Untitled Priesthood Address
President George Albert Smith
President of the Church
(Conference Report, October 1950, pp. 172-183)

Reference has been made to the responsibility of the priesthood, and I wonder if we fully appreciate what it means to have conferred upon us a portion of the authority of our Heavenly Father to officiate, and to teach the children of men. The condition of the world today is pitiable. Nobody knows what the outcome will be.

A train pulled out of one of the stations here this week with quite a large number of men, mostly young men, who are going out to take part as a portion of the armed forces of the United States. Every one of those men has lived where he could have received the priesthood, I am sure. I do not know how many of them have received it, but some of them have filled missions. History is repeating itself. War and distress are giving anxiety and deep sorrow to the peoples of this earth.

Growth of Church

In 1830 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized with six members. Today the Church numbers more than a million souls. From the six men who were in that meeting when the Church was organized, and those who have followed, the Church has continued to grow and develop into a great organization. It may interest you to know that it is estimated that in Barratt Hall and the Assembly Hall and here in this building tonight there are approximately fourteen thousand men and boys who hold the authority of the priesthood. As has been intimated, this is the largest gathering of priesthood in a priesthood meeting that we have had, and the work continues to go forward.

There was a time when to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brought ridicule and annoyance to the one who was recognized as such. How different it is today. Many offices in the states and territories and the Islands of the sea where our people are located are held by men who hold the priesthood.

I can remember a visit that I made in Washington at a time when our Representative from this state was not a member of the Church. I thought I would like to go and pay my respects to him, but when I called on him he was annoyed. I was only a young man at the time. Since then that great body that meets as a Congress in the United States has been honored by representatives of this Church and they have made friends for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, because of the dignity of their attitude among their fellows.

There is not any position, from the President of the United States down, that may not be held by a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints if the Lord wills.

Power of the Priesthood

When I see this marvelous group of men and boys here tonight I think, "what a power we have in the world that is not recognized by the world in many cases." I spoke of the political privileges that are ours, each of us having a right, if we have qualified, to cast our vote; and when we go to the Congress of the United States we find members of the Church there who receive us with consideration, and seek to look after our interests and keep us where we ought to be, not trailing along, but pushing forward.

The Priesthood is what I am thinking about. What a wonderful privilege it is to represent our Heavenly Father by holding the priesthood, and it does not prevent us from going anywhere in the world in honor, if we dignify our calling. There are those who do not like us. That is because they do not know who we are, but little by little, and very rapidly now, the men such as are sitting here tonight are going out into the world and mingling with the people, and it is remarkable what a host of friends there are scattered over the earth not members of the Church, who have been brought to realize the dignity and the worthwhile attitude of these men who have the priesthood.

The Voice of Warning

I want to read something from the First Section of the Doctrine and Covenants: "Hearken, O ye people of my church, saith the voice of him who dwells on high, and whose eyes are upon all men; yea, verily I say: Hearken ye people from afar; and ye that are upon the islands of the sea, listen together. For verily the voice of the Lord is unto all men . . ."

That covers a good deal of territory, particularly when we realize that the voice of the Lord, the instructions of our Heavenly Father, must be carried by those who are authorized by Him to carry His messages. You see, we have a great responsibility.

"For verily the voice of the Lord is unto all men, and there is none to escape; and there is no eye that shall not see, neither ear that shall not hear, neither heart that shall not be penetrated. And the rebellious shall be pierced with much sorrow; for their iniquities shall be spoken upon the housetops, and their secret acts shall be revealed.

And then He goes on and says: "And the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days. And they shall go forth and none shall stay them, for I the Lord have commanded them."

It is not a question of our choice. It is a question of following the instructions, and direction of our Heavenly Father.

"And they shall go forth and none shall stay them . . . Behold, this is mine authority, and the authority of my servants, and my preface unto the book of my commandments, which I have given them to publish unto you, O inhabitants of the earth" (D&C 1:1-6).

Gospel to be Preached

That is a portion of the First Section of the Doctrine and Covenants. We who are here tonight have been told that there are approximately six thousand of our missionaries scattered throughout the world, and yet that is not a drop in the bucket, but in the Lord's own way, and He says it will be done by those that He directs, all the people of the world must be reached if possible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ brought to them as far as we can go. So we have a great responsibility, my brethren, a tremendous responsibility.

I remember when I was a child, I thought how few we were. At that time there were some difficulties and our people were being annoyed; but then somebody said: "Oh, never mind, the Lord and one man is a majority." So it is not a question of how many of us there are. We have the responsibility, and in order that we may carry that responsibility we will be placed in all kinds of positions of honor and trust, not only in the Congress of the United States, but in our great Universities, and at the head of our great businesses. It is marvelous how many things occur.

Visit to Albany

I think I will tell you a little incident that occurred many years ago. I was in Washington and so I wrote to the Governor of New York who at that time was Charles Seaman Whitman and told him that I was on my way home and if he was going to be in Albany on such and such a date, I think it was on Thursday as I remember it now, that I would be glad to get off the train and call and pay my respects and take the next train on home. I received a telegram in reply, reading, "Come right along. I will receive you here."

The result was that I got through in Washington a day earlier than I thought so I arrived in Albany a day ahead of time and went to the Hotel Teneyck, with the expectation of staying all night and filling my appointment the next day. I then telephoned the Governor's office and learned that he was out of town, and I told his secretary I had an appointment with him. He said: "Yes, I know and the governor will be here in time to fill his appointment tomorrow."

I thought, "why not do something in the meantime?" I have always found that I feel so much better when I am busy trying to disseminate the truth. The result was I went out and located two of our missionaries, just humble young men. They were about nineteen, possibly twenty, years of age. I found them and asked if there were some place we could spend the evening and do a little missionary work, and they said: "Yes, we will go and call on the photographer. He and his family are members of the Church, and they will be happy to have us come."

I said: "All right." I went into the office of the hotel and said to the clerk: "If by any chance anybody calls for me here, I am going out to spend the evening, but I would like to have them call me—I had the telephone number of the photographer—call me there."

Call From Governor

The missionaries were delighted and we went down and were having a lovely visit. About nine o'clock the telephone rang and the good sister answered the telephone and then she came in, and my, her eyes were nearly popping out of her head. She said: "Why Brother Smith, the Governor of New York wants to talk to you on the telephone."

Of course I was wonderfully surprised. So I went to the telephone and when I took it up I said: "Is this you, Governor?"

He said: "Yes."

I said: "This is George Albert Smith of Salt Lake City. I am glad to hear your voice."

"Well," he said, "I am glad to hear yours. You are coming to see me, aren't you?"

And I replied: "Well, I stopped here for that purpose. What time shall I come?"

He said: "Ten o'clock."

I asked: "Ten o'clock tomorrow morning?"

He said: "No, ten o'clock tonight."

I said: "I do not want to disturb you at your home. I thought I was going to go into your office and shake hands with you and visit a few minutes."

He said: "If you wait to get into my office we won't have any visit. Come on down tonight, at 10 o'clock."

Visit at Governor's Mansion

I went back and excused myself from the family and said to the young missionaries: "Will one of you go and help me find the Mansion House?" I did not have any idea where it was. Elder Peterson went with me.

When we got down to the house—it was during World War number one and the house was surrounded by militia—they would not let us in the gates until I insisted that they go to the house and find out that I had an appointment. They did and came back and escorted us to the house. When we went there the Governor received us very graciously and said: "Come with me and we will go up to my den and we will have a good time together. Nobody will bother us up there, not even the telephone."

The young missionary was about as much surprised as anybody could be to be received in the home of the Governor like that. It was just like we were members of the family.

When we got upstairs, the Governor seated himself. By the way, it was in a room about fourteen feet square and there was a table on one side and all around the room were cupboards of books. It was the private office of the Governor, and when he wanted to be by himself that is where he went.

Discussion of World War I

He sat in his chair, on one side of the table, and Elder Peterson and I sat opposite him. We had hardly gotten seated until the Governor said: "Do you folks know that there is a war on?"

I said, "Of course we know there is a war on."

He said: "You are way out there in Utah: I didn't think you would know." He continued: "You are out of danger; you cannot be reached out there."

I said, "Governor, we are American citizens and we are real Americans, and I want to tell you we have furnished our quota of men, and there has not been a draftee—everyone has volunteered." I said: "We have taken our full quota of bonds. We have paid our full share of Red Cross assessment. We have done everything we have been asked for. Now, why don't you think we know there is a war on?"

He replied: "You have done better than we have back here." "Well," he repeated, "how is this war coming out?"

I answered: "Don't you know?"

He said: "No, I don't know who is going to win it."

"Where is your Book of Mormon?" I asked.

He just turned around in his swivel chair and reached in the cupboard behind him, took down a copy of the Book of Mormon and laid it on the table in front of me. Elder Peterson was astonished to see a copy of the Book of Mormon in the Governor's library.

I turned to the Book of Mormon and I said: "Governor, I am not going to take a lot of time, but you can find out right in here how this war is coming out." I said: "We are going to win the war," and then I read to him what is found in the Book of Mormon with reference to the people of this nation, in which the Lord told us: "And this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land, who shall raise up unto the Gentiles... I, the Lord, the king of heaven, will be their king" (2 Ne. 10:11,14), and then He refers to the fact that if we keep His commandments—that is what I want to bring home to us tonight—if we keep His commandments we have the promise from Him of His preservation and His watchcare (2 Ne. 1:7).

The Governor said: "I had not seen that."

"Well," I said: "you are not doing a very good job reading your Book of Mormon."

Subsequent Meeting with Missionary

He thanked me. We had a lovely visit. We went away and I did not see that missionary for a long time. In fact, I had forgotten what his name was, until about two years ago in the Hotel Utah when I attended a meeting of oil executives. I happened to be there as an invited guest, and I was made acquainted with some of those present, but when someone attempted to introduce me to one young man he said: "You cannot introduce me to President Smith. I know him and he knows me. We have done missionary work together."

I was puzzled. And then he told the story of how he took me to the Governor's home and then of course I remembered him. He is now the President of one of the great oil corporations in California. But one of the most interesting things was, after I had explained to the Governor that the Book of Mormon contained the word of the Lord: that it was not what Joseph Smith had said, but what the Lord had said—when I laid the book down, the missionary picked it up as quick as he could and looked to see how on earth it got into the Governor's office. On the front page was this inscription: "To the Honorable Charles Seaman Whitman, Governor of New York, with compliments and best wishes of George Albert Smith."

Opportunities to Teach Gospel

Brethren, I have mentioned the Book of Mormon. I wonder how many of our families have read the Book of Mormon. There are a good many things in there that could be referred to, as well as this commandment or revelation of our Heavenly Father, of what we must do. We are distributing the literature of the Church where we can in all parts of the civilized world and we are not doing all that we will have to do because we have not reached very many people.

Our representatives in the various barracks, schools, and in the various state legislatures and the national legislature, members of the Church everywhere, all have an opportunity, and most of them take advantage of that opportunity, to explain to the people what the Gospel of Jesus Christ really means.

That is a large contract that we have. Each of us has the responsibility. We may begin by training our boys and girls at home so that they know what the Gospel is and then when opportunity comes they will be able to share it with others.

Friendliness Experienced

If I had time I could tell you many experiences I have had, similar to the one just related, and I have always found that the people who gave me an opportunity to sit and talk with them followed me up after that and went out of their way to be friendly. I may add that the Governor of New York used to send me an invitation to his public functions. I never had the opportunity to go but once and then I got stuck in the snow and could not get there.

People are friendly with us if we will give them a chance. It has not been very long since I was invited to offer the invocation at the opening of the United States Senate. This invitation was extended to a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a stranger there except for the fact we had members and friends there who knew us. That could not have happened fifty years ago, but there is no end to the opportunity that is ours, and the thing for us to do, no matter where we are, is to seek to share with others the joyous teachings that have come to us from our Heavenly Father in all of the scriptures, the Old and the New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price. We have a marvelous library, brethren.

Responsibility to Teach Gospel

I am not going to ask you to hold up your hands now, but I would like you to ask yourselves, how many of you have read anything to your families out of these books from time to time, called them together to teach them the things that they ought to know. I am afraid many of us would have to say we have been too busy.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is on the earth, and think of the number of men there are here tonight who are authorized through the priesthood they hold to speak for our Heavenly Father and to teach his Gospel.

It is a joyous thing to me to know that the way is opening all the time, and it becomes easier and I say to you brethren, I do not suppose there is hardly a week passes, not a month anyhow, but somebody of prominence from these United States or from other parts of the world, comes into the office here, the President's office, to find out what we are doing.

Visit of Railroad President

Only last week the President of one of the great eastern railroads came in, the first time he has ever been here in Salt Lake City, and he came in and we sat down and visited for quite a long time. He asked questions and they were answered, and he went out, wanting to see what there was to see. He was leaving that night, but he said: "I never dreamed I would find what I have found here."

I could not go with him so some of the other brethren, Brother Haycock, my secretary, and one of the other brethren, saw to it that they found our welfare organization, saw the monument to the pioneers up here and other points of interest.

There is always something to interest them while we are teaching them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So let us not lose our opportunity, let us not lose the privilege that the Lord has given to us to teach His truth. The more we teach it the more we will appreciate it, and the more we will be appreciated by those we associate with.

Priesthood Meeting a Delight

Tonight, this great priesthood meeting is a delight to me. I am grateful to be able to be here. I am glad I can remember when I was just a young man, and I was a missionary in the Southern States. Some of the very finest people in the South would receive us if we would go to their homes in a dignified way. They were not always interested in the Gospel of Jesus Christ but they would treat us kindly, in most instances, but of course in some cases they were not so kind.

I am thinking of our opportunity. What are we going to do? Here we are, the representatives of the Church, a very great portion of the representatives of the priesthood of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints tonight, and our Heavenly Father has warned us that difficulties are coming. If I were to read more in the Doctrine and Covenants I could call attention to many things there that put us on notice that we have something more to do than to just go on and take it easy.

Experiences of Noah and Abraham

Remember that in the days of Noah, he preached the Gospel for approximately a hundred years and the people would not repent (Moses 8:17-30), but by and by, the warning that had been given to them (Gen. 6:1-22) was realized (Gen. 7:1-24) and they were all wiped out except the few that were in the ark (1 Pet. 3:20).

You remember the experience of Abraham when he was visited by a holy being on the way to Sodom and Gomorrah to destroy the people, and he began to plead for them. He knew there were some good people there. He had relatives there. And so finally he asked, "Are you going to destroy the good people?"

"No, if there are good people there, enough of them, they can save the whole situation."

And then Abraham began: "Well, if there are fifty, will you save the cities?"

"Yes, if there are fifty."

"If there are forty?"

"Yes, if there are forty."

And Abraham kept on going until he got down as far as he thought he could go, I guess, and was told, that if ten righteous people could be found there in those two great cities that the cities would be spared. But he could not find them (Gen. 18:20-33).

Condition of America

Now I wonder what about America. What proportion of the population of the land we live in is a righteous portion. It is righteousness that will preserve us.

The Lord's promise to be our king and our law-giver (D&C 45:59) is on the condition of righteousness, and my, what a wonderful opportunity He gives to us and how happy we ought to be to take advantage of it and bless our fellows by carrying the message to them.

Disbelief of World

The people of the world may not believe it. They did not believe it when the Savior came to John at the waters of Jordan. They did not believe He was the Savior of the world. When He came unto John and asked for baptism, John said: "I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?"

Jesus replied: "Suffer it to be so now for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." "And he suffered him."

Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Mary, went down into the water, and when He came up out of the water, the Holy Ghost descended upon Him in the form of a dove. If John had had any doubt about what he had accomplished surely that would have brought him to a realization, and then a voice from heaven said: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:13-17).

John did not find fault with Jesus for letting him baptize Him. John was a very humble man. John then went his way and tried to save his own people, his own race. And they finally took his life and that has been the history of the world all the way down. There have been war and destruction and now we are faced, not with any ordinary situation, but we are faced with a war by Anti-Christ against the people who believe in the divine mission of the Savior.

Set Homes in Order

What are we going to do? We have our responsibility, and I am sure we will not disappoint those who have depended upon us to do our part. But the most important thing that we can do is set our own homes in order, to see if there is carelessness or indifference in them, teach our families, and unite them and make them happy in keeping the commandments of our Heavenly Father, because only on the condition of righteousness can even this great Church continue and endure to do the work that it has to do.

Brethren, you have come from many parts of the world, mostly, of course, from the Western Hemisphere, but you will be returning to your homes. Do not fail to appreciate that the Lord has given you a wonderful blessing, but it will only be a blessing to you on condition that you observe His laws and keep His commandments.

Waiting Upon the Lord

We are all brethren here tonight, meeting together in the Lord's House, waiting upon Him (Isa. 40:31), and I am sure we will have a happy time tomorrow in our meetings.

I trust everybody has a place to stay tonight. I hope that the adjustment has been made before this. We sometimes have had our people come from the outlying districts thinking they could go into a hotel at any time, only to find they could not get a place to stay. Now, if there are any of you people here tonight who live away, who haven't any place to stay, you see if you are sitting by a real Latter day Saint or a make-believe, and tell your troubles to your neighbor, and if he cannot take you to his home he can find a place where you can stay, and you will be happy.

Gratitude for Companionship

I pray that the Lord will bless us all. I am so grateful for the companionship of such men as are sitting here tonight, grateful to be able to shake your hands and meet you wherever I find you, grateful to welcome another member into the Quorum of the Twelve. The Church continues to grow, and while Brother George F. Richards has filled a great mission, performed a great part, and the others that we have mentioned here, Brother Frank Evans and others, what they have done they will be blessed for, but if we want to be among those whose names are recorded in the Lamb's Book of Life as being entitled to a place in the Celestial Kingdom when this earth becomes that kingdom, we have got to earn that ourselves, individually. The Lord has given us the priesthood given us the opportunity, given us all these wonderful revelations contained in the scriptures, and I am sure we are not going to waste our privileges and fail to do our part.

Blessings Asked

I pray that the Lord will bless us all, that we will be worthy to bear the priesthood that He has offered to us and conferred upon us, that wherever we go people will be able to say, "That man is a servant of the Lord."

When you go to our homes tonight, please be careful. It is dark. The automobiles are running in every direction, pretty near, except straight up, and we will have to be careful and not be hit. Be as careful as you can, and then when the conference is finished and you go to your homes, be equally careful, because somebody is losing his life as a result of unnecessary accidents practically every hour of the day.

I pray that the Lord will bless us, that we will be real brothers and that if we have families that we will be real fathers and husbands in our homes, not just make-believes. Do not fail to have your family prayers, brethren; it brings a blessing that not anything else does.

That we may all so conduct ourselves that when the Lamb's Book of Life is opened disclosing those who are entitled to a place here upon this earth in the Celestial Kingdom, to live forever in the companionship of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and that all our names will be found recorded there and those we love, not one missing, I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.