Concluding Address
President George Albert Smith
President of the Church
(Conference Report, October 1948, pp. 162-168)

You have listened to Elder Matthew Cowley of the Quorum of the Twelve. I was not aware when Brother Cowley was called to preside over the missions of the South Seas that he couldn't be seasick. I think he is probably the only one of the brethren that could have gone through what he went through and come back reporting as well as he has.

We are nearing the close of a delightful conference, the end of the third day, and as I stand here for just a few moments, I crave an interest in your faith and prayers that I may be able to say something that will be helpful.

Blessings of Conference

I am sure if nothing more were said, this great congregation could go back to their homes and truthfully say, "We waited upon the Lord (Isa. 40:31), and we were not disappointed." The influence in this house and in the adjoining properties where people are at worship at this hour is such that with all my heart I feel to express my gratitude to the Lord that he has heard and answered the prayers that have been offered and that he has fed us the bread of life (John 6:48).

This congregation is made up of members from many parts of the world. When conference adjourns, no doubt you will return to your homes. I would like to take this opportunity to caution you that if you are driving on the highways that you be as careful as possible, and if you are walking on the streets of Salt Lake City that you likewise be careful.

The Lord has blessed us thus far, and I trust that as we finish our conference and go to our various fields of labor, we may know that his preserving hand has been over us, and when we go to our homes, we may bow in thanksgiving and gratitude to him for his many blessings.

Do you realize, my brethren and sisters, that you are only a small speck in the great universe of the population of this world—so few in number that by comparison we are insignificant? However, you will find no other place in the world this day where there will be a congregation so large as this congregation, most of whom can testify that they know that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ, and that we are his children. That is a marvelous blessing when we contemplate the predicament that many countries are in at the present time while here we are at peace; here we are enjoying the companionship of one another, different nationalities and the descendants of those nationalities meeting here as sons and daughters of the Living God. Surely not anything else that we can think of in the way of a blessing would take the place of the assurance we enjoy.

The Gift of Language

It has been my privilege to travel in many parts of the world. I, too, was down in New Zealand where Elder Cowley filled his first mission, and I witnessed the affection those people have for him. I remember one experience. Elder Cowley had not been there for twenty years, and yet the first meeting that we attended at their huitau, he talked fluently to the people in their own language. There was present an educated Irishman who was the secretary of the Princess Tepueeta. When the meeting was over, he took me off to one side and said:

"How do you account for this? That man hasn't been down here for all these years. I've been here for three years trying to learn this language, and he stands there and talks better than the natives talk in their own tongue."

The Lord does bless us, and I am glad to have Elder Cowley call attention to the fact that many of our missionaries need to acquire the languages of the natives in the countries where they are called to labor. The native people prefer to hear the gospel in their own tongue. I hope we will not neglect our opportunities to become proficient in speaking the languages of the peoples among whom we do missionary work. I hope we will give the Lord a chance to help us learn to speak the tongue of the people to whom we have been sent as servants of the living God.

Blessing of Eternal Life

If you were to take from the world today the membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Book of Mormon and the D&C were wiped out, we would have a world without any hope of eternal life in the celestial kingdom. The people of the world wouldn't even know what it means. I don't say that disparagingly, but I am trying to say it so we will appreciate the blessings that the Lord has given to us. We not only have the Holy Bible, that great volume of scripture that the Lord has preserved all these centuries and handed down from generation to generation so that his children could know about him and his desires for us, but we also have these other great books. And yet the larger proportion of the population of this world do not now know the contents of the Bible. Most of those who have read it and are familiar more or less with its text do not know after all these years how to interpret it. The Lord has given to us the power to interpret it. He gave to the Prophet Joseph Smith the privilege of retranslating it, if I may use that term.

Latter-day Scriptures

I hold in my hand the American volume of scripture called the Book of Mormon, containing approximately five hundred pages translated from gold plates. We have all that the world has, the scripture that came from the old world, but we have the scripture of the new world which is the Book of Mormon added to that; and then, in addition, I hold in my hand another book of approximately three hundred pages containing the revelations of our Heavenly Father given in these latter-days. We also have the Pearl of Great Price containing other information that the Lord has revealed, including in it the Book of Abraham translated from papyri found buried with mummies in the catacombs of Egypt, and the Book of Moses, revealed by the power of God to the Prophet Joseph Smith. This also constitutes part of the scripture we possess. These latter scriptures assist the reader to understand the Holy Bible. There is the greatest library to be found in all the world. There isn't anything else like it. What does it contain? It contains what your Father and mine has thought of enough importance to preserve and give to the children of men and make accessible in many languages of the World. These scriptures are all important and should be understood by the Latter-day Saints. I am not going to ask you to hold up your hands to ascertain how many here assembled have ever read these books, but I desire to call your attention to the fact that these are precious truths, and they contain the revealed word of the Lord printed and published to the world for the purpose of preparing his children for a place in the celestial kingdom. That is why I say they are so valuable. Other books contain copies, extracts, from some of these books, but these are the originals as far as the Lord is concerned, and he has given them to us. How thankful we ought to be that we live in a day and age when we can read his advice and counsel and have things explained that otherwise might be obscure and uncertain to us.

Importance of Revealed Word of God

I am not concerned whether or not you have the books of the great libraries of the world in your home, provided you do have these books. Think of the millions of volumes that there are in our own Congressional Library at Washington, in the British Library, and in the libraries of other countries, millions of volumes—and yet all that God has revealed and published to the children of men that is necessary to prepare them for a place in the celestial kingdom is contained within the covers of these sacred books. How many of us know what they contain? I frequently go into homes where I see all the latest magazines. I find the books that are advertised as best sellers on the bookshelves. If you were to throw them all away and retain only these sacred scriptures, you wouldn't lose what the Lord has caused to be written and made available for us all to enjoy. So, brethren and sisters, among our other blessings let us not forget that the Lord has made it possible for us to have, enjoy, and understand the scriptures and to have his word that has been given down through the ages for the salvation of his children.

Our missionaries are out in the world today trying to explain these things to the learned and other men of the world, and there are many learned men who have access to all of these books who do not believe in God, who do not know that we are living eternal lives, but have an idea that when we die that is the end of everything. Yet in the comparatively small organization known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there are thousands of men and women and some children who know that we are the children of our Heavenly Father, that we are here and now living eternal lives, that the gospel, the power of God unto salvation to all those who will believe and obey ( Rom. 1:16), is on the earth.

Surely we ought to be grateful for our blessings. Brethren and sisters, keep this library where you can find it, and where your children will find it, and then have enough interest in the eternal salvation of those boys and girls that are in your home that you will find ways and means to interest them in what these books contain, that they may know how precious they are in the sight of their Heavenly Father.

ASSURANCE OF ETERNAL LIFE

We have been taught during this conference, among other things, the importance of family prayers, of asking a blessing upon the food, of the importance and sacredness of eternal wedlock. We have been taught the necessity and desirability of honoring the Sabbath day to keep it holy ( Ex. 20:8), and so I might go on through the advice and counsel that the Lord has given. Today we are seated in a house that the Lord provided for us that we might come together and consider all these blessings under the influence of his spirit. I fear sometimes that we pay little attention to the seriousness of this life, and that we take it too much for granted until it is too late. I remember being on a train one day with a man who was born and reared in the Church. We were returning from California, and I made myself known to him. As we visited, I talked to him about the gospel of Jesus Christ. He told me that his people were members of the Church, but he didn't understand anything about it. And he said as we discussed the principles of the gospel, "These things interest me." We visited quite a long time, and when we finished, that good man, I believe he was a good man, said to me, "I would give all that I possess to have the assurance that you have of eternal life." I said, "My brother, you don't have to give all that you possess to have that assurance. All you have to do is to search the scriptures prayerfully. Go where they may be explained to you. Seek the truth, and the beauty of the truth will appeal to you, and perhaps without much of an effort on your part, and I am sure without giving away all your property, you can know as I know that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith is a prophet of the Living God, and that we are living eternal lives."

TEACHING OF GOSPEL PRINCIPLES

Don't let your children grow up without teaching them the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Don't wait to send them into the mission field to learn what the gospel means. I remember when I was in the South fifty-five or sixty years ago, a man who came from a large family said, "I don't know what to say. I don't know what to tell these people."

"Why," one of the brethren said, "teach them the Bible. Go and get your Bible and read Genesis." He said, "I don't know where Genesis is in the Bible," and yet he had gone from a Latter-day Saint community, and from a Latter-day Saint home to carry the message of life and salvation to those people in the South. However, it was not very long after that until his mind was changed. He had received a testimony of the truth through study and prayer, and he knew that the gospel was here, and he was able to stand on his feet and freely bear testimony that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the truth.

Now, fathers and mothers, appreciate your children. Don't turn them over to somebody else to train and educate in regard to matters of eternal life. That is your privilege, and it is a privilege. Teach them to pray and walk uprightly before the Lord ( D&C 68:28), and then in time of need they can go to him, and he will answer their prayers. It will be astonishing to you the great happiness that will come into your home that you theretofore have not enjoyed, if you will follow this counsel.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation in the celestial kingdom to all those who will believe and obey it ( Rom. 1:16). There are some who seem to have the idea that if they believe it and their names are on the records that is sufficient, but that isn't sufficient. Don't let them go on in that blind thoughtlessness. Reach out after those who are in the Church and those who are out of it, and seek in every way to share the blessings of the gospel of our Lord with them, his children. That is what we are expected to do. Freely we have received, and freely we should give ( Matt. 10:8). When we return to our various places of abode, let our homes from now on be sanctified by prayer and with gratitude and thanksgiving, so that those who come there might feel the influence and the Spirit of the Lord and be prepared to bear testimony of the truth of he gospel of our Lord.

NAME OF THE CHURCH

This is our Father's Church. He gave it its name. Only today a good sister handed me a paper, something that she herself had prepared. Among the things that were written there was her testimony of the true name of this Church, the Church of Jesus Christ. She wanted to know why we don't pay attention to what the Lord has said about its name. We sometimes call ourselves Mormons, not members of the Church of Jesus Christ, and she wanted to know why. "Why," she says, "the Lord has made it just as plain as can be what his Church should be called. He called it by the name of his Son, Jesus Christ." In another place he said that if it was the church of some other man it would bear his name, the name of the other man ( 3 Ne. 27:8). She wrote it out in her own thoughtful, simple way. And so, brethren and sisters, when you go away from here, you may be associating with various denominations of the world, but remember that there is only one Church in all the world that by divine command bears the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord ( D&C 115:4). I am sure we will show our appreciation of that great and wonderful name by respecting it, and not be found calling ourselves Mormons as the world nicknames us. The name Mormon to many people in the world means anything but the gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact they do not know what it means. I congratulate you as members of the Church, that you belong to the Church of Jesus Christ; live in the age when his Church has been organized and has been given his name. If we are faithful and devoted to the end of our lives, when we go to the other side we will find we shall not belong to some other Church such as the Church of St. John or St. Peter or St. Paul or Mormon, or that of any of the Apostles or great men who have lived upon the earth, but we will find that we belong to the Church of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Let us remember that, and let us respect it, brethren and sisters, and not be careless about it.

PRAYER AND BLESSING

Now, in conclusion, I pray that the blessings of our Heavenly Father may be in our lives, in our hearts, and in our homes, that each of us may go from here with a renewed determination that we will be worthy of the great honor that has come to us of being members of this great organization, grateful for all of our blessings, and for this wonderful house we worship in, this great choir that sings for us and has sung so many years for the world, and grateful for the privilege of associating together in our wards and branches in the Church under the influence of the spirit of the Lord.

I pray that the love of the gospel of our Lord will burn in our souls and enrich our lives, that it will cause husbands to be kinder to wives, and wives to be kinder to husbands, parents to children, and children to parents because of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is a gospel of love and kindness. It will cause us, if we are living as we should, to love our neighbors as ourselves ( Matt. 22:39), and go out of our way, if possible, to help them understand better the purpose of life. These are some of our privileges.

Now, I pray that the blessings of the Lord may be with you, and as far as I have power and the authority of the priesthood I bless you, my brethren and sisters, that the power of the Lord may be and go with you, and that his peace and his love may abide with you, and that you will so live that you will be worthy of these blessings as long as you live upon the earth, and I do it in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.