Closing Address
President George Albert Smith
President of the Church
(Conference Report, October 1945, pp. 167-175)

President J. Reuben Clark, of the First Presidency of the Church, has just spoken to you and it now falls to my lot as your presiding officer to say a few closing words as we finish this conference.

Nobody could stand where I am and look into the eager, upturned faces of a congregation such as this and not be impressed with the responsibility that attaches to counseling and advising such a remarkable group of people.

Blessings Enjoyed by the Saints

The world is in a ferment. The conditions of the world in many places are anything but desirable, and yet we are permitted to meet together today, in peace, in this glorious weather, on this block that is so delightfully beautified. We are permitted to live here in the fresh air of these grand valleys and mountains, unafraid of any impending danger. What a grateful people we ought to be! When I think of the comforts and the blessings and opportunities, that have come into my life, because my forebears accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ and went through all kinds of undesirable and uncomfortable experiences in order that they might be permitted to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience (A of F 1:11), I am most grateful to my Heavenly Father.

No other country in the world is as blessed as this country. The Lord himself raised up the men to prepare the Constitution under which we live (D&C 101:80). Free opportunity to serve God, untrammeled, has been vouchsafed to us by that Constitution, and the people of the United States of America, who have continued to honor God and keep his commandments, have retained an understanding of the purpose of life and a faith that is worth more than all of the wealth of the world.

The Church of Jesus Christ

We in this Church, are only a handful of people. There are many churches in the world, many in the United States, which bear the names of the men who organized them, such as the Wesleyan Methodist Church, and others. Great and good men have come forward and sought to improve the conditions of the people, and the country in which they lived. We have the peculiar distinction of belonging to a Church that does not have the name of any man, because it was not organized by the wisdom of any man. It was named by the Father of us all in honor of his Beloved Son, Jesus Christ (D&C 115:4).

I would like to suggest to you, my brothers and sisters, that we honor the name of the Church. It is not the church of James and John, it is not the church of Moroni, nor is it the church of Mormon. It is the Church of Jesus Christ. And while all these men were wonderful and notable characters, we have been directed to worship God in a church that bears the name of his Beloved Son. I wish that our young people as they grow up would keep that fact in mind. We have become so accustomed to being called the Mormon Church by all our friends and neighbors throughout the world, that many people do not know the proper name of the Church, and I think the Lord would expect us to let them know that.

In all these churches there are good men and good women. It is the good that is in these various denominations that holds them together. It has been my privilege to be with people in many parts of the world and to be in the homes of many people of the various denominations of the world, both Christian and Jew. I have been with the Mohammedans; I have been with those who believe in Confucius; and I might mention a good many others. I have found wonderful people in all these organizations, and I have the tremendous responsibility wherever I go among them, that I shall not offend them, not hurt their feelings, not criticize them, because they do not understand the truth.

As representatives of the Church we have the responsibility to go among them with love, as servants of the Lord, as representatives of the Master of heaven and earth. They may not altogether appreciate that; they may resent that as being egotistical and unfair, but that would not change my attitude. I am not going to make them unhappy if I can help it. I would like to make them happy, especially when I think of the marvelous opportunities that have come to me because of membership in this blessed Church.

The Savior's Ministry

Today, in many parts of the world, people are worshiping God in the way that they have been trained to worship. The people of the great nation of China worship, as they believe, in a way that will be pleasing to the Creator, if they understand that we had a Creator. And so do many others. That was also true in the days of Jesus of Nazareth. When he came into the world, there were many denominations. There were people scattered in different parts of the world that did not believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When Christ came to instruct the people, he told them that there must be faith in God and righteousness in life or they would not please our Heavenly Father. And so the Savior of the world came with kindness and love. He went among the people healing the sick, unstopping the ears of the deaf, and restoring sight to those who were blind. They saw these things done by the power of God. Comparatively few of them could understand or believe that he was the Son of God, but what he did was in kindness and patience and love and forbearance. Yet his experience was such that upon one occasion he said:

. . . Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head (Matt. 8:20).

That was your Savior and mine, in his own world, if you will, in the world belonging to his Father. All that was here belonged to God and yet his only Begotten Son in the flesh had to call the attention of his associates to the fact that with all his majesty and his royalty, he still must live like other men. And when the time came for him to die, and be hung upon the cross, and cruelly tortured by those of his own people, his own race, he did not become angry, he did not resent the unkindness.

When the one thief on the cross railed against him, the other thief called attention to the fact that they were only receiving their just deserts, while here was a righteous man being unjustly punished. The one thief prayed, as best he knew how to pray (Luke 23:39-42), and the Savior of the world said to this man who was suspended alongside him on another cross:

. . . To day shalt thou be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43).

The people of the world do not understand some of these things, and particularly, many men cannot understand how the Savior felt when in the agony of his soul, he cried to his Heavenly Father, not to condemn and destroy these who were taking his mortal life, but he said:

. . . Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).

That should be the attitude of all of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That should be the attitude of all the sons and daughters of God and would be, it seems to me, if they fully understood the plan of salvation. But it has remained for a little group, the group to which you and I belong, to call the attention of our Father's other children, day by day, to the fact that anger and hatred in our hearts will not bring us peace and happiness. So it is our privilege, possessing divine authority that has been conferred again in our day, to go into the world and teach men the message of the Savior that would have redeemed the world if people had accepted it.

This world might have been free from its distresses long ago if the children of men had accepted the advice of him who gave his all, as far as mortal life is concerned, that we might live again.

Christ answered those who asked him which was the greatest of all the commandments:

. . . Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. . . .And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Matt. 22:37,39).

That is the spirit of the Redeemer and that is the spirit all Latter-day Saints should seek to possess if they hope someday to stand in his presence and receive at his hands a glorious welcome home.

The Truth to be Preached

When I think of the opportunities that the Lord has offered to us! One of the most difficult problems that we have had has been to carry this gospel to the nations of the earth. Hundreds, yes, thousands of our fellows have gone, in many cases without purse and without scrip, to the islands of the sea and to the nations of the earth, and to what end? To say unto our Father's other children: "The gospel has been restored again." The scriptures indicated that a true knowledge of the gospel would be lost; that the time was to come when men would run to and fro in the earth, seeking the word of God and not find it (Amos 8:12). It is our privilege and has been that of our forebears to say to mankind: "The time has come when the truth may be found. Surely you can see that the manner and form of worship that the people have been following all through the ages has not succeeded in bringing peace and happiness. Now, why not listen to the Lord."

Our missionaries have gone out and have said to the children of men:

"A humble boy, believing the Bible after he had read it, believing that there was a God who could hear and answer prayers, went out and knelt down in the woods near his home in the state of New York, and prayed unto the Lord, asking guidance. This boy had read in the scriptures where the Lord had said:

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not: and it shall be given him (James 1:5).

And so this boy, not yet fifteen years of age, because of his implicit faith in the promises of our Heavenly Father, had the heavens opened to him and God the Father and God the Son appeared and instructed him as to what he should do (JS—H 1:17-20). Although a youth, he was older than the Savior of the world when His parents lost Him. When they found Jesus in the temple, they chided him because they had been delayed. It was at twelve years of age that Jesus said to his parents:

. . . wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business (Luke 2:49).

So, it is not surprising that a boy fifteen years of age, if he were inspired by the Lord, should desire to know what he should do.

Joseph Smith was able, notwithstanding the opposition of the adversary of all righteousness and all his emissaries, to face the contumely and hatred of a wicked world and finally he gave his life as a testimony of the truth of the gospel of our Lord that had been restored in its fulness to the earth.

The Church began with only six members. It has grown day by day in spite of the opposition of the adversary. But for the powerful arm of righteousness, but for the watchcare of our Heavenly Father, this Church would have been crushed like a shell long ago. However, the Lord has said that he would safeguard us, and has promised us protection if we will honor him and keep his commandments. The Church in its early existence moved from place to place, and finally was driven through the wilderness and came out into this western land and established itself here, by the blessing of God, in a land then so undesirable that other people did not think they could live here and develop a satisfactory community We can now see the results. Our forebears had the same faith that led the children of Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, the same faith that led the Pilgrim Fathers across the mighty deep to the land choice above all other lands (1 Ne. 2:20), the same faith that inspired the men who wrote the Constitution of the United States, the same faith that characterized the lives of the Hebrew prophets, who one by one were willing to give their lives in order that they might maintain their standards and continue the teaching of the gospel that the Lord had given to them (Heb. 11:35). When we think of some of the prophets and the experiences through which they passed, it is marvelous.

Elijah and the Prophets of Baal

I have in mind now, the prophet Elijah who said to the people: Build two altars and let one be for God and the other for Baal. Then let us put the offering that is customary on each altar.

And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God (1 Kgs. 18:24).

The priests of Baal were challenged by the true prophet of God, and so they called to Baal to send down fire from heaven, and they continued to cry. Elijah said: Cry aloud, perhaps he is asleep, or he may have gone on a journey. And when these men, these priests of Baal, who had been leading Israel astray, discovered their helplessness, it is said they jumped upon the altar, and they gashed themselves with knives (1 Kgs. 18:27-28). Then, Elijah, the true prophet of God, said: Father in Heaven, in order that the people may know that thou art God, wilt thou send fire down from heaven and consume the offering that is on the altar that has been built to thee. And not only were the altar and the offering consumed, but the water that had been poured over the offering to prevent its being easily burned was licked up, and the people stood there to find that of the hundreds of men claiming divine authority, there was only one man that God would recognize (1 Kgs. 18:36-39).

Teachings of Joseph Smith

Now, when Joseph Smith, just a youth, announced that he had seen the Father and the Son, it appeared ridiculous to many people (JS—H 1:21-23). They had been taught that it was not possible for the Lord to appear to the children of men, that such manifestations were past and that the Bible contained all the information that was necessary. But the boy prophet knew because he had seen the Father and the Son. Knowing that it was not some imaginary thing (JS—H 1:24-25), he continued his work, and under the direction of the Lord, organized the Church. Then our Heavenly Father sent holy beings to confer upon him divine authority, which had been lost to the world, as we read in the scriptures that it was to be lost to the world. There came John the Baptist who conferred the Aaronic Priesthood, and there came Peter, James, and John who conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood. These four men had lived upon the earth and offered their lives in testimony of the divine mission of Jesus Christ. When the time came for them to come and bring back the authority of the priesthood, they were not maimed and bruised as a result of the handling they had received by wicked men, but they were immortal, glorified, resurrected beings, who came to the earth and thereby established in the mind of the boy prophet, Joseph Smith, the truth that there was in reality a literal resurrection from the dead.

And may I say that there are comparatively few people in all the world who understand that there will be a resurrection. The Lord has again revealed this in our day. He has impressed it upon us and has given us to understand that when the time comes for that resurrection, if we are worthy that we will be quickened celestial bodies (D&C 88:28-29), and from then on, we will dwell in the celestial kingdom, the highest of all kingdoms. But he has taught us also that there are other places where we may go. If we don't want to go to the celestial kingdom, by being less careful and particular about keeping the commandments of God, we may go into the terrestrial kingdom, and if we are still more careless, we may find our way into the telestial kingdom, which is the least of the kingdoms of glory.

There are some people who have supposed that if we are quickened telestial bodies (D&C 88:31) that eventually, throughout the ages of eternity, we will continue to progress until we will find our place in the celestial kingdom, but the scriptures and revelations of God have said that those who are quickened telestial bodies cannot come where God and Christ dwell, worlds without end (D&C 76:112).

The gospel of Jesus Christ was given to the world to prepare us for a kingdom that we would not be prepared for with any other gospel. And so the truth has come in our day. How thankful we ought to be to our Heavenly Father for that truth, how patient we ought to be with one another. How grateful we ought to be to those who have been willing to teach us the truth, and how willing we ought to be to keep our bodies clean and undefiled by the wicked things of life, knowing that we have been created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27) and that he expects us to take care of these bodies and keep them pure (1 Cor. 3:16-17).

A Happy Home Life

These are some of the thoughts that have come into my mind this afternoon as I have looked into the faces of this wonderful audience. I am grateful for the association and companionship of such as are here today.

I thank my Heavenly Father that I was born in this day and age of the world, and that I was blessed with goodly parentage (1 Ne. 1:1) that I might begin my earth life under favorable circumstances, for I want to say to you that I never knew anything wrong to happen in my father's home. There were always peace, happiness, and love; the rules of the Church were observed, and family prayers were as regular as our meals. While we did not have very much sometimes, we thanked God for what we had and it was sweet to the taste and sufficient to take care of us. When my father passed away, he left two families of children, and two mothers of those children. His life had been such that if there had been any problem among us, any question as to what should be done with reference to his affairs, all that was necessary for us was to say, as we united together, we will do whatever father would have done. We knew how fair and just and honorable he was, and so our problems were never difficult of solution, and we have lived together in the bonds of love (D&C 42:45), just as all the people of the Church should live. The gospel teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matt. 22:39), and if we will do that, we will not be distressed, we will not have our feelings wounded, part of us will not be well-to-do while others are living in poverty. If we love our neighbor as ourselves, we will all do our full part, and our Heavenly Father has promised us his blessings in return.

Responsibility Towards Others

Let me say I realize the great responsibility that is upon my shoulders. I know that without the help of our Heavenly Father, the organization with which we are identified cannot be successful. No man or group of men can make it successful, but if the members of this Church will continue to keep the commandments of God, live their religion, set an example to the world, love their neighbor as themselves, we will go forward, and increasing happiness will flow to us.

Today as I stand here I realize that in this city, in the Catholic Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Methodist, the Baptist, the Episcopalian, and the other churches, I have brothers and sisters that I love. They are all my Father's children. He loves them and he expects me and he expects you to let our light so shine that these other sons and daughters of his, seeing our good works (Matt. 5:16) will be constrained to accept all the truth, not a little part of it, but accept all the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord. Think what a marvelous opportunity we have! Think what a blessing it will be if we do our part here, as we stand on the other side of the Great Divide, when our Father shall summon his great family together as he shall, to have these wonderful men and women, hundreds and thousands of them who have been our neighbors, and who have watched our lives, stand there and say: "Father in Heaven, we owe it to these thy children of the humble organization that bears the name of thy Son, we owe it to them that we have understood the truth and that we are here at the supper of the Lamb." That is our privilege, and our blessing.

Let us not complain at our friends and our neighbors, because they do not do what we want them to do. Rather let us love them into doing the things that our Heavenly Father would have them do. We can do that, and we cannot win their confidence or their love in any other way.

Prayers for Leaders of Our Country

Fortunate are we to live in this great land of America. Fortunate are we to have had raised up from time to time great men to preside over the nation. I want to tell you that we can influence them, and we can help them, if from the depths of our hearts we will pray to the Lord to give them wisdom to carry on and not be swayed by the foolishness and avarice and wickedness of many of those who dwell in this land. It is your duty and mine to remember in our prayers the President of the United States of America, to remember the men who represent us in the Congress of the United States, to remember the executives of the states of the nation, and to pray for them that they may have divine aid. They are God's sons, every one of them, and he wants them saved and exalted. It will be our responsibility, with the added information that has been bestowed upon us, to carry the message to them in love, not in criticism and faultfinding, but with love in our hearts. And I want to say to you, I am sure we will win many of them to an understanding of the truth, and they will bless us forever.

Humility Expressed

I know that there are many problems and there will be greater problems as the days come and go, but the same Father in heaven that led the Children of Israel (Ex. 13:21), that saved Daniel (Dan. 6:20-27) and the three Hebrew children from destruction (Dan. 3:20-30), the same Heavenly Father that preserved our forebears that came into this western land and established them here, and blessed them and made it possible in the poverty of the people to have this great temple and other great temples, and houses of worship like this, that same Father, your Father and mine, is ready to pour out his blessings upon us today.

Let us evidence our faith; let us evidence our belief; let us set the example day by day, that no one shall be kept out of the Church because of any conduct of ours.

I thank you for the confidence that has been manifested, my brothers and my sisters, in hoping that I may succeed, and promising as some of you have, that you will help me to succeed, because I am only a man, one of the humblest among you, but I have been called to this service—and I would not be here if I did not know I had been called—by the authority of our Heavenly Father. I will need the help of every man and every woman and every child, not for my blessing, but for your blessing, and for the blessing of the children of men wherever they may be. That is not my responsibility, that is our responsibility.

A Fervent Testimony

I know that God lives. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of the living God, as I know that I stand here and talk to you. I realize, however, when I make that statement, that it would be a serious thing if it were not true, and there are those who will question its truth, but I have no question in my mind. If I did not know it were true, I would not dare to make that kind of statement to you or to anybody else, for in the not-far-distant future, in the natural course of events, we will all stand before the bar of God, and this man who is talking to you will stand there to answer for the things that he has said and done in life. Knowing that, and realizing the seriousness of saying that which is not true, and that if I have falsified I would lose my blessings, in love and kindness, I want to bear this testimony to you, my brethren and sisters who are here, to those who may be listening in, and to those whom I may meet from time to time, that I know these things are true, and I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints possesses divine authority and is guided by the Father of us all, and knowing that, in love and in humility, I bear you my witness that these things are true, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.