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Circa Late October 18691


Provo Second Ward Relief Society; Provo Second Ward Meetinghouse, Provo, Utah Territory

[. . .] Eliza. R. Snow. Presiding [. . .]

Eliza. R. Snow said, I am by no means a proficient Lecturer, and had no desire to talk, merely for the sake of talking. If I can do good by speaking, I am thankful to God [for?] it. It is a great pleasure for me to look upon the faces of my sisters, who are saints of God, and seek to do his will, let me here ask a question, who are these my sisters they are the daughters of the most high God, and we are here in this dispensation to cooperate with God and our brethren in saving the human family. We read that one hundred & forty-four thousand Saviours are to stand up on Mount Zion, has woman anything to do with <in> this great work of salvation, or are the sisters merely machines to be saved by the brethren. In these last days woman has to do her part to perform, which is no so signifficant part, we are too apt to think little of the responsibilities that rest upon us. Woman is designed to be a help meet for man, and the work of the last days cannot be accomplished without our assistance. [p. 14] The Female Relief society is no trifling thing, its organization places woman in a position to act in accordance with the law of the Priesthood, it is a portion of the organization of the Church, when it is fully organized. The prophet Joseph Smith said that this organization existed in ancient times, and that its allusions to elect body2 was meant the same as President of the society. I hOnce heard Bro. [Heber C.] Kimball say on the stand, that the sisters must be organized. I did not exactly comprehend the saying, but he said if they were not organized they would be damned, many of our sisters treat the subject of little or no account. Joseph Smith considered it of importance, as not only relieving the poor, but he said it was to our souls good, and attached much consequence to its moral influence. President [Brigham] Young manifests the same interpretation interest in behalf of the cooperation of the sisters and prays for them daily. The Sisters need some instruction with regard to acting under this organization, which is on the same principle as the organization of the First Presidency of the church. We are trammelled with Forms, that would prove a bondage, but we are free to act according to circumstances. The President of a Society and her councillors with the Secretary and Treasurer, constitute a board, and this Board not nominate any officers, that may be needed according to circumstances from time to time, and the society stands in the same relation to the Bishop, as the Society did in Nauvoo did to Joseph Smith, and must act always in accordance with his instruction. It is the duty of the Prisident and her councillors to preside over the society in the same manner, as the First Presidency preside over the church. The duty of the Secretary is to be present at all meetings, that the minutes of all that his done at their meeting, <should be recorded>, all the donations should be brought to the meeting, and the Secretary to take the same, in full of each person who donates, and the price of each article donated. It is her duty to record the minutes of each meeting, after they have been read & adopted, and there keep a record of all the doings of the society. It is the duty of the Treasurer to also take a minute of each article, the same as the Secretay, each article having passed through the hands of the Appraisers, so that the so that the Secretay and Treasurer may compare minutes, so that they may correct mistakes if any be made. It is also the duty of the Treasurer to take charge of all goods, after having labelled each article and its price at the meeting. [p. 15] And to disburse by the sanction of the President, and keep an accurate account, of each article disbursed, it price and to whom. There is no necessity of being formal as to have written orders, the Prest. word is sufficient and in some cases it would be wisdom for the Prest. to give the Treasurer directions to act, for instance in cases of sickness, temperary aid may be imparted according to the emergency of the case. Let your books especially that of the Secretary be kept well, that it may be an ornament to Society and be worthy of being handed down to future generations as an example The calling of the Teachers is an important one, though some consider it of very little consequence, for my part, I consider there is no more important duty to perform. I do not fully feel myself competent to act in that calling, yet were I called to it, I would not shrink. I would humble myself before God, and seek his holy spirit and do the best I could. The Teachers business is not merely to beg in behalf of the poor, but th[e]y are to act the part of Saviours, and they need the spirit of the Lord, that when they enter a house they may see understand the spirit that prevails there. I say to my sisters who are called to be Teachers, when you visit, do all the good you can if any such are cast down, who have lost the spirit of the Lord, speak words of encouragements to them, and impart of the spirit from your own bosom to inlighten and bring back to the light of the gospel. We must act the part of the mother who when she sees her infant cold and chilly instead of pushing it from her, she seeks to resusitate it by clasping it in her bosom, and imparting of her own warmth. The spirit of the Lords never departs from us when we do our duty, the Psalmist David said O Lord take not thy holy spirit from me, a true saint may be happy under any circumstance. The more we live our religion the happier we are it never wears out, the longer we live in it the brighter it becomes. I have lived to see many changes even Apostales deny the faith. Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. Let us live by every word that comes from God, in your visiting instruct and comfort, not to beg merely, but and if they have nothing to give, make your visit profitable by your good advice, and they will bless you, you can exert great power over one another by enlight[en]ing their minds. Spirits are as contagious as the whooping cough or measles. When any are sick they should be taken care of, if they are so able to work, work should be procured for them. There is no virtue in encouraging people in idleness, some feel they have not time to attend to meetings. I presume all think they have as much to do at home, as they can accomplish. I would never advise a mother to leave her children exposed and uncared for, if she cannot contrive to have them looked after, her first business is at home, there is but few, who have any business ◊◊et [corner cut off] who cannot manage to attend meetings occasionally. It is a great advantage [p. 16] to the sisters to meet and instruct, each other in everything that attends to human happiness at home A good housekeeper is a blessing to a community a young lady who can keep a house properly is more useful, than one who plays on a piano, studies German, French &c without this useful knowledge, we like the ornamental as well as the useful, every thing that will make life happy, and fit for the Society of holy beings, the mother who instructs her daughters in the every day duties of life, is preparing them for the great work of the last days, make your homes happy and beautiful with love to be in them improvement, study economy, and study to refine and elevate your children, in your lives seek to refine and elevate, that you may be prepared to come into the presence of holy beings, and associate with Gods, we do not know our own abilities untill they are brought into exercise, with regard to the Word of Wisdom, I am happy to say, I have not seen tea & coffee since I have been here, some do not see the importance of obedience in what they call small matters, they think it makes no difference with the Lord what they eat or drink, it is for our own benefit that the Lord has given us the word of wisdom, here are great blessings attached to observing it, it gives us a claim on God for wisdom & understanding and faith and power over disease. When I went to Dixie [Washington County, Southern Utah], I heard Prest. Young in several places tell the people that none would go to Jackson County [Missouri] who drank tea or coffee, used tobacco, or liquor, or quarrelled with their families or neighbours. Says one what matter is it whether we get to Jackson County or not, it is the place which was forme[r]ly the garden of Eden their man departed from the presence of his maker, and there he will return to it again, and the time will come when a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night will rest upon each habitation. In proof of that having been the Garden of Eden, the alter is now standing in Davies County [Missouri] on which Adam offered the first sacrifice, after he was cast out of the garden. I saw this alter it is standing on Adamondi Ahman where Adam called his decendants together and blest them before he died. This was revealed to Joseph Smith. This Cooperation is a very important subject and one in which the saints should manifest a deep interest. President Young said were <it> not for outsiders, I would call it the Order of Enoch. I understand that the sisters have invested half the capital in the store, that is a credit to them. Concerning trading with gentiles, the sisters do perhaps as much as the brethren, they can use a great influence either for or against. The sisters can bind the hands of their husbands, or as a helpmeet do a great deal to encourage them, they can do a great deal in encouraging home manufacture and in discarding gentile business. Prest. Young says <in this respect> the sisters can do more what he cannot. [p. 17] We want to advance in the scale of existance, that we may be suitable companions for our brethren. They have greater opportunitis than we for improvement than we, they having been organized different to us. They have the s[c]hool of the Prophets we have not, it is necessary for us to improve every opportunity and be diligent and faithful but move forward with energy. We should be true to each other patient, and true to our integrity and enjoy the blessings which flow from this organization. I heard Prest. Young say that out of this people the Lord would call a people that would do his will in all things. Let us be energetic, and overcome our weaknesses. Their is a great responsibility resting on the mothers, the mother who does right and is energetic and that lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord, gives character to her children The education of the child commences very early it takes its first lesson from the mother, when it sees her smile, she is laying the foundation for its future weal or woe, if she wants the child to be honest, she must be honest in every expression of her countenance. Honesty is the foundation of all that is great & good, be thruthful if you want your children regard the truth. Train them in nobility of character, be careful to use good language, avoid all low & vulgar phrases, it is easy to teach them good as evil, mothers should be educated but if they have not had that priveledge themselves, they should realize the necessity of educating their children, to prepare them for what is before them. Those who was in in the church at the beginning are dropping off, and they will have to fill their places, and take the reins of government, watch over them teach them to pray vocally, when your fathers are absent teach them to ask a blessing at the table, these are some of the subjects you should teach in your meetings. Study to preserve union, do not condescend to anything that is little, overlook weaknesses, hold each others feelings sacred, we have no time for trifling. Their is a kind of sympathy against which I wish to caution you, it is that which has a tendency to weaken the spirit, for instance when a sister comes to me and tells me I ought not to bear it, and that she would not bear it if I were in your place, I break down in my feelings, but if she tells me to acknowledge the hand of the Lord in all things, and I can bear it, it strengthens me in my energies, and I begin to take courage and feel strengthened inmy [in my] spirits. The sisters sometimes feel that their husbands are not doing right, and they take it upon themselves to correct them they do wrong and lose the spirit of the Lord, who can try a wife like a husband. In all things let us [p. 18] acknowledge the hand of God and be determined to do right that we may attain to every blessing which God has in store for the faithful I have often thought that if we only attain to the blessing of receiving bodies in the Resurrection that would neighter [neither] bind our spirit, on the subject of pain & weakness it would compensate us for all that we can possibly suffer in this life, but this is <one> the blessings promised, if faithful we are to become equal heirs with Jesus Christ, to an inheritance incorruptible undefilied and fadeth no away, it hath not entered in the heart of man to conceive the blessings which God hath prepared for the faithful. When we give way to our natural feelings and loose the command of ourselves we are subject to the spirit of Apostacy, and lose the spirit <priviledge> of reedeeming our dead, who knows but what we were chosen in the spirit world to lead out and be Saviours for our spiritual kindred, how ignoble it would be for us because we meet with difficulties here to come short of the work which we have covenanted to perform, and disfellowshiped those who had looked to us to stand at their head. I have heard it said, but I cannot endorse the sentitment that there is not a sister that likes Polygamy For my part if I could have it obliterated, I would not, I know that God could not save the human family without it. He has revealed no more important principle for the salvation of man. No one can oppose this doctrine and keep the spirit of the Lord, when it was first taught the principle was not developed, but men went forward and felt they where fullfilling a command of God. Those who walked forward and honoured it, are noble woman, and will be honoured by angels & holy beings. Those who operate against it cannot come into the presence of God. Let us Cooperate with God and our brethren in all that pertains to the interest of Zion. Let us honour ourselves by honouring every principle which God reveals through his servants, let us never oppose a plurality of wives, through this principle woman will be exalted and redeemed. I wish to see the sisters honour her being, be a blessing to each other and accomplish a good work. Joseph Smith said the society if properly conducted would become the most glorious on the earth, he said the time would come when queens of the earth would bring presents to the society for the relief of the poor. I feel I have already occupied too much time I will close by saying let us honour our beings, honour our husbands and cooperate with them in the good work, that we may attain to all the blessings which are for the faithful children & daughters of Abraham, Amen. [p. 19]

Source Note

Provo Second Ward, Utah Stake, Relief Society Minutes and Records (1869–1973), vol. 1 (1869–1882), pp. 14–19, CHL (LR 7222 14).

Footnotes

  1. [1]The original minutes date this sermon 27 September 1869, but according to research, Snow was not in Utah County until late October of that year.

  2. [2]Snow presumably said “elect lady” rather than “elect body.”