On 16 August 1842, while in hiding at ’s house, JS blessed and several others. At the same time, JS reflected on the loyalty demonstrated to him by Derby, , , and many other friends and family members. In accordance with his plan to “continue the subject again,” JS dictated further reflections on 23 August, after he had relocated and was hiding in his in , Illinois.
JS believed it was important to include the names of faithful Latter-day Saints in the Book of the Law of the Lord, which had used to record tithing donations since late 1841 and which had served as JS’s journal since late 1841 or early 1842. The Book of the Law of the Lord had apparently been created in response to direction JS gave in an 1832 letter to , in which he explained that the ’s clerk was appointed “to keep a hystory and a general church reccord of all things that transpire in and of all those who consecrate properties and receive inhertances legally from the and also there manner of life and the faith and works.” The names of faithful Saints, JS emphasized, should be recorded in “the book of the Law of God”; he warned that those whose names were not found there “shall not find an inheritence among th[e] saints.” By 1842, the Book of the Law of the Lord was being used, in part at least, to record the names of those who supported JS during times of trial, as demonstrated in these featured reflections.
JS dictated these reflections while hiding from officers intent on arresting and extraditing him to . An editorial in the 15 August issue of the Times and Seasons placed this extradition attempt within a longer narrative of the Saints’ persecution at the hands of Missourians. This narration of persecution represented a counterpoint to the desire to record the righteous deeds of faithful Saints; in an 1839 letter written from a Missouri , JS had instructed the Saints to record and publish “the names of all persons that have had a hand in their oppressions.”
The entries featured here begin with a blessing for , who was staying with JS while he was in hiding and was carrying letters from JS to and . After pronouncing the blessing, JS transitioned into a wide-ranging reflection on individuals who exemplified loyalty and kindness; he then pronounced blessings upon several of them. The 16 August portion of the reflections begins with those who met with JS on an in the on 11 August and then broadens to others who had supported him during his time in hiding. In the 23 August portion, JS’s reflections and blessings extend to those who had assisted him earlier in his life. JS did not attempt to provide a comprehensive list but rather mentioned those who were “emblematical” of the many friends who had come to his aid. Near the end of these reflections, he turned his attention to those closest to him, dictating nostalgic reminiscences of his deceased father, , and brothers, and . His effort to create a record of faithful friends and family was consistent with other developments in . During this same period, JS introduced and rituals meant to unite the Saints in eternal family bonds and again emphasized the importance of recording the participants’ names.
On 16 August, JS dictated the blessing and the initial portion of the reflections to , who probably inscribed them onto a loose leaf before copying them into JS’s journal after returning to , likely between 16 and 20 August. JS’s scribes had a practice of setting aside pages in the Book of the Law of the Lord for journal entries and tithing donations. As a result, the scribes sometimes ran out of space when recording JS’s journal, forcing them to continue the inscription a number of pages later. Such was the case with the 16 August entry, which is broken up by pages of tithing donations. Clayton inscribed the 23 August portion of the reflections into JS’s journal as JS dictated it.
See Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 421–423, 477–478. Within days of dictating these reflections, JS spoke to the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo regarding baptism for the dead, instructing the members that “all persons baptiz’d for the dead must have a Recorder present. . . . It will be necessary in the grand Council.” In early September, he wrote to the Saints on the same topic, noting that a recorder must be present so that “it may be recorded in heaven.” (Minutes and Discourse, 31 Aug. 1842; JS, Journal, 4 Sept. 1842 [D&C 127:6–7].)
Bushman, Richard Lyman. Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. With the assistance of Jed Woodworth. New York: Knopf, 2005.
Clayton was with JS between 15 and 16 August and presumably did not have the very large Book of the Law of the Lord with him. He probably returned to Nauvoo on 16 or 17 August and likely copied the 16 August reflections in the Book of the Law of the Lord soon after returning and no later than 20 August, as suggested by the content of these and surrounding entries and changes in the ink color. (See Book of the Law of the Lord, 135, 164–167.)
“Blessed is Brother , and he shall be blessed of the Lord; he possesses a sober mind, and a faithful heart; the snares therefore that are subsequent to befall other men, who are treacherous and rotten-hearted, shall not come nigh unto his doors, but shall be far from the path of his feet. He loveth wisdom, and shall be found possessed of her. Let their be a crown of glory, and a diadem upon his head. Let the light of eternal Truth shine forth upon his understanding; let his name be had in everlasting remembrance; let the blessings of Jehovah be crowned upon his posterity after him, for he rendered me consolation, in the lonely places of my retreat: How good, and glorious, it has seemed unto me, to find pure and holy friends, who are faithful, just and true, and whose hearts fail not; and whose knees are confirmed and do not faulter; while they wait upon the Lord, in administering to my necessities; <See Page 164> [p. 135]
Derby had been with JS while he was in hiding since 11 August. On 16 August, the same day he blessed Derby, JS sent a letter to Emma in which he noted, “I have been kept from melancholy and dumps, by the kind-heartedness of brother Derby, and his interesting chit-chat from time to time.” (JS, Journal, 11, 14, and 16 Aug. 1842; Letter to Emma Smith, 16 Aug. 1842.)
Insertion in the handwriting of Willard Richards. Because tithing donation records were recorded on pages 136 to 163, scribe William Clayton skipped from page 135 to 164 to continue inscribing the 16 August 1842 entry in JS’s journal.