Everything that is unholy will perish

Can error live? No, it is the very plant of destruction, it destroys itself; it withers, it fades, it falls and decays and returns to its native element. Every untruth, all error, everything that is unholy, unlike God, will, in its time, perish.

Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 14:93.

The Devil delights in the work of destruction—to burn and lay waste and destroy the whole earth. He delights to convulse and throw into confusion the affairs of men, politically, religiously and morally, introducing war with its long train of dreadful consequences. It is evil which causeth all these miseries and all deformity to come upon the inhabitants of the earth. But that which is of God is pure, lovely, holy and full of all excellency and truth, no matter where it is found, in hell, in heaven, upon the earth, or in the planets.

Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 11:240.

Every providence and dispensation of God to his earthly children tends directly to life and salvation, while the influences and powers exerted by the enemy upon mankind and every suggestion of our corrupt natures tends to death.

Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 10:221.

Righteous in the dark

We never know who might be watching us, or needing us at a time when they may feel left alone, in a test of their faithfulness and obedience.

Once when President Brigham Young was asked why we are sometimes left alone and often sad, his response was that man has to learn to “act as an independent being…to see what he will do…and try his independency—to be righteous in the dark.” That becomes easier to do when we see the “gospel glow…radiating from . . . illuminated individuals (Neal A. Maxwell)”.

James E. Faust, Ensign, November 2005, p. 21. Brigham Young’s quote comes from his Office Journal, Jan. 28, 1857.

Understanding the whole requires knowing opposites

Brigham Young said it so succinctly: “What can you know, except by its opposite?” He said it in context of a discourse on death and resurrection, a topic that hit home yesterday as I attended and spoke briefly at the funeral of Joycelyn Wimmer and learned of the death of Keith Black, my friend and neighbor whom I home teach with my son. Here is the full paragraph from which Brigham Young’s quote is drawn:

What can you know, except by its opposite? Who could number the days, if there were no nights to divide the day from the night? Angels could not enjoy the blessings of light eternal, were there no darkness. All that are exalted and all that will be exalted will be exalted upon this principle. If I do not taste the pangs of death in my mortal body, I never shall know the enjoyment of eternal life. If I do not know pain, I cannot enjoy ease. If I am not acquainted with the dark, the gloomy, the sorrowful, I cannot enjoy the light, the joyous, the felicitous that are ordained for man. No person, either in heaven or upon earth, can enjoy and understand these things upon any other principle. (Journal of Discourses, 8:28)

My uncle’s brother, Leland Wimmer, spoke at Joyceln’s funeral. He shared a quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley that I had not heard before:

What a wonderful thing is death, really, when all is said and done. It is the great reliever. It is a majestic, quiet passing on from this life to another life, a better life. I’m satisfied of that. We go to a place where we will not suffer as we have suffered here, but where we will continue to grow, accumulating knowledge and developing and being useful under the plan of the Almighty made possible through the Atonement of the Son of God (funeral services for Robert G. Wade, Salt Lake City, Utah, 3 Jan. 1996; see Ensign, October 1996, p. 73).

Brother Wimmer also shared a Thorton Wilder quote that I liked: “There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning” (from Wilder’s 1928 Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Bridge of San Luis Rey, p. 107).

On the idea of opposites being important, Wilder said it this way: “When God loves a creature he wants the creature to know the highest happiness and the deepest misery. He wants him to know all that being alive can bring. That is his best gift. There is no happiness save in understanding the whole.”

The scriptures teach that God’s “best gift” is eternal life, and Brigham Young was right: no person can enjoy and understand eternal life unless they taste opposition. As in all things, Christ is our example. He “ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth.” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:6)