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EXPERIENCES IN THE LIFE OF PRESIDENT
BY ABRAHAM 0. WOODRUFF, OF THE QUORUM OF TWELVE APOSTLES.
FIRST YEAR OF MISSIONARY LABOR-GUIDED BY A LIGHT FROM HEAVEN-SYSTEM OF SUMMARIZING
THE YEAR'S WORK.
[The first of a number of short sketches from the busy and crowded life of President Wilford Woodruff, promised in the prospectus for Vol. III, is here presented, to be followed by others which have been selected and compiled from his journals, by his son, Apostle A. O. Woodruff, especially for the ERA.- Editors.]
President Wilford Woodruff kept a faithful journal from his boyhood until the last day of his life. In presenting to the readers of the ERA this, the first article on this subject, I have chosen his record for the year 1835, his first year in the missionary field.
My reason for doing so is that the record for this year is indicative of the life which followed, an evidence that the character of Wilford Woodruff was of an unchangeable nature, and that his love for God and his fellow-men, and his faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ did not fluctuate.
The first page in this day book reads as follows:
"Home of Brother Wright, Seven miles east of Liberty, Clay Co., Mo., Jan. 13, 1835.
"This is the first mission, or the commencement of my travels to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, on the 13th day of Jan., 1835. I commenced traveling in company with Harry Brown as my partner. We now intend, if the Lord will, to visit the Southern States. May God grant us wisdom and make us meet for our master's use and assist us to rightly divine the word of truth and render to every man his portion in due season, that our garments may be clean of the blood of this generation."
During this year my father met for the first time the late President Abram 0. Smoot, my grandfather Smith, and many other men who became noted for their usefulness and love of the Gospel. Among the many interesting incidents of this year, the following is recorded under date of Sunday, Nov. 15:
“Preached at Brother Clapp's on the attributes of God, and baptized five persons, then mounted our horses and rode to Clark's River. I was in company with Brother Seth Utley and four other brethren and two sisters. We rode to the creek but could not cross without swimming our horses, and a heavy rain had fallen the night and day before. Night was overtaking us and as it was dangerous for the sisters to attempt swimming their horses, we tried to head the creeks sufficiently to ford them. In the attempt, both the darkness and a heavy storm of wind and rain overtook us, and we lost our way. We had neither fire, light nor road, but were sitting astride our horses in rain and wind, creek, mud, water and tree tops. The sisters had more the appearance of fishermen than travelers. I thought of Paul's perils by water. But the Lord doth not forsake his Saints even in their severest troubles; for while we were in the woods, groping as the blind for the wall, suffering under the blast of wind and rain, suddenly a light shone
round about us without either sun, moon or stars, so that we were able to reach a house where we received directions and procured some torches to serve us as lights. We went on our way rejoicing although the rain and wind beat upon us and the darkness returned. We reached Mr. Henry Thomas' house at about 9 o'clock at night, without much harm, after being five hours in the storm, riding, as was judged, twenty miles, and fording creeks and branches twenty or more times without murmuring, either male or female, and felt to thank God for our preservation."
Perhaps it would be of interest, especially to our missionaries, to present herewith a synopsis of my father's labors for 1835. He himself prepared it at the close of the year and from it we may compare the system of preaching the Gospel without purse and scrip in that day, with the system frequently adopted in later years:
"On the night of the last day of December and of the year of our Lord, 1835, I perused my journal and found it to contain the following account of my travels and proceedings in the year 1835, commencing the 13th of January, 1835, making one year, twelve days excepted.
"Traveled three thousand two hundred and forty-eight miles, divided in the following manner: from 13th of January to the 28th of June, traveled one thousand eight hundred and four miles while holding the office of a priest; two hundred and twelve miles in Missouri with Elder H. Brown; six hundred and fifty-six miles in the Arkansas Territory; six hundred and eight with Elder Brown and forty-eight alone; nine hundred and forty in Tennessee; seven hundred and sixty with Elder Warren Parish and one hundred and eighty alone.
"Traveled from the 28th of June to the 31st of December, after holding the office of an elder, in the states of Kentucky and Tennessee, principally alone, one thousand four hundred and forty miles.
“I held one hundred and seventy meetings, divided in the following manner: while a priest, ten with Elder Brown, fifty-six with Elder Parish, and fourteen alone. One hundred while holding the office of an elder, principally alone.
"I baptized forty-three, eight while a priest and thirty-five
while an elder; three were Campbellite priests; was an assistant to Elder Brown while baptizing two in Arkansas; also assisted Elder Parish while baptizing eighteen persons in Tennessee and Kentucky.
"I procured twenty-four subscribers for the Messenger and Advocate and two subscribers for the Star.
“I procured seventy-three signers to the petition to the Governor of Missouri for redress of wrongs done The Church by the Jackson County mob, ten in Missouri, fifty-six in Arkansas and seven in Tennessee, while a priest.
"I wrote eighteen letters, eight while a priest, ten while an elder, and received ten.
“'I ordained two teachers and one deacon.
“I expelled seven members from The Church, but not while hope remained.
"Held three debates.
"Three companies in the form of mobs gathered together against me; at one time the company consisted of about five hundred men, led by a Baptist priest.
"The before mentioned is the account of my proceedings of the year 1835, which had born its report to heaven of me and all other men, and could it not have borne more welcome news? Ah, it cannot be recalled. The sable shades of night have already spoken the departure of 1835, and the queen of the night is issuing forth in her brilliant light to welcome the dawn of 1836. O God, enable my heart and hands to be clean for a year to come.”
SPIRITUAL SIDE OF BURNS.
BY C. W. NIBLEY.
Why is the poet, Robert Burns, so universally honored? Here is a man dead more than a hundred years, and yet on each recurring 25th of January, throughout the English-speaking world, there are gathered together men and women who celebrate the day of his birth and who delight to do him honor. Surely he must be a remarkable man who has so long kept love in the hearts of the children of men. There is a secret here, if we might only find it. So many phases of his life, too, against him-his dissipation, his wrong associations! He is not loved and honored for these failings, but in spite of them. At this point of the world's history, the object all the world seems most to honor is wealth. The man who is the possessor of many dollars-and we do not much care how he got the dollars—is the man to whom the world now takes off its hat. I suppose in Burns' time, too, there was a similar feeling.
The richest man in Edinburgh – how much above Burns was he? Doubtless he could scarcely afford to notice Burns. And yet now we ask, who was the richest man in Edinburgh? Who among the wealthy, was the wealthiest? Alas! we do not know; they are all long ago decently forgotten, as they should be. The temporal is ever the thing that perishes; it is the spiritual only that giveth life and lives. Even in the great field of politics, we can not remember who was Premier in Burns' time; or whether it was “Willie Pitt or Charley Fox," or both.
Burns had a deep spiritual nature, and it is to that more than to all else to which I attribute the lasting quality of his work. He was not a mocker and scoffer, as he is often thought to have been,