Elder Joseph L. Wirthlin
Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric
I sincerely trust, my brethren and sisters, that the Spirit of the Lord will guide and direct me in my remarks this morning.
The American Constitution Inspired
As the Bible is referred to as "the law and the testimony" in a religious sense, the Constitution of the United States is "the law and the testimony" of American democracy. Its framers were inspired men, and the membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accepts it as such in view of the revelations given to the Prophet Joseph Smith indicating that the Lord had a hand in the framing of this great document. I quote from Section 101 of the D&C, Verse 77, wherein the Lord declares:
According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles.
The American Constitution or Bill of Rights was paid for with the life blood of our Revolutionary fathers, and men for generations before them fought kings, died in battle, suffered imprisonment, and in some instances were executed in order to win personal freedom.
Events Foretold by Jefferson
The chief author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, was not only an inspired man in what he advocated, but I believe he was blessed with the gift of prophecy. I should like to read a Jeffersonian prophecy to you:
The spirit of the times may alter, will alter. Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless. A single zealot may become persecutor, and better men be his victims. It can never be too often repeated, that the time for fixing every essential right, on a legal basis, is while our rulers are honest, and ourselves united. From the conclusion of this war (of the Revolution) we shall be going down hill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves, but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of the war, will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier, till our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion.
An Apostasy From True Democracy
And as I view conditions today in the light of Jefferson's prophecy, a great apostasy has taken place from "the law and the testimony" of American democracy, or the Constitution of the United States. Just as there has been an apostasy from the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, there has been an apostasy from those divinely given principles of Government which have been transmitted to us by the inspired' men who founded this great nation.
What is apostasy? Webster defines apostasy as being: "Abandonment of what one has voluntarily professed; total desertion of principles or faith."
Stop and think for a moment if you will, of the statement of Jefferson and then of what is transpiring today. "A single zealot may become persecutor." And a situation of this kind is evidenced in our Government today wherein bureaucrats call free men before them, try them, and sentence them. In addition thereto, bureaucrats have assumed the right or taken the privilege of enacting law, depriving the national assembly and representatives of the people of the sole right to legislate, and have deprived the judiciary of its right to try offenders of the law.
The people have been forgotten by the administrators of their Government. There is no question about it. Many Governmental policies now in operation are being imposed upon the people without their consent or knowledge. In contemplation of these conditions, it can readily be seen that a great apostasy from "the law and the testimony" of the American democracy, the Constitution, is taking shape and form.
Furthermore, the people are being lulled to sleep by an opiate called "borrowed prosperity." As Jefferson indicated, the people are so inclined toward the gaining of wealth they are forsaking the fundamental law of this great republic.
A new dangerAmerican being arrayed against American in a new line of class demarkation which will divide this great nation, and, as has been said, "a house divided against itself cannot stand."
One of these groups in the face of a national emergency is literally lying down on the job, while our boys are in the military camps without proper weapons in their hands to learn the science of war. In the days of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln such a situation would have been handled as rebellion, and it should be handled as such today if America and American institutions are to continue.
One of the great fundamentals advocated by the founders of this American nation was that of frugal administration of government affairs. Never before in the history of the world has there been such an extravagant expenditure of the people's money.
Someone made reference to four or five freedoms. We have had more than four or five freedoms, for I think of at least the sixth onethe right under the Constitution of the United States for every man to work how, when, or where he willand that right has disappeared. It is gone and now lies in the hands of a group who rule the laboring class of the United States.
I point out these few facts to you in substantiation of the point that as a people and a government we are on the high road of apostasy from that inspired Bill of Rights bequeathed to us by the founders of this great republic.
South Carolina Politics
One of the most insidious practices was again drawn to our attention during the last two weeks, with reference to a Senatorial primary held in South Carolina. There were three candidates in the field for the office of United States Senator; and as usual there was the favored candidate he called upon the "powers that be," returning to his State with the announcement to the voters that $28,000,000 would soon be spent for the development of certain power projects.
This grant transmuted into votes, did not quite win the nomination. A run-off was required. The favored candidate's 48 per cent of the total vote was close to a majority, but to make it doubly sure, another $1,056,000 P. W. A. grant was made in favor of the capital of the State. (Time, September 29, 1941 )
I say this candidate will be an expensive senator. He will have cost the voters of his State and of the United States $29,056,000. More than that, he is not worth one cent as a representative of the people of his State, for he is responsible to those who made it possible for the Federal Government to spend $29,056,000 for his State. He will become nothing more or less than a rubber stamp.
In the light of the above practice, a new form of apostasy is taking place, in that politicians and government agencies bid for the votes of the people; and when the votes of the people are placed on the auction block to be purchased by the highest bidder, what will the outcome be?
Destruction of Food Decried
The founders of this great country believed in thrift and in conserving all of the country's resources, but again apostasy has been in the hearts of men. During the last ten years funds have been expended without regard to amounts, to use, or to the benefits derived from such wild expendituresfood was destroyed when there were hungry mouths that should have been provided with it. But thank God, in the Kingdom of the Christ now upon the earth, there are some modern Josephs of Egypt who during the time of wild spending and destruction of food advised this people to conserve their resources against the day of need. The day of need has arrived, as had been predicted. Millions of people in stricken Europe will feel the pangs of hunger. This day is now recognized by those who were responsible for the destruction of food, advising us to produce more, to practice the principle of conservation. Would it not have been a wiser policy to have heeded the inspired servants of God seven or eight years ago and saved that wich was destroyed?
While the policy of producing more food and conserving it is being advocated on one hand, yet on the other hand those who are responsible for national finances continue to spend lavishly and without reservation on projects which, in the ultimate, will be of but little benefit to the people as a whole.
What will he the ultimate outcome of it all? Thomas Jefferson has predicted what it will be, and may I repeat his statement to you:
The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of the war, will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier, until our rights shall * * * expire in a convulsion.
If our rights expire in a convulsion, the body politic now being slowly drugged by the opiate of a borrowed prosperity, will suffer a major financial operation, which will cause the death of the world's greatest democracy; and the vultures and the buzzards of some foreign "ism" will be waiting the moment to step in and devour the carcass.
The Position of the Church
There should be no question with reference to the stand of the members of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ with reference to the principles of American democracy, for Brigham Young declared: I expect to see the day when the Elders of Israel will assist civil and religious liberty and every constitutional liberty bequeathed to us by our fathers, and spread these rights abroad in connection with the Gospel for the salvation of all nations. I shall see this whether I live or die. (J. of D. p. 553)
Again he declared:
I do not lift my voice against the great and glorious Government guaranteed to every citizen by our Constitution, but against those corrupt administrators who trample the Constitution and just laws under their feet. (J. of D. p. 555)
And in making an effort for the preservation of our great Bill of Rights, may we do so energetically and willingly that others seeing our example will be inspired to follow after us and not for one moment to continue in the lethargy we are now in, for we may find ourselves in the position of a conquered and trampled France, best stated in the words of old Marshal Petain when he pronounced the following requiem over his stricken country:
Our spirit of enjoyment was stronger than our spirit of sacrifice. We wanted to have more than we wanted to give. We tried to spare effort, and met disaster.
After apostasy there is always an opportunity of restitution and restoration. I would to God that another angel could fly through the midst of heaven, as did that angel that John the Revelator saw, that angel which returned to earth and brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Oh, if such an angel could now fly through the midst of the heavens, warning and forewarning the American people of what ultimately lies before them, what a blessing it would be! But, on the other hand, I wish to assure you the Lord will not send an angel. It is not necessary, for His restored Church is upon the earth, and at its head there stands a Prophet, a Revelator, and a Seer who has warned this people and the American people over a period of many years.
And now, I pray that those who belong to this Church will hearken to that warning. I sincerely hope the American nation will turn for counsel toward these great mountains where the House of the Lord is established, where His inspired servants may be found, and, above all, that this nation's people will hearken to that counsel, to achieve the place that Thomas Jefferson predicted would be our blessing if we followed the fundamentals of government as laid down by the founders of this great nation, and to avoid the catastrophe that now lies immediately ahead:
Let us then with courage and confidence pursue our own Federal and republican principles, our attachment to our Union and representative government. Kindly separated by Nature and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe; too high minded to endure the degradations of the others; possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants to the hundredth and thousandth generation; entertaining a due sense of our equal rights to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow-citizens, resulting, not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed and practised in various forms, yet all of them including honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter; and with all these blessigs, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow citizens, a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.
As members of this Church we know what our relationship to the Government of the United States is. We know what our responsibilities are, for God has revealed them to us. I sincerely pray as citizens of the United States, as members of this great Church, we will set an example which will create, if it is possible, a restitution of all those glorious privileges and blessings that we have lost and are losingand we will arouse America by our example.
I testify to you that the destiny of this Church is leadership; it is God.'s Church, it is His work, and as Brigham Young declared, the Elders of the Church will not only carry the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations of the earth, but they will also carry those principles of freedom and equal rights, which will be beneficial to all flesh.
May we, in the spirit of the martyred Emancipator, approach this task:
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations that in the end, "this Government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth."
This I humbly pray will be its blessing, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.