ADDRESS OF S. W. RICHARDS ABOUT W. S. PHILLIPS
[Translator's note: The following is a speech of S. W. Richards, President of the Church in the British Isles during part of the presidency of W. S. Phillips. It was given at the very last part of a three-day conference held in Mertyr Tydfil on the 12th, 13th and 14th of March, 1853. Only a short time before the conference, Thomas Pugh, previously the second counselor to William S. Phillips, had emigrated. During the conference, some of Pugh's transgressions came to light, and it was decided that he be excommunicated. Capt. Dan Jones, predecessor to Pres. Phillips, had recently returned to Wales as a missionary after a four-year absence. He took Thomas Pugh's place as second counselor. In light of these happenings, the speech of S. W. Richards will be more understandable.]
"I stand before you, brethren, and tremble at the thought of the importance of the responsibility which rests upon me now; for I feel that my brethren are waiting to hear my decision, thinking perhaps that it will determine the fate of some person or persons who are within the sound of my voice. I ask you, do you believe that my words will give you life and bring to an end the dispute which has been troubling you? Does that faith in your possession lead you to pray to God to bless me to tell you what is right? If you believe that I shall say only that which is according to your feelings, perhaps you will be disappointed; but if you believe that I shall speak the truth, whether it goes contrary to your feelings or not, then you shall have the Spirit of God, and you shall be satisfied; but if you believe otherwise, perhaps you shall receive something which you are not praying for. I desire your faith and your prayers so that I can properly weigh that which has bee said. But whether you feel that I have passed fair judgment is the main thing. If we can know this, we can know whether or not unity can be achieved, and whether or not you are willing to let everything end after today. If you are willing, manifest it. [Every hand up.] I feel grateful for that, brethren. Now, I have listened to you express your feelings and your complaints against the Presidency for two days, and many of you who have spoken deserve some chastisement; nevertheless, I
know that there was not one inclination in you to pull the kingdom of God down. I know that your feelings have been offended, and that you were expecting to have justice when Elder D. Jones came back. I was asked if I approved of all that which has been done here in Wales in the time which has passed. No, I do not approve of everything. President Phillips has suffered too much with your former President Thomas Pugh and others in connection with him; and in the meantime he had neglected to look enough to perceive the spirit of the Saints and opposed injustice; and he has been able to feel that now, and no doubt he will take greater caution in that from now on. That is what caused the bigger part of the feelings against him. Bro. Phillips should not have suffered Pugh in his presence to malign Elder Dan Jones by belittling him; for I know that Bro. Jones has a good reputation in the Valley, and there was no basis for the things which were being spread about him. It does not appear that the feelings, perhaps, are so strong against Elder J. Davis; but he, as well, is at fault for allowing Pugh and his brethren have their way to such an extent when it was contrary to his feelings. President Phillips and he have a responsibility to recognize that. And is Elder D. Jones without blame? He is a good man and has recently come from Zion to do good here. When he arrived here some thought that he had come to preside, and because of that they gathered
around him, telling him their complaints, thinking that he was the man to solve them. And he sympathized with them in his desire to benefit them, whereas if I had been here, perhaps my feeling would have been to drive them away from me. Bro. Jones was not sent here to preside, rather to be a counselor to the President, and to preside over this district. You, brethren, are at fault for thinking that Bro. Jones had come to preside over you; for there was a president here already who had more power to resolve your complaints than did Bro. Jones. When we arrived here Friday night, I learned that similar feelings are among you as well, which could not be otherwise. I could show you many of your faults and failings if time permitted. Things could have been corrected without our coming here if your Presidency had been united. With regard to the money which some complained that President Phillips had misused, you will see that the case is completely the opposite. The Presidency here was at fault for failing to receive Bro. Jones in a better spirit so that he could feel more united with them; for he is a man of God and has received his endowments and has the power of God and angels guarding him, as is the cause also with Brothers Jeremy and Daniels. Now, I expect Brothers Phillips, Davis and Jones to express their feelings, and how they feel about embracing one another and being in unity. When this Presidency comes to a unity, the people will also
come. These hidden feelings did not come all at once in your midst, but they began as I understand it, two or more years ago, and I am sorry about the time they first appeared; and now, brethren, let there be good feelings and unity, and consider the whole thing something of the past, for time cannot be called back. Therefore, do better from now on, and if you did harm to someone, ask for his forgiveness."
Then the Welsh Presidency testified of their unshakeable determination to cooperate in unity and love to benefit the Saints through fulfilling their duties better than ever before.
Then President Richards added the following: "Let not one of the Saints take the principle of 'Spiritual Marriage' lightly; if one of you falls into the transgression of adultery, especially after being forgiven for that before, you can bring upon yourselves a stain that can never be taken away! I love you very much, and I pray earnestly for you. I wish for you to go forth from now on with the blessing of the Lord to be with you. This is my prayer for all of you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen."
[Translated from the Welsh original in Udgorn Seion, 1853 (Vol. V), p. 222-4, by Ronald D. Dennis, 1529 W. 1170 North, Provo, Utah]