In the years following the Saints’ arrival in Utah, Brigham Young and other Church leaders made regular trips to visit settlements throughout the Territory. During these visits, leaders met with Church members to teach and encourage them in their efforts to build up Zion under difficult circumstances. The following extracts are from President Young’s sermons on one such tour in September 1864. His words to the Saints in the southern settlements of Utah emphasized hard work, self-improvement, and the Lord’s willingness to bless those who keep His commandments.
Fillmore, September 7
I say to you, as I can to the whole world, there has not yet been a revelation given to this people from the time Joseph commenced to receive revelation but what would be [altered] provided the people were capable of receiving more. The Lord has to speak to the people according to their capacity, not according to his capacity. We are not prepared to receive all the heavens has for us. The Lord gives revelation upon revelation, here a little and there a little. Those precepts he gives we should improve upon them. . . . The Lord is laboring and has been for long time to prepare a people to receive blessings. He sent his gospel, called Joseph, gave the Book of Mormon, to prepare us to . . . receive all the blessings the earth can bestow, and the blessings of eternity. You and I believe alike with regard to the fullness of his power and goodness. He has blessings and wants bestow them on the whole human family. We believe alike. Why are we not blessed then? We are not ready to receive the blessings.
If the people don’t consider me a prophet it is no matter to me. Whether they do or not, I have been profitable to this people and [am] still trying to be, and am trying to give them houses, lands, homes, horses, chariots, fruits of every kind, and pleasant walks and cities and urging them all the time to receive them. . . . If they will not receive it, I can’t help it. I don’t think a man has lived that cared as little about what people think about them as I do what they think of me, if they only live so as to enter into the celestial gate. I don’t care a gourd what they think of me. I don’t want their bows and graces, and . . . I don’t care if they render me no more acknowledgement. I am happy. I have the fountain of that happiness, and I am not dependent of the good looks [and] good-saying and ill-saying of any person on the earth [to] complete my happiness.
The account of this sermon indicates that “all the teams [were] hitched up for the journey” when Brigham Young “walked into the bowery” and said, “I want the attention of the congregation. I shall not stop to have singing and prayers. Do your praying when you get home and sing when you please. I have a few words to say [and] I am going to say them.”
Beaver City, September 9
If you take the book of Doctrine and Covenants and turn to the revelation given to Joseph concerning the building up of the center stake of Zion, you can there read something of the law that will be obligatory upon the people in the temporal point of view as to the spiritual kingdom. If we divide the spiritual from the temporal, we have the privilege of believing, receiving, and obeying all the ordinances of the spiritual kingdom of God upon the earth [and] still live where we will. But when we come to the temporal kingdom that the Lord is about to establish upon the earth, and if really organized, that infringes upon the rights of individuals—I mean it infringes upon their feelings, sympathies, their affections. [It] intrudes itself upon the doing[s] of [the] people a little too much to suit them. I will say to you, if you and myself ever enjoyed the privilege of going and building up the center stake of Zion, you and I will be controlled in every temporal matter: in our business, labor, conduct, our intercourse one with another, as much as we ever have been controlled in our faith. . . .
Suppose we were to set some man a work to raise up a society to return to the center stake of Zion and come into the fullness of order. One of the first questions would be, “Will you be controlled in all your temporal matters? Will you hand over every farthing of your property and let the bishop be appointed to distribute that to whom and where he pleases?” This would be rather hard. . . . If we were to ask those brethren who want to return to the center stake of Zion . . . “Do you chew tobacco?” “Yes.” “Drink whiskey?” “If I can get it.” “Do you drink tea and coffee?” “My wife does, and I join her and I like it.” “When you get into the canyon do you swear and get mad and angry?” “Sometimes [I] get angry.” “Do you ever have any feelings with your neighbors with regard to the water ditches [or your] neighbor’s cattle breaking into your garden and fences?” “Yes.” . . . You must overcome your anger and passions. . . . The spirit of the gospel will raise you aloof from this.
Parowan, September 10
Are we not . . . directed, counseled, exhorted, and requested to beautify the earth and make it like the Garden of Eden? Is the angel Gabriel coming here to do it? No, but he will do his part. Will Jesus come to do [it]? He has been here and performed his work. He has done his part. Will any of the angels come here to perform this labor? . . . I will answer and say that there is not any of the angels [come] to do [it]. Jesus won’t come and do it. Our Father in Heaven will not come to do it. . . . They have performed their labor. They are still on hand to assist you and I, but this answers the question: that you and I have this labor to perform. . . .
“But we won’t build up Parowan, but [we want to] build up Zion in Jackson County, Missouri.” What are you going to build? . . . Suppose we take Parowan down and set it out there in Jackson County, Missouri. How [would you] like the looks of it? [T]here is men plenty [who say], “I am going into the Celestial Kingdom to be crowned with crowns of glory immortality and eternal lives, and I am going to be a great one [and] have a large family around me. I shall possess kingdoms upon kingdoms, thrones upon thrones, [and] powers and dominions [are] going to be given to me.” . . . “How long [are you] going to live?” “I don’t know.” “Have you got to learn anything?” “I don’t know. I expect not, but by and by the Lord [is] going to show it all to me, and he is going to show me how to set out shade trees, how to take rocks from the mountains, how to get the lumber from the timber, how to put those rocks together.” This I have told you is a mistake. He is not going to do it. We had better have the revelation that Brother Lorenzo Snow talked about: a little good, hard sense, and improve the knowledge within us. . . .
My son [and] daughter, go to school, learn your letters, to spell your single syllables, to learn to put together letters [and] syllables to make words, and words [to make] sentences, and then to make subjects, until you become [a] man and woman worthy of the character of intelligent beings. . . . These little boys and girls here today know it is required of them to go to school and learn. Is it required of you and I to go to school? The question is have we a school to go to? Yes. From our earliest day until we pass this stage of action are we not in a school every day of our lives to learn to treasure up wisdom and knowledge? . . . I can answer it for myself. I have been in a school now for many years.
Pine Valley, September 13
With regard to the kingdom of God or anything else we undertake to do, we want to work by law. We have a law, and if we work by it we shall seek to understand and know the law. . . . Let me tell you, God works by system . . . and is more systematical of any being we know anything of, and he has revealed enough to the children of man to know the planets work by his law. The astronomers can tell an eclipse [a] thousand years to come. By the same plan and law he works the invisible hand of his providences, doled out to us that we see. If we understood all these things it will be rational, easy, and consistent and [we would be thankful] for all the dealings of God’s providences to us. Would you say we [should] be thankful for a drought? Most assuredly. I have never been more happy passing over the rugged plains, and I can’t be better satisfied with any country than with these rugged mountains. Are you blessed to have grasshoppers come? I am. I see the hand of God in it. He wishes his people to have faith, patience and grace, and he is willing to give it to them. If we have no trial of our faith, where is our victory? If we have no victory, . . . where is our glory? But now we must gain this victory. We must fight the battle. We must [withstand] the [opposition] in every thing the Lord will deal with us in this place and in every place, to try our faith.
St. George, September 14
The Lord holds the reigns, and at his pleasure we will find in these parts there will be springs of living water. You continue this well and you will find beautiful water by and by. It is the will and pleasure of the Almighty [that] he change the veins of this water in the mountains and causes them to come out in springs when he pleases. And if we will work with our might and in good faith the Lord will work and he will preserve us from those that would overrun. He had not the place for us to go to prepared, but he had these mountains, and until he has, he will preserve us in these mountains. He will withhold the [frost] and send the [rain] that the Latter-day Saints may not be afflicted. This is just as visible [to those] who live in the light of the Holy Spirit as the sun is to you. You see it shine. It shines no plainer than the providence of God does to those who have his spirit and [are] living their religion.
St. George, September 15
We . . . call upon one of the brethren to get up and pray, [and] then if I was to look at this congregation I don’t expect I would find one half of them and probably not one-fourth part or one-tenth part be in prayer, but their eyes be like the false eye to the end of the earth. I have however taken the liberty to get into some nook or corner where I could see whether the brethren paid attention to prayer or not. . . . Even the brethren on the stand I have seen staring around when the servant of God was praying. . . . When you come to a meeting like this and one of servants of God get up to pray, let every man and woman be in silence. . . . When a man [is] engaged in praying and we are looking away, and they are looking at the bonnet of one, and how the collar of another sits [and thinking] I wonder where my cattle is, and how my meat is I put in the stove, and how the children are doing, and the mind[s] of the people are all over creation, the Lord can’t bless such a people. . . . Mothers: take this lesson and carry it home with you, and when the father is engaged in prayer have the children kneel down with you, and have them pray and teach them to pray as their father prays, and ask for the things he asks for, and when a word is spoken keep that in your heart. If the people can do this with their eyes staring around, they can do what I can’t do.
Gunnison, September 25
To gain a spiritual blessing we have to perform a temporal act. Now we wish to establish Zion, the Zion of God. Where? In the heart? Yes. In the affections? Yes. In the act and every act of the man? Yes. We are to establish Zion. Are we to establish Zion in our houses? Yes. Are we to establish Zion in our neighborhoods? Yes. In our cities? Yes. In our country places and finally all over our country? Wherever the Latter-day Saints settle, there we are to establish Zion. Now you can ask yourselves what we are doing. What is it to establish Zion? It is to beautify the earth, to purify our heart by our pure and holy life; to conduct and purify our habitations, our families, and our friends, and purify ourselves as a community; to purify the life, that the blessings of heaven may rest upon the earth. Through our faith, through our exertions we are to bring back the heavenly influence that once was upon the earth, and do away with this curse and the sins and the power of Satan that has been . . . on the earth, until the thistle and the thorn shall cease to grow and everlasting righteousness shall be upon the earth. Now don’t you see we must have [a] temporal act to bring [a] spiritual blessing?
Manti, September 26
Every attribute you can read of our Father in Heaven is in every person I am looking at here and every one of his children upon the face of the earth. These attributes are called into organization. We are required to put forth those talents God has given us and improve upon them as he improved upon them. By his improving on the attributes he has gained his exaltation, and it may truly be said that as he was, so are we. If we are faithful as he is now, so we shall be. We are called to [improve] every attribute that we have, when it is necessary, so that we can understand our own knowledge and wisdom and the talents that God has planted within us. Let a man say that he never could learn to make a shoe boot, a horseshoe or nail, or drive a nail [through] a shingle and fasten it on his roof, [or] say [he] never could learn to read [or] to write [and he] would be setting those attributes at naught [that] God placed within him.
Mount Pleasant, September 27
[It is] a little over 500 miles that we have traveled from the north to the south to visit the saints this season. Settlement after settlement, [we have] gathered the people together under a bowery like this, and you would think you was in Salt Lake City at headquarters. [We] see the faces of those that is familiar to us, and see the large congregations of the saints. It cheers and comforts and stimulates the brethren, and they feel they are not forgotten. The elders went and preached to them in foreign lands and gathered them, and now they are not forgotten, [but] still [they are prayed] for and preached to and presided and led and guided and counseled and directed. What for? The building up the kingdom of God for the establishment of the kingdom that Daniel saw and wrote about. We . . . know this earth was ordained for the habitation of the celestial saints, and this earth is the place where they will live forever and forever. We are not going to quit the earth. When my spirit leaves the body, my body stays here until the resurrection. My spirit goes into the spirit world and that will tarry and [be well] until the morning of resurrection. Will the body hunt for the spirit? No. The spirit don’t die. It lives in the spirit world, and, it will come right here and hunt for that very dust that was laid down, and it will hunt it, and the power of God raises the body, and they will be reunited. We are not going to leave the earth, but we are going to [tend] it and make it as beautiful as [it] ever was and redeem it from the power [of the] adversary, from the fall, and prepare it to return to the presence of our Father and God.
The content of these sermons was unknown until they were recently transcribed from Pitman shorthand by LaJean Purcell Carruth. Learn more about the sermons in this series.