Joseph F. Smith shares his thoughts on why so many of the handcart pioneers stayed true to the faith – April 4, 1897
In conversation last evening with some brethren, some remarks were made respecting those who came in early days to this country pulling and pushing the handcart, and a comparison was drawn between that mode of immigration to Zion and the manner in which our people are gathered today. Did you ever hear of a man or a woman apostatizing that pushed or pulled a handcart across the plains? Did you ever hear of them becoming dissatisfied soon after they got here, and at once expressing their desire and intention to go back to the old country? If you have, it has been a rare exception to the rule. As a rule, and almost the universal rule, those who tramped the plains with the handcarts, and next those who came with the ox-teams, have been rooted and grounded in the faith. They had occasion to put their trust in God, and their faith was developed, their love for the truth was brought out, and they have been, as a rule, stable and steadfast in the Gospel of Christ. While today many who come from distant lands by steamship and by railroad, soon after they get to Zion become dissatisfied and discontented and they long for the leeks and the onions and the flesh-pots of Egypt; and frequently people who have emigrated here in that way have within a week from the time they landed in this city, or in other places, wanted to return, and some of them have returned. They came too easy; they did not gain experience in coming; their faith was not tried; they had nothing to develop within them the principle of integrity to the truth, and they were discouraged and wanted to go back at the least difficulty. Now, the Lord has said that he would have a tried people; and it is stated in the scriptures that the Lord chasteneth every son and daughter whom he receiveth. It is also said, in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, that God will try His people unto death, to see if they are worthy of the blessings of the Gospel of the Son of God (D&C 98:14). I contend that a man is in a poor condition to endure the trials and temptations in the world who is not tried in his feelings and proven to the uttermost, to see if he loves the truth more than he loves himself or the world; and I believe that it will be most difficult for any man to stand firm in the Gospel who is not thus put to the test. 1
- Joseph F. Smith, Without purse or scrip, discourse delivered by President Joseph F. Smith, at the General Conference of the Church, held in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, April 4, 1897.