“Be Ye Clean That Bear the Vessels of the Lord,” Ensign, May 1974, 79
My beloved brethren, my theme for these remarks is “… Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.” (D&C 133:5.) It might just as appropriately be, magnify your calling in the priesthood. To begin with, I bear witness to you that I know by the power of the Spirit that President Kimball is a prophet, called by the Lord to be his mouthpiece, and that President Tanner was called by revelation to be his first counselor. I sustain them both with full purpose of heart.
As to you brethren, I feel as Peter expressed himself to the brethren of his day: “… ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood. …” (1 Pet. 2:9.) Of all men in the earth, we are the most honored.
As spirit sons of God, we stood in the great council in the preexistent world and heard the Father present the gospel plan. We heard him say that those who kept their first estate would be added upon, and those who kept their second estate should “have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.” (Abr. 3:26.)
Now we know that we kept our first estate because we are here with our spirits “added upon” with these bodies.
If we are to have glory added upon our heads for ever and ever, we must, while we are here, do two things. One of them is to receive the priesthood. The other is to magnify our calling in the priesthood. The Lord said that no one could receive this glory without the priesthood: “And wo unto all those who come not unto this priesthood … ,” he said. (D&C 84:42.)
We, having received the priesthood, shall receive the added glory if we magnify our callings in the priesthood. Now I want you to listen to the words the Lord used in giving us the covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.
He said, “For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling [not just receive it, but those who receive it and magnify their calling], are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.
“They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron [In the early part of the revelation from which I am quoting, section 84, the Lord talks about men who hold the priesthood as being the sons of Moses, according to the order of the priesthood, and those who hold the Aaronic Priesthood as being sons of Aaron, according to the order of the Aaronic Priesthood.] and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God. [We talk about making our callings and elections sure. The only way we can do this is to get the priesthood and magnify it. And then the Lord gives the promise:]
“And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord; [Think about that. Those who receive the priesthood and magnify it “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, glory added upon us for ever and ever and all the things that the Lord has, is promised unto us.]
“And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.
“Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant [receive this promise from the Lord] … which he cannot break … [But we can, and a good many of us do. And this is the consequence:]
“But whoso breaketh this covenant [to honor the priesthood and magnify his calling] after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness … in this world nor in the world to come. … [Now I don’t think he is talking here necessarily about the unpardonable sin, but I am saying that those of us who receive this priesthood and understand what it is about and fail to magnify our callings will lose something we cannot recover hereafter.]
“And I now give unto you a commandment [says the Lord,] to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life.
“For you [who have received the priesthood] shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.” (D&C 84:33–44.)
This charge brought to my mind the Lord’s statement concerning “the Camp of Israel … near Council Bluffs, Iowa, January 14, 1847,” in the great revelation given to Brigham Young. (D&C 136: Headnote.)
“… ye are not yet pure [he said]; ye can not yet bear my glory; but ye shall behold it if ye are faithful in keeping all my words that I have given you, from the days of Adam to Abraham, from Abraham to Moses, from Moses to Jesus and his apostles, and from Jesus and his apostles to Joseph Smith [And we could now add, to President Kimball]. …” (D&C 136:37.)
As I ponder the terms of the “oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood,” which each one of us has entered into, I am awed by the superlative promised blessings. At the same time I am subdued as I consider the requirements upon which the receipt of those blessings is conditioned.
It seems to me that there are many “words of eternal life” that have proceeded “forth from the mouth of God” to which we must give more “diligent heed” if we are to receive the promised blessings. Among them is the commandment, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Ex. 20:8.)
In this, our day, the Lord has put great emphasis on observance of the Sabbath day. When the Saints first went to Independence, Missouri, he gave them a list of standards which must be observed by those who are to build up and live in that Zion. One of them upon which he put great emphasis was observance of the Sabbath day. He said:
“And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;
“For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;
“… remember that on this, the Lord’s day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord.
“And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full.” (D&C 59:9–10, 12–13.)
Because we live in a Sabbath-breaking society, we must—if we would magnify our callings in the priesthood—live in the world but not be of the world, for the Lord has said, “… the inhabitants of Zion shall … observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” (D&C 68:29.)
We need not shop on the Sabbath day. There will be no shopping in the city of Zion on the Sabbath.
We need not attend recreational events, nor hunt or fish on the Sabbath.
If we are really intent on magnifying our callings in the priesthood, we will on the Sabbath day live within the framework of the instructions given by the Lord in that section of the Doctrine and Covenants.
Now other “words of eternal life” that have proceeded “forth from the mouth of God” to which we must give more “diligent heed” if we would “have glory added upon [our] heads for ever and ever” are these:
“… remember, O man, for all thy doings thou shalt be brought into judgment.
“Wherefore, if ye have sought to do wickedly in the days of your probation, then ye are found unclean before the judgment-seat of God; and no unclean thing can dwell with God; wherefore, ye must be cast off forever.” (1 Ne. 10:20–21.) Those are the words of Nephi.
“… behold, I say unto you, the kingdom of God is not filthy, and there cannot any unclean thing enter into the kingdom of God. …” (1 Ne. 15:34.)
Six hundred years later the resurrected Jesus told his Nephite disciples that “no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.” (3 Ne. 27:19.)
At the very beginning of this last dispensation, Jesus said to the brethren in conference assembled, “… go ye out from among the wicked. Save yourselves. Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord. …” (D&C 38:42.)
Within the same year he repeated, “Go ye out from Babylon. Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.” (D&C 133:5.)
These words call to mind Paul’s declaration to the Corinthians: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Cor. 3:16–17.)
There are many filthy practices rife in our present society which we must constantly be on guard against if we would live clean enough to magnify our callings in the priesthood.
The Lord warned us of some of them in the Word of Wisdom:
“… inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold,” said he, “it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father. …
“… tobacco is not [good] for the body. …
“And again, hot drinks are not for the body. …” (D&C 89:5, 8, 9.)
The use of a habit-forming drug of any kind violates the spirit of the Word of Wisdom and defiles both body and spirit.
Priesthood bearers intent on magnifying their callings will shun as the plague the filth in our permissive society wherever it is—in literature, on the stage or screen, in recreational centers, or elsewhere. God will not countenance an unclean priesthood.
One of the most corrupting and debasing vices rampant in our society today is unchastity. Let us be ever mindful that from Sinai the Lord thundered, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” (Ex. 20:14.)
The penalty for so doing under the Mosaic law was death. Notwithstanding the fact that in this generation’s corrupt permissiveness its violation is tolerated with impunity, under God’s divine law it is as it has always been, a soul-destroying sin. Its self-executing penalty is spiritual death. No unforgiven adulterer is magnifying his calling in the priesthood; and, as President Clark used to say, the Lord has made no “fine distinctions … between fornication and adultery” (Conference Report, Oct. 1949, p. 194). Nor, may I add, between adultery and sex perversion.
Jesus set the standard for us to follow when he said:
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
And then to emphasize the enormity of this sin, he continued, “… if thy right eye offend thee [or “cause thee to offend” says the marginal reading], pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” (Matt. 5:27–29.)
Certainly we priesthood bearers who would so magnify our callings in the priesthood as to obtain eternal life and “have glory added upon [our] heads for ever and ever” will diligently strive to keep the Lord’s commandment, “… Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.” (D&C 133:5.)
May it be so, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.