Do You Wish to Be Free? — David O. McKay

Prophet Statesmen, David O. McKay

There are many in the world who see hanging over the international horizon threatening clouds also. There are storms ahead!

I am prompted by the outlook to take as a text for the few words that I shall say this morning, an encouraging thought from the Thirty-first Psalm:

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord. (Psalm 31:24.)

Sixty or seventy years ago, when United States history was an essential course in elementary public school teaching, many a boy was thrilled by Patrick Henry’s dramatic declaration:

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Patrick Henry was then a delegate to the Second Revolutionary Convention held at Richmond, Virginia, March 23, 1775.

The Creator, who gave man life, planted in his heart the seed of liberty. Free agency, as life, is a gift from God.

Do you wish to be free? Then above all things, love God, love your neighbor, love one another, love the common weal; then you will have true liberty. (Savonarola.)

Freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of action within boundaries that do not infringe upon the liberty of others are man’s inherent right, granted him by his Creator—divine gifts “essential to human dignity and human happiness.”

“Therefore, cheer up your hearts,” admonished an ancient prophet in the Book of Mormon, “and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves . . . .” (2 Nephi 10:23)

This love of liberty which God has planted in us constitutes the bulwark of our liberty and independence. It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling seacoasts, our army, and our navy. Our defense is in the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit, and we have planted the seeds of despotism at our very doors. (Abraham Lincoln) . . .

Throughout the history of the world man has contended even to death to free himself from bondage and usurpation, or to retain the freedom he already possessed. This is particularly true in regard to the right to worship. Attempts to control the consciences of men have always resulted in conflict. To decide one’s own relationship to the Creator and to his creations is the natural and inalienable right of all.

Equally fundamental and important to man’s happiness and progress is the right of personal security, the right of personal liberty, and the right of private property. The right of personal security consists in the enjoyment of life, limbs, body, health, and reputation. Life, being the immediate gift of God, is a right inherent by nature in every individual. Likewise, man has a natural inherent right to his limbs. His personal liberty consists in the right of changing one’s situation or habitation according to will. The right of property consists in the free use, enjoyment, and disposal of all acquisitions, without control or diminution save by the laws of the land. The right of private property is sacred and inviolable. If any part of these inalienable individual possessions should be required by the State, they should be given only with the consent of the people.(7)

My brethren and sisters, the ultimate purpose of Christianity in the world is to develop an honorable, upright individual in an ideal society known as the kingdom of God.

Excerpt from David O. McKay’s October 1961 General Conference address (p. 5-7). David O. McKay (1873–1970), served as Ninth Pres­i­dent of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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