Although the tongue weighs very little, very few people are able to hold it. -Anonymous
Question #45226 posted on 05/26/2008 3:01 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I have been searching everywhere for a quote that I read in an undergraduate Religion class at BYU (unfortunately don't remember which class/professor)-- I'm fairly confident that it was said by Brigham Young and it related to talents and the premortal existence. The basic gist was that the things we refer to in this life as talents are actually abilities that we spent eons developing and studying before coming to this earth. I think the quote also specifically references Mozart and Monet. Any help?

- diaper changing jd

A: Dear Diaper Changing,

I can't find a quote like this that is attributed to Brigham Young. I'm also dubious that Brigham Young would reference Monet, as Brigham Young died before Monet's most famous, later paintings were painted. However, I did find some similar quotes attributed to Elder Bruce R. McConkie. The first one is found in his April 1974 Conference Address, "God Foreordains His Prophets and His People":
True, a curtain has been drawn so we do not recall our associations there. But we do know that our Eternal Father has all power, all might, all dominion, and all truth and that he lives in the family unit. We do know that we are his children, created in his image, endowed with power and ability to become like him. We know he gave us our agency and ordained the laws by obedience to which we can obtain eternal life. We know we had friends and associates there. We know we were schooled and trained and taught in the most perfect educational system ever devised, and that by obedience to his eternal laws we developed infinite varieties and degrees of talents.

And hence comes the doctrine of foreordination. When we come into mortality, we bring the talents, capacities, and abilities acquired by obedience to law in our prior existence. Mozart composed and published sonatas when but eight years of age because he was born with musical talent. Melchizedek came into this world with such faith and spiritual capacity that "when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire." (JST, Gen. 14:26.) Cain, on the other hand, like Lucifer, was a liar from the beginning and was told in this life: "… thou shalt be called Perdition; for thou wast also before the world." (Moses 5:24.)
In his book The Mortal Messiah, Elder McConkie also said, along a similar vein,
Spirits developed an infinite variety and degree of talents while yet in preexistence.

Being subject to law, and having their agency, all the spirits of men, while yet in the Eternal Presence, developed aptitudes, talents, capacities, and abilities of every sort, kind, and degree. During the long expanse of life which then was, an infinite variety of talents and abilities came into being. As the ages rolled, no two spirits remained alike. Mozart became a musician; Einstein centered his interest in mathematics; Michelangelo turned his attention to painting. Cain was a liar, a schemer, a rebel who maintained a close affinity to Lucifer. Abraham and Moses and all of the prophets sought and obtained the talent for spirituality. Mary and Eve were two of the greatest of all the spirit daughters of the Father. The whole house of Israel, known and segregated out from their fellows, was inclined toward spiritual things. And so it went through all the hosts of heaven, each individual developing such talents and abilities as his soul desired.

Hope these quotes help!