The object of religion is to make people happy in this life and in the hereafter. To accomplish this, religion must be as a truthful and complete compass or chart for life’s voyage, and an effective guide for human effort. It must be part of work and play, as of formal worship. It must be useful in every occupation, condition or need. It must be practical.
An acceptable religion must conform to the many-sided nature of humanity. Man is physical, mental and spiritual. He has physical, economic, social, intellectual, mental and spiritual needs. All these must be satisfied by religion, which should be the guiding philosophy and supporting power of all human actions.
It is by its fruits that a church should be judged. It is by this test that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is willing to be judged. It has a well-known history of one hundred years of practice of the pure doctrines of Jesus Christ. It stands ready to be tested by the fruits it has borne.
THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD HEALTH
A sound body and physical health are the foundations of human happiness and success. Every daily task is best done when in the possession of good health. Health should be a concern of religion, for the human body is a holy tabernacle of an immortal spirit. The Latter-day Saints, therefore, teach moderation and wisdom in eating, drinking, sleep, work and play; and discourage the use of alcohol, tobacco, or any drink or substance that injures or unnaturally stimulates the body. This is one reason for the high average health of the “Mormons,” and explains their longevity. The birth rate among them is one of the highest in the world, and the death rate (75 per 10,000) less than one-half of the most favourable elsewhere in the world.
THE HIGHER SOCIALISM
Economic welfare is likewise essential to full human happiness. The gospel taught by Jesus Christ if practiced by the world would enable every person to secure, in honour and with reasonable effort, enough to eat and drink and to be comfortably clothed and sheltered. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, thrift and industry and cooperation, with the wise use of money, are enjoined upon the people. Honest labour of every kind is held in high respect. The history of the Church is full of romantic stories of economic conquest. The church has built hundreds of cities, it has conquered deserts, it has brought about an average individual prosperity higher than in any other group of like numbers. There are few poor among the people; upwards of eighty per cent. of the people own their homes. They have achieved an economic independence which the world envies. they have proved that adherence to the principles of Christianity may be used successfully in economic life.
IN UNION THERE IS STRENGTH
The best social conditions should exist among the followers of Christ. The Church should be as one great brotherhood. Among the Latter-day Saints, the terms Brother and Sister are, in fact, commonly used. Women as well as men are active in the organizations of the Church. The Priesthood is conferred upon all worthy men, in varying degrees, from boyhood to manhood. There is no Priesthood class in the Church. The government of the Church is by the members. The poor and the rich have equal privileges. The organization and government of the Church, participated in by all members in good standing, are such as to produce unity of feeling and powerful community strength. Social life in the Church is conducive to high human happiness. Recreation and wholesome enjoyment are promoted by the Church, which believes in a glad and happy people.
MAN CANNOT BE SAVED IN IGNORANCE
Man’s intellectual needs should be fostered by the Church. The gospel of Jesus Christ is one of enlightenment. It declares that “the glory of God is intelligence.” It abhors ignorance, superstition and intolerance. “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The church must devise means for and support every proper agency to enlighten, educate, and help humanity advance intellectually. The joys of learning must be available not to the few, but to all who care to use them. The Latter-day Saints have conformed to this doctrine. The church maintains in active operation, for use of all members, several organizations for intellectual as well as moral development. During its century of progress, it has built schools and universities, and assisted the State in educational activity. Young and old are encouraged to seek education. Literacy among the Latter-day Saints is nearly 100 per cent., and there is no other group of the same size which has so many students in high schools and universities.
THE WAY TO FREEDOM
The moral well-being of a man must be a distinct concern of the Church. The words of President Masaryk are the doctrine of true Christianity: “Our way to freedom is education and morality.” The practice of the principles taught by the ten commandments and the beatitudes, and obedience to just human laws, are expected of every member of the Church of Christ. Followers of Jesus Christ should be good citizens. Men must be honest. They must keep themselves clean. They must desire and practice morality. Latter-day Saints are required to obey the cardinal principles of moral propriety. All must be just; a man must be as clean as a woman. There can be no double standard of morality. The result of such teachings is that relatively few Latter-day Saints are in prison; venereal disease, the scourge of mankind, is almost unknown among them. During the late Great War, two thousand young men, mostly “Mormons,” were examined for military service at the Utah State University, and only two were found to have venereal disease – and both of these were non-“Mormons.”
“MAN DOES NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE”
Best of all, the Gospel of Jesus Christ satisfies the spiritual yearnings of man; it supplies more than the needs of body and mind. Eternal questions are forever in the human mind, the answers to which determine human peace and happiness. For example:
Whence came man? The Latter-day Saints answer: He lived, spiritually, with God, in a pre-existent stage, where he grew and increased, until the experience of an earth-life was deemed desirable for him. Then, in accordance with a definite plan of God, but with the sanction of his own free will, he was placed upon the earth.
Why is man upon earth? To gain strength by the experiences of mortality, to conquer self and thereby win joy for himself on earth and prepare for his future eternal life.
Where does man go after death? Into the spirit world, where he will be judged according to his works on earth and where he may continue as an active being, ever progressing, ever moving onward, ever growing toward perfection. In this spirit world all the holy attachments of earthly family ties and friendships will be continued, and whatever of worth man has learned on earth, will be his to use in the after life.
What is the law of life? Eternal progression. To please God and to win true happiness, one must grow daily in righteousness and good works.
What is the law of the individual? That he be allowed to act for himself, and to choose for himself when principles of truth are set before him. That no force must be placed upon the right of man’s free agency, or the exercise of the human will.
What is man? The very son or daughter of God. The work and glory of God is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of all his earth children, that is, to enable them to advance eternally in power and happiness.
Who is God? Our very spiritual Father, who knows and understands and loves us. He is a Personal Being, who has revealed Himself to his prophets in the past, and who still reveals Himself for the guidance of His children.
Can man know God? Yes, so far as human limitations permit. God hears man’s prayer, and in wisdom answers it. Those who ask in faith shall know the truth. Those who seek God shall find Him.
What is the Church of Christ? The organization of those who have accepted the unchanged gospel of the Lord, and who have obeyed its ordinances; and through which the principles of the Gospel may be applied for human good. It is possessed of divine authority, and acts in the name of the Lord.
Such clear and sensible answers to the many questions asked by man throughout the ages have made the Latter-day Saints spiritually intelligent and contented. Truth feeds the spirit of man.
Many glorious principles, that for want of space cannot be discussed here, for God’s philosophy or plan of salvation for His children on earth. adherence to this vast plan for physical, mental and spiritual perfection, a marvelous work and a wonder, will raise mankind to a condition of happiness and intelligent contentment. It is the great need of the present age.
THE RESTORATION OF THE GOSPEL
More than one hundred years ago, the Lord appeared to Joseph Smith, the Prophet, and conferred upon him authority to restore, in its ancient purity, the Church of Christ, and revealed to him the body of saving doctrine belonging to the church. This organization was effected on April 6th, 1830. A century has shown the life-giving, joy-producing power of the truths of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the highest mode of life known to man.
The Latter-day Saints are teaching humbly, but with certain knowledge, the message of the truth of the Restoration to all the nations of the world.
THE TEST OF TRUTH
Truth, the most precious thing in the world, should be sought for by all people. Upon its acceptance depends the future happiness of mankind.
The proof of truth is not in age or numbers or fame, but in its results. Radio is new, but, since it is sound science, it is of world service; Komensky was once alone in his educational theories, but they were founded in truth and now the whole educational world is following him; the Czech nation was long in bondage, but its idealism and high principles have enabled it in a few years to set an example in wise government which is the admiration of the world. Radio, Komensky and the Czech nation are known “by their fruits.”
So may religion be judged. Jesus of Nazareth set forth the divine test. “ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?”
(“Another Tract for the Czechs,” Millennial Star, 28 November 1920, 761-765)
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