Important Doctrinal Items: Salvation through Knowledge—Aged Men in Councils—Importance of the Doctrine of the Eternity of the Marriage Covenant—The Nature of Matter. The Prophecy on The Head of Stephen A. Douglas—The Work among the Scandinavians in Illinois.
Saturday, May 13, 1843.—I rode to Yelrome, in company with Brothers Wilford Woodruff and George A. Smith, and tarried for the night with Father Morley. Brothers Woodruff and Smith slept at Brother Durfee’s. Brother Brigham Young went to La Harpe, and Brothers Heber C. Kimball and Orson Pratt to Ramus.
Sunday, 14.—Meeting at Yelrome, where I preached. [The following is a synopsis, reported by Elder Woodruff.]
Salvation Through Knowledge.
It is not wisdom that we should have all knowledge at once presented before us; but that we should have a little at a time; then we can comprehend it. President Smith then read the 2nd Epistle of Peter, 1st chapter, 16th to last verses, and dwelt upon the 19th verse with some remarks.
Add to your faith knowledge, &c. The principle of knowledge is the principle of salvation. This principle can be comprehended by the faithful and diligent; and every one that does not obtain knowledge sufficient to be saved will be condemned. The principle of salvation is given us through the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Salvation is nothing more nor less than to triumph over all our enemies and put them under our feet. And when we have power to put all enemies under our feet in this world, and a knowledge to triumph over all evil spirits in the world to come, then we are saved, as in the case of Jesus, who was to reign until He had put all enemies under His feet, and the last enemy was death. 1
Perhaps there are principles here that few men have thought of. No person can have this salvation except through a tabernacle.
Now, in this world, mankind are naturally selfish, ambitious and striving to excel one above another; yet some are willing to build up others as well as themselves. So in the other world there are a variety of spirits. Some seek to excel. And this was the case with Lucifer when he fell. He sought for things which were unlawful. Hence he was sent down, and it is said he drew many away with him; and the greatness of his punishment is that he shall not have a tabernacle. This is his punishment. So the devil, thinking to thwart the decree of God, by going up and down in the earth, seeking whom he may destroy—any person that he can find that will yield to him, he will bind him, and take possession of the body and reign there, glorying in it mightily, not caring that he had got merely a stolen body; and by-and-by some one having authority will come along and cast him out and restore the tabernacle to its rightful owner. The devil steals a tabernacle because he has not one of his own: but if he steals one, he is always liable to be turned out of doors.
Now, there is some grand secret here, and keys to unlock the subject. Notwithstanding the apostle exhorts them to add to their faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, &c., yet he exhorts them to make their calling and election sure. And though they had heard an audible voice from heaven bearing testimony that Jesus was the Son of God, yet he says we have a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed as unto a light shining in a dark place. Now, wherein could they have a more sure word of prophecy than to hear the voice of God saying, This is my beloved Son, &c.
Now for the secret and grand key. Though they might hear the voice of God and know that Jesus was the Son of God, this would be no evidence that their election and calling was made sure, that they had part with Christ, and were joint heirs with Him. They then would want that more sure word of prophecy, that they were sealed in the heavens and had the promise of eternal life in the kingdom of God. Then, having this promise sealed unto them, it was an anchor to the soul, sure and steadfast. Though the thunders might roll and lightnings flash, and earthquakes bellow, and war gather thick around, yet this hope and knowledge would support the soul in every hour of trial, trouble and tribulation. Then knowledge through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the grand key that unlocks the glories and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.
Compare this principle once with Christendom at the present day, and where are they, with all their boasted religion, piety and sacredness while at the same time they are crying out against prophets, apostles, angels, revelations, prophesying and visions, &c. Why, they are just ripening for the damnation of hell. They will be damned, for they reject the most glorious principle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and treat with disdain and trample under foot the key that unlocks the heavens and puts in our possession the glories of the celestial world. Yes, I say, such will be damned, with all their professed godliness. Then I would exhort you to go on and continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election sure for yourselves, by obtaining this more sure word of prophecy, and wait patiently for the promise until you obtain it, &c.
Elders George A. Smith and Wilford Woodruff followed him with a few remarks, and meeting closed for one hour. When we met again, Wilford Woodruff opened meeting and spoke upon revelation and obeying the commandments by building the Nauvoo House, and was followed by George A. Smith upon the same subject. Elder Lorenzo Snow then spoke somewhat at length concerning his mission to England, which was interesting.
After meeting, we rode to Lima, and took supper with Calvin Beebe; and while we were conversing with Brother Joseph and Brother Isaac Morley, Brother Joseph made the following remarks:
The Value of Aged Men in Counsel.
The way to get along in any important matter is to gather unto yourselves wise men, experienced and aged men, to assist in council in all times of trouble. Handsome men are not apt to be wise and strong-minded men; but the strength of a strong-minded man will generally create coarse features, like the rough, strong bough of the oak. You will always discover in the first glance of a man, in the outlines of his features something of his mind.
Excitement has almost become the essence of my life. When that dies away, I feel almost lost. When a man is reined up continually by excitement, he becomes strong and gains power and knowledge; but when he relaxes for a season, he loses much of his power and knowledge. But in all matters, temporal or spiritual, preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or in leading an army to battle, victory almost entirely depends upon good order and moderation. In going to battle, move slowly, dress up into line; and though your enemy rush upon you with fury, meet them slowly but firmly. Let not confusion or terror seize upon you, but meet them firmly and strike a heavy blow and conquer.
A man can bear a heavy burden by practice and continuing to increase it. The inhabitants of this continent anciently were so constituted, and were so determined and persevering, either in righteousness or wickedness, that God visited them immediately either with great judgments or blessings. But the present generation, if they were going to battle, if they got any assistance from God, they would have to obtain it by faith.
President Young preached at La Harpe.
Almon W. Babbitt preached all the afternoon, and prevented Elders Kimball and Orson Pratt from giving instructions regarding their mission to Ramus.
The wind blew terribly from the southwest all day.
A naval action took place between the Texan and Mexican fleets at Campeachy.
Edward Brazier, aged 18, was drowned in the Mississippi river, by the upsetting of a skiff. Samuel Kearns was preserved from a similar fate by Captain Dan Jones.
Monday, 15.—Emma having arrived at Yelrome, last night from Quincy, with the carriage, we rode home together. On our way, we stopped a short time at Brother Perry’s. Brothers George A. Smith and Wilford Woodruff rode in my buggy. I was asked if the horse would stand without tying. I answered, “Yes: but never trust property to the mercy or judgment of a horse.”[The following under this date is from the journal of George A. Smith:]
The Love of the Prophet for George A. Smith.
At noon, stopped at the house of Mr. McMahon, a notorious anti-Mormon, at Green Plains, and waited some time for Mac to come in. Joseph and myself spent this time in conversation on the grass-plot south of the house. Joseph asked my opinion of W. W. Phelps as an editor. I told him that I considered Phelps the sixth part of an editor, and that was the satirist. When it came to the cool direction necessarily intrusted to an editor in the control of public opinion—the soothing of enmity, he was deficient, and would always make more enemies than friends; but for my part, if I were able, I would be willing to pay Phelps for editing a paper, providing no body else should have the privilege of reading it but myself. Joseph laughed heartily—said I had the thing just right. Said he, “Brother Phelps makes such a severe use of language as to make enemies all the time.”
At the close of the conversation, Joseph wrapped his arms around me, and squeezed me to his bosom and said, “George A., I love you as I do my own life.” I felt so affected, I could hardly speak, but replied, “I hope, Brother Joseph, that my whole life and actions will ever prove my feelings, and the depth of my affection towards you.”
A great hailstorm in Gettysburg, Penn. The stones were from six to eight inches in circumference. Much damage done.
Visit of the Prophet to Ramus.
Tuesday, 16.—At eleven o’clock, with George Miller, William Clayton, Eliza and Lydia Partridge and J. M. Smith, I started for Carthage where we tarried about half-an-hour conversing with different individuals, when we started for Ramus; arrived about half-past three, p.m., and stayed at William G. Perkins for the evening; then went to Benjamin F. Johnson’s with William Clayton to sleep. Before retiring, I gave Brother and Sister Johnson some instructions on the priesthood; and putting my hand on the knee of William Clayton, I said:
Remarks of the Prophet at Ramus—Lives that are Hid with God in Christ—Importance of the Eternity of the Marriage Covenant.
Your life is hid with Christ in God, and so are many others. Nothing but the unpardonable sin can prevent you from inheriting eternal life for you are sealed up by the power of the Priesthood unto eternal life, having taken the step necessary for that purpose.
Except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting covenant and be married for eternity, while in this probation, by the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, they will cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection. But those who are married by the power and authority of the priesthood in this life, and continue without committing the sin against the Holy Ghost, will continue to increase and have children in the celestial glory. The unpardonable sin is to shed innocent blood, or be accessory thereto. All other sins will be visited with judgment in the flesh, and the spirit being delivered to the buffetings of Satan until the day of the Lord Jesus.
The way I know in whom to confide—God tells me in whom I may place confidence.
In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; and in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood, [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage;] and if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom: he cannot have an increase.” 2
The Twelve met in the office to see Mr. Brown, but he did not appear; and they voted that John E. Page be requested to repair immediately to Cincinnati and preach till they arrive.
Wednesday, 17.—Partook of breakfast at Brother Perkins’; after which we took a pleasure ride through Fountain Green.
At ten a.m. preached from 2nd Peter, 1st chapter and showed that knowledge is power; and the man who has the most knowledge has the greatest power.
Items of Doctrine by the Prophet.
Salvation means a man’s being placed beyond the power of all his enemies.
The more sure word of prophecy means a man’s knowing that he is sealed up into eternal life by revelation and the spirit of prophecy, through the power of the holy priesthood. It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance. 3
Paul saw the third heavens, and I more. Peter penned the most sublime language of any of the apostles.
In the afternoon attended council, and afterwards rode with Benjamin F. Johnson’s family.
In the evening went to hear a Methodist preacher lecture. After he got through, offered some corrections as follows:
Items of Doctrine by the Prophet.
The 7th verse of 2nd chapter of Genesis ought to read—God breathed into Adam his spirit [i. e. Adam’s spirit] 4 or breath of life; but when the word “rauch” applies to Eve, it should be translated lives.
Speaking of eternal duration of matter, I said:
There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes. We cannot see it, but when our bodies are purified, we shall see that it is all matter.
The priest seemed pleased with the correction, and stated his intention to visit Nauvoo.
A conference was held in the Columbia Hall, Grand Street, New York, where fifteen branches, six high priests, thirty-six elders, nineteen priests, sixteen teachers, five deacons, and three hundred and eighty-seven members were represented. Forty-nine have been baptized since last conference; many have removed to Nauvoo; and twenty-eight have been excommunicated. Four elders and one priest were ordained.
Thursday, 18.—We left Macedonia about half past eight a.m., and arrived at Carthage at ten.[The following brief account of the prophet’s visit with Judge Douglas while at Carthage is from the journal of William Clayton, who was present:]
The Great Prophecy on the Head of Stephen A. Douglas.
Dined with Judge Stephen A. Douglas, who is presiding at court. After dinner Judge Douglas requested President Joseph to give him a history of the Missouri persecution, which he did in a very minute manner, for about three hours. He also gave a relation of his journey to Washington city, and his application in behalf of the Saints to Mr. Van Buren, the President of the United States, for redress and Mr. Van Buren’s pusillanimous reply, “Gentlemen, your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you;” and the cold, unfeeling manner in which he was treated by most of the senators and representatives in relation to the subject, Clay saying, “You had better go to Oregon,” and Calhoun shaking his head solemnly, saying, “It’s a nice question—a critical question, but it will not do to agitate it.”
The judge listened with the greatest attention and spoke warmly in depreciation of the conduct of Governor Boggs and the authorities of Missouri, who had taken part in the extermination, and said that any people that would do as the mobs of Missouri had done ought to be brought to judgment: they ought to be punished.
President Smith, in concluding his remarks, said that if the government, which received into its coffers the money of citizens for its public lands, while its officials are rolling in luxury at the expense of its public treasury, cannot protect such citizens in their lives and property, it is an old granny anyhow; and I prophesy in the name of the Lord God of Israel, unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the Saints in the state of Missouri and punish the crimes committed by her officers that in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left, for their wickedness in permitting the murder of men, women and children, and the wholesale plunder and extermination of thousands of her citizens to go unpunished, thereby perpetrating a foul and corroding blot upon the fair fame of this great republic, the very thought of which would have caused the high-minded and patriotic framers of the Constitution of the United States to hide their faces with shame. Judge, you will aspire to the presidency of the United States; and if ever you turn your hand against me or the Latter-day Saints, you will feel the weight of the hand of Almighty upon you; and you will live to see and know that I have testified the truth to you; for the conversation of this day will stick to you through life.
He [Judge Douglas] appeared very friendly, and acknowledged the truth and propriety of President Smith’s remarks. 5
We then rode home, where we arrived about half-past five p.m., and found my family all well.
Mr. Joseph H. Jackson, who professed to be a Catholic priest, was at my house awaiting my arrival.
At six p.m., I called at my office for Arlington Bennett’s letter.
Friday, 19.—I borrowed of Orson Hyde fifty dollars, which I paid to Mr. Eric Rhodes, and which he is either to repay in cash or let me have lumber.
I rode out with Mr. Jackson in the afternoon.
Told Brother Phelps a dream that the history must go ahead before anything else.
Elder George P. Dykes writes:
The Work Among the Scandinavians of Illinois.
One year since, I visited a settlement of Norwegians in La Salle county, Illinois, and baptized five, and ordained one elder, when I left them for about one month; then returned and organized the branch, and called it the La Salle Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and ordained Brother Gudmund Haugaas an elder—a man of strong mind and well skilled in the scriptures. He can preach in Norway, Sweden and Demark, having an understanding of their languages.
I returned to Nauvoo, and in a few days I was appointed by the special conference in August to labor in Illinois. I traveled through eighteen different counties, baptized six in Perry county, and returned home in December.
In January I left again and went to St. Clair county, where I was joined by Brother Henry B. Jacobs, who baptized twelve; and I baptized a German after he left.
I preached in Chester, Sparta and Bellville. From thence returned home, and again visited Ottawa, La Salle county. Spent two weeks, and baptized seven. I found the Church there in good spirits and in the enjoyment of the spiritual gifts.
The La Salle branch now numbers fifty-eight in good standing. Elder Ole Hoier was chosen to preside over them. He is well worthy of the office.
Elder Gudmund Haugaas and Brother J. R. Anderson visited the Norwegian settlement in Lee county, Iowa, in January last. Spent three weeks, baptized ten, ordained one priest, and left them and went home to La Salle county.
From thence Brothers Haugaas and Hoier visited a large body from Norway in Wisconsin Territory, and have laid the foundation of a great work, to all appearance. There are now fifty-seven members of the Church from Norway; and the time is not far distant when the saying of Micah 4:2 will he fulfilled.
The Prophet Joseph’s Prediction Respecting Stephen A. Douglas.
The prediction concerning Stephen A. Douglas in this chapter, is one of the most remarkable prophecies either in ancient or modern times. It was impossible for any merely human sagacity to foresee the events predicted. Stephen A. Douglas was a bright, but comparatively an unknown man, nationally, at the time of the interview, May, 1843, and but thirty years of age. It is a matter of history that Stephen A. Douglas did, however, aspire to the presidency of the United States, and was nominated for that office by the Democratic convention held in Charleston, South Carolina, on the 23rd of June 1860.
When in the convention he was declared the regular nominee of the Democratic party, “the whole body rose to its feet, hats were waved in the air, and many tossed aloft; shouts. screams and yells. and every boisterous mode of expressing approbation and unanimity, were resorted to.”
When Mr. Douglas aspired to the presidency, no man in the history of American politics had more reason to hope for success. The political party of which he was the recognized leader, in the preceding presidential election had polled one hundred and seventy-four electoral votes as against one hundred and twenty-two cast for the other two parties which opposed it, and a popular vote of 1,838,169 as against 1,215,789 votes for the two parties opposing. It is a matter of history, however, that the Democratic party in the election of 1860 was badly divided: and factions of it put candidate into the field with the following results, Mr. Abraham Lincoln, candidate for the Republican party. was triumphantly elected. He received 180 electoral votes: Mr. Breckinridge 72: Mr. Bell 39; and Mr. Douglas 12. “By a plurality count of the popular vote. Mr. Lincoln carried 18 states; Mr. Breckinridge 11; Mr. Bell 3; and Mr. Douglas but one!” Twenty days less than one rear after his nomination by the Charleston convention, while yet in the prime of manhood—forty-eight years of age—Mr. Douglas died at his home in Chicago, a disappointed, not to say heart-broken man.
Let us now search out the cause of his failure. Fourteen years after the interview containing the prophecy recorded in this chapter, and about one year after the prophecy had been published in the Deseret News, Mr. Douglas was called upon to deliver a speech in Springfield, the capital of Illinois. His speech was delivered on the 12th of June, 1857, and published in the Missouri Republican of June 18, 1857. It was a time of excitement throughout the country concerning the Mormon church in Utah. Falsehoods upon the posting winds seemed to have filled the sir with the most outrageous calumny. Crimes, the most repulsive—murders, robberies, rebellion and high treason—were falsely charged against its leaders. It was well known that Mr. Douglas had been on terms of intimate friendship with the Prophet Joseph Smith; and was well acquainted with the other Church leaders. He was therefore looked upon as one competent to speak upon the “Mormon question,” and was invited to do so in the speech to which reference is here made. Mr. Douglas responded to the request. He grouped the charges against the Mormons, then passing current, in the following manner:
“First, that nine-tenths of the inhabitants are aliens by birth who have refused to become naturalized, or to take the oath of allegiance, or do any other act recognizing the government of the United states as the paramount authority in that territory [Utah];
“Second, that the inhabitants, whether native or alien born, known as Mormons land they constitute the whole people of the territory) are bound by horrible oaths and terrible penalties, to recognize and maintain the authority of Brigham Young, and the government of which he is head. as paramount to that of the United States, in civil as well as religious affairs; and they will in due time, and under the direction of their leaders, use all the means in their power to subvert the government of the United States, and resist its authority.
“Third, that the Mormon government, with Brigham Young at its head, is now forming alliance with Indian tribes in Utah and adjoining territories—stimulating the Indians to acts of hostility and organizing bands of his own followers under the name of Danites or destroying angels, to prosecute a system of robbery and murders upon American citizens who support the authority of the United States, and denounce the infamous and disgusting practices and institutions of the Mormon government.”
Mr. Douglas based his remarks upon these rumors against the saints, in the course of which he said:
“Let us have these facts in an official shape before the president and Congress, and the country will learn that in the performance of the high and solemn duty devolving upon the executive and Congress, there will be no vacillating or hesitating policy. It will be as prompt as the peal that follows the flash—as stern and unyielding as death. Should such a state of things actually exist as we are led to infer from the reports—and such information comes in an official shape—the knife must be applied to this pestiferous, disgusting cancer which is gnawing into the very vitals of the body politic. It must be cut out by the roots. and seared over by the red hot iron of stern, unflinching law. * * * Should all efforts fail to bring them (the Mormons) to a sense of their duty, there is but one remedy left. Repeal the organic law of the territory, on the ground that they are alien enemies and outlaws, unfit to be citizen; of a territory, much less ever to become citizens of one of the free and independent states of this confederacy. To protect them further in their treasonable, disgusting and bestial practices would be a disgrace to the country—a disgrace to humanity—a disgrace to civilization, and a disgrace to the spirit if the age. Blot it out of the organized territories of the United States. What then? It will be regulated by the law of 1790, which has exclusive and sole jurisdiction over all the territory not incorporated under any organic or special law. By provisions of this law, all crimes and misdemeanors, committed on its soil can be tried before the legal authorities of any state or territory to which the offenders shall first be brought to trial and punished. Under that law persons have been arrested in Kansas, Nebraska and other territories, prior to their organization as territories, and hanged for their crimes. The law of 1790 has sole and exclusive jurisdiction where no other law of a local character exists, and by repealing the organic law of Utah, you give to the general government of the United States the whole and sole jurisdiction over the territory.”
The speech of Mr. Douglas was of great interest and importance to the people or Utah at that juncture. Mr. Douglas had it in his power to do them great good. Because of his personal acquaintance with Joseph Smith and the great body of the Mormon people then in Utah, as well as their leaders (for he had known both leaders and people in Illinois, and those whom he had known in Illinois constituted the great bulk of the people in Utah, when he delivered the Springfield speech), he knew that the reports carried to the East by vicious and corrupt men were not true. He knew that these reports in the main were but a rehash of the old exploded charges made against Joseph Smith and his followers in Missouri; and he knew them to be false by many evidences furnished him by Joseph Smith in the interview of the 18th of May, 1843, and by the Mormon people at sundry times during his association with them at Nauvoo. He had an opportunity to befriend the innocent, to refute the calumny cast upon a virtuous community; to speak a word in behalf of the oppressed; but the demagogue triumphed over the statesman, the politician, over the humanitarian; and to avoid the popular censure which he feared befriending the Mormon people would bring to him, he turned his hand against them with the result that he did not destroy them but scaled his own doom—in fulfillment of the words of the prophet, he felt the weight of the hand of the Almighty upon him.
There is, and can be no question about the prophecy preceding the event. The prophecy was first published in the Desert News of September 24, 1856. It was afterwards published in England in the Millennial Star, February, 1859. The publication in the Deseret News preceding Douglas’ Springfield speech, mentioned above, (June, 1857) by about one year, and about four years before Douglas was nominated for the presidency by the Charleston Democratic convention.
Moreover, a lengthy review of Mr. Douglas’ speech was published in the editorial columns of the Deseret News in the issue of that paper for September 2nd, 1857, of which the following is the closing paragraph addressed directly to Mr. Douglas:
“In your last paragraph [of the Springfield speech] you say, ‘I have thus presented to you plainly and fairly my views of the Utah question;’ with at least equal plainness and with far more fairness have your views now been commented upon. And inasmuch as you were well acquainted with Joseph Smith, and this people, also with the character of our maligners, and did know their allegations were false, but must bark with the dogs who were snapping at our heels, to let them know that you were a dog with them; and also that you may have a testimony of the truth of the assertion that you did know Joseph and his people and the character of their enemies (and neither class have changed, only as the saints have grown better and their enemies worse); and also that you may thoroughly understand that you have voluntarily, knowingly and of choice sealed your damnation, and by your own chosen course have closed your chance for the presidential chair, through disobeying the counsel of Joseph which you formerly fought and prospered by following, and that you in common with us, may testify to all the world that Joseph was a true prophet, the following extract from the History of Joseph Smith is again printed for your benefit, and is kindly recommended to your careful perusal and most candid consideration.”
Then follows the interview between Joseph Smith and Mr. Douglas as recorded in the journal of William Clayton, as published in the News a year before Mr. Douglas’ Springfield speech, and as now given in this chapter of the HISTORY OF THE CHURCH.
This News editorial boldly accepted the challenge of Mr. Douglas. He raised his hand against the followers of Joseph Smith, despite the warning of the prophet; and they in the chief organ of the church, reproduced the prophecy and told Mr. Douglas that he had “sealed his damnation and closed his chance for the presidential chair” through disobeying the counsel of the prophet. The presidential election of 1860, and the death of Mr. Douglas in the prime of life, the year following, tells the rest.