Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Vital Importance of Learning of the Constitution and the Founding Fathers (LDS Sacrament Talk)

I was recently asked to give a talk on the Constitution and the Founding Fathers in Sacrament meeting, and this the result.  It fits in nicely with the recent attention give to the importance of religion by the LDS Church.

I want to start off by reading three particular scriptures:
D&C 88:118:
“ 118 And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”
D&C 90:15
“ 15 And set in order the churches, and study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people.”
Third (longer):
D&C 101:
77 “According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;
 80 And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.
I would like to discuss for the next few minutes the vital importance of learning and studying the words, ideas, and principles of the American Founding Fathers, as well as learning of and studying as in depth as possible the principles of the US Constitution. 

As the scriptures I just read indicate, God has told us that the Founding Fathers who established the Constitution and the American Republic were wise men, and He has also told us to study and teach one another wisdom from the best books and other sources we can find.  It leaves no doubt in any ears and mind that are spiritually in tune that these scriptures tell us to study and teach one another, among many things, the words and principles of the Founders of America. 

President Wilford Woodruff said in General Conference of April 1898 that the Founders of America, as imperfect as they were with regards to the sins and evil institutions of their time, “were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits, not wicked men. General Washington and all the men that labored for the purpose were inspired of the Lord.”

D&C 98: 4-8 says:
“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.
 5 And that 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.
 8 I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free.”

D&C 101:77-80 says:

“According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;
 78 That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.
 79 Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.
 80 And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.”

D&C 134: 2 says: “We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.”

Thomas Jefferson’s famous opening lines to the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, of which all the signers were in agreement upon, having commissioned Jefferson specifically to write a summary of their beliefs on government, says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Can you see the similarities in eternal an true principles?  Wise men indeed.

In 1st Nephi 13, 2nd Nephi , 3rd Nephi 21, and as already shown in D&C 101, we are told that The United States was guided in its formation by God in order to create a governmentally free environment for the Gospel to be restored and Israel to be gathered, so that God may fulfill his covenants made with Israel and its various tribes long ago.  He then guided America’s framers and Founders to establish the Constitution, so as to protect the rights and liberty of all flesh.  And two of those sacred rights are the rights of religious conscience and practice.  Thus, in order to protect these two particular rights, which enable us to Gather Israel in the last days and spread the Gospel of Christ and restore truth to the earth, we must protect and maintain the Constitution and its principles. If we wish to protect the Constitution, we must learn everything we can of it from the best books and sources, teachings other wisdom about it.  Some may say they have no interest in such topics or find such a topic boring.  Other may say they have little to no time to do so.  Such excuses will not be accepted by God if we fail in our calling and stewardship to preserve religious freedom and gather Israel together in these last days.  There’s a famous saying attributed to Pericles, a Greek politician and statesman, that “just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.”

How do you think Satan has achieved his most satanic and evil victories on earth?  Through lone men or small groups of men?  No.  What entity on earth has the most power and ability to affect the largest amount of territory and people?  Government.  Government is like fire George Washington said, a dangerous master and tool.  It’s a double edged sword, capable of doing much good by preserving the rights and liberty of all individuals, and capable of committing unspeakable evil and horrors upon all the earth.  It’s no doubt that Satan is in constant warfare and attack mode to gain control of the most powerful governments on earth to achieve his wicked ends, which includes destroying the Church of God and dragging God’s children down to hell to become like him.  Thus, politics MUST be an interest of ours, for the sake of our Latter Day stewardship of gathering Israel and for the sake of our temporal and spiritual lives, rights, and liberty.

As Gentiles today whose mission it is to gather Israel, it is a part of this stewardship of ours today to preserve probably the greatest protection of rights and liberty the minds of men have ever devised to date, so that we may protect our sacred right of religious conscience and practice and continue to gather Israel, both here and in all lands.

How can we better protect the Constitution so that we may fulfill our stewardship as the Gentiles of the Latter Days?  First, we can start by reading it in full.  But this is not all, and stopping here will do no one any good.  Why?  Because it’s written in older language and though its relatively plain in its language when read with a dictionary, one also needs to know the background information behind it in order to fully understand it.  That means reading up on history from the “best” books on the causes and results of the American Revolution.  Knowing why the Founders wrote the Constitution in the first place is of the greatest necessity if one is to fully understand the Constitution and how to save.  This will include as well studying the history and words of the Founders as well.  Studying the scriptures I have mentioned and all other revelation, both ancient and modern concerning the Constitution is of vital importance as well to understanding the Constitution.  President Benson has probably spoken the most on the importance of the Constitution and protecting it.  One such important source by President Benson is his October 1987 Conference Talk called “Our Divine Constitution.”    Another good source is the webpage, which contains quotes and other resources on what the Prophets have said over the existence of the restored gospel concerning the American Revolution, the Founding Fathers, and the Constitution, speaking both as prophets and as men. There are vast resources to study in order to fully understand the Constitution, its principles, and its purpose.  If you wish to know more, you can talk to me afterward and I can recommend to you some of those “best books” the scriptures tell us to study out of and learn wisdom from.  Suffice it for now to quote President Benson from his “Our Divine Constitution” conference talk:

“Have we read The Federalist papers? Are we reading the Constitution and pondering it? Are we aware of its principles? Are we abiding by these principles and teaching them to others? Could we defend the Constitution? Can we recognize when a law is constitutionally unsound? Do we know what the prophets have said about the Constitution and the threats to it?”
Thomas Jefferson said in 1816, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free … it expects what never was and never will be” (Letter to Colonel Charles Yancey, 6 Jan. 1816).”

And Elder Holland spoke recently in a 2013 Ensign Article entitled “The Justice and Mercy of God” of the bondage of ignorance.  Speaking about two clichés we commonly hear, specifically “Ignorance is bliss” and “What I don’t know won’t hurt me,” he said “nothing will hurt you more than what you don’t know. I believe that we will be indicted for the resulting bondage that we incur and that we will serve some sentence in this life or the next for that which we fail to learn.”

This sounds like a lot work, right?  Well, it is, but so is life and so is fulfilling our stewardships, and it takes a lot of work to do the things of God and what he asks us to do.  His commandments are simple, but require much work and toil on our parts.  Also, studying the ideas of the Founders and the Constitution is worth doing, because we will be most happy under a system that preserves liberty and the rights of the individual, and allow us to Gather Israel by bringing people to Christ like we have been charged with doing.  It’s a lifetime duty we have, and as Thomas Jefferson said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”  And it is this liberty with its plethora of individual rights and corresponding duties that requires constant vigilance to maintain that is absolutely necessary to fulfilling our stewardship of Gather Israel as the Gentiles of the Latter-Days prophesied by the Prophets of old.

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