“Be Firm in Faith, President Benson Tells BYU Graduates,” Ensign, June 1986, 73
Speaking at commencement exercises April 18, President Ezra Taft Benson told Brigham Young University graduates—“the future of the Church, the coming leaders”—that they must “stand firm in the faith, unwavering in the face of evil.”
President Benson presided at the exercises, which were conducted by President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency. Some 2,726 graduate and undergraduate students received their degrees at the April commencement exercises; added to the 1,333 December 1985 graduates who were invited to attend the exercises, 4,059 students were awarded degrees.
“We hope you will be happy,” President Benson said, reminding them that “there is no happiness in wickedness. You cannot do wrong and feel right. It is impossible!”
In order to live the “full, wholesome, joyful life” the Lord expects men and women to have, he continued, “you must have a testimony of the truth. I have seen so much evidence of the strength of testimony under the most adverse economic and social conditions that I have reached the conclusion in my own mind that men and women can endure anything and keep their spirits sweet and wholesome provided they have a testimony of the divinity of this great work—the greatest work in all the world.
“You must seek for it, pray for it, live for it. Be assured it will come—I bear you my witness that I know it will come—because the God of heaven wants every one of his children to know that He lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that Joseph Smith is a prophet. You may each know that if you live for it. I’m sure of it.”
President Benson emphasized that the Lord intends Church members to be a light to the world.
“Remember, my beloved brothers and sisters, you will never have any occasion to be embarrassed among people who count—real men and women—if you live according to the standards, teachings, and ideals of the Church. I know that’s true.
“Sometimes in our attempts to mimic the world, contrary to counsel, we run after the world’s false standards. New worldly standards take over, but God’s righteous children should be living up to the highest personal standards, preparing for and awaiting a better day which surely must come.
“We do not wish you a life of ease. You will have your problems, your disappointments, your heartaches. It is not on the pinnacle of success where men and women grow most. It is often down in the valley of heartache and disappointment and reverses where men and women grow strong characters. But God intended that this life be essentially a satisfying and joyous life,” President Benson commented.
We may achieve the happiness God intended, he said, if we hold to the iron rod, are true to the faith, maintain the standards the Lord has set, and “follow a course that is safe so that we may be exalted.”
In his remarks to the graduates, BYU President Jeffrey R. Holland urged them to represent BYU well as they go out into the world. He reminded them that people will not be able to visit the campus “to measure us,” so they will judge BYU, and to some extent the Church, by the graduates who come from the university.
Arthur Henry King, a professor of English, was the commencement speaker. He spoke of the nature of love and how it spreads through the human family. He told the graduates to seek education for the right reason—to be able to offer themselves, thus improved, to the Lord in loving service to others and to him.