By Ezra T. Benson, Tabernacle, Oct 6th, 1854.
Deseret News, 2 Nov. 1854; or Journal History, 6 Oct. 1854
[Also related remarks by other Brethren]
Beloved Brethren and Sisters:—
I deem it a great privilege this morning to stand before you, to occupy a few moments, and express my feelings in that way and manner I may be dictated by the Holy Spirit.
I feel pretty comfortable; I am just as comfortable as I know how to be; and I would be more so, I suppose, if I had more experience, more knowledge, and had cultivated more of the Holy Spirit.
I have listened with much pleasure and satisfaction to the remarks of br. Phineas [H. Young] this morning; the exhortation is good and palatable to me, and what I prize above all things, whether in life or death, at home or abroad. It is for us as a people to live as we are commanded; even to live by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.
It has not been my lot for these last few months to preach to congregations of the Saints concerning the great and glorious cause of God on the earth, but according to my instructions, I have been on the plains, where the souls of men and women are tried to the center. My soul has been tried, so much so that I have not had time even to shave off my beard, since I have been gone.
I have been out on the plains, and I believe I have done the best I could. I started with that intention when I left home with the counsels and blessings of my brethren; I have tried to do the best I could for myself, and for my brethren, I do not say but what I may have erred in many points. I concluded however; I would take my religion, priesthood, and authority along with me, believing I should have use for it before I returned; and I found it so. I had use for all the priesthood, judgment, and wisdom I was in possession of, and had received from my heavenly Father, and from the counsel and instructions of my brethren; and I have arrived home again as safe and sound as I went away. And I feel to rejoice before you this morning.
I am again in the house of my friends; for if they are not here, I know not where to find them on the face of this earth. And I pray continually by night and by day, that the blessings of God may still continue to abide with this people, and that the kingdom of God may roll forth in great power, and that the time may speedily come when the knowledge of God shall cover the earth, as the waters do the mighty deep; when wickedness and abomination shall cease from amongst this people, and they become a righteous people from one end of the kingdom of God to the other, when all animosity, malice, and backbiting shall cease; and the power of God rest upon every individual. I expect to live to see that time.
We have to encounter many things on this earth that are not altogether pleasing to human nature; and we may expect to be required to do many things contrary to our own private feelings; but what is this compared to the things of the Holy Spirit and the goodness of God, which he is pouring upon his people? Where is there any real satisfaction, happiness, glory, and peace outside the kingdom of God? They are not to be found on earth; many have sought for them, and have never obtained them until they embraced the fulness of the everlasting gospel. Here we find them—here we find the true oracles of God; we find men here who have borne the heat and burden of the day; who have been faithful and true form the commencement of this kingdom; whose hearts have never quivered or knees trembled in danger, whether in mobs, poverty, adversity, imprisonment, death, or whatever situation they have been placed in, for the sake of the kingdom of God Under all circumstances they have always been faithful and true.
Well then, shall we be tired this morning while listening to their words and counsels? No; their words are peace to our souls; they are like a stream of living water upon thirsty ground. We are not, at all times, in possession of wisdom enough to appreciate these blessings. This is one thing which is necessary for us to cultivate continually, if we have not already received it, that by our own faith and diligence, and by the light of the Holy Spirit, we may increase knowledge and wisdom, so as to always appreciate the blessings conferred upon us from day to day. It is time we made a commencement.
I am going on to tell my experience, how I have fared on the plains, and what I have had to encounter; but as to what I have had to encounter, it is all nothing. How we have lived, part of the time on nothing but bread and water, and half eaten up by musquitoes. I call them the inhabitants of Nebraska; but it is all in the work of the Lord, so that it is all right. Br. Brigham calls them the squatters of Nebraska; there are plenty of them; they are innumerable; and as the kingdom of God increases, I can see their influence also; for the traders on the road told me they never saw them so thick upon upon the lands of Nebraska.
It is expected that as the kingdom of God increases in knowledge, wisdom, power, and righteousness, that the devils will increase—if they come in the shape of the musquitos, or whatever shape, we expect they will increase. If we do not increase also, we shall be overcome by them. This is certain; if we stand still, and do not live so before God as to increase in our faith and righteousness before him, we shall be trodden under foot by them. It is for us to keep the commandments of God, so as to keep our heads above water, and see our way out of every difficulty, and overcome, and withstand every temptation we are called to pass thro’.
To pass over the plains is a matter that is particularly annoying to my feelings. The last time I passed over the plains, I felt as though I never wanted to cross them again; and I felt so when I was sent out last July by the Presidency. If I had spoken my own feelings, I should have said, send me anywhere else, and may God help the companies; but I said, I will go, and will not complain, murmur, or find fault with my appointment, but I will go because God requires it. By thus humbling myself, and feeling willing to go, and craving the spirit of God to rest upon me; I found I could enjoy myself, and my religion upon the plains, among the inhabitants of Nebraska.—I found God was there; his Holy Spirit was there, and the light of revelation was there; and all I had to do was to speak, and the thing was accomplished—to say the word and it was done; and all the power the devil could rally against me was in vain.
When I found that thunder and lightning would not do to bring about my purposes, I then began to try the small wedges, and kept tapping a little to-day, and a little to-morrow, and so kept working at it until the work was accomplished; and I feel to rejoice, and give all the glory to God my heavenly Father; none of it belongs to me.
The work of God is rolling on, and let us be engaged in it; let us persevere; let us be faithful, and try how to know that God is our friend—that the servants of God are our friends, and that this people are our friends. What can we desire more? It is one of the greatest blessings and consolations that can be conferred upon any man upon the face of the earth. That consoles me.—If I did not have that consolation and assurance, what could I accomplish? What could I do in the great work of the last days, if I did not know I had found favor in the eyes of God and his servants—if I did not know they backed up my doings? I should wither and die; and be tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine. It is consoling to our souls to know we are brethren, and in the priesthood of the living God, if we abide by our covenants.
While upon the plains, I have seen the Deseret News from time to time, containing some first rate discourses by the First Presidency, the Twelve, and others; it is first rate; it is good and cheering to read them. Can we abide the teachings contained in those sermons, and stand the purification of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It has been proclaimed form this stand, that the time is approaching when the Church of God will be sanctified. How is it with us to-day? Are we ready to be sanctified before God?
I tell you God can see us. There is nothing he does not know. It is out of date in these times for a man to hide himself—to get out of the sight of God—to do something that he will not see and know. [Voice in the stand, “to do this he must go into empty space”] Yes, but we do not believe there is any empty space; it is all filled up with particles of matter so refined that we cannot see them. If our eyes were opened to see the spiritual world, no doubt we should see that this room is filled with the spirits of just men made perfect.
Who knows? Some of these spiritual agencies or spirit knockers, give us to understand that Bro. Joseph’s and Br. Hyrum’s spirit is about, and they profess to call up any spirit they please. We believe just as much of this as we please. We believe when these things are for the people of God they will come thro’ the roper channel of the Holy Priesthood; and if the spirits of just men made perfect have got anything to reveal, they will reveal it thro’ the channel God has ordained; that we may not be imposed upon by Tom, Dick, Harry, and the devil. No. I am going to sail in the old Mormon boat, that has carried me thro’ safe to the present time. Br. Brigham told us in the Temple in Nauvoo, we had to sail in Snag Harbor; and we have got a boat that will sail there. The old Mormon boat has been kicked, and knocked about, and still she sits true and stately upon the water with a sound bottom; and she sails when it is necessary, and when it is necessary she rides at anchor; and we can take in sail or let it out according to the urgency of the case, and to suit the necessities of the passengers aboard.
I feel hoarse this morning, in consequence of hallooing to the men to yoke up in the mornings, but I feel like hallooing as loud as I can, Glory to God and the Lamb; Hallelujah to the Latter Day Saints, and our heavenly Father. I feel so on the plains, and wherever I am. When I cultivate the Good Spirit of God it is peace to my soul, and I hardly know how to express my feelings to you this morning.
I desired with all my heart to get in to the Conference. Everybody said I should not be able.—I told them I would talk to the Lord about it, for I wanted to be in the circle of my friends that I have proved from the beginning; and I will be there, and not kill the cattle neither. They said, “O, you will kill all the cattle and play destruction on the train, &c.
Br. Brigham pronounced, if we would go and do right when we started to conduct the Church train in, we should have good weather. It has been fulfilled. We are here, and the Church train is here; notwithstanding the devil got into the cattle, and half of them ran away. Neither are the goods deposited at Fort Laramie, as it was expected they would be. The goods are all here except what we consumed on the way, and what have gone to meet expenses. It is not necessary for me to tell how it could have been bettered. I do not know how it could, as far as I am concerned. I must have more wisdom and power to better it. I felt that God was by my side, and good friends were round about me, and I had no desire to do anything I would not be willing for God to scan, who was with me by his power, and wisdom. I felt willing he should walk with me as far as my acts were concerned, even as he walked with Enoch of old. I feel determined to magnify my covenants with God, and strive every time I am sent out, to do better and better, and more of it; until we can control the elements, and cast out devils, and do many mighty works in the name of the Lord Jesus, and see this kingdom redeemed.
It is the business of the elders of Israel to see this gospel preached in all nations of the earth, until Israel is redeemed, and take a course to build up and not tear down. There is a great deal more honor in building up than there is in tearing down. We are the servants of God, and I must say I am ashamed of some of them—especially those boys the Bishops sent out. They sent out some good men, but the rest were tag and bobtail. We had to threaten to knock their teeth down their throats, before they would do right. They would play cards, and do wrong, unless a clenched fist was held continually before them. —The boys that came out from England and Wales, and from other countries, stood back in amazement at them. What is the matter? Wickedness as well as righteousness are increasing in these mountains. How do I know it? I know it because I form part of a quorum with those who are trying to build up this kingdom. I know that they not only try, but actually do the things I tell you. Captain Brown, I do not mean you; you have done the thing which is right, and lots of others. What did the captains of companies say when I went to them for cattle? I said to them, “the Church train stands on the plains—what have you to say about it?” They said, “We have nothing to say; what have you got to say? Tell the number of cattle you want, and the bill shall be filled.” Did I not feel like blessing such men? I did, all the days of my life; and there is nothing too good for them.
I would go to another man and say, “what is going to be done?—The Church cattle have run away, and the train stands on the plains.” “I don’t know; we have got just as much as we can do; if you take away one yoke of cattle, or a yoke of cows, we cannot possibly roll.” I said, “brother, that is not the right spirit; if you do not know where the cattle are to come from, I will show you; drive your cattle past here; I want to teach you to look thro’ the same magnifying glass that I do, and when you see by the same Spirit I do, you will see where the cattle are to come from.” “I want to do all things right,” he said, “but I do not see where there is a yoke to come from.” “Well,” said I, “there’s a yoke; take out that middle yoke of your own; and take out these wheel cattle from another wagon,” &c.
This was the way we had to do with those who were not willing to spare any of their cattle; or the train would have been at Independence Rock this day, whereas it is here; and I feel to bless the brethren, and I feel to bless Br. Brigham, and the First Presidency. We know who they are. They are men who are toiling by day and by night to build up the work of God on earth; they fulfil the scripture, and the wise man says, “whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved, but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once.” How can a man walk uprightly before God, and see the necessity of his brother on the plains, or anywhere else, and will not put forth his hand to help him, but shut up the bowels of his compassion in the day of his trial? But from such men as these my brethren, who have opened their hearts, and stretched forth their hands to assist the needy, and way-worn traveler, God will withhold no good thing. Is not this worth living for?
How much better I now enjoy my meals at home, since I have been away. I have not yet eaten a full meal since I have been at home. You know, just coming off the plains, I have to curtail my appetite a little, and use wisdom and judgment. My food tastes good to me all the time; it is good when I begin to eat, and it is good when I leave off. It is just the same as when you are at a good meeting.
It is our privilege in this way all the time, to live, to enjoy our food, to enjoy our families, to enjoy the society of the Saints, and every situation we are called to act in. This is my religion, and out of it I am not happy; but when I am moving in that sphere I am at home; when I am on the plains; when I am preaching the gospel, and when I am in the society of the Saints. If we all feel so, the first thing you know we shall be in the celestial kingdom of God.
The last three months to me is like a dream—and I hardly know I am at home yet, but I feel this morning I am in the society of the Saints.—We are prone to wander, as the sparks to fly upward; and we have been aliens and strangers to the commonwealth of Israel, but we are now controlled and governed according to the order of God’s house. If we govern ourselves in accordance with this, all will be right, and the Lord will do his own work.
He moves in the midst of the nations, and we can see the unwise measures of the nations. God has said he will confound the wise, and bring them to nought. It is something like this,—“because I have got a gun and a few soldiers at my command, I can go down here and slay a whole nation of Lamanites; all I want is a flask of ‘O be joyful’ in my pocket, and I will show you how it is done.”
The Mormons should not work upon that principle, but they should say, “if the Lord will.”—This is the way they did anciently, and how it should be in modern times. A man cannot accomplish much outside of this principle. If we do not do what God requires of us according to his method, God will show us our weakness. If we have a son that is a faithful, obedient, and good boy, we are willing to grant him anything that will do him good; so it is with God. I have no doubt God will give us all we desire; all we can hope for, and all we can appreciate, and that is necessary for our comfort and for the comfort of our friends.
I did not rise to preach to you, but to talk a little of my experience. I have a long experience; and if I were to tell it as the Methodists, and Baptists do, I should consume too much of your time, I have therefore told a long experience in a brief manner. I will give way, but I wanted to let you know that I feel first rate; and harbor no animosity against any person; and if any person has anything against me, they must just come to me and I will make reconciliation; but if they will not come to me, they must carry it: We do not expect all at once to be perfect, but we expect to come here and live in these valleys of the mountains, and do about right.
I have often met the Californians on the road, but did not expect to have much conversation with them. However, once we met some, and they said, “Are you from Salt Lake, friends?” I said “yes.” “Are you Mormons?” “Yes, we would not be anything else for a dollar.” “You are a singular set of men out there, if all be true we hear.” “Of course, that is what we calculate to be.” “We hear some strange reports about you.” “We are glad of it; what do you hear?” “That you steal, and have more wives than one.” “Indeed, would you please tell us some news; have you anything to say about yourselves, you poor dupes; can you say one mean thing you are not guilty of; we know you from a to izzard; I have lived among you. Why don’t you try to establish your own characters, and then talk about the Mormons? You are more willing to give credence to a false report than a good one; you have only heard one side of the question; you are going thro’ Salt Lake City, try and learn the other side of it; go to the Tabernacle; read the newspaper, and hear the counsels of the Presidents there, and don’t judge until you have heard both sides of the story, and don’t be fools by judging a matter before you have heard.
It is too much the case among this people, right here to-day. I will palm it on to you, ye Elders, and Latter Day Saints; you often judge a man or a woman by hearing one side of the question only. My experience has taught me different. Would I believe a false report about my brethren and sisters in this place, when I am abroad in the world? No. But I would say I have been wit them; and you tell me this or that against their character and undertake to make me believe it, and you are barking up the wrong tree.
Would I throw down my testimony and experience as a thing that is good for nothing to believe some tattler, and mischief-maker, that has no station or character in the kingdom of God, and does not want his brethren and sisters to have any either? —No.
I stand here before God and my brethren to give an account of my actions when it is called for, both as it regards my spiritual and temporal career in this world; and I am ready to be judged b y them any day, any hour, or any moment; and if I am in the wrong, I will restore four fold, if it is necessary; or if an humble confession in the congregation of the saints is wanted, I am just the boy, and am on hand to do it, if there is no other way to give satisfaction to those whom I may have injured. A long as I feel so, I feel good, and feel to rejoice all the day long.
May God bless you: Amen.
Of Orson Hyde, Tabernacle, Oct. 6, 1854.
I arise, brethren and sisters, to make a few remarks, not expecting to detain you long.
Br. Benson has returned from his mission and been successful. We are all glad to see him safely in our midst once more. The task he has had to perform has been a hazardous one; one that required all the skill, judgment, wisdom, perseverance, and patience that a man can possess, or obtain.
It seems he has accomplished that he went to do, and the trains are mostly in; there are some two or three exceptions; they will be in soon.—It is a matter of great gratification to me, and to all the saints, and a matter for which we all feel grateful to God, or at least should do, that the weather has been so temperate, and has continued so mild, seemingly for the very purpose of favoring our late emigration; and it has been, truly, a favor from the hand of God; so I regard it.
There is one thing however, that I wish to say a word upon; which is this; concerning our brethren that went out to meet the trains. Now all br. Benson has said is unquestionably true, and correct. We have some pretty rough boys.—Well, there is one redeeming trait in their character, and I want it mentioned; and that is, they actually did volunteer, as bad as they are, to go and carry food to the hungry; and I say, God bless them; they did volunteer to do this, as rough, and as sinful, and as wicked as they are, and they were perhaps the only ones that would do it. And it shall be said unto them at the great day, “When I was an hungered, ye gave me meat; when I was thirsty, ye gave me drink; when I was in distress and trouble, ye visited me; and your hand brought to me relief.”
It does not say anything there whether they did or did not play cards a little. I do not however, mention this to justify any of these improprieties; no, I repudiate them, and am very sorry that these boys condescended to such things; but while we acknowledge all their sins and their follies, and their vanities, let us not overlook the one redeeming trait; and it raises high above all the rest; they went and carried food to the hungry; and I say God bless them.
Now brethren, be encouraged by these remarks—and be improved by br. Benson’s which are just and true. Leave the one course, and cleave to the other, and God will make you mighty and powerful rulers in his kingdom, and instrumental in building it up; which may he grant for Christ’s sake: Amen.
By Heber C. Kimball, Tabernacle, Oct. 6, 1854, p.m.
...The Zion’s Ship that was spoken of today, which runs in snag harbor, has prospered from the first day it was launched, and every man and woman who sticks firmly to that ship will prosper from this time henceforth and for ever. That I know, for I have been aboard of that ship, and am now sailing upon it.
The first time I went to England, I was on board of Zion’s Ship, and Joseph came to me while I was sailing, and put into my hand a rod, and I presume if I had dreamt once of being aboard of that ship, I have dreamt it a hundred times. I have been in it in the midst of dangers, and in the most dangerous places; I have seen trees and stumps, mountains, and rocks, and everything else that could be placed in her course thrown before her to stop her in her course: but she can sail through a mountain, or on dry land, as well as upon the water. I have this in dreams; and I will say to the brethren, just so long as you keep aboard of that ship you will prosper. I do not care whether it is in the midst of the Lamanites or among the Jews, whether it is in Italy or in Denmark, in Europe or in America, we will prosper, and I know it. That is my testimony.
As bro. George A. Smith was saying, there are some who want to enjoy ancient Mormonism; that is, as Mormonism used to be when it was a small saplin, but it is now become a lofty tree, and her branches are beginning to shoot forth all over the nations of the earth; ancient Mormonism has grown to such a degree. Many have been in the back ground, and have left the tree, and she has grown to that extent, they do not know her, that is the trouble with them; they don’t know what Mormonism is; but this is Mormonism, and this is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and President Young is the true and legal administrator and delegate sent from God, and we are his brethren, and he is on board of Zion’s Ship, and he is the captain, and if we will stick to it, we shall never run foul of the rocks; and whoever he tells to take hold of the helm, he will tell them in what direction to steer, and she is such a good sailer, and so true to the helm, she will run right between or over all snags....