From Word of Wisdom Literature by: Jane Birch. See also: Discovering the Word of Wisdom Pioneers: Hyrum Smith
THE WORD OF WISDOM
Times and Seasons – “Truth will prevail.”
[Vol. III. No. 15.] CITY OF NAUVOO, ILL. JUNE 1, 1842. [Whole No. 51]
We had a very instructive, impressive, and salutary discourse delivered us in the City of Nauvoo, last Sabbath on the above subject, to a large and attentive congregation, by Pres’t. Hyrum Smith.
He stated “that there were many of the commands of God that seemed to be overlooked by this generation, and he was fearful that many of the Latter Day Saints in this respect were following their old tradition, and former practices of spiritualizing the word of God, and through a vain philosophy departing from the pure principles of eternal truth which God had given by revelation for the salvation of the human family; but, that every word of God is of importance, whether it be the word contained in the Bible, in the Book of Mormon, or in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, for “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.” The principles that are taught in the Bible are pure, and ought to be adhered too; and if people adhere to that teaching it will prove their salvation. The principles that are taught in the Book of Mormon are also pure, and holy and righteous, and will if followed lead men to God. And the principles that are taught in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, are from God, they are principles of righteousness;-they are given for a blessing to the human family, and the salvation, temporal and spiritual, of his saints; and that man who wantonly departs from any of the revelations of Jehovah, and treats lightly the word of God, whether contained in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, the Book of Mormon, or the Bible, is void of understanding: he is not wise concerning the doings of the Lord, the plan of salvation, the past dealings, present designs, or future purposes of the Amighty [Almighty]. The God of the armies of Israel is a wise God, he comprehended the end from the beginning, and adapted his plans, his designs and teaching, to the peculiar wants, the local situation, the exigences [exigencies] of mankind; and the present and future good of the human family; and every thing that he has deigned to notice by way of instruction to the children of men, is given by infinite wisdom; by the intelligence of Jehovah; and if obeyed, when his designs shall be fully unravelled [unraveled], it will be seen that there was wisdom in it beyond the comprehension of man in his present state.
When God first made man upon the earth, he was a different being entirely to what he now is; his body was strong; athletic, robust, and healthy; his days were prolonged upon the earth; he lived nearly one thousand years, his mind was vigorous and active, and his intellectual faculties clear and comprehensive, but he has become degenerated; his life has dwindled to a span; disease preys upon his system; his body is enervated and feeble; and his mentle [mental] and intellectual faculties are impaired, and weakened; and man is not now that dignified, noble, majestic, honorable, and mighty being that he was when he first proceeded from the hands of his maker.
The Lord has in his wise designs revealed unto us his will; he has told us as he did his ancient prophets that the “earth shall be redeemed-that the curse shall be removed from it-that the wolf and the lamb shall lie down together-that the lion shall eat straw like the ox;-and that they shall not hurt nor destroy-that the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth, as the waters covers the sea”-that man’s days shall be as the “days of a tree,” that he shall again live one thousand years on the earth-this is the “time of the restoration of all things,” and this has got to be brought about by the wisdom and power of God, and the wisdom, obedience and faith of man combined.
Every thing has become degenerated from what it was in its primitive state; “God made man pure, but he has found out many inventions:” his vices have become innumerable, and his diseases multiplied; his taste had become vitiated, and his judgment impaired; he has fallen-fallen-fallen, from that dignified state that he once occupied on the earth; and it needs a restorative that man has not in his possession-wisdom which is beyond the reach of human intellect;-and power which human philosophy, talent and ingenuity cannot control. God only is acquainted with the fountain of action, and the main springs of human events; he knows where disease is seated, and what is the cause of it;-he is also acquainted with the spring of health; the balm of Gilead-of life; he knows what course to pursue to restore mankind to their pristine excellency and primitive vigour [vigor], and health; and he has appointed the word of wisdom as one of the engines to bring about this thing, to remove the [page 799] beastly appetites, the murderous disposition and the vitiated taste of man; to restore his body to health, and vigour [vigor], promote peace between him and the brute creation, and as one of the little wheels in God’s designs, to help to regulate the great machinery, which shall eventually revolutionize the earth, and bring about the restoration of all things, and when they are restored he will plant “the tree of life, whose leaves shall be for the healing of the nations.”
The Lord has told us what is good for us to eat, and to drink, and what is pernicious; but some of our wise philosophers, and some of our elders too, pay no regard to it; they think it too little, too foolish, for wise men to regard fools! where is their wisdom, philosophy and intelligence? from whence did they obtain their superior light? Their capacity, and their power of reasoning was given them by the great Jehovah: if they have any wisdom they obtained it from his: and have they grown so much wiser than God that they are going to instruct him in the path of duty, and to tell him what is wise, and what is foolish. They think it too small for him to condesend [condescend] to tell men what will be nutritious or what will be unhealthy. Who made the corn, the wheat, the rye, and all the vegetable substances? and who was it that organized man, and constituted him as he is found? who made his stomach, and his digestive organs, and prepared proper nutriment for his system, that the juices of his body might be supplied; and his form be invigorated by that kind of food which the laws of nature, and the laws of God has said would be good for man? And has God made his food, and provided it for the use of man; and shall he be ashamed to speak of the work of his hands: has he become so fantastical, so foolish, so weak and effeminate, that it has become impolitic for him to tell what is the best distribution to make of the work of his hands? Oh shame! let it not be heard among the saints; let that man who inculcates such principles hide his face. We are told by some that circumstances alter the revelations of God-tell me what circumstances would alter the ten commandments? they were given by revelation-given as a law to the children of Israel;-who has a right to alter that law? Some think that they are too small for us to notice, they are not too small for God to notice, and have we got so high, so bloated out, that we cannot condescend to notice things that God has ordained for our benefit? or have we got so weak that we are not fit to be called saints? for the word of wisdom is adapted to the capacity of all that “are or can be called saints.” Listen not to the teaching of any man, or any elder who says the word of wisdom is of no moment; for such a man will eventually be overthrown. These are principles that I have always acted upon; that I have always practiced; and they are what my family practices; they are what Brother Hyrum has always contended for, and what I now contend for; and I know that nothing but an unwavering, undeviating course can save a man in the kingdom of God.
The Lord has told us that “Strong drinks are not good,” who is it that will say they are? when the Lord says they are not. That man who says “I can drink wine or strong drink, and it will not hurt me” is not wise. But some will say, “I know it did me good, for I was fatigued, and feeble, on a certain occasion, and it revived me, and I was invigorated thereby, and that is sufficient proof for me:” It may be for you, but it would not be for a wise man, for every spirit of this kind will only produce a greater langor [languor] when its effects cease to operate upon the human body. But you know that you are benefited, yes, so does the man who has mortgaged his property, know that he is relieved from his present embarassments [embarrassments]; but his temporary relief only binds the chords of bondage more severely around him. The Lord has not ordained strong drink for the belly; “but for the washing of your bodies.” And again “tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly; and it is not good for man; but as an herb for bruises, and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill.” Tobacco is a nauseous, stinking abominable thing, and I am surprised that any human being should think of using it-for an elder especially to eat, or smoke it, is a disgrace to him;-he is not fit for the office, he ought first to learn to keep the word of wisdom, and then to teach others. God will not prosper the man who uses it. And again “hot drinks are not for the body, or belly;” there are many who wonder what this can mean; whether it refers to tea, or coffee, or not. I say it does refer to tea, and coffee. Why is it that we are frequently so dull and languid? it is because we break the word of wisdom, disease preys upon our system, our understandings are darkened, and we do not comprehend the things of God; the devil takes advantage of us, and we fall into temptation. Not only are they injurious in their tendency, and baneful in their effects, but the importation of foreign products might be the means of thousands of our people being poisened [poisoned] at a future time, through the advantage that an enemy might take of us, if we made [page 800] use of these things that are thus spoken of as being evil; and be it remembered-that this instruction is given “in consequence of evils that do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men.”
“And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature and use of man. Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof. All these to be used with prudence and thank giving [thanksgiving]. Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I the Lord hath ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving. Nevertheless, they are to be used sparingly; and it is pleasing unto me, that they should not be used only in times of winter or of cold, or famine. All grain is ordained for the use of man, and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man, but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth; and these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine, and excess of hunger.”
Let men attend to these instructions, let them use the things ordained of God; let them be sparing of the life of animals; ‘it is pleasing saith the Lord that flesh be used only in times of winter, or of famine’-and why to be used in famine? because all domesticated animals would naturally die, and may as well be made use of by man, as not,
“All grain is good for the food of man, as also the fruit of the vine, that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground Nevertheless wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks; as also other grain. And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their naval, and marrow in their bones and shall find wisdom, and great treasures of knowledge even hidden treasures; and shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint: and I the Lord give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.”
Let these things be adhered to; let the saints be wise; let us lay aside our folly and abide by the commandments of God; so shall we be blessed of the great Jehovah in time and in eternity: we shall be healthy, strong and vigorous: we shall be enabled to resist disease; and wisdom will crown our councils, and our bodies will become strong and powerful, our progeny will become mighty, and will rise up and call us blessed; the daughters of Jesus will be beautiful, and her sons the joy of the whole earth; we shall prepare ourselves for the purposes of Jehovah for the kingdom of God for the appearance of Jesus in his glory; “out of Zion the perfection of beauty,” God will shine; Zion will be exalted, and become the praise of the whole earth.
Thus spake the man of God, fired with heavenly holy zeal, for the welfare of the saints of the most high, who were assembled around him, in breathless silence, listening to the gracious words that fell from his lips, which we feel ourselves utterly incapable of doing justice to, in this brief sketch; and can only say that with boldness and firmness he expatiated freely and fully upon those principles opposing vice and error in its various forms; we are pursuaded [persuaded] that his instructions will be indelibly engraven on the memories of thousands who listened to his discourse. Firm and unwavering in his principles, he has ever been the advocate of sterling integrity, righteousness and truth, and when we saw him exerting all his energies to impress upon the minds of the audience the importance of the thing that he advocated, it reminded us of the sayings of one of the ancient servants of God. “I will declare thy righteousness in the great congregation.