Page images
PDF
EPUB

GROWTH OF THE CHURCH.

BY RUDGER CLAWSON, OF THE QUORUM OF THE TWELVE

APOSTLES.

Passing about among the Saints, in their settlements, in the midst of the mountains, I often wonder whether the work of God and his purposes are deeply comprehended by them; whether the young men, who are apparently bent on obtaining the riches of this world, and its pleasures above all things else, really ever stop to consider the “marvelous work and a wonder" which the Lord is pushing and sustaining in spite of all indifference or opposition from men in or out of the Church. Truly, the promises are being fulfilled. The work is something out of the ordinary. It is attracting attention in the world, in wonderful fulfillment of the revelations of God.

In the beginning of this dispensation, the Lord said to the Prophet Joseph Smith, concerning the Church, on the day it was organized, in Fayette, Seneca Co., New York, April 6, 1830:

The gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name's glory.

This promise was based upon the condition that the people would listen to their leader, the Prophet, or whoever might be called to occupy his place, and give heed unto all his words and commandments which he should give to them as they were received from the Father. This promise was given on the day when the Church corporation numbered six and its membership was only about nine.

The Lord desired to impress his people with the fact that,

though small in numbers, the Church should be built up--not by the power of man, but by the power of the Holy Ghost, and that no officer or member in the Church should take the honor for the growth thereof. The Lord would set up this kingdom to be cut as a stone out of the mountain, without hands, to roll forth and fill the whole earth; and while the Lord was to do this, the instrument of his use would be man.

These predictions have come to pass. From that day unto the present, the Church has spread in all the regions round about, and has spread also to foreign nations, and all this while Satan moved the very powers of earth and air to destroy it.

Watch its growth in Kirtland, in Jackson county, in Nauvoo, in the desert, and in the Western states, where, amid unmentioned trials and tribulations, the people founded a commonwealth in the wilderness. The people, too, have been driven to do the mighty and marvelous work which God had outlined and determined for them. At times, their fate excited little interest in the country through and from which they were driven, and many of their enemies hoped that that which God had set up would cease to be a factor in the world, and that the Church of Jesus Christ would disappear; but lo! only a few years passed, and the enemies of the Church awakened suddenly to the wonder which their astonished eyes beheld when they gazed out over the plains to the Rocky Mountains, and asked themselves the questions: “What great commonwealth is this? Who are these that have established themselves so firmly in the chambers of the mountains ?”

From this small beginning of members at the organization in 1830, today we find that the Church has increased until there are fifty stakes of Zion--one in Canada; one in Oregon; three in Wyoming; eight in Idaho; one in Colorado; four in Arizona; one in Mexico; and thirty-one in Utah; besides fourteen great missions--one in the Eastern states; one in the Northern states; one in the Southern states; one in the North-western states; one in the South-western states; one in California; one in Colorado; one in Australia; one in New Zealand; one in the Hawaiian Islands; one in the Sandwich Islands; one in the Society Islands; and one great mission comprehending several nations in Europe, besides one that has lately been opened in Japan.

From these driven and persecuted exiles has grown a people numbering 260,000 souls, in the organized stakes of Zion, and 50,000 souls, in the missions, making in all a great concourse of people numbering 310,000, in which is included 85,000 children under eight years of age--a mighty host that will be trained as members of the Church of Christ.

This host of people is officered by a body of men bearing the holy priesthood-three of the First Presidency, twelve Apostles, two hundred Patriarchs, 6,800 High Priests, 9,730 Seventies, 20,000 Elders, a total who bear the Melchisedek priesthood of 36,745; while 25,700 bear the Lesser priesthood, making a grand total of those who hold the priesthood of God, of 62,445.

In addition to these are the auxiliary organizations of the Church: 30,150 members of the Relief Societies; 10,000 officers and 115,000 members of the Sunday Schools; 28,000 members of the Young Men's Mutual Improvement Associations; 25,000 members of the Young Ladies' Associations; 4,000 officers and 32,000 members of the Primary Associations, with about 20,000 who belong to the Religion Classes: making a total of 264,150 belonging to these auxiliary organizations.

Temporally these people are thriving and prospering-building new cities and homes, and establishing themselves in the financial world as well as in the world of art and science. The Latter-day Saints own 20,000 farms, 18,000 of which are free from mortgages and incumbrances; and ninety per cent of the whole Church own and occupy their own homes, while the average of those who own their homes in the United States is something like five per cent.

Surely, in contemplating this growth, all men must acknowledge that a "marvelous work and a wonder" has been performed, and that what the Lord said to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon on one occasion, has so far come to pass: “There is no weapon that is formed against you which shall prosper, and if any man lift his voice against you, he shall be confounded in my own due time.”

This work is still growing, and at the head of the organization today, as much as when the Church was founded in 1830 with six souls, there stands a prophet, seer and revelator, bearing the same wonderful power and authority which was delivered to

the Prophet Joseph Smith, as recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants:

Wherefore meaning the Church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;

For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.

How great is the responsibility that comes to the Latter-day Saints with these words! and how great the responsibility upon those who are called upon to be presidents of these fifty stakes of Zion-men who have been called with a solemn calling and a great appointment to preside over the interests of the Saints! They should be quick to hear the word of God, and zealous to impart that word to their people. And no less upon the Bishops of the 562 wards in the Church, does this responsibility rest—to watch over the precious souls in their wards; to give counsel, to direct their labors, and to be interested in all things that pertain to the welfare of the people, in that no evil shall exist in their midst. They should be the first to observe that which is wrong, and should be swift to raise their voices against the wrong-doer, albeit in the spirit of the gospel, that all evil may be rooted out from the hearts of the Saints, so that the Church may more speedily progress towards its glorious destiny.

"SOWING WILD OATS.”

BY L. L. GREENE RICHARDS.

Yes, boys, you are young, and you have a just right
To live lives of freedom and ceaseless delight;
No one should hamper your glad, happy ways,
Nor darken, with care-clouds, your bright, sunny days.
Good laughter, a healthy condition promotes;
So, have your own fun, boys, and “sow your wild oats."

[ocr errors]

But, while you are passing thus gaily along,
Remember, dear boys, you've no right to do wrong.
Don't place yourselves subject to shame or distrust,
By being unyielding, rash, vain and unjust;
Don't swindle each other in exchange of coats,
Nor swear, drink nor gamble, while sowing wild oats.

Speak not of “The Gov'nor,” “Old Man,” or such-
And your mother!--you cannot respect her too much;
Sin not 'gainst your elders by action or tongue,
But think-if you live, you'll not always be young;
Down the swift tide of time, each unconsciously floats,
So, be wise, kind, and gentle, while sowing wild oats.

Ne'er think that to work is degrading or low;
If no wheat is planted, there'll be none to grow.
Ne'er officiously scramble your bread to secure
From the humble who toil, the industrious poor;
Nor be guilty of venturing illegal votes;
Be honest and pure, though you're sowing wild oats.

Some trusting, young, fair one, as love-thoughts may fit,
May fancy your style, or be charmed by your wit;
Don't think that to please her, or merely for sport,
You'll make some pretentions to love and to court;
Don't woo to deceive her, with words or with notes,
To take refuge in pleas that you're sowing wild oats.

Seek fame if you will, with the mallet or pen,
But lay your foundations for good, worthy men;
And build thereupon noble structures and fine,
Walking straight in the way of the Master divine;
O'ercoming, at last, all the beams and the motes
Which cloud the best vision while sowing wild oats.

« PreviousContinue »