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ruts. And we are all in danger of getting into them. It is so easy: you don't have to think or steer. In fact, you can't; and then it's such easy, pleasant traveling! You have noticed, too, that they generally lead down hill, but that the end is invariably discouraging. Look around you and see if any of your friends are in ruts: that farmer, that workman, that bookkeeper, that teacher, or professor! Are you slipping gently into a rut yourself? If so, be warned in time; for of all laughable things, see how faithfully those who are in, stay!
NEED OF RELIGIOUS ENLIGHTENMENT.
In regard to religious knowledge, even men in the civilized world are exceedingly ignorant, although most of the people call themselves Christians. As a consequence, it is necessary that the true principles of salvation shall be preached to them by the Latter-day Saints, as well as to the whole world of mankind in general.
The more knowledge a person possesses, the more power and influence he can exercise. That "knowledge is power" is not alone true in temporal affairs, but certainly also in spiritual; and the power of knowledge extends into eternity. Knowledge is power in religious and spiritual affairs, as well as in scientific and temporal. The Bible teaches us that to know God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent is eternal life. Consequently, a man must be in possession of a knowledge of the attributes of God, and of the mission of Jesus Christ, before he can gain eternal life, or a salvation and exaltation in the kingdom of God. The Prophet Joseph Smith also declares this doctrine, saying that men cannot be saved in ignorance. Men may claim that if they are members of one of the many sectarian Christian churches that they have enough knowledge of God and of Christ, but in most cases their knowledge is very limited, and many of them are very indifferent. They likely serve God with their lips, but their hearts are, as a rule, far from him. They may pray enough, but do not act enough, or, as has been said, pray too much on Sundays and too little on week days. To change all this, and enlighten the world in the true knowledge of God, is the great work in which the Latter-day Saints are engaged.-N. F. Green.
THE CHURCH AND KINGDOM OF GOD.
BY THE FIRST PRESIDENCY OF THE CHURCH, IN THE CHRISTMAS "DESERET NEWS."
The Christmas season brings to mind the mission and teachings of that Divine man whose birth into the world is now commemorated. His forerunner proclaimed, concerning his advent, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand!" The enemies of Christ and his cause declared this to be treason against imperial Rome. And the cruel death to which the Messiah was put followed the accusation. Yet the kingdom that was announced by the Baptist and the Nazarene, was in no sense inimical to any earthly government, but tended to make its adherents better citizens and more useful to the state because of their attachment to the Church and Kingdom of God. They were to "render unto Cæsar the things that were Cæsar's" while they "rendered unto God the things that were God's."
It is the same in the restoration of the church and kingdom in the latter days, preceding the second advent of the world's Redeemer. It is again announced that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand," and, as a preparatory work, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been organized, by Divine authority and commandment. And history repeats itself in the old cry of "treason" and the "Mormon" organization is imperium in imperio. Yet it does not attempt to exercise the powers of a secular government, but its influence and effects are to strengthen and promote fidelity to the law, and loyalty to the nation, where its followers reside.
The phrase "church and kingdom" is frequently used by
speakers and writers in reference to the system called "Mormonism." It is solely an ecclesiastical organization. It is separate and distinct from the state. It does not interfere with any earthly government. Its members, however, are also citizens, entitled to the same rights and privileges as other persons who are not of their faith. Its officers are not deprived of anything appertaining to citizenship in consequence of their ecclesiastical calling. Their duty to God is not incompatible with their duty to their country; on the contrary, the former implies and emphasizes the latter.
The religion of the Latter-day Saints relates to present conduct as well as future happiness. It influences its votaries in everything that effects human character. It is for the body as well as for the spirit. It teaches people how to live and act in this world that they may be prepared for the realities of the world to come. The Church, therefore, instructs in things temporal as well as things spiritual, so far as they relate to the Church, its properties and institutions and the association of its adherents. But it does not infringe upon the liberty of the individual or encroach upon the domain of the state. The free agency of man is a fundamental principle which, according to the tenets of the Church, even God himself does not suppress. Therefore the Church does not dictate a member's business, his politics or his personal affairs. It never tells a citizen what occupation he shall follow, whom he shall vote for, or with which party he shall affiliate.
In the case of such Church officers as are expected to devote their time and talents constantly in its service, and upon whom it depends for the prompt performance of such obligations, it requires that they shall, before entering into secular pursuits that would prevent them from attending to their Church duties, first acquaint their presiding officers with their desires, and obtain permission to carry out their intentions, in order that no confusion or failure in the order and work of the Church may be occasioned thereby. This requirement necessarily extends to the acceptance of political office, but not to the choice of party or the liberty to engage in such political or other activity as would not interfere with the services due to the Church. Every officer as well as member of the Church is entirely free as to political opinion and
action, and may resign any position that is in restraint of perfect liberty.
The early settlement of Utah by the Latter-day Saints or "Mormons" was the result of persecution and hostility to their religion. The Church leaders were the pioneers in this colonization. They directed the movement and the work of founding and building cities and industries, for the formation of a new commonwealth. When the Territory was organized by Congress, they were placed in public office as the logical and fitting incumbents. The President of the Church, the leading pioneer, was appointed Governor by the President and Senate of the United States. Other prominent Church leaders received civil appointments, and the most active Church officials, being engaged also in promoting secular improvements, were elected to territorial and civil positions. This condition of affairs fostered the notion that "Mormonism" united church and state. The unaminity that prevailed in the choice of these public servants, while the people of Utah were practically of one faith and party, further favored the impression abroad that they voted as they were required by the Church. But the ecclesiastical and political systems were kept distinct, and their affairs were separately conducted and maintained.
It does not follow, because a man who is elected to a national, state, or municipal office, is also a minister of religion, that a union is formed between church and state. And if there is anything of that nature in the case of an ecclesiast in one of the orthodox churches holding a political office, it is different with the officials of the "Mormon" Church, who, as a rule, follow secular pursuits for their livelihood, and engage in business like other citizens. They do not form a separate class even among their co-religionists, but the priesthood of the "Mormon" Church, is held by the large majority of its male members. And the Church exacts no special duty from any person who is elected to a political office, nor imposes upon him any requirements that conflict with those of his secular oath or obligation. It interposes nothing between him and his full fidelity to the government which he is elected to serve.
There is no such thing as "the oath of an Apostle," or "the
oath of an Elder," or of any other office in the "Mormon" Church. Nor is any person belonging to it required to take an oath, obligation, covenant or agreement against or to the injury of any government under the sun. All statements to the contrary are mistakes or wilful untruths. The Church and kingdom of God promotes obedience to the laws of the land, and recognizes the national constitution as of Divine origin, in that it was framed by wise men, raised up by the Almighty for that very purpose. Its principles are to be upheld, and the authority it confers is to be respected and sustained by every Latter-day Saint. This has been taught in the Church from the beginning, in public and in private, and is established as one of its "Articles of Faith." Such statutes as at any time were resisted by "Mormons" were opposed because they were believed to be contrary to the constitution, and were tested in the manner provided in that sacred instrument. The result has been acquiesced in, at the cost of much humiliation and suffering to many individuals.
The Bible, which is one of the written standards of the "Mormon" Church, teems with predictions and promises of the establishment of Divine rule on the earth; of the advent of a reign of righteousness extending over all the face of the globe. Christ is to be king, and all nations and peoples are to serve and obey him. That is to be the kingdom of God in very deed. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is set up preparatory to that kingdom. Its gospel is the "gospel of the kingdom." Its principles, ordinances, authority and gifts, are of heavenly origin. It is, therefore, the spiritual "Kingdom of heaven," bearing within it the influence and power that are to open the way for the fulfil ment of the prophecies concerning the universal dominion of the Son of God. Church members are commanded by Divine revelation, to "be subject unto the powers that be, until he comes whose right it is to reign." They are thus enjoined by the same authority: "Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that obeys the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land." The twelfth article of faith, taught to children in the Sunday schools, to the young people of both sexes in the Mutual Improvement Associations, and to all communicants in the Church is: "We believe in