Brethren and sisters, there are some things that you and I ought to think about. The time is come when it behooves every man and every woman to know for themselves in relation to the foundation on which they stand. We should all strive to get a little nearer to the Lord. It is necessary for us to advance a little and obtain a full knowledge of those things which we should more fully understand. It is the privilege of every Latter-day Saint.
This is the condition of all men, no matter how well they start out, who allow their thoughts and affections to run after the world and its ways, and it is a plain and indisputable proof that when this is the case with men they love the world more than they love the Lord and His work upon the earth. Having received the light of the everlasting Gospel, and partaken of the good things of the kingdom, and being of the seed of Israel and heirs to great and glorious promises, we should labor with fidelity and diligence to accomplish what God has designed to do through us; we should be men and women of faith and power as well as good works, and when we discover ourselves careless or indifferent in the least, it should be sufficient for us to know it in order to mend our ways and return to the path of duty.
Nothing can be more foolish than the idea of a man laying off his religion like a cloak or garment. There is no such thing as a man laying off his religion unless he lays off himself. Our religion should be incorporated within ourselves, a part of our being that cannot be laid off. If there can be such a thing as a man laying off his religion, the moment he does so he gets on to ground he knows nothing about, he gives himself over to the powers of darkness, he is not on his own ground, he has no business there. The idea of Elders in Israel swearing, lying and giving way to intoxication is far beneath them; they ought to be above such things. Let us put from us every evil and live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God [see D&C 98:11]. Let us lay hold of every duty assigned to us with ambition and energy that we may have the spirit of our God, the light of truth and the revelations of Jesus Christ within us continually.
There are those among us who are recognized as members of this Church who take a vast amount of pains to be favorably known by those around them, but whose real character, or the inwardness so to speak, of such people, is veiled or disguised. … Now this prayer that I [refer] to—“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” [Psalm 139:23–24]—is very significant; it was a prayer that David in the principal course of his life could conscientiously and with a degree of confidence offer up to the Lord. But there were times when he would feel the faltering and quivering sensation of weakness in offering up a prayer of this kind.
I have reason to believe that many of the Latter-day Saints, during a great portion of their lives, could approach the Lord in all confidence and make this same prayer—“Search me, O God, and know my heart, and see if there be any wicked way in me;” but if we, as a people, could live so as to be able at all times to bow before the Lord and offer up a prayer like this, what a delightful thing it would be, what an attainment we should have acquired in righteousness and good works! … I would recommend that [every person] adopt this prayer of David, and see how near he can live according to the light that he has, so as to make it in all sincerity part of his devotions to God. Many fail in coming up to this standard of excellence because they do things in secret where mortal eye cannot penetrate, that have a direct tendency to alienate them from the Almighty and to grieve away the Spirit of God. Such persons cannot in their private closet use this prayer; they could not unless they had repented of their sins and repaired the wrong they may have committed, and determined to do better in the future than they had done in the past, and to establish a character before God that could be relied upon in the hour of trial, and that would fit them to associate with holy beings and with the Father himself when they shall have passed into the spirit world.
“This is the last family re-union we have reason to expect this side of the spirit world. May the God of our fathers help us to keep His laws, live honorable lives, preserve inviolate our virtue and integrity, listen to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, and seek diligently to purify ourselves, that not a single member of this family be lost by deviating from the straight and narrow path, but may we all prove ourselves worthy to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection, crowned with glory, perpetuating in immortality the family union, and continue to increase down through the endless ages of eternity.”
If you ever secure a union in any family in Zion, if you ever secure that heavenly union which is necessary to exist there you have got to bind that family together in one, and there has got to be the Spirit of the Lord in the head of that family and he should possess that light and that intelligence which if carried out in the daily life and conduct of those individuals, will prove the salvation of that family, for he holds their salvation in his hands.
He goes to work and associates his feelings and affections with theirs as far as lies in his power, and endeavors to secure all those things that are necessary for their comfort and welfare, and they on the other part have got to turn round and manifest the same feeling, the same kindness and the same disposition, and to the utmost of their ability manifest feelings of gratitude for the blessings which they receive.
I am satisfied that when persons go into these temples, they do not [leave] without feeling better and with a determination in their minds to do a little better than they have done. That is the feeling we want the Saints to get. …
… Be faithful, brethren and sisters, and persevering; come to the temple and do your work there, and you will enjoy yourselves, and be better prepared to resist the unpleasantnesses of the world.
Those who [enter the] Temple with a pure heart and a contrite spirit [will] not come out of it without receiving peculiar blessings, although these in some, or possibly many, instances might be different from what some might expect. … Some of the Saints might be looking for the appearance of ministering angels … or expect to behold the face of God. It might not be profitable for you to impart such manifestations. The Lord knows what is best for every individual, and will adapt His gifts for the production of the greatest good to those who receive them. It may be safely anticipated that every faithful Saint who enters that House will receive a blessing that will give much satisfaction to the recipient. Before those who would enter the Temple [leave] it, something [will] arise in their hearts and understanding which [will] be serviceable to them in their future lives. To this, as true Latter-day Saints, they [are] entitled.
We came into the world for a great purpose, the same as Jesus, our elder brother, to do the will and works of our Father; in this there is peace, joy and happiness, an increase of wisdom, knowledge and the power of God; outside of this are no promised blessings. Thus let us devote ourselves to righteousness, help each and all to be better and happier; do good to all and evil to none; honor God and obey His Priesthood; cultivate and preserve an enlightened conscience and follow the Holy Spirit; faint not, hold fast to what is good, endure to the end, and your cup of joy shall be full even to overflowing, for great shall be your reward for your trials and your sufferings under temptations, your fiery ordeals, your heart yearnings and tears; yea, our God will give you a crown of unfading glory.
In and of ourselves we cannot possibly comply with all the commandments that God has given unto us. Jesus himself could not without divine aid from His Father accomplish His work. He said on one occasion, “I can of mine own self do nothing, as I hear I judge and my judgment is just because I seek not my own will but the will of the Father who sent me.” [John 5:30.] And we, if it was necessary for Him, our Lord, to have divine assistance, will find it all the more important to receive His assistance. And in every circumstance and condition surrounding the Latter-day Saints, while in the performance of their duties, they are entitled to supernatural aid from the Holy Spirit, to help in the various conditions surrounding them, and in the duties that they are required to perform.
The character of the religion that we have espoused demands a certain course of conduct that no other religion that we know of requires of its adherents; and the nature of those demands upon us [is] such that no person can comply with them, unless by assistance from the Almighty. It is necessary that we comprehend, at least in part, the great and important blessings that we are to derive, eventually, by complying with the requirements of the religion or gospel that we have received. The sacrifices that are required of us are of that nature that no man or woman could make them, unless aided by a supernatural power; and the Lord, in proposing these conditions, never intended that his people should ever be required to comply with them unless by supernatural aid, and of that kind that is not professed by any other class of religious people. He has promised this aid.
If we have division in our midst; if we be divided either spiritually or temporally, we never can be the people that God designs us to become, nor can we ever become instruments in His hands of making the world believe that the holy Priesthood has been restored, and that we have the everlasting Gospel. In order for us to effect the purposes of God we shall have to do as Jesus did—conform our individual will to the will of God, not only in one thing, but in all things, and to live so that the will of God shall be in us.
There should be greater union in our midst than we find today. There is a perfect union in the quorum of the Twelve. Should there not be a perfect union in that quorum? Most assuredly, every one would say Yes, a perfect union in the quorum of the Twelve Apostles. … And there is also a perfect union with the First Presidency, and should there not be? Every one will say, certainly, there should be. And should there not be a perfect union with the seven presidents of the Seventies? There most assuredly should be; we all say Yes. Should there not be a perfect union with the High Councils of the various Stakes of Zion? Certainly there should be, and there is a way to accomplish that union. And the same way with the various other organizations and quorums. Should there not be a perfect union with the presidencies of Stakes? Certainly, and if I were a president of a Stake, I would not rest day or night until I had union with my counselors. Should there not be a union with the Bishop and his Counselors? Most assuredly there should be.
Well, what is more important? Should there not be union in the family? … Most assuredly there should. And why should any man be satisfied, why should any husband and father of a family rest satisfied until he effects a perfect union, that is, just as far as a perfect union can be accomplished? And in this matter the father should make himself just as perfect as a man can in this life be made perfect before his family. And the wife should make herself just as perfect as a woman can possibly do in this life. And then they are prepared to make their children just as perfect as they are willing and are capable of being made perfect. And the father and the mother should be very careful. The wife should never in the presence of her children speak disrespectfully of her husband. If she thinks her husband has done wrong (he might have done), she should never speak of it in the presence of her children. She should take him out of the presence of her children and there tell him of his faults, in a pleasant way, but never in the presence of the children speak disrespectfully of the father. And the father the same. He has no right to speak disrespectfully of his wife in the presence of her children. And I pray God to give the husband and wife the spirit and the understanding to correct themselves in such matters. I know that a great many of the difficulties that now appear, and the disrespect that we find in reference to the Priesthood, among young people, arises from this fact, that there have been difficulties in the home circle, and there has been disrespect expressed in their presence, of the father by the mother, or of the mother by the father. Now I know these things are so.
Why is [a] man called to act as president over a people? Is it in order to acquire an influence and then to use that influence directly for his own aggrandizement? No, but on the contrary, he is called to act in such a position on the same principle as the priesthood was given to the Son of God, that he should make sacrifices. For himself? No, but in the interests of the people over whom he presides. Would he be required to offer himself up on the cross as did the Saviour? No, but to become the servant of his brethren, not their master, and to work in their interest and welfare. Not to exercise the influence thus obtained to benefit himself, his family and relatives and personal friends, but esteeming all as his brethren, having rights in common with himself and, therefore, seeking to bless and benefit all equally according to the talents and worthiness they may possess, and thus by so doing develop in himself that fatherly feeling which always exists in the bosom of the Father.
Make one prayer before [teaching], and that is this: Ask the Lord that you may say something during your remarks that will be beneficial to those whom you address. Never mind whether it will be something that will add to your own glory or not, but simply bear in mind that you are called upon to address the audience and that they desire to receive something that will benefit them. This can only come from the Lord. Do not worry as to whether … those who hear you may say you spoke beautifully. Do not mind about that at all, but remove every selfishness that may be in your mind that the Lord may dictate unto you something that will be of benefit to the people.
We are of the same Father in the celestial worlds. … If we knew each other as we should, … our sympathies would be excited more than they are at the present time, and there would be a desire on the part of every individual to study in their own minds how they might do their brethren good, how they might alleviate their sorrows and build them up in truth, how [they might] remove the darkness from their minds. If we understand each other and the real relationship which we hold to each other, we should feel different from what we do; but this knowledge can be obtained only as we obtain the Spirit of life, and as we are desirous of building each other up in righteousness.
Other entries in this series:
And now, on to Joseph F. Smith!