Times and Seasons (, Hancock Co., IL), 15 Aug. 1842, vol. 3, no. 20, pp. 879–894; edited by JS. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 Mar. 1839.
The 15 August 1842 issue of the Times and Seasons was the twelfth JS oversaw as editor. The issue reprinted a letter from the Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star detailing the Saints’ “first Foreign Mission” to Great Britain, which lasted from 1837 to 1838. The issue also continued the serialized “History of Joseph Smith” and reprinted the conclusion of an account from the Bostonian of a “Great Discussion on Mormonism” that had recently taken place in between Latter-day Saint missionary and Methodist minister George Montgomery West.
In addition, the issue included editorial content created by the staff of the paper. These items included an account of the history of persecution endured by the ; a short treatise on the spiritual power of knowledge; a note about unwelcome “loafers” in , Illinois; and an obituary for , a in the church. The issue concluded with a notice asking those indebted to JS’s deceased brother to pay their debts to his widow, . The extent of JS’s involvement in the creation and oversight of the issue’s content is difficult to ascertain, especially since he spent early August preoccupied with attempts to extradite him to and had gone into hiding by 10 August to avoid arrest and possible extradition. Regardless, as editor of the paper, JS assumed responsibility for all published content.
Note that only the editorial content created specifically for this issue of the Times and Seasons is annotated here. Articles reprinted from other papers, letters, conference minutes, and notices, are reproduced here but not annotated. Items that are stand-alone JS documents are annotated elsewhere; links are provided to these stand-alone documents.
vestigation by , is inadmissible) we believe, that judges, lawyers, and jurors, will not be very apprehensive that the law of the land, or the rights of the people, will suffer violence on this account.
Under the existing animosity of the inhabitants of the State of , manifested towards the , prudence would dictate great caution, and forbearance in the proceedings of public functionaries, relative to claims for persons or property in favor of either party, holding sacred the old maxim: “That it would be better to let ninety and nine guilty persons go unpunished, than to punish one innocent person unjustly.”
Concerning the whole matter, we believe that the parties are entirely innocent of the charges alledged against them; and that the whole of it is a wicked and malicious persecution. But it may here be asked by some if they are innocent, why did they not apply to the master in for a writ of habeas corpus, present themselves before the Judge of the district court, and prove themselves clear?
First, we would answer, that the writ of our municipal court was treated with contempt by the officers, and it would have been dishonoring our municipal authorities to have acknowledged the insufficiency of their writ, and to have let our city charter be wantonly trodden under foot; and that could not have been enforced without coercion, and perhaps employing military force, which under the present excited state of society might have been construed to treason.
In the second place, if they appealed to the district court it might have availed them nothing, even if the Judge felt disposed to do justice (which we certainly believe he would have done) as their dismission would rest upon some technicalities of law, rather than upon the merits of the case; as testimony to prove the guilt, or innocence of the persons charged, could not be admitted on the investigation on a writ of habeas corpus, the question, not being, whether the persons are guilty or not guilty; but merely to test the validity of the writ; which if proved to be issued in due form of law, however innocent the parties might be, would subject them to be transported to —to be murdered.
Upon the whele [whole] we think that they have taken the wisest course; we have no reflections to make upon their conduct, and shall maintain unshaken our opinions unless we have more light on the subject than we now possess.
Another editorial piece in this issue considered the connection between knowledge and spiritual power. The article recounted biblical examples of people rejecting new revelations from prophets even as they clung to old knowledge. While emphasizing an individual’s need to accept new revelations from heaven, the article also made it clear that those espousing new spiritual knowledge were often met with persecution. This was the only editorial in the issue signed “ED,” an abbreviation for editor.
“KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.”
The truth of our text can be proved in many ways, by experience. The man of intelligence certainly possesses a power which the unlearned lacks. In the different ages of the world men have arisen and flourished, and maintained their rights in proportion to the knowledge they possessed of the country they inhabited; in proportion to the knowledge they acquired in arts and sciences; and in proportion to the knowledge they displayed in agriculture, and virtue: hence the duration, the stability, and above all, the exaltation and happiness of any community, goes hand in hand with the knowledge possessed by the people, when applied to laudable ends; whereupon we can exclaim like the wise man; righteousness exalteth a nation; for righteousness embraces knowledge and knowledge is power.
From this view of the subject it will readily be perceived, that two kinds of knowledge have, from the beginning, actuated mankind; for all men have not been righteous, though they may have flourished in nations, kingdoms and countries, collectively and individually.
To go on, then, with our subjuct in its true course, will be to speak of that knowledge that cometh from above—which surpasses understanding; even revelation, which unfolds the mysteries of eternity. In this course, however, we are aware that the world will not acquiesce; for, notwithstanding, literally speaking, that all knowledge comes from God, yet when it has been revealed, all men have not believed it as revelation at the time. Hence, when Abel’s offering was accepted of the Lord, that knowledge must have been communicated by revelation, and that revelation though it gave Abel power with God: still Cain was offended, disbelieved and committed murder. Cain knew the Lord, and believed in his father Adam’s scripture, or revelation, but one revelation was enough: he could no[t] bear new ones, and fell.
Noah was a perfect man, and his knowledge or revelation of what was to take place upon the earth, gave him power to prepare and save himself and family from the destruction of the flood. This knowledge, or revelation, like the preceeding one to Abel, was not believed by the inhabitants of the earth. They knew Adam was the first man, made in the image of God; that he was a good man: that Enoch walked with God three hundred and sixty-five years, and was translated to heaven without tasting death: but they could not endure the new revelation: the old we believe because [p. 889]
This maxim had been popularized by Voltaire’s Zadig (1747), which included “the grand maxim”: “It is better that a guilty man should be acquitted than that an innocent one should be condemned.” Benjamin Franklin modified the saying, stating, “It is better 100 guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer.” (Voltaire, Zadig, ch. 6, p. 70; Smyth, Writings of Benjamin Franklin, 9:293; see also Matthew 18:12; and Luke 15:4.)
Voltaire. Zadig, and Other Tales. Translated by Robert Bruce Boswell. London: G. Bell, 1910.
Smyth, Albert Henry, ed. The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, Collected and Edited with a Life and Introduction. 10 vols. New York: Macmillan, 1905–1907.
In April 1842, JS preached a sermon on righteousness and knowledge, stating, “A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge for if he does not get knowledge he will be brought into Captivity by some evil power.” (Discourse, 10 Apr. 1842.)