Lesson 24: “Be Not Deceived, but Continue in Steadfastness”
Another outdated one, posted only so I can pat myself on the back for having put up a post for every lesson in the current year’s course of study …
1936: New Testament Sunday School Lessons
Lesson 23: Single Minded Loyalty
Every year thousands of tourists travel long distances to visit the famous Temple Square, in Salt Lake City; yet there are many people living but a few blocks away who have never heard the great organ play. To most people, money is a precious thing to be sought after eagerly and to be handled with extreme care; but to those who work in bank vaults and government mints, it is only something to be handled, sorted, and accounted for like any other merchandise.
A Supreme Privilege
Similarly, many of us, especially those who were born in the church, do not fully appreciate what a privilege it is to belong to a Church founded upon divine revelation, presided over by the Lord Jesus Himself, conducted by a divinely appointed priesthood, and regulated by the divine plan of salvation. They do not appreciate fully what a priceless blessing is within their reach. They clamor and struggle, sometimes, for membe4rship in some secret organization which will avail them nothing when they shall pass into that other world; and they neglect – even ignore – membership in the open brotherhood of Jesus the Christ, which might be made to profit them much upon the earth, and which would give them hereafter free access into the larger kingdom of God. Is not the vision of man imperfect?
The True Worth of Membership
Jesus, however, recognized the true worth of membership in the kingdom of heaven. “the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field,” He declared, “which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who when he found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”
These are pretty parables, but what do they mean? Why, simply, that a man who has found the Church of Christ should be willing, if necessary, to give up every material possession in order to attain membership in it. It is a blessing, of course, to possess sufficient of this world’s goods; but it is far better to have a secure place in the kingdom of God.
Condition of Membership
This lesson Jesus taught always. to gain entrance into the kingdom, one must forsake all personal, unworthy ambitions. “The time is fulfilled,” He cried on his preaching tours, “and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel.” And when the disciples of Jesus stopped the parents from bringing their children to the Master, Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”
Now it needs no long explanation to show that those who have succeeded in placing themselves in the attitude of little children, are also in an attitude of single-minded loyalty to god. Jesus insisted that men must be loyal with singleness of purpose and singleness of thought. You have learned in your daily lives which associates you can trust and which you cannot trust. You know very well that if a boy’s thoughts are always good, he is not very likely to become guilty of any seriously wrong act. You know that if a girl’s motives are good, she is not likely to become guilty of evil. Jesus knew these truths, too. he was anxious, therefore, that the minds of men should become filled with thoughts of God – that the dominating motive in their minds should be to serve God. for He knew very well that a man dominated by the motive of such service would be arrayed against sin; whereas, one not so dominated might easily be overcome by the wily suggestions of the tempter.
No Man Can Serve Two Masters
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is there will your heart be also.”
When we learn that, in the Jewish belief, the heart was the seat of thought and intelligence, then this saying of the Teacher becomes plain indeed. It is impossible for anyone to have two chief centers of interest. If a man devote his thought and intelligence to the laying up of wealth, he will of course neglect his duty to God. For, said Jesus, “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
A Parable in Point
And the folly of the worship of mammon is so clear that it is surprising that men will ever fall into error. Jesus illustrated this truth with an excellent parable. “the ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought within himself saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, this will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
The Light of the Body
Again, Jesus said when speaking of laying up treasure in heaven, and serving god and mammon, “the light of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” In the Old Testament, the evil eye stands for avarice and greed, the good eye for generosity. If a man fosters thoughts of selfishness and greed, then, he blinds himself to all the better and higher things and gropes in darkness.
Thus Jesus taught that men should serve God with single-0minded loyalty. In His sayings and parables He presents four reasons: (1) the life of man is in the hands of God. he gave it and He will take it away. no one is sure how long he may be privileged to enjoy worldly pleasures. But the life of the spirit is everlasting. its joys shall never end. (2) worldly goods and pleasures are perishable and fleeting. We may lose them when we think we have them most securely. The things of the spirit are eternal. They can not be taken from us, so long as we worship in spirit and in truth. (3) It is impossible for the man to hold two equally important and equally cherished objects of interest. One of the two will inevitably be neglected. (4) If a man’s motives are selfish and worldly, his soul becomes darkened to truth, and to spiritual things.
For these excellent and sufficient reasons, man should cultivate an attitude of single0minded loyalty to God. Instead of toiling and sweating for things of passing value only, man should strive for the things of permanent joy and satisfaction. Jesus’ message, as has been aptly said, may be paraphrased thus: “Look up. Get a goal before you that is worth while. Let the one passion of your life be loyalty to God. Then your joys will be wholesome and permanent, and you shall walk in the light, not in darkness.”
“Seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33.)
Read These References
1. “… the kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure …” Matt. 13:44-46.
2. “And they brought young children to him …” Mark 10:13-16.
3. “And lead us not into temptation …” Matt. 6;13-24.
4. “… master, speak to my brother …” Luke 12:13-21, 23.
1. Did Jesus Himself ever have to decide between the worship of God and the worship of mammon?
2. Why is the story of the little children especially applicable in this lesson on single-minded loyalty?
3. Why did Jesus want men and women to think a great deal of God and his work?
4. What do you understand by the term “mammon?”
5. What is the folly of seeking earthly treasures rather than the things God considers to be of most value?
1941: Gospel Doctrine Sunday School Lessons
Lesson 81: Apostates and Converts
(Read Sections 111, 112, 113)
1. The Years 1853, 1836, 1837:It is necessary now that we speak briefly of the events that occurred in the three years immediately preceding the settlement in Upper Missouri, since the next lesson will take us into the new home of the church there.
The year 1835 found the exiles from Jackson County scattered mostly in Clay County, working at whatever they could get to do with the “old” settlers there. The expedition of their brethren from Ohio had discouraged them in the thought of ever going back to their homes from which they had been expelled. And so they began to think of moving or of settling down for good where they were. In June, 1836, however, some leading men in the county, after a meeting of the non-Mormon citizens, expressed a wish and hope that the Saints would move to a place “where the manners, the habits, and customs of the people will be more consonant with their own.” (A Report of a Committee (See History of the Church, Vol. II, pp. 448-52.) To this request – for that is what it amounted to – the Mormons, through their leaders, acceded, though reluctantly. And so we read in the Prophet’s account: “The Saints, having gathered in considerable numbers on Shoal Creek, Missouri, petitioned for an act of incorporation for a new county, which was granted about the middle of December, under the name of Caldwell County, from which time a fresh impetus was given to the gathering, and the county grew like Joah’s gourd.” (History of the Church, Vol. II, pp. 464-5.)
This was in 1836.
2. Troubles in Kirtland: During the years 1836 and 1837 the Saints in Kirtland, one of the gathering places, had their difficulties. This is especially true of the Prophet.
For one thing, some of the Saints were affected by the failure of the plan to establish Zion, in Missouri, and, for another thing, they were troubled over the failure of a bank which the leaders of the church had set up in Kirtland. Of the Missouri affair we have already spoken. The bank was only one of hundreds to go down in the panic of 1837. All over the country banking institutions failed. besides, the money of the Kirtland bank had been invested in land, which at this time depreciated greatly in value.
The strange thing about it all is that the Prophet was blamed for both failures. was he not a prophet? And should not a prophet have known whether a plan, whether of settlement or of banking, was sound or not? As it happened one of the trusted men in the Church, though not one of the general officers of it, got away with twenty-five thousand dollars of the bank’s money. At alle vents, members of the Church fell away by the score, and, as always happens, became bitter, especially against Joseph Smith.
In the end, toward the close of the year 1837, most of the leaders of the Church, including the Prophet, left the Ohio town and betook themselves to Upper Missouri. Already most of the Saints in and about Kirtland had gone to Missouri. From now on, therefore, not only was Missouri the headquarters of the Church, but the only gathering point for the Mormon people. the temple in Kirtland, which had cost so much in effort and money and which meant so much to them, the Saints now left for good and all.
3. Section 111: As stated in the note preceding this revelation, it was received by the Prophet in Salem, Massachusetts. With Sidney Rigdon and Hyrum smith, he had gone there on a mission. he is told here that “I have much treasure in this city for you, for the benefit of Zion, and many people in this city, whom I will gather out in due time for the benefit of Zion, through your instrumentality.”
The most important item connected with this mission for us, however, is not in this revelation at all, but in what the Prophet was thinking while he was in Salem, as a result of the things which he saw here.
“The early settlers of Boston,” he writes in his Journal, “who had fled from their mother country to avoid persecution and death, soon became so lost to principles of justice and religious liberty as to whip and hang the Baptist and the Quaker, who, like themselves, had fled from tyranny to the land of freedom. … when will man cease to war with man, and wrest from his sacred rights of worshiping his god according as his conscience dictates? Holy Father hasten the day!” (History of the church, Vol. II, pp. 464-5.)
Reformers generally have sought freedom of conscience for themselves and their yielding followers, but often have refused to grant that freedom to those who differed from them. Joseph Smith fought for the same freedom for others, even those who differed from him, that he wished for himself.
4. Section 112: Here is another of those sections given to an individual, which becomes universal. Of the Apostle Thomas B. Marsh we have already spoken in some detail, in relation to the promise given to him and his failure to live up to that promise. When this revelation was received by the Prophet for him, Marsh was president of the Twelve.
The date of this section, as will be noted, is July, 1837. The items contained in it are therefore peculiarly significant, in view of what was happening in both Kirtland and Missouri. The words are spoken to both the president of the Apostles and to the Apostles. At this time, it seems, at least five of the Twelve were contemplating apostasy, and all of the Three Witnesses to the divine origin of the Book of Mormon. for, shortly after this, Marsh himself, McLellin, the two Johnsons, and Boynton left the church. Only Marsh and Luke Johnson ever returned, but they lost their places. At the same time Cowdery, Whitmer, and Harris abandoned the Cause, though the first and the last rejoined.
There are four sections to this revelation.
a. Thomas B. Marsh is informed that his prayers have been answered, that his sins are forgiven, that he is to send forth the Word, and that he must be humble.
b. The other members of the Twelve are to be warned with “sharpness,” as well as prayed for. Some of them confessed to having been wrongly influenced; others went off the quorum, being “rejected.’
c. The Apostles are instructed as to their duties. They are to “purify their hearts” for the ministry, for the “keys of the dispensation” which they have received came down “from the fathers.”
d. A promise is given them that “I come quickly” and “my reward is with me.”
5. New Accessions to the Church: At the very time when men were leaving the church in considerable numbers, the first foreign mission of consequence was organized. it was to England, and was headed by the Apostle Heber C. Kimball. he was accompanied by another Apostle, Orson Hyde, and one who was soon to be an Apostle, willard Richards. At New York the mission was joined by some recent converts from Canada, among them being Joseph Fielding, who had a brother in England, a preacher with a congregation.
The elders landed in Liverpool on July 20, 1837. Victoria had only just ascended the throne. The Rev. James Fielding allowed the missionaries to preach to his congregation, and many of them were converted. Thereafter the door of this church was shut to the elders. In eight months two thousand men and women were baptized. When the elders returned home, they left Elder Richards in charge.
Thus many more joined the Church during this year than left it, as the organization rolled westward to its destiny.
Questions and Problems
1. Consult the Doctrine and Covenants, with a view to finding out the number of revelations received in each of the years 1835, 1836, and 1837. How do you explain this small number compared with the large numbers in previous years? Which do you think are the most important revelations of the period? Why do you think so?
2. Consult a brief history of the Church (Essentials, by Smith, for instance, or Heart of Mormonism, by Evans) so as to show, in some detail, the way in which the mission to England compensated for the losses in Ohio and Missouri.
3. How are promises in blessings fulfilled? How not? Illustrate from section 112.
4. Can you explain why it was that, under the pressure of financial and other troubles, the church did not fall to pieces during this critical period? Do so, with specific evidence for your stand.
1949: Doctrine and Covenants Studies, by Bryant S. Hinckley
Chapter 18: The Mouthpiece of the Lord (Section 43)
Soon after Section 42 was received, the foregoing revelation (Sec. 43) was given. A certain woman was making great pretentions of having received revelations concerning commandments, laws, and other curious matters. “… There was a woman by the name of Hubble who professed to be a prophetess of the Lord, and professed to have many revelations, and knew the Book of Mormon was true, and that she should become a teacher in the Church of Christ. She appeared to be very sanctimonious and deceived some who were not able to detect her in her hypocrisy: Others, however, had a spirit of discernment and her follies and abominations were made manifest.” (John Whitmer’s History of the Church, Chapter 3.)
George A. Smith relates, “There was a prevalent spirit all through the early history of this Church which prompted the elders to suppose that they knew more than the Prophet. Elders would tell you that the prophet was going wrong.” (JD, Vol. II, p. 7.)
On one occasion Sydney Rigdon began a sermon by saying that the Church and kingdom had been rent from them and given to another people. Joseph Smith was absent, and when he came home he found Rigdon acting very strange.
“There was a man named Hawley who said the Lord had commanded him to go to Kirtland and tell the Prophet that he had lost his office, because he had caused John Noah, a pretended prophet, to be cut off from the Church. Many were bewildered by the different voices and consequent confusion. It was therefore necessary to ask the Lord for light and guidance with regard to this matter, and this revelation came in answer to prayer.” (D & C Com. p. 305.) This revelation was received in Kirtland, Ohio, in February, 1831.It throws much light upon several important principles; but there are two major subjects upon which it dwells: (1) That revelations to the Church are given only through the one appointed to receive such. (2) Calamities are to precede the second coming of Christ. The first part of this revelation is addressed to the elders of the Church and the second part to the nations of the earth.
The Order in Which Revelation for the Church Shall Come
In this glorious revelation the Lord gives positive instruction to the Church in relation to the order through which revelation is to be received. There is order in the kingdom of God. There could not be order if every man was privileged to receive commandments and claim the right to direct by revelation the members of the Church. This would result in nothing but confusion. So this law was given for our government for all time. One who holds the keys and stands as the presiding high priest and president of the Church is the spokesman of the Lord for the members of the Church. Individuals may receive inspiration and revelation for their own guidance, but not for the guidance of the Church. Moreover, no member of the Church in good standing will profess to receive a revelation for his own guidance that is contradictory to any revelation coming from the President of the Church. Verse 7: “For verily I say unto you, that he that is ordained of me shall come in at the gate and be ordained as I have told you before, to teach those revelations which you have received and shall receive through him whom I have appointed.” This commandment is the key by which the members of the Church are to be governed and protected against all those who profess to be appointed with power to guide the Church. If we are living in full accord with all the commandments which the Lord has given to us, then we are entitled to the guidance of the Holy Ghost, and under such conditions we cannot be deceived. Knowledge of these essential truths will protect the members of the Church against cunning and designing persons who seek to deceive them. The Lord has said, “And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived.” (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith 1:37.)
Again we are granted the privilege by the word of the Lord to vote to sustain or reject the officers of the Church. No man would be made an officer in this Church who was opposed by the majority of the Church. The Lord has great respect for the doctrine of common consent. When we have sustained an officer we are duly bound to support him. Any person who raises his hand to sustain the president of the Church, or any other officer, and then goes straight away and criticizes or condemns that man is a covenant breaker. For it is a covenant we take when we raise our hands and pledge our support.
President Joseph F. Smith, speaking on this subject, said: “… I testify in the name of Israel’s God that he will not suffer the head of the Church, whom He has chosen to stand at the head, to transgress His laws and apostatize; the moment he should take a course that would in time lead to it, God would take him away. Why? Because to suffer a wicked man to occupy that position would be to allow, as it were, the fountain to become corrupted, which is something he will never permit.
“The moment a man says he will not submit to the legally constituted authority of the Church, whether it be the teachers, the bishopric, the high council, his quorum, or the First Presidency, and in his heart confirms it and carries it out, that moment he cuts himself off from the privileges and blessings of the priesthood and Church, and severs himself from the people of God, for he ignores the authority that the Lord has instituted in his Church. These are the men that generally get crotchets in their heads, that get inspiration (from beneath), and that are often so desirous to guide the Church, and to sit in judgment upon the priesthood. The only safe way for us to do, as individuals, is to live so humbly, so righteously and so faithfully before God that we may possess his Spirit to that extent that we shall be able to judge righteously, and discern between truth and error, between right and wrong; and then we shall know when a decision is rendered against us that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, we are in error, and that the decision is right; …” (GD, pp. 55, 56.)
Brigham Young, referring to this subject, said: “In the setting forth of items of doctrine which pertain to the progress and further building up of the kingdom of God upon the earth, and the revealing of his mind and will, he has but one mouth through which to make known his will to his people. When the Lord wishes to give a revelation to his people, when he wishes to reveal new items of doctrine to them, or administer chastisement, he will do it through the man whom he has appointed to that office and calling. The rest of the offices and callings of the Church are helps and governments for the edifying of the body of Christ and the perfection of the Saints, etc., every president, bishop, elder, priest, teacher, deacon, and member standing in his order and officiating in his standing and degree of priesthood as ministers of the words of life as shepherds to watch over departments and sections of the flock of God in all the world, and as helps to strengthen the hands of the Presidency of the whole Church.
“The Lord Almighty leads this Church, and he will never suffer you to be led astray if you are found doing your duty. You may go home and sleep as sweetly as a babe in its mother’s arms, as to any danger of your leaders leading you astray, for if they should try to do so the Lord would quickly sweep them from the earth. Your leaders are trying to live their religion as far as they are capable of doing so. …
“Be careful, all the world, and touch not the anointed of the Lord. Afflict not the people who have the oracles of salvation for all the human family.” (DBY, pp. 212, 213.)
There should be no doubt or misunderstanding upon this important point. This revelation makes clear, it reinforces all that has been revealed before upon this subject.
Who Can Preside over the Church?
On the point of succession in the presidency, some controversial questions have arisen. Some have maintained that a man from outside or a member of the Quorum of the Twelve might be selected as president of the Church, but not so. When the president dies, the counselors in the presidency cease to be counselors and, if apostles, take their place in the Quorum of the Twelve. The senior apostle automatically becomes the presiding officer of the Church on the death of the president. The Quorum of the Twelve take over and he presides over that quorum. If some other man were to be chosen, then the president of the Quorum would have to receive a revelation, to set himself aside and appoint his successor. John Taylor, speaking of the time President Young died, when he became president, said: “… I occupied the senior position in the quorum, and occupying that position, which was thoroughly understood by the Quorum of the Twelve, on the death of President Young, as the Twelve assumed the presidency, and I was their president, it placed me in a position of president of the church, or, as expressed in our conference meeting: ‘As president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, as one of the twelve apostles, and of the presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.’ In this manner, also, was President Brigham Young sustained, at the general conference held in Nauvoo, in the October following the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith. …” (Gospel Kingdom, p. 192.)
George Albert Smith, the present president of the Church, is the only person living who has the right to receive revelations for the body of the Church. He is sustained as prophet, seer and revelator, and president of the Church. Others are sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators, but he holds the keys of presidency and these carry with them very important powers. The nominating power for all offices in the Church comes from above, but nominations are subject to the vote and approval of the people.
Christ’s Second Coming
This revelation concludes with an appeal to the nations of the earth to hear the voice of the Lord in order to escape the calamities which shall precede Christ’s Second Coming. “For in mine own due time will I come upon the earth in judgment, and my people shall be redeemed and shall reign with me on earth.” (Verse 29.) The millennium will come. Satan shall be bound for a season; the righteous will be changed in the twinkling of an eye, the earth shall pass away as by fire. “And the wicked shall go away into unquenchable fire, and their end no man knoweth on earth, nor ever shall know, until they come before me in judgment.” (Verse 33.) “Hearken ye to these words. Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. …” (Verse 34.)
Referring to this period, Parley P. Pratt observes: “Righteousness will abide upon its face, during the thousand years, and the Savior will bless it with his personal presence: after which the end soon comes, and the earth itself will die, and its elements be dissolved through the agency of a fire.” (JD, Vol. I, p. 331.)
The revelation closes with these words: “… Treasure these things up in your hearts, and let the solemnities of eternity rest upon your minds. Be sober. Keep all my commandments. Even so. amen.” (D & C 43:34, 35.)
Christ will come with ten thousand of his saints to execute judgment upon all, and he shall have dominion from the rivers to the ends of the earth, and bless the righteous with his glorified presence.
1949: Doctrine and Covenants Studies, by Bryant S. Hinckley
Chapter 21: DISCERNING OF SPIRITS (Section 50)
“During the month of April, I continued to translate the scriptures as time would allow. In May, a number of Elders being present, and not understanding the different spirits abroad in the earth, I inquired and received from the Lord the following: … [The follows Section 50.]” (DHC, Volume I, page 170.) Parley P. Pratt in his autobiography said: “As I went forth among the different branches [in the vicinity of Kirtland] some very strange spiritual operations were manifested, which were disgusting rather than edifying. Some persons would seem to swoon away and make unseemly gestures, and be drawn or disfigured in their countenances. Others would fall into ecstasies, and be drawn into contortions, cramps, fits, etc. Others would seem to have visions and revelations, which were not edifying, and which were not congenial to the doctrine and spirit of the gospel. In short, a false and lying spirit seemed to be creeping into the Church. All these things were new and strange to me, and had originated in the Church during our absence, and previous to the arrival of President Joseph Smith from New York. Feeling our weakness and inexperience, and lest we should err in judgment concerning these spiritual phenomena, myself, John Murdock, and several other Elders, went to Joseph Smith, and asked him to inquire of the Lord concerning these spirits or manifestations. After we had joined in prayer in his translating room, he dictated in our presence the following revelation [Section 50].”
“Behold, verily I say unto you, that there are many spirits which are false spirits which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world.” (D&C 50:2.) In this revelation the Lord (1) warns against false spirits, deception, and hypocrisy (1-9); (2) gives instructions on how to discern between false and true spirits (10-36); (3) gives personal direction to some elders (37-46).
In the history of the church, particularly in its early days, hypocrites and deceivers were drawn into the Church and brought with them their abominations and wicked practices. Some of the Saints were deceived by them. This deception and sinister influence had to be rebuked by the Prophet, which is done in this revelation. In all dispensations deceivers have called forth the wrath and indignation of the almighty as almost nothing else has done.
Note this bitter denunciation: “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer; therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” (Matt. 23:13-15;.)
There will be no hypocrites in heaven. The Lord “in his hot displeasure, and in his fierce anger, in his time, will cut off those wicked, unfaithful, and unjust stewards, and appoint them their portion among hypocrites, and unbelievers.” (D&C 101:90.)
Deceivers, imposters, pretenders, hypocrites, and all who engage in sham and pretense are the enemies of truth; they not only lack honesty, but they are devoid of those primary elements of character – sincerity and genuineness. their influence undermines the very foundation upon which society rests. The Lord can use no such people in building up his Church.
“And that I may visit them in the day of visitation, when I shall unveil the face of my covering, to appoint the portion of the oppressor among hypocrites, where there is gnashing of teeth, if they reject my servants and my testimony which I have revealed unto them.” (D&C 124:8.)
From this group of people come the liars, the betrayers, the traitors, the traduces, character assassins, deceivers, and trouble-makers that receive the contempt of men and the malediction of the almighty who will bring them to judgment. No man has any claim to greatness who is not sincere, genuine, and sound at heart.
The Reward of the Faithful
On the other hand, note what is promised the faithful: “But blessed are they who are faithful and endure, whether in life or in death, for they shall inherit eternal life.” (D&UC 50:5)
Who are classed among the faithful and what may they hope to receive? The reward of those who are true to the faith, who are constant and steadfast in their adherence to the gospel – who are willing to live it, to work for it, to defend it, and if need be, die for it, are promised the greatest gift of God to man – eternal life. this is the highest reward offered to the children of our Father. Its price is obedience to the divine will and word of the Lord. All during is eventful days the Prophet Joseph’s life was in jeopardy. Wicked and conspiring men sought to destroy him, and he came to value the friendship of true and tried friends next to the love of God. Loyalty is one of the highest virtues possessed by man, and our Heavenly Father must have great respect for those who possess it. The humble, faithful men and women who have been steadfast in their devotion to the truth have been the instruments in the hands of the Almighty in conquering the desert, carrying on the missionary work, redeeming their dead, and establishing Zion. “Wherefore, let every man beware lest he do that which is not in truth and righteousness before me.” (D&C 50:9.)
How to Detect False Spirits
In reasoning with the elders, the Lord asks this question, “… unto what were ye ordained?” He then answers it: “To preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth. … Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? And if it be by some other way it is not of God.” (D&C 50:14, 17, 18.)
Anything that is not in harmony with the spirit of truth is not of God. The Lord makes plain the key: “And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.” (D&C 50:23, 24.)
To edify means to build up, to strengthen, to improve or enlighten. So every spiritual manifestation is measured by its influence. If it builds men up, strengthens, inspires and makes them better, it is of God. That is the standard by which to judge. If it does not do this, it is not of him. He that is ordained of God and sent forth, clothed with divine authority and commissioned to do the Lord’s work, has power to discern evil spirits and to overcome them. The Lord emphasizes this fact in verses 31, 32, 33:”Wherefore, it shall come to pass, that if you behold a spirit manifested that you cannot understand, and you receive not that spirit ye shall ask of the Father in the name of Jesus; and if he give not unto you that spirit, then you may know that it is not of God. and it shall be given unto you, power over that spirit; and you shall proclaim against that spirit with a loud voice that it is not of God – Not with railing accusation, that ye be not overcome, neither with boasting nor rejoicing, lest you be seized therewith.”
That which is not of God is darkness, and it mattereth not whether it come in the form of religious philosophy or revelation. No revelation from God will fail to edify. All who teach or preach this gospel will do well to ponder with care the lessons taught in this revelation. The truth of heaven can only be taught under the impression and power of the Holy Ghost, and the Lord lays down specifically the conditions under which those who are commissioned to teach and preach must live in order to do their work properly. “And if ye are purified and cleansed from all sin, ye shall ask whatsoever you will in the name of Jesus, and it shall be done.” (D&C 50:29.)
The Lord said to Parley P. Pratt, J.R. Murdock and the other elders present while Joseph dictated this revelation: “And behold, verily I say unto you, blessed are you who are now hearing these words of mine from the mouth of my servant, for your sins are forgiven you.” (Verse 36.)
No one can deceive this people nor lead them astray when they are in the line of their duty. The sheep know the voice of the good shepherd and they will not follow a stranger. When an elder speaks the truth, the spirit bears witness; and under this influence he is enlightened and edified, and so are those who listen.
1968-69: History of the Church for Children
Lesson 13: THE EXODUS TO MISSOURI
“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: —
“For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.” – I Peter 3:8, 10.
To learn of some of the events that finally forced the Saints to leave Ohio.
To learn that faultfinding is not a good practice.
Point of View
Because of the influence of Satan working upon the minds of others in the Church, many of whom were in high positions, the adversary was able to warp their perspective to such a degree as to call forth accusations of “unrighteous dominion.” Faultfinding and severe opposition to the Lord’s Anointed was in part responsible for the exodus from Ohio.
While the enemy from without was heartless and persistent, he was never so detrimental to the Church cause as were the enemies from within.
The implication here for students is that there is grave danger in faultfinding, especially when directed at the Church and its leaders.
1. Write “faultfinding” on the chalkboard. discuss with students its meaning and some of its implications. Invite them to give illustrations of faultfinding. List ideas on the chalkboard. Point up some of the dangers of faultfinding. Explain that faultfinding was one of the problems of the Church in Kirtland. Make a transition into the lesson presentation.
2. Invite a well-rehearsed group of students to sing, “Nay, Speak No Ill.” It is possible that there will be no piano in the classroom. Rehearse the number well enough that it can be sung without accompaniment. After the singing, explain to the students that the message of the song is excellent advice to everyone. Suggest that it would have been a good thing, too, had some of the early members of the Church at Kirtland heeded the advice of the hymn.
3. See the application and Enrichment Sections for additional approach material.
4. Read, from the Enrichment Section, one of the illustrations on faultfinding. Discuss this with students briefly, then lead into the lesson presentation.
Death of Hyrum Smith’s First Wife, Jerusha. In the summer of 1837, the Prophet journeyed with other leaders of the Church from Kirtland, and held meetings with the Saints in Missouri, about nine hundred miles to the west. During their journey, and while Hyrum Smith himself was in Far West, Missouri, Hyrum’s wife died at Kirtland.
Upon Hyrum’s return to Kirtland, his five little children sobbed out the sad story of the death of their mother. “Tell your father when he comes,” the dying mother had whispered, “that the Lord has taken your mother home.”
Some time later, Mary Fielding, a young woman convert from Toronto, Canada, moved into Kirtland. She and Hyrum were married. She soon became a second mother to Hyrum’s five children.
Faultfinders Try to Make themselves Leaders of the Church. When Joseph Smith returned from Missouri, he found that a group of faultfinders, including three of the apostles, had been holding meetings in the Kirtland Temple.
This faction began calling themselves the Church of Christ. They claimed that the leaders of the Church were wrong, that the temple belonged to them; and they attempted to control it by force.
On one occasion while the Saints were holding a meeting in the temple, this wicked group entered. After a short while they “drew their pistols and bowie knives,” frightening the Saints so much that some of them jumped out of the windows. The unruly men were finally put out of the temple, and the meeting continued.
The apostate faction joined an evil group of non-Mormons at Kirtland who were determined to destroy the temple, having been unable to prevent its construction. The apostates threatened that they would take the lives of Brigham Young and the Prophet Joseph Smith.
These men were in a rage at Brigham Young because he continued to declare that he “knew by the power of the Holy Ghost, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of the Most High God.” On the morning of December 22, 1837, Brigham Young left Kirtland to escape the fury of the mob.
Joseph and Sidney Escape on Horseback. “A new year dawned upon the Church in Kirtland in all the bitterness of the spirit” engendered by the threats of the apostate mob. Thus the Prophet summarized the situation.
“Elder Rigdon and myself were obliged to flee from its deadly influence. … On the evening of the 12th of January, , about ten o’clock, we left Kirtland on horseback to escape mob violence. …”
All night long, hour after hour, across a wild, snow-covered country, they hurried westward. The next morning, tired and cold, they stopped at a village sixty miles from Kirtland. Here they waited thirty-six hours for the wagons that were bringing their families. On the 16th, the journey was resumed, Elder Brigham Young accompanying them. The three outfits had before them a 900-mile trek to Far West in Missouri.
“The weather was extremely cold,” says the Prophet. “We were obliged to secret ourselves in our wagons, sometimes to elude the grasp of our pursuers, who continued their pursuit of us more than two hundred miles from Kirtland, armed with pistols and guns, seeking our lives.”
Brigham Young and Joseph Smith Travel Together. Brigham Young and the Prophet Joseph traveled much of the way together, and arrived at Far West on March 14. Sidney Rigdon, having suffered sickness in his family, separated from the Prophet, and arrived at Far West on April 4.
In Indiana, a faithful member of the Church handed the Prophet three hundred dollars to help him on his way. This was enough to buy food and supplies to enable him to pursue his journey without delay.
Leaders Greeted at Far West. About 120 miles east of Far West the Prophet and his companions were met by brethren from Missouri, bringing wagons, supplies and money to help him on his way.
Many of the Saints in Missouri had never seen the Prophet or Brigham Young. When the brethren arrived at Far West, the people, young and old, gathered in crowds around their wagons, waiting a turn to shake hands with these valiant servants of the Lord.
On July 6, 1838, a company of about 530 Saints commenced the journey from Kirtland, Ohio, to Missouri. After enduring various trials and afflictions they arrived at Far West, Missouri, on October 2. Then traveling on for two more days, they reached their destination. In this way, as well as by individual migrations, the Saints from Kirtland and other areas gathered to Missouri. The number of Saints in that state eventually rose to about 15,000.
Activities and Applications
1. Bring to class a small hand mirror and a magnifying glass. Note how they resemble each other. Note how they differ. Ask students to identify themselves with a mirror or a magnifying glass. Which is better – to magnify the faults of others or to reflect the good qualities we see in them?
Encourage students to stand in front of a full-length mirror and ask themselves, “Do I magnify the faults of my associates or do I mirror their good qualities?”
2. Plan a weiner or marshmallow roast – during the week – or a story-telling session around a campfire or in front of a home fireplace. In order to attend, each student might be requested to do two things: (a) to make a list of all of his own faults and to display them somewhere in his room where he can see them often with the object in mind of trying to overcome his faults one b one; (b) to make a list of all of the faults he can think of in his friends, members of his family and others. this latter list he will place in an envelope and seal it.
During the course of the campfire, fireplace, or “roast” session he will be asked to produce his envelope and to burn it in the fire. A useful lesson can be taught in this manner if carefully handled.
3. Point out that finding fault with others and especially with Church leaders is a poor practice that may lead us eventually into inactivity and bitterness, and even full-fledged apostasy. “Evil speaking of the Lord’s Anointed” is wrong, according to our Father in Heaven. A good rule is to treat others as we would have them treat us. Remind students that when they raise their hands to vote to sustain an officer or leader, they are promising to support him.
4. At the end of the class period give to each student a cardboard cutout in the shape of a hand mirror on which are written words to this effect, “I will look for good in others.”
5. Check the enrichment Section for other application material.
1. While Hyrum was in Missouri, in the summer of 1837, what happened at his home in Kirtland?
2. Who became a second mother to Hyrum’s five small children?
3. When the Prophet returned to kirtland from Missouri, who did he find had been holding meetings in the temple?
4. Who was first forced to leave Kirtland to escape the mob?
5. Who else had to leave Kirtland, escaping on horseback?
6. About how far was it from Kirtland to Far West, Missouri?
7. In what manner did a faithful member of the Church in Indiana help the Prophet on his way?
8. How did the Saints at Missouri greet Joseph Smith and Brigham Young as they arrived at Far West?
Sad Days in Kirtland. Referring to these sad days, the Prophet said that it seemed that the evil one had been fully turned loose upon the Saints and the work of God.
To Brigham Young’s surprise, one day when he entered the temple, he found the apostate group holding a meeting to overthrow the Prophet and the Church. he says that he stood up, “and in a plain and forcible manner told them that Joseph was a Prophet, and I knew it.
“Though they might rail and slander him as much as they pleased, they could not destroy the appointment of the Prophet of God; they could only destroy their own authority, cut the thread which bound them to the Prophet and to God, and sink themselves to hell. …
“This was a crisis when earth and hell seemed leagued to overthrow the Prophet and the Church of God.”
The eyes of the Mob Blinded. Mobbers trailed the Prophet and his companions for two hundred miles. “They frequently crossed our track,” reports Joseph. “Twice they were in the house where we stopped. Once we tarried all night in the same house with them, with only a partition between us and them; and heard their oaths and … threats concerning us, if they could catch us.
“… Late in the evening they came in to our room and examined us, but decided we were not the men. At other times we passed them in the streets, and gazed upon them, and they on us, but they knew us not.”
Adam’s Homeland in Missouri. The Lord revealed to the Prophet that a spot in the beautiful Grand River Valley, northward from the city of Far West, was the place where Father Adam offered sacrifice after he was driven from the Garden of Eden.
The Prophet said that three years previous to the death of Adam, he called together seven great high priests, including Methuselah, the grandfather of Noah. to this meeting came all the residue of Adam’s posterity who were righteous. And there in the Valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, Adam at 927 years of age, “bestowed upon them his last blessing.”
“And the Lord appeared unto them, and they rose up and blessed Adam, and called him Michael, the prince, the archangel.” And Adam, being filled with the Holy Ghost, told his people about the things that would take place down to the last days of man upon this earth.
The Prophet said that Missouri was the homeland of Adam; that it was here in America where he was placed upon the earth, not in the Old World as generally supposed.
The Lord told the Prophet that this great valley where Adam lived was called “the Valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman,” or the valley where Adam lived; that before Christ came in the last days to take charge of this earth, Adam would return to this Valley to prepare the righteous members of the Church for that great event.
What the Lord Told the Prophet About Tithing. In July, 1838, the Lord declared to Joseph Smith that the Saints “shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually” to the Church. “And this shall be a standing law unto them forever,” said the Lord.
The law of tithing requires that every person who earns or receives money should pay as tithing “one-tenth of all their interest (or increase) annually.” The leaders of the Church advise the Saints, young and old, to pay tithing when they receive money – whether this be weekly, monthly, or otherwise. The Lord should be the first to be paid.
Joseph F. Smith said that a man who fails to pay his tithing lacks faith in God’s promises.
President Smith’s widowed mother left us her testimony: “If I did not pay my tithing, I should expect the Lord to withhold his blessings from me … I expect a blessing by doing it.”
President Brigham Young said: “the Lord requires one-tenth of … the increase of my flocks and of all that I have … It is all the Lord’s, and we are only his stewards.”
The Full Name of the Church Revealed. Until April 26, 1838, the Church was called by several names (such as the Church of Christ, the Church of Jesus Christ) but on this day the Lord said that the full name was “The Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints,” meaning the Church of Jesus Christ made up of Saints in the last days.
Missionary Work in Canada. While the Church had been making rapid growth in Kirtland and Missouri, John Taylor, a young Methodist minister from England, arrived at Toronto, Canada, where he joined a group of people who were seeking greater religious light.
This educated group recognized the lack of a church like the one that Christ organized when He was on the earth – a church having the Holy Ghost, the priesthood, and other gifts and blessings. They prayed for guidance.
Then one day their prayers were answered, for a strange preacher came into town, stirring up the people about a new church that had recently been organized in New York State – a church having all the gifts and blessings of Christ’s former-day Church.
This new preacher was Parley P. Pratt. He sought for a house or a chapel in which to preach, but every door seemed closed against him.
This was a sad day for Elder Pratt. he wrote: “What could I do more? I had exhausted my influence and power without effect.” Although he was discouraged, Elder Pratt went into a pine grove just out of the town where he kneeled down and called upon the Lord in humble prayer.
That prayer was answered. Almost overnight, the members of the group mentioned above changed their minds and invited him to give several talks in which he explained the doctrines and teachings of his church.
In a short while Parley Pratt baptized John Taylor and his wife, Mary Fielding, Isaac Russell, and a score of other truth-seekers, John Taylor, who later became the third President of the Church, was soon ordained and elder and commenced his missionary labors.
John Taylor Spoke in Tongues. John Taylor, with Isaac Russell and others, returned to Canada on missions. One Sunday, before seeking a place in which to hold a meeting, the party turned aside to pray, choosing for the purpose a secluded spot on a cliff below the mighty Niagara Falls. While they were engaged in humble prayer, the power of the Holy Ghost came upon them, and john Taylor spoke in tongues for the first time. The brethren were filled with joy, knowing from this experience that their Father in Heaven was near to assist them, and that their prayers were heard. Comforted and encouraged they proceeded on their way.
DON’T BE A KNOCKER
Knocking is one of the easiest things in the world to do. it only takes a thimbleful of brains. And it is the cheapest and easiest way to attract attention. But it is a mighty expensive amusement. Everybody hates a knocker.
No man ever got very high by pulling other people down. The intelligent merchant does not knock his competitors. The sensible workers does not knock those who work with him. Don’t knock your friends. Don’t knock your enemies. Don’t knock yourself.
Don’t say cutting thins. Speak pleasantly of everybody whether they are pleasantly disposed or not. Boost and you will be boosted. Knock and you will be knocked. – Dr. Frank Crane.
We have men who delight in being knockers. One man said that knocking in a person is exactly the same as knocking in an automobile. It is always a sign that there is not very much power there. I think that is pretty well said. A man we sometimes read about, who was quoted today, who made a reputation for splitting logs, compared some people we were talking about to a little boat that used to go up and down the Mississippi River. It had a big boiler, and it had almost as big a whistle, and every time it whistled it took all of the steam out of the boiler, and the boat had to stop every time it whistled. Now, there are people just that way. When you contact them they are sour, but when they open the throttle to make a noise, you can bet your life everything stops.
– Marvin O. Ashton
Two items from Inspirational Talks for Youth. Preston Nibley. Deseret Book Co.
1968-69: Immortality and Eternal Life: Selections from … J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
Melchizedek Priesthood Course of Study
Lesson 28: Warning to the Priesthood to Follow Counsel
My brethren, I shall not detail you. I arise from a sense of duty and because President McKay has asked me to do so.
I would like to say just a word or two on a subject that I touched on last conference and that I may talk about again at some other conference if I shall be spared to be with you. I refer to the question of unity, and I will make my observations brief and as pointed as I may.
Brethren, if this Church is to grow as the Lord wants it to grow, if the people are to become as righteous in their living as the Lord wants them to become, there must be unity in this Church. it will not do for presidents of stakes or for bishops or for heads of auxiliary organizations to chart their own course. If we are to move forward we must move together. I loathe war so much that I hate to use any illustration in connection with it; but I do call your attention to this fact, of which we are all sensible in these times, that there could be no successful campaign by a series of armies if they did not act in unity. If every general “went off on his own,” there never would be a successful operation.
Now, so much for unity in administration. I would like to say just a word about unity in faith. The whole history of the world shows that nations have gone into decay and have fallen because of internal trouble, internal dissension, internal rottenness. The church, speaking in general terms – not of our Church – has had the same experience. Foes from without were not the church’s undoing, it was those who were within.
I want to say to your brethren, and I am not professing any spirit of seership or prophecy, I am only going on the lessons which history has taught me, but I tell you we are beginning to follow along the course of the early Christian church. So long as that church was persecuted from without, it prospered, but when it began to be polluted from within, the church began o wither.
There is creeping into our midst, and I warn you brethren about it, and I urge you to meet it, a great host of sectarian doctrines that have no place amongst us. The gospel in its simplicity, is to be found in the revelations, the teachings of the prophet and the early leaders of the Church. We shall make no mistake if we follow them. We shall make mistakes, and we shall lead our youth, or some of them, to apostasy if we try to harmonize our simple beliefs with the philosophy and the speculations of sectarian doctrines. When you can hear in our Sunday Schools in some of our most prominent wards, that we do not need to worry much about or think much about the first vision, we do not need to think very much about the atoning sacrifice of Christ – that is a mystery; we do not need to think very much about the power of healing or functions of the priesthood, but only about our cultural and material achievements, we would better be careful.
We must not “liberalize,” and I put that term in quotes, our teachings; we must accept them as God gave them to us and there must be amongst us a unity in faith. We used to hear that expression often when I was a boy. I have not heard it for a long time, but it is a good term to get back into our vocabularies.
May the Lord give us unity, may he inspire us with his Spirit, may he give all of us humility, make us humble, teach us how little we know, and may he give us a realizing sense of our obligation towards the youth, to see to it that no word or thought or act of ours shall tamper with their faith.
I testify from my observation, to the truthfulness of the words of Brother Clayton last night to the bishops when he told them that the youth were hungering for the gospel. You read the letters from the boys at the front when they tell you about what they talk when they come together in meetings. it is about the restored gospel, it is about faith and the power of faith and righteous living. When they get to the front with all that that means, all finespun ethics and philosophy leave them; they come back to the stern realities of religion – the existence of God, the atoning blood of the Savior, the power of faith, the reality of the first vision, the reality of the priesthood, the reality of the power of the priesthood, the reality of salvation.
God give us all, I repeat, humility and a full sense of our obligation to the youth and of our responsibility if we mislead them.
(Clark, J. Reuben, Jr., Address at General priesthood meeting, April 8, 1950. Manuscript)
1968-69: Immortality and Eternal Life: Selections from … J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
Melchizedek Priesthood Course of Study
Lesson 30: Loyalty and Obedience for the Priesthood Member
I am again impressed, as always, by the strength of the priesthood. I have seen it work in the lives of many men. I have seen them grow under its power and its influence. I have seen men moving in the walks of life of the world increased in power and in influence, far beyond their natural abilities, and I am sure the only reason for it was the possession of the priesthood.
The priesthood, of course, must not be taken lightly, and as I have said to you before, the priesthood cannot be taken off and put back on at will as you would a coat. Once endowed by the priesthood it remains with you. You may forfeit its power, the power may go, but your priesthood is still there, and in the days to come God will judge us by the use we have made of it, and we can no more escape that consequence than we can escape death. That fact should be with us always and never absent from us.
I wish again to refer tonight to my favorite subject of unity. I sometimes think that for me this is sort of an air on the G string that I play every time.
I say to you again, brethren, as I have said every priesthood meeting night for years, that if you are united, if you will act as one man in carrying out the purposes of the Lord, there is absolutely nothing that can withstand your power.
An essential part of unity is loyalty. There can be no union where loyalty does not exist. Loyalty is a pretty difficult quality to possess. It requires the ability to put away selfishness, greed, ambition and all of the baser qualities of the human mind. You cannot be loyal unless you are willing to surrender. There is no growth, mental, physical, or spiritual, unless there be some curtailment, some sacrifice may I say, on the part of him who would be loyal. His own preferences and desires must be put away, and he must see only the great purpose which lies out ahead.
Cases of Disloyalty
I have spoken in the past about loyalty to authority. you remember reference has already been indirectly made to this tonight by Brother McKay, speaking of peter. You remember how when the Lord told what was going to befall him, the Lord, peter avowed his loyalty to the Lord. The Lord picked him up very quickly and told him that before the cock should crow he would deny him, the Lord, thrice. and Peter said: “Oh no, though I should die, yet I will not deny thee.” and yet before the cock did crow the next morning he had three times denied his knowledge of an acquaintance with the Lord.
President mcKay has referred tonight to the fact that at the cross when the Son of Man was offering himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world there was only one apostle there and that was John. The rest, apparently, did not have the loyalty to go and see the master die.
Loyalty to themselves had been a highly prized and sometimes too rare a virtue with all the brethren who have stood at the head of the Church, some more than others. Joseph suffered from disloyalty, and this has been referred to during the conference, for even those nearest to him plotted to overthrow him and he charged some of them with plotting his death. Brother Brigham had his critics, men who could not be loyal, men whose own ambition, own greed, own objects, prevented them from following Brigham and helping him out. There were tens of thousands, however, who did have the loyalty and who followed.
you cannot have loyalty and be a carping critic. That just cannot be.
Obedience Through Faith
Now, another point, brethren. sometimes local presiding officers say, why, why should this be done, why should this course be followed? This does not apply to our local situation and that does not apply to somebody’s else situation. Do you remember that after Adam was driven from the Garden of Eden he was offering sacrifice and an angel of the Lord came to him and said: “Why dost thou offer sacrifice unto the Lord?”
He said: “I know not, save the Lord commanded me.”
And then the angel explained to Adam what the sacrifice meant, and the point I want to make from that is that obedience must often precede knowledge.
We are prone to try to rationalize and to say that the things we cannot understand cannot be. Well, how much is there in the physical world that we do not understand and that even the wisest of our scientific savants do not understand. They theorize about it. None of us here, perhaps one or two of us may, but very few of us here, can understand the atom bomb, can understand whence comes the power and the heat of the bomb that cause such great destruction. The fact that we cannot understand it makes no difference at all. the atom bomb, unfortunately, works, and metes our its terrible destruction whether we know or not. nations, apparently, are prepared to do anything, stoop to any level, to try to discover about the hydrogen bomb which is supposed to be so much more terrible than the bomb we have. Those of us here, the great bulk of us, know nothing about the hydrogen bomb. Does that make any difference to the fact of the bomb, the destruction still comes. the human mind cannot fully fathom the purposes of the Lord. We see them dimly. We see through a glass darkly, but that does not change the fact that the purposes are there, even though we do not understand them.
What a narrow measure it is to try and judge and calculate the infinite by the little our finite minds know. A story is told of Lincoln, who was supposed to be a great skeptic I his younger life. When he was down at Richmond as the war was drawing to a close, one of his early companions – I think it was General Reynolds – suddenly came around the corner of the tent where the President was living and found him reading the Bible. The General began to twit him about reading the Bible, basing the raillery on the early life, as he understood it, of Lincoln. Then Lincoln said: “Well, I have grown older and wiser. I now read the bible. I believe all I can and I take the rest on faith.”
And that is about where all of us are when it comes to the infinities that are involved in our spiritual welfare.
Loyalty One to Another
I want to say a word now about unity in the mass, our loyalty one to the other. It is not enough that you be loyal to those who are in authority over you. You must be loyal, one to another, and you will appreciate on a moment’s thought what that loyalty will require in your dealings, one with another. Unless you can be loyal, one to another, the strength of the priesthood cannot be exercised, and I repeat, that means that out of our hearts must go the greed and the avarice, the ambition, that sometimes we let lodge there.
A short time ago some gentlemen came here to write an article about us, and as frequently happens, they came to see the First Presidency, and as frequently happens, their approach was kindly, more or less respectful, almost deferential. They were going to do a great job. We have become accustomed to that approach and try to keep our guards up as well as we can. They wrote a story, and the title of it, as I recall it, was, “The Mormons Move Over.” The implication as I remember it was that we are sort of being crowded out, surrendering our position. We were on the down-grade.
Well, there was a time, brethren, when we moved over as we were bid, or forced, but if we have unity and loyalty we do not need to move over until we wish.
A Growing Church
This is a growing Church. it has the priesthood of Almighty god in it and directing it, and God will honor his priesthood if we, its bearers, honor it.
I read a story once. A judge was out driving one Sunday morning in Hyde Park, London. he had a coachman and a very spirited team. The park was filled with other buggies, teams, baby carriages and nurses, and all the rest, and suddenly his team took fright and started to run away. As the coachman dodged in and out among the other vehicles, the judge got more and more excited. he could see possible suits for damages for large amounts as he gazed at some of the handsome equipages they were narrowly missing. As the horses gained momentum he moved farther and farther to the front of his seat and then he called out to the coachman: “Henry, for goodness sake, drive into something cheap.”
We were “cheap,” once. Everybody considered it within his right and it certainly has been within his power to treat us, write about us, talk about us as he wished. But we are not ‘cheap” anymore, brethren, if we will be united and loyal. And the respect which men have for us is built, almost entirely, upon our loyalty and devotion to the cause which we represent. We do not need to put ourselves into a position where anybody can think that it is his power and his right to write spurious articles about us. they will be written, but they will not be believed.
(Clark, J. Reuben, Jr., Address at General Priesthood Meeting, April 8, 1950. Manuscript)