The Covenant of the Priesthood
July 1972

“The Covenant of the Priesthood,” Ensign, July 1972, 98

The Covenant of the Priesthood

Brethren, this is a great occasion. Tens of thousands of bearers of the holy priesthood are gathered together to hear instructions from the presidency of the Church.

I was greatly impressed by the President’s remarks. I am glad he said what he did. Listening to him, I was taken back in my thoughts a quarter of a century to an experience I had with President Heber J. Grant. We were discussing some criticism that had been directed against an action taken by him in his official capacity. Putting his arm across my back and resting his hand on my left shoulder, he said, “My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he tells you to do something wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.”

And then he added, “You don’t need to worry, however; the Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead his people astray.”

I haven’t forgotten his counsel. I think I have been faithful to that charge ever since.

We brethren in this meeting hold the priesthood. We are a covenant people. The Lord, entering into a covenant with Abraham, promised him a great posterity, saying:

“… in thy seed … shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.” (Abr. 2:11.)

Ever since the days of Abraham, his descendants have been known, by those who have understood the gospel, as children of the covenant. One of the covenants that we have entered into with the Lord is the covenant “which belongeth to the priesthood.” The 84th section of the Doctrine and Covenants talks about the priesthood. It says that “the sons of Moses and also the sons of Aaron [meaning the bearers of the Melchizedek and the bearers of the Aaronic Priesthoods] shall [yet] offer an acceptable offering and sacrifice in the house of the Lord … in this generation …

“And the sons of Moses and of Aaron shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, upon Mount Zion in the Lord’s house, whose sons are ye; …

“For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken [the Aaronic and Melchizedek], and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.” (D&C 84:31–33.)

I believe that is true. I think that men and boys who magnify their callings in the priesthood have a change wrought in their bodies. This morning while President Lee was talking in the welfare meeting, he told about someone, some stranger, who saw President McKay and said to him, “Are you a prophet of God?” President McKay’s answer was, “You look into my face and get the answer.”

I heard a story once about President Joseph F. Smith, the father of our present beloved leader, who was down in Arizona attending some function with the governor and other prominent men. Some of them wanted to have their pictures taken with the President of the Church. President Joseph F. Smith graciously consented and stood with them while their pictures were taken. When they stepped back into the crowd, the governor was heard to say, “You know, when I stood out there by that man, I felt like a thief.” He could feel the power in a great man who was magnifying his calling in the priesthood.

“… whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.

“They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.” (D&C 84:33–34.)

The Prophet Joseph Smith used to repeatedly urge the brethren of the priesthood to make their calling and election sure. If we want to do that, we will have to magnify our callings in the priesthood. The revelation continues:

“And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord.” (D&C 84:35.

I think this statement refers to those who receive the officers of the priesthood who are appointed to represent the Lord.

“And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;

“For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;

“And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;

“And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.

“And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.” (D&C 84:35–39.)

President Smith frequently says in prayer and in counsel that he prays for and hopes that we will be true and faithful to every covenant and responsibility that rests upon us. That the obligations of “the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood” rest upon each of us there is no doubt, because the Lord says that “all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.” (D&C 84:40.)

So, we have entered into a covenant with the Lord in which he has promised us eternal life, if we keep our part of the covenant, which is, to magnify our callings in the priesthood.

The revelation says that the Lord cannot break his part of the oath and covenant. But we can break our part of it, and many priesthood bearers do so. Of them the revelation says:

“But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.” (D&C 84:41.

Now, I do not think this means that all who fail to magnify their callings in the priesthood will have committed the unpardonable sin, but I do think that priesthood bearers who have entered into the covenants that we enter into—in the waters of baptism, in connection with the law of tithing, the Word of Wisdom, and the many other covenants we make—and then refuse to live up to these covenants will stand in jeopardy of losing the promise of eternal life.

I have a witness to the truth of what President Smith said tonight about the leadership of this church, and their representing the Savior of the world here on earth. I know that there is power in the priesthood and that we can draw from heaven the power to do our work, if we do the work as best we can ourselves.

God help us to understand this, and the great honor he has placed upon us by giving us the priesthood, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.