Elder Joseph L. Wirthlin
First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric
My dear brothers and sisters, we have enjoyed a great abundance of the Lord's spirit during this great conference. All of the previous speakers have been richly endowed with it, and I pray it may be the source of my inspiration.
The Lord Jesus Christ declared,
But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matt. 6:33.)
This statement of the Savior's involves two objectives to be achieved: first, spiritual security through seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and second, temporal security to be added unto us through our efforts.
The word security has become one of the most used and abused words in the vocabulary of many people. The dictionary defines it as the apprehension of one's well being as to the necessities of life, such as food, clothing, and shelter -- a guarantee from want.
In the beginning, when Adam was in the Garden of Eden, he had temporal security. All of the necessities of life were made available by the Lord; but after the fall he was forced into the cold and dreary world with the mandate from the Lord, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread (Gen. 3:19), placing squarely upon his shoulders the responsibility of providing himself with temporal security.
In the minds of holy men there have always been two categories of security, spiritual and temporal. Without the spiritual phase, temporal security could not be achieved. It was a sacred undertaking wherein the blessings of the Lord were needed. Involved in it were holy practices such as prayer, divine principles of faith, thrift, integrity, and endless effort. It demanded supplication to the Lord for his blessings; and at the harvest time the firstlings of the flock and the best of the fields were brought and burnt as offerings of gratitude and thanksgiving to the Lord, representing a great achievement in that a man of his own faith, works, and with the help of the Lord, had provided himself shelter, food, clothing, and the comforts of life, with some marginal reserves to provide for himself and family during periods of illness and in his declining years.
Abraham, beloved of the Lord, had great wealth represented in herds and fields. He had cattle on a thousand hills, and yet with all this wealth he labored diligently for spiritual security. His herds were driven up to the land of Melchizedek, the high priest, where they were tithed, returning to the Lord that which belonged to him.
Rejection of the Lord
After Israel had made the long trek from Egypt to the Promised Land, being ruled by the Lord through his servants, the prophets, for generations, the people arose and cried, give us a king to judge us that we may be like all the nations, that our king may go before us and fight our battles. Samuel, the Prophet, in deep sorrow went to the Lord saying, "They have rejected me." But the Lord said unto Samuel,
. . . Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.
And he said, this will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself. for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.
And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your olive-yards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
And he will take your men servants and your maidservants, and your godliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.
He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day. (1 Samuel 8:7, 11, 13-18.)
Israel in Bondage
The battles of the people were not represented only in physical combat with the enemy but also in the struggle for security. Israel had forsaken the Lord: Israel had softened in faith and had been disobedient; Israel was indolent. And they gave up their sons and daughters to the king and his officers. The king took over all of their resources, and the price they paid for a king was their freedom. Under this arrangement the kings of Israel prospered, but the people were downtrodden and found themselves in bondage. The kings forgot the spiritual phase of security; they forgot the Lord. Saul counseled the sorcerer rather than the Lord. David fell from grace because of a grievous sin he committed. Solomon sought after other gods. Dissension rent the kingdom in twain, and a powerful nation took Israel into captivity. This is the history of a nation that rejected the Lord's way of achieving temporal and spiritual security.
History Repeats Itself
Does history repeat itself? Yes. Today the term security is best defined in the promises of economic kings and politicians in the form of doles, grants, and subsidies made for the purpose of perpetuating themselves in public office, and at the same time depleting the resources of the people and the treasury of the nation. The word security is being used as an implement of political expediency, and the end results will be the loss of freedom, and temporal and spiritual bankruptcy. We have those among us who are calling for an economic king, and the voice of the king replies in promises wherein the individual is guaranteed relief from the mandate given to Adam, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread." Disobedience to this mandate involves the penalty of loss of free agency and individuality, and the dissipation of the resources of the individual. These economic rulers have advocated, and do practice a vicious procedure called the "leveling down process," which takes from the man who has achieved and distributes to those who are not willing to put forth like effort. Taxation is the means through which this "leveling down process" is implemented. Taxes in the United States during the last decade have increased five hundred percent. If such increases continue, it will mean final confiscation of the property of the people.
Case of Great Britain
A clear-cut example of the promises of economic kings to the people, with all of the penalties involved, stands out in the case of Great Britain. Great Britain, with fifty years of rule over the seas of the earth, the sun never setting upon her empire, finds herself now in a convulsion of spiritual, political and temporal bankruptcy. She has a king, but he is merely a symbol of her past greatness; but the people, like those of Israel, cried for a new king, an economic king, and the king has responded with the rule of dictatorship, bringing deterioration to the character of the individual, loss of ambition, freedom, individual progress through the right to work when and where he would, and regimentation. The people are forced to heed the call and feel the iron hand of the dictator. Above all, they have lost their free agency. The British people are but mere cogs in the great machine of socialism. The state is paramount; the citizen has been subdued. Their resources have been absorbed, the treasury of the government depleted, and had it not been for the generosity of this great republic, where a few of the fundamentals of freedom, personal initiative, and free enterprise remain, Great Britain would have been but a memory. Just as it was in Israel, so will it be with Great Britain -- dissension, division, and communistic captivity.
What does this mean to you and to me? We have those among us, too, who over the years have cried for a controlled economy. We have those among us who give succor and support to such a plan, which plan of controlled economy involves the same theories and false philosophies that ruined Israel and are now destroying Great Britain. Economic kings have responded to the call of some people, promising them security against want for their votes. In the attempt to meet the desires of these people, the treasury of this great nation is being depleted, and it covers deficit spending with promissory notes. Expansion of this disastrous policy will deprive American citizens of their God-given freedom, the right to work when and where they will, freedom of speech, freedom of the press -- and who knows but what some day the right to worship God according to the dictates of one's conscience may be taken away. It is destroying, and will continue to destroy, the very fundamentals upon which this nation and its people have found prosperity and genuine security. These are not idle words, but the counsel and the words of the Lord as they have been revealed to this nation through prophets and the founding fathers of this great republic. For one hundred and twenty years modern-day Samuels have pleaded with the people to preserve the fundamentals of temporal and spiritual security by being obedient to the gospel, through work, being thrifty and staying out of debt, and above all by remembering the Lord. We have continually been counseled to conserve our resources to provide temporal security during periods of sickness, unemployment, and the days of old age. This people has been taught by the prophets of God that to waste the bounties of the earth is a sin, and surely there is a penalty therefor. The Lord cannot bless an individual or a nation with the bounties of the earth and have that individual or nation deliberately and wantonly waste them, without the law of retribution of want and famine being imposed.
Economic kings have advocated the doctrine that those in distress should be provided for abundantly with no obligations on the part of the recipients, but the Lord has revealed through his prophets a great welfare plan which does not rob individuals in distress of their freedom, personal initiative, and the right to work. In the welfare program the individual is the objective, and through the generosity and cooperative efforts of the membership of the Church, the individual is assured of temporal security, not as a dole or as a gift, but as a bridge to cover the gap of unemployment or illness until the individual can again stand upon his own feet and work out his temporal security. It is required of him that during this period of assistance from the welfare program he shall give freely of his labor, if physically fit, in the production of the things he needs, and out of it all he becomes one of the independent sons of the Lord, having not only received but having also given.
Modern-day Israel should heed the admonitions of the living oracles of God and close their ears to the teachings of false prophets, remembering always that the Lord has made definite promises to this people, a covenanted people, through his servants, the Apostles and the Prophets. The Lord declared through the Prophet Brigham Young:
If the Latter-day Saints will walk up to their privileges, and, exercise faith in the name of Jesus Christ, and live in the enjoyment of the fullness of the Holy Ghost constantly day by day, there is nothing on the face of the earth that they could ask for, that would not be given to them. The Lord is waiting to be very gracious unto this people, and to pour out upon them riches, honor, glory, and power, even, that they may possess all things according to the promises he has made through his Apostles and Prophets. (Discourses of Brigham Young, 1925 edition, page 241; 1943 edition, page 156.)
There may be those of little faith who will cry out that circumstances and situations arise wherein the people cannot help themselves, but again the Prophet Brigham Young declared in the name of the Lord:
When a person is placed in circumstances that he cannot possibly obtain one particle of anything to sustain life, it would then be his privilege to exercise faith in God to feed him, who might cause a raven to pick up a piece of dried meat from some quarter where there was plenty and drop it over the famishing man. When I cannot feed myself through the means God has placed in my power, it is then time enough for him to exercise his providence in an unusual manner to administer to my wants. But while we can help ourselves, it is our duty to do so. If a Saint of God be locked up in prison, by his enemies, to starve to death, it is then time enough for God to interpose, and feed him. (Ibid., 1925 edition, pp. 240-41; 1943 edition, p. 155.)
The Lord Provides
The Lord keeps his promises in this day as well as in the days of old Israel. When Israel was making the trek from Egypt to the Promised Land and circumstances arose where there was no food in the camp of Israel, the Lord caused the quail to come into Israel's camp in great abundance providing them with meat, and the next morning manna was on the ground to provide bread. The Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever, for within the memory of all of us is the story of the pioneers who had planted crops which promised a bounteous harvest, but clouds of crickets flew over the valley settled upon the crops and commenced to devour them. The hearty pioneers, men and women, went to work with fire and water to destroy the plague; but their efforts were in vain. Then one of the great fundamentals of spiritual security, faith in God and supplication to him for assistance, was implemented by the people. Upon their knees in the fields, in their homes, and in the houses of worship they pleaded for the Lord's help. The answer was readily given in the form of myriads of sea gulls who settled upon the fields destroying the crickets, and the crops were saved.
Security In Gospel
Economic kings cannot answer the prayers of the people, for they are but false prophets. They are comparable to the gods of Baal, whose false prophets forced the people to lay upon the altar of sacrifice their resources and their right to worship the true and Living God. In return the people were rewarded with slavery and subjection. Security, spiritual and temporal, can only be found in the restored gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Through revelations, both ancient and modern, the Lord's word is infallible, and his promises are kept when predicated upon faith and obedience. The Lord declared through the Prophet Joseph Smith in Section 27, verses 15 to 18, of the Doctrine and Covenants:
Wherefore, lift up your hearts and rejoice, and gird up your loins, and take upon you my whole armor, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye may be able to stand.
Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, having on the breast-plate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, which I have sent mine angels to commit unto you:
Taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked;
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of my Spirit, which I will pour out upon you, and my word which I reveal unto you, and be agreed as touching all things whatsoever ye ask of me, and be faithful until I come, and ye shall be caught up, that where I am ye shall be also. ( D. & C. 27:15-18.)
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness: and all of these things shall be added unto you."
May the Lord bless us in the achievement of spiritual and temporal security to the end that we might enjoy a place In his celestial kingdom, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.