August 10, 2007

Pres. Faust's Final Address

President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, passed away early this morning. Today I include his final public testimony, given in his conference address April 1, 2007. Click here to listen to the mp3 Click here to see the video (123mb) My dear brothers and sisters and friends, I come before you humbly and prayerfully. I wish to speak on the healing power of forgiveness. In the beautiful hills of Pennsylvania, a devout group of Christian people live a simple life without automobiles, electricity, or modern machinery. They work hard and live quiet, peaceful lives separate from the world. Most of their food comes from their own farms. The women sew and knit and weave their clothing, which is modest and plain. They are known as the Amish people. A 32-year-old milk truck driver lived with his family in their Nickel Mines community. He was not Amish, but his pickup route took him to many Amish dairy farms, where he became known as the quiet milkman. Last October he suddenly lost all reason and control. In his tormented mind he blamed God for the death of his first child and some unsubstantiated memories. He stormed into the Amish school without any provocation, released the boys and adults, and tied up the 10 girls. He shot the girls, killing five and wounding five. Then he took his own life. This shocking violence caused great anguish among the Amish but no anger. There was hurt but no hate. Their forgiveness was immediate. Collectively they began to reach out to the milkman's suffering family. As the milkman's family gathered in his home the day after the shootings, an Amish neighbor came over, wrapped his arms around the father of the dead gunman, and said, "We will forgive you."1 Amish leaders visited the milkman's wife and children to extend their sympathy, their forgiveness, their help, and their love. About half of the mourners at the milkman's funeral were Amish. In turn, the Amish invited the milkman's family to attend the funeral services of the girls who had been killed. A remarkable peace settled on the Amish as their faith sustained them during this crisis. One local resident very eloquently summed up the aftermath of this tragedy when he said, "We were all speaking the same language, and not just English, but a language of caring, a language of community, [and] a language of service. And, yes, a language of forgiveness."2 It was an amazing outpouring of their complete faith in the Lord's teachings in the Sermon on the Mount: "Do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you."3 The family of the milkman who killed the five girls released the following statement to the public: "To our Amish friends, neighbors, and local community: "Our family wants each of you to know that we are overwhelmed by the forgiveness, grace, and mercy that you've extended to us. Your love for our family has helped to provide the healing we so desperately need. The prayers, flowers, cards, and gifts you've given have touched our hearts in a way no words can describe. Your compassion has reached beyond our family, beyond our community, and is changing our world, and for this we sincerely thank you. "Please know that our hearts have been broken by all that has happened. We are filled with sorrow for all of our Amish neighbors whom we have loved and continue to love. We know that there are many hard days ahead for all the families who lost loved ones, and so we will continue to put our hope and trust in the God of all comfort, as we all seek to rebuild our lives."4 How could the whole Amish group manifest such an expression of forgiveness? It was because of their faith in God and trust in His word, which is part of their inner beings. They see themselves as disciples of Christ and want to follow His example. Hearing of this tragedy, many people sent money to the Amish to pay for the health care of the five surviving girls and for the burial expenses of the five who were killed. As a further demonstration of their discipleship, the Amish decided to share some of the money with the widow of the milkman and her three children because they too were victims of this terrible tragedy. Forgiveness is not always instantaneous as it was with the Amish. When innocent children have been molested or killed, most of us do not think first about forgiveness. Our natural response is anger. We may even feel justified in wanting to "get even" with anyone who inflicts injury on us or our family. Dr. Sidney Simon, a recognized authority on values realization, has provided an excellent definition of forgiveness as it applies to human relationships: "Forgiveness is freeing up and putting to better use the energy once consumed by holding grudges, harboring resentments, and nursing unhealed wounds. It is rediscovering the strengths we always had and relocating our limitless capacity to understand and accept other people and ourselves."5 Most of us need time to work through pain and loss. We can find all manner of reasons for postponing forgiveness. One of these reasons is waiting for the wrongdoers to repent before we forgive them. Yet such a delay causes us to forfeit the peace and happiness that could be ours. The folly of rehashing long-past hurts does not bring happiness. Some hold grudges for a lifetime, unaware that courageously forgiving those who have wronged us is wholesome and therapeutic. Forgiveness comes more readily when, like the Amish, we have faith in God and trust in His word. Such faith "enables people to withstand the worst of humanity. It also enables people to look beyond themselves. More importantly, it enables them to forgive."6 All of us suffer some injuries from experiences that seem to have no rhyme or reason. We cannot understand or explain them. We may never know why some things happen in this life. The reason for some of our suffering is known only to the Lord. But because it happens, it must be endured. President Howard W. Hunter said that "God knows what we do not know and sees what we do not see."7 President Brigham Young offered this profound insight that at least some of our suffering has a purpose when he said: "Every calamity that can come upon mortal beings will be suffered to come upon the few, to prepare them to enjoy the presence of the Lord. . . . Every trial and experience you have passed through is necessary for your salvation."8 If we can find forgiveness in our hearts for those who have caused us hurt and injury, we will rise to a higher level of self-esteem and well-being. Some recent studies show that people who are taught to forgive become "less angry, more hopeful, less depressed, less anxious and less stressed," which leads to greater physical well-being.9 Another of these studies concludes "that forgiveness . . . is a liberating gift [that] people can give to themselves."10 In our day the Lord has admonished us, "Ye ought to forgive one another," and then makes it requisite when He says, "I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men."11 A sister who had been through a painful divorce received some sound advice from her bishop: "Keep a place in your heart for forgiveness, and when it comes, welcome it in."12 For the Amish, it was already there because "forgiveness is a 'heartfelt' component of [their] religion."13 Their example of forgiveness is a sublime expression of Christian love. Here in Salt Lake City in 1985, Bishop Steven Christensen, through no fault of his own, was cruelly and senselessly killed by a bomb intended to take his life. He was the son of Mac and Joan Christensen, the husband of Terri, and the father of four children. With his parents' consent, I share what they learned from this experience. After this terrible deed, the news media followed members of the Christensen family around relentlessly. On one occasion this media intrusion offended one of the family members to the point that Steven's father, Mac, had to restrain him. Mac then thought, "This thing will destroy my family if we don't forgive. Venom and hatred will never end if we do not get it out of our system." Healing and peace came as the family cleansed their hearts from anger and were able to forgive the man who took their son's life. We recently had two other tragedies here in Utah which demonstrate faith and the healing power of forgiveness. Gary Ceran, whose wife and two children were killed on Christmas Eve when their vehicle was hit by a truck, immediately expressed his forgiveness and concern for the alleged drunk driver. Last February, when a car crashed into Bishop Christopher Williams's vehicle, he had a decision to make, and it was to "unconditionally forgive" the driver who had caused the accident so that the healing process could take place unhampered.14 What can we all learn from such experiences as these? We need to recognize and acknowledge angry feelings. It will take humility to do this, but if we will get on our knees and ask Heavenly Father for a feeling of forgiveness, He will help us. The Lord requires us "to forgive all men"15 for our own good because "hatred retards spiritual growth."16 Only as we rid ourselves of hatred and bitterness can the Lord put comfort into our hearts, just as He did for the Amish community, the Christensens, the Cerans, and the Williams family. Of course, society needs to be protected from hardened criminals, because mercy cannot rob justice.17 Bishop Williams addressed this concept so well when he said, "Forgiveness is a source of power. But it does not relieve us of consequences."18 When tragedy strikes, we should not respond by seeking personal revenge but rather let justice take its course and then let go. It is not easy to let go and empty our hearts of festering resentment. The Savior has offered to all of us a precious peace through His Atonement, but this can come only as we are willing to cast out negative feelings of anger, spite, or revenge. For all of us who forgive "those who trespass against us,"19 even those who have committed serious crimes, the Atonement brings a measure of peace and comfort. Let us remember that we need to forgive to be forgiven. In the words of one of my favorite hymns, "Oh, forgive as thou wouldst be e'en forgiven now by me."20 With all my heart and soul, I believe in the healing power that can come to us as we follow the counsel of the Savior "to forgive all men."21 In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. NOTES 1. In Joan Kern, "A Community Cries," Lancaster New Era, Oct. 4, 2006, p. A8. 2. In Helen Colwell Adams, "After That Tragic Day, a Deeper Respect among English, Amish?" Sunday News, Oct. 15, 2006, p. A1. 3. Matthew 5:44. 4. "Amish Shooting Victims," 5. With Suzanne Simon, Forgiveness: How to Make Peace with Your Past and Get On with Your Life (1990), 19. 6. Marjorie Cortez, "Amish Response to Tragedy Is Lesson in Faith, Forgiveness," Deseret Morning News, Jan. 2, 2007, p. A13. 7. "The Opening and Closing of Doors," Ensign, Nov. 1987, 60. 8. Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe (1954), 345. 9. Fred Luskin, in Carrie A. Moore, "Learning to Forgive," Deseret Morning News, Oct. 7, 2006, p. E1. 10. Jay Evensen, "Forgiveness Is Powerful but Complex," Deseret Morning News, Feb. 4, 2007, p. G1. 11. D&C 64:9, 10. 12. In "My Journey to Forgiving," Ensign, Feb. 1997, 43. 13. Donald Kraybill, in Colby Itkowitz, "Flowers, Prayers, Songs: Families Meet at Roberts' Burial," Intelligence Journal, Oct. 9, 2006, p. A1. 14. See Pat Reavy, "Crash Victim Issues a Call for Forgiveness," Deseret Morning News, Feb. 13, 2007, p. A1. 15. D&C 64:10. 16. Orson F. Whitney, Gospel Themes (1914), 144. 17. See Alma 42:25. 18. In Deseret Morning News, Feb. 13, 2007, p. A8. 19. Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 6:13. 20. "Reverently and Meekly Now," Hymns, no. 185. 21. D&C 64:10.

August 9, 2007

Reflections on Gathering and the Prophet Joseph: Part 1

George A. Smith March 18, 1855 George A. Smith, then-Church Historian, was a candid speaker, and often told stories of the more human side of his cousin, Joseph Smith, Jr. He had the talent of including a little humor into otherwise serious discourses. In this particular discourse he related examples of the persecution Joseph faced, both from without and within, the Church. As his text, he quoted the Savior, paraphrasing Matthew 23:37:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the Prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
This verse seems to answer, at least indirectly, some of the philosophical questions dealing with God's ability. "Can God create a rock so big he cannot move it?" This calls into question whether God can do anything He wants. It seems from this statement of the Savior above, even God has a limit of ability. George A. explained:
It has been a very common saying in the world that the Lord was able to do everything, that he could do anything he had a mind to do, and accomplish what he pleased; that he possessed universal power, and could accomplish what he, undertook. But what says our text? "How oft would I have gathered you, but you would not." This indicates that he could not do it, because they were not willing; that is the way we understand the language.
God will not force us to return to live with Him. When he sends a prophet to gather his people and receive the covenants that will get us back to Him, they are often rejected. George A. talked about some of the difficulties Joseph faced. His candor on the subject might bring a smile:

The very first moment after the angel of God had communicated to Joseph Smith the revelation of the fulness of the Gospel, what do we discover? We discover that all the blood hounds of earth and hell were let loose upon him.

The very first attempt that could be made to bear testimony of the Gospel was to be thwarted by persecution, the editorial thunder was immediately let loose, and as the old Quaker said to the dog that came to his store, being little offended at the animal, 'I will not kill thee, but I will give thee a bad name,' so he turns him out and halloos, 'Bad dog,' judging rightly that somebody would suppose him to be mad, and shoot him. That was the devil's plan, when this Gospel was first introduced, the cry was, 'False prophet, impostor, delusion, fornication,' mixed up with every kind of slander.

Every person who is well acquainted with the history of this Church knows that at the commencement of it the persecutions commenced, and they continued to increase until the death of the Prophet. Forty-seven times he was arraigned before the tribunals of law, and had to sustain all the expense of defending himself in those vexatious suits, and was every time acquitted. He was never found guilty but once.

I have been told, by Patriarch Emer Harris, that on a certain occasion he was brought before a magistrate in the State of New York, and charged with having cast out devils; the magistrate, after hearing the witnesses, decided that he was guilty, but as the statutes of New York did not provide a punishment for casting out devils, he was acquitted.

Why the gathering? Why was Christ trying to gather the chickens? Why does the adversary oppose the gathering?
Among the first principles that were revealed to the children of men in the last days was the gathering; the first revelations that were given to the Church were to command them to gather, and send Elders to seek out a place for the gathering of the Saints. What is the gathering for? Why was it that the Savior wished the children of Israel to gather together? It was that they might become united and provide a place wherein he could reveal unto them keys which have been hid from before the foundation of the world; that he could unfold unto them the laws of exaltation, and make them a kingdom of Priests, even the whole people, and exalt them to thrones and dominions in the celestial world.
George A. went on to explain this was the reason the Saints were to gather at Kirtland, Ohio: to build a temple. He said a mere handful of Saints commenced the work; and among them were some who fell away. He mentioned a few interesting instances of apostasy in Kirtland:

I know persons who apostatized because they supposed they had reasons; for instance, a certain family, after having traveled a long journey, arrived in Kirtland, and the Prophet asked them to stop with him until they could find a place. Sister Emma, in the mean time, asked the old lady if she would have a cup of tea to refresh her after the fatigues of the journey, or a cup of coffee. This whole family apostatized because they were invited to take a cup of tea or coffee, after the Word of Wisdom was given.

Another family, about the same time, apostatized because Joseph Smith came down out of the translating room, where he had been translating by the gift and power of God, and commenced playing with his little children. Some such trials as these, you know, had to be encountered.

I recollect a gentleman who came from Canada, and who had been a Methodist, and had always been in the habit of praying to a God who had no ears, and as a matter of course had to shout and halloo pretty loud to make him hear. Father Johnson asked him to pray in their family worship in the evening, and he got on such a high key, and hallooed so loud that he alarmed the whole village. Among others, Joseph came running out, saying, "What is the matter? I thought by the noise that the heavens and the earth were coming together," and said to the man, 'that he ought not to give way to such an enthusiastic spirit, and bray so much like a jackass.' Because Joseph said that, the poor man put back to Canada, and apostatized; he thought he would not pray to a God who did not want to be screamed at with all one's might.

Once the temple was completed, the Lord began revealing some of the first ordinances of the priesthood, which George A. briefly described. These experiences ultimately led to the blessing- or cursing- of many Saints. Rumors about the ordinances were passed. Some were disappointed in the new ordinances while others were overcome by them:
…They got that building so far finished as to be dedicated; this was what the Lord wanted, He wished them to provide a place wherein He could reveal to the children of men those principles that will exalt them to eternal glory, and make them Saviors on mount Zion. Four hundred and sixteen Elders, Priests, Teachers, and Deacons met in the Kirtland Temple on the evening of its dedication. I can see faces here that were in that assembly. The Lord poured His Spirit upon us, and gave us some little idea of the law of anointing, and conferred upon us some blessings. He taught us how to shout hosanna, gave Joseph the keys of the gathering together of Israel, and revealed to us, what? Why the fact of it was, He dare not yet trust us with the first key of the Priesthood. He told us to wash ourselves, and that almost made the women mad, and they said, as they were not admitted into the Temple while this washing was being performed, that some mischief was going on, and some of them were right huffy about it. We were instructed to wash each other's feet, as an evidence that we had borne testimony of the truth of the Gospel to the world. We were taught to anoint each other's head with oil in the name of the Lord, as an ordinance of anointing. All these things were to be done in their time, place, and season. All this was plain and simple, yet some apostatized because there was not more of it, and others because there was too much.
I believe if God were to reveal all he possibly could- right now- it would lead to confusion and apostasy for many, because many aren't ready to receive all the blessings God has to offer. God must feed us milk before meat because many can't digest that meat just yet. More on the milk and meat of the temple tomorrow.

August 7, 2007

The 'Darkness' of the Gospel

Wilford Woodruff February 2, 1855 Wilford Woodruff, the avid and invaluable journal-keeper, was concerned with religion early in life and began looking for a church which matched the one he saw in the New Testament. While working at a mill he would often visit a nearby small tree-covered island in the middle of a stream where he would consider his position before God, as he wrote in his journal:

I spent many a midnight hour alone upon that island in prayer before the Lord ("Autobiography of Wilford Woodruff," Ms., p. 13).
As a result of this searching he soon found himself in Richland, Oswego County, New York, where he was baptized by Latter-day Saint missionaries on December 31, 1833. Four months later he was in Kirtland, Ohio, meeting the Prophet Joseph Smith for the first time. [1] Because his initial roots in religion dealt greatly with finding a Church which matched the one he read about in the New Testament, Woodruff was thrilled to know God was calling prophets again. In 1855 his discourse dealt with the differences he saw between the restored Church and others he had investigated:
The New Testament clearly shown that whenever God has had a people upon the earth-when He has had a Church and kingdom in the world, it has been organized with Prophets and Apostles, and has been endowed with revelations, with diverse kinds of gifts, with healing power, with miracles, with dreams, and I may say with every member that belongs to the body of Christ, necessary for the edifying of the body, for the work of the ministry or sanctifying of the people. We cannot find anywhere within the lids of the Bible, where the Lord ever had a people He acknowledged, except they were led by, immediate revelation. The Lord never had a people in any age of the world without Prophets to lead them, even to the present day; and this is the reason why this Church and kingdom is so diverse from the views, feelings, and traditions of the nations around us, and that has caused it to meet with great opposition, persecution, and opposing spirits from the commencement, and perhaps may continue to do so until the winding up scene.
Elder Woodruff next makes an interesting point, that the world will call light dark, and dark light, and from that view, he prefers the dark:

Before I ever heard of 'Mormonism,' when reading the Scriptures, I often wondered why it was that we had no Prophets, no Apostles, no gifts and graces, no healings by the power of God, no visions, no angels, no revelations, no voice of God.

I often wondered why these things were not continued among the children of men, why they were not enjoyed by the different churches and denominations of the day, and, in my conversation with theologians and divines, I often referred to these things, but they all told me that such supernatural manifestations were unnecessary in our day and age of the world, that such power was only necessary in a day of darkness, among an ignorant generation of people; they needed Prophets to lead them; but we who live in the blaze of Gospel light need no such thing; we need no revelation, only that which is in the Bible; we need no visitation of angels now, those things were given to establish the doctrine of Christ, and when it was once established they were no longer needed.

This logic always appeared strange to me. I said then, and I say now, may the Lord give me such periods of darkness as were enjoyed by the Apostles and Saints of old, in preference to the Gospel blaze of modern Christianity.

Nephi, quoting Isaiah, lamented the tendency of mankind to call good evil, and vice versa:
Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (2 Nephi 15:20; cf. Isaiah 5).
As John said:
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not (John 1:5).
One reason God sends prophets is to ensure our own darkness-- caused by error, ignorance, tradition, or anything else that would extinguish the Light of Christ and the Holy Ghost--does not prevent us from knowing truth. Prophets can shine a flashlight in the dark corners of our hearts, illuminating the path we are on. We need guidance from leaders, as inspired by the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost will let us know when we are out of the path, that we may quickly return. Elder Woodruff, who became President of the Church years later, concluded his discourse thanking God for prophets; those who have stepped beyond the veil and those still with us, to guide us in these latter days:
…again say I am thankful that we have men to preside over us, who are determined to rebuke sin, wherever it shows itself, and God will sustain these men, and uphold them, whether we do or not. I do not care in what circumstances they may be placed, even if it be necessary for them to seal their testimony with their blood, as Joseph and Hyrum have done; it is all right, they only pass to the other side of the vail, where they can operate still better for the salvation of the people. We shall not be left without leaders that have the Spirit of God. This people will always have leaders that are just men, that are good men, and that delight to do the will of God, and would sacrifice life and all things for it if required (Journal of Discourses 2:191-202).
Footnotes: [1] Biographical information was found on in an essay by Dean C. Jessee. Wilford Woodruff was ordained an apostle at age 32. He served missions in the southern United States (1834-1836), eastern United States and to the Fox Islands (1837-1838), England (1839-1831), the eastern states (1843-1844), was Church Historian and presided over several Church areas and territorial boards. He became fourth President of the Church in 1889. In 1896 he signed a "political manifesto" that required all general Church officials, before they accepted any political position, to discuss the prospective appointment with presiding Church authorities. He died on September 2, 1898, at the age of ninety-one, in San Francisco, California, where he had occasionally gone to seek relief from the ailments of old age.

August 6, 2007

Church Policy and the US Constitution in 1853

Brigham Young
February 18, 1855
I've avoided politics thus far, despite several sermons making passing references to political issues. This particular sermon was unique because, unlike all of the other discourses by Brigham Young I have read thus far, this one was actually written and read to the congregation.
[Forgive the very brief explanation on a complex topic]
The discourse came in an interesting time, wherein the Church was under watch of the US government, who had heard rumors the saints were disloyal to the United States and that Brother Brigham was setting himself up as some leader of a theocracy in Utah. After many reports circulated in newspapers, Brigham desired to set the record straight on politics, much as the LDS Church does today every year near election time. I will keep my comments to a minimum. Here come the politics:
Brigham said the United States was prepared as the place for the restoration of the gospel:
…we believe that the Lord has been preparing that, when He should bring forth His work, that, when the set time should fully come, there might be a place upo His footstool where sufficient liberty of conscience should exist, that His Saints might dwell in peace under the broad panoply of constitutional law and equal rights. In this view we consider that the men in the Revolution were inspired, by the Almighty, to throw off the shackles of the mother government, with her established religion. For this cause were Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, and a host of others inspired to deeds of resistance to the acts of the King of Great Britain, who might also have been led to those aggressive acts, for aught we know, to bring to pass the purposes of God, in thus establishing a new government upon a principle of greater freedom, a basis of self government allowing the free exercise of religious worship... It was in this government, formed by men inspired of God, although at the time they knew it not, after it was firmly established in the seat of power and influence, where liberty of conscience, and the free exercise of religious worship were a fundamental principle guaranteed in the Constitution, and interwoven with all the feelings, traditions, and sympathies of the people, that the Lord sent forth His angel to reveal the truths of heaven as in times past, even as in ancient days. This should have been hailed as the greatest blessing which could have been bestowed upon any nation, kindred, tongue, or people. It should have been received with hearts of gratitude and gladness, praise and thanksgiving. But as it was in the days of our Savior, so was it in the advent of this new dispensation. It was not in accordance with the notions, traditions, and pre-conceived ideas of the American people. The messenger did not come to an eminent divine of any of the so-called orthodoxy, he did not adopt their interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven, in power and great glory, nor send His messengers panoplied with aught else than the truth of heaven, to communicate to the meek, the lowly, the youth of humble origin, the sincere enquirer after the knowlege [knowledge] of God. But He did send His angel to this same obscure person, Joseph Smith jun., who afterwards became a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and informed him that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day, for they were all wrong; that they were following the precepts of men instead of the Lord Jesus; that He had a work for him to perform, inasmuch as he should prove faithful before Him… whenever the iron hand of oppression and persecution has fallen upon this people, our opposers have broken their own law, set at defiance and trampled under foot every principle of equal rights, justice, and liberty found written in that rich legacy of our fathers, THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES.
Here are some very powerful statements by Brigham regarding the accusation that the LDS Church was hostile to the government:
To accuse us of being unfriendly to the Government, is to accuse us of hostility to our religion, for no item of inspiration is held more sacred with us than the Constitution under which she acts. As a religious society, we, in common with all other denominations, claim its protection; whether our people are located in the other states or territories, as thousands of them are, or in this territory, it is held as a shield to protect the dearest boon of which man is susceptible--his religious views and sentiments...
The Government of the United States has never engaged in a crusade against us as a people, although she has remained silent, or refused us, when appealed to for redress of grievances. She has permitted us to be driven from our own lands, for which she had taken our money, and that too with her letters patent in our hands, guaranteeing to us peaceable possession. She has calmly looked on and permitted one of the fundamental and dearest provisions of the Constitution to be broken; she has permitted us to be driven and trampled under foot with impunity. Under these circumstances what course is left for us to pursue? I answer, that, instead of seeking to destroy the very best government in the world, as seems to be the fears of some, we, like all other good citizens, should seek to place those men in power who will feel the obligations and responsibilities they are under to a mighty people; who would feel and realize the important trusts reposed in them by the voice of the people who call them to administer law under the solemn sanction of an oath of fidelity to that heaven inspired instrument, to the inviolate preservation of which we look for the perpetuity of our free institutions... It should be the aim of all good citizens, and it is our intention and design as a people, to promote virtue, intelligence, and patriotism…
Brigham warned of the dangers of wicked rulers
…the Government should also be our friends, for assuredly in the preservation of virtue, morality, and intelligence she may look for the perpetuity of her free institutions, and the preservation of her liberty. And in the moment of her disregard of these principles, when wickedness and sin can run riot with impunity, and not moral influence and force enough be found in the people to check it, and walk it under foot, then may she reckon on a speedy downfall. When moral obligations cease to exert an influence, and virtue hides its face, and the unblushing effrontery of sin and foul corruption takes its place, then may the nation consider there is danger. 'When the wicked rule the people mourn.'
He ended emphasizing the freedom of religion:
…whether our religion is believed by any other people or not, it is by us, and no power or authority in the government can lawfully or righteously molest us in the peaceable and quiet enjoyment thereof. It cannot be done without law, and surely the government have no right to make any law concerning it, or to prevent the free exercise thereof (Journal of Discourses 2:107-179).