1861 May 5 Sunday Afternoon Discourse


1861 May 5 Sunday Afternoon Discourse



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John V. Long

extracted text

By President Brigham Young, Tabernacle, Sunday Afternoon, May 5, 1861.
Reported by John V. Long.

Perhaps we continue our meetings too long. The instructions that we receive from this stand may overcharge the spiritual appetite of some, but if the people that inhabit this earth were as one community; if we could bring them before us at once you would find that to take them as a body they want talking to very often they can learn here a little and there a little. It is something like the school child and the mistress. It is here John, William or Mary Iwish you to take this lesson and commit it to memory. The first thing the child does is to commit to memory the words, but will it do to presume upon the ability of the child to get the sentiment? No, it will not. A child may repeat the words as they are in the book, but they will have to read that lesson over and over again before they can become acquainted with the sentiment. Children read over their lessons and close the book, and perhaps their eyes, and strive to repeat over what they have committed to memory. When they have committed their lessons hundreds of them have scarcely commenced to learn the utility of those lessons, they can hardly understand what the master and mistress requires such strict and absolute attention. They are led to inquire who can be benefitted by the course of study they are pursuing. Well, they pursue this rigid course of study until they begin to see the uses of those letters which they have learned, they begin to comprehend they ideas which those lessons contain, which without this persevering study would be ever hid from their minds. It is so with regard to the people in all the lessons that we learn. We learn our religion upon this principle more or less. The scholars in this school of the holy priesthood are more capable of comprehending their lessons and committing them to memory. This is the case because their profession is congeneal to their feelings and views.
I have my own views with regard to many things pertaining to the organization of man. A great many things are suggested to me from reflection and the study of sacred writ, that I have not heard from others. It is true I hear from others those things that are new and pleasing to me. I do positively conceive, and it is my firm belief that the inhabitants of the earth from beginning to end in their spirits they are inclined to do good, and while yet in their infantile moments, before sin has had any effect upon them, they are pure and holy. It is my firm belief formed from both scripture and revelation, and from all that I can learn elsewhere, that if the infant be taken from its mother's lap, never let it be contaminated with sin, and it is my firm belief that it is more inclined to do good than evil. And the very reason why the religion that you and I have embraced is so perfectly calculated to accomodate itself to every persons recollection and refelection and to every honest heart is, that when we hear the sound thereof, it is like the type that is well inked, the paper passes over it and it receives an impression. So it is with the honest heart, with the mind that has not been destroyed by sin and corruption.
When I first saw and heard the latterday-saints they preaching made an impression upon me; when you first heard the gospel proclaimed it made an impression upon your minds, like the ink upon the paper. The sectarian religion wont do that, it has not the power of the spirit with it. This is the religion that the whole world have been afraid of, they have said we fear the union of Church and State, we dread it. Why are they afraid of it? It is because it is false; the ground and the foundation are liable to fall away. This is why you and I and the world at large have dreaded the union of Church and State. But now the light from heaven has shone and the Church of Christ is built upon a sure foundation we can see the advancement of the kingdom of God upon the earth. The reason is that when the truth reflects upon the honest heart it their stamps its own image, never to be erased only through transgression. In this kingdom the union of Church and State is according to the order of God, in is governed and controlled by revelation.
We take the unlearned, we take the boys, the inexperienced, they are received into the Church, we ordain them, we send them into the christian world and they take this Bible in their hand, and what sex can stand before them? And there is none in the world; you know that very well. Why do we see this contrast and this great difference between this people and others? It is because that the spirit of every man and woman that is born into the world came here with an honest heart, ready to receive every impression of truth that should be made upon it. It is an old saying, older than you and I are upon this earth, it has been handed down from Father to Son; you take the child that has not been taught to deceive, to tell anything but the honest truth, and it is very apt to conceive the truth, and it is ready to receive into its mind, the principles of truth and righteousness. Let that child that has been taught nothing but truth take its own course, and will it not speak the truth? It will every time. Take the simple, the honest, the unwary and you will find that there is more truth in them than there is in the learned world.
When we speak upon government, and especially our government, we have the satisfaction of knowing that it will stand for ever. No government that is formed by mens wisdom can stand long unless they are bound together by chains, but when we take a republican government we cannot expect they are bound together by the principles of truth and virtue, and if they never had those qualities in them they continue but a short time.
When we speak of the kingdom of God upon the earth there is not a man outside of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints but who is afraid in a moment. The whole world are afraid of this kingdom, and the very report of the progress of the kingdom of God sends terror to Emperors, Kings and Governors of all nations. There is not an Emperor, no matter whether Christian or Heathen but tremble when they hear the report from Zion. What is the cause of this? It is because they seem embodied in this kingdom, every principle of government pertaining to earth and heaven to govern men upon upon the earth. They fear it; they tremble when they anticipate the result. Why does the American, the English and other European governments fear it? It is because there is a oneness, a unity. When we ask ourselves for the proof with regard to our religion, we have ten thousand proofs, we have ten thousand evidences of divine truth. We talk about tradition, and about being traditionated to believe this, that or the other, and you my grey headed brethren who have embraced these principles, you can find them all in this book, (the Bible.) You used to know what this book contained before you became acquainted with this gospel, but did you know the principles contained in the Bible? No, you did not. Who traditionated you to believe <this> on Joseph Smith, and that you must be baptized for remission of sins? Nobody. Who traditionated you and I to receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and that it was necessary to prepare for an entrance into the celestial kingdom? Nobody. Who traditionated you and I to believe that it was our privilege to have power to cast out devils, to heal the sick and to speak with tongues, and do other things as promised in the new testament? Nobody. We have had the Bible all the days of our lives, but the doctrine it contains has been left out of the question. Well, what is the positive and the final proof which we have above every other sect -- there is upon the earth that this is the truth, and the whole truth; that it is the gospel of life, the way that leads people into the celestial kingdom, I say what is the absolute, the final proof, the everything that can be named in reference to the Christian religion? It is that it embraces every truth that there is in heaven earth and hell,and that it rejects every error that it comes to; this is the proof of its superiority over every body else, and that it is above everybody's religion upon the face of the whole earth. Now who traditionated you and I to believe and to do this? Nobody till Joseph Smith came up. I was just as good a Methodist, I was as sincere as any Presbyterian, I was as devoted as any professing christian, but I had not the knowledge of the truth.
What is the religion of the day? And what does it do for mankind? It operates upon the passions, while the religion of heaven is sentiment, it is light that lifts the individual above everything there is upon this earth, and shows him how to receive the wisdom of God. This is the nature of our religion; it receives and embraces every truth, while all the rest of the religions of the day we may safely say are the traditions of the fathers, believed in and established as religious ceremonies, and consequently they are binding upon the children, hence the children say our fathers believed thus and so and we must do the same.
When a man receives the Catholic religion it is not like receiving the religion of the Church of England, it is different from embracing the religion of John Calvin, John Wesley or anybody else. When people embrace the religion of the Reformers they carried with them their former tenets, but when people embrace the gospel of life and salvation they leave their peculiar tenets and politics behind. You know this by experience. When your minds are opened by the spirit of God you can see and understand things as they are; you are ready to explain the doctrine you have received to as many as may come in your way. You are quite anxious to say I am so many years old to day; here comes up a man and says I am ten years old to day, another will say I am fourteen, and still another will say I am twenty years old to day, and you will hear them testify that all they knew previous to the coming forth of this great latter day work was nothing but a phantom, a vision, but now they commenced to learn things aright.
As soon as I was baptized into this Church I received the light of revelation; I began to live anew, and I date from my first experience when I entered into this Church my life on the earth. There is a life that you can begin to count the days, the minutes and the years, and you begin to think how long you have lived, how much you have done, and how you can best prepare yourselves to do much more. Still we are like children, we want talking to a great deal, we require to look over our lesson frequently. Although this people learn fast, and they have learned more already than all the people of the religious world, from the first descention from the Catholic Church until now. They have learned more in one year concerning the Bible, concerning God the Father and Jesus the Mediator, more has been learned and committed to memory than all the reformers ever learned all the days of their lives. Read over the life of John Wesly, also read the biographies of John Calvin, Martin Luther and John Knox and what do you learn? Nothing about God. What did they do? How did they reform the Church? John Wesley introduced a reform among the Methodist brethren, Now some of the brethren will differ from me in what I am about to say. I say that John Wesley never left the Church of England; he preached for them, was paid by them, and was recognized until the day of his death, as one of their ministers. When they were arguing on the subject of prayer he said how can a man read and pray at the same time. This question rather puzzled them. He further remarked, I can close my eyes upon every thing pertaining to this earth, but in order to pray I must have all my affections and feelings raised up above the world and directed to the throne of grace. Now says he I can pray in this way, but I cannot read and pray at the same time.
He undertook to introduce this simple reformation, and this is all that he ever sought to introduce among his brethren. Now I suppose some of you brethren may differ from me upon this point, but what I have said is the fact in the case.
Those Methodist brethren who came over to this country and professed to be ministers, never receive any ordination excepting under the hands of John Wesley, but he was a regularly ordained minister of the Church of England. Now what did any of those ministers introduce in the shape of reform? Nothing at all.
What is Catholicism? Here we have the Bible, we are traditionated to believe it, and so are you; and there are more truths that have been revealed from heaven to earth, millions more than are here written. Is this true? It is, but there are a great many things that I would like to translate over again, for if they were spoken and written in truth they have been very much altered and changed. Is the bible all the word of the Lord? I never heard this question before I went preaching the gospel myself, and that time I never had anymore instruction than in the first principles of the gospel, but I have the spirit of my religion in my heart. I took for my text life, and the world for my circuit. When I met the Priests and conversed with them about the bible they said that every word it contained was direct revelation from God. Then I would take up the book and read to them the words of Satan to the Savior when he took him up on to the pinacle of the Temple, and also the temptations offered to the Savior when upon the mountain, when Lucifer said if you will do thus and so I will give you all this country, if you will only worship me all shall be yours. I never was a Methodist Priest nor a Baptist Minister myself, but this is just the way I felt and acted; and it has just been so with many of my brethren and sisters.
Here then we have the positive proof, if we go no further that our religion imparts discernment, wisdom and a knowledge of the truth. But you take the people of the latter-day-saints as a body, and I can pick up scores of men on my right and of women on my left who will tell you that when they embraced the gospel the scriptures came to their minds when ever they attempted to defend the truth; yes things that their fathers and mothers had taught them when in their childhood were brought forceably before their minds. The holy Ghost performed its natural office, for that is the true nature of its duties, to bring to the minds of the saints things that are past, things of the present and to show them things that are still in the futurel to make Prophets and Prophetesses and revelators of men and women, to endow them with the power of God from on high. lf you want to know who this Holy Ghost is I can tell you he is God's minister, a personage who can dispense to God's People in a moment the mind and will of heaven
You left your sectarian notions, your Predilections for sectarianism, and many old and false traditions, yes and you left you politics, I don't care whether you are from the North or from the South, you left all when you embraced the fulness of the gospel. We have got men here from the Southern States, we have them from the Northern States, and we have some from Canada, and we have got those that are dyed in the wool. We have got pro-slavery men that are thoroughly steeped and dyed in the wool, but what do they care for their political opinions now? My abolitionism is gone now, my democracy and my republicanism are all swallowed up in the gospel which I have embraced. We are now united to roll on the kingdom of God on the earth, and all our previous politics and opinions sink into the shade, and are made subservient to the rolling forth of the great work of our God. Is not that proof brethren that our religion is divine? I say it is; It is no use talking further about it or to argue it any further. We have the proof within our own bosoms. When you receive the truth, live your religion, and if you hear a truth that you cannot understand do not quarrel about it, but lay it aside until you get more light; say to the tempter look here old fellow you have got some thing that belongs over here, and take the truth and store it up when ever you can find it. The devil can believe far more truth than any sectarian priest, and if you find any truth with him all you can say will be that he is robbing the children of God.
We teach far too little upon the subject of the love of the world; I think a great many times upon the subject, and I frequently think upon the old negroe preachers text, which was the world, the flesh and the devil; he said I shall touch lightly upon the world, pass quickly over the flesh and hasten to the devil. I think this is the way with a great many. We sometimes bring up these things to show the saints how they are and to point out to them the condition of the world. When we come to ask the question, as brother Taylor did, and say who is capable of reigning over the nations we come to a stand, but I could give an answer to this and I should say that he who knows how to control himself is the man who knows how to rule, to be president, governor King or potentate. If a man knows how to control himself the honor and glory of his Creator, and how to prepare to turn back into the presence of the Father and the Son, he is the man that is capable of ruling and reigning. When we are men it is be for us to assist in the administration of the government of God. The Lord has ordained the plan by which man can prepare himself to assist in the admin-
istration of this government; he has given to man his agency, but he has never given the reins of government to man. He gives man the privilege of doing and acting as he pleases, but the results of those acts he holds in his own power. He holds the destinies of the nations; it is true they do as they please, yes they cut each others throats, and what will be the result? Will God give it unto their hands in the South to run over the North and act the part of despots? Or will he give the power to the North to overrun the South and decide their fate? No; that he holds in his own hand. What will he do with them? He will let them be angry at each other, for they have declared that they would not have the government of God, and they are every one of them doing just as they please; they will continue to do so until they find that they have sunk themselves into everlasting woe, <They know no rule> <will> and until they have no rule, no authorlty no gold, no silver, no power nor anything that pertains to the earth and the Saints; all will be taken from them, they will be left poor, and destitute, having no friends and no influence. There have been quite a number among us foolish enough to run after the things of this earth; they will find that they will receive the reward of their own doings even as those will in that kingdom and nation who have persecuted this people, they also will reap the reward of their doings they are already sheared to peices, they have been divided among themselves for years; they have been watching for the time and opportunity to create for themselves the greatest power possible. That is all they have been striving for, but they have not had the principle of union amongst them.
I do not know whether I shall publish what I am about to say to the world, but Bro.J. V. may write it down. Eleven of the Slave States have seceded, will they keep together in what they call the Southern confedracy? No, they will not. There are nineteen of the free States; they think that they are united but they are not. By and bye you will see a few of them divide up; they will seperate by States one from the other. It will not be the South against the North, but the seceding parties will want an independant government for each of their respective states. Then by and bye they will sever states asunder, and then it will be state against state. After that you will see the states boasting they have plenty of strength and power, and they will say we want a different kind of government, they will be divided among themselves, and become entirely disunited. As the spirit of God gathers out the honest from among them, and as the knowledge of science and art depart from them, let the children of God encourage and increase in the spirit of the heavens that they will be prepared to receive the light as fast as it departs fromthe wicked, that it may come to Zion, that here may be a fulness of all that God has revealed to man, whether of theology, science, mechanism or philosophy. Let every man and woman live so that this spirit of intelligence can stay upon the earth, for it will most assuredly leave the wicked nations so fast as they become ripe in iniquity, and they will war one against another until they become like a potter's vessel, dash to peices never to be mended again.
As far uniting any more, when once broken to peices, they never will. But if they should unite for an hour or a day, they will again be dashed into fragments, when it will impossible ever to gather them together again, for the principle of union will be taken from them.
Now I suppose you will ask me how long this will be. Do you think they will be so divided as never more to come against us? I think we shall have to stand against them all, therefore gird on your armour, for I want you carry with you every weapon of death which they have invented upon the earth. And what will this do for us? It will prevent us from having our blood shed, and it will also prevent us from sheding theirs. Our enemies would have shed Joseph Smith's blood years before they did if it had not been for this practice. The warning has been all the day long to this people, that the wicked would strive to destroy the priesthood from the earth, and the word of the Lord which accompanied this was be prepared, and I will fight your battles.
This is my doctrine to day, and I never wish to ask the Lord to do any thing that I would not do myself. I know that he puts hooks in the jaws of the wicked, he turns them as the rivers of water; he also governs and controls the affairs of this people. Suppose we had not had gone out into Echo Kanyon to prevent the entrance of our friends into this valley, three years ago; the result would have been that they would have strung up you and I. This is what they came for; I knew every plan before they came here; I knew their intentions. Let every man and woman see that they reign triumphantly in their own houses, let them govern their children in righteousness, and know that the Lord is guiding the old ship Zion. What shall we say? We say that we acknowledge our God, that we want him to reign king of nations as he now does king of saints. It is just as I frequently say; he holds the result of their acts in his own hands.
What did you read in the last dispach. It was there stated that old King James Buchannan has sold his farm in Wheatland and gone to Canada. I suppose he got afraid of his friends and therefore sold out and went. I don't know but it is his wives, or the mistresses he keeps there and their children that have told him to flee or they would use him up. At any rate it is stated that he had sold his possessions and gone to Canada.
Thomas Ford the Governor of Illinois who consented to all the persecutions we suffered there, what was his end? For years he was a poor drunken sot and had to beg his bread and meat, and if he could get a little petty-fogging in some of the lower courts he was glad to do that. What became of Tom Benton who opposed Joseph Smith every time he called upon the government to redress our wrongs? I mean that veritable Benton that had papers in his pocket authorising him to destroy this people on the prairies, if we refused to furnish five hundred men for the Mexican war. What has become of him? He is now supping Hell! When he could no longer get into the senate of the United States he got elected to the House of Representatives. When twelve oclock at night came on the eveng at the close of the session, they as usual put back the clock to enable them to finish the business of the session according to law. Old Tom was going to be very magnanimous, and drawing out his watch he informed W. Speaker that it was twelve oclock and that session of Congress was out. The Speaker called out Mr Sergeant at arms, just show that man out of doors; we have no use for him. That was Benton's last display in Congress, he soon after died and he is now in Hell reaping his reward.
This will be the fate of all the enemies of this people, and men that are and have been in this city and sought to destroy you and I, they will all be worse than paupers, and they will do well if the get as good a place in the next state of existance as the most ignorant African. But I do not know but it will be as Lyman Wight once said, when they go to Hell he used to say they would have to go down into the lower room, be put behind the soap barrel and there stay.
Now we profess to be latter day saints, and let us live our religion that the Holy Ghost may dictate us all the time, that we may be enabled to discriminate between right and wrong, truth and error, that we may always know when we hear the voice of the good shepherd and by and bye we will come off victorious. Who is there here to torment us and deprive us of the privilege of bowing down before the Lord? Who dare go down into your wheat field or into your granery and rob you? If you are disposed to sell your grain for a quarter of what it is worth, you may have the disgrace and the responsibility of doing it. When the Lord permits me to take five dollars a bushel from these pretty little gentiles who are speculating around here, then it will be my turn. I dont think they will get it for any less. Why dont you send forth your money and give it to the gentiles at once? You have had thousands of dollars which you have squandered away, and by and bye you will be saying I had plenty of Beef, and I sold it so cheap and got so little profit, that I have not now got any money left. I say cursed is he that his way to strangers. When the Lord gives me the power I will use it for the building up of his kingdom. The gold belongs to the saints and ere long they will be put in possession of it; then they will make vessels of it for the parlor, and the will not hoard it up as many do now.
Let us be saints, then all will work well. Bro. Phelps says we shall go to the centre Stake of Zion, and that I shall lead you there. I do not profess to anything about this, but if I can I shall live till I kick every devil from the earth, and till we have but one king and ruler viz. Jesus Christ our Savior, and if I cannot do this I mean to be resurrected so that I can come and help him to do it. I mean to live so that I can have a ressurrection mighty quick. I want to s
ee the spirits of men grow up in purity in the millennium. You will learn by and bye that the spirits that come into this world are pure and holy, and when we realize who we are and where we came from it will afford us much joy.
There was a person without guile, an infant in its mothers lap without sin, and all that you can say is that this partook of sin through the fall, but the organization in the spirit is pure, and consequently if it can grow up in the light it will thank God that it was born of him from the beginning.
This makes me come to another subject. We have often heard people talk about the names of the righteous being written in the Lamb's book of life. Why bless your souls your names were written there in the beginning. One may ask will my name remain there? Yes, unless you sin so as to blot it out. Every son and daughter of Adam will have to blot them out by their own acts, or they will alway remain there. Jesus will say at the last, Father, I have saved every one except the son of perdition, and by and bye He will present the kingdom to his Father and say, "I have brought all back to you again, and here are all that pertains to this earth, except those that have sealed their own damnation.
God bless the people. Amen.