As a great conqueror of new lands, civil and ecclesiastical leader, and breadwinner for his family, President Brigham Young embodied the living, practical gospel. He emphasized in his teachings and in his life that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the way to the salvation of mankind, as well as “a practical religion that embraces the daily concerns and realities of this life” (DBY, 12).
Brigham Young’s Teachings
Our personal growth in the gospel is gradual, line by line, as we live the principles we learn.
We … take all the laws, rules, ordinances, and norms found in the scriptures and apply them as actively as possible, and then continue to learn and improve until we learn to live by every word that comes from the mouth of God (DBY, 3).
We have the gospel of life and salvation that makes bad people good and good people even better (DBY, 6).
Not long ago, in a conversation with a visitor who was returning to the eastern states, I heard these words: “Do you, as a people, consider yourself perfect?” “Oh no,” I said, “by no means… The teaching we have accepted is perfect; but as for the people, we have as many imperfections as we like. We are imperfect; but the gospel we preach is for the perfecting of men so that they may have a miraculous resurrection and enter into the presence of the Father and the Son” (DBY, 7).
People [cannot receive the laws] in their perfect fullness; but they can get a little here, a little there, a little today, a little tomorrow, a little more next week, and a little more next year, if they cultivate wisely on the basis of all the little they get; otherwise, they remain in the darkness of ignorance, and the light that the Lord reveals to them will seem to them darkness, and the Kingdom of Heaven will pass them by and leave them to wander in the dark. So, if we are willing to operate on the basis of the fullness of knowledge that the Lord intends to reveal little by little to the inhabitants of the earth, we must improve on the basis of what little we receive as we receive it (DBY, 4).
I … feel the need to convince Latter-day Saints that we need to diligently apply the principles of the gospel in our lives, in our conduct, in our words—in everything we do; and it requires a man to devote his whole life to perfecting himself in order to come to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus Christ. This is the fullness of perfection. It was represented in the character of our Savior; although only a small fraction of it was revealed to people, due to the fact that they were not able to receive it. He gave them everything they were willing to receive. The Lord gives us whatever we are ready to receive; He provides the peoples of the earth with everything they are willing to receive (DBY, 11–12).
The Bible says about the Savior that He descended below everything so that He could be exalted above everything. Isn’t it the same with every person? Of course, the same. Then, therefore, we must descend below everything and rise slowly and learn a little now and then, receive “line after line, lesson after lesson”, “here a little and there a little” [see. D&C 98:12; Isaiah 28:9–10] (DBY, 60) until we reach eternity and embrace the fullness of his glory, excellency, and power (DBY, 3).
The spiritual and temporal aspects of the gospel are one and the same.
For God, as well as for those who understand the principles of life and salvation – for the priesthood, the oracles of truth, the gifts and callings of God to the children of men – there is no difference between spiritual and temporal matters – they are all the same. If I do what I have to do, then I am doing the will of God, whether by preaching, praying, doing something with my own hands for some noble purpose, whether being in the field, in the workshop, doing a profitable job, or doing something – at the call of duty – I serve God both in one place and in another; and so in all things, each in his place, in his turn and in his time (DBY, 8).
In God’s understanding, there is no such thing as separating the spiritual from the worldly, or the worldly from the spiritual; for they are one in the Lord [see D&C 29:34–35] (DBY, 13).
Everything that concerns the building of the Lord’s kingdom on earth, whether it be the preaching of the gospel or the building of temples in His name, we have been taught to regard as a spiritual work, although it is obvious that physical strength of a person is required for its implementation (DBY, 13).
Without doing worldly work, we cannot even enter the temple once it is built and perform those ordinances that lead to spiritual blessings. In order to receive the spiritual blessings prepared by the Almighty for His faithful children, worldly ordinances must be performed. Every action is first of all a worldly action. According to the Apostle, faith comes by hearing [cf. Romans 10:17]. What must be heard in order for faith to arise? Preaching the Word. For this we must have a preacher; and he is not an invisible spirit, but an ordinary mortal person, like you and me, and is subject to the same life charters and rules as we are. Preach the gospel isworldly work, and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ is the result of worldly work. To be baptized is a worldly work for both the baptizer and the baptizer. I am a living witness to the truth of this statement, for many times my legs hurt, and I myself was tired from walking and preaching, so that people who heard the gospel might gain faith. The blessings we so passionately desire will come to us through doing proper manual labor and thereby preparing all that is necessary in order to receive the invisible blessings that Jehovah has for His children (DBY, 13–14).