Elder Joseph L. Wirthlin
Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric
I sincerely trust, my brethren and sisters, that I may enjoy the Spirit of the Lord during the moment or two that I might stand before you.
I am profoundly grateful to the Lord because in this day and in this dispensation he has raised up a Prophet and prophets who have followed him. Through these prophets he has given his word to us that pertains to all of the phases and activities of life. I am thinking particularly now of that phase of our life that has to do with the law of the land. He made it known unto us through the Prophet Joseph:
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; . . . And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood. (D. & C. 101: 77, 80.)
Free Agency vs. Force
I have thought many times of the men who were selected by God in Revolutionary days to set up a government, a government predicated upon the great principle of free agency, that principle which was fought for in the councils of heaven when two of the Lord's sons stood before him, one of them advocating a plan whereby he would redeem all of the Lord's children that were to come to the new earth, whether they desired redemption or not; and the other one advocating a plan that he would extend to each man his agency to decide whether or not he would follow the commandments of God or whether he would follow the commandments of the opposite power. As a result of advocating these two plans, a great war took place in the heavens, and Lucifer, the Son of the Morning, was cast out; and from that day until now, these two great forces have been in a gigantic struggle. Jesus Christ came to earth and gave each and every one of us the right and the privilege to follow God's commandments as we saw fit, while, on the other had, Satan has done all within his power to ensnare the souls of the Lord's children and have them follow after him.
These two philosophies have been found in government. We find that in the days of George Washington, in the day of these wise men that the Lord raised up to found a republic, founded upon the principle of free agency, that there were those who opposed the idea; there were those who fought against the principles as advocated by Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the Revolutionary fathers. And from that day until this, the world over, these two philosophies have been struggling with each other. The Lord gave Joseph Smith another revelation, one that should be a warning to all of us, with reference to the principle of force as advocated by Lucifer, for the Lord said:
And again, I say unto you that the enemy in the secret chambers seeketh your lives. Ye hear of wars in far countries, and you say that there will soon be great wars in far countries, but ye know not the hearts of men in your own land. (D. & C. 38:28, 29.)
Dangerous Tendencies In Government
I am sure that this revelation, brothers and sisters, pertains to this day and to this time. While our attention is attracted to foreign countries where there have been wars and where there are still wars, there are within the very borders of this great republic those who would change our form of government and who would force upon us the same type of government that Lucifer advocated in the councils of heaven.
Now these wise men that the Lord raised up during the days of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Robert Morris, and Hamilton, provided a pattern of government for us to follow, a pattern of government which has brought to us numerous blessings, a form of government that has made us the strongest, and, may I say, the richest nation in all the world, because it has been founded upon the principle of free agency. Every individual has had the right to do the thing that he has wanted to do in the fields of industry, agriculture, or whatnot. He has had the right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience. He has had the right to own property. He has had the right to speak as he sees fit, and he has enjoyed the privilege of a great and free press. But, on the other hand, we find that the philosophy of the evil one would teach us that, after all, our government should be centralized in the hands of one or two men. Some advocate changing the form of our government. They advocate regimentation of industry and labor. They advocate that deficit spending is the sure way to prosperity. They would pervert the Constitution. They have endeavored through the various educational systems of this great country to teach us doctrines that are contrary to the doctrines and the principles upon which this great republic is founded. They would restrict us in our religious worship. They would disrupt family relationships. And so as we compare these two great systems, we can readily see that they are but a carry-over from that great battle which took place in the spirit world.
When I think of these wise men, George Washington and Jefferson and Franklin, I think of men who were servants of God, raised up for the purpose of establishing the Constitution and establishing this great government. Thomas Jefferson was endowed from on high with prophetic power. If you will study the Doctrines of Democracy as advocated by Thomas Jefferson one hundred thirty years ago, you will find that in many respects we have departed from the principles that made us a great and powerful nation.
Jefferson's Statement On Centralized Government
Those who would change our form of government would centralize all its powers and functions into the hands of a few. Let us refer to this man of God, Thomas Jefferson, who was raised up by the Lord to help establish this great republic. What did Jefferson say with reference to centralized government?
Our country is too large to have all of its affairs directed by a single government, and I do verily believe that if the principle were to prevail of a common law being in force in the United States, it would become the most corrupt government upon the earth. What an augmentation of the field for jobbing, speculating, plundering, office-building and office-hunting would be produced by an assumption of all of the state powers into the hands of the general government. The true theory of our Constitution is surely the wisest and best, that the states are independent as to everything within themselves, and united as to everything respecting foreign nations.
Over the years that have passed, the states have given up many of their rights to the federal government. As a result, we are becoming a closely supervised nation in many respects. This man of God understood this and warned us and forewarned us to protect our rights as states and as individuals.
Jefferson foresaw the time when, should we be regulated in our businesses, in all our endeavors, there would come a day of famine. I shall read to you one of his statements: "Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want bread."
We are living in that very day. We have seen the need for bread; we have seen the need for meat; we have seen the need for sugar; we have seen the need for many of the necessities of life. I am sure this wise man of God enjoyed the inspiration of the spirit of prophecy when he made the above declaration.
There are those who would change our form of government, would regiment us in all of our endeavors. It would be only a short time when men would be called to perform work whether they were qualified to do it or not. They would be forced into the harness of labor without any opportunity to express their own desires. Serfdom would soon dominate the lives of the people.
And again, this wise man of God saw that if there ever came a time when we were regimented that we would lose our independence, that we would lose all the blessings that have come to us through the Constitution of the United States. He said this, in speaking of regimentation, which is nothing more nor less than nazism, communism, or fascism, which are the forms of government that have shackled the peoples of Germany, Russia, Italy, and other nations Should we adopt foreign "isms,"
. . . it will be as in Europe, where every man must be pike or gudgeon, hammer or anvil. Our functionaries and theirs are wares from the same workshop, made of the same materials, and by the same hand. If the states look with apathy on this silent descent of their government into the gulf which is to swallow all, we have only to weep over the human character formed uncontrollable but by a rod of iron, and the blasphemers of man, as incapable of self-government.
Debt Brings Servitude
Then there are those who would change our form of government, these wicked men that the Lord spoke of in a revelation to the Prophet Joseph as scheming and planning to do away with what the Lord had given us; one of their lines of attack is that of perpetual debt. It may be of some interest for you to know, and no doubt you already know it, that one of the greatest advocates of one of these "isms," Lenin, the great Russian revolutionist, said: "As far as America is concerned, we will let America spend and spend herself into bankruptcy, then we will take over."
What did Thomas Jefferson, this wise man of the Lord, say with reference to perpetual debt? He said:
I am not among those who fear the people. They are our dependents for continued freedom. And to preserve their independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude.
I hope we have not gone so far in this nation of ours that because of the profusion which we have had we have brought upon ourselves servitude.
Now is the time. Now is the time if we are to preserve our independence and liberty to let those know in whose hands we have given the affairs of government, that we are not going to stand for continued extravagant spending, for as surely as that policy continues we will face bankruptcy and with bankruptcy there will come that inevitable, dreadful thing that we call revolution. And with revolution comes the opportunity for those within the borders of our land who would destroy our government, to step in and take over. They would also change our form of government, and what did this wise man of the Lord, Thomas Jefferson, say with reference to this change?
I said to President Washington that if the equilibrium of the three great bodies, legislative, executive, and judiciary, could be preserved, if the legislature could be kept independent, I should never fear the result of such a government; but that I could not but be uneasy when I saw that the executive had swallowed up the legislative branch. When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we are separated.
Brethren and sisters, these are the words of one of God's inspired servants, one of those whom he told us through revelation he had raised up to help establish the government of the United States.
Benefits Of Freedom
I ask you to compare the fruits of this great republic with the fruits of those nations where they have accepted or had forced upon them these "isms" of the evil one. For example, in the United States, with roughly six percent of the world's population in six percent of its area, America enjoys forty-four percent of the productive wealth of the world. Thirty million families live in American homes valued at a hundred and two billion dollars. They cultivate six and a half million farms with an estimated value of fifty-eight billion dollars. American families enjoy the use of twenty-five million automobiles, nineteen million telephones, and forty-five million radios.
And so I could go on and point out to you the fruits, the temporal fruits, that have come to us because we have had the privilege of living under a government founded upon the divine principle of free agency. These figures, after all, brethren and sisters, are a tribute to the wisdom of our system of government with its freedom and its individual initiative which have always been the urge to these accomplishments.
Now I ask you to compare these accomplishments and fruits with those nations that have adopted a system where men and women are regimented, where they dare not express their thoughts nor have the right to worship God as their conscience dictates to them. Have they achieved any such results as these? You and I know that they have not, and they never can, because so long as the individual is shackled, there will be no opportunity for individual progress. And one of the grand and glorious things about our republic is the fact that it is the individual that counts, and the state is but to serve him. He does not become a mere pawn of the state and a cog in a great machine; he is the objective of the government. And as long as the individual is the objective of this great government, you can rest well assured that we will continue to make progress and enjoy all of the blessings in the future that we have in the past.
Constitution Should Be Appreciated
It is of vital importance that in our homes we should teach our children that this great government and its fundamental law were given to us by God, that he inspired men who framed the Constitution of the United States. Oh, I am fearful that in our schools little consideration is given to the Constitution! I am fearful that our young men and our young women are not learning very much about this great republic, and that being the case, it is time that in the home we, as parents, take upon ourselves the responsibility of teaching the youth of the land the very truth that God revealed for the establishment of the Constitution of the United States and the organizing of our republic.
Responsibility Of Public Servants
It is time that public servants should look upon the matter of serving in government capacity as a great and a sacred calling, not one wherein they receive special benefits for themselves, but one wherein they are willing to serve the people to the best advantage.
Whenever I think of the obligation of serving in government capacity, there comes to mind one of those old patriots who lived shortly after the Revolutionary War and prior to the Civil War, Henry Clay. When he was about ready to lay aside the mantle that rested upon him as one of the servants of his great state, he said:
I can with unshaken confidence appeal to the Divine Arbiter for the truth of the declaration that I have been influenced by no impure purpose and no personal motive, have sought no personal aggrandizement, but that in all of my public acts, I have had a full and single eye and a warm and devoted heart directed and dedicated to what, in my best judgment, I believed to be the true interest of my country.
I would to God that every public servant should have that attitude, and I am sure if they had it, we should receive a service at their hands which would perpetuate and preserve the great principles that this republic rests upon. We have been blessed with prophets of God, who from time to time have called our attention to the Constitution of the United States as being a revelation from God.
Brigham Young declared, and I am sure he echoed the sentiments of all of us when he said:
We need to sustain the Constitution of the United States and all righteous laws. We will cling to the Constitution of our country and to the government that reveres that sacred charter of free men's rights and, if necessary, pour out our best blood for the defense of every good and righteous principle.
A Frenchman whom I do not know made this statement:
It has been stated that America is the only country that pretends to listen to the teachings of its founders as if they were still alive.
I humbly pray that we will more than pretend to hearken unto the teachings of the founders of this great nation, that we will make their teachings a part of our religion to the end that we will become acquainted with these great men of Revolutionary days and revere them and hold them up as servants of God, which I pray we will all do, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.