Elder Joseph L. Wirthlin
Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric
I sincerely trust, my brethren and sisters, that I shall enjoy the Spirit of the Lord in the endeavor to address you this afternoon. I am grateful for the testimony with which the Lord has blessed me, and of all of the gifts that he has given unto me this testimony is the most precious and important one.
Grateful For Blessings
I am grateful for an ancestry who had the faith and the courage to come to this great land, and bestow upon their posterity the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and bless us with the privilege of dwelling in such a pleasant place, where we might enjoy the blessings of the Lord's house, and the association with the prophets of God.
Seeds Of Good And Evil
Recently, in passing a great public building, I noticed this inscription near the doorway. It read: "The seed of the past is the harvest of the future." This sentence stimulated some thinking on my part. I wondered, "What is the nature of the seeds being planted today, and what will be the harvest of the future?" I find there is a great variety of seeds being planted, some seeds that are good, and some seeds that are evil. I find that there are seeds of indebtedness. Without a doubt the peoples of the world today are being shackled by the bonds of indebtedness, as never before. The generation to which you and I belong will never live long enough to see these shackles broken.
I find seeds of immorality; seeds which promulgate the idea and the doctrine that Jesus the Christ might have been a prophet and a great teacher, but that no relationship exists between him and the Father, in the sense that he was the Only Begotten in the flesh; seeds of disrespect for government; seeds which enslave the body through the use of drugs; seeds of the corrupt philosophy that men have a right to expect a living from the world without any personal exertion, mentally or physically.
From these seeds we can largely determine what the future will hold for the men and the women of tomorrow. Those men and women of tomorrow are in your homes and my home. I sometimes think that as parents we are prone to leave the responsibility of training these children to the universities, high schools, and elementary schools. Their spiritual training, we feel, is a matter that should be left entirely to the Church; and perhaps the only responsibilities we have are to see that they are properly clothed and fed.
The Home University
Thoughts and opinions of this kind are decidedly detrimental and dangerous to the welfare of the youth of the land, and dangerous to the welfare and the future of the Church and Government. The home is the greatest institution of learning. George Herbert once said: "The first university is the university of the home. Here the hours for recitation are the morning, the noon and the night. Here we find the round table of infancy and childhood. Here are discussed the problems of the present hour, and the possibilities of the coming years. Here sit the scholars of youth and maidenhood. Here are enthroned two great chairs, endowed by destiny and sustained by human affection, Fatherhood and Motherhood. The greatest university in the world is the home. One good mother is worth one hundred school masters."
The home being the greatest university, the great place of preparation for the men and the women of tomorrow, who are going to be faced with a most uncertain future, I wonder if in our planning and thinking, we are preparing those curriculums and courses which will give our boys and girls the training that they should have relative to their hearts, to their heads, to their minds, and some instructions pertaining to the fundamentals of health.
Fundamentals In The Training Of Children
In training the heart, we will all agree that this great organ, which vitalizes the body and keeps it alive, is also the seat of all emotions, and the greatest emotion to be cultivated and stimulated is that of love. The first and great commandment is to love God the Eternal Father with all of one's heart and soul and mind; and the second one is like unto it, to love one's neighbor as one's self.
In teaching our children to love God, what is the first lesson? I would suggest that the first lesson is the lesson of prayer, to take the child, although he may be barely able to walk, to the family altar of prayer. Teach him the necessity of communicating with God, his Eternal Father, from whose presence his spirit has but recently come. If we can establish that bond, between God the Eternal Father and our children, through prayer, we are inculcating into their hearts respect for, faith in, and love for their Eternal Father.
We are anxious that our children should understand the principles of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. We should encourage them to study these principles. Obedience to the principles should be taught. We will find that through prayer, obedience, and study comes understanding; and with understanding comes testimony, a testimony that God lives, that Jesus was the Christ, and that in the meridian of time the Gospel was restored through the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Testimony Comes Through Revelation
I often wonder if we ever endeavor to define testimony. Brigham Young defined it on one occasion. He said that every honest searcher of truth had the right to know that Jesus was the Christ, in the same way that Peter knew it. I wonder how Peter knew that Jesus was the Christ. May I briefly relate to you the incident wherein Peter knew that Jesus was the Christ? I think we recall the occasion.
As the Savior traveled he turned upon his companions, one day and asked them the question: "Whom say ye that I am?" Some of his disciples replied: "Some say that thou are John the Baptist; some Elias, and others Jeremias," and so forth. Finally this man Peter, this calm and humble man, stood up, and looking the Savior squarely in the eye, said: "Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God." The Savior replied and said: "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven."
How did Peter know that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God? He knew it through the power of revelation. And modern-day prophets, have promised all of us if we seek the truth, with a righteous desire to know that Jesus is the Christ, we can know it, as did Peter of old. So we are anxious that the youth of this great Church and this great land shall have a burning testimony, and get it, if possible, in the same way that Peter got it, through revelation, through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.
Advantages Of A Latter-day Saint Home
The university of the home has some advantages that the institutions of learning have not, namely, at the head of every Latter-day Saint home there should stand a man who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood. In holding the Melchizedek Priesthood he has the right to inspiration and revelation, as far as it affects those who are attached to his household. If men are living the Gospel of Jesus Christ and attending to their duties in the Priesthood, God will bless them, as far as their children are concerned, giving them leadership and inspiration.
There is another difference between the ordinary institution of learning and that of the home, and that is the fact that in the home there is the obligation of its faculty, namely, father and mother, to set the proper example to these children. The father cannot sit idly by on Sunday morning and say to his sons: "It is time for you to go to Priesthood meeting," while he remains home. It is not possible to invite children to attend sacrament meeting, unless we set the example. The matter of example is just as important and is more far-reaching than is instruction which comes by word of mouth.
Greatness Of The Constitution To Be Taught
There is another great love, not only love of God and love of one's neighborand might I say that love of one's neighbor is best exhibited in the service that we render to those who are around usbut there should be love of country, that which has been so impressed upon us here during this Conference. I wonder how often, as parents, we take dusty copies of the Constitution of the United States from our book cases or our libraries, spread them out on the table, and then invite our boys and girls to come and go over the articles of that sacred document, one by one. I wonder, if an examination were given to the citizens of the United States today, relevant to the Constitution of the United States, how many of us would pass it successfully? There rests upon us most definitely the obligation of acquainting our boys and girls with this great document; teach it to them article by article, that they might understand the principles involved therein, principles that make for liberty, freedom, and personal initiative and of worshiping God according to the dictates of one's conscience.
Our boys and girls should know and understand that the Constitution made it possible for the organization of a government under which the Church of Jesus Christ could again be restored to the earth.. Do we ever read to our boys and girls the sentiments expressed by prophets of God in connection with this great document, such as the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith: "The Constitution of the United States is a glorious standard. It is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner. It is, to all of those who are privileged with the sweets of its liberty, like the cooling shade and refreshing water of a great rock in a dreary and thirsty land. It is like a great tree, under whose banners men from every clime can be sheltered from the burning rays of the sun."
These words of the Prophet Joseph Smith, relative to this great document of liberty and freedom, should be so ingrained in the hearts of our boys and girls that they will feel we not only have standard Church works, such as the Bible and the Book of Mormon, etc., but that we also have standard government works, the first of which is the Constitution of the United States.
Do we ever give our boys and girls any practical lessons in teaching them the true greatness of the Constitution? How often do we pass some great industrial plant, and notice hundreds of automobiles around it? Some of us may think that those automobiles belong to the owners of the plant, or to the management, but such is not the case. Those automobiles belong to the men who work in the plant. You can see that sight only in America. You can't see it in Europe, because it is not there. These men own automobiles because of the rights that they have under the Constitution of the United States to earn and pay for those things that are within the buying and purchasing power of all of these people.
We speak of Hitler and his ingenuity in accomplishing great things mechanicallyand might I say he hasbut there is one thing that he has not given his people, although he has endeavored over a period of years to provide an automobile that would be within their purchasing power. But here in America we not only enjoy automobiles, some of the comforts of fine homes, and fine homes themselves, but practically every blessing that even the rich and elect of far-off Europe enjoy. All of these things are possible individually because we live in a country where personal initiative is not restricted, where each and every man can have anything he wants, if he will work for it.
Warning Against Unpatriotic Doctrines
We should draw the attention of our children to the fact that there is now a war going on, so to speak, in America. Some years ago we fought a great civil war. It was fought mainly over two issues, whether or not this Government should exist part slave and part free, and also as to whether or not any one state had the right to secede from the Union. To the glory of those gallant men, both on the side of the South and of the North, they fought their battles openly, and we know what the results were and are.
But the warfare we now find isn't one that is being fought on the battlefield, honorably and openly, but it is a battle being fought behind the names of so-called patriotic societies, names used to shield the activities of those who would have us believe that they are engaged in patriotic endeavor, when in reality they are doing the very things that will undermine the Constitution and the Government of the United States. I think our boys and girls should be advised constantly as to the dangers of these organizations, and what their objectives are. It is a known fact to all of us that the very nations of Europe today that would bathe the world in blood, have their agents in America, promulgating their doctrines. We must ever be on guard, and particularly should we so advise the youth and the leaders of our nation of tomorrow.
With regard to the educating and the training of the mind, it is true that technical training should be given in our institutions of learning, but I do think, as Latter-day Saints, that there are particularly one or two things that we should stress in this connection. One is the fact that our boys and girls should be taught to segregate the true from the false. We should teach them the definition of that glorious statement given to us by the Prophet Joseph Smith, when he declared that "'The Glory of God is intelligence." The glory of God is intelligence. brethren and sisters, when we use true intelligence in righteous endeavor, and in the building up of the kingdom of God. I think these are thoughts and principles that should be instilled in the minds of our boys and girls as they pass through school.
Home Training Important
In the matter of training the hands, this training begins in childhood. It begins in the home. A child should be taught to do the small, personal things for himself, to become independent just as soon as possible; always to remember that his clothing and his food are the result of someone else's labor. He should be taught to appreciate what it costs to earn clothing, to earn shoes, and to earn food.
Horace Greeley has said, "The darkest hour in any man's life is when he sits down to plan to get money without earning it." And Brigham Young has said concerning work: "Laziness travels slowly and is soon overtaken by poverty. Investment of time, thought, and labor brings achievement of personal development. Out of indolence comes moral, mental and physical decay."
Every child should be taught that the Government of the United States, as has already been said, is not an organization which produces,. a profit, but rather an organization which is a perpetual consumer; that the people of the Government should support it, and in no instance should the Government support the people. When a child or an individual thinks that he can be dependent upon society, then he becomes an enemy of society.
I think it is important that our boys and our girls should be trained in all of the simple small tasks of the home. Perhaps it would be difficult to give you exact statistics relative to the number of untrained people on the unemployment rolls of cities and states, but it is a known fact that there are great numbers of them. This does not only pertain to the male citizenry of America, but also to the female citizenry. Our own experience in the Salt Lake region has shown us cases where mothers did not know how to make bread; cases where there was taken to them bolts of goods to make clothing for their children, and they did not know how to proceed.
In order to overcome problems of this kind, it is highly essential that these tasks be taught in the home; that every child have placed in his hands some tool with which he can construct something that will be useful.
The Lord's Law Of Health
With reference to health, the fundamental law of health, as given to us by the Prophet Joseph Smith, directly from our Heavenly Father, is sufficient to guide and direct our boys and girls.
The Lord has promised us very definitely if we will heed the Word of Wisdom and follow it, great blessings are in store for us. He said:
And all Saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even .hidden treasures;
And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.
These promises are enough to inspire and motivate each and every boy and girl in Israel to hold sacred the Word of Wisdom, and to live it.
Preparation For Leadership
In thinking of the future, wherein there will be many perplexities and problems, I am sure that if we will use the opportunities that are afforded us in the university of the home to train our boys and girls, when the day of leadership and responsibility comes to them they will be prepared and under the inspiration of God they will overcome all difficulties; that this great Government to which we belong will be preserved; and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will retain its place, for God has decreed that it is to remain for all time.
So, as these young men and women leave the home to go out and build homes for themselves, let us not fail to advise them of the first and great commandment, to multiply and replenish the earth, the first and the great commandment. Thereby we will create new homes and new homes become units of the Government and of the Church.
Let us remember the words of Jehovah to Joshua, as Joshua was about ready to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land, when Jehovah said to him:
Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord, thy God, is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
I am sure, brethren and sisters, that the Eternal One will be with the leadership of tomorrow, your boys and girls, if they will but depend upon the Holy One, who will never forsake them.
I often think of the spirit of Brother Melvin J. Ballard, expressed in his lovely song. If we could only inculcate that spirit into the hearts of our boys and girls, what a wonderful thing it would be! I have often heard Brother Ballard sing these words:
I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord,
Over mountain or plain or sea;
I'll say what you want me to say, dear Lord,
I'll be what you want me to be.
May the sons and daughters of Israel be what God wants them to be, and may you and I, as their parents, so inspire them and motivate them that they shall reach toward the highest ideals, and thereby be enabled to solve the problems of the future, I ask, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.