Thursday, January 7, 2016

Brigham Young on finding happiness through spiritual nourishment

Brigham Young (1801-1877) was part of the first Quorum of Twelve Apostles of this dispensation, called and ordained in 1835. He served as the second Church president, succeeding Joseph Smith, from 1847 until his death in 1877.
"Ask for that which will make you happy and prepare you for life or death. What is that? Food for the mind, to feed the intelligent part of the creature. The Lord has planted within us a divinity; and that divine, immortal spirit requires to be fed. Will earthly food answer for that purpose? No; it will only keep this body alive as long as the spirit stays with it, which gives us an opportunity of doing good. That divinity within us needs food from the Fountain from which it emanated. It is not of the earth, earthy, but is from heaven. Principles of eternal life, of God and godliness, will alone feed the immortal capacity of man and give true satisfaction....
"In this life we are full of pain, disappointment, and worldly trouble. This gives us a chance to prove to God that we are his friends. Seek unto the Lord for his Spirit, without any cessation in your efforts, until his Spirit dwells within you like eternal burnings. Let the candle of the Lord be lighted up within you, and all is right."
- Brigham Young, Salt Lake Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, December 18, 1859; see JD 7:138
Click here to read the full talk

I'm often surprised when I read the sermons of early Church leaders to see how "modern" and applicable the counsel sounds. We are tempted to think of the Utah pioneers as living relatively simple, basic lives as they struggled to extract a basic living from the desert wilderness. But this statement encourages mental and spiritual development, just as actively as we would today. Our spirit must be fed as well as our body to stay alive.

And the second paragraph expresses in such beautiful terms the hope that comes to a soul when it is spiritually fed:

I love these points:

  • Struggles and challenges in life give us the opportunity "to prove to God that we are his friends." What an interesting way to state this! Do we turn to Him in those times of need? Do we demonstrate a friendship that has been developed, as every friendship must be, over time and with mutual effort?
  • We should make continuing, ongoing effort to seek the influence of Lord's spirit in our lives "until his Spirit dwells within you like eternal burnings." Then it can gives warmth and life to everything we do and experience.
  • Finally, we must allow "the candle of the Lord" to be active and burning within us, "lighted up" inside—and then "all is right."

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