Quote Category: ‘Abraham Lincoln’
Will we be prepared? Will we be among those who will “bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction?” If we desire to be numbered among those who will, here are some things we must do:
1. We must be righteous and moral. We must live the gospel principles—all of them. We have no right to expect a higher degree of morality from those who represent us than what we ourselves are. In the final analysis, people generally get the kind of government they deserve. To live a higher law means we will not seek to receive what we have not earned by our own labor. It means we will remember that government owes us nothing. It means we will keep the laws of the land. It means we will look to God as our Lawgiver and the Source of our liberty.
2. We must learn the principles of the Constitution and then abide by its precepts. We have been instructed again and again to reflect more intently on the meaning and importance of the Constitution and to adhere to its principles. What have we done about this instruction? Have we read the Constitution and pondered it? Are we aware of its principles? Could we defend it? Can we recognize when a law is constitutionally unsound? The Church will not tell us how to do this, but we are admonished to do it. I quote Abraham Lincoln: “Let [the Constitution] be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges, let it be written in primers, in spelling books and in almanacs, let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation.”
3. We must become involved in civic affairs. As citizens of this republic, we cannot do our duty and be idle spectators. It is vital that we follow this counsel from the Lord: “I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free. Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn. Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil. And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall forsake all evil and cleave unto all good, that ye shall live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God” (D&C 98:8–11).
Note the qualities that the Lord demands in those who are to represent us. They must be good, wise, and honest. Some leaders may be honest and good but unwise in legislation they choose to support. Others may possess wisdom but be dishonest and unvirtuous. We must be concerted in our desires and efforts to see men and women represent us who possess all three of these qualities.
4. We must make our influence felt by our vote, our letters, and our advice. We must be wisely informed and let others know how we feel. We must take part in local precinct meetings and select delegates who will truly represent our feelings.
I have faith that the Constitution will be saved as prophesied by Joseph Smith. But it will not be saved in Washington. It will be saved by the citizens of this nation who love and cherish freedom. It will be saved by enlightened members of this Church — men and women who will subscribe to and abide the principles of the Constitution.
The temple work for the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence and other Founding Fathers has been done. All these appeared to Wilford Woodruff when he was president of the St. George Temple. President George Washington was ordained a high priest at that time. You will also be interested to know that, according to Wilford Woodruff’s journal, John Wesley, Benjamin Franklin, and Christopher Columbus were also ordained high priests at that time. When one casts doubt about the character of these noble sons of God, I believe he or she will have to answer to the God of heaven for it. Yes, with Lincoln, I say: “To add brightness to the sun or glory to the name of Washington is . . . impossible. Let none attempt it. In solemn awe pronounce the name and in its naked deathless splendor, leave it shining on.”
If ever this country needed the timeless wisdom of the father of our country, it is today. How much our country could benefit by following the wisdom of our country’s first president. Here are a few among many maxims:
“Let the reins of government then be braced and held with a steady hand, and every violation of the constitution be reprehended. If defective, let it be amended, but not suffered to be trampled upon whilst it has an existence.” (To Henry Lee, October 31, 1786, Writings 29:34.)
“To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.” (First Annual Address, January 8, 1790, Writings 12:8.)
“. . . the love of my country will be the ruling influence of my conduct.” (Answer to the New Hampshire Executive, November 3, 1789, Writings 12:175.)
“. . . a good moral character is the first essential in a man. . . . It is therefore highly important, that you should endeavor not only to be learned but virtuous.” (To George Steptoe Washington, December 5, 1790, Writings 10:123-24.)
“Let us unite, therefore, in imploring the Supreme Ruler of nations, to spread his holy protection over these United States; to turn the machinations of the wicked to confirming of our constitution; to enable us at all times to root out internal sedition, and put invasion to flight; to perpetuate to our country that prosperity, which his goodness has already conferred; and to verify the anticipation of this government being a safeguard to human rights.” (To the Senate and the House of Representatives, November 19, 1794, Writings 12:54.)
It would profit all of us as citizens to read again Washington’s Farewell Address to his countrymen. The address is prophetic. I believe it ranks alongside the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
My feelings about this tendency to discredit our Founding Fathers are well summarized by the late President J. Reuben Clark in these words: “These were the horse and buggy days as they have been called in derision; these were the men who traveled in the horsedrawn buggies and on horseback; but these were the men who carried under their hats, as they rode in the buggies and on their horses, a political wisdom garnered from the ages. As giants to pygmies are they when placed alongside our political emigres and their fellow travelers of today, who now traduce them with slighting word and contemptuous phrase.” (Stand Fast by Our Constitution, pp. 136-37.)
We should be grateful for our Founding Fathers, for Washington and Lincoln, and for our boys and other great men who have fought and died for our freedom.
That was the voice of him now stilled in death [Abraham Lincoln], who gave his life because of his desire for the perpetuation of the liberty that was guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States. He was unafraid. When the duty was placed upon him to battle for the liberties of mankind, he dedicated his life to that purpose, and in due time, our Father in heaven accepted his offering, and his name is emblazoned upon the pages of history as a great and noble man who dared to do right, and his praises will be sung and his virtues extolled throughout all time.
I am grateful that there is inherent in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a determination to sustain the laws of the land. I am grateful for the government that our Heavenly Father gave to us, for he has said that he raised up wise men to prepare for us the Constitution of this great nation.
Every Latter-day Saint believes that Abraham Lincoln was raised up and inspired of God, and that he reached the Presidency of the United States under the favor of our Heavenly Father. . . .
The following quotation from Lincoln with respect to the observance of law is . . . worth repeating often:
“Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the revolution never to violate, in the least particular, the laws of the country, and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and laws let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor. Let every man remember that to violate the law is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own and his children’s liberty. Let reverence for the law be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap. Let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges. Let it be written in primers, in spelling books, and almanacs. Let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. In short, let it become the Political Religion of the Nation.” . . .
From my childhood days I have understood that we believe absolutely that the Constitution of our country is an inspired instrument, and that God directed those who created it and those who defended the independence of this nation. Concerning this matter it is my frequent pleasure to quote the statement by Joseph Smith, regarding the Constitution:
“The Constitution of the United States is a glorious standard; it is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner; it is, to all those who are privileged with the sweets of liberty, like the cooling shades and refreshing waters of a great rock in a weary and thirsty land. It is like a great tree under whose branches men from every clime can be shielded from the burning rays of the sun” [TPJS 147].
And such the Constitution of the United States must be to every faithful Latter-day Saint who lives under its protection.
We honor the man that God honors. We honor Abraham Lincoln because we believe absolutely that God honored him and raised him up to be the instrument in His hands of saving the Constitution and the Union.