Lorenzo’s exhortation

October 18, 2007 | 23 comments
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“A new century dawns upon the world today. The hundred years just completed were the most momentous in the history of man upon this planet. It would be impossible in a hundred days to make even a brief summary of the notable events, the marvelous developments, the grand achievements, and the beneficial inventions and discoveries, which mark the progress of the ten decades now left behind in the ceaseless march of humanity. The very mention of the nineteenth century suggests advancement, improvement, liberty, and light. Happy are we to have lived amidst its wonders and shared in the riches of its treasures of intelligence!

The lessons of the past century should have prepared us for the duties and glories of the opening era. It ought to be the age of peace, of greater progress of the universal adoption of the golden rule. The barbarism of the past should be buried. War with its horrors should be but a memory. The aim of nations should be fraternity and mutual greatness. The welfare of humanity should be studied instead of the enrichment of a race or the extension of an empire.

Awake, ye monarchs of the earth and rulers among nations, and gaze upon the scene wherein the early rays of the rising Millennial day gild the morn of the twentieth century! The power is in your hands to pave the way for the coming King of Kings, whose dominion will be over all the earth. Disband your armies; take the yoke from the necks of the people; arbitrate your disputes; meet in royal congress, and plan for union instead of conquest, for the banishment of poverty, for the uplifting of the masses, and for the health, wealth, enlightenment, and happiness of all tribes and peoples and nations. Then shall the twentieth century be to you the glory of your lives and the lustre of your crowns, and posterity shall sing your praises, while the Eternal One shall place you on high among the mighty.

Ye toiling millions who, in the sweat of your faces earn your daily bread, look up and greet the power from above which shall lift you form bondage! The day of your redemption draweth nigh. Cease to waste your wages in that which helps to keep you in want. Regard not wealth as your enemy and employers as your oppressors. Seek for the union of capital and labor. Be provident when in prosperity. Do not become a prey to designing men who seek to stir up strife for their own selfish ends. Strive for your rights by lawful means, and desist from violence and destruction. Anarchism and lawlessness are your deadly foes. Dissipation and vice are chains that bind you to slavery. Freedom is coming for you, its light approaches as the century dawns.

Men and women of wealth, use your riches to give employment to the laborer! Take the idle from the crowded centres of population and place them on the untilled areas that await the hand of industry. Unlock your vaults, unloose your purses, and embark in enterprises that will give work to the unemployed, and relieve the wretchedness that leads to the vice and crime which curse your great cities, and that poison the moral atmosphere around you. Make others happy, and you will be happy yourselves.

As a servant of God I bear witness to the revelation of His will in the nineteenth century. It came by His own voice from the heavens, by the personal manifestation of His Son and by the ministration of holy angels. He commands all people everywhere to repent, to turn from their evil ways and unrighteous desires, to be baptized for the remission of their sins, that they may receive the Holy Ghost and come into communion with Him. He has commenced the work of redemption spoken of by all the holy prophets, sages, and seers of all the ages and all the races of mankind. He will assuredly accomplish His work, and the twentieth century will mark its advancement towards the great consummation. Every unfoldment of the nineteenth century in science, in art, in mechanism, in music, in literature, in poetic fancy, in philosophical thought, was promised by His Spirit which before long will be poured out upon all flesh that will receive it. He is the Father of us all and He desires to save and exalt us all.

In the eighty-seventh year of my age on earth, I feel full of earnest desire for the benefit of humanity. I wish all a happy new year. I hope and look for grand events to occur in the twentieth century. At its auspicious dawn I lift my hands and invoke the blessing of heaven upon the inhabitants of the earth.

May the sunshine from above smile upon you. May the treasures of the ground and the fruits of the soil be brought forth freely for you good. May the light of truth chase darkness from your souls. May righteousness increase and iniquity diminish as the years of the century roll on. May justice triumph and corruption be stamped out. And may virtue and chastity and honor prevail, until evil shall be overcome and the earth shall be cleansed from wickedness!

Let these sentiments, as the voice of the “Mormons” in the mountains of Utah, go forth to the whole world, and let all people know that our wish and our mission are for the blessing and salvation of the entire human race. May the twentieth century prove the happiest as it will be the grandest of all the ages of time, and may God be glorified in the victory that is coming over sin and sorrow and misery and death. Peace be unto you all.”

~ Lorenzo Snow, January 1, 1901.

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23 Responses to Lorenzo’s exhortation

  1. Jonathan Green on October 18, 2007 at 6:42 am

    Further confirming my suspicion that the great majority of the 20th century was a horrible mistake that wiser people would have averted before it happened.

  2. Russell Arben Fox on October 18, 2007 at 7:37 am

    I love our moralistic, progressive, utopian socialist past. Hardly anyone today can even conceive of advocating “virtue and chastity and honor” and “giv[ing] work to the unemployed” and “disband[ing] armies” and “plan[ing] for union instead of conquest” and “the banishment of poverty” and “the union of capital and labor” and “[being] baptized for the remission of sins” all in the same breath. Thanks for sharing this, Kaimi; President Snow said many wise and beautiful things, but this is one of his best.

  3. Kyle R. on October 18, 2007 at 8:36 am

    #1 The question is: how do we avoid people having to say exactly the same thing on October 18, 2107?

  4. Kyle R. on October 18, 2007 at 8:37 am

    …with regard to the 21st century that is.

  5. Randy B. on October 18, 2007 at 8:43 am

    Wow, that’s good stuff. How did you come across this, Kaimi?

  6. austin smith on October 18, 2007 at 10:15 am

    That settles it: if a prophet says 1901 is the beginning of the new century then 2001 must have been the beginning of the new millenium, not 2000. Argument solved. Where was this thread 7 years ago?

  7. Kevinf on October 18, 2007 at 10:40 am

    I love First Presidency statements like this. I recall a similar, but in not such florid prose, Easter First Presidency statement from President Kimball’s time. If I can find it, I’ll post an excerpt or two. As always, we are encouraged to seek for the best. We often, as the 20th century showed, and the first seven years of this century, have to settle for much less.

  8. Trevor on October 18, 2007 at 11:19 am

    The societies of the 20th century that tried to not settle for less ended up a lot worse off.

  9. Frank McIntyre on October 18, 2007 at 11:33 am

    RAF,

    “Regard not wealth as your enemy and employers as your oppressors.”

    Russell, this isn’t Socialism; this is Zionism. Socialism would not tell labor to get along with capital and stop being greedy. Did you catch the part about one’s chains being one’s own over-consumption? Those are very different than the chains Karl Marx talked about in the Manifesto.

    Socialism would not tell rich people to use their money to employ the poor. Socialism would take the money and use it to employ the poor.

    If you advocated the above as a new Socialist manifesto, the socialists would scream bloody murder at you trying to co-opt the world worker revolt. Of course, since they scream bloody murder all the time, I guess that might not be the best evidence…

  10. Frank McIntyre on October 18, 2007 at 11:35 am

    So Kaimi, did you come across this while searching for an answer to my query early in the week? Because it’s in the ballpark, theme-wise.

    I was a little disappointed that nobody offered up anything decent from Church history on that thread, but maybe I just needed to leave it open longer.

  11. Kaimi Wenger on October 18, 2007 at 11:53 am

    Frank,

    Actually, I was looking over a few old conference reports, on a completely unrelated topic. I got distracted and just started reading a few of the talks.

    Elder Henry D. Moyle (then in the First Presidency) quoted President Snow’s speech extensively in his Friday afternoon talk during the 1960 conference. ( http://search.ldslibrary.com/article/view/124865 ).

    As is often the case, the long original text was somewhat shortened when it was quoted in (1960) conference. Google found the rest of the text for me.

  12. Russell Arben Fox on October 18, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Right, I keep forgetting that there isn’t actually, as history would seem to indicate, a huge variety of socialist and progressive and egalitarian policies and beliefs (some of which are utopian, some of which are practical, some of which are religious, some of which are secular, some of which are national, some of which advocate world government, some of which are wholly collectivist, some of which are based on a stewardship principle, etc., etc.), but rather only a single capital-letter-S universally mandated destructive Socialist agenda. Please keep reminding me of this, Frank; I obviously get confused. (As did President Snow, but most likely he just got kind of carried away.)

  13. Kaimi Wenger on October 18, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    Don’t be silly, Russell. All socialism is harsh violent Leninism. (Except when it’s harsh violent Maoism.)

    If socialism were at all compatible with religious belief, we’d probably see Christian Socialist parties emerge in a number of countries worldwide.

  14. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    Men and women of wealth, use your riches to give employment to the laborer! Take the idle from the crowded centres of population and place them on the untilled areas that await the hand of industry. Unlock your vaults, unloose your purses, and embark in enterprises that will give work to the unemployed, and relieve the wretchedness that leads to the vice and crime which curse your great cities, and that poison the moral atmosphere around you. Make others happy, and you will be happy yourselves.

    A stirring call to voluntary workfare. If that’s socialism, I’m for it. But in my mind socialism is more like what WW is against in this passage–the envy, class strife, and political manipulation that are characteristic of a lot more than just Leninism and Maoism.

  15. ed johnson on October 18, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    use your riches to give employment to the laborer!

    That’s an interesting idea. Of course, most forms of consumption or investment probably lead to employment for laborers. So what does this mean, in practical terms?

  16. Frank McIntyre on October 18, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    ed, good question. Could you generate a distribution of outcomes for one’s money with different benefits for the poor? For instance, buying goods produced by low wage workers bids up their wage, more so than buying goods made by high skill workers.

    In which case, Lorenzo was advocating that we shop at Walmart and not high end grocery stores? Hard words from a hard man.

    Russell, your defense then, is that Snow is here advocating socialism because pretty much everything falls under some definition of socialist? What definition of socialism were you thinking of and is it one that I would be uncomfortable endorsing? Because I think I am with Adam on this one.

  17. Frank McIntyre on October 18, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Also, RAF, I went back and read your other quote (also from Snow), and it says that inequality is displeasing to the Lord. Alma says the same thing in Alma 4. He then resigns his government post and goes out to preach. He seems to think preaching is the solution, not government. Did President Snow feel the same way. I would guess so. That’s Zionism, not socialism.

    There was a talk from Elder Romney that you might want to peruse, before you lump all calls for Zion in with socialism. I mean, I bet you’ve seen it, but I wonder if you’ve taken it to heart…

    http://members.tripod.com/~runwin/socialism.html

  18. Joe on October 18, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    I don’t want to threadjack, but I’m not sure if this is supposed to be about the turn of the century or socialism, so I apologize if it’s the latter…

    Anyway, I remember hearing a quote from Snow (I think) about how mankind would commit more sin in a day than was committed in the entire prior century. Kaimi, was that in this talk? (I’ve never been able to find it and it seems like it would fit the theme).

  19. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2007 at 7:35 pm

    Lets not hunt the snark, Frank M. Bigger game’s afoot.

  20. Tatiana on October 18, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    This is great! Why have we wasted the last 100 years? Just think where we could be today if we’d been busy working on President Snow’s agenda the whole time. This next century I’m going to do better, I promise.

  21. Adam Greenwood on October 18, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    Thanks, Tatiana. We’re grateful.

  22. Andrew on October 19, 2007 at 1:38 am

    Thank you for posting this, Kaimi.

    All I can say is “Amen and Amen.”

    Almost brought tears to my eyes, not just because it is full of so many desperately-needed truths, but because I realize how far we are from President Snow’s vision. And it feels like the world is moving farther in the wrong direction with each passing year.

  23. Adam Greenwood on October 19, 2007 at 8:17 am

    Same here, Andrew.

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