Times and Seasons, (, Hancock Co., IL), 15 June 1842, vol. 3, no. 16, 815–830; edited by JS. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 Mar. 1839.
As editor of the Times and Seasons, JS oversaw the publication of the newspaper’s 15 June 1842 issue. The issue opened with an excerpt from the church’s newspaper in , the Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star, emphasizing the necessity of a restoration of the gospel. This was followed by the seventh installment of the serialized “History of Joseph Smith” and excerpted articles from several eastern newspapers about JS and the . The issue also included a letter from traveling in , who had just returned from his mission in England, and the minutes of a 14 May 1842 church held in Grafton, Ohio. The issue concluded with a poem on the by and a public notice that the had withdrawn “the hand of fellowship” from .
In addition to these items, the issue included editorial content that was presumably written by JS or his editorial staff. This editorial content, which is featured here, includes three items: commentary on a popular book on American antiquities, with quotations from the Book of Mormon; a letter to the editor denouncing a pair of missionaries in Tennessee, together with an editorial response; and an article on the .
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.
Vol. III. No. 16.]- CITY OF , ILL. June 15, 1842. -[Whole No. 52
From the Millennial Star.
GRAPES FROM THORNS AND FIGS FROM THISTLES.
“Either make the tree good, and its fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt. A tree is known by its fruit.”— -[Jesus Christ.
This rule has often been applied to the moral conduct of individual professors, but we now propose to apply it to religious systems, and churches; for if a tree is known by its fruit, churches and systems may also be known by their fruits.
On all sides we turn our eyes we behold the Christian world divided into sects and parties—all differing from each other and all professing to be the church of Christ. Hence the inquiring mind often meets with extreme difficulty in endeavoring to ascertain the right, from the wrong. All the Protestant world agree that the Roman Catholic, or mother church, is so corrupt, and so far apostatised from the truth, that a reformation was not only needed but absolutely necessary. Many of them even go so far as to say, that she is the “mother of harlots”—the woman upon the “scarlet colored beast”—“anti-Christ”—“the man of sin,” &c. Indeed, her principles are so abominably wicked, and so manifestly corrupt, that the thinking mind is almost forced to the above conclusions.
But still the Roman Catholic religion was the national religion of England for many hundred years. She built the ancient chapels where the Protestants now worship. Under her authority the country was divided into parishes, bishopricks, &c. All the offices and ordinances were administered by her. She ordained the bishops and clergy, and she christened the entire population, from generation to generation. At length, in the reign of Henry the VIII, the authorities of and most of her population became Protestants; they were excommunicated from the communion of the mother church, and withdrew from her fellowship.
At length, after many bloody struggles the Church of England was established in her present form. But still she professed to retain the priesthood and ordinances which she had received from the Catholic or mother church—that is, her bishops and clergy claimed no new commission from Heaven, and her members were not christened anew.
Now comes the application of our text. If the mother church was a good tree, why should Protestant England leave her communion? If, on the other hand, she was a bad tree, how could her priesthood and ordinances be good?
Question. From whence did the Protestant church derive her authority as to offices, ordinances, and christenings?
Answer. From the Catholics.
Quest. Was the Catholic church a good tree or a bad one?
Ans. She was a bad one—so says protestantism.
Quest. “Do men gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles”—can a bad tree produce a good stock or branch?
Ans. “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt and its fruit corrupt; a tree is known by its fruits.”
Now according to the plainest rules of logic, if the Catholic church was Anti-Christian, then her christening, or baptism, and her priesthood, was not of heaven but of men. God neither recognized the Catholic church as his church—her ministers as his ministers, or her ordinances as his ordinances. Then as a matter of course, the Protestants were without a Christian ministry, and without a Christain baptism, when they first dissented from the Catholics. Therefore their only alternative would have been to have received a new commission by revelation from Heaven; and; consequently, a new baptism. That is, all the Protestant people, both clergy and laymen, should have been considered as unbaptized, until they were administered to by Protestants, who had been commmissioned by new revelation.
The fact of her having retained her baptism and her priesthood, which she received, while Catholic, establishes the point beyond controversy, that she is a stock or branch of the old tree. And by so doing she virtually acknowledges the tree from which she grew to be a good tree, or herself a bad one.