You’ve probably heard of a prophecy attributed to Joseph Smith about the constitution hanging by a thread. What you may not have heard is the recorded wording of that prophecy:
Joseph Smith was once recorded as saying:
“Even this Nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground and when the constitution is upon the brink of ruin this people will be the Staff upon which the Nation shall lean and they shall bear away the constitution away from the very verge of destruction.
Smith, Joseph.” -Howard and Martha Coray Notebook, 19 July 1840.
One of the difficulties with the early sermons of the church is that if they weren’t recorded by Joseph’s scribe, clerk, or secretary, we have to rely on the notes of others and are left to wonder how precise the notes were. This is one of those instances. Since it wasn’t recorded by one of Joseph’s official scribes, we can’t be certain of the wording. Still, there were many people at the meeting where he spoke these words, and some heard it slightly differently:
Orson Hyde recorded:
“It is said that brother Joseph in his lifetime declared that the Elders of this Church should step forth at a particular time when the Constitution should be in danger, and rescue it, and save it. This may be so; but I do not recollect that he said exactly so. I believe he said something like this–that the time would come when the Constitution and the country would be in danger of an overthrow; and said he, If the Constitution be saved at all, it will be by the Elders of this Church. I believe this is about the language, as nearly as I can recollect it. The question is whether it will be saved at all, or not. I do not know that it matters to us whether it is or not: the Lord will provide for and take care of his people, if we do every duty, and fear and honour him, and keep his commandments; and he will not leave us without a Constitution.” (2. Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses, (London: Latter-day Saints Book Depot, 1858) 6:151-152)
Brigham Young was also there, and said:
“Every organization of our government, the best government in the world, is crumbling to pieces. Those who have it in their hands are the ones who are destroying it. How long will it be before the words of the prophet Joseph will be fulfilled? He said if the Constitution of the United States were saved at all it must be done by this people. It will not be many years before these words come to pass.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854-1886), 12:204-205)
Elsewhere, President Young said:
“Will the Constitution be destroyed? No: it will be held inviolate by this people; and, as Joseph Smith said, “The time will come when the destiny of the nation will hang upon a single thread. At that critical juncture, this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction.” It will be so. With regard to the doings of our fathers and the Constitution of the United States, I have to say, they present to us a glorious prospect in the future, but one we cannot attain to until the present abuses in the Government are corrected.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854-1886), 7:14-15)
This is one of the reasons Zion will become a place of refuge. Regardless of what happens to the nation around us, we have to stand for truth, and the just people of the earth will respond to the righteous efforts of the latter-day saints.
John Taylor said:
“And then the day is not far distant when this nation will be shaken from centre to circumference. And now, you may write it down, any of you, and I will prophesy it in the name of God. And then will be fulfilled that prediction to be found in one of the revelations given through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Those who will not take up their sword to fight against their neighbor must needs flee to Zion for safety. And they will come, saying, we do not know anything of the principles of your religion, but we perceive that you are an honest community; you administer justice and righteousness, and we want to live with you and receive the protection of your laws, but as for your religion we will talk about that some other time. Will we protect such people? Yes, all honorable men. When the people shall have torn to shreds the Constitution of the United States the Elders of Israel will be found holding it up to the nations of the earth and proclaiming liberty and equal rights to all men, and extending the hand of fellowship to the oppressed of all nations.” (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854-1886), 21:8)
Whatever the exact wording of the prophecy, our duty is clear. We have to stand by the principles of truth, freedom, and righteousness, and know and defend the constitution of this land so when the time comes to defend it, we can do so. There are some rough times ahead, and we need to prepare ourselves to act in righteousness.
John Taylor also said:
“If other people can afford to trample under foot the sacred institutions of this country, we cannot. And if other people trample upon the Constitution and pull it to pieces, we will gather together the pieces and rally around the old flag, or what is left of it, and proclaim liberty to the world, as Joseph Smith said we would.” (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854-1886), 23:239)
George Q. Cannon put it this way:
“…the day will come–and this is another prediction of Joseph Smith’s–I want to remind you of it, my brethren and sisters, when good government, constitutional government–liberty–will be found among the Latter-day Saints, and it will be sought for in vain elsewhere; when the Constitution of this land and republican government and institutions will be upheld by this people who are now so oppressed and whose destruction is now sought so diligently. The day will come when the Constitution, and free government under it, will be sustained and preserved by this people.” (George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses, (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854-1886), 23:104)
It appears to me that as far as we can tell, the words attributed to Joseph Smith are accurate, as many leaders of the church after him confirmed the teachings.
Elder George Q. Cannon also stated:
“I have been taught from early life that the day would come when republican institutions would be in danger in this nation and upon this continent, when, in fact, the republic would be so rent asunder by factions that there would be no stable government outside of the Latter-day Saints; and that it is their destiny as a people, to uphold constitutional government upon this land. Now, a great many people think this is a chimera of the brain; they think it folly to indulge in such an idea; but the day will come nevertheless. There are those in this congregation who will witness the time that the maintenance of true constitutional government upon this continent will be dependent upon this people, when it will have to be upheld by us.” (George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses, (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854-1886), 23:122-123)
Ezra Taft Benson, nearly a hundred years later, spoke of the prophecy by Joseph Smith when he said:
“How then can we best befriend the Constitution in this critical hour and secure the blessings of liberty and ensure the protection and guidance of our Father in Heaven?
“First and foremost, we must be righteous.
“John Adams said, ‘Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.’ (The Works of John Adams, ed. C. F. Adams, Boston: Little, Brown Co., 1851, 4:31). If the Constitution is to have continuance, this American nation, and especially the Latter-day Saints, must be virtuous.”
“And now,” warned Moroni, “we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity” (Ether 2:9).
“Two great American Christian civilizations—the Jaredites and the Nephites—were swept off this land because they did not “serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ” (Ether 2:12). What will become of our civilization?”
“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 righteous citizens of this nation who love and cherish freedom. It will be saved by enlightened members of this Church—among others—men and women who understand and abide the principles of the Constitution.” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Constitution—A Glorious Standard,” Ensign, Sep 1987, 6 and Ezra Taft Benson, The Constitution—A Heavenly Banner)
This puts a new twist on patriotism. Latter-day saints must be more than supporters of the constitution and the righteous democracies of the world, they need to be defenders of it—insisters of it. They have to hold true to it even if the government itself doesn’t.
Of course, this doesn’t mean we have to join radical groups. It just means we should stand by principles of freedom, obey the laws of the land, seek inspiration in our voting choices, serve the God of the land, and listen carefully and consistently to the words of the living prophet. The Lord is directing the prophet, and will continue to do so. He is receiving direction from the Lord to assist us in building a people and place of refuge for the good people of the world to come to when things get rough.
I think I’ve discovered the solution to the struggling American economy. Two words: Tax Trees. You’ve got to admit, it “trumps” many of the other ideas being set forth.
So how about it? Are you up to the challenge? For one month—specifically, through the month of February, no Facebook. Logoff, and other than websites that use Facebook to login, No logging back in until March. It’s just for a month—and the shortest month at that.
I’m going to do it. And just so you know, I love Facebook. I have nothing against it. Obviously, like any potentially good thing, it can become a serious time-waster, but it’s a great way to keep in contact with friends and family.
This is just for the challenge of it, really. Are you with me? Think you can do it? Eh? Eh? When your done, come back and tell us how it went, what you learned, what you missed, and all the many things you got done in February 🙂
Oh, and you’re welcome to steal the image above if you want to make it your cover photo so your FB friends know where you went.
A 19-Step Guide for Parents of Young Children
1. Decide to get yourself a bowl of cereal. This is a big one. Without the conscious decision, it will never happen. You’ve got to approach this whole-heartedly, or the enormity of the task will overtake you, and you will decide it’s not worth the effort.
2. Get out of bed. Ignore the sounds coming from the other room (so as to avoid discouragement at the thought of trying to get a bowl of cereal with all that going on).
3. Put on a robe and glasses. The importance of this will become more obvious later, but yeah, you’re kids don’t really want to see you in your underwear.
4. Take a deep breath, and step out of the room. No seriously, take a deep breath. You’ll be glad you did. Just don’t let it out yet.
5. Change the youngest child’s diaper. Hence the need for the deep breath.
6. Run the dirty diaper outside to the trash. Now, aren’t you glad you put the robe on? Ignore the awkward glances coming from your neighbors. You may want to stand on the heater a few moments when you return to melt the snow between your toes.
7. Wash the bowl of the youngest child. The other kids will wash their own bowls, but not the littlest, and believe me, you don’t want to be eating cereal without supplying the youngest with a bowl of cereal, too.
8. Wash your spoon. I don’t know who got it out and soiled it, but there you have it.
9. Pour the kids some cereal. The order of pouring the cereal doesn’t matter, but the order of pouring the MILK is crucial. Make sure you get milk LAST. In fact, just to make sure, don’t get your milk yet. Just get everyone else’s. Oh, and don’t let the other kids pour their own milk, or it will be gone before you get any.
10. Let the dog out. You don’t want to miss this step.
11. Let the dog in. Potentially you could leave him out while you eat your cereal, but the excessive barking may upset your neighbors. It’s up to you on that one.
12. Pour your own milk. Now the countdown to sogginess begins, so before doing this one, make sure no extra steps have shown up that are waiting for your attention.
13. Put the milk and cereal away. If you don’t, both will be magically wasted and gone before you come back for more.
14. Ignore the incessant demands for bread for toast. The kids can finish their cereal before they make toast. Plus, you haven’t eaten anything yet.
15. Break up the fight between the two middle children. Give them a brief lecture about kindness.
16. Take your cereal in your bedroom. Unfortunately, this is also essential, unless you want 1, 2, or 19 more steps randomly showing up before you get to take the first bite.
17. LOCK THE DOOR. Otherwise step 15 will be useless.
18. Say your morning prayers. Ideally, this would be done before step 1, but if you’re like me, you forgot. Oh, well. That way you can ask a blessing on your meager breakfast at the same time.
19. Eat your cereal.
No wonder there’s never enough time. No wonder we grow up too fast. No wonder we’re always in a hurry. We aren’t native to time. Time is not our native state.
We’re eternal beings locked in a world that’s governed by time. The result is, we’re constantly wrestling with it, constantly trying to come to terms with this thing that demands our attention.
Maybe that’s why this life is called a probationary period—a time to prepare to meet God. A time to prove to Him that we will follow Him.
There isn’t much we know about the spirit, and the spirit world. But we know a few things. For one, we know that change, growth, and progression, are easier in the physical state, while we have a body. In Spencer W. Kimball’s masterpiece, “The Miracle of Forgiveness,” he quotes Melvin J. Ballard, who said:
“…But this life is the time in which men are to repent. Do not let any of us imagine that we can go down to the grave not having overcome the corruptions of the flesh and then lose in the grave all our sins and evil tendencies. They will be with us. They will be with the spirit when separated from the body.
“This life is the time to repent. That is why I presume it will take a thousand years after the first resurrection until the last group will be prepared to come forth. It will take them a thousand years to do what it would have taken but three-score and ten to accomplish in this life…
“…When we go out of this life, leave this body, we will desire to do many things that we cannot do at all without the body. We will be seriously handicapped, and we will long for the body; we will pray for that early reunion with our bodies. We will know then what advantage it is to have a body.”
So perhaps time is a struggle for us, but the alternative is to be in a state that makes change and progression more difficult. And who knows? Maybe time is one of the reasons change is easier in the physical state. Thoughts?