OVER THE DEAD.
A REMARKABLE SORT OF A FU-NERAL SERMON.
The Mormon President, John Taylor. Talks on the Subject of Pre-Existence and Futurity-Language From Which an idea of the Main Points of the Mor-mon Faith May be Garnered.
SALT LAKE CITY, Feb. 22.—The funeral sermon delivered by the MormonPresident, John Taylor, on February 8, 1880, has ex-cited much comment in the press of the country. The following are the most no-table parts of the text:
Mr. Taylor said: We are met here to-day, as we frequently have to do, to pay the last tribute of respect to the departed dead. Time with all its changes and mu-tations brings us face to face very frequent-ly with the kind of thing that is now pre-sented before us. We come into the world, we struggle a little while with the affairs incident to human nature, and by and by the struggles of the present are over. The weary wheels of life stand still and we go into another state of ex-istence. As wise, prudent and intelligent men it behooves us to really comprehend the true position we occupy in relation to the past, in relation to the present, as well as to the future.
Speaking of the past, we all of us have had our ideas about a pre-existence. We consider that God is Father of the Spirits of all flesh, not only of those that fear Him, but of those who do not fear Him, and who disobey His laws. He is the Father of the spirits of all and is spoken of in the a Scrip-tures, "We are His offspring" and eminated from Him. We came into this world to attend to certain things which are designed by the Almighty and which in the pro-gramme of the Lord it was necessary that we should take our part in. We had very little to do with our coming here; all things move along naturally. But we have some-thing to do, however, with our affairs while we are here, in a state of probation. But about our leaving, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, or more than that even, we have little to do with it.
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We talk about a futurity and about heaven, of which men have certain vague ideas. Some think heaven is beyond the bounds of time and space. It is a kind of poetic thought, which sounds very well; but where is such a place? When we re-flect upon it in our sober moments, we naturally conclude that it is nowhere. But men have entertained singular notions and ideas pertaining to the future, many of which have been erratic, foolish and ignor-ant; and the fact is, it is impossible for man, unaided by the revelation of God, to comprehend anything about Him. Job says: "Canst thou by searching find out God ? Canst thou find out the Almighty into perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do ? Deeper than hell; what canst thou know?"
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How does God feel towards the human family? He feels that they are his chil-dren. What, all? Yes; the white, the black, the red, the Jew, the Gentile, the heathen, the Christian and all classes and grades of men; he feels interested in all, he has done so from the beginning, and will Continue; to do so to the end. He will do all that lies in his power for the benefit, blessing and exaltation of the human fam-ily, both in time and in eternity, consonant with those laws and those eternal princi-ples that I have referred to; from which He himself cannot deviate. We sometimes get up feelings about parties that do not think as we do, and do not believe as we do, and we are apt to cast aspersions upon them. Why, these are their affairs. What! would you allow everybody to wor-ship as they please? Certainly. What! If you knew they where in error? Certainly! I would not wish to control the human mind; I would not control the actions of men, God does not do it, He leaves them to their own agency to combat with the trials, tempta-tions, adversities and evils of every kind that are in the world, to which humanity is, or can be incident. He put with-in their reach, however, certain principles and would like to lead them to himself if they would be led. If not, he then does the very best with them that He can. In some instances he has had to come out, as it is said, "in his fierce wrath," upon the peoples and upon the nations of the earth; and many other things have been in his programme; because life with its few years is only comparatively as it were a few moments in the estimation of Jehovah. It is but a span, a dream, or a tale, that is told and passed away. But in regard to the eternities that are to come, and the realities we have to do with hereafter, that is another affair. I have heard men talk about the cruelty of God, just like some foolish people talk about their fathers. Who knows anything about God? Did you ever see him? Some think it was very cruel in him to destroy the world at the flood. How do they know but that it was the greatest boon he could confer upon that wicked people? How do they know but that it was one of the rich-est blessings he could pour out upon their heads in sweeping them off the earth and sending them into another state of exist-ence and then shut them up in prison after that. How do you know? Certainly you do not know that it is not the case.
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Now in regard to other things. The gospel has been sent from time to time among the people. And what does it do? It brings life and immortality to light. Has God ever given up His idea in relation to the inhabitants of the earth? No; but He has in the different ages given certain laws and principles to certain classes of individuals. It is said God has made of one blood all the nations of the earth, yet there are certain classes of men among the nations just as much as there are certain classes of metals. Everything is not gold, everything is not silver, everything is not brass, everything is not iron; all hold their proper position and have their relative value. So in regard to the heavens. There are bodies celestial, there are bodies ter-restial, there are bodies between. We are told there is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, another glory of the stars, and that as one star differs from an-other star in glory so also shall it be in the resurrection. This distinction arises from the acts of men, as it is said "Ye are ser-vants to whom you yield yourselves to obey."
Now what are we here for? What are the things we profess to do? I will ask what did Jesus seek to do when he was here? Did become to curse mankind? No, but to bless them. He came to seek and to save those that were lost. He came to unfold the principles of eternal truth, to bring life and immortality to light by the Gospel. He came, according to the eternal decree of the Almighty, to offer His life as a sacrifice, as an atonement for the sins of the human family. He came to introduce principles that emanated from God, to or-ganize His church upon the earth and to en-dow His disciples with authority that they might go forth as his messengers and as mes-sengers of His Father to proclaim the prin-ciples of eternal truth to the human family. Hence says He "Go ye into the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved ; but he that believeth not shall be damned." This is one of those eternal decrees that you cannot get away from. And then we talk about the damnation of hell; and people have as strange notions about that as they have about other things. I have read statements from men which were really terrible when depicting the state of the damned. It is bad enough, but not the kind of thing they represent.
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I see that time is passing. My mind has been led rather discursively on some of these matters, arising partly from circum-stances with which | we are surrounded. How is it with this young man here? Well, I wish it were otherwise; I wish he had lived a very good Saint, which, however, he did not do, We have not come here to indulge in any false sentimentality, He was a drunkard; that is the truth and many of you know it. When you have said that, can you say anything worse? That is bad enough but I do not know anything evil about the young man further than that, I knew his father. I baptised him thousands of miles away from here in the neighbor-hood of 40 years ago, when he was a much younger man than he (his son) is now. His father lived up to the gospel, and died strong in the faith; and his moth-er has been a very good woman, so far as I know; I have never known anything against her. This boy has caused her a great deal of trouble; and I have been sorry for him. Well, should we tell about things? Yes, always; that day is not far distant when the covering will be taken from the face of all people, and we shall all stand naked, as it were, before God—both you and I and this young man. Well, this boy—I call him a boy, he is a young man, and is a nephew of mine by marriage; and I would not want to say anything about him on that account, neither would I falsify the young man on that account; but let us tell things and un-derstand them as they are. Let me call the attention of the youth psesent. Would you like to be lying in this position, under these circumstances? You would not? Then let us look at things as they are. What next? We will do the best we can; and what is it? There is a curious saying that Paul made on a certain occasion, in speaking about the Jews and the Gentiles:
"What advantage hath the Jews? or what profit is there of circumcision?
"Much every way; chiefly, that unto them were committed the oracles of God.
"Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever," etc.
Is it a sorrowful thing to see our youth pass away as he has done? Yes. He did not die drunk? No, but that was the cause of it. We may as well talk honestly about them. What next? He has gone. Has he hurt anybody? No, only by his example. Has he hurt his mother? Yes. I do not think he did sin while his father was living ; but since then he has caused his mother many a sorrowful hour. Did I feel sorry when he died? No. Why? Because I knew it was much better for him to leave the earth than to be in the position he has been. * * * * * *
I would say, I do not utter these things to cause any unpleasant feeling in the bosom of the family; they cannot help it. If I could have helped it, I would; if the mother could have helped it, she would; if the sister could have helped it, she would; if the friends could have helped it, they would. But we cannot control circum-stances.
We are now talking not to the dead, but to the living. I would say, let us avoid these evils, they lead clown to death; let us seek to live our religion, to obey the laws of God and keep his commandments. And in regard to the future, we leave that in the hands of the Almighty who doeth all things well; and we will do all we can to promote the comfort of the living and the happiness of the dead. We are do-ing a great deal for the accomplish-ment of this object; we are building temples and administering in them, and we are doing it in obedience to the law of God, and in consonance with the feelings of the patriarchs and apostles and men of God who have lived before. And we will try to go on and live our re-ligion and keep the commandments of God that we may rejoice together hereafter. And I will say to the mother, Let your heart be comforted for you shall be blessed both in time and in eternity. And I say unto all of you, Live your religion, keep the commandments of God, for in that only there is safety. God bless you in time and in eternity. Amen.
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