Essential Brigham Young
Foreword by Eugene E. Campbell
“I Take the Liberty of Preaching to the People, Wishing to do so for the Benefit of the Saints” A Sermon Delivered on 14 July 1861 (from Brigham Young Addresses, 1860-1864, A Chronological Compilation of Known Addresses of the Prophet Brigham Young, Vol. 4
[Salt Lake City: Elden J. Watson, 1980])
[p.134]I take the liberty of preaching to the people, wishing to do so for the benefit of the saints. If we could but understand the economy of heaven in our organization and in the dealings of God with his people, if we had eyes to see, ears to hear, hearts to understand facts as they are, all mankind would seek for eternal life. In the economy of heaven every person that is experienced, as the saints very well know, that life, eternal life, is not obtained by every fancy and fanatasism conjured up by men. There are certain principles that pertain to life everlasting, those principles will, and those alone, abide the day that is to come, abide the scrutinies of Jehovah, abide the presence of him who dwells in eternal burnings. Those principles are as pure as pure can be. That that is impure tends to the dissolving or separation of the particles of matter that are organized. I frequently contemplate the saying of Brother Joseph when he said the Twelve Apostles did not understand the first principles of the Gospel. I should be most happy if I understood the first principles of the Gospel, the first principles of life, perfectly, for myself. Then I would delight in possessing language that I could convey the same to others. To see these human faces before me, these intelligent beings, we may traverse the earth around and behold the intelligence of mankind, behold that eternal variety in this intelligence, circumscribe it, philosophize upon it, have ability really to understand its origin. Ask intelligent beings, “where is your origin? Can you print it before us that we can see it? Can you tell it to us?” It is in obscurity. It is beyond the comprehension of the people and eternally would remain so if God did not reveal it. Look at the people before us this day. Behold the millions of human faces that many of you, perhaps, have seen. Who can tell their origin? Can the philosopher? A great many have tried, but they all sink into the conclusion that man is a mystery to himself and is past finding out. These intelligent beings that I now see, that I behold as we say with the natural eye, Br. Kimball would call it the natural eye, the eye of the spirit, very well, the eye that God [p.135]has given me and the power of sight: How long is it since they were in chaos? all that pertains to man independent of the intelligence that dwells within his body, independent of that spirit of life, light and intelligence? I see the faces of these, my brethren and sisters. How long is it since you and I were mingled with the native element that now fills the atmosphere, the sea, the earth? The apostle says we are of the earth, earthly. The human organization tends to the earth, bends to it, inclines to it, clings to it and the decree is, “dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” To hear these very intelligent beings that could rise and speak were we in social conversation, the intelligence that would be imparted by the organs of speech that we behold with our eyes, but a few days since was swimming in native element. God has organized this. He has his own way and that way is not changed. All beings are here upon the same principle; all that ever was and all that ever will be are upon the same principle. Here we are. If we could understand the first principles. Here we are. If we could understand the first principles of our organization and see the multitudes, the vast work, I saw the boundless space, to see the particles of matter organized by the decree and the law of Jehovah and the machine that he has set in order giving it its bounds, this matter is constantly organizing. Generations come and they pass away. Now see the mountains of solid rock? They have their time for organizing and they have their time for delay. You see one generation come and go and another take their place and we see the vast creations coming into existence, and when we call for our fathers and our mothers, our progenitors, where is the nations that has lived a hundred years ago? They are in eternity, and their bodies are in the dust. Where is that intelligence they possessed? It is gone. Where? Into the invisible world. Where are the generations that preceded them? From the days of Adam until now all flesh, till the ones that now live, are mouldering in the dust. There is a design in all this. The organization that you see in yourselves and in one another, organized expressly to continue, to endure, to develop the power of the Almighty, the glory, the intelligence of our Father and our God. Where are these people, the nations of the earth that have sunk like Babylon? They are no more upon the earth. We look upon the inhabitants of the earth ad we inquire, “Can you tell me, ye men, ye skillful, ye philosophers and divines that study perhaps three score years to find out, what man is made for? Can you tell me what you were sent here for on this earth? Do you understand your origin? Do you know the design of your being, why you are here?” “I am here and that is all I can tell about, know, or understand.” “Why not understand your origin?” It is beyond the conception of man, beyond the power of all the divines on the earth in our day. It is past finding out.” You may go to our mother church and then you may follow down through all the days of the reformation until this day, and until the Prophet Joseph arose, they was as dark as midnight darkness, not a man upon the earth that was capable of delineating the character of himself, was capable of telling his origin. Now if we did but understand things as they are, the first principles of life is to organize this course material. We see it organized into intelligent man, that is capable of receiving little upon little, here a little and there a little, line upon line, line upon line. He reads one verse in the bible and commits it to memory. It does not deprive him of the privilege of commiting [sic] another verse, and chapter after chapter and book after book. It does not deprive him of commiting [sic] to memory the history of the nations, and he treasures up in the storehouse God has organized within him. He treasures up wisdom, knowledge upon knowledge. Here is the intelligence we see. Then we see the inferior, and from it we trace the highest degrees of intelligence we behold in man and follow it down to the brute, and from the brute to the vegetable, and it is impossible for the philosopher to distinguish and draw the lines between them. You see that eternal variety? God has organized it. There is no philosophy or divine, but what will tell you, “I did not organize myself. I did not possess power to produce myself. I am here, and it was a superior power by which I am, and all the human family.” It is a superior power to many that we are here upon the earth. The trees that grow, the leaves that shoot forth, the flowers, the grass that comes from the earth, it is all beyond the power and capacity of man to produced. We are here. We see we are here. We know we are here. How come we are here? Did we come by chance? You know some of our philosophers that have lived previous to our day and some that are now living, that deny the existence of a supreme being. I will confess they are more consistent than many that pretend to believe in a supreme being. Old Adam Neil of Boston, that was thrust into prison for being an infidel wrote an essay and sent it forth to the people. He said he was so far from believing in a God that be believed we were all gods and saw that supreme divinity in everything he saw. He believed all was God and yet he was imprisoned by the christians, he did not believe in one character. The Christians say “we believe in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost.” What next? Have they a body? “Not at all.” Have they any parts, a hand, an arm that they can stretch forth? “Not at all.” An eye that they can see out of? (we will reduce them to one person) Then has this being not feet, limbs? “No.” Stomach, ears, any senses about him? “No, he is without body parts and passions.” And of course he is without principle or power. This is the God that the infidel, Adam Neil was thrust into prison for not believing in. He was more consistent [sic] than the christians. He believed in that supreme divinity that fills immensity, that was in all intelligent beings, in the brute, in the vegetables, that is, all over and round about. So far from believing there was no God, he believed in many gods. I say he was more consistant [sic] than the christians. But from the days of the apostacy of the church, who has been able to tell the origin of mankind, to know the relationship that exists between the divine and the natural, to converse with gods and angels and bring the knowledge of the gods to man’s capacity and teach them how to converse together and chat together until the eyes of man was open to see as they are seen? Nobody has been able to do this until Joseph Smith arose. I was not very religious myself in my youthful days in my outward profession, though I had all that reverence in my heart that any man should have, yet I was called an infidel. I heard no man that could delineate, exhibit, print before the people, the least idea of man or the origin of his being upon the earth. I heard the great and the good. I searched, endeavored to learn for myself where the wisdom of God was if it ever was on the earth. I found it not. One of the greatest speakers that America ever offered: I heard him speak upon the soul of man. When he had exhausted over three hours in trying to tell his evidence, what the soul of man is, he labored like a balloon under the pressure of confined gas that goes up, up, up, and is drifted hither and thither by every current of air, until the gas is exhausted, when it suddenly drops to the ground by its own weight. His discourse suddenly came to an end, when our friend, the expounder of the mysteries of the kingdom of God, after exhausting all his ability and strength, all his mental and physical power, to tell what the soul of man is, he concluded with these profound remarks: “Brethren, it is beyond the capacity of any human being to understand this great mystery, but I came to the conclusion that the soul of man is an immaterial substance.” Did every any such thing exist? That term carries with it a flat contradiction. But this is the knowledge of the world. When they have exhausted all their philosophy, they know nothing of these matters. Do we know? Yes, we do, and in this consists our comfort and consolation. As pertaining to our bodies, they were organized from the coarse material, from the rude element that we live in. We breathe it, eat it, drink it, it is all around us, in us, and through everything. The materials that organize this world is the same of which our bodies are organized. Br. Kimball told us this morning, Jesus was begotten of the Father, born of the virgin Mary, and he possessed a body like you and I. A great many have talked about it. Divines have exhausted all the powers of their minds upon it in the days of the Reformation. You can read their writings, and no doubt you have read them, and what do they know about it? Nothing at all. Ask the divinity of this age how Jesus came upon the earth, and can they tell? No. They tell you a thousand things, and they are all wrong. Jesus Christ came here because his Father came here and he was begotten of the Father, and he was born of the virgin Mary as my mother bore me and as my father begot me and as you begot your children. What, is it possible [p.138]that the Father of Heights, the Father of our spirits, could reduce himself and come forth like a man? Yes, he was once a man like you and I are and was once on an earth like this, passed through the ordeal you and I pass through. He had his father and his mother and he has been exalted through his faithfulness, and he is become Lord of all. He is the God pertaining to this earth. He is our Father. He begot our spirits in the spirit world. They have come forth and our earthly parents have organized tabernacles for our spirits and here we are today. That is the way we came. Do the divines of christendom know anything about it? Can all the philosophers of the nineteenth century detail one point intelligently concerning this? They can not, and if they should happen to make a true point by the aid of the truth they already possess, it appears so wonderful to them they are at a loss to know whether it is true or not. All this pertains to the first principles of the gospel. You must get the people where you can save them before you can save them. If you want to find out what the people are here for, how did you come here, and if we are here (and it is a fact that we are living), what we are living for. If we can find out how we came to live, the next step is to find out what we came for. We are living to live, we endure to endure, exist to an eternal existence, live to live for ever more and never die. One path leads to life, to continue this organization, the other to dissolving this matter, separating the particles one from the other until they return to their native element, and that is called death. Is there any such principle as annihilation? No. There is no such principle in heaven or on earth or under the earth. There is an eternity of matter before us, there ever was and there ever will be, there is no bounds to it. Does the scriptures teach the doctrine I am now teaching you? It is taught in the Old and New Testament, perhaps not precisely as I am wording it, but I can read the fact. The human family is here and we came here upon natural principles, upon the natural principle that God has placed in the people. The foolishness of men and through their traditions they have taken away the truth and introduced something else and the people do not know whether they have knowledge or not. They do not know by what power they exist, whether they are made human beings or divine beings, or belong to the brute creation. We have something to say about our christian brethren and we sometimes talk as I did this morning. I am thankful that I am so far from the christians. What do I mean by the word “christian?” That we must be like Christ, christlike, that is what we understand by christian. A man that is filled with the power of God, that knows and understands the revelations of the Lord Jesus Christ and observes the commandments of the Father, one that bows humbly to his requirements and delights himself in them, that is the christian. We call the present sectarian order of christians, “christians,” but they do not [p.139]know what that means. Have we a scripture for this? Yes, it can be read in the bible. Here we are, intelligent beings, and we are called to be christians. We are calling upon the human family to be christians. We have travelled the world around to call upon the people to be christians. Do they hearken to the words of wisdom? Some do once in a while, but they are one here and one there, they are like the gathering of grapes after the vintage is done. They are one of a city and two of a family, one here and another there, they are like the gathering of grapes after the vintage is done. They are one of a city and two of a family, one here and another there from the vast multitudes of the earth. Once in a while one embraces the truth and they practice it in their lives and they are trying to be christians, or christlike. Compare the wisdom of the world, and do they know anything about their origin, the errand for which they were sent here unto this world? No, they do not. They are here, a world of intelligent beings, made to endure forever. Every iota of the creations of God pertaining to mankind, the brute creation, the vegetable creation and everything else God has organized pertaining to this world is made expressly to endure for ever and ever. The gospel of the Son of God is to purify this matter. There is certain ordeals for it to pass through. The gospel is a set of laws and ordinances. In the beginning when the earth was cursed, the water was not cursed, the water was held sacred and is to this day except through the wickedness of the children of men. You get into the bowels of the earth where the water is not contaminated by the wickedness of the people that lives on the surface and you will find the pure water. That water will wash your body clean. Then we will use it as an emblem of purity as we now use the sacrament to commemorate the death and suffering of the Savior. As the water purifies the body externally by the obedience of the commandments of God, the spirit is made pure and they go forth as Jesus did. He was baptized to fulfil righteousness. It was required of him to do so. He did it to set the pattern for his brethren, to mark out the steps they should take. When John objected Jesus said, “Suffer it so to be now.” John said he needed to be baptized of him. “I understand that,” said the Savior, “but suffer it to be so now.” It is necessary for you and I to go and be baptized because the Lord commanded it. If the water purifies the body externally, so does the commandments of the Lord and the words of eternal life purify the spirit of man. No man can be made pure without obeying the ordinances of the gospel. As I said this morning, it is not all that were going to be cast into hell to dwell eternally with the devils. There are only a few who will go into everlasting pain and they are they that reject the gospel. Who will be saved in the celestial kingdom of God? They that have the oracles of truth and obey them. Where will the rest go? Into kingdoms that God has and will prepare for them and there are millions of such kingdoms, There is as many degrees of glory as there are degrees of capacity and to them will be meted out according to their faith, and goodness and the truth that abides in them and according to the light God has imparted to them. Those nations have lived and died, millions and millions of them, and have had no knowledge of the Son of God. Will they be condemned and cast into hell? No, but the will be judged without law. They that have had the Old and New Testament will they be cast into that place they say has no bottom to it? No, all they that have [lived] according to the best light they have will have all the glory they anticipate. Who will go into the presence of the Father and the Son? Those who have had the priesthood on the earth, those who have enjoyed the oracles of divine truth, possess the keys and power of this priesthood that God has revealed in this day, those that live so that can prepare themselves to dwell with the Father and the Son. Can anybody else? Let me pause and ask this question: can any other person come into the presence of the Father and the Son? It would take a year to tell all that is in the gospel and then we stop and say we only just commenced. Yes, millions live on the earth that will come up in the morning of the first resurrection. What are those people trying to do? They are trying to learn the position they occupy and the relationship in which they stand to God and to one another. We are trying to build up Zion, first in the hearts, then in our houses, and in our neighborhoods, and by and bye we expect to return to the place where God built the garden of Eden. Do you know where that is? It is in Jackson County, Missouri. Now don’t any of you run crazy about it and be scared, and do not jump up so high in the air that you will fall down and hurt yourself. Be careful, be modest, mild, sincere with yourselves, and let the Lord have his own, and come to the conclusion that if he built it there it is none of my business. Can any of the divines of the day tell where it will stand? No. Where will it stand? On Jackson County, Missouri, North America. Here the people are trying to build up Zion in their hearts, in their houses and in their neighborhoods. Are we saints yet? We are trying to be and when we are instructed enough and have purified ourselves enough we will return to that place where the Lord commenced his work and where he will finish it. We will build up Zion and holy temples unto the Lord and we will enter therein and be baptized for our forefathers and our mothers, they that were good, that loved truth, that lived according to the light they had, they that would have received the gospel if they had the opportunity. We will attend to all the ordinances of the gospel for them, for the men and women that have lived in the flesh and died without the benefits arising from the gospel and the living priesthood. Thousands and millions of these will come up in the first resurrection by thousands and millions. This may appear strange to talk to the people, but it is true. We will go [p.141]and build up temples. We started a temple here. Shall we finish it? I don’t know whether we shall or not before we go back to Jackson County, but it will be finished by and bye, we will enter into this temple and receive the ordinances for the just. How will we find out who to administer for? By revelation. Jesus will visit his disciples and inform them that such a man lies so and so, go through with the ordinances for him and prepare him for the resurrection. And then here comes the apostle Peter, James, John, Joseph, Hyrum and somebody that has this power who will lay on hands on these men and give them power to resurrect this man and that man and they will go all over the world resurrecting the people. These are some of the first principles of the gospel. Do the Twelve Apostles understand them all? I do not and I am one of the Twelve. I have an eternity before me in which to learn. I have learned a great deal already. All that can be saved in the celestial kingdom will be saved there, and all that can be saved in the terrestrial kingdom will be saved there, and also in the telestial kingdom. And there are other kingdoms, multitudes of them to meet the capacity of the people that we are in the habit of seeing and conversing with every day. Will the Lord destroy this earth? No, he is going to baptize it with fire and with the Holy Ghost to prepare it to come into his presence again. Will he destroy the animal creation? No, they are made by him and they have abided their creation, and everything he has created has abided their creation except man, the lord of the soil of all the earth, to whom the Almighty committed the earth and the fullness thereof, to Adam and his posterity, to the kings of the earth, but they have forfeited their right and title, and they are the only ones that have transgressed. The brute creation has kept the law by which they were made; the vegetable kingdoms, the animal kingdom has kept the law by which they were made and the earth has kept the law by which it was made, and it has honored God and will be baptized and brought forth in the resurrection. We find out what we are and what we are here for, and how we are here to live forever. This is the object and design of the creator. Those intelligent eyes I now see sparkle with eternal life; they are made to exist forever. The human family are endowed with the most precious attributes God could bestow on any being in the world. They are endowed with attributes like unto himself to improve upon; to improve upon every fine feeling, upon every right and judgment, and upon every moment of time; to improve all to the glory of God, to prepare to dwell with him in his presence. Do you suppose that we have a father?
Don’t you see that this tends to destroy the beautiful organization of man and it goes back to the dust? Let the passions of man be ungoverned by any influence and the result would ultimately be the disaffection of the whole human race and they would return to original matter and it [p.142]would have to wait millions of ages before another particle of it would be found in another organization. The spirit of peace, love, union, tends to life instead of cutting off a man’s nose. If he was born without a nose we would want to put one on if we had the skill, so as to make him a comely person, excuse me for this expression. You see, one course tends to an eternal duration, the other tends to destruction or decomposition and a return to native element.