Elder Nephi Pratt

My brethren and sisters, I am very grateful to be accounted worthy to occupy this position in this great assemblage this afternoon. I rise before you, as, other Elders do, with much fear and trembling; but I am grateful to the Lord, nevertheless, that I am accounted worthy to be a member in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My spirit will, throughout the endless ages of eternity, continue thankful for the conditions which have surrounded me in mortal life. I thought this morning, while listening to certain remarks of our brethren in this conference, that if I could see my own father and mother again, with the understanding that I have now, I could almost bow down and worship them. I am thankful that my father was a seeker after truth, that he hungered after righteousness, and that he lived in a generation when the Lord had again established His work on the earth with authority and with power. In the souls of my mother and my father were implanted desires that finally led them to receive the Gospel of the Son of God, in its purity. I have sought for many years to correct the frailties of my life, that I might be accounted worthy in the hereafter, when I have laid by mortality, and gone into the spirit world, to associate with the Prophet Joseph Smith, with my father and other Prophets, Priests and kings that have been raised up from this people and saved in the celestial kingdom of our God. Gold and silver, houses and lands, and all that beautifies and enriches the earth, and gladdens the heart, all that we call wealth in the earth, we ought to consider as dross compared to the excellency of the knowledge and spirit of this work. When the Spirit of the Lord comes upon a man, and he is performing the duties that the Lord has called him to do, he receives the revelations of Jesus Christ, when he goes to the Lord and seeks to know how to fulfill the duties of his high and holy calling. The still small voice will come to a man or to a woman, in the positions they occupy in the family or in the Priesthood. No person can stand between woman, child, or man and their God in this Church. We are dependent upon the words of no individual, nor the testimony of any person in the world. No man’s ability is so great, and never has been, no matter what may be said about the greatness of our leaders, that could ever accomplish what has been done in this generation. No man could have established this work, much less an uninformed boy. This work was established by the Lord.

In the mission where I am called to labor the Elders are hunting diligently for good souls that will listen to their testimony. These Elders almost cry with joy when they get a few investigators that accord them the privilege of stating the mission God has sent them to perform. We realize the value of the souls of men and women. When we find the door of a house opened to us, and the hearts of the people softened sufficiently that they give us food and shelter, we begin then to pray for that household. We beseech the Lord, in the name of Jesus that has called us into the work of God, to bless that man and his house, and to bless his wife and children, that they may have the testimony that this is the work of God come unto them from God the Eternal Father. Our Elders visit them as often as it is wise to do so. They continue to pray for them and speak upon the principles of truth and righteousness as frequently as the spirit that is in the Elders tells them will be proper to do in that house, earnestly desiring to save souls.

I have thought in my cogitations in the missionary field, many a time, how careless I have been, in the years that are passed, about the soul, of my neighbor, here in Zion. How much did I seek as a teacher in the church, sent around the block, to teach the people, cultivate the garden of the Lord, and save the souls of my brethren? The missionary work I am doing abroad has shown me that my soul was not sufficiently in the work when I was at home. The cares of my family, financial affairs and other things constrained me, so that when I went out among the people I wanted to hurry from family to family, but now the souls of men are precious to me. It seems to me I never will again on the earth be indifferent to the soul of any man, because all are the children of God.

The Elders in my mission are about 40 in number, all faithful and true, some of them of fine ability. Some of you will wonder at your sons when they return from that mission. If they seem improved to you, if they come back converted to the Gospel, you may know that they had to resist the powers of evil, and overcome the world. They now appreciate privileges that they had never accepted when they were at home. O you young people in the Church of God, you that are in theological classes in Sunday schools, who study the Gospel, that is contained in the Book of Mormon and the Bible, because you have been exhorted to do so, but sit like dummies upon your seats when asked to answer questions, how shall you face the people of the world when you are sent on missions? If you won’t get up where there is a small class all in sympathy with you, because your heart beats and fails you at the time, what shall you do when you go out on the street corner and face a congregation of from one dozen to five hundred, all of whom hope to see you fail, and would not give you God-speed if they could help it? Now, if it almost breaks your heart to practice a little in the Sunday schools and Mutual Improvement associations, if it blanches your cheeks and sets your heart fluttering till you almost faint, that is the place to begin, so that when you go out into the world you won’t be humiliated because you did not improve the opportunities that were offered to you at home.

It is not all pleasantness in the missionary field. Doors are slammed in our faces by the wicked and indifferent. If they see a long tail coat at the door, they say to their servants, "Shut the door as quick as you can without being impolite." It would surprise you to hear the first discourses of your boys; they fail because they would not do the things that were required of them at home. But they go to the Lord after failure, and cry unto Him, and say, "Father, I know that I was remiss, I know that I didn’t do the things I should have done at home, I see now what I have lost; I am no credit to the Church that thou hast established in the earth, but bear with me, my Father, and have mercy upon me." The young Elder then goes out, and the Lord having mercy upon him, he begins to speak, the power of God falls upon him, and he is lifted above himself. Sometimes, when a few blessings of this kind fall upon the young man, his head swells, and he says to himself. Now I can do it, I will preach on the Corner, on such and such a principle. He goes there, and, in order that the Lord may teach him that he is nothing, but that the Lord is all in all, the Spirit is withheld from him, and he experiences another failure. He learns then how powerless he is, and says, "I am nothing, but the Lord God is all in all," and confesses his weakness. By and by, when he comes home, you say that it is as though a miracle had been performed upon him. Well, you did not see his struggles, you did not see what made him the man that he is. It was the humiliation that he got in the field, and the efforts that he made. If he sticks to the faith, and don’t go back to his old-time habits, I will tell you what he will be in the future: He will be a man that will never again think "I am everything." He will be always ready to say, It is God that accomplishes these things; it was the Lord that did this, and the Lord that did the other; and he will never ascribe the success of this work to the hand of any man.

God bless the people; bless the fruits of this conference; comfort the servants of God; and may the work of the Lord roll forth in majesty and power greater than it ever has since the beginning. I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

[Conference Report, Oct. 1904]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, May 2006]


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