Sunday, June 25, 2017

President Brigham Young on the power of a simple, honest heart

President 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.
"I care but little as to the outward appearance, if I can know that there is at heart a true feeling to do the will of God—to be honest before God and with one another. And in addressing a congregation, though the speaker be unable to say more than half-a-dozen sentences, and those awkwardly constructed, if his heart is pure before God, those few broken sentences are of more value than the greatest eloquence without the Spirit of the Lord, and of more real worth in the sight of God, angels, and all good men. In praying, though a person's words be few and awkwardly expressed, if the heart is pure before God, that prayer will avail more than the eloquence of a Cicero. What does the Lord, the Father of us all, care about our mode of expression? Mankind have fallen into the deep vortex of darkness. They know not from whence they came. They have sprung from their Father, God, and Savior, and have all gone out of the way. The simple, honest heart is of more avail with the Lord than all the pomp, pride, splendor, and eloquence produced by man. When He looks upon a heart full of sincerity, integrity, and childlike simplicity, he sees a principle that will endure forever—'That is the spirit of my own kingdom—the spirit I have given to my children.'"
- Brigham Young, "Knowledge—Object of Man's Existence on the Earth," remarks at Box Elder, June 7, 1860; see JD 8:283-4
Click here to read the full talk

It's so natural and easy for us to evaluate and judge others based on outward appearances, including not just things like dress and grooming but also manner of speech and apparent level of education. President Young teaches an important truth about these judgments, though, in this excerpt. When a person has a heart that is "pure before God," though he be far from eloquent and persuasive in his communication, his words have the power to convey spiritual truths that is altogether lacking in the most polished orator who speaks without the spirit. And a prayer spoken from a pure heart in true humility and sincerity has the power to reach the heavens and invoke miracles far beyond one that is superficial and uncommitted.

It is the childlike simplicity and sincerity that will both allow man to communicate with God, and to share powerfully with each other. That purity of heart should be cultivated much more earnestly than eloquence and formality of speech.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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