CR April 1880
TWO DAYS’ MEETINGS
SALT LAKE ASSEMBLY HALL.
In accordance with previous announcements, meetings were held in the Assembly Hall on Sunday and Monday, April 4th and 5th, preparatory to the General Conference to be convened in the Large Tabernacle. At an early hour the Saints began to assemble, and by 10 o’clock a. m., the time for opening the services, the new and elegant building was filled, and soon after was crowded in every part.
The congregation was called to order by President JOHN TAYLOR, and after singing by the Tabernacle choir, prayer was offered by Elder MOSES THATCHER.
President John Taylor
President John Taylor
I am happy to have the privilege of meeting with the Saints in this new hall. It is not quite finished, but yet it is so far comfortable that we can have an opportunity of meeting and conferring together. When the building is fully completed—the organ and everything in its proper place—we shall then have it dedicated, as is our custom, to the Lord our God, for the purpose of meeting here and attending to whatever may be required.
As the 6th of April falls on next Tuesday, we thought it better to have a two days’ meeting before hand, that we might have an opportunity of listening to the principles that will be presented by our brethren, the Twelve and others, and we are in hopes that on the 6th day of April we shall be able to meet in the large Tabernacle, which will accommodate all who may desire to attend.
And while we are assembled together in the capacity of a Conference, it is proper that our hearts and feelings and affections should be turned to God, that we may reflect upon his kindness, his mercy and salvation extended to us as a people; that we may also reflect upon our weaknesses, our infirmities, our follies and our foibles, and be enabled to lay them aside, feeling that we are the Saints of God, with responsibilities to attend to; and that it is our duty and our delight to listen to and be governed by those great principles which God has revealed for the salvation of the human family.
On the 6th day of April the church will have been organized fifty years, and we might with very good propriety call it a year of jubilee, or rather the close of the year of jubilee. And while we are assembled together, either in our meeting prior to the Conference or afterwards in the Conference, it becomes us, when we reflect upon the kindness and mercy which God has vouchsafed to us during the last fifty years, to renew our covenants before him, and feel in our hearts that we are his people and that he is our God. His mercy and salvation will still be extended to us, if we will only obey his laws, keep his commandments, and pursue that course that is proper and acceptable in his sight.
I do not wish to make many remarks this morning. I thought I would just rise and introduce some of those principles that naturally tend to bring our minds to reflection.
On the fiftieth year, in former times, among the ancients, they had what was termed a year of jubilee. Slaves were liberated. People who were in debt were forgiven their indebtedness—that is, the poor, the needy and the distressed. And we are reflecting upon some things pertaining to that matter, which will be presented in due form; and we wish to start, as it were, and feel to determine in our hearts that the Lord is our God, the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Law-giver, and he shall rule over us; and we will try and be his people and observe his laws. And I would ask my brethren and sisters to give us an interest in their faith and prayers, that we shall be enabled to advance such principles as will be calculated to enlighten, to quicken, to refresh and to strengthen us, that we may pursue in after years, with more vigor and determination, that path which God has revealed unto us. Amen.
Elder Wilford Woodruff
Elder Wilford Woodruff
President, brethren and sisters: God bless you, (Amen), and may the peace of God abide with you, and the Spirit of God within these walls, and may it rest upon the Apostles, Elders and Saints while we assemble together to worship God. I feel in my heart to praise the Lord for his mercies and blessings over the Apostles and Elders and Saints and church and kingdom of God to the present hour. I see before me here the symbols of the history of this church and kingdom, and some of us have been preserved by the hand of God to pass through its travels, its progress and its history almost from the beginning until the present day; and while I listened to the remarks of Brother Taylor, I reflected in my own mind upon the day and age and time of our history. Fifty years have passed and gone, or nearly so, since the organization of this church and kingdom on the earth. Whatever the feelings of the world may be with regard to the Latter-day Saints, with regard to their lives, their history, their organization, their persecutions, and their drivings until the present day, whether they believe or disbelieve, it matters not to the purposes of God, who stands at the head, even our Heavenly Father. This is the church and kingdom of God; it is the church of Christ; it is the organization of the kingdom of God, that has been spoken of by all the prophets since the world began; it is the Zion of God that Isaiah and Jeremiah and many of the other prophets saw by vision and revelation in their day and generation. In my own mind I cannot conceive [p.7] of any fifty years since the creation of this world, in its history before the heavens, before the Gods, before the angels, and before the world, of more importance or consequence than the last fifty years through which we have passed; and if the vail could only be lifted from our eyes, so that we could see and comprehend our destiny, our position, our responsibilities, and what is required at our hands by the God of Israel, we should all of us feel the importance of improving our time, magnifying our calling, striving to live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.
I hold in my hand our testament. The testator is dead, has been dead for a great many years. He sealed his testimony with his blood. That testament is in force, has been in force upon all the world from the day of his death; and not only from that day, but from the time these revelations were given to the inhabitants of the earth. That testament contains a volume of the most important revelations God ever gave to man. Fifty years ago, or nearly so, when He gave some of these revelations, the Lord said to Joseph Smith, “If you believe my words you will go and prune my vineyard while the day lasts; If you believe these revelations I have given you, you will take hold and build up this kingdom.” When I reflect that it is fifty years since these revelations were given, I ask myself the question—What condition are we in to-day as a people, as Latter-day Saints? What is our condition, our position to-day before the Lord? What is the condition of the world? What is the condition of Great Babylon? What is the condition of the Saints, the Elders of Israel, and the Lord’s anointed, and the people whom he has chosen and called upon and raised up to take hold and build up Zion, build up the kingdom, sanctify themselves before God and prepare themselves for the coming of the Son of man? I have sometimes feared in my own mind concerning ourselves, that we are not living as near to the Lord as we ought to do; we do not always comprehend the responsibilities which we are under to God our Heavenly Father. When I reflect, my brethren and sisters, that the Lord has ordained the establishment of Zion, upon the responsibility that rests upon us in warning the generation in which we live that they may be left without excuse in fulfilment of the revelations contained in this volume (the Book of Mormon)—when I reflect that we are called as the servants of the Lord to perform this work, I feel within my own mind as the Lord has said now nearly fifty years ago, that if we believe the words of the Lord we will labor while it is called to-day. The Lord looks to nobody else, he expects nothing from anybody else, as far as the fulfilling of the revelations in the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants are concerned; he looks to no other nation, kindred, tongue, or people henceforth to go and perform this work, but the Saints of the living God. If the Lord has any friends on the earth they are the Saints of God, and if the Saints of God have any friends anywhere, they consist of the God of Israel and the heavenly hosts, and the spirits of just men made perfect.
In my view, we as Latter-day Saints are approaching a change. We are approaching important events. It cannot be otherwise in the face of the revelations of God, in the Bible, in the Testament, in the Doctrine and Covenants, than that a change is about to take place in the world. The Lord has said that he would make the work short in the latter days, that he would cut it short in righteousness. Fifty years is a good while to pass away in the dispensation [p.8]and generation in which we live and it has taken from the earth during this time a great many, I will say all of the founders of this church and kingdom. It has taken into the spirit world many of the Apostles, many of the Elders, many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, and sometimes when I look around and contemplate on the past, I at times feel lonesome. I look back to the days of Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, and to the patriarchs, prophets and apostles that lived in that day, and I find that a great share of them are in the spirit world. There are but very few left now who were alive at the organization of this church upon the earth. I believe that Brother Orson Pratt is the only man who dwells in the flesh, who is in the church, who was organized in the first Quorum of the Twelve. Brother Taylor and myself remain of those who were organized in the second organization. But Brother Taylor and myself and Brother Pratt and a good many others will not tarry a great while here. We shall pass on to the other side of the vail, and join those who have gone before, as will many who are in this congregation. This is not our home, but we will dwell in the flesh until we pass through a change. We are apt sometimes in our reflections to marvel and wonder why the Lord has taken away so many men who have been called as Apostles and prophets and Elders of the Zion of God into the Spirit world. The Lord has had his motive in these things. I see (pointing to the paintings on the ceiling) Joseph Smith with Moroni, and here, with Peter, James and John, receiving the priesthood. How long did he (Joseph) tarry here in the flesh? Only fourteen years after he organized this church and kingdom, the church and kingdom of God, the church of Jesus Christ. We felt as though we could not live, could not exist, without Joseph. We felt a good deal as the Apostles did when Jesus told his disciples that if he did not go away the Comforter would not come. They did not comprehend him; they did not understand that Jesus Christ was to be crucified, notwithstanding that he told them that if be did not go away the Comforter would not come. Joseph Smith remained with us longer than the Savior did. He remained only about three and a half years after he was thirty years of age, an age which the Jewish law required a man to attain before officiating in the priesthood. Joseph Smith remained with us about fourteen years. He remained until he had received all the keys of the kingdom of God which were necessary for the establishment of this church and kingdom, and which were necessary for those men who followed him to have those keys upon their shoulders, that they might continue to build upon the foundation that had been laid; but as soon as Joseph received the keys of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood, as soon as he received the keys from Moses for the gathering together of the House of Israel in the latter days, and from Elijah to seal the hearts of the fathers to the children and children to the fathers—when Joseph received all these keys, and had power to seal them upon the heads of other men, the Lord called him away. Why did he call him into the spirit world? Because he held the keys of this dispensation, not only before he came to this world and while he was in the flesh, but he would hold them throughout the endless ages of eternity. He held the keys of past generations—of the millions of people who dwelt on the earth in the fifty generations that had passed and gone who had not the law of the gospel, who never saw a prophet, never saw an Apostle, never heard the voice of [p.9]any man who was inspired of God and had power to teach them the gospel of Christ, and to organize the church of Christ on earth. He went to unlock the prison doors to these people as far as they would receive his testimony, and the Saints of God who dwell in the flesh will build temples unto the name of the Lord, and enter these temples and perform certain ordinances for the redemption of the dead. This was the work of Joseph the prophet in the spirit world. Now, I believe in my own mind that every Elder of Israel who has gone into the spirit world, who has been faithful in the flesh, has as much to do on the other side of the vail as we have to do here, and if anything more so. This is my view with regard to the labors of the Elders of Israel. The Lord hath need of some on the other side of the vail. He preserves some to labor here, and he takes home whom he will according to the counsels of his own will; this is his manner of dealing. Those of our brethren who have passed away have got through the labors of the flesh; we are left here to labor a little while on the earth. Then I would like to ask my brethren and sisters this morning, in view of these things, if these things are true, if this is the church of Christ, if this is the Zion of God—which the Lord Almighty foreordained before the world was should be established in the latter days, and had a class of men and women whom he had reserved in the spirit world, whose lives were hid with Christ in God and knew it not, to come forth and stand in the flesh and take hold of this kingdom and build it up, and war with the world, the flesh and the devil—then, if this be true, what manner of men and women ought we to be? I feel in my reflections, in my thoughts and in my meditations, that we, as Elders of Israel, should have nothing else to do in this world while we dwell in the flesh but to build up this kingdom, and when we are building up this kingdom we are building up ourselves; when we are faithful to God we are magnifying our calling.
The eyes of the heavenly hosts are over us; the eyes of God himself and his Son Jesus Christ; the eyes of all the prophets and Apostles who have dwelt in the flesh; they are watching our works. I have spent more time lately with those who are in the spirit world, in my night seasons, than in all the rest of my life together. On one occasion I thought in my dream that Presidents Young, Kimball George A. Smith, and many others, attended one of our Conferences. When Brother Young was asked to preach he said: “No, I have done my preaching, I have done my instructions in the flesh; I have come to hear you talk, I have come to look at you, I have come to watch over you, I wish to see what this people are doing.” This has been the answer and these are thoughts I believe in. I believe we are not shut out from God, we are not shut out from our brethren, though the vail is between us. They understand our works, our condition, our position, and I feel a desire myself, what little time I have to spend in the flesh, to make my time useful. I wish to do what I can for the building up of the kingdom of God. I wish to do what I can to bring to pass righteousness, and I feel that we should all be in this position; we should all labor to occupy our time, our talents, and our attention as far as we possibly can to build up the kingdom of God.
I wish to say to the Latter-day Saints. Sometimes people apostatize; we speak of people getting into the dark. It does not make any difference who sells whiskey, nor who drinks it; it makes no difference who blasphemes the [p.10]name of God, or apostatizes from the church and kingdom of God, as far as the establishment of the kingdom of God is concerned; the Lord has got valiant men and women in his kingdom who will be true and faithful to the Lord and his work. If half of this church were to fall away, it would not destroy the purposes of the Lord. With regard to ourselves that is another thing. Many men who have received the gospel, and have had the Holy Ghost conferred upon them, have fallen away, but in doing so they condemn themselves, they destroy themselves, they miss and lose all the hopes they ever had of eternal life and the blessings of God in the celestial kingdom. Men may fall, but the kingdom of God never, never. The Lord has a good many men and women in this church and kingdom that cannot afford to surrender any principle that the God of Israel has commanded us to obey, no principle that the Lord has commanded us to receive, no principle that is embodied in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Why? Because we know and understand very well that our destiny, our position, and our blessings are all in his hands. We also know that the destinies of all the armies of the nations of the earth under the whole heavens are in the hands of God. The Lord guides these things; he will guide them. We are approaching an important day and time. We are approaching a period when there must be a change in Babylon, a change in our nation, and a change in Zion. Judgments are going to begin at the house of God. They will go forth, and will not be taken from the earth until all has been fulfilled.
My brethren and sisters, I wished to say this much this morning. I desired to exhort you, and I exhort myself. Let us watch and be sober. Let us keep the commandments of God. Let us labor for the Holy Spirit, for without this no man can serve God. What condition is the world in? To-day the world is a great way from the Lord, and they are getting a great way further off year by year, and just so far as they get from the Lord in this world, just so far off will they be in the world to come. Bear this in mind.
I do think that as Elders in Israel we have no reason to be discouraged. God is with us. God is with this people. He is watching over our interests. He guides and directs our destiny, and you may look back and scan the history of this church and kingdom from the days of its organization, and you will find it has never gone backward, it has gone forward all the way through, year by year, no matter the difficulties thrown in our way. We have had persecution and oppression; we were driven from one place to another for many years, until we were driven into these Rocky Mountains, to the land given to Jacob and his posterity, the land preserved for the gathering of the Saints in the latter days. When I look at this assembly and contemplate the work of this people in these valleys and in the surrounding Territories; when I perceive how this desert is occupied, how the Latter-day Saints are progressing, how they are cultivating the earth, building temples, halls, tabernacles, schoolhouses, towns and villages, I marvel at the work of the Lord. This is the work of the Almighty, and when our enemies look for the stoppage of this work, for the stoppage of the progress of the Latter-day Saints, they will be disappointed, because these things are in the hands of the Lord, and no power can hinder their progress.
I rejoice in having the privilege of meeting with an assembly of the Saints [p.11]of God in Salt Lake City, and especially in such a good building as this. It is a credit to the Latter-day Saints. It is an ornament to this Temple Block, and an honor to those who have helped to build it. We must continue these things. We must go forward, not backward. We have this fine temple which we are building at the present time, and there are others being erected in other parts of the Territory, that the Latter-day Saints may enter these temples of our God and attend to the ordinances for the redemption of the living and the dead. I bear testimony to you, my brethren and sisters, the whole spirit world is watching your labor and your works, and as I said in the beginning, if the vail was taken from off our eyes, we would see the responsibility of our acts, and what would be the result of these things? We would labor diligently and do all we could for the rearing of these temples for the redemption of our dead; we would sanctify ourselves and keep the Word of Wisdom, and unite ourselves together according to the law of God. There are many things we do as Latter-day Saints that we should abstain from; we should see the importance of our laboring in the flesh to build up the Zion of God.
I have spent the last year of my life on a mission. I have been traveling with our southern brethren; spent some time in the temple; been through Arizona, where the brethren and sisters are living in the United Order. I will say that I have been pleased with my visit to the southern country. In many of our settlements the people are endeavoring to keep the commandments of God, uniting together according to the order of the kingdom of God; and I will say here that from my experience among them I am pleased with the result, I am pleased with the fruits manifested by the people, and you know we judge a tree by the fruit it bears. I made my home in Sunset when I was not traveling. The people there are living in the United Order, as also in Brigham City and St. Joseph, and while I was in those settlements I never heard an oath, I never saw a quarrel, I never saw any man or boy smoke a cigarette, or use an ounce of tobacco, or drink whiskey, or drink a cup of coffee or tea, except what I drank myself. The idea of drinking coffee where nobody else was drinking it was a very poor example, I thought, for an Apostle; I therefore took, instead of coffee, water and milk, and have felt a great deal better. The promise is that those who keep the Word of Wisdom “shall run and not be weary, shall walk and not faint,” and I can say I have enjoyed much better health than before. Another thing I wish to mention. Among this people, if you go to the herd-grounds, to the shepherds, those who herd the sheep and cattle, you never see any man with a pack of cards. Every man prays morning and night at least, and you will always find a book of Doctrine and Covenants, Spencer’s Letters, Voice of Warning, or other good books. I speak of these things because they are manifestations of good fruit. God has blessed the people; they are living together in peace and unity, and there are many others who are blessed of the Lord in that land who are not altogether carrying out these principles. But I do think the Lord requires of us to unite together. I think it is our duty to co-operate together and help bring about temperance, holiness and righteousness.
I spent a good deal of my time last season in visiting our Lamanite brethren, the American Indians, and I will here remark that while in Apache [p.12]County I learned it was reported that the Mormons were accused of having supplied arms to the Utes who have been at war with the whites, and that we urged them on to fight. A greater libel than this was never perpetrated. The Latter-day Saints have done more to bring the American Indians to peace than all the efforts of the United States put together. Until the Elders of Israel went among the Indians no man’s life was safe, no matter who he was; but since we have been amongst them they are the friends of the white man; they are peaceable; many of them have turned their hearts to the cultivation of the earth, and to-day many tribes of them will not steal the cattle and the horses of the white men. We have become acquainted with many of the tribes in that part of the country. We have had many opportunities of becoming acquainted with both the Navajoes and Apaches, who have been wandering, warlike tribes, and no white man’s life or scalp was safe with them until the “Mormon” Elders went among them and taught them the gospel and peace and the benefits of cultivating the earth. Now any white man can go among them in safety, if he will behave himself, attend to his own business, and not interfere with the families of the Indians. This will apply to the Navajoes and Apaches, with the exception of a remnant of Apaches who are not under the control of Petrone and Pedro, the war and peace chiefs. This remnant, under Vutone, is still on the war path. The Navajoes return to the whites any strayed or stolen horses or cattle. The Navajoes visit the “Mormon” settlements in peace, where they are fed and treated kindly, taught to cultivate the earth, and instructed in the principles of peace and to prevent war.
We have visited the Oribas, Moquis, Zunis, Lagoonis, and Islatas. All live in villages, the houses of which are made of stone, laid in mortar, and are from one to four stories high, with flat roofs. They and their forefathers have occupied these villages for generations. They are all peaceable Indians, and all wish to avoid war. The Oribas and Moquis occupy seven villages, built upon the top of solid, barren rocks, from 500 to 1500 feet nearly perpendicular, with no soil upon the rocks. The last three villages we visited stand upon a barren rock, one mile long, 100 yards wide at the top, and about 1500 feet high. The three villages stand upon the south end of the rock, from 200 to 300 yards apart, and number about 1500 people. Were it not for a sink in the rock of about 200 feet, with a steep serpentine trail and stone steps, no mortal being could reach those villages, only in a balloon. The natives have no tradition who built the villages, but they have been occupied for centuries, and were located in their romantic situation evidently for the purpose of protection from the Navajoes, the traditional enemies of the Moquis, and also from other enemies, who would rob them of their horses, asses, sheep and goats whenever an opportunity presented itself, until the “Mormons” made peace between the contending parties, and now they are on friendly terms. The Moquis have a thousand or more acres of corn, beans, melons, squashes, and peach orchards planted in the sand on the earth below them, where they raise good corn, from pure white to jet black, without irrigation. The black corn is the best. Every pound of water, wood and corn, and everything they subsist upon, has to be carried up the steep trail and stone steps some 1500 feet, on the backs of men, women and asses, as it is too steep for mules and horses. There is a projection on the east side of the mountain, 100 feet from the top, about 100 [p.13]yards in length and twelve feet wide. By a trail in the side of the mountain the projection is reached, and every night it is filled with thousands of sheep and goats, which are kept in by a frail stone wall about two feet high. Should an animal jump over, it would not touch ground for about 1200 feet, which would abridge its usefulness for either wool or mutton.
The names of these three villages are—first, Hano; second, Cheehomova; third, Walpe. The last named stands on the south end of the rock, and has about 1000 people. Their workshops stand flush with the outer edge of the precipice. Their dwellings stand from ten to twenty feet back from the edge, with nothing to keep men, women or children from falling off, either by day or night. Five Navajoes were thrust off this precipice, several years ago, in a quarrel, and never struck ground for about 1500 feet. One Moquis chief and several children have fallen off at the same place, and the only wonder is that half of the people of the village have not been killed in the same way. In my visit to these villages I was accompanied by Elders Lot Smith and Ira Hatch.
The villages eastward are built upon slightly elevated pieces of ground, and are much better off than the Moquis. The Zunis, Lagoonis and Islatas, all have large cultivated fields. The Islatas are the most advanced in civilization and industry of any natives I ever visited. The village numbers 3000 inhabitants, and is located on the Rio del Norte, twelve miles below Albuquerque. When I visited the village the people thereof had large fields of corn, kept clear of weeds and well irrigated. They had also large apple, pear and peach orchards, besides twenty-one grape vineyards, with about 1000 vines in each, kept clean and loaded with fine fruit. Their houses were clean and neat and some of their floors were carpeted. Their blood has been kept pure, they being unmixed with other tribes, or with the Mexicans or any white men. The old patriarch, John King, the leading spirit of the place, said it was seldom a case of seduction or adultery had occurred among his people; and he said that death had always been the penalty for the crime.
I saw one peculiar practice in Islata that I never saw in any civilized city. No man, woman, or child was permitted to sweep any dust or dirt from the floor to the sidewalk or into the street under penalty of a fine. All sweepings had to be gathered into baskets, or on blankets, at the threshold, and emptied upon one of the mounds located in different parts of the city.
We occupied a house facing the public square. The largest mound in the city was near that location, and measured 140 yards in circumference and forty feet high, all gathered from sweepings of floors, probably for generations, as it did not appear that any had been carted away.
It is expected that the railway will cross at Islata, there being the only rocky bed and shores for many miles up and down that river.
The Islatas have their own laws, rules, regulations, courts, police, etc. They are a wealthy people, and stand at the head of many of the surrounding villages. They have traditions among them concerning their past and future history, which they are looking for the fulfilment of. Their record gives a history of their final restoration to civilization, industry, prosperity and the gospel of Christ, and their deliverance from oppression and war. This must be the future destiny of a remnant of them, or the promises of their forefathers [p.14] must fall unfulfilled. Elders Ammon M. Tenney and—Christophersen accompanied me on my visit to these villages. Brother Tenney, three years previous, had visited the inhabitants of these villages, and had formed an acquaintance with them and assisted in baptizing one hundred and fifteen of the Zunis.
I feel to thank the Lord that I have lived to see this day and time; that I have lived to see the Fiftieth Anniversary of the history of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and brethren and sisters, whatever little time we have to spend let us spend it in laying aside iniquity, let us labor to build up the kingdom of God. Our position after death will depend upon the little time that we spend here in the flesh, and when I consider—when I can get enough of the Spirit of the Lord to guide my mind to comprehend the blessings of life and salvation—when I consider the great difference between being in the kingdom of God and out of it—I think it will pay any man or woman to keep the commandments of God. Blessed is that people whose God is the Lord. The Latter-day Saints profess to make our Heavenly Father their God.
I do not wish to detain my brethren and sisters any longer this morning. I rejoice again to see you, and again to walk the streets of Salt Lake City. And I hope while we are together in this Conference the Spirit of God may be with us, that our hearts may be enlightened, our minds opened to comprehend our duties, and that we will be inspired to teach the Saints of God in the path of righteousness and truth, which is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Elder Moses Thatcher
Elder Moses Thatcher
I have been very much edified with the remarks to which we have listened. I feel that we. are a blessed people in being; privileged to meet and worship God under so favorable circumstances; and while listening to the remarks of my brethren it has been very apparent to my mind that God’s kingdom is increasing, that the stakes of Zion are being extended and her cords lengthened. We are engaged in the work of God, our Heavenly Father. We are, as a people, in the enjoyment of privileges that are very great; indeed, we live in that day and age of the world to which the prophets anciently looked with joy and rejoicing. God’s kingdom is being built up, never again to be thrown down nor given to another people. Whatever may be the reflections of the people of the world in regard to the Latter-day Saints, there is one fact that is apparent to them, and that is that we are growing, that we are increasing in numbers, that while our mission is “peace on earth and good will to men,” the powers of God are being made manifest, and the principles of the Gospel are being preached to every nation, kindred, tongue and people.
We have been seeking for years to extend this knowledge to the Lamanites, to the remnants of the House of Israel, to the fruit of the loins of Jacob through Joseph, but until recently it has been apparent to us that their hearts have not been opened to receive the testimony which is contained in the Book of Mormon.
I have listened with much pleasure to the remarks of Elder Woodruff which we have heard this morning, in regard to the experience he has had in laboring among the people of Arizona and New Mexico, and it might be of [p.15]some interest to the Latter-day Saints to have a short sketch of my experience during the time I have been absent. I have visited the capital of the Republic of Mexico for the purpose of preaching the gospel to the people there. We were courteously received, kindly treated, had the Spirit of God to be with us and the Lord to be our Friend; and notwithstanding the reports that have been circulated through the medium of the press, we feel that a good work, a great work, will be accomplished in the Republic of Mexico. More than one-half of the entire population are of the pure Indian stock, numbering, I believe, a little in excess of five millions. They are different in many respects from the Indians who roam in these mountain regions, having at no time in their history, so far as we can trace it, been so steeped in ignorance, slothfulness and destitution as have been the Indians in this country. At the time they were subjugated by the Spaniards under Cortez, commencing in the year 1520, they were to some extent an enlightened race of people. They had a fair knowledge of the arts and sciences, and were particularly well versed in architecture; while their notation of time was quite equal to that of any nation then living. Their traditional history, as well as their written history, is very interesting, and had it not been for the disposition—doubtless through ignorance—of the Catholic priests who followed up the conquest, we might have had knowledge that would now be valuable to the world. But as Cortez bore down heavily upon the thirty millions of people who then lived in what was cared Mexico proper, so the priests who followed his camp bore heavily upon their works of art, and particularly in the destruction of their libraries, which were burned in great heaps, while the poor Indians gathered round, and, gazing upon the destruction of their treasures, wept like children. But there has been enough preserved to bring forth remarkable historical evidence in confirmation of the truths contained in the Book of Mormon.
There are many interesting things connected with these historical works that I might mention if I had time to do so, but at present I will simply say that their history clearly portrays that they had a full knowledge of the creation of the earth, of the garden of Eden, the deluge, the ark, the tower of Babel, the confusion of tongues, and their construction of eight boats in which to cross the great waters. They also had a knowledge of the birth, ministry and crucifixion of the Savior, and a person answering the description of the Son of Man was well known in their midst. He taught them the arts of peace, and all those higher elements of learning which the Aztecs were found in possession of at the time of the conquest. We find that preceding the conquest they were highly educated, highly instructed in the arts and in some of the sciences, and their forefathers had what was called a sacred book. An aged Indian, when asked in reference to this sacred book by one of the early Catholic priests, replied that it contained to some extent the knowledge that they, the priests, sought to teach them; and when asked where that book was, the Indian replied that they had a tradition which had come down from generation to generation that it was buried in the earth. But I do not wish to take up time this morning upon these points, but desire to speak of the Indians as we find them now. They are the laborers of Mexico. Where there are railroads constructed, they construct them. Where there are cities built, they build them. They are an industrious class of people, many of them being skillful artisans [p.16]and mechanics. They are docile, slow to resent an injury, but will remember an act of injustice for a long time. They are true to their promises, quite different in this respect from many who claim a higher civilization. If you can secure their word and their friendship they will be true to you. It is very remarkable to notice in the general cast of their features the resemblance to the Jewish race, even more striking than we find it here among our Indians; and when crossed with the white or Spanish race, you would almost in every instance take them to be Jews. Thus, when I first arrived in the city of Mexico I observed to a gentleman, “You have a great many Jews here.” “No,” said he, “they are not Jews, they are Mexicans.” They are a very polite people. The common Indian laborer on the street is as polite as almost any one you meet in this country. As to the educated class—such as congressmen, judges, and members of the Cabinet, you invariably find them well informed. Most of them have traveled extensively, and many of them speak German, French and English, as well as Spanish. The educated portion of the Mexicans are not ignorant with reference to the history of the Latter-day Saints. They have traced them up from the day of the organization of the church. They are familiar with our wanderings, our drivings, and our persecutions. They are also familiar with the indomitable courage which has been exhibited by the Latter-day Saints in redeeming this barren waste, and as a prominent Mexican gentleman expressed himself to me—”Why,” said he, “you Mormon people have a poor country, and yet you seem to prosper, while we have a very rich country, but as a whole a very poor people.” This I have no doubt is mainly attributable to the nature of the climate. For it has been observed that where God has done much for man, man does very little for himself. I believe this is the case to some extent in Mexico. The climate at the capital does not, it is said, vary more than 10 the year round. Thus they have there what you might call perpetual spring. The result is that the people lack enterprise, and therefore it would be a delight to the leading men of Mexico if a population composed of the Anglo-Saxon race could be induced to locate themselves in that country, in order to develop its latent resources, because the undeveloped resources of Mexico are very great. The mines are not only numerous, but are rich. The land is also very productive, and is capable of growing anything you can name that can be produced in any Other part of the world. We have no climate here to be compared with that of the Gulf Coasts of Mexico. I was down there on the 14th of December; the heat was certainly not comfortable; indeed, it was so intense that we felt we must at once change our clothing and assume lighter garments. But, on leaving the city of Vera Cruz about eleven o’clock in the evening, and in passing up to the tablelands, we found that in a few hours we required heavy overcoats in order to keep us comfortable. The valley of Mexico proper is 7400 feet above the level of the sea. Thus you can see the altitude is much greater than ours.
Referring to our missionary experience there, I will say, when the article appeared in the New York Sun stating that we had gone to Mexico to arrange with the Mexican Government officials for the purchase of land for the colonization of our people, of course it brought to us a great many inquiries, and while we had before desired that we might become acquainted with leading [p.17]men and government officials, we had not up to that date had the privilege of doing so. But after the publication of this article, which was copied into the leading journals of the City of Mexico, we then had numerous callers, many having valuable tracts of land to sell, in which, as Colonel Sellers would say, “There’s millions in it.” Indeed, one man was anxious that we might secure twenty million acres; another, that we might secure an entire State; and they exhibited a good deal of anxiety that we might colonize in the Republic. But I told them we had no such mission, and that indeed if we had come to buy we had not yet seen sufficient of the country or people; adding that our mission was to preach, and to publish the word of the Lord to the people. Through the politeness of some of these gentlemen, we became acquainted with many influential officials and men of eminence, whose courtesy and kindness we shall not soon forget.
We found on inquiry that the Mexican Constitution was much the same as our own; in some respects a little more liberal. It guarantees freedom of the press, of speech, and full religious toleration. It recognizes churches as no portion of the governmental power; while all are free to preach in their houses of worship, they are not free to perform religious ceremonies in the open streets, highways, or market places. The act prohibiting any manifestation of religious worship on the public highways and streets was caused to be passed by the late President, Juarez—who was a pure-blooded Indian, then being not a drop of white blood in his veins. He was a great statesman and a thorough soldier. His name will pass down into history as being a great benefactor of his race and people. He was a liberal-minded man, whose heart beat for the highest human liberty. Being a foe to tyranny in every form, he traced the sufferings of Mexico very clearly, and comprehended that they were mainly traceable to the influence which the clergy exercised over the minds of the people. From ,this thraldom he labored with all his might to free his race, and sought to place them upon the solid basis of civil and religious liberty. Now the churches are entirely free to perform their ordinances within the walls of their buildings; but there was a time when, if a Catholic priest should happen to be moving along the street in his robes, the people were required to bow down. It was the oppression and not the rights of religious powers that Juarez sought to crush, and he succeeded. The second Judge of the Supreme Court of the Republic, who was for a number of years the leading man in the House of Representatives, predicted about ten years ago that the clergy in that land must be tolerant, and follow in the future, better than they had done in the past, the examples of the lowly Nazarene, or they would have to march out of Mexico by thousands. That prediction—although it may not have been looked upon as such at the time—was noticed by some eminent writers, and has been literally fulfilled. The clergy have, as I have been informed, had to leave in great numbers. Nunneries have been abolished and churches have been sold by hundreds, so that in the space of a few years $200,000,000 have been confiscated in this way. God has moved in the midst of the nation, and I believe a great work will be performed among the remnants of the House of Israel in that land. The power of God in the manifestation of their faith is greater perhaps than you will find among some of the Anglo-Saxon race. It is true, they have been under bondage for nearly [p.18]400 years. They may see the power of God made manifest to-day, in the healing of their infirmities, and to-morrow forget the blessings of the Lord. But in that respect wherein are they different from the children of Israel? Did they not witness the power of God in the separation of the waters of the Red Sea, and in various other ways? Did they not hear the voice of the Lord, and yet longed for the leeks and onions, and threatened to do evil to their leader, Moses?
In this regard the Mexican people are much the same. They have ideas, ways and manners, peculiar to themselves. They are in their expressions very kind, and wherever we met influential men—men connected with the Government of Mexico—we met with uniform kindness. Our reception was warm and genuine, and we felt to bless such people. We believe that the Lord will yet open up the way by which thousands and hundreds of thousands will receive a knowledge of the truth. We have baptized some twenty in that land, and have a little branch already formed, and the manifestations of the power of God among them are not wanting. The second member baptized into the branch is an Indian. It is very clear that he is of the House of Israel. After he was ordained to the office of an Elder, he began to read, to some extent, our works. He was very much interested in the Book of Mormon, so far as it is published in the Spanish language, and he has full faith in the ordinances of the Gospel. One day a woman was found in the street suffering under the influence of an evil spirit, being sadly deranged. The police were seeking to allay her feelings and quiet her, while a great crowd was attracted by the occurrence. The Indian happened to be there at the time, and, perceiving what was the matter, made his way through the crowd to the woman, and in the name of Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, whereupon she was quieted, and, to the astonishment of the people, walked away without uttering another word.
Before closing my remarks it might be somewhat interesting to the congregation to learn the cause which led to sending the Elders to the city of Mexico. I will tell you briefly how it occurred. There is a Dr. Rhodacanaty, who is, I believe, a Greek on the side of his father and a Mexican on the side of his mother. He had been engaged in a socialistic work, having for its object the benefitting of the poorer classes—seeking to organize a system, in some respects like our co-operative system here, for the intelligent direction of labor, and, having used his influence in this direction for a short time, he became perplexed, and his mind seemed to close down, so that he could not see how to make further progress. He therefore felt to pray to the Lord to give him wisdom to proceed. During the night he dreamed that a person came and presented to him a book, pressing it emphatically upon his forehead. On the following day, while teaching his class in the college, wherein he was Greek Professor, a little boy entered and asked him to buy a book. “No,” said he to the boy, “I do not want your book.” “But,” says the boy, “you do want this book, and it is only a riel” (twelve and a half cents). He told the boy again that he did not want the book, but the boy still insisted that he did, and finally he took it. When he came to read the book, it proved to be that part of the Book of Mormon which has been translated into the Spanish language. From this time he received light daily, and finally communicated with President [p.19] Taylor, and the result was that the Elders were sent and the mission was opened in Mexico.
I will relate another circumstance to show you how the wisdom of the Lord is greater than that of man. We became acquainted with Professor Sherwin, an American from the State of Iowa, who was also teaching in the Presbyterian College, and who frequently visited us at our rooms. When we had prepared the “Voice of Warning” in manuscript for publication he desired that the Presbyterians should have a chance to bid for the printing of it. Elder Stewart told him that they would not print the work. “Why,” said he, “they surely will not carry prejudice into business matters.” “Well,” replied Brother S., “to please you we will give them a chance to bid on the work, but I am satisfied that they will absolutely refuse to publish anything about ‘Mormonism.'” He went to the printing establishment and offered the work. The young men who had charge of the printing office readily assented to bid upon the work, and asked until the next evening, in order that they might bid intelligently. In the meantime they submitted the matter to the head of the Presbyterian and other churches, (for there they work together—Presbyterians, Baptists and Methodists), and when the matter was submitted to the Bishop, he scouted the very idea, and said we had not money enough to hire them to print our works. The young men were astonished, and desired to see us in reference to such prejudice. They came and we talked with them, saying that it was because of the ignorance of the world in reference to us and the principles we advocated, that caused much of the prejudice which existed in the minds of many who neither knew us nor the object of our mission. We pointed out to them different texts of Scripture, and read from the Bible for some length of time. After we had talked with them an hour or two they desired us to pray with them, to which we readily assented. Closing the door of our room, we gave these two young men a chance to pray; and they did so, asking the Lord, if they had been deceived all the days of their life, to manifest it and to impart to them a testimony as to whether we spoke by the power of the Holy Ghost or by the wisdom of man, and that they might know by revelation for themselves that Jesus was the Christ. We endorsed their prayer, and prayed the Almighty most earnestly that they might have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to understand the truth which we sought to impart. The last we heard of these two young men was that they were preaching “Mormonism,” and were in a fair way to convert themselves if not others.
As another instance of the hatred shown towards the “Mormons,” I might mention that there was a young friend who crossed the Gulf of Mexico with us, being in company with the nephew of the American Minister, Mr. Foster, and who remained in Mexico with us several weeks. This young friend of ours met a Methodist Minister one day in the streets of Mexico, and happened to mention that there were “Mormon” missionaries in the city. “Oh, yes.” said the devout Minister, “and I would to God that the American Government would drive all the “Mormons” into the bottom of the sea.” I simply mention these matters to show how ungenerous and uncharitable are the feelings of many religious denominations, or the members thereof, towards us as a people. They may never have known a “Mormon,” they may never have met one; they certainly have received no unkindness at the hands of our people, and they [p.20]have never placed themselves in a position to receive the courtesies of the people. I believe that as a general thing where men, influential, intelligent and honest men, have visited Salt Lake City, or other parts of the Territory, they have almost invariably spoken kindly of the “Mormon” people. I of course except a certain class, namely, those who make it their mission to persecute, hate and despise us—such men of course exhibit bitterness; deprive them of that and there would be little left of them. But the best thing we can do is to pass them by. In doing so I do not know that we can say in their case what the Lord said to the Jews, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” I fear many of them too well know what they do; but they have their mission, let them fill it. As an individual, I do not feel that we can afford to bestow much time or attention to what such may do or say. I learned one thing during my early boyhood, and that is that I cannot hate man and at the same time love God; therefore I pay little attention to what those evil disposed persons may do. They are in the hands of the Almighty, who will meet to them a just punishment. Let us pity rather than despise them.
This I know, God will establish his Kingdom and carry it off victorious; he will redeem his people and make Zion to shine. But when I think of the benighted condition which the nations are in, it fills my heart with sorrow. I feel to thank God that he has placed in our hearts these compassionate feelings. To us he has been compassionate, and filled us with tender mercy. Therefore it becomes our duty as Elders to go to the ends of the earth to preach the Gospel. To the Lamanites? Yes; to every part of the habitable globe, to say to every people that we know that Jesus is the Christ, and he only can say this truthfully who has the spirit of prophecy upon him, because as it is written, “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Let us then make it the mission of our lives to preach the Gospel to the nations of the earth, to extend to them this knowledge which has made us so happy, and which has made us the people that we are.
There will be a great work accomplished in Mexico. I feel that the Lamanites in that land will receive the Gospel by thousands. God will give them the power to heal the sick, unstop the eyes of the blind, and to open the ears of those that are deaf. He will manifest himself unto them as he did to their forefathers, the children of Israel. They have been downtrodden for more than three hundred years. They filled the cup of their iniquity, and thirty millions of them were killed off in about forty years. He permitted this to come upon them because of their iniquity and the sin of their fathers in slaying the prophets. The Spanish nation was once a great nation, but God has humbled them. In the work of death that nation filled a fearful mission among the Indians of Mexico and Peru, since when they have been treading the downward track. To-day what is Spain? A fallen, broken, Catholic-ridden nation that cannot understand the whisperings of the Spirit of God. But the remnant of Israel will come forth and manifest that they have faith in their forefathers, who knew Jesus, and when their children hear his voice a stranger they will not follow.
May God bless the mission in Mexico, and the poor Indians whom our own great nation has seemed determined to exterminate, but who will yet arise and prove to the world their worth. May God bless them to this end.
We have no mission save that of peace. We do not go to teach them the art of war, although many of them are soldiers. You can frequently see the streets of Mexico crowded with well drilled Indian regiments, but our mission to them or others is not war, it is peace and good will to all. And may the Lord give us power to extend this to them, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
The choir sang an anthem.
Elder CHARLES C. RICH dismissed with prayer.
In the afternoon the Hall was densely packed, and hundreds went away disappointed, not being able to enter the building. Singing by the choir.
Prayer by Counselor DANIEL H. WELLS.
Elder Orson Pratt
Elder Orson Pratt
It is many months since I attempted, except on one occasion, to address a public congregation. On account of ill health and other circumstances, I have refrained from public speaking, except at the former meeting held in this house last winter. I do not know whether I shall be able to raise my voice to that loudness that the congregation will be able to understand; I will, however, do the best that I can. I pray my Father in heaven to pour out his Spirit upon me, that what I may say—whether it be a few words or many—may be indited by the gift and inspiration of the Holy Ghost without which all our preaching is in vain.
I certainly, for one, was very much instructed in our forenoon meeting, especially in regard to the remarks of the first speaker on the fiftieth anniversary since the organization of this church; and I was also very much instructed in the remarks made by the following speaker.
It is a great delight to me, as an individual, to look forth upon the large congregations of the Latter-day Saints who are assembled from time to time in these mountains, in the capacity of a General Conference. In all these assemblies and conferences I remember the early rise of this church; I remember when we were a small people, when we could assemble ourselves in a very small room, and that in General Conference. I remember the first Conference that I attended, on the 2d day of January, 1831, consisting perhaps of some seventy or eighty members in all, assembled in the house of Father Whitmer, whose sons were chosen to be especial witnesses in relation to this great latter-day work. I remember our trials, our difficulties, our gathering, our persecutions, our afflictions, more or less, from that day until the present time. Then I was but a boy nineteen years of age; now I am over sixty-eight, and in a few months more fifty years will have passed over my head since I was first baptized into this church. How thankful I ought to be that I am still [p.22]living. How thankful I ought to be that I am still numbered with this people. How thankful I ought to be that I have the opportunity and privilege of administering in your public congregations, preaching the words of eternal life, lifting up my voice in humble testimony concerning the great work which the Lord our God has been doing during the last fifty years.
Among the ancient Jewish nation in the land of Palestine there was a law ordained in relation to the fiftieth year. Every fiftieth year was to be a peculiar year in the midst of that nation. There were many special times set apart by the Almighty, as times that were symbolical in their nature; times having reference to the future, among which was the cultivation of the earth for six years, and on the seventh year the land was made to rest. The tribes of Israel cultivated the soil, but they were required on the seventh year to let the whole land rest. I presume that the Lord had in view several things to be symbolized by these six years of labor and the resting on the seventh. This no doubt had a reference to the creation of the heavens and the earth, so that the Israelites might keep in remembrance the great work which was accomplished by the Lord our God in the beginning—the formation or organization of the temporal heavens over our heads, and also of the earth upon which we stand. By resting on the seventh year from all their labors, they symbolized that which existed, or took place, when the seventh period or time came round in the creation. In six days, we are informed, this great work of creation was performed, at least so far as the spiritual portion thereof was concerned. On the seventh day, we are informed by new revelation, as well as instructed in part by old revelation, that the Lord rested. He did not commence resting, as some have supposed, on the sixth day evening, neither at midnight, nor early on the seventh day, because there was a certain work to be performed on the seventh day, which the Lord delayed until that time. On the seventh day the Lord formed the garden of Eden, planted the trees of that garden, laid out the work, beautified it, and also placed man in the garden, having formed his fleshly tabernacle, which was also the work of the morning of the seventh day, and he has informed us that on the morning of that day there was no flesh upon the earth except the man whom he had formed and placed in the garden. Yet all the children of men were created the day previous, or the period previous, called the sixth day, so that they all existed; but the Lord says “in heaven created I them.” They were not created here upon the earth, but they were created in heaven; but on the seventh day man was placed here upon the earth, having a tabernacle of flesh and bones. So says the new translation, or that portion thereof contained in this book, called the “Pearl of Great Price.” I have oftentimes thought, when reading these revelations, that they typified something; or that the Lord would not fully accomplish his work in six thousand years preparatory to the day of rest, but intended, on his part, to do something on the morning of the seventh thousand years, just as he did in the beginning. Was the spirit of man placed on the earth in a body of flesh and bones on the morning of the seventh day of the creation? He was. What was that typical of? Typical of the resurrection, when the righteous will again have fleshly tabernacles, formed, as in the beginning, out of the dust of the earth; when they will come forth from the grave with immortal bodies. These bodies will be flesh and bones, like unto the bodies of the first [p.23]pair that were formed on the morning of the seventh day. Was the first man immortal? He was. Will those who shall be resurrected, or formed from the dust of the grave, in the morning of the seventh thousand years, also be immortal? They will; the one being typical of the other. Was there any curse upon the earth when the first man was permitted to occupy it with a body of flesh and bones? There was not. There was no death; indeed, man was “the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also.” There were no beasts on the earth, no fowls to fly in the firmament of heaven, no fish to swim in the sea. But you may ask, how is this? Do we not read that on the fifth day God created great whales, fish of all kinds that could swim in the sea, &c.? Yes. How was it, then, that there was no flesh on the earth, neither in the sea, on the seventh day till man was placed there? All that we need in reconciling the two chapters is to understand the two creations. Everything was created first spiritual. The fish that swim in the waters were first made spiritual. The fowls that fly in the open firmament of the heavens, that were created also on the fifth day, were made spiritual. Their spirits existed and were formed; but God saw proper that on the seventh day the first flesh that should be on the earth should be man. Afterwards, out of the ground the Lord God made the beasts of the field and every creeping thing, and cattle, and every beast after his kind; that is, in the beginning, the first pairs were formed and placed upon this new creation, not before, but after man was placed here. Is this typical of anything? Yes; typical of the resurrection of beasts as well as of man, according to the revelations contained here in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. Everything to which the Lord has granted life will be brought forth in its time and in its season, be resurrected, receive its body, and the spirits of beasts, and the spirits of fowls, and the spirits of fish and all animated beings will receive their bodies in the resurrection, and be made immortal, as they were on the morning of the seventh day; the one being typical of the other. This is one thing, no doubt, that the Lord intended to symbolize, in order to keep in remembrance before the minds of the children of Israel concerning that first great work of his, “firstly spiritual, and secondly temporal, which was the beginning of his work.”
Another thing intended to be typified by this seventh year, wherein the land was commanded to rest, was to show forth the future, to show forth the last of his work, which will be “firstly temporal and secondly spiritual,” being the last of his work pertaining to this creation. But unto himself there is no beginning nor end of his works, neither to his words. Two great and important things were, therefore, symbolized by these ordinances which the children of Israel were required to observe throughout their generations, namely, the great future of this creation, commencing with the great temporal work in the morning of the seventh thousand years, wherein everything will be restored to its proper condition, as it was in the animal creation, with the fowls and fish and beasts, and man on the morning of the seventh day of creation.
Prior to this time, or during this period of time, wherein this second temporal work will commence, there will be a literal sounding of seven trumpets, as recorded in the book of Doctrine and Covenants, page 278, electrotype edition, which you can read at your leisure. I will give you the words of the revelation, so that you can read it when you go home. It is called the “Key [p.24]to the revelations given to St. John on Patmos.” Joseph, inquiring of the Lord about the sounding of the seven trumpets, is informed that the sounding would take place, not directly near the close of the six thousand years, or rather not during the period of the six thousand years, but after the seventh thousand years should commence. He says that the sounding of the seven trumpets typifies this: “That as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth; even so, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things, and shall redeem all things, except that which he has not put into his power, when he shall have sealed all things, unto the end of all things; and the sounding of the trumpets of the seven angels are the preparing and finishing of his work, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years; the preparing of the way before the time of his coming.” Thus we see, that as man in the beginning “was formed out of the dust of the earth” “on the seventh day,” in his immortal state, so he shall be brought forth in the resurrection from the dust of the grave, on the morning of the seventh thousand years, by the sounding of these trumpets, to inherit certain blessings, even as it was promised in the beginning.
We perceive, therefore, from the revelations of God, that the Lord instituted these ordinances and laws for the children of Israel for a double purpose, not only to commemorate the past, but to keep in the vivid remembrance of the children of Israel the great future, which they were never to lose sight of.
Moreover, they were not only required, in the days of ancient Israel, to let their lands remain uncultivated in the seventh year, and to rest, but the Lord also, in order to doubly fix this idea upon their minds, established what is termed a year of Jubilee. After seven times seven years had passed away—that is, forty-nine years—then came the fiftieth year, which seemed to be above all the rest, so far as the observance thereof was concerned, and so far as certain duties were required at their hands. It was to be a year of rest, a year of jubilee—a year wherein all real estate that had been sold during the past fifty years was to return again to the original owners. They could not sell their lands as we sell ours; that was not permitted; no man could sell his land in that time for fifty-one, fifty-two, nor one hundred years, nor to the people and their heirs forever. No such thing existed in those days as now exist in this and among other nations; their lands could only be sold for fifty years; then came the year of redemption, wherein all lands that were sold were to return to their original owners, or to the tribe, or their descendants, as the case might be; it matters not who bought it or paid for it, that was always understood in the deed of sale. It was the custom in those ancient times to purchase individuals for a certain term of years, in consequence of debts, &c., that they may have contracted; they would buy the people, not exactly as hired servants, but they were compelled, according to the laws of the nation, to remain in servitude for a certain period of time; but that period never extended beyond the year of Jubilee. When that notable year came, all those hand-maidens and servants that may have been sold in consequence of the debts that they had contracted, were to go free; all had the promise of liberty. It was a year of general release from bondage. There are a great many other [p.25]privileges that might be named, set forth in the revelations of God, that existed in the year of Jubilee. Whether such a year will again be established by revelation, I do not certainly know; whether the Lord will command his servants to commemorate past events by the establishment of such a custom, in a time to come, is not fully revealed. It is revealed, however, in part, so that we may draw some conclusions from what has been revealed in ancient times. Moses says, by the word of the Lord, that when that people, Israel, should corrupt themselves before the heavens, and should do after the manner of the abominations of the heathen nations round about—should forget the Lord their God, should bow down to the idols of the heathen nations, and turn away from the Lord, that he would send certain curses upon them, and among those curses they were to be scattered to the uttermost parts of the earth, &c., as mentioned in the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy. A long list of plagues is given that should follow them among all the nations whither they should be driven. After they had experienced all these things, Moses says: “When thou shall return unto the Lord thy God, and shall obey his voice, according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thy heart and with all thy soul; that then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine be driven out unto the utmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: And the Lord thy God will bring thee unto the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shall possess it, and he will do thee good and multiply thee above thy fathers.” Now, notice the conditions of this gathering: “And shall obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day.” What were they commanded in that day? Among other things they were commanded to keep the year of Jubilee; to keep a great many other ordinances, such as the seventh year to let their land rest; also to keep certain feasts, such as the feast of tabernacles and the passover; and many other things, all of which were commanded in that day, and in that age, by the mouth of the servant of God, even Moses; when they should remember all these things, even every commandment, not neglecting one, then the Lord their God, should permit them to enjoy all the blessings of the promised land. I draw the conclusion, from this saying, that there will be a time when Israel shall return to their own lands, and that they will again keep the year of jubilee; I draw the conclusion that they will also offer up, as it is written in the Scriptures, offerings to the Lord; that they will keep all the commandments given unto them through the servant of God, even Moses. How long these institutions, given to Moses, will be observed; how long they will be compelled or required to give heed to that which he commanded them, through Moses, I do not know. The time may come, when they prove to the Lord that they can keep those commandments and do his will—the time may come when some of these ordinances may be done away.
But because such events may happen among Israel in their great future, is no evidence that we, as Latter-day Saints, should institute any of these things among ourselves, unless we are directed by divine revelation from the heavens. I do not know that we are under any obligations to keep any of the ordinances, rites, and ceremonies, that were given in the days of Moses, unless [p.26]we receive direct revelation for ourselves in relation to these matters. If the Lord should, at some future period of the history of this Curch, see proper to give us a commandment to keep every fiftieth year sacred unto him, in order to commemorate certain events that took place in the past, I think that this people will be ready and willing to obey such a commandment.
Among Israel, in ancient days, they had the law of plurality of marriage. Did we adopt that in this Church from these old ancient commandments? No, we did not. Did that give us any authority in the least? No; the laws given to Moses have no bearing upon us, unless God should renew his commandments and laws to us as a people; for we profess, like Israel of old, to be under the direction and guidance of new revelation. Like the Church of God in all former ages, we receive no new ordinances, neither old ordinances, only by new revelation. Did we presume to baptize with water on the authority of old revelation? No. Did we presume to lay hands upon the people to confirm upon them the Holy Ghost, by the authority of ancient revelation? No. Did we presume to establish the Church of Jesus Christ, or organize it, about fifty years ago, because they established one eighteen hundred years ago and upwards? No. Did we presume to officiate in any order of the priesthood by virtue of any ancient revelation given to the ancient Saints? No. We did not undertake to do any of these things by virtue of former revelation; but all we have done in this Church has been done by direct communication and revelation from heaven; all the ordinances that we administer have been directed by new revelation; all the priesthood that this people hold this day was given by new revelation; all the various duties of the priesthood to be performed by us in our day were given by new revelation; and we would not dare presume to enter into this or that form of marriage, pertaining to plural matrimony, by any former revelation; it has been by new revelation that these things have been done.
We say that this is the kingdom of God, established on the earth. We say that it was organized by divine revelation. We say that the authority was sent down from heaven and conferred upon the heads of mortal man in our generation. We have seen these things in the former days of this Church, or at least in the first rise of the Church. The Lord our God was pleased to confer the authority that is symbolized by these pictures here in this hall. We have no authority given by any other people, any other nation, any other sect, any other denomination; we do not consider their pretensions to divine authority worth the ashes of a rye straw—we mean the whole of their authority put together. Hence the Lord has given all these things by his own power. Now, if this be the kingdom of God, as we testify, organized and set up by his own divine will, the authority restored by his own power, the ordinances renewed by divine revelation, what then should we expect in the future? Should we expect to lay down these principles in the future, and say they are no longer required? No. In all our future doings, in all our future journeyings, in all our future administrations among the inhabitants of the earth, from this time henceforth and forever, the Lord our God is our Lawgiver, the Lord our God is our King, the Lord our God is our Revelator, the Lord our God will direct in all these things.
The year of jubilee! These are words that sound very pleasantly to my [p.27]ears. I am looking forward to the Great Jubilee that is now near at hand, and when I hear the words spoken from this stand, when I read these ordinances that were instituted among ancient Israel, and when my thoughts reach out to the great future, to the time when there will be a jubilee indeed, my heart rejoices before the Lord. A jubilee for all the Saints of God, wherein they will be subject to no power, save it be the power of God and the power that he has ordained; wherein there will be no earthly governments to triumph over the Saints of that kingdom; wherein there will be but one government upon the face of the whole earth, and the dominion and the greatness of that dominion and that kingdom will extend forth under the whole heavens. It will be a time of jubilee—a time wherein the inhabitants of the earth will rejoice, a time wherein the inhabitants of heaven will rejoice, a time when the inhabitants of heaven will join with the inhabitants of the earth in one great, grand, general assembly, although we will afterwards be permitted to spread forth in our generations over the face of the earth, to perform various duties required at our hands; but yet, in the commencement of that grand period it will be a general assembly of the Church of the First-born—of the living and the dead who have died in Christ. Jesus will be our King; he will be our Lawgiver; he will reign over us. The resurrected Saints will be with us. We will hear the words of their mouths. They will also be kings and priests; they will administer among their households of the generations that shall be in mortal flesh; they will be called the priests of God, and will administer in power and great glory during the happy period of the Millennium.
A year of Jubilee! No sorrow, no sighing, no bondage among the people of God, but all will be free, full of joy, full of blessings; and this jubilee will last for one thousand years. Amen.
Elder Charles C. Rich
Elder Charles C. Rich
I feel very thankful to enjoy the privilege of meeting with my brethren and sisters in this hall, and of listening to the instructions we have received to-day. I often feel that we are a highly favored people in being permitted to gather together from the different nations of the earth unto these valleys for the purpose of being instructed by the spirit and power of God in relation to the kingdom of God, and the building up of that kingdom on the earth. We are thus a highly favored people, and so far as I am concerned I only feel very desirous that we should appreciate the blessings we enjoy, realizing that they come from our Heavenly Father, realizing that we are in a position to receive such instruction as we need from day to day in order to comprehend his will concerning us, and be willing to perform the labor that is required of us. This should be our study by day and by night, in order that we may comprehend the duties and responsibilities that rest upon us as Saints, that we may perform them in the flesh in a manner that will be acceptable to God our Heavenly Father. We learn from the revelations that we have received, that the labors pertaining to the flesh should be performed whilst in the flesh. We are required to perform labors for our friends that have gone before, labors that they cannot perform for themselves, and should we pass away without doing this work we should fail in our duty. It would be well, therefore, for us to reflect upon these principles—that is, upon the principle of performing the labors [p.28] pertaining to us in the flesh while we are in the flesh. For this purpose we are laboring to build temples to enable us to perform the works we should perform. I sometimes think, however, that we are a little careless in relation to this matter. Having been favored as we have been as Saints of the Most High God, being directed what to do and how to do it, let us be found faithful in the discharge of the duties that are incumbent upon us.
There are no people on the earth that I know anything about who have been so highly favored as we have been. We have had the word of the Lord from the beginning of this Church until the present time in relation to what we should do to build up the kingdom of God on the earth. We have had his servants that have said to us “verily, thus saith the Lord,” do this thing, and that thing in our temporal as well as spiritual affairs that we might perform our duties in a manner acceptable to the Lord our God.
In observing the principles of the everlasting gospel, we find that we are removed from difficulties that other people have to encounter. We find the gospel has a remedy for all our evils. We may have difficulties to encounter, but we have the opportunities of overcoming them. We have the privilege of doing right all the time and not doing wrong. Our words can be for good; our labors can be for good; and our energies can be used for the establishment of righteousness on the earth. This is our privilege, and I trust we are living with an eye single to the glory of God and the building up of his kingdom on the earth, for all other kingdoms, as we have been told, will pass away, but his kingdom will remain forever. We must labor in that direction. We must seek his Holy Spirit to assist us, for without it we can accomplish but very little.
The Elders are sent all over the earth, or over a great portion of the earth, for the purpose of warning the inhabitants of the earth of the judgments to come, and of proclaiming the everlasting gospel that they may have an opportunity of embracing it, and be gathered out with his people. This is a privilege that is offered far and wide to the inhabitants of the earth inasmuch as they will receive it; but we have found that the great majority are not disposed to receive the benefits and blessings of the gospel; only a few out of the many are willing to hearken to the counsels offered unto them. We are among the few that have listened to and obeyed the principles of the gospel, and we are privileged to meet together on this occasion, and other occasions, for the purpose of being instructed in relation to the duties resting upon us. We find we do not learn everything at once. We receive something to-day, and probably something else tomorrow, and so on from time to time, and thus our knowledge increases in relation to the things of God. This is a great blessing to us; and we should embrace every opportunity of overcoming our faults, our follies, and our imperfections, realizing that they do us no good. They are an injury to us, and as fast as we can overcome them so fast are we blessed.
I have thought sometimes that we are more anxious to know some things in relation to the future than we are things pertaining to the present life. I feel that it is a very important matter to comprehend the duties of this life, what we should do, and what we should not do. For instance, if the Lord desires a temple built, it is very desirable that we should know how to build it; [p.29] if the Lord desires that we should go on a mission it is very desirable that we should go on that mission. These are things that we want to understand, and when we understand them we want to be engaged in that labor, and thus be engaged in that work the Lord requires us to perform. We have already learned that the Lord wants us to build temples for the purpose of redeeming our dead. We are engaged in that labor, and I trust we will accomplish the work required at our hands as speedily as possible. I will say, however, that I find a good spirit—and a willing spirit—to engage in this work, and the Lord has blessed those who have labored on these temples. He has poured out his blessings upon them; they have received an abundance to sustain them, and have got means as fast in laboring to build these temples as they did when engaged in other work. The Lord has verily fulfilled his promises in relation to this matter.
We cannot carry with us behind the vail gold and silver, houses and lands, or any earthly substances; but the principles of eternal life—if we practice them in our lives—we will carry them with us. “Straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it,” is a saying of the Savior, and it is for us to reflect upon it. We should never tire in doing good. I once met a man who had reached the years of seventy. He thought he was free, he thought he had labored enough. Now, I do not feel so. I do not think we should feel so, if we live to be a thousand years old. I think we should feel to exert ourselves to accomplish all that the Lord requires of us both in time and eternity.
Brother Pratt has been laboring in this Church almost fifty years. I have been in the Church a long time myself. What do I find in relation to myself? I find that with all my labors, and all the exertions that I have used, I come short of having done all that I would like to have done. The longer we live the more we learn. Then let us make good use of our time. Let us perform all the earthly labors we can, and leave nothing undone, so that when we pass away we shall feel satisfied with our labors in this probation, and receive the welcome “well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Now, the Lord has offered this freely to all, not to one, two, or twenty, but to all.
Well, I feel very thankful that my life has been spared to behold the present day. I am very thankful that I was willing to receive, in the early rise of this Church, the everlasting gospel. I am very thankful that I am able to-day to bear testimony that I know it is true, and I know that if we hearken to the precepts of the gospel, and live up to them, we will receive an inheritance in the celestial kingdom of our God. Let us, then, be found faithful to the duties devolving upon us. Let us live with an eye single to the glory of God, to the building up of his kingdom, and to accomplishing the work he has designed we should accomplish.
That the Lord may bless us, and bless his Saints everywhere, is my prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.[p.30]
President John Taylor (2)
President John Taylor (2)
I have been very much interested—as no doubt you all have—in listening to the principles that have been unfolded to us this day, in this house. I was going to say I almost wish the house was a little larger; but, then, upon reflection, it is right enough; it was not intended to be as large as the tabernacle. The large tabernacle is a place for the assembling of the people in General Conference, and on public occasions, and it has become a question whether we had better go into the other building or continue in this to-morrow. However, the weather is a little cold and inclement at present, and perhaps by the sixth of April it may be a little warmer and more comfortable. If not, we shall have to do the best we can. As I stated, this building is not intended for a General Conference, but for holding meetings in the winter time when the weather is cold, and as a Stake house to hold Priesthood and quarterly Conferences in, where all may be warm and comfortable; and so far as that is concerned, it seems to me that the house will accomplish all that is required in this respect. And then for our Conference meetings we have the large tabernacle, which will hold, I suppose, three or four times more people than this will. I am sorry that there should be a necessity for any to turn away; but we cannot always help these things, and it is better for those that are here to be comfortable, than for all to be uncomfortable, cold and unpleasant.
In regard to the work in which we are engaged, we all feel to a certain extent interested therein, and there are many points that it will be necessary for us to reflect upon. One is, that it is “not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, that shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” And it is for us to square our lives according to the principles laid down for all of us; for all of the officers; for the Twelve and their Counselors; for the Presidents of Stakes and their Counselors; for High Priests, for Seventies, Elders, Priests, Teachers and Deacons; and for every man to magnify his calling with singleness of heart before God, and to feel that God demands of us righteousness, truth and integrity in our hearts; that we cleave unto him, observe his laws and keep his commandments; and if we do this, then the blessings of which we have heard are ours; if we do not we shall not possess them.
I do not wish to talk long, as the time has expired. I thought I would make a very few remarks. There are other things to attend to; but for the present I will desist.
The choir sang an anthem.
Meeting adjourned until Monday, at 10 a.m.
Benediction by Elder FRANKLIN D. RICHARDS.
MONDAY, 10 A.M.
Singing by the choir.
Prayer by Elder CHARLES C. RICH.
Elder Brigham Young
Elder Brigham Young
We have been highly edified during our meetings in this hall, and I am thankful for the privilege of meeting with the Saints in this beautiful building. It is certainly a great improvement upon those brush boweries that we once occupied, and even upon the old tabernacle that formerly stood in this corner of the block. If we are improving as Latter-day Saints in spiritual things, and in union in temporal matters, as we are improving in wealth, in architectural taste, and in all of those amenities that make life agreeable in a temporal point of view, no doubt it is well with us. I presume that we are advancing in the knowledge of God, and that we are preparing ourselves for a future life and exaltation in the kingdom of God. But when we examine ourselves closely, it is evident we are not making the progress in the knowledge of the things of the kingdom of God that we should make, as the representatives of the Almighty in this whole earth. Of all the millions of people that inhabit this globe the Latter-day Saints alone, so far as I know, represent the kingdom of God upon the earth, represent the great latter-day work—the restoration of all things—and are in possession of those ordinances which reach into eternity and which are of so vital importance to the future existence of all mankind. Do we truly realize the importance of the position we occupy? We have had revelation; we are receiving revelation constantly. God has placed us in a position that we may communicate with the heavens, that we may receive inspiration of the Holy Ghost and be actuated thereby in all the labors of this life. But in our daily avocations we fall frequently to enjoy the free flow of that Spirit that comes from above; our humanity too often steps in between, and when this is our condition we become more or less subject to other influences whose work is to deceive and lead astray. There is a principle of revelation which all Saints are required to understand and observe. It is not our province to have angels of God visit us, as they certainly did the Prophet Joseph Smith, when he laid out the broad foundation of the kingdom of God upon the earth. In his case their visits were actually necessary; for nothing short of direct communication with the heavens could have enabled him to do the work he did; in ours it is different. The foundation is already laid according to divine approval and the work of building fairly on its way; revelations communicating the will of the Lord have been given for our profit and general guidance, and it remains with us to carry it on to completion. But there is a principle of revelation in the heart of every Latter-day Saint which, if cherished and encouraged, is calculated to lead us safe in all the minor affairs of life; and we should live, and it is our privilege to so live, as to be operated upon by the influences of the Spirit of God through all our labors until the whisperings of that Spirit shall be constantly with us. Man is in a fallen condition we realize this every day. He looks hither and thither; he casts his [p.32]eyes to the right and to left, and desires this thing and the other thing, and wishes and hopes to obtain them; and thus follows after those earthly possessions, paying heedless regard to more weighty things of the kingdom. Now, the principle of revelation should be in the breast of every Latter-day Saint; it should be there and continue to grow and increase and expand in the hearts of the people until they are thoroughly imbued with that Spirit. It will not come in a day nor perhaps in a year, nor in a series of years; it will take years and years of faithfulness on the part of the Latter-day Saints before their minds can be wholly and fully absorbed by the spirit of revelation, so that every thought and every act will be prompted by the influence of the Spirit of God. It is our duty to encourage that Spirit until it absorbs the whole being, until all our thoughts and actions shall spring from that pure source which comes from above.
Now, that our acts do not comport with this teaching at all times, I am aware; but it is expected of us to grow unto these things; and in order to grow unto them, it is necessary for us to take a course to nourish and cherish this Spirit in our every day associations and conversations, that nothing may obstruct the free flow of the Holy Spirit unto us.
We listen to many things that are pleasing to the ear, but which are not profitable to the mind. This should not be. The things of the world should have no place in the hearts of the Latter-day Saints. If I place myself in a condition to receive the things which are outside of this Church and kingdom; if I associate with people who have denied the faith and who acknowledge not God, who will not bow in obedience to the principles of the everlasting Gospel, and who are, say, spiritualists and infidels—if I associate with such men, I must to a greater or less degree partake of their influence.
Our associations have a great deal to do with either the encouraging or discouraging within us the principle of revelation. For instance, I hear of people calling themselves Latter-day Saints who make a practice of taking their wives and children to beer saloons, and while in such places they get so happy that they shout out the songs of Zion, and seem to enjoy themselves to a great degree. Does anybody know of circumstances of this kind? Yes; we cannot deny it. Who are these people? Are they Latter-day Saints? I should not think so, indeed; although to hear them sing one might be led to believe them the best of people, for they select the choicest ot hymns, and they shout them out before men who make a living by selling intoxicating liquors. To my mind it is casting pearls before swine. Perhaps you may think that is a little strong; but that is the view I take of it. I am aware that all the people do not do this; I am aware, in fact, that they are very few, comparatively speaking. I am not censuring those people who do not do this thing, but there are some people who call themselves Latter-day Saints whose conduct in this respect is censurable. To associate with the drunkard is not the way to encourage the principle of revelation. Every Latter-day Saint is bound to encourage this principle if he desires to attain the blessings that accrue from the everlasting gospel. But there is but one way, one road, and the end thereof is life everlasting.
Now, what shall we do, Latter-day Saints? We are aware of the fact that society is sadly mixed up in this city; and that every engine and power of [p.33]darkness having a tendency to win away the hearts of our sons and daughters, and to allure the weak-minded is at work endeavoring to lead them down to destruction. These local affairs should engage our attention until these evils are rooted out from our midst. And let the line be drawn between those that live their religion and those that do not. The very best way to show them up in their true colors is for us to live our religion and let people see by our works that we are for God and his kingdom.
My prayer is—and I presume it is the prayer of all Latter-day Saints—that God will inspire our hearts to do right, to walk in his paths, and help us to overcome evil with good. Let us have charity. I believe in charity, I would like to have more of it; but I do not consider it is charity for me and mine to indulge in the society of those that are apostates, that are wicked in their hearts, and will deny the covenants which they have made before their Father and God. I do not think it is charity for me to throw pearls before swine. I believe in charity, and at the same time I believe in entire exclusiveness, so far as mixing up my interest and striking hands with the unbelievers is concerned.
That God may help us to cultivate and develop within us the spirit of revelation, until every thought shall be inspired from on high, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Elder Joseph F. Smith
Elder Joseph F. Smith
While listening to Brother Young, my mind reverted to one or two passages in the early revelations given to the Church, which would seem, from the testimony we have had from him, to be somewhat applicable at the present time as well as at the time the revelations were given, and I thought I would refer to, and perhaps read a few of these passages, so that we can reflect upon them ourselves. The speaker then read from the first to the tenth verse of the revelation given to Joseph Smith June 22, 1834, page 377 of the new edition of Doctrine and Covenants; also from a revelation given December 16, 1833, first to the nineteenth verse, same book, page 349.
I realize that I am speaking to people that have joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and as members of that Church, profess faith in the Gospel as it has been revealed in this dispensation. It would seem, sometimes, almost superfluous to keep preaching upon these plain and simple principles, which all ought to understand and be anxious to carry out. Nevertheless we find it necessary, and therefore we continue to preach, expound, exhort and to plead with the people, our brethren and sisters in the covenant of the Gospel, to keep the commandments of God which they have covenanted to keep. The Lord keeps pleading with us; he has to forbear with us, to extend mercy, kindness and forgiveness day after day. For we are very forgetful, careless, indifferent and thoughtless of our duties. It is only when the Spirit of the Lord is upon us that we can really sense the responsibilities that we are under to God and to each other. When we are engaged in the daily avocations of life our minds are occupied with other things; we are thinking how to make means, or get wealth, how to provide for our necessities and to make our families comfortable. These thoughts take possession of our minds and exclude reflections upon the commandments of God which we have covenanted to keep, and which, by keeping, we would avoid all the errors, [p.34]evils and follies that have been referred to by Elder Young, to which so many of us are liable, notwithstanding we are professedly Latter-day Saints. It was said by our Savior, to those who professed to be his disciples, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Now, where I see a Latter-day Saint, or, rather, a person who professes to be a Latter-day Saint, guilty of drunkenness, of profanity, of dishonesty, or cheating his neighbor, or of bearing false witness against his brother, I say in my heart that that man is two-fold more a child of hell than as though he had never been baptized; for “to him that knoweth how to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin,” saith the Apostle James. And verily it is true in relation to those who profess to be Latter-day Saints, who should know to do good, for they have covenanted to do that which is right and forsake that which is evil. That covenant has been made with God, and is recorded in the archives of heaven as well as upon the earth. If we take a course to violate our covenants, we declare our unworthiness before him with whom those covenants are made, who understands the nature of the covenants and of the obligations we are under, and must regard us as transgressors, far more worthy of chastisement than those who have never entered into covenant with the Lord to keep his laws. Is not this correct, sound, just and reasonable doctrine? Is not this the way in which we would judge ourselves and regard one another? Do we not look upon our neighbor, who has made a promise to us and has willfully and intentionally broken that promise, as untrustworthy, as untrue to his word, and unworthy of our confidence and esteem? Certainly. Then how much more will God, who is perfect, who sees clearly the end from the beginning, look upon us with disfavor, who have received the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and therefore the means of knowing the way of life, if we turn away from the truth and disregard our vows and covenants with God and each other. Are we not, under the circumstances, worthy of condemnation and chastisement? If the wicked, who will not repent of their sins, and who therefore know not God nor keep his commandments, will be destroyed for their wickedness, how much more worthy of destruction will they be who, having once repented of their sins and learned the way of life.
It is said here, in the language that I have read, “Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom, otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.” In other words, those who profess to be Latter-day Saints must become acquainted with the laws of the celestial Kingdom, must abide by them, must comply with the requirements of heaven and hearken to the word of the Lord, in order that Zion may be built up acceptably, and that we may partake of the benefits and blessings of this labor. For it is a labor which devolves upon those who have been called out from the midst of the world in this dispensation. We have been called, and so far as we will be faithful we are chosen to do this work. But notwithstanding we have been called, if we do not prove faithful we will be rejected. I do not speak this in reference to the whole Church, but in reference to individual members of the Church; for it is my implicit faith and belief that this work will never cease, that it will never be given to another people, and that the [p.35]purposes and designs of God will be accomplished for he has decreed it. In one sense we are not doing this work, for it is not the work of man, neither individually nor collectively, nor of any single quorum of the priesthood, nor of all the quorums combined, except God is with them. In other words, it is God Almighty who will accomplish this work, and he will use such instruments as he can find for its accomplishment, and those instruments will be honored and blessed of the Lord, and will share in the rewards, exaltation and glory of Zion. Yet the honor, glory and power must be ascribed unto the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and forever, for it is God’s work and not the work of man. We often hear it said that if such and such a man should lead the Church that he would lead it to destruction. I will say, in the name of the Lord, that if any man were to lead the Church of Jesus Christ he would lead it to destruction; that is, if the Church would follow. But I will say, on the other hand, that if God Almighty chooses a man to lead the Church, God will speak through that man. It will not be the man that will lead the Church, but it will be God that will do it through that instrumentality.
But we cannot build up Zion except upon the principles of righteousness. Men must forsake their wickedness, their lusts, covetousness, greed, and love of the pleasures of the world, and bring themselves under the laws of God, or they never will partake of the blessings and glory of Zion. And that is not all. It is said in the book of Doctrine and Covenants, that we must be willing to make a sacrifice of everything that we possess in the world for the Kingdom of God’s sake, and the man or woman that presumes to lay claim to the gift of eternal life, who is unwilling to make this sacrifice, will be offering an insult to the dignity of the Creator. (See Sixth Lecture on Faith.) It is written that we must love the Lord with all our hearts, and our neighbor as we love ourselves. When we reach this point, we shall not be liable to the accusation of loving the world more than we love God. It will then be easy to make any sacrifice for the sake of truth, though it be the sacrifice of life itself; that is, this present life. Jesus said: “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Rather fear God than man. Rather fear to offend the Almighty than to offend mankind. Rather fear to transgress the laws of God than those of men.
There are some few, so called, very good Latter-day Saints, who have formed the acquaintance of those who are not members of the Church, and because of these associations they are led into saloons to drink with them, not daring to refuse for fear of offending their friends! I say a man who is so weak as to do that is not fit to be an Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ, nor to be fellowshipped, or held as in good standing in the ward in which he lives. Why? Because his example is bad. He shows weakness and unworthiness before the Lord and mankind. He has not the strength of character to refuse to join his friend in doing an evil, for fear of offending that friend. The same principle would lead him, and, by his example, others perhaps, to gambling, stealing, profanity, whoredom, or anything else in the catalogue of crime. I love a man who dares refuse to do wrong, no matter where he is nor what the wrong even to drinking hot drinks, or neglecting the “Word of Wisdom.” [p.36]Many of our good people have become so weak that, according to the “Word of Wisdom,” they are not worthy to be called Saints, for it is “adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all Saints who are or can be called Saints.” But says one, “If I am offered a cup of tea or a cup coffee I cannot refuse it.” Then, according to the word of the Lord, you are too weak to be a Latter-day Saint.
It has been said that Brother Joseph F. Smith is “radical.” Perhaps so, for when I give my word I expect to fulfil it; I always have felt so, and always have endeavored to keep my word whenever I have given it. Those to whom my word is given have a right to expect and demand its fulfilment, or a justifiable reason for failing to do so. And if ever I fail to fulfil my word, I hope to be able to give a sufficient reason for it. I do not presume that I am better than the Lord, I do not think that man can be better than God; I therefore suppose that when God has given his word that he will fulfil it; I suppose that when he makes a requirement of men he expects them to comply therewith, and doubly so when they have agreed to comply, and if they fail, I am simple enough to believe with all my heart that God Almighty will demand satisfaction. Does any one call me radical for that? If so, then I confess that I am radical. When I read the laws of God in this good book (the Bible), that the liar, the hypocrite, the sorcerer, and the adulterer, cannot enter the kingdom of heaven, I understand that that is what is meant. I can give it no other construction or meaning, therefore I believe that liars, adulterers, drunkards, sorcerers, &c., &c., will not get into the kingdom of heaven, without they repent and make restitution for the wrongs they have done; God has opened the way of escape for those that will hearken to and avail themselves of the privileges of the Gospel. “Who is there,” says the Lord, “that hath understanding, that I have not called to repentance.” There is not one that God has not called to repentance, which means the forsaking of sin, a departure from evil to do righteousness and walk in the way of life and salvation. I understand that unless we do this we will be weighed in the balance and found wanting. Can you take any other view of these matters? How can a man excuse himself for drunkenness, when he knows that it is injurious to himself, to his family and others, and is forbidden by the law of God, and is a violation of the most sacred covenants he can make? How can a man excuse himself under these circumstances? What reason will he be able to give before God? How can he escape the damnation that awaits the wicked? It is written that “not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.” No; but those who keep the commandments of God, who walk righteously before him; they shall say “Lord, Lord,” and the Lord will hearken unto them.
The cry of the angel was, “Come out of her (Babylon), my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” The doom of Babylon is sealed. The judgments of God will be poured out upon her; they are at the door; the wicked will perish; Babylon will fall, for God has decreed it. They have rejected the prophets, and have shed the blood of the Saints and of those who brought life and salvation unto them. They have cast out the Church of Christ from their midst and have called it evil; they have blackened the character of those that have taken leading parts in the [p.37]Church and Kingdom of God. Therefore, the cup of her iniquity is about full, and the cry is, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Now what will it avail us to come out of Babylon, if we bring Babylon with us, or continue her practices in Zion? It does not look to me as though it would be much benefit. I read, in the sixth chapter of the second epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, something that is applicable to some of us in our present condition. Paul says: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the Temple of God with idols? For ye are the Temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” Do you want any stronger language than that? Do you want any stricter command? for it is the word of God to us, although it is recorded here in the Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, and written eighteen hundred years ago, or more, to the ancient Saints. It applies equally to us. The Bible contains the law of God to this people. The Lord says: “Thou shalt take the things which thou hast received, which have been given unto thee in my Scriptures for a law, to be my law to govern my Church, and he that doeth according to these things shall be saved, and he that doeth them not shall be damned, if he continues.” Thus you see the Bible is in force, and this is the word of the Lord to the people, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing.” Do not assimilate to their ways, but forsake them, and in the name of reason and humanity, for the sake of the kingdom and for your own sakes, do not let it be necessary for an Elder of Israel to repeat on the stand what has been stated this day in your hearing by Elder Brigham Young. Let it not be necessary to proclaim these evils among the Latter-day Saints at a Conference of the people; let it be possible when we come together for the Elders who speak to testify of the good works of the people, of their increasing faith in God, of the power of God manifest in their midst, and to exhort the people to continued faithfulness and progress in the right path, until Zion shall be redeemed, the world subdued, and evil put under foot. Zion must be built up on the principles of righteousness, truth, and obedience to the laws of God; not an ignorant nor a “blind obedience” or submission to the requirements of heaven or the dictates of the priesthood, but an intelligent submission to the laws of God; for the Lord has said that he “requireth the heart and a willing mind, and the willing and the obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days; and the rebellious shall be cut off out of the land of Zion, and shall be sent away, and shall not inherit the land.”
May the Lord bless us as a people, and help us to be united, to be more faithful and upright, to live our religion, so that our righteousness may exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees of this dispensation, and to keep aloof from the wicked and ungodly, is my earnest prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.[p.37]
Counselor Daniel H. Wells
Counselor Daniel H. Wells
I have ever felt loth to bring before a public congregation the misdeeds of a few, lest a credulous public be led to suppose that evil is more prevalent among us than it really is; and for this reason, perhaps, if for no other, I feel ashamed that such things as have been referred to should exist. I have felt rather that people should turn away from evil and cleave to the Lord, and maintain that better character before him, before one another and before the world. It would seem as though it were necessary to bring up such matters, on the principle, perhaps, that a wound in order to be healed should be probed. But it would seem, too, that such things that have been referred to to-day, if they do exist in the church, that while they should not pass unrebuked, there is certainly a more proper time and place to deal with them than before a public congregation.
We are gathering out from the midst of the people of the earth to be taught in the ways of the Lord, and to walk more perfectly in his paths, that we may learn righteousness, and come to a knowledge of the the mind and the will of our Father who is in heaven. God has decreed that he will redeem the earth from sin and wickedness, and establish his own rule and dominion thereon. And it is necessary in order to build up the kingdom of God on the earth that the Lord should have a people prepared with whom he can work, and who will be submissive and ready to do his will. We pray to our Father, saying, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is done in heaven.” Now, how can this come to pass until the Lord has a people who shall be willing to do his will, and who shall be desirous to walk in the path that he marks out for them. Do we realize how very far we are from the Lord’s ways; how we have been instructed in the ways of the world through the traditions and false teachings of generations that are passed, and which we have inherited. We had been taught the precepts of men instead of the commandments of God. Now, however, it is plain that the Lord is endeavoring to work a reformation in the midst of his children; and for this purpose he has made known his laws again, laws which are calculated to redeem the people from the thraldom of sin and iniquity so prevalent in the world; and he has made them applicable to this generation, hence they are in force upon the human family. He has brought them home to our senses, and it is with delight that we behold them in contrast with the erroneous teachings we have received from men who have professed to be the teachers of religion, who have professed to be the servants of God, who have professed to stand in holy places and to lead the people in the way of life and salvation—I say, they have proposed to do all these things, whereas they have neither the authority nor the knowledge to do so, because they have not been called of the Lord for that purpose, nor have they the revealed will of heaven to direct them. They have sought to teach their own will; they themselves are blind, and they lead the blind, and they must sooner or later fall into the pit together. Our minds, however, have been touched with the Spirit of the living God, made manifest unto us. And this is what inspired us to come out from the midst of the world to these valleys of the mountains, where the Lord has appointed to build a Zion unto his holy name, where he has condescended to establish his authority, and also to build temples in which to attend to the ordinances of his house. We have [p.39]been gathered from the midst of the nations with this object in view under the inspiration of the Almighty, to do his will and to bring to pass his purposes and establish his purposes upon the earth. Is not this what has actuated us and brought us together to these valleys? If there was any other motive or design I do not know what it was. There are places more desirable to men than these sterile valleys; there are places where the land is richer and where better seasons prevail, and where more profitable results can be obtained in many respects; for this is not so very desirable a country, in fact a great portion of it is very undesirable and unprofitable to man for settlements. But it is not for the sake of wealth that we have come here; it is to be taught in the ways of the Lord, and to walk in his
Reference has been made this afternoon to the words, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and that he receive not of her plagues.” Now, we have gathered bodily, but if we have brought with us the evils that are so prevalent in the world, have we gathered in the spirit as the people of God should gather? No. We might just as well have stayed in the world, and it would have been better indeed to have done so, than to drag the evils of the world into the midst of Zion. Any people who will corrupt their ways before the Lord are bound for destruction, according to the words of the Lord through the prophets. The principles of truth and virtue, and of temperance and honesty are the foundation of exaltation, and just as certain as people will practise them they will be exalted; and just as sure as they indulge in iniquity, it will lead them down to death and destruction, and that, too, upon natural principles. There is the way of life, and there is the way of death set before us, and it is for us to choose the course we will take; it is through obedience to the principles of life we shall obtain an exaltation in the celestial kingdom and upon no other. If a person ever inherits a celestial glory can he inherit it upon any other principle than that of obeying the laws of that kingdom? No; because all kingdoms have laws, and a person can only attain to the glory and benefit of that kingdom, the laws of which he observes to keep. This is the way I read and understand the revelations of the Lord.
Now, would it not be better to endeavor to find out the will of God our Heavenly Father concerning ourselves, and live so as to enjoy the light of his spirit to guide us in the duties of life? I think it certainly would. The best investment a man can make is to give his all into the kingdom of God, to hold himself on the altar ready for the Master’s use, to place his ability, his time and means at his command to further the purposes of his Father in Heaven, and thus accomplish his design and purpose in bringing him into this state of existence. It is no haphazard matter that we have been born in this day and generation, a day in which God has revealed his mind and will to the children of men. He has withheld these spirits to come forth when he should again reveal the laws, that peradventure there might be those upon the earth who would receive his laws and assist to bring to pass his purposes and designs, because it is through the instrumentality of his children that he will bring forth his kingdom and prepare the way for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to rule. For he will rule, even from the rivers to the ends of the earth, for the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof; it belongs to him; it is his [p.40]right to rule, dictate, and lead forth; and it is only a question of time when he will do so.
I feel well in this work. I cannot express the gratitude that I feel to the Lord that he has made manifest unto us his law, his will, the principles of the holy gospel, and that he has brought them home to our understanding. We have the privilege of learning to know God, whom to know, the Apostle says, is life eternal. Now, if to know him is life eternal, we cannot attain to eternal life without a knowledge of him. And how can we become acquainted with God unless he reveals himself? He has, however, revealed himself to man in this our day. We have partially become acquainted with him; we know who he is, and who we are, and we know his purpose and design in bringing us into this state of existence. It is for us to learn the will and design of God our Father concerning us as his children in this probation, that we may fulfil the full measure thereof, and be worthy to return into his presence from whence we have come. No second or third rate glory will satisfy the Saints of God. Nothing short of a full and complete salvation in the celestial kingdom of God, can answer their desires and aspirations. But how do we expect to attain to that glory? As I have already observed, there is no other way save that of keeping a celestial law. This is plainly set forth here in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, it having been revealed to the servant of the Lord in the day and age in which we live. We do not go back to the mysterious ages in order to attain this knowledge. God has revealed it to us in this our day; and although we do believe in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants, nevertheless we have also the living oracles here day by day to teach us in the ways of truth and righteousness. Can we govern and control ourselves? We can partly, but I can conceive that in a great many instances we could do much better. Many of us, no doubt, are doing as well as we can, and yet we are not doing as well as we know how. We, perhaps, know a great many things which may be utterly impossible for us to bring into actual practice owing to surrounding circumstances; but yet many are doing the best they can, and we should all the time try to do as well as we know how. Our struggle should be to progress in the knowledge of God and the things pertaining to eternal life, that our course may be onward and upward until we “all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” It is true we are imperfect; the traditions of our fathers are upon us, and I know of and could point out a great many things that are erroneous which our fathers in their ignorance taught and practised. But there is one thing that people who live in this day will have to account for, and that is, their presuming to administer in sacred places the precepts of men instead of the ordinances which pertain to the house of God, thereby leading people away from the truth.
We live in a peculiar age of the world. We live in a day when the God of heaven is establishing his kingdom to bring to pass his purposes, preparatory to the millennial reign. We live in a day when we are building temples in which a work may be performed for those who have died in ignorance of the gospel, that they may also be saved. The gospel plan reaches out to and includes all the children of men; it is ample to save all who will bow and live [p.41]in obedience to its teachings. If a person has not had an opportunity of receiving the gospel in this world, he will have an opportunity of doing so in the next, in the place of departed spirits. And the labor of the Elders of Israel who die and pass into the Spirit world, clothed upon with the authority of the holy priesthood—is to preach to them the principles of the holy gospel, that they may live according to God in the spirit and be judged according to men in
Well, I pray God to help us to live our religion, because in it there is life and salvation—I was going to say, in this world, as well as in the world to come. And so there is. The principles of the gospel are calculated in their nature to elevate mankind in the scale of human existence, and are fraught with salvation to men in this time as well as in the time to come. I pray God to bless all those who seek to work righteousness in all the earth, and especially to remember the household of faith, I pray that he may preserve us from stepping into bye and forbidden paths; that we may be instruments in his hands in bringing to pass his purposes and in upholding the principles of truth, because there are but few who are disposed to do this. The great tendency of the age is to wickedness and corruption, and there are but few comparatively who will receive the truth. Let us sustain these principles like an unbroken phalanx, standing shoulder to shoulder, that the enemy may not make an inroad in our midst. In union there is strength. If therefore we can carry out these things unitedly, we will be able to exert a greater power not only in the world but before the Lord.
May God bless us to this end is my prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.
The choir sang an anthem.
Elder ERASTUS SNOW dismissed by prayer.
On Monday afternoon the Assembly Hall was again completely filled. Singing by the choir.
Prayer by Elder JOSEPH E. TAYLOR.
President Joseph Young
President Joseph Young
He recollected the day when the Church consisted of a mere handful of people scattered over two or three States of the Union. In traveling to visit them an Elder was greeted with the sound, ”There goes a Mormon!” Now, from Idaho to Arizona, through hundreds of miles, the settlements of the Saints extend and the people greet an Elder with joy and friendship. It was the work of the Lord and caused astonishment. He was the Author of it, and his hand was over all, guiding the destiny of the greatest, and caring even for the sparrow. By his Spirit we were guided, and it was to carry the tidings of [p.42]his work that we traveled or sent our brethren to the ends of the earth. The speaker described the condition of the world in regard to religion, referring to the ignorance and fallacies that prevailed. He portrayed the Spirit of Christ and its effects upon the human heart, and expressed his full confidence in the Lord and the triumph of this work. Exhorted both young and old to plant within their hearts a reservoir of truth, and to live so as to know that God lives, and that they were accepted of him. Whenever Christian sects had enjoyed a portion of the spirit of truth, and rejected this Gospel when it came to them, they had lost the measure of the spirit previously bestowed. Those who had accepted this work received the power of God and a testimony of the truth and lost the fear of death. He bore testimony that the time was near when God would shake the earth and all things would tremble, and none but the righteous could stand. He wanted to know that his brethren and sisters were taking a course that was pleasing in the sight of God, staying themselves on the promises of God, training their children—the hope of Israel—in the fear of the Lord, so that when the terrible things predicted by the Savior and the prophets take place before their eyes, they may be on the watch tower and prepared for every emergency.
Elder A. O. Smoot
Elder A. O. Smoot
Expressed his pleasure at the instructions that had been imparted during these meetings. Referring to the sharp reproofs administered in the forenoon to some of the Latter-day “Mormons,” it occurred to him that there were others at fault besides the drinkers and swearers. He asked himself where were the priests and teachers when these evils were taking place. If the teachers were aware of these things, had they discharged their duty towards the transgressors? If they had done this, and failing to work a reformation, had they reported those cases to the Bishops? If so, they had done well, and the fault would lay with the Bishop, unless he attended to these evil doers. He would ask, why not apply the remedy? Let the erring brother who would not reform go in peace and no longer be held in fellowship to spread the evil example. He thought perhaps some of the officers slept upon their rights and duties, and neglected the injunctions of the revelations concerning these matters. If we allowed these evils to exist, their influence would be demoralizing. All are subject to weaknesses, but when we are once overcome thereby, it should prove a warning, and we should take care not to be ever again over-taken in a similar way. In the course of forty years’ experience he had seen men holding official position in the priesthood committing the evils spoken of, and their faults had been let slip. Why were these cases not alluded to? Why was not the inside of the platter cleaned? There was a fault somewhere; he would leave others to say where it was. God had commenced to establish his kingdom on the earth, and had so organized his priesthood that these irregularities could be checked and wickedness purged out. The speaker bore testimony that this was the kingdom that Daniel saw; in spite of their imperfections, this was the people whom the Lord cherished; this was the priesthood that would regulate all things according to the heavenly pattern; and many before him in the congregation were destined to be priests and kings unto the Most High God. He had nought but blessings in his heart for the faithful, [p.43]and he besought the Lord to preserve them from the evils that predominate in the world, enable them to magnify their calling, that Israel might triumph and the enemy be placed beneath their feet.
Elder John Van Cott
Elder John Van Cott
Referred to the prophesies concerning the redemption of the remnants of Jacob, and rejoiced to hear of the work which was being accomplished among them. While Elder Orson Pratt was speaking, he remembered that he (the speaker), when a boy of sixteen, had the privilege of witnessing the baptism of Elder Pratt, and was the only member of the Church now living who witnessed it. It was forty-nine years ago last September. It was some years after that he himself was baptized, but at that time he received a witness of the truth, and it never left him wherever he went. If it were not for that testimony he would not be here this day. It was a similar witness that had induced the Saints from every part of the earth to gather to these mountains. It was time that we should become united and prepared for those important events predicted which were near at hand. We should refrain from evil, obtain the power to discern the signs of the times and of the coming of the Son of Man, cultivate the spirit of meekness, forbearance and long suffering, and seek to God for wisdom that we might be prepared for the great change that is to come on the earth.
The choir sang an anthem.
Benediction by Elder ORSON PRATT.
SALT LAKE CITY, Tuesday, April 6, A. D. 1880.
The Fiftieth Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints convened in the Large Tabernacle at 10 A. M. An immense audience assembled, nearly filling the huge building, galleries included, On the stand were:
President John Taylor, and Elders Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, Charles C. Rich, Erastus Snow, Lorenzo Snow, F. D. Richards, Brigham Young, Joseph F. Smith, Albert Carrington and Moses Thatcher, of the Council of the Twelve Apostles.
Counselor to the Twelve, Daniel H. Wells. Patriarch John Smith.
Of the Seven Presidents of Seventies, Joseph Young, Horace S. Eldredge, Levi W. Hancock and John Van Cott.
Of the Presiding Bishops, Edward Hunter, Leonard W. Hardy and Robert T. Burton.
The Presidency of Salt Lake and other Stakes, with members of High
Councils, Bishops and leading Elders from various parts of the Territory. Conference was called to order by President John Taylor. Choir sang:
“Great God attend while Zion sings
The joy that from thy presence springs.”
Elder Orson Pratt (2)
Elder Orson Pratt (2)
O God, the Eternal Father of Heaven and of earth, we thy children, thy sons and daughters, have assembled ourselves together on this the 6th day of April—the day appointed and set apart for the General Conference of thy Saints from year to year—we have assembled in this large and commodious Tabernacle, for the purpose of commemorating this day, and of hearing the words that may be spoken from this stand, and also of giving in our votes and our voices unitedly in relation to all business matters that pertain to the Church of God here on the earth that may be transacted on this occasion.
We thank thee, Holy Father, that we have been permitted to receive the fulness of the everlasting Gospel revealed anew in this great last dispensation of the fulness of times. We thank thee that thou hast organized thy Church and established the kingdom that was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, and other holy men that lived in ancient times, in fulfilment of their words, and [p.45]that it has been organized to stand forever, never more to be destroyed or given into the hands of other people.
And we thank thee, Holy Father, that in the midst of all the persecutions and difficulties we have encountered during the fifty years now being brought to a close, that thou hast sustained us, that thou hast not utterly cast us off, that thou hast not suffered us to become victims to our enemies and to those that have persecuted us; but that thou hast sustained thy Saints, and brought them into these mountain valleys, and planted them in the midst of the vastnesses of these everlasting hills, and spread them forth upon the right and upon the left, until we have become a great and a numerous people.
We thank thee for the great gathering which thou hast commanded and inaugurated in this dispensation—the gathering of thine elect, the gathering of the Saints of the Most High—that we have been permitted to come from all the various nations wherever the Gospel has been preached and churches raised up, and establish ourselves in these mountain vales.
We thank thee, O Lord, for all thy peculiar care and thy great mercies that have been extended to this people. Notwithstanding our many imperfections, our many follies and sins, thine eyes have been upon us for good. Thou hast raised us up; thou hast strengthened our hands; thou hast encouraged us in our work; thou hast visited us by the manifestations of thy Spirit; thou hast given revelations from time to time to strengthen thy servants and encourage thy Saints. And we thank thee for all these blessings in the name of thy beloved Son. And as the fiftieth year since the organization of thy Church is now about drawing to a close, we pray that thy peculiar blessings may continue to rest upon thy people, and that we may be able to esteem the past year since our General Conference as a year of jubilee to the Latter-day Saints. And we pray that as the close of this year of jubilee will come to an end this day, notwithstanding the close thereof, that we may, in all our future years, humble ourselves before the Lord our God and keep thy commandments blameless, and walk in all thy ordinances and the institutions of thy kingdom, and serve the Lord our God, and be united more perfectly according to the law which thou hast given concerning the union of thy people.
Bless, we humbly pray, thy servant Brother Taylor. Thou hast raised him up by thy power, and placed him in a high and important position in thy Church, to preside, in connection with his brethren, the Apostles, over the affairs of this great latter-day Kingdom. We pray that thou wilt inspire him with great and important knowledge and information for the welfare and happiness and benefit of the Saints over whom he presides. Bless him abundantly with the spirit of revelation; bless him with the visions of eternity; bless him with knowledge that comes down from heaven; bless him with the discernment of thy spirit; bless him in all things, and qualify him for the important and high position in this thy Church and thy Kingdom, in this thine earth.
Bless his brethren, the Apostles; fill them with the Holy Ghost, inspire their hearts from on high, and give unto them the spirit of counsel and wisdom, that they may impart unto these thy people that which shall benefit them and build them up in their most holy faith, Bless all the Presidents of the Stakes of Zion and their Counselors, and also the Bishops, and also the [p.46] various wards in every Stake. Bless them with inspiration, with the knowledge of God, with an understanding of their several duties and callings; and may thy servants, from the highest to the least, in all the various councils of the priesthood, be inspired from on high, and thus be able to carry out the great purposes which thou hast intended concerning the everlasting priesthood again sent down from heaven and conferred upon man.
We pray, O Lord, that the work of the gathering of thy Saints may continue, that thine Israel may be gathered from all nations and peoples under the whole heavens, to dwell in these mountain valleys, and become a great people, that the borders of Zion may be stretched out, and the cords of Zion be strengthened, and thy people be prepared with one heart and one mind for that great redemption which thou hast promised to them in the latter days.
Let thy blessing, O Lord, be upon this congregation, upon every man, every woman, every child and every person that attends whose heart is desirous of serving the Lord his God. May the spirit of inspiration rest upon them all. May the Spirit of the Most High impart peace and consolation to all who may be sick and afflicted, that are not permitted to meet with us this day—may they find favor in the sight of God, may thine angels be sent forth to minister unto them, that they may be comforted, raised up and healed, and that the destroyer may be rebuked from the midst of this people in every settlement.
O Lord, we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, that during the convention of our Conference from day to day until the close thereof, that the Lord our God may be in the midst of this people, that thine angels may be round about us, that the heavenly hosts may rejoice over us, that the vision of our minds may be opened to contemplate the things of God; and and that all who speak may speak by the inspiration of thy Spirit, and all be edified together. We ask thee, O Lord, to let thy blessing be upon all the missionaries that are sent forth into the nations of the earth, that they may go in power, go in strength, filled with the Spirit and power of God, filled with courage and holy boldness to carry forth among the children of men the glorious Gospel of the Son of Man, revealed in these latter days for the benefit of the human family.
Hear us, O Lord, in these our supplications. Be with us in our deliberations. Assist us in this Conference, and smile upon us from thy holy habitation. And when we have fully accomplished the work which thou hast given us to do in this probation, may we be prepared to go into thy kingdom, behold thy face, and receive that welcome plaudit, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, and inherit the kingdom prepared for you from before the foundation of the world.” These, together with all other blessings which we should pray for, we seek for at this time, not in our own name, but in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
“When earth in bondage long had lain,
And darkness o’er the nations reigned.”
PRESIDENT JOHN TAYLOR announced that important business would be transacted to-morrow, in which the Salt Lake, Utah, Davis and Weber Stakes, were particularly interested, and he wished the presidents of these Stakes and as many others as possible, to be present.[p.47]
Elder Franklin D. Richards
Elder Franklin D. Richards
It is very pleasing to find that we have so peaceful and favorable an opportunity, in every general respect, of meeting together on this the fiftieth anniversary of the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints upon the earth in this the last dispensation. Let us endeavor to calm our minds, call in the wandering thoughts and exercise our faith, that we may receive an abundant measure of the Holy Spirit to rest upon us; for if we seek it I am sure the Lord will be greatly pleased to bestow it upon us during this Conference. When we contemplate, in the light of history, what fifty years have done towards bringing forward the work of the Lord in the earth, and of disseminating a knowledge of the principles of the Gospel which he has revealed, and observe the results that these labors and efforts have accomplished toward building up the Kingdom of God, we have reason, if we can only sense it, to feel that he has done great things for his people, whereof we ought to be very glad. Indeed, to contemplate it in its various bearings, and the relationship which this work sustains to the whole human family and to the spirits departed, it is indeed so wonderful that we might exclaim, like
As this is our jubilee year, let us, as Israel did in ancient times, look back and recount our doings, review our condition and surroundings. On every fiftieth year they redeemed their brethren that were in bondage, the homestead that had been pledged for the necessaries of life; and they reviewed their business transactions of previous years, that they might place everything right between themselves and before the Lord. Even the strangers that were among them were remembered, for, saith the Lord, “Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Let us seek for the spirit of jubilee as designed of God, and as shall be best, most happily and profitably entertained by man. For, indeed, if fifty years have brought to pass the creation and existence of a Territory with over a hundred thousand of our people in it, what shall the next fifty years produce by the blessing of the Most High upon the exertions yet to be made, if we shall but abide in his favor, and thus inherit his multiplied blessings! We are not apt to realize the achievements of the past, when we but consider the period of a day, a week, or even a year. If we watch the hands on a clock we scarcely discern that they move; but if we look once in an hour, we note the lapse of time and observe the events that have occurred during that hour. So let us contemplate upon the dial of time a few of the events that have transpired with us as a community, and recount with thanksgiving and praise some of those things which God has done for the deliverance of his people.
History informs us that when the Church in Missouri was in straitened circumstances being sorely distressed, and the enemies of God’s people camped round about; at the time appointed for the onset, the Lord sent thunders, lightnings, rain, hail and tempests, with such a destructive flood, that the mob found enough to do to save their own lives and attend to the safety of their families; several of them did It will be remembered by those who knew the Prophet Joseph, that he was worried as a lamb is worried by the wolves; that he scarcely knew rest or [p.48]peace because of the wicked, who sought him continually for their prey. The Lord raised up a man who was a judge in the land, whose name was Stephen A. Douglas. He favored this people in that he gave to them even and fair-handed justice in his court, so that they might enjoy, in some small degree, the rights, privileges, liberties and powers guaranteed to them by the Constitution and laws of their country. This fair and honorable administration of justice in behalf of the Prophet and some of his friends, won for him the respect of the Saints and the favor of the Lord, insomuch that Joseph told him if he would continue to protect the fights of this people, he should go on to greatness and power and attain to his utmost ambition in righteousness before the Lord. He became a Senator in Congress, and finally a candidate for the Presidency; and with the goal of his hopes fairly in view, like the dog in the fable, who, while crossing the stream with a piece of meat in his mouth, saw the shadow of it in the water, and grasping at it, dropped the substance, so did he; in the political crusades against us he declared himself in favor of putting the knife into the loathsome ulcer of “Mormonism,” and cutting it out of the side of the body politic. And what became of him? He went to the Convention in Carolina, and there his party split and he failed to get the nomination. Under this disappointment his light grew dim, and a short period of Senatorial labor ended his mortal career. Whereas, if he had persevered in maintaining the right, he might have gone on to the fulfilment of Joseph’s prophesy, reaching the acme of his ambition, and made for himself in that position a name that would have
Let us look a little farther, and see what God has done for us in some other instances. About the time when we were considered no longer fit to have place among mankind in the States, when the people around had determined that we must go hence, and when we had laid our course for the mountains, who should rise up and, acting in the interest of Government, impose upon us a most extraordinary and destructive measure, seeking to encompass our destruction in the wilderness, but the celebrated Senator, Thomas H. Bentoh, who had acquired the cognomen of “Old Bullion.” This was accomplished by a requisition on our President, Brigham Young, demanding that five hundred of our young men should be called out of our camps to go to war to help to make the conquest of Mexico. Did we refuse compliance? Not at all; but, on the contrary, in the midst of the most adverse, destitute and trying circumstances, it was submitted to; and the full complement of our young men went forth and did honor to the arms of the nation, and God blessed them and preserved them, that not one of them fell by the hands of a deadly foe. But what became of the Senator who, in the wickedness of his heart, did this? I will not say that God took him away because of his injustice to us, but he was soon after afflicted with a cancer in his inner parts, which caused his death.
You remember what was called the Buchanan War—the speculators’ war, or war on the Treasury—when a detail of picked troops, comprising the flower of the United States army, came out to fight the “Mormons.” But the Prophet told them to stop at Fort Bridger, and they stopped there until their ardor cooled, being blockaded in the snow, and having to consume some of [p.49]their mules for food, while we herded their cattle for them. Nor did they move the following season until the President of the United States sent out his commissioners to negotiate with President Young, when they were allowed to pass quietly through our city and go to Camp Floyd. Do we forget these things? Or do we remember that the forest of polished bayonets which glistened in the sunlight, looking terrible indeed, became as harmless as the trees that grow, and afterwards, when they broke camp, helped to furnish us with steel and iron and other articles which we then greatly needed. These are some of the Lord’s doings. We should not and cannot overlook nor forget them.
Who does not remember the deadly strife that ensued in the United States, when father and son went to war against each other, when the armies of the North and South met each other in mortal combat? Through this terrible ordeal we were here in these mountains safe and secure; we did not have to take part in the terrible conflict, nor to bleed upon the battlefield. Has not the Lord been very kind to us, even while he has permitted the wicked to afflict and chastise us? There are other things I wish to call your attention to, which loom up before me.
After we came here and had, by the wisdom and counsel of God, established ourselves—not by roaming the hills hunting for minerals and will-o’-the-wisps, but by making homes, gardens and orchards, beautifying and tilling the land, and by making families comfortable and our homes desirable, officers were sent here by the Government to rule over us; and they, in the evil spirit of their hearts, began to persecute and afflict us. You remember that a governor was sent here by the name of Shaeffer, and that the great distinguishing act of his official career was the issuing of a proclamation forbidding this people to bear arms and commanding them to refrain from making any military display in their celebration of the Fourth of July, and that, too, when the Constitution of our country distinctly says that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” and we, in an Indian country! But what became of this unrighteous man? He had hardly seen the order carried into execution, when his bones were carried away to be buried with those of his kindred somewhere in the States.
Who does not remember Judge McKean, who came here with power from Government and with the authority of the Methodist Church, as a missionary jurist, to oppress and humble us before the nation and before the world? Who of us can forget the morning when he ignominiously dragged President Young to his Court over a stable, to answer certain illegal indictments and false charges? During about a year and a half of official career, this man, by perverting and misapplying the laws, and by utterly disregarding the well established principles of jurisprudence, procured convictions of some of our citizens through illegal juries. But a single case carried up to the Supreme Court at Washington reversed his decisions, invalidated the greater part of his official acts, and made President Young a free man, after having been confined a prisoner in his own house for several months. Where is this judicial luminary now? “This day thy soul shall be required of thee,” was written upon the wall of his habitation, and he has gone to his account; but his words to President Young are still fresh in our minds—” While the case at bar is called ‘The People versus Brigham Young,’ its other and real title is, ‘Federal [p.50] Authority versus Polygamic Theocracy.” Also his tantalization of Thomas Hawkins, when he had him by maladministration in his power: “I am sorry for you, very sorry; you may not think so now, but I shall try to make you think so by the mercy which I shall show you”—which mercy consisted of a sentence of five hundred dollars fine and three years imprisonment.
When we look back upon these things, which give us, however, but a faint glimmer of the wisdom of God in delivering and preserving his people; without arrogating anything to ourselves, we may truly say, “God has glorified himself and exalted his people.” Have we not reason for thankfulness, and can we help feeling that he has acknowledged, at least, in the dispensations of his providence to us, that this is his work and that we are the children of his covenant? We are to-day in the hands of God, our Father, whose mercies are abundant, and whose blessings are multiplied upon us. Let us then take into consideration, the goodness of our God, his preservation of us in hours of trial and danger, and in every circumstance and condition of life; for we have individually as well as collectively the greatest reason to praise his holy name for the grace we have received at his hands, in sustaining us and helping us to thus far overcome. The Lord is having a people which is a tried people. Let us rejoice that we are in the crucible and counted worthy to be tried. But, my brethren, let us rise up in holy boldness against, and put away far from us, the accursed things which the wicked have brought among us, and which to-day are fostered and encouraged by them in our midst; even as drunkenness, whoredom, stealing, and kindred vices, that are fast becoming popular among many of our youth, whose hearts are sought thereby to be drawn away from the Lord by corruption and wickedness. It is time the Elders of Israel were putting on the sword of the Spirit, to do battle against these things.
The Lord has said that Zion shall be redeemed by judgment, but her converts by righteousness. He has strictly enjoined upon us that we shall not go to war with our enemies. “Judgment is mine,” saith the Lord, “and I will repay.” Then we have not time nor occasion to go to war, nor to study the means of destruction and death; on the contrary, we are called upon, and it is our pleasing duty, to study and develop the elements of life—the spirit of faith in the everlasting Gospel. What better can we do, in this our year of jubilee, in token of our gratitude to God for the abundance of his favors bestowed upon us, than to do good to each other, and to make glad the hearts of the poor in Israel? The authorities of the Church are thinking of doing something by way of aiding such as are needy. The officers of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company calculate to relieve in part the worthy poor, who are owing for their emigration; and as President Taylor suggested in public on Sunday, let us all do something to aid the poor and make the hearts of the Saints rejoice, and see that no one is allowed to suffer. This same charitable feeling should extend through all our Co-operative Institutions; our rich brethren merchants who have got debts owing to them by the worthy poor, who are struggling with adversity in the world for a subsistence, let them get out their accounts and send them receipted, either in full or in part, to their debtors, as the case may be, with a note of forgiveness, telling them to lift up their heads and rejoice, and the Lord will bless them for it. Let the rich men in our Territory, who have been blessed to accumulate means, and who hold [p.51]notes drawing interest against their poor brethren, look over their papers, and where they find a note given by their poor but worthy brother, who has perhaps mortgaged his home and is in danger of being sold out, let them forgive the debt, and thus our rich brethren may help fulfil the prophecy that the poor shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. There are those who have borrowed money, and whose homes stand pledged for the payment thereof, who have incurred debt through misfortune, or hard times, or perhaps through sickness, and who deserve relief—I would say to all the brethren who may be the creditors of such persons, go to and make yourselves their benefactors, and establish the principle in the hearts of God’s people—” Make to yourselves friends with the mammon of unrighteousness, that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.” For your riches may take the wings of the morning, when you least expect it, and fly away; or they may burn up and you be left destitute.
And if the people of the Territory everywhere, who have means, and who have poor relations or friends in the old country—for there are families scattered throughout those lands who perhaps never have a chance to attend a meeting of the Saints—would wake up and send for a ship-load or two of them, not those who are able to bring themselves, but the poor, whose hearts beat low and whose hopes have become forlorn, and who despair of ever getting out on their own account. This too would be a fitting and proper thing to do on this rare occasion, and one that would bring blessing and joy to all concerned; and thus the glad tidings of our jubilee would reach to those afar off, and they would be made to know that there is a people on the earth who remember their God, their covenants and their poor afflicted brethren.
There is a great deal that might be said on this subject, but I will leave it to be said by my brethren who are yet to speak. I perhaps ought to say that the object of granting relief to those indebted to the P. E. Fund Company, is not to benefit those who are able to pay, but those who are poor, unfortunate or suffering, having no prospect of being able to pay, that such of our brethren may be stimulated to fresh courage and to go on in the progress of the Gospel of life and salvation.
Will not efforts like these awaken a sense of duty in those who are in need of and receive our mercy, and thus make all hearts glad? And will not our Father in Heaven and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the angels, and the spirits of the just awaiting us, will they not all join with us in thanksgiving and praise to Jehovah for even the little good we are trying to do on the earth?
That the Lord may pour out the spirit of jubilee upon us, and help us to continue with gratifying results the labors of the cause of truth on the earth, is my earnest prayer and desire, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Elder L. JOHN NUTTALL read the statistical report of the various Stakes.
President TAYLOR said, as the house was rather cold the meeting would not be prolonged.
The choir sang the anthem,
“Who is like unto thee, O LORD.”
Adjourned till 2 p.m.
Dismissed with prayer by Elder LORENZ0 SNOW.
TUESDAY, 2 P.M.
“From Greenland’s icy mountains,
From India’s coral strand.”
Prayer by Elder ALBERT CARRINGTON. Choir sang,
“Ye Gentile nations cease your strife
And listen to the words of life,”
Elder L. JOHN NUTTALL read the financial report of the Trustee in Trust, containing a detailed statement of the receipts and disbursements during the year 1879.
President TAYLOR stated that vouchers were on hand for all the accounts read, and thought that the Auditing Committee should examine them.
Elder LORENZO SNOW moved that we accept the report, and that it be referred, with the accompanying documents, to the Auditing Committee. The motion was seconded and carried unanimously.
The financial report of the Logan Temple was then read, also of the Manti Temple.
An exhibit of the receipts and expenditures of the Perpetual Emigration Fund for the past six months, was presented.
Elder Erastus Snow
Elder Erastus Snow
I am somewhat weary from journeying, but I will try, if the congregation will be as quiet as possible, to make myself heard the short time I may speak.
I congratulate myself, my brethren and the people generally on this auspicious occasion—the end of our fiftieth year in our organized capacity, as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and on the general outlook, the prosperity that is attending our efforts, the general peace that prevails throughout our land, the goodly degree of unanimity and fellowship and brotherly love existing among the people as shown in the general good feeling that is manifest in all the quarterly conferences and Stakes of Zion, as well as in the interest shown by the people at large on this occasion. The financial reports which we have heard, coupled with the general reports of school superintendents and other public functionaries to the Legislative Assembly during the last winter, tend to show the general advancement and progress of the people in all that is calculated to elevate and exalt a nation. The great number of meetinghouses and schoolhouses, and pupils in attendance in our district schools, and also in the more advanced schools of the Territory, are very gratifying; and the general health of the people at large, and all sources of gratitude and thanksgiving, calling forth our devotion to our Father, the Creator.
The discourse this morning by Elder F. D. Richards foreshadows what was anciently figured by the year of jubilee, and as understood and practised by ancient Israel, namely, the severing of the bonds with which the people were bound—the breaking of the yoke from off their necks, and setting the captive free, and the proclaiming of liberty throughout the land unto all the [p.53]inhabitants thereof. The general recommendation to exercise mercy and forgiveness of sins, and release the poor of indebtedness, extending relief to the needy, and making the hearts of all the people glad; it is to be hoped that in this good work of liberality, of kindness, of charity, of love—love unto God and unto all his children may make itself manifest more abundantly among all Israel than it has in times past—notwithstanding the Latter-day Saints have been proverbial for their self-abnegation, for their devotion to each other’s interest, for their brotherly kindness and charity, for their ministering unto the poor, and gathering their poor brethren, and uniting and co-operating together and in promoting each others general interest and welfare—we hope to see a renewal of our efforts in this direction; and that from this time we may date more rapid progress, renewed efforts, more earnest devotion to the sacred principles of our holy religion, to this spirit of oneness and unity which we look for and pray for, and which has been prophesied of by all the holy prophets, that is necessary to prepare a people for the coming of the Son of Man to reign in the midst of his people. And we might offer a few words by way of reminder and exhortation unto those that have been delinquent in their duty in times past, and in their efforts to live up to their privileges and to exemplify the principles of the Gospel in their lives and conduct. When will they have a better time than the present, and what period of the history of the Church of Christ so suitable as the present—the commencement of the second half century of our existence—as the period to date their reformation of life and the allaying of all that lethargy and apathy which has prevailed?
Touching our P. E. Fund indebtedness, the books of the company show a vast amount due from those who have been emigrated during the last thirty years in which we have been laboring to gather the poor from distant lands and countries. I am informed by those better acquainted with this matter than I am, that the amount of indebtedness amounts to sixteen hundred thousand dollars. With all this vast amount due from the people all over the land, we find their operation during the last six months limited to about ten thousand dollars; when in reality the operations of this company in the gathering of the poor ought and might, if all did their duty, reach a hundred thousand dollars every year, extending relief to many thousands of those who are praying for deliverance in the downtrodden countries of Europe and elsewhere where the poor have the Gospel preached unto them. For as it was in the days of the Savior, so it is now—the poor have the Gospel preached unto them. This fact Jesus announced to the disciples of John who were sent by John while he was in prison, to the Savior to inquire about the rumors which he had heard of him. The Savior was preaching and baptizing, performing miracles, etc., and as John was in prison he could hear nothing but general rumor, and therefore he sent his disciples to seek this Jesus of Nazareth, who was making such a stir in the land, and to ascertain who he was and what his message to the people was. And in answer to their inquiry—”Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” Jesus answered and said unto them, “Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, etc., and the poor have the Gospel preached unto them.” By this John was to know who he was and what his message was. The same answer is before the world to-day in the message of the Latter-day [p.54]Saints and their labors throughout the earth, wherever this Gospel has been sent and preached by the Elders of this Church. The sick have been healed by the prayer of faith and the laying on of hands, and devils have been cast out, and the poor have the Gospel preached unto them, and many of the poor have been gathered. And very many of these have shown themselves worthy—they have paid their indebtedness as fast as they could; others have been willing and desirous of doing so, but adverse circumstances have prevented them; while another class have been ungrateful, and have not sufficiently realized the rock from whence they were hewn, nor the pit from which they were digged, allowing years to pass without an effort, or even a righteous desire, to pay this just debt, thereby preventing the means thus due to go on its errand of mercy to bring other poor.
Now, it is contemplated that this year of jubilee shall be made a year of release and comfort to those who are indebted to the Fund, who have striven to do their duty and discharged it as far as able to do so, but whose circumstances have been adverse, preventing them from doing as their hearts listed. It is proposed that such be set flee; and while we feel it is a privilege the Lord has given us of speaking comforting words to such, and of loosing the bands from their feet and set them free, we feel, on the other hand, it to be equally our duty to remind those who have been negligent, that if they also would enjoy the riches of Christ and the forgiveness of their sins, they must bestir themselves and come up to every duty, and cease from all hard speeches and from worldly-mindedness and pride, and from a desire to get rich before they are just, and to accumulate wealth before they have signified their gratitude for past favors.
We might also refer to the reports of tithing, but from the observations of the Bishops and others, perhaps I might be permitted to repeat their observations, founded on the experience of years, in receiving and disbursing the tithes of the people, and the general accounts from the various wards and stakes and settlements throughout the land; and in repeating their observations I might add my own testimony and experience and observation, formed by the experience of many years in ministering among the people, examining reports and accounts, and receipts and disbursements, and lists of those who do tithe themselves and those who do not; and the general expression of the presiding Bishop and his Counselors and men of observation and experience; bears out a declaration once made by President Young in his lifetime, in effect, that there was not more than half an honest tithing paid in the midst of Israel; and that if an honest tithing were paid by the people generally, we should have an abundance to build our temples, our meetinghouses, to provide for the poor and relieve the needy, to gather the Saints, and accomplish what may be necessary for the benefit of all the people, without calling on them for extra donations. But from the Logan and Manti Temple reports we learn that about $170,000 has been expended upon these temples within the last year; while about twenty-eight to thirty thousand of this sum has been appropriated out of the tithing, the balance being the free-will offering of the people. We have no report of what has been done in the way of donations in this temple district, but the presumption is that while $140,000 of the tithing has been expended upon the Salt Lake Temple, that perhaps an equal sum has been donated; but [p.55]of this we are not informed, and not being myself in a position to be able to speak of it, of course I will leave it to my brethren residing here in this temple district to speak on this matter; as it might be gratifying to the people of the Salt Lake Temple district to be represented in our General Conference, and that it might also be known what they are doing in the way of free-will offerings in the building of this temple, as well as their brethren in other temple districts. But I repeat what President Young said, and which I believe to be true, that if an honest tithing were paid by all the people, according to their professions, these extra offerings and donations would be unnecessary. You perceive from the financial reports that the aggregated sum of the tithes and offerings seem somewhat huge, yet considering the various sources of disbursement, as well as the character of the property received—being all kinds of produce and labor, and comparatively but little money—that the disbursements in the various directions have been sufficient to exceed and consume the income together with the offerings. And with some it would seem as though they were not making progress as fast as the people could desire or wish; but if we are not in our public improvements moving as fast as the people could wish, you will perceive it is not the fault of the Bishops and others who have the direction of these financial affairs. Nor does there appear to be a wastefulness or unreasonable expenditure in the receiving and disbursing, as a rule; though there may be in isolated cases, which do not come, perhaps, sufficiently manifest to be noticed in order to be corrected; but as fast as any thing of the kind does appear it receives proper attention. And the people have reason to feel a measure of satisfaction and congratulation in the great amount of good that is being accomplished from these small revenues gathered from this vast people in all parts of the land, and extending as we are new settlements on the east and north and south and southeast, and in various directions, occupying new regions of country and bringing into use fertile fields, preparing homes for the Saints, and thus fulfilling the words of the Prophet Isaiah—”Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations; spare not, lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes; for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.” That our nation should be somewhat jealous of us is not to be wondered at from the very nature and character of our institutions and thrift of our people. The same jealousy manifested itself in Missouri in early days, when the Saints were broken up and driven from that place because of their thrift, their provoking industry, the extent of their mechanism, the skill of their artisans, and the thrift that was manifested in turning the desert into a fruitful field, making a great contrast in northwest Missouri between the settlements of the Latter-day Saints and other regions of Missouri at those early times. Not that the Latter-day Saints in these mountains by anything they or their institutions are doing are menacing the general interests of the country, only they are provoking many people upon this American Continent who seem rather inclined to dwindle and live in voluptuousness and ease, and spend their vast incomes in gratifying the pride of life and lusts of the flesh, ostentation and show; while the Latter-day Saints seek more enduring wealth—and fill the land with an enterprising population; and are content to provide the common necessaries of [p.56]life—essential elements to the growth and development of a people—and the training and education of their spirits. By our statistical reports we find that nearly one-third of the population are under eight years of age; while another third are between eight and twenty years—children who have been born and grown up in these mountains, and are being educated in our common schools. While the reports of our Sabbath Schools show in the neighborhood of 40,000 children belonging to our people who are enrolled in the Sabbath Schools—more than twice the number of all the other Territories combined, with some of the minor States thrown into the bargain.
Our nation is inclined to find fault with us because of our marriage relations—not that they have reason to believe that the people of Utah are not virtuous—not that licentiousness or looseness of morals prevail, or that there is a disregard of sexual purity—not that wives and mothers are not honored as they deserve to be—not that children are not beloved and cared for and trained and educated; but that there is a disposition under the teachings and sanction of our holy religion to amplify the doctrine (which was also sanctioned by the fathers and practised in ancient Israel, and nowhere disallowed in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ) that every healthful, virtuous woman desiring to fulfil the law of God, ought to have the opportunity of becoming an honored wife and mother, and to partake of those conjugal blessings and enjoyments that are interwoven with our nature and our being, and thus fill the object and purposes of our creation. We believe that where this opportunity is not afforded, where the institutions of the State, or the tenets of religion, or the morals of the sterner sex forbid or interfere with this privilege, there is something wrong. It is a state of Society that is unnatural, and ought not to exist; that a remedy ought to be sought for and found. Some ancient nations recognized the correctness of this principle and attempted to compel the male population to marry, while some of the ancient Gentile nations, under the leadership of Rome, sought to establish monogamy; they also sought to remedy the evils to which I have referred, by compelling the males to marry. If they could enforce such a law, I should think it imperative upon any State that forbids polygamy. A large-souled man who cherishes a proper respect for his mother and sister, and for every other man’s mother and sister, and is disposed to marry and deal justly with more than one woman, he ought to have the privilege so to do; but if the State forbids him so to do, then the State ought to compel delinquent bachelors to wake up and do their duty. President Young in his lifetime often made this banter to the United States; if you will not remove your narrow-contracted laws, be consistent, and compel the bachelors to do their duty, and compel every man to confine himself to his own wife and let other men’s wives and daughters alone, then we will wait and see the result, and shall be satisfied if the women shall have no longer cause to complain. But while the tens of thousands of the daughters of Eve are left in our large mercantile towns and elsewhere to fall a prey to the brutish lusts of wicked men, and afterwards to be cast off to die, rotten with disease, in gutters and in dens and hovels, and in this state to be swept away from earth—we say while tens of thousands of the fair daughters of Eve are thus victimized and made to suffer from this unnatural state of things in modern Christendom, it seems to us the sheerest hypocrisy for the solons of our nation—backed [p.57]by the clergy of the land—to decry the honorable marriage of the Latter-day Saints, with the example before them of 40,000 children attending our Sabbath Schools—which I repeat is more than those of all the other Territories of the United States and half a dozen of the minor States thrown in.
There is an ancient doctrine which God established in ancient Israel and commanded, namely, that the adulterer should be put to death. We ask ourselves the question, if it became necessary for God to command by Moses that Israel should not suffer the adulterer to live, but that whosoever should be caught in the act should first be tried before the elders, and if found guilty the elders should declare their sentence and bring them to the gates of the city and call upon all the people to pick up stones and join in his execution, that by all throwing at the same time no one would have it to say that “Your stone killed him,” or that no relative could charge his death to any one person, neither could the ignominy be fastened upon an executioner, as it is in our day, but the whole people signifying their contempt for the transgressor, joined in administering the penalty until he died the death of the dog. But the natural sequence of the law is—liberty for honorable men of the earth to absorb the surplus female element in honorable marriage, though it should be under the plural system practised by the patriarchs and prophets of old. And while this privilege was extended—so long as there was a surplus of female element to be absorbed—the man who tampered with his neighbor’s wife or daughter suffered death. Brother Woodruff related in my hearing a short time since, an account of his visit among the village Indians of New Mexico, on the Rio Grade, and of a conversation between him and the governor of one of the chief villages, numbering some 3,000 souls, who were partially civilized maintaining schools and also maintaining purity in their social relations. The governor assured him that they had for many generations kept themselves free from mixing with the Castilian blood, and that the death penalty was scrupulously enforced upon the man guilty of adultery among them. He said the railroad was approaching their town, that the whites were crawling upon them, and it would be but a short time before they would be overrun with them; and that though they boasted of far greater intelligence, greater wealth, and were a powerful people, they were given to many crimes, to drunkenness and whoredom, and, he said, they feared the result of their approach and their “civilization” in their midst; for, he said, if any of them were to take liberties with our women, and our men should execute the penalty of the law of our fathers, which has been in force among us for centuries, and put to death the guilty adventurer, what would be the result, said the old gray-haired patriarch of the village? I suppose, said he, they would send their troops upon us and slay us. Such are the reflections and such are the rebukes of the chieftain, who is called a savage, upon the civilization of the age.
As a people, we are exceedingly anxious to acquit ourselves as good citizens in every department of life, with honor and credit before our nation and the world. We look forward to the time when the great tree that has sprung up and spread abroad, over-shadowing the land in this rocky mountain region, this great people the Latter-day Saints, when their influence will be felt in all the land. We are striving, in our weak way, to conduct ourselves and the rising generation under our care for the great work in the earth. The bigotry [p.58]and the superstition, and the self-righteousness that to-day reign in the breasts of the ignorant, will, by and by, begin to break and give way as the Latter-day Saints become better known, or when the time comes spoken of by the ancient prophet, when Zion shall break forth on the right and the left, and she shall possess the gates of her enemies. How will that be done? We are doing it by purchase—as we approach the gates of our enemies we buy them out, buy out their ranches, their little settlements and towers, and in this way will that prophecy be accomplished. And as we spread abroad, the cry will be, “Give us room, that we may dwell;” and it is in this sense that we are an aggressive people—not aggressive by war, not aggressive by abridging the rights of our fellows, but in the sense that we are growing—in the same sense as the potato is aggressive when planted in a fruitful field. And this reminds me of a remark made by the late Dr. Willard Richards, when, in 1847, we came to the top of the Big Mountain and began to descend through the quaken-asps in the black soil, says he, “Brethren, methinks I hear the Irish potato crying out, lie over, give me room.” Such, indeed, are the Latter-day Saints; the cry will be, “Lie over, give me room.” We are extending and spreading abroad, and we continue to gather our brethren and sisters from distant nations and provide for them homes and means of employment; and we are marrying and multiplying and endeavoring to encourage the fulfillment of the commandment given to our first parents—multiply and replenish the earth. And when I look back to New England—the cradle of American liberty—and see the majority of the New England families dwindling—for go where you will among the wealthy, the banker, the merchant, the wealthy farmer or the well-to-do mechanic in the more well-to-do portions of the New England States, if you find any children at all, as a rule it is not more than a son and daughter, or an only son or only daughter—two or three children at the most in the majority of cases, and they, generally sickly and short-lived. During my last visit to that country I often spoke of it and referred to it among my kindred and acquaintances, of whom I have many, that being the land of my nativity, and therefore I may be permitted to speak of the land and home that gave me birth, and refer to what I regard its degeneracy. In referring to this state of affairs the answer of my old aunt who ranks herself among the aristocracy of the land, “Oh,” said she, “it has become unpopular to have large families.” And in looking over the newspapers of New England and those of other Eastern States, I was not a little shocked to see the advertisements of abortionist doctors, male and female, unblushingly put forth before high heaven and in the face of civilized humanity—pardon the expression, shall I say non-civilized humanity? I should offend the pride of the world; but if the Gods and the angels were to speak, they would blush at the term “civilization.” And these papers containing such advertisements, are scattered throughout the land broadcast, read by families, and before the gaze of every woman and every girl, as well as every profligate of the land; and these point out the ways and means developed by “Christianity” to prevent the fulfilment of the first great command of God to our first parents. The way to destroy the foetus in the womb, to produce premature birth and abortion, and lastly, when this fails to secretly smother the offspring or cast them into sewers—anything to be relieved from being burdened, burdened-God save the mark!—burdened with the offspring, [p.59]the spirit that came from heaven, as if it were a burden. What false education is this? What false religion is this that has poisoned the human heart, that has turned their brain, that has turned all common sense out of the Christian world into beastly lust, and that patronizes and sustains these vampires of society, and makes them palatial residences on Broadway and on the Fifth Avenue of New York? The price of blood.
These iniquities cry unto heaven, and God will visit them in his own due time with judgment upon those who uphold them, and those States that defend and protect this wickedness, and at the same time cry out against the institutions of the Latter-day Saints, and say, crucify! crucify and imprison them, and put them to death if necessary. Will the Lord not lend an ear? Will he not take cognizance of such doings? And will he not judge between his people in the mountains and their accusers and those who rail against them and who at the same time are connected either directly or indirectly with the many sinks of iniquity that flourish on this so-called Christian land? Shall the Latter-day Saints assimilate themselves with these abominations? Shall they too give themselves up to whoredoms and lust? Shall they encourage infanticide, foeticide and all their kindred evils? Shall we forbid honorable marriage and leave the surplus female element a prey to libertines and reap the consequences, in the foul and loathsome diseases that taint society and ruin future generations? No, God forbid! the heart of every Latter-day Saint, man and woman in the land says no. We will pray for our people; we will pray for our nation, we will pray God to soften their hearts and stay their hand and hold their arm, and not permit them to execute their narrow contracted laws which they have framed in the days of their bigotry and ignorance, under the traditions of their father, and in violation of the great principles on which American liberty is founded. We know full well that the old Puritan States of New England and the other commonwealths of America—grew up under the monogamic system, and that their hearts have not become sufficiently enlarged to comprehend the final result of this tree of liberty which they planted in the land, they consequently retained in their new colonies and the States formed out of them, the old Roman system of monogamy that made laws against bigamy. But the bigamy which their laws contemplated and which the laws of England contemplated, after which they patterned, was not the plural marriage of the Latter-day Saints, regulated as it is under the sanction of religion, its duties and obligations, and religiously observed by the people. But their laws against bigamy were based upon the principle of fraud, fraud practised by a man or woman, who, believing in monogamy, enter into that relationship and then secretly violate the sacred covenants entered into with each other, and unbeknown to each other, contract a marriage with another and clandestinely carry it on. The crime in this instance was not in the religious doctrine of plural marriage, but in the fraudulent manner in which it is contracted and carried on and the violation of their covenants and the law of the land. But the Constitution of the United States is a broad instrument, framed to suit the growth of the country and the expansion of liberal ideas in the land, containing no provision looking to the establishing of monogamy as an institution of the common country; there are no provisions in the Constitution requiring or empowering Congress to enforce such order of society; on the contrary, the principles [p.60] of social, civil and religious liberty are engrafted upon it and made institutions of our country by that charter of our liberties—I say all these provisions are so ample in their character that they will admit and protect the Mohammedan, the Jew, the patriarch Abraham himself if he were here with his wives and concubines, and Jacob and Joseph, and all the ancient patriarchs as well as the Khedive, if he were to come here with his wives and people, and form colonies in our midst. The true spirit of that glorious Constitution of our country as understood by us, is illustrated in the hymn which we so frequently hear sung, composed by Elder Parley P. Pratt on the occasion of the first celebration of the entry of the pioneers into this valley, held on the 24th of July, 1848. The first great feast was celebrated, called the harvest feast, commemorating the first anniversary of the arrival of the pioneers in this land and the following is part of the hymn sung on that occasion:
“Come, ye Christian sects and pagans.
Indian, Moslem. Greek and Jew,
Worshipers of God or Dagon,
Freedom’s banner waves for you.”
These are the sentiments of the Latter-day Saints as to the nature of the liberty our fathers fought for, and which we desire to maintain in the land, namely, freedom for all people of every land and clime. Nor does it require them to leave behind their wives and children and adopt the narrow-contracted, bigoted laws of monogamy. It was a New England bigot, Mr. Morrill, of Vermont—my native State, disgraced on account of it—who introduced that bill known as the anti-polygamy bill of 1862, which was adopted by the solons of our nation, under the last priestly influence and sectarian bigotry of the land, of which the noble Mr. Lincoln was ashamed. And when the bill was enrolled and sent to him, knowing the pressure under which it had passed; and with a war upon his hands, he lacked the moral courage to express his real sentiments of disapproval of the bill, but quietly pocketed it, refusing to sign it, but allowed it to become law by limitation. If there was any one act in the life of Mr. Lincoln in which he will be found faulty and for which he will be found wanting when he shall be weighed in the balance, it was for declining to express his honest sentiments to the Congress of the United States in disapproval of that bill. And if there is anything in which Presidents and Senators, Congressmen and judges will be found wanting before the heavens when weighed in the balance, it will be in their future endorsements of that bill and their efforts to enforce it.
May God have mercy on them and spare them the consequences; and may grace abound in Israel, that we may abide in the truth and honor God our Father, and at last be found worthy of an exaltation in his kingdom, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Choir sang the anthem,
“Glory to God.”
Adjourned till 10 a.m. to-morrow.
Dismissed with prayer by Elder WILFORD WOODRUFF.
WEDNESDAY, 10 A.M.
“The morning sun has chased the night
And brought again the cheering light.”
Prayer by Counselor D. H. WELLS.
“Let those who would be Saints indeed
Fear not what others do.”
Elder Levi W. Hancock
Elder Levi W. Hancock
Said he was seventy-seven years od today, and nearly fifty years ago he was baptized after receiving the testimony of the Prophet Joseph, who received the word of the Lord and was slain by the professed followers of Him who died for his fellow man. He was familiarly acquainted with the Prophet, lived with him for three years, worked under his direction; and he was one of the most pleasing spirits he had ever been associated with. He then bore testimony that this gospel was true; the Book of Mormon was true; the Twelve were true; he heard Joseph say that this work could not be built up without Twelve Apostles and the Seventies following in their wake. Their decisions, if made in righteousness and unity, were as valid as the decision of the first presidency in the days of the Prophet, as was declared in the Doctrine and Covenants, and if there were no divisions among them their voice would be the voice of the Lord, and all Israel should say amen to it. He exhorted all the Saints to works of righteousness, and invoked the blessings of God upon them.
President John Taylor (3)
President John Taylor (3)
As I stated on the opening of the Conference, there were some things of considerable importance that we wished to lay before the Saints, and especially before the authorities of the Church to-day. We have had in operation for quite a length of time, what is known as the “Perpetual Emigration Fund Company,” and a great many of you that are present have contributed to that Fund. And as it is a jubilee year to you—although I suppose the forty-ninth year would be the proper jubilee—it is really the fiftieth anniversary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It occurred to me that we ought to do something, as they did in former times, to relieve those that are oppressed with debt, to assist those that are needy, to break the yoke off those that may feel themselves crowded upon, and to make it a time of general rejoicing. And as it is a matter in which you are all interested, it is thought proper to lay the matter before you, because we have contemplated to release one-half of the indebtedness of those who are indebted to the P. E. Fund Company. That is one subject.
There is a variety of other things, which I mentioned to my brethren of the [p.62]Twelve, and they all join in the feeling with a hearty co-operation, all being desirous of seeing something of this kind done which will tend to produce happiness, joy and comfort, and a feeling of relief among many of our brethren.
We wish the brethren who have contributed to this fund, and all the officers of this Church, to have a voice in it, because it is our act; and we want to make it the act of the whole people, that all may have a voice, which we consider they ought to have in all these leading prominent actions wherein they are concerned.
The proposition is to release one-half of the people’s indebtedness to the Perpetual Emigration Fund Company. I may say, I have also spoken to Brother Carrington on this matter, who is the president of this company, and learn that it meets his views. I would further state that to the best of my knowledge nobody has hitherto been oppressed or crowded on account of this indebtedness at all; they have been called upon and requested to meet their engagements, which is certainly just; because others were interested in these matters besides ourselves, who had a right to expect a return of means appropriated, that they also might be relieved, and partake of the benefits of this fund, which was properly named perpetual; that is, many of the poor for which the means were subscribed formerly, under the direction of President Young, who was the originator of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company.
I have some figures which I will read to you; they will show what has not been returned again by those who have been benefited by it. The amount of the original indebtedness is $704,000. The interest, extending along for many years at 10 per cent per annum, is some $900,000, which interest, in many instances, has had to be paid by us. The whole of the amount is $1,604,000. That is the amount of the whole indebtedness, principal and interest.
Now, we propose to forgive those who are poor and that are struggling with difficulties in life, who have not been able to meet their engagements in this matter; not half the amount that they are due, but the whole; and to those who are forgiven the debt it will be blotted out; not partly, but entirely; and the remainder will be left to those to pay who are able to and have not done it. And we shall expect that those who have not met their engagements to meet them ;that is, when half has been forgiven to the poor. For in former times they did not release the rich, it was the poor. The rich can always take care of themselves—that is, so far as this world is concerned, I do not know how it will be about the next. [Laughter.] I wish it distinctly understood that it is one-half of the whole amount, which we wish to relieve the poor from. It will be a little start on the year of jubilee. This is one item. All of you who are in favor of this release signify it by holding up your right hand. [The congregation voted unanimously in favor of the motion.] I will state that, as to the manner in which this will be done; it will be provided for hereafter; and a circular will be issued by the Twelve to the authorities, instructing them how to act in relation to this matter.
There is another thing we want to do at the same time; that is, there is a large amount of indebtedness on tithing account. You heard something about that yesterday; it was then averred that all the indebtedness was not reported; that is, if we had it all down it would be a great deal more than is here stated. [p.63]We as a people believe in paying our tithes and offerings to the Lord—and when I get through I want Brother Hardy to get up and talk on tithing; he is quite a hand to talk on this subject. We believe it is proper for us to pay one-tenth of our increase, or one-tenth of our time, as the case may be, to the Lord regularly. And a great many men do this, and do it very promptly; but a great many more do not do it, only a very little—about that much sometimes [measuring the end of the finger. Laughter.] I think it will be a tight squeeze for some of them to dig through. I am not talking about this because I care anything about it personally; but because of the interest of those who ought to do it, but do not. There are a great many who have neglected the payment of these things partly through carelessness, partly through poverty and a variety of circumstances, and it begins to feel oppressive to them. Now, we want to break off this yoke too, that is, off those who are worthy; the others we do not care much about—that is unless they turn about and reform and take another course, live their religion and act as Latter-day Saints. But we wish that there shall be a release of the poor and those who are unable to meet it. The amount that is behind, according to the bishops’ records—which many of the people owing it signify their willingness to pay but are not able to—is $151,798. We propose releasing half of the amount to the deserving poor, and that will be $75,899. This of course will have to be managed by the proper authorities, the same as the others; that is, first on the recommendation of the bishop of the ward, approved by the president of the stake; and then to receive the sanction of the Presiding Bishop. The P. E. Fund matter will be subject to the recommendation of the bishops, the sanction of the presidents of stakes and also the President of the P.E.F. Company, sanctioned by the Council of the Twelve; so that those that are really worthy may be released, and those that are not, ought to pay it. And then, we who have got a little behind in our tithing, will try and pay it up and thus keep the record right between us and the Lord; and then we may look for blessings from his hands.
I will call a vote on this subject that I have mentioned. All who are in favor of releasing the obligations amounting to $75,899, on tithing, signify it by holding up the right hand. [Unanimous vote in favor.] All right, we knew that would be the feeling of the brethren.
Another thing. We have had a great scarcity of water the last year, and consequently short crops. It is proposed that inasmuch as there may be suffering more or less in some places—we hope, however, that our brethren will not allow our poor unfortunate brethren to suffer, I have not heard of anything of the kind; but still a little help will not do any harm. And where people have been in straitened circumstances through the loss of crops and of stock—and some people have lost, perhaps, their last cow, and some have lost many of their stock, and yet have a good many left; but there has been quite a general loss. Now, we propose to raise 1000 head of cows—not old cows that do not give any milk; nor any one-teated cows, but good milk cows, and have them distributed among those that may be destitute in the different stakes, under the direction of the authorities thereof. And the Church will put in 300 of this 1000. I spoke to Brother Sheets and told him that we did not want any one-teated cows. The balance of this number, namely, 700, we [p.64]would like the Stakes to make up. We have been informed by the presidents that this can be easily done. It would have been quite hard a while ago, before we lost so many of our animals; but now it seems we can do it quite easy. [Laughter.] It is much better to give them to the poor than to have them die, and they have not all died yet, so we may as well begin to dispose of them.
I want to call upon the presidents of stakes and the bishops to know if you are prepared to furnish the balance—you that are in favor of doing it, signify by holding up the right hand. [The presidents and bishops voted unanimously in the affirmative.] To the congregation—all you Saints who approve of this motion, signify it by holding up the right hand. [The vote was unanimous in the affirmative.]
Now, we are going to come to our sisters. Some people think that the sisters cannot do anything; I will show you what they can do. President Young reorganized the Relief Society—it having been organized by the Prophet Joseph Smith in Nauvoo—and inasmuch as the brethren had been careless and slow to heed the counsel of President Young in relation to storing away wheat, he requested the sisters to do it, and some of we “lords of creation” thought it was a very little thing for our sisters to be engaged in. But we find now they are of some use, and that the “ladies of creation” can do something as well as the “lords.” I spoke to Sister Eliza R. Snow, who is the president of the Relief Society, and asked what her feelings would be, and that of her sisters, in relation to the distribution of their wheat, for those who are in need of seed, letting the people have it as a loan, for which the bishops should become responsible and see that it is returned after harvest. She replied that it would meet her entire approbation. The sisters have not had the opportunity to meet yet to get an expression of their minds in relation to it; but I will guarantee that they will do what they are requested to do, for they have already been doing something in that line, as I understand it. Is not that so Brother Hunter? [Bishop Hunter: “Yes, sir.”] Now, we want to show you, what the sisters can do. I will guarantee that they will do it, and that we will have a report from them before we get through. They have 34,761 bushels of wheat. Who of you men can raise that much? Where’s your wheat? [Laughter.] Now, those 34,761 bushels of wheat will be of considerable importance judiciously managed, and loaned out to some of our poor brethren. It will furnish seed wheat, and after harvest they can return it again. We do not want any more harsh talk about the woman question after this. [A voice: “May they vote now? “] O yes, they may vote now if they choose to; everybody is willing that they should vote now. [Laughter.] That is, they are willing the sisters shall vote on the wheat question. [Renewed laughter.] We may as well call a vote on this question now, our sisters are present whom we will ask to vote. All you sisters who are in favor of carrying out this request, hold up your right hand. [A forest of hands went up.] There they go, you see. [Laughter.] I think that is the most hearty vote yet. I knew they would do it. [A voice: “Is it to be loaned without interest?”] Somebody asks if it is to be loaned without interest. Why, of course it is; we do not want any nonsense of that kind; it is the time of jubilee.
There is another thing. We have got through with many public matters, I will say something else. It is no more harm for private people to forgive [p.65]one another than for public ones. If you find people owing you who are distressed, if you will go to work and try to relieve them as much as you can, under the circumstances, God will relieve you when you get into difficulties. I will tell you that in the name of the Lord. Let us act on a kind, generous, brotherly principle, doing good one to another and carrying out the principles of the everlasting gospel in our lives.
We talk sometimes about the United Order. There is a little of that spirit manifested in our operations to-day, is there not? Operating together for the welfare of all; that is what we ought to do; that is what the gospel teaches us.
I speak of these things for your reflection, and they are matters we will leave in your own bosom. And I would like to see Z. C. M. I. and our bankers, merchants and other creditors scratch off a few names of their debtors; and I think they feel disposed to do it; I have spoken to some of the directors of Z. C. M. I., and find that they feel about as we do. We expect to hear a report from them before long. While God is blessing us, let us bless one another; although we are not suffering, neither do we intend to suffer; God will not let us if we will not let one another suffer. We will go along as if we had no drouth or dead cattle, or any other stop, and everything will be prosperous. There is now every prospect of a good harvest; the grain is not all in yet, but we have snow in the mountains, and things look quite prosperous. And if we take good care of one another, God will take care of us; and he will deliver us and stretch out his hand in our behalf, and we will be his people, and he shall be our God; and we will treat one another as we wish to be treated by one another, and then we are prepared to receive blessings from his hands. Amen.
Bishop L. W. Hardy
Bishop L. W. Hardy
The principle of tithing I heartily believe in, for the reason that the Lord instituted it himself, and, therefore, it is not a new thing on the earth. It is an old doctrine. Even Abraham paid his tithes to Melchisedec when he met him, because he held the higher priesthood of God. We have had many lessons on this subject, so many that it is almost useless to talk about it now. The time was, since we came to the valleys of the mountains, when the Saints had nothing to pay tithing in but labor, hence they devoted every tenth day to beautifying and building up this city and other cities. Every tenth day the Bishops called upon those that lived in their wards to go to work on the public works and streets, and the call was generally very promptly responded to. Thus when the tithing came to be made up at the end of the year, the tithing paid in this way amounted to about $48.00 each man. As time wore on, however, the people became more numerous, and as they had so much to do for themselves, they began to pay a tenth of what they raised, whatever that might be—say butter, cheese, eggs, or anything else they might have about their farms, and this amounted to a large sum when it was all brought in. Now, we find, in looking over the schedules for 1879, men that we know are doing a pretty good business—we find that they have paid from $3 to $5, whereas it ought to be from $300 to $500. It is a mockery to attempt to pay tithing to the Lord in this way. Had we the honest tithing of this people [p.66]to-day, we would not require to ask for any donations to the temple; we would have sufficient to maintain the poor and pay the salaries of the different officers of the Church, and in addition to this, we would have so much that we would scarcely have room to contain it. This is a principle that the Lord demands of this people, and there is a blessing attached to it, for the Lord has promised that inasmuch as we will pay our tithes he will open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.
Elder L. JOHN NUTTALL then read the names of Elders called to go on missions. They were sustained by vote of the Conference as follows:
Great Britain.—Charles W. Stayner, Salt Lake City; Jesse West, 6th Ward, Salt Lake City; John Donaldson, Mendon; Samuel Roskelley, Smithfield; William Henry Shepherd, Beaver; Joseph Orton, St. George; William C. Parkinson, Franklin; Thomas X. Smith, Logan; David Rees Davis, Marsh Valley, Idaho; Robert Kewley, Benson; Thomas Jackson, Glenwood; William D. Williams, Ogden; Edward Kay, Mona; J. W. Gardiner, Pleasant Grove; Thomas C. Griggs, 15th Ward, Salt Lake City; Edward King. 15th Ward, Salt Lake City; John Evans, Brigham City; Robert L. Fishburn, Brigham City; Thomas Maycock, 3d Ward, Salt Lake City; Lorenzo Farr, Ogden; Newton Farr, Ogden; James Finlayson, Payson; Wm. C. McGregor, Parowan; James Lowe, Beaver.
Europe.—C. H. Lundberg, Logan; Charles P. Warnick, Pleasant Grove; Hans J. Christiansen, Logan; Niels O. Anderson, Ephraim; Christian Hogansen, Montpelier, Idaho; Simon Christensen, Richfield; Anders Gustave, Johnson, Grantsville; John Christensen, Brigham; Hans Madsen, Marriott; Peter Anders Lofgreen, Huntsville; Jens Iver Jensen, Elsinore; Ole C. Teller-sen, Hyrum; John Dahle, Logan; Laxs K. Laxsen, Hyrum.
United States.—John W. Jackson, Glenwood; William M. Palmet, Glen-wood; Hyrum Jensen, Salina; Abraham R. Wright, 20th Ward, Salt Lake City; Jens Frederick Mortensen, Salina; Mads Anderson, Mount Pleasant; Joseph W. Butt, 21st Ward, Salt Lake City; B. H. Roberts, Centerville; Thomas Davies, East Portage; Benjamin Isaacs, Spanish Fork; David Spillsbury, Toquerville; Alma P. Spillsbury, Toquerville.
Southern States.—Henry G. Boyle, Payson; Geo. O. Pitkin, Millville; Geo. T. Bean, Richfield; Win. J. Bean, Richfield; Albert D. Thurber, Richfield; Peter A. Nebeker, Willard; Joseph B. Keeler, Provo; Walter Scott, Provo; Wm. Clark, Lehi; Nicholas H. Groesbeck, Springville.
Germany.—Carl C. Schramm, Payson; John Alder, Manti; Ulrich Stauffer, Willard; Morris D. Rosenbaum, Brigham.
French Switzerland—Geo. L. Graehl, Jr., Brigham.
Netherlands.—S. Van Dyke, Ogden.
Sandwich Islands.—Sidney Coray, Provo.
San Juan.—Wm. Hyde, Salt Lake City.
The following report was read:
Statistical Report of the Deseret Sunday School Union, far the year ending December 31st, 1879:
No. of Stakes from which reports have been received, 21; No. of Sunday Schools reported, 256; No. of officers and teachers, 4,998; Average attendance of officers and teachers, 3,405; No. of pupils, 30,768; Average attendance of pupils, 21,922; Total number of officers, teachers and pupils, 35,759; No. of Theological Classes, 133; No. of Bible and Testament Classes, 991; No. of Book of Mormon Classes, 361; No. of Doctrine and Covenant Classes, 159; No. of Juvenile Instructor Classes, 203; No. of Jaques’ Catechism Classes, 187; No. of Miscellaneous Classes, 1,316; Total number of Classes, 3,350; No. of Books in Sunday School Libraries, 17,908; Amount of funds on hand, end of previous year, $962.84; Amount of funds collected in 1879, $5,742.75; Amount of funds disbursed in 1879, $5,513.93; Amount of funds in treasury, end of year, $1,198.26; No. of Schools not reported, and therefore not included in the above figures, 19.
The above report shows an increase of about 2,000 children more than were reported for the last year; and also a proportionate increase in the number of classes and the average attendance of both teachers and scholars, number of books in libraries, etc. The rapid growth and prosperous condition of the Sunday School cause generally, throughout the different Stakes of Zion, is very gratifying and gives us abundant cause for thankfulness to God our Heavenly Father for his blessings on his faithful servants and handmaidens engaged in this good and great work.
GEO. Q. CANNON,
General Superintendent Deseret S. S. Union.
GEO. GODDARD, Assistant.
Levi W. RICHARDS, Secretary.
JOHN C. CUTLER, Treasurer pro. tem.
President John Taylor (4)
President John Taylor (4)
I do not know whether we fully understand what is meant by holding up our hands to testify that we will sustain these missionaries. I will tell you how I understand it. In the first place we select the very best men we can find, and we do not want anybody to go but those who have the spirit of their mission upon them, and who feel a desire to magnify their calling and priesthood. And when they go, we wish them to go as honorable men, and we also want their wives to be treated as honorable women while their husbands are gone, and inasmuch as they or their families need assistance or looking after—although it is not all who do—we expect the Presidents of Stakes and the Bishops will attend to such matters; that the wives of our missionaries may not feel as though they were outcasts; but as honorable women, the wives of honorable men, and more so than those who are not doing their duty. We want the missionaries’ wives and children made comfortable and taken care of. The sisters have voted to let us have some of their wheat for the relief of the poor. Then on the other hand, let us do something for them. It does not matter how much we pray for them, for this is in accordance with our covenants or voting. Some people would rather pray for them than relieve [p.68]them. Prayers are all well enough; but a little flour, a little pork, a little beef, sugar, store goods, and temporal comforts are a great deal better than all our prayers without this material assistance. Let us look after their welfare as we do after our own families, while their husbands are making a sacrifice in leaving their families and homes, and God will bless us. “Every one,” says the Lord, “that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundred fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” Let us make the words of the Lord true. Amen.
Choir sang the anthem,
“Resound His Praise.”
Adjourned till 2 p.m.
Dismissed with prayer by Elder MOSES THATCHER.
WEDNESDAY, 2 P.M.
“Let every mortal ear attend,
And every heart rejoice.”
Prayer by Elder JOSEPH F. SMITH. Choir sang,
“Hark the song of jubilee,
Loud as mighty thunders roll.”
Elder L. JOHN NUTTALL presented the authorities of the Church, who were unanimously sustained by the Conference, as follows:
John Taylor, as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, as one of the Twelve Apostles, and of the Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—Wilford Woodruff, Orson Pratt, Charles C. Rich, Lorenzo Snow, Erastus Snow, Franklin D. Richards, George Q. Cannon, Brigham Young, Joseph F. Smith, Albert Carrington and Moses Thatcher.
Counselors to the Twelve Apostles—John W. Young and D. H. Wells.
The Twelve Apostles as the presiding quorum and authority of the
Church, and, with their counselors, as Prophets, Seers and Revelators. Patriarch of the Church—John Smith.
As the First Seven Presidents of the Seventies—Joseph Young, Levi W. Hancock, Henry Herriman, Horace S. Eldredge, Jacob Gates and John Van Cott.
President Joseph Young moved that Wm. W. Taylor be elected one of the First Seven Presidents of Seventies, to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of Elder A. P. Rockwood. Carried unanimously.
The Presiding Bishop of the Church., Edward Hunter, with Leonard W. Hardy and Robert T. Burton as his counselors.
John Taylor as Trustee-in-Trust for the body of religious worshippers known and recognized as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to hold the legal title to its property and contract for it.
The Twelve Apostles, their two counselors and Bishop Edward Hunter as counselors to the Trustee-in-Trust.
Albert Carrington as President of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund for the Gathering of the Poor, and F. D. Richards, F. M. Lyman, H. S. Eldredge, Joseph F. Smith, John W. Young, Angus M. Cannon, Moses Thatcher, Wm. Jennings, John R. Winder, Henry Dinwoodey, Robert T. Burton, A. O. Smoot and H. B. Clawson as his assistants.
Orson Pratt as Historian and General Church Recorder, and Wilford Woodruff as his assistant.
Truman O. Angel as General Architect of the Church, and T. O. Angel, Junr., and W. H. Folsom as his assistants.
As Auditing Committee—W. Woodruff, E. Snow, F. D. Richards, J. F. Smith.
George Goddard as clerk of the General Conference.
Elder Albert Carrington
Elder Albert Carrington
At any time at your pleasure, by turning to the Second Book of Nephi, 11th chapter, 15th paragraph, in the last sentence of that paragraph, you can read these words: “But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish.” I presume all of you have read, or have heard read, the decree of Jehovah; but have we fully realized that inasmuch as we, his covenant people, are not always careful to observe his requirements with due strictness, but unduly labor for that which perisheth, and spend too much of our time, means and influence for that which only pertains to this time, we also run great risk of disappointment? If we do not realize this, I really think it behooves us to comprehend that our father in the heavens has decreed that we shall labor for Zion—for the upbuilding and establishment of his kingdom upon this the earth of our Father in heaven. Some of us were aware of this plain declaration nearly fifty years ago, but have we diligently striven, to the utmost of our powers, to carry out that requirement? Have we observed it with all care and singleness of purpose, in connection with many other like texts?
Our Father has also taught us, through his revealed will, that inasmuch as the inhabitants of this land of Zion will seek unto him and learn to do his will, they shall prosper spiritually and temporally—in their persons, in their habitations, in their families, and in all that pertains to them: but inasmuch as they will not do his will, they shall be cut off from his presence. Are there any exceptions to that decree and that wise purpose of our Father? Will he for our sakes, when he has not for the sake of our forefathers, change his unalterable purpose and his fixed times and decrees? I think not. Is it not then obligatory upon us to diligently comply with all these plain requirements, and to more faithfully bring ourselves in accord with other requirements like unto them, wherein we are required to love one another, to do unto others as we [p.70]would they should do unto us, to love the Lord our God with all our might, mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves? Are we careful on these points? Or do we flatter ourselves that these plain, righteous requirements will be changed to suit our views, our convenience, our carelessness, our indifference, and at times our niggardly, selfish, covetous feelings?
As I do not deem it proper to occupy much time, to the exclusion of others, I will confine my remarks more particularly to a matter that I have been much interested in from the day of a vote in the Temple in Nauvoo—the gathering of the Lord’s poor. In 1849 President Young initiated the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company, and in 1850 if I correctly remember, that Company was organized on a plan to be perpetual so long as it may be needed by the poor of scattered Israel. From that date it has aided thousands upon thousands from the bondage of oppression and poverty in far off lands to peaceful and prosperous homes in these valleys of the mountains, and above all to the blessings of the ordinances of the Gospel. Has not that been one of the greatest blessings and privileges to all who have thus been relieved?
When I reflect upon these facts, and bear in mind that much care has been taken for a right application of the funds, even all possible care, so far as I know, and then turn to the treatment that so many have meted, not only to the Fund, but also to their brethren and sisters yet ungathered, many of whom are in more adverse circumstances than were some who have been aided, at times I should almost become discouraged. But I know of no such feeling as discouragement in the operations of the Fund, for it will accomplish its work as the Lord may will, however much individuals may fail in complying, when able, with their agreements. But how those who have been and are able to repay are so slack, careless and indifferent in regard to their obligations so thankfully undertaken, I am at a loss to comprehend. Should they not, for their own sakes and the sakes of the ungathered poor, be more diligent in repaying?
So far as I am aware, there has not been the least oppression exercised in trying to collect indebtedness to the P. E. Fund. Do we now wish to crowd, or oppress, or infringe upon the comfort of any one indebted to the Fund? No; but we are very anxious that the Fund shall be able this season to aid many from the adverse circumstances in which they are. Many have no expectation of deliverance except under the blessings of the Lord through this Fund. And can we help them unless those pay who are indebted? Some may say, “Solicit donations,” and may wonder why donations to the P. E. Fund have not been solicited for some time past.
In 1869 the P. E. Fund expended some $60,000 to $70,000 for the emigration of the poor. The next season it was hoped that, having used so large a sum to aid those who had but little, and frequently no means, the Fund would be able to assist those who had the nearest enough for their emigration. This would have been a stimulus for all to save as much as possible, and would have gathered a much larger number with a like disbursement. But from that day to this, with our utmost striving, we have not been able to get beyond the suffering poor, for that class increase beyond our means. This I have regretted. This regret may arise from a lack of understanding on my part, for our Father in heaven orders all things wisely, and his hand is in all these matters.
He rules and controls, not only in the armies of heaven, but in the midst of the affairs of the children of men, disposing the results of their acts according to his own good will and pleasure. Realizing this, I have not felt to worry, but I have felt somewhat grieved that we have not been able to more effectually encourage those who are doing so much for their own deliverance. In the meantime, the poor, the worthy, faithful, deserving poor, have been accumulating, in spite of all the Fund can do. We endeavor, all in our power, to collect the means due the Fund, and then to expend the payments and donations in the best manner possible.
It may be asked, “Have you not aided some who have not proved faithful Latter-day Saints since they arrived here?” Yes; and how can you foretell who will apostatize, unless you have direct revelation in each case? We have all been anxious, and have taken all possible care, not to aid any who would not prove worthy. But have we not been mistaken in some instances, after exercising all the care in our power? Yes; Some whom we thought to be good, faithful Latter-day Saints, and who, so far as we could learn, were so there, and had been all the while, have, since their arrival here, made shipwreck of their faith; and at the same time have not had enough manhood, or principle, to pay back the means advanced to help them out of bondage to a land of liberty. Can we help that? Not that I am aware of; and it seems impossible for us to do so, try we ever so hard, from the fact that this kingdom is likened to a net which is to gather fish of every kind. If we could keep out the garfish, catfish, suckers, and every other kind of coarse fish, it would not be the Gospel net. Aside from this, I think there are some who, if they had remained in their native lands, would never have apostatized; but gather them here and they apostatize! That also seems to be in the economy of this great latter-day work, so I have not felt to critically question the wisdom or good judgment of those who have recommended this, that, or the other one for assistance, even when those assisted have apostatized.
President Taylor, the Trustee-in-Trust, has presented to our votes the question of releasing a large amount of back tithing indebtedness, due from those who are aged and infirm, and others who have no prospect for paying. The Bishops, upon due examination, will recommend for relief, stating a few chief reasons therefor; then the Presidents of Stakes will examine the recommends made by the Bishops, and add such comments as they may please, and forward the lists to the P. E. F. Office in this city, where they can be carefully considered and then submitted to President Taylor, under whose direction the Fund operates. I rejoice that the worthy poor, struggling with adversity, are to be so kindly treated, and are to be left free and untrammeled, when they cannot possibly free themselves in any other way. I know of no just way of becoming clear of a fair indebtedness, except by payment or forgiveness.
That reminds me of another class of Fund debtors. When I speak to them they say: “Oh, yes, we are abundantly able to pay, but you cannot collect the debt by law, because it is outlawed.” I am well aware that I cannot compel you by law to pay that indebtedness, neither would I had I it in my power; that is not the way the Fund does its business. All its business is conducted on the broad principle of fairness and liberality, wronging no one, benefitting every one as far as possible. But consider, inasmuch as you are [p.72]able to pay the indebtedness which you incurred in being delivered from bondage and placed where you can provide yourselves with the necessaries and comforts of life, whether you are even worldly wise in being unwilling to repay that amount and thus prevent others enjoying the privileges you once esteemed so highly. And what has been said to the Saints abroad when they have importuned and plead, and promised to repay soon after arriving here—they know how they plead, they know how they promised—many professing to be willing to bind themselves for a lifetime if they could only be gathered to these mountains. What has been said to them? You do not understand what you are talking about. You may not find things altogether as you anticipate. You may meet with disappointment and misfortune. We will help you, we will send you through as comfortably and as cheaply as we can; and when you arrive there and find employment, just pay your tithing faithfully and promptly, provide yourselves with shelter, comfortable clothing, food and fuel, all of which things you will need; then, please, when you have done all this, begin to pay your indebtedness to the Fund; pay one dollar, two dollars, ten dollars, as you are able, without depriving yourselves of the necessaries of life, and in that way you will all the while keep the spirit of the work which you now measurably enjoy, and it will grow and increase, because you will be complying with the requirements of the Gospel. And others in like, or worse, circumstances can be helped through your paying the obligations you are so strongly pleading to be allowed, and so energetically promising you will pay as fast as possible. Ought not these fair requirements to be complied with by those who have been aided, as soon and as far as may be in their power, through their faithfulness?
After all indebtedness to the Fund has been remitted, that ought to be, there will still be a large sum due. Will we be able to collect all of that? I am afraid not; for some Fund debtors who had property have apostatized, and others have accumulated property since they apostatized, without sufficient manhood to repay the means that enabled them to be here. They worship the world, have apostatized and gone with the world. I pity them, because they are traveling on a road of exceeding darkness; and they cannot see things as they are, or they would pay their Fund indebtedness.
As to interest on sums advanced, has any one been crowded in the least in regard to payment of interest? Not to my knowledge. Have some paid their indebtedness with interest, without grumbling, and preferring so to do? Yes. Who are they? Those who rejoice in the light, life and intelligence of a goodly measure of the Holy Spirit, which is beyond all comparison as to value. Others, when making payment, have said: “With regard to the interest, I do not like that.” Has not the interest been put at the lowest rate? Could you borrow a like amount from any one, during all these years, for less? You cannot borrow money in small amounts to-day for so low an interest, and scarcely large amounts at so low a rate, except with the very best security. The Fund has never asked more than ten per cent., and it was placed at that rate under the instruction of President Young. How long it will so remain I do not know. Some will say, “I am willing to pay a little interest.” Very well, how much are you willing to pay, and feel well about it? “I am willing to pay five per cent.” Very well; Bro. Anderson, cast the interest at five per [p.73]cent, and give up the note, though the other five per cent. belongs to the Fund by his own gladly undertaken agreement. Another says: “I am willing to pay the principal, but I will not pay any interest.” That is not very polite, though it certainly is plain. Pay us the principal and you can have your note. And lately some have gone so far as to ask us to forego a portion of the principal, which we have not felt at liberty to do; but now all such persons can apply to their Bishops, and they will report. Can any one discern any crowding or oppression in these cases? Now, in all kindness, in all sincerity, I earnestly solicit the debtors to the Fund, for their own sakes, for the sake of the work they profess to uphold and sustain, and for the sake of the ungathered poor in their poverty and bondage, to wake up and help this season, so far as they may be able, that more of the Lord’s poor may also rejoice in their deliverance.
As to the application of the funds in assisting, it has been the custom, as a general practice, to use the very best information to be had as to the disposal of any given amount. On that plan, last season and the season before, most of the means were directed from the P. E. Fund office. This season they have the best information at the office in Liverpool, or can obtain it, with regard to the condition and circumstances of the Saints, for which reason all the means we receive, except small amounts loaned to those who have nearly enough, and to be returned in time for this year’s emigration, are forwarded to Liverpool, to be distributed as the authorities there may deem best. But with all our efforts since the close of last season, after paying off an indebtedness incurred in helping a number of Saints from the East who had been mobbed, we had only ?????? 112, or $543, to send to Liverpool for the April company. That would not emigrate one large destitute family; it is a mere drop in the bucket. But it was all we had; and we were obliged to instruct that the amount must not be exceeded, because we have no right to fall back upon the Trustee, and ask him to pay indebtedness incurred by the operations of the Fund. Will we be able to forward any money for the May company? Only a very small amount, so far as I know, though this rests with those who are due the Fund.
Some may wish to know why the making of donations has not been urged more than it has. In 1869 there were so many assisted that it interfered with other arrangements, not known at the time; and before there were means for overcoming that difficulty, the financial crash of 1873 occurred. When I spoke to President Young about donations, he said: “Wait a while; the people are poor just now. Try and collect the indebtedness, as far as you can” And since then, among other reasons, I have not felt to solicit donations, because it is well known that there is a very large sum due to the Fund, so large that, if we could only receive one-half of it, we could gather all that any one would say ought to be gathered, and then have much money left to go on with; and were I to solicit aid under such circumstances, I am of the opinion that I might be advised to collect what is due to the Fund. And what could I say? I have yet to learn what I would be able to say.
I deem the gathering of scattered Israel to be a part of the work that belongs to us as Latter-day Saints, in building up the Church and Kingdom of our God upon the earth. I think it is part of our labor, the same as building temples, sustaining the poor, sending missionaries abroad and sustaining their families when necessary, and all that tends to spread the principles of truth [p.74]and righteousness the wide world over. But do I wish to give the gathering of the poor an undue share of the means, of the labor, and of the time that pertains to this great latter-day work? I do not know that I do. But I feel anxious for the debtors to the Fund to so far honor our God and themselves as to free themselves from this indebtedness as speedily as they may be able, and thus free the scattered poor from bondage, and bring them here to enjoy the blessings we enjoy; and I can not see how we are going to entirely escape a measure of the condemnation made known in the paragraph I have quoted, except we are a little more diligent in attending to these matters. And I trust you will not blame us when we entreat those who are able to pay their indebtedness to the Fund as soon as possible.
God bless you. Amen.
President John Taylor (5)
President John Taylor (5)
In relation to the subject that I referred to this morning pertaining to the Co-op, I am informed that they are very busy with their affairs and have not had time to make any specific statement pertaining to this matter; but they feel disposed to unite with us in relieving the necessitous and worthy, as far as they would be justified in the premises, and in accordance with correct principles, to do their part. I would here remark that the same kind of feeling would be very commendable on the part of other store-keepers, bankers, or any one of us to relieve each other.
I would make a statement in relation to the Co-op. I have had reports from the north, that some parties who ought to know better, had said that the Co-op. was no longer a Church institution, and that it was managed, directed and controlled by a few monopolists, and that we were asking the people to sustain them in their operations, which I consider very infamous talk, and especially coming from men who profess to be men of honor. The Church, I will here say, holds an Interest in that establishment to the amount of $360,000, and then there are 580 stockholders, who are Latter-day Saints, in it, besides the interest which the Church holds. And when men make such statements I consider it infamous and contrary to correct principles; and I should recommend their bishops and the authorities of the Church where they live to bring them up for slander and treat them accordingly. That enterprise was started as is properly implied by the initials of its name. What is it? “Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution.” They had for sometime difficulties to cope with; perhaps things might not have been managed as well as they could have been. There may have been errors in judgment. For sometime they did not pay dividends; but latterly they have paid what might be considered a fair dividend, and the Institution never was in a better condition than it is today. I speak of this that you who are stockholders in that institution may not be imposed upon by speculators who would seek by false representations to get from you your stock at less figures than it is really worth, I think it is our duty, as Latter-day Saints, to sustain that institution; and then, on the other hand, I think it is the duty of that institution to sustain the Saints, and let us get closer together in our relationship, and act honorably and uprightly in everything we engage in, then we can secure the blessing of the Almighty. I thought I would say so much in relation to this matter.
In regard to the work we are engaged in, it is one of very great importance; it is one on which God and angels, apostles, prophets, patriarchs and men of God who have lived in the different ages of the world, have felt interested about; and do to-day. And about these little matters of dollars and cents we do not care so much about them or ought not to; although we have to attend to all these matters—matters temporal, matters spiritual, things pertaining to time and things pertaining to eternity. It is expected of us that we act wisely, prudently and understandingly in all of our doings. And in speaking of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company’s operations, we expect that all decent men will meet their obligations, and those, who are not of that class will not. We will forgive the poor and let them go, and the others may go if they want to. But we will not release them from their indebtedness if they are able to pay it. Is not that just? I think it is. We will relieve the poor and needy; but as to those people who have called upon you—and you have sent out your teams and have loaded those teams with provisions of all kinds, and you have either gone yourselves or sent your sons to drive them, to help them in, if those men do not feel like acting just and right, let them be considered among the unjust who have used your means which was appropriated by you to relieve the necessitous and have not had the honesty to return it, but as to the poor, the needy and distressed, we will come to their relief and help them, the same as we are obliged to go to God our Heavenly Father and ask him to help us, for we are all dependent upon the mercy of God, we live in him, we move in him, and to him we are indebted for our existence as well as for every blessing that we enjoy pertaining to time or eternity. He has revealed unto us the fullness of the blessings of the gospel of peace, he has taken our feet from the mire and clay and has planted us upon the rock of eternal truth, he has imparted unto us the light, intelligence and revelation of heaven, he has made us to sit together in heavenly places in Jesus Christ, he has taught us how to save ourselves and our families, how to save our progenitors and how to save our posterity. And we have this labor to perform. And if we have gone forth and assisted our brethren we have only done our duty, and what was there so much after all? Not much, we have simply performed a duty—a duty we owed to God and our brethren. If we had not had the means we could not have given it, and having given it, we will continue to do the best we can and we will keep on doing, helping all, comforting all, relieving all, teaching all and seeking to promote the well being of the human family and to carry out the designs of God in the best manner that we can.
One duty we owe to the world is to preach to them the gospel, and for that the priesthood is organized in part. The Elders are sent forth from time to time—many that are around me on my right and left and also before me have gone forth “weeping, bearing precious seed,” they have gone in the midst of persecution and affliction, to an unthankful world, to proclaim to the people the glad tidings of salvation, and they have “returned again rejoicing bringing their sheaves with them.” And we are still doing the same, the Lord has laid it upon us and it must be done. And when we send out missionaries—I was told that some did not hear what I said this morning upon this subject, I will try to make you all hear now—when we send out missionaries we want you to see that their families are provided for in their absence, if they [p.76]have not the means to do it themselves, stand by them and treat them kindly and provide them with the necessaries of life that they require, that they may be comfortable and made happy and be one with us, and while our brethren are engaged laboring abroad, notable to provide for their families, let us provide for them. And we call upon the presidents of Stakes, and upon the bishops and upon the people where they reside to see that these things are attended too, that the families of our missionary brethren are made comfortable and happy. Our brethren under these circumstances can feel contented and can go forth with satisfaction and joy. “Why,” they will say, “we are going forth in the name of the Lord trusting in the God of Israel, and while we are gone we have left our families among our friends who will take care of them, and all is well and all will be well.” When you do that they will bless you and you will be blessed in time and in eternity. It is a great privilege to be able to do good. Did you ever think of it? Jesus said, “Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail they may receive you into everlasting habitations.” Then let us feel after the welfare of our brethren, and we will not dwell much upon one another’s weaknesses, for God knows that all of us have enough of them, at least, I feel I have, and I think my brethren feel that they have, and I do not think that many of you are very much better than we are. But I tell you what we desire to do and to see carried out. We wish correct principles to be carried out, and while we are sending the gospel to the nations afar off, we want to see the pure principles of the gospel lived up to at home. We do not want to be influenced by the corruptions that float upon us here. While we respect proper authority and pay proper deference to all honorable men in all positions in our country, we do not want to copy after the devices of this corrupt generation, we want them to keep them to themselves if they admire them. We neither want drunkenness nor whoredom nor infanticide nor foeticide nor any of the corruptions that abound throughout the world, or of this nation, of which every honorable man ought to and does feel ashamed. We want to train up our youth in the fear of God, and hence we have our Young Men’s and Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Associations, which are doing a great deal of good throughout the land in teaching and being taught correct principles. It is our youth that are growing up that we shall have to look to, by and by, to bear off this kingdom, and we wish the fathers and mothers to set their children a good and proper example, to be patterns of purity, of honesty, truth, integrity and uprightness, that they may be able to meet and look every man in the face with a clear conscience and open countenance, and not be obliged to dodge around corners for fear of some one seeing them and finding them out. There are no people under the heavens that make greater pretensions than we, there are no people under the heavens that have been more favored of God than we have been. We feel inclined sometimes to murmur and complain about the nation to which we belong. It is true they have not treated us very generously or very kindly in many respects, but the Lord seems to take care of us, and we do not suffer much do we? We enjoy more liberty to-day than millions of the inhabitants of the world do. And I do not know of any nation under the heavens where we would be better protected than we are here, thanks to many honorable men and thanks to the [p.77]God of Israel who has delivered us and who has told us that he would watch over us and take care of us and provide for us, which he has done, and I feel grateful to him. For this, however, we are not under any obligations to our enemies, but no matter, if they can stand it we can. When I see men violating the sacred principles of liberty and trampling under foot the institutions of our nation, I feel to realize that they are the enemies of mankind and of the nation. I do not care what position they occupy. God will hold them to an account, as breakers of their own covenants. We will try, however, to maintain our own, and treat everybody right, and pray for all honorable men, and let the devil take care of the balance. (Laughter). This is how I feel in relation to these matters. We want among ourselves to learn strictly the principles of honesty, to have and maintain honest dealing one with another and be true to our word, and to let our word be our bond. And never mind so much about litigation. I do not know that I ever sued a man in my life, and I do not think that I ever shall. I am not fond enough of law, or money either, to do it. And God will help us and protect us in our rights, if we will only do right. And then we Latter-day Saints, we elders of Israel and we sisters of Israel, we ought to be ladies and gentlemen, we ought to treat one another with courtesy and kindness, and true politeness. Lord Chesterfield and others have written long treatises on politeness. I will tell you, in a few words, what it is to be polite: try to make everybody as comfortable and happy as you can, in all your words and in all your acts, and then you will be polite. Study the feelings of those with whom you are associated and those with whom you come in contact. And when a man meets an elder, why, says he, that is an honorable man, that man is anointed of the Lord, I will respect him, I expect to be associated with him in time and in eternity, and shall I degrade myself by speaking harshly or acting harshly towards him? No, but we will treat one another with kindness and courtesy-And we will treat our sisters in the same way, and act the part of gentlemen towards them, and protect them in all their rights and in all their privileges, and never be afraid that they are going to run away with some of our rights. When I hear people talk that way I think they are a little in doubt of themselves. Why, we expect our sisters—our wives—to be with us not only in time, but in eternity; and let us treat them accordingly, with kindness, with affection, with love and with esteem. And then let the sisters turn round and treat their husbands and brothers and fathers in the same way; and let us all cultivate those principles that are calculated to promote one another’s happiness and peace, that it may reign in our own bosoms, and dwell in our habitations, and prevail throughout the land, that the peace of God and the blessing of God may rest upon us. And while we feel a disposition to do right and to keep the commandments of God, God will bless us and sustain us in all of our operations; and every plot and every contrivance devised against us will fall to the ground, for God will be our deliverer and our protector. Let us train up our children in the fear of God too, and watch over their morals, and especially the morals of our daughters, and see that they do not get led astray in the paths of iniquity; but watch over them and pray with them and for them; and pray for one another, and sustain one another, and help one another, and bless one another, and God will bless us.
We are sending out persons to go and extend the borders of Zion, to make new settlements. I was very much pleased to hear some remarks made by Brother Woodruff in relation to these things, and the acts and doings of the brethren in Arizona, and of some of the new settlements south and southeast. There is a number of those settlements referred to by Brother Woodruff, the members of which we advised when they went, to come as near to the United Order as they could—that is, to be united. Brother Woodruff says that in those new settlements he did not see a man drunk, he did not hear a man swear, neither did he see any person use tea or coffee. In this respect they are setting an example that it would be well for us to follow. And, then, do not pursue that licentious course exhibited around us here. It is this d—d infernal “civilization” that has introduced these infamies into our midst. Let us purge ourselves from them, and not mix up with their ungodly doings. Excuse me for the remarks, but they are true before God; they are both damned and infernal, for those who practice them will be damned, and they are infernal, because they proceed from the infernal regions. I do not care who sustains them, whether governors, judges, priests, or whatever they may be; they are of their father, the devil, who sustains those things and maintains them. Those crimes are not original with us; they are brought here to try to corrupt and enslave and debase and pollute us. Keep yourselves pure from these corruptions, and walk worthily of the high vocation whereunto you are called.
I heard the other day from one of our speakers that there were Elders, High Priests and Seventies who got drunk. What are the Bishops doing? What are the Presidents of Stakes doing? Why do you not bring them up and cut them off from the Church—any such Elder, any such High Priest, or any such Seventy, or any of the Saints who may be found guilty of such thing? For they are hypocrites, and want dealing with and severing from the Church. Furthermore, I have heard of some Bishops who have been seeking to cover up the iniquities of men; I tell them, in the name of God, they will have to bear them themselves, and meet that judgment; and I tell you that any man who tampers with iniquity, he will have to bear that iniquity, and if any of you want to partake of the sins of men, or uphold them, you will have to bear them. Do you hear it, you Bishops and you Presidents? God will require it at your hands. You are not placed in position to tamper with the principles of righteousness, nor to cover up the infamies and corruptions of men. Now, do not say you did not know anything about it; I have given you fair warning, and I clear my skirts of your blood; and their infamies will cleave to you unless you attend to it.
God expects us to do right; he has given unto us the priesthood for that purpose, and he requires us to magnify it and honor it and carry it out. And it is the place of those men, and the place of the teachers to see that there is no iniquity in the Church; and if they do not do their duty, it then becomes the duty of the Bishops to see to it; and if the Bishops do not see to it, it is the place of the Presidents of Stakes to see to it; and if they do not see to it, and it comes to our ears, it will then become our duty to see to it, and also to see to them who do not magnify their calling. God will not be mocked. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap; if he sows to the flesh, [p.79]he shall of the flesh reap corruption; if he sows to the spirit, he shall of the spirit reap life everlasting.”
We are gathered here to serve God; we are gathered here to be taught in the ways of the Lord; we are gathered here to build up temples, and then to administer in them; we are gathered here to send the Gospel to the nations of the earth, and to fulfil those various requirements which God has placed upon us to attend to; and if we are faithful in all our duties, God will bless us.
I find that the time has expired. Shall we continue the Conference another day? All who desire to do so say aye. (The vast congregation responded “aye.”)
Choir sang the anthem,
“Sing to the Lord a joyful strain.”
Adjourned till Thursday, at 10 a.m.
Dismissed with prayer by Elder BRIGHAM YOUNG.
THURSDAY, 10 A.M.
“Praise ye the Lord, my heart shall join
In work so pleasant, so divine.”
Prayer by Elder ORSON PRATT. Choir sang,
“Joy to the world—the Lord will come,
And earth receive her king.”
Elder Lorenzo Snow
Elder Lorenzo Snow
We, as Latter-day Saints, profess to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, in the restoration of the fulness of the everlasting Gospel, in the restoration of the Holy Priesthood, with its privileges and powers, and in the restoration of the authority to administer to the sick, and to receive, through the medium of this Gospel which we have espoused, supernatural gifts and blessings, the Holy Spirit, which communicates a knowledge of things past, of things present and of things to come. And when we received this Gospel, we covenanted before God that we would be led, that we would be governed, and would follow the suggestions of the Holy Spirit, that we would follow the suggestions of the principle that gives life, that gives knowledge, that gives understanding of the things of God, that communicates the mind of God; and that we would labor for the accomplishment of the purposes of God in the salvation of the human family, adopting as a motto of life, “The Kingdom of God, or nothing.” How far we have kept these covenants during the past fifty years, and followed the dictates of the Holy Spirit, we ourselves must be [p.80]the judges. So far as we have done this, so far have the blessings of the Almighty descended upon us, and our minds have been enlightened, our understandings enlarged, and we have moved forward in the path of holiness, in the path of perfection, and which enables us this day to stand in the knowledge and power of God, and in the intelligence of heaven, just in proportion as we have observed the spirit of those covenants which we made at the waters of baptism; and just so far as we have failed in our faithfulness, in our adherence to our engagements, just so far have we been losers in this enterprise in which we have engaged to obtain eternal life, to obtain wisdom and knowledge and divine intelligence sufficiently to stem the tide of evils and temptations that surround us. And just so far as we have followed the suggestions of this divine spirit, have we experienced peace and joy to our souls, we have discomfited the enemy, we have laid up unto ourselves treasures that moth and rust cannot destroy, so far have we forwarded ourselves in the path of the celestial kingdom; just so far have we secured ourselves the blessings and privileges that pertain to the celestial law. When these things were opened up to our view—the principles of the Gospel and the glory of the celestial worlds—it was then our privilege to enjoy its blessings to a certain extent, just as though we had been translated into the celestial worlds; it was our privilege to enjoy a certain amount of the blessings that pertain to those laws. And just so far as we have conformed to these laws that pertain to our temporal salvation, just so far as we have obeyed the instructions given to us in regard to our temporal union, just so far we stand in prosperity before God and before the world; just so far as we have been induced to open our hearts to display the principles of philanthropy in the exercise of our religion, just so far do we stand this day approved of the Almighty God; just so far have we secured the implements or the means to defend ourselves against the approaching evils; just so far in all our settlements, cities, towns or villages, as we have observed these laws that pertain to our temporal obligations, just so far has prosperity attended our exertions, and just so far as the spirit of union prevailed in our midst, and we have advanced ourselves in these principles. And just so far as we have ignored these things, just so far do we stand weak to-day before God and before the world.
A sufficiency of information has been placed before us in the revelations of former days, in the revelations to us at the present time to guide us in all of our affairs, both spiritual and temporal, to guide us even to the celestial kingdom to receive of the fulness of the Father. If, after the expiration of fifty years, we as a community do not stand in that high relationship to God that we could wish, the fault is not in the Lord, it is not for the lack of information placed before us, but that lack is in ourselves; it arises from our ignorance or neglect, or from a desire, peradventure, to serve the spirit of the world instead of the Spirit of God.
It is true, when we look upon the temporal position that thousands and tens of thousands occupied at the time we received this Gospel, and when we take into consideration the spiritual fetters by which we were bound, and the ignorance that attended us in our spiritual affairs at that time, we certainly may feel very thankful to the Lord for the progress we have made when comparing our present position with that we sustained when we received the Gospel; [p.81] there must arise in our hearts the deepest gratitude to the Almighty for so far redeeming us spiritually and temporally as we find ourselves this day. For the progress we have made we are indebted to the blessings of God attending our diligence and faithfulness. And we should renew our covenants before God and the holy angels, that we will, God being our helper, serve him more faithfully during the ensuing year than we have in the past, that our public and private life, our actions and the spirit and influence we wield may be in keeping with the motto, “The Kingdom of God or nothing” I trust, my brethren, that we may devote ourselves entirely to the service of our God in the establishing of his Zion on the earth, zealously laboring in the interest of truth and righteousness on the earth, until it shall become a joy to us to be so engaged, that it may become second nature to us to serve God and keep his commandments, and to observe the celestial law, and that we may so enjoy the Holy Spirit in our hearts that we may overcome the world and establish the celestial law in our minds and establish it in our practice; that we may so understand ourselves and our privileges that we may in this life secure a considerable portion of the blessings that pertain to the celestial law, and which are to be enjoyed in the celestial glory. That so far as God gives us power in the earth, so far as he gives us possessions, houses and lands, flocks and herds, that these possessions shall become sanctified by our doings and actions and the manner in which we exercise ourselves in relation to them, that they may become sanctified, and that we may show ourselves worthy of the priesthood we possess, in establishing God’s work, in establishing his laws and everything that pertains to the celestial glory, just so far as God gives us this power, that we may show to the heavens that we are worthy of this Gospel and this confidence that God has placed in us, in restoring to us the fulness of the holy priesthood.
And now I will close my remarks by bearing my testimony to the knowledge of God that I have received in relation to this work. It is true. I received a knowledge of the truth of this work by a physical administration of the blessings of God. And when receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost I knew I was immersed in a divine principle that filled my whole system with inexpressible joy; and from that day to the present has blessing crowned my labors. And when baptizing people and administering the ordinances of this holy priesthood, God has confirmed those administrations by imparting the Holy Ghost, giving a knowledge to the individuals to whom I administered, convincing them that the authority was delegated from heaven. And every Elder who has gone forth to preach this everlasting Gospel, and acted in the spirit of his calling, can bear the same testimony, that through their administrations in these holy ordinances the glory and power of God has been made manifest in a convincing manner upon the heads of those to whom they have administered. This is our testimony; this was the testimony fifty years ago of a certain individual who stood forth and claimed that God had authorized him to baptize people for the remission of sins, and lay hands upon them for the reception of the Holy Ghost, which should impart unto them a knowledge from the eternal worlds that he had this authority. This person was Joseph Smith; and he conferred this authority, which was given unto him by holy angels, upon others who were sent forth to bear testimony to the world that [p.82]those who would receive those holy ordinances, should receive the testimony from the Almighty that they were thus authorized to so administer. And this is our testimony; and this is my testimony before this people and before the world.
And may God bless us; may he pour out his Spirit upon the Latter-day Saints. And may we be faithful in all of our labors, having the motto indelibly stamped upon our hearts, “The Kingdom of God or nothing.” Amen.
Elder Wilford Woodruff (2)
Elder Wilford Woodruff (2)
“A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will hasten it in his time.” This is the word of the Lord through the Prophet Isaiah. Fifty years has made this little one not only a thousand, but more than one hundred thousand, and I do not think it will take half of fifty years more to make a strong nation: and if it were not for offending the ears of the Christian world, I would quote a word or two from the Prophet Daniel, where he says: “Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out of the mountains without hands, which smote the image upon his feet, that were of iron and clay, and break them to pieces. * * * And the stone that smote the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. * * * And it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” I know it becomes offensive sometimes to the Christian world to quote the Bible, therefore I think I will not quote much more of it. But I wish to say this is the destiny of the kingdom of God which is planted here in the mountains of Israel. But I will take the Liberty of asking a question; I would ask it of the Gentile world; I would ask it of the whole Christian world if I had a chance and an opportunity, and that is this: If this is the work of the Lord, and if the God of Israel has set up a kingdom, undertaken to establish a Church and a Zion, I wish to ask—can the inhabitants of the earth help it? Can they hinder it? Can they stay the hand of the Lord? I wish the world to reflect upon these things. Or will the unbelief of the world make the truth of God without effect? Judge ye. Joseph Smith, while in Liberty Jail, while in chains and imprisoned, prayed to the Lord—you will find it in the latter part of the book of Doctrine and Covenants, page 383—he prayed to the Lord and the Lord answered his prayer. He told him a great many things, among the rest that all things should be revealed in the days of the dispensation of the fulness of times, according to that which was ordained in the midst of the Council of the Eternal God of all other Gods, before the world was—all these things should be revealed in the latter days. Now, says the Lord, “How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri River in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.” The powers of earth cannot stay the progress of his Church and kingdom, for God has decreed it. And I wish again to say a word or two that is upon my mind with regard to my present condition. I have read the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants a good many times, and they have brought me to a condition that I love to trace these revelations like the pyramidal histories that have written to the world that comes to an end pretty [p.83]soon. And I am about in the same position as the farmer that sees his harvest ripe for the sickle. What must he do? He must go to work and cut it, or else it will go back into the ground; and that is the way I view the world to-day. It is fifty years since these revelations of God were revealed to man. Is not the world ripe? Is not the whole earth covered with whoredom, murder, blasphemy and abominations of every kind, until it rises up in the face of high heaven and before the Lord? What will be the result? The crop must be reaped; the harvest is at the door, it is ripe. The Lord said fifty years ago to Orson Pratt and others, “The field is ready for the harvest. Now, thrust in your sickle and reap, and any man who will may thrust in his sickle and reap.” If we are not approaching a change, if the judgments of God are not to be poured out upon Babylon, and if there is not a change awaiting Zion, then I am at a loss concerning the fulfilment of the revelations of God; I have got about as far as I can go unless these changes are at the door. The coming of the Son of Man is near. The signs of heaven and earth have indicated this for many years; that is about where I am to-day; as an Elder of Israel, as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I can see no road before me unless I am looking for the judgment of God to be poured out upon the wicked, and the judgments will begin at the House of God, and it will go forth from them to the world.
Now, a few words with regard to what Brother Taylor said. In the first place, these Apostles here are in the same position that Ezekiel was. The Lord said unto him, “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the House of Israel; therefore, hear the word of my mouth and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, thou shalt surely die; and thou gavest them not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.” So I say with regard to the Apostles here, as well as the Seventies and High Priests and Elders and Priests—they are set here in these latter days upon the walls of Mount Zion as watchmen. I tell you we are under a mighty responsibility to God, and I tell you we cannot afford, as Apostles, as Seventies, as Elders, and as High Priests, to sit still and know that sin reigns in our midst, and not rebuke it; we can not do it, and be justified before the Lord. Another thing, if we as Apostles, bearing the holy priesthood, use that priesthood for any other purpose under heaven but to build up the Kingdom of God, if we do our power will fall like lightning from heaven. A good many men have undertaken this—men high in the priesthood, even the Apostleship—to build themselves up upon the authority of the priesthood. And where have they gone? You may say amen to their power and authority. They have lost their Bishopric and Apostleship. Let us reflect on these things. I say the same to myself. I say the same to the Apostles, Seventies and High Priests. You cannot use the priesthood for any other purpose under heaven but to build up the kingdom and do the will of God; and when you attempt to do otherwise your power will be taken from you.
I wanted to say so much, and now I desire to say another thing. It is our jubilee year. I want to give an exhortation. I have heard things during this [p.84]Conference that have had an effect upon my mind. I want to say to old and young who have been in the habit of doing anything that is not pleasing in the sight of God, it is time for us to lay aside these things. It is time for us to lay aside our whiskey, our tobacco, our drunkenness, and everything that lies in our path to hinder us in our duty, or we shall be under condemnation. High Priests, and Elders, and Apostles, or any other man, cannot bear this priesthood on the earth and revel and drink with the drunken. You cannot do it, it is too late in the day; if you do, your power will fall from you. I felt yesterday, while Brother Taylor was rebuking these things, to say, Amen. I know that Brother Taylor, as leader of this Church and Kingdom, can no more sit and hold his peace while these things are going on in Israel, than he can live without breathing. It is time for us to repent and turn away from all our evils. The responsibility of carrying forward this Kingdom is upon the shoulders of the Latter-day Saints.
Now I will say a few words more, and then I will close. I have often been asked the question, what condition should a man be in in order to receive a recommend to go through the Temple of the Lord? I will tell my feelings in regard to this matter, and if they are not correct, President Taylor and others of the Twelve can correct me. I believe it is too late in the day to send men to the Temple who make a daily use of whiskey, or other strong drinks, tobacco, &c., and there perform the ordinances for their dead; it is not acceptable in the sight of the Lord God of Israel. If we are going to be saved, let us build up the Kingdom of God, let us be reasonable and live according to what we preach; let us live our religion. I do not believe that a man is fit to go into the temples of the Lord to administer these ordinances for the living and the dead, who will make a practice of drinking strong drinks. What do you drink? Whiskey? No; you drink strychnine; you drink tobacco and a great deal of absinthe, “blue ruin” and death; you drink anything under heaven but pure liquor. It can scarcely be said to exist in the land. The stuff that is sold deprives you of your agency, and gives the devil power over you; it does so with anybody who makes a practice of using this liquor and other intoxicants. No one who uses them is fit to administer in the ordinances of the House of the Lord. My own faith is that no one is fit to administer the sacrament, baptize the children of men, or administer in the House of God, unless he in a measure keeps the Word of Wisdom. The Spirit of God will not dwell in unholy temples.
If we are going to build up the Kingdom of God, it is time we commenced to keep the commandments of God and live by every word that proceedeth from his mouth. Our responsibility is great. It is the Kingdom of God, it is no more nor less. It is the Church of Christ; it is the Zion of God that every prophet who has ever lived since the world began has seen in vision and declared our future history. The revelations of God in the Bible, Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants are being fulfilled. We are fulfilling them. And while we are here let us be faithful to God, the Great Elohim, the God of the Jews as well as the Gentiles. He looks to us and to nobody else. He looks to the Latter-day Saints. Why? Because nobody else has received the fulness of the everlasting Gospel; nobody else has taken hold to build up this kingdom. My faith and feeling about this matter is that we were appointed [p.85]before the world was, as much as the ancient apostles were, to come forth in the flesh and take hold of this Kingdom, and we have it to do, or be damned. That is our position today. The eyes of the heavenly hosts are over us; the eyes of God himself and his son Jesus Christ and all those apostles and prophets who have sealed their testimony with their blood are watching this people. They visit you, they observe your works, for they know very well that your destiny is to build up this Kingdom, to build up Zion, sanctify it, sanctify the earth and prepare the world for the coming of the Son of Man. The judgments of God are at the door of the wicked; they cannot hinder them. The Lord will hold all men and all nations to an account for the deeds done in the body, and as Isaiah says in speaking of Zion, “The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.” These are tremendous sayings. There are hundreds of the revelations of God, all of which are going to be fulfilled upon the heads of the inhabitants of the earth in the generation in which we are living. Be prepared, therefore, for that which is to come. There is a change at your door. There is a change at the door of this generation. The Lord is watching over you, and he will sustain his work.
May God bless you. May he bless the Apostles, and clothe them with his power and with the revelations of Jesus Christ, for I will say as Brother Snow has said—I know this is the Kingdom of God. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and he sealed his testimony with his blood. That testimony is in force upon all the world, and it will cost this generation just as much to shed the blood of the Lord’s anointed to-day as it has cost the Jews for shedding the blood of Jesus Christ eighteen hundred years ago. The Jews have been scattered, they have been under the bondage of the Gentiles for all these years, and they have until recently been denied all political rights. But the Lord is about to restore them. This is the Kingdom of God. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The heavenly hosts are preparing themselves to help the fulfilment of the revelations that are recorded in these records.
The Lord raised up President Young to lead this Church, which he led for a generation. He has now passed behind the vail, where he labors with other Apostles who have furnished their testimony on the earth. The Lord has raised up President Taylor. The spirit of wisdom is with him. The Lord is blessing him and blessing his brethren. The Lord will stand by us and sustain us if we keep his commandments.
I pray God to bless you and to bless Zion, that we may have power to bring these principles home to our hearts, to comprehend in a measure the responsibilities resting upon us, for I will say there never was a generation since the creation in which the responsibility of the Apostles and Elders was greater than that in which we live.
I am thankful that I have lived to see this day. I have sometimes said I have felt lonesome. I look around me and find Joseph and Hyrum and a great share of the Twelve have been taken away. They are now in the spirit world. We soon shall go there too—myself, Brother Taylor, Brother Pratt and many of us are getting grey-headed—we shall soon pass to the other side of the vail; but let us do our duty while we are here, and all the rest, old and young, that we may inherit eternal life through Jesus Christ. Amen.[p.86]
Elder Orson Pratt (3)
Elder Orson Pratt (3)
I do feel with all my heart to thank the Lord our God for the blessings conferred upon this people. Our year of Jubilee, if we may so term it, is past. We entered upon it the sixth day of April, 1879—last Tuesday was the end of it. We are now living in the fifty-first year of the organization of this Kingdom. At the close, or near the close of this first half century, the Lord has been very kind and merciful in behalf of the poor; he has put it into the hearts of his servants to administer liberally and bountifully for their good. It is to be hoped that the fiftieth year will not close up those great and good acts, on the part of the Church, as well as on the part of individuals in the Stakes of Zion, for and in behalf of the poor: but that the good work may continue, and that all the poor and the needy may be supplied, so far as circumstances will permit, with the necessaries of life. So much upon that subject.
In regard to the future, it has been a duty devolving upon me, in connection with hundreds of others, to declare not only the Gospel, but to portray before the people future events. There are great things in the future, and we are sometimes apt to forget them. We have been looking, for some time past, for the Lord to accomplish and fulfill the times of the Gentiles; or the times allotted to them, during which the testimonies of his servants should go forth among them; or in other words, the times of the warning of the Gentile nations, the gathering out of their midst, a few here and there, of the believing Gentiles, away from the corruptions of Great Babylon, preparatory to the destructions that are to be poured out without measure upon the Gentile nations. These things have been sounded so long in the ears of the Latter-day Saints, that I have sometimes thought they have become like a pleasing song, or like a dream, and that they scarcely realize that these great events are at hand, even at the doors. But if we can depend upon the word of the Lord, if we can depend upon the predictions recorded in the Scriptures of truth—if we can depend upon modern revelation which God has given—there is a time of tribulation, of sorrow, of great judgment, of great wrath and indignation, to come upon the nations of the earth, such as has not been since the foundation of the world. And these things are not far off, but are near at hand, and who, in that day, that has any sympathy in their hearts, any feelings of humanity, but will mourn and sorrow over the calamities that will fall upon the nations. I know that these things are true. I have known these things ever since the autumn of 1830; and I know that God will fulfil his word, and that the day is almost at our doors, when God will pour out his indignation, without measure, upon the nations of the earth; and they will be swallowed up with judgments and calamities of all kinds and descriptions.
I have sometimes reflected upon a new witness that the Lord seems to have brought to light, by the opening of the Great Pyramid of Egypt. There are many things revealed by the opening of that Pyramid, nearly 3000 years after it was built, that are great and marvellous, so far as I can understand them. There seems to be a prophetic spirit running through the construction of all that vast superstructure, pointing forward to the very end. Among the great events clearly portrayed by that Pyramid, was the organization of this Church on the sixth of April, 1830. This is expressed in the construction of the “GREAT STEP,” in the Grand Gallery of that Pyramid. Time was measured [p.87]in that ascending gallery by sacred cubit inches. The measurement from the birth of Christ to the upper edge of the “Step,” which terminates the ascending passage, was exactly 1829 cubit inches, and the fraction of another inch; that is, a little over the twenty-sixth hundredth part of an inch. Allowing one year to a cubit inch, it gives the sixth of April, 1830, as the exact time, corresponding to the upper edge of the “Grand Step.” At this point the Gallery ceases to ascend, and the passage becomes horizontal. This points out the very period of time when the Church was organized, and the very day and month and year. Sixty-one cubit inches are measured off, from that point in a horizontal direction, until you come to the great impending wall, the end of the Gallery. What that means, I do not pretend to know. It may mean the closing up of the times of the Gentiles. Sixty-one years from the organization of the Church brings us, according to pyramidal testimony, to the end of something. Whether these pyramidal symbols are divine or not, there is one thing that I do know is true, namely, that the generation in which the fulness of the Gospel—the Book of Mormon—was brought forth, is the generation that will close up the times of the Gentiles. That I know, if I do not know much about the Pyramid. I know the former by revelation. I know that the days of the Gentiles are but very few; the end of the dispensation to them is now drawing very near to a close. God has revealed this work. His arm was made bare in the restoration of this Church. His arm was made bare in sending his angels from heaven to restore the everlasting priesthood and authority to the children of men. His power was made manifest in the organization of the Kingdom that must stand forever. These things are not a matter of opinion with me. I know them to be true. God revealed them to me in my youth. I have known them from that day to this. And the work of God will prosper, will prevail, will accomplish that whereunto it is sent, until every nation under heaven shall receive sufficient warning, and then will come the terrible, the dreadful downfall of Great Babylon. Awake, therefore, O ye inhabitants of Zion! Awake to the importance of your duties! Awake to the duties of the everlasting priesthood which has been conferred upon you by the servants of the living God. Seek after God with all your hears, with all your souls, and with all your might, mind and strength, that you may be prepared for the events that are in the future, not only to be preserved when the great desolations of Babylon shall take place, but also to be partakers in all the blessings ordained to be bestowed upon Zion in the latter days. Awake for the redemption of Zion is very near, when this people shall possess again their inheritances upon the promised land; when this people shall erect unto the Lord a house and build up that city called Zion, wherein the glory of our God shall be made manifest upon all the inhabitants that are counted worthy to dwell in the midst thereof.
May God bless this Conference and the Latter-day Saints everywhere—upon the mountains, in the valleys, and throughout the Territories where they dwell; that the Spirit of the living God may be with us, with our wives, with our children, and with all who desire to serve the living God; that the destroyer may be rebuked from our midst, and that we may rise up as the children of Zion, and do the work which the Lord our God requires at our hands. Amen.[p.88]
Elder Charles C. Rich (2)
Elder Charles C. Rich (2)
I am thankful for the opportunity of making a few remarks before the close of the Conference. The Lord has certainly poured out upon us a goodly degree of his Holy Spirit, and we have received instructions which, if observed and carried out in our lives, will be of everlasting benefit and salvation to us as Saints of the Most High God.
There are certain things that we are in duty bound at all times, to bear in mind and never lose sight of, and one of those things is, the requirement of the Lord that his Saints should become one. This lesson has been taught to us from the very beginning until now, and in it is involved the strength of this people. It is a lesson that should first be taught and acted upon in the family of every Latter-day Saint; and whenever difficulties arise between neighbors, families, or settlements, the first step to be taken by all the parties concerned should be to amicably settle the same, and from that time seek to do better, to be more respectful to another’s feelings, and to really become united as Saints of the Most High in the bonds and the covenants of peace. Therefore, my beloved brethren and sisters, let us take this matter in hand and see to it; see to it that we labor, every man in his individual capacity, to become united, and this, too, by laying aside our faults, our follies and our imperfections; and as far as possible seek to build up the Kingdom of God on the principles revealed unto us from heaven. For most assuredly he will not accept of us or our labors on any other terms than those which he himself has dictated.
And, again, among other things of importance required of us, as a community, and which is the work of to-day, is the building of temples in which to receive certain blessings essential to our salvation and exaltation in his celestial kingdom. He has ordained from before the foundation of our world, and has revealed this fact to us in our day, that his people can only receive from him certain blessings in certain places—having a special reference to those sacred buildings we call temples; and for this reason are we required to perform this work. We have been reminded that the time of the end draws near, so near, indeed, that there is no time to spare; and this labor is required of us and will have to be performed in a proper time. The Lord said to this people at an early day, that if the Saints did not perform a certain work by a certain time—referring to to the building of the Nauvoo Temple—that they should be rejected, and also their dead. Inasmuch as we were not rejected, and now have time and opportunity, let us use the time and improve the opportunity to the best advantage and of our ability to perform the work which he requires of us, and labor while it is called to-day. I feel that we are a blessed people, that the Lord has poured out upon us choice blessings in rich abundance, and inasmuch as we prove ourselves worthy to receive them on the terms which he has proposed, we will find that our Heavenly Father is abundantly willing and able to bestow, for surely there is no good thing that will then be withheld from us. But I have sometimes thought, judging from the actions of some, that they expect to realize the much desired blessing of the future on their own terms, as it suits them; it would seem that this was the case with some of our brethren, who seemingly want to do nothing unless it suits their individual feelings, overlooking partially, if not entirely, the great fact, that we have enlisted to do nothing but the will of our Father as it is and shall be [p.89]made known to us through the proper authority. Nor does it matter to us, as his faithful servants, what that will may be, whether to build temples or anything else, we should engage with our whole heart in the work required of us.
The results of the labors of this people for half a century are before the world, which, although wrought in much weakness, and ofttimes in poverty and distress, have been, under the blessing of a merciful, a just and allwise God; crowned with success; and on this, the occasion of our jubilee year just closed, I, in common with my brethren, raise my heart and voice in praise to him who lives and rules in the heavens above, and in testimony to this being his work, even the work to be developed in the latter days, so often spoken of in holy writ. And I repeat what has been said that the judgments are nigh, even at the door, and this work is going to be fulfilled. Let us open our eyes and ears, that we may see and hear as the wise virgins, that we may rightly comprehend the nature of the work to be performed, not in some other generation, but in the generation in which we live.
I bear my testimony to the the truth of what we have heard in relation to the judgments of God that are to come upon the earth, as well as in relation to the truthfulness of this latter-day work. This testimony was given to me many years ago, having embraced the Gospel as early as the year 1832, when the Lord opened the vision of my mind and manifested to me that it was of him, and that it was the commencement of that work which should eventually “fill the whole earth.” I know this to be true to-day, and have known it and testified, whenever opportunity afforded, to its truthfulness ever since that early day; and I bear testimony of it this day before you, my brethren and sisters, and to all the world, that this is verily the work of God, and that he will fulfil the words that have been spoken to us his Saints concerning all things coming on the earth. And to the Latter-day Saints I would say, inasmuch as we treasure up in good and honest hearts the principles and words of life which God has revealed, and live in consonance with them, we have nothing to fear; on the contrary, the faithful will rejoice, not in the downfall of the disobedient and wicked, but in the realization of the promised blessings in which they will rejoice, both in time and eternity.
Then, my beloved brethren and sisters, let us awaken to the warnings we hear from time to time, and especially cherish the Spirit, and ponder over and improve upon the instructions of this Conference, for they are true and faithful, and to this you, as well as I, can testify. And when we go to our homes let us carry with us and impart the spirit of this Conference to our brethren and sisters of the several Stakes who have not been present, that they also may take warning and square their lives according to the principles of the everlasting Gospel, laying aside everything that is wrong, and doing that which is right in all things pertaining to our religion, as Saints of the Most High God. And that we may pursue that course which will guarantee unto us all the blessings of the new and everlasting Covenant, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Elder Erastus Snow (2)
Elder Erastus Snow (2)
St. Paul once said, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” He said this to the ancient Saints in reference to [p.90]the spirit of hatred and persecution raging in the world against the Apostles and their followers. I have sometimes thought, when we hear and read of the vituperation and lies abroad in the earth concerning this people, when we see how they are misrepresented and slandered, it would seem as if the flood gates of hell were opened to swallow them up, and we might at times almost despair were it not for the assurance that we feel that God is with us, that the Lord of Hosts is our God, and he has led us until the present time, and we are encouraged to continue our efforts and labors with the feeling and assurance that he has not departed from us, that he has not cast us off, notwithstanding our follies and the many evils in our midst, and notwithstanding that the servants of God are called upon to speak by way of reproof and ofttimes to rebuke with sharpness. God has spoken by one of the ancient prophets in this wise: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” The word of the Lord, though it be sharp like a two-edged sword, has salvation in it. It is the power of God unto salvation to all them that believe, and by the sharpness of the word of God are we brought to comprehend ourselves, to see ourselves as God sees us, and to purge evil from our midst. And it becomes us to lay to heart the word spoken, and it should begin with the Apostles, Presidents of Stakes, Bishops, the Presidents of Quorums, and heads of families and run through all the organizations of society, and the spirit of repentance, of reformation and of purification should flow in our midst, flow through the people in all our organizations until every man, woman and child shall feel that the Spirit of God rests upon them; we should put away evil, and endeavor to overcome the world, to withstand the influences of the hosts of hell, to resist the example of evil minded persons, to resist temptations of pride and vanity, and cease to be hypocritical; in other words, to be honest before God and one another, for his eye is upon us. Our ways are openly known unto him. It becomes not his people to seek to hide their ways from the Lord. Hypocrites do this. Many of the Gentile Christians do this, as did many of the ancient Jewish Pharisees, for which they were rebuked with severity by the teachings of the Savior. None of us need think that we shall be benefitted by covering up our uncleanness and expect that we shall be sanctified by the outer ordinances of the temple of our God, when the inner man is corrupt. There is power in all the ordinances of God’s house to all those whose hearts are clean, who accept the ordinances of God in faith and with purity of purpose. The Gospel of Christ is a savor of life unto life to all those that receive it in honest hearts, while it is a savor of death unto death to all those that reject and handle the truth in unrighteousness. So with all the ordinances pertaining to the priesthood. They bring condemnation to the hypocrite and evil doer, while they bring sanctification to those who are clean in spirit. And the priesthood which we have received with the keys and ordinances thereof can only be received and handled in connection with the powers of heaven, and on principles of truth and righteousness. The Lord has restored all the keys of this priesthood unto Israel in the last days through his servant Joseph by the hands of the ancients who held the priesthood before him; who bore the keys of the kingdom when they were upon the earth in ancient times; the Apostles Peter, James and John, and John the Baptist, from whom he received the priesthood pertaining to the gospel of [p.91] repentance and baptism for the remission of sins and the promise that this priesthood should not again be taken from the earth until the sons of Levi should be purified and all that was promised Israel should be fulfilled; and however much individuals may fall away from Zion and forfeit their blessings, however much men may apostatize from the truth, and iniquity abound, and the love of many wax cold, yet the Lord will work in the midst of his people, turning and overturning, rebuking and cleansing, until he has performed all he has promised. And when the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled, the power of God will be made manifest in the redemption of the House of Israel. As it is written, “And so all Israel shall be saved. There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” Knowing this, the Apostle Paul says to the Romans, who were Gentiles, “Be not high-minded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold, therefore, the goodness and severity of God; on them which fell severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” This is the work which God has commenced on the earth, to fulfil the promises made to Abraham concerning his seed, and the promises made to Joseph concerning his seed, the degenerate sons of America, among whom God is working in his own marvelous and wonderful manner, preparing their hearts for the changes that await them in accordance with his promises, when the cup of iniquity shall be filled up in the midst of the Gentiles, and his judgment shall be poured out upon them to break them in pieces as a potter’s vessel is broken.
We are witnesses of these things and know the things whereof we speak, and we rejoice in the manifestation of the spirit bearing witness of these things among the people of God, and though there are many who are negligent in duty, dark in their understanding, covetous in their hearts, worldly minded and cling to this world and are more or less beset therewith, yet the Lord is working in the midst of his people; for poor, frail, feeble, faulty, sinful as we are, taken as a whole, we are the best the Lord has been able to find, and therefore he is not disposed to cast us off, but to reprove, admonish and instruct, that he may make us what he has called us to be in deed and in truth, saints of the last days.
May God help us to keep our covenants, cleanse ourselves from sin, our hearts from all hypocrisy, our persons, our habitations, our towns and our cities; and may our municipal officers as well as our ecclesiastical officers have wisdom, strength, power, nerve, and energy to stem the current of crime, to check the progress of drunkenness, whoredom, profanity, and all manner of abomination, and execute judgment and justice in the land with firmness, vigor, and strength; and may God bless every officer of the law who magnifies his calling with soberness, diligence, and honesty, and every Apostle, President, Bishop, Elder, Priest, Teacher and Deacon who labors to put away evil from himself, his household and the community, and every mother in Israel who teaches her children righteousness and faith, and every organization for the improvement of the rising generation. May grace and peace be multiplied upon them through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.[p.92]
Elder Franklin D. Richard
Elder Franklin D. Richard
Forty-two years next June I had become convinced of the truth of the principles of the Gospel that had been taught to me, at the age of seventeen years; having received the word from the testimony of our aged veteran Joseph Young, sen., president of the Seventies, in my native State, Massachusetts. I found the principles of the Gospel very harmonious to my feelings, although very much opposed to the views of my friends and neighbors. It offered to me the ancient blessings restored, if I would but receive them. I considered the matter carefully and prayerfully, and ascertained that there was but one way of finding out positively whether the Gospel was true or not, or whether what was taught to me as the gospel was indeed such; and that the whole subject was made to turn upon the saying of the Savior, “If any man will do His (the Father’s) will he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself.” And finding that there was only one way to come to a demonstration of the matter fairly and honestly, I concluded that if those gifts and blessings were restored to the human family, which were anciently given God’s people to enjoy, I wanted to obtain them even at the risk of expatriation from my family, my friends and associates upon rendering a penitent obedience to the ordinance of baptism for the remission of my sins. The Lord answered my prayers, blessed me with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and gave me a certain revelation therewith, which made me to know that he took cognizance of me personally, and that this was none other than the great work of God. From that time I have never seen the moment that I doubted or felt uncertain or fearful concerning the progress of the work, or the ultimate triumph of its outcome. I have not only received such testimony, but also many of the various manifestations of the Spirit recorded in the Bible and promised in the revelations which mankind have a right, through obedience and faithfulness in this mortal life, to enjoy.
The gifts of prophecy, of tongues and the interpretation of tongues, of healing and being healed, and a great variety that we will not take time to enumerate, even to the casting out of devils. These gifts and blessings, signs and mercies, have been bestowed upon not only myself, but upon my brethren of the Council, the faithful Elders, and the Saints generally. It is no strange thing among us that any one enjoys these blessings, all of them having been promised unto those who believe and obey the Gospel message. It is only to be wondered at that more of us do not get nearer to God and realize more of them than we do; it is the only or greatest regret that I have to-day that any unfaithfulness on my part in the performance of my duties should hinder me from participating more fully in the enjoyment of God’s favors, and advancing more rapidly in the knowledge of himself and of his ways.
A man in this Church, who is an Elder in Israel, must have a degree of heroism if he is determined to be a servant of God, he must know what it is to be able to stand up in the spirit and power of his calling under all circumstances. God requires him to live and serve him with all his heart, with all his mind, might and strength; and to give himself wholly unto the work to which he has been called, and to have no other business on hand except those things which are subservient to the interests of his Church and Kingdom. I want to say to the brethren, that we as Elders in Israel have come not only to [p.93]prophecy but to revelation; I testify to you that while you are sustaining the Twelve Apostles as such—as the presiding quorum, and as prophets, seers and revelators in the Church of Christ, that your faith and prayers are not in vain, that God is answering them, that he is fulfilling them in your brethren of that quorum, and you will see from time to time more abundantly the fruits, blessings and powers resulting therefrom in a greatly increased degree. Therefore, continue your union, your faith, and prayers, and God will multiply his blessings still more abundantly upon us all. There is more union among the brethren of the Council, there is more love and fellowship existing among them, they are increasing in those graces and qualities which made the bonds of brotherhood strong and powerful to resist successfully the encroaching powers of darkness, and to become strong in the name of our God—to accomplish all the work required at our hands. Those graces we see most abundantly shining forth in the ministration and counsel of President John Taylor who is our leader.
I want to say, for the benefit of strangers present, that this work in which we are engaged, is the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times, in which God has promised to gather together in one all things in Christ, be they things of heaven or things of earth, or, he might have said all persons and things, for that is the fact. All Christendom has become permeated with the belief that the second advent of the Savior is approaching and not very far off, so, also, the spirit of gathering has commenced, and if you will have your eyes open and watch the signs of the times, you will see that the spirit of the gathering is becoming more and more widespread, and is reaching Israel in all their abidings; they are becoming interested in and waked up to the importance of their gathering together. It is not only an item of news that the Israelites have got hold of the land of Canaan, but it is a commencement of the work that will gather the house of Judah and restore their land to fruitfulness—a land which will become glorious; and the House of the Lord which is to be built there is to be far more glorious than the former one.
Not only that, but the heavenly tocsin is sounding to the Ten Tribes, and they are preparing themselves to come forth and make manifest the power of God and be established with his people upon the land of Zion promised. And if any of you doubt it, enquire among the Indians of our land and you will find that they are having dreams and visions from above, and are beginning to enquire after the word of God, and to wonder whether they are cast off and forsaken, and to be crowded quite into the sea, or whether the promises made to their race by their ancient prophets and patriarchs shall be fulfilled as recorded in the Book of Mormon.
The Lord has commenced his work and it has taken a firm footing in the earth, and he has assured us that he will carry it on; and although we are frowned upon by forty millions of people who tell us that we cannot live and exercise ourselves in all the ordinances and institutions of Christ’s Church in this land; let me tell you there are a hundred times forty millions in yonder heavens who are watching over and urging us to perform the heavenly requirements made to us from on high. Which do you think we shall give heed to? One of ancient times, when he thought that appearances were rather threatening, began to manifest considerable concern. And the prophet [p.94]Elisha, seeing the timidity of the young man, prayed unto the Lord to open his eyes. Whereupon, we are told, that he saw the mountain on which he stood was filled with horses and chariots of fire encircling the prophet round about, demonstrating to his entire satisfaction the words of his master which were uttered just previously, namely, that “they that be with us are more than they that be with them,” the forty millions to the contrary notwithstanding. Hence then, whom shall we obey? My brethren and sisters, let us obey and serve the Most High God, hearken to his counsels and keep the commandments which he has given unto us, even every word that proceeds from his mouth, including the “word of wisdom” which he in his goodness has made known to us, for anything that is worthy for him to give unto us is worthy for us to keep in the most sacred manner.
Now let me say to the poor—for this conference has been fraught with blessing unto them—you who shall be forgiven your back indebtedness upon tithing, commence anew to tithe yourselves; be men of God, take hold of that duty and henceforth live determined to honor it with other requirements in the Church. The Savior anciently said, in speaking to the Jews, “If ye were the children of Abraham, you would do the works of Abraham.” One of the most prominent features of father Abraham’s life was to leave his native land, and go to a land which he knew not of, but which the Lord should show him. And having done this, there was a time when he was met by the minister of God, Melchisedek, when he was on his return from a triumphant victory over certain kings, on which occasion Melchisedek congratulated him on his success, when he, as if to reciprocate this minister’s kindness, “gave him tithes of all,” which law of tithing, if you please, he handed down to his generations after him. Let us regard it in like manner, for it is a standing law unto us upon this land. And if we do not live it and carry it out, with all other requirements, this, we are told, shall not be a land of Zion unto us.
And unto the brethren who shall be released from their P. E. Fund indebtedness, I would say, lift up your hearts and be glad, take fresh courage when you are released from that obligation, and endeavor to make yourselves more useful. Strengthen yourselves in the the name of the Lord; let the weak say, I am strong; and let all the people know that the Lord Most High is our God, and let us give ourselves wholly to his service.
Let the poor rejoice in the kindness and liberality of God and their brethren to them. Let the rich be glad that God has given unto them the means whereby they can bestow blessings upon the poor.
God requires in his mercy that they who have an abundance shall impart with a kindly regard for the destitute, or his blessing will not rest upon them and their substance.
My brethren and sisters, by the authority of the apostleship God has bestowed upon me, I feel to bless you in all your interests, your wives and children and all that pertain to you, your fields, your orchards and gardens, your flocks and herds; hoping and praying that we may become more abundantly devoted to him, and that he may accept of us and lead us forth from faith to faith, and from grace to grace until the little stone rolls down from the mountains and fills the whole earth.
May God preserve us in the faith as he has hitherto done, and help us to do his biddings so long as we dwell in the flesh, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Elder Joseph F. Smith (2)
Elder Joseph F. Smith (2)
I can bear testimony to the discourses we have had this morning. And I can also bear testimony to the great latter-day work in which we are engaged, for I know it to be the work of God.
In regard to the remarks of Brother Pratt, respecting the judgments of God that are about to be poured out upon the nations, if the people will take the trouble to read the predictions of the prophets concerning them, especially those referred to by the angel Moroni, when conversing with the Prophet Joseph Smith, at the opening up of this dispensation, I think they will be thoroughly satisfied and convinced, if they have any faith at all, that these coming judgments are not matters of mere speculation or supposition, nor of tradition handed down from remote ages, but that they are matters of fact, or will be ere long, when God shall consummate his designs against the wicked and ungodly of the world. For not only have prophets and inspired men declared these things, but they have been declared by the voice of the Lord, and by holy messengers sent from the presence of God, as well in modern as in ancient times.
The Angel Moroni, who visited Joseph Smith on the 21st of September, 1823, quoted the Scriptures concerning these judgments, and declared that the predictions of the prophets had not yet been fulfilled, but that they would be in this dispensation, and that the beginning was now at hand, even at the door. Among these quotations I would like to call your attention to Malachi, second chapter: “Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me,” etc. “But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap, and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver,” &c. “And I will come near to you to judgment, and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false sweaters, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from the right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of Hosts.’
And again, Malachi, 4th chapter—all of which was quoted by Moroni—”For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be as stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” Again, Moroni quoted the 11th chapter of Isaiah, in which are these words on this subject: “But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” Again, Acts, 3d chapter, 22d and 23d verses—quoted by Moroni just as they read in the New Testament—” A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you. * * Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you, and it shall come to pass that every soul which will not hear that prophet shall be destroyed from among the people.” Now this is strong language, and to the point. Moroni declared that this prophet was Christ at his second coming; that this scripture was not fulfilled, but was [p.96]about to be fulfilled in the literal coming of the Son of Man to reign upon the earth and to execute judgment upon the world. Moroni also quoted Joel, 2d chapter, 28th to the 32d verses, declaring that this scripture was also shortly to be fulfilled: “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke, &c. And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered, for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.”
Now, it seems to me that none of the interest or importance of this vital subject are lost in the fact that we are not left to the traditions of the fathers nor to the written word solely, nor to any uncertain means for the verification of these predictions, but rather our interest should be awakened from the fact that an angel from heaven, an actual messenger from the presence of God, has reiterated these very predictions to man on the earth in this generation.
Some of these passages of scripture quoted by the angel were presumed to have been fulfilled in the days of the ancient apostles. Thus the world was in ignorance respecting them. All uncertainty upon this subject is now, however, dispelled, and the truth is made plain to all. For Moroni declared to Joseph Smith that these scriptures had not been fulfilled, but that the set time had come when they would be fulfilled, every whit, and the coming of Christ, the execution of the judgements, and the ushering in of the final reign of peace therein referred to, should be consummated in this dispensation. The power of the wicked nations of the earth will be broken. Thrones shall totter, and kingdoms fall, while Zion shall arise and shine, and put on her beautiful garments, and be clothed with power, wisdom, majesty and dominion upon the earth. Babylon must fall to rise no more. As a servant of the Lord I have received a testimony in relation to these things, and in connection with my brethren I am thankful to have the privilege of bearing that testimony, which I do in all solemnity before God and man, and am willing and ready to meet the consequences, if I continue faithful, at the bar of final judgment. And I further testify, that unless the Latter-day Saints will live their religion, keep their covenants with God and their brethren, honor the priesthood which they bear, and try faithfully to bring themselves into subjection to the laws of God, they will be the first to fall beneath the judgments of the Almighty, for his judgments will begin at his own house. Therefore, those who have made a covenant with the Lord by baptism, and have broken that covenant, who profess to be saints and are not, but are sinners, and covenant-breakers, and partakers of the sins of Babylon, most assuredly will “receive of her plagues,” for it is written that the righteous will barely escape. This is my testimony in relation to these matters. We rely upon the word of the Lord in these things, and not upon the word of man, for not only has angels, but God Almighty has spoken from the heavens in this our own age of the world, and we know his word is true.
That we as a people may be prepared not only for the judgments, but for the glory and coming of our Lord, that we may escape the calamities to be poured out upon the wicked, and receive the welcome plaudit of the faithful servant, and be counted worthy to stand in the presence of the Lord in his glorious kingdom, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.[p.97]
Elder Albert Carrington (2)
Elder Albert Carrington (2)
IN several places in the Book of Mormon you have read, or can read, that our Father in the heavens, in revealing his will concerning the inhabitants of North and South America, made known that inasmuch as they would keep His commandments they should prosper; but inasmuch as they did not keep his commandments, they should be cut off from his presence. Do we flatter ourselves that we are naturally better than our brethren and sisters, of the numerous family of Adam, who lived in the days of the Jaredites, or in the days of the Nephites? They were wealthy and powerful nations, and when they worked righteousness, observing the will of our kind, wise Father in the heavens, they prospered exceedingly; but as they transgressed the requirements designated for their welfare, they dwindled to destruction.
We, as Latter-day Saints, are under the same requirements as have been all previous occupants of this continent, to whom the everlasting Gospel has been preached, to seek unto, love and serve the Lord our God, if we would be kindly regarded by Him. Do we flatter ourselves that we will be so regarded in any other course? If so, we are unwisely deceiving ourselves.
I rejoice in the great blessings we have enjoyed during this Conference. I rejoice in the strength, power and truthfulness of the testimonies we have been blessed with. I rejoice in observing the increase of that spirit of union that we must attain to, to be indeed Saints of the Most High God. And I feel to add my testimony to the testimonies of my brethren, that this great latter-day work is verily the work of the true and living God, and He will carry it on to victory over all the opposition of the powers of earth and evil. This every faithful Latter-day Saint knows, whatever the world may think or imagine to the contrary; however much they may oppose in their blindness, through waywardness, stupidity and ignorance in the midst of their fancied intelligence and power. The Lord our God is infinitely more powerful than the numbers and powers of earth and darkness combined, and we have only to be careful to be His Saints, and all will be well with us. We know this, and I would that our brethren and sisters of the world would wisely realize these
When I look forward to the near future, that has been so much spoken of in this our day, and so plainly prophesied of from the beginning, and contemplate the terrible calamities that are to befall those who reject the Gospel and oppose the work of God, do I feel in the least to exult over their downfall? I feel that it will be a day of sorrow and mourning; that it will be painful even to hear the report of the going forth of the wise and just judgments of our Father upon the heads of the wicked—those of our fellow-beings who have preferred to do evil.
I take great pleasure in being able to add my testimony to the testimonies of my brethren to the fact, which all the world cannot truthfully gainsay, that Joseph Smith was and is a true prophet of the true and living God; that he died, as he had lived, honoring and glorifying our Father in Heaven; that he laid the foundation of this great work, in which we are
That we may be and continue faithful, and be saved with a complete salvation in the Celestial Kingdom of our God, I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Elder Moses Thatcher (2)
Elder Moses Thatcher (2)
Would it not be well, my brethren and sisters, to reflect, after the close of this Conference, in reference to our individual acts during our past experience in the Church? Would it not be well to ask ourselves the question whether we shall be prepared in the future to receive that measure which we have meted out to others; whether we shall be satisfied with that judgment with which we have judged others; whether we have followed the whisperings of the Spirit of God; whether we have been humble, prayerful, faithful and true? It would be well for us, I think, to reflect upon these points, and wherein we are satisfied we have not lived up to our privileges, let us as far as possible make amends and start again, rejoicing before the Almighty.
I am pleased to be able to add my humble testimony to those to which you have listened this morning. I know that this is the Church of Christ. I know that we have Prophets, Seers and Revelators. I know that every blessing which the Lord Jesus Christ has promised is within the reach of this people, if they will live so that they can claim them. I can bear my testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God; that he with his natural eyes saw the face of angels; that he heard the voice of God; that he heard the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ; and that he received the Aaronic and Melchisedec priesthood. I can bear my testimony that he sealed his testimony with his blood, and that therefore it is in force upon the whole world. His brother Hyrum died by his side, and the blood of our venerated and respected President, who presides to-day over the quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was mingled with their blood, and stands also as a testimony before this nation and before this people. I know that he is led to-day by the revelations of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I can bear my testimony that when you raise your hands to sustain him as a Prophet, Seer and Revelator, that God hears and answers your prayers. There is this spirit of revelation in the midst of the people. I know it in every fibre of my nature, I know it in every sense of my being, and I thank God that He has given me this testimony. I know also in reference to the judgments that are to be poured out upon the earth. Enough has been revealed to make me feel sorrowful and frequently like shedding bitter tears. I have no feeling of enmity against our government. I have no feeling of bitterness against a living human being, wicked though many may be, because their sorrows will be more than they can bear, and the judgments of the Almighty, when they come to be poured out, will touch the hearts of the Latter-day Saints and cause them to retire to their closets and secret places and weep because of the desolation and ruin that will be brought upon this and other nations. I can also bear my testimony that the preaching of righteousness is accomplishing a great work among the remnants of Israel, and that the poor Indians, who have been despised and hated through the ignorance, bigotry, and folly of the wicked, will yet arise and stand forth in their manhood; the Lord Jesus Christ will bring them out of their bondage and fulfil all the words of the prophets concerning them, that are recorded in the Book of Mormon.
May God bless the Latter-day Saints. May we march on to perfection, to liberty, and to the power of God unto salvation, is my earnest prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
President John Taylor (6)
President John Taylor (6)
Shall we keep on a little longer, or shall we quit? I think we have a little time. We adjourned the first day of our meeting because it was rather cold, and now it is not quite so cold, and we will stay a little longer. I have felt a desire to hear the testimony of my brethren of the Twelve, and that of our Counselor who is here. All of the Twelve are present except one; he is at his post, attending to the interests of Zion. And we will pray for him, that God may be with him and sustain and preserve him, and through him preserve this people.
There are a few things I want to speak upon, and I realize that while I and my brethren are speaking, we are not only speaking to this congregation, but to others—to the Saints throughout this and adjoining Territories; to the inhabitants of the United States and to the world; because our testimony will go forth to them.
There are many things which I wish to draw the attention of the brethren to, that they may not lose sight of them. One is Co-operation. We have a number of Co-operative institutions; we have one here, which may properly be denominated the parent institution; we have also many others, and we wish to sustain them, and to do it not nominally, but really in our hearts, and with honesty of purpose; and do everything we do on that principle, without hypocrisy of any kind, in truthfulness before God, and operating together for the welfare of Israel. But Co-operation is not a system only for importing goods and selling them; we want to co-operate in home manufactures. We have done considerable of that, and we desire to do more of it. The Co-operative Store here has, I presume, as much as two hundred men at work in all—about 140 to 150 making shoes, and about 50 or 60 making certain kinds of clothing; and we want to see these things increased, until we can make all our own clothing right here at home; and instead of having to employ tailors abroad to make it for us, we want, as quickly as practicable—and I think it is practicable now,—to make it ourselves. I mean the clothing which is imported here; and then, instead of employing comparatively only a few men, use all of our own labor; let our factories be run on double time and use our own wool at home, instead of exporting it, and thus increase the means of employment and be self sustaining. And then if we could get some of the best machinery for the manufacture of hats, that would be another commendable enterprise, because we use a large number. I see there are a great many heads here, and there are a great many more in the Territory, all needing hats—and if we should supply them ourselves it would be much better than to take the other course.
Then there are some that are trying to engage in the United Order, up and down in different parts, especially far off in the South. They have our blessing and our prayers. I say God bless them in all their attempts to approach that order which is instituted of God. We have not got at it yet, by and by we will come to it; but in the meantime we will approach it as near as we can. God is pleased with the action of this people in their liberality towards the poor. Now be liberal one towards another, and help and relieve one another, and God will relieve and bless you.
Speaking again of Co-operation we have what are called Boards of Trade, and it is expected that they will operate and co-operate with our central institution. [p.100] A meeting of that kind will be held this afternoon, therefore I do not wish at this time to say much upon that subject.
There is a subject I wish to speak a little upon to High Councils, to Bishops, to Bishops’ Counselors and to the Presidents of Stakes particularly; but as we shall hold a priesthood meeting, what I am about to refer to can be more fully talked of then; but I will allude to it briefly here. Reference was made by one of the speakers to a revelation contained in the Doctrine and Covenants, in which we are given to understand that the priesthood is given unto us, not for our own aggrandizement, nor to advance our own interests, but to build up the Church and Kingdom of God upon the earth, acting upon the principles of justice, equity and righteousness, as you are yourselves willing to be judged—and will be judged, before the Great I AM, when the time comes that we shall have to give an account of our stewardship. We want no favoritism shown to any man, or to any woman, or to any set of men, but in the administration of justice to do it as in the sight of God, with integrity of heart and uprightness; anything different from this cannot receive the approbation of God. And furthermore, this priesthood is not conferred upon men to exercise any degree of unrighteousness or tyranny, or to in any way oppress or injure anybody; but if any man use his priesthood to subserve any such purpose, God will take hold of him, as the Priesthood above him will take hold of him, and he will be removed out of his place except he repent.
Another thing. The Lord has given unto us our various Courts—Bishops’ Courts, High Councils, etc., and it is expected that the Saints will adjust any matters of difficulty or dispute that may arise among them, before those courts, and that they do not go to law before the ungodly; and if any do so, I will promise them, in the name of the Lord God of Israel, that they will be destroyed by the ungodly. Hear it, you Elders of Israel, and you Saints of Latter days! Let us seek in the first place among ourselves to execute judgment in righteousness, and then let every man and every woman submit to them. That is God’s law, and any man that acts contrary to this law cannot go into the temples of the Lord to receive the ordinances of God’s house. For if we cannot submit to the law of God on the one hand, we cannot receive the blessings through his ordinances, on the other hand. Is that right? [The congregation answered, Yes.]
Again. I have been very much interested in our Sabbath School operations, and should have been pleased to have been present at the general meeting of the Sunday School Union, last evening, but having so much labor on hand, I thought it better to rest. But I am interested in the cause of our Sunday Schools, and so are my brethren of the Twelve. God has given unto us the most precious of gifts—children, and has placed us over them as the fathers and mothers of lives. They are eternal beings, and it should be our constant care to train them up in the fear of God. And we want the Bishops and the Presidents to sustain them, which I believe they do, and all good brethren and all good sisters should take an interest in the welfare ot the rising generation, and do all they can to train the children in the fear of God. And God will bless you in your labors and desires, and the youth of Zion will rise up and call you blessed. And let no man or woman shirk the responsibility of teaching the children when it is put upon him or her.
And then, our Young Men’s and Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Associations are very good institutions, and the Lord is blessing them, and he will continue to bless them; and we desire to see them encouraged in their operations throughout the land, that the principles of righteousness, truth and purity may be promulgated and sustained; and that vice, evil, corruption, and infamy may be frowned upon, and the right honored and maintained; and that our youth may grow up as plants of renown and become mighty men and women in Israel, filled with the gift of the Holy Ghost and the power of God.
Again, in regard to the Relief Societies. They are doing a great deal of good, and I say, God bless the sisters, and let all the congregation say Amen. [The vast congregation said, Amen.] Sisters, continue your labors of love, and continue to propagate good, virtuous and holy principles; teach your daughters, and also your sons, principles of holiness and purity; and seek out the poor and distressed and minister to them, and God will bless you in your labors. We thank you, and I thank you in behalf of the Twelve, and in behalf of the people, for the liberal vote you gave us yesterday in regard to supplying the poor and the necessitous with the grain that you have stored—something which we, who profess to be so much more intelligent, have not been able to do. God bless you; continue your good works and adhere to the principles of right and truth, and God will bless you, and he will bless your sons and daughters, and your names will be honored in Israel, and you will be honored by God and the holy angels.
Again, in regard to the building of temples, we are engaged in doing a good work. Our Salt Lake Temple is progressing very nicely, and we expect it will go forward as usual, only a little more so, next season. I would say in regard to this temple—there were some remarks made about no reports having been made. This is true; the people here have been careless and indifferent, at the same time a large amount of means has been used on it, and why the report has been omitted, I do not know. And the building known as the Salt Lake Assembly Hall has been erected within a short time, at a cost, I suppose, of not less than $100,000; besides attending to other things. I have no complaint to make, only we will try and do a little better; and when you are called upon to furnish quarry hands, be a little more prompt about it, and do not be backward; and when you are called upon to furnish men to assist us here, do not be backward about it. And we will try and improve, one and all, upon our past labors in relation to these things. In Logan and Manti we have two temples under construction, and when finished they will be a credit to the people. We are trying at least to carry out the word and will of God in this direction, and he is helping us to do it. We will build our temples and administer in them, and stand forth as the priests of the Most High God, administering salvation to the living and for the dead. And then, we will continue to send forth, as we are doing, our missionaries to the nations of the earth. Although they do not, very frequently, receive us very kindly, but no matter; they did not receive Jesus, nor the prophets in ancient times, very kindly. The laws of God, nor the servants of God, never were received very kindly upon the earth, except for about two hundred years upon this continent; but the time is coming when the Saints of the Most High God will take the kingdom and [p.102]possess it, and reign for ever and ever; and he whose right it is will come and take the possession.
I will speak a little in regard to our government. We complain a good deal about the way we have been treated. Well, we have been treated very scurvily, it is true—everybody will admit that—but we must consider the circumstances: they are not of our faith, they do not believe as we do, they have their ideas, and theories, and notions, and so have other nations as well as this. Well, what shall we do? We will do the very best we can. Do you think you could improve your condition in any other nation or under any other government, or receive any better treatment than you do in this? I tell you no, you could not. We here, at least, have the form and—I was going to say, the guarantee of liberty; that is, the promise of the guarantee. We have the form, but it is like a religion without the power. What shall we do? Consign everybody to damnation and destruction? No. Who are they? They are God’s children. Would he like to see them reform? He would; and he has told us to try to do it. If we had children that had gone astray, would we not like to see them reform? Yes, we would, and if our children do anything wrong we tell them of it, and we try to reform them. We will therefore continue to go to this nation as we have done, as saviors, with the message of life and salvation, and we will pray for the honest, the upright and virtuous, and those who love righteousness, and those who are willing to accord to men equal rights, and a great many who are not; and we will do them all the good we can. We will sustain the government in its administration, and be true to it, and maintain this position right along. And when division, strife, trouble and contention arise, we will try to still the troubled waters, and act in all honesty as true friends to the government; and when war shall exist among them, and there is no one found to sustain the remnants of liberty that may be left, the Elders of Israel will rally round the standard of freedom and proclaim liberty to all the world. These things will assuredly take place, and when they do our motto will be as it now is, “Peace on earth and good will to men.” These are our sentiments and feelings in relation to these matters. But while we feel liberal, generous and kind to all men of all nations, classes and creeds, we have no fellowship with unrighteousness; we do not believe in the actions of many men, nor in their corruptions and evils; we want to purge ourselves from them and stand forth aloof as servants of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, and try in all fidelity, in the interests of our common humanity, to bear off the government of God triumphantly.
I would also say a little about the P. E. Fund. While we have relieved a great many, to the amount of $800,000, of their indebtedness, which is right before God and all honorable men; there are a great many poor Saints among the nations yet. And we want those who are not forgiven—for we shall not forgive those that are able to pay and do not do it—to come forward and meet their obligations. And then, if there are those that are desirous of assisting any in this direction, who have it in their hearts to do so, and to impart a blessing to their friends in foreign lands, let them come forward and present their means to Brother Cartington, who is President ot the Perpetual Emigration Fund Company, and he will see that the means are properly applied. We do not want to close up this avenue of relief to the scattered poor, [p.103]but we will continue our efforts to gather Israel. And further; we will continue to build temples, and to administer in them, and we will also continue to preach the Gospel, until the word of the Lord be fulfilled pertaining to this and other nations, and then he will say, Turn to the Jews, go to the House of Israel, the cup of the Gentiles is full. This time has not come yet.
Now, in regard to these matters, God is our God in whom we put our trust; we have nothing ourselves to boast of. Have we wealth? Who gave it to us? The Lord. Have we property? Who put us in possession of it? The Lord. Our horses, cattle and sheep, our flocks, herds and possessions, are his gifts. The gold and the silver and the precious things of earth, and also the cattle upon a thousand hills, are his, and we are his, and in his hands, and all nations are in his hands, and he will do with us and with them as seemeth him good. And as a kind, wise Father, he will watch over their interests; and when the time of judgment comes, it will not be withheld. We ought always to remember that our strength is in God; we have nothing to boast of ourselves, we have no intelligence that God has not given unto us; we have nothing in life, or property, but what has been given unto us of the Lord. Everything we possess pertaining to time and eternity has been imparted to us by him. Let us then act as Saints of God in all humility, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. I say God bless you, and God bless my brethren of the Twelve, and God bless my brethren of the Seventies, and God bless my brethren of the High Priesthood, and God bless the Presidents of Stakes and their Counselors, and God bless the Bishops and their Counselors, and the Elders, Priests, Teachers and Deacons, our missionaries laboring in foreign lands, and all the Holy Priesthood, and God bless all the Saints. And let us all seek to do our duty and honor and magnify our calling. Fear God and keep His commandments, and the peace and blessing of God will abide with us from this time henceforth and forever. And I now testify, as my brethren have done, that this is the work of God that has been revealed by the Almighty, and I know it. And God will sustain Israel, and no power can injure us if we will do what is right; and this kingdom will roll on, and the purposes of God will progress, and Zion will arise and shine, and the glory of God will rest upon her. And we will continue to grow and increase until the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our God and his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever. Amen.
Elder L. JOHN NUTALL read the following names of missionaries, who were sustained by unanimous vote:
Great Britain.-Robert R. Irvine, Fourth Ward, Salt Lake City; Mark Beazer, Kaysville; John Cooper, Fillmore; William R. Webb, American
Fork; Edward Stevens, Payson; John Kynaston, East Bountiful. Sandwich Islands.-Orrin D. Allen, Huntsville.
United States.—Peter Lauritzen, Moroni; Erik Bastel Enzeksen, Mt. Pleasant; Samuel G. Bunnell, Spring City; James Sanderson, Fairview; William Clark, Lehi, and Nicholas H. Groesbeck, Springville.
Frank Warher, Willard City, place to be designated hereafter.
Choir and congregation sang:
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”
Adjourned till October 6, 1880, at 10 A. M., in the same place.
Benediction by Elder WILFORD WOODRUFF.
GEORGE GODDARD. Clerk.
A meeting of the Priesthood was held according to appointment in the Assembly Hall, Thursday evening at 7 o’clock. It was opened by singing, and prayer by President ANGUS M. CANNON. After which the meeting was addressed by Elder GEORGE TEASDALE, who was followed by Elder ERASTUS SNOW, in a discourse on the authority of the Priesthood in its several classes and callings. President JOHN TAYLOR made some closing remarks, full of instruction and inspiration.
Elder L. JOHN NUTTALL then read the following additional names of Elders nominated for missions: Charles Schneitter, First Ward, Salt Lake City, to Switzerland and Germany; Jens Hansen, of Mill Creek, to Scandinavia; James Myler, Clarkston, to the United States.
The doxology was sung, and meeting dismissed with prayer by Elder WILFORD WOODRUFF.
Of the Fourth Semi-Annual General Conference of the Young Men’s Mutual
Improvement Associations, held in the Salt Lake Assembly Hall, Tuesday Evening, April 6, 1880.
ON the stand were President John Taylor, Apostles W. Woodruff, C. C. Rich, F. D. Richards, Joseph F. Smith and Moses Thatcher, and Counselor D. H. Wells.
The Presidency of the Salt Lake and Utah County Stakes, Junius F. Wells and Milton H. Hardy, and the Stake Superintendents of Box Elder, Davis, Morgan, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber Counties, and representatives from Beaver, Juab, Sanpete, St. George, Sevier, Summit, Tooele and Wasarch.
Meeting called to order by Junius F. Wells. After singing and prayer, President JOHN TAYLOR addressed the meeting on the subject of mutual improvement, referring more particularly to the young men, and explained the suggestions from the Council of Apostles in relation to a more complete and permanent organization. After which, Apostle Wilford Woodruff was nominated for General Superintendent, with Apostles Joseph F. Smith and Moses Thatcher as his assistants. The nominations were carried unanimously.
Superintendent WOODRUFF then briefly addressed the meeting, expressing his interest in the work of mutual improvement among the young, and called for the statistical report, the totals of which were accordingly read as follows:—
Stake organizations, 20; associations, 239; members, 9,206; average attendance, 5,755; quarterly conferences, 47; weekly meetings, 2,640; conjoint sessions, 551; extra meetings, 156; total meetings, 3,394; visitors sent, 1,326; visitors received, 1,155; visits of county and general officers, 390; members gone on missions, 73; libraries, 95; volumes 3,554; value of books, $3,986.45; manuscript papers, 274; financial exhibit showed cash and other property on hand, $3,794.87; Scripture reading, total chapters read, 77,012; subjective lectures given, 2,904; testimonies borne, 3,295.
After the reading of the report, Superintendent WOODRUFF made a few remarks, and called for a vote of the people to sustain the suggestions of the Apostles in relation to the organization, which was unanimous. A preamble and resolutions respecting cruelty to animals and the killing of birds were presented and read, and the sentiments expressed therein voted upon.
The meeting was dismissed by President JOHN TAYLOR.
CIRCULAR FROM THE TWELVE APOSTLES.
SALT LAKE CITY, U. T., April, 16th, 1880.
To the Presidents of Stakes and Bishops of the several Wards:
Dear Brethren:—During the annual Conference begun in this city on the 6th inst., the Trustee in Trust, with the unanimous approval of the Apostles and Counselors, deemed it a fitting opportunity on the fiftieth anniversary of the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and at the close of the Year of Jubilee, to propose remitting some $800,000, or one-half of the indebtedness to the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company, by the worthy poor who are struggling with adversity, unable to pay, and with but little prospect of ever being able. This very liberal proposition was cordially sustained by the unanimous vote of the vast congregation, composed of authorities and members from all regions of our settlements.
That these remissions may be applied in the wisest manner possible, the Bishops of the several wards are hereby respectfully requested to at once proceed to learn who of those indebted to the P. E. Fund Company they may deem entitled to the benefit of the aforenamed remissions, and write down names, ages, year of immigration and post office address, with a few of the principal reasons why they recommend a remission, and forward all such recommends to their several Presidents of Stakes.
The Presidents of Stakes are also respectfully requested to at once carefully examine the aforesaid recommends from the Bishops; endorse thereon their approval or disapproval, with or without remarks, as they may please, and forward to the President or clerk of the P. E. F. Co., Box B, this city, for consideration and final action by the proper authorities here, and their action thereon will be made known to the parties concerned through their bishop as speedily as may be.
In case a bishop shall deem it more proper to recommend remitting only a part of an indebtedness, he will recommend accordingly, as aforenamed, specifying the amount.
DELINQUENT TITHING REMITTED.
At the general Jubilee Conference, April, 1880, President John Taylor [p.107]proposed, and the Conference voted that the deserving poor have their delinquent tithing remitted throughout the whole Church, to the amount of one-half the total of all the delinquencies; under such regulations as shall be approved by the Stake Presidents and the Apostles. The Presidents of Stakes and Bishop’s agents are therefore respectfully requested to ascertain from the books in the several wards under their jurisdiction the amount of all such delinquencies, and, at an early day, a list of names and the wards where found, with the amounts recommended for remittal, which should include all delinquencies of persons, generally well disposed, but who, by reason of losses, affliction, helpless families or missionary labors, have been unable to pay, and such amounts of other delinquents as may be deemed right and proper, in accordance with the spirit of the Conference. Should the total amounts so recommended for remission amount to less or more than one-half the total delinquency of your Stakes respectively, it will be adjusted and equalized as far as practicable, and as shall be deemed to be just by the Presiding Bishop, with the approval of the Apostles. The several agents should consult with bishops, and make up lists to be submitted to the Stake Presidency, which, after such modifications as they deem advisable, should be signed by them and the Bishop’s agents for the Stake, and forwarded to the Presiding Bishop of the Church.
We need not remind you that neither favoritism nor prejudice should influence any one in these matters, but only an earnest desire to make the yoke easy and the burden light.
DONATION OF COWS AND SHEEP.
On the suggestion of President John Taylor and his brethren of the Council of Apostles, by common consent, as expressed by the unanimous vote of the Saints in Conference assembled, on April 7, 1880, one thousand good young milk cows and five thousand head of healthy sheep were appropriated for the relief of the deserving poor Saints in Zion. Three hundred of the former and two thousand of the latter were subscribed by the Church, and the remainder as a donation by the several Stakes, as expressed by the vote of the Presidencies of the Stakes and Bishops of the wards, who were present at the meeting.
In order that a proper apportionment may be determined, the Presidents of the several Stakes are requested to ascertain and report to the Trustee in Trust as speedily as possible the number of cows and sheep that will be required to relieve the worthy poor in their Stakes.
A prompt report, giving the names and residences in full of such as the Bishops recommend, and whom you can endorse as being worthy and needy, will enable us to determine at once, and inform you of how many head of each it will be necessary for you to furnish. In securing subscriptions, it would be well as far as possible to make, at at the same time, distributions as you may think proper.
Being aware of the object of this charitable measure, you will, we feel assured, perceive the importance of being thorough, prompt and energetic in its accomplishment.
THE LOANING OF RELIEF SOCIETY WHEAT.
To the President of the Central Grain Committee, and Presidents of the Various Branches of the Relief Society in Salt Lake City and throughout the Stakes of Zion, having in charge stored Wheat:
In accordance with a unanimous vote of the sisters present at our late general Conference, we recommend that you loan to your respective bishops so much wheat as they may consider requisite to meet the necessities of the deserving poor.
We also recommend that the bishops receipt to you and take receipts from those to whom they distribute, that the wheat loaned may be faithfully returned when circumstances shall permit.
We realize that our sisters have performed a highly commendable and praiseworthy labor in storing wheat for future emergencies, and we trust that, inasmuch as the wheat is loaned without interest, the bishops, in carrying out the above measures, will see that they receive a full equivalent for their loans, taking into consideration the losses in changing, as well as the difference between old and new wheat as to quality and quantity. The shrinkage is supposed to be about ten per cent. The bishops should be responsible for the return of the wheat, hence they should loan on good security and to such persons as will return the same according to agreement. It should be loaned mainly for seed. The Tithing Office will in no case be responsible for the return of the whole or any part thereof.
THE FORGIVENESS OF DEBTS TO THE WORTHY POOR IN ZION.
At our recent Annual Conference, the Church, by common consent, remitted one-half of the people’s entire indebtedness to the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company, and one-half the amount due on back tithing account, aggregating about $875,900. This amount to apply to the cancellation of the obligations of the worthy poor on their emigration and tithing accounts, thus freeing them from a burden which they have been unable to honorably cast off. To all such, in this regard, we offer a jubilee. The power of God moving the hearts of the Saints still further, caused them to appropriate, for the relief of the deserving poor of Zion, one thousand head of cows and five thousand head of sheep. In addition to this, the Relief Societies, with a liberal generosity, offer to loan to the needy some thirty-four thousand bushels of wheat until after harvest, without interest.
With these worthy examples, as the fruits of the gospel before us, we wish to extend to all our brethren and sisters the privilege of aiding in this good work of compassion and love. We respectfully remind those who have the riches of this world more abundantly bestowed upon them, that they have a fitting opportunity of remembering the Lord’s poor. If you hold their notes and they are unable to pay, forgive the interest and the principle, or so much thereof as you might desire them to forgive were their and your circumstances reversed, thus doing unto others as you would that others should do unto you. For upon this hang the law and the prophets. If you have mortgages upon the homes of your brethren and sisters who are poor, worthy and honest, and who desire to pay you but cannot, free them in whole or in part. Extend to [p.109]them a jubilee, if you can consistently. You will have their faith, prayers and confidence, which may be worth more than money. We invite Zion’s Co-operative Mercantile Institution as the parent; all other co-operative institutions as the children and our brethren who are engaged in profitable railroad, banking, mercantile, manufacturing or other remunerative enterprises, to extend a helping hand. Free the worthy debt-bound brother if you can. Let there be no rich among us from whose tables fall only crumbs to feed a wounded Lazarus. Rather let us each and all do our part honorably, justly, charitably and well. The Church of Christ has given us a worthy example, let us follow it, so that God may forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors. By so doing, you will, as Jesus says, “Make unto yourselves friends with the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.”
That all these matters may be carried promptly to a successful issue, we advise the Presidencies of the several Stakes and the Bishop’s agents, to proceed at once to visit all the wards therein, holding meetings in order to arrange all these matters while making their visits. By this means they will more readily accomplish what is herein required, and have their minds relieved of the responsibilities relating thereto. Those needing wheat for seed must of course have it soon in order that it may be available for that purpose this season; while those needing cows and sheep will appreciate promptness in their delivery.
JOHN TAYLOR, In behalf of the Council of Apostles.
TO ALL PRESIDENTS AND BISHOPS.
In addition to items contained in our Circular, we call attention to persons removed from your wards leaving unsettled tithing accounts. All balances against them should be promptly forwarded to the bishops where they now reside, if known, and if their present residence be unknown to you, send it to the Presiding Bishop, so that such old accounts may be considered and included in the recommendations of bishops for cancellation. An entry should be made in your books showing the transfer of such old accounts, that they may not be longer reported among your delinquencies.
In behalf of the Apostles.
THE YEAR OF JUBILEE.
(April 6, 1880.)
God of our Fathers, we, this day
Our voices raise in sacred song.
And in it our glad homage pay—
This tribute cloth to thee belong!
Thine hand has been our staff and stay.
Thy power has lit our darkest day,
And Israel, blind, this day can see
The first glad Year of Jubilee!
In all the past, thy people, thou
Hast led with more than Father’s care,
And every trial, then or now,
From foes within or foes elsewhere
Hath testimony brought, as rain
Upon the parched and desert plain
Gives life and gladness, fresh and free,
A sure perennial jubilee!
What more could’st thou for us have done?
What blessing hast thou e’er denied?
In eastern lands thou wert our sun,
As on Ohio’s prairies wide;
And when Missouri’s hate was keen,
When from Far West we fled unseen
We hailed afar the yet to be—
This blessed Year of Jubilee!
When by the Mississippi’s stream,
The Temple lifted high in air,
Beauteous as any poet’s dream,
“City of Joseph,” wondrous fair;
Thou did’st thy people succor then
When martyred prophets fell, as when
From death thy thousands had to flee
To wait this Year of Jubilee!
Thy people’s enemies have met
The fate which prophets did portray,
Their sun in darkness quickly set
And with it all their jocund day;
No more to them thy Saints shall bow,
No more receive their ready blow.
This is our triumph, surely we
Enjoy our Year of Jubilee!
Here, ‘mid the mountains peace hath dwelt;
“Rest for the weary” hath been found;
Here many a bursting heart hath felt
Far from the hated war cry’s sound,
As ’twere a heaven already won
‘Neath the unclouded western sun.
These had no need to wait for Thee,
In peace they had their Jubilee!
Oh swelling hearts! A cup run o’er,
With mercies, blessings, is your lot;
And there’s “a fulness” yet in store,
In heaven the Saints are unforgot.
Promise and prophecy entwined,
In sacred record is enshrined,
These every hour fulfilled to thee,
O Israel, is a Jubilee!
Can Zion’s children tell, to-day,
The half of what they now enjoy?
Or can a soul by words portray
What fifty years more will employ
Of inspiration’s force and flame?
Or how far lost a toes great name?
Or what the world will surely see
Before next Year of Jubilee?
The Saints will live, the Kingdom grow,
Zion unveiled will “rise and shine!”
Nations and tongues will homage pay
To Truth, of origin divine.
And God will bring to nought each plan
Of false, corrupt, and wicked man.
Who would not wish to live and see
The next glad Year of Jubilee?
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,”
Done, on the earth as ’tis above.
Faith that ’tis nearer with each sun,
Inspired work is a life of love.
Triumph is certain, victory sure;
Blessed are all who will endure.
Time and eternity shall be
To them unending Jubilee!