Dear brethren and sisters, it is with feelings not a little peculiar that I arise to address you on this occasion. By this effort I have solely for my object your edification in the wide field of truth, which has been opened by the “key of knowledge” to our mind's eye, and we are bade to enter and regale ourselves among the undying beauties that flourish spontaneously in this heavenly soil. We wish to be made wiser by a knowledge of true principles; and better by adopting them in all the practical walks of life.
Had I copied the style of address adopted by the fashionable world, I might have said, “Ladies and gentlemen,” placing the fair in the van, but as this would only be to reverse the order of our being through life's thorny way, ordained and established by heaven's law, I have felt, and still feel, to observe the spirit of that law and that order, not only in my manner of address, but in all the varied duties, responsibilities, and pleasures of life. The hypocritical respect lavished upon females by the etiquette of the world in pushing them forward, and in ex- citing their vanity by making them most conspicuous in all the novels and romances which, like so much trash, have flooded society and cursed the land, is only to make them a more easy prey to the unbridled sensuality and the ungodly lusts of their benighted authors. Flattery is food for the silly and shallow brained, but a wise heart and pure hand will never administer it.
The order of heaven places man in the front rank; hence he is first to be addressed. Woman follows under the protection of his counsels, and the superior strength of his arm. Her desire should be unto her husband, and he should rule over her. I will here venture the assertion, that no man can be exalted to a celestial glory in the kingdom of God whose wife rules over him; and as the man is not without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord, it follows as a matter of course, that the woman who rules over her husband, thereby deprives herself of a celestial glory.
[Here the speaker was interrupted by the question from the congregation, “What, then, will become of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria?” The speaker replied, General and eternal principles are too stubborn to yield to individual accommodation. They must see to their own affairs.]
But to my subject: The day in which we live is an important one—important to the world at large, and to us as a people. As time is measured off to us by the day, by the week, and by the year, our quantum will soon be run off, and we be summoned to render an account of the use and improvement we have made of it. Let the question now arise in every breast, “Am I acting well my part while I occupy the stage of life?” Remember that your daily prayer to God is, “Thy kingdom come, and Thy will be done on earth, as it is done in heaven.” Remember, also, that we are the favored and chosen people to whom that kingdom is come, and it will continue with us, provided our energies, coupled with the wisdom and power of God, be directed to that object—an object for which all Christendom is praying to be accomplished; and one, too, against which their skill, learning, and power will be arrayed. Even the devils in hell will burst forth from their fiery cells to unite with the fallen sons of earth, to oppose the kingdoms of this world becoming the kingdom of our God. The kings and rulers of the earth will not willingly cast their crowns and scepters at the feet of the Priesthood, and worship the God of Hosts. His almighty power, in judgments, alone will humble them into this submission. “He shall send forth judgment unto victory.” Let strict integrity and purity of heart and life be our bulwarks, and the faith of Abraham, Moses, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, be our shield and fortress of strength now, and in the day of temptation and trial. To incite you to diligence and perseverance, let me tell you that our foes are not only strong, but wily; and yet to encourage you—to inspire you with faith and hope, allow me to say that God is stronger and more wily than they. The Almighty never did, neither will He ever display His power in behalf of His people until they are brought into tried and straightened places; and what if some of us should lay down our lives for Christ's sake? We all have to die at some time; and if we are but in the faithful discharge of our duty, it should matter not to us when or by what means we go. Our enemies may say, for righteousness sake we kill thee not, but for thine own wickedness and perverseness.
What persecutors of the followers of Jesus ever acknowledged that they martyred or killed the Saints for righ- teousness sake? None! They claimed that they did it on account of their wickedness; and if they never have made this acknowledgement, do you think they ever will? No! With a blind and maddened zeal against the Saints, strengthened by the eternal hatred and jealousy of the fallen angels, will they fill the cup of their iniquity and ripen in the glare of their oppression for the judgments of Almighty God.
Are we everywhere spoken against? Is almost every newspaper and journal, with a thousand and one anonymous letter writers, pouring forth their spleen, animadversions, and maledictions upon the Saints in Utah? Do they wish and intend to blow up a storm—a tempest to burst upon our heads with all the fury of the combined elements to sweep us from the face of the earth? Or secretly and undercover, do they intend to rig a purchase to prey upon the peace and happiness of the Saints who have fled from the face of the “serpent,” unprotected and unredressed, to this desolate land, to which no other people would come until after we came and killed the snakes, built the bridges, proved the country, raised bread and built houses for them to come to, a land where no other people can or will dwell, should the Mormons leave it!
Why this hatred and ill-will against you? What have you done to provoke it? We have rebuked iniquity; and, in some instances, in rather high places. But the real cause is explained by our Savior: “Ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hate you.”
Remember that God not only rules the storm, but visits the secret chambers. He can hush the storm, and say to the winds, “Peace, be still,” and catch the fowler in his own snare.
The professed purity of this gene- ration will not allow the institutions of Utah to exist undisturbed, if they can devise any scheme to disturb them. It is true that the people of Utah believe in and practice polygamy. Not because our natural desires lead us into that condition and state of life, but because our God hath commanded it, and wishing to comply with that as well as with all others of His commands, we are as we are. We also wish to be counted Abraham's children, to whom the promises were made, and also with whom the covenants were established; and being told that if we are the children of Abraham, we will do the works of Abraham, we are not a little anxious to do as he did. Among other things that he did, he took more than one wife. In this he was not alone, for this example was copied by most of the ancient worthies and others who succeeded him under the same everlasting covenant. Even the wisest and best men—men after God's own heart, entered the most deeply into this practice. Nor was this practice limited to the days of the Old Testament.
It will be borne in mind that once on a time, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and on a careful reading of that transaction, it will be discovered that no less a person than Jesus Christ was married on that occasion. If he was never married, his intimacy with Mary and Martha, and the other Mary also whom Jesus loved, must have been highly unbecoming and improper to say the best of it.
I will venture to say that if Jesus Christ were now to pass through the most pious countries in Christendom with a train of women, such as used to follow him, fondling about him, combing his hair, anointing him with precious ointment, washing his feet with tears, and wiping them with the hair of their heads and unmarried, or even mar- ried, he would be mobbed, tarred, and feathered, and rode, not on an ass, but on a rail. What did the old Prophet mean when he said (speaking of Christ), “He shall see his seed, prolong his days, &c.” Did Jesus consider it necessary to fulfil every righteous command or requirement of his Father? He most certainly did. This be witnessed by submitting to baptism under the hands of John. “Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness,” said he. Was it God's commandment to man, in the beginning, to multiply and replenish the earth? None can deny this, neither that it was a righteous command; for upon an obedience to this, depended the perpetuity of our race. Did Christ come to destroy the law or the Prophets, or to fulfil them? He came to fulfil. Did he multiply, and did he see his seed? Did he honor his Father's law by complying with it, or did he not? Others may do as they like, but I will not charge our Savior with neglect or transgression in this or any other duty.
At this doctrine the longfaced hypocrite and the sanctimonious bigot will probably cry, blasphemy! Horrid perversion of God's word! Wicked wretch! He is not fit to live! &c., &c. But the wise and reflecting will consider, read, and pray. If God be not our Father, grandfather, or great grandfather, or some kind of a father in reality, in deed and in truth, why are we taught to say, “Our Father who art in heaven?” How much soever of holy horror this doctrine may excite in persons not impregnated with the blood of Christ, and whose minds are consequently dark and benighted, it may excite still more when they are told that if none of the natural blood of Christ flows in their veins, they are not the chosen or elect of God. Object not, therefore too strongly against the marriage of Christ, but remember that in the last days, secret and hidden things must come to light, and that your life also (which is the blood) is hid with Christ in God.
Abraham was chosen of God for the purpose of raising up a chosen seed, and a peculiar people unto His name. Jesus Christ was sent into the world for a similar purpose, but upon a more extended scale. Christ was the seed of Abraham, so reckoned. To these, great promises were made; one of which was, that in Abraham and in his seed, which was Christ, all the families of the earth should be blessed. When? When the ungodly or those not of their seed should be cut off from the earth, and no family remaining on earth except their own seed. Then in Abraham and in Christ, all the families and kindreds of the earth will be blessed—Satan bound, and the millennium fully come. Then the meek will inherit the earth, and God's elect reign undisturbed, at least, for one thousand years.
Is there no way provided for those to come into this covenant relation who may not possess, in their veins, any of the blood of Abraham or of Christ? Yes! By doing the works of Abraham and of Christ in the faith of Abraham and of Christ; not in unbelief and unrighteousness, like the wicked world who have damned themselves in their own corruption and unbelief. If thou wilt believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and repent of thy sins, and put them all away, and forsake them forever, and turn unto the Lord our God, and serve Him with all thy might, mind, and strength, the Holy Ghost will change thy vile body, quicken and renew thy spirit and natural system, so that thou shalt lay off or overcome that fallen nature which is in the body with its sins, and be created anew in Christ Jesus, with a new heart and a new spirit, even the Holy Ghost; this will cause your spirits to cry, Abba, Father. Your lips may even now cry, “Abba, Father;” but your spirit cannot until it is renovated; and lip service, you know, is mockery before God. We are to worship God in spirit and in truth, and with the understanding also. But if you wish to destroy us for doing the works of Abraham and of Christ, know ye that God will curse you; and neither He nor His people will allow you to have any part in the covenant of promise; and neither in Abraham, nor yet in Christ can ye be blessed. There is something more implied in this change often alluded to by all professing Christians than is usually considered. It is, nevertheless, scripturally and philosophically true.
During the late session of the Legislature, a very polite note was received by that body from Mr. Van Emman, agent of the American Bible Society, who wished to have the members call at his depository and examine his Bibles, quality, and prices, and to advertise them in the various localities to which they were about to repair, and also to lay before them the object of the society in sending the Bibles to Utah. The Legislature thought proper to appoint a committee to wait upon Mr. V., examine his books, &c., and being a member of the House, I, with brother F. D. Richards, was appointed said committee. In the discharge of our duties, I remarked to Mr. Van Emman, who, by the by, received us very gentlemanly, that the society which he had the honor to represent, no doubt considered us degraded and almost beyond the reach of Bible truth. He replied, that they did not consider us so degraded as we might think they did; but that it was the design of the society to put the word of God into the hands of every man in the world, Utah not excepted. I replied, that this was very good. But however charitable and benevolent the designs of that society may be, so far as Utah is concerned, they have sent us the wrong book if they wish to reclaim us from the belief in and practice of Polygamy: for instead of its reclaiming us, it confirms us in our belief and practice, and nowhere condemns it; and, hence, we are conscientious in our manner of life, having the word of God which you bring us for our standard. Although our faith and practice are such as we declare unto you, yet no people on earth look with greater abhorrence and indignation upon a violation of the principles that govern us than we do. No man or woman among us, not of our faith, that behaves himself, and violates not our laws and regulations, has any occasion to fear molestation. But if he or she violates them and will not desist, I cannot vouch for his safety, member of our Church or not, neither can I insure his house to stand.
We have had, and still have among us, men who write back to the States glaring accounts of our character and conduct, and bitter complaints of our treatment toward them; but it would be hard for them to detail the awful treatment they pretend to represent. We do not often act without a cause; and one, too, which, with them, we are willing to meet at the bar of God and answer to our treatment. We have been unmercifully forced to come to Utah; but we force no one else to come; yet if they do come, we want them to behave themselves, and attend to their own business. We do not consider an officer of the government to have any more right to commit wickedness than anyone else; and if he does, he merits as severe a rebuke, and even more so, for he not only destroys his influence and power to do good, but brings dishonor upon the power that sent him. I would say to our friends, that I have no hesitancy in recommending the Bibles of Mr. Van Emman. They are, most un- questionably, a well got up book, and afforded much cheaper than they can usually be bought in this place. You who want the Bible, I would advise to avail yourselves of this favorable opportunity.
Are the “Mormons” an industrious people? Everybody says they are, I say we are, and for the rest, our works may speak. One circumstance, however, I will mention. Some letter writer, probably of the corps militaire, thought it deeply degrading that the wife of Orson Hyde, chief of the Apostles, should take in washing for a living: but if she had kept some house other than a laundry, not necessary to say what kind, it might have elevated her in the gentleman's estimation, to the ranks of fashionable life.
If this gentleman had ever ascended the Nile, he would have learned that the native men who tow and propel boats up that stream in which travelers are conveyed, are mostly in a state of perfect nudity. This they do on account of the exceeding warm weather, and also for convenience sake, being as often in the water as out of it. They do not wish to be encumbered with clothing. European gentlemen, traveling with their families up the Nile, often purchase them entire suits, not out of any particular regard they have for the natives, but out of special regard for the modesty and delicacy of their families. So also some of our good and industrious wives, who are not above doing whatever is necessary to be done in their sphere, often condescend (however humiliating the service) to wash up a stranger's linen, that he may appear in “Mormon society” without being particularly obnoxious. Industry is our element.
Is persevering industry a faithful index to all the crime, debauchery, and wickedness with which we are charged? Men of reputation and sense, consider! Can such a mass of corrupt beings as we are represented, hang together, be united and submit to rigid rule and discipline so long—encounter every hardship and privation that we have, and still be cheerful and buoyant with hope? There may be some little family irregularities occasionally, but they are soon adjusted. Are there no family disturbances among other people? I have often read of the husband murdering the wife, and the wife the husband, among those who consider it a high crime to have more than one wife. This is a thing of frequent occurrence. But who ever knew of a “Mormon” intentionally killing any of his wives, or any wife her husband? No one! I answer again, no one!
All things, now, candidly and impartially considered, to what conclusion must the unprejudiced and candid arrive respecting the “Mormons?” It seems to me that they must conclude something as follows:
There may be those among them, both male and female, who do not behave as they ought, for their net catches of every kind, both good and bad. The crucible or refining pot is Utah. There the heat is raised to a degree that causes the pure to melt and sink beneath, out of sight of the casual observer, while the dross, slag, or scoria meets every eye, and forms the principal subjects for our letter writers and numerous Editors to display their talents upon, while the pure metal is consolidated beneath, unobserved and unnoticed; and yet this dross is a faithful index to the actual existence of pure metal nearby. May not this generation have bright and keen eyes, and still not able to see; ears, but not able to hear; and hearts, yet not able to understand? After all that has been said, done, and written about the “Mormons,” Mormon religion, &c., may there not be a principle incorporated with them that flows in a deep channel which operates upon their hearts and consciences, and that principle emanate from God Himself? Are there not tangible facts connected with their religion and history sufficient to warrant this conclusion? Ye juries of nations consider well—weigh the subject impartially—remember that life and death are involved in the issue! Should there be an existing doubt in your minds, you are bound to give the accused the benefit of that doubt; and though it may not accord with popular practice for an attorney to be a witness in behalf of his client, yet knowing his innocence and the justice of his cause—the rectitude of his intention, the purity of his purpose and the general benevolence aimed at as the crowning climax of his exertions and hopes, I cannot refrain from adding my testimony in his behalf.
In the most pious and well-regulated families on earth, there are sometimes occurrences take place of which no member of that family would be proud to speak openly; and which none but a foolish and silly member would speak. On application of this simile to the Church, I am silent. But the bone and sinew of “Mormonism,” “Mormon” religion, faith, doctrine, and practice are true as God is true. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, with as many wives as David and Solomon (leaving out the concubines), are men after God's own heart; inspired from on high to bring forth the last dispensation of mercy to man—to remove the veil of the covering cast over all people, and light up a flame that will eventually consume the ungodly, and fill the earth with the knowledge and glory of our God; and the “serpent” cannot cast forth waters enough to put it out.
Gentlemen of the jury, you may shudder for me on account of the testimony which I bear, thinking that I shall have it to meet at the court of appeals. I am glad that you are thus sensitive; and allow me to remind you, that you also will have it to meet at the same tribunal! Therefore consider it well; weigh the testimony and arguments in favor of Zion's cause, in a just and even balance, and a true verdict render; for upon your verdict hangs your own destiny for weal or for woe. With these remarks I submit the case.