It appears to have fallen to my lot to occupy a few moments of this
morning. Though unexpected to me, I rejoice in the opportunity of
addressing you in a public manner, in meeting with the Saints of God,
and learning those principles which are calculated for our exaltation.
I rejoice in being numbered with the Saints of the Most High, and that
I have a part in the great work of the last days in connection with my
brethren—those with whom I am more closely associated, and those who
are before me.
I feel assured that this work is all-important, and that we consult
our own interests more than those of any one else in being engaged in
it. I rejoice in the present position, prospects, and condition of
this people, and in the progress which they have made in gathering
those who are zealous of good works, and whose aim and designs are to
build up the kingdom of God on the earth. We are fast becoming a great
nation; we have passed on from stage to stage until we are recognized
as a nation composed of Saints—of "Mormons." We have made great
strides in power and influence since this people were organized, and it
is a matter of great rejoicing with me.
Of all government organizations on earth, I deem the organization of this Church, with its First Presidency, its Quorum of the
Twelve Apostles, of High Priests, of Seventies, its Bishopric, &c.,
the most perfect. It is one great whole, and perfect in all its parts.
That First Presidency have called around them men to aid and assist in
carrying on the business requisite in rolling forth this work, to
build up cities and temples, and to assist in counseling and leading
Then does it not become our duty to rally round the standard raised by
that Presidency, and to sustain and uphold them? I think it does; and
it is more particularly to this point that I wish to direct the
attention of the congregation.
Our cause affords sufficient occupation to absorb the attention,
energies, and ability of every man and woman in the world, aside from
the few who embrace the faith. We will say, then, that whatever the
First Presidency wish to accomplish should be sustained; and they
should be supported by the entire mass of the people, in order that
the people may be united, and that all operations may be carried out
as directed from day to day.
We expect to build up the kingdom of God on the earth, that we may
have access to the courts of heaven and participate in those
endowments and exaltations in this life and in the life to come which
we anticipate. Do the people understand, or do they not, that it is
their privilege and duty to devote all they have, as well as their
energy and ability, for the furtherance of this Gospel? It sometimes
appears to me that if they understood this matter in the light in
which I do, the First Presidency would not be so burdened with debt as
they now are. Many are probably not so well acquainted with the
business operations of the Church as I am; for they are not appointed
to specially operate in that department. Last season's opera tions in
the emigration of the poor created over fifty-three thousand dollars
indebtedness, which was rolled in upon the Presidency to meet here. In
whose hands are these means? In the hands of those who have been
brought here, and the brethren who have lent them come with their
drafts to draw the pay. The past season has been financially
disastrous; and when disasters visit the people, they affect the heads
of the Church, who feel them more sensibly than do any other part of
the community. Large numbers of cattle perished on the Plains, our
crops were destroyed by drought and grasshoppers, and many cattle and
horses died during the winter. These losses have materially curtailed
the resources of the Church, and it had not funds with which to
promptly meet all indebtedness. Worse than all, most of the creditors
require every dollar to be paid in money, and that, too, forthwith;
the amounts must be forthcoming in money. Suppose we say that the
Emigrating Fund Company are responsible for their debts, and should
be; but what are their resources? It is well known that they consist
of the debts which are held against those who have been assisted, and
the cattle and wagons with which they came. Unless these debts are
collected, and the oxen and wagons turned into money, how can the
Company meet their liabilities, so long as only cash will be taken in
payment? There has been no sale for this kind of property by which
money could be realized; and the poor, who have been assisted, have
not been in a situation to refund the money which has been expended in
their transportation. Wherefore it is easy to comprehend what becomes
of the means of the Perpetual Emigrating Company. The whole weight of
indebtedness falls upon the President, when at the same time he is not
obliged by law or by any fair, reason able, or honest
requirement to pay one farthing of it. He has absorbed the resources
of the Church to meet this indebtedness, for which nothing but money
would answer; and that is the source from whence money has come, and
not from the resources of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company.
Why cannot the brethren who hold claims against the Company exercise a
little judgment and patience, and wait until the people who have been
assisted are able to pay? Some of the creditors may say that they are
poor. And what if they are? They say that they had means once, and
they take it hard to be shortened. What of that? What if they should
come on a level with the rest of their brethren? Is there no reward in
this? Are they not professedly Saints? And do they not wish to gain an
eternal exaltation with the Saints? Suppose you do let your means go
in this way, what of it? And suppose you never get it again in cash,
there are the resources of the Company. Take them, and that in
strictness is all you could do.
But no: many are ready to apostatize if they cannot get their money.
Some were not in the city a week, and others not a day before they
came to see if they could not get their money, for fear they would
come to want. I mention this conduct because it is not right. I would
like brethren to come into this kingdom with an understanding that
their salvation will cost them all they have got and all they ever
will have. Perhaps there are a few who measurably feel and realize
what the Presidency have to encounter in these and other business
operations; for there is hardly a poor person in the Church but
expects to have the Presidency sustain them. They are the first ones
they apply to, it seems to me, to sustain them. This they are willing
to do, if they had the ability, and generally they have had the
ability; and perhaps that is one reason why the poor throng them.
We have Bishops, Teachers, Deacons, and Priests in this kingdom,
according to its organization; and I would here ask one question: Is
it not manifest that these helps should stretch forth their hands and
strive to assist? There is such a thing as overburdening the
Presidency in these matters.
I do not presume, in this crisis, that the Bishops and their helps
have food sufficient to support all the poor in their Wards; but what
do I suppose? That they have heads on their shoulders, and that the
Teachers have, and they can calculate, and devise, and manage, and
arrange for their neighbors, and those who are under their care; and
I suppose that it is their duty to do so, and take that care from the
Presidency of the Church. The conduct of many would indicate that they
think that the Presidency can easily attend to each of their
individual affairs, and those too of a trifling character. I almost
daily turn away numbers who press to the President with trifling
I will mention one instance, by way of illustration. The other day a
man came to ask the President if he could not inform him how he could
collect a debt from one who owed him. What was that to President
Young? I told him to attend to his own business, and to go to the
proper authorities. Do you suppose that President Young is going to
collect all the debts of this people? Just reflect for a moment what
an immense amount of business would roll upon that man, if he would
let the numbers who wish to, consult him upon every trifle.
I have referred to only one instance; but similar ones are as numerous
as the stars in the heavens. He has the most patience of any man in
the world, or he would not listen to nearly as many as he
does. I have observed one thing—the poor, the weak, and afflicted I
never knew him to turn away: he will always condescend to their
smallest wishes. It is a great burden upon him, and I can tell the
people that it is wearing heavily upon him. Let any person, if he
wishes to comprehend the matter fully, tax his mind to the utmost in a
thousand different ways in a day, seeking to advise and counsel for
the best good of those who apply to him, and he will find that it will
fast wear him down to the grave.
The power of faith and the blessings of the Almighty sustain our
President. Were it not for them, no man on earth could perform the
labor he performs; and I believe that no other man ever did.
Circumstances render it impossible to go on with the Public Works. We
have work enough to do, but we have not provisions to give the
laborer. It is unpleasant to stop the Public Works, not only because
it retards improvement, but because those who have been laboring on
the works look to that quarter for their subsistence. Many who have
labored there are without breadstuff or anything to eat; and they
think that if they can get to work as formerly, they will get food.
The only wonder to me is that anything has been left until now, and
there is not much. We have to get along from hand to mouth in order to
conduct matters on the present limited scale, and are obliged to stop
operations until after harvest. It is the counsel of the First
Presidency for every one to be diligent in raising grain and other
products of the soil, that we may replenish the granaries and
storehouse, and have food to sustain the laborers.
The everyday duties of life are the ones which are particularly
incumbent on the Saints; and it is for them to be humble and perform
their duties faithfully, and the great work of the last days will
go on. It is rolling forth with magnitude and power, and these small
appearing matters are as important as anything else towards the
accomplishment of that end.
We have a few business operations that we would be pleased to keep in
motion, if we could get the provisions with which to do so. In this
connection I will make a few remarks touching the Deseret News. Is it
not a good paper? And are not the people edified and profited by it?
How do they pay for it? There is not enough received on subscription
to sustain the hands who publish it—the compositors, and pressmen, and
others necessarily engaged upon it. I know this fact from what little
knowledge I have of that department, although that is not particularly
the department I have much to do with. Subscriptions are paid in
everything except provisions and money, and other valuable articles
requisite in publishing a paper.
Aside from that, there are not one-fourth as many papers subscribed
for as there should be, and then paid for in good available means, at
least so far as each one might be able. About 4,000 papers are now
issued, and certainly 12,000 should be. Then it might be afforded
cheaper and be paid for promptly; and the people can easily pay for
it, because EVERYTHING THAT CAN BE THOUGHT OF is taken in payment. Why
do not the people sustain their paper more liberally? They will do
some good by doing that both to themselves and the cause. A new volume
is now commencing, and I recommend those who take it to continue to do
so, and to use an exertion to have their neighbors take it. And let
those who realize its value procure subscribers and send in their
names, accompanied with the pay, so far as possible, and that will
help to sustain the paper. What makes me think and speak of it?
Simply this: There are men who work on it that are weak, through want
of suitable provision, insomuch that working off the 4,000 per week is
too hard for them. They are now rationed on half a pound of breadstuff
per day, and they begin to look sickly and to sink under the labor,
for want of more food. We have to give extra rations for extra work,
on account of having to carve so closely. Then why not come on with
six dollars in advance for the new volume, that the men who work on it
may have something to administer to their health and comfort from week
Has there been means enough in the hands of those who attend to that
department to sustain it? No: they have had to call upon the Church
for aid. The subscribers have failed to furnish provision enough to
feed the men actually at work on the paper, or money with which to
purchase it. There are many who have available means, but do not take
the paper. They could and should take it and pay for it. I am
satisfied of this.
It is the wish of the President that the Big Cottonwood canal be
completed this spring. When provisions are again plenty, we may set
men to quarrying rock for the Temple, and the canal be prepared for
its transportation. It is desirable to have this work done with
labor-tithing, particularly so far as the laborers can furnish
themselves. Let the Bishops call out the brethren to complete that
work as speedily and as extensively as it can be done without
interfering with tilling the soil, that it may be timely secured
against high water. These are some of the labors which the First
Presidency desire to carry out, and everybody should respond and
manifest, by their performances, their faith concerning them.
I am not much of a hand to go into the mysteries, or to strive to peep
into futurity, to see how this or that is going to be done in the
world to come, and to strive to find out how high an exaltation I am
going to attain to. Those are matters that do not concern me at all. I
have no uneasiness on those subjects. I have always felt that if I did
my duty from day to day, and remained faithful to the end, I should
get a reward that would be perfectly satisfactory to me, whatever it
might be: therefore I never concern myself about what is going to be
my reward in future life. It was sufficient for me, when I learned
this faith, that I might be permitted to have a name among the Saints,
be numbered with them, have the opportunity of showing by my works
whether I was a Saint of the Most High God, and be permitted to assist
my brethren, and do what little I could for the rolling forth of this
kingdom, and building it up, regardless of the consequences in the
future, and perform those duties set before me from day to day with
the best ability and talent I could command, devoting myself
exclusively to the building up of this kingdom.
That is the way in which I at first looked at "Mormonism," and it is
the way I have looked at it ever since. I am so strong in the belief
of the doctrine, that I recommend every one of the brethren and
sisters to look at it in the same light in which I do. It is the
all-absorbing topic with me; and it is no matter what I am called to
do in this work, it is for the sake of truth—no matter how tired and
fatigued I may be, it is for the sake of truth.
The more we can do, so much the better; for it is our duty, nothing
more—it is our privilege, nothing less. And it is one of the greatest
privileges that has ever been extended to the children of men. That
privilege is a blessing which should be appreciated, and which I have
often found was not sufficiently so, by some portions of the
people. I have known people applying for inducements to dwell among
this community, asking, "Can I get a living, in case I obey the truth?
Shall I be sustained in my profession as a lawyer, teacher, &c.?" as
though that had anything to do with the question—as though "Mormonism"
must support and sustain them. It will do it, it is true; but it is
their business to do all they can to sustain and promote that.
The heavens are ready to shower down blessings, if the people are
ready to receive and sufficiently appreciate them. The reasons that we
have not the blessings of the Almighty in greater abundance arise from
the fact that we are not at present capable of receiving more. When
and where have this people ever seen the day when they have not had
just as much labor to perform as they could stand under? I have never
seen that day, and I do not expect to.
Then let us firmly bear up our shoulders, and nobly bear off the
kingdom. It is our work, if we will do it. The Lord wants us to do it:
it is a privilege he has extended to us. We have this to perform, and
he is letting the duty rest upon our shoulders as fast as we are able
to bear it. Shall we complain that it does not come fast enough? Let
us gird up our loins and go forth in the strength of the Almighty, and
accomplish the work as rapidly as we can.
The Lord has set his hand to gather his people. Then let us realize
the good he has called us to perform, and be more diligent to do his
will. Let us exert ourselves in this work to the utmost, and be more
humble, faithful, and diligent, and the labor will increase, inasmuch
as we are able to do more. Who does not wish to see a Temple reared?
Whose hearts would not leap for joy to see that structure going up?
Then let us go to with all our might and raise grain; and when we
raise it, let us be careful how we use those blessings, and not, as in
times past, treat them lightly and tread them under our feet.
Let us improve, in this particular, as in all other duties, and the
blessings of the Almighty will be continued with us in greater
abundance as we progress. Let us do all we can to sustain the
Presidency in the operations they wish carried out. Let us respond to
their calls when made, and abide the counsel given from time to time.
Let us live unitedly and shape our lives according to the Gospel,
both in the sight of our God and our brethren. Let us put away
quarrelling and contention, and be willing to edify and counsel one
Let us do these things, and remain prayerful and humble before the
Lord, and see if he will not pour out a blessing greater than we have
ever yet enjoyed. But when the blessing comes, there is the danger.
Let us remember that we are always dependent on the great God, the
giver of all good. Do the world realize this? He will make this people
know it, and make them understand that they are, whether he does the
world or not.
If the past will not suffice, we shall be chastened until we do
understand that we are dependent on Him, and that we have to walk by
faith. Can we walk by faith? He is trying some of us, I think. Do you
feel afraid that you will not have plenty to eat? I never do. I
recollect a circumstance that took place with myself in 1849. I was
living in a family of twelve persons, and we were out of provisions. A
neighbor, whose family was sick, informed me that he had not anything
in the house to eat. I told him to call and I would give him some
flour. I went out to get some breadstuff, and when I was out he
called. My sister-in-law told him to call again. When I made
him that promise, I did not know where the flour was coming from, and
there was not half as good a chance as there is now. When he called
again, I had the flour for him. In that way we lived, and I felt no
uneasiness about where the next meal was coming from. We had to ration
ourselves, and had something every time we needed it. If the brethren
would feel that way, I think they would save themselves much anxiety.
I think if the people will exercise their faith as well as their
works, and use every means in their power, that they will be able to
manage pretty well, with the help of their Teachers and Bishops. I am
not in the least concerned but what there are provisions among the
community sufficient to carry us through, if a proper disposition is
made of them, and economy is adhered to by all. I have no uneasiness
on this matter, and recommend my brethren to have none.
I would recommend to every individual a proper diligence in providing;
and if the brethren who have would open their hearts and distribute in
wisdom, it would be a very good thing; and I know that they do in a
great measure. Some are apt, at times, to make complaints against
those who have a little grain stored away, if the owners do not deal
it out to suit their notions. Some will complain of the person who is
doing his best to accommodate them. Though there may, sometimes, be
cause for complaint, at other times, when the matter is fairly
scanned, there is no cause.
I am rejoiced with being able to say that there are not many in our
midst who would refuse to divide to the last crumb they have, even if
they did not know where the next was coming from. Hence, the people
may feel encouraged (those who are destitute), because they have
assurance of faith that, so long as food is among the community, they
will have a part of it. I speak of these things, that the
inexperienced may have their faith increased, and that they may feel
to rejoice that they are as well situated as they are, amid Saints of
the Most High, and that the Lord loves them while showing them that
they are dependent upon Him.
He has work for us to do. Do we realize that we are the persons he has
called to do it? That we are in his hands, and that he is teaching us
from day to day by his Prophets, and servants, and his hand-dealings
towards us? If we do not realize this, should we not? Remember that it
is our Governor who governs, rules, controls, and directs all matters
for the best interests of this people. Then let us be submissive and
humble in his hands, like clay in the hands of the potter, and let him
mold us to his likeness. If we will do this, the Lord will bless us;
and if we appreciate his blessings, he will continue them.
Do you not know that he delights to give good gifts to his children,
more than any of us do to our children? Do you not know that the
heavens are full of blessings designed for this people? Then why do we
not uniformly walk in the paths of righteousness, that we may continue
to be the people of the Lord's choice, to do his work in the last
days, and give him the honor and glory? Who can rise up and say, in
their own minds, I have done this; this is my work? No—the Lord has
done it. And if we are privileged to be his humble instruments, let us
be satisfied with that honor. Let us put on the harness and work a
work of faith, for the interest of the kingdom of God upon the earth.
This is my exhortation.
I know that this Gospel is true, and I feel to bear my testimony that
Joseph Smith was a Prophet of the Most High God, that the Book
of Mormon is true, and that President Brigham Young is Joseph's lawful
successor; that the organization of this kingdom is the organization
owned of the Almighty, even the kingdom of God upon the earth.
That kingdom does exist, and it is our happy privilege to be numbered
with the Saints, and to have a part in this matter. Then let us
rejoice continually, and do what we can to pro mote the interests of
the cause of Zion, build up cities and temples, do whatever else may
be laid before us, and improve upon the blessings the Almighty bestows
upon us continually. May we improve our minds and strengthen our
understandings, that we may be fully qualified to perform those duties
incumbent upon us, from day to day, with ability before our God. Amen.
- Daniel H. Wells