George Q. Cannon warns Saints against relying too much on Church leaders and the "arm of flesh" and not on God.

Speech / Court Transcript
George Q. Cannon
Scribed Verbatim

George Q. Cannon, "Remarks on Revelation, Missionary Fund, Word of Wisdom, Etc.," April 21, 1867, Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (Liverpool: Albert Carrington, 1869), 12:45-46

David W. Evans
George Q. Cannon
Reading Public, Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

These things are very desirable, my brethren and sisters, and I hope that no person in this congregation will consider that the teachings we have had during Conference, or their results, arise from enthusiasm, but attribute them to the right source, the promptings of the Spirit of God. This is the true view of the matter, and it is for every one of us to carry them into effect. We do not wish the people to be coerced or asked, even, to make covenants to observe these teachings. It is not desirable or wise that this should be done. If the bishops and teachers in their wards and blocks choose to ascertain how many will observe this counsel, it may be wise to do so, but it would be decidedly unwise to go and exact covenants of this character, because I have noticed that when we make covenants there is a power brought to bear against us, and temptations thrown in our path to cause us if possible to break them. We should be exceedingly careful in these things, and, if we wish to carry them out let us resolve to do so upon principle and by the help of God, and not in our own strength, or because somebody else tells us to do so. This is the course for us, as Latter-day Saints, to take, then the benefits resulting will be permanant. It is the design of the Lord to develop within every man and woman the principle of knowledge, that all may know for themselves. He has poured out His holy spirit upon all of us, and not upon President Young nor upon bro. Joseph alone. The Lord designs that the principle of knowledge shall be developed in every heart, that all may stand before Him in the dignity of their manhood, doing understandingly what He requires of them, not depending upon nor being blindly led by their priests or leaders, as is the universal custom, and one of the most fruitful sources of evil to the people on the face of the earth. God intends to break down this order of things, and to develop in the bosom of every human being who will be obedient to the gospel and the principles of truth and righteousness, that knowledge which will enable them to perform understandingly all the labors and duties he requires of them.

If we, in our experience, have not yet proved the truth of the words of the prophet—"Cursed is he that trusteth in man, or maketh flesh his arm"—probably we will do if we live long enough. There is a curse attending every man and woman who does this. If we will watch the operations of the gospel of Jesus Christ among us, we will see that it has a tendency to develop knowledge in the bosoms of all, and it is the design of Providence that it should be so. We must all learn to depend upon God and upon Him alone. Why, the very man upon whom we think we can rely with unbounded confidence, and trust with all we possess, may disappoint us sometimes, but trust in God and He never fails. We can go before Him at all times, and upon all occasions, and pour out our souls and desires before Him, and we feel that we lean upon a rock that will not fail, and upon a friend that will not desert us in the day of trial. He is omnipotent, and in Him only can we trust under all circumstances, therefore we perceive why the prophet has said—"Cursed is he that trusteth in man, or maketh flesh his arm."

God, our Heavenly Father, designs that all who will observe truth and righteousness should possess wisdom and understanding for themselves, and He is bringing us through circumstances that will develop within us that portion of the Godhead or Deity which we have received from Him, that we may become worthy of our high and glorious parentage. This being His design respecting us, we should seek by every means in our power to aid Him in carrying it out, until the whole people ale enlightened by His Spirit, and act understandingly and in concert in carrying out His designs. In other systems the design is to keep the people down in ignorance and darkness respecting the principles that are taught them, to keep the knowledge in the hands of a select few, upon whom the people are forced to depend, but this is not the genius of the kingdom of God. The spirit of the church of God is that manifested by Moses when, in answer to Joshua, who wished him to reprove some who were prophesying, he said—"No; but I would to God that all were prophets." That is the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The genius of the kingdom with which we are associated is to disseminate knowledge through all the ranks of the people, and to make every man a prophet and every woman a prophetess, that they may understand the plans and purposes of God. For this purpose the gospel has been sent to us, and the humblest may obtain its spirit and testimony, and the weakest of the weak may obtain a knowledge respecting the purposes of God. This is the difference between the church and kingdom of God and the creeds and institutions of men. The idea that prevails in the world concerning us is that we are hoodwinked and led blindly by our leaders; but the contrary to this is the case, for it is the wish of every man who comprehends this work that the people should all understand it. The bishops and teachers, if they have the right spirit, wish their wards to understand the principles of the gospel and the requirements of heaven as they understand them, and so it is through all grades of the priesthood and through all the ramifications of the church of God. If we take this course continually we will become a great and mighty people before the Lord. If we do anything let us do it understandingly. If we hear any principle taught from the stand that we do not understand let us seek to comprehend it by the Spirit of God. If it be not of God we have the privilege of knowing it. We are not required to receive for doctrine everything that we hear. We may say—"I do not know whether this is true or not, I will not fight it, neither will I endorse it, but I will seek knowledge from God, for that is my privilege, and I will never rest satisfied until I have obtained the light I require." If you hear a doctrine that does not agree with your feelings, or that you do not believe, take this course; do not reject nor endorse hastily, without knowing or understanding. By taking this course you will develop the principle that God designs we should possess, and we will thus become a wise and understanding people, for we will be based on the Rock of Revelation.

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