2nd President of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
December 27, 1847 – August 29, 1877

President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (April 14, 1840 – December 27, 1847)

Member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (February 14, 1835 – December 27, 1847)

General Conference Addresses

  • April 1852 General Conference
    • The Lord at the Head of His Kingdom
      • “The Lord stands at the helm that guides Zion’s ship. He is its Dictator; and unless we work exactly to the line that is marked out by him, our works will be in vain. This has been my experience from the beginning. In every branch and avenue of our lives we must learn to work to the line of truth.”
      • “Can we fight against and subdue ourselves? That is the greatest difficulty we ever encountered, and the most arduous warfare we ever engaged in.”
      • “A man may learn letters and study all the various branches of scholastic education to the day of his death; but if he does not attain to strict self-discipline, his learning will not amount to much.”
      • “I mean to correct my own faults, and it is for you to do the same. It is an individual business, over which each man must preside, until every fault in our whole lives is corrected and we are sanctified before the Lord.”
      • “Consider well before you suffer your minds to be irritated in the least. Suffer them not to be agitated until your blood is boiling with rage before you are aware; but stop and reflect, coolly consider, and quietly reason with the person or persons who have trespassed upon you, and show them the nature of their transgression against you. If they continue in the same course of conduct, reason the stronger with them, without quarrelling. Thus bring your passions down into subjection to your will, and cultivate an even unruffled temper, until you can perfectly control yourselves at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances.”
      • “As quick as you have believed and have been baptized for the remission of your sins, that you have then further duties to perform.”
      • “I may love you and seek your welfare with all my might; but I do not love the profane speeches and wicked conduct of some of the Elders in Israel. I have no fellowship for men who are guilty of breaking the Sabbath, of drinking spirituous liquors to excess, of contending with each other, and going to law before Gentile or Bishops’ courts to settle their difficulties. There is a better way of settling difficulties than either of these.”
      • “I wish you to understand that when the sheep are separated from the goats, they will never again bear the like afflictions they bore while they mingled with the goats, as long as the world stands; no, neither in this world nor any other. Let the sheep and goats be once separated, and the Master of that flock of sheep will never afflict them. When there are no goats to annoy the sheep, the latter will mingle with each other and go hand in hand in full fellowship. But when goats are among the sheep, they besmear them with their stink, and they frisk about, and behave so as to actually turn the sheep almost into goats. They will grow short in the hair, look like goats, and stink like them. The master of the flock must therefore do something to preserve the blood of the sheep pure, lest they completely degenerate and altogether become goats. They must be chastened by persecution; to drive out the stinking goats from their midst.”

Reported Addresses

  • Observe the Sabbath Day, Remarks in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, June 2, 1872
    • “Six days are enough for us to work, and if we wish to play, play within the six days; if we wish to go on excursions, take one of those six days, but on the seventh day, come to the place of worship, attend to the sacrament, confess your faults one to another and to our God, and pay attention to the ordinances of the house of God.”
    • “Now, remember, my brethren, those who go skating, buggy riding or on excursions on the sabbath day – and there is a great deal of this practiced – are weak in the faith. Gradually, little by little, little by little, the spirit of their religion leaks out of their hearts and their affections, and by and by they begin to see faults in their brethren, faults in the doctrines of the church, faults in the organization, and at last they leave the kingdom of God and go to destruction. I really wish you would remember this and tell it to your neighbors.”
  • Political Parties and Christian Sects, etc., Delivered in Ogden City Tabernacle, June 4, 1871
    • “We have many elders in Israel who would much rather fight for their religion than pray. As for a person being saved in the Celestial kingdom of God without being prepared to dwell in a pure and holy place, it is all nonsense and ridiculous; and if there be any who think they can gain the presence of the Father and the Son by fighting for instead of living their religion, they will be mistaken, consequently the quicker we make up our minds to live our religion the better it will be for us. If we live so as to enjoy the spirit of the faith that we have embraced there is no danger of our being deceived.”
  • Paying Tithing, Fasting and Prayer, Etc., Address in the Tabernacle, November 6, 1863
    • “I have always told the people to do just as they pleased about paying tithing, and to do as they please about calling upon the name of the Lord in prayer, and to do just as they please about being baptized, or about believing in the Lord Jesus Christ; there is no compulsion whatever in these matters. The Lord does not compel any person to embrace the Gospel, and I do not think He will compel them to live it after they have embraced it; but all who do not keep their covenants and the commandments of the Lord our Father are then fit to be cut off from the Church.”
    • “We are in the habit of holding in full fellowship men that pay no tithing, also persons who take the name of God in vain; we permit liars, thieves, etc., to retain a standing in the Church. Does not this hurt the body of Christ? It does, and the whole body is more or less sick and faint through our extreme kindness, which some call charity; it pleads for those unrighteous persons, and we spare them. Should we do this to the extent we do? I think we have lived long enough and have passed through enough experience to teach us to know and do the will of Heaven, and to disfellowship those who refuse to do it.”
    • “Persons professing to be Saints should assemble themselves together on the Lord’s day, except those who may be necessarily detained at home to keep the house, take care of the children or to perform some work of necessity and mercy; the rest should assemble in the place appointed for worship and the offering up of our sacraments.”
    • “How can men love God when they hate their brethren?”
  • Privileges of the Sabbath, etc., Address in Tabernacle, May 20, 1860
    • “Some of our old traditions teach us that a man guilty of atrocious and murderous acts may savingly repent when on the scaffold; and upon his execution you will hear the expression “Bless God! he has gone to heaven, to be crowned in glory through the all redeeming merits of Christ the Lord.” This is all nonsense. Such a character never will see heaven. Some will pray “O that I had passed through the vail on the night of my conversion.” This proves the false ideas and vain notions entertained by the Christian world. They have no good sense pertaining to God and godliness.”
    • “This is a world in which we are to prove ourselves. The lifetime of man is a day of trial wherein we may prove to God, in our darkness, in our weakness, and where the enemy reigns, that we are our Father’s friends, and that we receive light from him and are worthy to be leaders of our children – to become lords of lords and kings of kings – to have perfect dominion over that portion of our families that will be crowned in the celestial kingdom with glory, immortality, and eternal lives.”
  • The Sacrament, The Sabbath, etc., At a Special Conference held in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, August 29, 1852
    • “This is a great blessing. If we can realize it, it is one of the greatest blessings we can enjoy, to manifest to our Father in heaven – to witness to him that we do always remember the death and sufferings of his Son Jesus Christ, whom he sent into the world to redeem the world to shed his own blood for our sins. If we could realize it, it is one of the greatest blessings we could enjoy, to come before the Lord, and before the angels, and before each other, to witness that we remember that the Lord Jesus Christ has died for us. This proves to the Father that we remember our covenants, that we love his Gospel, that we love to keep his commandments, and to honor the name of the Lord Jesus upon the earth. Let us try to do this. It is a blessing, a privilege, and a duty we should constantly attend  to.”
    • “As to keeping the Sabbath according to the Mosaic law, indeed I do not; for it would be almost beyond my power. Still under the new covenant we should remember to preserve holy one day in the week as a day of rest – as a memorial of the rest of the Lord and the rest of the Saints.”
    • “It is true most of the doctrine we believe comes in contact with all the prejudices and prepossessed feelings of the Christian world. In the practical part of our religion we do not differ from them in many respects. They pray and so do we; they keep the Sabbath pretty tolerably well, and so do we; they say they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; so do we, and keep his commandments; and they call upon the Lord, probably, as faithfully. In some of the plain, practical duties of the Gospel, the religious world are very diligent; but to the doctrinal parts of the Gospel of salvation they are entire strangers.”
    • “Now brethren the calling of an apostle is to build up the kingdom of God in all the world: it is the Apostle that holds the keys of his power, and nobody else. If an Apostle magnifies his calling, he is the word of the Lord to this people all the time, or else he does not magnify his calling; either one or the other. if he magnifies his calling, his words are the words of eternal life and salvation to those who hearken to them, just as much so as any written revelations contained in these three books (Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants). There is nothing contained in these three books that is any more revelation than the words of an apostle that is magnifying his calling.”
  • The Gospel of Salvation, Discourse in Salt Lake City, August 8, 1852
    • “There is but one discourse to be preached to all the children of Adam; and that discourse should be believed by them, and lived up to. To commence, continue, and finish this Gospel sermon, will require all the time that is allotted to man, to the earth, and all things upon it, in their mortal state; that is my idea with regard to preaching. No man is able to set before a congregation all the items of the Gospel, in this life, and continue these items to their termination, for this mortal life is too short. It is inseparably connected, one part with the other, in all the doctrines that have been revealed to man, which are now called the various doctrines of Christianity, of which all the professors of religion believe a portion; but severally reject, or desire to reject, other portions of the truth; each sect or individual, taking to themselves portions of the Bible, portions of the doctrine of salvation, that are the most pleasing to them, rejecting all the rest, and mingling these doctrines with the tenets of men.”
    • “The inquiry might be made, “Can any person in the world prophesy, unless he possess the spirit of it?” No, they cannot. They may prophesy lies by the spirit of lies, by the inspiration of a lying spirit, but can they see and understand things in the future, so as to prophesy truly of things to come, unless they are endowed with the spirit of prophecy? No. Is this the privilege of every person? It is. Permit me to remark here—this very people called Latter-day Saints have got to be brought to the spot where they will be trained (if they have not been there already), where they will humble themselves, work righteousness, glorify God, and keep His commandments. If they have not got undivided feelings, they will be chastised until they have them; not only until every one of them shall see for themselves, and prophesy for themselves, have visions to themselves, but be made acquainted with all the principles and laws necessary for them to know, so as to supersede the necessity of anybody teaching them.”
    • “You must continue to preach there, until those who sent you shall tell you to leave that field of labor; and if the people don’t manifest by their works, that they believe, as long as they come to hear me, I will continue to plead with them, until they bend their dispositions to the Gospel. Why? Because I must be patient with them, as the Lord is patient with me; as the Lord is merciful to me, I will be merciful to others; as He continues to be merciful to me, consequently I must continue in long-suffering to be merciful to others—patiently waiting, with all diligence, until the people will believe, and until they are prepared to become heirs to a celestial kingdom, or angels to the devil.”
  • Weaknesses of Man, Discourse in Salt Lake City, August 1, 1852
    • “In everything the Saints may rejoice—in persecution, because it is necessary to purge them, and prepare the wicked for their doom; in sickness and in pain, though they are hard to bear, because we are thereby made acquainted with pain, with sorrow, and with every affliction that mortals can endure, for by contrast all things are demonstrated to our senses. We have reason to rejoice exceedingly that faith is in the world, that the Lord reigns, and does His pleasure among the inhabitants of the earth.”
    • “I rejoice because I am afflicted. I rejoice because I am poor. I rejoice because I am cast down. Why? Because I shall be lifted up again.”
    • “The Savior came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance; and we preach to the people, and call upon them to be saved—not the righteous, but we call upon sinners; for those that are well, need no physician, but they that are sick. With those who are saved already, we have nothing to do. But it is those who are in sin and transgression, who are in darkness and in weakness, those who are wrapt up in the superstitions and false traditions of the nations that have lived and passed away, whom we must plead with and try to save; and if they begin to see, continue to anoint their eyes with truth, that they may see clearly; and put them in every possible condition we can place them in, to encourage them to call upon the Lord, and trust in Him alone; for those who will trust in the Lord will be made strong.”
    • “It is for us to trust in the Lord, and endeavor to deliver ourselves from the effects of sin, plead with every person to take the same course, and propose and plan every possible means to become friends of God, that we may thereby become friends of sinners, and receive a great reward in a day to come.”
  • The Pioneers, Speech in Salt Lake City, July 24, 1852
    • “If the Saints are persecuted, it is for their good; if they are driven, it is for their good; consequently, when I reflect, I have nothing to fear in all the persecutions or hardships I may pass through in connection with this people, but the one thing, and that is, to stray from the religion I have embraced, and be forsaken of my God.”
    • “I say to this community, be humble, be faithful to your God, true to His Church, benevolent to the strangers that may pass through our territory, and kind to all people; serving the Lord with all your might, trusting in him; but never fear the frowns of an enemy, nor be moved by the flatteries of friends or of enemies from the path of right. Serve your God; believe in Him, and never be ashamed of Him, and sustain your character before Him, for very soon we will meet in a larger congregation than this, and have a celebration far superior; we will celebrate our perfect and absolute deliverance from the power of the devil; we only celebrate now our deliverance from the good brick houses we have left, from our farms and lands, and from the graves of our fathers; we celebrate our perfect deliverance from these.”
  • Knowledge of the Doctrine of Christ, Address in Salt Lake City, July 11, 1852
    • “I can bear testimony that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true; and the word of the Lord, whether written or spoken, is true. Permit me to ask a question. Who are the individuals upon the face of the earth, that can make this statement in truth? Who are the individuals that can say that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and that he lives? Can the Christian world? They cannot. They may say that they believe, and have all confidence that Jesus lives; they may have all confidence in declaring that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true; they may firmly declare that the Bible (referring particularly to the New Testament) is true; that therein contained is the plan of salvation, and is true. This they may declare in all good conscience, and with all soberness. But let me ask, where are the individuals that can say that they know that Jesus lives? And who are the individuals that can say that his Gospel is true, and is the plan of salvation to man? I will let Christendom answer this question for themselves; but to me it is certain, that no man lives on the face of the earth—no woman lives that can say this, except those to whom Christ has revealed himself.”
    • “But I am proud to say of my religion, I have studied it faithfully for twenty-two years, day and night, at home and abroad, upon the rivers, and upon the lakes, when traveling by sea and by land; have studied it in the pulpit; from morning till night; whatsoever might be my pursuit, I have studied it with as close an application as any college student ever did any subject he wished to commit to memory; and I can say I have only just got into the A B C of it; it leads the vision of my mind into eternity.”
    • “I say this for the information of those who do not understand and know this people from the beginning. From the first day I knew brother Joseph to the day of his death, a better man never lived upon the face of this earth.”
  • March of Mormonism, Discourse in Salt Lake City, June 13, 1852
    • “It is to me one of the best of sermons to hear men and women relate to each other how the Lord has wrought upon their understanding, and brought them into the path of truth, life, and salvation. I would rather hear men tell their own experience, and testify that Joseph was a Prophet of the Lord, and that the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and other revelations of God, are true; that they know it by the gift and power of God; that they have conversed with angels, have had the power of the Holy Ghost upon them, giving them visions and revelations, than hear any other kind of preaching that ever saluted my ears.”
    • “What is it that convinces man? It is the influence of the Almighty, enlightening his mind, giving instruction to the understanding.”
    • “You are already acquainted with my views upon the doctrine of miracles. In reality there can be no miracle, only to the ignorant. There are spiritual agents, invisible to the natural eye, not only in us, but in the elements, in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath, who are continually producing effects, the cause of which we cannot comprehend.”
    • “If we train ourselves to think what we are about to do, before we do it, and have understanding to know, and power to perform the good, we can thereby avoid the evil that is present with us.”
    • “When evil is present with us, we must overcome it, or be overcome by it. When the devil is in our hearts, tempting us to do that which is wrong, we must resist him or be led captive by him.”
    • “The Lord will help those who help themselves to do right. Should the people be determined from this time henceforth, never to do anything but good, and should go forth to build up the Kingdom of God, doing everything in their power to promote the cause of truth, and never do another wrong, it would be but a short time before this people would be a holy people, sanctified unto the Lord. We are already the best people on earth, but we can still improve, we are made for that purpose, our capacities are organized to expand until we can receive into our comprehension celestial knowledge and wisdom, and to continue worlds without end.”
  • Recreation, and the Proper Use of It, March 4, 1852
    • “When I look upon the faces of my brethren, I know their hearts; let the roots of bitterness be there, and their countenances meet mine, and I know it in a moment. Do you not know it also? Can you not feel it? Can you not see it? You can. This is why I say that I have the privilege of judging others. You have the same privilege.”
    • “When we have had sufficient recreation for our good, let that suffice. It is all right; then let our minds labor instead of our bodies; and in all our exercises of body and mind, it is good to remember the Lord.”
    • “Never let us permit ourselves to go one step beyond that which the Lord will own and bless.”
    • “When I bring my mind to bear upon this subject, and see what the Lord has done for me, and for this people, and think that I should become remiss in my duty, so that the Lord should have need to chasten me again, it seems, on the first reflection, that I ought to be damned. When I look at myself before the Lord, and see what He has called me to, and what he has called my brethren and sisters to; how He has bestowed blessings upon us, and heaped them up until there is not room to receive them, and I should want to go to the gold mines, and return again here to speculate upon the Saints, and should be guilty of complaining all the time, it seems, if I were to do this, the Lord would damn me.”
    • “While we live, it is our duty to love the Lord with all our might, and with all our strength, and with all our souls. This is our duty first and foremost: we ought to love Him better than our wives, children and brethren and sisters, and all things besides. Is this our duty? Verily yes. Let the heart love God, and serve Him, without any division of feeling: never suffer it to wander to the right or to the left for one moment.”
    • “Let every heart be firm, and every one say, I will never contend any more with a man for property, I will not be cruel to my fellow-creature, but I will do all the good I can, and as little evil as possible.”
  • Blessings of the Saints – A House For the Lord, December 16, 1851
    • “Brethren, we are the Lord’s and all we possess; and I have determined, by the help of the Lord and this people, to build Him a house. You may ask, “will he dwell in it?” He may do just as He pleases; it is not my prerogative to dictate to the Lord. But we will build Him a house, that if He pleases to pay us a visit, He may have a place to dwell in, or if He should send any of His servants, we may have suitable accommodations for them.”
    • “I have built myself a house, and the most of you have done the same, and now shall we not build the Lord a house?”


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