Quote Category: ‘God's Law’
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.
In recognizing God as the source of their rights, the Founding Fathers declared Him to be the ultimate authority for their basis of law. This led them to the conviction that people do not make law but merely acknowledge preexisting law, giving it specific application. The Constitution was conceived to be such an expression of higher law. And when their work was done, James Madison wrote: “It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution” (The Federalist, no. 37).
The question is now whether or not we can make a Republican form of government work, not merely for America but for the world, as all other nations under Heaven may be persuaded of the blessings of freedom enjoyed by the people of this land and to adopt similar governmental systems, thus fulfilling the ancient prophecy of Isaiah “that out of Zion might go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” [Isaiah 2:3].
Some may enquire, is it right — is it lawful for another government to be organized within the United States, of a theocratical nature? Yes, perfectly so! Does not the constitution of our country guarantee to all religious societies the right of forming any ecclesiastical government they like? Certainly it does, and every intelligent man knows this to be the fact.
The nucleus of such a government is formed, and its laws have emanated from the throne of God, and it is perfect, having come from a pure fountain, but does this make us independent of the laws of the United States?
No, this new government does not come in contact with the government of the United States. In keeping our covenants and observing our religious laws and ceremonies, or the laws that God has given to the children of men, we are not required to violate the principles of right that are contained in the constitution and laws of the United States.
It is pleasing indeed, to me, that the Lord not only inspired men to prepare the Constitution but that he made record of the fact that he did raise them up for that purpose. In that particular we are peculiar as a people, for we believe that the Constitution was inspired by our heavenly Father. It is marvelous to contemplate what has occurred since that day . . . when wise men and great men gathered together and counseled with each other to bring about the document that is said to be the greatest palladium of human rights that the world has ever seen. . . . The Lord referred here [D&C 101] to the Constitution of the United States, and it is evident that he was looking down into the future; for he was preparing the way for the bringing forth of his own Church, and he called attention to the fact that in the preparation of the Constitution it was to be such an instrument that men would be required to observe it, if they observed his laws for he said, [D&C] Sec. 58, par. 21: “He that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.” . . . We are loyal to this country and to its institutions—and have evidenced that by sending more than thirteen thousand of our sons to assist in this great conflict: and mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters who remain at home are giving of their substance. . . .
. . . The Constitution was so framed that every one might worship according to the dictates of their own conscience, and we see the result of it in the wonderful blessing that has been poured out upon this most favored of all lands.
. . . When our Father in heaven inspired men to write the Constitution, and give unto us the great charter that vouchsafed to us the liberty we enjoy, he did it in order that men might develop and be free, as the gospel of Jesus Christ intends that all men shall be. . . . They did not understand that underlying this apparent peacefulness, in this great land, there was a fixed determination that men should be free; that God himself had written it, as it were by his own finger, in the Constitution of our great government, . . . and then, when the time came, he inspired his sons to rally around Old Glory and, if need be, give their lives that liberty might be perpetuated in the earth.
. . . On this day, so near the anniversary of the birth of that great document, the Constitution of the United States, it is fitting that we should assemble ourselves together in commemoration of it. It is proper that the governors of the several states of this nation, and the mayors of cities, should call attention to it. On next Tuesday, in the city of Salt Lake, here in the valleys of the mountains, and I presume in other cities, but in this city in our public schools and high schools there will be delivered addresses to the children explaining to them the birth of the Constitution, and it will be brought to their attention in a more forceful way, perhaps, than it has ever been before.
These things are fundamental. The real purpose is that the children of men may learn to observe the laws of man, and observing those laws fulfill the requirement of our Heavenly Father to obey him and keep his commandments. So the government of the United States was begun under the direction of our Father in heaven, as declared by his own word of mouth to be an example unto the nations of the earth, and the liberties that we enjoy are pointed out in a most forceful way to the children of men. . . .
Today this wonderful land is not only a land of liberty and hope to us, but there goes out from these shores across the mighty ocean to other peoples encouragement in the struggle that they are making, that they may have something to do with the government that directs their destinies.
So today in the midst of the difficulties that exist in the world, while there are transgressors of the laws of the land, and there are transgressors of the laws of God, in the midst of the conflict in which we are now engaged, this awful world war, it is a great joy and satisfaction to my soul that while there are those persons who are opposing this government set up by the power of God, there are no members of this Church in good standing but are sustaining the law and order and the government of the United States, so far as it lies in their power. There is one Church upon the continent of America that has been taught by God that this government has been raised up for the blessing of mankind. There is one Church whose members cannot remain in good fellowship in it if they criticize and find fault and tear down and oppose the legal action of the constituted authorities of the land, with reference to going into this war; and why? Because we have been trained by the gospel in a knowledge of the purpose of this government. We have been taught by inspired men, who have pointed the way, and all Israel, to a man, comes forward in the crucial hour and says: “If I am needed, Lord, here am I” [Abr 3:27]. If my country requires it, my all is on the altar, and my life if need be. God help us to be worthy of our heritage, help us to sustain the government that has been so good to us, that has made it possible for the establishment of this work. Let us sustain good men and great men everywhere, and pray for them as we are told to do in this same record. Pray for the chief executive of the Nation and his associates, asking God to inspire them to labor for the good of humanity and the liberty of mankind.
We are told . . . that no man need break the laws of the land who will keep the laws of God. . . . The law of the land, which all have no need to break, is that law which is the Constitutional law of the land, and that is as God himself has defined it. And whatsoever is more or less than this cometh of evil. Now it seems to me that this makes this matter so clear that it is not possible for any man who professes to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to make any mistake, or to be in doubt as to the course he should pursue under the command of God in relation to the observance of the laws of the land. I maintain that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has ever been faithful to the constitutional laws of our country. . . .
I ask myself, What law have you broken? What constitutional law have you not observed? I am bound not only by allegiance to the government of the United States, but by the actual command of God Almighty, to observe and obey every constitutional law of the land, and without hesitancy I declare to this congregation that I have never violated, nor transgressed any law, I am not amenable to any penalties of the law, because I have endeavored from my youth up to be a law-abiding citizen, and not only so, but to be a peacemaker, a preacher of righteousness, and not only to preach righteousness by word, but by example. . . . If lawmakers have a mind to violate their oath, break their covenants and their faith with the people, and depart from the provisions of the Constitution where is the law human or divine, which binds me, as an individual, to outwardly and openly proclaim my acceptance of their acts?
I feel to bear my testimony to these things. They are true. God is with this people. And we say to our nation — maintain the Constitution and we are satisfied. Give us the rights of that Constitution and we are satisfied. It is an instrument inspired by the power of God. Our forefathers were inspired when they framed it. Yet it is marvelous to reflect upon some principles that have been laid down — perhaps I ought not to allude to these things, but I am only expressing my own reflections — even by the supreme court of the United States. In effect it has said that we may think as we please, but must not act. I would ask, in the name of the Lord, was that all Thomas Jefferson, and others had in their minds when they framed the clause in reference to religious liberty? What about men acting? If it was only intended that men should think and not act, why not say so in the instrument? Why should it be stated that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” [U.S. Constitution Amendment I] if men were not to be allowed to act? Why, in the exercise of their religion, men must act: and it is straining points, it is overstepping the bounds of the Constitution to pass laws taking away the rights and privileges of any people because of their religion — because they happen to differ from their neighbors. Where will such a course land our government? I will tell you what it will do. It will rend the government in twain like unto a potter’s vessel. It will lay the nation in the dust. It will overthrow the government. When they get through with the Mormons there will be somebody else to deal with. The Constitution is good enough for anybody. It is good enough for the Latter-day Saints. We have no principles but what are in accord with the Constitution of the United States and the laws of God. We are perfectly willing to trust ourselves and our interests in the hands of God, and to leave our nation in His hands also; for God will judge our nation; He will judge us; He will judge all the children of men and He will judge righteous judgment. What men sow they will reap. What measure they mete, it shall be measured to them again.
I pray God to bless this nation. I pray God to give our legislators wisdom, that they may maintain the Constitutional principles of the government, the only government on the face of God’s earth where the Lord could have established His Church and Kingdom.
I am glad and my soul rejoices in these things, and I believe that the people are ready to shoulder their guns and walk into these canyons and line them from here to Fort Bridger in defence of the Constitution of the United States and the rights which both the laws of God and man guarentee [sic] to us.
Am I to disobey the law of God? Has any man a right to control my conscience, or your conscience, or to tell me I shall believe this or believe the other, or reject this or reject the other? No man has a right to do it. These principles are sacred, and the forefathers of this nation felt so and so proclaimed it in the Constitution of the United States, and said “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” [US Const. Amend. I].
It is said in the Doctrine and Covenants, that he that keepeth the laws of God, hath no need to break the laws of the land [D&C 58:21]. It is further explained in section 98 [D&C 98], what is meant in relation to this. That all laws which are constitutional must be obeyed, as follows:
“And now, verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them.
“And that the law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me;
“Therefore I the Lord justify you and your brethren of the Church in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land. And as pertaining to laws of man, whatsoever is more or less than these cometh of evil” [D&C 98:4–7].
That is taking this nation as an example, all laws that are proper and correct, and all obligations entered into which are not violative of the constitution should be kept inviolate. But if they are violative of the constitution, then the compact between the rulers and the ruled is broken and the obligation ceases to be binding. Just as a person agreeing to purchase anything and to pay a certain amount for it, if he receives the article bargained for, and does not pay its price, he violates his contract; but if he does not receive the article he is not required to pay for it.
However we may respect the government and its institutions I would respectfully say we are not the parties who produce this antagonism. It is men who place themselves in antagonism to the Constitution of the United States. We are governed by the law of God, which is not in violation of that Constitution.
The administrators of the Government of the United States violated every principle of the Constitution in the very act of making a war upon their own subjects; and if the laws of Congress were carried out, they would be treated as traitors to the Government. I was in Missouri through the troubles. Did this people transgress the law of that State or of the United States? Did they do anything to justly bring the wrath of that State or of the Government upon them? No. This people observed the laws of Missouri and the law of God more strictly than any other class.
Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.