The Constitution

(M B, May 21, 2006.)


My name is MSB, and I’m from the S ward. I have been asked by Brother Bro to speak to you today. My talk is on the United States Constitution. I spend what time I can pouring over history, and over the words of the prophets past and present. I have a great love for these things. And so with this preparation, I hope I can give you something of worth today.

A Little Political History—Light Gradually Dawns

In the ancient Asiatic civilizations of Egypt and the Tigris Euphrates valley, there was no pretense of the government “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” those governments, without apology, ruled with sheer military might.

In Greece however, a new concept was emerging, that government owed it’s power to the consent of the governed, and the first democracy was created. After many problems with this type of government they elected a man named Solon and gave him authority re-organize the affairs of their government. Solon then, through the reason and experience of his day, set out to create a system of fixed laws and admonished the people not to allow anyone to change them. Had he been successful, Greece would have been the first republic in history, yet, the Greeks were too volatile, and there was no framework established for the perpetuation of those laws.

Just across the Adriatic sea, Rome was just emerging from a monarchial rule. And after a series of affronts on their natural rights, the Roman people overthrew the offensive tyranny. Rome later sent a delegation to Greece in 454 B.C. to study the laws of Solon, and to determine how to form a free and lasting government, and one which would more equally represent the interests of all of their citizens.

In that same year, they created The Twelve Tables of Roman Law, which became the written constitution of the Roman republic. These laws were literally engraven on bronze tablets and displayed in the forum for all to see. Their republic stood as a republic for 460 years.

And Grows Brighter

And then the Roman people, at the height of their glory, sowed the seeds of their own destruction. In a time of crisis, the people elected a strong leader in whom they trusted, which lead them again down the road of tyranny and eventually to their demise.

Just before Rome was on it’s death-bed however, a Roman orator and statesman named Marcus Tullius Cicero began searching for a what he referred to as Natural Law. For those of you familiar with the Declaration of Independence you can see that the Founders referred to Cicero’s ideas. Cicero came to the conclusion that the purpose of government was to work in parallel with the laws of God—or Natural Law. He said that Natural Law cannot be altered or abandoned by legislators and eternally exists despite them. He said when people unite under this law, the become part of God’s commonwealth.

Cicero’s amazing discoveries and ideas never made it into the Roman republic. In his untiring work of trying to save the republic from the usurpations of tyrants, Cicero was murdered.

The Founders

This hard won knowledge came down to us. Our Founders worked on it and improved it, until the Founders created a system worthy enough to be commended in the scriptures when the Lord said:

“And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land [according to just and holy principles], by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose...” (Doctrine and Covenants, 101 December 16, 1833, Emphasis Added)

Not a New Creation

Professor John Figgis of Cambridge University observed:

“The sonorous phrases of the Declaration of Independence...are not an original discovery, they are the heirs of all the ages, the depository of the emotions and the thoughts of seventy generations of culture.” (John Figgis, professor of modern history at Cambridge University.)

It is my belief that the Lord watched over the Gentile nations, gave them wisdom, allowed them to fail—catastrophically in some cases—until after seventy generations of time, we are the beneficiaries of a marvelous document created by extraordinarily educated hard-working an selfless men we call the Founding Fathers.

The Lord himself could not have given a stronger approval of the labors and efforts these men made, than when he stated in 1833:

“I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land; And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.” (Scriptural Doctrine and Covenants, 98:5-7. August 6, 1833, Emphasis Added)

The Lord has given us this gift, which seventy generations of culture have sacrificed for, and sadly, most Americans do not understand it’s foundation principles (I was one of those not long ago). And as members of the Lord’s church, you know that we are under special obligation to know and understand this document and why the Lord declared that whatsoever is more or less than this is evil.

Our Rights Come From God

Today I’d like to point out three very important fundamentals of our Constitution which Joseph Smith called “a glorious standard…[and] a heavenly banner.” And the first is that our rights come from God. In the opening phrase of the Declaration of Independence, our Founding Fathers made the thunderous assertion that:

“…men…are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights [and] That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted...” (Declaration of Independence)

Our Founders believed our rights came from a supreme Creator, and that they are inalienable, and that governments are instituted among men for the purpose of securing those God given rights and nothing more. This is the very definition of Americanism. We did not receive the right to the freedom of speech, or of the press, or to keep and bear arms because the Constitution granted them to us—because it doesn’t. The purpose of the Constitution is to help protect the God-given rights that we had prior to forming a government in the first place.

The knowledge that God gave us our rights is a glorious truth, but the implications of supposing that government grants us our rights can have ominous consequences. Ezra Taft Benson stated, that if we accept that government grants men their rights, then we have to accept the corollary, that government can take them away.

We have to also realize, that this foundation that our nation was founded on cannot be taught in our government schools today. They have outlawed a belief in God, so the youngsters cannot start out with the very fundamental premise of our nation.

The Constitution Limits Government—Not the People

The second principle is that the Constitution limits government and when the government is limited, the people are free. As government power begins to grow, people’s freedom begins to recede. It is just like a balance scale, and it has ever been so.

The very first sentence in the Constitution, is probably the most important statement in the document to understand. In Article I, Section I, sentence I, it states:

“All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”

If all legislative power is vested in Congress, this means that the executive branch and the judicial branch have no power to create law, only Congress. Now that’s a discussion for another time. But the most important part of that statement to understand are the two words “herein granted.” Again, it says:

“All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States…”

So what about “herein granted”? “Herein granted” means that Congress was only granted power to legislate in specific, limited, enumerated areas. James Madison, in order to quell rumors that a new Federal tyranny was being set up, explained that:

“The powers delegated by the proposed constitution to the federal government are few and defined.” (James Madison Federalist Papers, No. 45.)

Brothers and sisters, if you understand that point, then you understand probably the most important part of our Constitution and the most important point to the states—who created the Federal Government. Anyone who doubts this need but look at Amendment Nine and Ten—which are very short—which state:

“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” (Amendment IX)

In other words, the Founders worried that if they even attempted to list their rights, that it would be an excuse for the Federal government to say, ok, you have these and that’s all you get. That’s why they included Amendment Nine. And Amendment Ten then says:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” "(Amendment X)

Two very short phrases, but two very important phrases.

As a side note, there are teachers in Utah, and other states, that are upset about the recently passed No Child Left Behind Act. In this act, schools can only use one book when teaching the Constitution. Conveniently, Amendments 9 and 10 are left out of this text altogether. One teacher in Utah told the state legislators that she prefers to teach the whole Constitution.

We Are a Republic Not a Democracy

The third point to understand is that America was formed as a republic.

A lady named Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia was waiting outside the hall where the Constitution had just been drafted. When Benjamin Franklin exited, she wasted no time to ask him “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.” That’s an interesting way that he stated that. And the question we have to ask ourselves is: have we kept our republic?

One of the easiest ways to understand what a republic is, is to first understand democracy.

Democracy is simply majority rule. If 51% of the people want something, then they get it. Most people will say “Yes, that’s what we want, majority rule.” But wait a minute. What if the majority decides they want your house? What if the majority decides they’d like to have your children? You’d say wait a minute, there’s something wrong! Yes, there is! And you might very strongly say you can’t do that, I have my rights, and they’re protected by the Constitution of the United States. And that brothers and sisters is the very definition of a republic.

Now you may be thinking that “Congress passes laws by majority vote”—yes, and that’s proper; but they do not have power pass laws on anything they want—only with the powers that are “herein granted.”

Our Founding Fathers—who God raised up—were very familiar with the democracies in the ancient Greek city-states, and they observed that Greece had some of the wildest excesses of government on record. James Madison, known as the father of our Constitution, had these strong words to say about democracy:

“…democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they are violent in their deaths.” (James Madison The Federalist Papers, No. 10.)

I don’t think you could have a stronger condemnation of democracy. Samuel Adams also stated:

“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy that did not commit suicide.”

Why don’t we know this today? We’re not just playing around with words. If we are not careful with the meaning of words such as republic and democracy, those words will loose all valuable meaning.

I have here a book (hold up), that in General Conference, President Benson, recommended that the saints read. The book is called The Elders of Israel and the Constitution. In this book, the author gives one of the clearest explanations of the nature of democracy that I have ever come across. He stated:

“The political system of democracy, in the sense of unrestricted control by the will of the majority, militates against the fundamental requirement of a religious citizenry. This is because the underlying philosophy of democracy has deeply anti-religious overtones, [because] it implies that right or wrong can be determined by the will of the majority. On the other hand [he continues], the American constitutional system is based on recognition of God as the source of correct eternal principles of government, and as the source of unalienable rights.” (Jerome Horowitz The Elders of Israel and the Constitution, p. 47. 1970, Emphasis Added)

That is what God has given us—a republic based on eternal unchanging truths.


Now I’d like to speak, for a moment, about how we’ve kept our republic. When we typically speak of apostasy, we refer to people moving away from or rejecting the Gospel. But would the Lord use a word as strong as apostasy to describe going astray from a form of government?

In 1877 President Wilford Woodruff had been doing work in the St. George Temple when he saw George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and a host of other of our Founding Fathers. He said:

“Before I left St. George the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, “You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God.” (Wilford Woodruff JD, 19:229. September 16, 1877, Emphasis Added)

The Lord would use the word apostasy, because our form of government is part of the Gospel. President George Albert Smith stated:

the Constitution of the United States of America is just as much from my Heavenly Father as the Ten Commandments. When that is my feeling, I am not going to go very far away from the Constitution, and I am going to try to keep it where the Lord started it… (Conference Report. April 1948)

Those great men for whom President Woodruff did proxy work were true and faithful to their callings—but we have veered far off course. Isaiah predicted our day when men would not regard the work of the Lord, nor put any meaningful effort into understanding it. The Lord as a consequence stated:

“Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge.” (Isaiah 5:13)

As a result of this lack of knowledge we have allowed our government to grow wildly out of control, and most of us don’t realize the full implications of what we have allowed to happen. Elder H. Verlan Anderson of the seventy stated:

“As originally interpreted, the United States Constitution denied government the right to regulate and control the citizen in the use of his property. Over the years the commerce clause and the general welfare clause have been so interpreted as to permit both the state and Federal governments to regiment labor, agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, communication, finance and all other forms of economic activity. Today, if there is any limit on the power of government to regulate, no one knows what that limit is.” (H. Verlan Andersen)


It is hard to study the Constitution and after coming to a dawning realization of how far we’ve apostatized from it, and not suspect deliberate destruction. (The inferior Roman republic stood for 460 years, we are just over 200) Indeed, the when one looks back across the line of prophets since Joseph, we are plainly told this is so. In 1949 President J. Reuben Clark warned us saying:

“Do not think that all these usurpations, intimidations, and impositions are being done to us through inadvertency or mistake, the whole course is deliberately planned and carried out; its purpose is to destroy the Constitution and our Constitutional government.” (J. Reuben Clark America Faces Freedom-Slavery Issue, Church News. September 25, 1949)

Conclusion and Recommendation

So where do we go from here? Well, we well know that there is no reward for those who agree, but don’t make the effort to act. If we are going to counter this deliberate destruction, then begin by learning what our society has failed to teach. Open your home, invite others to learn with you the principles that made our nation great.

Regarding our political duty, Joseph Smith said:

“There is one thing more I wish to speak about, and that is political economy. It is our duty to concentrate all our influence to make popular that which is sound and good, and unpopular that which is unsound.” (Joseph Smith History of the Church, Vol. 5, p. 286. , Emphasis Added)

Brother’s and Sisters, God gave our Constitutional form of government to prepare the way—in this holy land of America—for His Church, and for the New Jerusalem. Let us not let that holy law be altered by accident, by ignorance, or by intentional usurpation; but let us hold it up to the nations of the earth as God’s standard of government.

Lastly, in the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, Joseph prayed:

“...may those principles, which were so honorably and nobly defended, namely, the Constitution of our land, by our fathers, be established forever.” (Prayer offered at the dedication of the Kirtland temple. Doctrine and Covenants, 109:54. , Emphasis Added)

And that is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.