LETTER FROM SALT LAKE.
[FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.]
GREAT SALT LAKE CITY, April 10, 1862.
The Thirty-second Annual Conference of the Church of Latter Day Saints.
The Church has decreed that the disciples as-semble in Conference on the sixth of April, an-nually—the anniversary of the organization of the "Last dispensation," for the purpose of at-tending to all business that pertains to the whole Church "throughout the earth." It is also a great season for teaching, and is longed for by the people as a great gathering, equal to that of ancient Israel assembling at Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
At Conference the ruling authorities are pre-sented for the acceptance or rejection of the people. If any have transgressed, they can be cut off; if negligent and a "load to carry," they can be shaken off, or, in the conventicle language, "dropped," and others are appointed in their places.
The Tabernacle has recently undergone some changes and had some enlargement, and has a more social appearance than before. The sisters were formerly to the left of the Tribune, and the brothers to the right, separated by a parti-tion running right across the building. The whole has been "gutted out," and the Tribune stuck up at the north end, giving the speaker a full front view of his audience. There are two passages running north and south; between them and the walls the brethren sit; in the cen-ter the sisters are seated. There is no partition or male gender hindrances to any portion of the house; but there are few folks that would ven-ture their coarser presence into the midst of such a bouquet of fair faces; so that the center of the Tabernacle is Paradise sheltered by the flaming sword—public criticism.
The weather at the outset of Conference was a Winter edition of a Scotch mist; not bad enough to keep folks in doors, but smoky enough and drizzling to make even the faithful under the protection of the everlasting home-spun feel mighty uncomfortable. With no very elevated feelings, I ventured out to the Tabernacle; but the apparent cheerfulness of the assembled thousands dispelled the gloom, and I was soon prepared for business and imbibed a decent share of the spirit.
The body of the building at the opening hour was hardly filled, as the city Saints had been re-quested to stay at home to give place to their country sisters and brothers; but as soon as the Chief announced the house open to all, the place got densely crowded. Every seat on the plat-form encircling the Tribune was filled with the chief dignitaries of the Territory—apostles, high priests, seventies, bishops and elders.
For the first time after a long silence, the or-gan was rigged up, and accompanied Brother Smithers and the usual Tabernacle choir. To the left of the speaker there was a second choir, under the leadership of Brother Thomas, the conductor of the theatrical orchestra, and a third choir to the right, under the direction of Brother Calder, the chief clerk of the Church, composed of a bevy of pretty little girls in their early teens, a few ladies and a respectable ac-companiment of bass and tenor of the male gen-der—this was the tonic sol fa class. The sing-ing throughout was very creditable.
The innumerable babies, whom country sisters could not leave conveniently at home, kept up a very lively entertainment, and at times would have been a serious obstacle to hearing but for the pluck of the speaking brothers, who were evidently determined that "that old devil" should not have the victory. Being a part of the faith, the brethren could hardly find fault, and so very patiently bore the afflictions of their own creation.
The speaking throughout the entire Confer-ence was spirited—very varied, embracing everything that interested Israel, from the raising of "good pure sugar-cane" to the final triumph of all the righteous: their establish-ment in Jackson county, Missouri—the center stake of Zion, and long after that, again, celes-tial glory in a redeemed world—this one or some other.
President Young called the Conference to order, and expressed the gratitude of his soul for the peace which the Saints enjoyed, and hoped that they might yet hold many Confer-ences with the blessing of the Lord; he, how-ever, expressed another hope "that before many years they might be planted in the center stake of Zion"—that's in Missouri, where the Lord is cleaning out the rebels by way of prep-aration. The choir then sung:
"All hail the glorious day
By Prophets long foretold!
When with harmonious lay
The sheep of Zion's fold
On Zion's hill his praise proclaim,
And shout hosannah to his name."
Elder Taylor, one of the Apostles, offered the initiatory prayer.
The Lord had been very gracious to the Saints, and he felt to call upon their souls and all that was within them to bless their Creator for the many favors received from his hands.
Then said Brother John:
Lord, if Thy people have done anything amiss forgive them, that their prayers may come up before Thee ac-ceptably; that their minds may be illuminated to com-prehend that which is for present, future and eternal good; that they may comprehend all true principles. Let Thy Spirit's power rest upon Thy servant Brigham, that he may comprehend Thy purposes on the earth, as Thou has determined in the heavens; that he may coun-sel and direct Thy people for the accomplishment of Thy purposes and designs. Bless his counselors in like manner, that they may be united in holiness. Bless also the Twelve Apostles, the Seventies, the High Priests, the Bishops and all men in authority, so that when they act as judges in Israel they may feel the responsibility of their positions and do that which is right and proper, so that Israel may rejoice in the order of salvation in Thy kingdom.
Bless the interests of Zion everywhere. Stand by the Elders who are preaching the Gospel, so that they may be filled with wisdom to the confusion of those who oppose Thy truth. Bless those of Thy people who are journeying to this place, strengthen them for their journey, and give them power day by day to live, that they may gather with Thy people.
Bless Brother Bernhisel at Washington, and those who associate with him for the proper representation of the rights of Thy people. Do Thou bless Israel and all those who bless them, and shorten the power of those who would curse and afflict them. May Thy power pre-vail here in Zion, so that fearlessness may take hold of the hypocrite and those who will not live in righteous-ness. Bless us and aid us in all we do during this Con-ference—Amen.
Brother Thomas' choir then sang:
"With all my powers of heart and tongue,
I'll praise my Maker in my song," etc.
ADDRESS OF PRESIDENT YOUNG.
It had been customary for him to give a text to the Elders on which they should express themselves during conference; on this occasion he would tell the Elders to say just what pleased them—to take up such subjects as the spirit presented to their minds. The object of their meeting in Conference was for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God, and if they had as-sembled with the proper spirit and with the de-sire to do good, they would certainly find themselves further advanced in the work of sal-vation at the close of the Conference than at the close of their last assembling.
He was before them in that capacity which Providence had called him to occupy—accord-ing to the faith of the people—as director, aider and counselor. He was, of course, grateful for the faith and confidence of the Saints and for their prayers, but he thought that while they prayed mightily for him and for the leaders of the people, he apprehended that they did not pray enough for themselves. The Chief struck a vein of natural philosophy, and showed the absurdity of the "Saints” praying for their leaders to be pure, holy, dispassionate, impar-tial in their intercourse with the people and up-right in all their judgments, while they them-selves were otherwise. Hundreds of thousands prayed for him, for his counselors, for the twelve Apostles and for the leaders generally that they might be filled with wisdom, light, patience and integrity, and yet thousands of them would consent to wrangle and contend with each other, and give way to vanity themselves. For him-self he prayed as fervently as the people did that the leaders might be fashioned after the image of Christ, in all goodness, and believed that the Lord would accomplish this both for them and the people, but they had to govern their lives or it could never be accomplished. They might talk of faith, and have all faith to remove mountains, but if their lives were not pure all this faith would avail them nothing.
Here "Brother Brigham" began to feel like seizing the rod for a general chastisement, and walloped the Saints on the pranks of that "un-ruly member"—the "unbridled tongue," which apparently does mischief among saints as well as among sinners. The Prophet thought a great work was before the brethren and sisters in subduing that "nasty, devilish spirit which leads to contention." "It was a fire planted in every individual by reason of the fall, which would eventually consume the per-son who could not subdue it." Finishing the lecture on the talkative organ, the time had arrived for giving the bishops a few touches, and they got it sweetly. There was music in the sound. "Some of them" had it. The prophet had an idea that the present of a new hat, or a horse, by way of douceur, could reach the judgment of some few of the bish-ops, and turn their decisions. Here he ripped "a few." He "did not hate the man; but he hated the mean, nasty, contemptible, wicked spirit that would approach him with a bribe, to cause him to err in judgment." The Chief owned up to personal prejudices within him-self; but disclaimed against sitting in judgment under such circumstances, and warned the bishops of terrible wrath in store for them, if found in that position hereafter. He had pre-judices against men; but when he met them he failed not to tell them of it plain enough. I ex-pect that is just so. I guess few men have "the gift of plain talking" in a larger degree than the Chief of the Mormons.
The opening sermon was lengthy, and seem-ingly embraced everything belonging to the people. A great portion of what followed was about visions, revelations and sealings, which the prophet rejoiced in; but did not believe the people were as far advanced in righteousness as they ought to be in order to receive the blessings which "the Lord was ready to pour out upon them." The Mormons, he knew, were a good people; yet the folly of many had led to a great deal of trouble, and "like a plurality of wives, some of the ordinances of the kingdom would send many men to the devil," because some men were not pure in their hearts, and their actions were not according to holiness. After scorching the rebels, the sluggards and the hypocrites, he finished up with a hearty recom-mendation to build up and embellish the Terri-tory—I should say the State of Deseret, and promised the disciples that if they would only be faithful and live their religion, "they would never again be driven from their homes." The bishops who did not want drinking in their wards were not to drink themselves; and to cut off gambling, they were not to gamble, and if they did not want the people to do wrong, they were to contrive to do right themselves. To which all the congregation said Amen.
Elder Taylor next addressed the Conference. He looked at the world rather gloomily. The people in every nation had a desire to do right, but they had gone astray, and had been led into error. Their philosophy was false, their poli-tics the same, and so their religion; they were all false. Teachers had not within them the light of revelation, which was the only certain guide; without it, men had gone astray, and worshipped "they knew not what." It was now, Brother John assured us, the object of the Lord to introduce correct principles into the world, to bring about the salvation of all the descendants of Adam, who would obey the commandments. The Mormons were engaged in trying to sweep away the rubbish and errors of ages—or rather "God was trying to do it through us."
Brother Calder's choir then struck out—
"Sweet is the work, my God, my King!"
At the termination of which, Bishop Lorenzo Young blessed and dismissed us for dinner.
The session in the afternoon, after the distri-bution of the Sacrament, was occupied by the Apostles Orson Hyde and Erastus Snow, and wound up with other general remarks from Brother Brigham. The first Apostle said noth-ing very special; the second had just come up from "our Dixie," and his sermon was full of cotton raising and hard work generally. "Health prevailed in the new colonies, peace and good feeling, a very good degree of satisfaction, plenty of labor on hand and a general disposi-tion to perform it." The country was all that was ever said of it. All the bad that had been said of it was all true, and all the good ever said of it was true; but it made no difference, they had gone there on a mission to raise cotton and save Israel, and they were going to stick to it and raise the cotton, and do all the other things they were told to do. Brother Erastus was satisfied that if the Mor-mons did not cut loose from the decaying world and make themselves socially independent of the nation, they would go down with it. Erastus got on to a vein of commiseration for the afflict-ed in the States, which to me was very unex-pected from his lips. He was willing to toil and labor and prepare a place to which the afflicted could resort and find a home in the mountains. The brother didn't say it; but I have met with an argument or statement somewhere in support of the Patriarchal institution: the wars and desolations of the last days are to make men very scarce! Friend Moses, of another and far bygone generation, is said to have instructed ancient Israelitish warriors to spare the women, particularly the maidens. I don't know but the modern Apostle was just then feeling generous in the same direction. I like Erastus immensely.
Brother Brigham was very lively. He had told the people and counseled them eight years ago to do just what they see now they must do. He "did not feel good natured about some things," and running after the Gentiles and licking the dust of their feet for gold was one of the disagreeable things. The brethren who had run after the army with their produce and sold it at ruinous prices for the farmer, the mer-chant who had speculated, and the other folks who had done their chores generally must have felt everything but gratified with this part of the Conference. Home-made and social inde-pendence had the balance of the session.
The Conference lasted up till the afternoon of Wednesday. Nine meetings were held—seven of them public and two for the priesthood and the Bishops. The private meetings were also held in the Tabernacle; but as all the sisters were at home, and the general outsiders bad no business there, I was also absent. I under-stood, however, that the meetings in question were such as usually are held at Conference when differences in the country settlements are brought here for final adjudieation. There also, the priesthood have a general confab about everything—emigration, temple building and all general matters. I took full notes of the seven meetings, and there were many interest-ing items, which, at another time, may be at-luded to; in the meantime Brigham on the Over-land Mail and Telegraph deserves notice.
The Chief, I think it was Monday afternoon, followed one of the brethren who had been pitching into the boys for running after the Gentiies to drive their stages, haul their grain etc., while so much had to be done for hauling the rock to the Temple and other public works. He alluded to this and then gave his views. The Overland Mail and Telegraph were blessings to the community. It put them in relationship di-rect with all the world. He was a friend to both. He paid a back-handed compliment to the Eastern company—I presume on account of the former contractors having left some unpaid “paper" in the Territory; to the West-ern he was complimentary. He paid Street, the builder of the Western telegraph line, and Carpentier, the President of the Company, very high compliments. "They were gentle-men, and good men." He had been of service to the Company, and would do them any service again. They were straight forward, business men, and he was "prejudiced" in the favor of the gentlemen named. He had no objections for Mormon boys to be on the mail line; but he wanted the right kind there. He wanted boys who would neither drink, curse or steal. If they came to him he would send just such boys as would honor the community. If a traveler lost his wallet, he wanted him to find it again; and to know when he had lost it that it was all safe; he would have no connivance with horse steal-ing Indians, and if the boys that he sent on to to the road did not behave themselves he would call them home again and whale them. He wanted to see proper service from tee em-ployes, and if he had anything to do with the Overland Mail Company he should have proper carriages, so that passengers might go to and fro with some degree of ease and comfort—"sleep day and night if they had a mind to."
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