JS, Letter, [, Hancock Co., IL], to the editor of Times and Seasons , [, Hancock Co., IL, 28 Feb. 1843]. Featured version published in “To the Editor of the Times and Seasons,” Times and Seasons, 1 Mar. 1843, vol. 4, no. 8, 113. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 Mar. 1839.
On 28 February 1843, JS wrote a letter from , Illinois, to , editor of the Times and Seasons, regarding recent notices in newspapers that a farmer had seen “the sign of the Son of man in heaven” mentioned in Matthew 24:30. A month earlier, the St. Charles Patriot had published a statement by , of Daysville, Illinois, claiming that around four or five o’clock in the morning on 20 January, he had seen a celestial display foretelling Jesus Christ’s advent. Redding’s statement recounted that he saw “a bright star in the cloud in the East,” which then disappeared. The star then “immediately appeared again, crowned with a rainbow,” whereupon it again disappeared. It appeared a third time, “with the face of the Son of Man, with the glory of the Father shining round,” and then disappeared again. It made a fourth and final appearance, “with the same face, with a flaming sickle in his hand,” and then vanished.
William Brackett, editor of the Chicago Express, reproduced ’s statement and wrote a short article responding to it, in part by drawing comparisons between Redding and JS. With a clear measure of sarcasm, Brackett wrote that “so far at least as revelations are concerned, we think Joe Smith has his match at last.” In his letter to the editor of the Times and Seasons, JS responded to the Chicago Express by denouncing both Redding’s vision and Brackett’s criticisms.
Although the letter is undated, JS’s journal entry for 28 February 1843 notes that JS wrote the letter on that day. As with other articles he wrote for the Times and Seasons, he may have had assistance in composing the letter—either in taking down his dictation or in drafting the letter based on his instructions. The original copy of this letter is apparently no longer extant. It was published in the 1 March 1843 issue of the Times and Seasons.
Sir,—Among the many signs of the times, and other strange things, which are continually agitating the minds of men, I notice a small speculation in the Chicago Express, upon the certificate of one , of Ogle co. stating that he has seen the sign of the son of man in heaven, as foretold in the 24th of Matt. The slanderous allusion of a “seraglio,” like the Grand Turk, which the editor applies to me, he may take to himself, for “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” Every honest man, who has visited the city of , since it existed, can bear record of better things, and place me in the front ranks of those who are known to do good for the sake of goodness, and show all liars, hypocrites, and abominable creatures, that while vice sinks them down to darkness and wo, virtue exalts me and the saints to light and immortality.
The editor, as well as some others, “thinks that Jo Smith has his match at last,” because certifies that he has seen the sign of the son of man. But I shall use my right, and declare, that. notwithstanding may have seen a wonderful appearance in the clouds, one morning about sun-rise, (which is nothing very uncommon in the winter season) he has not seen the sign of the son of man, as foretold by Jesus; neither has any man, nor will any man, till after the sun shall have been darkened and the moon bathed in blood, for the Lord hath not shown me any such sign, and, as the prophet saith, so it must be: Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (See Amos 3: 7). Therefore, hear this, O earth, the Lord will not come to reign over the righteous, in this world, in 1843, nor until every thing for the bridegroom is ready.
In The History of the Saints,John C. Bennett claimed that the priesthood leaders had a harem, which Bennett designated as “the Mormon Seraglio,” comparing it to the harems in the Ottoman Empire. (Bennett, History of the Saints, 217–220.)
Bennett, John C. The History of the Saints; or, an Exposé of Joe Smith and Mormonism. Boston: Leland and Whiting, 1842.
Although it is unclear whether Redding was a Millerite, JS’s denunciation of Redding’s vision and JS’s statement that the Second Coming would not occur in 1843 were part of a continuing effort to differentiate Latter-day Saints from Millerites. Led by Baptist William Miller, the Millerites preached that Jesus Christ’s second advent would occur in 1843 or 1844. The Latter-day Saints’ and Millerites’ similar beliefs in the approaching Millennium drew frequent comparisons between the sects in the press. (Miller, Evidence from Scripture, 26; Rowe, God’s Strange Work, chaps. 4–7; “Mormons and Mormon Tenets,” Home Missionary, June 1840, 37; “State of the Country,” New York Herald [New York City], 17 Sept. 1842, ; “Fanaticism,” Boston Investigator, 2 Nov. 1842, ; A. G. Comings, “Miller’s Views Reviewed,” Signs of the Times, 5 Oct. 1842, 18. For examples of JS’s focus on the nearness of the Millennium, see Visions, 3 Apr. 1836 [D&C 110:16]; Letter to the Church and Edward Partridge, 20 Mar. 1839; and Discourse, between ca. 26 June and ca. 4 Aug. 1839–A.)
Miller, William. Evidence from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ, about the Year 1843; Exhibited in a Course of Lectures. Troy, NY: Kemble and Hooper, 1836.
Rowe, David L. God’s Strange Work: William Miller and the End of the World. Library of Religious Biography. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2008.
Home Missionary and American Pastor’s Journal. New York. 1828–1840.
New York Herald. New York City. 1835–1924.
Boston Investigator. Boston. 1831–1904.
Signs of the Times and Expositor of Prophecy. Boston. 1840–1844.