This is much longer than the usual “A Few Minutes” post – it is the record of a single day’s meetings kept by an extraordinary man. David W. Evans was clerk of the North Weber Stake for 47 years (1908-1955), and his minutes, always kept as beautifully as this set, are simply extraordinary. In the case of major speakers, such as Orson F. Whitney’s two addresses to the stake on this day, he captured their words in shorthand, then typed page after page of transcription into the stake minute book.
If you don’t have time to read the full set, I’d suggest you use your browser’s search function to search for the word “scholarship” to read Elder Whitney’s defense of culture and education in the Kingdom, or “Unitarian” to read about his encounter with a gentlemanly opponent, or “Adam fell that men might be” to read his defense of Adam and Eve. Or, leave a comment mentioning other bits you think other readers might enjoy.
Thirty-First Quarterly Stake Conference, June 25, 1916
The Thirty-first Quarterly Stake Conference of the North Weber Stake of Zion convened in the Ogden tabernacle Sunday, June 25, 1916, meetings being held at 10 A.M. and 2 P.M. There were present of the General Authorities, Elder Orson F. Whitney, of the quorum of Twelve Apostles. Of the Stake Authorities: Each member of the Stake Presidency, the Stake Clerk, each member and alternate of the High Council, each officer of the High Priests quorum, 2 of the 3 patriarchs of the Stake, 35 of the 36 bishops and counselors, an 47 of the 54 auxiliary stake workers, a total of 110 out of 119 of these officers, or 92%, the 9 absentees being excused, 5 on account of sickness and 4 for other causes. There were also present counselor John Watson of the Weber Stake Presidency and, during the afternoon, patriarch George W. Larkin of the Weber Stake. The general attendance at the morning session was 1024, and during the afternoon, 1124.
Sunday, June 25.
The Choir and congregation sang: “Now let us rejoice in the day of Salvation.”
Prayer was offered by Counselor John Watson of the Weber Stake.
“Simple Aven,” an instrumental quartette was given by Axel Nylander, Samuel F. Whitaker, Leith Pearson and Ralph Swenson.
Stake counselor Francis W. Stratford gave a report of the conditions in the Stake. Among other things he said: We have a very faithful lot of people to deal with and the offices who preside over them in the various wards are laboring to bring conditions in their ward to the standard required by the Church. All our bishops are faithful and true and I do not believe that there is any other class of men in the world who are so patient and long suffering and who try to perform the labors devolving on them more than do the bishops in the church to which we belong. No class of men have so many little details to care for and it is astonishing how well, and faithfully and uncomplainingly they perform their labors, even though the requirements of them are often very exacting. Some of our quorums are very slack in getting int heir reports on time and this creates a great deal of dissatisfaction. We would like all the quorums represented here today to make out their reports and send them to the Stake Clerk in time so that we can make the necessary stake report to the Presiding Bishop’s office. Our ward teaching in the Stake is done fairly well. A number of the Stakes in the Church have reported 100% of the families visited in their stakes. That means that every family in the Stake over which the Presidency is called to preside have been visited by the teachers. I wish we were able to make a better report of our ward teaching. So far, this quarter we have had only 75%.
He also spoke of the Priesthood meeting attendance, 31%; and the sacrament meeting attendance for the quarter which was somewhat less.
He briefly explained the labors of the Presidency in Nevada, and the success that had accompanied the labors of the Presidency in their efforts to save the lands and homes of the people during the land troubles at Metropolis.
The Choir sang: “Don’t mind your sorrows.”
Apostle Orson F. Whitney addressed the congregation in effect as follows:
“Don’t mind your sorrows,” a beautiful song, a beautiful sentiment, simple and plain though it be. It reminded me of that other beautiful song which I presume your splendid choir sings sometimes, “Count your blessings,” which I have never heard without deep emotion and gratitude. I cannot count my blessings, however, there are too many of them. I can only say that my heart is filled with gratitude to God this morning that I have been so abundantly blessed all the days of my life, and the greatest blessing that ever came to me and that I presume ever will – except it be that greatest of all the gifts of God, Eternal life – is the knowledge that God has given to me as to how to lay hold on eternal life. It is the greatest of my possessions, it is what makes me a rich man; I have no other riches but the riches of eternity, but I consider myself one of the richest of men because I know that God lives and that this is His truth; that this is His Church and that I am one of His humble and weak servants sent forth to declare this great truth and seek to save the souls of men; the most precious, greatest and the most profitable work that man can engage in, or woman either. What a debt of gratitude we owe to God, our Father; what a debt of gratitude we owe to our Savior, who died that we might live; what a debt of gratitude we owe to Joseph Smith, who laid down his life to seal his testimony concerning the truth of these things and make it of weight and effect upon the world; what a debt the world owes to this wonderful man, a debt that they do not recognize but one which they will never live long enough to repay.
What did Joseph Smith do for the world? All Christians recognize what the Savior did; they may not all survey Him in precisely the same way but they all look to him for salvation as the God who died that man might live; the only Begotten of the Father who so loved the world that He gave His son that whosoever should believe should not perish but have Everlasting Life. but they do not understand the Prophet Joseph Smith; they do not recognize the debt they owe him, but we can recognize it, my brethren and sisters, we can count it among our blessings, and in the light of it our little sorrows are as nothing.
The first thing the Prophet Joseph Smith did was to restore to the world the lost knowledge of the true God. The next thing was to restore the Everlasting Gospel which had been absent from the earth for ages; and next he brought back the powers of the Eternal Priesthood, the delegated divine authority that enables man to represent God and to perform His work in the midst of his fellowmen. He then organized the Church of Christ for the last time upon the earth this was the beginning of the restoration of all things that have been spoken by the mouths of all the holy prophets since the world began.
What do we mean by the lost knowledge of the true God? Was the Christian world worshiping God when the Prophet Joseph made his appearance? Well, that altogether depends upon what kind of a being the true God is. They were worshiping a God I grant you. They said: “He warms in the sun, Refreshes in the breeze, Glows in the stars, And blossoms in the trees; Lives through all life, Extends through all extent, Spreads undivided, Operates unspent,” a very beautiful description of a God, but not the God of our fathers, not the God who made man in His own image, not the God who sent His only Begotten into the world that men might see and know what kind of a being God is. Did not the Savior of mankind say, Himself, when Philip asked Him: “Show us the Father.” “Philip, have I been so long with you and you have not seen me or known me? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” Was not that the same God whom Moses described in his beautiful picture of the Creation, when God said: “Let us make man in our image,” and then in the image of God created he them, male and female. To whom was our Father talking when he said this? I should infer that He was talking to our mother in Heaven, when he said that. That is the true God. Man made perfect, exalted, glorified and animated, that is the true God and nothing can unseat him or substitute Him? And the Christian world was not worshiping that God when Joseph Smith came forth. They had lost the knowledge of Him. They were horrified at the proclamation that God is in the form of man, they thought it a dragging down of Deity to make Him in the shape or form of man. Why did it not occur to them that it was lifting man up, not dragging God down. But such is the power of tradition, and it is the inevitable .result of men losing the spirit that leads into all truth, the Holy Ghost by which we know God, whom to know is eternal life. Leave any nation to itself without the power that comes from above and they will gradually drift away and substitute for the true knowledge of God impossible doctrines, impossible things, impossible conjectures; they have done it from the beginning and our Christian world at the opening of the Nineteenth Century had gone wandering into the wilderness just as many generations had done before. They hd lost the power of Godliness and were worshiping the form thereof.
Many years ago I represented our Church by appointment from the First Presidency at a Unitarian conference in Salt Lake City. These Unitarians were a very intelligent, shrewd lot of gentlemen and they had an idea, I suppose, that by a certain arrangement they make their views and doctrines more commendable, more appealable to those who came to hear them in this way. They invited a Jewish Rabbi, and one of the Christian ministers, a Presbyterian, and myself to stand upon their platform and present our views. The Rabbi was to have the opening meeting and was to present the claims of the old Jewish dispensation, and a Unitarian minister was to answer him just as soon as he was through. At the next meeting the presbyterian minister would present the claims of the Christian dispensation, show for what it stood and a Unitarian minister would reply to him; and at the last and third meeting your humble servant was permitted to speak and present the claims of the latter-day Saints and the claims of the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times, and a Unitarian minister was to answer me. And the program was carried out. The Jewish Rabbi presented his case and the Unitarian minister proceeded to tear him to pieces, or tried to. The Christian minister, the Presbyterian, presented is views and another Unitarian leaped upon his back in a like manner, and then, when I had spoken, a very scholarly gentleman, a fine orator, a beautiful speaker, and a man who was very much of a gentleman, replied to me. Not in the same spirit that his fellows had replied, for, while he took issue with what I had said, he did it in a very gentlemanly manner. I have always loved this man since and we are very good friends today. And although he tore me to pieces in the meeting, he came privately to me and told me how much he had enjoyed what I said. This is part of what he said in the meeting: “While Mr. Whitney was speaking I wondered whether he was a Unitarian or I a Mormon. If Mormonism stands for the universal Fatherhood of God, I am a Mormon. If Mormonism stands for the universal brotherhood of man, I am a Mormon,” and so he went, enumerating the points where we could stand together upon common ground, but presently he flew the track bringing up the question of Deity, which I had presented, and he said: “I stand appalled at the sublime audacity that dares to tell us what kind of a being God is. Why, a God described is a God dethroned.” I thought the earth was going to swallow me up. I thought to myself that if I had sinned in describing God, I had sinned in very good company. Moses described God when he declared, in the face of an idolatrous world, commanding them to worship the true God and have no other Gods beside him. He described God as being in the image of man, virtually, for he certainly described man as in the image of God, and the rule works both ways. If man was made in the image of God, how, in the name of common sense, can we escape the conclusion that God is in the image of man. I had sinned in the company of Moses, the man who saw Him face to face, and knew what kind of a being God is. I had sinned in the company of St. Paul, who declared that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, is the express image and likeness of His Father’s person; I had also sinned in the presence of the Holy One, who is His sublime audacity dare tell Philip and the world what kind of being God is. “Look upon me,” he said. “Am I not in the form of man? Well, he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” Did he not describe God and, therefore, in the view of these great scholarly orators and gentlemen, dethroned God by describing Him? But that kind of stuff does not go down with the Latter-day Saints. We do not believe we dethrone God by declaring that He is a glorified man, for after all, the human being is the greatest of all the works of God because man is the son and woman is the daughter of God; made in the image of their Father and Mother divine. What is there strange about it? What is there that dethrones God? It simply lifts man up, that is all. It gives us that exalted view and appreciation of our organization and purpose and destiny, and plants an eternal hope in the human heart; that as man now is, God once was, and as God now is, man may become. What is there in it but good? How does it drag God down? Joseph Smith sinned in the same company and I was proud that I could stand where Joseph Smith did and describe the true God, for what would I have known about Him if it had not been for the Revelations of God in the Bible, in the Book of Mormon, in the Doctrine and Covenants; it was because the world had wandered away from this truth and lost the knowledge of the living God that Joseph Smith came forth and revealed him anew, brought back the old God to the comprehension of man, brought back the old Gospel that had been absent for ages, brought back the eternal Priesthood and the everlasting Church. Joseph Smith did not give us anything new; he brought back the old; old things are best. The eternal truth of God must be old, it cannot be new for it never had a beginning, it will never have an end. That is the first thing that Joseph Smith did for the world: To restore this precious knowledge of the true God. And, it is a little singular and yet it is very beautiful to me, that when Joseph went into the woods to ask in his simple manner which of all the Christian churches was the true Church, God gave him a greater answer than he was looking for. Joseph wanted to know which of all the churches was the true church. It had never dawned upon this boy’s mind but that one of them was right, and he was told that none of them was right, that they had all gone out of the way; that they were teaching for doctrine the commandments of man, and that God was about to restore the gospel to the earth again and that he had a mission in connection therewith. But that was not the greatest part of that wonderful revelation. The greatest part is the part that He did not speak. The boy saw two beings before him – two glorious beings in the form of man and, before a word had been uttered that great truth had been restored that God is indeed what Moses said, in the form and image of man, and one of these glorious Beings said of the other: “this is my beloved son, hear Him.” The inference is therefore that the one who spoke first was our Father in heaven who had come down to open this new dispensation for the love of His children, and had brought with Him the Savior who had died that His children might live. We can approach with confidence such a God, who notes the sparrow’s fall, and knows that there is no man, no woman, no human soul so little, so insignificant but God has a care over them and desires to bless them and save them.
I was traveling through Sanpete a little while ago and I picked up a pamphlet which some pious people had been circulating there in the hope, I suppose, of teaching the Latter-day Saints the truth and calling them from the error of their ways. indeed, this little pamphlet was entitled: “The Truth About God.” I read it and what I got out of it was this: That God is a spirit everywhere present; that no man has ever seen Him; that he is utterly incomprehensible and that He made everything out of nothing.
Let us first take up the thought that God is a spirit. That is true; we can all stand upon that platform, Christians and Mormons, we all believe that God is a spirit, but so is man. We are all spirits. We were spirits before we had bodies, for this creation of which I speak was two-fold when God made the earth, and man, and woman, and the animals, and the plants and the flowers. He made them first in the spirit and then, naturally, upon the earth gave them their bodies, and the most important part of the soul of man is the spirit that God made, and the least important part is the body that man made as God’s agent, for when God made the spirit of man He did not delegate that part of His work; He did that himself, but when He makes the bodies of man, in general, he delegates that part. The spirit and the body are the soul of man, and it is the soul that goes on to perfection, the body cannot do it alone. Without a body the spirit cannot progress beyond this stage, and it was our Father Adam and our Mother Eve that gave us our bodies and converted us into souls. But as a result of their act of becoming mortal for our sakes death intervened and progress was halted in its decreed course had it not been for the gospel. Now the Gospel is not a mere fire escape, a way out of a difficult situation, but it is the path to progression, and the first step of that progression was the fall of man, which brought the death of man, that is, the spirit leaving the body. Before the death of Christ the Gospel was nothing more than a piece of machinery waiting for the power to be turned on, and the fall of Adam and Eve would have been in vain had not Christ died to pay the debt, open the gates and let man go on in his decreed march of eternal progression. “Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they may have joy.” We owe to Adam our opportunity for progress, the opportunities for development that this earth affords, the great education and probation that comes with mortal life. We owe all this to Adam whom the Christian world almost curses because banished from Eden. God forgive them; they know what they say or do when they hurl maledictions at the great Patriarch and Ancestor of our race. God will forgive them for they know no better, they have lost the knowledge that would enlighten them and teach them better; to them Adam was a common criminal, to be eternally execrated because he did something he was told not to do and was banished from Eden. It is a mighty good thing he was banished and partook fo the forbidden fruit and obeyed the greater law than the one command, “thou shalt not.” What was that grater law? Adam and Eve, a heavenly pair of beings in the image of God, god and goddess, husband and wife, had come down upon the earth, were placed in a peculiar situation, and the first command given them after they were crated in the flesh was “Multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it.” They were to be king and queen of it, their children were to be their everlasting kingdom and dominion, and then after this great command was given they were told they could partake of all the fruit of the trees of the garden but one, and they must not partake of that, “for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” and Eve led the way, was beguiled, perhaps. What of it? God knew she would be beguiled, knew what was coming; that is the reason he placed them here. She partook of the fruit, transgressed the law and became mortal. That is the fall of man. Do not look upon Mother Eve as a fallen woman or criminal ,although she made herself mortal and transgressed an eternal law.
And, now, with Eve as a mortal and Adam as an immortal, for he had not yet partaken of the fruit, how were they to fulfill the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth? They were separated by a gulf; they faced one of those impossible conditions where a man is hedged around by regulations to that degree that whichever way he moved, he would have to break one law or the other, and Adam chose to break the lesser law, “thou shalt not partake of the fruit of this tree.” He did it deliberately, knowingly, in order that he might be with his wife and fulfill the greater command of God, and God knew he would do it.
Now, I do not know and I do not pretend to know why this great contradiction had to be; but it was there and God knew it was there and he knew the issue, for he had provided beforehand a ransom to pay Adam’s debt and banish death out of the world. While a part of Adam’s act was beneficent another part was evil, because it was transgression. But there are two kinds of transgressions. The law recognizes them when it says malum prohibitum and malum in se. Malum prohibitum means something wrong because it has been forbidden, but not wrong in itself. For instance: If the Presidency of this Stake should decree right now that, on dispersion, the congregation should all go out through the front door, and some should insist on going out through the side door, they would be wrong; nothing essentially evil in what they did, but they would be disobedient, they would take the law into their hands, they would be wrong but only because of being forbidden. Now, that is the kind of sin Adam and Eve committed, malum prohibitum, and they did it because it was part of God’s prearranged plan to bring men into the world, and give him opportunities for this glorious education. But along with it came eternal death and banishment of the spirit and body from the presence of God, eternal death – and there is where Adams work ended. He could do not more; he could [not] redeem himself, neither could Eve, neither could any of their posterity. They had placed the world in pawn. Death was the pawn broker and his claim was twofold, the spirit and the body, and no part of that which had been pledged could be used as a means of redemption. Something above and beyond; something that had broken no law, something sinless and pure had to be given as a ransom, the life of a God, the Great Paschal Lamb, slain in theory from the foundation of the world, and slain actually upon the earth in the meridian of time that Adam’s debt might be paid and the broken law repaired, because eternal justice must be satisfied. A greater being gave His life to banish death out of the world; that is the great gift of gratitude we owe to our Savior, the life of a God was the price of the world’s freedom, and that price was paid by Him whom on earth we call Jesus of Nazareth, but who, in the Heavens, was the God who spoke to Moses and wrote with His finger on tables of stone, Jehovah, the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God we serve, the God whose people we are, gathered out of the nations to prepare the world before His coming. He died to banish death, to open the closed doors and make it possible for man to go on to perfection, to turn on the power of the machinery of the gospel, make it effectual, make Adam’s fall effectual, and to give the quietus to all that was evil in Adam’s act, and to preserve and perpetuate all that was good and beneficial, and to utilize it for te purpose for which it was given.
God is a spirit, but that does not prove He has no body. Man is a spirit but he has a body and has become a soul, and as God is in the image of man why has not God a body? Joseph Smith says He has a body. He says there are three glorious personages that bear universal rule – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. The Father and the Son are personages of tabernacle as tangible as man, but the Holy ghost is a personage of spirit, and when the Bible tells us that God is a spirit we can accept it; when our Christian friends come to us with published pamphlets re-asserting what the Bible declares, we can receive it, but we say the Bible is the word of God so far as it is translated correctly, and we affirm that the letter killeth and the spirit is necessary to interpret the word of God, hence we have the gift of the Holy ghost in the true church of God, always was and always will be, lest we wander away and ut our own interpretation on things and stray away like lost sheep in the wilderness and lose a true knowledge of God and His gospel. “No man hath ever seen God.” They throw that at us; they want to convince us that we have been falsely led; that Joseph Smith who claims to have seen God was a false prophet because the Bible says, “No man hath seen God at any time.” Yes, the Bible says so, but this proves too much for the Christian cause, for if they try to blot out the fact that Joseph Smith saw God they, at the same time, obliterate the record that Moses saw God, that Moses and Aaron and Nadab and Abihu and others saw the God of Israel in the mountains; they would blot out all that glorious history of God’s dealings with man and destroy the very foundations of the Christian religion the true Christian religion, for Jesus Christ who is the foundation declared himself to be as the Father. “Look on me and you have seen the Father.” Are we going to reject that testimony just because St. John happened to say, “No man hath seen God at any time?” Is not a little construction or interpretation by the Holy Ghost necessary there? Are you going to let the dead letter destroy all that God has revealed concerning His revelation and visitations to man? What did John mean? He merely meant this: That when men see God they do it by the power of God and not of man; they see God spiritually and not naturally; they use their spiritual eyes instead of the temporal or natural eyes, and they see Him by the power of the Holy ghost which is not man at all, but which we need to have within us in order that we may see God and comprehend him. “Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, nor hath the heart comprehended, but God hath revealed these things ot us by His Spirit, for the spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God.” “What man knoweth the things of man save the spirit of man which is in him; even so things of God knoweth no man but by the spirit of God. “But when you see God, if any are fortunate enough to have His glorious visitation, do not take to yourself the credit that you are a little more intelligent, smarter, or have a little more natural power. You do not see God by natural power, but by the power of His Spirit, but you see Him just the same. when I say spiritual vision I do not mean conjecture or imagination. Joseph Smith saw God just as Moses did, with his spiritual eyes, reinforced by the power of the Holy Ghost. What do we mean by spiritual eyes? I mean the eyes we had before the natural eyes when we were spirits before we had bodies, yet walked by sight; did we not have eyes then, long before these eyes were given to us? How shall man comprehend the things of God without the Spirit of God? Then it is the spirit of God that does it for us and it is not man’s doing at all. “No man hath seen God at any time,” but God has revealed himself to men, first filling them with the Holy Ghost, then giving them power to look out of obscurity and look out of their spiritual eyes and behold Him. What Johns says is all right but it needs interpretation. I am not preaching my own doctrine. Moses saw God and when the vision closed he said, and Joseph Smith translated him: “Now mine own eyes have beheld God, but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in His presence, but His glory was upon me, and I beheld His face, for I was transfigured before him.” That is the testimony of Moses, and are we expected to throw it away because of the dad letter which says, “No an hath seen God at any time?”
But, they tell us this God, that is a spirit, is everywhere present. So He is in His Spirit, in His power, in His authority, but he cannot be in two places at the same time as a personae, not even God can do that because that is illogical, inconsistent and impossible. Say that a man or a God is a person and you limit him as to space, but he can be everywhere resent by his authority. That is why He has the priesthood upon the earth to represent Him. He can not be on the earth and in heaven at the same time in person, but the Holy Ghost, or that spirit which proceeds from the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of the Lord, that is the power “which warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze, glows in the stars and blossoms in the trees, extends to all extent, spreads undivided, operates unspent.” It is in everything, the Spirit of the Lord that enlightens every man that comes into the world; but that is not the gift of the Holy ghost, nor our Father in Heaven, nor our Savior Jesus Christ, nor the Holy ghost as a personage, but the spirit of the Lord that proceeds from His presence. God is not everywhere present in person, but by His power, influence and authority He is omnipresent, or everywhere.
He is utterly incomprehensible, so they say. Now, the Latter-day Saints do not profess to believe that the infinite fullness concerning God has been revealed to man. We speak of the fullness of the gospel as revealed to the Latter-day Saints. We also speak of the fullness of the gospel as revealed to the Nephites as told in the Book of Mormon, and the fullness of the gospel as revealed to the ancient Christians; but compare these different fullnesses and see how they differ. Joseph Smith taught things to this generation that neither the Bible nor the book of Mormon ever dreamed of, and yet the Savior gave the fullness of the Gospel to the Nephites, but it was their fullness, not ours. It was just as much as was necessary at that time, that it filled their vessel and was therefore a fullness; but we can have a gallon, quart or pint measure and fill all full and give each its fullness, but that does not make the quart equal to the gallon, nor the pint to the quart. The infinite fullness of God has been reserved. Joseph Smith declares, when he says that in this dispensation God will bring together and will bind in one all the keys, powers, glories and dispensations of the past, and not only this but those things that never have been kn9own among men but have been kept hidden from the wise and prudent will be revealed unto babes and sucklings in the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times. This is the one now. We can see that until God has revealed the infinite fullness we do not know all things concerning him, but only know what He has revealed; because of what use would it be to try and make the finite mind grasp the infinite? We cannot grasp even as much as we do now without the Holy Ghost; it is not our natural intelligence that does it, but God gives it as a gift to those who obey. The river cannot swallow the ocean, the finite can not comprehend the infinite, but some day our minds will expand wide as eternity. We shall behold all things and know all things, the past and the future, which are one day with God; we will know all things some day, all we knew before this life and all since learned; we have not lost any knowledge, it is here but we cannot use it; it is temporarily shelved. It is not best to know too much, which would put a stop to the exercise of faith for which this life was made; but some day knowledge will cover the earth as the waters cover the channels of the deep, and the infinite fullness of the knowledge of God will be given to man. Until that time we must wait, and we do not claim that the infinite fullness has been revealed for it would be, at the present time, incomprehensible to man. But when anyone stands up in a congregation or anywhere else, be he Christian, heathen or Jew, and declares that God is utterly incomprehensible he denies that God ever spoke to man, and he accuses God of inconsistency, absurdity and folly, for we know by the testimony of the Bible, the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants that God has spoken to man, that man has seen God, that God has revealed many great and glorious things to man, and to say that all these glorious things are utterly incomprehensible is to say that God has committed an act of folly. I would not dare to say it. What in the world did god speak to any man for, at any time, if what He said was utterly incomprehensible and if God, Himself, is? I affirm that whatever God has revealed is as plain and simple as “A, B, C,” and was intended so to be. I say that the doctrine that God is in the form of man, and that men and women are the children of God capable of becoming like their father and mother in heaven is equally simple and a child ought to and can understand it, because we have children filled with the Holy Spirit to interpret God. God is not incomprehensible as to those things. He has revealed Himself whenever He has shown Himself to man. That is as plain as day light, but He is incomprehensible concerning that which He has held back from the beginning and which He will yet give to man in His own due time, that is all.
Now as to the closing proposition that God made all things out of nothing. I heard a learned scholar stand up in the Assembly Hall in salt Lake City, many years ago, and say that very word. He was asked if the Christian world still held to that dogma and he answered: “Yes, by the word of His power God called everything into existence out of nothing.” I say a ten-year-old Latter-day Saint child would reject such a contradiction, for such it is from beginning to end. Nothing remains nothing; you cannot make something of it; neither the power of man nor of God can convert nothing into something, and I should think anyone could see it. Just because someone has interpreted Paul wrongly when he said, “things we see were not made of things that do appear,” they jump to the conclusion that an impossibility impossible – the calling of something out of nothing. The men who made this tabernacle were in the image of God and they did not try to make something out of nothing, but were men of common sense, brought timber from the mountains, stone from the quarry, built the house from the ground up of materials already in existence. That is how God made this world, man and woman, and all things the earth contains, and He did not dream of making something out of nothing. Matter is eternal, spirit is eternal, intelligence is eternal and God, taking these pre-existent materials, moulds, fashions, shapes, organizes them, and this is creation. Creation does not mean to call something out of nothing; it means to take something and mould it into a new form. God, in this way, has done this not only for this earth, but it is the way He made all worlds, those systems upon systems of countless worlds. Do not accuse God of folly; do not think you pay him a compliment when you impute to Him the doing of that which is impossible, which cannot be done.
Now, my brethren and sisters, these are some of the things which Joseph Smith gave to the world. I leave to your verdict whether or not they are scriptural, reasonable, philosophical and scientific, and based upon good, common sense. This is the debt the world owes to the Prophet Joseph Smith. God bless his memory. Amen.
“The Rosary,” an instrumental quartette, was played by Axel Nylander, Samuel F. Whitaker, Leith Pierson and Ralph Swenson.
Benediction was pronounced by Patriarch Nathan Hawkes and the conference adjourned until 2 o’clock P.M.
The Choir sang: “If I could know.”
Prayer was offered by Elder George S. Barker of the High Council.
The General and Stake Authorities were presented by Stake Counselor John V. Bluth and were unanimously sustained as they had been presented at the March Conference with the following exceptions:
Charles Kingston was sustained as a member instead of as an alternate member of the High Council, Lawrence W. Sherner having been taken out of the Council for the Lynne Bishopric.
Edward A. Barnes was sustained as an alternate member of the High Council in place of Charles Kingston, advanced.
Bowa De Freas was sustained as first counselor in the Sixth Quorum of Elders in place of Samuel Van der Heide, released.
Lucy A. Steers was sustained as President of the Relief Society, in place of Georgina G. Marriott, released, retaining the former counselors and other officers.
Elizabeth H. Wilson was sustained as second counselor in the Primary Associations.
John Ernest Hipwell was sustained as secretary of the Religion Classes.
Agnes Warner, Edward Saunders and the Choir sang: “Hark, hark, my soul.”
Elder Orson F. Whitney addressed the congregation. He took for his theme the early explorations in the west, the search for an outlet to the cost by the Spanish Priest Escalante, and the explorers that followed him until in the year 1847 the Mormon Pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley, and the growth and development of these valleys since then, and drew illustrations from the past to show that we should be growing and advancing daily and yearly; we should not be doing the same things in the same old way but to improve on the old ways. We were a people of progress and we should show it in every walk of life. We should educate and polish ourselves so as to be able to meet with anyone and present the Gospel in a way that could be understood. The Gospel cannot be preached by the learning of men and scholarship but these are good and they can be used under the influence of the Holy Spirit to the best advantage, in order to reach the hearts of the philosophers and scientists and the great and mighty of the earth. It would not be fair to them to send them men who were not able to present the Gospel in a cultured way. A cultured man would overawe an uncultured people, where a comparably uneducated man would be made welcome and could make an impression. But it works the same way on the other question. Send missionaries who cannot even speak grammatically to a cultured people and their very speech would be as a wet blanket on anything they might present. He said: There is no preaching the Gospel without the Holy Ghost, but do not think for a moment God cannot use scholarly men as well as unscholarly; do not be narrow in your ideas and think that God will be with those only who are uncultured; He can use any kind of instrument; it is God’s work, but he delights in our acquiring intelligence and in using it in His cause. The speaker explained what was meant by a gentleman and a lady. To be a gentleman is to be kind and chivalrous, tender to women and children, regardful of everybody, considerate, a man of clean life and honest. Possibly, he said, the best definition he had ever heard of it was this: A man who puts us at ease in his presence. A lady is one who does not offend us in any way. These were the things we should teach our children, not to be idolators, not to worship the things God has made, but the God who made them. When boys and girls go to colleges and universities they should not come home so filled with learning, and learned opinions, and scholarly conjectures that they are tempted to take good, old-fashioned Mormonism and stretch it on an iron bedstead and, if the Gospel is a little too long try to chop it off, and if is a little too short try and stretch to fit. God never sent a truth into the world to be treated like that. You can tie to the revelations of Jesus Christ but not to scholarly opinion or substitute them for the Gospel as the standard, no matter how learned.
President James Wotherspoon addressed the conference. He said in part: I counted ten or fifteen questions that have been agitating the minds of some people that have been solved and explained today by Elder Whitney. I was very much delighted indeed with the portrayal he gave us in the organization of the Church and the divine message sent in this day in which we live, and I could picture in my mind the beauties thereof and some of the benefits it has brought to the Latter-day Saints. When this great message went out into the world and our parents, or perhaps our grand parents, accepted God’s truth, the plan of life and salvation as restored, these men yielded obedience to the principles taught and received the divine blessings God had promised to his people – the testimony that He had again spoken to the children of men. The Lord has raised up a people in this dispensation with their hearts open to receive His truth, with their hearts ready for God’s truth, and he has blessed them with an understanding of this work, with a testimony of its truth. In the early days He no doubt raised up special men to lead and guide us in His plans pertaining to this work. But those days are gone; circumstances ave changed. The poverty that existed in those days does not exist now. The opportunities to do wrong that exist today did not exist then. So we have changed circumstances and conditions. I heard President Middleton, whom we all love to remember and speak, say from this stand some years ago: ‘I dread the day when the Latter-day Saints shall become wealthy, because they shall certainly forget God.” He spoke from his experiences in life; he knew that when men become prosperous, as a rule, they forget the things that belong to the Kingdom of God, and therefore he would rather see us remain in our poverty, than to become wealthy and leave the path of righteousness. I want to make a few comments here along this line. We should not be extravagant along any line; we should use with intelligence that which God has given us. let us curb our desires to run in debt in order to keep up with our neighbor or to follow his pace. Think how quick our revenue can be stopped, how quick the prosperity with which God has blessed us can be taken from us, by blight, or drought, or fire or accident, or market conditions. Are we prepared for such things when they do come? Have we saved up our earnings os that we can say that if there be no crop this year I have money in the bank sufficient to keep my family for the time being? How many of us can say this after all the abundance the Lord has blessed us with? We see our neighbor putting on a little style and so we go and put on a little more, don’t we? In fact we go pleasure mad, if we are to put it plainly. The pleasures of this life are taking us off our feet and unless we stop it something is going to happen, because we cannot keep it up. There are customs and styles and conditions crowding in among us which we cannot afford to keep up. Of course we cannot demand of our young people that they shall do as we had to do, because conditions and needs have changed. We must give them the opportunities that lie before them even though we had to forego those opportunities because of the times in which we lived, but let us do everything in reason and with good, common sense. Teach our children, that no matter what opportunities they may have it takes hard work to make something out of the best of opportunity. Let them gain confidence in themselves, and work hard and they will grow into good men and women, men and women worthwhile. I would like to quote you a few lines in which I heartily believe:
If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you would like to win,
But think you can’t,
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.
If you think you are lost, you are lost,
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will,
It’s all in the state of mind.
If you think you are outclassed, you are;
You’ve got to think high to rise,
You’ve got to be sure of yourself,
Before ever you win a prize.
Life’s battles do not always go to the worthy man,
But sooner or later,
The man who wins is the fellow who thinks he can.
That is the stuff I would like to have our young people get into their heads. They will have to assist themselves along these lines and accomplish something by their own energy. The education we give to them is good and we want them to get it, but we want more of that good, solid material that is in themselves developed.
William Z. Terry briefly reported the work done at the Weber Academy this year. The enrollment was 515, besides some special students. A normal course, two-year, was to be established during the coming year, so that the course at the Academy will embrace six instead of four years.
“Gospel restoration” was sung by Agnes Warner and the Choir.
the closing remarks, on the testimony of the gospel, the harmonization of doctrines and scripture passages, the wonderful privilege of being permitted to work in the Church and Kingdom of God, were made b Counselor John V. Bluth.
Benediction was pronounced by Elder William C. Hunter and the conference adjourned.
[David W. Evans]