I wanted you to feel the spirit of these splendid new men, whom the Lord has brought to his service by the gift of prophecy. To that I bear humble witness. My brethren, I am sure, understand that, and they know the way by which these brethren have been called.
We now come to the closing moments of a momentous conference, history making and in many ways a conference that has great significance because of the time in which we live. Perhaps never have we turned a page of the history of the Church with greater challenge, with greater problems, or with greater promise for the future.
I have listened with great satisfaction to the testimonies of my brethren. I believe you have felt the unity in your First Presidency, these noble men, President Tanner and President Romney, and the feeling of oneness that has been expressed by the Twelve and all of these brethren of the General Authorities. There is a bond that is to be found among those called to these positions that is stronger than the ties of blood relationship, so deep, so wonderful, so strengthening, except for which we probably couldn’t walk the path that we are asked to walk at these times.
In the midst of similar circumstances the Prophet Joseph Smith was in the Liberty jail trying to think of something he could do to strengthen his people. He wrote some significant words. He said:
“Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven—
“These should then be attended to with great earnestness. …
“You know, brethren,” he wrote, “that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves.
“Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.” (D&C 123:13–14, 16–17.)
I was at Manti, Utah, some years ago. As we came out of the Saturday night leadership meeting, there was a heavy snowstorm. As we drove to the home of the stake president, he stopped his car and turned back to the temple hill. There the lighted temple was standing majestically. We sat there in silence for a few moments, inspired by the sight of that beautiful, sacred place. He said, “You know, Brother Lee, that temple is never more beautiful than in times of a dense fog or in times of a heavy, severe storm.”
Just so, never is the gospel of Jesus Christ more beautiful than in times of intense need, or in times of a severe storm within us as individuals, or in times of confusion and turmoil.
I come now to the closing moments of this session when I have time for some sobered reflections. Somehow I have had the feeling that during the expressions here, whenever my name has been mentioned, they were talking of somebody other than myself. And I really think that is so, because one cannot go through the experience that I have gone through these last three days and be the same as before. I am different than I was before Friday morning.
I cannot go back to where I was because of the love and faith and confidence that you, the people of the Lord, have reposed in me. So you have been talking of somebody else. You have been talking of somebody that you want me to become, which I hopefully pray God I may, with his help, become.
We have announced time and again the great coverage of this conference. Millions have been listening. You know we are being judged by what emanates from this tabernacle. I held a meeting with some new missionaries recently. Their attention was called to something that I may have the temerity to mention to you today. The Lord said here in a great revelation, “Therefore, cease from all your light speeches, from all laughter, from all your lustful desires, from all your pride and light-mindedness, and from all your wicked doings.” (D&C 88:121.)
I wonder sometimes if we forget that all we say in this sensitive building is going out over the air from a sacred assembly. It doesn’t mean that we should be long-faced, should not show our joy, but we ought to couch our expressions of joy not with the audible expression that swells up to a great crescendo that might be mistaken by those who are listening on the outside. I think it would be well for us to remember that, with a sense of our responsibility to the most high God. We should be an example of what the Lord in this revelation has counseled us to be when we are in his service.
Some great compensations have come to me in these last few days. Never has my family, the intimate family of mine, been drawn more closely together. One by one these precious children, grandchildren of mine, and my own dear companion have drawn closer, and I have reason to believe that those beyond sight have been very near to us, their families and mine. There has been a unity and a pledge to me that they feel that this is their call. I have said to them, “My sermons will be no better than the lives of the members of my family.” I am pleading with them to set an example before the Church.
And so I come to you in these closing moments; and as one who is as a patriarch to the Church holding this position, I have a right to extend a blessing to you. I am not concerned about how much you remember in words of what has been said here. I am concerned about how it has made you feel. What are you going to take back with you when you go? What are you going to give to your families? What are you going to give to your members and to your wards and stakes and missions?
If you can catch the spirit of what has gone on here during this conference and can feel that great unity now, then take to them my love and blessing. Assure them that the presidency of the Church and the General Authorities really love the members of the Church everywhere, the lowly, the mighty, the educated, the uneducated, wherever they are. Will you please assure them of our love and our concern about them and their welfare.
There has come to me in these last few days a deepening and reassuring faith. I can’t leave this conference without saying to you that I have a conviction that the Master hasn’t been absent from us on these occasions. This is his church. Where else would he rather be than right here at the headquarters of his church? He isn’t an absentee master; he is concerned about us. He wants us to follow where he leads. I know that he is a living reality, as is our Heavenly Father. I know it. I only hope that I can qualify for the high place to which he has called me and in which you have sustained me.
I know with all my soul that these sayings are true, and as a special witness I want you to know from the bottom of my heart that there is no shadow of doubt as to the genuineness of the work of the Lord in which we are engaged, the only name under heaven by which mankind can be saved.
My love goes out to my own family, to my associates, to all within the sound of my voice, even the sinners; I would wish that we would reach out to them, and those who are inactive, and bring them into the fold before it is too late.
God be with you. I have the same feeling as perhaps the Master had when he bid goodbye to the Nephites. He said he perceived that they were weak, but if they would go to their homes and ponder what he said, he would come again and instruct them on other occasions. So likewise, you cannot absorb all that you have heard and that we have talked about, but go to your homes now and remember what you can and get the spirit of what has been done and said, and when you come again, or we come to you, we will try to help you further with your problems.
I bear you my witness to these things and leave you my blessing in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.