We have met this afternoon, my brethren and sisters and friends, to worship God the Eternal Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, I trust under the influence of His Holy Spirit, and I pray that that Spirit may rest upon this entire congregation, and that I may be enlightened by its influence so as to be able to say something this after- noon which will edify and instruct the congregation. Having been called upon to speak to you I hope I shall have your attention and the benefit of your faith and your prayers, so that such subjects may be presented to my mind as will be profitable for us to ponder upon on this occasion.
We are partaking of the emblems of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world. We do this in remembrance of him, in remembrance of the atonement which he wrought for us and for all mankind who will listen to his voice and obey his commandments, and also to direct our thoughts to another great event in connection with the history of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, which is yet to take place. We take this sacrament this afternoon not only in remembrance of the past but to direct our minds to the future. We partake of it to witness that we believe in the atonement wrought out by the Lord Jesus on the Mount of Calvary, and also that we expect his reappearance on the earth. We expect that he will come again, not the next time as the babe of Bethlehem, not the next time to be despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, but as the Lord of life and glory, as the King of Israel to sit upon the throne of his father David, to rule from the rivers to the ends of the earth; not to be brought unto the subjection of men, but to have all things made subject to him; not to bear his cross up the side of Calvary, but to come as a monarch, as a ruler of men, as the rightful Lord and King of this earth upon which we live. In partaking of these emblems this afternoon, then, our minds are carried back to the past, and carried forward to the future, and when we hold a piece of bread, blessed by the servants of God, in our hands, we take it in token and witness to God that we believe in him of whom this piece of bread is a representative. This bread is to us a representation of the body of Christ broken for us. When we drink of the cup we do so in remembrance of his blood and as a witness to God and to each other, that we believe in Jesus Christ. Not only that, but we also bear testimony before the heavens and one another, that we are willing to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ, and remember him, and keep the commandments which he has given unto us. So that in our public assemblies on Sunday afternoon—or the Sabbath day if you please to call it so—we come together to renew our covenants, to make manifest before God and one another our feelings and desires in relation to these matters, to witness to the heavens and the earth that we are called to be Saints, that we have come out of the world, that we have separated ourselves from that which is evil, and dedicated and consecrated ourselves to the service of God, to carry out his purposes on the earth, to be guided by his Spirit, to be prompted by the same motives that actuated our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, when he was a man among men, to renew our covenants before God, that we will serve him in all things, and that we will prefer the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, that we will prefer the Kingdom of God as He has set it up on the earth in the latter days above all other things; that we will place in our estimation first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness with the hope and belief that if we do this all other things shall be added unto us as we need them.
This, then, is a solemn occasion, and although we have the privilege of meeting as we do this afternoon every Lord's Day, yet it is none the less sacred, and should be none the less solemn to us, and we should endeavor on this occasion to call in our scattered thoughts, to refrain from thinking upon the things of this world, our cares, our business, the affairs that belong outside of the Tabernacle, and concentrate our thoughts and our feelings and our desires towards God, and the things of God, so that his Spirit may brood over us, and that we may be refreshed thereby; that we may be spiritually nourished and fed; that when we leave our meeting place, we may go away strengthened and prepared to battle with the ills of life and with the evils of this world. I sometimes think that if we were deprived for a little season of the privilege of meeting together, and partaking of those sacred emblems, we would attach more importance to our meetings and to the ordinances of the Lord's House. If we were deprived of the privilege of listening to the voice of the servants of God instructing us in our duties for a time, perhaps we would value their teachings more than we do. The absence of the music this afternoon from our large organ puts me in mind of this. I am sorry we cannot have music from the organ today. I like to hear the tones which come from that fine instrument, an organ built by the handiwork of the people of God, of this community, when played upon by a good musician. Perhaps if we are deprived of the use of that organ for a little while we will value it the more after the repairs are completed. So it is with our public gatherings; so it is with the various means of grace which are so abundantly bestowed upon us as the children of God. God has been very merciful to us in affording us so many privileges of instruction. All the time there is a voice saying, ‘this is the way, walk ye in it.’ There is no need for any man or any woman among the Latter-day Saints to go astray for the lack of instruction. We have our public meetings in our settlements on the Sabbath day, where the people come together to worship the Father in the name of the Son, where they can receive the outpourings of the Spirit in a collective capacity, as a congregation. We have our Sunday Schools to which we can send our little children that they may be taught in the way of life, and in the paths of holiness and virtue before the Lord. We have our Ward Meetings on Sunday evenings, where we can meet together in a ward capacity, and bear our testimony to the truth, or receive instructions from our Bishops and from the missionaries, who may visit us from time to time. And during the week we have many opportunities of assembling together, to hear the word of life, to talk to one another of the things of God, and be instructed in our various duties, both temporal and spiritual. Then we have the great privilege given us of God, that all the time we may draw near unto the throne of grace and receive for ourselves, individually as well as collectively, the power of the Holy Spirit to enlighten us in regard to the purposes of God, to strengthen us against sin, to enable us to cultivate the good that is in us, and grow up unto him who is our living head in all things, even the Lord Jesus.
This is the greatest boon that could be conferred upon mortals while dwelling in the flesh, the gift of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, the spirit of truth, which reveals unto men the things of the Father and of the Son, which is a spiritual light to the inward being, which is the same to the spiritual nature of man as the light that streams from the sun is to the physical nature of man. As we are able to see the various physical objects of creation by the light of the sun, or as we call it, natural light, so by the aid of this spiritual light we can discern the things of God, and they can be made just as plain to our spiritual eyesight by the power of the Holy Spirit, as the things of the earth are made plain to our natural eyes by the power of the natural light that comes from the sun, or any artificial means which we may use or discover. The light which comes from God to enlighten the mind of man, to some degree is universally diffused like the light of the glorious sun. It is the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world. There is no person born into this world who breathes the breath of life, but who at the same time receives a portion of this divine spirit, this divine illumination. This blessing is not confined to people who are called “Christian,” it is not continued to any particular branch of the human family. All people who live and move and have a being on the face of the earth are enlightened measurably, by this Spirit of truth which comes from God. It is the light and the life of the world at the same time. Just as we read in the first chapter of the Gospel according to St. John. Speaking in regard to Jesus, who is there called the Word, we read: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” * * * “That was the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” This is that spirit of intelligence spoken of in the Book of Job. We read there that “There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” If we have any understanding at all, any intelligence at all, any natural intelligence born with us into the world, it is the gift of God. He that created the heavens and the earth, the seas and the fountains of waters; He that made the sun and his light thereof—He lighteth every man that cometh into the world. This is the same spirit which is called the Comforter, although it does not operate in the same degree as that spirit which is called the gift of the Holy Ghost, which we read about in the New Testament, in the promises of Jesus Christ to his disciples and to those who would keep his commandments; but all people born into the world receive a portion of divine light, and if they would grow up under the influence of that light and be actuated and guided by its whisperings all through their earthly career, it would lead them gradually up to the fountain of light, to “the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning;” it would lead gradually to God, so that they could commune with God while they remain in the flesh; they would grow up nearer and nearer to Him, for they would choose the good and refuse the evil; they would take into their nature that which would lead them towards God, and they would repel from them that which would lead downward, they would discern the strait and narrow path that leadeth unto life, and they would avoid the broad road which leadeth unto destruction, in which so many of the human family have walked from the beginning. It is because the people that dwell on the earth do not listen to the “still small voice” of that natural light which is born with them into the world, that they do not receive the things of God. It is because they love that which savors of darkness and of evil that they do not comprehend the things of God as they are in him, and that they are shut out from that communication which all people might have if they would walk in the right way.
We are placed here in a world of opposites. Just as it was symbolized in the Garden of Eden with regard to the tree of life and the tree of death, or the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so it is here. All through the ages that are past, God has placed before his children good on the one hand and evil on the other, and it is the privilege of all men to choose the good or the evil, which they please. Their agency is free. God will force no man to heaven; he will allow no man to be forced to hell. We are placed here where there is a mixture of good and evil, of light and darkness, of truth and error, of sorrow and joy, of bitter and sweet, of life and death; life spiritual and death spiritual, and also life and death natural. Why are we placed here in a world of death, in a world of opposites? That we may be tested; that we may be tried, and that we may manifest to God and angels and the heavenly hosts, and to one another what we are fit for in the world to which we are hastening. We are all hastening to another sphere, and we shall all be judged for the deeds we have done while we have dwelt in this sphere. All will be judged according to their acts and opportunities, according to the light that they have received or the light that they might have received if it had pleased them to open their eyes to it, and everyone in the due time of the Lord will be placed where he or she is fit to be. We will find our own level. Just as water finds its natu- ral level. The time will come when every spirit will find its own level. We will all gravitate some day into the place where we belong, and that place will be determined by our condition, according to the opportunities we have had, and according to the manner we have availed ourselves of them, either in cultivating the good and rejecting the evil, or in rejecting the good and cultivating the evil. We are all responsible individuals. Every person who arrives at the years of accountability becomes a responsible being. He is responsible to the Being who created him, to God who is the Father of his spiritual nature; for although we are all living under various circumstances here upon the earth, although mankind is made up of different races, yet, so far as our spiritual nature, the real individual, is concerned, we are the sons and daughters of God, who is the Father of the spirits of all men, and he that “hath determined the times before appointed and the bounds of their habitation,” has sent us his sons and daughters to dwell upon the earth in earthly bodies, some of us in one part of the world and some in another, but we are all the children of one Father, and therefore we are all brethren and sisters. And the time will come when our Father, who has sent us here for an experience, for a schooling, for an education, that we might understand the things that pertain to this lower sphere and grapple with evil and overcome it, will judge us with a righteous judgment, and we will all go to the place which we have fitted ourselves for by our earthly acts.
Now, the Lord, in the beginning of our temporal existence on the earth, placed within us this spirit of life and light, and if we would be actuated by that spirit and walk in the path that leads to the Father's presence, we would get so near to him that we would learn of him personally. But all have gone astray, and when we take up the history of mankind and view it in the various ages and among the various races of men, we find that they have all been prone to do evil; that the great bulk of the human family, at any rate, have loved darkness rather than light; that they have loved error rather than truth, and that they have been led by the Evil One rather than by the spirit which comes from the Father. When Jesus Christ came upon the earth, he told the people that if he had not come among them, they would not have had sin, but now that he had come among them they had no cloak for their sin. Why? “Because,” said the Savior, “light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” And as Christ came in the meridian of time to reveal the Father to the children of men, so far as they could understand him, so at different times during the world's history God has sent holy men, inspired of the Holy Ghost, men authorized of him to declare his word to the people that they might have life, that they might, if they pleased, choose the light and walk therein, or choose the darkness and walk therein.
But how has it been with those holy men? Have the people of the world generally received them? Have they welcomed them and their testimony? Have they hailed with joy the messengers from the Holy One, bringing light and truth and glad tidings of great joy? No. We find when we come to investigate the matter, that in all ages of the world the Prophets of God have been rejected of men. Jesus, the Son of God, had to say to the people in his day, “which of the prophets have not your fathers slain?” and He told the people of his day that upon them would come “all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom they slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.” Why? Because they had the testimony of those previous Prophets, they had the testimony of those holy men who had come in former ages, and they could see, by reading the history of the past, how wickedly mankind had rejected the servants of God, and yet, when the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came right into their own midst they rejected him, and in rejecting him they also rejected the Prophets which were before him, who predicted his coming, and the blood of all was to come upon that generation. This is how it has been in all ages of the world, the Prophets have been rejected. If a man came who flattered the people, who spoke the enticing words of man's wisdom, or according to the learning and science of the age in which he came, they would receive him with open arms, they would welcome him to their hearts, they would receive his teaching, they would feast and applaud him, they would clothe and feed him and make him rich. But if a man came with the word of the Lord, with authority from the Holy One, to minister in the name of the Most High, they would reject him and put him to death. Take up the Bible and read the history of the old Prophets. What was their fate? Why, just as Paul tells us in his epistle to the Hebrews. They were stoned, sawn asunder, be- headed, persecuted, counted as not fit to live save it was in dungeons and caves of the earth: they were afflicted, tormented and rejected.
Some people who live in these times say, perhaps, “Oh, but if we had lived in those days we would have received the servants of God, we would have hearkened to the voice of the Prophets, we would have rejoiced to hear the words of men sent of God, men holding authority from the Most High, men who could communicate with the heavens, we would have looked upon them as deliverers from our doubts, from our darkness, from our divisions, from our strife, from our lack of knowledge.” Would you? Are you sure of that? If you had lived upon the earth in the days when Jesus Christ came, how would you have told that Jesus was really the Christ? How would you have found it out? The people to whom he came rejected him. There was no special mark set upon Him by which mankind could discern that He was the Christ. There was only one way by which it could be found out whether Jesus was the Christ or not. And what was that way? Why, by revelation from God, and if you and I had lived in those times and did not believe in revelation from God, how should we have found out that Jesus, of Nazareth, was the Christ? We read that the disciples on one occasion were asked by Jesus Christ, “Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Now, how did Peter find that out, when those wise men, those Pharisees, those doctors, those lawyers, the expounders of the Mosaic law, the men that were looked up to by the Jews as lights of learning, men who had studied the holy Scriptures and made the teaching of them a profession, men who prayed long prayers on the corners of the street and had passages of scripture sewed upon the hem of their garments—how was it that Peter found out that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and the rest of the people could not find out? “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” What rock? “Peter,” somebody will say. The name of Peter—Cephas, signifies a stone, and people think that Christ built his church upon Peter. Well, if he did, he built it on a poor foundation; for it was only a little while after this, in accordance with the prediction of Jesus, that Peter was put under a severe trial which caused him to deny the Lord that bought him. The people declared that Peter was along with those who were with Jesus, and he denied the accusation and swore that he never knew him. Well, it was upon this rock of revelation that the Lord would build his Church. It was by revelation that Peter knew that Jesus was the Christ. No man can find out that Jesus is the Christ except by that same spirit; no man can know that he is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost. Now, there may be a great many people say that Jesus is the Christ. How do you know? “Well, I believe it.” Why? “Because I have been brought up a Christian, and therefore I believe it.” But do you know that Jesus is the Christ? No, you cannot know unless you get a revelation from God to that effect. You may believe that Jesus is the Christ, you may have been trained up in that belief; but you cannot know it unless God shall reveal it to you. It is only by the power of the Holy Ghost, that this knowledge can come to the children of men, neither can knowledge come to anyone concerning the things of God, except by the same spirit.
Now this gift of the Holy Ghost, as I before remarked, is the greatest boon that can be conferred upon mortal men, because by it they can discern and comprehend the things of God, and without it they cannot. They may reflect upon them, ponder upon them, speculate about them; they may come to certain conclusions in their own minds by reason and logic, but they cannot obtain a knowledge of these things unless it is by the power and gift of the Holy Ghost, which is a spirit of revelation. How can this gift be obtained? It can only be obtained in the way that the Father has pointed out. The way is plain and simple, but there is only one way. The Lord does not confer his gifts just as people please. The God who governs the universe has a way of his own. He does not ask us how we want seed time and harvest regulated, or how the earth shall revolve upon its axis, or how it shall move around the sun. He does not ask us when we want warm weather, or cold weather, nor when we want the rain or snow to descend, or the clouds to move away and leave the sun to shine forth in all its splendor. He governs the universe by fixed laws that cannot be turned out of their way by the whims of men. And so it is in the spiritual universe. Earthly things are a pattern of heavenly things, and as there are laws that govern the physical things, so there are also fixed laws which govern spiritual things. There is a way by which this gift of the Holy Ghost as a spirit of revelation to make manifest the things of the Father and of the Son, and make them plain to mortal men in the flesh can be obtained. What is it? It is pointed out very clearly in the Scriptures, but strange to say the great bulk of the people who profess to believe in the Scriptures, do not take that way when it is made plain to their understanding. In the first place, according to the Scriptures, men must believe in God. They cannot come to him without they believe in him. Faith must be quickened in the human heart, and all people have power to believe. When a servant of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, preaches the word of life, those who are desirous of the truth will be stirred up into faith by the power of his testimony and his preaching, and the authority of the Priesthood he bears. That natural light that enlightens every man that comes into the world will be awakened. For light cleaveth unto light, and truth cleaveth unto truth; and as the light of the sun when it streams over the mountain tops wakens up the latent light in the earth, and as the warm rays pouring down waken up its latent warmth, so the testimony of the servant of God, by the power of the Holy Ghost, and the authority which he holds wakens up the natural spirit of intelligence born in every man and woman, and the testimony he bears will find an echo in their hearts, the truth he presents will be made plain to their understanding, and they will see as he sees. He bears testimony that God lives. Why? Because he knows. He knows it by communion with him through the power and gift and light of the Holy Ghost, and as he bears testimony to the people that God lives, and that he is sent with a message from him, they begin to believe. But if men believe in God, they must also believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, as the Redeemer of man; they must believe he is the Son of God, because all men come to God by Jesus Christ. His name is the key word of salvation. By him we have access to the Father, and we cannot come to the Father but by the Son. The servant of God also bears testimony that he knows that Jesus who died on Calvary is the Son of God and the Redeemer of the world, and that he is sent as a witness of this, to bear his testimony concerning these things. Then, having exercised faith in God and in Jesus Christ, a natural desire springs up to obey the commandments of God and of Jesus Christ. Those who believe see that they have transgressed, that they have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, and desire to put away their sin and cease to do evil. This is repentance. What is the next principle? Faith first. All things must spring from faith, for without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith is the first principle, repentance comes next. I do not mean a mourning, a weeping I do not mean throwing one's self into paroxysms of grief and anxiety of heart; I mean a fixed determination, by the help of God, to cease to do what is wrong and try to do what is right. That is the next principle. The next is to get remission of past sins. “Why,” some will say, “if man repents is he not forgiven?” Not at all. A man may contract heavy debt at a store, but his being sorry for having contracted the debt would not pay off the old score. Faith and repentance, then, are the first and second principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the first and second steps towards the attaining of that great boon, the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. What is the next step? To be buried in water in the likeness of Jesus Christ's death by a man holding authority from God to administer that ordinance, and to be raised up from the water by that person in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. This ordinance is for the remission of sins—not that water cleanses the man spiritually, not that the water washes away any sins the man may have committed. The blood of Christ alone cleanseth from all sin. That blood was shed for all humanity, but humanity will only obtain the full benefits flowing therefrom by obedience to the fixed laws that relate to the matter and pertain to salvation. We must obey the commandments of the Lord to obtain the blessings of the Lord. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Jesus Christ set the pattern. He went down into the river Jordan; he was baptized of John; he was raised up from the water, and then the Father testified that he was well pleased with him. The Holy Ghost descended in the sign of a dove, and the Father spoke from the heavens saying that He was well pleased. Now, here are the Holy Trinity all bearing witness to this ordinance—the Son in the water, the Holy Ghost descending, and the Father in the heavens uttering his voice saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Christ set us an example that we should follow in his steps. The man that baptized Jesus Christ had a right to baptize him, he had authority from God, and if he had not that authority the baptism would have been void, just like the baptisms in the so-called Christian world today. Any man pretending to be an official who is not a bona fide official, cannot perform a valid official act, all his acts are void, and any man who baptizes another—even if he uses the form, the formula, all exactly right according to the pattern—if he has not authority from the Father, and the Son and the Holy Ghost to baptize, the baptism he performs is nothing but a bath. Why should he use the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost? Does he not imply that he has authority from the Trinity? And if he has not authority from the Trinity, then the baptism is without effect; it is as though it never was. Christ was baptized by John, a man called of God, a Prophet of God, a man holding authority to baptize. Jesus Christ also received his authority from God. We read that He “glorified not Himself to be made an High Priest, but He that saith unto Him, Thou art my Son, today have I begotten Thee. * * * Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Christ received his Priesthood from the Father. Christ bestowed that same authority upon his Apostles, saying to them, “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” Now here is the pattern: Those who believe and repent must be taken down into the water and be buried from their old lives, must put off the old man with his deeds, must be buried in the likeness of Christ's burial and raised up again in the likeness of Christ's resurrection. Then, when they come forth from the water, if they have believed, repented, and been baptized by a man sent of God to baptize—then, “though their sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” They are cleansed, they come forth to a new birth, they are born of the water, and every time they partake of the holy sacrament they witness to God that they will continue in his ways, and walk in his paths, that they have put on Christ, and that they will remember him to keep his commandments in all things. Now when people are thus properly cleansed, and purified and made white, like unto newborn babes on entering into the world, without blemish or spot, then their tabernacles are fit to receive the Holy Ghost. How does it come? Like the remission of sins, it comes according to fixed laws; it comes through the laying on of hands of men appointed by the Almighty to administer. They lay their hands upon the baptized believer and they confirm upon him the Holy Ghost? Can a man confer the gift of the Holy Ghost? No; man is but the minister; the Holy Ghost comes from God; but this is the plan set and fixed in the economy of the heavens whereby people dwelling upon the earth shall receive this gift. Faith, repentance and baptism, then the gift of the Holy Ghost, by the laying on of hands.
Now, if you will take up the New Testament, you will find that this is the plan the Apostles followed in every instance wherever they went to preach the word of the Lord. They called upon people to believe in Jesus whom the Jews crucified, and to be baptized for a remission of their sins, then have hands laid upon them for the reception of the Holy Ghost. They had authority to baptize, but they did not always have authority to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost. Philip went down to Samaria and preached the word of the Lord, and a great many were baptized, but they did not receive the Holy Ghost, although they believed in Jesus and were baptized. They could not receive that gift until someone came down from Jerusalem, having authority, but when Peter and John came down and laid their hands upon them, then the Holy Ghost fell upon them. When people received this Holy Spirit in olden times, what were its effects upon them? We read here in the New Testament that people had an inward witness that they were accepted of God. That was the blessing every man and woman in the Church enjoyed in olden times. It was no longer a matter of speculation; they had the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of the Lord, which revealed the things of the Father and Son to them, and they could say like Peter, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” “God has revealed it to me, and I know it. I am no longer in doubt. My faith has grown to knowledge. I know that thou livest, I know that Christ is thy Son, and I know that I am on the path which leads to thy presence.” What else? All those who received this spirit received the same spirit. They were no longer Sectaries, Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Herodians, or of any other sect; they were “all baptized by one spirit into one body, whether Jew or Gentile, bond or free,” and they had “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one hope of their calling.” Hence you see one of its effects was to make all see eye to eye. They were no longer divided in their opinions in regard to these matters, but were united, seeing alike and understanding alike. Now, some will say it is impossible for people of differently constructed minds to see and know alike. Why? If they will only reflect a little, they will see that this is not the case. How many people will dispute that five times four make twenty? Is there anybody that disputes that? In that case all people understand alike. And so in regard to any of the principles of mathematics when understood. Now, if we can agree in regard to these things, why not in regard to spiritual things? If we are all influenced by the same spirit, why should we not see eye to eye? There is a day to come when “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea, and when no one shall need say to his neighbor, ‘Know ye the Lord,’ for all shall know him from the least to the greatest.” All shall see and comprehend alike, being baptized by one spirit and having the glorious boon of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, which reveals the things of God, and makes them plain to the human mind. The gifts of the spirit are enumerated by St. Paul, in the 12th chapter of Corinthians. “To one,” he says, “is given the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge; to another faith; to another the gifts of healing; to another the working of miracles,” etc.—different gifts to different persons, all by the same spirit. What else? “Why,” says the Apostle Paul, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance.” These are some of the fruits of the spirit, and according to the amount of the outpouring of that spirit upon the different individuals, so will be their possession of these various gifts internally and externally. If a man having the Holy Ghost prays that he might have the gift of tongues, and sets his heart upon it, he will get it. What! In this age of the world? Why, certainly, if the Holy Ghost has not changed.
“Oh,” says one, “I do not believe in any such thing. There is no revelation nowadays. There is no administration of angels; that is all visionary, all nonsense. There is no prophesying nowadays by the gift of the Holy Ghost; there is no communion with the Eternal Father now. Jesus Christ has been shut out from the gaze of men for centuries, and they will not see his face again. Why do people talk in that way? Because the Holy Ghost has ceased to work among the children of men. Hundreds of sects and thousands of preachers, but no holy Ghost. Hosts of men claiming to be sent, but not one of them with authority from the Almighty. Trained to be preachers, paid to be preachers, desiring to be preachers, but no communion with the heavens, and therefore no authority from God. In fact they have repudiated the very idea of such a thing, and a man who declares that he has communion with the heavens and authority from God simply gets laughed at, and the cry is “Away with him, he is an impostor, let him be put to death,” just as they did in the days of Jesus and in the days of the old Prophets.
Now in our own time, in the generation in which we live, a young man came forth bearing testimony that he had had a vision in which he beheld the Father and the Son; and the Lord told him that the world had gone astray and that the time was near at hand when the Gospel should be restored in all its fullness, attended by all its ancient power, gifts and blessings. Afterwards he testified that divine beings had come down from on high and ordained him to the authority which they held when they were men in the flesh. He testified that John the Baptist the same who baptized Jesus, came and ordained him to the same Priesthood that he held, and sent him as a forerunner to prepare a people before the second coming of the Redeemer. Afterwards he testified that Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the Apostleship in early times, came and ordained him to the same Apostleship which they held, and sent him forth to administer in the same way that they were authorized to administer when they were in the flesh. What was the consequence? All the world was turned against him, and particularly men professing to be ministers of the Gospel. “All such things,” they said, “are done away with, do not listen to him, he is a vile impostor.” But in spite of this he bore his testimony, and people who had been looking for the restoration of the everlasting Gospel received his ministry. His words penetrated their hearts; they repented, were baptized, and had hands laid upon them for the reception of the Holy Ghost. But did they get the Holy Ghost? So they say. They testified to having received the various gifts—the gift of tongues, the interpretation of tongues, prophecy, etc.; the lame were made to walk; the ears of the deaf were unstopped; the eyes of the blind were opened. They say, “I know that Jesus is the Christ; I know that Peter's testimony is true, and I know that this man, who is cast out as an impostor, is a Prophet of God; the Holy Ghost so testifies to me. I am not dependent upon his testimony. God, my Father, has revealed this to me, and I know it.” The work went on. Men were ordained with the same authority and went to the different nations, and wherever they went the same effects followed—Jew or Gentile, bond or free, Scandinavian or German, Italian or French, English, Scotch, Welsh or Irish, all received this testimony; were baptized into the same spirit, and received the same gifts. This is why we are here dwelling together in these mountain valleys. We have all received the same Gospel, the same testimony. Our testimony to all the world is we know that God lives; we know that Jesus is the Son of God; we know that the atonement was wrought out for us and all the world who will receive it; we know that we have received a remission of our sins; we know that the Lord has brought us up out of the miry clay and placed our feet upon a rock and put a new song in our mouths of everlasting praise to God and the Lamb. We are all looking forward to the second coming of Jesus, and the time is not far distant when he shall come and reign from pole to pole and from shore to shore. He will come to take vengeance on those that know not God, and obey not the Gospel; to cleanse the earth as with the besom of destruction, and to subdue all things to himself.
Well, what did they do with this young man who bore this testimony that the Gospel in all its ancient purity and power had been restored to the earth? What did they do with him? They hunted him from place to place, from city to city, persecuting him on the right hand and on the left. So-called ministers of the Gospel preached all manner of falsehoods against him. They stir- red up the populace against him, and time and time again he was taken by wicked hands and cast into prison. Some forty-nine times he was accused of various crimes, but no conviction could be had. At last they got him into Carthage jail. A guard was placed around the prison to make his friends believe that he was safe, and just as soon as this idea was established, the mob with their faces blackened burst into the prison and slew the Prophet and his brother Hyrum, who died for the truth and for the testimony of Jesus, the last words the Prophet was heard to say were, “O Lord, my God.”
Joseph Smith, a Prophet of God, was rejected of men like unto the ancient Prophets. He came to a wicked and perverse generation. He came to a people who had turned away from God and followed after the ways of men. He came to a people who worshipped God with their lips, while their hearts were far from him. He came to a people who loved darkness rather than light, and therefore they did the deeds of others who were in the same position in previous ages—they slew the Prophet of God. His blood stains the soil of Illinois, and of the United States, his blood smokes up to God with the blood of Abel, and with the blood of all the martyrs, and will be laid at the door of a wicked and corrupt generation; for although all did not imbrue their hands in his blood, yet they consented to the deed and were ready to say, “served him right, we are glad he is out of the way.” The same spirit is manifested toward our leaders today. The world would like to see them slaughtered too. What harm did Joseph Smith ever do the world. He bore testimony of these things to those who pro- fessed to believe in this book (the Bible) and who hug it to their bosoms and sing:
“Holy Bible, book divine, Precious treasure thou art mine,” And they rejected the very truths contained in that book, that this man, a Prophet of the Lord, proclaimed by the power of the Holy Ghost.
We Latter-day Saints have gathered from all parts of the world to these valleys of the mountains, occupying a country north, south, east and west, for about 500 miles. Christ said that one of the signs of his coming would be that “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” This Gospel is being preached as a witness unto all nations and the end is approaching. What else did he say in connection with this “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Isaiah saw them coming “as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows;” and through him the Lord has said, “I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth.” We have come from the nations of the earth to the tops of the mountains to erect a house to the God of Jacob, that we may learn of his ways and walk in his paths. God once more speaks to men on the earth; Jesus Christ has revealed himself, and the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, the spirit of truth, makes manifest the things of the Father and of the Son. “The Lord shall suddenly come to his temple,” and we partake of this sacrament to keep us in remembrance of this and to prepare ourselves, for the day is near at hand.
I bear my testimony to you, my brethren, sisters and friends, in all sincerity and soberness, before God and the angels, the heavens and the earth, that I know this work is true. I am not dependent upon another person for this knowledge. I know for myself I have received this Gospel in my heart; I have obeyed its ordinances; I have received of its spirit: I know that God lives. I know that this work will roll on. I know that the Gospel will be preached to every creature. I know that the honest and truth-loving, who dare meet the frowns of men, who dare face popular opinion, will come out from the sects and parties of the earth and from the different nations and countries, and be baptized into this Church and receive the Holy Ghost, and thus be drawn near to God, and prepared for the advent of the Lord. They will come from all parts of the earth. This work will roll on. No government, or kingdom, or power, or president, or ruler, or monarch, can stop its progress. It is not the work of man. It is the work of the great God. People marvel how it is this people can be brought together in hundreds and thousands, and be so united. They think they are under the influence of some scheming men, and that we are in a state of bondage. It is all nonsense and folly. The power that binds us together is the power of the Holy Ghost, the power of the Comforter, the power of the spirit of revelation. This power is in our hearts. The union that binds us together is brought about by the same power that binds together the waters of the great sea. This sea of humanity, composed of people of all nations, has been acted upon by the power and gift of the Holy Ghost. That is where our unity comes in; it is our obedience to law and to truth, not to man. People very much mistake the character of the Latter-day Saints, if they think we are a lot of serfs. We have come out from amongst the various nations against the opposition of our friends and kindred and stood up for the right. We have crossed the great deep and traversed the broad plains for our religion. When I crossed the ocean, it took thirty days to accomplish the voyage, and thirteen weeks to cross the plains. I am the only one of my family who received the Gospel. I came here because I knew it was true and that I might learn more of the ways of God. I came to throw in my lot with the people of God for life or for death, for time and for eternity, with all my powers bodily, mental, physical and spiritual. In giving my testimony I merely speak the testimony of hundreds and thousands that inhabit these mountain valleys.
Well, now we are here, what do we intend to do? We will find out the law of God as fast as we can and by the help of God we will live it. We will try to carry this Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth, east, west, north and south. We are willing to go any number of miles to any nation, bearing our own expenses generally. What for? To preach this Gospel, and bear testimony that God has spoken from the heavens. But some may say, “You are a very bad people. You marry many wives and are raising up a host of children.” Well, we are no worse than the father of the faithful, Abraham, the friend of God, and if you do not like men who have more wives than one, I am very much afraid that when you get to the gates of the holy city, the New Jerusalem, on which will be inscribed the names of twelve men who were the sons of four women by one man—and if you should pass through the gates into the celestial city, and find Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God, with their wives and children as the beginning of their everlasting glory and dominion, that you will say, “I want to go somewhere else, let me get out of this city, it is inhabited by polygamists.”
Before I sit down let me say, my friends that those in this community who have married more wives than one have done so from pure motives. But some people cannot comprehend that. This generation is so corrupt and so licentious that some cannot understand how a man can marry one wife from pure motives. Now if you can understand the feelings and motives with which a virtuous man marries the wife of his youth, “for better or worse,” then you can comprehend the motives of the Latter-day Saints when they marry more wives, for the same promptings that actuated them in the first place, actuate them in the next. God Almighty has given us a revelation concerning this matter. We marry our wives under divine direction and divine sanction, and under the same holy Priesthood which has power to administer baptism for the remission of sins and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and “whatsoever it shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever it shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” I have no time, however, to dwell on this subject, but I will just say that our marriage is celestial marriage for time and all eternity—like that with which Adam was married to Eve in the Garden of Eden when they were immortal beings, and when there was no one to unite them but God. Christ died also for them and though they were divided by death they will come forth and be united again as glorious resurrected beings. As our hymn says:
“Come to me; here are Adam and Eve at the head, Of a multitude quickened and raised from the dead; Here are worlds that have been, and the worlds yet to be; Here's eternity—endless: Amen. Come to me.”
After that pattern are we married for time and all eternity, and we expect when we come up in the resurrection of the just, if we have been worthy, to receive our wives to our bosoms, and our children to the family circle; that they will be the beginning of our exaltation and glory; that then the blessing of Abraham pronounced upon us shall be fulfilled, and of our increase there shall be no end. The Lord will multiply our seed as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is upon the seashore. And when we enter this holy order of marriage, whether it be with one or two, or more wives, we marry in this order and in the fear of God, and under the direction of his spirit and for holy purposes, and not for the gratification of lust, and those that say we do are either very much mistaken or they willfully lie. There are people who are constantly and persistently lying about us, but of them I do not wish to speak for fear that I should get angry, and I feel too happy to reflect upon them. I rejoice in knowing that my sins have been washed away by the blood of Christ, through obedience to his commandments. I rejoice in knowing that the Holy Ghost is in my heart and guides my footsteps; that I can call upon God and receive an answer to my prayers; and that I know he loves to hear and answer the prayers of his servants. I bear this testimony to you this afternoon, and as a servant of the Lord I say to all who have not obeyed the Gospel, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by authority of the holy Priesthood, repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all who are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call, and if you reject this testimony and commandment and love darkness rather than light, you must give an account therefore in the great day of judgment.
May God bless this congregation, and fill his Saints with his Holy Spirit continually, that we may roll on the glorious work of God, and that we may live for the truth, and if necessary die in its defense. May peace and blessing be multiplied upon you, through Jesus Christ. Amen.