President Joseph F. Smith, Improvement Era 9, June 1906, p. 651-54
There are, in the great world of mankind, much social and civil unrighteousness, religious unfaithfulness, and great insensibility to the. majesty, power, and purpose of our eternal Father and God. In order, therefore, that he may bring the sense of himself and his purposes home to the minds of men, his intervention and interposition in nature and in men’s affairs, are demanded. His aims will be accomplished even if men must be overwhelmed with the convulsions of nature to bring them to an understanding and a realization of his designs. As long as conditions remain as they are in the world, none is exempt from these visitations.
The Latter-day Saints, though they themselves tremble because of their own wickedness and sins, believe that great judgments are coming upon the world because of iniquity; they firmly believe in the statements of the Holy Scriptures, that calamities will befall the nations as signs of the coming of Christ to judgment. They believe that God rules in the fire, the earthquake, the tidal have, the volcanic eruption, and the storm. Him they recognize as the Master and Ruler of nature and her laws, and freely acknowledge his hand in all things. We believe that his judgments are poured out to bring mankind to a sense of his power and his purposes, that they may repent of their sins and prepare themselves for the second coming of Christ to reign in righteousness upon the earth. We firmly believe that Zion — which is the pure in heart — shall escape, if she observes to do all things whatsoever God has commanded; but, in the opposite event, even Zion shall be visited “with sore affliction, with pestilence, with plague, with sword, with vengeance, and with devouring fire” (Doctrine and Covenants 97:26). All this that her people may be taught to walk in the light of truth and in the way of the God of their salvation.
We believe that these severe,” natural calamities are visited upon men by the Lord for the good of his children, to quicken their devotion to others, and to bring out their better natures, that they may love and serve him. We believe, further, that they are the heralds and tokens of his final judgment, and the schoolmasters to teach the people to prepare themselves by righteous living for the coming of the Savior to reign upon the earth, when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ.
If these lessons are impressed upon us and upon the people of our country, the anguish, and the loss of life and toil, sad, great and horrifying as they were, will not have been endured in vain. 1