4th President of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
April 7, 1889 – September 2, 1898

President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (October 10, 1880 – April 7, 1889)

Member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (April 26, 1839 – April 7, 1889)

General Conference Addresses

  • October 1856 General Conference
    • The Facilities Afforded, Etc.
      • “We should learn a lesson by this handcart operation as we should by every other operation of the servants of God. I know how it looks to the Saints, but “Mormonism” to men that have not the Spirit of God is a great mystery and a strange work indeed, they do not understand the ways or work of God; it looks to them like leading the people to destruction; but in all cases where destruction comes in all ages of the world, it is where the counsels of the Prophets of God are not fully carried out, but where the people deviate in some measure from their counsel. And this was fully manifest in the days of the ancient Prophets as well as in our day.”
      • “The word of the Lord and the words of His servants have been proved many times, and that before our eyes; our leaders were led by the Spirit of God, and I can bear testimony that our Prophets and leaders have the Spirit of the Lord, and they are clothed upon with the holy Priesthood of God, and all the powers and keys thereof, and with the holy anointing, and are fully authorized and qualified to build up the kingdom of God upon the earth; they are inspired by the very same spirit that the ancients were; they want to build up the kingdom of God, this is their object.”
      • “The Presidency of the Church are calling upon us as a people to repent and put off our sins. It is right, it is just that we should awake and reform, for we have got to have the same spirit; we have to wake up from the deep sleep and slumbering condition in which we find ourselves. We must arise to a sense of our position and to understand the signs of the times, and become acquainted with what the Lord requires at our hands.”
      • “We as a people should be humble, be prayerful, be submissive to the powers that be, that we may receive the promised blessings of our Heavenly Father.”
      • “I will tell you how I feel about it; men bearing the Priesthood of God, it is a solemn truth, and you know it as well as I do, that almost all the male members in this land bear the holy Priesthood of the Most High, and yet at the same time we have had more stealing, more lying, more swearing in one year than there should have been in a thousand; we have had more stealing here in Utah than has been for our credit, and when you have taken up that you may also take up every other sin and pile them up together and what is our condition before God? Why, we have violated our covenants which we made at the waters of baptism. What is the use then of our saying that we have been righteous, that we have been holy, when we have actually been in a sound sleep, when we have been so much out of the way? It is no use whatever, and the time of sifting and purifying the Saints has come, and for one I am willing to put on the garment, and keep it on, until we burn out all the evil that exists.”
      • “It is our duty, brethren, to live in that way and manner before our God, that we will find no difficulty in administering in any of the ordinances of the kingdom of God; we should live so that the spirit and power of the Holy Ghost will rest down upon us; we should humble ourselves before the Lord in our closets, and live day by day, so that we can know what is right and what is wrong, and when the Presidency give us any instruction or charge, to live so that we will be ready to follow their counsel.”
      • “I know that I can take the reproof to myself, and I consider that it is one of the greatest victories for a man to gain, to learn how to control himself. Show me a man that does control himself and I will show you a safe man; or a man that has prepared himself by this principle is on the road to salvation. A man that is prepared to lay all that he hath upon the altar, and his life with it, for the Gospel’s sake and the kingdom of God, is in the right way, but the moment that we teach a doctrine that we do not practice we show our weakness. The moment a man or a woman becomes angry they show a great weakness, and so it is with any of us when we do anything wrong.”

Other Reported Addresses

  • Intelligence Comes From God, Etc., Discourse in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, February 22, 1857
    • “We realize that the minds of this people need feeding continually, and we all have to depend upon the Holy Spirit and the Lord to feed our minds from that inexhaustible fountain of intelligence which comes from God, for we cannot obtain food from any other source to feed the immortal mind of man. Here are a large assembly of minds who are reaching forth to receive light and truth before the Lord.”
    • “A great many people have tried to seek for happiness independent of first seeking the kingdom of heaven, &c., but they have always found it an uphill business, and so shall we if we try it.”
    • “Trusting in the Lord in these days is an unpopular business with the world.”
    • “By pursuing this course we shall be prospered, and have continual peace in our minds, and as the Lord has said, nothing will be withheld from any man that seeks for the righteousness and blessings of the kingdom of God. Salvation should be the uppermost thing with us, and you will find if ever we seek to do something else besides carrying out the dictates of the Holy Spirit, we will get into the fog and into darkness and trouble, and we shall be ignorant of the way we are pursuing. Every day that we live we need the power of the Lord—the power of His Holy Spirit and the strength of the Priesthood to be with us that we may know what to do. And if we will so live before the Lord, the Spirit will reveal to us every day what our duties are; I do not care what it is we are engaged in, we should first find out the will of the Lord and then do it, and then our work will be well done and acceptable before the Lord, but if we take a course against light and against the Spirit of God, we will find it an unprofitable road to travel.”
    • “Brother Wells has said, why the world is troubled about us is because we are united. This is true; the world and the devil are afraid of it, and he has labored all his life to divide everything where righteousness dwelt, or at least ever since he was cast out from the presence of God, what he did before that I cannot say any further than what is revealed. We have got to be one and labor together to build up this kingdom because we cannot establish it upon any other principle.”
  • Necessity of Obeying the Instructions, Remarks in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, January 25, 1857
    • “If we act up to our privileges as a people, we have no more time to lose or to spend in an unprofitable manner. We should not act indifferently with regard to the blessings which the Lord is offering unto us, and which we have the privilege of obtaining; we should labor with all our might to build up the kingdom of God, that we may secure unto ourselves every blessing necessary for our salvation. We live in an important day; it is a day of mercy and a day of great blessings unto us as a people, and we should appreciate it as such.”
    • “I realize that it is the duty, not only of us who hold the Priesthood but of this people generally, to present ourselves in humility and faith before the Lord, that we may obtain the blessings which are in readiness for us, and we can obtain all the light, the knowledge, the faith, the intelligence and power which is necessary for our salvation by humility, obedience, and submission to the will of God.”
    • “If I do not enjoy the Holy Spirit, there is something the matter, and I should labor until that is removed, for I consider that to be the first turning key, and we should do this to prove that we are honest before the Lord, and that we desire to do right in our minds and in our hearts. Yet, as I have said before, unless that Spirit is with us, we do not know whether we are doing right or wrong.”
    • “If we walk in the paths of unrighteousness, we grieve the Holy Spirit, and grieve our brethren, and injure ourselves.”
    • “Some of the people have looked upon the law of tithing as a kind of tax and burden laid upon them, but who is it for? Our tithing, our labor, and all that we do in the kingdom of God, who is it all for? The tithing is not to exalt the Lord, or to feed or clothe Him, He has had His endowments long ago; it is thousands and millions of years since He received His blessings, and if He had not received them, we could not give them to Him, for He is far in advance of us. I want the brethren to understand this one thing, that our tithing, our labor, our works are not for the exaltation of the Almighty, but they are for us. Not but what the Lord is pleased to see us obey His commandments, because by doing this it will place us in a position that will fulfil and accomplish the object of our creation, and bring about the end designed by our coming to take tabernacles here in the flesh. Again, when we do wrong, the Lord knows we shall inherit sorrow and misery if we continue in that wrong. Then I say, brethren, let us understand this as it is, and we shall do well. In paying our tithing, in obeying every law that is given to exalt us and to do us good, it is all for our individual benefit and the benefit of our children, and it is not of any particular benefit to the Lord, only as He is pleased in the faithfulness of His children and desires to see them walk in the path which leads to salvation and eternal life.”
  • The People Asleep, Etc., Remarks in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, December 21, 1856
    • “We are called upon to wake up and reform, and it makes me feel curious when I go into the High Priests’ meeting, and see not one half of them there when a meeting is held to prepare them to wake up the people.”
    • “The Twelve Apostles have got to rise up and magnify their calling, or they will be removed out of their place. The High Priests, the Seventies, the Bishops, and every other Quorum of the Church and Kingdom of God have got to do the same, or they also will be removed; we cannot sleep any longer with the Priesthood of Almighty God resting upon us, and the work that is required at our hands. WE CANNOT SLEEP. I do not wonder that calling on the people to wake up has killed one man, and it will kill more if we do not respond to the call; mortality cannot endure the visions of eternity that rests on them when they look on the Priesthood and see the position they are in; it has nearly laid brother Young in the grave; he felt he could not live until some man rose up and started the work of reformation.”
    • “It is necessary to reform. The question may be asked, what is the matter? Why, we are asleep; if the [p. 148a]eyes of any man or woman is opened as they should be, they could see the things of God as they are in one moment; they would see there is a necessity of waking up and doing something. Here is a great and mighty dispensation committed into the hands of this people for the living and the dead; the candle of the Lord God is placed in these mountains like a city that is set on a hill that cannot be hid; the work is on your shoulders, ye Priests of the Most High God!—on you rests the salvation of this generation, and the Lord will require this stewardship at your hands.”
    • “The Lord has given you the keys of the Priesthood with all the blessings pertaining to it—as great and as mighty a work as ever was committed to any man on the earth, and that too in the midst of the last dispensation and fulness of times. The Lord requires us to prepare this generation, both Jew and Gentile, either for salvation or damnation through the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the administering of the ordinances of the House of God, and we go to sleep! The Apostles go to sleep—the Seventies go to sleep—the Elders of Israel close their eyes to slumber, and we the only people God has on the earth, upon whose shoulders He has laid the responsibility of performing this great and mighty work!”
    • “Do you wonder that Prophets get up here and chastise, and draw the sword of justice and hold it over our heads? I do not. I wonder that our children at the fireside do not rise up and prophesy, with a voice like thunder and in flames of fire, unto their fathers and mothers, and unto the people of Israel.”
    • “We have sin and sinners among us, and what are we going to do about it? Why, we are going to try to live our religion, and when we do that we shall do right. The business with me is to do right today, to live my religion today, and leave the events with God; He holds the destinies of the nations and of all men; they are in His hand; He made the earth and controls the children of men upon it.”
  • Preaching the Gospel, Etc., Remarks in the Bowery at Provo, July 15, 1855
    • “How many of us who are now in this congregation realize as we ought the salvation and the privileges which are granted to us? Do you appreciate the Priesthood that is given you, and that the keys of the kingdom are given to you, and that the world of mankind are dependent upon you for salvation? No, not as you ought. We forget our God and our prayers, we forget to call upon God for his Holy Spirit to rest upon us, that we may live to his honor and glory. Truly, if the Elders in this Church and kingdom realized what is put into their possession, and that the God of heaven will actually require an account of our stewardship, an account of what we have been doing, and what use we have been making of the gifts and blessings which he has bestowed upon us, we should be more diligent in the performance of all our duties, and we should often act differently to what we do, and pursue a different course, and especially concerning our red brethren.”
    • “Well, do I delight in seeing the wicked destroyed? No, I do not; but I delight in seeing the righteous get what they look for, happiness and eternal life. Is it a benefit for the wicked portion of mankind to live or to die and go down to the grave? It is better for the people to go down to the grave than to live upon the earth; when the principles of salvation are offered to the world, it is better that they should cease to live than bring thousands of posterity into the world who will like themselves do wickedly, for the wicked and the ungodly of the earth will not receive the Gospel of Christ, and the earth is bound to be cleansed that there may be room for the righteous to live, for a holy and righteous generation to be raised up and the name of God honored among men.”
  • The Church and Kingdom of God, Etc., Discourse at the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, February 25, 1855
    • “I felt to rejoice last Sabbath while sitting in this stand, listening to our President. I will tell you why I felt to rejoice—there was one main reason for my joy; I have been acquainted long enough with this work to know its truth; I have had sufficient experience in it to see and to know that the hand of God is in it, and that it is controlled and guided by the Spirit of the Almighty, and the revelations of heaven; to know, that from the commencement of it, it has been the design of the God of heaven to establish His Kingdom upon the earth, to be thrown down no more forever.”
    • “But those who have been taught after the traditions of the fathers, have been taught that the Bible should be spiritualized, that it does not mean what it says, nor say what it means; we have been taught to believe that where the Lord says Israel shall be gathered, it means spiritually. When we read any portion of Scripture, which did not agree with our traditions, every man had his own system of spiritualizing, to make it bend to his own views. Instead of this, we have now learned that God means what He says, and says what He means.”
    • “Why does it require an angel to bring the Gospel from heaven in these last days, when the earth is deluged with Gospel, with religion, with different systems and plans of salvation? Because that none of them are according to the order or organization that God has given to govern and control the human family when they would be controlled by Him. If there had been a true organization of the kingdom of God upon the earth in these latter days, there would have been no need of an angel to visit the earth to teach men the first principles of the Gospel of Christ, and administer its ordinances to them.”
    • “This logic always appeared strange to me. I said then, and I say now, may the Lord give me such periods of darkness as were enjoyed by the Apostles and Saints of old, in preference to the Gospel blaze of modern Christianity. The ancient doctrine and power will unlock the mysteries of heaven and pour forth that Gospel light, knowledge, and truth, of which the heavens are full, and which has been poured out in every generation when Prophets appeared among the children of men. But the Gospel of modern Christendom shuts up the Lord, and stops all communication with Him. I want nothing to do with such a Gospel, I would rather prefer the Gospel of the dark ages, so called.”
    • “As Latter-day Saints, we look upon the signs of the times, we are not ignorant of them, but we understand them. We look upon the events that are rolling upon us with great interest. It matters not what the minds and feelings of men are, the Lord is determined to raise up a people that will worship Him; and if He has to whip, and scourge, and drive us through a whole generation, He will chastise us until we are willing to submit to righteousness and truth, or until we are like clay in the hands of the potter. The chastisements we have had from time to time have been for our good, and are essential to learn wisdom, and carry us through a school of experience we never could have passed through without. I hope, then, that we may learn from the experience we have had to be faithful, and humble, and be passive in the hands of God, and do His commandments.”
    • “The chastisement of a friend is far better than the kisses of an enemy.”
    • “I feel thankful that the Lord has revealed these things for our benefit, and that He has given us power and authority to stand up in the defense of that which is right before the Lord, and to bear testimony of the truth, and to proclaim those things which will assuredly come to pass in this generation. It is better for us to fall in defense of truth, than to deny the words of God, and go to hell. It is better to suffer stripes for the testimony of Christ, than to suffer and fall by our sins and transgressions, and then have to suffer afterwards. I would rather seal my testimony with my blood, and lay my body to rest in the grave, and have my spirit go to the other side of the veil, to enjoy a long eternity of light, truth, blessings, and knowledge which the Lord will bestow upon every man who keeps His law, than to spend a few short years of earthly pleasure, and be deprived of those blessings, and the society of my friends and brethren behind the veil.”
    • “It was grievous to the feelings of Jesus Christ, to his Apostles, and to Joseph Smith, when they saw the people running into danger, and it is grievous to President Young, when he sees the people reckless in pursuing their own course leading them to destruction; when they are not willing to take his counsel and abide the doctrines he teaches; but when he sees the people willing to obey wholesome counsel, and endeavor to sanctify themselves before the Lord, he feels strengthened and sustained, he feels backed up by the works of the people, and not by one alone. I hope this will be the case with us, that we will set in order our own houses, as wives, husbands, children, as parents, and as officers in the Church and Kingdom of God. If we will sanctify ourselves, and do right, we shall have our reward, and shall be satisfied with it. No man or woman in the Kingdom of God that does wrong can escape sorrow. It is so in the world; the Lord rewards all men according as their works have been in the body.”

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