The Legacy of President Brigham Young: A Latter-day Moses

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 171

Brigham Young
Speaking of President Brigham Young, President George Q. Cannon, who was a counselor in the First Presidency, declared: “You go and read the sermons of President Young, and if you do not believe now that he was a Prophet, I think after you have read them you will be sure he was, because he talked as a Prophet to this people concerning their future, and his words were full of godlike wisdom, and he poured them out in a constant stream during his lifetime” (Gospel Truth,1:328).

President Brigham Young’s Death and Legacy

1. “As a leader, President Brigham Young was practical and energetic. He traveled to the settlements of the Church to instruct and encourage the Saints. By direction and example, he taught members to fulfill their callings in the Church.

2. “In evaluating his life, President Young wrote the following in response to an editor of a New York newspaper:

3. “‘The result of my labors for the past 26 years, briefly summed up, are: The peopling of this Territory by the Latter-day Saints of about 100,000 souls; the founding of over 200 cities, towns and villages inhabited by our people, … and the establishment of schools, factories, mills and other institutions calculated to improve and benefit our communities. …

4. “‘My whole life is devoted to the Almighty’s service’ [in Hinckley,Truth Restored,127–28].


5. “In September 1876, President Young bore powerful witness of the Savior: ‘I testify that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world; I have obeyed his sayings, and realized his promise, and the knowledge I have of him, the wisdom of this world cannot give, neither can it take away’ [inJournal of Discourses,18:233].

6. “In August 1877, President Young fell very ill, and in spite of physicians’ care, died within a week. He was 76 years old and had led the Church for 33 years. Today we remember him as the dynamic prophet who led modern-day Israel to their promised land. His sermons touched on all aspects of daily life, making clear that religion is part of everyday experience. His understanding of the frontier and his sensible guidance inspired his people to accomplish mingly impossible tasks as with the blessings of heaven they created a kingdom in the desert” (Our Heritage,90–91).

Understanding the Reading

President Brigham Young’s Death and Legacy

Dynamic(par. 6)Energetic, powerful 

The Teachings and Testimony of Brigham Young

7. Referring toMatthew 5:48, President Young said: “We can alter the phraseology of the sentence, and say, ‘Be ye as perfect as ye can,’ for that is all we can do, though it is written, be ye perfect as your Father who is in heaven is perfect. … When we are doing as well as we know how … we are … as justified as the angels who are before the throne of God” (Discourses of Brigham Young,89).

Brigham Young sees Joseph

8. Almost three years after the Prophet Joseph Smith died, Brigham Young saw him in a dream or a vision. President Young asked the Prophet if he had a message for the members of the Church. “Joseph stepped toward me, and looking very earnestly, yet pleasantly said, ‘Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and be sure to keep the spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach you what to do and where to go. … They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits; it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness and build up the kingdom of God’ ” (Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1846–1847,comp. Elden J. Watson [1971], 529).

9. “The worst fear I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and His people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution and be true. But my greatest fear is that they cannot stand wealth” (quoted in Kimball,Miracle of Forgiveness,48).

10. “It matters not whether you or I feel like praying, when the time comes to pray, pray. If we do not feel like it, we should pray till we do. … You will find that those who wait till the Spirit bids them pray, will never pray much on this earth” (Discourses of Brigham Young,44).

11. “Do you read the scriptures, my brethren and sisters, as though you were writing them a thousand, two thousand, or five thousand years ago? Do you read them as though you stood in the place of the men who wrote them? If you do not feel thus, it is your privilege to do so, that you may be as familiar with the spirit and meaning of the written word of God as you are with your daily walk and conversation” (Discourses of Brigham Young,128).

12. “I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way” (Discourses of Brigham Young,135).

13. “Why do people apostatize? You know we are on the ‘Old Ship Zion.’ We are in the midst of the ocean. A storm comes on, and, as sailors say, she labors very hard. ‘I am not going to stay here,’ says one; ‘I don’t believe this is the “Ship Zion.”’ ‘But we are in the midst of the ocean.’ ‘I don’t care, I am not going to stay here.’ Off goes the coat, and he jumps overboard. Will he not be drowned? Yes. So with those who leave this Church. It is the ‘Old Ship Zion,’ let us stay in it” (Discourses of Brigham Young,85).

14. “I feel like shouting Hallelujah, all the time, when I think that I ever knew Joseph Smith, the Prophet whom the Lord raised up and ordained, and to whom he gave keys and power to build up the Kingdom of God on earth and sustain it. …

15. “Who can justly say aught against Joseph Smith? I was as well acquainted with him, as any man. I do not believe that his father and mother knew him any better than I did. I do not think that a man lives on the earth that knew him any better than I did; and I am bold to say that, Jesus Christ excepted, no better man ever lived or does live upon this earth. I am his witness” (Discourses of Brigham Young,458–59).

16. “Let the Presidents and Apostles and Elders do the work the Lord has set them to do, and obey the counsel which is given them, and the Kingdom will continue to roll, to increase in strength, in importance, in magnitude and in power, in wisdom, intelligence and glory; and no one need be concerned, for it is the Kingdom which the Lord our God has established, and hassustained by his matchless wisdom and power from the beginning to this day” (Discourses of Brigham Young,149).

Understanding the Reading

The Teachings and Testimony of Brigham Young

Alter(par. 7)Change 
Justified(par. 7)As right as 
Malice(par. 8)The desire to others suffer 
Strife(par. 8)Contention, arguing 
Wax fat(par. 9)Fill up with pride over their prosperity 
Bids them(par. 10)Tells them to 
Blind self-security(par. 12)Thoughtlessly believing that everything is all right 
Reckless confidence(par. 12)Trust in their leaders because of their position only 
Thwart(par. 12)Defeat 
Aught(par. 15)Anything 
Magnitude(par. 16)Size 

Studying the Reading

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you study “The Legacy of Brigham Young.”

Activity A iconQuestions about Brigham Young

Answer the following questions using the information found in paragraphs 1–6 and the chart on Brigham Young’s life and presidency (p. 165).

  1. 1.

    How old was Brigham Young and how long had he been a member of the Church when he was ordained an Apostle?

  2. 2.

    What did he do while the Prophet Joseph Smith was in Liberty Jail? (D&C 121heading).

  3. 3.

    List five blessings you or your family have received because of what was begun in the Church during Brigham Young’s presidency.

Activity B iconIn Your Own Words

  1. 1.

    Choose three paragraphs from paragraphs 7, 9, 13–16 and write them in your own words.

  2. 2.

    After each paragraph you write, give an example of a question or problem a person might have that could be answered by that teaching. For example, the teaching in paragraph 10 could help a person who does not feel like praying.

Activity C iconCompare the Statements

  1. 1.

    Read the following scripture passages, and then list the references in a column in your notebook:Daniel 2:44–45;Matthew 5:48;2 Nephi 32:8–9;Alma 24:30;Doctrine and Covenants 11:12–14.

  2. 2.

    Review paragraphs 7–8, 10, 13, and 16. Write the number of the paragraph that best matches each scripture passage after the reference in your notebook.