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Journal of Discourses/26/33
[[|THE SPEAKER'S DEPENDENCE UPON THE INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY GHOST—COMPREHENSIVE AND EXALTED NATURE OF THE PLAN OF SALVATION—SATAN'S COERCIVE SCHEME—THE SONS OF PERDITION—THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS—PHYSICAL AND MORAL COURAGE—TRUE RELIGION IS PRACTICAL—ONE STRAIGHT AND NARROW WAY TO ETERNAL LIFE—TRUE RELIGION COMPARED TO GENUINE COIN—TRUE FAITH IS INSEPARABLY CONNECTED WITH WORKS—BAPTISM OF WATER AND OF FIRE—APOSTLES, PROPHETS, ETC., PLACED IN THE CHURCH—GOD'S IMPARTIALITY TO HIS CHILDREN—TESTIMONY OBTAINED BY OBEDIENCE—ALL WILL BE SAVED EXCEPT THE SONS OF PERDITION—GOD HAS PREPARED A PLACE FOR ALL—PARADISE-SALVATION BEYOND THE GRAVE—THE SAINTS WILL HAVE TO ENDURE PERSECUTION—PATRIARCHAL MARRIAGE—CONCLUSION]]
|Parable of the Ten Virgins, etc.||
A FairMormon Analysis of: Journal of Discourses 26: THE SPEAKER'S DEPENDENCE UPON THE INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY GHOST—COMPREHENSIVE AND EXALTED NATURE OF THE PLAN OF SALVATION—SATAN'S COERCIVE SCHEME—THE SONS OF PERDITION—THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS—PHYSICAL AND MORAL COURAGE—TRUE RELIGION IS PRACTICAL—ONE STRAIGHT AND NARROW WAY TO ETERNAL LIFE—TRUE RELIGION COMPARED TO GENUINE COIN—TRUE FAITH IS INSEPARABLY CONNECTED WITH WORKS—BAPTISM OF WATER AND OF FIRE—APOSTLES, PROPHETS, ETC., PLACED IN THE CHURCH—GOD'S IMPARTIALITY TO HIS CHILDREN—TESTIMONY OBTAINED BY OBEDIENCE—ALL WILL BE SAVED EXCEPT THE SONS OF PERDITION—GOD HAS PREPARED A PLACE FOR ALL—PARADISE-SALVATION BEYOND THE GRAVE—THE SAINTS WILL HAVE TO ENDURE PERSECUTION—PATRIARCHAL MARRIAGE—CONCLUSION, a work by author: CHECK
|Growth of the Latter-Day Saints, etc.|
Summary: DISCOURSE BY APOSTLE MOSES THATCHER, Delivered in the Tabernacle, Logan, Sunday, Aug. 28, 1885. REPORTED BY F. E. BARKER.
IN seeking to address the audience this afternoon I feel a degree of weakness and of dependence upon the Holy Spirit, known to the Elders of Israel; and that I may secure the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Ghost to direct me what to say, I desire an interest in your faith and prayers. Nothing to my mind can be greater sacrilege in the sight
of the Almighty than to undertake to speak in His name without the inspiration of His spirit. We may talk upon the branches of human learning and knowledge, speaking after the manner of men with but little of this feeling of timidity, but not when we undertake to speak of the principles of life and salvation, of the plan of human redemption as it has always existed—as it existed before the foundations of the world were laid, as it will continue to exist until every child of God except the sons of perdition shall be brought back and exalted in a degree of glory far beyond the comprehension of the finite mind. It has sometimes been said that Mormonism, so called, is narrow, proscriptive and selfish; yet those who comprehend it, even in part, have never made such an assertion.
God so loved the human family that He gave His only Begotten Son to die for the sins of the world, and in all the dealings of God with the human family, the careful student will find that the deepest, the strongest, the chord that gives forth the sweetest music, is that which vibrates under the touch of this infinite, almost incomprehensible, love of the Almighty. The chief corner stone, the foundation of our faith is built upon the doctrine of vicarious salvation, founded in the deepest philosophy of love. The doing by others the things that we are not able to do for ourselves, is a divine principle the practice of which saps the very foundations of human selfishness, and it exalts, glorifies, and so far as understood and practiced, brings those who obey it into a nearness with God. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is in no sense narrow. It is broader than eternity, deeper than earth, higher than the heavens. Note the affection of earthly parents. Their child may stumble and fall, his feet may traverse bye and forbidden paths, he may do ten thousand wrong things, but in the midst of all the love of father and mother reaches out and yearns for the reclamation and redemption of the wayward one. This love, implanted in the human heart, is of divine origin. It is the mainspring that prompts saving efforts. The plan of salvation being permeated with it, strikes unerringly at human selfishness, and bidding us do unto others as we would have others do unto us, cannot possibly be narrow.
Whatever may have been the efforts of Satan and the hosts that follow, whatever they may do in the future to destroy, a merciful and loving heavenly Father's plan is broad enough to save and will save, in some degree of glory, every human being that has or ever will breathe the breath of mortal life except the sons of perdition who, sinning against light, put Jesus to an open shame by denying the efficacy of His atoning blood after knowing of its power. Thank God these will be few in number. Whatever may be the views of uninspired sectarians as to the utter condemnation of the heathen, and of the un-sprinkled infant who dies before the dawning of reason upon its intellect, none but those mentioned will be consigned to eternal condemnation and to the misery and torments of what is called hell. Men will be judged by the deeds done in the body. If, therefore, a man, in full possession of intellectual faculties sins against light as the son of the morning, Satan, sinned against light, no power on earth or in heaven can save him. For he has deliberately, while freely exercising his own agency, elected to be
damned. To such the sealing powers, the keys of which were restored to the Prophet Joseph by Elijah, are of no more avail than were they when Satan, followed by a third part of the hosts of heaven, sought to enforce against the decree of God and His Son Jesus, his coercive scheme of human redemption, which scheme in its very nature was calculated utterly to destroy the agency of man, thus denying him the means of growth and final intelligent exaltation. Satan knew of the existence of God and of His Christ, His first born, and he knew of their power, honor, glory and dominion. But being envious and full of ambitious pride was anxious to supplant all for his own advancement. He fell, and was cast down as those will be who follow him and do the works of their master, sinning against knowledge and the light of heaven.
The coercive, agency destroying plan of Satan, having been rejected by the councils of heaven, a better, more noble plan, one founded in unselfish love that distills the mercies of God in the human heart, as the dews of heaven moisten and gladden the parched earth, was adopted. This plan, while holding the keys of the Godhead in the authority of His priesthood, is yet simple and easily understood—so plain is it that a wayfaring man need not err. There is a spirit in man and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth it understanding; the sinful who listen and obey are led to repentance, and, through the doors of baptism of the water and spirit are brought out of wickedness to the enlightenment of pure knowledge, until in obedience to heavenly law they secure the keys of power authorizing them to pass by the angels, inherit glory, become heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ; and, having abiding in them eternal lives shall beget, throughout the endless ages of eternity, the souls of the children of men to the honor and glory of God, and create and have dominion over worlds.
Such is the high destiny of obedient man. But Satan was an accuser of his brethren from the beginning, hence the rejoicing of angels when he and his kind were cast down to earth bodiless, estateless and powerless, except for evil. Wandering spirits in the realms of darkness, seeking everywhere and under all circumstances to enter, defile and destroy the souls and bodies of men. Where God is he can never abide, nor can those having received the testimony of Jesus who deny it. Such can never, if they reject the truth, sin against the light and put Jesus again to an open shame, abide the presence of God. When through the stoning blood of Christ their spirits and bodies are brought together in the resurrection of the wicked and are judged according to the deeds done in the body, the second death will pass upon them. The first death resulted in a temporary separation of body and spirit, but the second will result in eternal separation. As the rebellious in heaven lost their first, so these will lose their second estate and become like the first.
How many people in this world to-day are capable of becoming the sons of perdition? And those are the only ones of the human family who will not be saved in some degree of glory. Are there two hundred thousand mature, intelligent human beings throughout the Christian world to-day who have knowledge enough to enable them to become the sons of perdition? How many in the Christian world
have that testimony of Jesus which the Apostle declared was the spirit of prophecy? Such a testimony is stronger than can be the testimony of the existence of any earthly thing as evidenced by the five senses. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so is the testimony of Jesus above earthly information for it penetrates every fibre of the human organism. A slight degree of inspiration, without such a testimony enabled the Waldenses about whom Brother Leishman has been speaking, to endure, while singing songs of joy and rejoicing, the horrors of fagot, wheel and rack. A comprehension of the testimony that rewards, in time and eternity, enabled the Apostle Peter to meet undismayed the death of crucifixion. It caused the disciples of Jesus to take gladly the spoiling of their goods and bear patiently the contumely heaped upon them. How few can comprehend it! Physical courage is common enough even in this degenerate age. Exhibitions of brute force can be witnessed on every hand. The crawling worm as it drags its slimy term, will turn and fight for existence, and the lowest of God's creatures struggle for life. A sensitive, refined human being, made in the image of God, may face physical danger in every form, meeting without fear the wild savage, while the dark messengers of death whistle by his heedless ears. Without a tremor, he may listen to the whir of grape and canister, and the shriek of shell, as they scatter desolation and ruin all around; but a sneer of contempt from the lips of the scornful, or envious hate expressed in fierce sarcasm, may dull the very marrow of his bones, causing him to quake like an aspen leaf. Thus the physically brave may quail, falter and fall under the attack of the scornful egotist, whose sneer to many is like the poison of asps. But he who has the testimony of Jesus springing up in his heart like a well of living water hath that higher courage which tends upwards, step by step, to a comprehension of the inspiration that enabled the Savior while suffering the agonies of death to utter the heaven-born sentiment of divine love expressed in the words, "O, God forgive them for they know not what they do."
No man without the Holy Ghost can testify that Jesus is the Christ; neither could any men under similar circumstances utter from the heart such sentiments of forgiveness without the direct inspiration of the Almighty. Christians may assimilate, preach about, and praise a love that passeth the comprehension of the finite mind, but no mortal can love his enemies and pray for the forgiveness of those who despitefully use and would kill him, without the testimony of Jesus, and the knowledge accompanying it.
God will forgive whom He will forgive, but for us it is required that we forgive all men. Whether they ask forgiveness or not? Yes, whether they ask it or not! This doctrine is founded in the deepest philosophy and leads up to final victory for all who through obedience to the commandments, have gained for the spirit ascendancy over the passions of the body and are thus enabled to love even their enemies. Scribes, Pharisees and hypocrites love each other. The distinguishing characteristic of a Saint is that he can do more. And his ability to do more comes of the knowledge that the love of God abides not in the heart that harbors hatred of a single human being. He who preaches and practices the doctrine of hate knows not God. As we
judge of the quality of a tree by the fruit it bears, so also may we judge of the quality of a religion by the fruit it bears and not by the professions of its adherents.
I say to the Latter-day Saints, if the religion you have received fails to prevent you from bearing false witness, it is either untrue and not the religion of Christ, or it is not grounded in your hearts. True religion is bound to be practical religion, teaching the merchant to give sixteen ounces to the pound, thirty-six inches to the yard, and in every way to be honest and truthful. It will teach the laborer to do honest work and the employer to give honest and fair wages for the work. It will unveil hypocrisy and place a premium on the execution of equity and justice; it will supplant malice with charity, hatred with love, distrust with confidence. It will silence the voice of envy and remove the foot of oppression from the neck of the poor. Its church steeples will cast no shadows over the homeless, starving, shivering child of God, left miserably to perish under the very droppings of the sanctuary. True religion will do these and ten thousand kindred deeds of charity, whenever and wherever practiced. The fearful wrongs everywhere seen in the Christian world were not fore-ordained, nor are they any part of heaven's economy, but are the fruits of the acts of sinful man, the results of God's laws broken and trodden under feet of men whose wicked injustice blotch and mar the harmony and peace of the universe.
True religion refreshes the heart as gentle rains the parched and thirsting soil. The law and prophets hang upon perfection,—the doing unto others as we would that others should do to us, under the practice of which the grinding monopolies, cruel wrongs and awful sacrifices known throughout the Christian world would melt away as snow before the rays of the sun. Millions may profess to follow the meek and lowly Jesus, but if the misery and sorrow of Christians is the fruit they produce, their religion is lifeless, untrue, or has failed to act upon their hearts. Strait is the gate and narrow is the way, and few there be that find it. Simple, unmistakable, yet how few, how few indeed, seem to understand that unchangeable declaration of Christ.
Ministers claiming to speak in His name daily contradict and seek to nullify its force. Some years since I remember to have read a sermon preached by the Brooklyn divine, the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, in which his mighty intellect,—he is conceded to be one of the foremost thinkers of the age,—seemed to grasp material with which to bridge the gulf separating the various Christian denominations, by comparing the kingdom of heaven to the City of Philadelphia, leading into which were many railways, over each of which many trains, with many cars containing many people, passed daily. All starting from different points, traversing different roads, but all going to Philadelphia—that is, heaven. How generous, how charitable, how humane! But however pleasing the doctrine it lacks one important ingredient, it is not true. Beecher says there are many ways. Christ said, straight is the gate, not gates, and narrow is the way, not ways, etc. As they separate, and disagree, let us leave Beecher and follow Christ. One is an authority, the other is not. Jesus, the Mediator of the Covenant, the Captain of our salvation,
through whose atoning blood our sins are washed away, and by whose merits and our faithfulness we shall be brought again into the presence of God the Father, has declared that a man cannot enter the Kingdom of God except he be born of the water and of the Spirit; and yet think of the audacity, the blasphemy of those claiming to act in His name and for Him, while denying His statements and rendering His laws, in the estimation of those whom they teach, nugatory. And yet these same people are quick to brand as nullifiers all who seek to test in a peaceful way the special, proscriptive laws of man. These things indicate that which is genuine and detect that which is spurious. Let us obey the laws of God, the laws of no Christian nation should conflict therewith.
As the value of a coin is largely determined by its purchasing power, so the value of a religion may be partly determined by its cost and largely by the blessings it will bring. Becoming familiar with the coin issues of our country the careful, prudent man is able in many ways to detect counterfeits. Note for instance the authorized issue of gold twenties. Above the eagle, the nation's emblematic coat of arms, and surrounded by stars and rays of light are the words, "In God we trust;" around the face margin "United States of America" and "Twenty Dollars." On right and left scroll connecting at top of shield we find the words, "E pluribus Unum;" in its left talon the eagle grasps a bundle of three arrows. On the reverse side we find the impress of the head of the "Goddess of Liberty" surrounded by thirteen stars representing the thirteen original States. Across the diadem on her head, is the word "Liberty," (on certain silver coins of more modern issue "Liberty" is printed on the shield upon which the Goddess sits). These, with date of issue and a small letter indicating the mint that coined the issue are the distinctive features of the coin alluded to. Now supposing any person, high or low, ignorant or wise, should offer you a coin in exchange for twenty dollars value lacking any of these distinctive features, would not your suspicions be aroused? If so, what would you think of a person offering you a coin as genuine bearing none of the distinctive features named except the words, "In God we trust?" And what would you think of any one who would receive it, as an authorized coin? Do you think our Government would acknowledge such as genuine? What would be the penalty for issuing and attempting to circulate such an authorized and genuine coin? Let the thoughtful reflect upon these questions.
Now examine the genuine plan of human redemption impressed by the die of inspiration, issued by the Almighty and endorsed by His Son; Faith, a principle of power, Repentance, turning away from sin; Baptism, being buried in the water, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost conferred under the hands of those having the authority of the Holy Priesthood to officiate in the ordinances of the Gospel, are distinctive features of that plan, obedience to which shows its value in signs following, casting out devils, healing the sick, speaking in tongues, testimony of Jesus, the spirit of prophecy, the sealing powers, keys and tokens of endless lives, thrones, dominions, all h[e]ights, all depths, heir with God, joint heir with Christ.
Think now of an offer as genuine of a plan having none of these ex-
cept, "Believe in Christ and you shall be saved." Accept it, try it, and see if it will purchase those gifts and blessings mentioned, or any of them. Failing in this it would not be genuine though the form, in every particular, corresponded with the authoritative plan. Hence none need be deceived.
Brother Leishman indicated by his remarks that salvation predicated alone on belief was nowhere taught in the Scriptures. This needs qualification for it is written:
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
This being in the same chapter and in connection with the same subject, it is clearly seen that the belief spoken of contemplated works. Now what is faith or belief? It is a principle of power by the exercise of which worlds were made. Christ Himself declared that he that said he believed in Him and kept not His commandments had not the truth in him. True faith, then, merges into, and is inseparably connected with works. The Apostle James testifies that faith without works is dead. In the sense that true faith leads to true works, we understand the sayings above quoted. And that, I presume, is what Brother Leishman meant. Now I believed that I would come to this Tabernacle to-day. In this respect I had a living faith and it prompted to the work necessary to bring me here, hence I am in your presence. Had my faith been dead, how long do you suppose I would have remained absent?
If you believe in Jesus you will keep His commandments, and the assertions of man or any number of men can never change this divine decree. Again He said: "Verily, verily I say unto you (speaking to Nicodemus) except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of heaven." How forcibly can thousands realize this truth among this people. How true, how potent, and yet how little comprehended is that saying Christ further declared to Nicodemus that, except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit he could not enter the kingdom of heaven.
It would seem that not only man but other creations of God respond to this law. The earth upon which we dwell had its birth out of the waters. And, when the debasing, corrupting sins of man defiled the face thereof, they were remitted—swept away by immersion. The windows of heaven being opened and the fountains of the deep broken up, the earth was literally baptized in water, as hereafter, abiding the law of its creation it will be literally baptized in fire and the Holy Ghost. Thus, though men may lightly consider the foundation upon which rests the plan of human redemption, heaven and earth testify of it.
God dwells in eternal fire, and no human being who has not been baptized in water and Spirit can abide that which will come, when the earth is immersed in flames, mountains melt with fervent heat and run down like wax. To prepare humanity for the great day of the Lord Almighty, He placed in his Church Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Teachers; that they might do the work of the ministry and bring us to a oneness of faith in Christ Jesus. Any church with less than these should show the command authorizing the change. If the Savior has made such change, or any change, it is important for us to know it. But if He has made no
change, He will surely, hold us responsible for accepting any that men have made. Can a church not even bearing the name of the Redeemer, and having neither Apostles nor Prophets, bear the fruits enjoyed by the disciples of our Lord in the days of and subsequent to His ministry? Do any of them ever claim to have such fruits? Who among them have the endowments of the Comforter, whose mission it was and is to bring the teachings of Jesus to the memory, show things to come and lead into all truth? God neither changes nor is he a respecter of persons; the causes, therefore, which He ordained to produce certain results in one age will produce them in another. What would we think of an earthly father who, having bestowed every care in the education, advancement and exaltation of his first born; giving instruction, encouragement, sympathy and love, but to children born later only the history of his doings with their older brother? Quick to hear and answer the prayers of the first, deaf to the supplications of others. A living testimony to one, doubt and despair to the rest. The fruits of knowledge to one, dead forms to the others. Could such a father be considered impartial, generous or just? No. And yet men would have us believe that God deals with His children in just this way. I bear my testimony that it is not true. The Apostle James declared that "if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him." Men tell us that He has ceased to communicate with His children. Thus Joseph, the unlettered boy, was confused, perplexed and made most miserable. The Methodist, with good intentions no doubt, said to him, "Lo, here is Christ." The Presbyterian, with equal sincerity, bade him follow them, while the Baptist called on him to seek Jesus, in their way. In the midst of all this confusion and conflict, obeying the injunction of James, he sought wisdom direct from God, and got it; receiving in time authority to organize the Church of Jesus Christ, perfect in all its parts, as it existed anciently. By the knowledge of the things of God revealed to him, and by the authority of the Aaronic Priesthood received from John the Baptist, and of the Melchisedec Priesthood received from Peter, James and John, and not by the learning of man, he did this great work which is genuine—the Gospel of Christ with all its gifts and blessings. And, as Jesus testified, so we testify, if any will do the works of the Father he shall know whether the doctrine be of man or of God.
In the things of this world men are on the testimony of their fellow-men, adjudged innocent or guilty; and if the inducements of wealth are offered as a reward for testing the statements of men few refuse, but when eternal life through a knowledge of the plan of human redemption is promised on simple conditions, how few are willing to test it. Thus are the words of the Savior verified, "many are called but few are chosen."
When less than fifteen years of age an humble, unlearned (in the knowledge of the world) Elder promised me in the name of the Lord that if I would obey the first principles of the Gospel as taught and administered in the days of Jesus, I should know whether the doctrine was of God. I obeyed and proved his words true. I received a testimony and the spirit of prophecy. Not from Joseph Smith or
Brigham Young or John Taylor, but from God. Unhappy is the condition of the Saint who has not received it, for in the midst of scorn, hatred, ostracism and persecutions of the world, it is the lamp that shines along the narrow way that leads to the presence of the Creator. It is the well of living water springing up unto eternal life, the inspiration that testifies of a love stronger than death; willing to endure all things while pleading with humanity to receive the message of a merciful, long-suffering and loving Father. For this reason the Elders of Israel gladly take the spoiling of their goods, and, as it were, their lives in their hands and go to the ends of the earth delivering their message while patiently enduring the whips and scorns, derision and insults of those whom to save they would perish. With such love as this in their hearts, how many have wandered without sympathy, friendless and alone save the companionship of the Holy Ghost, in the streets of London, Liverpool, Paris, New York, and other large cities and densely populated regions of the world! And how truly have they verified the words: "If they hated the Master so also will they hate you."
Read the fierce resolutions and burning expressions of hate issuing from religious and other societies and organizations. Do they inspire you with feelings of bitterness in return, or with profound feelings of sorrow? Can you mourn for those who do these things ignorantly Can you think of Paul as he persecuted the early Saints in the belief that he was doing God's service, and pray for these too? Thousands who have been deceived by those who love and make lies, honestly believe that it would be God's service to drive the "Mormons" from the land.
Let us remember that all these, and those also who judge us wrongfully, harshly, cruelly and with malice aforethought, having knowledge of their injustice, were true to God in heaven when Satan and a third of the hosts there fought against Christ and Michael. They kept their first estate, and whatever in their blind wickedness they may be led by the power of darkness to do here, let us pray for them, and, as far as possible returning good for evil, treat them with kindness, for they are the children of our God. Deceived now and inspired by the Prince of Darkness, but they will be saved hereafter if they sin not against the Holy Ghost in shedding innocent blood. Ignorant, low and wicked, they may be drunken, blasphemous, bearers of false-witness whose testimony may lead to the imprisonment of the innocent; defilers of men and women and the workers of all manner of iniquity; if they shed not innocent blood God will save them, though in the fitness of things, many will be outside the walls of the beautiful city among that class in whose society alone they are prepared to go.
When persecuted, driven, and many killed, the Saints implored the President of this great nation for redress: He answered: "Your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you." Another President ordered, on misrepresentations, an army to Utah. How will the Almighty deal with these? They will be judged as you and I will be judged, according to the deeds done in the body. According to the light they had, will they be held responsible.
To an extent our history as a people is but a repetition of the history of the early Christians.
Paulines, Waldenses and Huguenots knew the cost of being true to their convictions. We speak of them now as reformers, brave, valiant, God-fearing men and women. They were not so regarded by those who delighted in killing them.
God has prepared a place for all. Outside the gates will be sorcerers, adulterers, the lover and maker of lies, and those that lay in the gate making men offenders for a word will be there among dogs, but the means of increased knowledge and a power will be within their reach. Thousands of honest men are anxiously watching the issues of our day, and while they have not moral courage to express interest in our sympathy for the Saints in their hearts, they feel both. The Lord will reward such according to their merit, for He is just. But those alone who have obeyed or will hereafter obey the Gospel in its fullness, can pass into the presence of God, and dwell forever in the celestial kingdom.
The doctrine of salvation by faith so extensively taught and believed is founded on a misunderstanding of the sayings of the Savior to the thief who requested Christ to remember him when He came into His kingdom and was answered, "Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise." (Luke, 23: 43.)
The expression of the thief brought no promise that he should be saved. Where and what is paradise are important questions. It is not heaven, nor is it where God dwells, for on the third day after the crucifixion, Christ declared to Mary that He had not yet ascended to His God and her God. Where then did He go on that day in which He promised to meet the thief in paradise? The Apostle Peter says that being put to death in the flesh He was quickened in the spirit by which He went and preached to the spirits in prison that were disobedient in the days of Noah. Thus it would seem that paradise is a place where the spirits of the disobedient are imprisoned, and as Christ preached His Gospel to them, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the thief also heard there, the conditions upon which he could be saved, for, says Peter 3, 6, "for this cause was the Gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. Now in connection with this clear and comprehensive doctrine, which plainly shows that there is salvation beyond the grave, how easily understood is the saying of Paul on the same subject,—"If the dead rise not at all, then why are they baptized for the dead." Thus verifying and testifying to the unmistakable declaration of the Master that no man, whether alive or dead, can enter the kingdom of God without the baptism of water and of the spirit. Baptism of the living for and in behalf of the dead is founded in the doctrine of vicarious salvation—the doing for us that which we cannot, under certain conditions, do for ourselves. So also is the blood of the Lamb, without effort of ours, the vicarious means by which our bodies and spirits shall be reunited after death.
The opinions of men as to where and what paradise is, are of but little value. It is at least the abode of spirits, good and bad. A place of peace and rest for the good, of imprisonment and punishment for the bad. Referring to the Territory we might say we are in Utah, yet those who are here in Logan are not in Salt
Lake City, nor are any of you in prison though you are in Utah.
If every human being who has, or ever will live is to be judged by the law of redemption as Christians believe, and there be no repentance beyond the grave, how then shall infants and heathens who never heard of Christ or his law be redeemed? To say nothing about the dead what is to become of the four hundred millions of Chinese now inhabiting the empire of China, who do not, and in all probability will not in this life, know anything about the Gospel? What about the two hundred and eighty million followers of Mohammed, who, like the Chinese, have never heard of water and spirit baptism! Then think of the billions who have died equally or more ignorant of these vital questions, and tell me that God intends to mix them up with infants a span long, who died without being sprinkled by some poor, narrow-minded priest without authority from heaven, and I will tell you that I don't worship that kind of a God. Christians may do so, and speak of him as bodiless and passionless; he certainly would have no passion either of justice or affection. The God we worship is full of compassion, justice and love. Hence the broad scope of His plan of human redemption, reaching the living and the dead, in time and in eternity. I can comprehend how a demon might want to consign to eternal punishment without a hearing, without law, His creatures, but how men can pretend to worship a God possessed of such attributes is a mystery.
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.—He who created the heaven and earth and is the father of all spirits, will not thus condemn. He will judge men by the light they have had and by the deeds done in their bodies; and His judgments will be full of mercy for those who have ignorantly erred. As for innocent children Christ has fixed their status: they are of the kingdom of Heaven. Wicked and foolish men may teach to the contrary, but they cannot effect the result. Mortals entrusted with a little brief authority, as they suppose, may exercise unrighteous dominion over the bodies and souls of men, imprisoning many, killing some. Many a saint may hereafter be commanded to worship the golden image or perish in the fiery furnace, deny his faith or be cast down into the lion's den. You have among you Latter-day Saints some who would, if necessary, give their lives for you and the cause which they have espoused. They are willing to die for the testimony of Jesus. It would seem from prophecy that such an event is foreshadowed. For when the souls of those whom the Revelator John saw under the altar of God, and who had been slain for the testimony which they held, cried: "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" they were answered, "until their fellow-servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled."
If violent death comes to some—and it will—can they meet it as others have, rejoicing in the truth. Can those in whose hands the scales of judgment balance unevenly, change the color of your hair, add one cubic [cubit] to your height, slow or quicken your pulse? Can they remove pain, rebuke death and increase your years? No. What can you do for them? You can't change the decrees of God who has written on the archives of heaven that with what judgment we judge
others so shall we be judged, and that we shall, receive the measure that we have measured to others, but we may pray Him to defer the day when this shall be, in hopes that men may repent and make restitution here. How little did those who caused the enactment of the special decree that entrapped the Prophet Daniel, think of the consequences! How little did they think of the fasting, sleepless king whom they had deceived and made the instrument of betrayal. How gladly did that king, who dreaded the weight of innocent blood, hear the voice of the Prophet testifying of the temporal salvation which God had wrought in subduing and rendering harmless the lions. How sorrowful, how pitiable on the other hand, the condition of Daniel's accusers when the decree, the passage of which they had caused, was turned on them. They, their wives and children being cast into the den, the touch of God removed from the fierce beasts, the bones of the hapless victims of their own works, were crushed and broken even before their bodies reached the bottom of the den. So shall it be with all such. God hath decreed it, man cannot change it.
Well, says one, "these doctrines are scriptural and all right, but the Mormon church is nothing but a Polygamic Theocracy, alien to the Government that permits its existence." Under certain conditions, and regulated by revelation, we believe it is true, in plural marriage, and so far as the word theocracy conveys the idea of the government of God in the affairs of men, we are willing to be called theocratic, and we confess that we prefer the motto, "Vox Dei vox Populi" to "Vox Populi vox Dei," for we think that the voice of God should be the voice of the people, but we very well know that the voice of the people is very often far from being the voice of God.
As to patriarchal marriage its results are said to be bad and that there are, in consequence, many breaking hearts in Utah. In reply to these assertions I have to say, in reference to results it is not true, for its fruits are good. The mental and physical condition of the issue of such marriages bear this out unmistakably. "If, however, the cry of a single "Mormon" wife in Utah or else[w]here, whether in the monogamic or polygamic relation, falls upon deaf ears and unresponsive hearts, God will hold the responsible parties answerable. Should the day ever come when the cries of the daughters of Zion pass their husbands unheeded and reach the ears of the God of Abraham, it will be a sorrowful day for the elders of Israel. And further let me say, I know of no Mormon husband whose wife's body or soul is subject to him except in love, as he, in like manner, is bound to be subject to Christ and His laws. Nowhere in the world are women freer than in Utah. As God hates putting away, husbands among this people can put their wives away only for causes mentioned in the holy writ; but wives, on the other hand may claim freedom and support on other and more numerous grounds. Here, man regards his wife as a helpmeet, companion and part of himself, with whose assistance alone he can pass by the angels and inherit eternal, celestial glory. She is not to rule over him nor be trampled upon, or abused by him, but, having been taken out of his side her place is near his heart, to be loved, cherished, protected. Husbands, be ye therefore kind to your wives. When they ask for bread give not a stone, for love
give not hate, for as God lives, if you are harsh and cruel to them so shall you, in return, receive harsh and cruel treatment until the utmost farthing be paid.
We were not sent here to manifest the fruits of the flesh but those of the spirit; and if the hearts of any of the wives of the elders of Israel are breaking, by reason of their husbands conduct, may God have mercy on such husbands, for knowing better, they sin against light in transgressing their covenants. The allegiance of a wife in this Church is not due to an unfaithful, deceiving or cruel husband. And he who regards his wife as the creature of his sinful pleasure, made and given to gratify his fallen nature is unworthy of a wife or to be the father of children. Were I to seek to find happiness in the marriage relation, I should expect to find it most abundant, perfect and pure in Utah, notwithstanding all that is said to the contrary. And this conclusion is reached after years of observation here and abroad. Nowhere exists so great confidence between husbands and wives as in Utah. Nowhere is sexual impurity regarded with greater disgust, or chastity esteemed more highly. Philosophers, preachers and moralists may insist on the enforcement of Roman instituted monogamy, but its practice throughout the Christian world is fraught with all manner of deceivableness, of iniquity and sexual abominations. Better practice what we preach and preach what we practice, leaving no room for distrust; for, as between man and wife, where confidence dies, there you may dig the grave of love. Destroy one and the other cannot exist.
In conclusion, let us be considerate of others, kind and courteous to all. By your fruits shall ye be known. A number belonging to different Christian organizations have, I understand, been and are holding conference meetings in Logan. Every facility for their peaceful enjoyment while here, should be extended, and those having an inclination to hear should hear them, conforming, in a respectful manner to the rules that govern their gatherings. Whatever truth they have is of God, and belongs to the Gospel, which is a perfect law of liberty.
Note carefully the predictions of the Prophets, watch the signs of the times, remembering that the end will not come until the Gospel is preached as a witness to every nation and people. Without apprehensions as to the final result, let us not forget that while God will forgive whom He will forgive of us, He has required that we shall forgive all men. In the knowledge of the use of this key, there is happiness here, and exaltation hereafter. May a full comprehension of its meaning be granted to every honest heart, is my prayer. Amen.