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President, brethren and sisters: God bless you, (Amen), and may the

peace of God abide with you, and the Spirit of God within these walls,

and may it rest upon the Apostles, Elders and Saints while we assemble

together to worship God. I feel in my heart to praise the Lord for his mercies

and blessings over the Apostles and Elders and Saints and church and

kingdom of God to the present hour. I see before me here the symbols of

the history of this church and kingdom, and some of us have been preserved

by the hand of God to pass through its travels, its progress and its

history almost from the beginning until the present day; and while I listened

to the remarks of Brother Taylor, I reflected in my own mind upon the day

and age and time of our history. Fifty years have passed and gone, or

nearly so, since the organization of this church and kingdom on the earth.

Whatever the feelings of the world may be with regard to the Latter-day

Saints, with regard to their lives, their history, their organization, their persecutions,

and their drivings until the present day, whether they believe or

disbelieve, it matters not to the purposes of God, who stands at the head,

even our Heavenly Father. This is the church and kingdom of God; it is

the church of Christ; it is the organization of the kingdom of God, that has

been spoken of by all the prophets since the world began; it is the Zion of

God that Isaiah and Jeremiah and many of the other prophets saw by vision

and revelation in their day and generation. In my own mind I cannot conceive

of any fifty years since the creation of this world, in its history before the

heavens, before the Gods, before the angels, and before the world, of more

importance or consequence than the last fifty years through which we have

passed ; and if the vail could only be lifted from our eyes, so that we could see

and comprehend our destiny, our position, our responsibilities, and what is

required at our hands by the God of Israel, we should all of us feel the importance

of improving our time, magnifying our calling, striving to live by every

word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.

I hold in my hand our testament. The testator is dead, has been dead for

a great many years. He sealed his testimony with his blood. That testament

is in force, has been in force upon all the world from the day of his death ; and

not only from that day, but from the time these revelations were given to the

inhabitants of the earth. That testament contains a volume of the most important

revelations God ever gave to man. Fifty years ago, or nearly so, when

He gave some of these revelations, the Lord said to Joseph Smith, " If you

believe my words you will go and prune my vineyard while the day lasts; If

you believe these revelations I have given you, you will take hold and build up

this kingdom." When I reflect that it is fifty years since these revelations

were given, I ask myself the question—What condition are we in to-day as a

people, as Latter-day Saints? What is our condition, our position to-day

before the Lord? What is the condition of the world? What is the condition

of Great Babylon? What is the condition of the Saints, the Elders of Israel,

and the Lord's anointed, and the people whom he has chosen and called upon

and raised up to take hold and build up Zion, build up the kingdom, sanctify

themselves before God and prepare themselves for the coming of the Son of

man? I have sometimes feared in my own mind concerning ourselves, that we

are not living as near to the Lord as we ought to do ; we do not always comprehend

the responsibilities which we are under to God our Heavenly Father.

When I reflect, my brethren and sisters, that the Lord has ordained the establishment

of Zion, upon the responsibility that rests upon us in warning the generation

in which we live that they may be left without excuse in fulfilment of

the revelations contained in this volume (the Book of Mormon)—when I reflect

that we are called as the servants of the Lord to perform this work, I feel

within my own mind as the Lord has said now nearly fifty years ago, that if we

believe the words of the Lord we will labor while it is called to-day. The

Lord looks to nobody else, he expects nothing from anybody else, as far as the

fulfilling of the revelations in the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants

are concerned ; he looks to no other nation, kindred, tongue, or people

henceforth to go and perform this work, but the Saints of the living God. If

the Lord has any friends on the earth they are the Saints of God, and if the

Saints of God have any friends anywhere, they consist of the God of Israel

and the heavenly hosts, and the spirits of just men made perfect.

In my view, we as Latter-day Saints are approaching a change. We are

approaching important events. It cannot be otherwise in the face of the revelations

of God, in the Bible, in the Testament, in the Doctrine and Covenants,

than that a change is about to take place in the world. The Lord has said that

he would make the work short in the latter days, that he would cut it short in

righteousness. Fifty years is a good while to pass away in the dispensation

and generation in which we live, and it has taken from the earth during this

time a great many, I will say all of the founders of this church and kingdom.

It has taken into the spirit world many of the Apostles, many of the Elders,

many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, and sometimes when I look around

and contemplate on the past, I at times feel lonesome. I look back to the

days of Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, and to the ' patriarchs, prophets and

apostles that lived in that day, and I find that a great share of them are in the

spirit world. There are but very few left now who were alive at the organization

of this church upon the earth. I believe that Brother Orson Pratt is the

only man who dwells in the flesh, who is in the church, who was organized in

the first Quorum of the Twelve. Brother Taylor and myself remain of those

who were organized in the second organization. But Brother Taylor and myself

and Brother Pratt and a good many others will not tarry a great while

here. We shall pass on to the other side of the vail, and join those who have

gone before, as will many who are in this congregation. This is not our home,

but we will dwell in the flesh until we pass through a change. We are apt

sometimes in our reflections to marvel and wonder why the Lord has taken

away so many men who have been called as Apostles and prophets and Elders

of the Zion of God into the spirit world. The Lord has had his motive in

these things. I see (pointing to the paintings on the ceiling) Joseph Smith

with Moroni, and here, with Peter, James and John, receiving the priesthood.

How long did he (Joseph) tarry here in the flesh? Only fourteen

years after he organized this church and kingdom, the church and kingdom

of God, the church of Jesus Christ. We felt as though we could not live,

could not exist, without Joseph. We felt a good deal as the Apostles did

when Jesus told his disciples that if he did not go away the Comforter would

not come. They did not comprehend him; they did not understand that

Jesus Christ was to be crucified, notwithstanding that he told them that if he

did not go away the Comforter would not come. Joseph Smith remained

with us longer than the Savior did. He remained only about three and a

half years after he was thirty years of age, an age which the Jewish law required

a man to attain before officiating in the priesthood. Joseph Smith

remained with us about fourteen years. He remained until he had received all

the keys of the kingdom of God which were necessary for the establishment

of this church and kingdom, and which were necessary for those men who followed

him to have those keys upon their shoulders, that they might continue to

build upon the foundation that had been laid; but as soon as. Joseph received

the keys of the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood, as soon as he received

the keys from Moses for the gathering together of the House of Israel in the

latter days, and from Elijah to seal the hearts of the fathers to the children and

children to the fathers—when Joseph received all these keys, and had power

to seal them upon the heads of other men, the Lord called him away. Why

did he call him into the spirit world? Because he held the keys of this dispensation,

not only before he came to this world and while he was in the flesh,

but he would hold them throughout the endless ages of eternity. He held the

keys of past generations—of the millions of people who dwelt on the earth in

the fifty generations that had passed and gone who had not the law of the gospel,

who never saw a prophet, never saw an Apostle, never heard the voice of

any man who was inspired of God and had power to teach them the gospel of

Christ, and to organize the church of Christ on earth. He went to unlock the

prison doors to these people, as far as they would receive his testimony, and

the Saints of God who dwell in the flesh will build temples unto the name of

the Lord, and enter these temples and perform certain ordinances for the

redemption of the dead. This was the work of Joseph the prophet in the

spirit world. Now, I believe in my own mind that every Elder of Israel who

has gone into the spirit world, who has been faithful in the flesh, has as much

to do on the other side of the vail as we have to do here, and if anything more

so. This is my view with regard to ttfe labors of the Elders of Israel. The

Lord hath need of some on the other side of the vail. He preserves some to

labor here, and he takes home whom he will according to the counsels of his

own will; this is his manner of dealing. Those of our brethren who have

passed away have got through the labors of the flesh ; we are left here to labor

a little while on the earth. Then I would like to ask my brethren and sisters

this morning in view of these things, if these things are true, if this is the

church of Christ, if this is the Zion of God—which the Lord Almighty foreordained

before the world was should be established in the latter days, and had

a class of men and women whom he had reserved in the spirit world, whose

lives were hid with Christ in God and knew it not, to come forth and stand in

the flesh and take hold of this kingdom and build it up, and war with the

world, the flesh and the devil—then, if this be true, what manner of men and

women ought we to be? I feel in my reflections, in my thoughts and in my

meditations, that we, as Elders of Israel, should have nothing else to do in

this world while we dwell in the flesh but to build up this kingdom, and when

we are building up this kingdom we are building up ourselves; when we are

faithful to God we are magnifying our calling.

The eyes of the heavenly hosts are over us; the eyes of God himself and

his Son Jesus Christ; the eyes of all the prophets and Apostles who have

dwelt in the flesh; they are watching our works. I have spent more time

lately with those who are in the spirit world, in my night seasons, than in all

the rest of my life together. On one occasion I thought in my dream that

Presidents Young, Kimball, George A. Smi-th, and many others, attended one

of our Conferences. When Brother Young was asked to preach he said: " No,

I have done my preaching, I have done my instructions in the flesh; I have

come to hear you talk, I have come to look at you, I have come to watch over

you, I wish to see what this people are doing." This has been the answer

and these are thoughts I believe in. I believe we are not shut out from God,

we are not shut out from our brethren, though the vail is between us. They

understand our works, our condition, our position, and I feel a desire myself,

what little time I have to spend in the flesh, to make my time useful. I wish

to do what I can for the building up of the kingdom of God. I wish to do

what I can to bring to pass righteousness, and I feel that we should all be in

this position; we should all labor to occupy our time, our talents, and our attention

as far as we possibly can to build up the kingdom of God.

I wish to say to the Latter-day Saints. Sometimes people apostatize; we

speak of people getting into the dark. It does not make any difference who

sells whiskey, nor who drinks it; it makes no difference who blasphemes the

name of God, or apostatizes from the church and kingdom of God, as far as

the establishment of the kingdom of God is concerned; the Lord has got valiant

men and women in his kingdom who will be true and faithful to the Lord

and his work. If half of this church were to fall away, it would not destroy

the purposes of the Lord. With regard to ourselves that is another thing.

Many men who have received the gospel, and have had the Holy Ghost conferred

upon them, have fallen away, but in doing so they condemn themselves,

they destroy themselves, they miss and lose all the hopes they ever had of

eternal life and the blessings of God in the celestial kingdom. Men may fall,

but the kingdom of God never, never. The Lord has a good many men and

women in this church and kingdom that cannot afford to surrender any principle

that the God of Israel has commanded us to obey, no principle that the

Lord has commanded us to receive, no principle that is embodied in the gospel

of Jesus Christ. Why? Because we know and understand very well that our

destiny, our position, and our.blessings are all in his hands. We also know

that the destinies of all the armies of the nations of the earth under the whole

heavens are in the hands of God. The Lord guides these things ; he will

guide them. We are approaching an important day and time. We are approaching

a period when there must be a change in Babylon, a change in our

nation, and a change in Zion. Judgments are going to begin at the house

of God. They will go forth, and will not be taken from the earth until all has

been fulfilled.

My brethren and sisters, I wished to say this much this morning. I

desired to exhort you, and I exhort myself. Let us watch and be sober. Let

us keep the commandments of God. Let us labor for the Holy Spirit, for

without this no man can serve God. What condition is the world in? To-day

the world is a great way from the Lord, and they are getting a great way further

off year by year, and just so far as they get from the Lord in this world,

just so far off will they be in the world to come. Bear this in mind.

I do think that as Elders in Israel we have no reason to be discouraged.

God is with us. God is with this people. He is watching over our interests.

He guides and directs our destiny, and you may look back and scan the history

of this church and kingdom from the days of its organization, and you will

find it has never gone backward, it has gone forward all the way through, year

by year, no matter the difficulties thrown in our way. We have had persecution

and oppression ; we were driven from one place to another for many years,

until we were driven into these Rocky Mountains, to the land given to Jacob

and his posterity, the land preserved for the gathering of the Saints in the latter

days. When I look at this assembly and contemplate the work of this

people in these valleys and in the surrounding Territories; when I perceive

how this desert is occupied, how the Latter-day Saints are progressing, how

they are cultivating the earth, building temples, halls, tabernacles, schoolhouses,

towns and villages, I marvel at the work of the Lord. This is the

work of the Almighty, and when our enemies look for the stoppage of this

work, for the stoppage of the progress of the Latter-day Saints, they will be

disappointed, because these things are in the hands of the Lord, and no power

can hinder their progress.

I rejoice in having the privilege of meeting with an assemblv of the Saints

of God in Salt Lake City, and especially in such a good building as this. It

is a credit to the Latter-day Saints. It is an ornament to this Temple Block,

and an honor to those who have helped lo build it. We must continue these

things. We must go forward, not backward. We have this fine temple

which we are building at the present time, and there are others being

erected in other parts of the Territory, that the Latter-day Saints may enter

these temples of our God and attend to the ordinances for the redemption

of the living and the dead. I bear testimony to you, my brethren and sisters,

the whole spirit world is watching your labor and your works, and as I

said in the beginning, if the vail was taken from off our eyes, we would see

the responsibility of our acts, and what would be the result of these things?

We would labor diligently and do all we could for the rearing of these temples

for the redemption of our dead ; we would sanctify ourselves and keep the

Word of Wisdom, and unite ourselves together according to the law of God.

There are many things we do as Latter-day Saints that we should abstain

from; we should see the importance of our laboring in the flesh to build up the

Zion of God.

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