Essential Brigham Young
Foreword by Eugene E. Campbell
“I Hope the Brethren and Sisters will Remember What has been Said”
A Sermon Delivered on 30 June 1873 (from Deseret News, 23 July 1873)
[p.213]I hope the brethren and sisters will remember what has been said by Brother George A. Smith. In the first place he spoke concerning the patriarchs of the Church. If you will remember what has been told you, you can gather a little more from time to time, and you will understand the nature of this priesthood, and this office. I have it in my mind to give this congregation a short history of the introduction of the office of a patriarch in the midst of this people. Most of the Latter-day Saints have a historical knowledge of the brethren being driven from Jackson county, Missouri, in 1833; also of the gathering of the strength of the Lord’s house together by Joseph, and going up to Missouri in 1834. My brother, Joseph Young, and myself were in this camp. When we were on our return home my brother Joseph spoke very frequently with regard to patriarchs and patriarchal blessings, and finally said he, “When we get to Kirtland I am going to ask Brother Joseph Smith if we can have the privilege of calling our father’s family together and receiving a patriarchal blessing under the hands of our father.” Brother Joseph Young saw the Prophet Joseph Smith, and said he, “I do not see any inconsistency in this at all, and I think it would be a good thing.” A day was appointed for the family to gather together, and Brother Joseph Smith was asked to attend this meeting. He came, and while we sat chatting together on the things of the kingdom, the Prophet said, “I believe it will be necessary for Father Young to receive his patriarchal blessing and be ordained a patriarch, so that heaven bless his family;” and after our little meeting was opened Brother Joseph Smith laid his hands upon Father Young and blessed him and gave him an ordination to bless his family—his own posterity. When this was done Father Young laid his hands upon the children that were there, commencing at the eldest and continuing until he had blessed all that were in the house. We were not all there, some of the brothers and sisters were absent. After that, Brother Joseph Smith said, “I think I will get my father’s family together and we will have a patriarchal blessing from Father Smith.” He did so. In a few days he called his father’s house together and gave him the authority to bless his children, and Father Smith blessed his children. In the course of a few weeks, I think, Brother [p.214]Joseph Smith received a revelation to ordain patriarchs, and he called his father’s family together again, and gave his father the full ordination of patriarch for the church; and in this revelation the Lord instructed him to have a record kept, in which should be written all the blessings of the patriarch of the church, and from these circumstances were ordained a few, but only a very few, patriarchs.
We have passed along now for many years with but few patriarchs in the church. At our last conference I felt very much impressed to introduce the subject of ordaining patriarchs. We talked the matter over, and we concluded we would set apart a number that were worthy—those of considerable age—and give them the blessing of a patriarch. Since that time we have ordained quite a number. We are ordaining some here, and this will be continued, probably, until there is a patriarch in all the branches of the church, especially in every large branch. This is a little history of the coming forth of this office in the midst of this people. Now I will tell you the reason why I mention it.
From the time that Joseph obtained a knowledge of the plates in the hill Cumorah he received little by little, a little at a time. “When he first obtained a knowledge of these plates, I apprehend that he knew nothing, in comparison, of their contents and the design of the Lord in bringing them forth. But he was instructed little by little until he received the Aaronic priesthood, then the privilege of baptism for the remission of sins, then the Melchizedek Priesthood, then organizing a church, &c., and this is the travel of this prophet Joseph first and we, following up, and we receive a little here and a little there, and so we increase, and if we live according to the revelations that are given to us we will continue to increase in understanding. The Lord never reveals all to a person at once. A man may have a vision and the heavens be opened to his mind so that he may see a great deal, but he will retain only a little.
Now I want to say a few words to the brethren and sisters, with regard to cities of Enoch, and to portray what might be enjoyed by a portion or all of this people if they were living in the capacity of a city of Enoch. To do this fully would be exceedingly difficult, but it can be seen in part by the vision of the spirit. I wish to bring this one particular thing before the minds of the people. We have a great deal to say with regard to property—the share that so entraps the affections of the Latter-day Saints. It is my humble opinion that if the time had come for us to commence and organize these branches in this place, and in the next settlement, and throughout the valleys of the mountains, I would rather undertake to control the purses of those who have means than to control the doings of the poor. For instance, I will relate a little circumstance. I think it was in 1850, we built a very nice house, in a very, nice location, in which to place some widows. We wanted to make them [p.215]happy and comfortable. When we had prepared the house and everything for their reception we could not get one of them to go into it. They must live where they chose to live; they must dictate where they would go, decide what house they should live in, and the very room or chamber which they would use, and we have had more difficulty with those whom we have fed and clothed than with those who are wealthy. I will relate a little circumstance that transpired in Independence, Jackson Co. A poor man with his wife and seven or eight children came up there. I do not think that the children had ever had a shoe to their feet or a second dress to wrap around them, and hardly a first one, and it was as much as ever the man could do to keep anything on his feet. His shoes were so bad that he had to “withe” them up. I do not suppose you ever saw such a thing as that; I do not expect you have in the mountains, but the Yankees have. When a shoe was about three-quarters worn out they would tie the tops to the bottoms with leather strings, and finally when they got so bad that they could not hold them on they would put a “withe” around so that they could wear them. I expect that if this man had any shoes, they had to be “withed” on his feet. Well, he came there and offered his services to the church. Said he, “I will give all my services to the church and ask nothing in return, if my family can be well clothed, well fed, and have a good house to live in.” He was informed that he had better go to work and do something for his family before he could do anything for the church. I believe that he and the church dissolved partnership. This, which I have been relating to you, is just about the spirit of the people. You take the poor man who has not a penny in the world, and do you think you are going to have the privilege of dictating his time? No sir, but we can dictate the purse without difficulty. We have rich men; some of them are wealthy. I would rather undertake to control the purse of a millionaire in this church than some men not worth a dime in the world, and who never will be unless somebody gives it to them. There is more need to labor and contend against the disposition and the will of the poor, miserable, ignorant, poverty-stricken brethren than those who are wealthy and have not a little learning and a little idea of a human being. This is my experience. Ask the brethren who are poor, What do you say? Become equal? “Yes,” say they, “we will hold up both hands for that.” What do they mean? They mean for those who have wealth to give it to them, and let them spend as much as and where they please, and as ill as they choose. But you take them, and if they want to go a fishing, “Yes, sir,” say they, “I guess my time is my own, and I guess I have a right to go a hunting, or a fishing. I have a right to go over to this place or that place, when I please, and I shall not ask any man when I may go or when I may come.” This is the disposition of the people, and the more ignorant they are, the more argument and reasoning, and the [p.216]longer it will take to bring them to an understanding of what is right and what is wrong.
As for the real advantages of living as a family, why those who contemplate can see at once, that, if we were in a family, governed and controlled by the priesthood, all this needless riding, running, hallooing, &c., would cease. Another thing, I will say to the young ladies especially, that if I should live to have the dictation of a stake of Zion that would live according to the Order of Enoch, this nonsensical reading would cease. This “yellow covered” literature would not come into the houses of the Saints. We should dispense with this, and cast it from us; if it were here, we would cast it out and sell it to the paper makers, and let them make it up into paper to use for a better purpose, to make our own books. In such a state of society we would have every person study that which would be useful. Here are our young women—now I am not going from home to get this experience. I hope that my children know as much about the Bible, Book of Mormon or the Doctrine and Covenants as they do about yellow covered books. But you ask many of our young people about these stories: “What a beautiful story there is in” such and such a paper! Or “what a beautiful story there” is in this paper or in that. They know all about it. The proprietors of these papers get men and women to write stories with no other foundation than the imaginations of their own hearts and brains, and our young women and boys read these lies until they get perfectly restless in their feelings, and they become desperate, and many of our girls—I am not accusing any one here, I think they pay attention to their business a little better, they have got cows to milk instead of novels to read—but in our part of the land many of our young women just hope and pray, if they ever thought of prayer, “I do wish some villain would come along and break open my room and steal me and carry me off; I want to be stolen, I want to be carried away, I want to be lost with the Indians, I want to be shipwrecked and to go through some terrible scene, so that I can experience what this beloved lady has experienced whom I have been reading about.” Oh, how affecting! and they read with the tears running down their cheeks, until their books become perfectly wet, and they do so wish that somebody or other would come and steal and carry them off. If I had the dictation of a society, all this would stop, you would have none of it. I would have every person learning something useful. We would come together for two hours after the labors of the day and we would read the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Voice of Warning, history, geography; perhaps we would get up a class for the study of law, for we have to meet the world as it is. We would study physic, anatomy, surgery; the history of our own nation and of other nations; we would have classes in which our German brethren might teach the young people, and the [p.217]old ones too, the German language, and when that was through with we would have the best of the instruction imparted in the English language or in other languages, or in something that would be profitable and useful to pupils in their future life. We would teach them good manners, how human beings, should conduct themselves in their social intercourse. I do not profess to understand pure, true etiquette as it should be displayed among an intelligent people, like the Americans, but I can tell you what I meet. I have a great many visitors at my office. Occasionally a gentleman comes, and occasionally a lady. But on the countenance of many of those I see, some of them professing to be the elite of the nation, ignorance and impudence are unmistakably portrayed. Occasionally a man comes along who is connected with a railroad, newspaper, book, or some public business, and he is full of boasting and vanity. “I have been a judge,” “I have been a sheriff,” “I have been a constable or magistrate,” or “I have you to pass me over our railroad.” What should such persons be called? Shall we use the vulgar phrase, and say they are public bummers, ignorant of the first rules of etiquette. Perhaps they think the ignorance is me; and if they do it is very well. I frequently meet people of this class. “Why bless your heart, I guess I am ready for anything. I have got money.” Yes it is money, money, and some people think that makes a gentleman or a lady, and that money is all the accomplishments they need. I wish they understood true etiquette—the true principles of manhood.
I beg your pardon, I have now occupied twice the time allotted me. I want to say a little more with regard to the Order of Zion, but I will stop.