“The noblest calling in the world is motherhood. True motherhood is the most beautiful of all arts, the greatest of all professions. She who can paint a masterpiece, or who can write a book that will influence millions, deserve the plaudits and admiration of mankind; but she who rears successfully a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters whose immortal souls will exert influence throughout the ages long after paintings shall have faded, and books and statues shall have decayed or been destroyed, deserves the highest honor that man can give, and the choicest blessings of God.”
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.
It was decreed in the counsels of eternity, long before the foundations of the earth were laid, that he, Joseph Smith, should be the man, in the last dispensation of this world, to bring forth the word of God to the people, and receive the fulness of the keys and power of the Priesthood of the Son of God. The Lord had his eye upon him, and upon his father, and upon his father’s father, and upon their progenitors clear back to Abraham, and from Abraham to the flood, from the flood to Enoch, and from Enoch to Adam. He has watched that family and that blood as it has circulated from its fountain to the birth of that man. He was foreordained in eternity to preside over this last dispensation” (in Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1954, p. 108; emphasis added).
In mercy the Lord warns and forewarns. He sees the coming storm, knows the forces operating to produce it, and calls aloud through His prophets, advises, counsels, exhorts, even commands—that we prepare for what is about to befall and take shelter while yet there is time. But we go our several ways, feasting and making merry, consoling conscience with the easy fancy of “time enough” and in idle hope that the tempest will pass us by, or that, when it begins to gather thick and black about us we can turn back and find shelter.
What we need today is not more prophets. We have the prophets. But what we need is more people with listening ears. This is the great need of our generation.
There will always be voices telling you that you are foolish to believe that you are swans, insisting you are but ugly ducklings and that you can’t expect to become anything else.
But you know better. Because of the revealed word of a merciful God, you have seen your true reflection in the water and you have felt the eternal glory of that divine spirit within you. You are no ordinary beings, my beloved young friends all around the world. You are glorious and eternal.
No matter your circumstances or trials in life, I urge you to remember who you are, where you came from, and where you are going—for the answers to those questions will truly provide confidence and direction for your life.
Your Heavenly Father lives. He knows you. He speaks to you in these latter days through prophets and apostles. President Thomas S. Monson is the Lord’s prophet on earth in our day. This Church is directed by the Savior Jesus Christ. I know this. He is at the head of this Church.
Today I may speak to you with imperfection—and with a German accent—but I promise you that the words you feel in your heart and in your mind and in your soul come to you through the eloquence, purity, and power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost you can know the truth of all things.
Brothers and sisters—my dear friends—I love you. I love you with all my heart. I am grateful for you. I am grateful for your goodness. As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, I bless you individually and collectively that you may learn to know who you really are and what you must do and be to live a happy and fulfilling life.
It is my prayer and blessing that when you look at your reflection, you will be able to see beyond imperfections and self-doubts and recognize who you truly are: glorious sons and daughters of the Almighty God.
Today I know that my young testimony benefited greatly from the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and many friends in the Church who knew “by the Holy Ghost … that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world” (D&C 46:13). Their good examples, caring love, and helping hands blessed me to receive another special gift of the Spirit described in the scriptures as I was yearning for more light and truth: “To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue [faithfully]” (D&C 46:14). What a wonderful and precious gift this is!
As we truly humble ourselves, we will be blessed with this gift to have faith and to hope for things which are not seen but are true (see Alma 32:21). As we experiment upon the words given to us by the scriptures and the living prophets—even if we only have a desire to believe—and do not resist the Spirit of the Lord, our souls will be enlarged and our understanding will be enlightened (see Alma 32:26–28).
The Savior Himself explained this merciful principle clearly to all the world in His great intercessory prayer, given not only for His Apostles but for all the Saints, even for us today, wherever we might be living. He said:
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:20–21; emphasis added).
This is how Joseph Smith’s First Vision blesses our own personal lives, the lives of families, and eventually the whole human family—we come to believe in Jesus Christ through the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Prophets and apostles throughout the history of mankind have had divine manifestations similar to Joseph’s. Moses saw God face-to-face and learned that he was a son of God “in the similitude of [His] Only Begotten” (seeMoses 1:1–6). The Apostle Paul testified that the resurrected Jesus Christ appeared to him on the road to Damascus and made Paul one of His great missionaries (see Acts 26:9–23). Hearing Paul’s witness of his heavenly vision during the trial at Caesarea, the powerful King Agrippa admitted, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:28).
And there were many other ancient prophets who also bore powerful testimony of Christ. All of these manifestations, ancient and modern, lead those who believe to the divine source of all righteousness and hope—to God, our Heavenly Father, and to His Son, Jesus Christ.
God has spoken to Joseph Smith for the purpose of blessing all of God’s children with His mercy and love, even in times of uncertainties and insecurities, of wars and rumors of wars, of natural and personal disasters. The Savior said, “Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive” (3 Ne. 9:14). And all who accept this invitation will be “encircled about with the matchless bounty of his love” (Alma 26:15).
Through our faith in the personal witness of the Prophet Joseph and the reality of the First Vision, through study and prayer, deep and sincere, we will be blessed with a firm faith in the Savior of the world, who spoke to Joseph “on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty” (JS—H 1:14).
Faith in Jesus Christ and a testimony of Him and His universal Atonement is not just a doctrine with great theological value. Such faith is a universal gift, glorious for all cultural regions of this earth, irrespective of language, race, color, nationality, or socioeconomic circumstance. The powers of reason may be used to try to understand this gift, but those who feel its effects most deeply are those who are willing to accept its blessings, which come from a pure and clean life of following the path of true repentance and living the commandments of God.
As we remember and honor the Prophet Joseph Smith, my heart reaches out to him in gratitude. He was a good, honest, humble, intelligent, and courageous young man with a heart of gold and an unshaken faith in God. He had integrity. In response to his humble prayer, the heavens opened again. Joseph Smith had actually seen a vision. He knew it, and he knew that God knew it, and he could not deny it. (See JS—H 1:25.)
Through his work and sacrifice, I now have a true understanding of our Heavenly Father and His Son, our Redeemer and Savior, Jesus Christ, and I can feel the power of the Holy Ghost and know of Heavenly Father’s plan for us, His children. For me, these are truly the fruits of the First Vision.
I am grateful that early in my life I was blessed with a simple faith that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, that he saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, in a vision. He translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God. That testimony has been confirmed to me over and over again.
As one of the least among you, but in my calling as one of the Apostles of Jesus Christ, I testify that He truly lives, that He is the Messiah. I do have a personal witness of Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. I received this knowledge by the unspeakable peace and power of the Spirit of God. The desire of my heart and of my mind is to be pure and faithful in serving Him now and forever.
I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
"We do not have to defend the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ will defend him for us. Those who reject Joseph Smith as a prophet and revelator are left to find some other explanation for the Book of Mormon.
"And for the second powerful defense: the Doctrine and Covenants, and a third: the Pearl of Great Price. Published in combination, these scriptures form an unshakable testament that Jesus is the Christ and a witness that Joseph Smith is a prophet."
There is only one safety; there is only one cure; and that is to take the pure and unadulterated word of God and set that up as our standard of measurement, and measure every creed and doctrine and dogma by that yardstick. That which will not square with the declarations of Almighty God we can lay aside as unsuited for the need of man. . . .
The Standard Works of the Church are the measuring rods the Lord has given us by which we are to measure every doctrine, every theory and teaching, and if there is anything that does not conform to that which is given to us in the revelations, we do not have to accept it. Whether I say it or anyone else says it, whether it comes through the philosophy of men, or whenever a statement is made, that is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, you should know what course to take. So far as I am concerned, I will just put it aside. And I don't care how many men may believe it. I don't care how much backing it has in the world of so-called science or philosophy. If it does not harmonize with what the Lord has revealed, to me it is not worth anything.