12th President of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(December 30, 1973 – November 5, 1985)

President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (July 7, 1972 – December 30, 1973)

Member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (October 7, 1943 – December 30, 1973)

General Conference Addresses

  • April 1952 General Conference
    • Tis Not Vain to Serve the Lord
      • “And the interpretation of the parable given by the Lord himself makes clear that the books are not balanced daily but at the harvest-time. The time of reckoning is as sure as is the passage of time and the coming of eternity. All who live shall eventually stand before the bar of God to be judged according to their works. The final assignments will constitute rewards and punishments according to deserts.”
      • “No one will escape the reward of his deeds. No one will fail to receive the blessings earned. Again the parable of the sheep and goats gives us assurance that there will be total justice.”
      • “The blessings following righteousness are enjoyed both in mortality and in eternity.”
      • “Extravagant rewards are offered. Blessings beyond one’s understanding will come. The land will yield bounteously and peace shall abound. The unfaithful, proud, and wealthy can never enjoy the sweet savor of the rewards for fasting and dispensing to the poor.”
      • “Peace, joy, satisfaction, happiness, growth, contentment, all come with the righteous living of the commandments of God. The one who delights in all of the worldly luxuries of today, at the expense of spirituality, is living but for the moment. His day is coming. Retribution is sure.”
  • October 1951 General Conference
    • The Spirit Giveth Life
      • “As the statistics were read this morning of the growth of the Church, the thought came to me that perhaps our beloved President George Albert Smith, President Heber J. Grant, President Joseph F. Smith, all of whom I knew personally, and those others who have presided in this Tabernacle and over this Church, would be gratified to see the tremendous development in the Church. We hope that the spiritual growth has kept pace.”
      • “The test is here. The test has always been here. We came into the world as a test.”
      • “Why did he offer sacrifices—because it was a commandment of his Heavenly Father. He had been told to perform this act by one whom he knew to be his God. He had absolute faith and confidence that blessings would come through such obedience, and he did not hesitate. After he had lived the law, then came the understanding, for the miracle follows the faith rather than faith the miracle.”
      • “Are we interested in what we can get or are we interested in what we can give? The Savior’s life was one of unselfish service. The Savior’s doctrine and gospel is one of selflessness. Are we interested in the glamorous and in the spectacular? Is our Church service like the prayer of the Pharisee or like the Publican?”
      • “All of this is service to others—love of others, not love of nor service to ourselves. May the Lord bless us that we may be unselfish in this kingdom, give of ourselves generously that we may live by the spirit rather than by the letter, that we may continue to rear large families, training them in righteousness to the end.”
  • April 1951 General Conference
    • Be Valiant
      • “In many other places Paul also warned us against the deceivers who would come even before his departing. And they have continued to come, and they are among us today. The authorities which the Lord has placed in his Church constitute for the people of the Church a harbor, a place of refuge, a hitching post, as it were. No one in this Church will ever go far astray who ties himself securely to the Church Authorities whom the Lord has placed in his Church. This Church will never go astray; the Quorum of the Twelve will never lead you into bypaths: it never has and never will. There could be individuals who would falter; there will never be a majority of the Council of the Twelve on the wrong side at any time The Lord has chosen them; he has given them specific responsibilities. And those people who stand close to them will be safe. And conversely, whenever one begins to go his own way in opposition to authority, he is in grave danger. I would not say that those leaders whom the Lord chooses are necessarily the most brilliant, nor the most highly trained, but they are the chosen, and when chosen of the Lord they are his recognized authority, and the people who stay close to them have safety.”
      • “The Lord is at the helm, brothers and sisters, and he will continue to be there, and his work will go forward. The important question is whether we, as individuals, will be going in that same direction. It’s up to us. This is a gospel of individual work.”
      • “I remember a great people of long ago who belonged to the Church of our Lord, who became so righteous as a group that they were translated into heaven. And I wonder why other groups have not been taken. The only conclusion that I can reach is that whole groups have not been sufficiently righteous. We buried a righteous man yesterday. If all of the people in this Church were as righteous as he was, perhaps there might be further translations. But we are not living the commandments of the Lord as well as we know. Many of us are not valiant.”
      • “We are all sinners. We all need to repent.”
  • October 1950 General Conference
    • The Work Among the Lamanites
      • “I have a firm conviction that the Lord led the Pilgrims and the Puritans across the ocean, perhaps permitted the persecutions that would bring them here, so that when they came to the American shores with their righteous blood and their high ideals and standards, they would form the basis of a nation which would make possible the restoration of the gospel. I am sure that since there was not religious liberty, not political liberty here, the Lord permitted these few poorly-armed and ill-clad men at Valley Forge and elsewhere to defeat a great army with its trained soldiery and its many mercenaries, a few against the many, but the few had on their side the Lord God of heaven, that gave them victory. And there came political liberty and religious liberty with it, all in preparation for the day when a young boy would come forth and would seek and make contact with the Lord and open the doors of heaven again. Following that great manifestation to Joseph Smith came the opening of Cumorah Hill and the speaking of the dead from the dust.”
      • “The work among the Lamanites must not be postponed if we desire to retain the approval of God. Thus far we have been content simply to baptize them and let them run wild again, but this must continue no longer; the same devoted effort, the same care in instructing, the same organization and priesthood must be introduced and maintained in the House of Lehi as amongst those of Israel gathered from Gentile nations. As yet God has been doing all, and we comparatively nothing. He has led many of them to us, and they have been baptized, and now we must instruct them further and organize them into churches with proper presidencies, attach them to our stakes, organizations, etc., in one word, treat them exactly in these respects as we would and do treat our white brethren.”
  • April 1950 General Conference
    • Slavery for Security
      • “Some of these destructive trends remind me of the river which drops from Niagara’s precipice. Time and again I have stood on the banks of this river far above the falls and watched its waters flowing normally toward the sea. At this point a small craft, manned by strong oarsmen, could be controlled and sent up or down or across the stream. I watched the river farther downstream. Having started downward there is no stopping. Faster and faster it goes, splashing, boiling, frothing. The boat in full control on the upper reaches would now be at the merciless fury of the lashing stream. Even strong men who a few miles above could control their movements, would now, at the nearing of the falls, lose power to guide their boat to safety. Suffering, sorrow, and destruction are inevitable after a certain point has been reached.”
  • October 1949 General Conference
    • “Except Ye Repent…”
      • “And so, repentance is not for the murderer alone, nor the adulterer. It comes to them, too, but to all those who have been tempted of the evil one to commit sins of omission and sins of commission. As I read the scriptures, I find that all the various sins are condemned.”
      • “Repentance is a glorious and merciful law. It means a sorrow for sin, a confession of sin, abandonment of sin, restitution for sin, and then the living of the commandments of the Lord, which itself includes the forgiving of others, even those who sin against us.”
      • “I met a woman once, demanding and critical. She accused her stake president of harshness and would have displaced him if she could. She had committed adultery, and yet with her comparative debt of 600,000 pence she had the temerity to criticize her leader with a hundred pence debt. I also knew a young man who complained at his bishop and took offense at the leader’s inefficiency and his grammatical errors, yet he himself had in his life sins comparable to the talents and had the effrontery to accuse his bishop of weaknesses comparable only to the pence.”
      • “So long as we are bitter, hold grudges, are unrepentant ourselves, unforgiving to others, how can we partake of the sacrament?”
  • April 1949 General Conference
    • “Who Is My Neighbor?”
      • “Among these children of God were many prophets, and fires would not burn them; stones and arrows could not hit them; prisons could not hold them; pits could not be dug deep enough to imprison them. Among these, the children of the covenant, their lame walked; their blind ones saw; their deaf heard; their dumb spoke; the dead lived again. Among these, the remnant of Jacob, the rich were humble; the poor were provided for; the oppressed were rescued; justice reigned; and freedom was a reality. Among these, the branch of the tree of Israel, the Holy Ghost whispered to them; angels ministered to them; the Creator and Master visited them.”
      • “Among us today we find many who abandon their faith and Church position to go into politics. We found children of the Covenant who gave up judgeships, resigned from the high army posts, and even refused to be king over the nation that they might serve on missions and convert souls to righteousness. We find many today who permit wealth to wedge them from things spiritual. We found Lamanites who sacrificed their wealth to become lowly teachers.”
      • “See what God hath wrought! He has blessed, honored, and preserved his race. He has predicted and warned through their prophets; angels have ministered to them; miracles have been countless among them; two centuries of continuous righteousness was lived by them; supreme faith was manifested by them; martyrs burned and bled among them; the flesh and the world were overcome by them. Peace of long duration was enjoyed by them and the Son of Man visited them.”
  • April 1948 General Conference
    • Build or Destroy
      • “I find that men are like rivers and volcanoes. They construct, and they destroy; they purify and inspire, and they defile and mystify; they give life, and they bring about death.”
      • “There are those today who seem to take pride in disagreeing with the orthodox teachings of the Church and who present their own opinions which are at variance with the revealed truth. Some may be partially innocent in the matter; others are feeding their own egotism; and some seem to be deliberate. Men may think as they please, but they have no right to impose upon others their unorthodox views. Such persons should realize that their own souls are in jeopardy.”
      • “The great objective of all our work is to build character and increase faith in the lives of those whom we serve. If one cannot accept and teach the program of the Church in an orthodox way without reservations, he should not teach. It would be the part of honor to resign his position. Not only would he be dishonest and deceitful, but he is also actually under condemnation, for the Savior said that it were better that a millstone were hanged about his neck and he be cast into the sea than that he should lead astray doctrinally or betray the cause or give offense, destroying the faith of one of “these little ones” who believe in him.”
      • “Man is like the volcano which in a few weeks can devastate the countryside, wreck cities, and smother human lives. And the human destructionist can likewise inject into other human lives in a short time the doubt and skepticism which can mean total loss of faith.”
      • “In our own Society, the murderer who kills the body is hunted, imprisoned, and executed, but the character who kills the soul by implanting doubt and shattering faith is permitted not only to go free but also is often retained in high places.”
      • “And so we admonish the leaders in stakes, wards, and missions to be ever vigilant to see that no incorrect doctrines are promulgated in their classes or congregations. Wolves will come in sheep’s clothing and will deceive the very elect, if that were possible. And we warn again those who write or preach or otherwise teach subversive doctrines, that their punishment is sure for their “worm dieth not.””
  • October 1947 General Conference
    • The Lamanites
      • “Brothers and sisters, in conclusion may I say that we owe a great debt to these people, which we can only pay by giving to them the gospel and the many advantages and opportunities which we enjoy. They are a warmhearted and devoted people. They believe without skepticism. They have a simple, childlike faith which admits of no cheap rationalization.”
  • April 1947 General Conference
    • Weep O World, for the Indian
      • “I do not know when I began to love the children of Lehi. It may have come to me at birth, because those years preceding and after I was born, were spent by my father on missions among the Indians in Indian territory. He was president of the mission. This love may have come in those first years of my childhood, when my father used to sing the Indian chants to us children and show us souvenirs from and pictures of his Indian friends.”
      • “I hope I may help to make the whole world weep for the children of Lehi. Can one refrain from tears as he contemplates the fall of these people who have been brought down from culture and achievement to illiteracy and degradation; from kings and emperors, to slavery and serfdom; from landowners of vast continents, to indigent wards of governments and peons—from sons of God with a knowledge of God, to rude savages, victims of superstition, and from builders of temples to dwellers in dirt hogans.”
      • “I would not justify any evil that the Indians ever did, but can we not see that they were on the defensive, fighting for their liberty, for independence and to perpetuate their rights to the promised land to which they had title from the Creator?”
      • “But the laws had been broken. They had forfeited their rights because they had failed to keep the commands of God. The prophecies must be fulfilled, and the plan of God must now be consummated. It was necessary, for the ultimate good of the Indian himself, that the Gentiles must come from foreign shores to become “nursing fathers” to these benighted people; the Pilgrims and Puritans had to come to settle this land; the Revolutionary War had to be fought and won so that peace and freedom and liberty could be established here, and so that the gospel could be restored, and this that the record of the ancestors of the Indians might come forth, and the gospel of Jesus Christ be made plain to them.”
      • “Down near Lordsburg, New Mexico, there is an unpretentious monument. On it are the words, “Here Geronimo surrendered, thus ending Indian wars in America forever.” The final war of self-defense was waged in the southwest by the Apache chief, the courageous Geronimo. He led his thirty-four warriors with their wives and children against the United States army. And the battle of America lasting four hundred years had ended. We battled but a few short years for our independence from Britain and were rewarded with success. The Indians fought valiantly four centuries for their freedom and lost. This proud people was reduced from wealth to poverty; from two vast continents to crowded reservations. We hail George Washington as the great patriot because he led us successfully against our aggressors. And because they cannot, we erect a tiny monument to mark the spot where the last survivor chief was subdued while resisting our aggression. It is a sad story. Let the world weep.”
      • “How I wish you could go with me through the Indian reservations and particularly Navajo Land and see the poverty, want, and wretchedness, and realize again that these are sons and daughters of God; that their miserable state is the result, not only of their centuries of wars and sins and godlessness, but is also attributable to us, their conquerors, who placed them on reservations with such limited resources and facilities, to starve and die of malnutrition and unsanitary conditions, while we become fat in the prosperity from the assets we took from them. Think of these things, my people, and then weep for the Indian, and with your tears, pray; then work for him.”
  • October 1946 General Conference
    • My Redeemer Lives Eternally
      • “I want to bear testimony today that Jesus is not only a great teacher, a great humanist, and a great dramatist, but is in very deed, the Son of the Living God, the Creator, the Redeemer of the world, the Savior of mankind. I want to testify further that he not only lived in the Meridian of Time for approximately thirty-three years, but that he lived eternities before this, and will live eternities beyond it.”
  • April 1946 General Conference
    • The Pattern of Martyrdom
      • “The martyrdom of Jesus the Christ is well established—it followed closely the pattern. His life was the perfect life. His enemies, failing to find any guilt in him, resorted to mobocracy to end his life. He answered their every question, performed miracles which astounded them, did good everywhere, but chastised and rebuked them for their adultery, insincerity, drunkenness. He threatened their vainglorious way of life; he called them hypocrites, vipers, and murderers of prophets. He had restored the gospel and established his kingdom. It was inevitable that he should die to witness eternally of its divinity. His every word was criticized; he was accused of being a deceiver, a glutton, a winebibber, a common person associating with publicans and sinners. They called him a Sabbath breaker, a usurper of authority, a tax evader. They charged him with heresy and sedition. He was said to be an ignoramus, a blasphemer, and accused of being born of fornication. He was arrested, spat upon, torn with thorns, mocked and beaten. He was seized by a vile mob led by one from his inner circle who had maliciously planned to betray him.”
      • “The Savior had told his followers of his approaching death. He must die for the sins of the world and to seal his testimony. This he knew. His hour had come. They crucified him, the Son of God, on Calvary.”
      • “Joseph Smith did not want to die. He had so much to live for, with his family, his friends, with his interest in the expanding kingdom, and he was still a young man, but though he hoped and prayed that the cup could pass, he knew it was inevitable.”
  • October 1945 General Conference
    • “In Mine Own Way”
      • “And as the curtain closes I stand in contemplation—grateful and happy that in the drama of life on the great world stage there are here and there episodes of contrasting brilliance and beauty which show the way to live the commandments of God in his own way.”
      • “My brothers and sisters, let us be true devoted Latter-day Saints. Let us love the Lord and our fellow men and live the commandments of God that we may have a full and abundant life leading to exaltation.”
    • Foundations for Peace
      • “In a word, then, the foundation for peace is righteousness.”
      • “The efforts of peace conferences, and the prayers of suffering humanity, may bring an armistice of uncertain length, but peace with totality and permanence can come only when men repent and turn to the Lord.”
      • “What have we learned by this war? We have learned nothing if hatred, bigotry, and intolerance have not diminished; if covetousness, selfishness, and adultery are unabated; if parents are less dear and the Sabbath of the Lord less holy. In short, if righteousness has not increased, then is our fighting vain, the sacrifices of our sons to no avail, and our tears wasted.”
      • “Are we not inviting eventual destruction as we desecrate all things holy and sacred, even to the common and irreverent use in our daily talk of the names of Deity and making his holy day, the Sabbath, a day of work and of pleasure?”
      • “We call upon the nations and our fellow men everywhere to repent, to cleanse their lives, and to place themselves in harmony with the Lord our God.”
  • April 1945 General Conference
    • “Thy Son Liveth”
      • “In death do we grieve for the one who passes on, or is it self-pity? To doubt the wisdom and justice of the passing of a loved one is to place a limitation on the term of life. It is to say that it is more important to continue to live here than to go into other fields. Do we grieve when our son is graduated from the local high school and is sent away from home to a university of higher learning? Do we grieve inconsolably when our son is called away from our daily embrace to distant lands to preach the gospel? To continue to grieve without faith and understanding and trust when a son goes into another world is to question the long-range program of God, life eternal with all its opportunities and blessings.”
      • “God is good, so good in fact that we can hardly conceive the depth and richness of his goodness. He is just; so just that we mortals cannot comprehend the fairness of his justice. I am sure that no mortal will ever fail to receive every blessing and glory which he merits. Mortal death cannot rob him. There will be a way, and every promise of God will be fulfilled. A virtuous, progressive, active young man will sacrifice no blessing to which he was entitled by his (to us) premature passing into eternity. We may not understand fully just how it will be accomplished, but we may know that it will be.”
  • October 1944 General Conference
    • Ye May Know the Truth
      • “The Lord thus indicated that a knowledge of spiritual things may be had without perception through the five senses. He has keys by which we may have a knowledge of his work.”
      • “What is it to know of the doctrine? It is an unwavering assurance. The Lord has offered a rich reward but has provided that it can be had only by meeting certain requirements.”
      • “One must be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost and still live the commandments to be given the knowledge of the divinity of the work. Mere passive acceptance of the doctrines will not give the testimony; no casual half-compliance with the program will bring that assurance; but an all-out effort to live his commandments. We often see this in the lives of members of the Church. One said to me in a recent stake I visited, “I assiduously avoid all testimony meetings. I can’t take the sentimental and emotional statements that some of the people make. I can’t accept these doctrines unless I can in a cold-blooded and rational way prove every step.” I knew this type of man as I have met others like him. In no case had they gone all-out to live the commandments: Little or no tithing, only occasional attendance at meetings, considerable criticism of the doctrines, the organizations and the leaders, and we know well why they could have no testimony.”
      • “Such people have failed to “do what he says.” Of course, they have no promise.”
      • “The skeptic will some day either in time or eternity learn to his sorrow that his egotism has robbed him of much joy and growth, and that as has been decreed by the Lord: The things of God cannot be understood by the spirit of man that man cannot by himself find out God or his program; that no amount of research nor rationalizing will bring a testimony, but it must come through the heart when compliance with the program has made the person eligible to receive that reward. The Savior could have taken highly trained minds from the temple porches for the chief builders of his kingdom, but he went to the seashore to get humble fishermen. He wanted men who would not depend upon their own intellects only to ferret out the truths, but unbiased men to whom he might reveal his new program, men who were trusting and sincere and willing to serve.”
      • “There were many trained and educated Jews in Jerusalem who rationalized themselves completely out of a testimony and the rich spiritual life. Though Jesus was among them and they could see his miracles and hear his words, it was still an impossibility for those scribes and Pharisees to prove him to be the Redeemer by any of their mental processes, or by the kind of proof that many moderns require. But Peter and his associates, receptive as they were, knew the process. They lived the truth, and they knew the truth, and the truth made them free and gave them peace.”
      • “To acquire a testimony, then, one must be in tune with the Spirit of the Lord, keep his commandments and be sincere. Because one does not receive this positive assurance is no reason why another cannot. To say that another person cannot see the light because you fail to comprehend it is to place unwarranted limitations on another’s power. To say that no one can know of the doctrine because you do not is like saying that there is no germ or virus because it is not visible to you, and is to deny the word of God.”
  • April 1944 General Conference
    • The Sabbath Day
      • “There came ringing again in my ears the solemn command brought down from the thundering of Mount Sinai : “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” So far as I know, that commandment has never been rescinded nor modified. To hunt and fish on the Lord’s day is not keeping it holy. To plant or cultivate or harvest crops on the Sabbath is not keeping holy the Lord’s day. To go into the canyons for picnics, to attend games or rodeos, or races or shows, or other amusements on that day is not to keep it in holy remembrance.”
      • “Strange as it may seem, some of our brethren, faithful in all other respects, seem to justify themselves in missing their sacrament meetings, and their stake conferences, in order to beat all the other hunters into the wild life area when the season opens. The Church favors legitimate recreation, and urges its people to organize picnic parties and to enjoy the great outdoors for the fellowship that it offers, but with six other days in the week, the Sabbath certainly need not be desecrated.”
      • “By resting is not meant the indolent lounging about the home all day or puttering around in the garden, but a consistent attendance at meetings for the worship of the Lord, drinking at the fountain of knowledge and instruction, enjoying the family and finding uplift in music and song. One good but mistaken man I knew claimed that he could get much more out of a good book on Sunday than he could get in attending a sacrament meeting, saying that the sermons were hardly up to his standards.”
      • “But I say we do not go to Sabbath meetings to be entertained or amused; we go there to worship the Lord. It is an individual responsibility, and regardless of what is said from the pulpit, if one wishes to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth, he may do so by attending his meetings, partaking of the sacrament, and contemplating the beauties of the Gospel. If the sacrament meeting is a failure to you, you are the one that has failed. No one can worship for you, you must do your own serving of the Lord.”
  • October 1943 General Conference
    • Response to a Call
      • “I want to tell you that for eighty-five nights I have gone through that experience, wrestling for a blessing. Eighty-five times, the breaking of the day has found me on my knees praying to the Lord to help me and strengthen me and make me equal to this great responsibility that has come to me. I have not sought positions nor have I been ambitious. Promotions have continued to come faster than I felt I was prepared for them.”
      • “In these long weeks since July eighth, I can tell you that I have been overwhelmed and have felt that I was unable to carry on this great work; that I was unworthy; that I was incapable because of my weaknesses and my limitations. I have felt many times that I was up against a blank wall. And in that interim I have been out in the desert and in high mountains alone, apart, and have poured out my soul to God.”
      • “I appreciate deeply the unparalleled honor that has come to me. I shall do my utmost to show my appreciation to my Lord and my brethren by being a faithful servant. I am grateful for the opportunity of working with these honored and great men of the Authorities toward whom I have always had almost a worshipful devotion. I glory in the opportunity to serve the people of this Church, to share their disappointments and sorrows, and their joys and achievements.”

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