DAVID O. MCKAY

9th President of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
April 9, 1951 – January 18, 1970

Second Counselor in the First Presidency (October 11, 1934 – April 4, 1951)
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (August 8, 1950 – April 9, 1951)
Member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (April 9, 1906 – October 11, 1934)

General Conference Addresses

  • October 1965 General Conference
    • Man’s Free Agency
      • “These two great forces are hate and love. Hate had its origin in our preexistent state. There is a significant reference in the Apocalypse to “a war in heaven.” It is not only significant, but seemingly contradictory, for we think of heaven as a celestial abode of bliss, an impossible condition where war and contention could exist. The passage is significant because it implies a freedom of choice and of action in the spirit world.”
      • “The world does not comprehend the significance of that divine gift to the individual. It is as inherent as intelligence which, we are told, has never been nor can be created.”
      • “In the spirit of hate, as is manifest today in the world, the very existence of God is denied, the free agency of man is taken from him, and the power of the state supplanted. I do not know that there was ever a time in the history of mankind when the Evil One seemed so determined to take from man his freedom.”
      • “A fundamental principle of the gospel is free agency, and references in the scriptures show that this principle is (1) essential to man’s salvation; and (2) may become a measuring rod by which the actions of men, of organizations, of nations may be judged.”
      • “Man’s free agency is an eternal principle of progress, and any form of government that curtails or inhibits its free exercise is wrong. Satan’s plan in the beginning was one of coercion, and it was rejected because he sought to destroy the agency of man which God had given him.”
      • “When man uses this God-given right to encroach upon the rights of another, he commits a wrong. Liberty becomes license, and the man, a transgressor. It is the function of the state to curtail the violator and to protect the individual.”
      • “Next to the bestowal of life itself, the right to direct our lives is God’s greatest gift to man. Freedom of choice is more to be treasured than any possession earth can give. It is inherent in the spirit of man. It is a divine gift to every normal being. Whether born in abject poverty or shackled at birth by inherited riches, everyone has the most precious of all life’s endowments—the gift of free agency, man’s inherited and inalienable right. It is the impelling source of the soul’s progress. It is the purpose of the Lord that man becomes like him. In order for man to achieve this, it was necessary for the Creator first to make him free. To man is given a special endowment not bestowed upon any other living thing. God gave to him the power of choice.”
      • “With free agency, however, there comes responsibility. If man is to be rewarded for righteousness and punished for evil, then common justice demands that he be given the power of independent action. A knowledge of good and evil is essential to man’s progress on earth. If he were coerced to do right at all times or helplessly enticed to commit sin, he would merit neither a blessing for the first nor punishment for the second. Man’s responsibility is correspondingly operative with his free agency. Actions in harmony with divine law and the laws of nature will bring happiness, and those in opposition to divine truth, misery. Man is responsible not only for every deed, but also for every idle word and thought.”
      • “That man is not at peace who is untrue to the whisperings of Christ—the promptings of his conscience. He cannot be at peace when he is untrue to his better self, when he transgresses the law of righteousness, either in dealing with himself by indulging in passions or appetites, in yielding to the temptations of the flesh, or whether he is untrue to trust in transgressing the law.”
      • “Fundamental in all Christ’s teachings was the crime of wrong thinking. He condemned avarice, enmity, hate, jealousy as vehemently as he did the results that avarice, enmity, and hate produce.”
      • “He who harbors hatred and bitterness injures himself far more than the one towards whom he manifests these evil propensities.”
  • October 1951 General Conference
    • Counteracting Pernicious Ideas and Subversive Teachings
      • “The prevalence of pernicious ideas and subversive teachings which pervert the minds of the unstable and uninformed, and in some cases divert the youth from Church standards. In this regard there is reason for concern, too.”
      • “Our country’s greatest resource is our children, our young men and women whose characters will largely determine our nation’s future. If it were possible for me this morning to speak directly to the young men and women of the Church, I would say that you should always remember that true joy of life is found, not in physical indulgence and excesses, but in clean living and high thinking; in rendering to others, not inconvenience, injury, or pain, but encouragement, cheer, and helpfulness.”
      • “Thoughts are the seeds of acts, and precede them. Mere compliance with the word of the Lord, without a corresponding inward desire, will avail but little. Indeed, such outward actions and pretending phrases may disclose hypocrisy, a sin that Jesus most vehemently condemned.”
      • “The Savior’s constant desire and effort were to implant in the mind right thoughts, pure motives, noble ideals, knowing full well that right words and actions would eventually follow.”
      • “I am trying to emphasize that each one is the architect of his own fate, and he is unfortunate, indeed, who will try to build himself without the inspiration of God, without realizing that he, grows from within, not from without.”
      • “What a man continually thinks about determines his actions in times of opportunity and stress. A man’s reaction to his appetites and impulses when they are aroused gives the measure of that man’s character. In these reactions are revealed the man’s power to govern or his forced servility to yield.”
      • “No man can disobey the word of God and not suffer for so doing. No sin, however secret, can escape retribution. True, you may lie and not be detected: you may violate virtue without its being known by any who could scandalize you, yet you cannot escape the judgment that follows such transgression. The lie is lodged in the recesses of your mind, and impairment of your character will be reflected sometime, somehow in your countenance or bearing. Your moral turpitude, though only you, your accomplice, and God may ever know it, will some day canker your soul.”
      • “We are grieved when we see or hear men and women, some of whom even profess membership in the Church, looking with favor upon the pernicious teachings of these groups, especially Communism. These credulous, misguided persons claim to be advocates of peace, and accuse those who oppose them as advocates of war. They should remember that all of us should ever keep in mind that there are some eternal principles more precious than peace dearer than life itself.”
      • “Free agency, for example, is a divine gift, more precious than peace, more to be desired even than life. Any nation, any organized group of individuals that would deprive man of this heritage should be denounced by all liberty-loving persons. Associated with this fundamental principle is the right of individual initiative, the right to worship how, where, or what one pleases, and the simple privilege to leave a country, if one choose, without having to skulk out as a culprit at the risk of being shot and killed.”
  • October 1907 General Conference
    • Spiritual Disease and Truth
      • “If we are true within, if our souls are unimpaired, if we remain steadfast to the integrity of our lives, to the Gospel, we are just as pure, and as strong, and as rich in the eyes of God, who sees the heart and judges therefrom.”
      • “The peril of this century is spiritual apathy. As the body requires sunlight, good food, proper exercise and rest, so the spirit of man requires the sunlight of the Holy Spirit; proper exercise of the spiritual functions; the avoiding of evils that affect spiritual health, that are more ravaging in their effects than typhoid fever, pneumonia, or other diseases that attack the body. These diseases may stop the manifestations of life in the body, but the spirit still lives. When disease of the spirit conquers, the life dies eternally. Such an extreme spiritual disease would, of necessity, be an unpardonable sin. When men get spiritually sick, they do not care much for religion. They think it not necessary for them to attend to their spiritual wants. Dissatisfied with themselves, they find fault with those who do enjoy the true life of spirituality. Why? Because they don’t know what real spiritual life is.”
      • “The man who hates his brother, and kneels down for prayer with that hate in his heart, has in his spirit a disease which will impair his spiritual life.”
      • “No matter what they may be without, are your homes pure within? Are morning prayers offered there regularly? Or do the things of this world take you away from your homes and make you deprive yourself of morning prayers with the children?”
  • April 1907 General Conference
    • Resist Evil
      • “It is implied therein that the Latter-day Saints are members of the Church “for the fostering of spiritual life, and the achievement of moral and charitable ends;” in other words, for the developing of the religious sentiment, the true religious spirit. This may be done in two ways: first, by seeking the truth and living in harmony with it; and second, by resisting every influence, every power that tends to destroy or to dwarf in any way the religious sentiment. When the Latter-day Saint stood at the water’s edge, before being buried with Christ in baptism, he had within him an implicit faith that the Church of Christ is established upon the earth, and that this organization is the best in the world today for the fostering of spiritual life, for the attaining of true religious development, for the salvation of his soul. I repeat that this implicit faith was within him; and with that, there was a true repentance, and that repentance carried with it a desire to leave off everything in the past life that was contrary to the teachings of the Gospel or the Church he was about to join. His old life, and the sins, if there were any connected with it, he truly repented of. He looked forward to the time when he would be born anew in the Kingdom of God.”
      • “May God grant that as we are seeking the further establishment of the Kingdom of God, that we may instruct our young people, and the members of the Church everywhere, to resist the temptations that weaken the body, that destroy the soul, that we may stand truly repentant as we were when we entered the waters of baptism, that we may be renewed in the true sense of the word, that we may be born again, that our souls might bask in the light of the Holy Spirit, and go on as true members of the Church of Christ, until our mission on earth is completed, and God receives us and rewards us according; to our merits.”
  • October 1906 General Conference
    • Loyal and True
      • “Probably you more strongly appreciate than ever before that this Church organization depends upon all the people, not upon just a few; and that those members who fail to carry their share of responsibility are not wholly true to their brethren.”
      • “As members of the Church in conference assembled, I believe that we ought to go home determined to carry out the responsibility that is upon us, not merely because these brethren have urged us to do so, but because we have it in our souls to do it.”
      • “Reason alone is not a sufficient guide in searching for truth.”
      • “Every time we have opportunity and fail to live up to that truth which is within us, every time we fail to express a good thought, every time we fail to perform a good act, we weaken ourselves, and make it more difficult to express that thought or perform that act in the future. Every time we perform a good act, every time we express a noble feeling we make it the more easy to perform that act or express that feeling another time.”

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