Now there is another, and during this conference we shall be constituted as a Solemn Assembly to sustain as prophet, seer, and revelator and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the man who, under the plan of the Lord, has been chosen, ordained, and set apart to this most high and sacred office.
This transition of authority, in which I have participated a number of times, is beautiful in its simplicity. It is indicative of the way the Lord does things. Under His procedure a man is selected by the prophet to become a member of the Council of the Twelve Apostles. He does not choose this as a career. He is called, as were the Apostles in Jesus’ time, to whom the Lord said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you.” (John 15:16.) The years pass. He is schooled and disciplined in the duties of his office. He travels over the earth in fulfilling his apostolic calling. It is a long course of preparation, in which he comes to know the Latter-day Saints wherever they may be, and they come to know him. The Lord tests his heart and his substance. In the natural course of events, vacancies occur in that council and new appointments are made. Under this process a particular man becomes the senior Apostle. Residing latent in him, and in his associate Brethren, given to each at the time of ordination, are all of the keys of the priesthood. But authority to exercise those keys is restricted to the President of the Church. At his passing, that authority becomes operative in the senior Apostle, who is then named, set apart, and ordained a prophet and President by his associates of the Council of the Twelve.
There is no electioneering. There is no campaigning. There is only the quiet and simple operation of a divine plan which provides inspired and tested leadership.
The man who prefers his country before any other duty shows the same spirit as the man who surrenders every right to the state. They both deny that right is superior to authority.
"[The] full restoration [of the priesthood] involved the coming of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, whose head was taken to satisfy the whims of a wicked woman, and of Peter, James, and John, they who faithfully walked with the Master before his death and proclaimed his resurrection and divinity following his death. It involved Moses, Elias, and Elijah, each bringing priesthood keys to complete the work of restoring all of the acts and ordinances of previous dispensations in this the great, final dispensation of the fulness of times. "The priesthood is here. It has been conferred upon us. We act in that authority. We speak as sons of God in the name of Jesus Christ and as holders of this divinely given endowment. We know, for we have seen, the power of this priesthood. We have seen the sick healed, the lame made to walk, and the coming of light and knowledge and understanding to those who have been in darkness."Paul wrote concerning the priesthood: 'No man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.' (Heb. 5:4.) We have not acquired it through purchase or bargain. The Lord has given it to men who are considered worthy to receive it, regardless of station in life, the color of their skin, or the nation in which they live. It is the power and the authority to govern in the affairs of the kingdom of God. It is given only by ordination by the laying on of hands by those in authority to do so. The qualification for eligibility is obedience to the commandments of God. "There is no power on the earth like it. Its authority extends beyond life, through the veil of death, to the eternities ahead. It is everlasting in its consequences."
Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions.
There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.
Nearly 70 years ago President David O. McKay, then serving as a counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, asked this question to a congregation gathered for general conference: "If at this moment each one [of you] were asked to state in one sentence . . . the most distinguishing feature of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what would be your answer?"
"My answer," he replied, "would be . . . divine authority by direct revelation."
That divine authority is, of course, the holy priesthood.
President Gordon B. Hinckley has added his testimony when he said: "[The priesthood] is a delegation of divine authority, different from all other powers and authorities on the face of the earth. . . . It is the only power on the earth that reaches beyond the veil of death. . . . Without it there could be a church in name only, [a church] lacking authority to administer in the things of God."
Just four weeks ago President James E. Faust said to BYU students in their devotional: "[The priesthood] activates and governs all activities of the Church. Without priesthood keys and authority, there would be no church."
I begin tonight with these three brief citations (to which scores of others could be added) to stress emphatically just one point: that the priesthood of God, with its keys, its ordinances, its divine origin and ability to bind in heaven what is bound on earth, is as indispensable to the true Church of God as it is unique to it and that without it there would be no Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
We in the restored Church of Jesus Christ can trace the priesthood line of authority exercised by the newest deacon in the ward, the bishop who presides over him, and the prophet who presides over all of us. That line goes back in an unbroken chain to angelic ministers who came from the Son of God Himself, bearing this incomparable gift from heaven.
And, oh, how we need its blessings—as a Church and as individuals and families within the Church. Just one illustration:
I spoke earlier of the Kirtland period of Church history. The years of 1836 and 1837 were as difficult as that young Church had ever faced—financially, politically, and internally. In the midst of that stress, Joseph Smith had the remarkable prophetic prompting to send some of his ablest men (ultimately the entire Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) abroad on missions. It was a bold, inspired move, one that would in the end save the Church from the perils of the day, but in the near term it imposed great burdens on the Saints—painful for those who went away and perhaps even more painful for those who stayed at home.
I quote from Elder Robert B. Thompson:
"The day appointed for the departure of the Elders to England having arrived, I [stopped at] the house of Brother [Heber C.] Kimball to ascertain when he would start [on his journey], as I expected to accompany him two or three hundred miles, intending to spend my labors in Canada that season.
"The door being partly open, I entered and felt struck with the sight which presented itself to my view. I would have retired, thinking that I was intruding, but I felt riveted to the spot. The father was pouring out his soul to . . . [God, pleading] that He who 'careth for sparrows, and feedeth the young ravens when they cry' would supply the wants of his wife and little ones in his absence. He then, like the patriarchs, and by virtue of his office, laid his hands upon their heads individually, leaving a father's blessing upon them, . . . commending them to the care and protection of God, while he should be engaged preaching the Gospel in a foreign land. While thus engaged [in giving those blessings] his voice was almost lost in the sobs of those around [him], who [were trying in their youthful way to be strong but having a very hard time doing so.] . . . He proceeded, but his heart was too much affected to do so regularly. . . . He was obliged to stop at intervals, while . . . big tears rolled down his cheeks, an index to the feelings which reigned in his bosom. My heart was not stout enough to refrain," said Brother Thompson. "In spite of myself I wept, and mingled my tears with theirs. At the same time I felt thankful that I had the privilege of contemplating such a scene."
That scene has been reenacted one way or another a thousand times, a hundred thousand times, in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—a fear, a need, a call, a danger, a sickness, an accident, a death. I have been a participant in such moments. I have beheld the power of God manifest in my home and in my ministry. I have seen evil rebuked and the elements controlled. I know what it means to have mountains of difficulty move and ominous Red Seas part. I know what it means to have the destroying angel "pass by them." To have received the authority and to have exercised the power of "the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God," is as great a blessing for me and for my family as I could ever hope for in this world. And that, in the end, is the meaning of the priesthood in everyday terms—its unequaled, unending, constant capacity to bless.
Power founded on contract, can descend only to him, who has right by that contract: power founded on begetting, he only can have that begets: and power founded on the positive grant or donation of God, he only have have by right of succession, to whom that grant directs it.
If God by his positive grant and revealed declaration, firsst gave rule and dominion to any man, he that will claim by that title, must have the same posistive grant of God for his succession. For if that has not directed the course of its descent and conveyance down to others, no body can succeed to this titel fo the first ruler; children have no riht of inheritance to this; and primogeniture can lay no claim to it, unless God the Author of this constitution has so ordained it. Thus we see the pretensions of Saul's family, who received his crown from teh immediate appointement of God, ended with his reign; and Davied by the same title that Saul reigned, viz. God's appointment, succeeded in his throne, to the exclusion of Jonathan, and all pretensions of paternal inheritance. And if Solomon had a right to succeed his father, it must be by some other title, then that of primogeniture.
If any one can find out that there is meant any Monarchical Power of one Man over another, but only the Dominion of the whole Species of Mankind, over the inferios Species of Creatures, he may, for ought I know, deserve to be one of Sire Robert's Monarchs in habit, for the rarenes of the discovery. And by this time, I hope it is evident, that he that gave Dominion over every Living thing that moveth on the Earth, gave Adam no Monarchical Pwer over those of his own Species, which will yet appear more fully in the next thing I am to show.
Whatever God gave by the words of this Grant, 1 Gen. 28. it was not to Adam in particular, exclusive of all other Men: whatever Dominion he had thereby, it was not a Private Dominion, but a Dominion in common with the rest of Mankind.
Putin presents his reform program to the Duma (Russian Parliament): "This proposal makes people rich and happy", he says. "The list of people can be found underneath".