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Sermon delivered at Nauvoo temple stand on March 24, 1844

Sources: Wilford Woodruff journal, Thomas Bullock diary

[Joseph Smith gave two addresses at the stand, the first indicating conspirators against him and his family. He presented evidence for this. See WJS. His second address is the one given here.]

Woodruff Journal
Bullock Diary
(President Joseph Smith again arose & said in relation to the power over the minds of the mankind which I hold, I would say it is in consequence of the power of truth in the doctrins which I have been an instrument in the hands of God of presenting unto them & not because of any Compulsion on my part.1 I will ask if I ever got any of it unfair. If I have not reproved you in the gate, I ask did I ever exerise any compulsion over any man. did I not give him the liberty of disbelieveing any doctrin I have preached if he saw fit, why do not my enemies strike a blow at the doctrin, they cannot do it, it is truth, And I am as the voice of one Crying in the wilderness repent of your sins & prepare the way for the Coming of the Son of Man, for the Kingdom of God has Come unto you and hence forth the ax is laid unto the root of the tree and evry tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, God Almighty (and not Jo Smith) shall hew down & cast it into the fire.) . . . . Joseph again spoke and shewed that his Power was in the Doctrines he taught and defied all men to upset it--he called aloud "as the voice of one bawling in the wilderness Repent ye Repent ye for the Kingdom of God is at hand"--"


1. This statement recalls the remarks reported years later by John Taylor, "I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves." [Journal of Discourses 10:57, May 18, 1862]. Benjamin Johnson in his recital of LDS history to George Gibbs (1903) repeats a similar statement. Others also reported the same remarks but there appears to be no contemporary record. The present sermon shows the idea at least was contemporary with and stated by Joseph Smith himself. Its interpretation however seems to have varied considerably through the years. However, whatever the interpretation, it is clearly founded on the notion that Divine truth is self-enforcing in some sense. Joseph made remarks to this effect on several occasions. See 6Apr43 and D&C 88:40 for example. Howard Coray reported that Stephan A. Douglas visited Joseph "and ask him some questions. One thing he desired to know, was how he managed to govern a people so diverse, coming from so many different countries with their peculiar manners and custims. 'Well, he said 'I simply teach them the truth, and they govern themselves,' was his ready answer." [BYU Studies, 17/3 (1977): 341-47.]

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