Eulogy of Lorenzo D. Barnes—The Beginning of Auxiliary Organizations in the Church—Important Items of Doctrine Proclaimed at Ramus—The General Conference of April 6th, 1843.
Saturday, April 1, 1843.—Called at the office about ten a.m., for “the Law of the Lord;” and about noon I heard read “Truthiana” No. 3, from the Boston Bee. At two p.m., I started in company with Orson Hyde and William Clayton for Ramus. The roads were very muddy. We arrived about half-past six, p.m., and were very joyfully received by Brother Benjamin F. Johnson, where we slept for the night.
Elders Brigham Young and John Taylor went to La Harpe.
The Times and Seasons contains a well written editorial upon the signs of the times. (See vol. 4, page 153.)
Minutes of a Conference at Augusta, Lee County, Iowa, April 1st, 1843.
James Brown was appointed the presiding Elder of the Augusta branch, which numbered eighty-four members in good standing, including two high priests, eleven elders, four priests, two teachers and one deacon. Twelve persons united with the branch. Seven elders, two priests and one deacon were ordained. One of the elders was a Lamanite of the Delaware tribe. A resolution was unanimously passed to uphold the first presidency and follow their counsels, and to use their utmost endeavors to build the Nauvoo House as well as the Temple. A number of discourses were preached during the conference, and several persons requested baptism at the close.
Elder P. P. Pratt writes:
Letter of Elder Parley P. Pratt Eulogizing Lorenzo D. Barnes, the First Elder to Die while on a Foreign Mission.
Alton, April 1, 1843.
Dear Brother:—Brother Lorenzo Snow arrived at St. Louis last Wednesday, from England with about two hundred and fifty emigrants. They are now lying on a boat bound for Nauvoo as soon as the river opens. They sailed from England some time in January, and bring a copy of the Millennial Star and some private letters, under date of January 1st, 1843. From these we learn the painful fact that our dear brother and fellow-laborer, Elder Lorenzo D. Barnes is gone to be with Christ. He lingered some weeks with a fever, and at length died in the triumphs of faith.
He died on the morning of tho 20th of December last, at Bradford, the first messenger of this last dispensation, who, for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s, has laid down his life in a foreign land.
In this dispensation of Providence, an entire people are called to mourn. Brother Barnes was everywhere known and universally beloved as a meek, humble, and zealous minister of the Gospel, who has labored extensively for many years with great success. Such was his wisdom and prudence, and such his modesty and kindness, that he won the friendship not only of the Saints, but of thousands of various sects, and of those who made no profession. In short, his was the favored portion which falls to the lot of but few men, even among the great and good. He was loved and esteemed by many and hated by few, in all the wide circle of his acquaintance. But in the midst of a useful career on earth, he is suddenly and to us unexpectedly called away to a higher and more glorious field of action, with the spirits of the just, in the high council of the King of Kings. His spirit now justly claims an honored seat; his voice is now heard in the deliberations of the high and mighty ones, who are the principal movers in the great events of the dispensation of the fullness of times, whilst his body lies sleeping far away from his native shore, on a distant island of the sea.
No father or mother, or kindred were near
To receive his last blessing or drop a kind tear,
With heart-broken anguish to weep o’er his tomb,
To adorn it with roses of richest perfume.
Yet he was lamented with many a tear,
By hearts full of sorrow—by soul’s as sincere,
Who in solemn procession repaired to the grave,
To mourn for the stranger no kindness could save.
‘Twas a tribute from souls he had won for his Lord—
Yea, brothers and sisters made nigh by his word,
Whose love was as strong and whose friendship as pure—
Whose grief was as heart-felt as heart can endure.
His name and memory will be dear to thousands, and will be handed down to all generations, as one who has devoted his time from early youth in the service of his God and of his fellow-creatures, and has laid down his life for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s, to find it again, even life eternal. 1
The Saints in England seem to be still rejoicing in the truth and increasing in numbers.
The emigration to Nauvoo is gathering as a cloud, yea, they are flocking as doves to their windows from all parts of England and the United States. The ice remaining so late in the river has congregated them in St. Louis in great numbers, some from Ohio and the East, and from various places. I think that thousands will land in Nauvoo in the course of the spring. Yes, as soon as the ice is out, they will throng to Nauvoo in swarms. The people in Missouri are beginning to be more and more astonished, and are expressing great fears that “Joe Smith” will yet prevail, so as to restore the supremacy of the laws in that dark corner of the earth, where a gang of robbers and murderers have so long controlled a state.
I long to be with you on the 6th of April, but fear that the ice will prevent.
I am in haste,
Yours in the new covenant,
Parley P. Pratt.
A Short Sketch of the Rise of the “Young Gentlemen and Ladies Relief Society” from in the Times and Seasons. 2
In the latter part of January, 1843, a number of young people assembled at the house of Elder Heber C. Kimball, who warned them against the various temptations to which youth is exposed, and gave an appointment expressly for the young at the house of Elder Billings; and another meeting was held in the ensuing week, at Brother Farr’s school-room, which was filled to overflowing. Elder Kimball delivered addresses, exhorting the young people to study the scriptures, and enable themselves to “give a reason for the hope within them,” and to be ready to go on to the stage of action, when their present instructors and leaders had gone behind the scenes; also to keep good company and to keep pure and unspotted from the world.
The next meeting was appointed to be held at my house; and notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather, it was completely filled at an early hour. Elder Kimball, as usual, delivered an address, warning his hearers against giving heed to their youthful passions, and exhorting them to be obedient and to pay strict attention to the advice of their parents, who were better calculated to guide them on the pathway of youth than they themselves. My house being too small the next meeting was appointed to be held in the hall over my store. I addressed the young people for some time, expressing my gratitude to Elder Kimball for having commenced this glorious work, which would be the means of doing a great deal of good, and said the gratitude of all good men and of the youth would follow him through life, and he would always look back upon the winter of 1843 with pleasure. I experienced more embarrassment in standing before them than I should before kings and nobles of the earth; for I knew the crimes of which the latter were guilty, and I knew precisely how to address them; but my young friends were guilty of none of them, and therefore I hardly knew what to say. I advised them to organize themselves into a society for the relief of the poor, and recommended to them a poor lame English brother (Maudesley) who wanted a house built, that he might have a home amongst the Saints; that he had gathered a few materials for the purpose, but was unable to use them, and he has petitioned for aid. I advised them to choose a committee to collect funds for this purpose, and perform this charitable act as soon as the weather permitted. I gave them such advice as I deemed was calculated to guide their conduct through life and prepare them for a glorious eternity.
A meeting was appointed to carry out these suggestions, at which William Cutler was chosen president and Marcellus L. Bates, clerk. Andrew Cahoon, Claudius V. Spencer and Stephen Perry were appointed to draft a constitution for the society and the meeting adjourned to the 28th of March, when the said committee submitted a draft of a constitution, consisting of twelve sections. The report was unanimously adopted, and the meeting proceeded to choose their officers, William Walker was chosen president; William Cutler, vice-president; Lorin Walker, treasurer; James M. Monroe, secretary; Stephen Perry, Marcellus L. Bates, Redden A. Allred, William H. Kimball and Garret Ivans were appointed a committee of vigilance. The meeting then adjourned until the next Tuesday evening.
The next meeting was addressed by Elders Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and Jedediah M. Grant, whose instructions were listened to with breathless attention.
The Boston Weekly Bee has the following:
Sir:—On Thursday evening, March 23, agreeable to appointment, Elder George J. Adams addressed a large concourse of people on the Character and Mission of Joseph Smith the Prophet. In speaking of him, he bears a positive and direct testimony to the divinity of his mission. He does this without hesitation, just as if he meant what he said, and said what he meant. He does not say he hopes Joseph Smith is a true prophet, but says he is positive that such is the fact. On the Sabbath, March 26th, during the day, he introduced Elder E. P. Maginn, and gave him a high recommendation as an able minister of the fullness of the Gospel, who is to take his place in Boston for the present. He also spoke of Elder Orson Hyde, one of the Twelve Apostles, that would probably visit them this spring; and, according to Adams’ account of him, he must be a perfect Apollo in learning and eloquence. The Boylston hall was a perfect jam during the day and evening. On Tuesday evening he gave his farewell lecture. That was a rich treat indeed, embodying the outline of the faith and doctrine of Latter-day Saints. But on Wednesday evening, at the great tea party was the time it was clearly manifested that kindest feelings existed in this city towards the Mormons. There were present on that occasion over five hundred people: three hundred and fifty sat down at the first table. After supper, Elder Adams delivered a very appropriate and eloquent address. It was listened to with profound attention, during which time we saw the tear start in many an eye. During his remarks he spoke very beautifully of “the marriage supper of the Lamb,” that was to wind up this last dispensation, cause creation to cease to groan, and usher in the long-looked-for period when universal religion, liberty and toleration shall be proclaimed from “mountain-top to mountain-top and every man in every place shall meet a brother and a friend.”
Yours truly, (not a Mormon, but) one of the many friends to that much abused people.”
D. W. R.
Boston, April 1, 1843.
Sunday, 2.—Wind N.E. Snow fell several inches, but melted more or less.
Orson Hyde Corrected by the Prophet.
At ten a.m. went to meeting. Heard Elder Orson Hyde preach, comparing the sectarian preachers to crows living on carrion, as they were more fond of lies about the Saints than the truth. Alluding to the coming of the Savior, he said, “When He shall appear, we shall be like Him, &c. He will appear on a white horse as a warrior, and maybe we shall have some of the same spirit. Our God is a warrior (John 14:23). It is our privilege to have the Father and Son dwelling in our hearts, &c.”
We dined with my sister Sophronia McCleary, when I told Elder Hyde that I was going to offer some corrections to his sermon this morning. He replied, “They shall be thankfully received.”
Important Items of Instruction given by Joseph the Prophet at Ramus, Illinois, April 2nd, 1843. 3
When the Savior shall appear, we shall see Him as He is. We shall see that He is a man like ourselves, and that the same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy (John 14:23). The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.
In answer to the question, “Is not the reckoning of God’s time, angel’s time, prophet’s time, and man’s time according to the planet on which they reside: I answer, yes. But there are no angels who minister to this earth but those who do belong or have belonged to it. The angels do not reside on a planet like this earth; but they reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest—past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord. The place where God resides is a great Urim and Thummim. This earth in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ’s. Then the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17, will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms, will be made known; and a white stone is given to each of those who come into the Celestial Kingdom, whereon is a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it. The new name is the key word.
I prophesy, in the name of the Lord God, that the commencement of the difficulties which will cause much bloodshed previous to the coming of the Son of Man will be in South Carolina. It may probably arise through the slave question. This voice declared to me while I was praying earnestly on the subject, December 25th, 1832. 4
I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following: “Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man; therefore let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter.” I was left thus, without being able to decide whether this coming referred to the beginning of the millennium or to some previous appearing, or whether I should die and thus see His face. I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time.
The Prophet Expounds the Scriptures.
At one p.m., attended meeting, I read the 5th chapter of Revelation, referring particularly to the 6th verse, showing from that the actual existence of beasts in heaven. Probably those were beasts which had lived on another planet, and not ours. God never made use of the figure of a beast to represent the kingdom of heaven. When it is made use of, it is to represent an apostate church. This is the first time I have ever taken a text in Revelation; and if the young Elders would let such things alone it would be far better.
Then corrected Elder Hyde’s remarks, the same as I had done to him privately.
At the close of the meeting we expected to start for Carthage, but the bad weather prevented; so I called another meeting in the evening.
Between meetings I read in Revelation with Elder Hyde, and expounded the same, during which time several persons came in and expressed their fears that I had come in contact with the old scriptures.
At seven o’clock meeting, I resumed the subject of the beast, and showed very plainly that John’s vision was very different from Daniel’s prophecy—one referring to things actually existing in heaven; the other being a figure of things which are on earth.
The Persistence of Intelligence—Blessings Predicated on Law. 5
Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection; and if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come. There is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated: and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.
The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us. A man may receive the Holy Ghost, and it may descend upon him and not tarry with him.
Questions Submitted to the Prophet.
“What is the meaning of the scripture, ‘He that is faithful over a few things shall be made ruler over many; and he that is faithful over many, shall be made ruler over many more’? What is the meaning of the parable of the Ten Talents? Also the conversation with Nicodemus, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit’? ” were questions put to me which I shall not answer at present.
I closed by flagellating the audience for their fears, and called upon Elder Hyde to get up and fulfill his covenant to preach three-quarters of an hour, otherwise I would give him a good whipping.
Elder Hyde arose and said “Brothers and sisters, I feel as though all had been said that can be said. I can say nothing, but bless you.”
At the close of the meeting, we returned to Benjamin F. Johnson’s, where we slept; and I remarked that the hundred and forty-four thousand sealed are the priests who should be anointed to administer in the daily sacrifice.
Dimick B. Huntington returned from Chicago, having had a very cold and severe journey. The ice in Chicago harbor was three feet thick. Brought me a letter from Mr. Justin Butterfield.
Monday, April 3.—Miller’s day of judgment has arrived, but it is too pleasant for false prophets. 6
At two p.m., started for Carthage, where we arrived about four p.m., and stayed at Jacob B. Backenstos’.
Elders Young and Taylor returned to Nauvoo, having preached four times.
In the evening, reading the Book of Revelation with Elder Hyde and conversing with Esquire Backman.
Upward of $12,000,000 have been recently expended by the French government to fortify the city of Paris.
Tuesday, 4.—Spent five hours preaching to Esquire Backman, Chancery Robinson, and Backenstos. Backman said, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”
We left Carthage about two p.m., and arrived at Nauvoo, at have-past five.
Wednesday, 5.—Sat with Aldermen Spencer, Wells, Hills, Harris, Whitney and Kimball, associate-justices in the municipal court on a writ of habeas corpus, and discharged Jonathan and Lewis Hoopes from custody.
A branch of the Church organized at Mount Holly, New Jersey, of twenty-five members, by Elder Newton.
Thursday, April 6.—I was detained from conference to hear a case of assumpsit, Widow Thompson, versus Dixon, until eleven a.m.
The first day of the fourteenth year of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sun shone clear, warm and pleasant. The snow has nearly all disappeared, except a little on the north side of the hill above Zarahemla, Iowa. The ice is about two feet thick on the Mississippi, west of the Temple. A considerable number of the brethren crossed from the Iowa side of the river to the conference, on the ice. The walls of the Temple are from four to twelve feet above the floor.
Minutes of the General Conference, Beginning April 6th, 1843.
An annual conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was convened on the floor of the Temple. There were present—Hyrum Smith, Patriarch; Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, George A. Smith, and Willard Richards, of the quorum of the Twelve; Elder Amasa Lyman, and a very large assembly of the elders and Saints.
Elder Brigham Young announced that President Joseph Smith was detained on business, but would be present soon.
Sang a hymn.
Elder Amasa Lyman opened by prayer, and another hymn was sung.
Elder Orson Pratt then read the third chapter of the second epistle of Peter, and spoke upon the subject of the resurrection.
At ten minutes before twelve o’clock, President Joseph Smith and Elders Rigdon and Hyde arrived.
Presentation Of Authorities.
At twelve o’clock, President Joseph Smith commenced by saying “We all ought to be thankful for the privilege we enjoy this day of meeting so many of the Saints, and for the warmth and brightness of the heavens over our heads; and it truly makes the countenances of this great multitude to look cheerful and gladdens the hearts of all present.” He next stated the object of the meeting, which was—
First. To ascertain the standing of the First Presidency, which he should do by presenting himself before the conference.
Second. To take into consideration the expediency of sending out the Twelve, or some of them, amongst the branches of the Church, to obtain stock to build the Nauvoo house; for the time has come to build it.
Third. The elders will have the privilege of appeals from the different conferences to this, if any such cases exist.
These are the principal items of business which I have at present to lay before you.
It is necessary that this conference give importance to the Nauvoo House. A prejudice exists against building it, in favor of the Temple; and the conference is required to give stress to the building of the Nauvoo House. This is the most important matter for the time being; for there is no place in this city where men of wealth, character and influence from abroad can go to repose themselves, and it is necessary we should have such a place. The Church must build it or abide the result of not fulfilling the commandment.
President Joseph then asked the conference if they were satisfied with the First Presidency, so far as he was concerned as an individual to preside over the whole Church, or would they have another? If, said he, I have done anything to injure my character, reputation, or standing, or have dishonored our religion by any means in the sight of angels or in the sight of men and women, I am sorry for it; and if you will forgive me, I will endeavor to do so no more. I do not know that I have done anything of the kind. But if I have, come forward and tell me of it. If any one has any objection to me, I want you to come boldly and frankly and tell me of it; and if not, ever after hold your peace.
Motion was made are seconded, that President Joseph Smith continue President of the whole Church. After a few minutes’ silence, the motion was put by President Brigham Young, when one vast sea of hands was presented, and the motion was carried unanimously.
President Joseph returned his thanks to the assembly for the manifestation of their confidence, and said he would serve them according to the best ability God should give him.
Elder Brigham Young moved, and Elder Orson Hyde seconded, that Elder Sidney Rigdon be continued in his office as counselor to President Smith.
Elder Rigdon spoke, saying, “The last time I had the privilege of attending conference was at the laying of the corner stones of this Temple; and I have had but poor health since, and have been connected with circumstances the most forbidding, which, doubtless, have produced some feelings. I have never had a doubt of the work. My feelings concerning Bennett were always the same. I told my family to guard against that fellow, for some time he will attempt to make a rupture among this people. I had so little confidence in him that I always felt myself at his defiance. I was once threatened by Warren Parrish, if I would not coincide with his views; and I have just received such a threatening letter from John C. Bennett, that if I did not turn my course I should feel the force of his power. As there is now an increase of my health and strength, I desire to serve you in any way it is possible for me to do. If any one has any feelings against me, I hope they will express them.
Dimick B. Huntington asked him what he meant when he said Bennett was a good man, etc., when he called him a perfect gentleman and he had nothing against him.
Elder Rigdon said he did not recollect it. He did not then know as much about Bennett as he had learned afterwards. I say now, he never offered any abuse in my house. Bennett has never been about my house but little. I never saw anything about the man but what was respectable. He came to Robinson’s. I was in debt to him, and consequently boarded him. I think Dimick must be mistaken.
Dimick: I know I am not. I have no private pique against Elder Rigdon.
The vote was then put and carried almost unanimously.
President Joseph Smith presented William Law as his second counselor, who was sustained by unanimous vote.
President Hyrum Smith, patriarch, said he wished to be tried, when it was voted unanimously that he retain his office of patriarch. He then blessed the people and asked the Lord to bless them also.
Remarks Of The Prophet On Collecting Funds.
President Joseph Smith said he did not know anything against the Twelve. If he did, he would present them for trial. It is not right that all the burden of the Nauvoo House should rest on a few individuals; and we will now consider the propriety of sending the Twelve to collect means for it. There has been too great a solicitude in individuals for the building of the Temple to the exclusion of the Nauvoo House. Agents have had too great latitude to practice fraud by receiving donations, and never making report. The Church has suffered loss, and I am opposed to that system of collecting funds when any elder may receive moneys. I am opposed to any man handling the public funds of the Church who is not duly authorized. I advise that some means be devised for transacting business on a sure foundation. The Twelve are the most suitable persons to perform this business, and I want the conference to devise some means to bind them as firm as the pillars of heaven, if possible. The Twelve were always honest, and it will do them no hurt to bind them. It has been reported that they receive wages at two dollars per day for their services. I have never heard this till recently, and I do not believe it. I know the Twelve have never had any wages at all. They have fulfilled their duties; they have always gone where they were sent, and have labored with their hands for their support when at home. If we send them into the world to collect funds, we want them to return those funds to this place, that they may be appropriated to the very purpose for which they were designed. I go in for binding up the Twelve solid, putting them under bonds; and let this conference institute an order to this end, and that the traveling expenses of the agents shall not be borne out of the funds collected for building these houses; and let no man pay money or stock into the hands of the Twelve, except he transmit an account of the same immediately to the Trustee-in-Trust; and let no man but the Twelve have authority to act as agent for the Temple and Nauvoo House. I would suggest the propriety of your saying that no money should ever be sent by any man, except it be by some one whom you have appointed as agent, and stop every other man from receiving moneys. It has been customary for any elder to receive moneys for the Temple when he is traveling. But this system of things opened a wide field for every kind of imposition, as any man can assume the name of a “Mormon” elder and gather his pockets full of money and go to Texas. Many complaints have come to me of money being sent that I have never received. I will mention one case. He is a good man: his name is Daniel Russell, from Akron, New York. His brother Samuel had been east on business for him, and there received twenty or twenty-five dollars as a donation to the Temple, which he put in Daniel Russell’s bag, with his money, and forgot to take it out before he returned the bag. Two or three days after his return, he called on his brother for the money belonging to the Church; but Daniel thought Samuel had paid out too much of his money, and he would keep the Church’s money to make good his own. I called to see Daniel Russell about the money, and he treated me so very politely, but did not give me to understand he ever meant to pay it. He said he did not know at the time that there was any Church money in the bag,—that he had paid it out, and he had none now.
Samuel Russell, who brought the money from the east, stated to the conference that he did not think it was because his brother was short of funds that he kept it, for he had money enough. He had told him that he should not be out of funds again—that his brother had twenty dollars of the Church funds and some dried fruit for the President.
President Joseph resumed: I give this as a sample of a thousand instances. We cannot give an account to satisfy the people on the Church books unless something is done. I propose that you send your moneys for the Temple by the Twelve or some agent of your own choosing; and if you send by others and the money is lost, it is lost to yourselves; I cannot be responsible for it. Everything that falls into my hands shall be appropriated to the very thing it was designed for. It is wrong for the Church to make a bridge of my nose in appropriating funds for the Temple. The act of incorporation required of me securities, which were lodged in the proper hands, as the law directs; and I am responsible for all that comes into my hands. The Temple committee are bound to me in the sum of $2,000, with good security. If they apply any property where they ought not, they are liable to me for it. Individuals are running to them with funds every day, and thus make a bridge over my nose. I am not responsible for it. If you put it into the hands of the Temple committee, neither I nor my clerk know anything of it. So long as you consider me worthy to hold this office, [Sole Trustee-in-Trust for the Church] it is your duty to attend to the legal forms belonging to the business; and if not, put some other one in my place. My desire is that the conference minutes may go forth in such form that those abroad may learn the order of doing business, and that the Twelve be appointed to this special mission of collecting funds for the Nauvoo House, so that all may know how to send their funds safely, or bring them themselves and deliver them to the Trustee-in-Trust or his clerk, who can always be found in the office. Who are the Temple committee, that they should receive the funds? They are nobody. When I went to the White House at Washington, and presented letters of introduction from Thomas Carlin, governor of Illinois, to Martin Van Buren, he looked at them very contemptuously, and said, “Governor Carlin! Governor Carlin! Who’s Governor Carlin? Governor Carlin’s nobody.” I erred in spirit: I have been sorry for it ever since. I confess my mistake; and I here make my apology to all the world; and let it be recorded on earth and in heaven that I am clear of the sin of being angry with Martin Van Buren for saying, “Governor Carlin’s nobody.” All property ought to go through the hands of the Trustee-in-Trust. There have been complaints against the Temple committee for appropriating Church funds more freely for the benefit of their own children than to others who need assistance more than they do; and the parties may have till Saturday to prepare for trial.
It was then voted unanimously that the Twelve be appointed a committee to collect funds to build the Nauvoo House and receive moneys for the Temple, with this proviso—That the Twelve give bonds for the safe delivery of all funds coming into their hands belonging to the Nauvoo House and Temple to the Trustee-in-Trust; and that the payer also make immediate report to the Trustee-in-Trust of all moneys paid by him to the Twelve; and that the instructions of President Joseph Smith to the conference be carried into execution.
Elder W. W. Phelps proposed that the Twelve sign triplicate receipts for moneys received, for the benefit of the parties concerned.
Elder Brigham Young objected, and said he should never give receipts for cash, except such as he put into his own pocket for his own use; for it was calculated to make trouble hereafter, and there were better methods of transacting the business and more safe for the parties concerned; that he wished this speculation to stop, and would do all in his power to put it down: to which the Twelve responded, Amen. Elder Young asked if any one knew anything against any one of the Twelve—any dishonesty. If they did, he wanted it exposed. He said he knew of one who was not dishonest. He also referred to muzzling the ox that treadeth out the corn, etc.
President Joseph said, I will answer Brother Brigham. There is no necessity for the Twelve being abroad all the time preaching and gathering funds for the Temple. Spend the time that belongs to preaching abroad, and the rest of the time at home to support themselves. It is no more for the Twelve to go abroad and earn their living in this way than it is for others. The idea of not muzzling the ox is a good old Quaker song; but we will make the ox tread out the corn first, and then feed him. I am bold to declare that I have never taken the first farthing of Church funds for my own use, till I have first consulted the proper authorities. When there was no quorum of the Twelve or High Priests for me to consult, I have asked the Temple committee, who had no particular business with it; but I did it for the sake of peace. (Elder Cutler said it was so.) Let the conference stop all agents from collecting funds, except the Twelve. When a man is sent to preach the first principles of the gospel, he should preach that, and let the rest alone.
Choir sang a hymn.
Elder Orson Hyde prayed; and at twelve minutes before two o’clock, p.m., conference adjourned for one hour.
Afternoon Session.[Conference re-assembled at three o’clock, p.m.]
Hyrum Smith’s Remarks On Thieves.
Patriarch Hyrum Smith commenced by saying that he had some communication to make to the conference on stealing, and he would do it while waiting for President Joseph Smith, and referred to the article in the last number of the Wasp. Said he, I have had an interview with a man who formerly belonged to the Church. He revealed to me that there is a band of men, and some who pretend to be strong in the faith of the doctrine of the Latter-day Saints; but they are hypocrites, and some who do not belong to the Church, who are bound together by secret oaths, obligations, and penalties to keep the secret; and they hold that it is right to steal from any one who does not belong to the Church, provided they consecrate one-third of it to the building of the Temple. They are also making bogus money.
This man says he has become convinced of the error of his ways and has come away from them to escape their fury. I wish to warn you all not to be duped by such men, [these outlaws] for they are the Gadiantons of the last days.
He then read from the Wasp, as republished from the Times and Seasons, his own affidavit and the proceedings of the authorities of the Church generally, dated Nov. 26, 1841. The man who told me said, “this secret band refer to the Bible, Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and Book of Mormon to substantiate their doctrines; and if any of them did not remain steadfast, they ripped open their bowels and gave them to the cat-fish.” But no such doctrines are taught in those books.
They say that it has been taught from this stand that they are the little foxes that spoil the vines, and the First Presidency are the big foxes; and the big foxes wanted the little foxes to get out of the city and spread abroad, so that the big foxes might have a chance; which everybody knows is false. All these things are used to decoy the foolish and unwary.
I will mention two names—David Holman and James Dunn. They were living in my house. I went to them and asked them if they were stealing for a livelihood? Holman confessed that he had stolen from the world, not from the brethren. I told them to get out of my house. David asked me to forgive him, and he lifted his hands towards heaven and swore, if I would forgive him, he would never do so again. Soon after he went to Montrose, where he was found stealing salt. He then stole a skiff and came across the river, stole a barrel of flour that had just been landed from a steamer, rowed down the river to Keokuk and sold the flour for $2.00, saying he had picked it up in the river, and it was likely a little damaged, got his pay, and went his way. Dunn would not promise to quit stealing, but said he would go to St. Louis. I tell you today, the men that steal shall not long after be brought to the penitentiary. They will soon he brought to condign punishment. I demand, in the presence of God, that you will exert your wit and your power to bring such characters to justice. If you do not, the curse of God will rest upon you. Such things would ruin any people. Should I catch a Latter-day Saint stealing, he is the last man to whom I would show mercy.
President Joseph Smith said, I think it best to continue this subject. I want the elders to make honorable proclamation abroad concerning what the feelings of the First Presidency are; for stealing has never been tolerated by them. I despise a thief. He would betray me if he could get the opportunity. I know that he would be a detriment to any cause; and if I were the biggest rogue in the world, he would steal my horse when I wanted to run away.
It has been said that some were afraid to disclose what they knew of these secret combinations; consequently I issued a proclamation, which you may read in the Wasp, Number 48. If any man is afraid to disclose what he knows about this gang of thieves, let him come to me and tell me the truth, and I will protect him from violence. Thieving must be stopped.
Opportunity was then offered to the elders to bring forward their appeals from other conferences; but no case was presented.
The Prophet’s Remarks On Conditions In Iowa.
President Joseph Smith continued his remarks and said, it is necessary that I make a proclamation concerning Keokuk and also in relation to the economy of the Church on that side of the river.
The governor of Iowa has issued a writ in the same manner that Carlin did, and it is now held in Iowa as a cudgel over my head. I was told by the United States attorney that the governor of Iowa had no jurisdiction after the decision of the Supreme Court, and that all writs thus issued were legally dead. Appeals have been made to Governor Chambers; but although he has no plausible excuse, he is not willing to kill that writ or to take it back. I will therefore advise you to serve them a trick that the devil never did,—i. e., come away and leave them; come into Illinois, pay taxes in Illinois, and let the Iowegians take their own course. I don’t care whether you come away or not. I do not wish to control you; but if you wish for my advice, I would say, let every man, as soon as he conveniently can, come over here; for you can live in peace with us. We are all green mountain boys—Southerners, Northerners, Westerners, and every other kind of “ers,” and will treat you well: and let that governor know that we don’t like to be imposed upon.
In relation to Keokuk, it has been supposed that I made a great bargain with a certain great man there. In the beginning of August last, a stranger came to my house, put on a very long face, and stated that he was in great distress—that he was a stranger in this city, and having understood that I was benevolent, he had come to me for help. He said that he was about to lose $1,400 of property at sheriff’s sale for $300 in cash; that he had money in St. Louis, which he expected in two or three days; that the sale would take place the next day; and that he wanted to hire some money for two or three days. I thought on the subject over night, and he came the next morning for an answer. I did not like the looks of the man; but thought I, he is a stranger. I then reflected upon the situation that I had been frequently placed in, and that I had often been a stranger in a strange land, and whenever I had asked for assistance I had obtained it; and it may be that he is an honest man; and if I turn him away, I shall be guilty of the sin of ingratitude. I therefore concluded to loan him $200 in good faith sooner than be guilty of ingratitude. He gave me his note for the same, and said, “whenever you call on me, you shall have the money.” Soon after, when I was taken with Carlin’s writ, I asked him for the money; but he answered, “I have not got it from St. Louis, but shall have it in a few days.” He then said, “since I saw you, a project has entered my mind, which I think may be profitable both for you and me. I will give you a quit claim deed for all the land you bought of Galland, which is twenty thousand acres. You paid Galland the notes, and ought to have them: they are in my hands as his agent, and I will give them up. I also propose deeding to you one-half of my right to all my land in the Iowa territory; and all I ask is for you to give your influence to help to build up Keokuk.” I answered, “I have not asked for your property: I don’t want it, and would not give a snap of my finger for it; but I will receive the papers; and if I find it as you say, I will use my influence to help to build up the place; but I won’t give you anything for the land,” and told him I wanted the $200 which was due me. He made out the deeds and gave them to me, and I got them recorded, and he gave up the notes, except a few. I then said to Uncle John Smith, if you go there with the brethren, I will give you the property. But he would not accept it. I then let the same gentleman have some cloth to the amount of $600 or $700. He began, soon after, to tell the brethren what obligations I was under to him. I then wrote him a letter on the subject; but I have since found that he is swindling, and that there is no prospect of getting anything from him. He is owing me about $1,100; and I thought it my duty to publish his rascality, that the elders might do the same in that territory, and prevent the brethren from being imposed upon. He has got a writing to this effect, that if he owned as much as he pretended and did as he said, I would give my influence to build up Keokuk, and on no other terms. His name is J. G. Remick. He took this plan to swindle me out of money, cloth, lumber, etc. I want all the congregation to know it. I was not going to use any influence to have the brethren go to be swindled. My advice is, if they choose, that they come away from Keokuk, and not go there any more. It is not a good location.
I am not so much a “Christian” as many suppose I am. When a man undertakes to ride me for a horse, I feel disposed to kick up and throw him off, and ride him. David did so, and so did Joshua. My only weapon is my tongue. I would not buy property in Iowa territory: I consider it stooping to accept it as a gift.
In relation to the half-breed land, it is best described by its name—it is half-breed land; and every wise and judicious person as soon as he can dispose of his effects, if he is not a half-breed, will come away. I wish we could exchange some half-breeds and let them go over the river. It there are any that are not good citizens, they will be finding fault tomorrow at my remarks, and that is the key-word whereby you may know them. There is a chance in that place for every abomination to be practiced on the innocent, if they go; and I ask forgiveness of all whom I advised to go there. The men who have possession have the best title; all the rest are forms for swindling. I do not wish for the Saints to have a quarrel there.
President Joseph Smith stated that the next business was to settle difficulties where elders have had their licenses taken away, etc., or their membership. But whilst they were preparing, if there was any such case, he would talk on other subjects.
The Prophet On The Second Coming Of The Christ.
The question has been asked, can a person not belonging to the Church bring a member before the high council for trial? I answer, No. If I had not actually got into this work and been called of God, I would back out. But I cannot back out: I have no doubt of the truth. Were I going to prophesy, I would say the end [of the world] would not come in 1844, 5, or 6, or in forty years. There are those of the rising generation who shall not taste death till Christ comes.
I was once praying earnestly upon this subject, and a voice said unto me, “My son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years of age, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man.” I was left to draw my own conclusions concerning this; and I took the liberty to conclude that if I did live to that time, He would make His appearance. But I do not say whether He will make his appearance or I shall go where He is. I prophesy in the name of the Lord God, and let it be written—the Son of Man will not come in the clouds of heaven till I am eighty-five years old. Then read the 14th chapter of Revelation, 6th and 7th verses—”And I 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.” And Hosea, 6th chapter, After two days, etc.,—2,520 years; which brings it to 1890. The coming of the Son of Man never will be—never can be till the judgments spoken of for this hour are poured out: which judgments are commenced. Paul says, “Ye are the children of the light, and not of the darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief in the night.” It is not the design of the Almighty to come upon the earth and crush it and grind it to powder, but he will reveal it to His servants the prophets.
Judah must return, Jerusalem must be rebuilt, and the temple, and water come out from under the temple, and the waters of the Dead Sea be healed. It will take some time to rebuild the walls of the city and the temple, &c.; and all this must be done before the Son of Man will make His appearance. There will be wars and rumors of wars, signs in the heavens above and on the earth beneath, the sun turned into darkness and the moon to blood, earthquakes in divers places, the seas heaving beyond their bounds; then will appear one grand sign of the Son of Man in heaven. But what will the world do? They will say it is a planet, a comet, &c. But the Son of Man will come as the sign of the coming of the Son of Man, which will be as the light of the morning cometh out of the east.
Choir sang a hymn.
Prayer by W. W. Phelps.
Adjourned at six p.m., until tomorrow morning.
Conference convened at ten a.m.
Singing, prayer by Elder Orson Hyde, and singing.
President Joseph Smith stated that the next business in order was to listen to appeals of elders, &c.; but none appeared. He was rather hoarse from speaking so long yesterday, and therefore said he would use the boys’ lungs today.
The next business in order was to appoint some elders on missions.
Voted that Jedediah M. Grant be sent to preside over the church at Philadelphia.
Voted that Joshua Grant be sent to preside over the Church at Cincinnati.
Voted that Pelatiah Brown go to the village of Palmyra, in New York, and raise up a branch of the Church,
Complaints Against the Temple Committee.
The Temple committee was called up for trial.
William Clayton said: Some may expect I am going to be a means of the downfall of the Temple committee. It is not so; but I design to show that they have been partial. Elder Higbee has overrun the amount allowed by the trustees about one-fourth. Pretty much all Elder Higbee’s son has received has been in money and store pay. Higbee’s son has had nothing credited on his tithing. William F. Cahoon has paid all his tenth; the other sons of Cahoon have had nothing to their credit on tithing. The committee have had a great amount of store pay. One man, who is laboring continually, wanted twenty-five cents in store pay when his family were sick; but Higbee Said he could not have it. Pulaski S. Cahoon was never appointed boss over the stone-cutting shop, but was requested to keep an account of labor in it. During the last six months very little means have been brought into the Temple committee. There are certain individuals in this city who are watching every man who has anything to give the Temple, to get it from him and pay for the same in his labor.
Alpheus Cutler said he did not know of any wrong he had done. If any one would show it, he would make it right.
The conference voted him clear.
Reynolds Cahoon said: This is not an unexpected matter for me to be called up. I do not want you to think I am perfect. Somehow or other, since Elder Cutler went up into the pine country, I have, from some cause been placed in very peculiar circumstances. I think I never was placed in so critical a position since I was born. When President Smith had goods last summer, we had better property; goods would not buy corn without some cash: instead of horses, &c., we took store pay. I have dealt out meal and flour to the hands to the last ounce, when I had not a morsel of meal, flour or bread left in my house. If the trustee, Brother Hyrum, or the Twelve, or all of them will examine and see if I have too much, it shall go freely. I call upon the brethren, if they have anything against me, to bring it forward and have it adjusted.
Patriarch Hyrum Smith said: I feel it my duty to defend the committee as far as I can; for I would as soon go to hell as be a committee-man. I will make a comparison for the Temple committee. A little boy once told his father he had seen an elephant on a tree; the people did not believe it, but ran out to see what it was: they looked, and it was only an owl.
Reynolds Cahoon said, when Brother Cutler was gone, Brother Higbee kept the books, and they have found as many mistakes against Brother Higbee as in his favor.
The conference then voted Cahoon clear.
Elias Higbee said: I am not afraid or ashamed to appear before you. When I kept the books, I had much other business on my hands and made some mistakes.
The conference voted in favor of Elder Higbee unanimously.
President Joseph Smith stated that the business of the conference had closed, and the remainder would be devoted to instruction. It is an insult to a meeting for persons to leave just before its close. If they must go out, let them go half an hour before. No gentlemen will go out of meeting just at closing.
Singing by the choir.
Prayer by Elder Brigham Young.
The Afternoon Session.
Conference called to order at two-thirty p.m.
Singing. Prayer by Elder Brigham Young. Singing.
Elder Orson Pratt delivered a discourse from the prophecy of Daniel on the Ancient of Days; for a synopsis of which seeTimes and Seasons, page 204.
While the choir was singing, President Joseph remarked to Elder Rigdon: This day is a millennium within these walls, for there is nothing but peace.
To a remark of Elder Orson Pratt’s, that a man’s body changes every seven years, President Joseph Smith replied: There is no fundamental principle belonging to a human system that ever goes into another in this world or in the world to come; I care not what the theories of men are. We have the testimony that God will raise us up, and he has the power to do it. If any one supposes that any part of our bodies, that is, the fundamental parts thereof, ever goes into another body, he is mistaken.
Singing by the choir. Prayer by Elder John Taylor.
The ice, which had made a bridge across the river since last November, moved away in immense masses.
Morning Session of the Conference, Saturday, April 8th, 1843.
President Joseph Smith addressed the Saints. [The following synopsis was reported by Willard Richards and William Clayton.]
President Joseph Smith called upon the choir to sing a hymn, and remarked that “tenor charms the ear, bass, the heart. “After singing, he spoke as follows:
I have three requests to make of the congregation: The first is, that all who have faith will exercise it and pray the Lord to calm the wind; for as it blows now, I cannot speak long without seriously injuring my health; the next is that I may have your prayers that the Lord will strengthen my lungs, so that I may be able to make you all hear; and the third is, that you will pray for the Holy Ghost to rest upon me, so as to enable me to declare those things that are true.
The Prophet Expounds the Scriptures.
The subject I intend to speak upon this morning is one that I have seldom touched upon since I commenced my ministry in the Church. It is a subject of great speculation, as well amongst the elders of this Church, as amongst the divines of the day: it is in relation to the beasts spoken of by John the Revelator. I have seldom spoken from the revelations; but as my subject is a constant source of speculation amongst the elders, causing a division of sentiment and opinion in relation to it, I now do it in order that division and difference of opinion may be done away with, and not that correct knowledge on the subject is so much needed at the present time.
It is not very essential for the elders to have knowledge in relation to the meaning of beasts, and heads and horns, and other figures made use of in the revelations; still, it may be necessary, to prevent contention and division and do away with suspense. If we get puffed up by thinking that we have much knowledge, we are apt to get a contentious spirit, and correct knowledge is necessary to cast out that spirit.
The evil of being puffed up with correct (though useless) knowledge is not so great as the evil of contention. Knowledge does away with darkness, suspense and doubt; for these cannot exist where knowledge is.
There is no pain so awful as that of suspense. This is the punishment of the wicked; their doubt, anxiety and suspense cause weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.
In knowledge there is power. God has more power than all other beings, because he has greater knowledge; and hence he knows how to subject all other beings to Him. He has power over all.
I will endeavor to instruct you in relation to the meaning of the beasts and figures spoken of. I should not have called up the subject had it not been for this circumstance. Elder Pelatiah Brown, one of the wisest old heads we have among us, and whom I now see before me, has been preaching concerning the beast which was fall of eyes before and behind; and for this he was hauled up for trial before the High Council.
I did not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine. It looks too much like the Methodist, and not like the Latter-day Saints. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammelled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine.
The High Council undertook to censure and correct Elder Brown, because of his teachings in relation to the beasts. Whether they actually corrected him or not, I am a little doubtful, but don’t care. Father Brown came to me to know what he should do about it. The subject particularly referred to was the four beasts and four-and-twenty elders mentioned inRev. 5:8—”And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four-and-twenty elders fell down before the Lamb having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints.”
Father Brown has been to work and confounded all Christendom by making out that the four beasts represented the different kingdoms of God on the earth. The wise men of the day could not do anything with him, and why should we find fault? Anything to whip sectarianism, to put down priestcraft, and bring the human family to a knowledge of the truth. A club is better than no weapon for a poor man to fight with.
Father Brown did whip sectarianism, and so far so good; but I could not help laughing at the idea of God making use of the figure of a beast to represent His kingdom on the earth, consisting of men, when He could as well have used a far more noble and consistent figure. What! the Lord make use of the figure of a creature of the brute creation to represent that which is much more noble, glorious, and important—the glories and majesty of His kingdom? By taking a lesser figure to represent a greater, you missed it that time, old gentleman; but the sectarians did not know enough to detect you.
When God made use of the figure of a beast in visions to the prophets He did it to represent those kingdoms which had degenerated and become corrupt, savage and beast-like in their dispositions, even the degenerate kingdoms of the wicked world; but He never made use of the figure of a beast nor any of the brute kind to represent His kingdom.
Daniel says (ch. 7, 5. 16) when he saw the vision of the four beasts, “I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this,” the angel interpreted the vision to Daniel; but we find, by the interpretation that the figures of beasts had no allusion to the kingdom of God. You there see that the beasts are spoken of to represent the kingdoms of the world, the inhabitants whereof were beastly and abominable characters; they were murderers, corrupt, carnivorous, and brutal in their dispositions. The lion, the bear, the leopard, and the ten-horned beast represented the kingdoms of the world, says Daniel; for I refer to the prophets to qualify my observations which I make, so that the young elders who know so much, may not rise up like a flock of hornets and sting me. I want to keep out of such a wasp-nest.
There is a grand difference and distinction between the visions and figures spoken of by the ancient prophets, and those spoken of in the revelations of John. The things which John saw had no allusion to the scenes of the days of Adam, Enoch, Abraham or Jesus, only so far as is plainly represented by John, and clearly set forth by him. John saw that only which was lying in futurity and which was shortly to come to pass. See Rev. 1:1-3, which is a key to the whole subject: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things that are written therein; for the time is at hand.” Also Rev. 4:1. “After this I looked, and, behold: a door was opened in heaven; and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.”
The four beasts and twenty-four elders were out of every nation; for they sang a new song, saying, “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seal thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (See Rev. 5:9). It would be great stuffing to crowd all nations into four beasts and twenty-four elders.
Now, I make this declaration, that those things which John saw in heaven had no allusion to anything that had been on the earth previous to that time, because they were the representation of “things which must shortly come to pass,” and not of what has already transpired. John saw beasts that had to do with things on the earth, but not in past ages. The beasts which John saw had to devour the inhabitants of the earth in days to come. “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and beheld a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword” (Rev. 6:1-4). The book of Revelation is one of the plainest books God ever caused to be written.
The revelations do not give us to understand anything of the past in relation to the kingdom of God. What John saw and speaks of were things which he saw in heaven; those which Daniel saw were on and pertaining to the earth.
I am now going to take exceptions to the present translation of the Bible in relation to these matters. Our latitude and longitude can be determined in the original Hebrew with far greater accuracy than in the English version. There is a grand distinction between the actual meaning of the prophets and the present translation. The prophets do not declare that they saw a beast or beasts, but that they saw the image or figure of a beast. Daniel did not see an actual bear or a lion, but the images or figures of those beasts. The translation should have been rendered “image” instead of “beast,” in every instance where beasts are mentioned by the prophets. But John saw the actual beast in heaven, showing to John that beasts did actually exist there, and not to represent figures of things on the earth. When the prophets speak of seeing beasts in their visions, they mean that they saw the images, they being types to represent certain things. At the same time they received the interpretation as to what those images or types were designed to represent.
I make this broad declaration, that whenever God gives a vision or an usage, or beast, or figure of any kind, He always holds Himself responsible to give a revelation or interpretation of the meaning thereof, otherwise we are not responsible or accountable for our belief in it. Don’t be afraid of being damned for not knowing the meaning of a vision or figure, if God has not given a revelation or interpretation of the subject.
343John saw curious looking beasts in heaven; he saw every creature that was in heaven,—all the beasts, fowls and fish in heaven,—actually there, giving glory to God. How do you prove it? (See Rev. 5:13.) “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”
I suppose John saw beings there of a thousand forms, that had been saved from ten thousand times ten thousand earths like this,—strange beasts of which we have no conception: all might be seen in heaven. The grand secret was to show John what there was in heaven. John learned that God glorified Himself by saving all that His hands had made, whether beasts, fowls, fishes or men; and He will glorify Himself with them.
Says one, “I cannot believe in the salvation of beasts.” Any man who would tell you that this could not be, would tell you that the revelations are not true. John heard the words of the beasts giving glory to God, and understood them. God who made the beasts could understand every language spoken by them. The four beasts were four of the most noble animals that had filled the measure of their creation, and had been saved from other worlds, because they were perfect: they were like angels in their sphere. We are not told where they came from, and I do not know; but they were seen and heard by John praising and glorifying God.
The popular religionists of the day tell us, forsooth, that the beasts spoken of in the Revelation represent kingdoms. Very well, on the same principle we can say that the twenty-four elders spoken of represent beasts; for they are all spoken of at the same time, and are represented as all uniting in the same acts of praise and devotion.
This learned interpretation is all as flat as a pancake! “What do you use such vulgar expressions for, being a prophet?” Because the old women understand it—they make pancakes. Deacon Homespun said the earth was flat as a pancake, and ridiculed the science which proved to the contrary. The whole argument is flat, and I don’t know of anything better to represent it. The world is full of technicalities and misrepresentation, which I calculate to overthrow, and speak of things as they actually exist.
Again, there is no revelation to prove that things do not exist in heaven as I have set forth, nor yet to show that the beasts meant anything but beasts; and we never can comprehend the things of God and of heaven, but by revelation. We may spiritualize and express opinions to all eternity; but that is no authority.
Oh, ye elders of Israel, harken to my voice; and when you are sent into the world to preach, tell those things you are sent to tell; preach and cry aloud, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand; repent and believe the Gospel.” Declare the first principles, and let mysteries alone, lest ye be overthrown. Never meddle with the visions of beasts and subjects you do not understand. Elder Brown, when you go to Palmyra, say nothing about the four beasts, but preach those things the Lord has told you to preach about—repentance and baptize for the remission of sins.
He then read Rev. 13:1-8. John says, “And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed; and all the world wondered after the beast.” Some spiritualizers say the beast that received the wound was Nebuchadnezzar, some Constantine, some Mohammed, and others the Roman Catholic Church; but we will look at what John saw in relation to this beast. Now for the wasp’s nest. The translators have used the term “dragon” for devil. Now it was a beast that John saw in heaven, and he was then speaking of “things which must shortly come to pass;” and consequently the beast that John saw could not be Nebuchadnezzar. The beast John saw was an actual beast, and an actual intelligent being gives him his power, and his seat, and great authority. It was not to represent a beast in heaven: it was an angel in heaven who has power in the last days to do a work.
“All the world wondered after the beast,” Nebuchadnezzar and Constantine the Great not excepted. And if the beast was all the world, how could the world wonder after the beast? It must have been a wonderful beast to cause all human beings to wonder after it; and I will venture to say that when God allows the old devil to give power to the beast to destroy the inhabitants of the earth, all will wonder. Verse 4 reads, “And they worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?.
Some say it means the kingdom of the world. One thing is sure, it does not mean the kingdom of the Saints. Suppose we admit that it means the kingdoms of the world, what propriety would there be in saying, Who is able to make war with my great big self? If these spiritualized interpretations are true, the book contradicts itself in almost every verse. But they are not true.
There is a mistranslation of the word dragon in the second verse. The original word signifies the devil, and not dragon, as translated. In chapter 12, verse 9, it reads, “That old serpent, called the devil,” and it ought to be translated devil in this case, and not dragon. It is sometimes translated Apollyon. Everything that we have not a key-word to, we will take it as it reads. The beasts which John saw and speaks of as being in heaven, were actually living in heaven, and were actually to have power given to them over the inhabitants of the earth, precisely according to the plain reading of the revelations. I give this as a key to the elders of Israel. The independent beast is a beast that dwells in heaven, abstract [apart] from the human family. The beast that rose up out of the sea should be translated the image of a beast, as I have referred to it in Daniel’s vision.
I have said more than I ever did before, except once at Ramus, and then up starts the little fellow (Charles Thompson) and stuffed me like a cock-turkey with the prophesies of Daniel, and crammed it down my throat with his finger.
At half-past eleven o’clock President Smith’s lungs failed him, the wind blowing briskly at the time.
Choir sung a hymn.
Elder John Taylor rose and made a few remarks, among which were the following: “I have never said much about the beasts, &c., in my preaching. When I have done it, it has been to attract attention and keep the people from running after a greater fool than myself.
Singing and prayer.
Adjourned till two p.m.
A strong west wind; ice floating down the Mississippi seen from the stand.
Afternoon Session, two p.m.
Conference again opened; but the wind being too strong, the congregation made a temporary stand at the east end of the Temple walls, when Elder Taylor resumed his remarks on the kingdom of God being set up in the last days, which will be like the little stone cut out of the mountain.
Elder Orson Hyde said it was three years since he met with the Saints and was set apart for his mission to Jerusalem. He had traveled in the four quarters of the globe and had been among people speaking fourteen or fifteen different languages, and they all agree that some great event is close at hand.
Singing and prayer.
Sunday, 9th.—Conference opened by singing, “The Spirit of God like a fire is burning.”
Prayer and singing. In consequence of President Joseph Smith being afflicted in his lungs and breast, he was not able to preach, and called on Elder Joshua Grant to speak, who stated that he had just returned from a mission of three years. He had traveled through several states, and had, in company with his brother, Jedediah M. Grant, raised up a church of two hundred members. For synopsis of discourse, see Times and Seasons, Vol. 4, page 236-7.
Elder Amasa M. Lyman also preached an eloquent discourse on the Book of Mormon, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. See Times and Seasons, Vol. 4, pages 218-20.