“These Are Not Men to Be Conquered”

By Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone

of the First Quorum of the Seventy

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    Those who climb the highest mountains in life are the men of discipline

    It is related of Spinola and Richardet, the ambassadors sent by the king of Spain to negotiate a treaty at the Hague in Holland in 1608, that one day they saw about eight or ten persons land from a little boat and, sitting down upon the grass, proceed to eat a meal of bread, cheese, and drink.

    “Who are those travelers?” asked the ambassadors of a peasant.

    “These are our worshipped masters, the deputies from the state,” was his reply.

    Spinola at once whispered, “These are not men to be conquered.” (From Happy Homes and the Hearts That Make Them by Samuel Smiles.)

    Some time ago I had the privilege of attending a stake conference in the company of President Spencer W. Kimball. He was not the president of the Church at that time. Elder Kimball worked tirelessly holding one meeting after another until late Saturday night. On Sunday we held a meeting with bishoprics and high councilors at 8:00 A.M. This was followed by the general session, a meeting with the seventies quorum, an interview with the patriarch, the dedication of a chapel, and a talk to the seminary students in the evening. We went to the stake president’s home about 9:00 P.M. to wait for our plane that did not leave until nearly 11:00 P.M. The kindly stake president’s wife wanted to fix us dinner. Elder Kimball said, “Please, all I need is a bowl of milk and some of your homemade bread to break up in it.” These are not men to be conquered.

    Most men of his stature and leadership capacity would feast on pheasant, caviar, and other sumptuous foods fit for a king. They would fill their stomachs on champagne, liquors, and wines and indulge to a point where they would be drunk and foolish. But those who run the swiftest race, who climb the highest mountains, who swim the most dangerous streams in life are the lean and hard, the conditioned, the men who have discipline and will power. These are not men to be conquered.

    We have read of political leaders and business executives who glut themselves every night and sleep until 10:00 A.M. every morning, men who soon lose their power. The law of the harvest is absolute. Those who “dive to the depths of pleasure come up with more sand than pearls,” said a modern prophet.

    The story was told of General Antigonus (382–301 B.C., general of Alexander the Great) who was preparing to have his men attack the enemy. The plan was devised, the strategy decided, and the hour determined. General Antigonus’s men were outnumbered severely. The signal to attack was given. No one attacked. In fact, they were about ready to retreat ingloriously. General Antigonus asked what the problem was. The captains replied that they were outnumbered so severely that the men dared not attack. General Antigonus thought for a moment and then asked, “For how many then wilt thou reckon me?” This spirit spread through the ranks; they attacked and won a great battle.

    How many do you think the Lord counts each of his righteous servants for? How many do you count a President Spencer W. Kimball for? How about a Nathan Eldon Tanner, a Marion G. Romney, or an Ezra Taft Benson?

    These are not men to be conquered. When you make your contribution in life, will men list your assets and fortune or will they talk about your character and integrity?

    How many would you count Barbara Smith or Belle Spafford for?

    The decline and fall of Rome was attributable to the general corruption of its people and to their engrossing love of pleasure and idleness—work in the latter days of Rome was regarded as fit only for slaves. Its citizens ceased to pride themselves on the virtues of their great forefathers, and the empire fell because it did not deserve to live. And so the nations that are idle and luxurious—that “will rather lose a pound of blood,” as old Burton (Robert Burton, 1577–1640, English clergyman and author) says, “in a single combat than a drop of sweat in any honest labor”—must inevitably die out, and laborious, energetic nations take their place.

    In the above statement we could replace the word nation with men and the principle would still remain the same. Men and women of principle are not easily conquered.

    President Nathan Eldon Tanner had not reached his peak as one of Canada’s great leaders. Opportunity and financial wealth beyond his wildest supposition were ahead. A call came from the prophet and it was all laid aside.

    President Marion G. Romney sat through the funeral service of his wife on Monday, March 12, 1979. On Tuesday this great soul attended and spoke at the Logan Temple dedication. These are not men to be conquered.

    Listen to the voice of “one” from the past who qualified as one not to be conquered. Speaking at general conference in October 1942, President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., a member of the First Presidency, said:

    “I think I would be safe in saying that my fellowship with you in the Church depends upon whether or not I accept the revelations and the principles which God has revealed. If I am not willing to do that, then I am not entitled to fellowship. Anyone else who fails to accept the revelations and the principles which God has revealed stands in precisely the same situation.”

    Isn’t that a powerful declaration? I have very strong feelings that the Lord has now sent a wonderful generation of youth who will not be men and women to be conquered. What a wonderful destiny is yours! What a marvelous period of the world in which to live! I pray that I might be able to live long enough to see many of you, thousands upon thousands, stand tall as the generation of Latter-day Saints, whom all the outside world might come to know, for they will know that you are not men and women to contend with or to be conquered. You will do and see deeds done such as have never been accomplished in all of humanity. Remember, my young friends, you must be lean and hard. You must be fit for the race. You must place character, integrity, and principles of truth as the guiding lights for the dark days ahead. It thrilled me as my mind saw, in vision, the future greatness that awaits those who are pure and true to the teachings and example of the Master.

    I pray the Lord to bless every single youth and young adult in his great Church.