Nauvoo is getting busy. This volume contains 623 pages but covers only a four month timespan. Two of the biggest things that happened were the excommunication of John C. Bennett and rumors of Joseph Smith’s involvement in an assassination attempt on Lilburn W. Boggs. When Bennett left Nauvoo, Joseph became the mayor which made him even busier. For further context, this time period is covered in pages 453 – 477 of Saints, Voume. 1.
This volume features 105 documents out of nearly 400 available for this time period. Other documents are available at the Joseph Smith Papers website. However, as always, the footnotes and editorial information on each document make the book well worth having. Some of the items featured in the book are Nauvoo city scrip signed by Joseph Smith, a poem written by Eliza R. Snow for Joseph Smith, and the only known revelation giving instructions for performing a plural marriage. There are also notes from a number of sermons he gave.
During this time period, Joseph entered into new plural marriages. He seems to have been sealed to various women for several different reasons, such as in cases where a woman was single or her husband was not a member, thus enabling her to be exalted since sealing is required. Another reason seems to have been to form ties between families. One of these sealings was to Sarah Ann Whitney, which was arranged with her parents. “On 27 July 1842, Smith dictated a revelation that provided Bishop Newel K. Whitney the language he should use in sealing his seventeen-year-old daughter, Sarah Ann Whitney, to Smith as a plural wife. Elizabeth Ann Whitney, Newel’s wife, was also named in the revelation and participated in the sealing as a witness. The instructions in this revelation are unique, being the only known instance of an extant document dictated by Joseph Smith giving directions for plural marriage sealings. The revelation emphasizes that the sealing offered eternal salvation – not just to Sarah Ann but to her whole family – and created eternal ties with Smith” (pages xxviii-xxix). The transcription in the book is from a typescript (pictured below) made by Orson F. Whitney at the request of Joseph F. Smith circa 1912.
Another of Joseph Smith’s wives, Eliza R. Snow, wrote the following poem which was printed in the Wasp on August 27:
For the Wasp.Repectfully, to President Smith, in his absence.YOUR PORTRAIT.by miss e[liza] r. snow.Sir, you’ve left us ‘your portrait’ that product of art—A small specimen neatly design’d—But ’tis only a picture, for where is the heart?And O, where that rich jewel, the mind?It is only a picture! for where is the speech,That most noble conductor of thoughtWith which thou art gifted the nations to teach,And by which we desire to be tought?Sir, we look at ‘your portrait’ and see it enclos’dIn its frame like a prisoner bound,And regret its original, thus is expos’dTo the malice of men that surround!O, how strange, in this boasted, republican land,Where all claim to be happy and free;That a prophet of God is forbidden to stand,And is forced like a culprit to flee!’Tis a sad ‘restitution’! but all things must come—It was thus with the prophets of old:But when you are absent, and driv’n from your homeHere’s ‘your portrait,’ your friends may behold.
Joseph Smith also was encouraging the Saints in the work on the Nauvoo temple during this time. He gave a sermon on May 1 1842, as recorded by Willard Richards, apparently preparatory to giving the endowment to a small group of men a few days later:
preached in the grove on the keys of the kingdom charity &c.— The keys are certain signs & words by which false spirits & personages may be detected from true.— which cannot be revealed to the Elders till the Temple is completed.— The rich can only get them in the Temple. The poor may get them on the Mountain top as did moses. The rich cannot be saved without cha[r]ity. giving to feed the poor. when & how God requires as well as building. There are signs in heaven earth & hell. the elders must know them all to be endued with power. to finish their work & prevent imposition. The devil knows many signs. but does not know the sign of the son of man. or Jesus. No one can truly say he knows God until he has handled something. & these this can only be in the holiest of Holies. (pages 6-8)
There are many other interesting documents contained in the book, along with explanatory introductions providing historical context and provenance, and copious footnotes. As always with this series, the book is well worth having in your library for the additional information it provides beyond what is currently available on the Joseph Smith Papers website.
Videos from The Joseph Smith Papers: