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Salvation is an individual operation


Now, brethren and sisters, what hinders you from enjoying all you anticipated [when you prepared to accept the Gospel and join the Church]? The calm reflections of your own minds, and the conclusions of a well balanced judgment, enlightened by the Spirit of the Lord, will give you a correct answer to this question. I can answer it for myself, and perhaps for many of you. If I do not enjoy all I anticipated, if my happiness is not as complete as I anticipated, if the light of the Holy Spirit is not in my heart to that degree which I expected it would be, if I have not obtained all I anticipated when I was down in yonder world, mingled with the wicked, the cause is in myself, in my own heart, in my own disposition, in the weakness of human nature; it is my own will that prevents me from enjoying all I anticipated, and more. It is a mistaken idea to suppose that others can prevent me from enjoying the light of God in my soul; all hell cannot hinder me from enjoying Zion in my own heart, if my individual will yields obedience to the requirements and mandates of my heavenly Master. He has set me a pattern to copy, which, if I imitate faithfully, will yield to me all and more of heaven in my own heart than I can anticipate. This is my answer.
Brother Erastus Snow asked a question − "If my neighbor shall do wrong to me, am I thereby compelled to do wrong to my next neighbor?" I say, no. If a brother shall tread down my grain, that is ripening in the field, am I thereby compelled to run through and tread down yours? No. When a person steals my poles from the fence, am I compelled to steal yours? If my neighbor, or my brother in the Church, shall swear, and take the name of God in vain, does it necessarily follow that I must use the same language? If my brother shall do wrong in any way, it does not follow that I shall be justified in committing one single evil in all the acts of my life. Let each Latter Day Saint examine himself, and inquire, "Am I one of those persons who will do right in all things, though others may do wrong? Am I that person that will serve the Lord with my house, that will cease from every evil act, and from every evil word, though my neighbors, or my brethren and sisters, may do the opposite?" Let the spirit within you reply to these questions, and in every breast the response is, "Let me be that person, let me do right from this time henceforth and forever, without committing another evil." Then what have you got? You have got heaven in your own bosoms, you have got Zion in your hearts, you have obtained all the glory, all the peace, all the joy, all the comfort, and all the light you anticipated when you were mingling with the wicked world. If you are deceived, who will deceive you? If you are wronged, who wrongs you? If you are cheated out of your crown at last, who has cheated you? These questions may apply in different ways. They may apply to the business operations of the world, as well as to the grace of God in the heart, and the salvation of the soul. It is to the latter I wish them more particularly to apply. Who has influence over any one of you, to cause you to miss salvation in the celestial kingdom of God? I will answer these questions for myself. If brother Brigham and I shall take a wrong track, and be shut out of the kingdom of heaven, no person will be to blame but brother Brigham and I. I am the only being in heaven, earth, or hell, that can be blamed.
This will equally apply to every Latter Day Saint. Salvation is an individual operation. I am the only person that can possibly save myself. When salvation is sent to me, I can reject or receive it. In receiving it, I yield implicit obedience and submission to its great Author throughout my life, and to those whom He shall appoint to instruct me; in rejecting it, I follow the dictates of my own will in preference to the will of my Creator.

Brigham Young, February 20, 1853, Journal of Discourses, 1:311 − p.312

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