I am always pleased to hear brother Joseph Young speak, because, as
the Indian says, "he talks good talk;" and I always like to hear
people talk good talk, and things that are calculated to make one feel
pleasant and comfortable.
A passage of Scripture which he quoted attracted my attention. It is
one of the sayings of David—"What is man, that thou art mindful of
him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?"
In one point of view, man appears very poor, weak, and imbecile, and
very insignificant: in another point of view, he appears wise,
intelligent, strong, honorable, and exalted. It is just in the way
that you look at a man that you are led to form your opinions
concerning him. In one respect, he appears, as it were, as the grass
of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven. He
is changeable in his opinions, in his thoughts, reflections, and
actions. He is idle, vain, and visionary, without being governed by
any correct principle. He comes into existence, as it were, like a
butterfly, flutters around for a little while, dies, and is no more.
In another point of view, we look at him as emanating from the Gods—as
a God in embryo—as an eternal being who had an existence before he
came here, and who will exist after his mortal remains are mingled and
associated with dust, from whence he came, and from whence he will be
resurrected and partake of that happiness for which he is destined, or
receive the reward of his evil deeds, according to circumstances.
If we look at the position of man as he has been and as he is, what is
he, whether we regard the most powerful and mighty, or the most
humble—whether as emperors, warriors, statesmen, philosophers, as
rich or poor, we find he has passed away, and to us is sleeping in
oblivion. Where are some of those great and mighty men that made the
earth tremble—at whose nod and beck, and at the crook of whose finger
nations quaked with fear? They have returned to dust, and ashes and
worms prey upon their systems. They have waned away, and many of
the great and honorable are as much despised since they died as they
were honored while they lived and were in the possession of their
earthly glory. What is man?
In some points of view, the human race are feeble indeed. They are
feeble in their bodies, minds, and spirits, and need some sustaining
influence to uphold them both in body and mind before they can occupy
their true position in society, whether in relation to this world, or
in relation to the world which is to come. For instance, a man may
study for years, and perhaps some faint affliction of his body will
overturn his intellect; he loses his senses, his reason is fled, and
he becomes a raving maniac. We are indeed poor creatures. Think what a
number of infirmities the human system is subject to, until finally
death closes its mortal career, and it is laid among the silent dead.
Let us ask what the nations of the earth have accomplished for the
last six or seven thousand years. What great work have they achieved?
What have the greatest warriors and statesmen that have existed from
the beginning done? What good have they accomplished for the world?
What boon have they handed down to posterity, and how much better are
we off because they lived, because they moved upon the earth, and
because they possessed a certain power upon it? They have accomplished
a solemn nothing. Where are those mighty conquerors and bright
geniuses now? Where are some of the mightiest men? And what has become
of the nations and cities where they flourished? It has become a
matter of doubt where even the foundations of Babylon and Nineveh were
laid. Egypt, it is true, has preserved some of its ancient monuments,
kings, and princes unto the present day. What are those men? Loathsome
mummies. What are they doing with them? The great Potiphars,
Ptolemies, and Pharaohs are now being used for fuel to make steam to
drive railway cars.
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that
thou rememberest him?
What is man, surely, when we look at him in this point of view? And
what are those ancient nations? What intelligence have they
communicated to the men of future ages? What real good have they done
A great many of the ancient nations were idolaters. They worshipped
dogs, cats, crocodiles, serpents, and every kind of thing that came
within the range of their imagination.
They could not get any idea of the true God, any more than the
Christian world can at the present time, without revelation, nor any
knowledge of the reason of their being on the earth, what they came
into the world for, and what they were designed to accomplish. If we
look at the world in this point of view, it presents a sorry
We talk sometimes about the great works of artists, painters,
sculptors, &c. But what have those smart geniuses accomplished of
real practical good to the world? What do their records show? Their
works may be seen in many of the capitals of the nations of Europe.
What are they? So many representations of war, destruction, and death.
If you examine some of the galleries of art in France, the history of
that country can be traced from the third century to the present time.
You find in those galleries splendid specimens of art; and what are
they? Here is a representation of a battle fought; there, the
representation of death and destruction; and yonder is a splendid
picture representing the march of a victorious army, destroying an
unfortunate and vanquished people, and treading down the dead
and dying. The history of those nations is marked in blood and tears.
How much better is the world now, in any point of view, than in former
days? What blessings have the great men of former ages handed down to
posterity? Were they all collected, they would appear in little room.
It is true there has been some little knowledge of chemistry and
astronomy developed. And I question very much whether the people now
know more about astronomy than Abraham and Joseph of old did, after
all their problems and calculations, and all the intelligence of the
schools in relation to this branch of science.
It is true we have obtained a little knowledge of the power of steam
and electricity, and have been able to use magnetism and many other
such principles which possess some utility at the present time to the
human family. But how much better off is the world of mankind now than
they were four or five thousand years ago? I do not know. If anybody
else does, I should like them to tell me. Tell me how much more union
there is now than then, how much more happiness there is now than
formerly, how much more conversant the world is now with correct
principles than the world was in what is called the dark ages, and how
much better principles they are governed by than they were thousands
of years ago. They then had their republics, their monarchies, and
their despotisms. There is as much of the spirit of war in existence
now as in any previous age of the world.
Witness the present position of Europe and China; witness the position
of Mexico, Central America, and the United States, of America at the
present time; witness the bitter hatred that exists between the North
and South in the bosoms of the Representatives in the halls of the
nation at Washington, which is manifested when in the Senate chamber.
How much better, then, are we in the present age than the people of
other ages? And what is man in reality, with all his boasted
intelligence and knowledge? He is a poor, weak worm of the earth.
Look at him in a social capacity. Are we much better off now socially
than the people were several thousand years ago, with all the
teachings of our philosophers and moralists, and with all the essays
there have been written, combined with all the influence of the
Priesthood of the present day? Men are paid in our age for doing a
great deal, and they ought to accomplish, at least, something. As I
told a Catholic priest once in France, when speaking of the position
of France—I said, "There are some fifty thousand Catholic priests in
France; and if Catholicism does not produce an influence in this
nation, it ought to; for there is enough money paid to sustain men to
do good among the people."
When we contemplate all these things, how weak and inefficient and
poor and feeble and contemptible man appears! How little he has
accomplished for the benefit of his fellow man, or for succeeding
"What is man, that thou art mindful of him?"
What is he? Let us look again and view him in another aspect. Why, he
is an eternal being, and possessed within him a principle that is
destined to exist "while life and thought and being last or
immortality endures." What is he? He had his being in the eternal
worlds; he existed before he came here. He is not only the Son of man,
but he is the Son of God also. He is a God in embryo, and possesses
within him a spark of that eternal flame which was struck from the blaze of God's eternal fire in the eternal world, and is placed
here upon the earth that he may possess true intelligence, true light,
true knowledge—that he may know himself—that he may know God—that
may know something about what he was before he came here—that he may
know something about what he is destined to enjoy in the eternal
worlds—that he may be fully acquainted with his origin, with his
present existence, and with his future destiny—that he may know
something about the strength and weakness of human nature—that he may
understand the Divine law, and learn to conquer his passions, and
bring into subjection every principle that is at variance with the law
of God—that he may understand his true relationship to God; and
finally, that he may learn how to subdue, to conquer, subject all
wrong, seek after, obtain, and possess every true, holy, virtuous, and
heavenly principle; and as he is only a sojourner, that he may fulfil
the measure of his creation, help himself and family, be a benefit to
the present and future generations, and go back to God, having
accomplished the work he came here to perform.
And if ever there was a time on the earth, since this world rolled
into existence, that man was placed in a most important position, it
is at this time. If ever there was a people under the face of the
heavens that enjoyed great privileges, and ought to be acquainted with
eternal principles, this is the people.
In ages and generations that are past men could not accomplish much.
They came in to the world—they lived—they died—they had their Prophets
once in a while, and slight manifestations from God. Those Prophets,
when wrapped in prophetic vision—when their minds were illuminated
with Divine truth, looked through the dark vista of future ages, and
con templated a time when iniquity should no longer triumph, when the
powers of darkness should be brought under subjection to the kingdom
of God, which should be established in the latter day, and the
government of God be maintained, and his holy Priesthood hold
universal rule, where there should be a reorganization of light,
truth, intelligence, rule, and government pertaining to things that
are, to things that were, and to things that are to come. The Prophets
in former times had their minds lit up from time to time. They got
simply a glimpse of the things that it is our privilege as a people to
God has gathered us from among all the nations of the earth. He has
called us together by the light of his truth—by the light of his
Spirit—by the light of his Gospel of peace. He has gathered us
together into one fold; he has given us revelation; he has given us a
knowledge of ourselves, and a slight knowledge of himself, so far as
we have lived up to our privileges, and so far as we have cultivated
the light of the Spirit he has given to us. He has given us a
knowledge of our weakness and of our strength and of our
imperfections. We are permitted to derive from God all the powers of
the Priesthood. The light of truth has been developed, and many things
pertaining to the future.
If we will only be faithful, he will lead us on from light to light,
from truth to truth, from intelligence to intelligence, until we shall
know and see and comprehend God, whom to know is life everlasting. He
has planted within us, through the principles of eternal truth, the
germs of everlasting life; so that Death, which has been a terror to
all nations for generations past, which has caused men to quail, and
through which the Jews all their life long were subject to bondage,
has lost its terrors on the minds of men who live their
religion, who walk according to the laws of the holy Priesthood, and
cultivate the Spirit of God. That grim messenger has lost his
formidable appearance, and people feel easy and comfortable under any
circumstances; that is, those who do right, fear God, work
righteousness, and keep his commandments. They know they have within
them that principle of eternal life which shall live after this mortal
tabernacle shall crumble in the dust.
To them, if it is peace, it is all right; if it is war, it is all
right; if it is sickness, it is all right; if it is health, it is all
right; for it is all eternal life to the man that is in possession of
What is man? He is an immortal being. He is a part of the Deity. He is
the Son of God, and God is his Father; and he has come here to work
out his salvation and accomplish the thing he came into existence for.
We have come here to build up the kingdom of God, to establish correct
principles, to teach the world righteousness, and to make millions of
the human family happy—even all who will listen to the principles of
eternal truth. We are here to introduce correct doctrine, to introduce
correct morals, to introduce correct philosophy, to introduce correct
government and to teach men how to live and how to die—how to be happy
in this world and in the world which is to come, and to lay the
foundation for eternal lives in the eternal worlds.
What is man? A god, even the son of God, possessing noble aspirations,
holy feelings, that may be governed by virtuous principles, possessing
elevated ideas, wishing to realize everything that God has destined to
submit to all his laws, to endure every kind of privation and
affliction and suffering, as seeing Him that is invisible, looking for
a city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God—feeling
to live for that purpose, and that alone.
This is what man is, if he lives the religion of heaven, and performs
faithfully those things God has appointed him to do, that he may
increase from intelligence to intelligence, and go on with that
eternal progression, not only in this world, but in worlds without
What are we? Do we expect to immortalize our fame by demolishing
cities, wasting countries, and destroying their inhabitants? No. Do we
expect to have our name perpetuated by being embalmed and laid by, as
the Egyptians were after they died? No. Do we expect to perpetuate our
fame by building cities and monuments? No. What then? We expect to
perpetuate our fame and our name by living and propagating correct
principles—by the establishment of correct laws—by the building up of
the kingdom of God—by imbibing and receiving light and intelligence
from the living God—by living in the enjoyment of all the blessings
that God has in reserve for his Saints—by driving back the dark cloud
of error and superstition that has overspread the moral horizon of the
world—by establishing a nucleus of truth, intelligence, light,
morality, philosophy, religion, government, and everything else that
is calculated to promote and exalt the human family in time and in all
eternity; and then, like some of the ancient patriarchs—like Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob, and many of the ancient Saints, enter into the New
Jerusalem, and there live with our posterity, our friends, and
relations; and then pass on by the eternal laws of progression to
associate with the Gods, worlds without end, in all intelligence and
perfection, and in promoting the happiness of all beings pertaining to
this world and the world that is to come.
There is something of man when you look at him in a proper point of view.
How much we shall accomplish in this thing I do not know. Some of us
very little, I fear.
Some of us are learning to swear almost as good as some of the
Gentiles. Some of us are learning to get drunk almost as good as they
can. I do not think that will benefit us very much. Some of us are
learning to cheat and defraud our neighbors, and some are learning to
steal. There is nothing smart about all this. A negro, a Hottentot, or
an Indian can do that. There is nothing in these practices that
bespeaks an intelligent mind, or that would recommend a person to the
estimation of a good man, angels, or God. There is nothing Godlike in
It is for us to do right and cultivate correct principles, and seek to
be elevated in the scale of human existence in time, that we may be
prepared for an eternal exaltation in the eternal worlds.
I pray that God may enlighten our minds, guide our feet in the way of
truth, and save us in his kingdom, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.