Being requested to speak to the people this morning, I cheerfully rise
for that purpose, ever esteeming it a great privilege to address the
Saints upon the important principles connected with our salvation.
I esteem the privilege of proclaiming salvation above any privilege
that may be named. The subject of salvation is one of far greater
importance than any other subject which can or does interest the human
family; although, apparently, we might suppose that the accumulation
of the comforts of this life was the one that most interests mankind,
judging from the actions of men.
Why this is so I cannot tell, unless they think that they can thus
lengthen out their lives, and by this means have the advantage of
It is very seldom that we ever hear of the people of this land
perishing for want of the comforts of this life, and I doubt very much
whether they would if they were not so much interested as they appear
to be in respect to riches.
Not that I would discard the command given soon after the fall—for man
to till the earth and earn his bread by the sweat of his brow; not
that I discard the idea of being industrious, of laboring to procure
food and raiment, of beautifying our habitations and inheritances, but
these are only temporary considerations, items of a secondary moment.
To secure to ourselves eternal life and future salvation is a subject
of so much more importance than all other subjects combined, that it
certainly ought to be foremost in our minds and conversation.
If our hearts were supremely placed upon this subject we should
converse most about those things that pertain to salvation, instead of
being all the time fearful that we were going to perish so far
as this mortal life is concerned.
Instead of being afraid that we were going to suffer a little
inconvenience, we ought to consider the life of the body in the light
that our Savior speaks of it in one of the new revelations, "Care not
for the body, nor for the life of the body; but care for the soul, and
for the life of the soul," or in other words, care most for the future
salvation and everlasting life that are in store for mankind.
Suppose we should be brought to such extremities that we should all
perish with starvation, what of that? If we have done our work may we
not as well perish in that way as in any other? Is there any great
difference in the kind of death that we die? Does it matter much
whether we perish for want of food, or whether we are martyred, or
whether the great change which we must all undergo comes in a more
In my opinion, it does not make much difference which way that change
comes, but we ought to be in such a frame of mind that we can rejoice
in all circumstances.
If we all knew that we must perish under our present scarcity of food,
what of that? Ought we not to rejoice in the privilege of exchanging
this present life for one which we hope to be more happy, for one
where we shall receive greater blessings, greater privileges, where we
shall have more solid enjoyment, and where our intellectual faculties
will be far more expanded?
Instead of exercising so great an anxiety as to where we shall get a
little flour, a little cornmeal, a few potatoes, or a little beef
with which to nourish these bodies, our enquiries should be, are our
hearts right before the Lord our God, are we keeping His commandments,
are we living up to our privileges, do we esteem all the words of
the Lord as we ought, or are we a little careless and indifferent?
Every person ought to have those ideas foremost in their minds, for
the Lord has told us that it is His business to provide for His
Saints. At the same time it is necessary that we should be diligent,
and endeavor to do our best to do His will in all things, and to find
out what His will is concerning us, that we may be able to do it.
I have from my observations last fall and this winter, and from
observations previously made, been firmly convinced that we have all
been a little unfaithful as a people. This is my opinion according to
the light and knowledge I have upon the subject, and it has been more
fully impressed upon my mind since last Conference than during any
other period of our sojourn here, for I have traveled in most of the
settlements to hold Conferences; in connection with my brethren of the
home missions, and from the little observation I have made, I am
convinced that we have not all fully lived up to our privileges as
Saints of the Most High God.
For instance, at a place north of this City, and containing almost
inhabitants enough to fill this house, a Conference was lately
appointed. Several went from here, according to the missions given us,
and when we got there, instead of finding a place suitable for the
people to assemble in, we found a very small log building which,
perhaps, by crowding, might contain a hundred persons; and it was also
quite dilapidated, having scarcely a whole pane of glass in any of its
We stopped near this log building and waited until half an hour after
the time, as we did not see many passing to the meeting, and then we
went in and found about twenty persons sitting in the cold room, which
had scarcely one window but what was more or less destitute of
After a while we opened our meeting, and those few individuals sat
shivering while we addressed them. The remaining portion of the
citizens were busily engaged with the care of their cattle, and in
other occupations, and with them the Conference was only a secondary
The few who attended our first meeting went and persuaded a few of
their neighbors to come, and after holding a few meetings we succeeded
in getting this very small house pretty well filled; whereas, if the
people had come out as they ought, the place would not have held a
quarter of them. Ogden City is the place I have alluded to.
We found that instead of the people's assembling at the proper time
they came about an hour after, and instead of keeping sacred the
Lord's day they worked at almost every kind of labor.
I have also observed in other places that the Lord's day is scarcely
regarded at all. Perhaps the people would attend meeting at times, but
often after it is over, "hurrah for the horses, mules, and
carriages," and directly six or eight young men and women are in each
carriage riding out for pleasure. This does look as though they did
not rightly value the Lord's day, it looks as though they did not care
whether they went strolling over fields and prairies, or how they
spent their time.
I mention those things in order to show the recklessness and
carelessness manifested by some of the young people who are growing up
in these valleys of the mountains.
I will mention another practice that in my opinion is often carried to
excess, though of no harm in itself; it is a pleasant exercise, but
may be so indulged in as to bring condemnation. I have reference to
dancing and dancing schools; I do think that these things, and
occasionally our parties, are carried to excess.
I will include myself in these matters, and consider that my remarks
also apply to myself. Some may ask why I deem these matters carried to
excess; because often the minds of the young are not only thus unduly
placed upon the follies and vanities of this life, but these things
have a tendency to draw their minds away from the things of a hundred
times more importance.
Suppose that a person should go to a dancing school for two or three
years, and become the most expert dancer in the world, become so
proficient that the toes and feet would at every step be placed in the
proper position, the hands be held gracefully, and every motion,
gesture, and figure be properly made, in short, become as perfect as
anyone that ever exhibited on "the fantastic toe," what of all that?
How much is the mind improved by the operation?
"But" says one, "does it not have a tendency to make one nimble and
graceful in appearance?" Yes, and so equally do other exercises that
would be more useful, for they tend to make persons hardy and
Think of the time consumed in learning how to take every step
properly, when it might be used to a hundred times more profit, for
after all, "It is the mind that makes the man!"
These bodies are secondary when compared to the mind, for the body is
only the shell, or the outward case. If our minds are neglected, I do
not care how graceful the body may be, the usefulness is not there.
What particular advantage would it be to this generation, if you
should spend twenty years in learning all the technicalities of
gracefulness? It might be of some use, but of very little in
comparison to a well informed and instructed mind. I do think that our
minds are too much taken up by these things, but I would not have you to understand by my remarks that we should entirely
deprive ourselves of these pleasures.
It is well enough to occasionally exercise ourselves in the dance, for
it was not prohibited in ancient days, and it is predicted that the
old and young should enjoy themselves in the dance in modern times;
but I am not aware that this has reference to using all our time in
There is one thing I would like to encourage instead of that
carelessness which is now manifested by many, and that is to store our
minds with the arts and sciences; not with foolish conjectures, not
with vain philosophy, not with something that will fly away with the
beams of the sun, but with useful facts, those which have been sought
out by men influenced by the inspiration of the Almighty and recorded
Suppose that you and I were deprived of all books, and that we had no
faith to get revelation, and no disposition to understand that which
has been sought out, understood, and recorded in books, what would be
our condition? Suppose that we had not sufficient faith and
application to acquire information concerning mathematics, astronomy,
geography, mechanism and their kindred branches, or a knowledge of the
elements and materials of our globe with their various combinations
for useful purposes and their application to machinery, and also of
the laws by which machinery acts, and the laws governing motions; then
suppose that the present knowledge was all shut out, it would, under
these conditions and independent of the aid of the Almighty, require
an indefinite period in which to make any great progress in the
knowledge that is even now extant.
I am speaking upon the principle naturally, upon that which is
revealed without the Holy Ghost to inspire us. Now suppose that we
have books to enlighten us upon useful knowledge, how much more easy
it is for us to get knowledge that has been systematized so that we
can obtain in a few minutes, that which would otherwise take us years
This is the benefit to be derived from the use of books; hence when we
say that books are useful we have reference to books that contain
useful sciences and knowledge; those facts that are demonstrated by
experiment, and not to books filled with the wild theories of
speculative men, for those books are laden with humbug in lieu of
Who does not know that fifteen minutes' study would acquaint persons
with discovered and recorded laws which might otherwise take a series
of years to become familiar with? By reasoning and trying to
generalize our ideas we may gain much useful information, but shall we
therefore consider books of no use? Is there no wisdom in availing
ourselves of the labors of those who have developed truths?
It is still knowledge, notwithstanding it has been discovered by
others. Truth is truth, and take it wherever you may find it, or from
whatever source it comes, it was truth from all eternity, and it will
be truth to all eternity. There is a great fund of useful information
laid down in books.
Is not all truth good? Yes; and when we speak of true and useful
knowledge we have reference to that which pertains to God, or to the
workmanship of His hands; and when there are books that pertain to
God, or to the things of His kingdom, or the workmanship of His hands,
they must be of use, of some service to the human family.
Therefore we need not despair and think that we shall, by and by,
come to the end, to a time when there will be no knowledge in books.
When you have thoroughly learned botany and searched out all
its laws, and perhaps all botanical creation, so as to perfectly
understand the nature and uses of the great variety of roots, trees,
barks, and herbs, you have become familiar with only one branch of the
works or laws of our God.
When you are master of all the knowledge there is in books about
chemistry, and have arranged the chemical affinity of the various
gases, and their uses, what have you found out? You have only found
out another branch of the great works of God.
We have mentioned only two branches of the great works of our God,
pertaining to which we can acquire knowledge and understanding. We
might refer to many others, viz., astronomy, geology, mineralogy and
metallurgy, all of which would be useful in our works and discoveries.
Indeed, had it not been for the discoveries in those sciences,
civilization would never have risen to its present state in the world,
we should not have been blessed with many of the luxuries of life that
we now enjoy. And these are only a few of the various branches of His
works, out of the number of what are generally termed sciences.
We might go on and enumerate many arts and sciences by which mankind
are benefited, especially in machinery and the laws of evolution,
explaining and defining what machinery will do and what it will not
How many hundred years have been spent by numerous individuals, in
order to discover perpetual motion, whereas fifteen minutes labor,
with a knowledge of the science of mathematics, would enable a man to
demonstrate that it is an impossibility for us to form a machine that
when set in motion will supply its own motive power, and not stop
until it is worn out. Mathematics would have shown those persons that
they were in search of theories and principles which could not be
Again, alchemists tried for generations to transmute the coarser
materials into gold, and hundreds of individuals have spent all their
time in the pursuit of that vain phantom, when with a knowledge of the
chemical properties already sought out, no one would ever think of
We as a people, with the privileges that we have, the opportunity of
being in these valleys where the world and the enemies of this people
do not tyrannize over us, I do verily believe, have not lived as
faithfully as we ought, have not lived in proportion to the knowledge
we have in our possession. In this respect many of the youths in our
Territory are not trying to improve their minds in a way that will
render them the most useful to themselves and to others.
I will say to numbers of the youth, your time is spent in frivolity;
year after year is spent in this manner by many of the young men in
this Territory. If we were being driven from city to city, and had not
the opportunity of getting good, competent schoolmasters, those
circumstances would be a good excuse.
But having been here a sufficient length of time to build houses, to
establish ourselves in peace in the midst of plenty, flourishing upon
the mountains, in the valleys, and upon the hills, with all these
blessings is it not a shame that we should let so much precious time
pass away without being more wisely improved?
When I have had a good exercise in dancing, I take hold of my books
and business, and think no more of dancing until I have a seasonable
opportunity of going forth in the dance again.
I mention these things that parents may take hold of them, that they
may be induced to lead their children in the right way, to set
an example that those who are of a proper age may reform, that we may
see the rising generation growing up armed with wisdom and knowledge,
with the principles of salvation, with the principles of true science.
Have we had a high school here? Not in this Valley. "But," says one,
"we have had a parent school, and that is what we consider a high
school." Yes, we have had a great many things in name, but mere name
is not what is wanted. We have had a University in name, and that is
greater than a college, for it is expected that in a University all
sciences will be taught, but as yet we have had no such University.
Have we colleges? I believe none, even in name. Have we had academies?
I believe not. If we have, they have been very inferior to those in
the Eastern States. Go to the schools in the New England States and
see the order that is kept in them, see the improvement of the youth
who are taught in them, and then come back to our high and common
schools, and you will see that the common schools of the East will far
surpass any that we have yet had in our Territory, for in those
schools many of the higher branches of education are thoroughly
I have spoken plainly on these points, and in accordance with my
What constitutes civilization? The acquirement and correct application
of useful knowledge.
Do the world comply with the principles of civilization? They do in
part; they have acquired knowledge in part, but they make a very bad
use of it.
Have the Latter-day Saints made any better use of their knowledge?
They have. After all I have said I must praise the Latter-day Saints a
little, but I hope you will not get proud because of it.
You have qualities which I esteem very highly, and which but few in
the world have, viz., principles of honesty, of integrity, and of
union. You have a foundation laid, and if you will rightly build upon
it, it will far outreach the present civilization of the world, and I
have no doubt but that you will build upon it.
Build upon the great and glorious principles that commenced in the
heart by receiving the principles of salvation. The Latter-day Saints
have laid their foundation right, and when they take hold and rear the
superstructure, it will be one of the greatest ever constructed by the
inhabitants of this earth.
I do not despair when I see such a foundation, for if we are not now
altogether what we should be, I believe that the Lord will whip us
into it; I have no doubt of that.
Lay hold of the principles of knowledge, treasure up earthly knowledge
and heavenly knowledge, a knowledge of things at home and of things
abroad, of the laws of nations, of the principles of the most useful
arts and sciences, of things past, present, and to come, that when we
are abroad preaching the Gospel we may be armed with the full
treasures of knowledge, and be able to easily circumscribe those who
are of the world. Fancy the things that we have to do in this
I am as convinced that the Lord will whip us into this diligent
course, as I am that I am standing before you. Why? Because this is
the kingdom, this is the people and the Church of the living God, and
just as surely as He is our God, will He purify this people by famine,
by war, by sickness, by death, by various judgments, and by the flame
of devouring fire.
We cannot escape the course of purification. What is more
visible to the eye than the dealings of God, our Father, with us for
the past year? First came the innumerable swarms of insects by
millions, sweeping off our crops, then the drought drying them up as
does the sun the dew, consuming nearly all the insects had left. How
was this? Because the snows were kept from the mountains during the
What next? The drought continued month after month, preventing the
grass from growing as it has done in falls of previous years, and thus
leaving our ground destitute of feed.
Then what? A severe winter, deep snow, so deep as to cover the few
spears of grass that were left. Thus one calamity after another, one
punishment after another, is enough to convince us that all proceeded
from the hand of the Lord our God.
Has He not a purpose in this? Is it not an affliction to us, to you
and to me? Do you not feel it? Will it not learn us a lesson? Yes, it
I feel to say in my heart, O Lord, chasten me, let thy chastening hand
be upon me, if thou seest there is no other way of escape. I would
much rather be chastened than to heap up an abundance of this world's
goods, and neglect some of the most important duties of my religion.
Hence, when I pray in relation to myself, my prayer is for the Lord to
chasten me, and also in relation to this people my prayer is, O Lord,
let thy chastening hand be upon this people, until they learn to obey
those good and wholesome counsels that are poured out from this stand
by those who preside over us.
They are clear, their garments are clear, and I am a witness, for I
have been here, except on a few occasions, and have witnessed these
things. And I have heard some of the most touching and forcible
discourses and arguments from our Presidents, calling upon the
people to be more economical, and faithful in keeping the commandments
of God; and they have exhorted us to these things with all their
energies and powers.
I have also seen that many, who have had those teachings drop into
their ears, would go away, and say, "What a blessed sermon we have
heard today," and that be the last of it. Many of you who have heard
the instructions I have alluded to are witnesses to this; many of you
have heard that saying, and seen it followed by that conduct.
If those instructions be not observed, will not the good have to
suffer with the careless and disobedient? Yes, they generally do; but
a truly good man or woman will not be forgotten, neither will they be
If they have not a handful of flour, and no potatoes, yet they feel
well, and if they die all is well; but the man whose heart is not
right feels the smart.
How much better it would be for the Lord to chasten us, or even to
send us down to our graves, than to suffer us to live in carelessness,
with our minds given up to the vanities and foolishness of this life
instead of attending to the things that are of real value and
In ancient days the righteous had to suffer with the wicked, for we
learn that Achan took the wedge of gold and hid it in the earth,
contrary to the instructions given by the Lord, and in a day or two
the Israelites were smitten and driven before their enemies, and no
doubt many of those who perished were good men. There was sin in the
camp, and when they found it out that it was with Achan, and he was
punished, they prevailed against their enemies, because the sin was
put away from their midst.
It was similar in the case of Korah, Dathan, Abiram and some 250
others who rose up to be Presidents, they were usurping
authority which did not belong to them, and the fire of the Lord broke
out and swept off upwards of 20,000 of the righteous and wicked.
Soon after, when Moses had separated the righteous from the wicked,
the earth opened and swallowed up the leaders of the rebellion. In
this case the righteous suffered with the wicked, and it was done in
order to show that the righteous, or the people of God, could not have
wickedness in their midst without suffering, and also to show how the
Lord hated rebellion, wickedness, and that which was evil.
In another instance, when the fire of the Lord was kindled, the only
thing that would stay the plague was for Moses and Aaron to run in
between the living and the dead. But do you suppose that all on one
side of them were wicked, and those on the other side righteous? No,
this is not probable; but there was wickedness in the camp of Israel.
Are we all strictly righteous and obedient? No, for there are many,
even in this community, who take the name of God in vain. How often
have I heard the President of this Church speak against profanity in
the strongest terms; and yet there are some who will continue to
indulge in this evil practice.
In ancient times when a man took the name of the Lord in vain, he was
not only cut off from the Church, but a severer punishment than merely
cut ting him from the Church was inflicted; those who were found guilty
of that crime were taken without the camp and put to death.
I do not say that that would be wisdom now, but I mention this one
practice on the part of some, to show that the Lord abhors wickedness.
Aside from the profane there are others who are guilty of other sins,
and there is room for all of us, as brother Kimball has often said, to
become a great deal better; room and opportunity for us to study the
oracles of God and to regulate our lives by them, that we may become
righteous men and women.
We should do this not only for our own sakes, but that our children
may grow up an honor to humanity, and not as children who will be
unfit to associate even with the world, to say nothing about
associating with Saints and angels.
I have now spoken freely upon the subjects which I have touched upon,
though when I arose I had no idea of speaking as I have. It was my
intention to have spoken upon the spiritual gifts, upon tongues,
visions, and revelations, and to have shown the necessity and
importance of seeking earnestly after those gifts, as we are
commanded, but I have been led in a course directly from that subject.
Why it is I know not, unless the Lord wants us to overcome that we may
be prepared for the things that are coming upon the earth, which may
He grant for His Son's sake. Amen.