CALLED UNTO LIBERTY, 19TH CENTURY SERMONS, BRIGHAM YOUNG
It was observed this morning that the Government of the United States was the best or most wholesome one on the earth, and the best adapted to our condition. That is very true.
To accuse us of being unfriendly to the Government, is to accuse us of hostility to our religion, for no item of inspiration is held more sacred with us than the Constitution under which she acts. As a religious society, we, in common with all other denominations, claim its protection.
The signers of the Declaration of Independence and the framers of the Constitution were inspired from on high to do that work. But was that which was given to them perfect, not admitting of any addition whatever? No; for if men know anything, they must know that the Almighty has never yet found a man in mortality that was capable, at the first intimation; at the first impulse, to receive anything in a state of entire perfection. They laid the foundation, and it was for aftergenerations to rear the superstructure upon it. It is a progressive — a gradual work.
The general Constitution of our country is good, and a wholesome government could be framed upon it, for it was dictated by the invisible operations of the Almighty; he moved upon Columbus to launch forth upon the trackless deep to discover the American Continent; he moved upon the signers of the Declaration of Independence; and he moved upon Washington to fight and conquer, in the same way as he moved upon ancient and modern Prophets, each being inspired to accomplish the particular work he was called to perform in the times, seasons, and dispensations of the Almighty. God’s purposes, in raising up these men and inspiring them with daring sufficient to surmount every opposing power, was to prepare the way for the formation of a true republican government. They laid its foundation; but when others came to build upon it, they reared a superstructure far short of their privileges, if they had walked uprightly as they should have done.
We believe that the Lord has been preparing that when he should bring forth his work that, when the set time should fully come, there might be a place upon his footstool where sufficient liberty of conscience should exist, that his Saints might dwell in peace under the broad panoply of constitutional law and equal rights. In this view we consider that the men in the Revolution were inspired by the Almighty, to throw off the shackles of the mother government, with her established religion. For this cause were Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, and a host of others inspired to deeds of resistance to the acts of the King of Great Britain, who might also have been led to those aggressive acts, for aught we know, to bring to pass the purposes of God, in thus establishing a new government upon a principle of greater freedom, a basis of self-government allowing the free exercise of religious worship.
It was the voice of the Lord inspiring all those worthy men who bore influence in those trying times, not only to go forth in battle but to exercise wisdom in council, fortitude, courage, and endurance in the tented field, as well as subsequently to form and adopt those wise and efficient measures which secured to themselves and succeeding generations, the blessings of a free and independent government.
Source: Brigham Young. As quoted in The Great Prologue, by Mark E. Petersen, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1975, p. 75-76. See also Discourses of Brigham Young, Chapter XXXI, Political Government.
Brigham Young (1801 – 1877) was an American leader in the Latter Day Saint movement (serving as the second President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and a visionary colonizer of the Western United States, directing the establishment of settlements throughout present-day Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, California, southern Colorado, and northern Mexico (350 towns in all). Under his direction, his people built schools, roads, bridges, forts, irrigation projects; established public welfare; organized a militia; and made peace with the Native Americans. He also organized the territory’s first legislature, was appointed its first governor by U.S. President Millard Fillmore, and he led the foundings of the University of Utah and Brigham Young University.
Called Unto Liberty is researched, compiled, and edited (with occasional explanatory or background notes) by Steve Farrell.