Man is organized and brought forth as the king of the earth, to
understand, to criticize, examine, improve, manufacture, arrange, and
organize the crude matter, and honor and glorify the works of God's
hands. This is a wide field for the operation of man, that reaches
into eternity; and it is good for mortals to search out the things of
The elements are to be brought into shape and operation for the
benefit, happiness, beauty, excellency, glory, and exaltation of the
children of men that dwell upon the earth; though we cannot produce
that which has not already been produced. Are we capable, by our most
critical researches, of finding that which has not already been found?
We are not. We are capable of improving upon the crude elements, until
we understand the organization of this earth, and the power by which
it is sustained, for what purpose man was created, and the immortality
that will crown his existence. All this is what others have learned
Were we capable of scanning the eternities of the Gods, we should find
works and exhibitions of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and power,
by whom? By those who were as we are. It is the privilege of man to
search out the wisdom of God pertaining to the earth and the heavens.
Professing Christians generally would not consider this a fit position
for those who profess the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ to occupy.
These Saints of the Most High appear here in the capacity of an
assembly to exercise and amuse the mind of the natural man. This idea
brings at once to my mind a thousand reflections. What is nature?
Everything that pertains to the heavens and the earth. "My son," says
the Christian father, "you should not attend a theater, for there the
wicked assemble; nor a ballroom, for there the wicked assemble; you
should not be found playing a ball, for the sinner does that."
Hundreds of like admonitions are thus given, and so we have been thus
traditioned; but it is our privilege and our duty to scan all the
works of man from the days of Adam until now, and thereby learn what
man was made for, what he is capable of performing, and how far his
wisdom can reach into the heavens, and to know the evil and the good.
It is written in the Scriptures, "Shall a trumpet be blown in the
city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and
the Lord hath not done it?" Is there an evil thing upon the earth that
he does not fully understand? There is not. The Psalmist very
beautifully illustrates this idea—"Thou compassest my path and my
lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a
word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.
Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy
presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed
in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning,
and dwell in the uttermost part of the sea; Even there shall thy hand
lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me." The Lord understands the
evil and the good; why should we not likewise understand them? We
should. Why? To know how to choose the good and refuse the evil; which
we cannot do, unless we understand the evil as well as the good. I do
not wish to convey the idea that it is necessary to commit evil in
order to obtain this knowledge.
Upon the stage of a theater can be represented in character, evil and
its consequences, good and its happy results and rewards; the weakness
and the follies of man, the magnanimity of virtue and the greatness of
truth. The stage can be made to aid the pulpit in impressing upon the
minds of a community an enlightened sense of a virtuous life, also a
proper horror of the enormity of sin and a just dread of its
consequences. The path of sin with its thorns and pitfalls, its gins
and snares can be revealed, and how to shun it.
The Lord knows all things; man should know all things pertaining to
this life, and to obtain this knowledge it is right that he should use
every feasible means; and I do not hesitate to say that the stage
can, in a great degree, be made to subserve this end. It is written,
"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." Refuse evil, choose
good, hate iniquity, love truth. All this our fathers have done before
us; I do not particularly mean father Adam, or his Father; I do not
particularly mean Abraham, or Moses, the Prophets, or Apostles, but I
mean our fathers who have been exalted for millions of years previous
to Adam's time. They have all passed through the same ordeals we are
now passing through, and have searched all things, even to the depths
Is there evil in the theater? In the ballroom? In the place of
worship? In the dwelling? In the world? Yes, when men are inclined to
do evil in any of these places. There is evil in persons meeting
simply for a chit-chat; if they will allow themselves to commit evil
while thus engaged. Can we not sift out every particle of wheat from
the vast body of chaff we find in books on science and religion? That
we find in governmental constitutions and judicial rulings? In learned
commentaries and on law and order? And in the rudiments and advanced
branches of education? Can we not even make the stage of a theater the
platform upon which to exhibit truth in all its simple beauty? And
sift out from the theatrical lore of ages the chaff and folly that has
encumbered it? And preserve and profit by that which is truly good and
great? This, however, is not the work of a day or a year; but, as the
chaff is protective to wheat in a pile, so the true lore of ages is
concealed and preserved in the chaff pile of folly and nonsense, until
the Saints of the Most High cause a separation.
We shall endeavor to make our theatrical performances a source of
good, and not of evil. Rather than the latter, and rather than it
should pass into the hands of the ungodly, I ask the Lord to let the
whole fabric return to its native elements. It is our privilege and
our duty to search all things upon the face of the earth, and learn
what there is for man to enjoy, what God has ordained for the benefit
and happiness of mankind, and then make use of it without sinning
Our eyes are delighted in seeing, our ears in hearing. We behold the
faces of our friends, we see the gems of intelligence
sparkling through those outward windows of the soul; and what a
blessing it is to see the countenances of our friends radiant with
delight. Our senses, if properly educated, are channels of endless
felicity to us, but we can devote them to evil or to good. Let us
devote all to the glory of God and the building up of his kingdom, for
in this there is lasting joy.
Man is of the earth, earthy; but the Spirit is pure from heaven. This
mortal existence must be prolonged by the use of food. Food that is
good for the use of man is abundant in the elements, and God has
endowed us with the ability to combine the elements, through the means
of useful plants and animals, to supply ourselves with all we need.
Should we refuse to avail ourselves of this means, hunger and
nakedness must be our portion. Heaven will not perform the labor that
it has designed us to perform. We must sow, reap, clean, and grind
into flour our wheat, and make it into bread. Were we not to do this,
we should go without bread until doomsday, and without clothing, if we
wait for the Lord to make clothes for us. It is for us to search out
the elements, learn how to combine them to make silk, wool, linen,
cotton, and every other textile material that can be made into cloth,
for the comfort and convenience of man.
When man is industrious and righteous, then is he happy. Sin blights
all true happiness, and throws a deep gloom over man's whole
existence. Let us be righteous, and then learn to make ourselves
comfortable and joyful in the possession of creature comforts. Man is
always happy when he is righteous. The Lord will not build our houses
and temples, after he has given us the elements and taught us how to
build comfortable houses, magnificent temples, and commodious places
of worship. Everything that is joyful, beautiful, glorious,
comforting, consoling, lovely, pleasing to the eye, good to the taste,
pleasant to the smell, and happifying in every respect is for the
Tight-laced religious professors of the present generation have a
horror at the sound of a fiddle. There is no music in hell, for all
good music belongs to heaven. Sweet harmonious sounds give exquisite
joy to human beings capable of appreciating music. I delight in
hearing harmonious tones made by the human voice, by musical
instruments, and by both combined. Every sweet musical sound that can
be made belongs to the Saints and is for the Saints. Every flower,
shrub, and tree to beautify, and to gratify the taste and smell, and
every sensation that gives to man joy and felicity are for the Saints
who receive them from the Most High.
There are many of our aged brethren and sisters, who, through the
traditions of their fathers and the requirements of a false religion,
were never inside a ballroom or a theater until they became
Latter-day Saints, and now they seem more anxious for this kind of
amusement than are our children. This arises from the fact they have
been starved for many years for that amusement which is designed to
buoy up their spirits and make their bodies vigorous and strong, and
tens of thousands have sunk into untimely graves for want of such
exercises to the body and the mind. They require mutual nourishment to
make them sound and healthy. Every faculty and power of both body and
mind is a gift from God. Never say that means used to create and
continue healthy action of body and mind are from hell. Such means
never originated there. Hell is a great distance from us, and we can
never arrive there, unless we change our path, for the way we
are now pursuing leads to heaven and happiness.
When the Saints come into this building, and look on this stage, to
see our brethren and sisters perform to satisfy the sight, to satisfy
the ear, and the desires and mind of the people, I want you to pray
for them that the Lord Almighty may preserve them from ever having one
wicked thought in their bosoms, that our actors may be just as
virtuous, truthful, and humble before God and each other as though
they were on a Mission to preach the Gospel.
I say to those who perform, if anything is discovered contrary to the
strictest virtue and decorum, the offenders must leave this building.
I intend this remark to apply also to the musicians. I wish the
dramatic company to seek diligently and in all kindness to promote
the happiness of all concerned.
Unless by my order, I do not wish a drop of intoxicating liquor brought
into this house; I want the actors behind the curtain, the musicians
in the orchestra, and the audience to hear and observe this.
When this house is finished, there will be places in the passages
where cakes, pies, fruits, &c., can be bought; but no intoxicating
liquor will be allowed in these saloons. No drunken person will be
permitted to enter this house. I will not have it polluted and
disgraced by the presence of the drunken, nor my brethren and sisters,
who strive continually to do right, annoyed by the filthy breath of a
poor, miserable, filthy loafer.
We intend to preserve the strictest order here; we do expect the
people to come to this house praying, and their whole souls devoted to
God, and to their religion.
Tragedy is favored by the outside world; I am not in favor of it. I
do not wish murder and all its horrors and the villainy leading to it
portrayed before our women and children. I want no child to carry home
with it the fear of the fagot, the sword, the pistol, or the dagger,
and suffer in the night from frightful dreams. I want such plays
performed as will make the spectators feel well; and I wish those who
perform to select a class of plays that will improve the public mind,
and exalt the literary taste of the community.
If we wish to hold a Conference in this hall, we shall do so, and
shall use it for all purposes that will satisfy our feelings in doing
right, and no evil.
May God bless you. Amen.