We often, like this man and Hamlet, must "take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them" (Act 3, scene 1, ll. 59–60). And sometimes the cost is very high. It was for Christ, it was for Joseph Smith, and it was for this lone man who counted the cost there in the Potomac--and paid it. It is not easy to go without--without physical gratifications or spiritual assurances or material possessions--but sometimes we must since there is no guarantee of convenience written into our Christian covenant. We must work hard and do right, as Abraham Lincoln said, and sometimes our chance will come. And when we've tried, really tried, and waited for what seemed never to be ours, then "the angels came and ministered unto him." For that ministration in your life I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
To endure to the end, we need to be eager to please God and worship Him with fervor and passion. This means that we maintain faith in Jesus Christ by praying, studying the scriptures, partaking of the sacrament each week, and having the Holy Ghost as our constant companion. We need to actively help and serve others and share the gospel with them. We need to be perfectly upright and honest in all things, never compromising our covenants with God or our commitments to men, regardless of circumstances. In our homes we need to talk of, rejoice in, and preach of Christ so that our children—and we ourselves—will desire to apply the Atonement in our lives. We must identify temptations that easily beset us and put them out of reach—way out of reach. Finally, we need to frequently biopsy our mightily changed hearts and reverse any signs of early rejection.
Even though everyone may discover what goes on in the temple, and many have already revealed it, the important thing is that I do not reveal these things; they must remain sacred to me. I must preserve a zone of sanctity which cannot be violated whether or not anyone else in the room has the remotest idea what the situation really is . . . . No matter what happens, it will, then, always remain secret: only I know exactly the weight and force of the covenants I have made--I and the Lord with whom I have made them--unless I choose to reveal them. If I do not, then they are secret and sacred no matter what others may say or do. Anyone who would reveal these things has not understood them, and therefore that person has not given them away. You cannot reveal what you do not know!
Visions of a Personal Nature
I ask, is there a reason for men and women being exposed more constantly and more powerfully, to the power of the enemy, by having visions than by not having them? There is and it is simply this - God never bestows upon his people, or upon an individual, superior blessings without a severe trial to prove them, to prove that individual, or that people, to see whether they will keep their covenants with him, and keep in remembrance what he has shown them. Then, the greater the vision, the greater the display of the power of the enemy.
When we make a covenant or agreement with God, we must keep it at whatever the cost.
The sacramental prayer can remind us every week of how the gift of unity will come through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we keep our covenants to take His name upon us, to remember Him always, and to keep all His commandments, we will receive the companionship of His Spirit. That will soften our hearts and unite us. But there are two warnings which must come with that promise.
First, the Holy Ghost remains with us only if we stay clean and free from the love of the things of the world...
The other warning is to beware of pride. Unity which comes to a family or to a people softened by the Spirit will bring great power. With that power will come recognition from the world. Whether that recognition brings praise or envy, it could lead us to pride. That would offend the Spirit. But there is a protection against pride, that sure source of disunity. It is to see the bounties which God pours upon us not only as a mark of His favor but an opportunity to join with those around us in greater service. A husband and his wife learn to be one by using their similarities to understand each other and their differences to complement each other in serving one another and those around them. In the same way, we can unite with those who do not accept our doctrine but share our desire to bless the children of our Heavenly Father.
We can have His Spirit by keeping that covenant. First, we promise to take His name upon us. That means we must see ourselves as His. We will put Him first in our lives. We will want what He wants rather than what we want or what the world teaches us to want. As long as we love the things of the world first, there will be no peace in us. Holding an ideal for a family or a nation of comfort through material goods will, at last, divide them. The ideal of doing for each other what the Lord would have us do, which follows naturally from taking His name upon us, can take us to a spiritual level which is a touch of heaven on earth.
We must never make a promise or covenant we do not intend to keep. If we can't make the larger ones, then we should begin by making the smaller ones. But we must begin somewhere to conquer temptations and unworthy habits.
I think most of us need to start with acquiring control over our body. We know in our minds what we need to do. Our problem is not a lack of knowledge - it is a habit. The body is sacred. It is the house in which the spirit lives. Paul, the apostle, called it a temple.