Brigham Young’s address to the Saints October 5, 1856
When Brigham Young heard that the many of the Saints who left with handcarts had left late in the season and that snows were coming early that year in 1856, he gave the following address to the Saints in General Conference that were in Salt Lake City. I love this message, as it still holds true today. We are to rescue, to reach out and do all that is in our power to redeem mankind. We feel the heart of Brigham as he gives the following address:
“I will now give this people the subject and the text of the Elders who may speak to-day and during the conference. It is this. On the 5th day of October, 1856, many of our brethren and sisters are on the plains with handcarts, and probably many are now seven hundred miles from this place, and they must be brought here, we must send assistance to them. The text will be, ‘to get them here.’ I want the brethren who may speak to understand that their text is the people on the plains. And the subject matter for this community is to send for them and bring them in before winter set in.
“That is my religion; that is the dictation of the Holy Ghost that I possess. It is to save the people. This is the salvation I am now seeking for. To save our brethren that would be apt to perish, or suffer extremely, if we do not send them assistance.
“I shall call upon the Bishops this day. I shall not wait until tomorrow, nor until the next day, for 60 good mule teams and 112 or 15 wagons. I do not want to send oxen. I want good horse and mules. They are in this Territory, and we must have them. Also 12 tons of flour and 40 good teamsters, besides those that drive the teams. This is dividing my texts into heads. First, 40 good young men who know how to drive teams, to take charge of the teams that are now managed by men, women and children who know nothing about driving them. Second, 60 or 65 good spans of mules, or horses, with harness, whipple trees, neck yokes, stretchers, lead chains, &c. And thirdly, 24 thousand pounds of flour, which we have on hand. . . .
“I will tell you all that your faith, religion, and profession of religion, will never save one soul of you in the Celestial Kingdom of our God, unless you carry out just such principles as I am now teaching you. Go and bring in those people now on the plains. And attend strictly to those things which we call temporal, or temporal duties. Otherwise, your faith will be in vain. The preaching you have heard will be in vain and you, and you will sink to Hell, unless you attend to the things we tell you. Any man or woman can reason this out in their own minds, without trouble. The Gospel has been already preached to those brethren and sisters now on the plains; they have believed and obeyed it, and are willing to do anything for salvation; they are doing all they can, and the Lord has done all that is required of Him to do, and has given us power to bring them in from the plains, and teach them the further things of the Kingdom of God, and prepare them to enter into the celestial kingdom of their Father. First and foremost is to secure our own salvation, and do right pertaining to ourselves, and then extend the hand of right to save others.”
(Brigham Young’s address reported in the Deseret News, 15 October 1856, as quoted Preston Nibley, Brigham Young: The man and his work (Deseret Book 1974), p. 259-260. See also LeRoy R. Hafen and Ann W. Hafen, Handcarts to Zion [Glendale, Ca.: The Arthur H. Clark, Co., 1960], 120-21.)