Gordon B. Hinckley (Church President: March 12, 1995 - January 27, 2008)

We do not worship the Prophet [Joseph Smith]. We worship God our Eternal Father and the risen Lord Jesus Christ. But we acknowledge the Prophet; we proclaim him; we respect him; we reverence him as an instrument in the hands of the Almighty in restoring to the earth the ancient truths of the divine gospel, together with the priesthood.
President Gordon B. Hinckley, Liahona and Ensign, Dec. 2005, 2–6

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

I was on a mission in the British Isles more than 70 years ago. Part of the British Empire was still intact. That empire was the most widely extended political family of nations on the face of the earth. It was said that the sun never set on the British Empire. The Union Jack flew around the world.

Great good came of that empire in many areas. But there was also tremendous suffering. It came as a result of conquest, oppression, war, and conflict. The remains of British soldiers were buried in graves around the earth.

Now it is all gone. Rudyard Kipling wrote of its demise in his “Recessional”:

Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire.
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
(“God of Our Fathers, Known of Old,” Hymns, no. 80)

There is now another empire. It is the empire of Christ the Lord. It is the empire of the restored gospel. It is the kingdom of God. And the sun never sets on this kingdom. It has not come of conquest, of conflict, or war. It has come of peaceful persuasion, of testimony, of teaching, one here and another there.

As all of you are aware, this year we commemorate the 200th birthday of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the 175th anniversary of the organization of the Church.

The growth of the Church from its infancy to its present stature is phenomenal, and we have only scratched the surface.
Gordon B. Hinckley, “Opening Remarks,” Ensign, Nov. 2005, 4

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

But peril is not a new condition for the human family. Revelation tells us that "there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

"And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

"And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him" (Revelation 12:7–9).

What a perilous time that must have been. The Almighty Himself was pitted against the son of the morning. We were there while that was going on. That must have been a desperately difficult struggle, with a grand, triumphal victory.

Concerning those desperate times, the Lord spoke to Job out of the whirlwind and said:

"Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? . . .

"When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" (Job 38:4, 7).

Why were we then happy? I think it was because good had triumphed over evil and the whole human family was on the Lord's side. We turned our backs on the adversary and aligned ourselves with the forces of God, and those forces were victorious.

But having made that decision, why should we have to make it again and again after our birth into mortality?

I cannot understand why so many have betrayed in life the decision they once made when the great war occurred in heaven.

But it is evident that the contest between good and evil, which began with that war, has never ended. It has gone on, and on, and on to the present.

I think our Father must weep because so many of His children through the ages have exercised the agency He gave them and have chosen to walk the road of evil rather than good.

Evil was manifest early in this world when Cain slew Abel. It increased until in the days of Noah "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

"And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart" (Genesis 6:5–6).

He commanded Noah to build an ark "wherein few, that is, eight souls" would be saved (1 Peter 3:20).

The earth was cleansed. The floods receded. Righteousness was again established. But it was not long until the family of humanity, so very many of them, returned to the old ways of disobedience. The inhabitants of the cities of the plain, Sodom and Gomorrah, are examples of the depravity to which men sank. And "God [utterly] destroyed the cities of the plain" in a summary and final desolation (Genesis 19:29).

Isaiah thundered:

"Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

"For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness" (Isaiah 59:2–3).

It was so with the other prophets of the Old Testament. The burden of their message was a denunciation of wickedness. And the peril of those times was not peculiar to the Old World. The Book of Mormon documents that in the Western Hemisphere the armies of the Jaredites fought to the death. The Nephites and the Lamanites also fought until thousands had died and Moroni was forced to wander alone for the safety of his own life (see Moroni 1:3). His great and final plea, directed toward those of our day, was a call to righteousness:

"And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing" (Moroni 10:30).

When the Savior walked the earth, He "went about doing good" (Acts 10:38), but He also denounced the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees, speaking of them as "whited sepulchres" (see Matthew 23:27). He lashed out at the money changers in the temple, saying, "My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves" (Luke 19:46). This too was a time of great peril. Palestine was part of the Roman Empire, which, in its governance, was ironfisted, oppressive, and clouded over with evil.

Paul's letters cried out for strength among the followers of Christ, lest they fall into the ways of the wicked one. But a spirit of apostasy ultimately prevailed.

Ignorance and evil enveloped the world, resulting in what is known as the Dark Ages. Isaiah had predicted: "Darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people" (Isaiah 60:2). For centuries, disease was rampant and poverty reigned. The Black Death killed some 50 million people during the 14th century. Was not this a season of terrible peril? I wonder how humanity survived.

But somehow, in that long season of darkness, a candle was lighted. The age of Renaissance brought with it a flowering of learning, art, and science. There came a movement of bold and courageous men and women who looked heavenward in acknowledgment of God and His divine Son. We speak of it as the Reformation.

And then, after many generations had walked the earth—so many of them in conflict, hatred, darkness, and evil—there arrived the great, new day of the Restoration. This glorious gospel was ushered in with the appearance of the Father and the Son to the boy Joseph. The dawn of the dispensation of the fulness of times rose upon the world. All of the good, the beautiful, the divine of all previous dispensations was restored in this most remarkable season.

But there was also evil. And one manifestation of that evil was persecution. There was hatred. There were drivings and forced marches in the time of winter.

It was as Charles Dickens described in the opening lines of his A Tale of Two Cities: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, . . . it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair."

Notwithstanding the great evil of these times, what a glorious season it has been and now is. A new day has come in the work of the Almighty. That work has grown and strengthened and moved across the earth. It has now touched for good the lives of millions, and this is only the beginning.

This great dawning has also resulted in a tremendous outpouring of secular knowledge upon the world.

Think of the increased longevity of life. Think of the wonders of modern medicine. I stand amazed. Think of the flowering of education. Think of the miraculous advances in travel and communication. Man's ingenuity knows no end when the God of heaven inspires and pours out light and knowledge.

There is still so much of conflict in the world. There is terrible poverty, disease, and hatred. Man is still brutal in his inhumanity to man. Yet there is this glorious dawn. The "Sun of righteousness" has come "with healing in his wings" (Malachi 4:2). God and His Beloved Son have revealed Themselves. We know Them. We worship Them "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). We love Them. We honor Them and seek to do Their will.

The keys of the everlasting priesthood have turned the locks of the prisons of the past.

The morning breaks, the shadows flee;
Lo, Zion 's standard is unfurled!
The dawning of a brighter day, ...
Majestic rises on the world.
("The Morning Breaks," Hymns, no. 1)

Perilous times? Yes. These are perilous times. But the human race has lived in peril from the time before the earth was created. Somehow, through all of the darkness, there has been a faint but beautiful light. And now with added luster it shines upon the world. It carries with it God's plan of happiness for His children. It carries with it the great and unfathomable wonders of the Atonement of the Redeemer.

How grateful we are to the God of heaven for His beneficent care of His children in providing for them, through all of the perils of eternity, the opportunity of salvation and the blessing of exaltation in His kingdom, if only they will live in righteousness.

And, my brothers and sisters, this places upon each of us a grand and consuming responsibility. President Wilford Woodruff said in 1894:

"The Almighty is with this people. We shall have all the revelations that we will need, if we will do our duty and obey the commandments of God. ... While I ... live I want to do my duty. I want the Latter-day Saints to do their duty. Here is the Holy Priesthood. ... Their responsibility is great and mighty. The eyes of God and all the holy prophets are watching us. This is the great dispensation that has been spoken of ever since the world began. We are gathered together ... by the power and commandment of God. We are doing the work of God. ... Let us fill our mission" (in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [1965–75], 3:258).

This is our great and demanding challenge, my brothers and sisters. This is the choice we must constantly make, just as generations before us have had to choose. We must ask ourselves:

Who's on the Lord's side? Who?
Now is the time to show.
We ask it fearlessly:
Who's on the Lord's side? Who?
("Who's on the Lord's Side?" Hymns, no. 260)

Do we really comprehend, do we understand the tremendous significance of that which we have? This is the summation of the generations of man, the concluding chapter in the entire panorama of the human experience.

But this does not put us in a position of superiority. Rather, it should humble us. It places upon us an unforgiving responsibility to reach out with concern for all others in the Spirit of the Master, who taught, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Matthew 19:19). We must cast out self-righteousness and rise above petty self-interest.

We must do all that is required in moving forward the work of the Lord in building His kingdom in the earth. We can never compromise the doctrine which has come through revelation, but we can live and work with others, respecting their beliefs and admiring their virtues, joining hands in opposition to the sophistries, the quarrels, the hatred—those perils which have been with man from the beginning.

Without surrendering any element of our doctrine, we can be neighborly, we can be helpful, we can be kind and generous.

We of this generation are the end harvest of all that has gone before. It is not enough to simply be known as a member of this Church. A solemn obligation rests upon us. Let us face it and work at it.

We must live as true followers of the Christ, with charity toward all, returning good for evil, teaching by example the ways of the Lord, and accomplishing the vast service He has outlined for us.

May we live worthy of the glorious endowment of light and understanding and eternal truth which has come to us through all the perils of the past. Somehow, among all who have walked the earth, we have been brought forth in this unique and remarkable season. Be grateful, and above all be faithful.
President Gordon B. Hinckley, General Conference, April 4, 2004 (Sunday Morning)

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

As President Faust has indicated, the family appears to be falling apart. The traditional family is under heavy attack. I do not know that things were worse in the times of Sodom and Gomorrah. At that season, Abraham bargained with the Lord to save these cities for the sake of the righteous. Notwithstanding his pleas, things were so bad that Jehovah decreed their destruction. They and their wicked inhabitants were annihilated. We see similar conditions today. They prevail all across the world. I think our Father must weep as He looks down upon His wayward sons and daughters.
...
We must not give up. We must not become discouraged. We must never surrender to the forces of evil.
...
But we shall not be alone. I am confident that there are millions of people throughout the world who grieve over the evil they see about them. They love the virtuous, the good, and the uplifting. They too will raise their voices and give of their strength to the preservation of those values which are worthy of maintenance and cultivation.
...
We have a greater challenge than we realize. As Paul declared, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Ephesians 6:12)
...
We are too prone to be satisfied with mediocre performance. We are capable of doing so much better ... as we face the great, almost overwhelming challenge that comes with life in our time.
President Gordon B. Hinckley, "Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting" - January 10, 2004

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

And this is only the beginning. We have scarcely scratched the surface. We are engaged in a work for the souls of men and women everywhere. Our work knows no boundaries. Under the providence of the Lord it will continue. Those nations now closed to us will someday be open. That is my faith. That is my belief. That is my testimony. The little stone which was cut out of the mountain without hands is rolling forth to fill the earth (see Daniel 2:31–45; D&C 65:2).
President Gordon B. Hinckley, CR October, 2003 (Saturday morning)

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

I believe that others will rally around us if we [keep our covenants]. We can stand for truth and goodness, and we will not stand alone. Moreover, we shall have the unseen forces of heaven to assist us. I take you back to the Old Testament:

"And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha" (2 Kings 6:15–17).

The Lord has said to us:

"Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. . . . Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not" (D&C 6:34, 36).
President Gordon B. Hinckley, CR October, 2003 (Sunday morning)

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

[Webmaster Note: There is hardly any theme in the Book of Mormon more often mentioned than the theme: "And he hath said that: Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence." See 2 Nephi 1:20. In the April, 2003 general conference President Hinkley repeated this theme at least 6 times, twice in each of three talks. I have highlighted these six references in the next three quotes. Note how he says the same thing in six completely different ways.]

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

These are difficult times. The economy is struggling. There is conflict in the world. But the Almighty is keeping His promise that He will bless those who walk in faith and righteousness before Him.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the way of peace. To the extent we follow it and incorporate it in our lives, to this extent will we be blessed and prospered. What a wonderful thing it is to be involved in this glorious work. Let us rejoice in our great opportunity. Let us serve with gladness."

May heaven’s richest blessings rest upon you, my beloved associates. May faith grow in your hearts. May there be love and peace in your homes. May there be food upon your tables and clothing on your backs. May the smiles of heaven warm your hearts and bring comfort in times of trial.
Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Condition of the Church,” Ensign, May 2003, 4 (Saturday morning session)

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

We call upon the Lord, whose strength is mighty and whose powers are infinite, to bring an end to the conflict [the ongoing war in Iraq], an end that will result in a better life for all concerned. The Lord has declared, “For I, the Lord, rule in the heavens above, and among the armies of the earth” (D&C 60:4).

We can hope and pray for that glorious day foretold by the prophet Isaiah when men “shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isa. 2:4).

Even in an evil world we can so live our lives as to merit the protecting care of our Father in Heaven. We can be as the righteous living among the evils of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham pleaded that these cities might be spared for the sake of the righteous. (See Gen. 18:20-32.)

And, above all, we can cultivate in our own hearts, and proclaim to the world, the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Through His atoning sacrifice we are certain life will continue beyond the veil of death. We can teach that gospel which will lead to the exaltation of the obedient.

Even when the armaments of war ring out in deathly serenade and darkness and hatred reign in the hearts of some, there stands immovable, reassuring, comforting, and with great outreaching love the quiet figure of the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world. We can proclaim with Paul:

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).

This life is but a chapter in the eternal plan of our Father. It is full of conflict and seeming incongruities. Some die young. Some live to old age. We cannot explain it. But we accept it with the certain knowledge that through the atoning sacrifice of our Lord we shall all go on living, and this with the comforting assurance of His immeasurable love.

He has said, “Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me” (D&C 19:23).

And there, my brothers and sisters, we rest our faith. Regardless of the circumstances, we have the comfort and peace of Christ our Savior, our Redeemer, the living Son of the living God.
Gordon B. Hinckley, “War and Peace,” Ensign, May 2003, 78 (Sunday morning session)

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Pray for wisdom and understanding as you walk the difficult paths of your lives. If you are determined to do foolish and imprudent things, I think the Lord will not prevent you. But if you seek His wisdom and follow the counsel of the impressions that come to you, I am confident that you will be blessed.

Let us be a prayerful people. Let us bring up our children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Enos 1:1). May the blessings of heaven deservedly rest upon you. In the words of Deuteronomy, “And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul” (Deut. 10:12). Be assured, my dear brothers and sisters, that “He, watching over Israel, slumbers not, nor sleeps” (Felix Mendelssohn, Elijah).
Gordon B. Hinckley, “Benediction,” Ensign, May 2003, 99 (Sunday afternoon session)

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

My brethren and sisters, do you realize what we have? Do you recognize our place in the great drama of human history? This is the focal point of all that has gone before. This is the season of restitution. These are the days of restoration. This is the time when men from over the earth come to the mountain of the Lord’s house to seek and learn of His ways and to walk in His paths. This is the summation of all of the centuries of time since the birth of Christ to this present and wonderful day.

The morning breaks, the shadows flee;
Lo, Zion’s standard is unfurled!
The dawning of a brighter day, …
Majestic rises on the world.
(“The Morning Breaks,” Hymns, no. 1)

The centuries have passed. The latter-day work of the Almighty, that of which the ancients spoke, that of which the prophets and apostles prophesied, is come. It is here. For some reason unknown to us, but in the wisdom of God, we have been privileged to come to earth in this glorious age. There has been a great flowering of science. There has been a veritable explosion of learning. This is the greatest of all ages of human endeavor and human accomplishment. And more importantly, it is the season when God has spoken, when His Beloved Son has appeared, when the divine priesthood has been restored, when we hold in our hand another testament of the Son of God. What a glorious and wonderful day this is.

God be thanked for His generous bestowal upon us. We thank Him for this wondrous gospel, whose power and authority reach even beyond the veil of death.

Given what we have and what we know, we ought to be a better people than we are. We ought to be more Christlike, more forgiving, more helpful and considerate to all around us.

We stand on the summit of the ages, awed by a great and solemn sense of history. This is the last and final dispensation toward which all in the past has pointed. I bear testimony and witness of the reality and truth of these things. I pray that every one of us may sense the awesome wonder of it all as we look forward shortly to the passing of a century and the death of a millennium.

Let the old year go. Let the new year come. Let another century pass. Let a new one take its place. Say good-bye to a millennium. Greet the beginning of another thousand years.

And so we shall go forward on a continuing path of growth and progress and enlargement, touching for good the lives of people everywhere for as long as the earth shall last.

At some stage in all of this onward rolling, Jesus Christ will appear to reign in splendor upon the earth. No one knows when that will be. Not even the angels in heaven will know of the time of His return. But it will be a welcome day.

Come, O thou King of Kings!
We’ve waited long for thee,
With healing in thy wings,
To set thy people free.
Come, thou desire of nations, come;
Let Israel now be gathered home.
(“Come, O Thou King of Kings,” Hymns, no. 59)

May God bless us with a sense of our place in history and, having been given that sense, with our need to stand tall and walk with resolution in a manner becoming the Saints of the Most High, is my humble prayer ...
Gordon B. Hinckley, “At the Summit of the Ages,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, p. 72

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

I repeat, I hope we will never again see such a depression. But I am troubled by the huge consumer installment debt which hangs over the people of the nation, including our own people. In March 1997 that debt totaled $1.2 trillion, which represented a 7 percent increase over the previous year.

In December of 1997, 55 to 60 million households in the United States carried credit card balances. These balances averaged more than $7,000 and cost $1,000 per year in interest and fees. Consumer debt as a percentage of disposable income rose from 16.3 percent in 1993 to 19.3 percent in 1996.

Everyone knows that every dollar borrowed carries with it the penalty of paying interest. When money cannot be repaid, then bankruptcy follows. There were 1,350,118 bankruptcies in the United States last year. This represented a 50 percent increase from 1992. In the second quarter of this year, nearly 362,000 persons filed for bankruptcy, a record number for a three-month period.

We are beguiled by seductive advertising. Television carries the enticing invitation to borrow up to 125 percent of the value of one’s home. But no mention is made of interest.

President J. Reuben Clark Jr., in the April 1938 general conference, said from this pulpit: “Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1938, 103)

I recognize that it may be necessary to borrow to get a home, of course. But let us buy a home that we can afford and thus ease the payments which will constantly hang over our heads without mercy or respite for as long as 30 years.
President Gordon B. Hinckley, CR October 1998

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

[Spoken prior to becoming President of the church]

Now in conclusion, may I repeat that I have worked with seven Presidents of this Church. I have recognized that all have been human. But I have never been concerned over this. They may have had some weaknesses. But this has never troubled me. I know that the God of heaven has used mortal men throughout history to accomplish His divine purposes. They were the very best available to Him, and they were wonderful.

These men whom I have known and with whom I have worked have been totally unselfish in their zeal to build the kingdom of God and bring happiness into the lives of the people. They have been unsparing in giving of themselves to the great work for which each had responsibility in his particular season.

I speak to the priesthood of this Church, wherever you may be gathered across the world, in gratitude for a prophet to guide us in these latter days. I plead for loyalty to him whom the Lord has called and anointed. I plead for steadfastness in upholding him and giving attention to his teachings. I have said on another occasion at this pulpit that if we have a prophet, we have everything. If we do not have a prophet, we have nothing. We do have a prophet. We have had prophets since the founding of this Church. We shall never be without a prophet if we live worthy of a prophet.

The Lord is watching over this work. This is His kingdom. We are not as sheep without a shepherd. We are not as an army without a leader.
Gordon B. Hinckley, “Believe His Prophets,” Ensign, May 1992, 50

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Recently while wrestling in my mind with a problem I thought to be of serious consequence I went to my knees in prayer. There came into my mind a feeling of peace and the words of the Lord, “Be still and know that I am God.” I turned to the scripture and read this reassuring statement spoken to the Prophet Joseph Smith 150 years ago: “Let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.” (D&C 101:16.)

God is weaving his tapestry according to his own grand design. All flesh is in his hands. It is not our prerogative to counsel him. It is our responsibility and our opportunity to be at peace in our minds and in our hearts, and to know that he is God, that this is his work, and that he will not permit it to fail.

We have no need to fear. We have no need to worry. We have no need to speculate. Our imperative need is to be found doing our duty individually in the callings which have come to us. And because, for the most part, the Latter-day Saints are walking in faith and working with conviction, the Church is consistently growing ever stronger.
Gordon B. Hinckley, “He Slumbers Not, nor Sleeps,” Ensign, May 1983, 5