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Heber C. Kimball-Journal


THE idea of standing forth and proclaiming the gospel in a land so much extolled for religion, which was constantly sending forth her ministers to almost every nation under heaven, and among a people who, of course, did not expect to be taught, but to teach others the principles of the gospel, and the consciousness of my own weakness and unfitness for such an undertaking, led me to cry mightily to the Lord for wisdom and for that comfort and support which I so much needed. At the same time I thought that if I could have been relieved from the responsibility which rested upon me, by fighting Goliath on as unequal terms as David did, I should have felt myself happy.

However, I endeavored to put my trust in God, believing that He would assist me in publishing the truth and that He would be a present help in the time of need.

Having no means, poor and penniless we wandered in the streets of that great city, where wealth and luxury, penury and want abound. I there met the rich attired in the most costly dresses, and the next moment was saluted with the cries of the poor, who were without covering sufficient to screen them from the weather. Such a distinction I never saw before. We then looked out for a place to lodge in, and found a room belonging to a widow which we engaged for a few days.

The time we were in Liverpool was spent in council and in calling on the Lord for direction, so that we might be led to places where we should be most useful in proclaiming the gospel and in establishing and spreading His kingdom. While thus engaged, the Spirit of the Lord, the mighty power of God, was with us, and we felt greatly strengthened, and a determination to go forward, come life or death, honor or reproach, was manifested by us all. Our trust was in God, who we believed could make us as useful in bringing down the kingdom of Satan as He did the rams' horns, in bringing down the walls of Jericho and in gathering out a number of precious souls who were buried amidst the rubbish of tradition, and who had none to show them the way of truth.

Feeling led by the Spirit of the Lord to go to Preston, a large manufacturing town in Lancashire, we started for that place three days after our arrival in Liverpool, We went by coach and arrived on Saturday afternoon about four o'clock. After unloading our trunks, Brother Goodson went in search of a place of lodging, and Brother Fielding went to seek a brother of his, who was a minister, residing in that place.

It being the day on which their representatives were chosen, the streets presented a very busy scene; indeed I never witnessed anything like it before in my life.

On one of the flags, which was just enrolled before us the moment the coach reached its destination, was the following motto: "TRUTH WILL PREVAIL," which was painted in large, gilt letters. It being so very seasonable and the sentiment being so appropriate to us in our situation, we were involuntarily led to exclaim, "Amen! So let it be."

Brother Goodson having found a room where we could be accommodated, which belonged to a widow woman, situated in Wilford Street, we moved our baggage there. Shortly after, Brother. Fielding returned, having found his brother, who requested to have an interview with some of us that evening. Accordingly, Elders Hyde, Goodson and I went and were kindly received by him and Mr. Watson, his brother-in-law, who was present at the time.

We gave them a short account of the object of our mission and the great work which the Lord had commenced, and conversed upon those subjects until a late hour. The next morning we were presented with half a crown, which Mr. Fielding's sister had sent us.

It being Sunday, we went to hear Mr. Fielding preach. After he had finished his discourse, and without being requested by us, he gave out an appointment for some one of us to preach in the afternoon.

It being noised abroad that some Elders from America were in town and were going to preach in the afternoon, a large concourse of people assembled to hear us. It falling to my lot to speak, I called their attention to the first principles of the gospel, and told them something of the nature of the work which the Lord had commenced on the earth. Brother Hyde afterwards bore testimony to the same, which I believe was received by many with whom I afterwards conversed.

Another appointment was given out for us in the evening, at which time Brother Goodson preached and Brother Fielding bore testimony. An appointment was then made for us on Wednesday evening at the same place, at which time Elder Hyde preached. A number now being convinced of the truth, believed the testimony and began to praise God and rejoice exceedingly that the Lord had again visited His people, and sent His servants to lay before them the doctrine of the gospel "and the truth as it is in Jesus."

The Rev. Mr. Fielding, who had kindly invited us to preach in his chapel, knowing that quite a number of his members believed our testimony and that some were wishful to be baptized, shut his doors against us and would suffer us to preach no more in his chapel. For an excuse, he said that we had preached the doctrine of baptism for the remission of sins, contrary to our arrangement with him.

I need scarcely assure my friends that nothing was said to him from which any inference could be drawn that we should suppress the doctrine of baptism. No! we deemed it too important a doctrine to lay aside for any privilege we could receive from mortals. Mr. Fielding understood our doctrines even before we came there, having received several communications from his brother Joseph, who wrote to him from Canada, explaining the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We likewise had conversed with him on the subject at our former interview. However, he having been traditioned to believe in infant baptism, and having preached and practiced the same a number of years, he saw the situation he would be placed in if he obeyed the gospel. Notwithstanding his talents and standing in society, he would have to come into the sheepfold by the door; and after all his preaching to others, have to be baptized himself for the remission of sins by those who were ordained to that power.

These considerations undoubtedly had their weight upon his mind, and caused him to act as he did, and notwithstanding his former kindness he soon became one of our most violent opposers.

An observation which escaped his lips shortly after this circumstance, I shall here mention. Speaking one day respecting the three first sermons which were preached in that place, he said that "Kimball bored the holes, Goodson drove the nails and Hyde clinched them."

However, his congregation did not follow his example; they had for some time been praying for our coming, and had been assured by Mr. Fielding that he could not place more confidence in an angel than he did in the statements of his brother respecting this people. Consequently, they were in a great measure prepared for the reception of the gospel, probably as much so as Cornelius was anciently.

Having now no public place to preach in, we began to preach in private houses, which were opened in every direction, while numbers believed the gospel. After we had been in that place eight days, we began to baptize in the name of the Lord Jesus for the remission of sins. One "reverend" gentleman came and forbid us baptizing any of his members; but we told him that all who were of age and requested baptism we should undoubtedly administer that ordinance to.

One Saturday evening I was appointed by the brethren to baptize a number the next morning in the river Ribble, which runs through that place. By this time, the adversary of souls began to rage, and he felt a determination to destroy us before we had fully established the gospel in that land; and the next morning I witnessed such a scene of satanic power and influence as I shall never forget while memory lasts.

About day-break, Brother Russell (who was appointed to preach in the market-place that day), who slept in the second story of the house in which we were entertained, came up to the room where Elder Hyde and I were sleeping and called upon us to arise and pray for him, for he was so afflicted with evil spirits that he could not live long unless he should obtain relief.

We immediately arose, laid hands upon him and prayed that the Lord would have mercy on His servant and rebuke the devil. While thus engaged, I was struck with great force by some invisible power and fell senseless on the floor as if I had been shot, and the first thing that I recollected was, that I was supported by Brothers Hyde and Russell, who were beseeching a throne of grace in my behalf. They then laid me on the bed, but my agony was so great that I could not endure, and I was obliged to get out, and fell on my knees and began to pray. I then sat on the bed and could distinctly see the evil spirits, who foamed and gnashed their teeth upon us. We gazed upon them about an hour and a half, and I shall never forget the horror and malignity depicted on the countenances of these foul spirits, and any attempt to paint the scene which then presented itself, or portray the malice and enmity depicted in their countenances would be vain.

I perspired exceedingly, and my clothes were as wet as if I had been taken out of the river. I felt exquisite pain, and was in the greatest distress for some time. However, I learned by it the power of the adversary, his enmity against the servants of God and got some understanding of the invisible world.

The Lord delivered us from the wrath of our spiritual enemies and blessed us exceedingly that day, and I had the pleasure (notwithstanding my weakness of body from the shock I had experienced) of baptizing nine individuals and hailing them brethren in the kingdom of God.

A circumstance took place while at the water side which I cannot refrain from mentioning, which will show the eagerness and anxiety of some in that land to obey the gospel. Two of the candidates who were changing their clothes and preparing for baptism at the distance of several rods from the place where I was standing in the water, were so anxious to obey the gospel, that they ran with all their might to the water, each wishing to be baptized first. The younger, being quicker on foot than the elder, out-ran him, and came first into the water. The circumstance reminded me of Peter and another disciple, who went to see the sepulchre where the Savior was laid: their anxiety was so great to find out whether He was yet there or not, that they had a race for it.

The ceremony of baptizing being somewhat novel, a large concourse of people assembled on the banks of the river to witness the ceremony.

In the afternoon, Elder Russell preached in the market place, standing on a pedestal, to a very large congregation, numbers of whom were pricked to the heart.

Thus the work of the Lord commenced in that land (notwithstanding the rage of the adversary and his attempt to destroy us)—a work which shall roll forth, not only in that land but upon all the face of the earth, even "in lands and isles unknown."

The next morning we held a council, at which Elders Good-son and Richards were appointed to go to the city of Bedford, there being a good prospect, from the information received, of a Church being built up in that city. Elders Russell and Snider were appointed to go to Alston, in Cumberland, near the borders of Scotland, and Elders Hyde, Fielding and the writer were to remain in Preston and the regions round about.

The next day, the brethren took their departure for the different fields of labor assigned them.

Brothers Hyde, Fielding and I continued lifting up our voices in private houses, at the corners of the streets, in the market-place and wherever the Lord opened a door. The following Sabbath, Elder Hyde preached in the market-place to a numerous assemblage, both rich and poor, who flocked from all parts to hear "what these babblers had to say," hearing that we were "setters forth of strange doctrines." After Brother Hyde had got through, I gave an exhortation, and when I had concluded, a minister stepped forward to oppose us on the doctrines we advanced, but more particularly on the doctrine of baptism, he being a great stickler for infant baptism.

The people, thinking he intended to offend us, would not let him proceed, but seemed determined to put him down, and undoubtedly would have done so had not Brother Hyde interposed and begged permission for the gentleman to speak, telling the congregation that he was prepared to meet any arguments he might advance. This appeased the people, who listened to the remarks of the reverend gentleman; after which Brother Hyde spoke in answer to the objections which had been offered, to the satisfaction of nearly all present.

The minister felt somewhat ashamed. One individual came up to him and asked him what he now thought of his "baby baptism," while another came, took him by the hand and led him out of the throng. Indeed, all those who arose up to oppose the doctrines we taught were confounded, and could not with any success combat the truths we preached.

pp. 16-22