David O. McKay (Church President: April 9, 1951 - January 18, 1970)

No principle of life was more constantly emphasized by the Great Teacher than the necessity of right thinking. To Him, the man was not what he appeared to be outwardly, nor what he professed to be by his words: what the man thought determined in all cases what the man was. No teacher emphasized more strongly than He the truth that ‘as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he’ [see Prov. 23:7]. …

… Contentment, complacency, peace—all that makes life worth living—have their source in the mind of the individual. From the same source spring unrest, turbulency, misery—everything that leads to dissolution and death. …

… It is well for [every teacher and officer in the Church] to ascertain ‘what he is thinking about when he doesn’t have to think,’ for ‘what he thinketh in his heart, so is he’
David O. McKay "As a Man Thinketh … " Instructor, September 1958, 257-58

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Day by day, hour by hour, man builds the character that will determine his place and standing among his associates throughout the ages. … … More important than riches, more enduring than fame, more precious than happiness is the possession of a noble character. Truly it has been said that the grand aim of man’s creation is the development of a grand character, and grand character is by its very nature the product of a probationary discipline.
David O. McKay "Man’s Soul Is As Endless As Time" Instructor, January 1960, 1-2

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What is the crowning glory of man in this earth so far as his individual achievement is concerned? It is character—character developed through obedience to the laws of life as revealed through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Man’s chief concern in life should not be the acquiring of gold nor fame nor material possessions. It should not be the development of physical prowess nor of intellectual strength, but his aim, the highest in life, should be the development of a Christlike character.
David O. McKay “Obedience Develops Character” Instructor, August 1965, 301

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I would like to have the young men of Israel feel so close to [God] that they will approach Him daily, not in public alone, but in private. I would have them have the trust in Him which the little blind girl had in her father. She was sitting on his lap in the train, and a friend sitting by said: “Let me rest you,” and he reached over and took the little child on his lap. The father said to her: “Do you know who is holding you?” “No,” she replied, “but you do.” Oh, the trust of that child in her father. … Just so real should be the trust which the Latter-day Saint boys and girls have in their Father in heaven.
David O. McKay (2005 Priesthood/R.S. Manual - page 73)

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The Prophet Joseph Smith Lived and Died in Defense of the Truths Revealed to Him.

Great men have the ability to see clearly into the heart of things. They discern truth. They think independently. They act nobly. They influence strong men to follow them. Small men sneer at them, ridicule them, persecute them, but the critics die and are forgotten, and the great man lives on forever.

Some of Joseph Smith’s contemporaries sneered at him; others admired him; his followers revered him. ...

No one unbiased in his judgment can study the life of this religious leader without being impressed with the fact that he possessed in a rich degree the qualities of true greatness, the source of which is found in a desire to know God’s will, and in a determination, when it is found, to follow it.

Throughout all ages truth has been first perceived by a few heroic leaders who, in defense of it, frequently sacrificed their lives. To the clear perception and the courage of these intrepid leaders of men is due the progress of mankind. At some time or other, they have had to make a choice whether to deny, modify, or defend truth—a choice between personal ease and preferment, or ostracism, punishment, or even death. Such a choice came to Peter and John as they stood prisoners before Annas, the high priest. It took real courage from them to bear witness of Christ in the presence of the very men who had condemned him to death. [See Acts 4.]

It took courage for Paul, a chained prisoner before King Agrippa and his royal company, to bear witness that Christ did suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the gentiles. [See Acts 26.]

It took courage for Joseph Smith to testify to an unbelieving and bitter world the truth that God and his Beloved Son had appeared in vision to him.

All men who have moved the world have been men who will stand true to their conscience—such men as Peter, James, and Paul, and their brethren of the ancient apostles, and also others. When the religious leaders of Palmyra, New York, turned against the youthful Joseph Smith for what he had seen and heard in the Sacred Grove, he said, having a testimony of the Lord Jesus in his bosom: “I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it. …” [Joseph Smith—History 1:25.]

Joseph Smith was true to his testimony to the last.

The result of [Joseph Smith’s] divine guidance was an assurance of the righteousness of what he taught and a fearlessness in proclaiming it. When Joseph Smith taught a doctrine, he taught it authoritatively. His was not the question whether it agreed with man’s thoughts or not, whether it was in harmony with the teachings of the orthodox churches or whether it was in direct opposition. What was given to him he gave to the world irrespective of its agreement or disagreement, of its harmony or its discord with the belief of the churches, or the prevailing standards of mankind; and today, as we look through the vista of over one hundred years, we have a good opportunity of judging of the virtue of his teachings, and of concluding as to the source of his instruction. …

Not only did he receive guidance and instruction from the divine Head, but, once received, defended it with invincible resolution.

Through railings, scoffings, mobbings, arrests, imprisonments, persecutions that led to martyrdom, Joseph Smith as Peter and Paul before him, ever strove to the utmost of his ability to follow the light that had made him a “partaker of the divine nature.” [See 2 Peter 1:4.]

The best blood of this country was shed in innocence. [The Prophet Joseph] knew he was innocent. He knew his rights. So did his brother Hyrum, John Taylor and Willard Richards who were there with him. But because of lies, black and damnable, the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum were martyred.

... In the midst of it all what was the Prophet’s attitude? A calm, Christ-like attitude. Said he, when he was going to Carthage that evening:

“I am going like a lamb to the slaughter, but I am calm as a summer’s morning. I have a conscience void of offense toward God and all men. If they take my life I shall die an innocent man, and it will yet be said of me, he was murdered in cold blood.” [See D&C 135:4.]

The lives of the Prophet, of his brother, Hyrum, the patriarch, and of hundreds of thousands of others who accepted the truth of [the First Vision] bear evidence that the plan of salvation, as it is purported Jesus Christ revealed it, most assuredly leads toward Christlike character. So real was the revelation to the Prophet and his brother, Hyrum, that they unflinchingly sealed their testimony with their blood.
David O. McKay (2005 Priesthood/R.S. Manual - page 98-100)

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A word about the eternity of the marriage covenant. ... Let’s look at the principle of it. Will you name for me in your minds the most divine attribute of the human soul? ... Love is the most divine attribute of the human soul, and if you accept the immortality of the soul, that is, if you believe that personality persists after death, then, you must believe that love also lives. Isn’t that sound? And I ask you this: Whom shall we love when we recognize those personalities in the next world?

True, we are admonished to love everybody. Yes, we should love everybody now; but you and I know that we love those whom we know best. ... When we meet these personalities in the eternal realm, we shall recognize them, and know them because of these experiences in this life. And that union of loving hearts will be perpetuated after life. That is why we are married—sealed—for time and eternity. It isn’t just a mere dogma of the Church—it is a truth fundamental to the life and happiness of all humanity. It is the part of wisdom to choose the House of the Lord in which to [pledge] your love and to consecrate your vows.
David O. McKay (2005 Priesthood/R.S. Manual - pages 145-146)

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When one puts business or pleasure above his home, he that moment starts on the downgrade to soul-weakness. When the club becomes more attractive to any man than his home, it is time for him to confess in bitter shame that he has failed to measure up to the supreme opportunity of his life and flunked in the final test of true manhood. ... The poorest shack in which love prevails over a united family is of greater value to God and future humanity than any other riches. In such a home God can work miracles and will work miracles.
David O. McKay (2005 Priesthood/R.S. Manual - pages 148-149)

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We cannot truly believe that we are the children of God, and that God exists, without believing in the final inevitable triumph of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we believe that, we shall have less worry about the destruction of the world and the present civilization, because God has established his Church never to be thrown down nor given to another people. And as God lives, and his people are true to him and to one another, we need not worry about the ultimate triumph of truth.
If you have that testimony [of truth] on your side, you can pass through the dark valley of slander, misrepresentation, and abuse, undaunted as though you wore a magic suit of armor that no bullet could enter, no arrow could pierce. You can hold your head high, toss it fearlessly and defiantly, look every man calmly and unflinchingly in the eye. … You will know that all will come out right in the end; that it must come; that all must flee before the great white light of truth, as the darkness slinks away into nothingness in the presence of the sunburst.
David O. McKay (2005 Priesthood/R.S. Manual - page 168)

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Brethren, we do not spend enough time meditating.
Quoted by President Gordon B. Hinckley in “Life’s Obligations,” Ensign, Feb. 1999, 2