The Sin of CriticizingBy Elder Joseph Fielding Smith then, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles General Conference – October, 1910
I rejoice with you, my brethren and sisters, in the counsel and instruction that have been given unto us at the various sessions, so far, of our semi-annual conference.
I desire to refer to one expression that was briefly made by one of our speakers yesterday, and mentioned again this morning, if I may be led and directed by the Spirit of the Lord; and that is this: That it is a serious thing for any member of this Church to raise his voice against the priesthood, or to hold the priesthood in disrespect; for the Lord will not hold such guiltless: so He has promised, and He will fulfill. I am satisfied, in my own mind, that there was not one person in this building at the opening session of our conference, who was not convicted in his heart in listening to the testimonies and the instruction given by our brethren of the Presidency that they were honorable, honest, and upright men; that they spoke the truth. I am satisfied that to the Latter-day Saints the conviction came that they spoke under the inspiration of the Spirit of the Lord: that Spirit which they are entitled to possess, and which, to my own knowledge and satisfaction, they do possess. It seems to be the heritage of the ungodly, of the bigoted, and of those who love iniquity, to sit in judgment and to place themselves as dictators, saying what shall he done and what shall be said by the authorities of the Church. They accuse the brethren of all manner of iniquity, dissimulation, falsehood, and try to cause a division between them and the people over whom they preside. They take unto themselves the prerogative of saying what shall and what shall not be the doctrine of the Church, what shall and what shall not be the government of the Church, when it concerns them not at all. But it is not of this class particularly that I desire to refer, but to those members of the Church who have entered into the waters of baptism and have made covenants before the Lord, that they will observe His laws and respect His priesthood, who have been persuaded, or who are in danger of being persuaded, by such characters. Occasionally, when a man has himself committed sin and has lost the spirit of the gospel, he will raise his voice against the actions of the authorities who preside over the Church; he will call them in question, sit in judgment upon them and condemn them. I wish to raise a warning voice to all such who hold membership in the Church, and say unto them, that they had better repent and turn unto the Lord, lest His judgments come upon them, lest they lose the faith and be turned from the truth.
I desire to read a few words from some of our modern scriptures, that were also briefly referred to this morning:
Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them:
But those who cry transgression, do it because they are the servants of sin, and are the children of disobedience themselves;
And those who swear falsely against my servants, that they might bring them into bondage, and death:
Wo unto them: because they have offended my little ones, they shall be severed from the ordinances of mine house;
Their basket shall not be full, their houses and their barns shall perish, and they themselves shall be despised by those that flattered them;
They shall not have right to the priesthood, nor their posterity after them, from generation to generation;
It had been better for them that a millstone had been hanged about their necks, and they drowned in the depth of the sea.
Wo unto all those that discomfort my people, and drive, and murder, and testify against them, saith the Lord of Hosts; a generation of vipers shall not escape the damnation of hell.
Behold, mine eyes see and know all their works, and I have in reserve a swift judgment in the season thereof, for them all;
For there is a time appointed for every man, according as his works shall be.
God shall give unto you (the saints) knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, that has not been revealed since the world was until now;
Which our forefathers have waited with anxious expectation to be revealed in the last times, which their minds were pointed to, by the angels, as held in reserve of their glory:
A time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God, or many Gods, they shall be manifest;
All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ;
And also if there be bounds set to the heavens, or to the seas, or to the dry land, or to the sun, moon, or stars;
All the times of their revolutions; all the appointed days, months, and years, and all the days of their days, months, and years, and all their glories, laws, and set times, shall be revealed, in the days of the dispensation of the fullness of times.
According to that which was ordained in the midst of the Council of the Eternal God of all other Gods, before this world was, that should be reserved unto the finishing and the end thereof, when every man shall enter into his eternal presence, and into his immortal rest.
How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven, upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.
Again I repeat that it is a serious thing for a man holding a membership in this Church to say in his heart, or openly, that these men holding the keys of the kingdom have sinned, when they have not sinned, and cause dissension, if it is in his power to do so among his brethren. The judgments of the Lord will overtake him. He will be brought in question before the Lord, and shall be cast out and find his place among the unbelievers; and those who flattered him and encouraged him to raise up his heel against his brethren will turn from him and leave him to his shame. I wish to testify that God has called these men, that He has appointed them, that He has given unto them the revelations of His mind and will; that they have the inspiration of His Spirit; that they are teaching and leading this people in truth. That is the conviction of every Latter-day Saint who has the gospel at heart. What time, since the organization of the Church has any of the brethren, exercising the Spirit of the Lord, ever taught this people that which was false? When have they ever said unto you that you should do that which was not right; that which would not make you better citizens and better members of the kingdom of God? You cannot, nor can any man, in righteousness, point to the time when any of them have wilfully stated anything that was contrary to the principles of righteousness, or that did not tend to make the people better in every way, that did not build them up in their salvation, temporally as well as spiritually.
Now, if time would permit, I would like to say a few words in relation, also, to the part of this scripture I have read, regarding the pouring out of revelation. I shall only briefly refer to it. I say to you that the Lord blesses this people through the inspiration that comes to His servants, as they direct, and teach, and expound the scriptures. The statement is often made by the enemies of the people, and we hear it upon the streets of this city, from time to time, that there is no revelation in the Church. I say to you that there is revelation in the Church. The Lord not only blesses the men who stand at the head and hold the keys of the kingdom, but He also blesses every faithful individual with the spirit of inspiration. He gives His people revelation for their own guidance, wherein they keep His commandments and serve Him. That is a blessing promised, and within their power to receive. We are blest with revelation: the Church is built upon that foundation. All the revelations given do not have to be written. The inspiration may come to the brethren, stating what shall be done, or what shall not be done, as the Lord directs them. It does not have to be printed in a book. We have revelations that have been given, that have been written; some of them have been published; some of them have not. Don’t be deceived by those falsifiers, those men whose hearts are filled with evil, and who say that the authorities have sinned when they have not sinned, who are themselves in the bondage of iniquity and are trying to destroy this work. So far as those men are concerned, who try to tear down and destroy, they do not preach that which they themselves believe. They do not teach the people that which is true or try to show them a better way, instead, they heap abuse upon the heads of the authorities of the Latter-day Saints. Whenever you find a man who spends his time abusing his neighbors, trying to tear down other people, you put it down that that man is not possessed of the Spirit of the Lord. But when a man tries to build up, when he tries to show you a better way, even though he be deceived, you may know that he is honest; but never the man who tries to tear you to pieces, who tries to destroy, without offering you something better in return. Never is such a man honest.
Thank the Lord for the gospel; thank the Lord for the priesthood, and for the testimony which we enjoy that this is the work of God. May this be the blessing of each one of us, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.