By Prest. Joseph Young, Tabernacle, March 1st, 1857
[Deseret News, 11 Mar. 1857. Needs to be proofread.]
[REPORTED BY GEO. D. WATT.]
I feel this morning that I owe a debt of gratitude to our Heavenly Father and one that I do not feel able to discharge, but all he requires of me is to realize that debt, and all I can for the building up of his kingdom which he has established upon the earth. It appears to me a great piece of folly for a large congregation of intelligent beings, and many of them keen, bright, and penetrating, to sit and listen to the voice and thoughts suggested by a poor, weak individual as I am; my broken, humble thoughts, I mean those I have power to suggest cannot interest you unless the Lord shall give them vitality and power by his Spirit. It is true my mind is fruitful, my understanding is enlightened, like yours perhaps, though I cannot tell but a few of my thoughts, and those few will perhaps be so poorly clothed they may fail to interest you
When the Spirit of the Lord enlightened the human mind, the information imparted is often beyond the power of man to communicate because of the poverty of our language. I know it is so. You understand that it is the province of the men who hold the keys of this kingdom to reveal great and deep things unto the people, and when we hear them they are generally very simple, and embrace every feature of good common sense and native originality, so that we have been led to exclaim, “I have believed all this before, but I was unable to express it in its purity and in a way that people could understand, it is in perfect keeping with what I have known before.”
It proves to me the doctrine which Joseph Smith the Prophet has given to this people, that we did positively have a pre-existing state and knew many things that we have forgotten since we came into the flesh, and when that knowledge is again revealed to us here, we remember it, it is familiar to us.
It was said of the Savior, “Who, being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation and took upon him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men.” Do you not suppose that he forgot a great deal which he knew before the world was? In one exclamation he says, “Father glorify thou me with the glory I had with thee before the world was.” Jesus divested himself of his power and glory which he had in his spiritual existence, and became a little child in mortal flesh, though undoubtedly his wisdom increased with his growth more rapidly than any other being on this earth, even when he was a child it is said the doctors and lawyers were astonished at his understanding and answers. It would be so to a greater or less degree with every individual who seeks diligently after God, to obtain knowledge as their capacity grows, and never lose a single inch of ground already gained, but avail themselves of every particle of knowledge it is their privilege to gain in their experience and travels through this earthly existence, and who knows but the words of the Savior at the tomb of Lazarus would be verified: “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in me though he were dead yet shall he live; and whoso liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”
It seems by this expression that a road is marked out to celestial glory where death is not, and that path is described in the gospel; I understand it so. If no individual ever attained to this permanent position in the gospel, it is declared emphatically that “he that liveth and believeth shall never die,” and in another passage we are told that “not one jot or tittle of his word shall fail.” It does appear that a person by living up to every requirement of the gospel faithfully may travel through, throwing off the corruptible part gradually and walk into immortality without his body suffering the natural stages of decomposition.
I will tell you what my drift is this morning, it is to say, while the Latter Day Saints in six days are engaged in what we call the avocations of life to sustain the mortal tabernacle, the Sabbath day is the Lord’s, and that day is to be exclusively devoted to his service. It is our duty to throw back from our minds all worldly thoughts, and contemplations upon worldly interests and business ought to be entirely dismissed from our thoughts when we approach the presence of God in his earthly courts, but let us go there to worship the Lord our God; it is an imperative duty, as I view it, it is binding upon every Saint to throw away their worldly mindedness and enter within the vail as far as their faith will permit them and commune with the Lord and with those who are ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation.
Although the duties which pertain to this world are a portion of our religion, and we give our attention to those duties during six days, the seventh is a day of rest whereon our thoughts should be more especially reined up, and applied in seeking spiritual blessings and gifts, while the body is enjoying temporary rest from its temporal labors, or a transient dismissal from the conflicting cares that throng it during the days of its bodily toil. On the seventh day it is our right or privilege to contemplate heavenly things, to let our minds dwell upon the gospel and its promises, upon what we may attain to through that gospel and through faithfulness in the discharge of every duty within the scope of our knowledge. This is right. Yes, I feel it is right and good to contemplate on the gospel, to brace up the spirit, to feed, solace and comfort it, and store the mind with all useful knowledge and with the treasures of wisdom. What for? To have the same with us throughout the ensuing week, and that we may resume our labors on Monday with fresh vigor, have the power of God and the Spirit of God with us like so much small change to had out among our families and dispense among our brethren with whom we come in contact during the week, having it on hand from Monday morning to the close of the week, and on the Lord’s Day get a fresh supply, recruit our stores, replenish our stock of the knowledge, spirit, power and wisdom of the living God, that all our dealings and intercourse with our fellow men may be seasoned with the saving principles we have within us, that we may all the time while laboring with our hands in temporal matters have a single eye to God’s glory and to the building up of his kingdom on the earth, that we may not commit ourselves in any wise before him and bring ourselves under condemnation, that instead of becoming supine in these matters there may be a growth within us continually, an extension in our feelings to comprehend more and more of the power, wisdom and glory of God. I know that is the duty of every Latter Day Saint.
How many of those who believed and were lively in the cause of their religion have I seen to become stupid as men in the slumbers of the night, when they get to a certain stage of life they scarcely know anything. But if I understand the gospel and its effects upon man it is to advance him in the knowledge of salvation and give continual vigor and increase to the powers of his mind as he advances in age, consequently people in advanced years will have more communion with God and with the heavens, and a deeper, more lasting and more sure abiding testimony of the Spirit and will be able to teach the young who have not advanced so far in the ways of life and salvation. Persons having the Spirit of the gospel of Christ should suffer no declension within them, but their intellect should brighten all the time, their minds expand and their souls extend wider and wider, to comprehend more and more of the power and glory of God until they grasp a fullness.
The mortal body also will advance in immortality until the whole tabernacle from the ends of the hair on the head is filled with the quickening Spirit, life and power of the Almighty. That work of redemption commences in the body with the work of conviction, and it is continued in the tabernacle of flesh and in the spirit that inhabits it, consequently when men advance in the knowledge of God there is a continual struggle with the powers of darkness and with that corruptible principle which dwells in the tabernacle; there is a war established. Every man who is convicted and enters the lists boldly as a follower of Christ has difficulties to surmount, weaknesses to get rid of, and enemies to overcome in every step he takes to gain his salvation.
The gospel is what it purports to be, and what is the effect of it upon those who embrace it? They declare they will sacrifice everything on the earth before they will let it go, and finally it becomes a sort of second nature to them; it affects a regeneration of all the powers of the mind, it is like the effects of saltpetre and salt mixed with a little sugar upon meat, it has a curing influence upon the system and protects it from the power of decay, every part feeling the effects of the immortalizing power of the gospel. That is the power of the gospel.
A great many people cavil with the gospel, saying, “You profess to heal the sick.” I do not profess that I ever healed them; I have laid hands on the sick and the person who had faith and was not under condemnation, and I was not, and the light was not obscured, felt the effect of it in being healed. What was it? It was faith in the name of Jesus. Will that heal you? Yes. How long? Until you again commit some overt act and violate the laws of health, and act contrary to the nature of the elements that compose your being. Has the Lord made a provision for this? Yes. Supposing you fall upon a bed of sickness, if you have hardihood and stamina enough to get rid of darkness, and power to lay hold on the promise, and regain the power of God you will be healed, but if you let the spirits sink, and give way to the power of the adversary, he will tie you down and you cannot help yourself. Enoch, Elijah and every other man are bound by the laws of nature to certain rules, and if those laws are transgressed the penalty must be paid by the transgressor whoever he be, he cannot escape it. What then are we to do to evade every attack of the enemy? Elude the influence of every power that would sap the foundation of our health; scan everything correctly by the light of the Spirit of God and with the eye of an eagle, looking at everything as it passes before the mind so as to escape the wiles of every enemy that seeks our destruction. The elements are so diverse, so corroded and corrupted by the prince and power of the air, that there is not a man in creation but what feels the consequences of it more or less.
The fountains of life are open continually and eligible to the faith of the Saints. The Holy Ghost is constant to the faithful because God is there, and darkness is turned back and error dismissed from the human mind, and they have nothing to do but traverse the glory of God, and have communication with the Father and holy messengers continually.
The moment an individual is sanctified and prepares himself for the reception of the Holy Spirit, he will receive an extra manifestation of that power and receive a greater blessing than before. Because God is constant and is ready always to bestow upon an individual who places himself in a position to receive it, that power and spirit they are seeking for.
This is eternal, if there is nothing betwixt you and the Lord; if you do not place anything there, God never will, unless I do in the first place commit myself before him. The road is open to heaven and there is nothing in the way provided we are willing to walk in it. When your child asks you kindly for a piece of bread you are ready to give him what he has asked for, and how much more is our Father in heaven ready to give the Holy Ghost unto them that ask him?
What stands between us and the fullness of God, the fullness of the Spirit?—what is there to hinder us from becoming all we desire to be in the name of Jesus Christ and God our Father? Nothing; it is all right, we can be given up, can be dedicated and sanctified unto God. We can please ourselves whether we come to or depart from him. Yes, we can place all we have on the altar, wives, children, friends, kindred and cause of our God; it is his and all he has he has declared is ours. When we put everything on the altar we place ourselves there with it, and we say, “Father, here we are, the Latter Day Saints, with our wives, children, flocks and herds, farms, horses, carriages and substance, with our talents and our lives, all we have and all we expect to have we dedicate and sanctify to the Lord and to his service; we are ready and on hand to go yonder or return at his command or at the command of his servants.”
Such are the feelings and such the determination of those who are given up to the service of their God, and there is no tie which binds them from the faithful performance of these magnanimous determinations. I will tell you the reason why; it is because the influence of the fading glory of earth is lost on that man; he is given up to a superior power which is at his heart, that fills him with a glory and a joy which earth cannot give; it is the strongest and will always prevail in the spirit and convictions of the faithful. Should all the glory of earth be offered to him in temptation, it would all pass away in the shade when compared with the glory manifested by the Spirit of God through the gospel.
It is not because the greatness and glory of earth’s grandeur is not in itself fascinating, but to those who have superior knowledge, the power, beauty and glory of the thrones of earth, with their splendid palaces and gorgeous equipages sink into everlasting shade when compared with those crowns and that glory which is unfading and impregnable in their nature.
What can take away the mind under these circumstances? It makes a man feel like the character John Bunyan represents in his Pilgrim’s Progress, who when he was tempted with the seducing influences of the glory of the world, he put his fingers in his ears and pressed forward, crying “Life, eternal life.”
The world and its glory has not power sufficient to allure that individual whose mind is posted up in the matters of the kingdom of God. The trouble is in another quarter, I will tell you where: the vail is not drawn away from the minds of the people sufficiently, it has not become thin enough for them to see the glory of God and the power of God and the excellencies of his kingdom, in their true light, hence it is that we can be allured by earthly glory and its transient grandeur. All this cannot draw away the mind that is taken up with things that are eternal and beyond the natural sight; while men of forethought, men of reason, that is, of this world, men of scrutiny and forecast, senators and wise men, judges, counselors and monarchs cannot understand the things of God; philosophy knows nothing of the hidden purposes of Jehovah.
Philosophers may speculate on the planets that describe their circles in the vast expanse of space which pertain to our solar system, or to systems situated far distant from this, but they know nothing about the manifestations of the Holy Spirit—the power of God revealed in the gospel. It commences like a little seed that is sown and takes root in the heart of man or in the understanding, which grows and expands until it becomes a tree and the fowls of heaven lodge in it, or the angels of God lodge in every branch to commune with him. It next spreads to every part of his household, his family feel the effects of it and the angels of God minister to them.
These are some of the effects of the gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation. When I first heard this gospel I believed it, but when I experienced its power I knew its truth.
There is a difference between knowledge and faith; a matter of faith is something that has not come within the scope of our knowledge; we believe the truth, but still there is a possibility of doubt until we know it for ourselves, then it is no longer a matter of faith but of knowledge. I believed the gospel before I received any of the effects of it, but when I was sick and was healed by the laying on of hands and God’s power came upon me, I then knew it was true. After we have attained this knowledge, travel we must or take a retrograde step which will throw us into temptation.
I am for going upward, increasing and going ahead, until, as it was said of Jesus Christ, of the increase of his kingdom there shall be no end. The Saints must go ahead, increase, expand and break forth on the right and on the left, until this place will not hold them a great while. The hive of Deseret must go on swarming for there are lots of young bees in it, and there will be more. We want to prepare this place to receive our children, and have them sanctified by the power of God so that our enemies cannot step on that ground because of the sanctifying power that has been administered by the servants of God.
I believe I will tell a little dream I had about the millennium. I thought I saw br. Brigham with a broom in his hand sweeping a place in the ground, and the dust filled his broom as he kept moving it; the broom penetrated the ground where it became harder and harder. Where he was sweeping was no larger than the bottom of a potash kettle. There were on the ground a lot of little vessels that were perfectly clean, and br. Brigham said to me, “Don’t they look clean?” “Yes,” I replied, “but what are you doing here?” “Preparing for the millenium,” he said. I remarked, “It is a very small place you are preparing.” “O yes,” he said, “but there is plenty of room to enlarge it.
I judge from the experience of the Spirit and the increased congregations of the Saints that there is a marked increase of the Spirit of God among them since last November, and that is a source of great joy to my heart. You might present before me gold and silver or the accumulated riches of the earth, which are good in their place, but what can compare with the joy of a people who acknowledge God in all their ways, in their families and throughout every ramification of life? Nothing can yield so much joy to the Saints as this.
I will tell you one thing before I sit down. If you want the fullness of the Spirit of the Lord, you must overcome your own dear self, and take from you that idol which you adore, and say you will sanctify the Lord in your heart, and say his kingdom shall be your only aim and end in this life; then there is nothing between you and the fullness of the Spirit of God, the enjoyment of the communion of angels, and the general assembly of the church of the first born. I want that blessing. My Spirit feels good this morning; I rejoice to see so many saints and the intelligence manifested from their countenances, and the response they give to the truth of God.
I hope it will increase until your faces shine like the face of an angel, and all men shall know that you have made God your choice for time and eternity, and put everything under your feet, and made it subservient to the cause of God, and so continue until the government of God shall be acknowledged by all the governments of the earth; they will not fail to do it, because this is the Master Spirit.
O how terrible that God is to them who hate him! How mighty he will be to them when he uses up and causes the earth to tremble; while all who are capable of enduring his presence will remain unshaken, but the wicked will be like the chaff before a mighty whirlwind. I advise you to get strength, to be ready to fight in the day of battle, make peace in your own breasts, and be ready to fight with the sword of the Spirit.
There are families who do not have that perfect order they should have; they possess a spirit that is not subject to the Lord. All family arrangement must become perfect. Every man must be perfect in himself; he must make the tree good, and the fruit will be good, for it is impossible to make good fruit out of a bad tree.
There must be a foundation in every man’s bosom to commence with, upon which the truth of God and the power of God can lay hold, and lustful feelings and corroding sentiments must be banished from his heart; it must be swept out clean and prepared for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
I dreamt one night I was seeking to know my own heart, and I thought I got into it, and I swept out every thing that was unlike God, or rather prepared it that God could fill every portion of it. If we succeed in doing this, we have obtained a victory, and the tussel with the adversary is pretty well over, if not altogether.
Then all we have to do is to steady the ship, and manage properly ourselves and families; then we are on the way, with all the faithful of God to obtain glory, knowledge, immortality and eternal lives in the world to come, and no power can scatter us to the four winds of heaven again. This people will never be scattered again, if the spirit of reform shall progress and extend, and continue to grow, for it will swallow up the people, and fill them with the power of God; and mobs never can begin to make inroads into the ranks of the Saints to scatter them again, when they are filled with the power of God; but we can build and enjoy our habitations in peace, and plant and enjoy the fruits of our labors; our granaries shall be filled with grain, and our presses with new wine, and there shall be no poor in our midst, but all shall have enough; they shall be like the people in the city of Enoch; and if a brother has got a surplus, he will hand it over to him who has not enough; because there is no selfishness aside from that interest we all take for the kingdom of God. That time must come, it shall come, and this people shall be purified, and many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase, as the prophet has declared, and the wise shall understand, but none of the wicked shall understand these things.
While the heavens are opened to the man of God, and his mouth speaks forth the great things of God, the bystander does not conceive how he attains to such great knowledge; because straight is the way that leadeth into life, and few there be that find it; and broad is the way that leadeth unto destruction, and many there be that walk in it.
Few have discovered that straight and narrow way, which they discern by the Holy Spirit that feels after the hearts of men by irresistible convictions; and the mind that is upright and desirous of truth, has in itself a foundation already laid for faith; the Spirit penetrates and bestows on it thoughts—it comprehends and realizes the truth—it is arrested, it feels good, and is calm and peaceful—it is arrested by the power of God, and the person exclaims, “There is truth in that stranger’s words, and I know it.” By and bye he dreams about it, the Lord gives him a vision: “I dreamt last night I saw the Lord, and he told me that preacher is a true servant of God.” He goes forth into the waters of baptism, he receives the laying on of hands, and is confirmed in the faith by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Thus the Spirit keeps all the time working and co-operating with us, and by and bye this mass of drift wood, prejudices and false traditions will vanish from the honest mind, enlightened by the Spirit of truth; and the man thus inspired is able to witness and declare before the congregation things that he never before heard, and the people shut their mouths at him in astonishment.
Twenty-five years ago we declared things to our brethren we never heard; bro. Kimball knows this. The power of God was in it; and O how good we felt and O how humble.
I have borne testimony of Mormonism when there was not a Saint within a hundred miles of me; and I felt that I was as ready to die as to live. Says I, “My good friend, you need not oppose me,” and I talked to them so kindly; O how it would astonish them; they could not resist it. It was a heavenly time, and God manifested his power through his servants in that early period of our history. It was to confirm them and give conviction to others, and to lay the foundation of this work. There was great power and glory upon the servants of God.
May God bless you, and what I have said this morning, and bestow upon you every blessing and attribute necessary for you, and give us all the victory, and crown us with eternal lives in his presence, is the prayer of your humble servant, in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.