I am glad this morning, brethren and sisters, to enjoy the privilege
again of meeting with you, with the opportunity that is afforded me of
occupying a portion of time devoted to worship; and I would indulge a
hope that the little time we are together may be so devoted as to be a
benefit to us all. To effect this, I know of nothing better than to
have our attention called again, as it has so often been, to a
consideration of the principles of our religion.
One might suppose that all had been said that could or that need be
said upon this subject. The necessity for our attention being called
to the consideration of the principles of our religion must exist
until such time as we properly and fully comprehend those principles,
and from comprehending them are unable to reduce them to practice; for
it is not until they are reduced to practice that they yield to us the
fruits of salvation. Hence we shall have to refer to the principles of
the Gospel again and again, that they may be kept before our
minds, that we shall not lose sight of them in the multiplicity of
things that exist around us to engage our attention.
When we consider the great amount of wrongs that are to be corrected by
the Gospel, in connection with our being in the world, and then the
amount of opposition against which we have to receive and practice the
truth, a little reflection will lead us to conclude that the
consummation of our work is far in the future.
When we consider the condition of the mind, influenced as it is by the
prejudices of education, by the influences of those habits of thought
and reflection which have been established in the mind, which is the
result of the influences of circumstances with which we have been
surrounded, we find that there is but a very small portion of the
powers of our minds that are faithfully, patiently, and undividedly
devoted to the consideration of the principles of our religion.
We have fallen into a habit of fashion with regard to the preaching of
the Gospel, that if we say but a very little—preach but very short
sermons, they must generally extend over a large extent of country.
Comparatively speaking, we travel over earth and heaven frequently,
when in our notions of things we have made these places to be a great
way apart: we travel often over the extreme of degradation,
wretchedness, misery, and ignorance in which we ourselves exist, to
that better condition of things that we hope for in the vast future,
when sin, with all its concomitant train of evils, shall cease to
afflict us, or to oppose an obstacle to our enjoyment of the happiness
and blessings promised by the Gospel.
This is the way, in short, in which we look at the subject, when the
Gospel is presented to us as a remedy for all the evils that afflict
us—a sovereign balm for all our ills. We only think of what we are
now, and of what we shall be when our salvation is consummated.
A moment's reflection will satisfy you, as well as myself, that this
view of the matter leaves all that extensive and unexplored region
that intervenes between our present sinful and our future saved and
happy condition out of the question.
In order that we may be saved by the Gospel we have embraced, it
becomes indispensably necessary that we should reduce the principles
of that Gospel to practice. In order to do this, we must, for a little
while, leave out of the question this general view of things, and
perhaps refrain from the gratification of our feelings in the
contemplation of that brighter picture of what we may be by-and-by, to
contemplate in the light of truth our present condition, and learn how
to apply the principles of the Gospel that will save us to the details
We may say the Gospel will save us from all that afflicts us—from all
that to us is a source of trouble and annoyance of any kind whatever.
That embraces a great deal; it covers all the ill feelings that may
ever be again awakened in the human bosom—every unholy passion and
every evil in the soul, resulting from the influences of any corrupt
habit that may have been formed from the education that we have
received. I say it covers all this: it promises to remove all this;
but in what way?
There are certain generalities in our religion that we all seem to
become acquainted with more or less—those things that are preserved to
us as requirements—that are placed before us in a form that is defined
so that we can comprehend them. Those things we understand to be
binding upon us to attend to as a people.
We consider it right and proper to observe the institution of
the Sabbath. We regard it to be right and proper to observe the
institution of Tithing. In short, we regard it as being right to
observe sacredly every duty that is defined and pointed out to us; so
that we, like the people of old, are particular about paying our
Tithing, although perhaps not any more than we should be. But this
duty we can think of; we can remember it. "It is not right," says one.
Yes, it is right. But as it was with the people of old, so it is a
little with us Latter-day Saints: we think that the Tithing of what we
produce by our labor will open to us the gates of celestial bliss and
happiness—that it will bring us to that redemption from sin that we
look for, when the Savior has declared simply and plainly, and in a
manner that it would seem no one needs be mistaken, that "it is
eternal life to know God," &c.
Now the thing to which I would direct your attention is this, that you
should remember your Tithing; but be sure at the same time to remember
the object for which you are required to pay Tithing. "Well," says
one, "is it not to support the poor?" That is one thing. You suppose,
then, that, if the Tithing goes to feed the poor, build up temples and
houses of worship, to establish institutions of learning, to forward
the cause of education in our midst, that the great object of its
institution is reached. If this were all, then probably Jesus might
have said that this is eternal life, to pay your Tithing punctually
and faithfully: but he did not say this.
What is the greater object for which this institution was ordained? I
speak of this because it is before all the people. The reason for this
institution is simply the same as that for which the institution of
the preaching of the Gospel, as it is denominated, was ordained of
Why was the Gospel taught to you in your scattered condition among the
different nations of the earth? For the simplest of all reasons—the
preaching of the word became an ordinance of the Gospel; that is, that
it is necessary mankind should be enlightened, and for that very
reason are the Saints gathered together, and for that very reason are
they surrounded by institutions ordained to preserve them together.
By the preaching of the Gospel you will discover, by a reference to
the course you are induced to take, following the direction indicated
by it, that you all walk in the same path. In gathering you are
brought to the same place, and you are supposed to receive the same
instructions: the same principles are taught, the same advantages are
extended to you, and the same blessings promised to you all, through
What, then, can be plainer to the mind than that the great object was
to bring mankind to the knowledge of the truth? For this cause you are
required to pay Tithing, to favor the accomplishment of this great
object. For what should the poor be nourished? For what should the
Priesthood be sustained? For what should temples be built, and
educational establishments be reared in our midst? Simply for the
accomplishment of this great work of educating the human mind in the
knowledge of the principles of truth—for the correcting, as a matter
of course, of every error that may have found place in their minds.
This, then, is the object for which we are brought together; and here
we are taught from time to time what is denominated the Gospel. We are
told to live our religion. What does this embrace? Everything. It
extends to every duty that devolves upon us in the accomplishment of
the work that is before us. It is to give the principles of the Gospel that application to ourselves and to our actions that
will leave in us and with us no error that shall not be corrected—no
wrong principle whose deformities shall not be dragged into the light
that we may see it and turn away from it, that we may be able to
substitute in its place a view of things that is correct and fully
consistent with the accomplishment of the object for which we labor.
What I would wish with regard to the Saints is simply this, that they
may learn to apply the principles of the Gospel to the details of
life—to the small matters in our moral existence, which, when
associated together, constitute the great sum of all that fills up our
I want you to pay Tithing faithfully, and respond with an affection
that is undivided to every requirement. For what? For contributing to
that amount of means that is necessary and requisite for the
accomplishment of this work that has for its object the emancipation
of our race from the ignorance that has bound them. But remember that
it is to learn to know God that we are associated together, and that
all these institutions are established around us and in our midst.
I want you to learn that to live your religion is to apply the Gospel
to the regulation of your actions in every department of human life. I
do not wish you to think that you are living acceptably before God,
and in the manner that he requires you to live when you pay your
Tithing, and are doing other things that you know to be wrong, and
that you are fully aware are not acceptable in his sight or conducive
to your own happiness!
I want you to remember that the Gospel must have its application at
home. I might preach to you here for forty years to live your
religion. Is it possible, while doing this, there are people who would
listen that length of time to the proclamation, day after day, week
after week, month after month, and year after year, and then practice
in the circle at home things that are directly opposed to all good
principles, to good, and to happiness?
Who is it that commits sin in all Israel today? Do the best among the
people? Do the most faithful and the most humble and the most contrite
in spirit? Are they afflicted with any evils? Are they afflicted with
any temptations to do wrong? Do they in any case whatever do wrong?
Who are they that do wrong chiefly? Those who have been taught,
perhaps, for a quarter-of-a-century to do right. This has been
sounding in their ears continually from year to year—"Do right, live
your religion, break off your sins, be righteous, and forsake your
iniquities by turning to God."
Why is it they are yet afflicted with sin? Is it because they have not
paid their Tithing? Perhaps they have been punctual in paying it. They
may have been constant in their observance of the institution of the
Sabbath, in attending meeting, and of ceasing all unnecessary labor
on that day; yet once in a while a very curious thing gets out in the
wind. What is it? "Brother So-and-so has done wrong; sister So-and-so
has done wrong. Why—would you believe it?—they have actually had a
little family disturbance, or what we sometimes call a quarrel!" Why
is it? I know of no reason only that that religion, to the institution
of which they have been paying so strict attention for so many years,
has failed as yet to have an application—to what? To that portion of
their lives and actions that pass within the circle at home. They come
here and pray, and, for aught I know, they go home and pray as much as
they can for the ill-feelings they have.
The point that I would like to impress upon your minds today is that to live our religion acceptably before God, and in a
manner that will be conducive to our happiness and salvation and
permanent exaltation in the kingdom of God, we must give it an
application to the details of life. The minutest of life's details
must be rendered holy, just, true, and proper, by its application to
I do not want men and women to consider they are living their religion
when they indulge in quarrelling at home. Husbands and wives living at
variance with each other in their feelings at home are not living
their religion. They are not applying the principles of the Gospel
around their hearths and within the home circle.
Says one, "If we pay our Tithing, do you not think we shall get to
heaven, though we do quarrel, &c.?" It will be a peculiar kind of
heaven! It would be, as a matter of course, that heaven where men and
women quarrel, simply because it is the only one for which they are
prepared and adapted. If they were in any other, they would be
rendered wretched to a certain extent. Why? They would want to get mad
and have the old difference of feeling, to gratify a disposition to
say a rash word for a rash word, instead of adopting the old
scriptural maxim which is so good and heavenly—"A soft answer turneth
away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger."
Perhaps people may suppose it is none of my business to allude here to
matters that are transpiring within your home circle. If it is not,
then I have nothing to do with your salvation. Is there no obligation
resting on me as a servant of God—as a minister of righteousness in
the midst of the people, to administer the words of truth to them in a
way to save them, that they may have the advantage through an
application of the truth to the regulation of their actions of
deliverance from sin?
Then if this is the case, and I find a dark spot in your lives which
is not developed in the public congregation, when you meet with the
assembled thousands to hear the principles of righteousness treated
upon in a general way, what must be done? Simply to require, in a
spirit of kindness, a disposition to discharge faithfully the duties
that rest upon us in these dark portions of your lives, if they exist;
and if they do not, no one will be hurt.
Were you to bring to this assembly the feelings and the actions that
evidence the existence of these feelings all through the week, we
should have a very different assembly, so far as appearance,
condition, and spirit are concerned, from what we generally have here.
"Would you want to have us bring them here?" No.
I want to give you a few plain, direct hints, that you may take home
with you as a sort of Christmas present, that you may give them an
application around your hearth, that you may become better men and
women, better husbands and wives, and become there the ministers of
righteousness and truth, to correct the evils that exist there, if
there are any; and if there are none, you can go home and rejoice, and
thank God that you are delivered so far from the power of sin.
We have been taught, with regard to the Gospel, in general terms, what
we are to do, and how we are to act; and we are told again and again
to live our religion. I want husbands and wives, fathers and mothers,
and their children that have arrived at years of accountability, to
understand that the great place of places where the principles of our
religion should be applied, where they should be treasured, where they
should produce their own legitimate fruit, is the circle of home. It
is around the fireside in every home where the principles of
right eousness must be developed, where the principles that
will give stability, power, and eternal endurance to the kingdom of
God and to its institutions, must be in full force and daily
application: they must there obtain a place within the affections of
the persons associated in those circles.
We may talk about attending to the generalities of religion; but so
long as we neglect its details that enter into the home circle, that
are concentrated around our fireside—so long as we neglect the
cultivation of the principles of heaven and happiness there, so long
we shall fail to enjoy the fulness of what the Gospel promises to us.
Here is where heaven must have its beginning—where its foundation must
be laid, not only for our present happiness, but for its eternal
What do these home circles make? They make what I see around me
today. They constitute the people, the community, the nation. If the
principles of the Gospel are developed at home, when you come to the
place of public assembly, you bring them with you: you bring with you
the spirit of heaven, the spirit of peace and harmony. It is that
principle which will lead to the consummation of that great work, the
object of which is to bring about that condition of things wherein the
will of God will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.
If you could do all this with a reference to those little things that
disturb the peace at home, that plant a thorn where a rose should be
planted, that cultivate principles of strife where quietude and
harmony should prevail, great would be our happiness as a people, both
at home and in our public assemblies.
If you neglect the cultivation of these virtues, their opposite will
prevail and exert a deleterious influence over the minds and actions
of men and women, which are made evident in their lives.
Would we live to enjoy the Spirit of God? This we are exhorted to do.
If we would secure this inestimable blessing, there is no better way
than to cultivate in the home circle that frame of mind and feeling
that will render the Holy Spirit a constant and welcome visitor there;
and not only a welcome visitor, but he might be changed to a constant
guest that would be present ever to impart that knowledge which is
life, that understanding that causes the soul to be fruitful in the
elements of peace, happiness, and glory.
But while that little circle of home is distracted by broils,
quarrels, dissension, and strife, by a lack of that affectionate
regard for the principles of truth that should characterize all the
children of God devoted to the principles and interests of his
kingdom, the Spirit of Truth cannot find a resting place there. The
soul may complain that it is barren and unfruitful in that happiness
it fain would enjoy.
Here, then, is the great field of our labor. If we have thought, in
our own extended views of the work of God, that we should go from one
end of the earth to the other to publish salvation and save men, we
find here a field is opened at our very homes—a field that should
engage the attention of every man, woman, and child that has arrived
at years of understanding in all Israel.
Here is a field for the Seventies. "Should the Seventies engage in
this field?" says one. "They are called to preach in all the world."
Yes; and because they are called to preach the Gospel in all the
world, they seem to have no idea that Salt Lake—the place of their
homes—is any part of the world. They never seem to have the spirit of
their calling, unless they are called to go away from home. Why is it so? I know of no reason only because they do not court that
spirit at home—that they do not make their homes the same field of
faithful, honest, and persevering exertions that they would make in
the field away from home.
If the same prayers were to ascend to God with the same degree of
fervency—with the same attention paid to the propriety of examples that
are set—with the same word of wisdom and truth and goodness and virtue
constantly flowing from them in the midst of the home circle that
might characterize all their labors abroad, then the misery at home
would become prolific in truth, in which plants of righteousness would
spring up and yield the fruits of peace.
"I am a Seventy, and consequently have nothing to do here! There is a
First Presidency here, a High Council, and a whole host of Bishops. I
shall only be regarded as guilty of meddling with other men's
business, if I should say anything." Then you will not even presume to
talk to your wife at home—to call your sons and your daughters around
you to advise with them and explain to them the parental anxiety and
care you have for them, by making them acquainted with the duties that
they are strangers to, by placing them above that which would lead
them from the path of virtue, that they may escape the evils that
I want to say to the Seventies, High Priests, Elders and Apostles,
Prophets and Presidents, It is your privilege and duty to extend the
principles of righteousness in the field at home. You need not tell
me, you Seventies, that you are qualified to preach salvation to the
people of distant nations, when you cannot preach it around your own
hearth at home. You must be a Saint, an Elder, a Seventy, an Apostle,
&c., around your fireside, in the circle of your home, in the midst of
the Saints gathered home. The best and most conclusive evidence that
you can tell the truth abroad, and show an example worthy of
acceptation, is to do it at home. If I am satisfied a man can tell the
truth and live it at home, I have no fear of him anywhere else.
I want to say to all Israel, Wake up to your interests at home. "But
how can this condition of things exist among us when the great mass of
our community here are ordained to public service—to service abroad?"
I want you to carefully consider one thing—that your calling, whatever
it may be, was not to neglect your home and the cultivation of the
principles of salvation within the home circle.
You may never be called to go abroad. "But," says one, "I was ordained
to be a Seventy, to preach in all the world." Some that have been thus
ordained die before they fulfil their mission, and some
apostatize—which, by-the-bye, is a matter that can be most
effectually remedied by simply adopting my little advice I have thrown
out this morning—to cultivate perseveringly and faithfully those
principles that are calculated to emancipate the soul from the
thralldom of sin, misery, and death.
Cultivate this in your homes, and you will become ministers of
salvation indeed, whether you go abroad or not. You will then
discharge the duty you owe to God, to mankind, to yourselves, and to
your families around you.
I want the Seventies to remember that this is a part of all the world
where we now live. And if an evil exists in our streets here, it is as
much an evil as though it existed a thousand miles from this place.
Is there a benighted soul here that can be enlightened by the words of
instruction imparted by the servants of God? If so, why wait until
you travel ten thousand miles? Make that benighted soul that
lives here the object of your care. If you win it through the words of
truth and knowledge, it is a soul saved, as much so as though you had
brought it ten thousand miles.
What would be the result of this course of procedure? Vice, folly, and
wickedness would receive a constant and firm rebuke, and no great
noise would be made about it. We would simply be minding our own
business in a quiet way. The young, in whose minds the habit of
thought and reflection are being formed, could be corrected; their
footsteps could be directed in the paths of truth and virtue; and
there would be less inclination to steal, and less corruption of the
youth in our midst.
"But," says one of the Seventies, "Is all this lawful for the
Seventies to do? Would we not be found fault with if we were to make
it our business to talk with our neighbor, old or young, in the
street, touching these things?" I do not think you would be taken up
for treason by the authorities of the Church, at any rate; and I do
not think the civil authorities in this country would take any
exception to the preaching of honesty, virtue, and truth. But, above
all, try to preach it in that most effectual way by your own truthful
example. If you would preach to the wayward to restrain themselves
from their folly, show an example yourselves of circumspection in
your conduct—of propriety, consistency, and truth. Would you win the
wayward to paths of rectitude, address them in a spirit of kindness,
charity, compassion, sympathy, and love.
If this principle is good in a public and general way, apply it also
at home. And before you go away on that distant mission you anticipate
among distant nations that may occupy years of time, try to develop
the principles of righteousness in the home circle, and establish them
there, that they may be growing thriftily there—that in your absence
the fruits of heaven may be developed—that blessings of peace and
harmony may have their existence there: then your home circle is the
seat of heaven—the nursery of truth, where all the perfections must
originate that will constitute all your future greatness and glory.
Seek to make your heaven in your home; seek to develop its perfections
there; seek to develop its truthfulness there. Why? Simply because you
cannot make it anywhere else. It is not possible, because home is the
nursery where all the constituent principles of heavenly bliss and
glory are to be developed. Why, then, think of finding them in your
wanderings over the face of the earth, when home is the only place
where they are to be found, and where they must be developed. You
bring the people from distant nations, that homes of this character
may exist—homes that shall be rich in treasures of heavenly bliss
developed and perfected in their circles.
This is the way I look at and think of our religion, and this I
consider to be the right, the proper way for us to patiently,
faithfully, and properly live our religion. We are afflicted in our
country with a great deal of evil: there are evils of an outdoor
character that are very troublesome and annoying, aside from those
things that annoy us at home, when, if we lived our religion at home
effectually, there would be less inclination of the youthful mind to
vice, folly, and nonsense.
Now, that we may, as a people and as individuals, be wise, prudent,
humble, and faithful in prosecuting this work of ours to its final
consummation, is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
- Amasa M. Lyman