An Inspired Instrument

Called Unto Liberty, J. Reuben Clark, 20th Century Sermons

From my childhood days I have understood that we believe absolutely that the Constitution of our country is an inspired instrument, and that God directed those who created it and those who defended the independence of this nation. Concerning this matter it is my frequent pleasure to quote the statement by Joseph Smith, regarding the Constitution:

The Constitution of the United States is a glorious standard; it is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner; it is, to all those who are privileged with the sweets of liberty, like the cooling shades and refreshing waters of a great rock in a weary and thirsty land. It is like a great tree under whose branches men from every clime can be shielded from the burning rays of the sun. (DHC-3:304)

And such the Constitution of the United States must be to every faithful Latter-day Saint who lives under its protection.

We honor the man that God honors. We honor Abraham Lincoln because we believe absolutely that God honored him and raised him up to be the instrument in His hands of saving the Constitution and the Union. (President Heber J. Grant, 1940, E-43:127)

The laws and constitution of the people . . . I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles; that every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.

Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another. And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood. (Revelation to Prophet Joseph Smith, 1833, D&C 101:77–80)

I want to raise my voice to you and say, our Heavenly Father raised up the very men that framed the Constitution of the United States. He said He did. He gave to us the greatest Palladian of human rights that the world knows anything about, the only system whereby people could worship God according [p. 74] to the dictates of their consciences without, in any way, being molested when the law, itself, was in effect . . . . Yet, we have people who would like to change that and bring some of those forms of government that have failed absolutely to make peace and happiness and comfort any other place in the world, and exchange what God has given to us—the fullness of the earth and the riches of liberty and happiness. Yet, there are those who go around whispering and talking and saying, “Let us change this thing.”

I am saying to you that to me the Constitution of the United States of America is just as much from my Heavenly Father as the Ten Commandments. When that is my feeling, I am not going to go very far away from the Constitution, and I am going to try to keep it where the Lord started it,(5) and not let anti-Christs come into this country that began because people wanted to serve God. (President George Albert Smith, CR-4/ 48:182)

To me, that statement of the Lord, “I have established the Constitution of this land,” puts the Constitution of the United States in the position in which it would be if it were written in this book of Doctrine and Covenants itself. This makes the Constitution the word of the Lord to us. That it was given, not by oral utterance, but by the operation of his mind and spirit upon the minds of men, inspiring them to the working out of this great document of human government, does not alter its authority

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Source: J. Reuben Clark Jr., The Annual and Semi-annual Conference Reports of the Church, Volume 4, Section 35:93. J. Reuben Clark Jr. (1871–1961), served as a mem­ber of the First Pres­i­dency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1931–1961. Prior to his full-time church ser­vice he was assis­tant solic­i­tor to the State Depart­ment, worked in the Attor­ney General’s office, Under Sec­re­tary of State, the author of the clas­sic study, the “Clark Mem­o­ran­dum on the Mon­roe Doc­trine” and U.S. ambas­sador to Mex­ico. Among those who knew his work best, J. Reuben Clark was rec­og­nized as the fore­most con­sti­tu­tional scholar of the 20th Century.