Check out Brigham Young quotes as discussed on the October 26, 2012 broadcast of Viewpoint on Mormonism.
Compiled by Bill McKeever
Much of the June 9, 2001 issue of the LDS Church News was spent commemorating the 200th birthday of Mormonism’s second president, Brigham Young. Born on June 1, 1801, Young was baptized into Joseph Smith’s fledgling church on April 14th, 1832. The same day he was made an elder. On February 14, 1835, at the age of 33, he was ordained an apostle. Following the death of Joseph Smith in 1844, Young became Mormonism’s second prophet, seer, and revelator. He held this position longer than any other president in the history of the LDS Church. An article in the May 26, 2001 issue of the Church News quoted Mr. Glen Leonard, director of the Museum of Church History and Art, who said, “When Brigham Young stood at the pulpit, the people knew they would receive inspired, practical counsel firmly anchored in gospel principles” (p. 5).
Even among his critics there is a general consensus that Young was a remarkable man. However, while much of his accomplishments were praised in the Church News, very little was said about the unique ideas that Young espoused. Mormon Apostle Richard G. Scott said, “Brigham Young learned truth by carefully listening to Joseph Smith and striving to understand everything that was taught in word, example or the spirit…It conditioned Brigham Young to learn additional truths and to share far more than he had received personally from Joseph Smith. Follow his example” (Church News, 6/9/01, p.16).
For Scott to challenge fellow Latter-day Saints to follow Young’s example is truly amazing in light of the fact that many of Young’s teachings have been denounced or ignored by modern LDS leaders. In his book entitled Line Upon Line: Essays on Mormon Doctrine, Boyd Kirtland noted, “Some of the ideas of Brigham Young, second president of the LDS church, are relatively unknown to church members today and are even considered heretical by some twentieth-century Mormon leaders” (p. 171). On page 178 Kirtland wrote, “Other Church authorities defended Young’s teachings, however, including Heber C. Kimball, Erastus Snow, Daniel H. Wells, and Wilford Woodruff. But after Young’s death in 1877, many of his doctrines were apologized for, reinterpreted, repudiated, or simply denied to have ever been taught. Much of this took place at the turn of the century, when the church was trying to improve its public image and refining its diverse doctrinal heritage into a more concise, harmonious theology.”
After examining Young’s teachings, it is no wonder that many of his ideas have been quietly set aside. However, the fact that Mormon leaders still laud this man as a prophet of God, and encourage members to “follow his example” should cause grave concern for Christians everywhere.
Regarding his authority
“I am here to give this people, called Latter-day Saints, counsel to direct them in the path of life…If there is any elder here, or any member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who can bring up the first idea, the first sentence that I have delivered to the people as counsel that is wrong, I really wish they would do it; but they cannot do it, for the simple reason that I have never given counsel that is wrong; this is the reason” (Journal of Discourses 16:161).
“I know just as well what to teach this people and just what to say to them and what to do in order to bring them into the celestial kingdom, as I know the road to my office. It is just as plain and easy. The Lord is in our midst. He teaches the people continually. I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve” (Journal of Discourses 13:95).
“I am not a visionary man, neither am I given much to prophesying. When I want any of that done I call on brother Heber—he is my Prophet, he loves to prophesy, and I love to hear him” (Journal of Discourses, 1:132-133).
“The brethren testify that brother Brigham is brother Joseph’s legal successor. You never heard me say so. I say that I am a good hand to keep the dogs and wolves out of the flock. I do not care a groat who rises up. I do not think anything about being Joseph’s successor. That is nothing that concerns me” (Journal of Discourses 8:69).
“You have heard me say, a great many times, that there is not that man or woman in this Church, and there never was and never will be, who turn up their noses at the counsel that is given them from the First Presidency, but who, unless they repent of and refrain from such conduct will eventually go out of the Church and go to hell, every one of them” (Journal of Discourses 17:159).
“Now ask the Father in the name of Jesus whether I am telling you the truth about temporal things or not, and the same Spirit that bore witness to you that baptism by immersion is the correct way according to the Scriptures, will bear witness that the man whom God calls to dictate affairs in the building up of his Zion has the right to dictate about everything connected with the building up of Zion, yes even to the ribbons the women wear; and any person who denies it is ignorant. There is not a man or woman in the world who rises up against this principle but what is ignorant; all such are destitute of the spirit of revelation and enjoy not the Spirit of Christ” (Journal of Discourses 11:298).
Regarding God the Father
“Our God and Father in heaven, is a being of tabernacle, or, in other words, he has a body, with parts the same as you and I have” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.24).
“It is true that we differ from the Christian world in our faith in regard to these things. Does this prove that we are their enemies? No, it proves that we are their friends. We believe in doctrines that they do not believe in, and we disbelieve in some fanciful ideas that they profess to hold as doctrine. For instance they hold that God is an imaginary being. They cannot tell where nor how he lives, nor anything concerning his character, whether he is material or immaterial; but, like many of the most eminent divines, who have spread it through their pages for the people to read, they have come to the conclusion that the centre of God is everywhere and his circumference nowhere—one of the most vain ideas that could be conceived by any intelligent being. Then what is their idea of the soul of man? That it is an immaterial substance. Who ever heard of such a thing? Ask any true philosopher if he can explain the meaning of an “immaterial substance.” It is like the centre of a being everywhere and his circumference nowhere, or like being seated on the top of a topless throne. These are self-confounding expressions, and there is no meaning to any of them. We differ from them in our ideas of God. We know that he is a Being—a man—with all the component parts of an intelligent being—head, hair, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, cheek bones, forehead, chin, body, lower limbs; that he eats, drinks, talks, lives and has a being, and has a residence, and his presence fills immensity as far as you and I know” (Journal of Discourses 16:30).
“It appears ridiculous to the world, under their darkened and erroneous traditions, that God has once been a finite being” (Deseret News, 11/16/1859, p.290).
“Some men seem as if they could learn so much and no more. They appear to be bounded in their capacity for acquiring knowledge, as Brother Orson Pratt, has in theory, bounded the capacity of God. According to his theory, God can progress no further in knowledge and power; but the God that I serve is progressing eternally, and so are his children: they will increase to all eternity, if they are faithful” (Journal of Discourses 11:286).
“Some would have us believe that God is present everywhere. It is not so” (Journal of Discourses 6:345).
“Many have tried to penetrate to the First Cause of all things; but it would be as easy for an ant to number the grains of sand on the earth. It is not for man, with his limited intelligence, to grasp eternity in his comprehension. There is an eternity of life, from which we were composed by the wisdom and skill of Superior Beings. It would be as easy for a gnat to trace the history of man back to his origin as for man to fathom the First Cause of all things, lift the veil of eternity, and reveal the mysteries that have been sought after by philosophers from the beginning” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.25).
“When we use the term perfection, it applies to man in his present condition, as well as to heavenly beings. We are now, or may be, as perfect in our sphere as God and angels are in theirs, but the greatest intelligence in existence can continually ascend to greater heights of perfection” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.89).
Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner! When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is MICHAEL, the Archangel, the ANCIENT OF DAYS! about whom holy men have written and spoken—HE is our FATHER and our GOD, and the only God with whom WE have to do” (Journal of Discourses 1:50).
“How much unbelief exists in the minds of the Latter-day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine which is revealed to them, and which God revealed to me – namely that Adam is our father and God” (Deseret News, 6/18/1873, p.308).
“How many Gods there are, I do not know, But there never was a time when there were not Gods and worlds, and when men were not passing through the same ordeals that we are passing through. That course has been from all eternity, and it is and will be so to all eternity” (Journal of Discourses 7:333).
Regarding Jesus Christ
“We believe we have a correct idea of the character of the Son from the writings of the Apostles, so far as they learned it. But while he was tabernacling in the flesh, he was more or less contaminated with fallen nature. While he was here, in a body that his mother Mary bore him, he was more or less connected with and influenced by this nature that we have received. According to the flesh, he was the seed of Adam and Eve, and suffered the weaknesses and temptations of his fellow mortals” (Journal of Discourses 6:95-96).
“When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is the Father? He is the first of the human family; and when he took a tabernacle, it was begotten by his Father in heaven, after the same manner as the tabernacles of Cain, Abel, and the rest of the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve; from the fruits of the earth, the first earthly tabernacles were originated by the Father, and so on in succession” (Journal of Discourses 1:50).
“When the time came that His first-born, the Saviour, should come into the world and take a tabernacle, the Father came Himself and favoured that spirit with a tabernacle instead of letting any other man do it. The Saviour was begotten by the Father of His spirit, by the same Being who is the Father of our spirits, and that is all the organic difference between Jesus Christ and you and me” (Journal of Discourses 4:218).
“If the Son was begotten by the Holy Ghost, it would be very dangerous to baptize and confirm females, and give the Holy Ghost to them, lest he should beget children, to be palmed upon the Elders by the people, bringing the Elders into great difficulties” (Journal of Discourses 1:51).
“What a learned idea! Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven. Now, let all who may hear these doctrines, pause before they make light of them, or treat them with indifference, for they will prove their salvation or damnation” (Journal of Discourses 1:51).
“The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood—was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers” (Journal of Discourses 8:115).
“We must believe that this same Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world, that is for the original sin, not the actual individual transgressions of the people; not but that the blood of Christ will cleanse from all sin, all who are disposed to act their part by repentance, and faith in his name. But the original sin was atoned for by the death of Christ, although its effects we still see in the diseases, distempers and every species of wickedness with which the human family as afflicted (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 153).
Regarding Joseph Smith
“From the day that the Priesthood was taken from the earth to the winding-up scene of all things, every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are — I with you and you with me. I cannot go there without his consent” (Journal of Discourses 7:289).
“When we get before father Adam and the innumerable company that will come before him—when we draw near to the Ancient of Days with the rest of his children, and receive his approbation, shall we not be safe? If we can pass the sentinel Joseph the Prophet, we shall go into the celestial kingdom, and not a man can injure us. If he says, ‘God bless you, come along here;’ if we will live so that Joseph will justify us, and say, ‘Here am I, brethren,’ we shall pass every sentinel; there will be no danger but that we will pass into the celestial kingdom” (Journal of Discourses 4:271).
“Well now, examine the character of the Savior, and examine the characters of those who have written the Old and New Testaments; and then compare them with the character of Joseph Smith, the founder of this work – the man whom God called and to whom he gave the keys of Priesthood, and through whom he has established his Church and kingdom for the last time, and you will find that his character stands as fair as any man’s mentioned in the Bible” (Journal of Discourses 14:203).
“I know that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God, that this is the Gospel of salvation, and if you do not believe it you will be damned, every one of you” (Journal of Discourses 4:298).
“Whosoever confesseth that Joseph Smith was sent of God to reveal the holy Gospel to the children of men, and lay the foundation for gathering Israel, and building up the Kingdom of God on the earth, that spirit is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that God has sent Joseph Smith, and revealed the everlasting Gospel to and through him, is of Antichrist, no matter whether it is found in a pulpit or on a throne” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.435).
“How are you going to get your resurrection? You will get it by the President of the resurrection pertaining to this generation, and that is Joseph Smith Jun. Hear it all ye ends of the earth; if ever you enter into the kingdom of God it is because Joseph Smith let you go there. This will apply to Jews and Gentiles, to the bond, and the free; to friends and foes; no man or woman in this generation will get a resurrection and be crowned, without Joseph Smith saying so. The man who was martyred in Carthage Jail, State of Illinois, holds the keys of life and death to this generation. He is the President of the resurrection in this dispensation, … ” (an unpublished discourse given October 8, 1854. Also found on page 99 of Eugene E. Campbell’s book entitled, The Essential Brigham Young).
“It was not for me to question whether Joseph was dictated by the Lord at all times and under all circumstances or not… He was called of God; God dictated him, and if He had a mind to leave him to himself and let him commit an error, that was no business of mine. And it was not for me to question it, if the Lord was disposed to let Joseph lead the people astray, for He had called him and instructed him to gather Israel and restore the Priesthood and kingdom to them. It was not my prerogative to call him in question with regard to any act of his life” (Journal of Discourses 4:297).
“What an uproar it would make in the Christian world to say, I am an Apostle of Joseph. Write it down, and write it back to your friends in the east, that I am an Apostle of Joseph Smith… I am a witness that those are the revelations of the Lord through Joseph Smith, in this the last dispensation for the gathering of the people; and all who reject my testimony will go to hell, so sure as there is one, no matter whether it be hot or cold; they will incur the displeasure of the Father and of the Son” (Journal of Discourses 3:212).
“If I can pass brother Joseph, I shall stand a good chance for passing Peter, Jesus, the Prophets, Moses, Abraham, and all back to Father Adam, and be pretty sure of receiving his approbation. If I can pass all this ordeal, shall I not be pretty safe? I think I shall” (Journal of Discourses 4:271).
Regarding Joseph Smith’s widow Emma Smith (Bidamon)
“To my certain knowledge Emma Smith is one of the damdest (sic) liars I know of on this earth; yet there is no good thing I would refuse to do for her, if she would only be a righteous woman; but she will continue in her wickedness. Not six months before the death of Joseph, he called his wife Emma into a secret council, and there he told her the truth, and called upon her to deny it if she could. He told her that the judgments of God would come upon her forthwith if she did not repent. He told her of the time she undertook to poison him, and he told her that she was a child of hell, and literally the most wicked woman on this earth, that there was not one more wicked then she. He told her where she got the poison, and how she put it in a cup of coffee; said he, ‘You got that poison so and so, and I drank it, but you could not kill me.’ When it entered his stomach he went to the door and threw it off. He spoke to her in that council in a very severe manner, and she never said one word in reply. I have witnesses of this scene all around, who can testify that I am now telling the truth. Twice she undertook to kill him” (The Essential Brigham Young, p.188-189).
“As for the doctrine that is promulgated by the sons of Joseph, it is nothing more than any other false religion. We would be very glad to have the privilege of saying that the children of Joseph Smith, Junior, the Prophet of God, were firm in the faith of the Gospel, and following in the footsteps of their father. But what are they doing? Trying to blot out every vestige of the work their father performed on the earth. Their mission is to endeavor to obliterate every particle of his doctrine, his faith and doings. These boys are not following Joseph Smith, but Emma Bideman. Every person who hearkens to what they say, hearkens to the will and wishes of Emma Bideman.” (Journal of Discourses 15:136).
Regarding the Mormon Church
“We ask where Christ’s Church is. My conclusive answer is, if the Latter-day Saints do not constitute the Kingdom of God on the earth, the Church of Jesus Christ, it is no where to be found upon it” (Journal of Discourses 2:179).
“Will all the people be damned who are not Latter-day Saints? Yes, and a great many of them, except they repent speedily. I will say further, that many of the Latter-day Saints, except they learn their lessons better, will be judged in the same way. That is my candid opinion” (Journal of Discourses 1:339).
“We can beat them, because we have men here that live in the light of the Lord, that have the Holy Priesthood, and hold the keys of the kingdom of God. But you may go through all the sectarian world, and you cannot find a man capable of opening the door of the kingdom of God to admit others in. We can do that. We can pray the best, preach the best, and sing the best. We are the best looking and finest set of people on the face of the earth, and they may begin any game they please, and we are on hand, and can beat them at anything they have a mind to begin. They may make sharp their two-edged swords, and I will turn out the Elders of Israel with greased feathers, and whip them to death. We are not to be beat. We expect to be stumbling block to the whole world, and a rock of offence to them” (Journal of Discourses 4:77).
Regarding the pre-existence
“I want to tell you, each and every one of you, that you are well acquainted with God our heavenly Father, or the great Eloheim. You are all well acquainted with Him, for there is not a soul of you but what has lived in His house and dwelt with Him year after year; and yet you are seeking to become acquainted with Him, when the fact is, you have merely forgotten what you did know. I told you a little last Sabbath about forgetting things. There is not a person here to-day but what is a son or a daughter of that Being. In the spirit world their spirits were first begotten and brought forth, and they lived there with their parents for ages before they came here. This, perhaps, is hard for many to believe, but it is the greatest nonsense in the world not to believe it. If you do not believe it, cease to call Him Father; and when you pray, pray to some other character” (Journal of Discourses 4:216).
Regarding the “Council of the Gods”
“Who will redeem the earth, who will go forth and make the sacrifice for the earth and all things it contains?” The Eldest Son said: “Here am I”; and then he added, “Send me.” But the second one, which was “Lucifer, Son of the Morning,” said, “Lord, here am I, send me, I will redeem every son and daughter of Adam and Eve that lives on the earth, or that ever goes on the earth.” “But,” says the Father, “that will not answer at all. I give each and every individual his agency; all must use that in order to gain exaltation in my kingdom; inasmuch as they have the power of choice they must exercise that power. They are my children; the attributes which you see in me are in my children and they must use their agency. If you undertake to save all, you must save them in unrighteousness and corruption. You will be the man that will say to the thief on the cross, to the murderer on the gallows, and to him who has killed his father, mother, brothers, and sisters and little ones, ‘Now, if you will say, I repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, or on the Savior of the world, you shall be saved.'” This is what all the religious sects of the day are saying now, but Jesus did not say any such thing” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.53 – p.54).
“Still, it is our duty to send the Gospel to all nations and to continue to donate means to gather out the poor. The Lord will save a few, all that will accept salvation according to the design which the Lord has devised. He has made the plan, not us. It is not the conception of man. It was the Gods who sat in council together—they planned it and now offer it to us. Will we accept of it?” (Journal of Discourses 18:215).
Regarding the “war in heaven”
“That is the situation of the spirits that were sent to the earth, when the revolt took place in heaven, when Lucifer, the Son of the Morning, was cast out. Where did he go? He came here, and one-third part of the spirits in heaven came with him. Do you suppose that one-third part of all beings that existed in eternity came with him? No, but one-third part of the spirits that were begotten and organized and brought forth to become tenants of fleshly bodies to dwell upon this earth. They forsook Jesus Christ, the rightful heir, and joined with Lucifer, the Son of the Morning, and came to this earth; they got here first. As soon as Mother Eve made her appearance in the garden of Eden, the Devil was on hand.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.68).
“Will everybody be damned except the Latter-day Saints?” “Yes,” said Joseph, “and many of them, unless they take a different course from what they are now taking.” Who will be saved in the celestial kingdom, and go into the presence of the Father and Son? Those only who observe the whole law, who keep the commandments of God—those who walk in newness of life, observe all his precepts and do his will” (Journal of Discourses 14:133).
“If we obey this [celestial] law, preserve it inviolate, live according to it, we shall be prepared to enjoy the blessings of a celestial kingdom” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 404).
“…keeping the commandments of God will cleanse away the stain of sin” (Journal of Discourses 2:4).
“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 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” (Journal of Discourses 8:61).
Regarding eternal punishment
“The punishment of God is God-like. It endures forever, because there never will be a time when people ought not to be damned, and there must always be a hell to send them to. How long the damned remain in hell, I know not, nor what degree of suffering they endure. If we could by any means compute how much wickedness they are guilty of, it might be possible to ascertain the amount of suffering they will receive. They will receive according as their deeds have been while in the body. God’s punishment is eternal, but that does not prove that a wicked person will remain eternally in a state of punishment” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.383).
Regarding blood atonement
“There are sins that men commit for which they cannot receive forgiveness in this world, or in that which is to come, and if they had their eyes open to see their true condition, they would be perfectly willing to have their blood spilt upon the ground, that the smoke thereof might ascend to heaven as an offering for their sins; and the smoking incense would atone for their sins, whereas, if such is not the case, they will stick to them and remain upon them in the spirit world” (Journal of Discourses 4:53).
“There is not a man or woman, who violates the covenants made with their God, that will not be required to pay the debt. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out, your own blood must atone for it; and the judgments of the Almighty will come, sooner or later, and every man and woman will have to atone for breaking their covenants” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.385).
“I do know that there are sins committed, of such a nature that if the people did understand the doctrine of salvation, they would tremble because of their situation. And furthermore, I know that there are transgressors, who, if they knew themselves, and the only condition upon which they can obtain forgiveness, would beg of their brethren to shed their blood, that the smoke thereof might ascend to God as an offering to appease the wrath that is kindled against them, and that the law might have its course. I will say further; I have had men come to me and offer their lives to atone for their sins. It is true that the blood of the Son of God was shed for sins through the fall and those committed by men, yet men can commit sins which it can never remit” (Journal of Discourses 4:53-54).
“I will take the Government of the United States, and the laws of Missouri and Illinois, from the year 1833 to 1845, and if they had been carried out according to their letter and spirit, they would have strung up the murderers and mobocrats who illegally and unrighteously killed, plundered, harassed, and expelled us. I will tell you how much I love those characters. If they had any respect to their own welfare, they would come forth and say, whether Joseph Smith was a Prophet or not, “We shed his blood, and now let us atone for it;” and they would be willing to have their heads chopped off, that their blood might run upon the ground, and the smoke of it rise before the Lord as an incense for their sins. I love them that much. But if the Lord wishes them to live and foam out their sins before all men and women, it is all right, I care not where they go, or what they do” (Journal of Discourses 2:186).
“Now take a person in this congregation who has knowledge with regard to being saved in the kingdom of our God and our Father, and being exalted, one who knows and understands the principles of eternal life, and sees the beauty and excellency of the eternities before him compared with the vain and foolish things of the world, and suppose that he is overtaken in a gross fault, that he has committed a sin that he knows will deprive him of that exaltation which he desires, and that he cannot attain to it without the shedding of his blood, and also knows that by having his blood shed he will atone for that sin, and be saved and exalted with the Gods, is there a man of woman in this house but what would say, ‘shed my blood that I may be saved and exalted with the Gods?’ All mankind love themselves, and let these principles be known by an individual, and he would be glad to have his blood shed. That would be loving themselves, even unto an eternal exaltation. Will you love your brothers or sisters likewise, when they have committed a sin that cannot be atoned for without the shedding of their blood? Will you love that man or woman well enough to shed their blood? That is what Jesus Christ meant” (Journal of Discourses 4:219-220).
“I could refer you to plenty of instances where men have been righteously slain, in order to atone for their sins. I have seen scores and hundreds of people for whom there would have been a chance (in the last resurrection there will be) if their lives had been taken and their blood spilled on the ground as a smoking incense to the Almighty, but who are now angels to the devil, until our elder brother Jesus Christ raises them up—conquers death, hell, and the grave. I have known a great many men who have left this Church for whom there is no chance whatever for exaltation, but if their blood had been spilled, it would have been better for them. The wickedness and ignorance of the nations forbid this principle’s being in full force, but the time will come when the law of God will be in full force…This is loving our neighbour as ourselves; if he needs help, help him; and if he wants salvation and it is necessary to spill his blood on the earth in order that he may be saved, spill it” (Journal of Discourses 4:220).
Regarding when the spirit enters the body
“The disposition, the will, the spirit, when it comes form heaven and enters the tabernacle, is as pure as an angel. The spirit from the eternal worlds enters the tabernacle at the time of what is termed quickening, and forgets all it formerly knew” (Journal of Discourses 6:333).
“There never was a time when man did not exist, and there never will be a time when he will cease to exist” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.49).
“We were created upright, pure, and holy, in the image of our father and our mother, the image of our God” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.51).
“Many of us have been taught the doctrine of total depravity—that man is not naturally inclined to do good. I am satisfied that he is more inclined to do right than to do wrong. There is a greater power within him to shun evil and perform good, than to do the opposite” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.78).
“Some of you may doubt the truth of what I now say, and argue that the Lord could teach him. This is a mistake. The Lord could not have taught him in any other way than in the way in which He did teach him. You believe Adam was made of the dust of this earth. This I do not believe, though it is supposed that it is so written in the Bible; but it is not, to my understanding. You can write that information to the States, if you please—that I have publicly declared that I do not believe that portion of the Bible as the Christian world do. I never did, and I never want to. What is the reason I do not? Because I have come to understanding, and banished from my mind all the baby stories my mother taught me when I was a child.” (Journal of Discourses 2:6).
“He was the person who brought the animals and the seeds from other planets to this world, and brought a wife with him and stayed here. You may read and believe what you please as to what is found written in the Bible. Adam was made from the dust of an earth, but not from the dust of this earth. He was made as you and I are made, and no person was ever made upon any other principle” (Journal of Discourses 3:319)
“Some have grumbled because I believe our God to be so near to us as Father Adam. There are many who know that doctrine to be true…Now, if it should happen that we have to pay tribute to Father Adam, what a humiliating circumstance it would be! Just wait till you pass Joseph Smith; and after Joseph lets you pass him, you will find Peter; and after you pass the Apostles and many of the Prophets, you will find Abraham, and he will say, ‘I have the keys, and except you do thus and so, you cannot pass;’ and after a while you come to Jesus; and when you at length meet Father Adam, how strange it will appear to your present notions. If we can pass Joseph and have him say, ‘Here; you have been faithful, good boys; I hold the keys of this dispensation; I will let you pass;’ then we shall be very glad to see the white locks of Father Adam” (Journal of Discourses 5:331-332).
Regarding men becoming Gods
“The Lord created you and me for the purpose of becoming Gods like Himself; when we have been proved in our present capacity, and been faithful with all things He puts into our possession. We are created, we are born for the express purpose of growing up from the low estate of manhood, to become Gods like unto our Father in heaven. That is the truth about it, just as it is. The Lord has organized mankind for the express purpose of increasing in that intelligence and truth, which is with God, until he is capable of creating worlds on worlds, and becoming Gods, even the sons of God” (Journal of Discourses, 3:93).
“Intelligent beings are organized to become Gods, even the Sons of God, to dwell in the presence of the Gods, and become associated with the highest intelligences that dwell in eternity. We are now in the school, and must practice upon what we receive” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.245).
“We are the sons and daughters of celestial Beings, and the germ of the Deity dwells within us. When our spirits took possession of these tabernacles, they were as pure as the angels of God, wherefore total depravity cannot be a true doctrine” (Discourses of Brigham Young, pp.50-51).
“We are not required in our spheres to be as perfect as Gods and angels are in their spheres, yet man is the king of kings and lord of lords in embryo” (Journal of Discourses 10:223).
Regarding the Bible
“Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.126).
“In the Bible are the words of life and salvation” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.124).
“Take the Bible just as it reads; and if it be translated incorrectly and there is a scholar on the earth who professes to be a Christian, and he can translate it any better than King James’s translators did it, he is under obligation to do so. If I understood Greek and Hebrew as some may profess to do, and I knew the Bible was not correctly translated, I should feel myself bound by the law of justice to the inhabitants of the earth to translate that which is incorrect and give it just as it was spoken anciently. Is that proper? Yes, I would be under obligation to do it. But I think it is translated just as correctly as the scholars could get it, although it is not correct in a great many instances. But it is no matter about that. Read it and observe it and it will not hurt any person in the world” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.124).
“There is no clash in the principles revealed in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants; and there would be no clash between any of the doctrines taught by Joseph the Prophet and by the brethren now, if all would live in a way to be governed by the Spirit of the Lord” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.126).
Regarding the Book of Mormon
“No Latter-day Saint, no man or woman, can say the Book of Mormon is true, and at the same time say that the Bible is untrue. If one be true, both are; and if one be false, both are false” (Journal of Discourses 1:38).
“We believe it contains the history of the aborigines of our continent, just as the Old Testament contains the history of the Jewish nation. In that book we learn that Jesus visited this continent, delivered his Gospel and ordained Twelve Apostles” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.109).
“The Old and New Testaments are the stick of Judah. You recollect that the tribe of Judah tarried in Jerusalem and the Lord blessed Judah, and the result was the writings of the Old and New Testaments. But where is the stick of Joseph? Can you tell where it is? Yes. It was the children of Joseph who came across the waters to this continent, and this land was filled with people, and the Book of Mormon or the stick of Joseph contains their writings, and they are in the hands of Ephraim” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.127).
Regarding the temple endowment
“Let me give you a definition in brief. Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.416).
Regarding Christian churches
“The Christian world, so-called, are heathens as to their knowledge of the salvation of God” (Journal of Discourses 8:171).
“Should you ask why we differ from other Christians, as they are called, it is simply because they are not Christians as the New Testament defines Christianity” (Journal of Discourses 10:230).
“There are only two churches on the earth—only two parties. God leads the one, the devil the other” (Journal of Discourses 18:215).
“We declare it to all the inhabitants of the earth from the valleys in the tops of these mountains that we are the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—not a church but the church—and we have the doctrine of life and salvation for all the honest-in-heart in all the world. Who else has got it? Is it to be found in the creeds of Christendom? It is not” (Journal of Discourses, 12:173).
“The Christian world, I discovered, was like the captain and crew of a vessel on the ocean without a compass, and tossed to and fro whithersoever the wind listed to blow them. When the light came to me, I saw that all the so-called Christian world was grovelling in darkness” (Journal of Discourses 5:73).
“Now I would ask the Christian world a question, and in doing so I do not mean to reflect upon, or cast an insinuation in the least derogatory to, all Christians, or to any who believe in God; but I would ask them, what do you know of God? Take all the divines on the face of the earth and place them in this stand, and beyond the attributes of God they know nothing of Him; they are entirely ignorant of His person. There is the difference between the various religious sects of the Christian world and the Latter-day Saints” (Journal of Discourses 13:144).
Regarding the Jews
“Can you make a Christian of a Jew? I tell you, nay. If a Jew comes into this Church, and honestly professes to be a Saint, a follower of Christ, and if the blood of Judah is in his veins, he will apostatize. He may have been born and bred a Jew, have the face of a Jew, speak the language of the Jews, and have attended to all the ceremonies of the Jewish religion, and have openly professed to be a Jew all his days; but I will tell you a secret—there is not a particle of the blood of Judaism in him, if he has become a true Christian, a Saint of God; for if there is, he will most assuredly leave the Church of Christ, or that blood will be purged out of his veins” (Journal of Discourses 2:142).
“Here are the Lamanites, another example. Their wickedness was not so great as those who slew the Son of God… Still, the curse will be removed from them before it will be removed from the children of Judah; and they will become ‘a white and delightsome people.’ Brother Ballantyne, and many of our brethren in distant lands write, ‘O, how we would rejoice to have the privilege of visiting our mountain home!’ I would rather undertake to convert five thousand Lamanites, than to convert one of those poor miserable creatures whose fathers killed the Savior, and who say, ‘Amen to the deed,’ to this day. Yea, I would rather undertake to convert the devil himself, if it were possible. Then I say to the Elders in those regions, be not astonished if you have to see hard times. And if I had a voice that would reach the ears of all those Elders, I would say, LEAVE THEM, AND COME HOME, THE LORD DOES NOT REQUIRE YOU TO STAY THERE, FOR THEY MUST SUFFER AND BE DAMNED. Now, sisters, write to your husbands who are in regions where the Gospel has been preached anciently, to come home; and I say to all the Elders who are in lands where the Gospel has been preached previous to our day, come away from that people, and leave them to live and die in their sins and ignorance. For the sins of their fathers are a sweet morsel to them, and they take pleasure in their wickedness; therefore, let them alone, and come home, and preach to the Lamanites” (Journal of Discourses 2:143).
Regarding Gentiles (non-Mormons)
“Again, if a pure Gentile firmly believes the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and yields obedience to it, in such a case I will give you the words of the Prophet Joseph—’When the Lord pours out the Holy Ghost upon that individual he will have spasms, and you would think that he was going into fits.’ Joseph said that the Gentile blood was actually cleansed out of their veins, and the blood of Jacob made to circulate in them; and the revolution and change in the system were so great that it caused the beholder to think they were going into fits. If any of the Gentiles will believe, we will lay our hands upon them that they may receive the Holy Ghost, and the Lord will make them of the house of Israel” (Journal of Discourses 2:269).
Regarding Blacks (Seed of Cain)
“You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind. The first man that committed the odious crime of killing one of his brethren will be cursed the longest of any one of the children of Adam. Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin” (Journal of Discourses 7:290).
“Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a sin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the Holy Priesthood, and the law of God. They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the Holy Priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to. The volition of the creature is free; this is a law of their existence, and the Lord cannot violate his own law; were he to do that, he would cease to be God” (Journal of Discourses 11:272).
“Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so” (Journal of Discourses 10:110).
“When all the other children of Adam have had the privilege of receiving the Priesthood, and of coming into the kingdom of God, and of being redeemed from the four quarters of the earth, and have received their resurrection from the dead, then it will be time enough to remove the curse from Cain and his posterity. He deprived his brother of the privilege of pursuing his journey through life, and of extending his kingdom by multiplying upon the earth; and because he did this, he is the last to share the joys of the kingdom of God” (Journal of Discourses 2:143).
“Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race—that they should be the “servant of servants;” and they will be, until that curse is removed; and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter that decree. How long is that race to endure the dreadful curse that is upon them? That curse will remain upon them, and they never can hold the Priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood and the keys thereof. Until the last ones of the residue of Adam’s children are brought up to that favourable position, the children of Cain cannot receive the first ordinances of the Priesthood. They were the first that were cursed, and they will be the last from whom the curse will be removed. When the residue of the family of Adam come up and receive their blessings, then the curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will receive blessings in like proportion” (Journal of Discourses, Vol.7, pp.290-291).
“I am neither an abolitionist nor a pro-slavery man” (Journal of Discourses 10:111).
“I feel to bless this people, and they are a God-blessed people. Look at them, and see the difference from their condition a few years ago! Brethren who have been on missions, can you see any difference in this people from the time you went away until your return? [Voices: “Yes.”] You can see men and women who are sixty or seventy years of age looking young and handsome; but let them apostatize, and they will become gray-haired, wrinkled, and black, just like the Devil” (Journal of Discourses 5:332).
“I say, rather than that apostates should flourish here, I will unsheath my bowie knife, and conquer or die. [Great commotion in the congregation, and a simultaneous burst of feeling, assenting to the declaration.] Now, you nasty apostates, clear out, or judgment will be put on the line, and righteousness to the plummet. [Voices, generally, “go it, go it.”] If you say it is right, raise your hands. [All hands up.] Let us call upon the Lord to assist us in this, and every good work” (Journal of Discourses 1:83).
“There are a few apostates here, and I have understood the whining and sympathy they manifested for our enemies. It makes me think of what I heard from a High Priest’s house, that he did not know a Saint’s face from the Devil’s. It is just so with a great many. They would not know the angel Gabriel, if he were to stand here to preach to them, from Lucifer, the Son of the Morning. If Lucifer were to hand out a dollar—’You are a gentleman; won’t you call at my house?’ ‘Here is another dollar.’ ‘Call over at my house; I have some daughters: perhaps you would like to be introduced to them. I have a fine family; call in, and get acquainted with my family'” (Journal of Discourses 5:57).
“…as no man can be perfect without the woman, so no woman can be perfect without a man to lead her, I tell you the truth as it is in the bosom of eternity; and I say so to every man upon the face of the earth: If he wishes to be saved he cannot be saved without a woman by his side” (Times and Seasons 6:955. Also quoted in “The Miracle of Forgiveness,” pg. 245).
“You ought to love a woman only so far as she adorns the doctrine you profess” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.199).
“It is not the prerogative of a child to dictate to his mother, or his father; and it is not the prerogative of the father to rise up and dictate to his God whom he serves. Is it right that my wife should dictate to me? It is just as reasonable, and as right, as it is for your children to rise up and dictate to their mother. It is not their business to dictate to you, their duty is to obey, and not to dictate” (Journal of Discourses 1:68).
“Elders, never love your wives one hair’s breadth further than they adorn the Gospel, never love them so but that you can leave them at a moment’s warning without shedding a tear. Should you love a child any more than this? No. Here are Apostles and Prophets who are destined to be exalted with the Gods, to become rulers in the kingdoms of our Father, to become equal with the Father and the Son, and will you let your affections be unduly placed on anything this side that kingdom and glory? If you do, you disgrace your calling and Priesthood. The very moment that persons in this Church suffer their affections to be immoderately placed upon an object this side the celestial kingdom, they disgrace their profession and calling. When you love your wives and children, are fond of your horses, your carriages, your fine houses, your goods and chattels, or anything of an earthly nature, before your affections become too strong, wait until you and your family are sealed up unto eternal lives, and you know they are yours from that time henceforth and for ever” (Journal of Discourses 3:360)
“The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy” (Journal of Discourses 11:269).
“Some try to say how many wives the Governor of Utah has, but if they can tell, they can tell more than I can, for I do not know how many I have; I have not counted them up for many years. I did not know how many I had before I left the United States I had so many. I heard that I had ninety. Why bless your souls, ninety is not a beginning. You might ask me if I have ever seen them all; I answer no; I see a few of them I pick up myself here. I have lots, and scores I never see nor shall not until the morning of the resurrection” (The Essential Brigham Young, pp. 94-95).
“Brother Cannon remarked that people wondered how many wives and children I had. He may inform them that I shall have wives and children by the million, and glory, and riches, and power, and dominion, and kingdom after kingdom, and reign triumphantly” (Journal of Discourses 8:178-179).
“This doctrine of baptism for the dead is a great doctrine, one of the most glorious doctrines that was ever revealed to the human family; and there are light, power, glory, honor and immortality in it. After this doctrine was received, Joseph received a revelation on celestial marriage. You will recollect, brethren and sisters, that it was in July, 1843, that he received this revelation concerning celestial marriage. This doctrine was explained and many received it as far as they could understand it. Some apostatized on account of it; but others did not, and received it in their faith. This, also, is a great and noble doctrine” (Journal of Discourses 16:166).
“Now if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, and continue to do so, I promise that you will be damned; and I will go still further and say, take this revelation, or any other revelation that the Lord has given, and deny it in your feelings, and I promise that you will be damned” (Journal of Discourses 3:266).
“Brother George A. Smith has been reading a little out of the revelation concerning celestial marriage, and I want to say to my sisters that if you lift your heels against this revelation, and say that you would obliterate it, and put it out of existence if you had the power to nullify and destroy it, I say that if you imbibe that spirit and feeling, you will go to hell, just as sure as you are living women” (Journal of Discourses 17:159).
Regarding birth control
“There are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty?—To prepare tabernacles for them; to take a course that will not tend to drive those spirits into the families of the wicked, where they will be trained in wickedness, debauchery, and every species of crime. It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.197).
Regarding the penalty for adultery
“Suppose you found your brother in bed with your wife, an put a javelin through both of them, you would be justified, and they would atone for their sins, and be received into the kingdom of God. I would at once do so in such a case; and under such circumstances, I have no wife whom I love so well that I would not put a javelin through her heart, and I would do it with clean hands” (Journal of Discourses, 3:247).
“The time has been in Israel under the law of God, the celestial law, or that which pertains to the celestial law, for it is one of the laws of that kingdom where our Father dwells, that if a man was found guilty of adultery, he must have his blood shed, and that is near at hand. But now I say, in the name of the Lord, that if this people will sin no more, but faithfully live their religion, their sins will be forgiven them without taking life” (Journal of Discourses 4:219).
Regarding Mormon missionaries
“We have at times sent men out on missions to get rid of them; but they generally come back. Some think it is an imposition upon the world to send such men among them. But which is best — to keep them here to pollute others, or to send them where pollution is more prevalent?” (Journal of Discourses 7:228-229).
Regarding the creation of the earth
“It is said in this book (the Bible) that God made the earth in six days. This is a mere term, but it matters not whether it took six days, six months, six years, or six thousand years. The creation occupied certain periods of time. We are not authorized to say what the duration of these days was, whether Moses penned these words as we have them, or whether the translators of the Bible have given the words their intended meaning. However, God created the world. God brought forth material out of which he formed this little terra firma upon which we roam. How long had this material been in existence? Forever and forever, in some shape, in some condition. We need not refer to all of those who were with God, and who assisted him in this work” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.100).
“God never made something out of nothing; it is not in the economy or law by which the worlds were, are, or will exist” (Journal of Discourses 14:116).
“In the beginning, after this earth was prepared for man, the Lord commenced his work upon what is now called the American continent, where the Garden of Eden was made. In the days of Noah, in the days of the floating of the ark, he took the people to another part of the earth; the earth was divided, and there he set up his kingdom” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.102).
“Every man and woman feel their hearts fail them when they think of submitting to the oppression and unlawful abominations practised by our enemies, and sought by them to be introduced into our society; and we will not submit to such wicked and unlawful treatment, whether it comes from United States or united hell, for the terms are synonymous as the Government is now conducted” (Journal of Discourses 5:331).
Regarding gold and silver
“Gold and silver grow, and so does every other kind of metal, the same as the hair upon my head, or the wheat in the field; they do not grow as fast, but they are all the time composing or decomposing” (Journal of Discourses 1:219).
Regarding the moon and sun
“Who can tell us of the inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening, called the moon?…when you inquire about the inhabitants of that sphere you find that the most learned are as ignorant in regard to them as the most ignorant of their fathers. So it is in regard to the inhabitants of the sun. Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? No question of it; it was not made in vain. It was made to give light to those who dwell upon it, and to other planets; and so will this earth when it is celestialized” (Journal of Discourses 13:271).
Regarding tobacco, tea, coffee, whiskey
“What I am now about to say is on the subject of the use of tobacco. Let us raise our own tobacco, or quit using it. In the years ’49, ’50, ’51, ’52, and ’53, and so long as I kept myself posted respecting the amount expended yearly by this people at the stores for articles of merchandise, we spent upwards of 100,000 dollars a year for tobacco alone! We now spend considerably more than we did then. Let us save this ready means in our country by abstaining from the use of this narcotic, or raise it ourselves. By so doing we will have that amount of means to circulate in channels of usefulness and profit which will add to our strength, to our permanency, and to our influence and importance as a great people” (Journal of Discourses 11:140).
“It is true that we do not raise our own tobacco: we might raise it if we would. We do not raise our tea; but we might raise it if we would, for tea-raising, this is as good as country as China; and the coffee bean can be raised a short distance south of us… We can sustain ourselves; and as for such so-called luxuries as tea, coffee, tobacco and whiskey, we can produce them or do without them.” (Journal of Discourses 11:113-114).
Regarding tolerance and free speech
“If I should hear a man advocate the erroneous principles he had imbibed through education, and oppose those principles, some might imagine that I was opposed to that man, when, in fact, I am only opposed to every evil and erroneous principle he advances” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.251).
“If you should have visits here from those professing to be Christians, and they intimate a desire to preach to you, by all means invite them to do so. Accord to every reputable person who may visit you, and who may wish to occupy the stands of your meeting houses to preach to you, the privilege of doing so, no matter whether he be a Catholic, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Baptist, Free-will Baptist, Methodist, or whatever he may be; and if he wishes to speak to your children let him do so. Of course you have the power to correct whatever false teachings or impressions, if any, your children may hear or receive” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.328).