Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen – Chapter 1
The title of this work Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen, is a quotation from the Doctrine and Covenants, a modern day scripture of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This statement appears several times in that volume and in each case where it is found, that group referred to as the many who are called, are those who hold the Priesthood in the Church. It is from this body of men that only a few will be chosen.
What does the scripture mean by this assertion? Is the Lord warning us that only a few who hold the priesthood here will be permitted to exercise this power in the hereafter? Is this what is meant by not being chosen? Are we also to conclude that only a few of these priesthood bearers will inherit the highest degree of glory which is reserved for those who exercise the Melchizedek Priesthood?
If these questions are answered in the affirmative, what causes this large body of men to forfeit that power which is more precious to them than life itself? Why aren’t more priesthood bearers aware that this, one of the greatest tragedies imaginable, is taking place? Is the answer to be found in those scriptural statements which tell us that the many who are not chosen, are walking in darkness at noon-day? (D&C 95:6) Are we failing to learn that lesson which governs the exercise of these powers in heaven? (D&C 121:34-36)
Are we aware that almost all of us are inclined to exercise unrighteous dominion, and this is the reason only a few will be chosen? (D&C 121:39-40) If it be a fact that almost all of us are using unrighteous compulsion upon each other, what is the activity which condemns us? Do we realize that if a man continues to exercise control, dominion, or compulsion upon another in any degree of unrighteousness, that it will be Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man? (D&C 121:37)
The following discussion undertakes to answer the above questions, and to develop these themes:
- The ultimate in joy and freedom which men seek consists of the power of the Priesthood and opportunity to use that power to increase freedom.
- This power and opportunity will be denied to us to the same extent that we fail to overcome the almost universal disposition to destroy freedom by exercising unrighteous dominion.
It is also the purpose of this discussion to analyze freedom by breaking it down into its component parts and then indicating what men must do and what they must not do through the agency of government, to preserve these elements of freedom.
The one great problem of intelligent man which encompasses all others is to discover and obey those laws which will make him free because joy, the object of existence, can be measured by the amount of freedom man has. Men establish governments for the purpose of securing freedom, but in doing so they create the greatest threat to freedom which exists—the government under which they live. This same agency which is so necessary to secure freedom may also become its greatest enemy. Thus it becomes imperative that governments be kept within their proper bounds if freedom is to be maintained.
Men can exercise freedom only if they possess the following:
(1) life, (2) liberty (the absence of restraint), (3) property, and (4) knowledge.
When men become wicked, they act to destroy these necessary elements rather than preserve them, and freedom becomes impossible to maintain no matter what the form of government. There is an inexorable law of nature in operation which decrees that no man can act with the purpose of destroying another’s freedom without losing his own. The operation of this divine law of retribution is easily observed in a society of self-governing people.
Selfish, needful man is restrained from forcibly taking the life, liberty or property of his neighbor by these considerations:
(1) conscience, (2) fear of retaliation (3) fear of condemnation of others.
When men act through government, they do so without fear of retaliation or condemnation, and conscience alone remains to curb the propensity to abuse power.
Therefore, when a nation of people who have had the power of government placed in their hands become evil and without conscience, they will use that power to plunder and enslave one another until freedom is destroyed. It is a truism taught by the sages and prophets and proved repeatedly in the history of nations that wickedness and liberty cannot exist side by side.
Equally fatal to freedom is the ignorance or indifference of the voting majority. Unless they perceive with clarity that line which divides right from wrong in government action, and resist with firmness any attempt to cross it, the natural tendency of men to abuse power will cause those in office to enlarge their functions until liberty is crushed under the weight of bureaucratic despotism.
Therefore a nation must not only remain moral to remain free, but it must also be alert and informed. Furthermore the people must have a standard by which to distinguish with precision those functions which preserve freedom from those which destroy it. The standard which is used must be widely known, universally acceptable to moral people, and easily applied.
It is one of the main objects of this work to point out that the only standard which fills these requirements is the Lord’s Golden Rule. He has decreed this to be the law and the prophets. (Matt. 7:12; 3 Ne. 14:12) The Golden Rule is the only moral standard upon which agreement can be reached. Conscience is the one test everyone can and should use to determine the propriety of every use of force through government. (D&C 134:2-5, Alma 30:7-11)
You may wish to know why I make these remarks. I will tell you. Because God himself grants this right to every human being upon the earth irrespective of race or color; it is part of the divine economy not to force any man to heaven, not to coerce the mind but to leave it free to act for itself.
He lays before His creature man the everlasting Gospel, the principles of life and salvation, and then leaves him to choose for himself or to reject for himself, with the definite understanding that he becomes responsible to Him for the results of his acts. (Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 23, p. 77)
In things that pertain to celestial glory there can be no forced operations. We must do according as the spirit of the Lord operates upon our understandings and feelings. We cannot be crowded into matters, however great might be the blessing attending such procedure. We cannot be forced into living a celestial law; we must do this ourselves, of our own free will. And whatever we do in regard to the principle of the United Order, we must do it because we desire to do it….
The United Order is not French Communism. (Lorenzo Snow, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 19, p.346, 349-350)
JOSEPH F. SMITH
…We must choose righteous men, good men to fill these positions. Hence if you will only get good men to fill these offices no one should care who they are, so that you have agreed upon them, and were one. We want you to be one both in temporal, political and religious things, in fact, in everything you put your hands to in righteousness. We want you to be one, one as God and Christ are one, seeing eye to eye. Do not try to crush anybody, or build yourselves up at the expense of you neighbor. Do not do it; it is a custom of the world, and it is a wrong principle. (Joseph F. Smith, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 25, p. 251)
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Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen Chapters: