfaction of knowing that I have not contributed in any manner to the bringing about of the condition of things which I now deplore.
Now, when I say “building up Zion,” do I mean by that, building up a system that is peculiar to the Latter-day Saints, and that will exclude all but Latter-day Saints? No. There is where the misconception arises in regard to our views and aims. Whenever Zion is built up as it should be, we will have a condition of things that will be the admiration and the attraction of the whole world. There will be no heavy taxation. There will be no officers working for enormous salaries. There will be no bribery. There will be no unthrift, money being spent lavishly, improvidently, and in a way to oppress the people. Whenever Zion shall rule, the very opposite of this will be the condition of society. The widow can live on her lot, and not be taxed to deprive her of it. The workingman can have his acre and a quarter, with his improvements on it, and can hold it without being taxed out of it. That will be the condition when Zion shall prevail. There will be no oppression. There will be no sin permitted that the law can reach. There will be a condition of society that all honest, virtuous and upright men will admire. I labor with all my might, and have done since I was old enough, to bring to pass that happy condition. I pray for it with all the faith I can, It is my constant thought, by night and by day. I labor for it as well as pray for it. For I want a reign of righteousness to be ushered in. I want to see a condition of things in this State that shall be such as I have feebly attempted to describe. And I know that the Latter-day Saints have the same desire. We may be mistaken at times; we may be misled; we may do foolish things; but underneath, underlying all our thoughts and all our acts, is the intense desire to see a better condition of things brought about, not for ourselves alone, but for all. And I want to say to you here to day that it never will be brought about until the voice of experienced men, especially inspired men, will be listened to. In any other community, where right prevails, men would not say concerning these men that are around here what they do about us. It is because we are members of a church that we are assailed; because they do not want the influence of that wisdom and that experience felt among the people. Here are men on this stand who have helped build this commonwealth. They laid the foundations of it. They carried it forward. They helped enact the laws that have governed it. And when this Territory passed out of the control of those who were influenced by the policy of these men, it was in a condition that was most admirable. It was out of debt, and lightly taxed. It was in a condition that people look back to now and admire, and regret that we cannot have such a condition exist today. Do not mistake me, and think that I mean the Latter-day Saints should have exclusive control of civil affairs; not so; no more than others should have exclusive control.
Brethren and sisters, we talk about listening to the oracles of God. Do you listen to them? Do you think them entitled to your support and your confidence? If you had offered to you a good bargain in selling out some important enterprise, would you ask yourselves, “How is this going to affect the interests of Zion?” Or would you say, “I can make money out of this, and I will take care of myself?” I say to you that whenever Latter-day Saints come to the latter conclusion they will lose by it. The money that they get will not do them nor their children good. I only state a truism when I say this. To prove it we have only to look around us and see results. The men that have sought counsel and followed it have been blessed in all they have done. The money they have made has been prospered, because it has been made properly-it has been made with a view to carrying out the purposes of God.
I would like to bring these questions home to us in a practical manner. Let us look at them as practical men. We are here in the State of Utah. It is our duty to build up this State. Not for the Mormons alone do not mistake my position not for the Mormons, but for every man and woman that wants to live an honest and upright life and to be a good citizen. With the views and the knowledge I have, I should deplore a feeling that would prompt us to build it up for ourselves alone. We are in the world, and a part of the world. God has given us a mission in the world, and we know how to fill it. We cannot be accused of egotism if we say that we know how to build up this country. We know what policy to pursue to make this community a happy and prosperous community. The proofs are in sight. We do not talk as men who have not had experience. We understand the question. And we know that if the people would listen to the counsels that are given to them, they would be led in a path of safety, a path of peace, and a path of prosperity. But there is every effort being made, and has been for some time, to destroy this influence, and many of the Latter-day Saints, apparently, have not had discernment enough to discover the spirit that actuates those who are making these attempts.
I pray God to bless us in this Conference, to fill us with the Holy Spirit, and to give unto us the words of life and salvation and cause our hearts to rejoice. I want us to see our errors. I want to talk about these errors. I want to warn, where we need warning and we do need warning. I know we are not as we should be. I am not satisfied myself with my own condition. I am not satisfied with the condition of the Later-day Saints. I do not want to say anything to lull you to sleep. I do not want to sing any siren songs in your ears. It is pleasant enough to talk about those pleasant things; but here is a condition of things before us that we cannot close our eyes to. How shall this condition be remedied? How shall this people be led and guided out of the difficulties in which they are involved? What can we say to you, to point out the dangers that you are in and to show you the path that you should tread to escape these dangers, and to be the people that God designs we shall be. There is only one way-and we will all have to come to it and that is to listen to the voice of God in our midst, and ask for it, and not be as some are, “Don’t talk to me. I don’t want any church interference. I don’t care how much you know; you may have all the experience in the world; but I don’t want to talk to you, you are an officer in the church, and I don’t want any ecclesiastical interference with me.” Why, that spirit where will it lead us to? You can answer that question yourselves, each one of you. I believe in the principles of government. I have my views concerning them; you all have, no doubt. But shall we, who know what we do, accept party as the paramount issue among us? When I heard the proposition that the Latter-day Saints should divide on party lines, I advocated it. I have not changed my feelings in regard to it. I know that it is better for us. But we need not set up party as an idol and worship it, as though it was a new-found idol, which we should bow down to and worship. That is the other extreme. We should not go to these extremes. We should act like wise people, and do that which is the best for us in every way. I do not, in saying this, wish to say one word about politics, only to clear myself from any suspicion of saying anything in opposition to the maintenance of party lines. As I have said, I believed in the division on party lines when I heard it was being attempted. I knew it was the right thing to do. I have been glad ever since that we did it, and I would not have it changed if it could be helped and it can be helped. We should not interfere with each other in our party rights, our party beliefs, or party allegiance, But do not go to such extremes; do not be carried away by them.
I pray God to bless us with his Holy Spirit, that during this Conference we may have a time of rejoicing. I humbly ask it in the name of Jesus. Amen.
The General Authorities
were presented to the Conference by President George Q. Cannon, as follows:
Wilford Woodruff, as Prophet, Seer and Revelator, and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in all the world.
George Q. Cannon as First Counselor in the First Presidency.
Joseph F. Smith as Second Counselor in the First Presidency.
Lorenzo Snow as President of the Twelve Apostles.
As members of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles Lorenzo Snow, Franklin D. Richards, Brigham Young, Francis M. Lyman, John Henry Smith, George Teasdale, Heber J. Grant, John W. Taylor, Marriner W. Merrill and Anthon H. Lund.
The Counselors in the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles as Prophets, Seers and Revelators.
Patriarch to the Church-John Smith.
First Seven Presidents of the Seventies Seymour B. Young, C. D. Fjeldsted, B. H. Roberts, George Reynolds, Jonathan G. Kimball and Rulon S. Wells.
William B. Preston as Presiding Bishop, with Robert T. Burton as his first and John R. Winder as his second counselor.
Franklin D. Richards as Church historian and general Church recorder, with John Jaques and Charles W. Penrose as his assistants.
As the General Church. Board of Education Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow, George Q. Cannon, Karl G. Maeser, Willard Young, Anthon H. Lund, James Sharp, Joseph F. Smith and John Nicholson.
As Trustee-in-Trust for the body of religious worshippers known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Wilford Woodruff.
John Nicholson as Clerk of the General Conference.
All of the voting to sustain the authorities was unanimous.
In presenting the names to fill the vacancies in the quorum of the Apostles and the First Council of Seventies, President George Q. Cannon said:
It is well known to the Latter-day Saints that there are two vacancies in the quorum of the Twelve Apostles, one through death, and another through the severance of a person from the quorum. We now propose to fill those vacancies, and present to the Conference the name of Matthias F. Cowley to be one of the Twelve Apostles.
It may be well to state to this Conference that Brother Matthias F. Cowley is at present the second counselor to the President of the Oneida Stake of Zion. He is a man that has labored in the ministry very zealously, and is known, to all acquainted with him, as a man of worth.
(His name was then put to the Conference, and he was sustained by unanimous vote.)
It is now proposed that Abraham Owen Woodruff be ordained one of the Twelve Apostles.
He has been a missionary to Germany, has acquired the language there, has labored very zealously in that mission, and since his return has been very zealous and indefatigable in his labors here among us. He is a youthful, but a promising man.
(His name was then presented, and the vote to sustain him was also unanimous.)
I may say, before sitting down, that the mind of the Lord was diligently sought for in relation to these appointments, and we can say to you that the mind of the Lord was obtained, and we know that the men who have been chosen are the men whom the Lord has designated to us to fill these positions.
There is a vacancy in the Seven Presidents of the Seventies. It is now proposed that Joseph W. McMurrin be ordained to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of Elder Edward Stevenson.
(His name was presented, and he likewise was sustained by unanimous vote of the Conference.)
I wish to add in relation to this appointment, the mind of the Lord was also sought, and this is as it came to us. Elder McMurrin is now on a mission in Great Britain, and is one of the Presidency of the European mission.
We wish to say to the Saints who are assembled here that neither of these brethren has known of this till now; so you must not be surprised if they are embarrassed. When we decided upon it, it was understood that we should keep this to ourselves until they should be presented here. We did not want anyone to know about it or to talk about it, and they are as much surprised, I suppose, as any of you can be.
President Wilford Woodruff
President Wilford Woodruff
said: I want to say to these two young men whom we have called to fill these places, they are occupying a very important position, a position of great responsibility, and we hope and trust that, although young men, they may have the spirit and power of their calling and Priesthood and Apostleship, and be enabled to magnify it and fulfill the duties required at their hands. We will give our brethren time to express themselves now with regard to their views of the kingdom of God and the Priesthood unto which they have been called, and their purposes in magnifying and fulfilling this duty that is now resting upon them by the vote of the house of Israel.
Elder Matthias F. Cowley
Elder Matthias F. Cowley
My brethren and sisters, I feel very weak on this occasion, and I do not know how to express myself. But I accept of the call with the same feeling that I have always accepted of the calls made of me by the authorities of this Church. I am in full sympathy with the organization of the Holy Priesthood, and every sentiment which has been expressed at this Conference finds a cheerful and a complete response in my heart. I am grateful to the Lord for the testimony which He has given unto me in my youth concerning the divine mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the work which he was instrumental in the hands of God in establishing upon the earth. I know that it is true. I am grateful for this witness, and I trust that I shall be able, by the help of the Lord and by your faith and prayers, my brethren and sisters for I ask them, and I need them, to be able to show my appreciation of the truth and the work in which we are engaged, by my course in life. I recognize the fact that there is no amount of profession or pretension which satisfies the injunctions of the Gospel and that which goes to constitute the characteristics of a true Latter-day Saint. It requires that we shall square our lives by the precepts of the Gospel and the commandments which have been delivered unto us by the authority of God in this dispensation.
I do not know that I need to occupy more of your time, my brethren and sisters. I feel weak and humble; indeed, I feel unworthy; for I know myself better than my friends know me, and I cannot express my feelings on this occasion. But I will endeavor to do my duty, by the help of the Lord. I will endeavor to keep the counsel of the servants of God, and to obey the requirements that are made of me from time to time, by the servants of God that are appointed to preside in the Church of Christ in this dispensation. I know that these men are Prophets of the living God. And I know this day that a prophecy has been fulfilled which was uttered by Apostle John W. Taylor many years ago.
May God bless you, my brethren and sisters, and all Israel, and enable us to accept, not only in sentiment and theory, but in actual practice, all the counsel that is given unto us bearing upon the duties which the Gospel enjoins upon the Latter-day Saints; and if we do this I know that God will bless us and sustain us as his people, and no power will prevail against this work. May God bless you, and may I have your faith and prayers in my calling. I humbly ask it, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Elder Abraham Owen Woodruff
Elder Abraham Owen Woodruff
My brethren and sisters, I feel very weak in attempting to express myself on this occasion, and I pray that the blessings of God may rest upon me, that I may enjoy your sympathy, while I seek to do so. Though I have not placed myself in this position, I have no doubt as to the inspiration of those men who have called me; and in occupying it I realize that I am not called to a position above the people, but to be one of them and a servant of the people of God. I feel that this is my mission. As Brother Cowley says that this day a prophecy was fulfilled which was uttered some years ago by one of the Apostles present today, I can indeed say the same as being fulfilled in my case. My father intimated as much to me something over three years ago, while I was upon a mission to Switzerland, Germany and Austria, although I have never mentioned this matter to a living soul. He told me that that was the mind and will of God concerning me at that time. I have sought to overcome my weaknesses; and in standing before you I realize that I stand before my God, stripped of everything which will hide any of the deeds of my life, and realize that I appear in His eyes in a different light to what I appear in your eyes. I realize that I have had weaknesses, but God knows that I have sought with all my heart to overcome them and to fit and prepare myself for any call which He might make of me. It will be the pleasure of my life, and my greatest object and desire, to be your servant, and to assist in building up Zion. I believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that there is a living God. I have been placed in circumstances in my short life where I have had to prove this to be the case or to prove that belief in God was a deception. I also believe that Joseph Smith was a true, inspired servant of the living God, and that the principles which were revealed through him, of faith in God, of repentance, of baptism, of the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost, and the other principles connected with this Gospel, are of God and are necessary to salvation. I believe that the organization that existed in the primitive church exists in this Church today; that we have the living oracles of God, and that these men who have been called to these positions are inspired servants of God. My Father in Heaven is a witness that I have never sought or desired any prominence in this world, but have rather desired to lead a quiet life, thinking myself not worthy to be anything but the least in the kingdom of God. And I know not why I should have been called to this position, were it not that I am the least, or have cause to be the most humble among you all.
May God help me, and give me strength to do what is right and to discharge my duties, and be true to the confidence which my brethren have placed in me, and which you place in me upon this occasion. This is my greatest desire, and that I may be true and faithful, and useful in doing good, proclaiming the word of God, sustaining the authorities of the Church, and in looking out for your general welfare. May God give me this power; and if so, I will covenant if He will give me strength, to overcome my weaknesses and to resist the evil of this world. I do covenant with you, as I have done with my God and do now with my God, that I will seek with all the power which He will give me and which He has given me, to be a faithful servant unto you, and to dedicate my life and all the energies which God has given me to the building up of His kingdom and to the proclaiming of His word. May God help me to this end, and help us all to fulfill our duties, is my humble prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
President Wilford Woodruff (2)
President Wilford Woodruff (2)
Some experiences connected with the Ministry-His call to the Apostleship-The Saints Afflicted if they do not Labor for Zion-Redemption of the Dead
I feel thankful to God my Heavenly Father that I have lived to see the day when I have one of my own posterity called to this office a privilege which all my predecessors, presidents and counselors, who are in the spirit world, have had. Their sons are sitting before me here. I need not mention them; you know them yourselves.
I have had this desire in my heart, and the Lord has granted it unto me, and I am very thankful for it. I am satisfied that these two young men we have called will magnify their calling. I am satisfied that it is in their hearts to do it.
I want to remark here the difference I was thinking of it while the brethren were talking between the position of my son and our brother here and my position when I was called to the Apostleship. While in the worst apostasy we ever had in this Church, when Apostles and leading men were fighting the Prophet of God, the Lord told me to rise up, choose a companion, and go to Fox Islands. A great deal that I have done, and in my missions, I have been led by inspiration of Almighty God to do. I knew no more what was on Fox Islands than I knew what was on Kolob. I chose Brother Jonathan H. Hale as a partner. We went through Canada, and there met John E. Page, who was laboring there. We administered to one woman that was possessed of the devil, which was cast out. We healed the sick, and the blessings of God were with us. We crossed on Lake Ontario, and from there down to Albany, and Farmington, my native place. I there met my father and my mother. It was the first time I had seen them since I had been a Latter-day Saint. I held a meeting among them. I baptized my father, my stepmother, my sister, several uncles and aunts, and organized a small branch of the Church, composed of all my relatives except one a Methodist preacher, who was boarding at my father’s house. Old father Smith told me, when he blessed me, that I should bring all my father’s house into the Church. I certainly baptized everybody that was in the house at the time I was there. I then went on my way to Fox Islands. When I got there I found two congregations a Baptist minister, a meeting house, a Baptist congregation, on the north island; a Methodist minister, a Methodist congregation, without any meeting house, on the south island. I commenced preaching there, and very soon saw why the Lord had sent me there. There was a people there wishing for the ancient order of things. I baptized most of those congregations. Without dwelling upon it, I will say I baptized over 100 while there.
While in the ministry there I received a letter from Joseph Smith, the Prophet of God, in which he told me that the Lord had given him a revelation, and named to me the persons that were called to fill the places of those who had fallen. My name was among them. He said that he wanted me to gather up the Saints I had baptized and bring them to Zion. What were the circumstances? I was on an island of the sea. There was not a horse or an ox on the island. There was not a man or a woman that knew how to harness a horse. I told one of the brethren, who had some money, that we must furnish a train of horses, wagons, harness, etc., and he proposed to advance the money for that purpose. He went with me and we bought about fifty horses; and then I had to match these horses, and get harness to fit them. I went to a wagon-maker and engaged twenty or twenty-five wagons. I did this in order to prepare the people to go with me, according to the words of the Prophet. I arranged everything, agreed with this brother to furnish the money, and left in advance with the understanding that they were to leave the first day of September. The letter to me was dated the first of August. I went to Maine, as my wife was there with her first child. I waited for this company to come to me, but they did not come till the first of October. We had then to travel from Maine to Missouri through snow, rain, and mud. However, we passed through it all, and got up there, according to the commandment of the Lord to me.
That was the way I was called to the Apostleship, and what I had to go through. I have felt from that day to this that it has been good to serve the Lord, good to honor God and to obey His commandments. No matter what we may be called to do, or what office we may be called to fill, if we trust in God and do our duty, we will be carried through. Of course, I am here among you now. But I have been on the sick list a good while. Still the Lord has blessed me, and I have got back to my former state, in a measure, of health and strength. How long the Lord will permit me to live I do not know anything about; but I have to acknowledge the hand of the Lord in all these affairs with myself. I have been edified at the teachings that have been given us at this Conference. What President Smith has said, what President Cannon has said, is true. They have spoken upon principles that we should lay to heart.
I tell you, brethren and sisters, the God of heaven has set His hand to build up Zion, in fulfillment of all the revelations of God to man from the days of Father Adam down to this day. The counsels that have been given here today are just and true, and we ought to observe them. I cannot sin, you cannot sin, we cannot turn from the commandments of God in anywise, but we are the losers by it. Again, I will say to this congregation, God Almighty will afflict these Latter-day Saints if they do not pursue the course they are called upon to pursue. The Lord will build up Zion and carry out His purposes; but we will be chastised unless we listen to the counsels of the servants of God. If these Latter-day Saints turn to the right or the left, on political questions or on other principles, to separate themselves one from another and from the commandments of God, the Lord Almighty will hold them responsible, and they will be chastised for doing it. I know this as well as I know I am alive. I am anxious for the salvation of the Latter-day Saints. I do not know anything about what you are on politics, but we should be united together and labor together to build up Zion. We have been called from the nations of the earth to do that; and if we do not do it, the judgments of Almighty God will rest upon us. I feel myself that the time has come when we ought to look around and about ourselves, and see what we are doing and what we should do. My prayer to God is that we may open our eyes to see, our ears to hear, our hearts to understand the word of the Lord and the responsibilities we are under. We stand here, a little handful of men and women in the eyes of the world, but we are called to build up Zion.
Here we have four Temples, thank the Lord our God! Into those Temples we enter and redeem our dead. We have blessings which have never been given to any other generation since the days of Jesus Christ and the Apostles. The Lord has raised up a people for this purpose. You hold the keys of the destiny of your fathers, your mothers, your Progenitors, from generation to generation; you hold the keys of their salvation. God has put that power into your hands. But if we do not do what is required of us in this thing, we are under condemnation. If we do attend to this, then when we come to meet our friends in the celestial kingdom, they will say, “You have been our saviors, because you had power to do it. You have attended to these ordinances that God has required.”
I will say to this congregation that the very men whom God raised up to lay the foundation of the American government those noble men, from Washington down have been to men in these Temples and required the ordinances of the House of God at their hands in their behalf. They have told them the position they occupied in the spirit world, and those men have gone forth and fulfilled these requests, and those noble men have received the ordinances of the House of God. A great many things have been required of us as a people, and as far as we have fulfilled them, so far we are justified. But do not let us lose the hold we have got. Do not let us turn our backs upon the commandments of God, and do those things that will place us in difficulties in days to come.
The eyes of the heavens are over us; the eyes of God himself, the eyes of every Prophet and Apostle in the spirit world, are watching you, watching this Priesthood, to see what they are doing and what they are going to do. It is of far more importance than we realize and comprehend. Let us awake to the ordinances of the House of God and do our duty, that we may be justified, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
The choir and congregation sang:
“We thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet.”
Benediction by Elder Seymour B. Young.
Third Day-Morning Session
Third Day-Morning Session
The choir and congregation sang the hymn:
“Now let us rejoice in the day of salvation,
No longer as strangers on earth need we roam,
Good tidings are sounding to us and each nation,
And shortly the hour of redemption will come.”
Prayer by Elder James H. Hart.
“We’re not ashamed to own our Lord,
And worship Him on earth,”
was sung by the choir.
Elder Christian D. Fjelsted
Elder Christian D. Fjelsted
The Lord has led His people-Christ’s promise has been fulfilled.
I do not know if I shall be able to speak loud enough for such a large congregation. My voice is not very strong, but I feel thankful to our Heavenly Father that we have this great opportunity of meeting together in a Conference, to have the privilege to sit and listen to inspired men that are full of wisdom and good counsel to us. We can certainly say we have had quite a feast during this Conference, and I for my part feel to thank God, the Eternal Father, that we have a living Priesthood amongst us, to direct and to guide us and to bless us; and there are no people that I know of on the whole earth that ought to be as grateful to our Heavenly Father for His blessings as we ought to be. The doctrines that we have listened to are of an excellent character, and we know they are from God, and I wish that we all carried them out that it might please the Lord to bless us still more. His hand has been over this people. He has led us unto this day, and we have confidence that He will continue to lead this people and that we will be able to help to build up the work of God. We can say surely the testimony that was promised to us and to everybody by the Savior when He was here has been realized. He said anyone and everyone that will do the will of my Father shall know if this is the work of God or not. We can testify by receiving this Gospel that we have received that testimony, that this is the work of God and not of man, and therefore I say we ought to be the best people on the whole earth: that we are called upon to be Saints; and that the Lord has given us the testimony that this is His work; and I say, Lord bless all Thy servants, Lord bless all who take an active part in building up the work of God, that they may be prospered in the land, and that the plans of the Wicked One to overthrow this work may fall to the ground, and that the kingdom of God may be built up and that His blessings may follow the people. This is my prayer and desire in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Elder Brigham H. Roberts
Elder Brigham H. Roberts
Endorsement of the Conference proceedings-Testimony of the Truth.
My brethren and sisters, I have been exceedingly happy during this Conference, and, with you, have enjoyed the blessings thereof, and my heart is filled with gratitude for this great privilege of being numbered with the Church of Christ, with having a name and a standing in the Church. I have rejoiced exceedingly in the outpourings of the Spirit of the Lord upon His servants, and their words and utterances and their actions have had a response in my heart, and the Spirit of the Lord has testified to my spirit that all that hath been done is of the Lord, and with my whole soul I accept the counsels and instructions that have been imparted to us.
I desire to bear my testimony not only to those truths that we have received during this Conference, but to the truth of the work of the Lord. I rejoice that through His grace the truth of this work hath been made known unto me. I have said to some of my intimate friends that I think it is a good thing that the Lord has made it known to me, for if He had not made it known beyond all doubt, it is very questionable with me if I could believe it. But I have received that testimony and am pleased with the opportunity of saying so once more to you, and I desire to live in harmony with it, and be saved in the kingdom of God. I know of no greater reward to strive for than this, and with all my soul, I desire to overcome the weaknesses and imperfections of humanity and at the last be received into the kingdom of our God. I hope that I may have strength to do so, and that the same strength may be given to the Saints of God and that the kingdom of God may come on the earth and His will be done here as it is done in heaven; all of which I pray for in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Elder George Reynolds
Elder George Reynolds
The wonders wrought by the Saints through the power of God-Completeness of the keys and authority of the Priesthood.
It affords me great pleasure this morning, my brethren and sisters, to be present with you in this vast congregation, to worship the Lord our God, to learn of His ways that we may walk in His paths; and it gives me still greater consolation to know that His people are still led by the Spirit of divine revelation, that notwithstanding our weaknesses, our shortcomings, our lack of faith, God is still with us. He is still guiding His people, and with me there is not the slightest shadow of a doubt but what all His holy purposes will be accomplished. I know that this is the work of God, I know that He is guiding His people. Of this I am more satisfied than of any other fact with which I am acquainted. I have no fears on this point, for the Holy Spirit has witnessed from the beginning, that God is with us, that this is not the work of man. Had it not been so, it would have failed long ago. It would never have brought to pass the wonderful, the miraculous results, I might say, that we see have been accomplished by the revelation of God to Joseph Smith and to His people. No earthly power could have accomplished what has been done by the people who belong to the Church of Jesus Christ. The results are marvelous, not only in the building up of this commonwealth in these valleys of the mountains, not only in the preaching of the Gospel to so many of the nations of the earth, but also in the indirect results that have followed the ministry of the servants of God, the results that have followed materially, spiritually, intellectually, and in every way that I can think of.
Our influence in the history of the world in this century is marked, and will be still more marked as the centuries roll round; and from a distance men will be able to perceive what has been really accomplished by those who for so long were despised, of whom so little was thought, and to whose message such a deaf ear was turned by the greater portion of the peoples of the world. And I can say, while I feel my littleness, while I acknowledge my insufficiency, yet I do greatly rejoice that God has accounted me worthy to be one of His people, to be one of the workers with Him in the great work of the regeneration of the world, in the fulfillment of His purposes, and in the bringing about of that reign of righteousness upon the earth, when all shall know Him, and when every man in every place shall meet a brother and a friend; for I desire to see righteousness brought about, I desire to see peace established upon the earth, I desire to see love abound amongst all the sons and daughters of Adam. I have no pleasure in iniquity, no pleasure in turmoil, in rioting; no pleasure in contention; but I desire to live to see the name of God glorified, to see the principles of eternal truth vindicated, to see Israel become God’s first born upon the earth, and occupy the position God has intended for His people; and I desire to see this earth prepared for the coming and reign of the Prince of Peace, of Jesus, our Redeemer, the Son of God.
And these things I know will be brought about, will be accomplished by the labors and ministry of the servants of God, under the direction of those who hold the keys of power in the midst of His people, to whom He reveals His mind and will. And I am doubly thankful to know that there is not one key of the Holy Priesthood, not one power belonging to God’s kingdom, not one key of authority, not one principle pertaining to the building up of righteousness upon the earth, that God has withheld from His people, in these the latter days. I realize that all these things have been given unto us. There is nothing lacking, but all that is necessary, if we will obey, to give us power to return into the presence of God, and to enjoy the blessings of the celestial kingdom throughout the eternities to come, are ours, are with this Church, have been revealed of God. We have been made partakers of all these things. There is nothing wanting. Not one link is left out. They are all ours if we will be faithful to God and to His cause; and this is my testimony, my brethren and sisters. I know it is true, and I bear it in the name of the Lord Jesus, our Redeemer. Amen.
Elder Jonathon Golden Kimball
Elder Jonathon Golden Kimball
Labors in the South-The Mutual Improvement cause Necessity of study and reflection-The great sin of unchastity.
I feel very humble, my brethren and sisters. I have discovered in my short career that I don’t amount to very much; that all that I have tried to do within myself I have failed in. The only blessing of real comfort that I have received is in laboring in the ministry. Some men are more easily tired than others, and as far as I am concerned. I desire to be free in what I say, and I hope that I may be moved upon by the Holy Ghost, for I can testify to the children of men that I know what the Holy Ghost is, that is, I know what its influence is. I know that I have felt that joy, that peace, that satisfaction, that burning within me that comes from the influence of the Spirit of the Lord.
I have labored for the past six weeks in company with Apostle Lyman through the southern part of the State, largely in the interests of the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association, and I discover in associating among the people that there is a great missionary work to be performed here at home. There are something over twenty-five thousand young men, from fourteen up to my age, and only a very small percentage of that number are laboring earnestly and ardently to gain information and knowledge pertaining to this great work. Talk about your missionary fields of labor, talk about the nations of the earth; I comprehend that the angel came with its message that the Gospel might be preached to every nation, to every kindred, to every tongue and people; but I want to testify to you, my brethren and sisters, that the rising generation at home are being neglected. They are not being reached by the Priesthood of God; and if there is any place on the great earth where there needs an awakening and an uplifting, it is right here in Zion, and, I want to say to you, the fathers and the mothers are helpless, and they know not what to do. I know the cause, too, and the sin will rest upon the parents. They have not followed this counsel, to instruct their children when they are young. President George Q. Cannon said we were in bondage, to a certain extent, because we had not followed counsel, and I want to testify that it is true, and I want to say that there is a great sin resting upon some of the fathers and mothers, because they have not taught their children faith, repentance, baptism, and the reception of the Holy Ghost when they were eight years old, and they are now reaping the sorrow of their neglect. We need missionaries. I take the position that we need one hundred to start out with, to commence this mission here at home; and I don’t know, before they get through with it, but they will have to preach on the street corners like the Elders do in the states and in Europe.
A part of our labors in the southern part of the State were in the interest of a new magazine; for the general board of the Young Men’s Associations have discovered that it is absolutely impossible to reach the four hundred and ninety-one associations in the Church without a magazine. But in that number of associations, we have 16,580 young men that are enrolled, with an attendance, perhaps, of eight thousand. There is something like ten thousand that are not enrolled, and this missionary work must be begun.
In our associating among the people, we discovered, and I want to testify to what one of the brethren spoke in reference to that matter, that our people are not a reading people, they do not diligently read the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. I want to say to you that I was so surprised that I have not language to express it, when we discovered how few of our people, with the numerous hosts of children, there are that are taking the Juvenile Instructor. Why, we found places where a few years ago they took thirty or forty Juveniles, in some instances they are only taking three or four now. If that is not proof enough that they are not reading, why, I don’t know what other proof you want. We have, however been sustained by the people of the south, and in the Stakes of St. George, and Kanab, and Panguitch, and Parowan we have met with a very kindly reception; and I believe there has been a re-awakening.
But I want to say to the people, if you will permit me, something I have on my mind here. I would like to read to you a little from the Doctrine and Covenants, to show you the condition that we are in, some of us. It is a revelation given to Oliver Cowdery. It seems that he had the gift of translation, and he was somewhat impatient; and the Lord spoke to him in this manner and I want to apply this to the rising generation, I want to apply it to the Latter-day Saints, from the age of fourteen to ninety we expect all of them to join the Young Men’s Association between those ages, and as Apostle Lyman said, there is not anybody permitted to join the association who is older than President Woodruff. We believe that men who are aged should study just as much as young men. I want to ask the Latter-day Saints if that is a true doctrine, that when a man gets old he should quit learning and stop studying, and cease to progress. I want to read you what the Lord has said in this line, speaking to Oliver Cowdery: “Behold, you have not understood. You have supposed that I would give it unto you when you took no thought save it was to ask.” Have you misunderstood, my brethren and sisters? Have you fancied that all you have to do is to ask and you shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you, and if you lack wisdom, ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and that you can sit down and make no other effort? As one of the brethren expressed it: “I fancy that the minds of some of us are chloroformed,” and we have imagined that we would be saved in our ignorance, when the Lord has said, “Whatever intelligence you attain unto in this life will rise with you in the resurrection.” Now He taught this lesson to Oliver Cowdery: “But, behold I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind. Then you must ask me if it be right; and if it is right, I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore you shall feel that it is right.” Now these are the last days spoken of by the prophets; these are the “perilous times.” And I want to say to you that mountains of obstructions will be placed before this people, and if you have not been tried, you will be; if you have not been tested, you will be, before you gain eternal life. And before we pass our opinion unwisely, as we do, it is well for us to “study it out in our minds.”
I am fearful that some of the Latter-day Saints simply come to the leaders and listen to the servants of God, and they never study it out in their minds; they never go to the written word, and compare it with the servants of God in their doctrines and teachings, and consequently they are unable to judge righteously, and they are losing confidence. Their confidence is being shaken, and they are unable to judge, because they have not first studied it out in their minds, because, as a people, we are mentally lazy. I will say that, because I do not expect to preach here again for a long time. If any of us have got a bad taste in our mouth for anything that has transpired, why, let us repent, let us study it out in our minds, and then go to our Father, in humility, and ask Him if it is right, and if it is right He will cause a burning within our bosoms, and we shall know that it is right; but if it be not right, we shall have no such feelings, but we shall have a stupor of thought. And how greatly blessed are we in that direction! We are all blessed, more or less, with a stupor of thought.
But I pray the Lord to bless this people. Why, you are a wonderful people. The Lord has blessed you as He has blessed no other people. He has given you the Holy Ghost. Remember how particular He was with His Apostles, with His servants that He sent out to preach the Gospel. He promised them the Holy Ghost, “whom the world cannot receive,” and we are in a different situation to what the world is. As Paul says: “What! know ye not that ye are the temples of the Holy Ghost, and that ye are not your own; and if any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy, for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” Now I want to say to you people, in soberness, and with consideration I don’t want to be an alarmist, I don’t want to be a revivalist; but I want to say to you, the great sin that is creeping in among this people, together with other worldly sins, is the sin of adultery. This is creeping in amongst us, and in some instances our daughters are running the streets as common harlots, and we, seemingly, cannot help ourselves. But I want to say to you, there needs be an awakening. I want to tell you there needs to be a fear planted in the hearts of the young people. Take the Book of Mormon. Go to the 316th page, and read what Alma said to his son Corianton, who had left the ministry, and had followed after the harlot Isabel. He told him what a terrible crime adultery was, that it was next to the shedding of innocent blood. O, I am fearful that our young people do not comprehend that great sin that is creeping in amongst us; and, as the Prophet Joseph said, a man that commits adultery cannot enter into the celestial kingdom of God. If he enters any kingdom, it will not be the celestial kingdom of God. I pray that our people may be moved upon to be a virtuous, to be an honest, to be a faithful people; this is the prayer of my heart, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Matthias F. Cowley
Matthias F. Cowley
Beneficial character of Mutual Improvement Associations-Operation of the Holy Spirit-Reception of blessings predicated upon Obedience-Secular education does not prevent crime.
My brethren and sisters, in standing before you a short time, I humbly solicit your faith and prayers, that something appropriate may be suggested to our minds. I have rejoiced, and do rejoice, in the instructions of this Conference; and our joy may be said to consist, through the Holy Spirit, in the propriety and the practical value of the teachings imparted unto us through the servants of the Lord.
I have been highly edified in the remarks directed to the youth. I feel especially interested in the cause of Mutual Improvement, because I recognize in it an institution established by the wisdom of the Lord through His servant, President Young, affording the young men and young women of Zion an opportunity to exercise the talents with which the Lord has endowed them. And it is a work of great magnitude. It is necessary, as stated by President Cannon and Brother Kimball, that we should study the Scriptures and become conversant with the principles of the Gospel, with the predictions of the Prophets, and the purposes of the Almighty concerning us and mankind at large, and, not only in the direction of these particulars which are designated as strictly religious, but to become acquainted with all good principles. I think it is in section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants where the injunction is placed upon us by the Lord through the Prophet Joseph, and it is always binding, that we should seek for wisdom by study, out of the best books, by prayer and also by faith; that we should become acquainted with the laws of the kingdoms and nations of the earth, and with the law of the kingdom of God; should become acquainted with things which are above the earth and which are in the earth; we might say, become informed regarding all things as the Lord, through various agencies, gives us opportunities for acquiring knowledge.
What a broad field of study for the youth of Zion! Would any man with intelligence and honesty dare to attribute narrow-mindedness to the Latter-day Saints? I think not. The Latter-day Saints are not afraid to come in contact with the world in every form. They are not so narrow but what they are willing to receive truth wherever it can be found. We recognize the fact that there are fragments of truth scattered abroad in the earth, that they have been handed down among the children of men on the pages of history and by tradition from generation to generation. Many of the oriental religionists that are designated by the more enlightened as heathen have ideas which are not at variance with some of the principles of the Gospel. In reading the history of Mexico, we find statements there regarding traditions of the ancient inhabitants of that land in reference to the Deity and in regard to the coming of a God to this earth; and we can see that it has reference to the mission of the Son of God among the children of men. And so in regard to the people of Asia and other countries of the globe. The youth of Zion should be conversant with these things.
There is one grand and glorious principle, that should be understood by the young people to guide them in their studies and investigation in regard to all things, and that is, the possession of the Holy Spirit. No man, says the Apostle Paul and it has been repeated in every Gospel dispensation “can understand the things of God but by the Spirit of God.” He may understand the things of man by the spirit of man; but the Spirit of God has a mission, as stated by the Savior in the 16th chapter of St. John, where he says, “Howbeit, when the spirit of truth is come, he shall guide you into all truth, for,” he says, “he shall not speak of himself” here is another lesson in that passage: even the Holy Spirit does not assume authority to speak “for he shall not speak of himself, but that which he heareth, that shall he also speak. He shall take of the things of the Father and shall show them unto you,” showing that the Spirit of the Lord associates with the Father and the Son, and communicates the mind and will of the Lord to the people, who are so happy and so blessed as to enjoy that great gift. If we can understand the things of man by the spirit of man, we can also understand the things of man by the Spirit of God, for it “searcheth all things.” How essential it is that the young men and the young women of Zion should enjoy the companionship of the Holy Spirit, the importance of which cannot be spoken, it cannot be fully realized. And to enjoy that spirit, we should understand another principle, and that is that to possess it we must harmonize our lives, our daily walk and conversation with certain requirements that the Lord has made of us. It is one thing to receive the Holy Spirit; it is another thing to keep it constantly with us. We received it on condition of faith in God and in His Son Jesus Christ, and the condition of repentance from all sin a genuine repentance, a laying aside of the things which are obnoxious to God. We received it on condition of accepting the simple ordinance of baptism in water for the remission of sin. We received it on condition of the imposition of hands by men authorized of the Almighty to perform that sacred ordinance for the gift of the Holy Ghost. We never can isolate the principles of the Gospel, and expect by the mere outward acceptance of that principle, to enjoy the blessing which is attached to it. No man has received a remission of sins by baptism alone. No man has received the Holy Ghost by the imposition of hands alone. There must be associated with it the fulfillment of the conditions that belong to these fundamental steps which introduce us into the Church of Christ. Simon the sorcerer was baptized by Philip. He went through the ordinance in form, but the Apostles Peter and John came down from Jerusalem and laid their hands upon and baptized the Samaritans; and those that were penitent only, who had pure faith in God, pure conviction that Jesus was the Christ, received the Holy Ghost and enjoyed some of the gifts thereof; and when Simon the sorcerer saw that they enjoyed this gift, he offered the apostles money, and he said unto them, “Give unto me also this gift that on whomsoever I lay my hands they may receive it also.” And the Apostle Peter, by the authority and power of God which rested upon him, said unto him: “Thy money perish with thee, seeing thou hast thought to buy the gift of God with money. I perceive that thy soul is in the gall of bitterness and sin.”
So it may be said of all the Latter-day Saints. Men have embraced the Gospel, that is, in form. Some have been introduced into the Church formally, but they have dropped by the wayside. We found hundreds of backsliders in the states of Missouri and Illinois, who had embraced the Gospel, many of them in the days of Joseph Smith. Some had received a testimony and sinned against it and became embittered, while others had not received it in sincerity of heart, and they were easily led aside. I want to impress upon the youth that to enjoy this Spirit, we must not only receive it by the ordinances of the Gospel, but we must take a course in life that we can keep it constantly with us. The Spirit of the Lord will not associate with evil in any form. As quoted by Brother Kimball, the Spirit of the Lord will not dwell in unclean temples; and the Apostle Paul felt so impressed with this that on one occasion he said to the Corinthian Saints: “Evil communications corrupt good manners,” and he cautioned them to avoid evil association, to avoid coming in contact with the influences that were of the world. The Savior gave this caution to his disciples, when He said unto them, “Beware of the leaven of the Gentiles.” The young people should understand that the foundation, the stepping stone to Mutual Improvement is the reformation of life. If there is a young man that is guilty of any habit that is contrary to the injunctions of the Gospel, the first step necessary is to lay that aside. Lay aside the habit of smoking cigarettes, lay aside the habit of chewing tobacco, lay aside the habit of swearing and profanity, and Sabbath breaking, and seek unto God in humble prayer for the enjoyment and the impressions of the Holy Spirit.
If we will do that, the Lord will preserve us from scepticism and infidelity. One of the brethren in his remarks spoke about neglecting to read the Scriptures and thereby becoming an easier prey to infidelity. I thought of my own testimony regarding this work, that no matter what might be the skill of the sceptic or the infidel in his efforts to tear down and destroy the standards of Christianity that every young man might feel as I felt myself, that no matter what may be their theory, however plausible may appear their reasoning, I know that this is the work of God, regardless of these things. I know that there is a spirit and a power associated with what they denominate Mormonism that is beyond and above the power and the natural intelligence of man. I have received this testimony. But, in addition to that, my young brethren, we should become so conversant with the principles of truth, and also with the theories, if necessary, that are advanced by the world against the true doctrines of Christ, that we may be able, when under the influence of the Spirit of God, to refute them and show their inconsistency by the light of truth.
I have often been impressed with a few statistics that were published by President John Morgan, several years before his decease. He wrote, I think to the wardens of the penitentiaries at Detroit, and Joliet, Ill., and Sing Sing, New York, and he asked the question of the keepers of those government houses of correction to give him a clear and Truthful statement as to what percentage of the convicts in their respective prisons could read and write; he also wanted to know what percentage of them had an understanding of grammar and rhetoric. When the answers came back, if I remember correctly, they showed that there were fully ninety per cent of all the criminals in those houses of correction that could read and write; and there were some I think seventy-five per cent of them that were quite grammatical in their conversation; a still smaller per cent that had a very good understanding of arithmetic and other branches, and some of them were highly educated. I remember the statement by President Morgan that there was a greater percentage of well educated people in the penitentiary, compared with the whole of the inmates, than there was outside of the prisons as compared with the entire population of the United States. To me this was a great lesson. It was a lesson that impressed me that the mere education of the intellect is not sufficient. Men may understand astronomy, they may understand mathematics, they may be efficient in the beautiful art of music, they may be conversant with law and the science of civil government as it obtains in the nations of the earth, and at the same time they my be corrupt, they may be dishonest men, their motives may be impure in the sight of God.
No man, no matter what may be his natural attainments, if he does not enjoy the Spirit of the living God, if his life is not circumspect, squared by the principles and doctrines of the Son of God, is a well educated Latter-day Saint, he does not enjoy the true light, he is not a safe man to follow. Another striking thing in the history of this work is that when men no matter how prominent they have become have ceased to follow in the counsels of the Prophets of God, or have violated their covenants in any respect, especially if it has been in a serious manner, they have ceased to enjoy the light that comes from the Father. There is one man spoken of in the Book of Mormon in connection with the Prophet Joseph Smith. You know that Nephi prophesied that of the seed of Joseph that was sold into Egypt in the last days, the Lord would raise up a Prophet whose name should be Joseph, and his father’s name should be Joseph; and he said that this Prophet Joseph in the last days should not be mighty in speaking, but he should be mighty in writing the words of the Lord, like unto Moses. And he says, “God will raise up unto him a mouthpiece like unto Aaron.” Now by reading the Doctrine and Covenants, we know who that mouthpiece was. We know the name of that man that enjoyed so much of the Spirit, during his faithfulness, that his tongue was eloquent and powerful; but when he ceased to follow the line of his duty, when he despised the day of small things, when he became lifted up in the pride of his heart, became jealous of his associate, the Prophet, and began step by step to turn aside from the course of rectitude which the Gospel enjoined upon him, that man lost his power, lost his influence; he lost his tongue of eloquence, and went down into oblivion. I heard, many years ago, President George Q. Cannon say that when he was a boy he was present in Nauvoo when that man stood up before a congregation and sought to lay his claims before the people to be the guardian of this Church, and I remember distinctly that President Cannon said, he spoke as he had never heard him speak before, that is, his remarks were characterized by weakness, a lack of power and a loss of what he had previously enjoyed.
These are lessons that ought to be stamped upon the hearts of the young men. Such way-marks are scattered along the path of the history of the Church from the days of the Prophet Joseph until the present time.
It is a testimony of the divine authenticity of this work, that no man has a monopoly on the mercy of God. He may be ever so great in the eyes of the people, he may be ever so prominent in his position in the Holy Priesthood, but he must comply with the conditions, as every man and woman in this Church must do, in order to retain the blessing and the favor of God. No man has a monopoly on the work of God. No man can sin with impunity. No man can turn aside from the path of rectitude, without meeting the consequences which are specified in the Gospel of our Lord and Savior. So, my young brethren, remember this, that while men may become educated in the world, they may become powerful physically, they may become powerful mentally, but until they are educated spiritually and the moral properties of their natures are reached and touched and cultivated, the soul is not educated, for “the spirit and the body is the soul of man.” It is not complete without, and God has provided that in this Church, and in the glorious plan of salvation, the entire soul shall be educated in the ways of truth, and in the knowledge of things that are good and elevating in the sight of God. Remember, therefore, that we should cultivate the Spirit of the Lord in our hearts, and keep it ever as our constant guide. Lay aside everything that would grieve that Spirit, listen to the counsel of the servants of God, heed the warning voice which they have given unto us; and then I testify unto you, that the doctrines of this Church as stated by the Lord to Joseph, the Prophet, will be distilled upon your minds as the dews from heaven, and you will be proof against scepticism and infidelity; and the day will come when the sons and daughters of Zion shall grow up without sin unto salvation. God bless you. Amen.
Abraham Owen Woodruff
Abraham Owen Woodruff
The young who have experience should take an interest in wilful backsliders-Force of example-Potency of prayer-Truth in God.
My brethren and sisters and friends, I have been highly edified this morning and interested in the remarks of the brethren, and I trust that the words which I may be led to utter will not detract any from the interest, from the good feeling and the good things which we have already received.
I believe that there are not a great many young men who have sought for a testimony of Jesus Christ who would not, if called upon, leave all which they have and dedicate their time to the preaching of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ abroad; but how many of us, after returning home from our missions, still take that active interest in the spreading of the truth and the preaching of the Gospel that we did in the missionary field? How many of us will pass by companions and young brethren who, perhaps, have drifted from the way of truth and will never heed them, never seek to bring them back to the path upon which they should walk, and show them an example. We are negligent, I think, my brethren and sisters, in this regard. We will travel hundreds of thousands of miles, perhaps, to preach the Gospel in foreign lands, but, as Brother Kimball has already intimated, we neglect this duty at home. We do not seek as we should do to set examples to our young brethren and sisters and get them to take an active interest in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no doubt as to the undesirable condition existing among some of the young people with whom we are associated in this Church. Still, at the same time, we are more prone to censure them for the evils which are done than we are to show them a way whereby they may escape them.
In preaching the Gospel here at home, I have met with circumstances which taught me that there are parents in this Church who teach their children to keep the Word of Wisdom, and they will go right ahead drinking their tea and coffee; or the father will go on chewing tobacco, or smoking his pipe. At the same time they will, perhaps, tell their children that they should be exemplary, setting a good example to others. We can preach the Gospel especially fathers and mothers-more through example than by precept. If we teach our children while they are young to pray, and if all through their lives they are called upon morning and evening to surround the family altar, they will not depart from that custom of prayer, and they will not lose that faith in God which was instilled into their minds at their mother’s knee and around the family altar, although they may, perhaps, for a time forget these things. They may, perhaps, be mixed with the different elements that are foreign to the Spirit of God, and become neglectful of their duties. Still, sometime in their lives, the better part of man will crop out, and the teachings they have received by the fireside will come to them as a blessing and a support. We are all here to gain experience, as I understand this life. At the same time, how much evil, and how much suffering could be prevented if greater care were taken in preaching the principles of the Gospel at the fireside, and not depending on mere Sunday religion as much as we do. We should, I believe, make the Gospel of Christ a part of our every day life. How many times I have seen the example where children had been taught to pray, that they would grow up and be men and women of prayer, they would have faith in God. Once, while upon my mission, I had a little experience which pleased me very much, in receiving a letter from a sister of mine who resides in this city. She said that during the time that she was writing the letter, her son, then a little over two years old, came to her knee and asked where his uncle was. She replied, “upon a mission.” He said, “a mission is a long time, isn’t it?” She replied, “It will be two or three years.” He says, “well, write uncle in the letter that I pray for him.” This knowledge that I had of the prayer of this little child, and of the prayers of my relatives and dear friends at home, in my behalf, was a greater support to me than almost anything, any knowledge that I had except the knowledge that Jesus was the Christ. I knew that the prayers of those innocent children would be heard. And so it is, the prayers of our relatives and our loved ones, sustain us in any position. But when we return from abroad, perhaps we become negligent, and perhaps those who have been praying for us while abroad forget about us, and think it is not as important to pray for us at home as when we were away. But it is just as important. There are many temptations here in Zion with which we have to battle as well as when we are in the world, because evil will come unto us, but we do not need to give it a resting place in our lives.
I think if the Word of Wisdom were more strictly taught among our people, there would be a good deal less sin; but how can we teach the Word of Wisdom among the people without first teaching them faith in God. You may teach a young man not to smoke tobacco or use stimulants in any way, but if he has not faith in God, you might as well talk to a post as to that young man. He must first have faith in God, and have a hope of a blessing and a reward through obedience to His laws. These are principles which I think at least the young Latter-day Saints should lay to heart.
I think we should seek to keep those commandments which have been given to us. We should seek to keep the Word of Wisdom, because it has been revealed of God, and if we do we are made great promises. We are promised that we shall run and not be weary, and that we shall have health and strength given unto us. I believe if this commandment, the Word of Wisdom, were more strictly observed among the people, there would be less use for the physician or surgeon, that there would be less need for calling in a doctor for every trivial affair than there is today. We are willing to trust to God for the minor matters, but when something confronts us, which appears to be impossible with us, then we will call in human aid, and thereby we show our lack of faith. It is true that all the assistance and all the skill that we can produce is necessary, perhaps, at times to remove the obstacles which lie in the way of nature, and I believe that it is the will of God that we should do all we can for ourselves, and then He will add His blessing. But many times we want to do it all ourselves, and do not want God to do anything at all. In other words, we trust in man more than we do in God. We have seen the example, many times, of people who have put their trust in certain men. We find that if those men fall, that if those men get into darkness, that their followers go with them. But God will never Fall. God is as eternal as the heavens. All who put their trust in God will never fall, if they continue. And we should trust this power, in great things as well as in minor affairs. So I think we should practice more the exercise of faith. I recollect reading in the closing part of the “Voice of Warning” comparisons which Apostle Parley P. Pratt has made between the doctrine taught by the Church of Christ and those held and practiced by the so-called Christian world. I think today that he could line up a great many of those passages on one side, instead of putting them opposite each other. I think we fail in many ways in following the things of God; and things which we have been in the habit of laying to the Christian world, so-called, I think we are practicing them ourselves; and we all know that there is need to perform in our own lives these things in which we believe. We cannot attempt to reform a body of people, or to promote their welfare, without taking an interest in them, and applying the principles to the individual. We can assist each other in doing right. Two men who pledge themselves to their God and seek unitedly to do right are stronger, I believe, in carrying out such a resolve, and they have less difficulty in overcoming wrong. I have often thought that this, perhaps, was the reason why our Lord and Savior commanded His Apostles and Seventies to go out two by two. We find in the case of the Elders in traveling that way, that where at least one of them has implicit faith in God, he is enabled to do a good missionary work in the interest of his companion, at least.
May the blessings of God attend us. May we be zealous in defending that which we know to be good, and in defending the Zion of God. I testify to you, in the name of Jesus, that I have a testimony that what is called Mormonism is the power of God unto salvation unto all who believe and obey. May God bless you, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
Elder J. D. T. Mcallister
Elder J. D. T. Mcallister
I have heard with pleasure the remarks of our brethren who have ministered unto us in this Conference. I have been mellowed in my feelings, and the Spirit of the Lord has been made manifest. I have been especially interested and edified this morning in hearing our young brethren who have been called to the Apostleship. Their words to me were like living fire, to the young and rising generation, and they are true before the Lord, and should be listened to, not only by our young people but by those also who are further advanced in life. We are here to do the Father’s will. We are here to promote His cause. We are here to help mankind, and get them above the groveling ways that they have fallen into, and cause their minds and all that is within them to soar aloft and to receive more of that life that reaches into immortality, eternal life, and to enjoy the full blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the ordinances of the house of God, for therein we have blessings for this life and the life to come. Therein we learn of His ways, we learn to walk in His paths. We receive that power and blessing, and the keys that are necessary to enable us to understand and comprehend His will, His mind, and His word. To do this, we listen to the sweet whisperings of His Spirit, to the counsels of His servants who are ministering in the authority of the holy Priesthood. I honor these men, because they honor God, and He honors them, because of their faithfulness and their diligence, untiring in their work and labor, ministering day and night for the good of this people. I feel to cherish them and hold them up before God, our Eternal Father, that His choice blessings may be upon them continually. It warms and cheers my heart to see our venerable President here with us, and so well; and I have seen him so sick, and almost near to death, raised up by the power of God and the good acts of his brethren. I am getting along a little bit in years. I have seen the travails of these men and their sacrifices for the good of this people, and I feel to bless them. I feel that within me which says, God bless these men, and if you so desire, say amen. (General response by the audience of Amen). That is the way I feel about it. Peace be unto you and to all Israel, to all who love the truth, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Church Schools and Religion Classes.
President George Q. Cannon made the following presentation in relation to the Church schools and religion classes:
During the school year 1896-7, there were open
High schools 3
Of these there were located
In Utah 8
In Idaho 4
In Mexico 1
The teachers therein numbered 105, teaching 2,938 pupils in 702 classes.
Of these pupils 117 were not members of the Church, while 84 had not yet been baptized. Of these in the Church 168 held the Melchizedek and 1,012 the Aaronic Priesthood.
Religion Class Report.
Reports have been received from classes in 86 wards in 11 different Stakes. These reports show:
Brother Maeser has visited 23 Stakes in the interest of the religion classes.
The choir sang the anthem,
From afar, gracious Lord,
Thou hast gathered Thy flock.
Benediction by Elder Brigham Young.
Singing by the choir and congregation of the hymn which commences:
Come, come, ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear,
But with joy wend your way;
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace will be as your day.
Prayer by Elder Elias H. Blackburn.
The choir sang:
O, my Father, Thou that dwellest
In the high and glorious place!
When shall I regain Thy presence
And again behold Thy face?
Third Day-Afternoon Session
Third Day-Afternoon Session
Elder Seymour B. Young
Elder Seymour B. Young
A visit to the Irrigation Congress-Old land-marks-The Missionary field.
My brethren and sisters, I was informed this afternoon when I first came into the building, that the brethren with whom I associate in the Council of the Seventies had had the honor and privilege of speaking this forenoon; so I thought that they had done my part as well as theirs. Nevertheless, I acknowledge that I am honored to stand before you in this vast assembly, and if I do not have the Spirit of the Lord to impress me with something to say, my standing here will have been in vain; for without that influence that comes from the Holy Spirit, as was truly said here yesterday, no man can edify this vast congregation.
I had the pleasure of visiting the Irrigation congress in the town of Lincoln, Nebraska. That is the town where the state prison is located, where my fellow laborer, Brother George Reynolds, was kept in durance vile for a short time for the Gospel’s sake. I did not know the exact cell that he occupied, or I should have visited it. But I rejoice, for more than one reason, for the privilege of visiting the city of Lincoln. It lies about fifty miles from the main line of the Union Pacific, which is located on the old Pioneer road on which Brigham Young and his Pioneer band traveled on their way to Salt Lake valley fifty years ago. As I journeyed over the Plains, I could locate many old camping places that we used to stop at during our transit across these arid regions by mule and ox teams, years before the railroad was established.
During our session of the Irrigation congress, no person from Idaho, or from Arizona, said anything about irrigation, and that was the avowed theme that we all expected to talk about, read about and write about during the congress. There seems to be an idea that irrigation started somewhere in the state of Ohio. I am not really informed as to whether they associate that fact (which is not a fact, however,) with the original home of the Mormons in that state. Then they drift along the lines into Nebraska; and one of their foremost publications, after the coming congress had been located at the city of the plains, known as Cheyenne, published an item on the following morning to the effect that it was a great mistake to hold the Irrigation congress at Cheyenne; it ought to have been located at Chicago, the central place of the irrigation district, Cheyenne being on the extreme western limit of that district. The western portion of the congress unitedly favored Cheyenne for the coming season, where the congress will no doubt be held, as it was so decided by the congress; and I believe that some idea of the irrigation system and the plan by which the pioneers and their followers were so successful in wringing bread and other necessaries of life from the desert region upon which they located, will no doubt be more fully understood or at least discussed in that congress. We had a very pleasant time, however, and were greeted with great kindness and shown great respect, not only by the members of that congress, but by the citizens of Lincoln. The governor gave us a reception and ball the evening after my arrival, in which we were greeted and feted to our heart’s content. Nebraska’s people are something like our own people: they evinced by their language and by their hearty welcome accorded to us the true western hospitality.
While there I hunted up the missionary headquarters of the Nebraska conference, and visited with the sister who keeps the house and four of the Elders who are located in that district. I enjoyed myself very much in this association. I was invited very cordially to remain over a few days and attend their conference; but I had a kind of longing to be present at this greater gathering, and on that account, and some others of minor importance, I hurried home.
I rejoice because I have a testimony to bear of the truth of the Gospel and of the organization of the Holy Priesthood upon the earth, and seeing so many of my brethren and sisters together this afternoon who, like myself, have the testimony and the witness for God in their hearts and shining through their countenances. By the spirit which is in the house, I judge that you have come together for the purpose of being fed and strengthened and built up in your most holy faith. I rejoice that we have had a great celebration during the Twenty-fourth of July and the days previous. A great deal of information concerning this people has been scattered abroad throughout this continent, especially the western and the eastern states, through representatives which they had here newspaper reporters and publishers, and prominent men during that celebration; and the fame of the Latter-day Saints will continue to spread over the land.
A gentleman asked me, during a recess of the congress, how many Elders we had in the missionary field. I told him that we had something more than twelve hundred at this present time. He said it would almost seem incredible that the Mormon people, so small in numbers as they were and so isolated as they had been for many years from their neighbors upon the East, could possibly have so many Elders in the field preaching the tenets of their faith. But I assured him it was a fact. He asked me how they were traveling, and how they were supported from day to day. I informed him that many of them traveled as did the ancient disciples and Apostles of the Lord Jesus, without purse and without scrip, trusting in the kindness of the people and in the spirit that prompted them, to win the hearts of those among whom they traveled, that they might be ministered unto, and be fed and clothed. The gentleman said that this was another feature of the disciples who associated with our Lord and Savior in His ministry, and one that was worthy of commendation in any religious denomination, and one which he thought was calculated to try the faith of those who traveled in this condition. I said that it did not require the wealth of great religious denominations, or the wealth of individuals, to spread the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ; that one living witness, with a testimony of the truth in his heart, could go forth and win his way among the people, and preach the Gospel to thousands; and the few that would embrace these principles, in their turn became witnesses for God; and the Gospel was continuously spread in this manner. Granting that to be true, said he, how much greater is your chance for spreading the Gospel with twelve hundred missionaries constantly in the field.
I bear witness that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God; that the organization of the Holy Priesthood is correct and true today, and after the ancient pattern; and that if we are faithful to the truth and to the trust committed to us, we shall not fail of salvation; for the Lord has promised it to us, and He never fails. God bless you, my brethren and sisters, and increase your faith and your power to do good, is my prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Elder Charles W. Penrose
Elder Charles W. Penrose
God is with His people-The Purpose for Church he has Gathered them-A Mission for All-No Work done for the Dead will be in Vain-The Earth and its Inhabitants to be Redeemed.
I have greatly enjoyed this Conference. It has seemed to me that the Spirit of the Lord has been poured out in great abundance upon the speakers and upon the hearers. At every meeting which we have held we have received valuable instruction, and the testimonies that have been borne to us concerning the work of God have been prompted and inspired by the Holy Spirit, and all the proceedings of this Conference have been joyful to me. I thank the Lord, in the midst of the congregation, that I have been permitted to be present and to enjoy the good spirit which has been poured out upon us.
I also have a testimony to bear concerning this great work, and feel willing now, as I always have felt ever since I joined the Church in my boyhood, to bear that testimony, in public or in private, when called upon so to do. I know that this work is the work of the Lord. I know that God has been with His people from the organization of the Church to the present day. I know that His Spirit was not only with His servant Joseph, whom He called to lay the foundation of this work, but that it has been with those who have succeeded him. They have been prophets, seers and revelators, and the Lord has been with them. This work has not been built up by the power of man, by the learning of this world, by the riches and influence that come from the world, but it has been by the power of God. And I rejoice to know that that power is still with His servants and with His people, and that, notwithstanding our many failings and weaknesses and shortcomings some of which have been pointed out during this Conference we are the people of the Lord; that He has gathered us from afar from the east and the west, and the north and the south, and has brought us up here into these chambers of the mountains, that we may build up Zion, that we may help to establish righteousness in the earth, that we may be witnesses for God and for the truth in the midst of an unbelieving generation. I feel very thankful in my soul for the testimony of Jesus which has been planted in my heart through obedience to the Gospel. God gave me this witness when I was a boy, when I came out from my friends and my associates and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He put His Spirit into my heart, and I thank God that it has never departed from me. The Lord has been with me, as with the rest of His servants, in traveling in the ministry; and I have seen His power made manifest in various ways. While I have been in this Conference, my mind has reverted to many things that occurred in my history in connection with the Church in the past, and in all these things I have had cause to rejoice, and to thank and praise the Lord.
God has brought us here, my brethren and sisters, to these mountains not merely to gather around us the things of this world, to make us happy and comfortable temporally; but He has called us here with a mission to build up Zion, to publish the Gospel of peace to all nations, to gather His people, to establish His kingdom, to prepare the way for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and all the promises which God has made to us will be fulfilled. Every word that has been spoken under the influence of His Spirit by His servants will come to pass. The blessings pronounced upon our heads when we were confirmed into the Church; the blessings promised to us by the Patriarchs when they laid their hands upon our heads and blessed us; the blessings promised to us in the House of the Lord every word will be fulfilled; not one thing will fall to the ground. We may fail, and fall by the way, through our own follies and our own transgressions, and our own weaknesses and shortcomings; but the work of God and the word of God will abide forever, and the kingdom and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heavens will, as the prophet predicted, be given to the people of the Saints of the Most High a people whom Christ will have prepared for His coming.
We should take to heart the counsels which we have received while we have been gathered in this glorious Conference, and carry them home with us, and, if our families have not been present, teach them to our households. The brethren who have come from distant points, who bear the Holy Priesthood, should carry home with them the spirit of this Conference and the teachings that have been given, and disseminate these things among the people, that the fire which has been kindled upon this altar may be taken to every part of the land of Zion, and the hearts of the righteous be made to rejoice. I know that it is a good thing for us to be in perfect harmony with those who preside over us in the Holy Priesthood the officers in our wards, and in our Stakes, and with the Presidency and Apostles of the Church. The mind and will of the Lord is with them, and when we are in harmony with them we shall be in harmony with the powers that are on high. This is what God desires to accomplish on the earth to bring a people to Him who shall be in harmony with Him, in whom His Spirit can have free course and be glorified; a people who shall be sensitive to the whisperings and operations of His divine Spirit flowing down from His presence. For He designs to regenerate and redeem the earth upon which we stand; and we, His people, whom He has gathered from afar, are to be the instruments in His hands of bringing about this great work. The earth is to be redeemed, and all the inhabitants thereof; and our mission on earth is to labor with the Lord for the accomplishment of this purpose. And this should be first and foremost with us. All other things should be put aside as subordinate. Not that we need to cease from our exertions to make ourselves happy and comfortable with the things that come from the earth not by any means; but that these should be consecrated to the Lord; that all our efforts, all our exertions, should be with a view to building up Zion and establishing His glorious purposes in the earth; that we may help to save the sons and daughters of Adam those that are living on the earth and those that have passed away and gone behind the veil.
This is our work. To this God has called us. This is what we are here for. This is why we have been sent from the courts on high our first birthplace-down on the earth. We are the children of God, and the Lord has called us to dwell on the earth in the later days, that we might work for Him and bring about this glorious purpose-the redemption of the earth and the inhabitants thereof. We are to preach the Gospel; we are to gather Israel; we are to go into the houses that have been prepared, to minister in behalf of our dead, that they may be redeemed. And we need not think that anything we do there will fail, or be done for naught. It will all count. I have heard people say, “How do we know that the persons we are baptized for in the House of the Lord will ever have any benefit from our administrations? We do not know whether they will receive the Gospel. We do not know whether they will repent. Are we not working in the dark?” Not at all. The Lord has promised that the time shall come when “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ, to the glory of God the Father.” So, then, our works performed vicariously in the House of God our work for our dead at some time will count. It will not be thrown away, if our friends who have gone before us into the spirit world do not immediately obey the Gospel. The time will come when they will be glad to receive it, and then the ordinances performed for them will stand to their good. As the Prophet Joseph declared, when he wrote on this subject, that which is recorded on the earth is recorded in the heavens, and though the books on the earth might be burned we shall find that a record is kept on high, and that in the heavenly archives the names of those who have been baptized for, and those who are baptized for them, will be written and will stand to the credit of those for whom these services have been performed. So that our work for our dead will abide and will stand, and the time will come when every one who is administered for will rejoice and be thankful that some good friend or relative has been in the House of the Lord on earth and ministered in his or her behalf.
This is a great work we are engaged in, and no tongue can tell its magnitude. When our minds begin to open concerning it, we feel as though we could talk for a year about it, and then we could not tell all about it. It comprehends the salvation of all that can be saved on earth, the living and the dead; and then the redemption of the earth itself, its purification, its sanctification, that it may be brought up among the ransomed and redeemed worlds, and shine in its own glory, being graced with the presence of its eternal Creator, where the ransomed of the Lord shall walk in white, where perfect harmony shall abound, and where every soul living shall praise the Lord, in the earth, around the earth, and under it, and in the sea, and all things that pertain to it will be filled with praise, with joy, and with glorious life. This is the work we are engaged in. We are called to this, my brethren.
Now then, let us lay this to heart.
Let us be stirred up in our souls in regard to this great work that God has called us to. Not only has He called the Prophets and Apostles and leaders of the Church, but every man and every woman and every child born in Zion. We are all called with a holy calling. We are the Lord’s people, and He has put this work upon us, and it is for us to do it. If we do, great shall be our joy, and eternal shall be our reward. You need not think that any good you do escapes the notice of Him on high, who shall be our Judge. Our acts are recorded. God understands us. He knows the motives that move us in our souls. He knows the intents of our hearts. And though we may sometimes misjudge each other, we shall not be misjudged by the Almighty. He understands us, and He knows our failings, our weaknesses and our shortcomings. Now, let us see to it that we keep in view continually that we are God’s people, that we must be different from the world, that God has called us out of the world, that we may be His people, and His servants, to build up Zion, to establish righteousness, to bring about all things pre-that are past. For, these are the times that are past. For these are the times of the restitution of all things; this is the time for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Elder Brother; this is the work preparatory to His coming.
Now, let us unite in spirit. Let us put away from ourselves all things that offend, everything contrary to the genius and spirit of the Gospel and to the counsel and direction of the Lord; and let us look for light and intelligence to the sources that God Almighty has put in His Church for that purpose. I have been very much startled, quite recently, to know of people who are opposing certain movements simply because they understand that the leading authorities of the Church want them. Just think of that now for a moment! The idea of men, holding the Priesthood too, opposing a thing because they believe that the authorities of the Church want it! What condition of mind must they be in?
Brethren and sisters, let us take to heart the counsels that we have received in this Conference, and carry home the spirit with us. Let us remember that God Almighty has established an order in His Church the order of the Holy Priesthood for the guidance of His people, that they may be one. They cannot be one unless they unite on this principle; and His Spirit will not be in their hearts to harmonize and unite them except they listen to the guides that God has placed to lead them in the path of life. These are important things. I know the time was in the Church when every man desired with his whole heart to find out what was wanted of the Lord through His servants, and then he desired to accomplish it. That should be the spirit dwelling in our hearts today. Do we not need guidance now as much as we ever did? Do we not need the hand of the Lord to lead us along and take us out of our difficulties our financial troubles, our labor troubles, these social difficulties that are around us as well as around the world? I say we do. We need the light of the Lord, the voice of the Lord; and God has placed in His Church, just as much today as He did anciently, “Apostles and Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers, for the work of the ministry, for the perfecting of the Saints, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” If God has anything to reveal to this people as a Church, He will reveal it through the head, through the man that He has placed to hold the keys; and He will bless all His servants who are Prophets, Seers and Revelators with the spirit of their calling, if we uphold and sustain them, not only by our faith and our prayers, but by our works.
I desire with all my heart to be faithful and true to the Gospel, to endure to the end of my earthly career; and then I know I shall be safe when I get on the other side. I desire to do all I can while I breathe the breath of life to build up this glorious work. I know of nothing that a man could be engaged in that is worth as much. My whole soul was in the Church when I came into it; I feel glad that I am the same today; that my heart is set to help to build up the kingdom of God in any way that my services can be available. I thank God for the testimony of the truth. I thank God for the spirit that has been present at this Conference. I thank God that He has given me this witness, and I desire to serve Him and keep His commandments, and to aid others in doing so to the extent of my ability. May God bless this people, and may Zion grow and increase and spread abroad, and become the joy of the whole earth. I know that God will redeem His people. I know that Eden will bloom again. I know that Paradise will be restored. I know that Satan will be bound, with all his hosts, and that this earth, and the children of men that belong to it, will come forth from darkness and death, each in his place and time and season; and God will save His children, and He will glorify those who labor for righteousness, and crown them with eternal life and everlasting joy. God help us to be faithful, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
President George Q. Cannon
President George Q. Cannon
Mission of the Saints-How Satan will be bound-Approaching Judgments-Wickedness of the world-Cleansing process in progress-Who are the children of God?-The Spirit of Revelation with the Church-Return of the Ten Tribes.
The hopes and anticipations of the Latter-day Saints are probably different from those of any other people in Christendom, if not in the world. We are looking forward, as Elder Penrose has said, to the time when primitive conditions will be restored; when we shall have paradise on earth, when Eden will be restored to the earth, when Satan will be bound, when a reign of righteousness will be ushered in, when sin will be burnished from the face of the earth, when what has been termed Millennial glory will be ushered in. We anticipate that this will be brought about not entirely by the Lord’s intervention, but by man, directed by the Lord, laboring to accomplish these results. I do not know any other people on the face of the earth who indulge in these anticipations, or who expect these results to be brought about in the manner in which we do. It is generally thought that will be done by the manifestations of God’s power, independent almost of human agency and effort; but we have been taught that we are the children of God, and that He works out His results by aiding His children, teaching them, and having them exercise their agency in the direction that He points out. This being the case, we should take to heart the instructions we have received, and realize that the Lord has given unto us a mission, and that we are called upon to exert our utmost abilities to accomplish the ends that have been predicted. I think if all of us would do this, and feel that the accomplishment of these results depends upon us, individually as well as collectively, it would have the effect to stimulate us and to stir us up to great diligence. I believe that those of us who will not labor to accomplish these ends will be removed from the midst of the Latter-day Saints. I do not believe that people can stay in this Church, as the end approaches, and remain inactive, indolent, indifferent, and sinful. God has called us to do this work; and when He calls men, as we have seen, to go on missions to accomplish certain results in the preaching of the Gospel, if they do not labor in that mission as they should do, He takes His Spirit from them. So also, having this great mission assigned to us, and it being made incumbent upon us, and having received charge concerning it, if we do not seek to accomplish that mission, the Lord will withdraw His Holy Spirit from us. He will not permit us to go on and live lives of indifference and sinfulness in regard to His work. It is individual salvation that is to be accomplished. If I am saved, and if Satan is bound as far as I am concerned, it must be by my doing that which God requires at my hands. God will not take away from me my agency. If I am determined to listen to Satan and to be influenced by his spirit, He will suffer me, in the exercise of my agency, to do that. But I must take the consequences of thus doing. We see that illustrated in the history of Abel and Cain. Cain loved Satan more than God and he listened to him; he became the servant of Satan, to the extent of doing that which he required of him. Now, he could have done otherwise; he could have done as Abel did; but he chose to do differently, and he had to endure the consequences of his conduct.
We talk about Satan being bound. Satan will be bound by the power of God; but he will be bound also by the determination of the people of God not to listen to him, not to be governed by him. The Lord will not bind him and take his power from the earth while there are men and women willing to be governed by him. That is contrary to the plan of salvation. To deprive men of their agency is contrary to the purposes of our God. There was a time on this continent, of which we have an account, when the people were so righteous that Satan did not have power among them. Nearly four generations passed away in righteousness. They lived in purity, and died without sin. That was through their refusal to yield to Satan. It is not recorded that Satan had no power in other parts of the earth during that period. According to all history that we have in our possession, Satan had the same power over men who were willing to listen to him. But in this land he did not have power, and he was literally bound. I believe that this will be the case in the millennium; and I reason upon it as I do upon that happy condition that is described in the record of which I speak. I expect that before Satan is fully bound the wicked will be destroyed. You are familiar with the history which the Book of Mormon gives of that period. There was a great destruction among the people. The Lord visited them in a most terrible manner. Dreadful calamities fell upon them, and the wicked were literally wiped out, just as much as the antediluvian world was wiped out by the flood. That wicked generation was completely extirpated, and those only were left who were righteous. I look forward to the same kind of destructions preceding the glorious events that will take place in the near future. The earth will be visited by fire. President Smith yesterday told us that “he that is tithed shall not be burned (at His coming.”) I believe that there will be literal fire come upon the earth, and calamities and destructions of so universal a character that the earth will be burned, so to speak, so that there will be but few men left. If the covering could be taken off our city, and of the cities of the world I would not compare our city to many; but even if it were taken off our city, we who are here today would be appalled at the sight. The abominations and secret wickedness that are practiced among the nations are intruding themselves among us. Unspeakable practices are creeping in. They are varied in character. If we spoke of them at all, we would have to disguise their abominable character. In our own nation, and in the nations of the earth, there is a condition of things that, if we knew of it, would appall us. Let me allude to one instance.
In England a short time ago a man who had posed in society as a man of culture and of taste, and who lectured upon esthetics, was found to be guilty of a most abominable crime a crime for which under the old law the penalty was death; a crime which was practiced by the nations of old, and caused God to command their destruction and extirpation. This crime was proved against this man, and some of his associates were what are called noblemen. He was sent to prison. His term of imprisonment having expired, he comes from prison, and is now engaged, it is so published, in writing a book, and, we suppose is received into society, though guilty of this nameless crime. And is this common; If we may believe that which is told to us, without going into researches ourselves, it and other kindred wickedness, is far too common. The same sin that caused the utter destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah! This and other abominable crimes are being practiced. How will these be stopped? Only by the destruction of those who practice them. Why, if a little nest of them were left that were guilty of these things, they would soon corrupt others, as some are being corrupted among us. In coming to these mountains we hoped to find a place where we could live secluded from the abominations of Babylon. But here in this secluded place wickedness intrudes itself, and is practiced in this land which we have dedicated to the Lord as a land of Zion! How can this be stopped? Not while those who have knowledge of these filthy crimes exist. The only way, according to all that I can understand as the word of God, is for the Lord to wipe them out, that there will be none left to perpetuate the knowledge of these dreadful practices among the children of men. And God will do it, as sure as He has spoken by the mouths of His prophets. He will destroy the wicked, and those who will be left will be like the Nephites after the wicked were all killed off; they were righteous men and women who lived for over two hundred years according to the law of heaven.
The duty that devolves upon us is to live pure ourselves, and to have our children live lives of purity. There is too much looseness among us. Much as we are taught concerning virtue, we occasionally hear of acts that cause us the greatest pain young people indulging in unvirtuous actions; children born two, three, and four months earlier than they should be. It is an extraordinary condition that the first children of some marriages are born sometimes five months and even less after marriage. This is an evidence of something very wrong. And this is not all. We cannot tell what is done in secret. This is made public, because the evidence of sin comes to light and cannot be concealed without the commission of more hideous crime. And this among a people such as we are! It is a disgrace to us. Yet much of it is due to our neglect. Fathers and mothers do not pay that attention to their children, to their habits and their associations, that they should do. If they watched them with care, and enquired of them where they went and with whom they associated, and threw safeguards around them, such things would not happen. There are conditions of society, even among other nations, where such things are very uncommon, because of the habits of the people. Fathers and mothers guard their daughters with the greatest circumspection and vigilance. France is one of those nations. Although France is said to be a corrupt nation, the daughters of the people are watched and their association with the other sex is guarded so that nothing of this kind scarcely ever happens. But with us there is too much familiarity between the sexes. It is wrong; it leads to bad results. The commission of sin makes lives of unhappiness. No woman can forget the trespass of her husband, and no man can ever forget his own sin. It is painful through life for them to think about. We should, as a people, guard against these things. All sorts of evils are introducing themselves. We have men here with whom a woman can no more be trusted than she could be in the den of a wolf and men of respectable appearance, and who act as though they might be gentlemen. Parents would be as safe in trusting a daughter to a wild beast as to one of them. This class of men prey upon the other sex, and have brought themselves to think that it is neither sinful nor wrong. They destroy virtue wherever they can, and take pride in it. They do not believe there need be any virtue among men, and all women whom they can induce to comply with their wishes they view as their lawful prey. And these people come among us, and consort with us! Our young men, too, consort with them, and some of them take lessons from them. We have heard lately of an occurrence of this character that has stirred our souls to the very center.
When will these things end? When God visits the wicked with His Judgments, as He will do. Then these practices and the wicked and the knowledge of their wickedness, will be destroyed. Then, I hope, the filthy details and the exact forms and methods of these abominations will be kept secret, as the Prophet Alma counseled his son Helaman concerning the secret oaths and covenants of the Jaredites, that had come down from the days of Master Mahan, of whom we read in the new translation, and who was the head of that secret organization that banded themselves together to commit murders and works of darkness. Alma said to Helaman:
“Therefore ye shall keep these secret plans of their oaths and their covenants from this people, and only their wickedness, and their murders, and their abominations, shall ye make known unto them; and ye shall teach them to abhor such wickedness, and abominations, and murders; and ye shall also teach them, that these people were destroyed on account of their wickedness, and abominations, and their murders.”
So, I trust, it will be with us. The knowledge of the wicked and their destruction will be preserved in our midst; but the abomination and the wickedness itself will be concealed from human knowledge, so that wickedness may be abolished in the earth, and the reign of righteousness be ushered in.
My brethren and sisters, in talking in this strain I am not indulging in any theory. I do not wish to deal in the least exaggeration concerning conditions that exist. My duties have called me to mingle with the world considerably; but I have avoided knowledge of things that were open to me if I had chosen to look at them or to enquire about them. Notwithstanding this, it has been impossible for me to avoid knowing considerable about many wicked practices, and how little of sin is attached to them by the people of the world. It is this that is the fearful feature in society. Men may seduce; men may be guilty of vileness; men may get disreputable names for their association with the other sex; and yet society will receive them and condone their offenses; in fact, it has seemed to me sometimes as though men of this character, with a certain class of women, were more attractive than pure, modest, diffident men. They seem to think more of them because of the fame they have achieved in their conquests of virtue. But a poor girl that falls in such a way, she is trampled in the dust and becomes a lost soul! And her own sex, while admiring the seducer and receiving him into their society, will frequently be the most fierce and vehement in their denunciations of their poor sister who has fallen by the wiles and seductive influences of the man. Now, all this is wrong. Yet this feeling is among us to some extent, also. Men ought to be held, and I believe the Lord does hold them in such cases, to a far stricter accountability than he does women. The woman has her own passions to contend against; but when she has the man’s importunities added to these, shall not the woman be viewed with mercy, and be looked upon differently to that vile creature who, possessed of strength and power, adds his importunities to her weakness and overcomes her, and makes her the victim of his unholy lust? I say, Yes, Yes! Such men will be damned; and if there is any deeper damnation than another, they will be consigned to it.
Now, if we want our generations to live in the earth, and to have them go down through the thousand years; if we want to have representatives among the children of men during that happy period, we have to lay the foundation for that now. As we have been told during this Conference, the day of the Lord cometh: it is near at hand; and if we and our children live, it will be because we try to be pure. No generation from this time forth can live for any length of time unless they are pure; for God has said it, and His word does not return unfulfilled. Even now you can see how this Church is being cleansed as we go along. Look at the families that we have known in the Church, and see how they are being thinned out, just as though we were passing through a sifting machine. And when we see how few of those whom we have known have clung to the iron rod and maintained their faith, we are led to ask, who then can be saved? Then how many families there are who, after the death of the father and mother, are not numbered among the Saints of God! This is a cleansing process which is going on, and it will continue to go on more and more, because we are advancing. The Lord will hold us to a stricter accountability than He ever has done, because we have more light, and because of the near approach of the end. The end does approach, and the Lord Jesus will come in the clouds of heaven, as has been predicted, and He will reign on the earth, and over a pure people. His people will be cleansed and made pure by the destruction of the wicked and the preservation of the righteous. That is the reason every wise man and woman observes the Word of Wisdom. They want to live and be preserved when these calamities and judgments shall sweep through the earth. We ought not to have to preach it for a minute among a people such as we are. Every man and woman should be determined to keep that Word, that they may have the blessing, that they and their children may live and not be killed with pestilence and sickness. Such persons will desire every child of theirs to avoid violating the counsel of God in these things. They will also say, besides observing the Word of Wisdom: “I want to pay my tithing. I expect there will be a burning some day, and I want to be preserved when the day of burning comes. I want to keep the law that will bring the fulfillment of the promises of God.” Should not we here in this year 1897, live in this way?
Many have supposed that by this time the Lord would have come in His glory. He has not yet come in that manner. But He is coming, and His coming is near at hand. Therefore, we should each endeavor to live so that we shall be prepared for His coming; we should prepare the way by keeping His commandments and living so that Satan will be hound, so far as we and our families are concerned. It is incumbent upon us that we should live this way; for the Lord will not, I can assure you (I speak having knowledge upon this point), always bear with us. Elders cannot wear themselves out as they have done in the past, and as they are still doing, in preaching the word of God to this people, and the Lord not hold the people accountable for their disobedience, if they reject that word. The Lord will have a pure people. He will have a people whose hearts are changed.
Some religious societies, you know, believe altogether in faith as the only essential to salvation. On the other hand, I have heard some of our Elders go to the other extreme and almost look upon work as being all that is necessary, because of the saying of James. But the word of God which we have teaches us that we must be born again, and our hearts must be changed, and every evil desire crushed out. Our whole natures should be changed by the operations of the Spirit of God and the principles of the Gospel. I think it was Brother Cowley who spoke concerning some apostates whom they found while laboring in the mission field in Missouri. When they belonged to the Church they had not received and enjoyed the Spirit of God. There are some probably here today who have never had their hearts changed, never had new desires, never been converted from their old desires, and the “old man” is with them still. There have been people whom, probably, we have all known, who would cheat, and lie, and get drunk, and do other evil things, just as much as if they never had been brought into the Church of Christ. Are these the children of God? No; God does not own such people. When men and women join the Church in sincerity, they repent of their sins, and they have new desires. The desire to do evil is taken from them. The Spirit of God will not dwell in a man that has evil desires and does not try to quench them. We as a people should seek to be converted in this respect, if we have not been. If we are as wicked and have as wicked inclinations since our baptism and our association with the Church as we had before, then we need to be converted and be born again.
We hear a good deal of talk about re-baptism, and the First Presidency and the Twelve have felt that so much re-baptism ought to be stopped. Men, when they commit sin, think if they can only get the Bishop to re-baptize them, they are all right and their sins are condoned. It is a fallacy; it will lead to destruction. There is no such thing in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is repentance from sin that will save you, not re-baptism. If you have been baptized, then, if you commit sin, repent of the sin, confess it, and make the confession as broad as the knowledge of the sin; confess it to your brethren and sisters, and ask their forgiveness: and do not imagine that when you commit sin you can slip into the waters of baptism and you are all right again. Do not delude yourselves, brethren and sisters. Sinners, be not deceived by such a fallacy. Something more than this is necessary. We need to repent of our sins, and to confess them to God. We need to come before the Lord with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and before the Church with the spirit of confession. We should not be afraid to confess our sins; for there is no man among us that is not a sinner. Of course, there are different degrees of sin, and there is a difference in the degrees; but no man or woman, in listening to the confession of another, need pride himself or herself and say, “I am not a sinner. Here is this poor creature, a sinner; oh, how I pity him!” If we come to God in humility, He will show unto us our sins, and our imperfections, and our faults; and we will feel merciful to our brethren and sisters who, like ourselves, are weak and erring. We will be full of pity for them, and we will forgive them. This is the feeling that should exist in every bosom when men and women who commit sin come and confess their sins and are humble and contrite. When Latter-day Saints hear such things, there is a feeling of pity wells up in their hearts, and their souls overflow with sympathy, and they say, “Yes, yes, we’ll forgive you, and we’ll try and forget all about it. Go on, dear brother, (or sister) repent, and do better from this time forward, and we will give you our faith and prayers.” That is the way Saints should feel when their brethren and sisters commit sin and repent of it.
The Lord, also, is moved with compassion; the angels are moved with mercy and sympathy; and the Lord Jesus, who stands as a Mediator between our Father and ourselves, is filled with compassion for His brethren and sisters when they commit sin and repent of it. Oh! all heaven is moved by the repentance of a sinner, and stirred up with a desire to help the poor creature who confesses his sins and repents truly and sincerely.
Brethren and sisters, now that this Conference is drawing to a close, let us endeavor to profit by the teachings we have heard. I have been gladdened during this Conference over one thing. I believe the nomination of the two brethren who are appointed to fill the vacancies in the quorum of the Apostles came as a surprise to the community, if not to the Saints. I have not seen what the papers have said at different times; but I understand they have been picking and choosing and mentioning the name of every man that is at all conspicuous in the Church, as likely to be chosen. It is evident that the Lord did not tell them anything. Since these names were presented yesterday I have had several come to me and tell me that the Lord had revealed to them that these men would be chosen. One man said to me that last April, when they were presenting the names of the authorities in the Stake to which he belongs, it was made manifest to him that Matthias F. Cowley would be one of the Twelve Apostles. He said so to his companions, and told them to write it down, as it would be fulfilled. Several instances of this kind have come to my knowledge. I have not mingled much with the people, because we have been so busy; but I have been gratified beyond expression to learn from these instances that the Lord is a God of revelation, not to the First Presidency and the Twelve alone, but that the Latter-day Saints as a people have the spirit of revelation. It is a blessed thing to live in an age when God reveals His mind and will to those who seek for it. It is not always that we have everything told to us; but when we want to get light upon any subject, the Lord has provided the way. He is a God that hears and answers prayers. He does not conceal Himself. I am thankful that we are not as Israel was in the days of Elijah. The prophets of Baal cried aloud, jumped upon their altar, cut themselves with knives, and indulged in all sorts of extravagances to reach the ear of their god, while Elijah taunted them and said, perhaps he was asleep or had gone on a journey. That is the condition of the world to a great extent. I speak this without intending any disrespect, because there are just as good people in the world as we are; but I say it because there is no revelation among them, nor any idea that it can be obtained, and therefore, men call in vain when they do call; though there are honest souls who believe the Lord will hear their prayers, and whom He does hear. When the Prophet Elijah called our God heard and answered him. So it is with this Church. It is the Church of Jesus Christ, and when its members call upon God they get revelation from God, according to their faith and diligence and the responsibility that rests upon them. As I said last night at the Priesthood meeting, there has never been one minute since this Church was organized that it has been destitute of the knowledge of God and the voice of God. The will of God could be obtained; it has been obtained. And the Church will never be left without it. The authority is in the Church to lead it, as Brother Reynolds said. The angels and herds of dispensations that have been upon the earth have come and restored the keys they held and bestowed them upon the Prophet Joseph Smith; and he sealed them upon the Apostles. The same authority, the same keys, the same power that had been conferred upon him, he transmitted in their fullness to the Twelve Apostles. In this way the keys and that authority have been preserved pure and in the fullness of their power on the earth, and are here in the midst of this people. In this respect we stand at the head.
It is written that the ten tribes will come forth from the north country, and they will come here to those who hold the keys in this dispensation, to receive the blessings they do not have themselves. Here is Ephraim, and Ephraim holds the keys. The ten tribes are there, but the authority to hold the keys is here. God is doing a mighty work among the nations of the earth, unknown to us to a great extent. Powerful agencies are operating under His direction in all the nations, to bring to pass the fulfillment of His designs. While this is all going on, and we may seem only like a little handful in the midst of the millions of the earth, here in the midst of this people the authority is held which God recognizes, and here are the keys by which the purposes of God will be fulfilled. All that has been spoken by the mouths of the holy Prophets will be accomplished. There will be a highway cast up; the ten tribes will return, and they will come to the children of Ephraim to receive their blessings.
There is everything, therefore, to encourage us. Let us live so that we shall be heirs and recipients of these great blessings. Let us endeavor to have our families live so that we shall be prepared for the coming of the Lord; that we will not listen to Satan, that our children will turn a deaf ear to his persuasions, and that we ourselves will set them the example; that we will teach them to remember, above all things, to never commit any sin that will cause them to lose their standing in the Church of Christ.
God bless you all, bless everyone who has attended this Conference, and fill us with the Holy Ghost, and help us to do right. God bless our beloved President Wilford Woodruff. God be praised! He has heard the prayers of His servants and people in His behalf, that his life might be preserved, and he is with us today, filled with a vigor considering his age and his sickness that is really astonishing. God bless him, and bless all that pertains to him, and preserve him. We would like to have him live forever, if we could. God bless you all, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
President Wilford Woodruff
President Wilford Woodruff
It is time to close this conference; but before closing I want to say a few words to the Latter-day Saints. I have attended conferences under the presidency of Joseph Smith during his life time, from 1833; I have attended conferences under President Brigham Young nearly forty years, from the time of the death of Joseph Smith until his own death; I have attended conferences under the presidency of John Taylor, and I have attended conferences as President of the Church myself since that period. That responsibility has rested upon me, and rests upon me today. Sixty-four years of my life have passed away as a member of this Church. I do not know that I shall ever address you again; I cannot tell anything about this; but I feel strongly impressed to say a few words to you upon principle, although it is late.
I want these Latter-day Saints to lay to heart what has been said to you by the Apostles and Elders who have spoken at this Conference. I want to say another thing. I prophesy, in the name of Israel’s God, the day has come when the mouths of Wilford Woodruff, George Q. Cannon, Joseph F. Smith, and these Twelve Apostles, should not be closed because of the opinions of the children of men. There have been feelings that these men holding high positions the Twelve Apostles and Presidency should say nothing about politics. I want to say to you here, the day has come when God Almighty requires at your hands to unite together in your temporal business, and in your politics, so far as it is wisdom. I do not care whether a man is a Republican or a Democrat, in that he is free; but it is your duty to unite in electing good men to govern and control your cities, your local affairs, and I will state that when you do not do this you are losers of the blessings of Almighty God. I want to tell you this upon this occasion. My mouth shall not be closed upon these principles. I know it is the duty of the Latter-day Saints to unite together in your local affairs, the election of your city councils, the election of men to act for you in the affairs of state. Lay aside your extremes in democracy and republicanism, as far as is wise in that matter, and in other than local matters as Latter-day Saints unite together within your party lines and appoint good men. When you do that, God will bless you. You won’t all be taxed to death and lose your property, if you will appoint good men and pursue this course.
I take the liberty, as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of making these remarks. No matter what the feelings of men may be towards me; I shall not stay in this country very long. But I realize very well that this people are groaning under poverty, under affliction, under taxation, and in positions that they ought not to be if they would only unite together and do their duty. And this idea of a person being afraid of somebody because he is a Democrat or a Republican, it is all wrong. I feel like saying to you, as the President of this Church, and do state, that it is your duty to unite together and appoint good men to act in every capacity for the public welfare. Therefore let us do our duty, walk uprightly before the Lord our God, and leave the consequences with Him. “Do what is right, let the consequences follow;” which may God grant, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
The choir song the anthem,
The nations bow to Satan’s thrall.
Benediction by Patriarch John Smith.
Conference adjourned for six months.
The stenographic work in taking the account of the proceedings was done: by Arthur Winter and F. E. Barker.
Clerk of Conference.
Deseret Sunday School Union.
Deseret Sunday School Union.
Its Semi-Annual General Conference.
The semi-annual meeting of the Deseret Sunday School Union convened in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday, October 3, 1897, at 7 p.m. In addition to the general superintendency, there were present nearly all the members of the Union board, many leading Church authorities and a large representation of earnest Sunday school workers. The meeting was called to order by Assistant General Superintendent George Goddard.
The Tabernacle choir sang:
“Hark! Listen to the Trumpeters.”
Elder George Teasdale offered the opening prayer and the choir sang,
“Glory and Love to Men of Old.”
Elder John M. Whitaker, the general secretary, called the roll of Stakes, and presented the general Sunday school authorities, who were unanimously sustained as follows; George Q. Cannon, general superintendent; George Goddard, first assistant superintendent; Karl G. Maeser, second assistant superintendent; George Reynolds, general treasurer; as members of the Deseret Sunday School Union Board, George Q. Cannon, George Goddard, Karl G. Maeser, George Reynolds, Thos. C. Griggs, Jos. W. Summerhays, Levi W. Richards, Francis M. Lyman, Heber J. Grant, Jos. M. Tanner, George Teasdale, Hugh J. Cannon and Andrew Kimball.
General Superintendent George Q. Cannon stated that it was due to Elder John C. Cutler that an explanation be made as to the reason why his name was not presented as a member of the Union Board. Elder Cutler has a great many duties to perform, and has recently been called to the Bishopric of one of the wards; and this, with many other labors, prevents his attending to the duties of a member of the board and it was therefore, at his request, partially, and with great reluctance on the part of the Union Board, that he was allowed to withdraw. But it is expected that he will remain an honorary member, and when opportunities present themselves, attend the Sunday school conferences. Brother Andrew Kimball has been selected to fill the vacancy caused by Brother Cutler’s resignation. Elder John M. Whitaker then read the following circular letter:
“Salt Lake City, Utah,
April 1, 1897.
To Presidents of Stakes, Bishops, and Stake Superintendents of Sunday Schools:
Dear Brethren. Members of the Deseret Sunday School Union Board have had the pleasure, during the past two years, of attending annual Sunday school conferences in the thirty-seven Stakes of Zion. During these visits they have had much satisfaction in meeting with several thousand officers and teachers, who are faithful fellow-laborers in the great Sunday school cause. The great majority of them, we are pleased to learn, are observers of the Word of Wisdom. God bless them.
We indulge the hope that the time is not far distant when it can be truthfully said, that all the teachers of our hundred thousand children are not only keeping and teaching the Word of Wisdom, but other principles of the Gospel, such as honoring the Sabbath day, sustaining the Priesthood, and observing the law of tithing, etc.
To aid you in attaining so desirable a consummation, we suggest that when vacancies occur in any of our Sunday school organizations, these vacancies be filled, as far as practicable, by those who practice and teach the above mentioned principles.
By observing this simple and considerate method, glorious results will soon follow, without the least disturbance of any of our present colaborers. What a delightful beginning of the millennial reign of our Savior on the earth it will be for the scores of thousands of our Sunday school teachers and children to become practical observers of the above named principles! Let us earnestly strive to fortify our children to resist the many temptations and allurements of the enemy.
GEORGE Q. CANNON, GEORGE GODDARD, KARL G. MAESER.
General Superintendency of Sunday Schools.”
Assistant Supt. George Goddard said he remembered forty-eight years ago when all the Sunday school children belonging to the Latter-day Saints could be accommodated in a room 10 x 15; now it would require eight such tabernacles as the one in which the meeting was being held to accommodate all who were earnest, faithful Sunday school workers. He considered this a wonderful change, but looked forward with bright anticipation for a greater increase in the same length of time in the future. He spoke of the pleasure members of the board had in attending the thirty-six annual Sunday school Stake conferences since April last, and noted with pleasure the rapid growth and interest in this work. To further help the officers and teachers he referred to the following list of questions, regarding the conducting of Sunday schools, that have been sent to each school for their guidance, and trusted that close attention would be paid to them by all, in attaining the object so much desired. Elder Goddard called attention to the importance of using the little Sunday school hymn book, and of all taking part in all the songs of the school. He stated that Elder John M. Whitaker, who had been a faithful secretary now for about nine years, had been called to take a mission to the Eastern States, and all communications for the Union board should for the present be sent to General Secretary Deseret Sunday School Union Board.
LIST OF QUESTIONS, “Superintendents will please report on the following questions at the annual Sunday school conference of their Stake in the year 1898:
Do your school exercises begin at 10 a.m.?
Have most of the children Sunday school hymn books?
Do all the children rise and sing in concert?
Is the Sacrament properly administered?
Have all the children over eight years old been baptized?
Is your school properly graded?
Do each of your teachers own a treatise and study it?
How often do you hold teachers meetings?
Do all the officers pay tithing, and is it taught in the Sunday school?
Do all abstain from tea, coffee, tobacco and strong drink?
How many of the school officers take the Juvenile Instructor, and are there any for the use of the school?
Do you strictly honor Nickel Day?
Do you observe the Monthly Fast, and is it taught?
Does your school use the Leaflets?
Do you try to get all the children in your ward enrolled, and look after absentees?
Do you sustain the general and local Church authorities by your votes and acts?
How many are there in your ward who should, but do not, attend Sunday school?
How many names have you enrolled on your record?
What is your average attendance of teachers and pupils?”
Elder George Reynolds called attention to the distribution of Nickel Envelopes to be used on the 31st of October this year in collecting the “Nickel Fund.” If enough had not been sent to the schools, by application to the secretary, they could have the number required. It was desirable, he said, that this fund be sent immediately after its collection, in the most convenient form to him, as general treasurer, but not in the envelopes as some had done in the past. In regard to the leaflets, Elder Reynolds stated that thirty-two numbers had already been sent to the schools, and the other eight, making the forty promised for 1897, would soon be sent. These were on Bible subjects. He regretted that in some schools no use was made of these important lessons; in others they were used perhaps once and laid around, wasted, or destroyed. He urged that they be taken great care of, used as they are intended, and much good would follow.
It had been deemed wise, should the authorities of any of the Stakes prefer to have their annual Sunday school conference between now and April, 1898, to so hold them. The Stakes desiring this should at once notify the board, and if on the dates set, members of the board can attend, the Stake authorities will be promptly notified. He also called attention to the importance of every school at least, and as many officers and teachers as possible, taking the official organ of the Sunday school, the Juvenile Instructor; for, on many occasions, questions had been asked and information sought by letter, that had been fully answered in that paper.
Elder T. C. Griggs called attention to the following items:
First The Stake Sunday school Visiting Book, in which visits to various Sunday schools of their respective Stakes are to be fully recorded, should be brought to the annual Sunday school conferences to be inspected by the members of the board; and at the close of the present year, should be fully made up and sent to the General Secretary to be examined by the beard.
Second The necessity of Stake superintendents carefully looking after the organization of branch Sunday schools in remote parts of their Stakes and fostering the same, thus enabling all the Sunday school children to attend without going too far from their homes. These branch schools might be organized and maintained for a time as a part of the ward school; and one of the school superintendency of that school could attend each Sunday and aid in the conduct of the branch school until it is able to take care of itself.
Third The questions and answers on General Church Authorities should be carefully studied and made a special feature of the 1898 annual Sunday school Stake conferences.
Elder John Robinson sang the solo, “Grant us. Oh Lord, Thy Peace.” Elder Jos. W. Summerhays alluded to the importance to each Sunday school obtaining one of the New Bible charts, attention to which had already been called by a circular to each school. Regarding the Book of Mormon Chart No. 2, he stated that it was now being printed, and would shortly be ready for distribution. One copy will be sent free to each school.
Assistant General Superintendent Karl G. Maeser stated that in visiting the various annual Sunday school conferences during the present year, the members of the Union board found a lack of comprehension in class exercises rendered on such occasions. It was intended that at these gatherings the very best class work in the Stake should take part so that others teaching the same department could profit by the exercise; and he suggested to Stake superintendents, as they visit the various schools, to note the best class work done in the various departments, best leaflet exercises, singing, etc., and when preparing a program for the coming annual Sunday school conferences make it up from these. For example, a primary exercise from one school, a first intermediate department exercise from another, etc., having the best in every case, that others teaching the same departments may be benefited.
Elder Maeser recommended that not more than eight or ten at most from these representative classes he selected to render the exercise at the conferences, and those selected should be dulled to speak clearly and distinctly so that all might hear. He suggested further that arrangements might be made by the ward superintendents, with the Bishops, to convey those thus selected to the conference, and believed if this plan were followed, the annual Sunday school conferences would accomplish one of the special objects of their establishment, viz.: bringing together the best class work in the Stake for the benefit of all interested.
President George Q. Cannon
President George Q. Cannon
There has been a small book published by the Deseret Sunday School Union called “The S. S. Treatise.” I find on page seventy-four (74) in that little work suggestions concerning the lessons to be taught to the Theological class, which I now read:
“In treating of the call of Abraham, show how the people had fallen into idolatry, and the design God had in calling him from his father’s house.” The next sentence says: “Take up the founders of the Chaldean and Egyptian empires. Follow the growth and decay of these and succeeding nations as you proceed.”
Our attention has been called to the fact that in some of the Sunday schools, there is considerable attention devoted to questions like these I have read “Take up the founders of the Chaldean and Egyptian empires. Follow the growth and decay of these and succeeding nations as you proceed.”
I have been told that in some of our schools this has been followed to a very great extent and far beyond that which was designed in the getting up of this Treatise. I might read from page 80 I have just happened to turn to that. I see here is a subject: “The wars between, and persecutions of the Catholics and Protestants by each other.” And then a little afterwards, “Give a sketch of the United States government, etc.”
Some of our teachers are pleased to dwell considerably upon the history of these different nations, and the result is that some of the lessons are so devoted to what may be called profane history, that is, ancient history, that there is very little said about the Gospel, and very little said about the Lord.
Object of Sunday Schools
I think this is an error, and such lessons as these should not be carried too far. Our Sunday schools are for the purpose of teaching our children the principles of the Gospel. We must not make our Sunday schools too much like district schools. That is not the purpose. The Sunday schools are to be entirely devoted to the teaching of the principles of the Gospel. We want to make Latter-day Saints of our children. If I send a child to Sunday school I want that child taught the Gospel. He can read and learn history, and a great many other things outside of the Sunday school, that ought not to be taught in the Sunday school. In the Sunday schools we should confine our labors to the object for which they have been established.
I was speaking today in our meeting of the Sunday School Union Board that I am averse to the multiplication of rules, or of anything that will fetter the Sunday school teachers. We want to teach the children the simple principles of the Gospel. Care should be taken by the superintendency to see that this is done, and that the time of the Sunday school is not occupied in teaching subjects, the knowledge of which can be obtained outside of the Sunday school. I wish this could be impressed upon the minds of our superintendents and teachers. The Sunday school is a school, as I have said, and as you all ought and do understand, for the purpose of giving our children instructions in the principles of the Gospel to indoctrinate them in its principles, and if, in the schools, we give them any history at all, it should be the history of our Church, and the dealings of God with His people; that is, from a sacred standpoint, a religious standpoint.
Of course, information concerning the history of peoples can be given, or brought to bear occasionally, illustrating God’s dealings with mankind to prepare the way for the carrying out of His work. This is proper, but it is not proper to go into extended lessons upon secular history.
Interruptions in Sunday Schools.
Some time ago I was visiting one of our quarterly Stake conferences, and I found a good many of the Latter-day Saints had come from afar, driven long distances, to be present at the meetings, and the fore-noon, according to instructions, was devoted to the Sunday school. The meeting house was not large enough to admit of the gathering together of the children and Saints who had come from a distance.
It seemed too bad that those who come such distances should have to wait until the afternoon meeting in order to get instructions, and I suggested that we should meet at nine o’clock with the Sunday schools, and hold the meeting say until half past ten, and dismiss and allow the Saints to come into the meeting house and for the conference to then be opened. The object in doing this was not to interfere with the Sunday school, but to prevent too much interference with the conference of the Stake. I thought both purposes could be answered by such an arrangement.
In consequence of this it was suggested that the Sunday schools in the Stakes should meet at nine a.m. instead of ten, where the Stake quarterly conference was to be held, and where the building was not large enough to accommodate the adults as well as the children. This, I believe, has been carried out to some extent. But lately we have heard that other conferences have been held, and the Sunday schools have been notified that they could meet at 9 a. m. instead of 10 a. m.
Now it is a rule that has prevailed, and it has been given out by the First Presidency, that the Sunday morning should be devoted to the Sunday schools, and we do not want this arrangement, made for the Stake quarterly conferences, to be made permanent with anything else. In other words, we do not want the Sunday schools to be changed from time to time to suit the convenience of other organizations. Therefore, we would like it to be understood by all superintendents of Sunday schools, that 10 o’clock is the hour for the meeting of the Sunday schools, excepting in instances of the Stake quarterly conferences as I have mentioned.
It is found by depriving our children from attending the Sunday school, that it retards the progress of the school, and there have been remonstrances to the Union board in relation to this matter, requesting that the Sunday schools be not interfered with by funerals, or other different meetings held on Sunday morning. Sunday morning has been assigned to the Sunday schools, and should not be interfered with.
Another point in connection with the Sunday school organization. There is a good deal of zeal being manifested at the time, very praiseworthy zeal, in the organization of the M. I. A. throughout the Stakes of Zion. It has come to us that in some instances the local officers have taken Sunday school workers out of the Sunday schools and appointed them to labor in the M. I. A. We do not wish in the least I do not to curtail the influence, efficiency and good work being done by organizations so potent for good as are the M. I. A.; but we do not wish, and it is not proper, that one organization should interfere with another. The Sunday school workers should be permitted to work in their respective schools and ought not to be taken from their work. And on the other hand the Sunday school officers should not in any manner impair the efficiency or good work being done by the M. I. A. Both organizations can run parallel and perform their labors and not interfere in the least with one another. Upon this point I think we should all agree, and ought to be very careful in our movements so as to preserve good feeling and to repress anything that would cause a spirit that is not of the Lord to arise. We are all laboring for the same purpose, speaking in general terms and we should rejoice in the prosperity and success of every one of these organizations the Primary, Sunday School, Relief Society and everything of this character. I do not know another people upon the face of the earth so much organized as we are. We have organized gatherings covering the life of the people from infancy to old age, and we should do all in our power to maintain their efficiency, and to promote them and aid them in doing the good work designed for them.
Influence of Sunday School.
I am greatly pleased with the interest manifested this evening by so large a congregation attending this meeting. We have cause to be very thankful to the Lord for that which He is doing in the training of our children. I have said before it was a most timely organization that of the Sunday school in our midst the organization of a system by which they can be carried on systematically and thoroughly. There was perhaps at one time some doubt and disinclination on the part of different persons in the Stakes and wards regarding Sunday schools. Some officers did not care to attend the Sunday schools, and thought it was interfering with other matters, and other organizations. But that feeling has gone. I do not think there is a Bishop anywhere now or any other officer who is brought in contact with the people who does not feel pleased and thankful that there is such an organization as the Sunday school. It must be a help to the Bishops and to the teachers and to all the quorums and different officers the High Priests, Seventies, Elders, Priests, Teachers and Deacons throughout all the Stakes of Zion. Consider the condition we would be in if these schools were not organized! We would have our country filled with denominational Sunday schools taught by those who do not believe in our doctrines, whose aim it would be to propagate their doctrines and destroy the faith of our children in the Gospel as we understand it. But with this thorough organization, as Brother Griggs has told you this evening, in discussing how we may become more thoroughly organized by the establishment of branch Sunday schools, we can throw safeguards around our children and prevent them from imbibing unbelief.
What Should be Taught.
I want to say here that there is a wave of unbelief sweeping over the land, and we can feel the effects of it among us. The leading magazines or the popular magazines, are filled with ideas tending to unbelief, scientific hypotheses that are designed to destroy faith in the Bible, faith in the creation of the world, faith in the creation of man, faith in the origin of man, and in the existence of God. Now these doctrines are being spread very insidiously. They are being taught in all the universities and colleges, speaking generally, of the land, with but few exceptions. There is a generation growing up who do not believe in the cardinal principles of the Bible taught by our fathers, before the Gospel in its fulness was revealed. These doctrines are being undermined and it becomes the duty of the Latter-day Saints it is the mission of the Latter-day Saints to uphold these old truths and doctrines that have come down to us from God through the ages, to strengthen the faith of our children in them, and, so far as we can, to neutralize the effect of these false doctrines that are being taught. And our Sunday schools are among the greatest agencies to be used for this purpose the teaching of our children the principles of the Gospel, and counteracting this dreadful unbelief and darkness that is spreading over the land. I feel that this is of great importance to us. I do not know of an organization today among any other people who are in the position we are, that are so well prepared to counteract these things, because we have the books and records that God has given. We have the Bible, but not that alone. They may indulge in their “higher criticism,” and tell us that those whose names are attached to the various books of the Bible were not the authors of them; but we have something more sure than all their criticism. The Book of Mormon is of divine origin, divinely translated by the gift and power of God, and this has come to us by the power of God, and we know it is pure. It was not translated by man’s ability, hence we have a more sure word of prophesy, something to base our faith upon. We can call upon these testimonies because we know they are impregnable and cannot be destroyed. In addition to this we have the word of God the Book of Covenants, that has come from the Lord to us. It is the word of God to us who live now. Therefore we have three witnesses. They may assail the Bible, as they do, and endeavor to prove that the writings attributed to different men were not written by them. We leave that to them. They can do as they please with their learning; we will cling to the Bible because we know that whatever errors there are, are the errors of uninspired men who have done the translating. But they must not, and they can not, tread upon other ground that we have. They have assailed the Book of Mormon from an outside standpoint, and claim that it was translated, or as they say, written by some one else than Joseph Smith. But we have disproved that, and the Book of Mormon comes to us pure, having been translated by divine power, and it contains incontrovertible internal evidence to those who read it and know anything about the power and spirit of God it comes to them with internal evidences of its divinity, and they know it is true. Therefore we have this, besides which we have the Doctrine and Covenants, and these three witnesses enable us to occupy a different position from any other religious denomination upon the face of the earth.
We should consider and teach our children all these things and fortify them against the pernicious doctrines being circulated and being taught in the institutions of learning in the land, and fortify them so that they will not imbibe the errors which will pass away, for they are not true. Of course in the theories set forth by scientific men some scientific men there is some principle of truth.
Evolution has some truth connected with It. But very many of these theories are misleading.
I felt that I desired to say so much upon this subject to impress the Sunday school teachers and superintendents with the importance of confining our Sunday school work to the mission of the Sunday school, that is, teaching our children the principles of our religion. God bless you all. Amen.
“God of Israel, Hear Our Prayer,”
after which the choir and congregation sang
“Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow.”
Benediction by Apostle Anthon H. Lund.
JOHN M. WHITAKER,
General Secretary Deseret S. S. Union.