DC 126 Historical Background
Brigham Young had served several key missions prior to 1840. Three months after the death of his first wife, Brigham left his young daughters with Vilate Kimball and went to Canada with his brother.
"In late December (1832) Brigham... traveled with his brother to Canada, where Joseph Young had before preached Methodism and was quite well known. Apparently the two brothers had been given a specific commission to convert a man by the name of Artemus Millett, whom Joseph Young had known during his earlier work in Canada and whom they had recommended in September when Joseph Smith had talked with them in Kirtland about the need for a mason to help build the proposed temple there. The Prophet had said to the brothers, 'I give you a mission to go and baptize him into the church and tell him to bring $1,000 with him.' They traveled over 500 miles on foot, 'most of the way through snow and mud from one to two feet deep," and finally crossed six miles of thin ice (that bent so much that water filled their shoes) at the eastern end of Lake Ontario (where the St. Lawrence River begins) to get to Kingston. Brigham later reported in his Manuscript History: 'We commenced preaching and bearing our testimony to the people. Proceeding [north] to West Loboro, we remained about one month preaching the Gospel there and in the regions round about. We baptized about 45 souls, and organized the West Loboro and other Branches. In the month of February 1833, we started for home, crossing from Kingston on the ice, just before it broke up.' Artemus Millett had been baptized by Brigham on February 18 in Loboro and that summer sold his property and moved to Kirtland with more than the requested $1,000 to help with the temple. (Eugene England, "Brigham Young As a Missionary," New Era, Nov. 1977, 31-32)
Missionary service would take him back again to Canada as well as to New England. On one of these missions, he recorded travelling 3, 264 miles. (New Era, Nov. 1977, 33) The crucial and most famous of his missionary departures occurred when he and Heber C. Kimball, though deathly ill, took their journey for England, leaving poor and sick families behind.
(September 14, 1839) President Brigham Young started from his home at Montrose, for England. His health was very poor; he was unable to go thirty rods to the river without assistance. After he had crossed the ferry he got Brother Israel Barlow to carry him on his horse behind him to Heber C. Kimball's where he remained sick until the 18th. He left his wife sick with a babe only ten days old, and all his children sick, unable to wait upon each other. (History of the Church, 4:9)
The departure of these two Elders upon their mission to England is worthy of a more extended notice. A brother by the name of Charles Hubbard sent a boy with a team to take them a day's journey on their way. Elder Kimball left his wife in bed shaking with ague, and all his children sick. It was only by the assistance of some of the brethren that Heber himself could climb into the wagon. "It seemed to me," he remarked afterwards in relating the circumstance, "as though my very inmost parts would melt within me at the thought of leaving my family in such a condition, as it were, almost in the arms of death. I felt as though I could scarcely endure it." "Hold up!" said he to the teamster, who had just started, "Brother Brigham, this is pretty tough, but let us rise and give them a cheer." Brigham, with much difficulty, rose to his feet, and joined Elder Kimball in swinging his hat and shouting, "Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah, for Israel!" The two sisters, hearing the cheer came to the door-sister Kimball with great difficulty-and waved a farewell; and the two apostles continued their journey, without purse, without scrip, for England. (History of the Church, 4:9-10)
What does it take to prove your devotion to the Lord? If we use Brigham Young as an example, it takes a lot. The following article is lengthy, but it is a great historical presentation of the sacrifices and missionary work that led to the Lord's commendation of Brigham Young as recorded in D&C 126:
In the predawn hours of 26 April 1839, Brigham Young led two dozen Latter-day Saints in prayer and song on the temple block in Far West, Missouri. The meeting was in preparation for the departure of the Quorum of the Twelve on a mission to England, as the Lord had commanded them the year before. The revelation (D&C 118) had specified this date and place for their departure.
It might have meant imprisonment or perhaps cost their lives if they had been seen. Mobbers, who had already driven the Saints out of Missouri, had vowed to prevent this meeting and thus prove Joseph Smith a false prophet. Certain that the Mormons were beaten and cowed, they had not posted a guard. At daybreak, they discovered with astonishment that the Saints had come and gone-the commandment in the revelation had been fulfilled.
The bold return to Missouri, into the heart of enemy territory, marked the beginning of a new era for the Quorum of the Twelve. The death of David Patten and the apostasy of Thomas Marsh a few months before had left Brigham Young to preside as the senior Apostle. Under his direction, a remaining core of Apostles had coordinated the withdrawal of the Latter-day Saints from Missouri while the Prophet was still in Liberty Jail. It was this core of the Twelve whom Brigham Young led back to Far West "because the Lord God had spoken and it was our duty to obey, and the Lord would take care of us."
The ordinations of Wilford Woodruff and George A. Smith as Apostles that morning in Far West provided, for the first time in months, enough members of the Council of the Twelve for a Quorum. Preparing for England during the next several months gave them new direction and purpose. And in Brigham Young, who directed them so firmly and well in a time of crisis, they recognized an energetic and committed leader.
During a July 2 meeting a Brigham Young's home, Joseph Smith promised that, if they were faithful, they would return safely from their mission and reap a bountiful harvest as seals of their ministry. Urging them to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors, the Prophet stressed the need for humility and unity. Through all troubles, he cautioned, "see to it that you do not betray" heaven, your brethren, or the revelations of God.
Malarial chills and fever, endemic on the river bottomlands, felled several members of the quorum and their families before they could depart. The first did not leave until August. Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, both ill and with families bedridden, remained until September. Even then, Elder Young had to be lifted into a wagon and carried the first part of his journey.
From Liberty Jail, the Prophet had written of an Abrahamic test, a trial of faith like unto the ancients. For the Apostles, leaving their families in the grasp of sickness and poverty was such a trial. Though the Church had promised to assist, Brigham Young was under no illusion about its ability to do so. He could take comfort only in his faith that the Lord would oversee. As he wrote his wife from England, "The Lord said by the mouth of Brother Joseph; that [my family] should be provided for, and I believed it." Truly these brethren left their families in the hands of God.
Delayed by illness and visiting the Latter-day Saints along the way, Brigham and Heber traveled slowly, separately reaching New York City in January. In early March they set sail for Liverpool aboard the Patrick Henry. Brigham Young and four other members of the Quorum of the Twelve arrived in England 6 April 1840, the tenth anniversary of the organization of the Church.
Once firmly on English soil, the five men held a private meeting to partake of the Lord's supper, to thank the Lord for safe passage, and to ask again that the way be opened for them to do his work. One week later, joined by Elders Woodruff and Taylor who had preceded them, the members of the Twelve and Willard Richards met in Preston for what Wilford Woodruff called "The First Council of the Twelve among the Nations." They ordained Elder Richards an Apostle and formalized, for the first time since the apostasy of Thomas Marsh, the presidency of their senior member by sustaining and setting apart Brigham Young as "the standing President of the Twelve." Eight Apostles now stood ready to push forward the vital work in England-Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, and Willard Richards.
At the time of their arrival, there were more than sixteen hundred Latter-day Saints in Britain. More than five hundred of them were assembled to greet the members of the Twelve their first Sunday in the country. A week later, the Apostles presided over the first British general conference, where they presented for a sustaining vote an ambitious program not only of missionary labor but also of publication. The conference approved the publication of a hymnal and, after a sufficient number had subscribed, a monthly periodical, thus authorizing and agreeing to support what would become one of Elder Young's central preoccupations in the months ahead.
By April 17, the Twelve had laid the groundwork for publishing, ordained local member Peter Melling as the first patriarch in England, concluded to quietly encourage emigration without public announcement, decided where each would begin his individual ministry, and agreed to convene a second conference July 6. Brigham Young prepared a packet for Joseph Smith outlining their activities, including a note stressing a theme he would repeat many times during this mission:
"If you see any thing in, or about the whole affair, that is not right: I ask, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you would make known unto us the mind of the Lord, and his will concerning us. I believe that I am as willing to do the will of the Lord, and take counsel of my brethren ... as ever I was in my life."
President Young assigned himself and Willard Richards to assist Wilford Woodruff in the work already unfolding among the United Brethren in Herefordshire. Elder Woodruff, laboring there since early March, had already baptized 150, including more than three dozen lay preachers. For a month President Young assisted in the delicate task of transforming the main body of United Brethren into Latter-day Saints. His common sense and practical experience, with simple and direct preaching, appealed to the people and helped advance the work.
On May 18, traditionally a feast day among the United Brethren, Elder Young, "clothed with the power of God," addressed the Saints gathered at a large banquet. It was apparently on this occasion that a "notable miracle was wrought by faith & the power of God." Writing two weeks later, Elder Woodruff recorded that the three Apostles had blessed Sister May Pitts, confined to bed for six years and unable to walk without crutches for eleven, "& her ancle bones received strength & she now walks without the aid of crutch or staff."
Their work among the United Brethren convinced the Twelve to move forward on their publishing projects. The people "beg and plead for the Book of Mormon," President Young had written the Prophet from Herefordshire, and by May, Joseph Smith had given authorization. But it would be months before word reached England, and confronted with a pressing need for books and nearly impossible import duties, President Young faced an immediate decision.
On May 20, he and Elders Woodruff and Richards ascended to the privacy of Herefordshire Beacon in the beautiful Malvern Hills. Elder Woodruff recorded:
"We united in prayer & held a Council & unitedly felt that it was the will of God that Elder Young should go immediately to Manchester to assist in publishing a collection of Hymns ... & also to immediately print & finish ... the Book of Mormon."
Returning to Manchester, Brigham Young, along with Elders Kimball, Parley Pratt, and Taylor, promptly set to work. So great was the need for the proposed Millennial Star that Elder Young authorized Parley Pratt to proceed even before there were enough subscriptions to cover the cost. The Apostles reported they visited every printing establishment in Liverpool and Manchester before selecting a firm to print five thousand copies of the Book of Mormon. By the end of May they also began selecting hymns.
It is interesting to contemplate the self-educated, unpolished Brigham toiling long hours editing, proofreading, and indexing the book. He was not unaware of his own meager "book learning" and phonetic spelling. "Now my Dear Brother," he wrote to Willard Richards, "you must forgive all my nonscense and over look erours." And another time: "excuse erours and mistakes you must remember its from me." (The original spelling here and hereafter has been retained, following standard historical practices. See reasons for spelling variations in "Nineteenth-century Spelling," Ensign, Aug. 1975-including uncertain spelling conventions and spelling as an expression of personality.)
For the next several months, Brigham Young devoted his energies to either publication or emigration, squeezing in preaching in Manchester or Liverpool when he could. By personal visits and mail, he kept in contact with and influenced the tempo and direction of the entire mission. His letters indicate he not only kept his quorum informed on mission events, but also wrote letters expressing concern for his colleagues' welfare and offering encouragement. His personal touch helped draw members of the Twelve together as President Young had hoped. Elder Heber Kimball wrote to his wife in May: "Thare never was beter feelings among the twelve than at this time all things go on well."
In May the Apostles first announced a policy of encouraging the Saints to emigrate to America, and on 1 June 1840, President Young and Elder Kimball organized the first of several companies of Latter-day Saints to sail for America. (Earlier two small groups of members had emigrated on their own.) For this small group of forty-six, they appointed priesthood leaders to preside at sea-a pattern that would endure for decades with the thousands of LDS emigrants to follow. President Young gathered letters from members of the Council of the Twelve to their own families and sent them with the emigrants. For his family, he prepared two letters and a box of small gifts.
Though President Young was fully engaged in his mission responsibilities, his family was never far from his mind. In June he wrote to his wife Mary Ann about a dream in which she told him that he must provide for the family, as the Church could not. He wrote to her that Joseph's promise (that the Lord would watch over his family) continued to sustain him. He assured his wife that he was as happy in England as he could be anywhere away from his family, for the English were a loving people, more so than the Americans, "but my soul says sweet home sweet hom my blesed famely, yes my kind and loving family, how sweet is home." He was not pining for home and ignoring his duty, however. He related how he had tested his feelings when the company of emigrants left Liverpool by asking himself if he were ready to join them: "I could not bare the thought of going," with work unfinished, "but when the time has fully com, and the Lord says goe home my hart then will leap for joy."
When the Twelve met with the Latter-day Saints for a conference in July, there were 842 members more than there had been in April. The Apostles used this general conference to strengthen and further regulate the Church. According to Joseph Fielding, Brigham Young was especially effective in handling difficult problems among the members.
From July until October, Brigham Young found himself "much confined to the office ... conducting and issuing the Millennial Star, Hymn Book and Book of Mormon, giving counsel to the elders throughout the European mission, preaching, baptizing and confirming."
President Young had written Joseph Smith in May: "I long to see the faces of my friends again in that Country once more." He missed not just their friendship, but also their guidance. He also yearned for the Prophet's advice. Although he had several times written for direction, by early September, some five months into his mission, President Young still had no answers. With a detailed report to the First Presidency in September, he asked again for counsel on a series of pressing questions. He also knew that he could not await a reply:
"Our motto is go ahead. Go ahead.-& ahead we are determined to go-till we have conquered every foe. So come life or come death we'll go ahead, but tell us if we are going wrong & we will right it."
The October conference marked a shift to a different managerial style for the Twelve. Joseph Smith had taught them that acting as a quorum they had authority to conduct business without constant reference to a sustaining vote. So far, however, they had chosen to present important matters to a conference representing all the British Saints. But as business and numbers multiplied (up 1,115 members since the last conference), it became less practical to convene a general conference. Instead they decided that ordinations, the regulation of officers, and other business would now be conducted by the Twelve sitting as a quorum or traveling high council.
The publication process of the Book of Mormon and hymnbook continued to demand a great deal of Brigham Young's time. Everything took longer than anticipated. As late as January he moaned that "the printing of the Book of Mormon goes slow to what the hymn Book did" and called it a "grate job" resting upon his shoulders. Not until February were the first copies ready.
Publication and administrative duties did not prevent Brigham Young from teaching. "Sence we have ben in Manchester," he wrote his wife, "We have don all that we posably could to spread this work we have succeeded in makeing the priest mad, so that they rave like demonds, We keepe Baptiseing every weak which causes much per[se]cution."
In late October, Elders Young and Kimball took a short trip to Preston, then turned south to Hardin, Wales. Their preaching in Hardin elicited a singular response. Brigham Young noted in a letter to Mary Ann:
"We have hered from Wales where Br Kimball and I went, a grate meny of the people was sorry they did not obey the gospel when we ware there the report went out that we had the same power that the old apostles had, it is true we did lay hands on one young man that was quite low with a fevor, we rebuked his fevor and he got well we laid our hands on a woman that had verry bad eyes she emiditly recoverd, they have a gradel [great deal] to say about our preaching. they say that Elder Kimball has such sharp eys that he can look wright through them, and Elder Young Preashes so that every Body that heres him must beleve he preaches so plane and powerful."
Although only a few in Hardin initially accepted their message, eventually a large number from the area joined the Church.
The English climate did not agree with Brigham Young, nor did the social and economic conditions, but he loved the people. They, in turn, responded warmly to him. Experience with poverty and with life as an artisan gave him empathy for the working man. That shared background and his lack of pretension helped endear him to the English working class. At the same time, extensive business dealings with the more sophisticated taught him to operate in those circles and gave him confidence in his ability. Perhaps for both groups, practical competence coupled with Brigham Young's "foreignness" held a certain attraction.
Wherever Brigham Young went he found friends. "I find Fathers & mothers sister & Brothers whare ever I goe," he wrote in December. Only the ministers actively opposed the LDS missionaries, and that to no avail, for they only "drive the people to us," he wrote. As an example, he pointed with delight to the Manchester sectarians who urged their members to stay away from the Mormons, telling them, "they are so intising you cannot keep away if [you] goe once." The Mormon delusion was so powerful, said the preachers, that people would even pay their own passage to America.
Brigham Young spent November and December 1840 and early January 1841 traveling throughout the mission, visiting elders, preaching, holding conferences. With the arrival of the new year, he finally permitted himself to think of departing. Now that the publishing program was nearly complete, and now that Elder Parley Pratt had returned with his family to oversee the mission, it would be possible for President Young to return home. On January 15, he wrote his wife that on April 6, one year from the date of their arrival, they planned "a Council of the twelve with the officers of the Church for the purpos of arrangen the affares of the Church so that we can leve."
After writing Mary Ann, he wrote his fellow quorum members of the decision. The February Millennial Star then announced a conference in Manchester for April 6 so the Twelve, before departing, could meet with the Saints.
Later, Brigham Young received a December 15 letter from Joseph Smith counseling the Twelve to leave England in the spring. Additional counsel from the Prophet coincided precisely with what Brigham Young had already determined should be done before the Quorum finished their mission. This letter also brought Joseph's approbation of their entire course of action. He especially commended them for unity and harmony which would, if emulated, bless the entire Church.
The mail also brought up-to-date information about developments in Nauvoo, including renewed emphasis on gathering. Most of the English members needed little convincing. "And goe they will, and nothing can stop them ... they have so much of the spirit of getherin that they would goe if they knew ... that the mob would be upon them and drive them as so[o]n as they got there," President Young had written earlier.
Brigham Young spent the months of February and March 1841 attempting to refine the emigration system and assist as many Saints as possible before his departure. He personally oversaw many of the details. He also wrote numerous letters to keep the other Apostles informed and coordinate efforts so that money, provisions, emigrants, and a ship came together for a successful voyage.
When the members of the Twelve met in Manchester 1 April 1841, there were nine in attendance, the most since soon after the organization of the quorum in Kirtland. Elder Orson Hyde, en route to Palestine, joined his brethren in England. These nine, together as a quorum for the first time, would later lead the Church after the death of the Prophet. (William Smith and John E. Page, who had not responded to the call to missionary service in England, did not support Brigham Young and the Twelve later in leading the Church to the West. Lyman Wight, called to the Quorum of the Twelve shortly before its other members returned from England, would later apostatize as well.)
On 6 April 1841, one year after their arrival in England, the Twelve met with the Latter-day Saints in conference. President Young presided over and conducted the conference. Brigham Young and the Twelve organized branches throughout the mission into conferences, each with a presiding elder, and appointed Elder Parley Pratt to preside over the whole. Reports from areas throughout the British Isles showed more than four thousand members; counting those who had emigrated or been cut off from the Church, more than five thousand people had been baptized in the British Isles to this point.
Their mission concluded, all members of the Quorum of the Twelve except Elder Parley P. Pratt boarded the train for Liverpool, where they joined two hundred Saints who were immigrating to the United States. On Sunday, 19 April 1841, President Young preached to the Saints in Britain for the last time. The following day he and his associates boarded the Rochester, one of the fastest ships in the harbor, and set sail. Well-dressed, each with gold in his pockets (a gift from one of Elder Woodruff's wealthy converts), they were a sharp contrast to the poorly dressed, penniless group that had landed the year before.
Optimist that he was, Brigham Young could hardly have imagined the changes and accomplishments of the intervening twelve months. The impact in the lives of thousands of British Latter-day Saints was beyond measure. Likewise, the impact on the Church as thousands flowed to the land of promise was great. The impact of the mission on Brigham Young and his colleagues was to be an enduring blessing. Together the Apostles had learned to rely on each other and on God. They had increased in confidence in one another and in Brigham Young as their leader. They had proved they could work together in harmony.
Soon after President Young's return to Nauvoo, Joseph Smith visited him at home. Not only did he extend warm personal greetings, but he also delivered to him the word of the Lord:
"Dear and well-beloved brother, Brigham Young, verily thus saith the Lord unto you: My servant Brigham, it is no more required at your hand to leave your family as in times past, for your offering is acceptable to me. I have seen your labor and toil in journeyings for my name." (D&C 126:1-2).
The following month the Prophet had news of a different sort for the Twelve: the time had come to expand their role within the Church. Seasoned by their English mission, the Quorum of the Twelve had come of age. Now Joseph Smith and the entire Church needed their skills and maturity. The time had come for them to take their place next to the First Presidency in governing the whole Church, whereas previously their assignment primarily had been to direct missionary work and to preside away from the headquarters of the Church.
After the success of their English mission, they took their place at the Prophet's right hand in all matters of importance, a position that prepared them to step forward and lead the Church when the Prophet was gone. (Ronald K. Esplin, "Brigham Young in England," Ensign, June 1987, 28-33)
DC 126:1 it is no more required at your hand to leave your family as in times past
"Perhaps this is the only record we have of the Lord instructing someone to refrain from doing so much missionary work." (Cannon, Donald Q., ed., Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint History: British Isles [Provo: BYU Department of Church History and Doctrine, 1990], 163 - 164.)
"It was enough. The Lord had accepted his offering. He was never [required] to leave his homeland again. It is of significant note that the only entry in either of the two diaries which cover this period was penned in January of 1842 and said simply: 'This Evening I am with my love alone by my fireside for the first time for years. We enjoi it and feel to prase the Lord.'" (Susan Evans McCloud, Brigham Young, A Personal Portrait [American Fork, UT.: Covenant Communications, 1996], end of chapter 7)
DC 126:2 I have seen your labor and toil in journeying for my name
I came into this Church in the spring of 1832. Previous to my being baptized, I took a mission to Canada at my own expense; and from the time that I was baptized until the day of our sorrow and affliction, at the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum, no summer passed over my head but what I was traveling and preaching, and the only thing I ever received from the Church, during over twelve years, and the only means that were ever given me by the Prophet, that I now recollect, was in 1842, when brother Joseph sent me the half of a small pig that the brethren had brought to him. I did not ask him for it. . . .
I have traveled and preached, and at the same time sustained my family by my labor and economy. If I borrowed one hundred dollars, or fifty or if I had five dollars, it almost universally went into the hands of brother Joseph, to pay lawyers' fees and to liberate him from the power of his enemies, so far as it would go. Hundreds and hundreds of dollars that I have managed to get, to borrow and trade for, I have handed over to Joseph when I came home. That is the way I got help, and it was good for me; it learned [sic.] me a great deal, though I had learned, before I heard of "Mormonism," to take care of number one.
For me to travel and preach without purse or scrip was never hard. . . . In company with several of the Twelve I was sent to England in 1839. We started from home without purse or scrip, and most of the Twelve were sick; and those who were not sick when they started were sick on the way to Ohio; brother [John] Taylor was left to die by the road-side, by old father Coltrin, though he did not die. I was not able to walk to the river, not so far as across this block, no, not more than half as far; I had to be helped to the river, in not even an overcoat; I took a small quilt from the trundle bed, and that served for my overcoat, while I was traveling to the State of New York, when I had a coarse sattinet overcoat given to me. Thus we went to England, to a strange land to sojourn among strangers.
When we reached England we designed to start a paper, but we had not the first penny to do it with. I had enough to buy a hat and pay my passage to Preston, for from the time I left home, I had worn an old cap which my wife made out of a pair of old pantaloons; but the most of us were entirely destitute of means to buy even any necessary article.
We went to Preston, and held our Conference and decided that we would publish a paper; brother Parley P. Pratt craved the privilege of editing it, and we granted him the privilege. We also decided to print three thousand hymn books, though we had not the first cent to begin with, and were strangers in a strange land. We appointed brother Woodruff to Herefordshire, and I accompanied him on his journey to that place. I wrote to brother Pratt for information about his plans, and he sent me his prospectus, which stated that when he had a sufficient number of subscribers and money enough in hand to justify his publishing the paper, he would proceed with it. How long we might have waited for that I know not, but I wrote to him to publish two thousand papers, and I would foot the bill. I borrowed two hundred and fifty pounds of sister Jane Benbow, one hundred of brother Thomas Kington, and returned to Manchester, where we printed three thousand Hymn Books, and five thousand Books of Mormon, and issued two thousand Millennial Stars monthly, and in the course of the summer printed and gave away rising of sixty thousand tracts. I also paid from five to ten dollars per week for my board, and hired a house for brother Willard Richards and his wife who came to Manchester, and sustained them; and gave sixty pounds to brother P. P. Pratt to bring his wife from New York. I also commenced the emigration in that year.
I was there one year and sixteen days, with my brethren the Twelve and during that time I bought all my clothing, except one pair of pantaloons, which the sisters gave me in Liverpool soon after I arrived there and which I really needed. I told the brethren, in one of my discourses, that there was no need of their begging, for if they needed anything the sisters could understand that. The sisters took the hint, and the pantaloons were forthcoming.
I paid three hundred and eighty dollars to get the work started in London, and when I arrived home, in Nauvoo, I owed no person one farthing. (JD, August 31, 1856, 4:34-35.) (Roy W. Doxey, comp., Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 4: 306-308)
(August 1, 1841) We have listened to the accounts which [the Twelve] give of their success, and the prosperity of the work of the Lord in Great Britain with pleasure. They certainly have been the instruments in the hands of God of accomplishing much, and must have the satisfaction of knowing that they have done their duty. Perhaps no men ever undertook such an important mission under such peculiarly distressing and unpropitious circumstances. Most of them when they left this place, nearly two years ago, were worn down with sickness and disease, or were taken sick on the road. Several of their families were also afflicted and needed their aid and support. But knowing that they had been called by the God of Heaven to preach the Gospel to other nations, they conferred not with flesh and blood, but obedient to the heavenly mandate, without purse or scrip, they commenced a journey of five thousand miles entirely dependent on the providence of that God who had called them to such a holy calling. While journeying to the sea board they were brought into many trying circumstances; after a short recovery from severe sickness, they would be taken with a relapse, and have to stop among strangers, without money and without friends. Their lives were several times despaired of, and they have taken each other by the hand, expecting it would be the last time they should behold one another in the flesh. However, notwithstanding their afflictions and trials, the Lord always interposed in their behalf, and did not suffer them to sink in the arms of death. Some way or other was made for their escape-friends rose up when they most needed them, and relieved their necessities; and thus they were enabled to pursue their journey and rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. They, truly, "went forth weeping, bearing precious seed," but have "returned with rejoicing, bearing their sheaves with them." (History of the Church, 4:390-391)
DC 126:3 Take especial care of your family from this time, henceforth and forever
"Brigham Young's family was prominent in Mormondom-not only because of its size, or because of his position as president of the Church and as governor of Utah Territory, but also because it stood as an example of those principles of industry and service that had long been preached as ideals of Latter-day Saint family life.
"Because of numerous burdensome responsibilities of public office, Brigham Young's personal contact with his family was necessarily limited. After frequent absences from home during the first decade of his Church membership, he was told in a revelation: '... it is no more required ... to leave your family as in times past, for your offering is acceptable to me. ... I therefore command you to ... take special care of your family from this time, henceforth. ...' (D&C 126:1, 3) While this statement did not eliminate future absences from his family, it no doubt affected the quality of his association with them, limited though it still must have been.
"Brigham Young's family was one of the largest in the Church. Of the 46 children he raised to maturity, 17 were sons and 29 were daughters. Aside from the awesome responsibilities of presiding over the Church at a time when detail was not consistently channeled to subordinates, President Young was confronted with the daily care of a household that at its height numbered more than 70 individuals. The logistical problem alone of feeding and clothing such a number is impressive, not to speak of providing the education and training that must precede responsible behavior if children are to perpetuate traits of nobility and integrity.
"The President provided for their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs in a manner that is both exemplary and profound. He brought a degree of wisdom and understanding to the task of family management that contributed to a positive relationship with his children and remarkably influenced their attitudes and accomplishments in life. Several factors contributed to this, not the least of which was a paternal love and kindness, balanced with firmness and justice.
"One of Brigham Young's daughters recalled that 'home was as beautiful to me as love and happiness could make it.' To his children, no other fact of their father's life was so plainly a proof of his greatness as 'his life at home and the influence which he radiated there.' His daughter Clarissa, who fondly remembered her childhood as 'one long round of happiness,' wrote that her father 'had the tenderness of a woman for his family and friends.'
"Susa Young Gates related that although there were the usual squabbles among the children, 'we were not a contentious family'; nor did the size of the family preclude a spirit of companionship and esteem between its individual members. Susa concluded that he 'was an ideal father, kind to a fault, tender, thoughtful, just and firm. ... None of us feared him.'" (Dean C. Jessee, "Your Affectionate Father, Brigham Young: The Prophet's Letters to His Sons (Part 1)," Ensign, Mar. 1974, 64 66)
Neal A. Maxwell
The gospel's illumination provides so much greater perspective for us concerning the role of the family...
There are no perfect families, either in the world or in the Church, but there are many good families. My spiritual applause also goes to those heroic parents-left alone by death or divorce-who are righteously and "anxiously engaged" in nurturing and providing for their families, often against such heavy odds.
Alas, in some families things do go wretchedly wrong, but these gross failures are no reason to denigrate further the institution of the family. We should make course corrections and fix the leaks, not abandon ship!...
Obviously, family values mirror our personal priorities. Given the gravity of current conditions, would parents be willing to give up just one outside thing, giving that time and talent instead to the family? Parents and grandparents, please scrutinize your schedules and priorities in order to ensure that life's prime relationships get more prime time! Even consecrated and devoted Brigham Young was once told by the Lord, "Take especial care of your family" (D&C 126:3). Sometimes, it is the most conscientious who need this message the most! ("Take Especial Care of Your Family," Ensign, May 1994, 89)