“However good we may be we should aim continually to improve and become better. We have obeyed a different law and gospel to what other people have obeyed, and we have a different kingdom in view, and our aim should be correspondingly higher before the Lord our God, and we should govern and control ourselves accordingly, and I pray God my Heavenly Father that his Spirit may rest upon us and enable us to do so.”
We are liberated from these things, the cloud of darkness is taken from us, and the light of eternal truth has begun to shine upon our minds. …
This I count one of the greatest blessings that God has given to the children of men, to have the plain truth pointed out to them. …
Where is the man or woman that comprehended anything about God or about eternity until Joseph Smith revealed the fullness of the gospel? I could read of those things in the Bible which we now believe in and receive, but I was surrounded by the traditions of the world and could not comprehend them.
We are now taught, from time to time, the plain principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the plan of salvation—the way to live in order to have the approbation of our Father in Heaven. Is not this a blessing above all blessings? If this people could comprehend their blessings they never need have an unhappy moment. If this people could comprehend the position they stand in and their true relationship to God they would feel perfectly satisfied, and they would realize that our heavenly Father is merciful unto us and that he has bestowed great and glorious blessings upon us.
There never were but few men and women, in any age of the world, who were independent enough to reject evil and to serve the Lord. But we have been counted worthy to be numbered as His people. It is time, therefore, that we arose, that we awoke, and that, clothed upon with the power of God and the Holy Priesthood, we should magnify this Priesthood and obtain the blessings belonging thereto.
… We should look for the building up of the kingdom, and secure not only blessings for ourselves, but seek to become saviors of men on Mount Zion, and try to do all the good we can, laboring to promote the cause and interest of Zion in every department thereof where we are called to act.
By pursuing this course we shall be prospered, and have continual peace in our minds and as the Lord has said, nothing will be withheld from any man that seeks for the righteousness and blessings of the kingdom of God. …
… There [are] a great many things at our door, a great many changes to take place in the earth, and the kingdom is growing; and I would here exhort all the Latter-day Saints who hear me this day to study well the position you are in, and search your hearts and see if we are in favor of the Lord our God, and then let us increase continually in faith, in hope, in righteousness, and in every virtuous principle which is necessary for us to have to sustain us in every trial through which we may be called to pass in order to prove us as the friends of God, whether we will abide in the covenant or not; we will be tried from this time until the coming of the Messiah or while we live on the earth.
You may surround any man or woman with all the wealth and glory that the imagination of man can grasp, and are they satisfied? No. There is still an aching void. On the other hand, show me a beggar upon the streets, who has the Holy Ghost, whose mind is filled with that Spirit and power, and I will show you a person who has peace of mind, who possesses true riches, and those enjoyments that no man can obtain from any other source.16
When we enjoy the Holy Spirit, when we are trying to live our religion here on the earth, we are the happiest people on God’s footstool, no matter what our circumstances may be. I do not care whether we are rich or poor, whether in happiness or affliction, if a man is living his religion and enjoys the favor and Spirit of God, it makes no difference to him what takes place on the earth. There may be earthquakes, war, fire or sword in the land, but he feels that it is all right with him. That is the way I feel.
In my public teaching I never permit my mind to follow in any channel except that which the Spirit dictates to me, and this is the position we all occupy when we meet with the Saints, or when we go forth to preach the gospel.
That this people may repent of all their sins and wake up and have power to come before God that their prayers may be heard, be prepared to defend the kingdom and never desert their covenants and their brethren, or betray the gospel, but overcome the world and be prepared to become joint heirs with Christ to the fulness of the first resurrection which is prepared for those who keep the commandments of God, is my prayer.
My whole life almost has been spent in this Church; and from the time I came into the Church I went on missions and have never ceased altogether from that day to this. I have always rejoiced in this, and do to-day. When I die and lay down my body, I do not want anybody to rise up and say that I have neglected my duty in trying to give him salvation as far as I could. I have always rejoiced in preaching the Gospel; I have rejoiced in administering the ordinances of life and salvation at home and abroad, because I have known that this was the work of God, and I know it is to-day.
Almighty Father, increase within us the powers of that faith delivered to and possessed by thy Saints. Strengthen us by the memories of the glorious deliverances of the past, by the remembrance of the sacred covenants that thou hast made with us, so that, when evil overshadows us, when trouble encompasses us, when we pass through the valley of humiliation, we may not falter, may not doubt, but in the strength of thy holy name may accomplish all thy righteous purposes with regard to us, fill the measure of our creation, and triumph gloriously, by thy grace, over every besetting sin, be redeemed from every evil, and be numbered in the kingdom of heaven amongst those who shall dwell in thy presence forever.
No right feeling Latter-day Saint can think upon this subject without being thrilled with heavenly joy for what God has done for us in our generation, furnishing us, as He has done, with every facility to prepare us, our posterity and our ancestors for that eternal world which lies beyond the present life. The Latter-day Saints are, in truth, a highly favored people, and praise to God should ascend from every heart and habitation in our land for the great mercy and goodness which He has shown unto us. He has made us promises of the most precious character, and He has fulfilled them up to the present time. We would be the most ungrateful and unworthy people that ever lived if, after receiving such wonderful manifestations of His goodness, we slackened in our diligence or failed in our obedience and devotion to Him and His great cause.
… Before entering into the Temple to present ourselves before the Lord … , we shall divest ourselves of every harsh and unkind feeling against each other; that not only our bickerings shall cease, but that the cause of them shall be removed, and every sentiment that prompted and has maintained them shall be dispelled; that we shall confess our sins one to another, and ask for forgiveness one of another; that we shall plead with the Lord for the spirit of repentance, and, having obtained it, follow its promptings; so that in humbling ourselves before Him and seeking forgiveness from each other, we shall yield that charity and generosity to those who crave our forgiveness that we ask for and expect from Heaven.
If we had before us every revelation which God ever gave to man; if we had the Book of Enoch; if we had the untranslated plates before us in the English language; if we had the records of the Revelator St. John which are sealed up, and all other revelations, and they were piled up here a hundred feet high, the church and kingdom of God could not grow, in this or any other age of the world, without the living oracles of God.
The building up of the Zion of God in these latter days includes, I may say of a truth, every branch of business, both temporal and spiritual, in which we are engaged. We can not touch upon any subject which is lawful and legal in the sight of God and man that is not embraced in our religion. The gospel of Jesus Christ which we have embraced, and which we preach, includes all truth, and every lawful calling and occupation of man.
As the taste for what may be called book-learning increases, manual labor should not be neglected. The education of the mind and the education of the body should go hand in hand. A skillful brain should be joined with a skillful hand. Manual labor should be dignified among us and always be made honorable. The tendency, which is too common in these days, for young men to get a smattering of education and then think themselves unsuited for mechanical or other laborious pursuits is one that should not be allowed to grow among us. … Every one should make it a matter of pride to be a producer, and not a consumer alone. Our children should be taught to sustain themselves by their own industry and skill, and not only do this, but to help sustain others, and that to do this by honest toil is one of the most honorable means which God has furnished to His children here on the earth. The subject of the proper education of the youth of Zion is one of the greatest importance.
As for riches and wealth, I do not want them if they will damn me. I would like to have enough to clothe, shoe and feed my [family], and to make them comfortable, if I can get it honestly before the Lord; but I would rather myself and them all be in poverty than to have wealth and be destroyed. Riches are dangerous unless we can use them so as not to destroy us; if we cannot use them to the glory of God and for the building up of his kingdom, we are better without them.
Some of the people have looked upon the law of tithing as a kind of tax and burthen laid upon them, but who is it for? Our tithing, our labor, and all that we do in the kingdom of God, who is it all for? … Our tithing, our labor, our works are not for the exaltation of the Almighty, but they are for us. … Let us understand this as it is and we shall do well. In paying our tithing, in obeying every law that is given to exalt us and to do us good, it is all for our individual benefit and the benefit of our children, and it is not of any particular benefit to the Lord, only as he is pleased in the faithfulness of his children and desires to see them walk in the path which leads to salvation and eternal life.
We can best exemplify our love for our God by living our religion. It is vain to profess a love for God while speaking evil of or doing wrong to His children. The sacred covenants we have made with Him strictly impose upon us the duties we owe to one another; and the great office of religion is to teach us how to perform those duties so as to produce the greatest happiness for ourselves and for our fellow-beings. When the obligations of our religion are observed, no words are spoken or acts are committed that would injure a neighbor. If the Latter-day Saints lived as they should do, and as their religion teaches them to do, there would be no feeling in any breast but that of brotherly and sisterly affection and love. Backbiting and evil-speaking would have no existence among us; but peace and love and good will would reign in all our hearts and habitations and settlements. We would be the happiest people on the face of the earth, and the blessing and peace of heaven would rest upon us and upon all that belongs to us.