May 27, 2008

Implicit Confidence in God: Part 5

A postscript miscellany on unity, emigration, Lorenzo Dow, etc.* Brigham Young August 17, 1856 In concluding the sermon Brigham touched on those who felt like leaving the Great Basin Kingdom, believing that he did not coerce people to stay with the Saints; if any felt disposed to leave Brigham wanted it known they were always free do so:

It is reported that many are going away; I say, gentlemen and ladies, you who wish to go to California, or to the States, go and welcome; I had rather you would go than stay. I wish every one to go who prefers doing so, and if they will go like gentlemen, they go with my best feelings; but if they go like rascals and knaves, they cannot have them. I have never requested but two things of those who leave, namely, to pay their debts and not steal; that is all that I have required of them. Go about your business, for I would rather you would go than stay.[1] The moment a person decides to leave this people, he is cut off from every object that is durable for time and eternity, and I have told you the reason why. Everything that is opposed to God and His Son Jesus Christ, to the celestial kingdom and to celestial laws, those celestial laws and beings will hold warfare with, until every particle of the opposite is turned back to its native element, though it should take millions and millions of ages to accomplish it. Christ will never cease the warfare, until he destroys death and him that hath the power of it. Every possession and object of affection will be taken from those who forsake the truth, and their identity and existence will eventually cease. “That is strange doctrine.” No matter, they have not an object which they can place their hands or affections upon, but what will vanish and pass away. That is the course and will be the tendency of every man and woman, when they decide to leave this kingdom.[2]
Brigham then referenced a common frontier tale:
They are welcome to go, and to stay where they go; I heartily wish that a great many would go, such as I can point out. Like old Lorenzo Dow, when he was trying to detect the person who had stolen an axe; he said that he could throw the stone which he had carried into the pulpit and hit the man that stole the axe; he handled the stone as though he would throw it, and the guilty person dodged, when he said, that is the man. So I could throw and hit a great many that I wish to go.
Lorenzo Dow (October 16, 1777–February 2, 1834, born in Connecticut) was a popular figure of the Second Great Awakening; an eccentric traveling preacher "whose infamy, influence and travels throughout the country led to many thousands of U.S. children of the early 19th century to be named after him,"[3] for example, Brigham's own brother Lorenzo Dow Young (1807-1895). His flamboyant style led to many apocryphal stories, one of the most common of which was referred to by Brigham. David E. Philips, author of Legendary Connecticut:Traditional Tales from the Nutmeg State, described the stone story as a "classic Dow-ism," one of the two most commonly related of the "many characteristic legends about Lorenzo Dow" which were passed both orally and in print in varying detail:
While passing through some dense woods one day, on his way to a scheduled revival meeting, Lorenzo Dow came on two men cutting wood. Mounting a large stump, he announced, "Crazy Dow will preach from this stump six months from today, at two o'clock P.M." Six months later, as a huge crowd awaited him at the appointed spot, Dow encountered a man in great distress on the way to the scene of his sermon. After inquiring what the matter was, the preacher learned that the unhappy man was a poor woodsman whose axe, his only means of making a living, had been stolen. Dow promised the wretched fellow that if he would attend the services scheduled to start shortly, he would locate the axe for him. Before Lorenzo continued on, he leaned down, picked up a stone and put it in his pocket. In the midst of his powerful sermon, the fiery minister suddenly interrupted his flow of words, reached in his pocket and pulled out the rock. "Brothers and sisters," he rasped, "There is a man in this audience who has had his precious axe stolen. There is also one among you who stole it. I am going to rear back and throw this rock, here, right at the thief's head." So saying, he pretended to throw the stone with all his might. When only one man in the crowd ducked his head down, Dow went over to the fellow and said, "You have the man's axe." And so he had. The thief returned the axe to its owner and never again robbed anyone.[4]

Brigham wanted people to "be Saints" or leave, and that went for those in and out of the Church. He saw the new territory as hard country where only those dedicated to building up Zion would care to live; "saint-raising country":
I say again, you that wish to go, go in peace, and we like to have you go; and those that wish to come here we like to have them come and be Saints, and if they would, they would stay; but if not, I like to have them leave, no matter whether they belong to the Church or not. My soul feels hallelujah, it exults in God, that He has planted this people in a place that is not desired by the wicked; for if the wicked come here they do not wish to stay, no matter how well they are treated, and I thank the Lord for it; and I want hard times, so that every person that does not wish to stay, for the sake of his religion, will leave. This is a good place to make Saints, and it is a good place for Saints to live; it is the place the Lord has appointed, and we shall stay here until He tells us to go somewhere else.[5]
They're still there. Brigham concluded this discourse (which I see as one of his finest thus far in the JD):
All I ask of the Saints is to live their religion, serve their God, and recollect that their interest should be in Him and nowhere else; that the inferior must be controlled by the superior, and our efforts and affections all be concentrated in one, namely, in building up the kingdom of God to the destruction of wickedness; and may God help us to do it, I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen (JD 4:31-32).
*I've been troubled by this particular sermon for weeks because it is both expansive and remarkable; difficult to break into pieces to analyze without corrupting the whole or leaving something important out. (I have been attempting to make my posts smaller, as I feel the average blogger looks for a quick read.) I was half-tempted to just post the whole sermon and leave it be (you can read it here) but there is too much in it for me to not make some comments. So I'm covering the sermon in a series called "Implicit Confidence in God." See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. Footnotes: [1] About a year earlier, on September 16, 1855, Brigham had given the same counsel, insisting that especially those who had made use of the Perpetual Emigration Fund pay their debt to the fund before leaving:
...for I am tired of men who are eternally gouging their brethren and taking the advantage of them, and at the same time pretending to be Saints until they gain an advantage over this people, and then they are ready to leave. I want you to leave now; I give you this word of caution, prepare to pay the debt you owe to the Church. If I had the money due to the Church: by a few individuals, I could pay every one of our individual debts and the Church debt, and have a few scores of thousands lying by me to operate upon; and in such circumstances I could operate to some advantage, and greatly benefit the Church. But it seems that there are many drones in the hive, who are determined to tie up the hands of those who rule the affairs of this kingdom, and the quicker they are thrown out the better (see JD 3:1-6).
[2] See the forthcoming and final post of this series on Brigham Young and annihilation. [3] See "Lorenzo Dow," Wikipedia. [4] From David E. Philips, Legendary Connecticut:Traditional Tales from the Nutmeg State, as seen on; a literary arts organization in Willimantic, Connecticut. [5] Utah being "Saint-raising country" was a theme Brigham returned to during many sermons. A few months before this sermon, on June 22, 1856 Brigham had spoken more broadly on the subject:
I will tell you what my feelings are, they are, praise God for hard times, for I feel that it is one of the greatest privileges to be in a country that is not desirable, where the wicked will pass by (JD 3:363; see also my prior post "Utah: Saint-raising Country").