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Funeral Sermon by Elder Harold B. Lee

for Ralph Cutler, shared on Family Search by Ted Walker

Ralph Cutler Funeral 

Sermon by Elder Harold B. Lee
at the Funeral Service of RALPH CUTLER, 
September 8, 1958

          As I contemplate this hour and the subject of our memorial, I've had two or three thoughts running rampant through my mind, and if the spirit is willing, I should like to give vent to some of these expressions.

          Why do we meet in services of this kind? Well, it isn't because we mourn. There isn't anything that we can say today that will advance Brother Cutler's eternal welfare. There is nothing that we can say today that will subtract from it. So far as we are concerned, as the Bishop has said, his record has been written. The book is closed. And from out of the things therein written, he'll be judged, as all of us will be judged according to the things we've done here on earth. That was the purpose of our coming. That is now the purpose of his going.

           Why then are we here? Well, it's partly for Sister Cutler, and partly for her family. I suppose represented here in this congregation there are dear friends of the family - folks whose paths you've crossed here and there, up and down the church, and in business and social life. They're here to pay, by their presence, a silent tribute. And I'm sure that were it not for the request of the family that there not be extensive floral offerings, but rather contributions elsewhere, there would have been a profusion of flowers, but a few have come despite that expression of the family. Perhaps to those who mourn most, there will be much that will be said that will fall on ears somewhat deadened with the intensity of the feeling of sadness at parting. But there won't be anything that will be said and no music sung, no prayers offered, but what will make an impression. And long after this service shall have concluded from out of the flower garden of memories, you'll call back this hour and you'll almost be able to reflect each individual whom you saw. The ones who came to the home. It'll all be indelibly impressed upon you because you're sensitive today to all of those impressions.
There's another thing that we're here for, as I see it, and that's been spoken of particularly by President Christensen. He said to you, "take a lesson out of the book of Brother Cutler and live like he lived." Now that's to all of us, his friends and his neighbors. He's held up some of the ideals that this humble but great soul has lived by, the effectiveness of his life as it has touched your life. We would bid you remember, as President Christensen has said, the things that made him an enduring friend and a great leader. 

              But we are here for another purpose, and that purpose I'm sure to Brother Cutler would not be fulfilled and the purpose of this service would not be at all satisfied unless this other side of it be stressed. He's got a number of young ones. Perhaps to his own immediate family, his sons and daughters, perhaps he has felt that their feet are pretty firmly planted on the rock of truth, but what about these other grandchildren and great grandchildren? And I'm sure that if he could be of influence at his service, and I have a strong impression because of some experiences I've had, that those who pass, particularly if they have lived a righteous life, they have a strong influence upon a service of this kind. I can't think of any place where he would be assigned to be on an occasion of this kind than right near here. And I have a feeling that their presence, oft'times if the spirits are submissive thereto, has an impression that sort of guides and directs and oft'times we are prone to say things that would be the things that one who has departed would like to have said. Now that may be a bit of presumption to suppose that I could say to you what your grandfather and great grandfather would have me say. But if that were possible and I could yield myself and the spirit would so direct, I'd like to say some of the same things about spiritual matters that, please God, would be the most important things that he would have you remember from out of this service.

           Let me take you in language that even the youngest can understand to one of the greatest events ever in the history of this world. I saw it portrayed dramatically in a picturization of the life of the Savior. Oh, I was disappointed, as I suppose we all would be in the one who took the part of the Master. I can't conceive of any actor who could measure to my expectation of what He should be, but it was well dramatized so that there was an impression made.

           There came an event that I would like to start with to just bring you one or two events that closed His ministry. He had three friends who seemingly, from His record that we have, were closer to Him than all else of His associates, except the Twelve. They were Mary and Martha and their brother, Lazarus. Lazarus became desperately ill when the Master was away with the disciples somewhere on missionary service. They sent forth with a messenger to bring Him. They had seen His power manifest and they knew that if He exercised that power that Lazarus could be instantly healed. But the Master delayed His coming for several days. In the meantime, Lazarus had died and his body was placed in a tomb. And then one day the Master turned to His disciples and said, "I go to awaken Lazarus, Lazarus sleepeth." 

         And one said, "Well, he doeth well if he sleepeth," meaning, why wake him if he is sleeping. To put it plainer the Master said, "Lazarus is dead." So they hastened to Bethany where the sisters lived and as word was carried to Mary and Martha that the Master and His party were approaching, Martha rushed out to meet Him, and we were shown the dramatic approach of this sorrowing woman. She rushed to Him and fell at His feet. In sobbing, accusing words she said, "Lord if thou hadst been here, Lazarus had not died." Now, that was accusing Him. "Why didn't you come when we sent for you and he'd have been alive today?" He looked down at her sorrowfully and He wept and He said to her quietly, "Lazarus shall live again." It was either by His words or tone of His voice or the spirit which accompanied that prompted her to search Him and look at His face. Her tears now almost gone, she said, "Yea, Lord, I know that he shall live again in the resurrection," thinking that was what He meant.

          Then there came a pronouncement of the great mission of this One, except for which this would be an almost inconsolable grief today, if it weren't for His life and His mission. He said, "I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth on me, though he were dead yet shall he live and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die. Believeth thou this? he asked Martha.
All tears were gone and she now looked at Him and she said, "Yea, Lord, I know that Thou art Christ, the Lord who should come in the latter day." He said, "Show me where you have laid him," and so they hastened to the tomb. 

           The tomb was not like the graves we have today. It was built on the top of the ground and it was closed by a huge stone rolled against its mouth. We saw strong men put their shoulders to the rock and roll it aside and then we were permitted a look inside. Here was the figure of Lazarus who had died; his body, now giving off a disagreeable odor, was wrapped in white clothes and lying on a slab. The Master peered down and looked inside and then He lifted His eyes to heaven and prayed. He said, "I pray not that I doubt that Thou art with me always but only that these may know that Thou hast sent me." What it must have been like to have heard Him talk to God.
And then with bated breath all the people round about watched Him. Then He looked down into the tomb again at that whited figure and with a commanding voice said, "Lazarus, come forth." Momentarily nothing happened and then as we watched there was a quiet movement of that whited figure and then he sat upright and there had been demonstrated the power of that Man of Nazareth over death. This wasn't the resurrection. It was the bringing back from a temporary death into life this one who had passed away.

          Then we hurried through the next scenes of His crucifixion and finally we saw the closing scene where the disciples were in the room with the doors locked and windows barred for fear their enemies would come upon them and suddenly and without any announcement as though an opening had been made, there came through the wall a whited figure and they all fell back afraid. And He said, "Be not afrightened," which means be not afraid, "for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see Me have." That story was called "Day of Triumph." That was the greatest day of triumph that has ever come to the world.

           This is the greatest day of triumph that has ever come to Brother Cutler. It was for this purpose that he died, or shall I say lived, and now has come to his final stage. I shall put it in another language that sounds lofty but it means the same thing. The Lord said to Moses, speaking of the purpose of life, and if you'll go back to that every time you begin to ask a question Why a mother taken from her babe and her family? Why a father taken when he's needed to support them?
Why a young boy in just his prime? Why a tiny babe after the mother in travail has brought it forth? - you'll find the answer to all the queries in one simple statement. The Lord said to Moses, "This is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." 

          Immortality can only be won by coming into this earth and then leaving it. Now it doesn't make any difference in the economy of the Lord whether that's a minute or the age of a tree. If we have taken upon ourselves a body and than have died and the spirit has departed therefrom and finally a resurrection, then we have eternal life, or I should say we have resurrection -- everybody - the good, the bad, the evil. The good will come forth, but eternal life is that state in the presence of the Lord, and can only be won by each one who has lived worthily.

         Well now, with that much in mind, shall I say it in another language though a bit shocking? The purpose of life is to die. Now that sounds a little gruesome doesn't it? And yet that's the very purpose of our coming and in the plan of the Lord it would be one of the most terrifying things in all the world if nobody died. Down through the time of illness (and I've been in the home of Brother and Sister Cutler, and we blessed those who were sick, and we've seen the Lord's power manifest itself), there comes a time in the life of every individual, no matter how much faith they have, no matter how good they are, when all our prayers and administrations have no effect. It's as though the Lord said, "No, I have other plans now. Your wishes must stand aside. My will must be done." So if we are thinking properly, we always say when we bless the sick, "Thy will, 0 God, not mine, be done." None of us would want to stay a minute, would we, if we knew the Lord had other plans for us? Well, that came in the life of this man - a more worthy subject, one with more faith. Do you think there was any lack on his part that he couldn't be blessed in this last, his final illness? Well, it's as though the Lord had said, "No, my answer this time must be no. I have other plans." We must accept His will.

             This isn't a day then of deep mourning if we understand that plan, and that's why Sister Cutler is composed as she sits here today. Lonely, yes, and there will be yet lonely days that lie ahead, but not without faith.

           She and her wonderful companion together - they understood these things, and they understood that this time would have to come, and as they move down towards the sundown of life, they made their plans. I fancy that in the plans of this family, you'll find out that Father Cutler had pretty well mapped out the things that he wanted you to do. In his own personal affairs, I doubt if there are many loose ends. It was all pretty well planned as I knew him. I think you'll find it's all in pretty good order. There won't be any guesses about what he wanted insofar as your Mother's concern, or so far as his property or his personal effects. There is some unfinished business that he wants you to do, but most of that is the unfinished business in you.

           That's perhaps the most important thing that he wants you to finish up. As far as the material things, I doubt that there's much that he's left at odds for you to quarrel over or bicker over as some families have. I think all of that he has pretty well given you to understand what his wants and wishes are.

           Well now, when we think about that, sometimes we fret with the things that life brings. One of our leaders said some time ago (He was failing in health, obviously from the way he wrote), "It's well that we have headaches, and backaches, and leg aches and heartaches.  It's well that we have these aches and •pains to remind us that this isn't the stopping place, and that we won't cling too tenaciously to mortal life. That we'll long to be released from this body when it gets worn out, and be free to go home to that God where we can have a renewal of life." Do you think he wanted to live here with a body maimed and unable to meet the responsibilities of life? I fancy that if he had been in full possession of his senses, if the doctor had said to him, - "Brother Cutler, you might live for five or six years, but you can't work any more; your mind will be a little impaired, your speech; you won't be able to go and help on the meeting house," and so on - what do you suppose he would have said? "The sooner I can shuffle off this old tired body and can get somewhere where I can do something that I love to do, the happier I'll be.  I don't want to stay here. If my mission is ended and I no longer can do the things I want to do, I want to get shuffled off from this mortal body, and so the sooner that can happen the happier I'll be." I suspect that that is exactly what his conclusion would have been.

          Well, where is he? The Bishop said, the other night he died. Well, what is death? Someone said, the scriptures are written, "he went home," meaning he goes home to that God who gave him life. Now you looked at his body today as it lay in the casket. What did you see there? There is something distinctively missing. You saw only the cold earthly part of what was your father and grandfather. Where's the rest of him that looked out through the eyes, and made the lips smile and the tongue to speak? Where is that part of him? The other night when he said he died, the scriptures say, "he went home to that God who gave him life." Where's home?  What was the going? What is his spirit that looked out through his eyes? 

           The scriptures say that our spirit looks just like our full grown body. If we could see the spirits that tabernacle our body when they are fully grown, we would see they are the same size, the same look, the same shape. We'd be able to recognize that spirit, and our bodies have grown to the same size as that spirit. Now if you could see that spirit you would see exactly what the disciples saw minus the flesh and bones. He was a spirit. It was that spirit that Mary saw when she walked in the garden after she found His body missing, you remember, and He came and touched her and called her by name, "Mary," and she looked at Him and would have embraced Him and He said, "Touch me not, for I have not yet ascended to my Father which is in Heaven. Undoubtedly He was not yet prepared; the complete change had not come. He had things to be done before His final passing had been complete.

          Well now, the other day he went home you say.  Where is the spirit world? Is it way on a planet that you can see in the stars, away up in the heavens? That isn't what the scriptures and our brethren explain. They told us that heaven is right here. The spirit world is right here round about us and the only spirits who can live here are those who are assigned to fill their missions here on earth. This is the spirit world. And if our eyes could be opened we could see those who have a child. We could see them, and sometimes when our physical senses are asleep, sometimes our spiritual self - and we have ears, spiritual ears, and spiritual eyes - sometimes they will be very keen, and awake and a departed one may come while we are lying, we say asleep, and come into our consciousness. We'll feel an impression. We'll wake up. Sister Cutler will say to you one day, "I felt that your father was here. I felt he was right here with me." Or one of you will say, a little grandchild, in a time of crisis or need, (we who have lived and are older than you have had some of those experiences and we know what we are talking about) a sudden feeling, I felt that he said that to me. I have an impression to do this. Where does it come from? It comes from the spirits of those who we are sealed to.

           Now the dearest possessions he has on this earth are you children, you grandchildren, his own kingdom here on this earth. You are the greatest treasure he has and you are bound to him stronger than the cords of death.  Now do you think that because he's passed from this sphere that he's not concerned about you? Don't you ever think it! And he'll be more powerful to be with you and to help than he's ever been before, that is, if you'll let him by your living. If you'll live and try to always be the boys and girls that grandpa, that grandfather would have wished - just let that always be in your mind - he'll be a living presence with you all through your days.

           Now I just want one more thought here if I may.  There is a scripture, as I rode down here today, that kept running back and forth through my mind and I want to give it to you. Here was a man who held the highest priesthood there is on this earth. He was a high priest after the order of the Son of God, which was the priesthood which the Master held. There is no priesthood higher. Now the Lord says, "Whoso is faithful unto the obtaining of these two priesthoods, first the Aaronic, then the Melchizedek priesthood." There are three things that are stressed in the scriptures and I want you to remember these three significant things.

           He says, "Whoso is faithful unto the magnifying of their calling," that is the first thing - magnifying of their priesthood. Second thing I want you to remember is that "they are sanctified by the spirit and even to have a renewal of their bodies." I want you to think what those words mean. What does it mean to magnify?

            Have you ever seen a magnifying glass? When you hold a magnifying glass over something it makes that thing look bigger than you could see it with the naked eye, that's a magnifying glass. Now he said, if anybody magnifies their priesthood, that is make it bigger than they first thought it was and more important than anyone else thought it was, that is the way you magnify your priesthood. It just takes on a new luster. It's a big thing and President Cutler made his priesthood and the offices he held one of the greatest things in his life.  He magnified it. It appeared bigger because of the stature of the man who filled the office. Now anybody who does that, the Lord says, shall be sanctified by the spirit even unto the renewing of his body, that means making his body new, even to changing it if it needs to be from the dross that is in it to a new body. Well, I want you to remember those three expressions because to me they typify the grandeur of the completion of the mission that he has concluded with this service this day.

           Well now, Sister Cutler, as you sit here serene and composed there may be those who wonder why you can take it like this after all these years. You and I know why that is, Sister Cutler. It is because of your faith. There isn't any doubt in your mind about these matters. And I fancy you are like another one who as she sat by the side of her husband now so near passing that he was unable to move his hands. She said to him quietly, "Daddy, you and I have been through fire and poverty, yes, we know how to take that don't we, Daddy? Now we've been through sickness when death has been near and we know how to take that." He answered, "yes." And she said, "Daddy, we know how to take this, don't we? We've been preparing for this." And he answered, "Yes, we can." And there couldn't be an embrace. She was in a wheelchair; he was with paralyzed arms. She reached out and patted his hands that lay on the sheet.

          That was the farewell. There was no weeping or no carrying on that suggested a lack of faith. Serenely and courageously they met the problems of life together right down to the finish.
In one sense, Sister Cutler, you are like a race horse that has been in a strong, vigorous race. And today you have kind of crossed the finish line and from now on there is going to have to be a kind of slowing down, just like a race horse begins to pull in and there is a slow canter until finally comes to a trot and then a walk and then a complete stop. This is the time during this cantering period of your life now to kind of do the other things that need to be done in your family. You know where they are. You maybe have a little thing that you would like to do over here; a someone you would like to strengthen over there; a little miss here and little miss there; a little hurt that you want to right.

          There's some genealogy that you want to get ready before you get on the other side. He'll help you with it now. There'll be a communicating and you'll feel something about it and ways will be opened up and you'll marvel about it. Well, now get all those things ready for now you are going to slow down until one day, not too long, the end of this cantering period, the stop will come to you. He'll be there and he'll bid you welcome into the place that he's preparing for you. For where he is there you will be also in a day not too far distant.

          Well, Latter-day Saints, that is the story of the gospel. That's it. And after they have sojourned there in that spirit world, in the form loosed from this earth body, I suppose there will have to be some instruction to know how to take care of a resurrected body. I have a belief that before we could come here on this earth we had to be schooled in how to take care of a body when we got here. Somebody had to tell us how to do all these things that our physical bodies could do. And I wonder if our spirits weren't given some schooling in that business. I suspect that we will have to be trained when we get into the spirit world how to take care of a resurrected body too, to do all the things that a resurrected body can do, and that is going to be a great experience. But one day a trumpet shall sound, when this earth shall have filled its mission and there are no more spirits to come and tabernacle here, a trump will sound and all those who have lived in Christ will come forth at the time of the coming of the Savior. When the graves will be open and those who sleep in their graves will come out of the graves and they will be caught up in the clouds of heaven and to meet the Redeemer when he comes on earth to reign and those who are living on the earth who are righteous, likewise worthy, they'll be changed in a twinkling of an eye and they'll be caught up. That will be the kind of a joyous thing that a little patience today will bring you promise of. And then on this earth when it shall be celestialized, [this will be the celestial kingdom], and where now is deserts, the water will spring up; there will be beauty where now ugliness exists. Satan will be bound and there will be no more crime, no more tears, no more pain, no more aches. All these former things are done away in Christ.

         Another joyous experience, Sister Cutler, there will come to you the bloom of eternal motherhood. Your motherhood ended here a few years ago. The Lord said you've had enough children here on this earth but there will be quickened within you the impulses to bless you with eternal motherhood - children beyond the grave where together with your children, and your children's children, to the latest generation here added to a spiritual posterity. What a promise that comes to the family who lives worthy of the plaudits of the Heavenly Father!

          I bear you my solemn witness today that these things are true, God lives. He sent his Son to teach us these things, to open the doors to these things.  I have a sort of a feeling today that somehow I am representing President Moyle. I sort of have a feeling that I am here in his stead. I've been saying what I feel he would like me to say too. How he loved your family! How he loved President Cutler. I know how many times he dropped in just to greet you. When he hears, (and we've sent him word, and I suppose by now, and perhaps you've heard back from him, as soon as we learned we sent him word, but I am sure as soon as he hears) there will be a sad heart because of the loneliness that he'll feel. I bring you Brother Moyle's blessings, to this wonderful family of his; how he loved you! I am sure of this, Sister Cutler, and you, Douglas, and the family, in him you can have a father who will be as near to you and as wise and helpful as you would like him to be all through your days. President Moyle loved everything that belonged to the Cutler family, and I bring you that because I am sure he would want me to say that to you.

            Well, peace be to all of us and let's today in our hearts understand these simple things that I have tried to talk so that even these little children might understand a bit. May we say thanks be to God for all these wonderful blessings for I bear you my solemn witness that they are true. I know with all my soul that Jesus lives. I know that he died. I know that he was resurrected. And I know that today he is anxiously guiding this church in the hope that he can save all of our Father's children. The Lord bless you, Sister Cutler, and you, stay close to this lovely mother. I think I hardly need to say that. Fill the gap somehow. Take her to your hearts and into your homes. Be sure and let your little children get as well acquainted with this sainted mother because it won't be many days until the call will come for her. Take advantage of it now and do all the things that you can do to make her life pleasant. God grant us His peace this day and always, I pray humbly, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Date8 Sep 1958
Linked toRalph Cutler

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