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Legacy

“My name is had for good and evil upon the whole earth, as promised to me. Thirty years ago brother Joseph, in a lecture to the Twelve, said to me, “your name shall be known for good and evil throughout the world,” and it is so. The good love me, weak and humble as I am, and the wicked hate me; but there is no individual on the earth but what I would lead to salvation, if he would let me; I would take him by the hand, like a child, and lead him like a father in the way that would bring him to salvation.” 1

Prophecy from President Heber C. Kimball

“The Church and kingdom to which we belong will become the kingdom of our God and his Christ, and brother Brigham Young will become President of the United States. [Voices responded, “Amen.”]

“And I tell you he will be something more; but we do not now want to give him the name: but he is called and ordained to a far greater station than that, and he is foreordained to take that station, and he has got it; and I am Vice-President, and brother Wells is the Secretary of the Interior—yes, and of all the armies in the flesh.

“You don’t believe that; but I can tell you it is one of the smallest things that I can think of. You may think that I am joking; but I am perfectly willing that brother Long should write every word of it; for I can see it, just as naturally as I see the earth and the productions thereof. Let us live our religion, serve our God, be good and kind one to another, cease all those contentions in your houses, and live in peace.” 2

Christ-like Character of Brigham Young

“Of the Twelve Apostles chosen in Kirtland, and ordained under the hands of Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and myself, there have been but two [who have not] lifted their heel against me-namely Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball” May 28, 1843 3.

Be steadfast, always abiding in the truth. Never encourage malice or hatred in your hearts; that does not belong to a Saint. I can say in truth, that with all the abuse I have ever met, driven from my home, robbed of my substance, I do not know that a spirit of malice has ever rested in my heart. I have asked the Lord to mete out justice to those who have oppressed us, and the Lord will take his own time and way for doing this. It is in His hands, and not in mine, and I am glad of it, for I could not deal with the wicked as they should be dealt with. 4

President George Q. Cannon remarked that President Young was:

“a man of extraordinary will and great firmness of purpose. He was prudent in counsel, and wise in action. No hesitation, no vacillation of purpose but great tenacity and firmness in carrying out his views of right. . . . His courage was wonderful; he never knew what it was to have moral fear. The only question in his mind was, is it right? When this was decided, he pressed forward to its accomplishment, and no obstacle could deter him.” 5

President Heber C. Kimball remarked:

“. . . it is none of your business what brother Brigham does, though you all know that he would not do anything wrong. Why, bless you, brother Brigham would die ten thousand deaths rather than walk one hair to the right or to the left from that which is right.”  (Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 5:220.)

Secret to Brigham Young’s Success & Wisdom

“I also notice in the High Council, where intricate matters are often tried, in which the principles of government and law are involved, the consideration of which would be profitable and instructive, that whenever an Elder can make an excuse his place is vacant. In my experience I never did let an opportunity pass of getting with the Prophet Joseph and of hearing him speak in public or in private, so that I might draw understanding from the fountain from which he spoke, that I might have it and bring it forth when it was needed. My own experience tells me that the great success with which the Lord has crowned my labors is owing to the fact of applying my heart to wisdom. I notice that even my own natural brothers when they come into my office, which is very seldom, if there are important matters on hand—when I am teaching the brethren the principles of government, and how to apply them to families, neighborhoods and nations, will leave the office as though it was a thing of no account. And this is the case with too many of the Elders in the Church. This is mortifying to me. In the days of the Prophet Joseph, such moments were more precious to me than all the wealth of the world. No matter how great my poverty—if I had to borrow meal to feed my wife and children, I never let an opportunity pass of learning what the Prophet had to impart. This is the secret of the success of your humble servant. I make this application to the Elders of Israel.” 6

“An angel never watched [Joseph] closer than I did, and that is what has given me the knowledge I have today. I treasure it up, and ask the Father, in the name of Jesus, to help my memory when information is wanted.” 7

Are there not scores of men and women here who are familiar with the death of our Prophet? Why did people hate him? Because of his influence. Did he gain or exercise an unrighteous influence? By no means. He possessed a righteous influence over the spirits, feelings, passions, and dispositions of all who delighted in truth and goodness, so far as he associated, and could guide them at his pleasure.
Am I hated for the same cause? I am. I am hated for teaching people the way of life and salvation— for teaching them principles that pertain to eternity, by which the Gods were and are, and by which they gain influence and power. Obtain that influence, and you will be hated, despised, and hunted like the roe upon the mountains. 8

Testimony

Statements from President Young

At this time the spirit of speculation, disaffection and apostasy imbibed by many of the Twelve, and which ran through all the quorums of the Church, prevailed so extensively that it was difficult for any to see clearly the path to pursue. [Apostasy] On a certain occasion several of the Twelve, the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, and others of the Authorities of the Church, held a council in the upper room of the [Kirtland] Temple. The question before them was to ascertain how the Prophet Joseph could be deposed, and David Whitmer appointed President of the Church. Father John Smith, Brother Heber C. Kimball and others were present, who were opposed to such measures. I rose up, and in a plain and forcible manner told them that Joseph was a Prophet, and I knew it, and that they might rail and slander him as much as they pleased, they could not destroy the appointment of the Prophet of God, they could only destroy their own authority, cut the thread that bound them to the Prophet and to God and sink themselves to hell. Many were highly enraged at my decided opposition to their measures, and Jacob Bump (an old pugilist) was so exasperated that he could not be still. Some of the brethren near him put their hands on him, and requested him to be quiet; but he writhed and twisted his arms and body saying, “How can I keep my hands off that man?” I told him if he thought it would give him any relief he might lay them on. This meeting was broken up without the apostates being able to unite on any decided measures of opposition. This was a crisis when earth and hell seemed leagued to overthrow the Prophet and Church of God. The knees of many of the strongest men in the Church faltered. 9

If my skirts are stained in the least with wrong, it is because I have been too free in telling what God is

In the due time of the Lord, the Saints and the world will be privileged with the revelations that are due to them. They now have many more than they are worthy of, for they do not observe them. The Gentile nations have had more of the revelations of God than is their just due. And I will say, as I have before said, if guilt before my God and my brethren rests upon me in the least, it is in this one thing—that I have revealed too much concerning God and his kingdom, and the designs of our Father in heaven. If my skirts are stained in the least with wrong, it is because I have been too free in telling what God is, how he lives, the nature of his Providences and designs in creating the world, in bringing forth the human family on the earth, his designs concerning them, &c.  If I had, like Paul, said—“But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant,” perhaps it would have been better for the people. 10

Humanizing Brigham Young

President Ezra Taft Benson stated:

Another prophet whom some historians like to humanize is Brigham Young. One writer accuses him of being “an accessory after the fact” to the infamous Mountain Meadows Massacre incident. He is sometimes referred to as an autocrat. Another fictionalized version of him is that he was continually groping for a revelation which never came to him. Among many testimonies to the contrary are these. Brigham Young himself declared:

God has shown me that this is the spot to locate this people. . . . We shall build a city and a temple to the Most High God in this place. We will extend our settlements to the east and west, to the north and to the south, and we will build towns and cities by the hundreds and thousands of Saints will gather in from the nations of the earth. This will become a great highway of the nation. Kings and emperors and the noble and wise of the earth will visit us here. [Quoted in Autobiography of James Brown, pp. 119–23]

Wilford Woodruff said this of Brigham Young: “Brigham Young saw the Salt Lake Valley in vision, . . . and . . . the future glory of Zion and Israel, as they would be, planted in the valleys of the mountains.”11

  1. Brigham Young, “The Intended Trip North, Etc.”, Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, pp. 289-298, May 15, 1864.
  2. Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses 5:219.
  3. Joseph Smith, HC 5:412 also Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith pg. 307
  4. Brigham Young, “The Intended Trip North, Etc.”, Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, pp. 289-298, May 15, 1864.
  5. George Q. Cannon, Juvenile Instructor 12 (15 September 1877): 210.
  6. Brigham Young, “The Value of Attending Meetings, Etc.”, Journal of Discourses, vol. 12, pp. 269-274, August 16, 1868.
  7. Brigham Young Papers, 8 October 1866 sermon; quoted in Henry B. Eyring, ed., On Becoming a Disciple-Scholar (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1995), 15–16.
  8. Brigham Young, July 3, 1859, JD 7:3
  9. Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1801-1844
  10. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, pp. 57-64, May 20, 1860.
  11. President Ezra Taft Benson, “God’s Hand in Our Nation’s History,” March 28, 1977.

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