Journal of Discourses/Volume 12/Good Spirit of the People South
As we have just returned from a journey from the south, I presume it would be interesting to you to hear some little about how the Saints generally are getting on. We have had quite a pleasant journey, but rather a laborious one, travelling thirty, forty, or fifty miles a day, and preaching from once to three times a day. But we have had very pleasant remarks, feelings, and associations during our absence. We found that the President and those who were with him were welcomed and well received in every place we visited. There seems to be an increase of faith among the Saints, and a desire to live their religion and to keep the commandments of God. We also find that improvements are taking place in almost every place we visited; they are improving in their farming operations, their orchards, gardens, dwellings, &c., and some places we find are really very beautiful. Down in the far south, in St. George, and through that region of country, the people are beginning to live easier and better than heretofore, so that the matter of living is no longer a problem with any of them. In the early days of the settlement of that country a good many became dissatisfied and left. George A. used occasionally to go down with reinforcements expecting to find quite a large company, but when he tried to put his finger on them, like "Paddy's flea," they were not there. At the present time, however, different feelings prevail; there are many now who desire to go down there as a matter of choice, and a great many there with whom I conversed feel as though it was as good a home as they could find anywhere in the valleys, and they would not wish to leave unless counselled to do so. Many of them stated that it took counsel to take them there and it would take counsel to bring them away. I noticed, too, that there was a very general disposition among the people to observe the Word of Wisdom. Of course we had to keep it; we could not for shame do anything else, for while teaching others to observe it we were morally bound to observe it ourselves; and if we had been disposed to do otherwise we could hardly have helped ourselves, for nobody offered us either tea, coffee, tobacco, or liquor. There seemed to be a general disposition among the people to obey, at least, that counsel, although they had not heard much preaching upon it until we went down and talked things over together. We enjoyed ourselves very much, and the people expressed themselves as being very highly gratified. They met us as you met us here—with their bands of music, schools, escorts, and so forth, and they made us welcome wherever we went, and we found that it was indeed a very different thing to preach the gospel among the Saints from what it is to preach it in the world. Instead of receiving opposition, contumely, and contempt, we were received with kindness, good feelings, and a hearty welcome.
When I was at Conference at St. George I felt that I was among a very good people, and that there was a great deal of the Spirit of the Lord there; but when I came to reflect on the circumstance I was not surprised that there should be a good people there, because where there is a people that have been called upon to undertake what they consider to be a painful or unpleasant task or mission, and they go and perform that mission without flinching, they feel that they are engaged in the work of God, and that His work and His commands and the authority of the Holy Priesthood are more to them than anything else; and they have the blessing of God resting upon them, which produces peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. That is the reason why there is so good a feeling and so large a flow of the spirit of the living God through that district of country. But where there is a backwardness and a shrinking from duties assigned us, there is a drying up of that spirit, and a lack of the light, life, power, and energy which the Holy Ghost imparts to those who fulfil the dictates of Jehovah. When I reflect upon these things I take this lesson to myself—that is a good and pleasant thing to obey the dictates of the Lord, that it is praiseworthy and honourable to be found walking in the commands of Jehovah, and that it is a blessing to all men to fulfil all missions and to discharge all responsibilities and duties that the Lord lays upon them. When selecting brethren to go down there, I remember the Bishops asked me "what kind of men I wanted?" I told them I wanted "men of God, men of faith, who would go and sit on a barren rook and stay there until told to leave it." If we get a number of men of that kind to go, there is faith, union, power, light, truth, the revelations of Jesus Christ, and everything that is calculated to elevate, exalt, and ennoble the human mind and to happify the Saints of God. These are my views in relation to the order of the Kingdom of God.
The Lord has established His kingdom on the earth, and He has given us His servants to guide and direct us. We, as a people, profess emphatically to be governed by revelation. We do not believe in this simply as theory, as something that would be beneficial to somebody else, but as something that will be a blessing to ourselves. We believe that God has spoken, that angels have appeared, that the everlasting gospel in its purity has been restored; we believe that God has organised His Church and kingdom on the earth and that, through channels which He has appointed and ordained, He manifests His will first to the Saints and then to the world, and we believe that the more we adhere to the teachings of the servants of God the more we shall prosper both temporally and spiritually, the more we shall enjoy the favour of the Almighty, and the more likely we shall be to obtain for ourselves an everlasting inheritance in the celestial kingdom of our God. We believe that the intelligence and wisdom of man cannot guide us, and that we, therefore, need the guidance of the Almighty; and, being under His guidance and direction, it is our duty to submit to His law, to be governed by His authority, do His will, keep His commandments, and observe His statutes, that we may ultimately be saved in His celestial kingdom.
May God help us to be faithful, in the name of Jesus. Amen.