1866 October 8 General Conference Remarks


1866 October 8 General Conference Remarks



Date (allowed formats: yyyy, yyyy/mm, yyyy/mm/dd)



George D. Watt

extracted text

by President Brigham Young, at the Semi-Annual Conference
Great Salt Lake City, Oct. 8th,1866
Reported by G. D. Watt.

(The president arose to make some historical corrections, for which purpose Elder George A Smith who was speaking <took his> vacated the stand).
I am an older man than brother George A Smith, and my memory of things which took place in his boyhood should be better than his; but whether it is <or> better or not I will not pretend to say. He is our historian, and he has a remarkable memory. There is one fact on which I desire to refresh the memory of brother George A Smith and others. Brother George A. was a boy when he came into the Church and when the twelve went to England, and when they came back he was not married. I do not think that Joseph, the prophet, had any doubt with regard to the ability and integrity of his cousin; but there were other men <that> with whom he associated more frequently <with>, and talked more freely. <with> I would not be willing to say that Joseph ever denied any doctrine he published; he never did it to my knowledge, He never made the letter "A" mean anything but "A". It is nothing else but "A" in the Gospel, as it is in the Deseret Alphabet, it does not represent any double meaning.
Brother George spoke about Hyrum Smith. Now Hyrum was as good a man as ever lived, and he was no better a man that his brother Joseph. His integrety was of the highest order; but his ability was not equal to Joseph's. Hyrum was a positive man; Joseph was a comparative man, regarding every thing according to the circumstances of the case, and every person according to their intrinsic worth. Hyrum did not know enough to do this. I used to think and think now that an angel dwelling in the presence of <God> the Father and the Son possessed no more integrity in their hearts than did Hyrum Smith. While he lived he was Joseph's fast friend; notwithstanding this, I have heard Joseph tell him that if the Church was left to his leadership he would lead it <to the devil> directly to hell. He never appointed his brother Hyrum to be his successor; he never even
thought of such a thing; and if my word is good for anything, I can say of a truth that Joseph told me not three months before he was killed, and did not seek the information he gave me,-- we were talking upon <sending> counseling, governing and controlling -- <in the course of the conversation he said to me> that "if I <shall be> am moved out of the way, you are the only man living on this earth who can counsel and direct the affairs of the kingdom of God on the earth." When he said this to me, we were walking up by the old burying ground, where brother Wilford Woodruff was building a little brick house, and turning to the north around the corner where Willard Richards lived. He often <told> said to me, when speaking upon polygamy, "I shall die for it, and I would as <leave> lief die for it as not; it is the work of God, and He has revealed this principle, and it is not my business to control or dictate it, to say it shall or shall not be."
I know that brother George A Smith does not recollect these things as well as <I> others do -- as well as men who are older than him, and who was with Joseph more frequently.
Right north of the Masonic Hall in Nauvoo the ground was not fenced, this was in the year 1842. There were some rails laid along to fence up some lots. Hyrum saw me and said, "brother Brigham, I want to talk to you." We went together and sat upon those rails that were piled up. He commenced by saying, "I have a question to ask you. In the first place I say unto to you, that I do know that you and the twelve know some things that I do not know. I can understand this by the motions, and talk, and doings of Joseph, and I know there is something or other, which I do not understand, that is revealed to the Twelve. Is this so"? I replied "I do not know any thing about what you know, but I know what I know. Then he said, " I have mistrusted for a long time that Joseph has received a revelation that a man should have more than one wife, and he has hinted as much to me, but I would not bear it."
We had heard him say hard things. I recollect in one counsel where Joseph undertook to teach the brethren and sisters, William Law was there, and William and Hyrum and a few others <was met and assembled <counseled> together and they> were against Joseph. William Law made this expression, "If an angel from heaven was to reveal to me that a man should have more than one wife, if it were in my power I would kill him". That was pretty hard, but Joseph had to submit for it. The brethren were not prepared to receive the doctrine. Brother Kimball and others were in that Counsel. <Hyrum agreed with him, and they preached and talked and had meeting, and> Joseph had meeting in his house time after time, and month after month every Sunday evening. Joseph was worn out with it, but as to his denying any such thing I never <denied> knew that he denied the doctrine of polygamy. Some have said that he did, but I do not beleive he ever did.
I recollect one Sunday evening Joseph came to my house at dusk, and said "I want you to go to my house and preach". I told him that I loved to go to meeting, but did not want to go to his house. I knew what was going on. I knew that Hyrum and William Marks, and William Law would be there to operate against the prophet Joseph; and therefore I told Joseph I would rather not go to his house. Finally, he said to me, "Brother Brigham, if you do<n> not go with me, I will not go home to my house to-night." I concluded I would go with him, so I did up my evening chores, and we started for the prophet's house. By the time we got there, the meeting had commensed, Hyrum had opened the meeting, and was preaching when we went in. We went into the old log house, <I cann tell how it stood> Hyrum had the stand by the fire place <in an adjoining room> without any fire in it. We came up and sat on a board close to the stand. Joseph sat with his hands over his face all the time Hyrum was talking, and he preached and preached and preached, like a person trying to pump water out of a dry well. I will refer to his character as a preacher, and you that knew him and heard him will understand it. When we had held a two hours' meeting, then Hyrum would get up<on> on the stand to speak on the Words of Wisdom, He was a positive man; and I have <heard> known him to talk an hour and a half and two hours on the Word of Wisdom, when I did not see any perticular utility in it. At this meeting in Joseph's house Hyrum worked hard. He took the bible, the Book of Mormon, and the book of doctrine and covenants, and said he, that is the law which God has given us by which to build up His Church and kingdom in the last days, and anything more than these is of man, and is not of God. When he sat down, brother Joseph, with his hands still over his face, and nudging me with his elbow, said, "brother Brigham, now, come, get up." I got up, and previous to getting up I had become pretty well charged with plenty of powder and ball, and my lungs were not so weak as they are now. I could talk then so as to be heard a mile. I felt like a thousand lions. I took the books, and laid them down one by one, beginning with the bible, and said "there lies the bible, the book of Mormon, and the book of Doctrine and Covenants, the revelations God has given through
Joseph for the salvation of the people in the 19th Century, yet I would not give the ashes of a rye straw for these three books, so far as they are efficatious for the salvation of any man, that lives without the living oracles of God. That was my text, and I think that before we got through that the congregation was perfectly satisfied. I showed them that if we did not have the living oracles we were no better than the sectarian Churches of the world. After I got through, Hyrum arose and made a handsome apology, and confessed his wrong which he had committed in his <over> excess of zeal, and asked pardon. This refers to the time that
brother George A. spoke about (Elder Heber C. Kimball: "I was there"), Yes, and a good many others were there, and heard the lion roar..
I will now go back to where I met Hyrum. He said to me, "I am convinced that there is something that has not been told me. I said to him, "brother Hyrum, Joseph would tell you every thing the Lord reveals to him, if he could." I must confess I felt a little sarcastic towards Hyrum, although he was just as honest as an Angel, and as full of integrety as the Gods; but he had not that ability which Joseph possessed to see and understand men as they were. I took advantage of this, and I said to him, "brother Hyrum, I will tell you about this thing which you <say you> do not know <about> if you will sware with an uplifted hand, before God, that you will never say another word against Joseph and his doings, and the doctrines he is preaching to the people." He replied, "I will do it with all my heart; <I want to be saved"> and he stood upon his feet, saying, "I want to <be> know<ing> the truth, and to be saved." And he made a covenant there, never again to bring forward one argument or use any influence against Joseph's doings. Joseph had <a g> many wives sealed to him. I told Hyrum the whole story, and he bowed to it and wept like a child, and said God be praised. He went to Joseph and told him what he had learned, and renewed his covenant with Joseph, and they went heart and hand together while they lived, and they were together when they died, and they are together now defending Isreal.
It is a mistake with regard to Joseph ever saying that Hyrum would be his successor. He ordained him a prophet and Seer. There may be milions of prophets and seers and revelators, but none can <could> hold the keys of presidency over the Church and Kingdom of God in all the world with out the Apostleship. they must hold the keys of the Apostleship to do this.
I could not do otherwise than to make these corrections. It is important that history should go down to our children divested of all mistakes as far as possible. My memory with regard to a great many things, especially with regard to things which pertains to the kingdom of God upon the earth, is very retentive, vivid and quick. On the things of God, on the building up of His Kingdom, or the doctrins Joseph taught, or on anything that pertains to the preisthood, I will not lay my memory aside to prefer <for> any man's living. I know how I received the knowledge that I have got. I have seen the time, when I first saw Joseph, that I had but one prayer, and I offered that <that was> all the time, and that was that I might be permited to hear Joseph speak on doctrine, and see his mind reach out untramelled to grasp the deep thigs of God. But, in consequence of the wickedness of the children of men and the consequent inability they
possess to receive <the thigs> heavenly things, he could not impart what was made known to him of the Lord. I was with him several years before I pretended to open my mouth to speak at all; but I would constantly watch him, and if possible <to> learn doctrine and principle beyond that which he expressed. Myself, brother Kimball and others were with him when he received revelation; and when the first Council was organized. My father was the first patriarch in the Church. My brother Joseph mooted the question of my father gathering his children together for the purpose of giving them a patriarchal blessing, and Joseph ordained him to be a patriarch, and Joseph afterwards received revelation on the subject of ordaining patriarchs. An angel never watched him closer than I did, and that is what has given me the knowledge I have to day. I treasure it up, and ask the Father, in the name of Jesus, to help my memory when information is wanted; and I have never been at a loss to know what to do concerning the kingdom of God. I knew of the doctrine of polygamy by revelation to myself, while I was in England, before it was revealed to me by Joseph.
After President Young ended his remarks George A. Smith <then> arose and said: I am thankful to be corrected. President Young has the best memory of <the things of> of any man on the earth, I give way to him on this. I do not profess to remember very much, but such things as I speak of, I speak of in many instances as I have received them from others. I know that Joseph placed the spirit and authority and preisthood upon the heads of the Twelve to bear off the kingdom of God to the nations of the earth; not only did he do this, but bore testemony of it on numerous occasions in the presence of the Congregated Saints,-- in the presence of thousands. I bear my testemony that the work that has been carried out by president Young and his brethren has been in accordance with the plans, and designs, and Spirit, and instructions of Joseph Smith, as the Lord lives, unto the present time."