How do you think we went to work when we were building the temple in Kirtland? I could enter into the particulars, but let it suffice for me to say that the Lord gave a revelation, calling upon all the strength of his house to go up to Missouri to redeem Zion and reinstate our brethren upon their own lands. To use a plain expression, we raked the United States from one end to the other wherever there was a man that belonged to the Church, and we gathered up all the strength of the Lord’s house, and every one of us went, except perhaps a dozen old gentlemen who were not able to travel, and there were a few went up that were over sixty, and I do not know but a few that were over seventy. [President B. Young: I think there was one or two of the brethren seventy years of age.] While we were absent on that mission, the sisters went to work and made stockings, pantaloons and jackets, and when we came back they put in those various articles of clothing for the benefit of the men that went to work on the temple, and this was a universal thing with the sisters. Now, what have you done that you should be released from care and from putting forth your dollars, your pairs of socks, your shirts, or any other kinds of wearing apparel or bedding that are required for those men who are called to work upon the temple? Are you excused from these things, ladies and gentlemen? No, you are not; we went forth and did our duty, both male and female, and the same is required of you.
We went and performed that journey, travelled two thousand miles in a little over three months. We walked forty miles per day when we were not hindered, we walked the entire journey there and back. Such as were designated by the Lord were permitted to return home to their families, but the single men were told by the Prophet to go and preach the gospel in the country round about. When we arrived in Kirtland, Joseph said, “Come, brethren, let us go into the stone- quarry and work for the Lord.” And the Prophet went himself, in his tow frock and tow breeches, and worked at quarrying stone like the rest of us. Then, every Saturday we brought out every team to draw stone to the temple, and so we continued until that house was finished; and our wives were all the time knitting, spinning and sewing, and, in fact, I may say doing all kinds of work; they were just as busy as any of us, and I say that those women have borne the heat and burden of those early and trying days and God will bless them for evermore.
To refer again to what I know, what I have seen and experienced in my travels and my associations with the Prophet of the living God, I will remark that you have here with you a few of us that have travelled with him from the beginning, and we know his trials and sufferings, and we know that the greatest torment he had and the greatest mental suffering was because this people would not live up to their privileges. There were many things he desired to reveal that we have not learned yet, but he could not do it. He said sometimes that he felt pressed upon and as though he were pent up in an acorn shell, and all because the people did not and would not prepare themselves to receive the rich treasures of wisdom and knowledge that he had to impart. He could have revealed a great many things to us if we had been ready; but he said there were many things that we could not receive because we lacked that diligence and faithfulness that were necessary to entitle us to those choice things of the kingdom. He revealed the doctrine of celestial marriage, and the abuse of this holy principle caused many to stumble and fall away from the Church of the living God, but that was their own fault and they have nobody else to blame.
When we came to Kirtland the Lord gave us further commandments, and He revealed a great many things through His servant Joseph. Among others, He gave one that the Latter- day Saints in Kirtland, Ohio, should go to with their might and build a house to His name, wherein He promised to bestow great and choice blessings upon His people. He revealed the pattern according to which that house [Kirtland Temple] should be built, pointing out the various courts and apartments, telling the size of the house, the order of the pulpits, and in fact everything pertaining to it was clearly pointed out by revelation. God gave a vision of these things, not only to Joseph, but to several others, and they were strictly commanded to build according to the pattern revealed from the heavens.
Now, then, no other people was ever commanded to do that work in Kirtland, Ohio, but the people then living there, called Latter-day Saints. It was not a work required of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Solomon, nor of any other man that ever existed on the earth, nor of any people but those to whom it was given, then living in the state of Ohio. Supposing they had said, “We will not build the house; we can meet in a common meetinghouse, after the order of the Gentiles, and we will take their forms of building, it does not matter, we do not think it necessary to be at all this expense, and we can hire a house.” Would that have been sufficient? No, the only way we could witness to one another and before the Lord of hosts that we loved Him with all our hearts was to go to and build a house just according to the pattern.
Well, when we did build it, did the Lord accept it, according to promise? He did, and He revealed great and important things in that house through His servant, Joseph the Prophet; and not only did Joseph have the privilege of seeing and understanding the mind and will of the Lord, but after the house [Kirtland Temple] was built many others had this great privilege given to them. For instance, the Lord had promised to reveal Himself unto many of His people and His Priesthood in that house. He did so. [D&C 110] Among other great revelations and visions given there, was the revelation, which you will find recorded in our Church history, of Elijah, the Prophet, of him who was translated to heaven in a chariot of fire. That same personage came and stood in that temple and manifested certain keys, gave these keys to the servant of the Lord, the Prophet Joseph, and said unto him that that was the fulfillment of that which was spoken by the Prophet Malachi. What has Malachi said? He has told us of the great day of the Lord that should come, when it should burn as an oven, and when all the proud and they that do wickedly shall become as stubble and shall be burned up, leaving them neither root nor branch.
He has told us that before that great and terrible day the Lord would send Elijah the Prophet. Or, to quote the words of scripture, “Behold I will send you Elijah the Prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord shall come.” What great object had the Lord in view in sending His ancient prophet as a ministering angel to His people on the earth? It is expressed in one sentence–“He shall turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children and the hearts of the children unto the fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” In other words, there will be no flesh prepared to escape the day so appointed–no flesh but what will become as stubble, no flesh will be able to abide the presence of the Lord until Elijah comes. He did come in that Kirtland Temple; he appeared in his glorious majesty, and there revealed the keys unto the servants of the Lord which should restore this union between the fathers and the children–something that we did not understand anything about, until the angel Elijah revealed it unto us. This was a great work to be accomplished in the latter days, in order that the fathers, from the days of the ancient priesthood, or those who were in the spirit world–millions and millions of them, might be redeemed through the ordinance of baptism for the dead, turning the minds and thoughts and affections of the children, living on the earth, to search after their ancient fathers and to be baptized for them according to that which is contained in the New Testament about baptism for the dead.
Moreover it turned the hearts of those ancient fathers to their children, for they looked to us, their children, to accomplish a work that is needful to be accomplished in their behalf, for God’s house is a house of order; God’s kingdom is a kingdom of order; and His ordinances were instituted from before the foundation of the world, and they are adapted to the condition of the living and the dead; and God revealed these things that our fathers, in all past generations, might rejoice with their children in the latter days, by being united in the same bonds, in the same new and everlasting covenants. They died without the gospel, without understanding the plan of salvation. They were brought up in the midst of the sectarian world, where all was confusion and darkness; where no voice of God was heard; no voice of living prophets or Apostles to direct them, or to teach them in the mysteries of the kingdom of God. They went down to their graves as sincere, many of them, as you and I are. Must they be forever cast off? Must they always remain in prison and be forever deprived of the society of their children that should live on the earth in the latter days, when God should again open the heavens and send His angels to minister to His people? No; they without us cannot be made perfect; for there is no way for them to receive the gospel only through their children. We have the work to do for them, and that work we could not commence until Elijah the Prophet was sent from heaven, holding the keys that were to be committed to the children in behalf of the fathers, in the last dispensation, before the great day of the Lord should come.
Then you see that even this one revelation, which God gave in that [Kirtland] temple, paid the people for the toil they had endured in erecting it. What a satisfaction it was to them to know that angels administered in that temple! What a satisfaction it was for them to go into that temple and have the heavens opened to them so that they could gaze on the glory of God! What a satisfaction it was for them to know that the Lord accepted, as His own, the house which they had built according to the pattern which He had given! And what a satisfaction it was for them to know that they loved God by keeping His commandments!
Elijah was not the only angel that administered in that house [Kirtland Temple]. Others holding keys pertaining to the last dispensation of the fullness of times came forth and manifested those keys and bestowed the authority upon the servants of God living in the flesh to carry out certain great and important purposes pertaining to this dispensation. These keys are still on the earth. Here are the servants of the living God, sitting on my right hand and on my left, who have had these keys committed into their hands by authority from the proper source, from those who received them from the heavenly messengers. These keys, being now in the hands of the priesthood, never will be taken from them while the earth shall stand or eternal duration shall roll on. There may be apostates, those who fight against the anointed of the Lord and lift up their heel against those holding these keys; yet be it known to the Latter-day Saints and to all the ends of the earth that the almighty hand of the Great Jehovah is stretched out and He will accomplish the purposes ordained by Him in regard to this great and important work of the latter-days.
When the Lord commanded this people to build a house [Kirtland Temple] in the land of Kirtland, in the early rise of this church, he gave them the pattern by vision from heaven, and commanded them to build that house according to that pattern and order; to have the architecture, not in accordance with architecture devised by men, but to have everything constructed in that house according to the heavenly pattern that he by his voice had inspired to his servants. When this was complied with did the Lord accept that house? Yes! They having complied with the order and built the house according to the pattern, the Lord condescended to grace that house with his presence. In that house the veil was taken away from the eyes of many of the servants of God and they beheld his glory. In that house the Lord Jesus Christ was seen by some of the elders of the Church in heavenly vision standing upon the threshold of the pulpit, proclaiming himself to be Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the Great I Am, and etc. And he gave keys of instruction and counsel and authority to his servants, declaring unto them that he accepted that house at their hands, and inasmuch as they had been faithful in the performance of their duty in building a temple to his name, he blessed them therein. He also proclaimed unto them that from that house his servants should go forth armed with the power of his priesthood, and proclaim the gospel among the various nations, and that many people should come from the uttermost parts of the earth and praise the name of the Lord in Zion, and in the midst of his house. Thus did the Lord, when we fulfilled on our part, fulfil his promises on his part. So, in the latter-days, when the Lord our God shall permit us to build that house of which he has spoken in the paragraph just quoted from the book of Doctrine and Covenants, it shall come to pass in that day that all who are pure in heart that enter into that house shall see God. Thus we perceive that the Lord chooses to have a house built unto his holy name, wherein he shall manifest his glory and power.
I look back to the first [Kirtland] temple that was built in this generation by command of the Most High, some forty years ago, in the state of Ohio, in Kirtland, according to the pattern which God showed by vision. When that was completed, and the servants of God were called in from the east and west, and north, and south, and entered that sacred edifice, God was there, his angels were there, the Holy Ghost was in the midst of the people, the visions of the Almighty were opened to the minds of the servants of the living God; the veil was taken off from the minds of many; they saw the heavens opened; they beheld the angels of God; they heard the voice of the Lord; and they were filled from the crown of their heads to the soles of their feet with the power and inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and uttered forth prophecies in the midst of that congregation, which have been fulfilling from that day to the present time.
It was in that [Kirtland] temple that the visions of the Almighty were opened to our great Prophet, Seer and Revelator, Joseph Smith, wherein the future was portrayed before him, wherein keys were committed to him in relation to this great Latter-day dispensation, and the power of God was made manifest through the holy priesthood sent down from heaven. In that temple, set apart by the servants of God, and dedicated by a prayer that was written by inspiration, the people were blessed as they never had been blessed for generations and generations that were passed and gone. Why? Because that work was of God. God had raised up a mighty Prophet; God had brought to light great and glorious revelations; God had sent down the holy priesthood from the heavens; the Lord our God had established his kingdom on the earth; he, therefore, gave unto his servants power, wisdom and strength that they might administer among the people and do them good.
We went to the Ohio; and after we had been sufficiently taught and instructed, the Lord commanded us through Joseph, to build a [Kirtland] temple, giving the pattern thereof, and the size thereof, the size of the inner and outer courts, the size of the several rooms and apartments, and the form of the pulpits and everything pertaining to it, was given by the inspiration of the Almighty that rested upon Joseph, and upon those associated with him.
When the temple was built, the Lord did not see proper to reveal all the ordinances of the endowments, such as we now understand. He revealed little by little. No rooms were prepared for washings; no special place prepared for the anointings, such as you understand, and such as you comprehend at the period of the history of the Church! Neither did we know the necessity of the washings, such as we now receive. It is true, our hands were washed, our faces and our feet. The Prophet Joseph was commanded to gird himself with a towel, doing this in the temple. What for? That the first elder might witness to our Father and God, that we were clean from the blood of that wicked generation, that then lived. We had gone forth according to our best ability, to publish glad tidings of great joy, for thousands of miles, upon this continent. After this we were called in, and this washing of hands and feet was to testify to God that we were clean from the blood of this generation. The holy anointing was placed upon the heads of his servants, but not the full development of the endowments in the anointing. These administrations in the Kirtland Temple were revealed, little by little, corresponding with what I have already been saying, that the Lord does not give the fullness at once, but imparts to us according to his own will and pleasure. Great were the blessings received. We were commanded to seek to behold the face of the Lord; to seek after revelation; to seek after the spirit of prophecy, and the gifts of the Spirit; and many testify to what they saw. But yet they were inexperienced; they had not proven themselves in their religion long enough. They obtained blessings greater than some of them were prepared to receive. They perhaps might have been faithful if they had exercised the agency which God gave them. But how easily are mankind toppled first this way, then that way, and are led astray, even after the heavens were opened and chariots and horses of fire, as well as angels were seen: still many of those brethren apostatized.
In another revelation given in an early period of the history of the Church, the Lord commanded his people to build unto him a house [Kirtland Temple], promising that if they built a house unto his name, according to the commandment and pattern which should be given, and providing they suffered no unclean thing to enter it, so that it should not be defiled, the Lord himself would appear in it; his presence would be there; his glory would be there; and all that should go into that house, who were pure in heart, should see him. Here then you perceive that there are certain places appointed, and certain provisions to be complied with, before the face of the Lord can be seen. He has said that his people are always to build unto his name a house. What for? That his name might be there; that his angels might be there; that his presence might be there; and that there the fullness of the holy priesthood might be more fully revealed; and that there all the ordinances might be performed, that were ordained from before the foundation of the world. This is the object of temples. It is to connect the children to the fathers; it is to bring about an organization between the living and the dead. It is seen that when the seventh angel shall sound his trumpet, preparatory to the coming of the Son of Man, when the Saints shall receive their inheritances and be made equal with him, they, the dead, as well as the living, receive their inheritances; that will be a perfect organization. When Adam, and Enoch, and his Zion, and all the righteous men before the flood, and all the holy patriarchs and prophets of the eastern and western continents, men who lived on the earth as strangers and pilgrims, but who through the eye of faith were permitted to behold, that in the dispensation of the fullness of times, all things would be gathered in one that were in Christ, even all things which are in heaven and which are on the earth; I say that when all these receive their inheritances, this will be an organization that takes hold of eternity, that takes hold of the children of God in all ages, that unites all dispensations in one, that brings all the kingdoms, and authorities, and powers, of all other dispensations, and unites them in one; and upon whom knowledge like a flood will be poured out even upon the vast congregations of the Church of the First Born, the living and the dead, for the dead will then be living.
Ought not these things, Latter-day Saints, to stimulate every individual to be diligent in the work given him to do, lest he fall out by the way; lest his crown be taken from him and placed upon the head of another; lest the talent he may have hidden in the earth be taken from him and be given to him that hath more abundantly? How diligent we should be! How faithful in the performance of our several callings, and how willing to hearken to the counsels and instructions of those placed over us? By and by we will have temples, with a great many things contained in them which we now have not; for with them, as with all other things, the Lord begins little by little; he does not reveal everything all at once. He gave the pattern of these things in Kirtland, Ohio, as the beginning; but there were not rooms for the washings, no rooms such as we have now, and such as were prepared in the Nauvoo Temple; and in other respects, there was something added to the Nauvoo Temple. Why? Because we had greater experience, and were prepared for greater things. There was no font in the basement story of the Kirtland Temple, for baptismal purposes in behalf of the dead. Why not? Because that principle was not revealed. But in the Nauvoo Temple this font was prepared, which was something in advance of the Kirtland Temple. We have, of late, constructed a temple at St. George. Blessings have been administered in that temple, that were totally unknown in the two former temples, namely, endowments for the dead.
The Lord brought to light sacred records from the catacombs of Egypt. After several hundred men had wrought and toiled for many months in digging down one of these vast structures, they entered into its interior; they found a great number of mummies–the bodies of persons that had been preserved since the catacomb was built, and some eleven of these mummies, well preserved, were taken out by these men, and they finally fell into the hands of a person named M. [Michael] H. Chandler. They were sent from Egypt to Ireland, where it was supposed he resided, but learning that he resided in America, they were sent to him. After receiving the mummies he began to take off some of the ancient covering or wrapping, and to his astonishment he found upon the breast of one of these mummies a record written upon ancient papyrus in plain characters, written both in black and red inks, or stains, or colors. And the mummies and the records were exhibited by Mr. Chandler, in New York, Philadelphia, and many of the Eastern States of our Union; and thousands of people saw them, and among them many learned men; and these characters were presented to them, and not unfrequently was Mr. Chandler referred to “Joe” [Joseph] Smith as they used to term him, who, they said, pretended to have translated some records that he found in the western part of New York, and that if Mr. Chandler would go and see him perhaps he would translate those ancient characters.
Many of these references were made with the intention of ridiculing Mr. Smith; but it so happened that in traveling through the country, he visited Kirtland, Ohio, where the Prophet Joseph Smith resided, bringing the mummies and the ancient papyrus writings with him. Mr. C. [Chandler] had also obtained from learned men the best translation he could of some few characters, which however, was not a translation, but more in the shape of their ideas with regard to it, their acquaintance with the language not being sufficient to enable them to translate it literally. After some conversation with the Prophet Joseph, Mr. Chandler presented to him the ancient characters, asking him if he could translate them. The Prophet took them and repaired to his room and inquired of the Lord concerning them. The Lord told him they were sacred records, containing the inspired writings of Abraham when he was in Egypt, and also those of Joseph, while he was in Egypt; and they had been deposited, with these mummies, which had been exhumed. And he also enquired of the Lord concerning some few characters which Mr. Chandler, gave him by way of a test, to see if he could translate them. The Prophet Joseph translated these characters and returned them, with the translation to Mr. Chandler; and who, in comparing it with the translation of the same few characters by learned men, that he had before obtained, found the two to agree.
The Prophet Joseph having learned the value of these ancient writings was very anxious to obtain them, and expressed himself wishful to purchase them. But Mr. Chandler told him that he would not sell the writings, unless he could sell the mummies, for it would detract from the curiosity of his exhibition; Mr. Smith inquired of him the price which was a considerable sum, and finally purchased the mummies and the writing, all of which he retained in his possession for many years; and they were seen by all the church that saw proper to visit the house of the Prophet Joseph and also by hundreds of strangers.
The Prophet translated the part of these writings which, as I have said is contained in the Pearl of Great Price, and known as the Book of Abraham.
In Kirtland, Ohio, we had many things revealed through the Prophet Joseph; we had the First Presidency over the high council, and another in Missouri. Joseph Smith and his counsel presided over that in Kirtland; hence some things at times took place that were peculiar to some people; when they were at a loss to find out anything pertaining to the principles and doctrines, the Presidency inquired of the Lord, and would get the desired information.
After these things had been introduced, the people in Kirtland, Ohio, by the command of God, through Joseph Smith, the Prophet, some 49 years ago, (without being particular as to dates) commenced to build a house unto the Lord wherein certain preliminary ordinances were introduced, and that house was built under very trying circumstances to the Saints, but they accomplished it. Most of the Saints then devoted all the time they could possibly spare for the accomplishment of that object; it was not in little donations, but they had to exert their undivided energies and means to its accomplishment. When they had finished it, it was dedicated to the Lord, God accepted their sacrifice, and Jesus appeared in that temple, of which appearance you will find a description in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants [D&C 110].
Before this they had had the Aaronic and the Melchizedek Priesthoods presented to them, and Moroni, and other personages had appeared unto Joseph Smith. When this temple was erected for preparatory ordinances,–for it was not like the temples we now have, nor like the temple that was in Nauvoo, the Lord appeared, and then Moses appeared. They had already the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood, and of the Melchizedek; and as Moses had held the keys and authority of the gathering of the children of Israel, from the land of Egypt, in a former dispensation, so he was now sent to confer these said keys upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. It is said, that after this vision closed–that is the vision of the Savior manifested to Joseph and Oliver in the Kirtland Temple–that:
“The heavens were again opened unto us, and Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.”
Here then were the keys committed associated with the gathering. Why is it that you are here today? and what brought you here? Because the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four quarters of the earth have been committed to Joseph Smith, and he has conferred those keys upon others that the gathering of Israel may be accomplished, and in due time the same thing will be performed to the tribes in the land of the north.
But as I stated before, the Father said, “This is my beloved Son, hear Him.” He manipulates the priesthood in the heavens and on the earth. He manages the affairs associated with the redemption of the human family. “Hear Him;” and when He was prepared to send forth these messengers, as we send forth messengers to accomplish certain purposes–when He saw that the time had come, He said, “Go Moses, and attend to this matter. They have built a temple; from now they will begin to gather the Saints, and it is necessary that they should have proper instructions and information relating to these matters.” And Moses came.
Now, that was one thing. Then we read that:
“After this Elias appeared, and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying, that in us, and our seed, all generations after us should be blessed.”
That was the promise made to Abraham some 3,500 years ago. It was not a promise made to Abraham alone, but through him to others. He and his seed were to be the instrumentality, the media through which mankind should be blessed; they were to be the special instruments in the hands of God for the accomplishment of these purposes. Hence the priesthood began to be organized–the bishopric and all pertaining to the Aaronic Priesthood including priests, teachers and deacons; and associated with the Melchizedek Priesthood, the First Presidency, the Twelve, the High Council, High Priests, Seventies and Elders, and all those occupying their own particular place; and hence in that small temple, as we should now call it, that was erected in Kirtland, they had the same organization of the priesthood, and the same arrangements of the stands for the seating of the priesthood as we have here. Why? Because the priesthood had been introduced after the order of Aaron, and after the order of Melchizedek, which is after the order of the Son of God, and after the power of an endless life, and that officiates and operates in time and in eternity, and by which priesthood and through which authority the worlds were framed by the power of God. Things as they existed in the heavens again began to be introduced upon the earth. Hence, that His servants might be properly instructed and comprehend correctly the great principles which He designed to unfold to the human family, He sent those several messengers holding those various keys that they might unlock the doors and place His servants in communication with the heavenly priesthood in the eternal worlds.
Then we are told that another personage appeared, as stated:
“After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us, for Elijah, the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us and said–
“Behold the time has fully come which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi, testifying that he (Elijah) should be sent before the great and dreadful day of the Lord came.
“To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest, the whole earth be smitten with a curse.
“Therefore the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands, and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors.”
What means this? What means this temple that you have built here on the hill? Why have you built it? Why have you expressed such anxiety in the erection of that [Kirtland] temple? Why have such crowds of our brethren and sisters from distant places come here to the dedication of this temple? Why is it? It is because those keys were turned of which I have just read in your hearing.
“Behold the time has fully come . . . to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse.
“Therefore the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands, and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors.”
What does this mean? It means that there was a great and comprehensive plan designed by the Almighty in his economy connected with the salvation of the human family who are His children; for He is the God and the Father of the spirits of all flesh. It means that He is interested in their welfare, in their prosperity, in their happiness, and in all that pertains to their exaltation in time and throughout the eternities that are to come. Being thus interested, and so little of the gospel having been revealed in the different ages, and so much of the power of darkness and iniquity having prevailed among men, it was necessary that something should be dome for the dead as well as the living. God is interested in the dead as well as the living. Adam, who is the Ancient of Days and the father of the human family; Seth, Enos, Enoch, Mahalaleel, Methuselah, Noah, and all the prominent leading men of God, as well as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, the Prophets, Jesus and His Apostles, together with the Prophets and Apostles who lived on this continent, and who stood at the various times or epochs as the representatives of the nations, and as thousands of these peoples have passed away having held and now holding the priesthood; all these ancient fathers feel interested in this great work, and their hearts are turned toward the children, being interested in their welfare, happiness and exaltation; and their children who now have received the gospel have their hearts, through this instrumentality, and the keys and principles which were introduced by Elijah, turned towards the fathers through the inspiration of the same gospel, which gospel as spoken of in the scriptures, is an everlasting gospel, being associated with the everlasting covenant, which principle wherever it has existed, brought life and immortality to light.
In the building of the temple at Kirtland, the law of tithing was not known, but every man went to work on that house after the manner of bees returning to their hive, and each bringing in the necessary material to enable them to carry on the work.
When the first bishop, Edward Partridge, was appointed to the high position of Bishop of the Church in Zion, his duty, as given by revelation, was not to deal with tithing. Indeed tithing was not even mentioned in the whole revelation, but he was required to receive the consecrations of the Saints, and to set off to them their inheritances. No revelation had yet been given upon the subject of tithing. When the Saints had gone up from Kirtland to Jackson County in Missouri, and had been driven to Clay County, and from Clay to Caldwell County, and when Brothers Joseph and Hyrum [Smith], David [Whitmer] and Oliver [Cowdery], and the leading authorities of the priesthood at that time were congregated in Far West, the then gathering place of Israel, and where a [Kirtland] temple was appointed to be built, it was on the 8th of July, 1838, that the Lord gave for the first time to this people, through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the law on the subject of tithing, and we should understand this in order to approach the subject in a correct and proper manner.
Up to this time you will recollect that the Saints had gone to Missouri to receive inheritances according to the order of stewardships, consecrating all they had to the Bishop in Zion; and in turn he delivered to every man his stewardship and gave to him a written deed and covenant, in the name of the Lord, and in the authority of his holy ministerial calling which could not be broken; and as you well know who are familiar with the history, the Saints were during the following winter of 1838-9, driven out from Missouri altogether.
Before going further I want to stop and consider the question asked by some, what He means where the Lord requires the surplus property of His people as the beginning of their tithing. Let us consider for a moment this word “surplus.” What does it mean when applied to a man and his property? Surplus cannot mean that which is indispensably necessary for any given purpose, but what remains after supplying what is needed for that purpose. Is not the first and most necessary use of a man’s property that he feed, clothe and provide a home for himself and family? This appears to be the great leading objects for which we labor to acquire means, and as, until the time that this revelation was given, all public works and raising of all public funds had been by consecration, was not “surplus property,” that which was over and above a comfortable and necessary subsistence? In the light of what had transpired and of subsequent events, what else could it mean? Can we take any other view of it when we consider the circumstances under which it was given in Far West in July, 1838?
I have been unable in studying this subject to find any other definition of the term surplus, as used in this revelation, than the one I have just given. I find that it was so understood and recorded by the bishops and people in those days, as well as by the Prophet Joseph himself, who was unquestionably the ablest and best exponent of this revelation.
For this purpose, in 1833, the Saints commenced to build a temple in Kirtland, the cost of which was not less than one hundred thousand dollars. A mere handful of Saints commenced that work, but they were full of faith and energy, and willing, as they supposed, to sacrifice everything for the building up of Zion. In a few weeks some of them apostatized; the trials were too great, the troubles were too severe. I know persons who apostatized because they supposed they had reasons; for instance, a certain family, after having travelled a long journey, arrived in Kirtland, and the Prophet asked them to stop with him until they could find a place. Sister Emma, in the meantime, asked the old lady if she would have a cup of tea to refresh her after the fatigues of the journey, or a cup of coffee. This whole family apostatized because they were invited to take a cup of tea or coffee, after the Word of Wisdom was given.
Another family, about the same time, apostatized because Joseph Smith came down out of the translating room, where he had been translating by the gift and power of God, and commenced playing with his little children. Some such trials as these, you know, had to be encountered.
I recollect a gentleman who came from Canada, and who had been a Methodist, and had always been in the habit of praying to a God who had no ears, and as a matter of course had to shout and halloo pretty loud to make him hear. Father Johnson asked him to pray in their family worship in the evening, and he got on such a high key, and hallooed so loud that he alarmed the whole village. Among others, Joseph came running out, saying, “What is the matter? I though by the noise that the heavens and the earth were coming together,” and said to the man, “that he ought not to give way to such an enthusiastic spirit, and bray so much like a jackass.” Because Joseph said that, the poor man put back to Canada, and apostatized; he thought he would not pray to a God who did not want to be screamed at with all one’s might.
We progressed in this way while we were building the Kirtland Temple. The Saints had a great many traditions which they had borrowed from their fathers, and laid the foundations, and built that temple with great toil and suffering, compared with what we have now to endure. They got that building so far finished as to be dedicated; this was what the Lord wanted, He wished them to provide a place wherein He could reveal to the children of men those principles that will exalt them to eternal glory, and make them Saviors on mount Zion. Four hundred and sixteen elders, priests, teachers, and deacons met in the Kirtland Temple on the evening of its dedication. I can see faces here that were in that assembly. The Lord poured His Spirit upon us, and gave us some little idea of the law of anointing, and conferred upon us some blessings. He taught us how to shout hosannah, gave Joseph the keys of the gathering together of Israel, and revealed to us, what? Why the fact of it was, He dare not yet trust us with the first key of the priesthood. He told us to wash ourselves, and that almost made the women mad, and they said, as they were not admitted into the temple while this washing was being performed, that some mischief was going on, and some of them were right huffy about it.
We were instructed to wash each other’s feet, as an evidence that we had borne testimony of the truth of the gospel to the world. We were taught to anoint each other’s head with oil in the name of the Lord, as an ordinance of anointing. All these things were to be done in their time, place, and season. All this was plain and simple, yet some apostatized because there was not more of it, and others because there was too much.
On the evening after the dedication of the temple, hundreds of the brethren received the ministering of angels, saw the light and personages of angels, and bore testimony of it. They spake in new tongues, and had a greater manifestation of the power of God than that described by Luke on the day of Pentecost. Yet a great portion of the persons who saw these manifestations, in a few years, and some of them in a few weeks, apostatized. If the Lord had on that occasion revealed one single sentiment more, or went one step further to reveal more fully the law of redemption, I believe He would have upset the whole of us. The fact was, He dare not, on that very account, reveal to us a single principle further than He had done, for He had tried, over and over again, to do it. He tried at Jerusalem; He tried away back before the flood; He tried in the days of Moses; and He had tried, from time to time, to find a people to whom He could reveal the law of salvation, and He never could fully accomplish it; and He was determined this time to be so careful, and advance the idea so slowly, to communicate them to the children of men with such great caution that, at all hazards, a few of them might be able to understand and obey. For, says the Lord, my ways are not as your ways, nor my thoughts as your thoughts; for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Mankind is capable of a great many extravagances; we very well remember the time when a very zealous man named Hawley, arraigned Joseph Smith before bishop’s counsel in Kirtland, and charged him with having forfeited his office as a Prophet of God, because he had not prohibited the aged sisters from wearing caps. I attended the council, which was held very late, and the man there advocated that he was cut off from the Church, for God had cut him off from the Church, as well as from his Apostleship, because he had suffered the men to wear little cushions on the shoulders of their coat sleeves. It being then fashionable to wear a little cotton on the shoulders, and in consequence of some of the brethren wearing such coats, the Prophet of God was cut off from the Church by this man, and persecuted as an imposter, and another was placed in his stead.
That man was possessed of such wisdom as man could reasonably manifest, yet he was so perfectly full of folly and of his own traditions and notions he had fancied over in his own head, that seemingly it was impossible for him to understand anything better; he was blinded, and lifted his hand against the Prophet of God. Instances of this kind have been continually accumulating, and it is one of the most perfect illustrations of the sayings of the Prophet, that He would sift His people as with a sieve. It has been a constant sifting from the time we entered the Church up to the present; some would compel it, while in others none of the old prejudices have predominated; and so it has continued until twenty-five years have passed away, and until a great number of persons have risen up who have not the prejudices of their fathers to contend with, and if they will humble themselves with all their might, knowledge, and intelligence, power will grow in them, and they will approximate nearer to the things of God, to get more light, more knowledge, more intelligence, more faith, and more power to spread forth the work of God, and to roll forth the kingdom their fathers have been able to obtain.
In 1833 I moved to Kirtland with my father, and went to work on the [Kirtland] temple, doing whatever I was able to do.
I will here digress from the subject of my experience, and remark that I have asked a great many if they could tell who those twenty-four elders were who laid the foundation of that [Kirtland] temple; but I have never yet got the information: and if there are any who can give it, they are smarter than me, and I was there and looked on. If there are any of the brethren who have this information, they should hand it in to the Historian’s Office, where it can be preserved in the archives of the Church.
It is proper here to say that I went to work at the first principles, and that you know is necessary for everyone to do. I went to work at quarrying rock, then hauling rock, tending mason, and performing such other work as I was considered capable of doing in my bungling way.
We were a pious people in those days; but, notwithstanding our piety, our neighbors soon talked of mobbing us. They had already tarred and feathered the Prophet Joseph [Smith] and Sidney Rigdon, and they threatened us with mobbing and expulsion. As I remarked, we were then very pious, and we prayed the Lord to kill the mob.
With my brethren who have addressed you, I have lain by the side of the Prophet, in Kirtland, to guard him half of each night for a whole winter, so that, if anything occurred, I could give notice to all the brethren in a very short time.
I think the first church attempted to be established in opposition to “Mormonism” was that established by Wycam Clark, in Kirtland. He was baptized about the same time as Sidney Rigdon, and, in company with Northrop Sweet and four others, seceded from this Church, and said they could carry the whole world with them by preaching “Mormon” principles. They had two or three meetings; but the society would never have been known in the world, had not a few of us remembered the circumstance and told of it.
Another species of apostasy took place in the neighborhood of the forge in Kirtland. A man named Hoten seceded from the Church, renounced the Book of Mormon and the Prophet, and established himself under the name of the Independent Church. A man named Montague was appointed bishop. This church got to number about ten members. They pretended, under the order of the New Testament, to have all things common. In a few weeks the bishop, who had charge of the temporal things, made a charge on the president for visiting his pork barrel, and the president charged the bishop with visiting his wife, and that broke up the society.
I shall not undertake to detail all of this species of character that have arisen; but there was another by the name of Hawley. He was attacked by a spirit of revelation, somewhere in the state of New York, while he was plowing; and it took him in such a hurry that he had not time to put on his boots, but travelled barefoot to Kirtland, some six hundred miles distant, to warn Joseph that he was a fallen prophet; that God had cut Joseph [Smith] off, and placed in his stead a man by the name of Noah; and the reason Joseph was cut off was, he had suffered the men to wear cushions on their coat sleeves, and the women to wear caps. He went through the streets of Kirtland with a dismal howl, crying, “Woe, woe to the people.” On one occasion, about midnight, Brigham Young went out, and took with him a cowhide, and said to Hawley, “If you don’t quit annoying the people with your noise, I will cowhide you;” upon which he concluded he had suffered persecution enough for his master’s sake, and shut up his noise.
I believe, if you will take the whole circle of the history of apostates from this church, that in ninety-nine cases out of every hundred you will find that the spirit of adultery or covetousness was the original cause.
After the organization of the Twelve Apostles, and the so far finishing of the Kirtland Temple as to hold a solemn assembly and confer the Kirtland endowment therein, the spirit of apostasy became more general, and the shock that was given to the Church became more severe than on any previous occasion.
The Church had increased in numbers, and the elders had extended their labors accordingly; but the apostasy commenced in high places. One of the First Presidency, several of the Twelve Apostles, High Council, Presidents of Seventies, the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, Presidents of Far West, and a number of others standing high in the Church were all carried away in this apostasy; and they thought there was enough of them to establish a pure religion that would become universal.
This attempted organization was under the direction of Warren Parrish, who had been a travelling elder in the Church, and who sustained a high reputation in the southern states as an eloquent preacher, and had for a short time been employed by Joseph [Smith] as a clerk. He undertook to organize those elements into a church, and I was told by them that all the talented men among the elders were ready to join them.
They named, for instance, Lyman Johnson, John F. Boyington, William E. McLellin, Hazen Aldrich, Sylvester Smith, Joseph Coe, Orson Johnson, W. A. Cowdery, M. F. Cowdery, and others, amounting to something like thirty, who had been prominent elders in the Church.
They were going to renounce the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, and take the “Mormon” doctrines to overthrow all the religions in the world, and unite all the Christian churches in one general band, and they to be its great leaders.
What success did this great apostasy meet with? Brother Kimball, when on a mission in 1844, (this apostasy took place in 1837-8,) while crossing Fox River on the ferry, encountered Warren Parrish. He was a grave-looking man–a straight-jacketed fellow, dressed in black, with a white handkerchief around his neck. Says he, “Elder Kimball, will you have the goodness not to say to the people here that I ever was a Mormon. I am a Baptist minister. I am preaching at that meetinghouse for a salary of $500 a year. If they find out I have been a Mormon, it would hurt my influence very much indeed.”
Where was the big church he had tried to build up? He had tried pleading law; that failed, peddling bogus money, and that failed, like his big church speculation. And where was the origin of this?
I recollect waking up late one evening when I was quite a young man, and hearing my father and one of the brethren talk. Being a little disposed to listen, I learned that there had been considerable of a difficulty between Parrish and one of the brethren. This was when he was in good standing in the Church. He had been too kind with the brother’s wife. Then I learned the commencement of his apostasy.
You may go to every one of these men–I care not which one; you cannot put your finger on any one of these thirty men but what you will find that the spirit of adultery or covetousness had got possession of their hearts; and when it did, the Spirit of the Lord left them. They had not sense enough to repent and put away their iniquity, but suffered themselves to be overthrown with the spirit of darkness; and they have gone to hell, and there they may lift up their eyes, asking for some relief or benefit from those they once tried to destroy; but if they get the privilege of waiting on a servant to those who have kept the laws of heaven, they will be exceedingly thankful and fortunate.
Some of the elders journeyed to the westward from the state of New York, and built up branches in the state of Ohio. Elders Oliver Cowdery and P. [Parley] P. Pratt visited Sidney Rigdon who resided in Mentor, Geauga County, and was famous in that country as a Reformed Baptist minister, more familiarly known as Campbellites. He had preached the doctrine of baptism for the remission of sins, the regular Baptist church having a different view of the subject, for they considered “baptism as an outward sign of an inward grace,” and that in order to be a candidate for baptism he must have received a change of heart, changed from a heart of stone to one of flesh; he was required to go into the congregation and formally renounce the world, the flesh and the devil, having given evidence that he was a new creature and was prepared for baptism. But the Reformed Baptists held the doctrine which I believe was first preached in Ohio, by Sidney Rigdon, that a man must reform, that repentance was simply a reformation, and the moment that repentance was resolved upon, the candidate was ready for baptism; and so far their notion appeared to be an improvement upon the general idea entertained, and consonant with the Bible view of it, as it was laid down by the Savior and his Apostles. But here they stopped, and did not administer the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and what was further, they contended there was no need of it, that it was all done away, and that the written word was all the spirit there was.
When the elders waited on Sidney Rigdon and presented to him the Book of Mormon, teaching him the principle of laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost, he received it, as did several hundred members of his church, and members of other churches in that vicinity, who were baptized in a few weeks. In a few days Elders Oliver Cowdery, P. [Parley] Pratt and Ziba Patterson [Peterson], passed on westward, as their mission directed them to the western boundaries of the state of Missouri. Sidney Rigdon took a journey to the East, as did Edward Partridge for the purpose of visiting the Prophet, and these strange spirits of which we have already spoken, began to manifest themselves in the churches and branches which had been built up.
There was at this time in Kirtland, a society that had undertaken to have a community of property; it has sometimes been denominated the Morley family, as there was a number of them located on a farm owned by Captain Isaac Morley. These persons had been baptized, but had not yet been instructed in relation to their duties. A false spirit entered into them, developing their singular, extravagant and wild ideas. They had a meeting at the farm, and among them was a negro known generally as Black Pete, who became a revelator. Others also manifested wonderful developments; they could see angels, and letters would come down from heaven, they said, and they would be put through wonderful unnatural distortions. Finally on one occasion, Black Pete got sight of one of those revelations carried by a black angel, he started after it, and ran off a steep wash bank twenty-five feet high, passed through a treetop into the Chagrin River beneath. He came out with a few scratches, and his ardor somewhat cooled.
Joseph Smith came to Kirtland, and taught that people in relation to their error. He showed them that the Spirit of God did not bind men nor make them insane, and that the power of the adversary which had been manifested in many instances was visible even from that cause, for persons under its influence became helpless, and were bound hand and foot as in chains, being as immovable as a stick of timber. When Joseph came to instruct these Saints in relation to the true Spirit, and the manner of determining the one from the other, in a short time a number of those who had been influenced by those foul manifestations, apostatized. Among the number was Wycom [Wycam?] Clark; he got a revelation that he was to be the prophet–that he was the true revelator; and himself, Northrop Sweet and four other individuals retired from the Church, and organized the “Pure Church of Christ,” as they called it, composed of six members, and commenced having meetings, and preaching, but that was the extent of the growth of this early schism. John Noah, another of this class, assumed to be a prophet, and in consequence thereof was expelled from the Church.
Among the early baptisms in northern Ohio, was a Methodist minister by the name of Ezra Booth. He was present when the elders first received the ordination of the high priesthood. They met together in June, 1831, in a log schoolhouse in Kirtland, a room about eighteen feet by twenty. While they were there, the manifestation of the power of God being on Joseph, he set apart some of the elders to the high priesthood. Ezra Booth was bound, and his countenance was distorted, and numbers of the brethren looked at him, and thought it was a wonderful manifestation of the power of God, but to their astonishment, Joseph came forward and rebuked the foul spirit, and commanded it to depart, in consequence of which Booth was relieved, and many of the brethren were greatly tried at such a singular treatment by the Prophet of these wonderful manifestations of power.
Others had visions. Lyman Wight bore testimony that he saw the face of the Savior.
The priesthood was conferred on a number of elders, and thirty were selected to take a mission to the western boundaries of Missouri, and travel and preach two and two by the way, travelling without purse or scrip. They did so, building up churches. Joseph was required to travel by water, or at a more rapid rate to reach there, to meet the brethren and hold a conference in the land of Zion. It was only a short time after the return from this mission, that Ezra Booth apostatized as did Jacob Scott, Symons Rider, Eli Johnson and a number of others. The spirit of apostasy was little known, but when these men apostatized they became more violent, more cruel, and manifested a greater spirit of persecution than any other enemies. What seemed singular, Ezra Booth had been brought into the Church through the manifestation of a miracle. The wife of Father John Johnson had been afflicted with the rheumatism, so as to be unable to raise her arm and hand for two years. Her husband had believed the work, and she also was believing. She went to Joseph Smith the Prophet to have him administer to her, Booth accompanied them, for he was well acquainted with the family, and the condition of Mrs. Johnson. When the elders laid their hands upon her, she was instantly healed, so that she could use her arm and hand as well as ever she could previously.
Booth knew this to be an instantaneous cure, and soon after witnessing this miracle, he was baptized, and ordained an elder. He having formerly been a Methodist minister, commenced preaching the gospel without purse or scrip, and he did so until he found, (using a common expression,) it did not pay. Under these circumstances he apostatized. While he was in apostasy he searched his cranium for some means to justify himself and published a series of lying letters in the Ohio Star, a paper printed in Revenna. These nine letters had been republished several times as evidence against “Mormonism;” and his apostasy culminated in collecting a mob who tarred and feathered Joseph Smith, and inflicted upon his family the loss of one of its number at Hiram, Portage County, Ohio. Joseph Smith was occupying the room of a house Brother Johnson was living in, at the same time; it was a two-story building, had steps in front. The mob surrounded the house, the twins being afflicted with measles, Joseph was lying upon a trundle bed with one of them. The mob rushed in, gathered up Joseph while in his bed, took him out in his nightclothes, and carried him out on to the top of the steps. Joseph got a foot at liberty and kicked one of the men, and knocked him down off the steps, and the print of his head and shoulders were visible on the ground in the morning.
Warren Waste, who was the strongest man in the western reserve considered himself perfectly able to handle Joseph alone, but when they got hold of him, Waste cried out, “do not let him touch the ground, or he will run over the whole of us.” Waste suggested in carrying him to cross his legs, for they said that would make it easier for the Prophet, but that was done in consequence of the severe pain it would give to the small of the back. He was daubed with tar, feathered and choked, and aquafortis poured into his mouth. Dr. Dennison had been employed to perform a surgical operation, but he declined when the time came to operate. The liquid they poured into his mouth was so powerful, that it killed the grass where some of it had been scattered on the ground. Joseph is reported by the mob to have said, be merciful, when they told him to call upon his God for mercy. They immediately, as he began to pray, heard an alarm which made them think they were about to be surprised, and left suddenly.
Sidney Rigdon, who resided nearby, had been dragged by the heels out of his bed at the same time, and his body stripped and a coat of tar and feathers applied. The next morning he was crazy, his head greatly inflamed and lacerated. Joseph found his way in from the light of the house, the mob having abandoned him. While he was engaged in getting off the tar by the application of grease, soap and other materials, Philemon Duzette, the father of our celebrated drummer, came there, and seeing the Prophet in this condition, took it as an evidence of the truth of “Mormonism,” and was baptized. These circumstances exposed the life of the child, the measles struck in and caused its death, and the whole of this persecution was got up through the influence of those apostates; and it made it necessary to keep up a constant watch lest some violence should be repeated.
Luke Johnson informed us that Warren Waste was afterwards a cripple, rendered so by weakness in the small of the back, and Dr. Dennison died in the Ohio Penitentiary where he was incarcerated for procuring an abortion, which caused death; Joseph soon after located in Kirtland. In Kirtland there were manifestations of evil spirits in high places, which might have been considered more dangerous than the manifestations in the early establishment of the Church. Sidney Rigdon, on one occasion got up to preach, and commenced by saying that the Church and kingdom was rent from them and given to another people. Joseph was absent, when he came home he found Sidney almost like a madman. He labored with him and with the Church, and finally succeeded in convincing him that he was under the influence of a false spirit.
A man from the state of New York by the name of Hawley, stated that while he was working in his field, barefoot, the word of the Lord came to him, saying that he should start on the instant, and not stop to put on his shoes. He came six hundred miles to Kirtland, and went to Joseph with the message that he had suffered John Noah, a prophet of God, to be cut off from the Church, and that consequently he had lost his office; and he had also suffered the women to wear caps, and the men he allowed to wear cushions on their shoulders, and for these heinous sins he was cut off, and this man had come six hundred miles barefooted to bear the terrible message. You might suppose such an adventurer coming among us would be regarded as a madman by all, but at that time several men were ready to listen to him; a bishop’s council was assembled and an investigation had.
During the investigation, the subject of women wearing caps and veils and having their heads covered was canvassed, and the Bible ransacked by Oliver Cowdery and others. When the man was expelled from the Church for giving way to the power of false spirits, he rose up in a most solemn manner, and proclaimed to the council that they had chosen darkness instead of light. This man went through the streets of Kirtland in the night crying in a most doleful voice, woe, woe to this people. I understand that Brother Brigham, hearing this nonsense and noise in the street, jumped up out of his bed in the night, took with him a cowhide whip into the street, and told that noisy person if he did not stop his noise he would certainly cowhide him, which caused him to cease to annoy the inhabitants with his folly.
Another prophet arose by the name of Hoton, he had his headquarters at the forge in Kirtland. He was the president, and a man named Montague was appointed bishop. They resolved to live precisely in accordance with the principles, as they understood them, spoken of soon after the day of Pentecost, for they had all things common. Their number increased to ten, and they called themselves “the Independent Church.” Persons who had apostatized from the Latter-day Saints could be admitted into their party upon the terms of entering the room, shaking hands with every member and consecrating their property. This church lasted some two or three months, when a difficulty occurred between the president and the bishop. The bishop accused the president of being too familiar with his meat barrel; the president, in turn, accused the bishop of being too intimate with his sheets. The result was, a split took place between the two chief authorities, and the organization ceased to exist.
There was a prevalent spirit all through the early history of this Church, which prompted the elders to suppose that they knew more than the Prophet. Elders would tell you that the prophet was going wrong, men who thought they knew all about this work thirty or forty years some of them before the Lord revealed it, tried “to steady the ark.” The Church was constantly afflicted with such a class of men.
I remember well in Zion’s Camp, Levi W. Hancock made a fife, from a joint of sweet elder, Sylvester Smith marched his company to the music of that fife. That fife may be considered almost the introduction of martial music among the “Mormons.” A dog came out and barked, when Sylvester Smith was going to kill the dog. Joseph said he was a good watchdog, Sylvester became wrathy and threatened; finally Joseph reproved him sharply, showing him that such a spirit would not conquer or control the human family, that he must get rid of it, and predicted that if he did not get rid of it, the day would come when a dog would gnaw his flesh, and he not have the power to resist it. Some months after the return to Kirtland, Sylvester Smith preferred a charge against Joseph the Prophet, for having prophesied lies in the name of the Lord, and undertook to substantiate that charge on the ground that the Prophet had said a dog should bite him, if he did not get rid of that spirit, when he had not power to resist. They were three days and parts of nights, with the high council in Kirtland, in investigating this charge; one person spoke three hours in behalf of the Prophet. Sylvester published a confession which can be seen in the Church History, acknowledging his fault.
The Church in Kirtland were few in number compared with the inhabitants of the city of Ogden. We had high council upon high council, bishop’s trial upon bishop’s trial; and labor and toil constantly to settle difficulties and get our minds instructed in principle and doctrine, and in the power that we had to contend with. I remember very well the organization of the high council at Kirtland as a permanent institution, there had been several councils of twelve high priests called for special cases, but they organized it permanently on 17th February 1834. On the 19th, the first case that was brought up was that of Elder Curtis Hodge, Sen., who while speaking in meeting had gone into a Methodist spasm, shouting and screaming in such a manner as caused one of the elders to rebuke him. Brother Hodge was brought before the council for so doing. A great deal of instruction was imparted to the people, who were assembled in a room sixteen feet by eighteen. The decision was, that the charges in the declaration had been fairly sustained by good witnesses, that Elder Hodge ought to have confessed when rebuked by Elder Ezra Thayer; also if he had the spirit of the Lord at the meetings where he halloed, he must have abused it and grieved it away, and all the council agreed with the decision. The report of this case is in Millennial Star, Volume 15, page 18, and well worthy of perusal.
In relation to the manifestation of the spirit and a man exercising it, he may be guilty of error of manner as well as error in matter, and these principles in this way were gradually introduced into the minds of the brethren, the elders being instructed all the while now and then, when falling out by the wayside. The first council I ever attended where the Prophet was present was at the trial of Doctor P. [Philastus] Hurlburt. This occurred in June, 1833. He had been cut off from the Church by the bishop’s council, and a council of twelve high priests, was organized to try the case on appeal. Hurlburt did not deny the charge, but begged to be forgiven, made every promise that a man could make that he would from that day live a virtuous life. Finally the council accepted of his confession, and agreed that he might on public confession be restored to the Church again.
It was at the same council that Daniel Copley, a timid young man, who had been ordained a priest, and required to go and preach the gospel, was called to an account for not going on his mission. The young man said he was too weak to attempt to preach, and the council cut him off the Church. I wonder what our missionaries now would think of so rigid a discipline as was given at that time thirty-one years ago, under the immediate supervision of the Prophet.
As soon as this council had made this decision upon Hurlburt, Joseph arose, and said to the council, he is not honest, and what he has promised he will not fulfill; what he has confessed are not the thoughts and intents of his heart, and time will prove it. Hurlburt stated to the branch in Thompson, Ohio, that he had deceived Joseph Smith’s God or the spirit by which he is actuated, I have proved that council has no wisdom, I told them I was sorry I confessed and they believed it to be an honest confession, I deceived the whole of them and made them restore me to the Church. Hurlburt was the author of that work known by the name of “Mormonism Unveiled.” Booth’s letters were reprinted by Hurlburt, who is the author of “The Spaulding Story,” a book which he intended to publish; and in delivering lectures he had said he would wash his hands in Joseph Smith’s blood. He was taken before the court and required to give bonds to keep the peace towards all men, and especially towards Joseph Smith.
These circumstances had some influence, and his friends arranged that he should not publish the book, but put it into the hands of E. [Eber] D. Howe, who resided in Painsville [Painesville], Ohio. He agreed that he would give Hurlburt four hundred copies of the first printed and bound, for the manuscript. Hurlburt went round and got subscribers, to pay him when the book should be delivered, one dollar each for the four hundred. Howe got the books printed and refused to furnish Hurlburt with his share, until by a piece of legerdemain he got hold of his subscription list and got the four hundred dollars, and then he let him have the books. When Hurlburt went to supply his subscribers he found they had already been served.
The Spaulding story in that country was considered so ridiculous, that the books could with difficulty be sold at any price; but it has now found its way into the scientific journals of the great world as a true history of the origin of the Book of Mormon, when it is very well known that no statement on this earth could be more incorrect or more untrue. Let “Mormonism” be true or false, the Spaulding story from beginning to end is an unmitigated falsehood. Solomon Spaulding was a Presbyterian minister; he entered into the iron trade in Conneaut, Ohio, but failing in business he took a notion to write a novel; he wrote a book called the Manuscript Found, he took his work to Pittsburgh, to a man by the name of Patterson to get it printed, but he failed and never printed it. It was pretended that it fell into the hands of Sidney Rigdon, and that he converted it into the Book of Mormon, and induced Joseph Smith to publish it; whereas it is very well known that there had no connection ever existed between these parties. In the first place, Spaulding never wrote any such work; in the next place, Spaulding never had anything to do with Patterson, and Sidney Rigdon and him were perfect strangers to each other. The first knowledge that Sidney Rigdon had of Joseph Smith was when Parley P. Pratt met him in Ohio, and presented him a printed copy of the Book of Mormon; yet all this has found its way into scientific literature, and you will find it even in the North British Review.
Hurlburt’s failure to destroy “Mormonism” was so complete, understanding that he was backed by influential men in Mentor and vicinity, that it ended in their disgrace and discomfiture, and this was so complete, that the story in that country was hardly ever spoken of afterwards. Yet the Spaulding story lives among those who make lies their refuge, and under falsehood hide themselves.
The word of the Lord given in September 1831–see Book of [Doctrine and] Covenants, Section 21, Paragraph 4–to make Kirtland a stronghold for the space of five years, gave rise to a new development in the feelings and sentiments of the Saints. The Prophet said, purchase lands in the vicinity of Kirtland; men were induced to buy farms, and to go to work and build houses, to quarry rock, and haul them on the ground, to build a temple. We were not then supplied with reporters and clerks as we are now, and many of the books that were kept have been wrested from the hands of the Church by apostates. The foundation of the Kirtland Temple was laid in 1833, and there is scarcely a scrap of history relating to it to be found, not even the names of the twenty-four elders in their order who laid the foundation of it.
When the temple was completed there was a great manifestation of power. The brethren gathered together to its dedication. We considered it a very large building. Some nine hundred and sixty could be seated, and there would be room for a few to stand, the congregation was swelled to a little over a thousand persons at the time of the dedication. It was a trial of faith. The elders from every part of the country had come together. The finishing of the temple had involved a debt of many thousands, and we all came together to the dedication. The congregation was so large that we could not all get in; and when the house was full, then, of course, the doors were closed, and no more admitted. This caused elder Frazier Eaton, who had paid seven hundred dollars towards building the house, to apostatize, because he did not get there early enough to the meeting.
When the dedication prayer was read by Joseph, it was read from a printed copy. This was a great trial of faith to many. “How can it be that the Prophet should read a prayer?” What an awful trial it was, for the Prophet to read a prayer! The service of the dedication being over, it was repeated again on the next day, to accommodate those who had not been able to get in on the first day, and all those who had been there on the first day, excepting the authorities, being required to remain outside, till those who could not get in the day before were seated; the result of this arrangement was two days’ dedication.
The question has often arisen among us, why it is that we do not see more angels, have more visions, that we do not see greater and more manifestations of power. Any of the brethren that were there could have heard testimonies of manifestations in abundance.
On the first day of the dedication, President Frederick G. Williams, one of the Council of the Prophet, and who occupied the upper pulpit, bore testimony that the Savior, dressed in his vesture without seam, came into the stand and accepted of the dedication of the house [Kirtland Temple], that he saw him, and gave a description of his clothing and all things pertaining to it. That evening there was a collection of elders, priests, teachers and deacons, etc., amounting to four hundred and sixteen, gathered in the house [Kirtland Temple]; there were great manifestations of power, such as speaking in tongues, seeing visions, administration of angels. Many individuals bore testimony that they saw angels, and David Whitmer bore testimony that he saw three angels passing up the south aisle, and there came a shock on the house like the sound of a mighty rushing wind, and almost every man in the house arose, and hundreds of them were speaking in tongues, prophesying or declaring visions, almost with one voice.
The question arises, where are those men? A number of them who manifested the greatest gifts, and had the greatest manifestations have fallen out by the wayside, you look around among us and they are not here. Many who received the knowledge of the things of God by the power of his spirit, and sought not after signs and wonders, and when the spirit rested upon them seemed to produce no visible demonstration, you look around among the Saints in the valleys of the mountains, and you find they are here with us bearing on high the standard of Zion, or have descended into honorable graves. But where you find men who have turned away, and have got terribly afflicted with self-conceit, you will find those, who, on that occasion and similar occasions, received great and powerful manifestations, and when the spirit came on them it seemed to distort the countenance, and caused them to make tremendous efforts in some instances. Sylvester Smith bore testimony of seeing the hosts of heaven and the horsemen. In his exertion and excitement it seemed as though he would jump through the ceiling.
Brother Cannon in speaking on the subject this morning referred to the old adage, soon ripe, soon rotten. God has laid the foundation of his kingdom never to be destroyed, and it appears wisdom in him to develop gradually power and glory and strength. I have always heard it suggested that as the spirit of “Mormonism” gathered together the seed of Abraham–mostly the sons of Abraham that are mixed among the nations; that the Holy Spirit falling upon men, who are not of the pure blood, who had the predominance of other blood in their veins, that the manifestation is greater, and when great manifestations fall on men, great trials immediately follow.
Some time after the finishing of the [Kirtland] temple, the brethren under the direction of the Prophet had established a bank in Kirtland, the paper to be redeemed by specie, and secured by real estate. The directors of that bank were members of the Church, and they were determined to sustain the credit of that money. The question has sometimes been asked, how much has that bank failed for; it did not fail for a single dollar, and yet when it failed there was perhaps a hundred thousand dollars of the bank paper out in circulation. Warren Parrish was the teller of the bank, and a number of other men who apostatized were officers. They took out of its vault, unknown to the president or cashier, a hundred thousand dollars, and sent their agents around among the brethren to purchase their farms, wagons, cattle, horses and everything they could get hold of. The brethren would gather up this money and put it into the bank, and those traitors would steal it and send it out to buy again, and they continued to do so until the plot was discovered and payment stopped. It was the cursed apostates–their stealing and robberies, and their infernal villainies that prevented that bank being conducted as the Prophet designed. If they had followed the counsel of Joseph, there is not a doubt but that it would have been the leading bank in Ohio, probably of the nation. It was founded upon safe principles, and would have been a safe and lasting institution.
Parrish and his coadjutors professed to have discovered that Joseph was not a prophet, and commenced making a noise about it, and went so far as to organize about thirty of the elders, into a new church called the Parrish party, many of them had been a long time in the Church. That may be considered the time that tried men’s souls; for a man that would stand up in the streets and say he was Joseph’s friend, could not get a greater compliment than being called a lick skillet. Joseph had few friends; but among the leading elders of the Church, in Kirtland the high council, one of the members of the First Presidency, some of the seven Presidents of the Seventies, and a great many others were so darkened that they went astray in every direction. They boasted of the talent at their command, and what they would do. Their plan was to take the doctrines of the Church, such as repentance, baptism for the remission of sins, throw aside the Book of Mormon, the Prophet and priesthood, and go and unite the whole Christian world under these doctrines. Where are they today? Like a rope of sand that has vanished to the four winds of heaven. Many of them have already in dust and ashes lamented their fate, they have never been able to prosper in any business, or take a leading part in any capacity. This is the result of that apostasy; and yet it was so great that Joseph himself and his friends had to flee from Kirtland.
There was a council there when President Young, Brother Brigham as we called him, spoke in favor of Joseph, and Jacob Bump who had been a long time a pugilist before he came into the Church, said “how on earth can I keep my hands off this man,” Brigham said, lay them on if it will do you any good. The voice seemingly of an individual, was absolutely necessary to say that Joseph had a single friend. You look at times of danger, moral and physical, and you will find that the spirit of determination and strong will in the breast of a single man may save a most terrible panic and disaster. By management it was proved that Joseph had friends, and when he had gone to the state of Missouri, having fled from Kirtland, he was met with coldness by men who were in authority there. All this was the result of apostasy. The public funds were held in their own name, and another battle had there to be fought, not perhaps as severe, but at the same time a constant pressure seemed to be necessary to give strength to the growing kingdom; yet the revelations were that the kingdom should continue to prevail. The very fact of the promise of its continuing to prevail, signifies that it should have something more or less severe to prevail against. God has been with this people and has guided them, and dictated them, and is continuing to do so up to the present moment, and will continue so to do until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ. May we be prepared to fulfil our share in this great work, is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
I moved into Kirtland with five families. The question immediately arose–“Where shall we settle?” Why, right here in Kirtland; the Lord designs to make this a stronghold for a few years, and here we are to settle, which was the counsel of the Prophet.
The very first thing that occurred after this advice was that two out of the five came to the conclusion that they had better go to the neighboring town, because they thought they could gain some temporary advantage. To Chagrin they went, in opposition to the advice of the Prophet, and in a few weeks they were in darkness, and not long after they were numbered with the enemies of Zion, and were soon using all their power for the destruction of the Saints. He that gathereth not with us scattereth abroad. Joseph, the Prophet, told us to go to work and build up the cities of Zion, and not to build up strange cities. Kirtland, of course, contained but few Saints, and they were poor, and many of the brethren who were mechanics would go to Cleveland, Painsville [Painesville], and other places, while the residue were willing to take the advice of the Prophet and stay in Kirtland and get what work they could among the brethren, and make improvements, and at the end of the year it invariably turned out that those who had obeyed counsel had made the most means, and what was more, they had the best spirit, and, as a general thing, they are still in the midst of the Saints; while those who went abroad, contrary to the counsels and instructions of the servants of the Lord, became darkened in their minds, and eventually apostatized.
We have established a school of the prophets in Salt Lake City. It is written in a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, August, 1833–“Behold, I say unto you, concerning the school in Zion, I, the Lord, am well pleased that there should be a school in Zion.” And when speaking of the president of that school, it is written–“And I will bless him with a multitude of blessings, in expounding all scriptures and mysteries to the edification of the school and of the Church in Zion.”
When the school of the prophets was inaugurated one of the first revelations given by the Lord to His servant Joseph [Smith] was the Word of Wisdom. The members of that school were but a few at first, and the Prophet commenced to teach them in doctrine to prepare them to go out into the world to preach the gospel unto all people, and gather the elect from the four quarters of the earth, as the prophets anciently have spoken. While this instruction prepared the elders to administer in word and doctrine, it did not supply the teachings necessary to govern their private or temporal lives; it did not say whether they should be merchants, farmers, mechanics, or money changers. The Prophet began to instruct them how to live that they might be the better prepared to perform the great work they were called to accomplish. I think I am as well acquainted with the circumstances which led to the giving of the Word of Wisdom as any man in the Church, although I was not present at the time to witness them.
The first school of the prophets was held in a small room situated over the Prophet Joseph’s kitchen, in a house which belonged to Bishop Whitney, and which was attached to his store, which store probably might be about fifteen feet square. In the rear of this building was a kitchen, probably ten by fourteen feet, containing rooms and pantries. Over this kitchen was situated the room in which the Prophet received revelations and in which he instructed his brethren. The brethren came to that place for hundreds of miles to attend school in a little room probably no larger than eleven by fourteen. When they assembled together in this room after breakfast, the first they did was to light their pipes, and, while smoking, talk about the great things of the kingdom, and spit all over the room, and as soon as the pipe was out of their mouths a large chew of tobacco would then be taken. Often when the Prophet entered the room to give the school instructions he would find himself in a cloud of tobacco smoke. This, and the complaints of his wife at having to clean so filthy a floor, made the Prophet think upon the matter, and he inquired of the Lord relating to the conduct of the elders in using tobacco, and the revelation known as the Word of Wisdom was the result of his inquiry. You know what it is, and can read it at your leisure.
In a revelation given September, 1831, the Lord said, “It is my will that the Saints retain a stronghold in the land of Kirtland for the space of five years.”
The Saints owned several farms in Kirtland. Mr. Lyman, a Presbyterian, also owned a gristmill there, and many of us got our grinding done at his mill, although our brethren owned mills two or three miles distant. We had commenced building the Kirtland Temple. A portion of the city site had been surveyed, and many of the Saints who had recently come in were building houses on the lots. Mr. Lyman associated himself with a combination to starve us out. The authorities proceeded to warn all the Latter-day Saints out of the township, and formed a compact not to employ us or sell us grain, which was scarce at the time. Mr. Lyman had 3000 bushels of wheat, but refused to let us have it at any reasonable price, and it was believed that we were so destitute of money that we would have to scatter abroad. The warning out of town was designed to prevent our becoming a township charge, the law of Ohio being that if a person, who had been warned out of town, applied for assistance, he was to be carried to the next town and so on till he was taken out of the state or to the town from which he formerly came.
We were obliged to send fifty miles for grain, which cost us one dollar and six cents per bushel delivered in Kirtland. Mr. Lyman’s grain remained unsold and his effort to starve us taught us better than to longer patronize his mill, although it cost us the trouble of going two or three miles to mills belonging to our brethren. We built a magnificent temple and a large city. We paid our quota of taxes and we were as noted and remarkable for our industry, temperance, thrift and morality there, as our people are at the present day. We also patronized a Mr. Lyon, who was a gentlemanly outside merchant, but the moment he got an opportunity he united with our enemies to oppress us.
We sent our children to school to Mr. Bates, a Presbyterian minister, who soon after went into court and bore false witness against the elders, and further testified on oath that every “Mormon” was intellectually insane. This lesson did admonish us not to longer intrust the education of our youth to canting hypocrites.
For several years we had used the paper of Geauga Bank at Painesville, as money. A loan of a few hundred dollars was asked for by Joseph Smith, with ample security, but was refused, and Elder Reynolds Cahoon was told they would not accommodate the “Mormon Prophet,” although they acknowledged the endorsers were above question, simply because it would encourage “Mormonism.” So much of their specie was drawn by Joseph Smith during the three succeeding days, as greatly improved their tempers, and they said to Elder Cahoon, “Tell Mr. Smith he must stop this, and any favor he wants we are ready to accord him.”
Subsequently application was made to the legislature of the state for a bank charter, the notes to be redeemed with specie and their redemption secured by real estate. The charter was denied us on the grounds that we were “Mormons,” and soon a combination of apostates and outsiders caused us to leave Kirtland, the most of our property unsold; and our beautiful temple yet remains a lasting monument of our perseverance and industry. The loss sustained through this persecution was probably not less than one million dollars.
To put this matter more correctly before you, I here declare that the principle of plural marriage was not first revealed on the 12th day of July, 1843. It was written for the first time on that date, but it had been revealed to the Prophet [Joseph Smith] many years before that, perhaps as early as 1832. About this time, or subsequently, Joseph, the Prophet, intrusted this fact to Oliver Cowdery; he abused the confidence imposed in him, and brought reproach upon himself, and thereby upon the Church by “running before he was sent,” and “taking liberties without license,” so to speak, hence the publication, by O. [Oliver] Cowdery, about this time, of an article on marriage, which was carefully worded, and afterwards found its way into the Doctrine and Covenants without authority. This article explains itself to those who understand the facts, and is an indisputable evidence of the early existence of the knowledge of the principle of patriarchal marriage by the Prophet Joseph, and also by Oliver Cowdery.
In Kirtland, Ohio, there was a United Order established under the direct influence and instructions of Joseph Smith. He received revelations from the Lord in regard to this subject. And there was not only a United Order established in Kirtland, but there was also a united command of God to be established in a locality about fifteen or twenty miles from Kirtland, in a town called Thompson. And the Lord gave his servant, Edward Partridge, the first bishop of this Church, revelations and important instructions in reference to organizing a branch of the Church into the United Order in that township. And Edward Partridge needed these instructions, because it might well be understood that he, of himself, would not be able to understand the mind and will of God touching what was required according to the principles of the celestial law. Therefore, the Lord told him it was necessary that he should receive instructions in these principles. And he gave him instructions, and told him that it was necessary that the people should be organized there according to his law, otherwise they should be cut off. And he told him, furthermore, that it was their privilege to be organized according to the celestial law, that they might be united upon those principles. And also, in this revelation, he told Edward Partridge that he should have the privilege of organizing, for this was an example unto him, in all other places, in all other churches. So it was not confined to any particular locality, to Kirtland, nor to Thompson, nor to Jackson County; but in that revelation it was told the bishop that this should be an example unto him in organizing in all churches. So that wherever Edward Partridge should find a church, he would have the privilege or organizing them according to the United Order, the Celestial Law, or the Order of Enoch.
The Lord, in Kirtland, established a United Order. He called certain individuals, and united them by revelation, and told them how to proceed; and every man who would subscribe fully to the United Order will proceed in the same manner. He told those people and the Church afar off, to listen and hearken to what he required of men in this Order; and of every man who belonged to the Church of the living God–that all that they received above what was necessary for the support of their families, was to be put in the Lord’s storehouse, for the benefit of the whole Church. This is what is required of every man in his stewardship. And this is a law that is required to be observed by every man who belongs to the Church of the living God. [Book [of] Doctrine and Covenants, p. 234.] Now, this is one of the main features of the United Order. We are not going to stop here, in these valleys of the mountains. Many of us expect to go forth and build up the center stake of Zion; but before we are called, we must understand these things, and conform to them more practically than many of us do at the present time.
When the members of Zion’s Camp were called, many of us had never beheld each others’ faces; we were strangers to each other and many had never seen the Prophet. We had been scattered abroad, like corn sifted in a sieve, throughout the nation. We were young men, and were called upon in that early day to go up and redeem Zion, and what we had to do we had to do by faith. We assembled together from the various states at Kirtland and went up to redeem Zion, in fulfillment of the commandment of God unto us. God accepted our works as he did the works of Abraham. We accomplished a great deal, though apostates and unbelievers many times asked the question, “What have you done?” We gained an experience that we never could have gained in any other way. We had the privilege of beholding the face of the Prophet, and we had the privilege of travelling a thousand miles with him, and seeing the workings of the Spirit of God with him, and the revelations of Jesus Christ unto him and the fulfillment of those revelations. And he gathered some two hundred elders from throughout the nation in that early day and sent us broadcast into the world to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Had I not gone up with Zion’s Camp I should not have been here today, and I presume that would have been the case with many others in this territory. By going there we were thrust into the vineyard to preach the gospel, and the Lord accepted our labors. And in all our labors and persecutions, with lives often at stake, we have had to work and live by faith.
Now, for instance, a great many inquire, saying, “Why does not our Church keep a store here?” Many can answer that question, who have lived here for some years past; and you who make such an inquiry, would have known the reason, had you also lived here. You that have lived in Nauvoo, in Missouri, in Kirtland, Ohio, can you assign a reason why Joseph could not keep a store, and be a merchant? Let me just give you a few reasons, and there are men here who know how matters went in those days. Joseph goes to New York and buys 20,000 dollars’ worth of goods, comes into Kirtland and commences to trade. In comes one of the brethren, “Brother Joseph, let me have a frock pattern for my wife.” What if Joseph says, “No, I cannot without the money.” The consequence would be, “He is no prophet,” says James. Pretty soon Thomas walks in. “Brother Joseph, will you trust me for a pair of boots?” “No, I cannot let them go without the money.” “Well,” says Thomas, “Brother Joseph is no prophet; I have found that out, and I am glad of it.” After awhile, in comes Bill and Sister Susan. Says Bill, “Brother Joseph, I want a shawl, I have not got the money, but I wish you to trust me a week or a fortnight.” Well, Brother Joseph thinks the others have gone and apostatized, and he don’t know but these goods will make the whole Church do the same, so he lets Bill have a shawl. Bill walks off with it and meets a brother. “Well,” says he, “what do you think of Brother Joseph?” “O he is a first- rate man, and I fully believe he is a prophet. See here, he has trusted me this shawl.” Richard says, “I think I will go down and see if he won’t trust me some.” In walks Richard. “Brother Joseph, I want to trade about 20 dollars.” “Well,” says Joseph, “these goods will make the people apostatize; so over they go, they are of less value than the people.” Richard gets his goods. Another comes in the same way to make a trade of 25 dollars, and so it goes. Joseph was a first- rate fellow with them all the time, provided he never would ask them to pay him. In this way it is easy for us to trade away a first-rate store of goods, and be in debt for them.
Brother Kimball referred to Zion’s Camp going to Missouri. When I returned from that mission to Kirtland, a brother said to me, “Brother Brigham, what have you gained by this journey?” I replied, “Just what we went for; but I would not exchange the knowledge I have received this season for the whole of Geauga County; for property and mines of wealth are not to be compared to the worth of knowledge. Ask those brethren and sisters who have passed through scenes of affliction and suffering for years in this Church, what they would take in exchange for their experience, and be placed back where they were, were it possible. I presume they would tell you, that all the wealth, honors, and riches of the world could not buy the knowledge they had obtained, could they barter it away.
And, doubtless, there are many of the Latter-day Saints who have thought, in the early days of their experience in this Church, when they have heard the elders predict concerning the great events that should take place in connection with this work–they have thought and felt in their hearts that when the wicked and those who oppose this work should see the fulfillment of these predictions they would be constrained to acknowledge that this is the work of God, and would cease from hostility and opposition, and would say they had been mistaken. For instance, the elders in the early days of this Church, predicted concerning calamities and wars and troubles of various kinds that would come upon the inhabitants of the earth. There was a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, in December, 1832, concerning the war that should take place between the southern states and the northern states. This was a definite prediction, stating the exact point where a certain trouble or rebellion or division in the nation should take place. Most of us who have been brought up in the Church knew about this revelation from early days. It has been published so that all the members of the Church, and the world also, could have it, and it was but reasonable to expect that so definite a prophecy as this, which stated the exact character of the difficulty that should take place between the south and the north, and that also stated with such definiteness the exact point where the division should occur–I say it was but reasonable to expect that when it should be fulfilled, it would have the effect of convincing unbelievers of the truth of the mission of Joseph Smith, and that he really was a man inspired of the Lord to speak the word of God to the people.
In 1860, Brothers Orson Pratt, Erastus Snow, myself, and others, were going on missions, and we arrived at Omaha in the month of November of that year. A deputation of the leading citizens of that city came to our camp and tendered to us the use of the courthouse, as they wished to hear our principles. The invitation was accepted, and Elder [Orson] Pratt preached to them. During the service, there was read the revelation to which I have referred–the revelation concerning the division between the South and the North. The reason probably, for reading it was that when we reached Omaha, the news came that trouble was already brewing, and several states were threatening to secede from the Union. Its reading made considerable impression upon the people. A good many had never heard of it before, and quite a number were struck with the remarkable character of the prophecy. It might have been expected, naturally speaking and looking at it as men naturally do, that the reading of such a revelation, at such a time, when the crisis was approaching, would have had the effect to direct men’s attention to it, and they would be led to investigate its truth and the doctrines of the Church and the foundation we had for our belief. But if there were any converted in that audience I am not aware of it.
Good seed was sown, but we did not remain to see what effect it produced. The revelation being so remarkable, and the events then transpiring being so corroborative of its truth, one might naturally think, as there were present on that occasion the leading and thinking portion of that community, that a great number would have been impressed with the probability of its truth, and would have investigated and joined the Church. You doubtless remember it was for a good while doubtful whether the rebellion should commence at South Carolina or not. I was in England at the time, and was engaged in publishing the Millennial Star, and took a great deal of notice of the American papers, and I well remember that to all human appearances it seemed for awhile as though the trouble would break out at Fort Pickens, Florida. But the word of God had been spoken concerning that event, and consequently it had to be fulfilled as predicted, and the war did commence at South Carolina. It was fulfilled, as you all know, to the very letter, Fort Sumter being the place where the rebellion broke out.
Now, I allude to that, in connection with this subject, to show you that not only is the world mistaken in its views respecting the fulfillment of the predictions of the prophets, but even Latter-day Saints have doubtless, in many instances, entertained erroneous views respecting the fulfillment of revelation and prophecies of the Bible. I have no doubt there are many here tonight, who have had some experience in this, and can look back at times in their own lives, when they have thought: “Surely when these things which the prophets have foretold are brought to pass, the people will be convinced. My friends who now ridicule me will then be convinced, and they will be forced to confess that I did right in embracing the gospel.”
No doubt there are some in this audience tonight who have had these ideas, and certainly there are good reasons for entertaining them. But experience has taught us that, while there may be a few who, when they have seen the predictions fulfilled, have acknowledged that our course is right, in the majority of cases throughout the earth where the gospel has been preached, the fulfillment of the predictions of the prophets has not had the effect to convince the people of the truth of the ministry God has given unto us.