Essential Brigham Young
Foreword by Eugene E. Campbell
“With Joy and Gratitude to My Heavenly Father, I Look Upon this Congregation with Admiration” A Sermon Delivered on 6 April 1850 following the dedication of the Bowery (from Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star 12 [15 September 1850]: 273-76)
[p.31]With joy and gratitude to my Heavenly Father, I look upon this congregation with admiration. I rejoice to see my brethren and my sisters congregate together to worship the Lord. It is a feast to me to look upon the Saints. It is a joy and gladness to mingle in their society. I feel thankful for the goodly number that are safely landed in the mountains. I look forward to the day when scores of thousands will join us in our secluded retreat. It is a matter of consolation to me to have the privilege of looking at the Saints. I can truly say, it is sweeter to me than the honey comb. The greatest luxury I can enjoy, is to associate with those who delight to serve the Lord with all their hearts. And in the midst of all afflictions and privations we have the privilege that we never before had, of assembling unmolested from our oppressors. I esteem the providences of God as a fresh manifestation of his kindness in removing the Saints to this place, to suffer the wickedness of the wicked to remove us to this place. I hope we will improve on the same. I would be thankful if I could have my feelings satisfied at this conference; to a certain degree they are, and will be. When I realize what a struggle and labor we have undergone, I would rejoice at the privilege to look at my brethren for days and days. It is a place of happiness to me the day I have long looked for, to enjoy the privileges now around me. I can truly say, ten or fifteen years ago, I looked upon this people with an expectation that every man and woman would be worn into the grave, their lives spent in preaching, in watching their houses and protecting their families, before we could enjoy the present privilege. I expected it would be enjoyed by my children, but not by me. I am disappointed—it is all I could have anticipated—my life, my labor, all that I could anticipate eight or ten years ago, is now realized by me. The providences of the Almighty speak volumes to me, and say to Israel, be on the look out. Latter-day Saints be on the watch-tower. The providences of God as they are dealt out to the earth speak to us, and should be realized as peals of thunder, that the Lord will cut short his work in righteousness, for a short work will he do on the earth.
[p.32]I can say to all Israel, it is time we should awake from our lethargy, from our drowsy and sleepy feelings; awake to righteousness, and hasten the work that is upon us, for in a day and hour that we are not aware of, behold, the Son of Man cometh, as fast as the wheels of time roll round, to bring calamities, famine, fire, pestilence, sword, and the destroyer that walks abroad at noon-day, or at midnight, and lays wastes its thousands; nations are revolutionised; kingdoms are tottering and falling: a whole world is in commotion, what can we say? I can say, watch! watch!! watch!!! brethren, and be faithful! When I came yesterday morning, my feelings were peculiar; I realised that for years we have been deprived of such a privilege to meet together to worship the Lord. This is the most comfortable place I have ever seen for the Saints to hold their meetings in at our gathering place. When I have been abroad in the world, we have had splendid halls; but, at the gathering place, this is the best. What next, brethren? Some think I will go to the conference; but if I do, I cannot stay there. I must go to the kanyons, or hunt my cattle. I would like to go to conference, but I want to plough my lot, or fence my field, or to go to mill, or to my farm. This I feel—I felt it yesterday. I have the same cares that other men have—the care of my family, the daily labour that is upon me; my business is before me; but I said to my flocks and herds, and teams, now rest: workmen stop your business, all hands; my family prepare to entertain those who call upon us; do the best you can; prepare the best to feed them with; and to all around me, I said rest while I go and worship the Lord; it has been a great struggle, like two immense armies contending; the enemy of all righteousness contending by storms and thunder, that we should not prepare a place to meet; we have been fighting and struggling for years. I recollect four years last February, we left Nauvoo; from that time to this we have been struggling to build a place to assemble in, we were thwarted in getting a Council House, we have not got it yet; we have been two winters idle, and some of the Elders have forgotten there is a God; they have forgotten their covenants, their vows, and their prayers; they have forgotten what they once remembered, as the first and foremost in their hearts. I will draw cuts with any man who would go and plough foremost in their hearts. I will draw cuts with any man who would go and plough to-morrow, which grows the most wheat, by staying here to-morrow and getting our hearts warmed, or go ploughing; I have seen it tried, and proved that when the Lord requires anything of his Saints, and they do it, be can give the increase better, than if they served themselves; there is not the first man who has gained the first picayune by going to a kanyon on Sunday, or by labouring on the Sabbath day; necessity does not drive a man to do it, no such thing, but it is their own dispositions, and the spirit that is in them. There is no necessity to go to the kanyons, or hunt your cattle on the Sabbath [p.33]day, you might as well plough; but some feel that they cannot spare time on a week day. We have tried it in travelling since we left Nauvoo, and not one time having travelled on the Sabbath day, have we gained by it, but we have lost a day or two the next week to pay for it. What is the harm? It proves that you treat lightly the rules of the God of nature,—the God we serve. The laws that organized the elements knows what they can endure; he said to man, when you have laboured six days, rest one, to refresh your bodies; let your horses and cattle that labour rest; your men and women, let them rest; I don’t mean to rest like Christians, ride ten miles to a meeting, and then ride twenty-five miles for pleasure; but I mean a Saint’s Sabbath: there is not a nation nor a people that keep the Sabbath, not a christian, from the Pope to the latest reformer, there is not one who keeps it, no not one, unless sick, if there is one it is by mistake of natures to your own desires; let them all rest, and when the earth has by transgressing any rule of the God of nature, and if our eastern neighbours had done so, their land would have been as good as when they first saw it. I would as soon rest a whole week and let every thing rest a week, it would not pay the debt, and the God of nature will bring it all back again. If I hurry this Conference, I have got to hurry every business transaction, and every speech, and then the spirit would not abide with us. I want you to feel as I feel; stay right here, and spend a week in Conference, if necessary. A great many persons feel that they are so poor they have to go to the gold mines, they will be in such a hurry they will forget to pray; another cannot spend a week day to go after wood or hunt his cattle; you can see the example, poor they are and polite expression, but it is true doctrine, they will go down to hell, poverty stricken and naked; are those who go to meeting every Sabbath going to get rich? Not just yet. They will have more wheat; you may take economy and rest on the seventh day, and he will be the best off. I am not going to desire anything but the will of my Father in heaven; if my Father makes me rich I will be contented, and if I am poor I will be contented still, and I will be content with all good men and good people. It is disgusting to me to see a person love this world in its present organization; look at kings on their thrones, their crowns fall at their feet, their almighty dollars do them no good, their wealth and opulence are gone, nation after nation are dethroned and crumble to ashes. Take the very youth of beauty; it is laid low in the grave! Riches take the wings of the morning and fly away; it is beneath the heart of a man who loves God and His spirit.
[p.34]I wish the brethren to listen to the principles this morning set forth on speculation, and their daily walk; we are here, and it is our duty to sustain ourselves in this place, and also those who will come to us; we have a duty to perform to our brethren; we are under holy christian covenants to assist our brethren who are left in the states, until they are gathered here; remember the poor who are yet in bondage, and say what we can do for our poor brethren this season; it is one of the most important things that we can do, to raise grain to sustain ourselves, and those who come here.
I have a few words to say on Mormonism as it is called, but to us, the doctrine of salvation; I can say I know it is true. I have known for years and years that Joseph was a prophet. I did not embrace Mormonism, because I hoped it was true, but because it was that principle that would save all the human family that would obey it, and it would make them righteous. Joseph Smith lived and died a prophet, and sealed his testimony with his blood; he lived a good man, and died a good man, and he was as good a man as ever lived; and the voice of the Lord is still heard for this people. For myself I am here just as I was in the days of Joseph. I never pretended to be Joseph Smith. I am not the man who brought forth the Book of Mormon, but I do testify to the truth of it. I am an apostle to bear testimony to the Gentiles of this last dispensation, and also the Jews. I can say the heart of man is always eager for something, just like little children; we often see children when they have been feasted on pumpkin pie and sweet cake, and other good things, eat until they are filled with pain, and cry for more. The Elders have had so much revelation, that it has put them in pain, because they did not know how to digest it, and yet they cry for more. You live and see the time that kings and prophets have desire to see, but have died without the sight. It is your privilege, and it is mine, to receive revelation, and my privilege to dictate to the church. Here are a cloud of witnesses from the death of Joseph or the return of the Twelve to Nauvoo, that all things have been dictated by the Twelve, with your humble servant at their head; could it have been bettered? Was this people or any other people ever led, fed, or administered to more kindly and faithfully than this people have been by the Twelve and those that helped them? No, not even in the days of Joseph. From the day that I was baptized until this present time, I have felt as if I was in another world, in another existence. I never look back upon the old world, but it is like looking into hell. I have only one desire, and that is to do the will of my God, and that is all the will I ever had. I do chastise my brethren, find fault with them, and give them counsel, but the counsel I give let any one say it is not right; I am at the defiance of any one to say that I have not told them just right.
Next thing. Just as soon as any of the Twelve become dissatisfied, [p.35] they lop off, they have not the boldness to go to the Council and say “good bye, I am going to hell my own road;” no, not even John E. Page. I remember once at the commencement of this church, a necromancer embraced it, but he could not be satisfied; he came and said he had fingered and handled the perverted priesthood so much, the course I have taken is downwards, the devil has too fast hold of me, I cannot go with you; but the rest slide off.
Let me tell you it is the truth of the Lord God Almighty, and if a man will not do right, God will remove him out of his place forthwith.
I never was afraid of Joseph, although many would falter and feared Joseph would go astray. I did not serve Joseph, but I patterned after the doctrine the Lord has revealed through him. There was no possibility of Joseph leading the people astray. If I thought that God would suffer a man to lead a righteous people astray I would not serve him, I would leave him and seek another; I serve the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers; he has called Joseph and will never let him lead this people astray, but when he has done his work he will take him to himself. I never was afraid of my friends, and you need not be; the Lord Almighty will never suffer his people to go astray, unless they as a people want to follow iniquity; never, no never, no never.
Do you know the word of the Lord when you hear it? It is the will of the Lord that he wants his people to do. As for revelation, some say it has ceased; it has no such thing. I could give you revelation as fast as a man could run, I am in the midst of revelation. Do you want more revelation written? Wait till you obey what is already written.
The last two years of Joseph’s life, Joseph laid out as much work as we can do for twenty years. I have no disposition to seek for more, until I see these we have obeyed. I tell you one thing, if we obey the word of the Lord, this people have got to quit drinking whisky, and leave off’ using so much tobacco, tea, and coffee. It is not religion to spend our time in light visits, or squandering your time as many have. When I look at the world and hear the blasts of the devil, I say blow away. I trust that I shall live to accomplish my designs of fighting the devil, and if I do not live, there are other men who will step into my place who are just as good for a hang on, as I am, or Joseph was.
My feelings are the same as they were when I was baptized, to do the will of my God. When we have the spirit of the Lord, we work together in oneness, and we shall accomplish the design sooner or later. Joseph used to say, “do not be scared, I have not apostatized yet;” and he did not. I say, brethren I have not apostatized, and there are a good many who have not. We have got to gather Israel, and see the redemption of Israel, and if I do not live to accomplish it, I shall come back to enjoy it. I say come on ye Elders of Israel and preach the mysteries of the [p.36] kingdom. When a principle comes to your understanding, it is no more a mystery; but, behold, the mystery has flown, and all things are easy to be comprehended; all is simple; all is childlike; and all is Godlike.