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.)
“While I contemplate the virtues and the good qualifications and characterestics of the faithful few, which I am now recording in the Book of the Law of the Lord, of such as have stood by me in every hour of peril, for these fifteen long years past; say for instance; my aged and beloved brother , who was among the number of the first to administer to my necessities, while I was laboring, in the commencement of the bringing forth of the work of the Lord, and of laying the foundation of the : for fifteen years has he been faithful and true, and even handed, and exemplary and virtuous, and kind; never deviating to the right hand nor to the left. Behold he is a righteous man. May God Almighty lengthen out the old mans days; and may his trembling, tortured and broken body be renewed, and the vigor of health turn upon him; if it can be thy will, consistently, O God; and it shall be said of him by the sons of Zion, while there is one of them remaining; that this man, was a faithful man in Israel; therefore his name shall never be forgotten. There is his son and whose names I record in the Book of the Law of the Lord, with unspeakable delight, for they are my friends. There are a numerous host of faithful souls, whose names I could wish to record in the Book of the Law of the Lord; but time and chance would fail. I will mention therefore only a few of them as emblematical of those who are to numerous to be written. But there is one man I would mention namely , who is now a fellow-wanderer with myself— an exile from his home because of the murderous deeds and infernal fiendish disposition of the indefatigable and unrelenting hand of the Missourians. He is an innocent and a noble boy; may God Almighty deliver him from the hands of his pursuers. He was an innocent and a noble child, and my soul loves him; Let this be recorded for ever and ever. Let the blessings of Salvation and honor be his portion. But as I said before, so say I again while I remember the faithful few who are now living, I would remember also the faithful of my friends who are dead, for they are many; and many are the acts of kindness, and paternal, and brotherly kindnesses which they have bestowed upon me. And since I have been hunted by the Missourians many are the scenes which have been called to my mind. Many thoughts have rolled through my head, and across my breast. I have remembered the scenes of my child-hood I have thought of my who is dead; who died by disease which was brought upon him through suffering by the hands of ruthless mobs. He was a great and a good man. The envy of knaves and fools was heaped upon him, and this was his lot and portion all the days of his life. He was of noble stature, and possessed a high, and holy, and exalted, and a virtuous mind. His soul soared above all those mean [p. 179]
The history that JS initiated in 1838 stated that Joseph Knight Sr. “very kindly and considerately brought . . . a quantity of provisions” to JS and Oliver Cowdery while they were translating the Book of Mormon in 1829. Knight, who was called “aged,” was sixty-nine when this was written. (JS History, vol. A-1, 20–21; see also Joseph Knight Sr., Reminiscences, 6.)
Knight, Joseph, Sr. Reminiscences, no date. CHL. MS 3470.
On one occasion JS reportedly saw Knight struggling down a Nauvoo street and offered him his cane. (Hartley, Stand by My Servant Joseph, 343.)
Hartley, William G. Stand by My Servant Joseph: The Story of the Joseph Knight Family and the Restoration. Provo, UT: Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003.
The Knight brothers had known JS since the late 1820s, when their father, Joseph Knight Sr., hired him to work on their family’s farm. (Newel Knight, Autobiography and Journal, 1–2; Joseph Knight Jr., Autobiographical Sketch, 1.)
Knight, Newel. Autobiography and Journal, ca. 1846. CHL. MS 767.
Knight, Joseph, Jr. Autobiographical Sketch, 1862. CHL. MS 286.
Joseph Smith Sr., who was among the Saints who had been expelled from Missouri in early 1839, died on 14 September 1840 after a long illness. In a sermon given at his funeral, Robert B. Thompson suggested that Joseph Sr. “never recovered” from the experiences in Missouri, including the terror of watching his sons being torn from their families. (Robert B. Thompson, “An Address Delivered at the Funeral of Joseph Smith Sen.,” Times and Seasons, Sept. 1840, 1:172; see also Eliza R. Snow, “Elegy,” Times and Seasons, Oct. 1840, 1:190–191.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.