Journal of Discourses/Volume 21/Remarks by Elder Wilford Woodruff

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It is not my purpose at all to detain this congregation, but before dismissing I feel that I would like to say a few words. We are not in the habit of flattering any man, but I want to say a few words concerning Brother Pratt. If there is any man dead or alive who has dwelt longer in this church and kingdom than he has I do not know him. If there is any man that has travelled more miles in preaching the Gospel of Christ, in bearing testimony of the kingdom of God on the earth, I do not know who he is. When Brother Pratt embraced this Gospel he was a boy—in one sense of the word illiterate and unlearned, the same as Joseph Smith and the most of us. Whatever knowledge Brother Pratt has obtained, either of the learning of the world or of the kingdom of God, he has obtained it by diligence and labor since he embraced this Gospel. I have been associated with Brother Pratt myself for 47 years. I have travelled with him by sea and by land, in foreign countries and at home, and I never saw a man in my life that I know of that has spent as few moments idly as he has. I have never seen a storm at sea so heavy—even when shipping seas over the bow, side and stern but what he would read his book. Whenever the breakers became too heavy he would simply shut up the book until they were over. If there is a man on this continent who is more at home in the starry heavens, in the astronomical world than Brother Pratt I do not know who he is. If there is a man more deeply versed in mathematics than Brother Pratt, I do not know who he is. There may be many men equal to him in these things, but if there are, I do not know them. How has he obtained his knowledge? He has obtained it since he embraced this work. He has improved his time. Brother Pratt is the only living man to-day that was in the first quorum of the Twelve in its first organization, and I am pleased to listen to his testimony of the Gospel of Christ; for I want to say to Brother Pratt and to all other men we all have to acknowledge this; Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, the Apostles, and, all men in this Church and kingdom, if there is anything to us, if there is anything about us, if we have any knowledge, or any power, or any influence, we have to give God the honor of it. It is not of ourselves. Joseph Smith always acknowledged this, as have all men in this Church and Kingdom. We have been called from the plow, from the plane, from the hammer—ignorant, illiterate boys, and thrust into the vineyard; and all the power we have, or ever had, in page 315 building up the Kingdom, we have to acknowledge it as coming from the hand of God. Brother Pratt was one of the earliest men who shouldered his knapsack and traveled through the American continent to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to this nation. Frequently he would suffer from ague all day and go along and preach his sermon at night. These are experiences that he and others have passed through in the early rise of this Church, and I feel to thank God that we can still hear his voice and the voice of others who have been long in this Church and Kingdom. I hope the Lord will preserve his life until he is satisfied with it. He has lifted up his voice long and loud, according to the commandment of God to him, in bearing record of this Gospel and kingdom to the nations of the earth. I was struck, in contemplating our own experience, with some of the remarks he has made to-day with regard to the Apostle Philip—how our own experience has agreed with that of the ancient apostle. How many times have we been called by revelation to go to the right and left, here, there and the other place, contrary to our expectation?

I will here relate what took place in my own experience. I was in Staffordshire in the year 1840. I was in the town of Stanley and held a meeting in the City Hall. I had a week's appointments out in that town. Before I rose to speak to the people, the Spirit of the Lord said to me, "this is the last meeting you will hold with this people for many days." I told the congregation when I arose what the Spirit of the Lord had manifested to me. They were as much surprised as I was. I did not know what the Lord wanted, but I saw the purpose of God afterwards. The Spirit of the Lord said to me, "Go south." I traveled eighty miles; went into the south of England. As soon as I arrived, I met John Benbow. It was clearly made manifest to me why I had been called thither. I had left a good field, where I was baptizing every night in the week. When I got to this place, I found a people—some 600 of them—who had broken off from the Wesleyan Methodists and formed themselves into a sect called the United Brethren. I found that they were praying for light and truth and that they had gone about as far as they could go. I saw that the Lord had sent me to them. I went to work amongst them and ultimately baptized their superintendent, forty preachers and some 600 members; I baptized every member of that denomination, but one. Altogether some 1800 were baptized in that field of labor. I suppose some of those then baptized may be in this congregation to-day. I name these things to show how we have to be governed and controlled by the revelations of God day by day. Without this we can do nothing. Many of our brethren who were with us at that time and who came to this valley, have passed behind the vail. Eight of the quorum of the Twelve who were in the flesh and most of them with the pioneers, today are in the spirit world. We are passing away.

I know as Brother Pratt has said, that this is the kingdom of God. Israel is being gathered together. The revelations of God are being fulfilled, and nothing will be left unfulfilled. Therefore, as Saints of the living God, let us be faithful to our testimony. We have the kingdom of God. We are called of God by inspiration and commandment to warn this generation, to preach the page 316 Gospel, to gather the people, to build up Zion, to build temples, to redeem the living and the dead, and to carry on the great work which is laid upon our shoulders; and may God enable us to accomplish these things for Jesus' sake. Amen.