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judgment of souls, every condition shall be weighed in the accurate balances of Justice and Mercy.
But what of the hereafter-shall we not be made equal there? Not in the sense that our individuality shall be subverted or radically changed. We shall find beyond more gradations in society than we have ever known on earth. But the basis of classification will be essentially different. Here we are rated according to what we have of wealth, learning, political or other influence due to circumstance; there we shall find our place according to what we really
Ponder the significance of our Lord's assurance of the "many mansions" in the Father's kingdom (John 14:1-3) and consider Paul's summary of varied glories. (1 Cor. 15:40-41.)
Through later Scripture we are told of distinct kingdoms or worlds of graded order, comparable to the sun, moon, and stars respectively. There are the Celestial, the Terrestrial, and the Telestial kingdoms, in which the souls of men shall abide and serve as their attainments in righteousness or their disqualification through sin shall determine. Concerning the inhabitants of the Telestial world, the lowest of the specified kingdoms of glory, we read: "For they shall be judged according to their works, and every man shall receive according to his own works, his own dominion, in the mansions which are prepared." (Doctrine & Covenants 76:111.)
ETHICS AND RELIGION
A Distinction With a Difference
DOUBTEDLY there are many people who, while of earnest intent and practise, of worthy, honorable, and moral life, neither profess religion nor confess belief in it. At least, so they would say if questioned. Closer analysis would probably show that by religion these good people had understood Church membership or actual affiliation with some religious organization. And their conception is not irrational nor fundamentally wrong; though such membership or affiliation is no assurance of personal religion.
The foundation of all religion is a real belief, or, more accurately, faith, in the existence of a Supreme Being upon whose beneficence man is dependent and to whom he is accountable for his conduct. With this belief, man cannot fail to recognize the superlative duty of learning God's will and of living according to His revealed word and law.
Mankind being by nature gregarious, and indeed unsuited to solitary existence, will congregate according to community interests, beliefs and aspirations. In the tribal organizations of peoples whom we call semi-civilized, there is generally a distinctive religion for each tribe; even though it be but a phase of paganism; and their unenlightened souls are held together by their generic conception of worship. Among larger and more advanced nations differences in religious conceptions are manifest, and people associate in rival sects and churches. Voluntary membership in any such body is at least a profession of belief in its distinguishing tenets.
But beside these there are many who aver that ethics is
sufficient, and that a moral life will insure salvation in the world to come. Granted that religious profession without morality is but mockery and hypocrisy. Nevertheless, between the merely ethical and the really religious life, there is vital distinction.
To assume that an ethical or even a strictly moral course of conduct is all-sufficient for the soul's salvation would be to repudiate Scripture, deny the essential efficacy of the Atonement, dethrone the Christ, and eliminate God from earthly affairs. Such an assumption proclaims the stupendous error that mortal man is competent to save himself— on his own terms, and according to a standard established by human agency.
Religion is more than a code of morals. Man can no more be saved by ethics than can he live by bread alone. The spiritual nutriment, without which no soul can develop to the exalted status of eternal life, consists of "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
The very purpose for which this earth was created as an abiding place for the spirit-children of God during their brief period of embodiment in flesh was to test and "prove them herewith to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them." (Pearl of Great Price p. 66.)
It is conceivable that ethics may measurably satisfy the conscience of one who really believes that mortal life is the sum total of existence; though I seriously doubt that such a being exists. If he lives, he is dangerously liable to stifle conscience, and to follow the easier though pernicious prompting to eat, drink and be merry whilst he may, taking no thought for the morrow of eternity.
But, it is fair to ask, shall not morality count in the judgment to come? Beyond question, Yes. God's word so
declares. The clean minded who, however, fail to comply with the specified laws and ordinances of the Gospel of Christ, are not to be cast into the society of the spiritually filthy; neither are they to be exalted with the valiant who have righteously obeyed the requirements of the Gospel.
There is a hell to which shall go the "liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie." Furthermore, there is a kingdom prepared to receive the "honorable men of the earth who were blinded by the craftiness of men"-the unfortunate and deluded who have followed after human theories and precepts to the ignoring of God and His word, the misled devotees of "science falsely so called."
And above all else is the state of eternal life and exaltation provided for those who, while in the flesh, lived the religion of Christ, "who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial"; for "these are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood." (Doctrine & Covenants 76.)
The Lord's affirmation is definite: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved"; for if his belief be vital he will make the morality that Christ taught the foundation of his religion. "But he that believeth not shall be damned," whatever his standard of ethics may be. (See Mark 16:16.)
RELIGION ACTIVE AND PASSIVE
Effort Essential to Salvation
OELIGION to be worth while must be a vital element of life and work. It is of both temporal and spiritual significance, value and effect. It has to do with individual morality, with mutual dealings and associations of men even in ordinary, every-day affairs, with the great problems involved in family unity and efficiency and with the little things that make or mar the home, with work and play, with the duties of citizenship, statesmanship and public service generally.
All these relationships are human and earthly, and the honorable discharge of duties arising therefrom approaches ethical perfection. But man's standard of ethics is of necessity unstable, variable and, withal, unsatisfying to the soul having a healthful hunger for spiritual nourishment.
Who of us has not felt at times the spontaneous yearnings and aspirations incident to our deep inborn conviction of life beyond death? We may weaken these emotions by persistently ignoring them; we may effectively stifle them by rude force; we may render them dormant by the poisonous anodyne of false philosophy and the boastful pride of man's mis-called wisdom; but kill them we can not, for they were divinely implanted and are deathless.
And as there is a hereafter, in which every soul of us shall live in continuation of the eternal existence of which earthlife is but a span, so surely shall our status there be determined by the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or evil.