“I have no ideas only as God gives them to me; neither should you. Some people are very persistent in having their own way and carrying out their own peculiar theories. I have no thoughts of that kind, but I have a desire, when anything comes along, to learn the will of God, and then to do it.”
The only question with us is whether we will cooperate with God, or whether we will individually work out our own salvation or not; whether we will individually fulfil the various responsibilities that devolve upon us or not; whether we will attend to the ordinances that God has introduced or not; for ourselves to begin with, for our families, for the living and for the dead. Whether we will cooperate in building temples and administering in them; whether we will unite with the Almighty, under the direction of his holy priesthood, in bringing to pass things that have been spoken of by the holy prophets since the world was; whether we will contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the Saints. These things rest with us to a certain extent. …
We no longer have to ask, as in former times, “Who am I?” “Where did I come from?” “What am I doing here?” or “What is the object of my existence?” for we have a certainty in relation to these things. It is made plain to us by the fruits of the gospel. … It is the knowledge of these things and of many more of a similar nature that leads us to pursue the course that we do. It is this which prevents us from bowing to the notions, caprices, ideas and follies of men.
The religion that we have embraced, in its spiritual signification, brings us into communication one with another and helps us to love one another, and I wish there was a little more of that disposition among us, and that we loved one another a little better and studied one another’s interests a little more. I wish we could sympathize with our brethren, and be full of loving kindness and generosity one towards another. I wish that we could feel that brotherly love continued, and that it was spreading and increasing, flowing, from the fountain of life—from God, from heart to heart as oil is poured from vessel to vessel, that harmony, sympathy, kindness and love might be universal among us. This is what the gospel will do for us if we will only let it.
I think we ought to wake up and be alive, and endeavor to pursue a course that will secure the smile and approbation of the Almighty.
We forget, sometimes, that we are engaged, with many others, in establishing righteousness and planting the kingdom of God upon the earth; and we condescend to little meannesses, and become forgetful of the great and glorious calling to which we are called. Many of us give way to temptation; we falter and get into darkness, and lose the Spirit of the Lord. We forget that God and angels are looking upon us; we forget that the spirits of just men made perfect and our ancient fathers, who are looking forward for the establishment of the kingdom of God upon the earth, are gazing upon us, and that our acts are open to the inspection of all the authorized agencies of the invisible world.
And, forgetting these things sometimes, we act the part of fools, and the Spirit of God is grieved; it withdraws from us, and we are then left to grope our way in the dark. But if we could live our religion, fear God, be strictly honest, observe his laws and his statutes, and keep his commandments to do them, we should feel very different. We should feel comfortable and happy. Our spirits would be peaceful and buoyant. And from day to day, from week to week, and from year to year, our joys would increase.
You heard the voice of truth accompanied by the spirit of God, and that caused a chord to vibrate within your own bosoms and you yielded obedience. …
Now, then, we are gathered together to help, what to do? To look after our own individual interest? No. To accumulate wealth? No. To possess and wallow in the good things of this life? No, but to do the will of God and devote ourselves, our talents and abilities, our intelligence and influence in every possible way to carry out the designs of Jehovah and help to establish peace and righteousness upon the earth. This, as I understand it, is what we are here for, and not to attend to our own individual affairs and let God and his kingdom do as they please. We are all interested in the great latter-day work of God, and we all ought to be co-workers therein.
I would say to these brethren, let it be your study to fulfill your mission. Never mind the world; never mind the dollars and cents, the pounds, shillings, and pence. You cleave to God, live your religion, magnify your callings, humble yourselves before God, call upon Him in secret and He will open your path before you.
I would say, however, to those going on missions that they should study the Bible, Book of Mormon, Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and all our works, that they may become acquainted with the principles of our faith. I would also say to other young men who are not now going on missions, but who will probably have to go at some time in the future, that these things are of more importance to them than they realize at the present time. We ought to be built up and fortified by the truth. We ought to become acquainted with the principles, doctrines, and ordinances pertaining to the Church and Kingdom of God.
There are lots of able-bodied men who, if they could only have a little more faith in God, and could realize the calamities that are coming upon the earth, and the responsibilities of that priesthood that God has conferred upon them, they would be ready to break all barriers and say, Here I am, send me; I wish to benefit the human family. If Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost, let me be possessed of the same spirit.
Again, Joseph was commanded to preach this Gospel and to bear this testimony to the world. He was taught the same principles that were taught to Adam, the same principles that were taught to Noah, to Enoch, to Abraham, to Moses, to the Prophets, and to Elijah: the same principles that were taught by Jesus Christ and the Apostles in former times … , accompanied with the same Priesthood and the same organization, only more fully, because the present dispensation is a combination of the various dispensations that have existed in the different ages of the world, and which is designated in the Scriptures as the dispensation of the fulness of times, in which God would gather together all things in one, whether they be things in heaven or things on earth. Therefore, whatever of knowledge, of intelligence, of Priesthood, of powers, of revelations were conferred upon those men in the different ages, were again restored to the earth by the ministration and through the medium of those who held the holy Priesthood of God in the different dispensations in which they lived.
When the Lord revealed the everlasting Gospel to Joseph Smith, he unfolded unto him his purposes and designs in relation to the earth whereon we live, and gave unto him a knowledge of his law and the ordinances of the Gospel and the doctrine thereof. It was not for the object simply of elevating him as a man, but it was done for the interest of society, in the interest of the world, and in the interest of the living and the dead, according to the decrees and designs of Jehovah which he formed before the world rolled into existence, or the morning stars sang together for joy.
We want … to be alive in the cause of education.
We are here, as a people, … not to imitate the world, unless it be in that which is good … but that we may put ourselves in possession of every truth, of every virtue, of every principle of intelligence known among men, together with those that God has revealed for our special guidance, and apply them to our everyday life, and thus educate ourselves and our children in everything that tends to exalt man. … We should seek to know more about ourselves and our bodies, about what is most conducive to health and how to preserve health and how to avoid disease; and to know what to eat and what to drink, and what to abstain from taking into our systems. We should become acquainted with the physiology of the human system, and live in accordance with the laws that govern our bodies, that our days may be long in the land which the Lord our God has given us. And in order to fully comprehend ourselves we must study from the best books, and also by faith. And then let education be fostered and encouraged in our midst.
Train your children to be intelligent and industrious. First teach them the value of healthful bodies, and how to preserve them in soundness and vigor; teach them to entertain the highest regard for virtue and chastity and likewise encourage them to develop the intellectual faculties with which they are endowed. They should also be taught regarding the earth on which they live, its properties, and the laws that govern it; and they ought to be instructed concerning God who made the earth, and His designs and purposes in its creation and the placing of man upon it. … And whatever labor they pursue they should be taught to do so intelligently; and every incentive, at the command of parents to induce children to labor intelligently and understandingly, should be held out to them.
We need to pay more attention to educational matters, and do all we can to procure the services of competent teachers. Some people say, we cannot afford to pay them. You cannot afford not to employ them. We want our children to grow up intelligently, and to walk abreast with the peoples of any nation. God expects us to do it; and therefore I call attention to this matter. I have heard intelligent practical men say, it is quite as cheap to keep a good horse as a poor one, or to raise good stock as inferior animals. Is it not quite as cheap to raise good intelligent children as to rear children in ignorance?
This being the case, we ought to foster education and intelligence of every kind; cultivate literary tastes, and men of literary and scientific talent should improve that talent, and all should magnify the gifts which God has given unto them. Educate your children, and seek for those to teach them who have faith in God and in his promises, as well as intelligence. … If there is anything good and praiseworthy in morals, religions, science, or anything calculated to exalt and ennoble man, we are after it. But with all our getting, we want to get understanding [see Proverbs 4:7]; and that understanding which flows from God.
We like enjoyment here. That is right. God designs that we should enjoy ourselves. I do not believe in a religion that makes people gloomy, melancholy, miserable and ascetic. … I should not think there was anything great or good associated with that, while everything around, the trees, birds, flowers and green fields, were so pleasing, the insects and bees buzzing and fluttering, the lambs frolicking and playing. While everything else enjoyed life, why should not we? But we want to do it correctly and not pervert any of these principles that God has planted in the human family.4
Is there anything gloomy in the works that God has made? Turn where we will, we see harmony, loveliness, cheerfulness, and beauty.
Why, there are some people who think that the fiddle, for instance, is an instrument of the devil and it is quite wrong to use it. I do not think so, I think it is a splendid thing to dance by. But some folks think that we should not dance. Yes, we should enjoy life in any way we can. Some people object to music. Why, music prevails in the heavens, and among the birds! God has filled them with it. There is nothing more pleasing and delightful than it is to go into the woods or among the bushes early in the morning and listen to the warbling and rich melody of the birds, and it is strictly in accordance with the sympathies of our nature.
It is very pleasant for the Saints of God to reflect upon the principles of eternal truth, that have been developed unto them. If there is anything connected with happiness and humanity, if there is anything calculated to expand the views and feelings of the human family, to raise our hopes and aspirations, and to give peace, joy, and confidence, it is the thought that God has revealed unto us the precepts of eternal truth; that He has planted them within our bosoms and given unto us a certainty in regard to those things we profess to believe in, and assuredly do know.
You may have experienced the feeling that such thoughts and prospects would naturally create in the human heart. Why is it we feel otherwise at any time? It is because we forget to pray and call upon God, and dedicate ourselves to him, or because we fall into transgression, commit iniquity, and lose the Spirit of God, and forget our calling’s glorious hope; but if we could all the time see and realize and understand our true position before God, our minds would be continually on the stretch after the things of God, and we should be seeking to know all the day long, what we could do to promote the happiness and salvation of the world, what we could do to honor our calling—to honor the priesthood of the Son of God, and what to do to honor our God, and to improve the remaining time we have upon the earth, and the energies of our bodies for the accomplishment of his purposes, and for the rolling forth of his kingdom—for the advancement of his designs, that when we stand before him, he may say to us, “well done thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy Lord; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.” [See Matthew 25:21.]
The best of us are not too good; we all of us might be better, and do better and enjoy life better, having more of the Spirit of the Lord in our own homes and in our own hearts, and do more to promote the welfare of all who come within our reach and influence. To serve the Lord is one of the great objects of our existence; and I appreciate as a great privilege the opportunity we enjoy of worshiping God on the Sabbath day. And when we do meet to worship God, I like to see us worship him with all our hearts. I think it altogether out of place on such occasions to hear people talk about secular things; these are times, above all others perhaps, when our feelings and affections should be drawn out towards God. If we sing praises to God, let us do it in the proper spirit; if we pray, let every soul be engaged in prayer, doing it with all our hearts, that through our union our spirits may be blended in one, that our prayers and our worship may be available with God, whose Spirit permeates all things, and is always present in the assemblies of good and faithful Saints.
I say continually, “O God, lead me in the right path: O God, preserve me from all error; O God, I am a poor, feeble, weak, erring human creature, surrounded with infirmities. I need Thy help all the day long. O God, help me.” That is my feeling, and the feeling of my brethren of the First Presidency, and of the Twelve and others. We feel that we need the help of the Almighty. We will try and be humble, and be faithful and true to our covenants. And if we listen to counsel and obey the laws of God, and do the things that He requires at our hands, He will help us and bless us, and He will bless Zion and preserve Israel.
We have got to put our trust in God, let the consequences be as they may. And as long as we do this, and as long as we keep the holy covenants we have entered into with him and with one another, Zion will triumph. …
But I will tell you what we have to do, my brethren and sisters, we must fear God in our hearts; we must lay aside our covetousness and our waywardness, our self-will and foolishness of every kind. … We must humble ourselves before the Lord, repenting of our sins, and henceforth preserve our bodies and spirits pure, that we may be fit receptacles for the Spirit of the living God, and be guided by him in all our labors both for the living and the dead. Our desires must be for God and his righteousness, until we shall exclaim with one of old: O God, search me, and try me, and if there be any way of wickedness in me, bid it depart [see Psalm 139:23–24]. It is for us, as fathers and mothers, to go before the Lord in all humility and call upon him that his peace may be in our hearts; and wherein we may have done wrong, confess that wrong and repair it as far as we possibly can; and in this way let every man and woman in Israel begin to set their houses in order, and forever cultivate the spirit of peace, the spirit of union and love.
When we live our religion, when we walk according to the light of the Spirit of God, when we purge ourselves [of] impurity and corruption, and the sweet whispering of the Spirit of the Lord pours intelligence into our bosoms, broods over us, causing peace and joy to be with us, we have then, more or less, a faint glimpse of those things that are laid up for the faithful, and it is then we feel as though we and all that we have are in the hands of the Lord and that we are ready to offer ourselves [as] a sacrifice for the accomplishment of his purposes upon the earth.
… We ought to wake up and put our houses in order and our hearts in order; we ought to conform to the word, the will, and the law of God; we ought to let God rule in Zion, to let His law be written upon our hearts, and to feel the responsibility of the great work we are called upon to perform. We should see that our bodies and our spirits are pure, and that they are free from contamination of every kind. We are here to build up the Zion of God, and to this end we must subject our bodies and our spirits to the law, to the word, and to the will of God. Being here in Zion we want to see that thing that Jesus told His disciples to pray for take place. “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” [See Matthew 6:10.] How was it done in heaven? God spake and the worlds were formed according to His word. God said let us do this, and that and the other, and it was so. Was there anybody in heaven to object and say, “Don’t you think you had better put it off a little. Would not this be a better way?” Yes, the devil said so, and he says so yet, and he is listened to sometimes by sinners and sometimes by Saints; for we become the servants of those whom we list to obey [see D&C 29:45].
Arise! therefore, ye Elders of Israel—ye Priests, Teachers and Deacons, ye Presidents of Stakes, Bishops and High Counselors, ye Apostles and First Presidency, and all of us—Arise! and let us go to work with a will to do the will of God on earth as it is done in heaven; for if ever that is done, where is it to start, do you think, if it does not begin here among us? God expects it at our hands. We are full of weaknesses and imperfections, every one of us; but we want to learn the word, the will, and law of God, and to conform to that word and will and law. Let that law be written upon our hearts. Let us seek to magnify our callings and honor our God, and the Lord will take care of the balance. … We will … put our trust in the living God, and pursue a course that is wise, prudent and intelligent. We will glory not in ourselves, but in the Lord of Hosts.
Pray for those that God has placed in the different offices of this church that they may be enabled to perform their several duties. The Lord will sustain his servants and give them his Holy Spirit and the light of revelation, if they seek him in the way that he has appointed, and he will lead them and lead you in the right path. This is the order of the kingdom of God, as I understand it. … And it is for us to learn that order and be obedient to it.
I am pleased to talk about the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God, and also about other matters that some think are not so directly associated with the Kingdom of God, and yet they are; for all things temporal and all things spiritual, all things that are associated with our bodies and with our spirits, everything that is calculated to promote our happiness and well-being on the earth and to procure for us an exaltation in the kingdom of heaven, are things that are associated with the Gospel and that belong to us as Latter-day Saints.
The life of a saint is not simply a personal perfecting, it is also a factor in the entire scheme of earth’s redemption. No one can be saved alone, by himself or herself, unassisted by or unassisting others. The weight of our influence must be either for good or harm, be an aid or an injury to the work of human regeneration, and as we assume responsibilities, form ties, enter into covenants, beget children, accumulate families, so does the weight of our influence increase, so does its extent broaden and deepen.
Quotes from Brigham Young
Quotes from Joseph Smith