Closing Address
President George Albert Smith
President of the Church
(Conference Report, October 1947, pp. 164-167)

We have been celebrating for nearly a year. It has been a time of pleasure and recreation, and I am satisfied that had our pioneer forebears been here they too would have gladly joined with us. The year is passing now, and the centuries are before us. The best tribute that we who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can pay to those who are on the other side will be to honor God and keep his commandments and by so doing honor those whose names we bear. In this way we will increase our own happiness and provide opportunity for joy for those who follow after US.

Our Great Responsibility

We will receive the blessings of the Lord if we will only remember that since we are the children of God, our responsibility is greater than any other people. No other church has the responsibility that is upon this Church because the Lord has given to us a commandment to go into all the world and preach the gospel unto every creature (Mark 16:15) so that

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:16).

So it is not merely a question of living our short lives in comfort; if we expect to enjoy eternal happiness in the celestial kingdom, we must earn it by doing our best to bring as many of our Father's children to live with him as we possibly can.

God has been good to us. No people in the world have more reason to be grateful than we. Here under the shelter of this roof we can well pour out our souls to him who is the Author of our being and remember with love those, who under his watchcare, made it possible for us to enjoy the things that we now have.

Manifesto Issued

On October 6, 1890, in this Tabernacle the people were assembled in conference. The Church had been harassed and abused, and property had been escheated by the government. Many had been imprisoned for what they believed. Upon that occasion the President of the Church, Wilford Woodruff, among other things, delivered this message to us here:

Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise (O.D. 1:).

That is a part of the Manifesto,

After that had been read, Lorenzo Snow, the man who later succeeded Wilford Woodruff as President of the Church, said:

I move that, recognizing Wilford Woodruff as the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the only man on the earth at the present time who holds the keys of the sealing ordinances, we consider him fully authorized by virtue of his position to issue the Manifesto which has been read in our hearing and which is dated September 24th, 1890, and that as a Church in General Conference assembled, we accept his declaration concerning plural marriages as authoritative and binding.

The vote to sustain the foregoing motion was unanimous.

Practice of Plural Marriage Discontinued

That was the action of the Church at that time. The practice of plural marriage ceased because the government of the United States forbade it. Our Heavenly Father has always directed that we sustain the constitutional law of the land, and the Supreme Court being the highest authority had declared the law forbidding plural marriage was constitutional.

From then until now, there has been little said by us, and now, after all these years, I would like to say that from that time on, approximately fifty years, there have been no plural marriages solemnized in violation of the laws of this land by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Manifesto Still Binding

I mention this because, unfortunately, there are some people in the world who are still insisting that we no longer pay attention to the Manifesto, that it does not bind us now, and by that attitude some men and women are falling into adultery and committing a sin not only against the government of the United States, but also against the Church itself. And yet they say that because we are not talking about it, that we condone it.

As President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I say we do not condone it. We desire our people to obey the law of the land in reference to marriage. If you hear anybody say that the leadership of the Church is not in harmony with the Manifesto of Wilford Woodruff as sustained by the Church, then you may know that he is mistaken.

I regret that it is necessary to refer to this matter, but there are those who are going among the people encouraging the violation of the moral law. That is what they are doing, and if the Church of Jesus Christ stands for anything, it stands for morality, and so today, in the conclusion of this conference, I call your attention to this matter.

A Blessed People

No people in the world are more greatly blessed than we. It is marvelous what our Heavenly Father has done for us. The Church grows, increases, and becomes stronger as the days come and go.

We are permitted twice a year to assemble in this great building in a general conference and meet as we have been during the last three days to be instructed by our brethren. Here under the influence of the Spirit of the Lord we are taught to observe the laws of the land and to keep the commandments of our Heavenly Father.

Now today I think we have reason to be grateful. There is trouble ahead. The world is sick and in a pitiable condition, and until the people repent of their sins and return to the true and living God, there will be no peace that will be worthy of the name. It is our duty to set the example; it is our duty to hold aloft the banner of truth. It is our duty to encourage our Father's other children to listen to his advice and counsel and so adjust things that wherever we are we will find the spirit of God burning in our souls and our influence will be for good.

I pray that we may continue faithful. I congratulate those of you who are able to attend the conference at this time. I feel to bless the choir which has rendered such splendid music and the Relief Society Singing Mothers and others who have sung for us. I am grateful to them and I pray the Lord to bless them and bless us all that we may be worthy not only to be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but also that we may be worthy to be called sons and daughters of the Living God, and seek to do his will and keep his commandments.

Testimony

God lives. Jesus is the Christ. The land that we live upon, in all parts of this earth, belongs to him. We are only tenants here. He places us here with the opportunity to prepare ourselves for eternal happiness and promises us that in due time this world shall become a celestial kingdom (D&C 130:9). How wonderful it is for us to know that we have a chance to earn our place in that kingdom by following the advice and counsel that he gives us. If we continue to do that, happiness, satisfaction, and joy will be our reward.

I know that God lives. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of the Living God, and that the gospel of our Lord is upon the earth. The power and authority of the priesthood are here, and if we will observe the advice that has been given to us, if we will honor him, who is the Author of our being, not only we but our children and children's children will also be among those whom God will bless throughout eternity. That is my testimony, and I bear that witness to you this day in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.