And when the spirit of persecution, the spirit of hatred, of wrath, and malice ceases in the world against this people, it will be the time that this people have apostatized and joined hands with the wicked, and never until then; which I pray may never come. (Brigham Young, May 31, 1857, JD 4:326-327)
There is nothing that would so soon weaken my hope and discourage me as to see this people in full fellowship with the world, and receive no more persecution from them because they are one with them. In such an event, we might bid farewell to the Holy Priesthood with all its blessings, privileges, and aids to exaltations, principalities, and powers in the eternities of the Gods. (Brigham Young, April 8, 1862, JD 10:32)
The Gospel is calculated to divide this wickedness from those who embrace it, and then it will divide those who embrace it from those who reject it. Christ and Belial cannot be made friends, neither can the Church of Christ and the worshippers of Belial unite together. They cannot amalgamate. Consequently, those who receive the Gospel with all their hearts, after believing the testimony of God’s servants, will divide themselves from those who do not receive it. In this Gospel, life and salvation are offered to every honest soul; in the world they find tribulation, but in Jesus Christ peace. In obeying the Gospel is comfort, but in the glory of the world sadness and sorrow.
If the inquiry should arise in our minds, why it is that we are in the position we this morning occupy, it is very easily answered and understood by every person who understands the nature of the Gospel of Christ. It is because it is impossible to unite Christ and Belial—to unite righteousness with unrighteousness, for they never can go hand in hand. Righteousness cannot become unrighteousness, and wickedness never can inherit a righteous kingdom.
The ancient Saints were and the Saints of latter days have been driven from pillar to post, their name a hiss and a bye-word, and their character traduced to the lowest degree. I will appeal to men in this congregation, who have lived for years in the society of the world, who are judges, magistrates, sheriffs, merchants, mechanics, and farmers, if anything was ever alleged against their character until they joined the Latter-day Saints. But where are your characters now in the world? Your former friends now have found out that you always were miserable creatures, they now declare they never had any confidence in you, for you always were enthusiastic beings, and knew not what you were doing. They always believed you would prove yourselves dishonest, &c. This has been the character given to the Saints by the world in all ages. (Brigham Young, July 24, 1853, JD 1:235)
The direst persecutions we ever had to suffer, occurred before the doctrine of polygamy was taught or believed in. There is nothing short of complete apostasy, a complete denial of every principle we have received, a throwing away of the Holy Priesthood, that can save us from persecution. When this takes place, when all the chief features of the Gospel are obliterated, when we can float along the stream and do as the world does, then and not till then will persecution cease, or until the adversary is bound, (George Q. Cannon, May 15, 1881, JD 22:374)
I now wish to examine another prominent feature of our religion. An important item which was prominently held forth wherever this Gospel was proclaimed, was, that its followers should have an abundance of persecutions, and probably, in the progress of this new life, be compelled to suffer the most trying sacrifices, as wife, children, houses and lands, despoiling of goods, and perhaps even, of life itself. No persons are properly prepared to enter upon this new life, until they have formed, within themselves, a fixed resolution to abide this ordeal.
The Savior, the Apostles, Joseph Smith, and the Latter-day Elders, when offering this system to the people, told them clearly and emphatically, that it required sacrifices of the most serious character—that it would bring persecutions, change our warmest friends into bitter and relentless enemies, and that instances would occur when the world in the confused ideas of right and wrong, would even conceive they were doing God’s service in taking our lives. These were dark and forbidding prospects to a rational person in allowing himself to be proselyted to a system whose truths he could not know, but only guess at by what he was told, or of which he had read. Every man and every woman, before receiving a system that called for such sacrifices, would require a positive assurance that submission to its requirements would bring indisputable knowledge of its true divinity, so that, after having obtained a divine witness of its genuineness, they could willingly, cheerfully and with a resolution, inspired by the Almighty, move forward along the pathway of persecution and sacrifice, traversed in all ages by martyred Saints and Prophets. (Lorenzo Snow, March 6, 1886, JD 26:372)
Was it for committing adultery that we were assailed? We are aware that that false slander has gone abroad, for it has been reiterated in our ears. These are falsehoods also. Renegade “Mormon” dissenters are running through the world and spreading various foul and libelous reports against us, thinking thereby to gain the friendship of the world, because they know that we are not of the world, and that the world hates us; therefore they [the world] make a tool of these fellows [the dissenters]; and by them try to do all the injury they can, and after that they hate them worse than they do us, because they find them to be base traitors and sycophants. (Joseph Smith, TPJS, page 126)
Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (James 4:4)
Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. (Luke 6:26)
For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. (John 15:18-19)
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:15-17)
23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:23-26)
Conflicting Statements From More Recent Times:
My greatest happiness, I find in the good will and friendship that has developed among all classes of people at home and abroad toward the Latter-day Saint Church during my lifetime; in place of everyday persecutions and bitterness we now enjoy the high regard and happy association with all denominations. (Heber J. Grant, November 22, 1938, Salt Lake Tribune)
We meet today under very favorable circumstances. For the most part the world is at peace, and what a priceless boon this is. We walk, generally, in an environment of goodwill. It is true that many do not care for us, and some few may even hate us, using every opportunity to lash out against us. But these are few and they are largely ineffectual. Never before has the Church had a better reputation than it has now. This is because of you, my brethren and sisters. The opinions of people concerning us for the most part arise out of personal and individual experiences. It is your friendliness, your concern for others, and the good examples of your lives that result in the opinions held by others concerning the Latter-day Saints. The media have been kind and generous to us. This past year of pioneer celebrations has resulted in very extensive, favorable press coverage. * * * Two weeks ago this morning I had the opportunity to speak to the Religion News Writers Association. They were gracious and receptive. There was nothing of contention or argument. I have great respect for these people and great appreciation. (Gordon B. Hinckley, October 1998 Conference Report)