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ONE thing which peculiarly impresses the mind of the investigator is that in every emergency some one seemed ready to meet it, and move the work along. To be sure it was a time when men were largely governed by the impulse of the moment, but what seems peculiar is, that notwithstanding the bitter and vindictive opposition, there was always, in time of need, some one moved to stand in the breach, to succor or protect the work struggling for existence. A case in point is mentioned by Joseph Smith about this time. It is well known that Joseph Smith was a very poor man, and it was often a serious question while his time was occupied with spiritual concerns as to where needed sustenance was to come from. While, assisted by Oliver Cowdery, he was bending every energy to forward the work of translation, he was in a very unexpected way supplied. He says:-
"About the same time came an old gentleman to visit us of whose name I wish to make honorable mention; Mr. Joseph Knight, Sen., of Colesville, Broome County, New York, who, having heard of the manner in which we were occupying our time, very kindly and considerately brought us a quantity of provisions, in order that we might not be interrupted in the work of translation, by the want of such necessaries of life; and I would just mention here (as in duty bound) that he several times brought us supplies (a distance
of at least thirty miles) which enabled us to continue the work which otherwise we must have relinquished for a season.
"Being very anxious to know his duty as to this work, I inquired of the Lord for him. 1 Times and Seasons, vol. 3, p. 884.
Another remarkable instance of the same nature is related by him, as follows:-
"Shortly after commencing to translate, I became acquainted with Mr. Peter Whitmer, of Fayette, Seneca County, New York, and also with some of his family. In the beginning of the month of June his son David Whitmer came to the place where we were residing, and brought with him a two horse wagon, for the purpose of having us accompany him to his father's place and there remain until we should finish the work. He proposed that we should have our board free of charge, and the assistance of one of his brothers to write for me, as also his own assistance when convenient.
"Having much need of such timely aid in an undertaking so arduous, and being informed that the people of the neighborhood were anxiously awaiting the opportunity, to inquire into these things, we accepted the invitation, and accompanied Mr. Whitmer to his father's house, and there resided until the translation was
11. A great and marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men. Behold, I am God, and give heed to my word, which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow; therefore, give heed unto my word.
2. Behold, the field is white already to harvest, therefore, whoso desireth to reap, let him thrust in his sickle with his might and reap while the day lasts, that he may treasure up for his soul everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God; yea, whosoever will thrust in his sickle and reap, the same is called of God, therefore, if you will ask of me you shall receive, if you will knock it shall be opened unto you.
3. Now, as you have asked, behold, I say unto you, keep my commandments, and seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion.
4. Behold, I speak unto you, and also to all those who have desires to bring forth and establish this work; and no one can assist in this work, except he shall be humble and full of love, having faith, hope, and charity, being temperate in all things whatsoever shall be intrusted to his care.
5. Behold, I am the light and the life of the world, that speaketh these words; therefore, give heed with your might, and then you are called. Amen
finished, and the copyright secured. Upon our arrival, we found Mr. Whitmer's family very anxious concerning the work, and very friendly towards ourselves. They continued so, boarded and lodged us according to proposal, and John Whitmer, in particular, assisted us very much in writing during the remainder of the work.
"In the meantime, David, John, and Peter Whitmer, Jr., became our zealous friends and assistants in the work," etc.-Times and Seasons, vol. 3, pp. 881, 885.
During this time several revelations were given. 2
2 l. A great and marvelous work is about to come forth unto children of men. Behold, I am God, and give heed to my word, which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow; therefore, give heed unto my word.
2. Behold, the field is white already to harvest, therefore, whoso desireth to reap, let him thrust in his sickle with his might, and reap while the day lasts, that he may treasure up for his soul everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God, yea, whosoever will thrust in his sickle and reap the same is called of God; therefore, if you will ask of me you shall receive, if you will knock it shall be opened unto you.
3. Seek to bring forth and establish my Zion. Keep my commandments in all things; and if you keep my commandments and endure to the end, you shall have eternal life; which gift is the greatest of all the gifts God
4. And it shall come to pass, that if you shall ask the Father in my name, in faith believing, you shall receive the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance , that you may stand as a witness of the things of which you shall both hear and see; and also, that you may declare repentance unto this generation.
5. Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of the living God, who created the heavens and the earth; a light which cannot be hid in darkness; wherefore, I must bring forth the fullness of my gospel from the Gentiles unto the house of Israel. And, behold, thou art David and thou art called to assist; which thing if ye do, and are faithful, ye shall be blessed spiritually and temporally, and great shall be your reward. Amen.
1. Hearken, my servant John, and listen to the words of Jesus Christ, your Lord and your Redeemer, for, behold, I speak unto you with sharpness and with power, for mine arm is over all the earth, and I will tell you that which no man knoweth save me and thee alone; for many times you have desired of me to know that which would be of the most worth unto you.
2. Behold, blessed are you for this thing, and for speaking my words which I have given you, according to my commandments.
3. And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of most worth unto you, will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the Kingdom of my Father. Amen.
1. Hearken, my servant Peter, and listen to the words of Jesus Christ, your Lord and your Redeemer, for, behold, I speak unto you with sharpness and with power, for mine arm is over all the earth, and I will tell you that which no man knoweth save me and thee alone; for many times
While at Mr. Whitmer's, engaged in translation, occurred another of the most wonderful and confirming events connected with the introduction of the Book of Mormon and the establishment of the work. Joseph was no longer to be the sole witness of the existence of the plates and the correctness of their translation. How joyful must have been his feelings as he realized that the burden which before he had borne alone was now to be shared by others. No wonder that he exclaimed when the wonderful vision had been concluded, Father, Mother, you do not know how happy I am; the Lord has now caused the plates to be shown to three more besides myself. They have seen an angel, who has testified to them, and they will have to bear witness to the truth of what I have said, for now they know for themselves that I do not go about to deceive the people, and I feel as if I was relieved of a burden which was almost too heavy for me to bear, and it rejoices my soul that I am not any longer to be entirely alone in the world."-Lucy Smith's History, p. 147.
The relation of these remarkable events we here present in the words of Joseph Smith:-
"We found the people of Seneca County in general friendly and disposed to inquire into the truth of these strange matters which now began to be noised abroad: many opened their houses to us in order that we might have an opportunity of meeting with our friends for the purposes of instruction and explanation. We met with many from time to time, who were willing to hear us, and wishful to find out the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, and apparently willing to obey the gospel when once fairly convinced and satisfied in their own minds; and in this same month of June my brother Hyrum Smith, David Whitmer, and Peter Whitmer, Jr., were baptized
you have desired of me to know that which would be of the most worth unto you.
2. Behold, blessed are you for this thing, and for speaking my words, which I have given unto you, according to my commandments.
3. And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you, will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father. Amen.
in Seneca Lake, the two former by myself, the latter by Oliver Cowdery. From this time forth many became believers, and were baptized, whilst we continued to instruct and persuade as many as applied for information.
"In the course of the work of translation we ascertained that three special witnesses were to be provided by the Lord, to whom he would grant that they should see the plates from which this work (the Book of Mormon) should be translated, and that these witnesses should bear record of the same; as will be found recorded. . . .
"Almost immediately after we had made this discovery, it occurred to Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and the aforementioned Martin Harris (who had come to inquire after our progress in the work) that they would have me inquire of the Lord, to know if they might not obtain of him to be these three special witnesses; and finally they became so very solicitous, and teased me so much, that at length I complied, and through the Urim and Thummin, I obtained of the Lord for them the following revelation 3 :-
"Not many days after the above commandment was given, we four; viz.: Martin Harris, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and myself, agreed to retire into the woods, and try to
31. Behold, I say into you, that you must rely upon my word, which if you do, with full purpose of heart, you shall have a view of the plates, and also of the breastplate, the sword of Laban, the Urim and Thummin which were given to the brother of Jared upon the mount, when he talked with the Lord face to face, and the miraculous directors which were given to Lehi while in the wilderness, on the borders of the Red Sea; and it is by your faith that you shall obtain a view of them, even by that faith which was had by the prophets of old.
2. And after that you have obtained faith, and have seen them with your eyes, you shall testify of them, by the power of God; and this you shall do that my servant Joseph Smith, Jr., may not be destroyed, that I may bring about my righteous purposes unto the children of men, in this work. And ye shall testify that you have seen them, even as my servant Joseph Smith, Jr., has seen them, for it is by my power that he has seen them, and it is because he had faith; and he has translated the book, even that part which I have commanded him, and as your Lord and your God liveth, it is true.
3. Wherefore you have received the same power, and the same faith, and the same gift like unto him and if you do these last commandments of mine, which I have given you, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; for my grace is sufficient for you; and you shall be lifted up at the last day. And I, Jesus Christ, your Lord and your God, have spoken it unto you, that I might bring about my righteous purposes unto the children of men. Amen.
obtain, by fervent and humble prayer, the fulfillment of the promises given in the revelation; that they should have a view of the plates, etc. We accordingly made choice of a piece of woods convenient to Mr. Whitmer's house, to which we retired, and having knelt down we began to pray in much faith, to Almighty God, to bestow upon us a realization of these promises. According to previous arrangements I commenced, by vocal prayer to our heavenly Father, and was followed by each of the rest in succession. We did not yet, however, obtain any answer, or manifestation of the divine favor in our behalf. We again observed the same order of prayer, each calling on and praying fervently to God in rotation; but with the same result as before. Upon this our second failure, Martin Harris proposed that he would withdraw himself from us, believing as he expressed himself that his presence was the cause of our not obtaining what we wished for. He accordingly withdrew from us, and we knelt down again, and had not been many minutes engaged in prayer, when presently we beheld a light above us in the air of exceeding brightness, and behold, an angel stood before us. In his hands he held the plates which we had been praying for these to have a view of. He turned over the leaves one by one, so that we could see them, and discover the engravings thereon distinctly. He addressed himself to David Whitmer, and said: 'David, blessed is the Lord, and he that keeps his commandments.' When immediately afterwards, we heard a voice from out of the bright light above us, saying, 'These plates have been revealed by the power of God, and they have been translated by the power of God; the translation of them which you have seen is correct, and I command you to bear record of what you now see and hear.'
"I now left David and Oliver, and went in pursuit of Martin Harris, whom I found at a considerable distance, fervently engaged in prayer. He soon told me, however, that he had not yet prevailed with the Lord, and earnestly requested me to join him in prayer, that he also might realize the same blessings which we had just received. We accordingly joined in prayer, and ultimately obtained our desire, for before we had yet finished, the same vision was opened to
our view; at least it was again to me, and I once more beheld, and heard the same things; whilst at the same moment Martin Harris cried out, apparently in ecstasy of joy, ''Tis enough; mine eyes have beheld,' and jumping up he shouted, Hosanah, blessing God, and other wise rejoiced exceedingly.
"Having thus, through the mercy of God, obtained these manifestations, it now remained for these three individuals to fulfill the commandment which they had received; viz. to bear record of these things, in order to accomplish which, they drew up and subscribed the following documents:-
"'THE TESTIMONY OF THREE WITNESSES.
"'Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come, that we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken; and we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us: wherefore we know of a surety, that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true; and it is marvelous in our eyes, nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the
heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.
"Soon after these things had transpired, the following additional testimony was obtained:-
"'AND ALSO THE TESTIMONY OF EIGHT WITNESSES.
"'Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come, that Joseph Smith, Jr., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated, we did handle with our hands: and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety, that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world to witness unto the world that which we have seen; and we lie not. God bearing witness of it.
"'Peter Whitmer, Jr.
"'Joseph Smith, Sen.
"'Samuel H. Smith.'"
-Times and Seasons, vol. 3, pp. 897-899.
The testimony of these witnesses is plain, and of a nature to preclude the possibility of their having been deceived. They could not have been mistaken, hence their testimony is true, or they are liars. What inducement could have been offered them to lie? The cause was unpopular; yes, bitterly and violently persecuted. They had every reason to believe that contumely, persecution, and ostracism would be their portion if they thus publicly espoused this cause. Joseph Smith had neither wealth, emolument, nor positions of honor to offer them.
By some careless writers it has been stated that some of them denied or renounced their testimony in after years, but no authenticated denial or renouncement exists to our knowledge; at least none has been produced, though often publicly demanded. We suppose that this report has obtained through a misunderstanding of their attitude.
It is true that some of them became disaffected during the troublesome times in Missouri, and that differences arose between them and Joseph Smith; but these differences did not occur on account of the Book of Mormon or the testimonies before published. Their contentions arose from other causes, real or supposed, and did not in any sense affect their attitude towards the book.
It is not our province to discuss these differences, or to say which was right, if either. There may have been unwise actions and unwise sayings on both sides; but the fact of their estrangement only makes their former testimony stronger when we reflect that neither party during their differences and contention accused the other of fraud in these testimonies. There were no exposures, no confessions, but all went to their graves unwaveringly maintaining the truth of their testimony. Some strong and perhaps harsh statements were made during this controversy, but this only argues that they were not afraid of retaliation by way of exposure of previous frauds.
Some of these witnesses have left on record no further testimony than that found in the document to which they subscribed in 1829.
The three witnesses, whose testimony is most important, have reaffirmed it, however; so also has John Whitmer, the last surviving one of the eight.
To each of the writers of this history David Whitmer said, in the presence of witnesses and at his home in Richmond, Missouri, that he attended Oliver Cowdery, who died at Richmond, Missouri, Sunday, March 3, 1850, on his deathbed, and that during his last sickness Oliver admonished him to be faithful to his testimony for it was true. "It is recorded in the American Cyclopedia and
the Encyclopedia Britannica, that I, David Whitmer, have denied my testimony as one of the three witnesses to the divinity of the Book of Mormon; and that the other two witnesses, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, denied their testimony to that book. I will say once more to all mankind, that I have never at any time denied that testimony or any part thereof. I also testify to the world, that neither Oliver Cowdery or Martin Harris ever at any time denied their testimony. They both died reaffirming the truth of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. I was present at the deathbed of Oliver Cowdery, and his last words were, 'Brother David, be true to your testimony to the Book of Mormon.' He died here in Richmond, Missouri, on March 3, 1850. Many witnesses yet live in Richmond, who will testify to the truth of these facts, as well as to the good character of Oliver Cowdery."-David Whitmer's "Address," p. 8.4
George Reynolds in his "Myth of the Manuscript Found," 4 pages 79 and 80, relates the testimony of Cowdery in 1848 in harmony with the foregoing. He quotes from the Deseret News.
Martin Harris, who died at Clarkston, Cache County, Utah, Saturday, July 10, 1875, wrote from Smithfield, Utah, to Mrs. H. B. Emerson, of New Richmond, Ohio, in November, 1870, and in January, 1871, and bears a renewed testimony. 5
4At a special conference at Council Bluffs, Iowa, held on the 21st of October, in the year 1848, Bro. Oliver Cowdery, one of the three important witnesses to the truth of the Book of Mormon, and who had been absent from the church, through disaffection, for a number of years, and had been engaged in the practice of law, was present and made the remarks here annexed....
"Friends and brethren, my name is Cowdery-Oliver Cowdery. In the early history of this church I stood identified with her, and one in her councils. True it is that the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. Not because I was better than the rest of mankind was I called; but, to fulfill the purposes of God, he called me to a high and holy calling. I wrote, with my own pen, the entire Book of Mormon (save a few pages), as it fell from the lips of the Prophet Joseph Smith, as he translated it by the gift and power of God, by the means of the Urim and Thummin, or, as it is called by that book, 'holy interpreters.' I beheld with my eyes and handled with my hands the gold plates from which it was translated. I also saw with my eyes and handled with my hands the 'holy interpreters.' That book is true. Sidney Rigdon did not write it. Mr. Spalding did not write it. I wrote it myself as it fell from the lips of the Prophet."
5Smithfield, Utah, Nov. 23, 1870.
Mr. Emerson; Sir:-I received your favor. In reply I will say concerning
We here insert a letter of D. B. Dille as published in the "Myth of the Manuscript Found," pages 88, 89, which takes it from the Millennial Star:-
"SEPTEMBER 15, 1853.
"Be it known to all whom this may concern that I, David B. Dille, of Ogden City, Weber County, Salt Lake, enroute to Great Britain, having business with one Martin Harris, formerly of the church of Latter Day Saints, and residing at Kirtland, Lake County, Ohio, did personally wait upon him at his residence, and found him sick in bed; and was informed by the said Martin Harris that he had not been able to take any nourishment for the space of three days. This, together with his advanced age, had completely prostrated him. After making my business known to Mr. Harris, and some little conversation with him, the said Martin Harris started up in bed, and, after particularly inquiring concerning the prosperity of the church, made the following declaration :-
"'I feel that a spirit has come across me-the old spirit of Mormonism; and I begin to feel as I used to feel; and I will not say-"I won't go to the valley." Then addressing himself to his wife, he said-"I don't know but that, if you will get me some breakfast, I will get up and eat it.' . . .
"I afterwards put the following questions to Mr. Harris, to which he severally replied with the greatest cheerfulness: 'What do you think of the Book of Mormon Is it a divine record?'
the plates: I do say that the angel did show to me the plates containing the Book of Mormon. Further, the translation that I carried to Prof. Anthon was copied from these same plates; also, that the Professor did testify to it being a correct translation.................
SMITHFIELD, Cache Co., U. T., January, 1871.
To H. Emerson; Dear Sir:-Your second letter, dated December, 1870, came duly to hand. I am truly glad to see a spirit of inquiry manifested therein. I reply by a borrowed hand, as my sight has failed me too much to write myself. Your questions: Question 1, "Did you go to England to lecture against 'Mormonism'?"
Answer. I answer emphatically, No, I did not;-no man ever heard me in any way deny the truth of the Book of Mormon, the administration of the angel that showed me the plates; nor the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, under the administration of Joseph Smith, Jr., the prophet whom the Lord raised up for that purpose, in these the latter days, that he may show forth his power and glory....-Saints Herald, vol. 22, p.630.
"Mr. Harris replied: 'I was the right hand man of Joseph Smith, and I know that he was a prophet of God. I know the Book of Mormon is true-and you know that I know that it is true. I know that the plates have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice declared it unto us; therefore I know of a surety that the work is true; for did I not at one time hold the plates on my knee an hour and a half, while in conversation with Joseph, when we went to bury them in the woods, that the enemy might not obtain them? Yes, I did. And as many of the plates as Joseph Smith translated, I handled with my hands, plate after plate' Then, describing their dimensions, he pointed with one of the fingers of his left hand to the back of his right hand and said: 'I should think they were so long,' or about eight inches, 'and about so thick,' or about four inches; 'and each of the plates was thicker than the thickest tin.'
"I then asked Mr. Harris if he ever lost three thousand dollars by the publishing of the Book of Mormon?
"Mr. Harris said, 'I never lost one cent. Mr. Smith paid me all that I advanced, and more too.' As much as to say he received a portion of the profits accruing from the sale of the books.
"Mr. Harris further said: 'I took a transcript of the characters of the plates to Dr. Anthon, of New York. When I arrived at the house of Professor Anthon, I found him in his office and alone, and presented the transcript to him, and asked him to read it. He said if I would bring the plates, he would assist in the translation. I told him I could not, for they were sealed. Professor Anthon then gave me a certificate certifying that the characters were Arabic, Chaldaic, and Egyptian. I then left Dr. Anthon, and was near the door, when he said, 'How did the young man know the plates were there?' I said an angel had shown them to him. Professor Anthon then said, 'Let me see the certificate!' Upon which, I took it from my waistcoat pocket and unsuspectingly gave it to him. He then tore it up in anger, saying there was no such things as angels now, it was all a hoax. I then went to Dr. Mitchill with the transcript, and he confirmed what Professor Anthon had said.'
"Mr. Harris is about fifty-eight years old, and is on a valuable farm of ninety acres, beautifully situated at Kirtland, Lake County, Ohio."-Millennial Star.
We also insert a statement made by Simon Smith concerning his visit to the deathbed of Martin Harris:-
"We had the opportunity, this morning, to interview Elder Simon Smith, of Cameron, Missouri, (the gentleman referred to yesterday who visited Martin Harris before his death,) and asked the following questions, which were answered
"'Did you know Martin Harris, one of the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon?' 'Yes, sir.'
"'When did you first make his acquaintance?' 'I am not certain, but I think in 1873.'
"'Were you intimately acquainted with him?' 'Yes.'
"'How long were you acquainted with him?' 'About two, years.'
"'What are your convictions of his character as regards veracity?' 'He was a truthful and reliable man so far as my acquaintance with him is concerned.'
"'What was his reputation in this regard?' 'Good. He was considered reliable by all who were acquainted with him.'
"'Did you ever hear him refer to his testimony in connection with the Book of Mormon?' 'Yes, sir.'
"'Did he deny it?' 'No, sir.'
"'Were you present when he died?' 'I was not present at the last moment, but was with him while he was on his deathbed, and his son told me that the last words he spoke which were understood by them were in testimony of the angel and the Book of Mormon.'
"'How long before his death did you see him last?' 'About four days.'
"'At the time you saw him last did he say anything in regard to his testimony?' 'Yes; he certified to me that his testimony in connection with the Book of Mormon was true, and added, "I tell you these things that you may tell others. I cannot and dare not deny it lest the power of God should consume me."'
"'Did he seem to be sensible of his approaching death?' 'Yes; as I entered the room he held out his hand to me and said, "Bishop, I am going to leave you now"'
"'Did he appear to be in proper possession of his faculties, or was his mind wandering?' 'He had full control of his faculties.'
"'It has been reported that a body of ministers visited his deathbed, and to them he denied his testimony. Do you know anything of this?' 'I was the only minister who visited him. In fact, there were no ministers of other denominations in the town.'
"'How far did you live from where he died?' 'About two blocks.'
"'Were you intimate with the family after his death?' 'Yes, sir.'
"'Did you ever hear them speak of such a visit?' 'No, sir, not them or anyone else. The first I heard of it was here in Stewartsville, yesterday.'
"'Where did he die?' 'At Clarkston, Cache County, Utah.'
"'Did he indorse polygamy?' 'No, sir, I asked him the question and he answered, No. I asked him if Joseph Smith taught it, and he answered, No, nor was it a doctrine of the church in his life. It is Brigham Young's doctrine."'-St. Joseph, Missouri, Herald, April 16, 1884.
David Whitmer, the last surviving one of the three, who died at his home, Richmond, Missouri, Wednesday, January 25, 1888, reaffirmed his testimony many times during the last years of his life. We select a few of his reaffirmations. On the top of the humble marble that marks his resting place in Richmond cemetery may be seen to-day the chiseled figure of the Bible, upon which lies one of the Book of Mormon, while underneath are inscribed some of his last words as follows:-
"The Record of the Jews, and the Record of the Nephites are one. Truth is Eternal"
We visited the tomb and copied the inscription on Wednesday, June 24,1896.
James Caffall, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, visited him in August, 1874. He says:-
"Before I bade him good-bye, I said to him, 'Can I, Father Whitmer, say, I this day have seen a living witness to the Book of Mormon?' whereupon he raised his eyes heavenward, and said: 'AS MY TESTIMONY STANDS, SO IT IS; I HAVE NOT, NOR WILL I DENY IT."'-Saints' Herald , vol. 21, p. 564.
We received a letter from him in 1876 which is quite positive and to the point. 5
John Whitmer, one of the eight witnesses, when leaving the editorial chair of the Messenger and Advocate, in 1836, in an address published in March issue of that year, said:-
"It may not be amiss in this place to give a statement to the world concerning the work of the Lord, as I have been a member of this church of Latter Day Saints from its beginning.
5RICHMOND, Ray Co., Mo., December 5, 1876.
Heman C. Smith; Dear Sir:-As concerning the Book of Mormon, and its contents, and my views, for which you inquire: I can say the book and its contents are true, and my testimony in connection with the book is also true.
In his "Address to All Believers in Christ," pages 8, 9, 10, he makes this statement:-
"Unto all nations, kindred, tongues, and people, unto whom these presents shall come:-
"It having been represented by one John Murphy, of Polo, Caldwell County, Missouri, that I, in a conversation with him last summer, denied my testimony as one of the three witnesses to the 'Book of Mormon.'
"To the end, therefore, that he may understand me now, if he did not then; and that the world may know the truth, I wish now, standing as it were, in the very sunset of life, and in the fear of God, once for all to make this public statement:-
"That I have never at any time denied that testimony or any part thereof, which has so long since been published with that book, as one of the three witnesses. Those who know me best, well know that I have always adhered to that testimony. And that no man may be misled or doubt my present views in regard to the same, I do again affirm the truth of all of my statements, as then made and published.
"'He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear;' it was no delusion! What is written is written, and he that readeth let him understand.
"And that no one may be deceived or misled by this statement, I wish here to state: that I do not indorse polygamy or spiritual wifeism. It is a great evil, shocking to the moral sense, and the more so, because practiced in the name of religion. It is of man and not of God, and is especially forbidden in the Book of Mormon itself.
"I do not indorse the change of the name of the church, for as the wife takes the name of her husband so should the Church of the Lamb of God take the name of its head, even Christ himself. It is the Church of Christ.
To say that the Book of Mormon is a revelation from God, I have no hesitancy; but with all confidence have signed my name to it as such; and I hope that my patrons will indulge me in speaking freely on this subject, as I am about
"As to the high priesthood, Jesus Christ himself is the last Great High Priest, this too after the order of Melchisedec, as I understand the Holy Scriptures.
"Finally, I do not indorse any of the teachings of the so-called Mormons, of Latter Day Saints, which are in conflict with the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as taught in the Bible and Book of Mormon; for the same gospel is plainly taught in both of these books as I understand the word of God.
"And if any man doubt should he not carefully and honestly read and understand the same, before presuming to sit in judgment and condemning the light, which shineth in darkness, and showeth the way of eternal life as pointed out by the unerring hand of God.
"In the spirit of Christ who hath said: 'Follow thou me, for I am the life, the light, and the way,' I submit this statement to the world. God in whom I trust being my Judge as to the sincerity of my motives and the faith and hope that is in me of eternal life.
"My sincere desire is that the world may be benefited by this plain and simple statement of the truth.
"And all the honor be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen. DAVID WHITMER.
"RICHMOND, MISSOURI, March 19, 1881.
"We, the undersigned citizens of Richmond, Ray County, Missouri, where David Whitmer has resided since the year A. D. 1838, certify that we have been long and intimately acquainted with him and know him to be a man of the highest integrity and of undoubted truth and veracity.
"Given at Richmond, Missouri this March 19, A. D. 1881.
"Gen. Alexander W. Doniphan.
"W. A. Holman, County Treasurer.
"Hon. George W. Dunn, Judge of
"J. S. Hughes, Banker, Richmond.
the Fifth Judicial Circuit.
"James Hughes, Banker, Rich-
"Thos. D. Woodson, President of
Ray County Savings Bank.
"D. P. Whitmer, Attorney at Law.
"J. T. Child, Editor of Conservator.
"Hon. James W. Black, Attorney
"H. C. Garner, Cashier of Ray
County Savings Bank.
"Thomas McGinnis, Ex-Sheriff
"L. C. Cantwell, Postmaster, Richmond
"George I. Wasson, Mayor.
"J. P. Quesenberry, Merchant.
"James A. Davis, County Collector.
"W. R. Holman, Furniture Mer-
"C. J. Hughes, Probate Judge and
Presiding Justice of Ray County Court
"Lewis Slaughter, Recorder of Deeds
"George W. Trigg, County Clerk
"George W. Buchanan, M. D.
"W. W. Mosby, M. D.
"A. K. Reyburn.
"From the Richmond (Missouri), Conservator, March 24, 1881:-
"Elsewhere we publish a letter from David Whitmer, an old and well-known citizen of Ray, as well as an indorsement [endorsement] of his standing as a man, signed by a number of the leading citizens of this community, in reply to some aspersions made upon him.
leaving the editorial department. Therefore I desire to testify to all that will come to the knowledge of this address that I have most assuredly seen the plates from whence the Book of Mormon is translated, and that I have handled these plates, and know of a surety that Joseph Smith, Jr., has translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God, and in this thing the wisdom of the wise most assuredly has perished: therefore, know ye, O ye inhabitants of the earth, wherever this address may come, that I have in this thing freed my garments of your blood, whether you believe or disbelieve the statements of your unworthy friend well-wisher."-Messenger and Advocate, vol. 2, pp. 286, 287.
To us he wrote in 1876, in harmony with the foregoing. 6
The testimonies, given at various times by the very men who report says denied their testimony, lead us to believe that said reports are not true, hence have no rightful place in history, especially so when we consider that no statement from them confirming the rumor has ever been authenticated.
"There is no doubt that Mr. Whitmer, who was one of the three witnesses of the authenticity of the gold plates, from which he asserts that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon (a facsimile of the characters he now has in his possession with the original records), is firmly convinced of its divine origin, and while he makes no effort to obtrude his views or beliefs, he simply wants the world to know that so far as he is concerned there is no 'variableness or shadow of turning.' Having resided here for near a half of a century, it is with no little pride that he points to his past record with the consciousness that he has done nothing derogatory to his character as a citizen and a believer in the son of Mary, to warrant such an attack on him, come from what source it may, and now with the lilies of seventy-five winters crowning him like an aureole, and his pilgrimage on earth well-nigh ended, he reiterates his former statements, and will leave futurity to solve the problem that he was but a passing witness to its fulfillment. His attacks on the vileness that has sprung up with the Utah Church, must have a salutary effect upon those bigamists who have made adultery the corner-stone in the edifice of their belief."
6FAR WEST, Caldwell Co., Mo., December 11, 1876.
H. C. Smith; Dear Sir:-Your letter came to hand-your request considered. First, as for giving all particulars that I know of the Book of Mormon, cannot be written on one sheet of paper; therefore permit me to be brief. From what you have written I conclude you have read the Book of Mormon, together with the testimonies that are thereto attached, in which testimonies you read my name subscribed as one of the eight witnesses to said book. That testimony was, and will be true, henceforth and forever.
Their testimony then stands unretracted and unimpeached. The reader can examine it, together with the circumstances under which it was given, and form his own conclusion as he expects to answer for that conclusion at the bar of God.
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