Were we to conform to the traditions of our fathers, the brothers of
sister Fanny would not be permitted to speak on this occasion. But is
it wrong for a father to preach the funeral sermon of his child? Or
for a husband to preach the funeral sermon of his wife? Or for a
brother to officiate in like manner for a sister? If so, wherein is it
wrong or sinful? Four of sister Fanny's five brothers are here today,
and I wish them to do all the preaching to be done on this occasion.
Our father long since departed to the spirit world: he is not here to
give counsel to his children. Brother Phineas resides in this city,
but he is not here; and we, the four brothers who are present, have
designed to say what is to be said, and to perform the funeral
ceremonies of our sister, in this respect.
It would gratify me to spend an hour or two to express in part the
numerous principles, ideas, inductions, and connections between the
spirit world and our present condition, that frequently fill my mind
on such occasions as this. Many of you know that I especially delight
to dwell upon such subjects; but I do not wish to occupy so much time
now. We will make our exercises short and to the point, while we
perform the last act of kindness that can be bestowed upon mortals.
It is customary to pay great respect to the dead. This I do; but how
do I pay it? It is very fashionable and customary to mourn deeply for
the dead; and it is customary in some countries to hire mourners, and
observe much ceremony upon the death and interment of relatives and
friends. I wish to pay, in a strictly fitting and decent manner, the
respect due to the remains of my sister Fanny—due in reference to the
resurrection of the very dust that will molder in the coffin before
If I am faithful to my religion, I shall see the component parts that
organized the body together. When those parts are gathered together
from the elements, they will appear as sister Fanny, not in mortal
flesh, but in an immortal state. When I meet her in the morning of the
resurrection, she will hail me as one who has acted the part of a
brother, son, and protector; she will hail me as her benefactor; and I
now wish to pay respect to her departure from this sphere of action.
We have made her as comfortable as we could through life; we will
honor her in death, and hope to be present when she is resurrected.
Now her body is subject to decomposition, and will return to its
mother earth, to remain until it shall be called forth again.
The organization of the human tabernacle is a great mystery; but it would not be, if we could see and understand. Could the veil
between us and the spiritual existence be rent, we should behold a
greater mystery in the organization of the spirit.
As has been observed here touching the ideas that men have of the
principles of eternal life, mankind have been veiled in utter
darkness, in which the great majority remain at this day. The wicked
world inquire for the man who can inform them how and by what means
the mortal body and the immortal spirit are so intimately united. To
say nothing of their organization, the wisest and greatest
physiologists have failed to supply the information so earnestly
sought upon this subject. We see life spring into existence all around
us. Where is its fountain? And how is it originated? It exists for a
day, a night, a year, or an age, and it is gone; and who can say
where? Who can tell what has become of the life that dwelt in that
tabernacle, causing it to think—that lit up the eye with living fire,
and caused the mouth to utter forth wisdom? Can mortal man tell? Not
unless he is inspired by the Almighty, and understands eternal things.
The origin of all things is in eternity. Like a cloud passing across a
clear sky—like a bird that suddenly flits across our path—like a pure
gushing stream from a hidden fountain, that soon sinks in some
mountain chasm—so, apparently, life flashes into this mortal
existence, and passes away.
I do not mourn for sister Fanny: I rejoice. She has lived upwards of
threescore years and ten, and exhibited the retention of sound sense
to her last days with us here. She said to her sister Nancy, a short
time ago, "If you hear of my being dead before you come to see me
again, let the first thing you say be 'Hallelujah!'" That remark, to
me, evidences the retention of sound judgment. It also appears to me
that very many of the Latter-day Saints are as far from good wholesome
ideas and principles, touching their heavenly privileges, as the east
is from the west. They covet the riches of this world, craving to
serve themselves—to satisfy the sordid disposition within them. Had
they the sense of an angel, and were they in possession of mountains
of gold, heaped up higher and deeper, broader and longer, than these
mountains on the east and west of us, they would say, "That vast
amount of gold is as nothing when compared with the privilege of even
living in this day and age of the world, when the Gospel is preached."
And when the Lord has committed his holy Priesthood to men on earth,
without which no mortal being can be prepared to enter into the
celestial kingdom of God, how do many of the Elders treat it? That
question I do not wish to answer; but I really wish that such persons
would learn a little good sense. Generations have come and gone
without the privilege of hearing the sound of the Gospel, which has
come to you through Joseph Smith—that was revealed to him from heaven
by angels and visions. We have the Gospel and the keys of the holy
Sister Fanny has been faithful: her spirit is now in the spirit world.
Where do you suppose that world is? We used to think and talk a great
deal about this subject, inquiring where heaven is, and where is the
heaven of heavens. Let me tell you that sister Fanny cannot dwell
there until she obtains her resurrection; neither can any other being.
The spirit world I now refer to pertains to this earth, so far as
spirits who have tabernacled or may hereafter tabernacle here are
Sister Fanny was baptized for the remission of sins, and received the
laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost. She
lived according to the precepts and ordinances that God has revealed
through his servant the Prophet, by which men can be saved and brought
back into his presence. But is her spirit in the third heavens? No.
Will it go there? Not until she again possesses her body. Can she see
the Lord? Yes, if he unveils himself. Can she converse with angels?
Yes, if they are sent to converse with her. Is she in paradise? Yes.
Where do the spirits of the wicked go? To the same place or kingdom
pertaining to this earth. They do not go to the depths of hell,
neither can they until they become angels of devils.
Is a Saint subject to the power of the Devil in the spirit world? No,
because he has gained the victory through faith, and can command
Satan, and he must obey. How is it with the wicked? The Devil has
power over them to distress and afflict them: they are in hell. Can
the angels of heaven administer to them? Yes, if they are sent to do
so. What can be done for them? The spirit of sister Fanny and the
spirit of every man and woman who has died in the faith of the Gospel,
since it has been restored, will have the power to teach those wicked
spirits and all who have gone to the spirit world without having heard
the Gospel in the flesh, and say to them, If you will now repent and
believe, the Lord will even now provide the means that you may be
officiated for on the earth in those ordinances that must be attended
to here. Sister Fanny can do good in her capacity and calling as well
as Joseph the Prophet can in his. He will hold the keys: he will rule,
govern, and control all things in the spiritual world pertaining to
this dispensation, until he has finished his work.
I do not wish to occupy much of the time; but when I am led to speak
on these points I am much interested. How few there are who understand
how hard it is for a man's eyes to be opened! How few of the Elders of
this Church prefer the interests of the kingdom of God to their
worldly interests! With far too many it is, "My family!—my farm is
going to wreck!—my store is neglected!—my business must be attended
to!" and let the kingdom of God take care of itself. Such men will
remain in darkness.
To possess and retain the spirit of the Gospel, gather Israel, redeem
Zion, and save the world must be attended to first and foremost, and
should be the prevailing desire in the hearts of the First Presidency
of the Elders of Israel, and of every officer in the Church and
kingdom of God.
The Lord commands, controls, and governs. A little more faith in the
name of Jesus Christ, and I can say to my enemies, Be thou rebuked and
stay thou there. I then can say to the power of the Devil, Be thou
rebuked; and to evil spirits, Come not within these walls, and they
could not enter. A little more faith, and, by way of comparison, I can
say to my wheat and corn, Grow, and command the heavens to shed forth
Suppose that the whole people could see things as they are, they would
soon be able to control the elements by the power of their faith. This
people, since we believe that they are in the kingdom of God, must so
live as to gain power and faith to control all things of a perishable
nature, and thus prepare themselves to endure forever and ever; while
every other creature will, ere long, return to its native element.
I am very much obliged to my friends for calling to pay their respects
to the living and the dead. We did not expect many here, for I have
not a house large enough to hold all the relations of our sister
Fanny. To convene them in a building, we should have to go to
the Tabernacle. She has many relatives, and I am increasing the number
of mine every day, through inducing people to increase in faith. The
spirit of the holy Gospel is going to the east, the west, the north,
and the south, and no power can hinder it; and the feelings of many
are taking hold of the principles of eternal life, and there is no
power that can hinder it. And all those who believe in the Lord Jesus
Christ with all their hearts, and believe that Joseph Smith was sent
of God, repent of their sins, are baptized for the remission of sins,
and then live their religion, the same are "my father, my mother, my
sister, my brother." In reality I have no other connections on the
face of this earth. If my blood kin would not believe the Gospel, I
should be as much alienated from them in my feelings as I am from the
people of the Chinese nation. There are thousands in the Church now,
and we are brethren and sisters.
I say, Bless the people! God bless my brethren and sisters! I ask my
Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, to bless you every day. I am
looking for the time when I shall say, Be thou blessed, and we shall
be blessed, and the powers of earth and hell will stand afar off and
be rebuked at the command of the Priesthood.
How far we are beneath our privileges! What! Rejoice when a Saint
dies? Yes. Mourn when a Saint dies? No. There is no feeling of
mourning within me, though every living friend, wife, child, brother,
sister, cousin, aunt, and uncle of mine were lying before us, as
sister Fanny does now. I would shout, Hallelujah! "Would you not
mourn?" No. The world is before me, and I can gather all the fathers
and mothers, brothers and sisters, wives, children, and friends that I
wish around me. That is the way I feel. Glory! Hallelujah!
Sister Vilate Kimball knows that I felt so when I buried Miriam, my
first wife. Heber C. and Vilate Kimball were as kind to me at that
time, when I was a stranger and penniless, as I have been to sister
Fanny. My heart said, "Hallelujah!" because the Priesthood is here,
and the way opened up from earth to heaven; and my wife was going
God bless you! When I have the power, I will bless you so effectually
that you will not be afflicted by the Devil as you now are.