It has been a great delight to witness the outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord which has been in evidence during these last few days. This to me refreshes a recollection of past events, including one in which I participated in 1960 when we organized the first stake on the continent of Europe and the British Isles here at Manchester; and we also divided the British Mission at that time. The Manchester Stake was later divided into the Leeds Stake, and Liverpool was turned back to the mission in order to make for better communication with the various branches. I remember with great fondness the spirit of that occasion, and I bring back now those memories, and bless you people for the growth and for the strength that you have given to the Church here in this great land.
The coming to Great Britain of a conference of this kind has special significance. “Why was there a decision to hold a regional general conference at a center place in the British Isles?” many have asked. The rapid growth of the Church in all the world in my more than thirty years as a General Authority is indicated by the fact that when I became a General Authority we had 138 stakes; we now have 549. We had 40 missions at that time; we now have 96 to 99—of the exact count I am not sure. Within the last while we have expanded into such newer areas as the Fiji Islands with a new mission, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, Spain, Italy, and remote areas of the Latin American countries, and among the Indian tribes—just to indicate the far reaches to which we are carrying the gospel in obedience to the divine command to take the gospel to all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, preparatory for the coming of the Lord.
Indeed, it would seem that the Lord had pointed us to a preparation for this day when he declared in an early revelation:
“Behold, and lo, I will take care of your flocks, and will raise up elders and send unto them.
“Behold, I will hasten my work in its time.
“And I give unto you … a commandment that you assemble yourselves together, and organize yourselves, and prepare yourselves, and sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, …
“That I may testify unto your Father, and your God, and my God, that you are clean from the blood of this wicked generation, …
“That their souls may escape the wrath of God, the desolation of abomination which awaits the wicked, both in this world and in the world to come. …” (D&C 88:72–75, 85.)
Why the British Isles? This was the earliest overseas mission. As I have read the history of the Church in England for more than a century, I have been tempted to launch into certain incidents related thereto, but when I remembered that Brother Richard L. Evans gathered historical events for the hundred years, in some of which he was a participant, and the fact that Spencer W. Kimball, the grandson of Heber C. Kimball, one of the great early missionaries, would be here, it would be better for them, if anyone, to recount these early events in Church history. There is nobody better prepared than these two of my esteemed colleagues.
When consideration was given to the establishment of the first temples outside of continental North America, particularly in the European area, this matter was brought to the Council of the Twelve by the First Presidency, and it was decided that one of the temples should be built in Switzerland because of its history of successful association in the community of nations and because it had demonstrated its liberty-loving ability to avoid the political entanglements which invariably have resulted in war and bloodshed in other countries.
It was decided that a temple would be built in Great Britain because of its great contribution to the early and continuous growth of the Church, which gave evidence to the great outpouring of the blood of Israel among the people of these great British Isles. Most importantly, because of the inspiration of Almighty God to designate this country and this center as a place to determine how the leaders of the Church could relate more closely to the general membership of the Church. We would hope that this gathering of Saints would at least be an indication of our love and esteem for you, and for the welfare of our members everywhere, and to bring a large body of Saints so that they could feel the great outpouring of the Spirit, which indicates the faith and loyalty of this people in a rededication of the Saints to the work of salvation.
The conference, as you have observed, has been divided into youth and adult sessions, with the young girls meeting in a Laurel conference, and student leaders in another conference. And so we come together. We have had facilities to seat fourteen thousand, and I would suppose from this great congregation, and the congested traffic, that probably our facilities will be stretched to the utmost. To you here in this great hall, and to you in the other halls, we extend to you our greetings and our welcome, and trust that wherever you are, you may feel the uplift that comes from the strength and unity evidenced by such a body of Saints.
Following the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, the news apparently spread, and presumably many out of curiosity crossed over the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum. They were seeking for Jesus, under whose direction this great miracle had been performed; but the Master, discerning their lack of sincerity as to the purpose of their coming, answered their questions as to why they had come. He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat the loaves, and were filled.” (John 6:26.)
He then took occasion to declare his great mission by saying, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35.) As he expanded the meaning of this declaration, there was unfolded the grandeur of his mission: the redemption of the dead and the plan of salvation by which all mankind might gain eternal life.
When the Master discerned that this was a “hard saying” and that some were offended because of his words that no man may gain exaltation except by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel, then the scriptures record, “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
“Then said Jesus unto the twelve, will ye also go away?
“Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” (John 6:66–68.)
To all honest seekers after truth, who are earnestly seeking to find the way to eternal life, the answer has always been the same, as declared in our Articles of Faith: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” (A of F 1:3.)
That was the answer the Master gave to Nicodemus, who apparently came to know what he must do to be saved. The Master said, “You must be born again,” a statement that Nicodemus didn’t seem to understand until the Master made it plainer when he said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (See John 3:3–5.)
So the resurrected Lord answered the spiritually awakened soul of Saul of Tarsus, who cried out in trembling and astonishment, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” (Acts 9:6.) From Ananias in the city of Damascus he received his answer, as had Nicodemus, that he must be baptized and receive the spiritual gifts from the authority of the priesthood, which was now in the earth.
It was so when Peter preached to the multitude: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38.)
President Heber J. Grant used to tell us (President Grant was one of the former presidents of the Church, as many of you will know) that as he approached the end of his ministry, knowing that his life wouldn’t be too far prolonged, he thought if there were some unusual thing that the Father would like him to do, he would be so pleased; and so he sought earnestly to know what would the Father have him do during his remaining years, thinking, I suppose, of some outstanding thing, like the building of a temple or something of the sort. And in answer to his inquiry, the Lord said that the most important thing that he could do as president of the Church was to teach this people to keep the commandments of God.
To Joseph and to Hyrum Smith, brothers, again the Lord said, “Say nothing but repentance unto this generation. Keep my commandments, and assist to bring forth my work, according to my commandments, and you shall be blessed.” (D&C 11:9.)
Likewise to David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses, the Lord said, “Seek to bring forth and establish my Zion. Keep my commandments in all things.” (D&C 14:6.)
As in the Master’s ministry, when this strong doctrine was taught, there were many who were offended and walked no more with the Saints. So at the time of the first vision, when Joseph was answered as to which church he should join and he was told to “join none of them, for they were all wrong; … all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; … they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (JS—H 1:19.)
Likewise there were many offended because of this pronouncement, as also men are today, unless they have faith and seek earnestly to know.
To those who seek earnestly, when overwhelmed with the wickedness that engulfs the world, comes the question from the millions who are searching for solutions: “Lord, Lord,” as Saul of Tarsus said, “to whom shall we go?” And we answer: To him whose church only “has the words of eternal life,” as Simon Peter solemnly testified of the Master’s established work as the rubbish of the ages was wiped aside. The Master again established his church, with the declaration, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
So on the day the Church was organized, the Lord said this: “Wherefore, meaning the church”—and that was addressed not just to the few on that day, but to all who have been or who will be members of this church—“thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;
“For his word [meaning the president of the Church] ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.”
Now note the promise if we will be thus obedient to seek counsel and to accept counsel from the proper channels: “For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and in his name’s glory.” (D&C 21:4–6.)
To you Latter-day Saints everywhere, that promise will be yours if you will follow the leadership the Lord has placed within the Church, giving heed to their counsel in patience and faith; this promise to you and yours is that the gates of hell will not prevail against you, that the Lord will disperse the powers of darkness from before you and will cause the heavens to shake for your good and his name’s glory.
In the preface to the revelations by which the Lord established his work in this dispensation, the predictions of today’s horrors were clearly predicted, and the author of the wickedness in this world was revealed. Note what he said: The time is not yet but soon (now this was 140 years ago) when “all men shall know that the day speedily cometh; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand, when peace shall be taken from the earth, and the devil shall have power over his own dominion.” (D&C 1:35.)
As I say, that was 140 years ago, in 1831. Does anyone here in the sound of my voice doubt, as the Lord foretold, that peace has been taken from the world, and that the devil has power now over his dominion and is ruling with blood and horror upon this earth? That is what it means.
So powerful was he in the Master’s day that the Master referred to Satan as “the prince of this world,” but he added, “… the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” (John 14:30.) We must be able to say, as did the Master, that though the power is evil on every side, “as for me and my house, we shall serve the God of this land.” The prince of this world is coming to tempt every one of us, and the only ones who will stand through these evil days are those who have founded their houses upon the rock, as the Master said; when the storms descended and the winds blew and the rains came and beat upon the house, it fell not because it was founded upon the rock. That is what the Lord is trying to say to us today.
But there was a brighter day that was promised, when these judgments would descend as we see them now in great evidence: “And also the Lord shall have power over his saints, and shall reign in their midst, and shall come down in judgment upon Idumea, or the world.” (D&C 1:36.)
How does he reign in our midst? How shall he have power over his saints? If you had been in the meeting of the priesthood last night, you would have seen the great power that was in evidence there, where there were two thousand holders of the priesthood, the power of God by which he works through men to the accomplishment of his purposes. He is reigning in our midst through them.
So the Lord said in the preface to the revelations that we know as the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants: “And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people.” (D&C 1:14.) And then he added, “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” (D&C 1:38.)
You think of that for a moment, and then let me read you something from a revelation making known that the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles would be called in his day. He is speaking now of the Doctrine and Covenants or the revelations that at that time had been received, and then he said to them, speaking of these revelations, “And I, Jesus Christ, your Lord and your God, have spoken it. These words are not of men nor of man, but are of me; wherefore, you shall testify that they are of me and not of man.” (D&C 15:33–34.)
Now note this: “For it is my voice which speaketh them unto you; for they are given by my Spirit unto you, and by my power you can read them one to another”—that is what I am doing today; that is what the brethren have been doing as they have spoken here—“and save it were by my power you could not have them.” And then he added, “Wherefore, you can testify that you have heard my voice, and known my words.” (D&C 18:35–36.) Therefore, he might have added, you are left without excuse in the day of judgment.
He left no doubt to his faithful disciples of his earlier church of his nearness even after his crucifixion, when he said to them: “… and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matt. 28:20.)
So in our day when his church was established anew, he gave the same comforting assurance.
I have a session in the temple with the missionary groups as they go out, where they are permitted to ask intimate questions that wouldn’t be proper to be discussed elsewhere. They sometimes ask, Could you tell us a certain place in the temple where the Savior has been seen? My answer is, “Keep in mind that this is the house of the Lord; this is the place that we try to keep as pure and holy and sacred as any building we have. This is the most likely place he would come when he comes on earth. Don’t ask for a certain place because he has walked these halls. How do you know but what he is here in your midst? Here you are, three hundred of you, going out to preach his gospel. Why wouldn’t he want to be here to so impress you with the spirit?” May I say, where else would the Spirit of the Lord and his presence want to be more than right here today in this great conference, that you might feel his spirit and know the reality of his person, and can testify that you know his voice, and that you have heard his words as the brethren have spoken them? This is what he said:
“But behold, verily, verily, I say unto you that mine eyes are upon you. I am in your midst and ye cannot see me;
“Wherefore, gird up your loins and be prepared. Behold, the kingdom is yours, and the enemy shall not overcome.” And then he said to all of us, particularly to the holders of the priesthood (listen to this, you home teachers, you leaders of organizations who preside, you fathers in the home whose responsibility it is to lead and to take recognition of this power): “Therefore, be ye strong from henceforth; fear not, for the kingdom is yours.” (D&C 38:7, 9, 15.)
When he revealed the name by which the Church was to be called, he used some interesting expressions. He said, “For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” (D&C 115:4.)
The word the is significant: not just Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, because to say “The Church” distinguishes this as the only true church on the face of the earth. He didn’t say Mormon Church; he didn’t say LDS Church, but the clear, firm, unequivocal statement, “even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
President David O. McKay used to tell us of an experience he had with a fellow traveler on board a ship when he, with a missionary companion, was making a historic visit around the world. As he talked with this fellow traveler and told of his mission, about the Church being the true church of Jesus Christ in the earth, this man said to him, “If you claim to be the true church, then you must accept the challenge to have the answers to all the problems that confront the world today, and its teachings must be perfect.” Thoughtfully President McKay answered, “As preposterous as it may sound to others, we accept the challenge.”
The gospel of Jesus Christ does have the answers to the problems that afflict the world, whether it be in the youth area, whether it be in public life, the social customs and manners, the standards as laid down in the church and kingdom of God, and the methods by which those standards can be maintained.
When the Church was first given in the earth, he gave a revelation that spoke of the standards. We know it as the forty-fifth section of the Doctrine and Covenants. Here the Lord said: “And even so I have sent mine everlasting covenant into the world, to be a light to the world, and to be a standard for my people, and for the Gentiles to seek to it, and to be a messenger before my face to prepare the way before me.” (D&C 45:9.)
As we see the hideous dress standards among the men and women, as we learn of the terrifying portrayal of filth and rot in entertainment places, we say, as we said to the brethren last night: Never go to any place that you wouldn’t take your priesthood with you. Stay out of such places. Someone said, when you find a place that is labeled “adults only; no children or youth allowed,” no adults should be allowed either, if you will be safe from the pitfalls of the devil. We are members whom the Lord expects to be a light unto the world, and to set a standard for people to seek to it.
As we see the lewd demonstrations of dress, I am reminded of what a man said to one of our brethren—President Anthony W. Ivins of the First Presidency—who was over in the Hawaiian Islands, where we first saw the lewd exposure of those who were bathing in the surf. This businessman said, “Mr. Ivins, in the world where I come from, any woman who displays herself in nude or seminude clothing is inviting rape.”
Now you sisters, because the world is setting a fashion of lewd dress that makes for lewd exposure, may I plead with you to keep yourselves sacred, and not let your dress be an invitation to those who are wicked or those who look with wicked glance upon your person.
As in former times, there may be many who take offense at what to them may seem hard things, and they are prone to turn away and walk no more with us. During the more than thirty years that I have been a General Authority, I have built up a file that I have labeled by the name by which the world has most often spoken of us: “Mormons As Others See Us.” (When I say Mormon, that is a nickname, and we must understand it is just a nickname; but it is a sacred name, because it is the name of a great prophet who abridged the work that we have in our great Book of Mormon.)
Some of these comments that I have gathered over these thirty years are critical; some are complimentary and some are both critical and complimentary. Indeed, over the years I have begun to observe at least the beginning of the fulfillment of the ancient prophecy of Micah relating to the establishment of the Lord’s house in the tops of the mountains. This prophet said, “But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills, and people shall flow unto it.” (Micah 4:1.)
The expression “the mountain of the Lord’s house,” as here indicated, was undoubtedly to be referred to as a place as well as a definition of a righteous people, because we have the Lord in a revelation saying, “Therefore, verily, thus saith the Lord, let Zion rejoice, for this is Zion—THE PURE IN HEART; therefore, let Zion rejoice, while all the wicked shall mourn.” (D&C 97:21.)
And then the ancient prophet said, “And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Micah 4:2.)
With the coming of the pioneers to establish the Church in the tops of the mountains, our early leaders declared this to be the beginning of the fulfillment of that prophecy. Orson Pratt, one of the members of the Twelve, delivered an oration on that occasion, in which he declared that this was the beginning of the fulfillment of the prophecy that out of Zion should go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. I have often wondered what that expression meant, that out of Zion shall go forth the law. Years ago I went with the brethren to the Idaho Falls Temple, and I heard in that inspired prayer of the First Presidency a definition of the meaning of that term “out of Zion shall go forth the law.” Note what they said: “We thank thee that thou hast revealed to us that those who gave us our constitutional form of government were men wise in thy sight and that thou didst raise them up for the very purpose of putting forth that sacred document [as revealed in Doctrine and Covenants, section 101]. … [D&C 101]
“We pray that kings and rulers and the peoples of all nations under heaven may be persuaded of the blessings enjoyed by the people of this land by reason of their freedom and under thy guidance and be constrained to adopt similar governmental systems, thus to fulfill the ancient prophecy of Isaiah and Micah that ‘… out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.’” (Improvement Era, October 1945, p. 564.)
The histories of nations record the efforts of statesmen to adopt these basic principles as the basis of sound fundamental structures. I have often speculated as to the meaning of the Lord’s injunction to our early leaders, not only to keep his commandments but to assist in bringing forth his work according to his commandments, and the promise that they would then be blessed. Also, they were to seek to bring forth and to establish Zion. All of this impressed what the Church was told by the Lord in another revelation. He said: “For if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you.” (D&C 78:7.)
You will note that it was not merely enough to be good; all must also be willing to bring forth his work and to bring forth and establish Zion. This meant work and labor with all one’s might, mind, and strength if he would obtain a place in the celestial world.
Many people, so these prophets said, would say: “Show me your path, that we may walk in your way.”
May I make a few references to indicate that in the Church and kingdom, those leaders in high places who are of the world are finding that which indicates an intense interest in how they may find the solution to the grievous problems that plague the world in which we live.
In speaking of the family home evening, where on each Monday night throughout the Church all our people are supposed to have no other activity except with their Families, the Christian Science Monitor, in an article in April 1971, under the heading “The Mormon Tie Binds,” said: “Every Monday night of the year all official church activity shifts to idle, while Mormon families meet together, preferably with a book of scripture, but at the bowling alley if necessary, just so the family is together.
“They can’t talk enough about the hinge-pin nature of the family books and the pamphlets and manuals on how to draw it closer together, how to finance it, how to cherish it, stacked in Mormon-owned book stores all over the church.”
Then this same article makes another interesting connection between the family home evening and genealogy and temple work. This is what they said: “Every Mormon is charged with tracing his own family genealogy. And when a new ancestor is found on some branch of the family tree, no matter how long deceased, the living Mormon will gather all the vital statistics and have the kin baptized by proxy or ‘sealed’ in the Temple. And, subject to his approval after life, the ancestor becomes part of the Mormon’s eternal family.”
Within the past month we have been approached by the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce, a nationwide organization of younger family men, who have among them active church members acquainted with our family home evening program. They have been publishing a periodical entitled Moments at Home, and they have asked permission to use some of the lessons from our 1971–72 Family Home Evening Manual. This permission has been given with a proper acknowledgment in their publication as to the source of these lessons.
We could cite comments relative to the Churchwide welfare plan, from which national leaders seeking for answers to welfare problems are looking for suggestions where able-bodied persons receiving welfare aid are expected to work when work is available. One of our prominent industrialists, C. Roland Harriman, characterized the welfare program of the Church as “The Mormon Bank of Human Happiness.” Brigham Young, you recall, said: “It is never wise to give out-and-out relief without effort on the part of the receiver.”
So with the monetary system by which the Lord has directed his work to be carried forward:
1. By tithing, a principle enunciated in former dispensations as attested by the scriptures and reaffirmed by modern revelations; the promise following obedience to this principle is that the windows of heaven would be open and blessings would be poured out that we would hardly be able to contain. The opening of the windows of heaven, of course, means revelations from God to him who is willing thus to sacrifice.
2. By fast offerings, which means going without meals on the first Sunday and consecrating our fast by the contribution to the bishop for the care of the needy. As explained in the days of the prophet Isaiah, the children of Israel were admonished: “Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry …”—meaning fasting and then paying fast offerings. If you would do that, he promised, “Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. …” (Isa. 58:7, 9.)
And we are saying to the Saints, How important that you keep this fundamental law to fast and to deal out your bread to the hungry through contributions so that when you call, the Lord shall answer; when you shall cry, the Lord will say, “Here I am.”
Our missionary work is a marvel, where thousands are called when they have been found “worthy and able” to go into all the world as did the early disciples, “and preach the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.”
A journalist from one of our papers in the Far West heard something about our missionary program (and we had over thirteen thousand or so engaged, and the gospel was being taught in seventeen different languages), and she said to me: “Are you people out to convert the whole world?” I replied: “Well, I remember the injunction of the Master that we were to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. What do you think that means to us?”
These missionary labors will be expanded as in the Lord’s own way barriers will be broken down and the honest in heart in every nation will hear the gospel in his own language, looking forward to the fulfillment of the prophecy that eventually “the word may go forth unto the ends of the earth, … in convincing the nations, the heathen nations … that every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language. …” (D&C 90:9–11.)
So we might go on and on with the application of gospel principles in the lives of our children and youth, that where they are taught correct principles, they may learn to govern themselves under the guidance of wise teachers and leaders.
The deep searching of vision that looks beyond the problems and sorrows of today finds peace, as the Master explained when he said: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33.)
The full application of the principles of Christ will push us further and further away from those who give only superficial solutions to world problems.
One of my associate directors of the Union Pacific Railroad, one of the world’s largest railroad systems, after visiting our welfare storehouse, surveying the welfare operations, and searching for the motivation for such activities, remarked: “Except for the kind of conviction, dedication—or testimony, as you speak of it—to be found among the Latter-day Saints, the whole welfare program would be a shamble.”
So with the tithing system. So with the missionary system. So with the building of temples. Except for the kind of dedication that is represented in the efforts that you people have made to come here, the whole effort of this conference would be a shamble likewise. The strength of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not to be measured in wealth or increased membership as such. Some speak of this being a wealthy church. We are wealthy but not in the kind of wealth the world knows, because the moneys that come in are largely from the tithes of this people; and the cost of taking the Church in all of these areas out in the world takes money, and the money that comes in goes out in similar measure to the blessing of the whole Church.
The real strength of the Church is to be measured by the increase in the hearts of the Latter-day Saints by which loyalty, faith, knowledge, patience, virtue, sobriety, integrity, and willingness to sacrifice are the outward evidences; by the way in which the opposition of worldly things is broken down; and by the way the Church moves on to its glorious destiny for which our Lord and Master gave his life that the world might be saved and the powers of evil be overthrown.
And so this morning, may I add to the testimonies of my brethren my own personal witness. As a little boy I had my first intimate touch with divinity. As a young boy I was out on a farm, waiting for my father to finish his day’s work, playing about, manufacturing things to while away the time, when I saw over the fence into the neighbor’s yard some broken-down buildings with the sheds caving in and with rotting timbers. I imagined as a young boy that that might be a castle that I should explore, so I went over to the fence and started to climb through; then I heard a voice as distinctly as you are hearing mine: “Harold, don’t go over there.” I looked in every direction to see where the speaker was. I wondered if it was my father, but he couldn’t see me. There was no one in sight. I realized that someone was warning me of an unseen danger—whether a nest of rattlesnakes, whether the rotting timbers would fall on me and crush me, I don’t know. But from that time on, I accepted without question the fact that there were processes not known to man by which we can hear voices from the unseen world, by which we can have brought to us the visions of eternity.
On the days when I came to this call, which imposed a greater responsibility to be a witness of the mission of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ—I suppose no one ever came to such a position without a lot of soul-searching, realizing his own inadequacy, and without the help of the Almighty—and for a night of searching and for days of spiritual preparation that followed, I came to know as a witness more powerful than sight, until I could testify with a surety that defied all doubt, that I knew with every fiber of my soul that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, that he lived, he died, he was resurrected, and that today he presides in the heavens, directing the affairs of this church, which bears his name because it preaches his doctrine. And I bear that testimony humbly and leave you my witness and my blessing here this morning, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.