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THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST
The Seventieth Semi-annual conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints convened in the Tabernacle, today, Friday, October 6, 1899, President Lorenzo Snow presiding.
Of the general authorities present there were, of the First Presidency: Lorenzo Snow, George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith; of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles-Francis M. Lyman, John Henry Smith, George Teasdale, Heber J. Grant, Marriner W. Merrill, Anthon H. Lund, Matthias F. Cowley, Abraham Owen Woodruff and Rudger Clawson; Patriarch John Smith; of the First Seven Presidents of Seventies Seymour B. Young, C. D. Fjelsted, George Reynolds, Jonathan G. Kimball, Rulon S. Wells and Joseph W. McMurrin; of the Presiding Bishopric, William B. Preston, Robert T. Burton and John R. Winder.
Conference was called to order by the President.
The choir and congregation sang the hymn which begins: Come, let us rejoice in the day of salvation;
No longer as strangers on earth need we roam, Good tidings are sounding to us and each nation, And shortly the hour of redemption
The opening prayer was offered by Elder John Nicholson.
I wish to say a few words at the opening of our conference this morning. I feel myself, and I hope every Latterday Saint does, very grateful for this beautiful morning and the prospect of
good weather while we are convened. I
trust that every Latter-day Saint will exercise faith that this beautiful weather may continue during conference. Many people that are here this morning and who will be here during our whole proceedings, have come from a long distance, and some have perhaps made what may be called sacrifices in order to come. I want to say to everyone that it is our privilege to be blessed to such an extent that we will feel perfectly repaid for all the inconvenience that may have resulted to us in coming to this gathering. As Latter-day Saints the Lord has placed us in relation with
himself, and in order to carry out the condition that we are in we need His blessing above any other class of people.
Our prospects are sufficiently grand and glorious to cause us to put forth every exertion that we possibly can, in order to secure the blessings that are before us. Nothing should deter us from the exercise of every power that God has bestowed upon us, to make our salvation and exaltation sure. All men and women who are worthy to be called Latter-day Saints should live hour by hour in such a way that if they should be called suddenly from this life into the next they would be prepared. The preparation should be such that we should not fear to be called away suddenly into the spirit life. It is our privilege to so live as to have the spirit of light and intelligence to that extent
We have received principles of truth, but not in blindness. We do not walk in blindness, but we walk in the light of truth. We know what we are about and what will be the result of our faithfulness. But we should be wise
that we shall feel satisfied that all will be well if we should be called away at any hour.
If we look back at our experience since we received the Gospel, we can see and know that the Lord has blessed us abundantly. If we have been faithful, as we should have been, or if we have not been so faithful as we should have been, but now feel to do right, we have assurances, from our past ex
and prudent; we should learn to govern ourselves, to control our passions, and to bring all our faculties and powers into perfect obedience to the mind and will of God, so that these bodies, which God has given to us, may be governed and controlled in all respects as He would wish. The Latter-day Saints,
with us in the future as we tread the path of exaltation and glory, walking in the light of the truth and carefully observing everything that is required of us. If there should be any Latterday Saints within the sound of my voice that have not reached this as
perience, that everything will be well by being wise and prudent, can make this life a tolerably happy one. We need not live in misery; we need not feel that we are sacrificing all the time, but that what we call sacrifices prove a blessing to us, which we would not receive were it not for this experience. Everything that transpires affecting us
surance in regard to their future, they individually may be made a blessing,
and will be a blessing to us if we act wisely and prudently.
should not rest satisfied until they have secured it, so that they may know that everything is right with them.
What I want of the Latter-day Saints is that during this conference, as the Elders shall arise to address us, our faith and our prayers may be exercised for each one who speaks, that he may say such things, and that we may have the spirit to receive such things
as shall be beneficial to all. This is our privilege and our duty. We have not come here accidentally; we have come in this conference expecting to receive something that will be advantageous to us. The Latter-day Saints most assuredly need to receive good things. Of ourselves we can do nothing.
As Jesus said: "Verily, verily I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do; for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." He came into this life to do the will of his
Father, and not his own will. Our desire and determination should be the same. When things come up that require an exertion on our part, we should bring our wills into subjection to the will of the Father, and feel to say, what is the will of our Father, whom we are here in the world to serve? Then every act that we perform will be a success. We may not see its success today or tomorrow, nevertheless it will result in success.
We are not here to fight anybody; we are not here to contend with anybody. We are here to move slowly along, perform the duties that are required at our hands, mind our own business, and let others mind their business or not as they see proper. In this way we shall progress and gain an experience that will be useful to us, not only in this life, but in the life to come.
God bless you, brethren and sisters. May we walk in obedience to the commandments of God continually, and if we do I will assure you that we will receive blessings far greater than we ever anticipated. God bless you, Amen.
ELDER RUDGER CLAWSON.
A Lesson to be Drawn from the Career of King
Brethren and sisters: In taking up the Bible this morning, I was very much impressed with certain words that I read therein which touched upon the principle of obedience. President Snow this morning has dwelt somewhat upon this principle. I have many times thought and still think it is one of the cardinal principles of the Gospel. We read in the 9th chapter of I Samuel that God designed to make a king over Israel. He chose a young man by the name of Saul, the son of Kish, a Benjaminite. It is said that he was a choice young man, and there was not among the Children of Israel a goodlier person than he. From his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people. It seems that the father of Saul had lost his mules, and he sent his son Saul in search of them. As he went forth he met the Prophet Samuel, who had been made acquainted with the fact that God had selected this young man to be king over Israel. Samuel called him in and anointed him to be king. But let me tell you, brethren and sisters, that it was not sufficient that this young man should be a choice young man, of fine appearance and taller by head and shoulders than any others in the House of Israel, but in order that he might be the king and a servant of God, a change must come over him. Man can serve man by the spirit of man, but in order to be a servant of God we must have the spirit of God. So it proved to be in this instance, for Samuel instructed Saul that in returning to his parents he would come up with a company of prophets, and that he should join the prophets, and that the spirit of the Lord would come upon him. Samuel further said to him:
"And thou shalt prophecy with them, and shall be turned into another man. "7. And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as casion serve thee, for God is with thee. "8. And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal; and behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings; seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do."
Now mark what follows:
"And it was so that when he turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart; and all those signs came to pass that day."
We can see, brethren and sisters, how this man was favored of God, not only in being called to be king and in presiding over something like three hundred thousand people (for they were numbered in those days, and that was said to be the number) but also that he should receive of the Lord another heart and be changed into a new man. Notwithstanding this, however, there a flaw in the character of Saul that proved in the end his ruin.
You will remember that Saul was instructed to go down to Gilgal and to prophet would meet him there, and toremain there seven days, when the gether they should offer burnt offerings and a sacrifice to the Lord, and upon that occasion also the prophet was to tell him what the Lord required. Saul he waited there for the prophet, but the went down to the place appointed, and prophet did not come exactly as the delayed his coming. king expected. He may possibly have At any rate, the king became nervous, for there was some disturbance among the people and the Philistines were about against them in battle. So, instead of waiting for the prophet, Saul undertook, of his own authority, to offer up burnt offering and sacrifice, contrary to the commandment of the Lord. When Samuel came down he said to Saul:
"What hast thou done? And Saul scattered from me, and that thou camsaid, because I saw that the people were est not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;
"12. Therefore said I, the Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord; I forced myself, therefore, and offered a burnt offering.
"13. And Samuel said to Saul, thou hast done foolishly; thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee; for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel forever.
"14. But now thy kingdom shall not continue; the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee."
Now to Saul it may have appeared a
very simple matter that he should not wait the coming of the prophet. Why could not he, a king, make offering and supplication to the Lord? Why should he wait for the coming of Samuel? Because it was the will and commandment of the Lord, and he did not obey it. In this we have an evidence of the goodness of God in one way and of his strictness in another way. The king was assured by the prophet that if he had obeyed the commandment of God, his kingdom would have been established over Israel forever; but that having departed therefrom, his kingdom should not continue. We have another illustration in the life of Saul of the great importance of being obedient to the commandment of the Lord. When the Children of Israel came to the promised land from Egypt, under the guidance of the Almighty, on one occasion, when they were weary and footsore, the people of the Amalikites came out against them, and harassed them upon the right hand and upon the left and slew their women and their children and their tender ones.
Because of this piece of treachery and unfriendliness to a people who had never injured them, the Lord determined that they should be destroyed, and he told the prophet to write it down in a book of remembrance, that when the people were established in the promised land and became strong they should go against the Amalikites and carry out the commandment of the Lord with respect to that people. Saul was selected by the prophet to perform this duty. He was told to gather together the hosts of Israel and to give battle to the Amalikites. He was commanded to destroy them from the face of the earth, because they had fought against Israel in the day of their weakness and trouble. Saul gathered the hosts of Israel and went against them, and destroyed them. But it is said in the scriptures that Saul and the people spared Agag the king and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fatlings and all that was good, but everything that was vile they destroyed utterly. Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said unto him:
"Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag
the king, and have utterly destroyed the Amalikites.
"21. But the People took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal.
"22. And Samuel said, hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offering and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
23. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry."
The Lord did not say to Saul that there was anything wrong in burnt offering and sacrifice, but he said that obedience was better than sacrifice.
And later on Samuel said unto Saul, "I will not return with thee; for thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel."
In another place it is said that the Lord repented that he made Saul king over Israel, because he had forsaken him and failed to keep his command
It seems to me, brethren and sisters, that we can draw a lesson of wisdom from this story of the king of Israel. We can see that when the Lord gives a commandment to the children of men He requires the strictest obedience to that command. When the Lord speaks he means something. It is not as the conversation of one man with another, when we do not weigh our words and think not of the result thereof, but when the Lord delivers a commandment to his people it is binding upon them. We have the commandments of the Lord in the Bible, in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, in the Book of Mormon and in other Church works, wherein is set forth the mind and will of the Lord unto His people. Furthermore, we have the living oracles; we have the prophet of God to stand forth in the midst of Israel and deliver unto us the mind and will of God.
The Lord has said in these last days that he will not be mocked, and that we cannot disregard or treat lightly his words. We know that many troubles and evils have come upon the people from time to time because of the disregard of the word of the Lord. We have been told, publicly, by the President of the Church that if the Latter