It will be two years the 22nd of next April since I started, in
company with brother Orson Pratt and others, to take a mission to
Europe; and it seems but as a dream for me to appear in your midst
this morning. It seems as if it were only a few days since I was in
the midst of this people; for the days, weeks, and months that have
passed have gone swiftly, and it seems as though a great deal of the
time had not been measured to me.
I presume this is the experience of many of you who are now before me;
and although many of you have passed through scenes of trial, yet you
have felt to realize your situation in the reformation more than you
ever have done before. Feelings have come over you that you have never
before experienced since you have been in the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints. But, notwithstanding all our past failings and
weaknesses, we have been greatly blessed and prospered, and the hand
of the Lord has been over us for good all the day long.
Now, if we all realize and do actually know that God is with us—that
he has forgiven our sins—that we are in fellowship with this people
and have confidence to go before our God in prayer, knowing that our
sins are put far away from us, no more to return again, unless through
our disobedience, it is one of the greatest blessings that can be
conferred upon us.
When I was called upon to leave these valleys, I felt that I had the
prayers, fellowship, and confidence of this people; and if I had their
confidence then, I am well persuaded I have it now. This reflection
causes my heart to rejoice; and it is one of the greatest blessings
that any man can enjoy to know that he is in full fellowship with this
Shall we be thankful to our God and this people for the faith and
prayers that have been exercised in our behalf? These things have
occupied my attention ever since I arrived home.
True, there is a warfare within me, and there is a warfare within
every man and woman that has a name in this Church; and we have to
guard against the intrusions of the Adversary. Upon what principles
shall we guard against them? Why, live our religion. That is all we
have to do; and I know that, by the power of faith and the Holy
Spirit, we can root out everything that is contrary to the promptings
of that Spirit, and we shall know for ourselves that we are the
children of God.
I have been to England on a mission, sent by the First Presidency and
the general authorities convened in Conference on the 6th day of
April, 1856; and I can say I have had a prosperous mission, and have
been greatly blessed. As I have told the Elders, so I will say here,
Any man who goes on a mission in these times, to the European
nations, to the United States, or to the islands of the sea, and
returns home with his scalp on, I think he should certainly
acknowledge the hand of the Lord in it.
When we first arrived in England, all was peace, as a general thing.
And do you know the reason why it was peace? Yes, you do. We could
preach throughout England; we could preach in Germany, in France, in
Denmark, Sweden, and Norway; we could preach in Wales, in Ireland, and
Scotland, with but very little interruption; and, as a general thing,
we had very good attention and good congregations. But when the
reformation commenced in the Valleys of the Mountains, as the Saints
were told beforehand, the Devil began to open his eyes and look at the
Saints, not only in England, but throughout all the parts of the earth
where the Latter-day Saints were located, and wherever the servants of
God were traveling to preach the Gospel, and wherever the printed
word was being circulated.
In all these places the Devil was up and dressed two hours earlier in
a morning than he ever had been before, attending to his calling and
kingdom, and doing that which was committed to him; for he has a work
to do as well as we have, and he is most faithfully performing his
part. Just in proportion to the diligence of the Saints in Zion and
throughout the earth, so will the Devil work; and you cannot tell the
time when his old nose has not been poked as near to the servants of
God and to this kingdom as he could get it; and he would be right here
today in this congregation and break up this meeting, if he had the
power to do it.
Through the faithfulness of the Saints, I am led to believe that the
kingdom is pretty well cleansed, especially from Gentiles and from
Gen tilism. But it is not so in the world; for the Devil has power in
the midst of the Saints while they are amongst the Gentiles. But, as I
told the Saints in England, there should always be a little place in
the heart of every man and woman which they can call Zion; and it
looks to me as if there were a good many here who could say Zion is in
their bosoms, and that they have a place in their hearts which they
can call heaven.
The Spirit of God flows to a greater extent from this stand than it
does in any other place upon the face of the earth. There is more
power here than in any other place.
I can say, in behalf of the English Saints, that they are a good
people, and you know it as well as I do; and those who have been there
know it, and you who have not been there know it by the spirit they
bring when they come here.
As regards the work of the Lord, in general the Elders have been
faithful. They have gone into the streets and into the lanes and borne
a faithful testimony to the work of God and to what he was doing among
the nations. To the honest their words have been sweeter than the
honeycomb; but the great majority were unwilling to receive the
message sent unto them.
I have taken a great deal of comfort and satisfaction in lifting up
my voice before the people, and I have cried aloud and spared not, but
told them what was in my heart. I felt it was my duty to vindicate the
truths of the Gospel. I have also taken up the laws of the Territory
of Utah and the laws and Constitution of the United States, pointing
out to them the privileges and rights that are guaranteed unto us by
I not only say this of myself, but I can say it of my brethren who
have been associated with me; for we have had power to put down all
opposition that has been raised against us, unless it was by
an ungodly mob that was inspired by the Devil to get up sticks and
stones and every kind of weapon they could procure, excepting
firearms, which the law of the land forbids them to carry.
When they come with the Bible in hand, which they profess to believe,
they are easily whipped out; and truth rises triumphant among the
people, and the high and low and all that were intelligent could see
and understand that we have the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that we
have the authority which no other people possessed. There was not a
minister or any other individual that held the authority which we had
in our possession; and some were ready to acknowledge it, when the
Spirit of the Lord was upon them. But how long would that last? Only
long enough for them to get out of doors.
It is indeed a great thing to purify the Saints; and it is a great
thing for a man to purify his heart. When a man's heart is pure and
the scales are knocked off from his eyes, he can then see and
comprehend the things of God—he can know the mind of the Lord in this
land or any other; but if the scales are over his eyes as thick as
canvas, he cannot see afar off. We all know that we have to live our
religion here as well as in England; and I sometimes think it takes
more faith to live in Zion than in another place; for there is more
required of a congregation in Zion than there is in England.
The Saints in Denmark and in Sweden are inspired by the same Spirit
that we are, and they are as good a people as I ever traveled amongst
in my life. They do not generally understand the English language; but
they can understand by what spirit a man is moved when he gets up to
speak. They rejoice when an Elder from the Valley pre sents himself in
their midst; and, to see a Valley Elder, they would get up of a
morning and go 40 miles, and not stop for rain, thunder, or lightning
till they got to their journey's end.
There is a certain class of men that are honest in heart, but fear
comes upon them when trials are presented, and they do not understand;
they have not faith or confidence to stand up and say, "I am a
Latter-day Saint, and if you want to mob, mob and be damned." There
are but few who can stand the trying day. A great many of the Saints
have no faith to brook the insults cast upon them, and hence they hide
up and keep out of sight of their enemies.
I told the Saints in Bath and Bristol that we were going home, before
I had got any news; and, said I, "You have been mobbed, laughed at,
and jeered by your enemies, and I want you to understand that you do
not owe them anything. I am willing to be responsible for all the sin
there will be if you immediately shut up your chapels and henceforth
hold your meetings in some private house or little room, or some place
where you will not be subject to the insults of mobs." The next morning
I got a letter from brother Pratt, informing me that I was called
I was not sent out to convert the world, but to warn the people, to
vindicate the cause of truth, to set forth the true character of this
people politically, religiously, temporally, and spiritually, and to
declare unto the nations of the earth the true situation of this
I want to live a long time yet, and I hope that I shall not die until
the kingdom of God rises triumphant over all the powers that are
organized in opposition to it.
A good spirit prevailed among the Saints in Europe when we left them,
which was about the 14th of last October. Brother Samuel W. Richards and George Snyder arrived in Liverpool on the 9th of that
month, and brother Pratt immediately wrote me word to come to
Liverpool and prepare for returning home.
On the arrival of brothers Richards and Snyder, we held a council, at
which it was decided that brother Pratt, myself, brothers John A. Ray,
John Kay, John Scott, and William Miller should return home. We
immediately went to work and released all the Elders, except brother
Calkin, of the English Mission, and brother Jabez Woodard, of the
Italian Mission. The native Elders are just as anxious to come here as
the American Elders.
Before we embarked for England, I had a few days' time to spare, and I
embraced the opportunity to go and visit my friends and acquaintances;
and when I went in amongst them, they immediately asked if I had come
back to stay. "No," said I.
"Then what are you come back for?"
"Why, to prove that you are false prophets; for you told me that in
five years "Mormonism" would be broken up, and that the Saints of God
would be scattered and peeled." "Now," said I, "if you want to prophesy
anything more about 'Mormonism,' prophesy good things—big things; for
it is the kingdom of God, and it is set up in the mountains. It is the
kingdom that Daniel saw, and it is going to spread and grow till it
fills the whole earth."
On the Sabbath I was in the neighborhood where my friends lived, in
the State of Massachusetts, and I told my brother that I wanted to go
to old Milford to the meeting, whereupon he got out his carriage, and
we drove off to the meetinghouse; and as soon as the old minister got
his eye upon me, he motioned to me to come into the stand. He called
me brother Benson, and said, "Sit down here." He said, "Do you want
preach or to pray?" I said, "Yes, for I am a praying man." I offered
up as humble a prayer as I could, and then sat down. I learned then
that he had a special lecture he wanted to deliver on politics; for it
was when they were trying to elect Fremont President of the United
States. He delivered his political sermon about the North and South;
but there was no repentance or Gospel about what he said.
When he had concluded, he gave me the privilege of talking to the
people, which I did for about half-an-hour. I knew that I had to talk
in a very pious style, but I endeavored to preach the Gospel in
plainness; and the very moment that I came to a testimony of the
Gospel—to declare that Joseph Smith was a Prophet, and that Brigham
Young is his successor—good gracious! You could see devils dancing in
the countenances of the people, and the influence ran from heart to
heart. However, they kept quiet, though very uneasy. After my remarks,
they claimed the privilege of asking questions. One gentleman asked if
we believed in slavery. I told him, No, we did not; "but," said I, "we
believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the Gospel of liberty,
for it opens the door of freedom and throws off the fetters of
"Well," said he, "do not you believe in freeing the negroes?"
I answered, "No; the Lord will do that."
"Ah," said he, "the Mormons do believe in slavery; for they permit men
to bring their slaves into their Territory."
I then went on to show him our views upon the subject; but I could see
my remarks did not satisfy the people.
The next man who came onto the carpet wanted to know how many wives
brother Brigham had. I replied, "I have not come here to lay before
this people the domestic affairs of my Governor. It is a
question I never asked him myself, for I never took the pains to
inquire anything about it. But still, as I am a Yankee, I will guess,
if that will do you any good. Now," said I, "I will be honest with
you, for your pastor has given me the freedom of speech; and, if I may
judge from appearances, I should presume he has some fifty or sixty."
He then asked, "Why do you believe in that doctrine?"
I replied, "Why did Abraham believe in it? Why do you wish to raise a
quarrel with me, when all the Prophets spoken of in the Bible you
believe in both taught and practiced it?" He could not tell; but the
amount of it was, he wanted to put down "Mormonism" —not that he could
rebut the testimony that was presented, but he had a spirit to
endeavor to put down the cause of God.
The principles of the Gospel are going to either damn or save all to
whom they are presented. There are hundreds and thousands and tens of
thousands of people in the world who this day know that "Mormonism" is
true, and they are using their money and their influence to hinder its
The priests of the day are ready to collect their pence and shillings
to persecute the Saints of God and to foster and sustain those who
will do it.
Wherever you find a man in England, in Germany, or in Denmark, who
takes the periodicals of the day, he can sit down and tell you all
about the Latter-day Saints. He can tell you what we believe; and,
providing you could converse with him without his knowing you were a
"Mormon," or a servant of God sent to him with the everlasting Gospel,
he would sit down and tell you all about "Mormonism." But you must
appear as a stranger and ask, "Do you know anything about the
Latter-day Saints in Utah?" "O yes," he will say, and proceed to tell
you what we believe. But the moment you let him know who you are and
undertake to preach to him, he will turn round and deny everything
that he has said. What is the reason of this? It is because he is
dishonest and has partaken of the spirit of the father of lies, who is
determined to use his influence and power to the injury and
destruction of the Saints of God.
I was received in Massachusetts as I never was before by my friends,
for they hailed me with joy. But were they ready to receive the
Gospel? No—no more than they were fourteen years ago. I could see
they had a spirit to persecute the Saints, and they would have been as
easily lit up as a lucifer match. "Well," said one, "did you come that
way back?" "No, and I never want to go again, unless the Almighty
When we came to New York we looked through the pioneer trail, but it
did not look right: but when we looked south, it was all light; so we
took the steamer for the Isthmus.
We had on board 1,150 passengers, 200 or 300 of whom were United
States troops. When we were loading up, the soldiers were driven on
board, like pigs, as thick as they could stand.
Government is shipping men round by the Isthmus of Panama to
California, and we were informed the next steamer was to bring 600
men. There was a good deal of fault found by the officers of
Government because there were only 250 along with us; but it was said,
"They are going to ship them by thousands to California, and then
forward them to Utah."
They said they were coming to California; but when we asked them
privately where they were destined for, they said, "We are going to
It is so also in Kansas. They have all sworn, old Harney
included, that they will not give sleep to their eyes nor slumber to
their eyelids until they have destroyed the "Mormons." They design in
their hearts to blot "Mormonism" out of existence, and they feel like
using their money for the accomplishment of this object, and even go
so far as to say their purses shall be open for their means to be used
in the fitting out of men for the Territory of Utah; and they say they
will come from the north and from the south and from the east and
surround this people by thousands and by tens of thousands, until we
are wiped out.
This is their feeling, as a general thing, and it seems as if all
earth and hell are united against the "Mormons." They have not got
here yet, have they? Catching is always before hanging!
The halters are already made which they design shall hang the
Governor, the members of the Legislative Assembly, and every faithful
Elder in the Church; for they feel determined to swing you up between
the heavens and the earth. We understand their plays and their
schemes, for we have been in their midst.
The inquiry may arise, "Did you ever hear one man say anything in our
favor?" Yes, we have heard more than one who dare come out and
vindicate the character of this people, but it would generally be in
private circles. I have heard a man say that he had been among this
people, had been treated well, and never saw a better people in his
life; and he said he believed that all those reports that were in
circulation were a pack of damned lies.
There was a man traveling on the packet with us who used to attend
the threshing machine for William Macpherson, in this city. He
vindicated the character of this people. He did not recognize us; but
I knew him as soon as I saw him. He said, in conversation with men on
the boat, "I am a rambling sort of a chap; but if I were going to live
and settle down, it would be in Utah." I asked him if he thought the
"Mormons" were going to fight. He said, "No, they are not; for they
are not a fighting people; but it is those lying editors. The Mormons
are a peaceable, quiet people."
When the standard of freedom is raised, we shall bid all classes
welcome to the rights and privileges of liberty. When that day comes,
people can come with all creeds and enjoy their liberties, providing
they will acknowledge the laws of God; and I can tell you they will
come by hundreds, by thousands, and by tens of thousands. Yes, they
will flock to the standard of liberty.
There is not a master-spirit on the earth at the present time who dare
take this stand and raise the flag of liberty, bidding welcome to all
nations, except President Brigham Young. The very move that has been
made for the last six months will preach louder and stronger than all
the Elders of Israel.
The standard of liberty is about to be unfurled. Good laws will be
maintained, and the virtuous and innocent will have the rights and
privileges guaranteed unto them; and we mean to stand in defense of
those principles of right, even to the laying down of our lives, if
necessary. When a man will stand in defense of the truth, he has more
power and influence among the nations of the earth than a dozen of the
If ever I felt like preaching the Gospel, it is now; and I would not
ask for a better mission than to take my valise and travel through the
Territory of Utah; and I know that in doing so I should travel amongst
the best people in the world. I have seen the contrast
between this people and the world most visibly during the last three
or four months.
What is the condition of the Government of the United States? They are
all looking at the President, just as a child would, apparently
expecting that something would be done. They are hoping and expecting
that Government would take "Mormonism" in hand and wipe it out of
existence in a few days. But Uncle Sam, uncle Bill, uncle Tom, and all
our uncles and cousins, will find something to do if they attempt such
The people of the United States seem paralyzed, and do not know what
to do. They are waiting for the Government to call for volunteers, and
then they say they are all ready to go. California people say they are
all ready to rally. But I tell you, I believe what brother Brigham has
said—They will not come here. The priest in the pulpit is ready, and
says, "O yes, we must go and wipe out the Mormons; but do not ask me
This is like an old man that had some boys, and when he wanted a job
of work done he would say, "Go, boys, and do that:" but his neighbor,
who had a lot of boys also, when he wanted anything done, used to say,
"Come, boys, let us do that." It is just so with the priests, lawyers,
doctors, and all others who are opposed to "Mormonism:" they say, "O
yes, go and wipe out the Mormons;" but they never want to go
I will tell you, the majority of the people in the States do not care
the ashes of a rye straw for their officers, and it is just so in the
army: in fact, they none of them care much for each other; but they
care a good deal for Uncle Sam's money.
When we landed in San Francisco, the officers were so much afraid that
the troops would desert, that they went and guarded them themselves;
and we left them patrolling the docks there. The officers were
Yankees, stiff and starched, and they said, "Mormonism must be
extinguished—yes, this must be done."
"Colonel Casey, what do you think about it?" He seemed to be a
peaceable kind of man, and said he could not tell what would have to
be done. The Colonel was then asked if he fostered the idea of going
to an innocent people and exterminating men, women, and children? He
said, "I do not like it; it is contrary to my feelings; but the
Government of the United States have taken the thing in hand, and we,
as officers, are compelled to carry out their plans, or resign."
Let us do the very best we can, brethren and sisters; for the day may
come when we may be thankful for every foot of greasewood and of
desert country there is between us and our enemies.
I am glad that we came through on the southern route, for I have been
enabled to learn a little of the road.
The editors in the States are prompting Government to bring their
troops from the south. Why, they do not know; only they are not, on
that route, so subject to snowstorms, and they can travel in the
winter. But I can tell them, the south route is ten times worse than
the east: it is one perfect desert from Muddy Creek clear through.
There is now and then a patch of grass on the journey. But what can a
large army do?
The canyon coming up the Santa Clara is quite as good as Echo, and
some think a little better. It does seem as if those mountains and
canyons have been prepared on purpose; and we have great cause to be
thankful for those natural defenses.
Here we have liberty to do right and legislate for our own benefit, and we feel that this is our home.
I told sister Richie on Painter Creek, when she invited us in to
breakfast, and set before us some butter, milk, and bread, that it was
the best meal I had eaten since I left home; and I enjoyed it much
better than I did the dainties that were provided while I was crossing
I feel to back up all the plans of my brethren who have the right to
dictate, and to bear off this kingdom to the nations; and this is the
feeling of my brethren who have returned with me.
We are now ready to go and preach the Gospel, to go into the canyons
and help to fight our enemies, or to do anything that is required of
us; and I feel to say, with all the power and authority of the
Priesthood that is conferred upon me, God bless our leaders with
wisdom, with power, with influence, with cattle, with horses, with
sheep, with wives, with children, with houses, with lands, and with
everything their hearts can desire before God. This is my prayer all
the day long; and when I feel so, I feel strong in the mighty God of
Jacob, and I know that he blesses them with his Spirit.
I feel to say, Latter-day Saints, in the name of the Lord, Be ye
blessed; for ye are the only people that God acknowledges on the
earth, as an organized community, politically and religiously,
spiritually, physically, and mentally—the only people that are to be
found who are willing to acknowledge that God has established his
kingdom with Apostles and Prophets.
A great many of the people of this generation have turned infidels;
but still the sectarians have their Scripture-readers, and they go
through all the formalities of religion. One man came to me and wished
to know if I would like to have the Bible read to me. I told him yes,
for I was fond of anything that was good. I asked him if he believed
in angels. He said, "O no; the power of God is done away;" and
everything is done away among them, only just what man can do; and men
set themselves up who have no vitality nor intelligence in them. It is
all like the chaff before the wind. We are truly a blessed people, for
we have the light of eternal life; and, notwithstanding the howling of
the priests, if we do as brother Brigham says, we shall come off
I believe this people are ready to do anything required of them; and
if they continue in this way, all will be well with them, and nothing
can stand before them.
I heard a man say that he did not care what was said against this
people, he was ready to believe it; and I can say that such a man is
ready to be damned, and he will be damned.
I bear this testimony that I know this to be the work of God, and I
take great pleasure in proclaiming it.
I ask an interest in your prayers, that I may have the spirit of
obedience and be enabled to do as I am told from this time henceforth
and forever. Amen.
- Ezra T. Benson