REXBURG, Idaho — "Do not become a weak link in the chain of your generations," President Gordon B. Hinckley strongly admonished Ricks College students at a devotional Sept. 7.
"You come to this world with a marvelous inheritance," the Church leader declared. "You come of great men and women, of men of bravery and courage, of women of accomplishment and of tremendous faith."
The devotional, held in the Hart Auditorium on the Ricks campus, was the second address President Hinckley gave at the college during the day. Earlier, he dedicated the Spencer W. Kimball Student and Administrative Services Building. The 4,000-seat auditorium was filled to capacity. President Hinckley's address was transmitted by closed-circuit television to three other buildings on campus, where the devotional was viewed by an additional 4,000 people.
Also speaking at both the dedicatory service and the devotional was Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve, who accompanied President Hinckley to Ricks College.
As President Hinckley began his address, he told of being in the Columbus Ohio Temple a few days earlier for the dedication of the sacred edifice. (Please see article on page 3.) He said his wife and daughter, who was there to assist her mother, were with him, and "to our delight" his granddaughter and two of her children drove in from St. Louis, Mo., where they live.
This caused him to reflect on his family. "As I sat in the temple the other day, looking at my great-grandchildren, a peculiar thing happened," President Hinckley explained. "I suddenly realized that I stood midway, with three generations with which I am familiar behind me and three generations ahead of me.
"My heart literally turned to my fathers. My heart also turned to my posterity. I envisioned a chain of the generations. That chain goes back a very long way into the distant past of which we know so very little. It now reaches for three generations beyond me. I pictured that chain in my mind's eye, to date unbroken and shining and strong."
President Hinckley said he thought of when he was a boy working on a farm in the summer, and he tried to remove a tree by fastening a chain to the tree from a tractor. In the process the chain snapped. He said he purchased a repair link to join the two pieces of the chain together.
"But it was never the same where the repair link was. The link never quite fit. The adjoining links were crowded where the repair was made. It was always a misfit. It never looked right."
He admonished his listeners to never let down their ancestors. "Never do anything which would weaken the chain of which you are a fundamental part. Should that happen, through repentance there might be repairs. But there will also be scars. There will still be regret. There will still be sorrow."
As he sat in the Columbus Ohio Temple, President Hinckley said he thought of himself as a link joining all of the generations of the past and all of the generations of the future. "All that I have of mind and body, of tissue and limb and joint and brain have come as an inheritance from those who were before me. And all that my posterity have has passed through me to them. I cannot afford to break that chain. My posterity cannot afford to break that chain. If that should happen, we could obtain a repair link, but it would never be quite the same."
He told the students the story, from 2 Samuel in the Bible, of Absalom, the son of King David, who was a gifted young man, but who became ambitious, letting his pride get the best of him. "He stepped over the line, he did foolish things," President Hinckley recounted. "He even plotted to kill his father."
Joab, however, killed Absalom, thinking that King David would be pleased. But when David heard of the death of his son, he wept, exclaiming "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" (2 Sam. 18:33.)
President Hinckley became emotional when he told the story. "I think I can sense the overwhelming sorrow of King David as he grieved over the loss of the boy who had broken the link of the chain of his generations," he said.
"Be true to the faith," President Hinckley counseled the students. "Pass on in unblemished fashion to those who come after you the great virtues of those who have preceded you. All of your heritage of body and mind have come from your forebears. Pass to those who will follow an unblemished inheritance and thus continue bright and strong the links of your generations."
Elder Eyring spoke of gratitude and obligations, saying that one way the students could meet their obligation for their blessings was to prayerfully listen to the message that would come to them from the prophet.