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THE DESERT WEEKLY PIONEER PUBLICATION ROCKY MOUNTAIN REGION. ESTABLISHED JUNE, 1850. NO. 15 SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, SATURDAY, APRIL 6, 1889. VOL. XXXVIII.
DISCOURSE Delivered by President Wilford Woodruff, at Springville, Tuesday Morning, March 5th, 1889.
REPORTED BY ARTHUR WINTER.
Brethren and sisters: I feel to say God bless you. I am glad to meet with you and to have the privilege of once more bearing my testimony to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. What Brother Cannon has told you with regard to the work of the Lord, is true. I have traveled in my day a great many miles with the Prophet Joseph Smith. I once heard him say that if he were the emperor of the world and had control of the whole human family, we would defend every man, woman and child in the enjoyment of their religion, no matter what their religion was, whether it was true or false. He said they had a right to that privilege, and the exercise of that agency which God had given to the whole human family. Those were his sentiments. They are my sentiments today. The
Revelator, St. John, represented to us that there would be about six hundred three-score and six different religions upon the earth in these last days—the number of the name that was spoken of by him. Today that number, I presume, is very nearly filled. The whole Christian world are as diverse in their views and principles of religion and roads to heaven or hell, as the stars are diverse in their position in the heavens. And while I would grant this privilege that I have spoken of, to all mankind, I claim the same privilege for myself and for all our people. We have a right to the enjoyment of our religion and belief, and to practice the same on the earth; and all other sects and parties have the same right.
Inasmuch as I claim this, I want to give some of my views and tell you my feelings with regard to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To commence with, I will quote the words of the Apostle Paul. You are doubtless familiar with Paul’s history, and know what a persecutor of the Saints he once was, and how he became converted to the truth; and his conversion was so thorough and complete that he finally laid down his life in defense of the Gospel of Christ. That same Paul said:
“Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”
That was a strong declaration; and to make it more emphatic, he repeated it.
Now, brethren and sisters, and friends, that Gospel which Paul taught is what I believe in. It is what I have believed in since I was old enough to read the New Testament. My belief in that Gospel was so strong that I never joined any sect or denomination on the earth until I heard a man preach to me
that Gospel. He held the Priesthood, and he taught me the same Gospel that Paul taught. As many of you have heard me remark before, I went to Sabbath school, in my boyhood, under Dr. Porter, in Farmington, Connecticut. He and Dr. Haws, of Hartford, Conn., were Presbyterian divines, and were considered great men in that day. In that Sabbath school I read the New Testament. I learned verse after verse and chapter after chapter. What did the Testament teach me? It taught me the Gospel of life and salvation; it taught me a Gospel of power before the heavens and on the earth. It taught me that the organization of the Church consisted of Prophets, Apostles, Pastors and Teachers, with helps and governments. What for? “For the perfecting of the Saints, for the work of the ministry: for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” These are the things which I learned, and they made an impression upon me. I believed in them; yet I had never heard them taught by any clergyman or divine upon the earth. In my early manhood I attended the meetings of almost every denomination there was. On one occasion I attended one of those great meetings which were sometimes held in Connecticut, at which forty or fifty ministers of various denominations were gathered together. They prayed for a pentecostal season and for a good many other things. At this meeting permission was given for anybody to make remarks. I was quite young then. I arose and stepped into the aisle, and I said to that body of ministers: “My friends, will you tell me why you don’t contend for the faith once delivered to the Saints? Will you tell me why you don’t contend for that Gospel that Jesus Christ taught, and that His Apostles taught? Why do you not contend for that religion that gives unto you power before God, power to heal the sick, to make the blind to see, the lame to walk, and that gives you the Holy Ghost and those gifts and graces that have been manifest from the creation of the world? Why do you not teach the people those principles that the ancient Patriarchs and Prophets taught while they were clothed with the revelations of God? They had the administrations of angels; they had dreams and visions, and constant revelation to guide and direct them in the path in which they should walk.” The presiding elder said: “My dear young man, and a very useful man in the earth if you did not believe all those foolish things. These things were given to the children of men in the dark ages of the world, and they were given for the very purpose of enlightening the children of men in that age, that they might believe in Jesus Christ. Today we live in the blaze of the glorious gospel light, and we do not need those things.” Said I: “Then give me the dark ages of the world; give me those ages when men received these principles.” There is where I stood in my youth. I did not believe that these gifts and graces were done away, only through the unbelief of the children of men. They were done away when men rejected the law of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; turned away from the Kingdom of God, built up altars to Baal, and sought to carry out principles of their own. And the earth remained in that condition until the Lord raised up a Prophet in these last days. He raised up Joseph Smith, who laid the foundation of this Church and Kingdom. And from that day until the present, whenever any one has embraced the Gospel of Christ and lived that religion, the gifts and blessings of that Gospel have been bestowed upon them. And this will be so unto the end. I have traveled many thousands of miles, at home and abroad, preaching the Gospel of Christ to my fellow-men; and, in my experience, I have never known a man or woman who, when they received the Gospel with honest hearts and were baptized, did not receive a testimony for themselves. While in England, in 1840, I was inspired of the Lord to go to Herefordshire. There had never been any Elders in that part of the country. When I arrived there I found about six hundred people called United Brethren. They had broken off from the Wesleyan Methodists. They Sought for those ancient gifts that I have been speaking about. They had been praying to God to open the way before them. What was the consequence? All of them, except one, including forty-five preachers, were baptized in thirty days. They received the Gospel, and the gifts and graces followed them. As I said before, these are the principles I believe in. And I will say here that this same Gospel was with Father Adam, with Noah, with Enoch, and with all the ancient patriarchs and prophets. There has been no change. And I say, as a servant of God, there is no change in the eternal and everlasting Priesthood. It is without beginning of days or end of years. It is from eternity unto eternity. By the power of that Priesthood, God, our Eternal Father, has organized all worlds, and redeemed all worlds that have ever been redeemed. By that same Priesthood men have administered on the earth in the ordinances of the Gospel of Christ. There is no change to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, nor to one of the ordinances thereof. And whenever that Gospel is offered to the children of men, it is by the power of the Priesthood. No man who has ever breathed the breath of life, since God made the world, has ever had the power to go forth and minister in one of the ordinances of the Gospel of Christ, without that Priesthood; and no man ever will. This may not be believed by many of the inhabitants of the earth; but it is true. We have been gathered to these valleys of the mountains by the power and inspiration of God. We might have gone forth and preached till we had become as old as Methuselah, and if the power of the Almighty had not attended that preaching, Utah might still have been a desert. But the Spirit of God bore record to the teachings of the Elders of Israel, and the honest in heart and meek of the earth received the Gospel and gathered to these valleys. This is in fulfillment of the revelations of God. John the Revelator, in his vision on the Isle of Patmos, saw “another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.” Those words have been fulfilled. The angel of God has visited the earth and delivered the fulness of the Gospel unto the inhabitants thereof, and they are receiving it. By the power of that Gospel you left your homes and came to these mountains of Israel. Now, Paul says that if we preach any other gospel than that which he taught, we should be accursed. The first principle in that Gospel is faith in Christ as the Savior of the world.
When men have faith, then they are required to repent of their sins and be baptized for the remission of sin. This is what Jesus Christ taught, and He set the example himself. Though He committed no sin, He went unto John the Baptist and demanded baptism of him. John the Baptist said he was not worthy to do it. But Jesus said, “Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.” After being baptized it is necessary that we should have hands laid upon us by men holding the Holy Priesthood, for the reception of the Holy Ghost. Now, if you have the Holy Ghost with you—and every one ought to have—I can say unto you that there is no greater gift, there is no greater blessing, there is no greater testimony given to any man on earth. You may have the administration of angels; you may see many miracles; you may see many wonders in the earth; but I claim that the gift of the Holy Ghost is the greatest gift that can be bestowed upon man. It is by this power that we have performed that which we have. It is this that sustains us through all the persecutions, trials and tribulations that come upon us. We also have the gifts of the Spirit among us. I can bear testimony that the sick have been healed, the blind have been made to see, the deaf to hear and the lame to walk, and devils have been cast out, by the power of God. These gifts and graces have been with this people from the organization of the Church until the present hour. There sits a man [pointing to Brother Philo Dibble] who, fifty-five years ago, while in Jackson County, Missouri, was shot through the body because of his religion. If it had not been for the power of God, which was manifested in his behalf, he would have gone to the grave. Other men have been in like circumstances. The Lord has taken whom He pleased and when He pleased, and preserved in life those whom He would preserve, according to the counsel of His own will. I bear record that these gifts are enjoyed by this people, according to their faithfulness before God. If we lack these things, it is because we do not live our religion; for if we do our duty before the Lord, those blessings will be with us. Brethren and sisters, the Lord has set His hand, in fulfillment of the words of the Prophet Daniel, to establish His Kingdom once more and for the last time on the earth, and to prune His vineyard with a mighty pruning. He has called men and ordained them and sent them forth to prune the vineyard for the last time, before the judgments of God overtake the world. These principles are true, and if we will do our duty, the blessings of God will attend us. The Lord has set His hand to call forth His Church out of the wilderness. The world has been in darkness and error from the day that Jesus and His disciples died. The Lord took the Priesthood to Himself. He left the Christian and the Jewish world without the Gospel of Christ, without a solitary man who had power to administer in the ordinances of the Gospel. These are the truths of heaven, and I bear record of them to all men, and you will find that they are true when you go into the presence of God. If the Lord ever fulfills His predictions, it is quite time that He began to have a people on the earth who will acknowledge His name. The time has come when God is going to perform His work. If you want to know what is going to take place, read the Bible. Let the Christian world read the Bible; they don’t believe the Book of Mormon or the Doctrine and Covenants. Let them see what the Revelator St. John says is going to take place in the last days. Read of the opening of the seals, the pouring out of the plagues the turning of the rivers and the seas into blood, and of the death and judgement that are going to overtake the world. John wrote these things as he was moved upon by the Holy Ghost, and his words will come to pass. We are living in a great day. These mountains are filled with Latter-day Saints, in fulfillment of the revelations of God. The Lord has commenced this work, and He is not going to leave it. I warn all men of that. Zion is going to be built up. Zion is going to be established. Zion is going to be clothed with the glory of God. And the Kingdom of God will be like the little stone cut out of the mountain without hands; it will fill the whole earth, and prepare the way for the coming of the Son of Man. Brethren and sisters, this is my testimony. This is the religion that I believe in. Have not I a right to believe in it? I say I have. I say to every Methodist, to every Catholic, to every Presbyterian, and to all, you have a right to your own belief. We have a little time to dwell here in the flesh. I shall soon be called to go into the presence of God, and I am willing to meet all the world there with regard to my testimony. I know my testimony is true. I know Joseph Smith’s testimony is true. I know he sealed his testimony with his blood. It required his blood, apparently, to seal this dispensation, as it did the blood of Jesus and the prophets of old, to seal their dispensations. Brethren and sisters, I want to see you faithful. I want you to be saved in the Kingdom of God. I want to be saved, too. What is gold, what is silver, what is honor, what is the glory of this world? It all perishes with the using. Where are the ancient prophets and apostles? They have fallen asleep. Where are the generations that have existed before us? They have gone to sleep. Our forefathers are in the spirit world. I shall very soon follow them, I expect. So will you. Our future destiny lies on the other side of the vail. When I die I want the privilege of going where God my Heavenly Father is, and where Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, is He who taught the doctrines that Brother Cannon and I are teaching you today, and that the Elders of Israel have taught from the commencement of this work. I want to dwell with them, and with our people who have been true and faithful to God. I believe God will save all people, except the sons of perdition, in some glory. There is a glory of the sun; there is a glory of the moon, and a glory of the stars, as one star differeth from another star in glory, so is the resurrection of the dead. All sects, all parties, all people, except those who shed innocent blood or commit unpardonable sin, will have a glory according to their condition and the lives they have lived on the earth. As Brother Cannon has said, God offers the Gospel to a generation, and if they reject that Gospel it will cost them dearly. It is a serious thing for any dispensation to reject the Gospel of Christ and to shed the blood of the prophets. What did it cost to shed the blood of the Savior? He came to His Father’s house—the Jews. He brought the Gospel to them, and warned them of the wrath to come. But they rejected the Gospel; they crucified Him and put Him to death. What did it cost them? Jesus told them himself what it would cost them. He said “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” That yoke has been upon the Jewish nation until the present day, and it is not broken
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yet, and will not be until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, which is close at our door. Look at Jerusalem after Christ was slain. Look at the trouble and suffering the Jews endured in the great war against Jerusalem, under Titus. Twelve hundred thousand people were taken out of the gates
Jerusalem and fell by the famine and by the sword. A remnant was scattered throughout the world, and remains in that condition today. At the present time they are persecuted in Russia, in Austria, in Germany, and in other nations of the earth. They will be persecuted until Christ comes, or near that time.
It is the same in this generation, and in every generation in which God has had a people upon the earth. It costs something to shed the blood of righteous men.
I say to the Latter-day Saints, do your duty, honor God and remember your covenants. I want these young men and young women of Israel to honor God, to honor their parents, and remember their prayers. This Kingdom has got to rest upon your heads. The world do not believe these things; but their unbelief does not make the truths of God of none effect. Therefore, I have a right to urge these young men to qualify themselves and prepare themselves to take the places of their fathers, and to honor God and be united. United you stand, divided you fall. Union is that which God requires of us, as a people. I hope you will lay these things to heart. Read in the Bible and you will find that they are true, and they will have their fulfillment. God bless you. Amen.