Joseph Smith Trial, Trial of Joseph Smith, Joseph Smith on Trial by Rich Kelsey showing a history of Mormon false teaching

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An Incredible Story Part III — Joseph Smith on Trial

Rich Kelsey

Joseph Smith  (This is a simulated trial; for information on the 1826 Glass Looking Trial click HERE)

 

Please follow me into the courtroom and take a seat in the jury box.  The trial is about to begin.

People vs. Joseph Smith:

The Charges: 

Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, stands before the court for the offense of fabricating written works and attributing those works to holy men of old.  The plaintiff’s contention is that Smith is an imposter; damages caused by his pretensions are enormous. 

How the Defense Represents Smith: 

Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it (Doctrine and Covenants 135:3).

What is being said here?

LDS leaders are conveying the belief that Joseph Smith restored the gospel.[i]  In Mormon thought, part of the gospel’s restoration was bringing the Book of Mormon into the world.  Other factors in the restoration are the supposed revelations given to Smith, pertaining to doctrine, ordinances, and salvation.  These revelations are found in Mormon scripture: The Doctrine and Covenants. 

Joseph Smith explained, 

Take away the Book of Mormon and the revelations, and where is our religion? We have none (History of the Church 2:52). 

Mormonism is a religion founded[ii] upon Smith’s written works.

Clerk to jurors:

Do you solemnly swear that you will carefully hear this case and come to a verdict based upon the evidence presented?

Your response:

Yes? or No?

Standard Exhortation: 

Members of the jury are asked to proceed with caution.  The defense may try to send you looking in a thousand different directions.  It is your responsibility to keep focused.  If there appear to be too many shadows and not enough substance in one testimony, then disregard it and move on.  The virtues of a good juror are to keep an open mind and to carefully weigh the evidence.

Let us proceed:

Opening Statement:

Using clear and convincing evidence I will prove that the Book of Mormon and the revelations which the defendant brought forth are fabricated works.  I will also establish that the accused is morally responsible for causing gross injustice to his victims.  He had knowledge that people seeking spiritual answers generally have a trusting nature and he took advantage of them. 

There is little tangible evidence available for the court to examine, because the golden plates which the defendant supposedly found, the stone glasses, the breastplate which he said was deposited with the plates,[iii] and the sword of Laban which three witnesses were supposed to have seen.[iv] were supposedly taken to heaven by an angel. The defense offers incredible stories to back up the existence of these items. 

Here is one example:[v]

“When Joseph got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the hill Cumorah, which he did. Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large and spacious room…  They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads… the sword of Laban hung upon the wall…”  (Sermon from LDS President Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 19:38)

Hearsay evidence such as this will generally not be allowed. 

Firsthand information from witnesses such as early accounts of events surrounding the defendant, conversations with him, his scribes, and his associates will be presented; material trusted and documented by Mormon sources is given the highest priority.  The evidence we examine has been meticulously documented, with notation, and the sources were thoroughly checked to make sure they are valid. 

Previous History: 

Years before Joseph Smith became famous for supposedly translating a golden record (the Book of Mormon), Smith had gained notoriety[vi] for guiding a small group of money-diggers in search of hidden treasure. 

The Prophet explained, 

“In the month of October, 1825, I hired with an old gentleman by the name of Josiah Stoal... After I went to live with him, he took me, with the rest of his hands, to dig for the silver mine, at which I continued to work for nearly a month, without success in our undertaking, and finally I prevailed with the old gentleman to cease digging after it. Hence arose the very prevalent story of my having been a money-digger.”[vii]

His Mother explained, 

“…a man by the name of Josiah Stoal, came from Chenango co., New York, with the view of getting Joseph to assist him in digging for a silver mine.  He came for Joseph on account of having heard that he possessed certain keys, by which he could discern things invisible to the natural eye.”[viii] 

His Father in law explained, 

“…the enchantment was so powerful that he could not see.”[ix]   

Joseph Smith's 1826 Glass Looking Trial:[x]

It turned out that Stoal’s children[xi] were convinced that Smith had cheated[xii] their Father out of some of his money.  The matter was brought to court.[xiii]  There are different accounts as to exactly what took place in this legal proceeding,[xiv] yet one thing is crystal clear: Joseph Smith's 1826 glass looking trial demonstrated that some people believed wholeheartedly in his ability as a glass looker,[xv] or stone peeper,[xvi] while others considered him an imposter.  Such would be the case[xvii] throughout Smith’s lifetime.

Court Testimony:

Judge Neeley asked Stoal,

 "…do I understand you as swearing before God, under the solemn oath you have taken, that you believe the prisoner [Joseph Smith] can see by the aid of the stone fifty feet below the surface of the earth; as plainly as you can see what is on my table?"

Stoal replied, 

"Do I believe it?’...‘it is not a matter of belief: I positively know it to be true.’"[xviii]

Thompson testified,[xix] 

“Smith had told the Deacon (Josiah) that very many years before a band of robbers had buried on his flat a box of treasure, and as it was very valuable they had by a sacrifice placed a charm over it to protect it, so that it could not be obtained except by faith, accompanied by certain talismanic influences.” They went, “to the spot designated by Smith. Digging was commenced… the box of treasure was struck by the shovel… but it gradually receded from their grasp…”[xx]

It’s worth mentioning that these court testimonies contain many of the same elements as the story the defendant was telling of discovering golden plates:

The golden plates were also: 

·       discovered in the 1820s

·       buried in a box many years before

·       treasure guarded by a spirit[xxi]

·       not to be obtained until certain requirements were met

·       to be obtained in midnight darkness[xxii]

People are still thinking[xxiii] about the former charges brought against the defendant.  Yet, many new charges could be added to the old court docket because Smith didn’t stop looking into his seer stones.[xxiv]  He supposedly used stone-peeping to bring forth the Book of Mormon.[xxv]  He supposedly used stone-peeping to bring forth other written works.[xxvi]

Evidence in this Case:

The following is offered into evidence: 

·       The Book of Mormon. 

·       Revelations from the Doctrine and Covenants.

·       The History of Joseph Smith written by his mother.

·       The official History of the Church.

·       Various testimonies and other recorded accounts pertaining to the defendant and this case. 

As we examine this evidence let’s keep in mind an admonition from the tenth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints given to investigators of Mormonism:

 “Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground.  …the doctrines of an impostor cannot be made to harmonize in all particulars with divine truth. If his claims and declarations were built upon fraud and deceit, there would appear many errors and contradictions, which would be easy to detect.” (Doctrines of Salvation, Joseph Fielding Smith, 1954, vol. 1, p. 188)

Bringing Forth the Book of Mormon:

Timeline:

·       In the spring of 1820, Joseph Smith supposedly has his first vision and is told that all the churches are wrong.

·       On September 21, 1823, Joseph Smith supposedly has his second vision and is told of the golden plates.

·       The next day, September 22, 1823, Smith goes to a nearby hill and finds the plates.

·       Four years later, on September 22, 1827, the Angel Moroni allows Smith to obtain the plates.

·       In December of 1827 Joseph’s wife Emma and her brother Reuben start translating an early Book of Mormon manuscript.

·       In April of 1828 Martin Harris takes over as Smith’s scribe.

·       In June of 1828 Harris loses the manuscript.

·       Then, Smith receives a revelation that Martin Harris is a wicked man who is out to destroy him.[xxvii]

·       The angel Moroni supposedly takes the plates from Smith and returns them a few months later, on September 22, 1828.

·       Smith does some translating in late 1828 through early 1829.

·       In March of 1829 Martin Harris is allowed to repent and eventually becomes[xxviii] one of the Book of Mormon’s Three Witnesses.

·       Oliver Cowdery starts as Smith’s scribe on April 7, 1829

·       The new Book of Mormon manuscript is finished in June of 1829. 

·       In March of 1830 Smith receives a revelation: Martin Harris should not covet his property, but impart it to print the Book of Mormon.[xxix]

·      Also in March of 1830 the first edition of the Book of Mormon is published.

 

    Prosecution:

If it pleases the court, at this time I would like to introduce a brief rundown of Smith’s interaction with his first principle scribe Martin Harris, and also Martin's wife Lucy Harris.

Judge:

You may proceed.

Consider what the early days were like for Joseph Smith.  Many[xxx] had heard of the incredible story he was telling of finding[xxxi] golden plates with ancient writing upon them.  The supposed translation of the language on the plates into English started slowly and progressed through difficult times.  In the beginning Joseph’s scribes were his wife Emma and her brother Reuben Hale.  Then, Martin Harris, a wealthy farmer, took over. 

The Trouble With Lucy Harris:

As Martin Harris was making preparations to leave the farm and become Smith’s scribe for a season, his wife Lucy asked if she could come with him and stay for a week or two.  Martin agreed.  Together they traveled from their farm in Manchester, New York to Harmony, Pennsylvania where Joseph and Emma Smith were living at Emma’s parent’s home.

However, while in Pennsylvania, Lucy

“…did all that lay in her power to injure Joseph in the estimation of his neighbours— telling them that he was a grand impostor, and, that by his specious pretensions, he had seduced her husband into the belief that he [Joseph Smith] was some great one, merely through a design upon her husband’s property…” (Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 24)

Things did not work out well between Lucy and the Smiths; she ended up staying with a neighbor.[xxxii]  After about two weeks, Martin took her back home.

There, Lucy tried,

“…to dissuade her husband from taking any further part in the publication of the Record; [Book of Mormon] however, Mr. Harris [Martin] paid no attention to her, but returned and continued writing.”[xxxiii]

While Lucy was back home in New York,

“…she went from place to place, and from house to house, telling her grievances, and declaring that Joseph Smith was practising (sic) a deception upon the people, which was about to strip her of all that she possessed…” (Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 24)

Rebuttal:

What an embarrassing history!  The defendant was called a “grand impostor” by none other than his principal scribe’s wife.  She also claimed that he was, “practicing a deception upon the people.”  In other words, Lucy Harris was telling people that Joseph Smith was a con-man.

A confidence man or con-man is a person who swindles his victims using a confidence game.  What the con-man is really selling is an illusion — a dream.  The control the con-man has over his victims is in the confidence his victims have in him, and/or, the scheme he has them involved in.

Smith was an illusionist.  He had a magic act in which, for a fee, he would gaze into his crystal ball (seer stone) and tell others what he saw.  He had used this act before to search for buried treasure.  Now, he was using it to translate mysterious ancient script.

Martin Harris was a dreamer.  He fell headlong for the tales the defendant told him.  He was very excited about bringing forth the golden record, until doubt overcame him.

The Perfect Breeding Ground for Doubt

Envision what it was like during the time Joseph Smith and Martin Harris were working on the translation,

“Although in the same room, a thick curtain or blanket was suspended between them, and Smith concealed behind the blanket…” (Account of Martin Harris given to the Rev. John A. Clark in 1828)[xxxiv]

After two months, Martin needed to take some time off.  Before Martin headed home, Joseph’s Mother claimed that he asked her son to permit him to look upon the plates:

“Mr. Harris [Martin] remained with my son and wrote diligently until he had transcribed nearly 116 pages of the record.  When it became necessary for him to return home — he began to request Joseph to permit him to look upon the plates for he desired a further witness…“ (Lucy Smith History: First Draft, Biographical Sketches, chapter 25, author paraphrase)[xxxv]

The magical method of translation was the perfect breeding ground for doubt.[xxxvi]  Martin had just written page after page of supposed divine prose, dictated straight from the “Prophet and Seer of the Lord.”[xxxvii]  One may have thought the role Martin played in bringing forth the Book of Mormon would have been a faith-building experience; instead, it left him wondering,

“Was Joseph making a fool of him?  Was he the classic dupe, to be cheated out of his money and farm when the fraud was complete?  Martin wanted more evidence to set his own mind at ease and to quiet the doubters at home.” (Joseph Smith and the beginnings of Mormonism, Richard L. Bushman, p. 90)   

There was a long road ahead for Martin.  A road paved with uncertainty.[xxxviii]  He knew that he would be facing strong opposition.[xxxix] He wanted a further witness that he really wasn’t being played for a fool.

When Joseph stood firm, refusing to show Martin the plates, Martin began to nag Smith to at least let him take the manuscript home for Lucy to read.  Maybe that would stop her from complaining?  Included in Martin’s nagging[xl] was a threat to pull back his financial support unless Smith complied.[xli]  Joseph was persuaded by Martin to hand over the work.

When Martin arrived back on the farm, he found his wife had turned into a cold, hard, unresponsive woman, whose ruined life she blamed on him.[xlii] Lucy had moved out everything she owned that she could carry.[xliii]  Martin’s bed[xliv] had been moved into another room which she refused to enter.[xlv]

In an effort to make peace, Martin brought the manuscript in for Lucy and a few other family members to examine.  Afterwards, Lucy and Martin went to visit with friends at the house of one on Lucy’s relatives.  Martin ended up going home by himself.  Lucy was still away from the farm when a friend of Martin’s came to see him.

Martin wanted to show his friend the manuscript but it was locked away in Lucy’s bureau and only Lucy had the key.  In order to show the work, Martin broke into her bureau, damaging it considerably.[xlvi]  Upon her return, Lucy became enraged after seeing the damaged bureau.[xlvii]  She then stole the manuscript.  There were no copies.

Moroni takes the plates:

As a consequence of Smith’s disobedience leading up to the loss of the manuscript, the golden plates and the magical stone glasses were supposedly taken from him for a season. 

According to the story, God had told Smith not to allow Martin Harris to take the manuscript home the first two times he asked.  Smith said that he should have been content with the first answers he received from the Lord; and because he wasn’t, he had disobeyed God.

Joseph Smith claimed that the angel Moroni said he would be given the plates back a few months later, on the 22nd of September, if he walked worthy before God.  As the story goes, he did walk worthy before God and was given the plates back on September 22nd.

Rebuttal:

For punishment, one might wonder why Moroni didn’t take away Smith’s seer-stones and his white hat, seeing that those were the instruments his scribes said that he was actually using.  Also, It seems a little too convenient that Moroni took away the golden plates right at the time the defendant was under pressure to come up with an identical retranslation from those plates to restore the lost work.  Is it possible that Smith was stalling until he could figure a way out of the situation?

The plates had always been a problem for Smith.  People always wanted to see them.  When it came time to translate his next major work — the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible — the defendant didn’t use any plates.  He didn’t use any glasses.  No stones were used, and he kept his face out of his hat.

If the defendant didn’t need any of the following things to translate his next work:

·       The hat

·       The stones

·       The plates

·       The glasses

 
Why did he need those things to translate his first work?

Almost every account of Joseph Smith translating the plates describes him using one of the seer stones that he already owned years before he received the glasses.  So apparently, he didn’t really need the glasses.  Also, at times during the translating process, the plates weren’t even in the house; Smith supposedly had them hidden in the woods.[xlviii]  Evidently, he didn’t need the golden plates either.  The only thing left of divine providence was Smith’s gift.[xlix]  One might wonder; did he really need that?[l]  Smith was using the gift of stone peeping long before he discovered the plates!

People often envision the defendant sitting at a table, wearing the special glasses that he allegedly discovered with the plates, while reading the characters off of the plates to his scribes.  However, we have in the record that his principal scribe, Oliver Cowdery, said that Smith used a stone in a hat as he gave dictation.  Martin Harris gave basically the same account as Cowdery.  Smith’s wife also, who worked as his scribe at times, gave an account of her husband using a stone in a hat.[li] 

 About those plates

The golden plates were supposedly buried in a stone box.  Joseph Smith borrowed a wagon to go get them.  Yet, when he came back home to his family, he said that he had hidden the plates in the woods.  People have been trying to explain why Joseph Smith did not have the plates with him when he returned home ever since. 

Imagine an LDS family on a particular Monday evening going through the following lesson: 

Family Home Evening – strengthening our home and family – Stories from the Life of Joseph Smith — Joseph Receives the Golden Plates:

Let’s try to envision what the parents are thinking as they go through this lesson with their children, or what their children are thinking as they study this lesson:

“Starting down the hill, he hoped the light from the lantern and the pale glimmer from the moon would show him a place where he could hide the plates for a few hours. He needed time to plan how to carry out the huge job he’d been given.” (Richard E. Turley Jr. and Lael Littke, Stories from the Life of Joseph Smith, Salt Lake City, Deseret Book, 2003, p. 41)

How many teenagers who are trying to build faith, think in their hearts,

“What difference would hiding the plates in the woods for a few hours make; he already had four years [lii] to come up with a plan.”

Envision one young person crying out,

“According to Smith’s mother, hiding the plates in the woods was not an option; the angel had told Joseph, ‘when you get the record [golden plates] take it immediately into the house and lock it up as soon as possible’”[liii]

Wouldn’t it be refreshing for those people to hear Dad stop the lesson and say,

"Is anyone else having trouble believing this story?”

On this subject, a well-respected Mormon author said,

“For most readers, the plates are beyond belief, a phantasm, yet the Mormon sources accept them as fact." (Joseph Smith Rough Stone Rolling, Bushman Richard Lyman, 2005, p.58)

The Lost 116 Pages:

“Mrs. Harris [Lucy] persisted in her endeavors to expose the fraud, and in her husband's absence took 116 pages of the manuscript and gave them in custody of a neighbour. When charged with it she replied, ‘if this be a divine communication, the same Being who revealed it to you can easily replace it,’ She was convinced they could not possibly write it again word for word… and intended when they had replaced the portion and published it, to have it publicly compared.[liv]

When Mrs. Harris challenged the defendant to replace the stolen work with a word-for-word copy, the moment of truth arrived.  Joseph Smith soon found reasons why he would not retranslate the work. 

His mother explained,

“…there is no doubt but Mrs. Harris took it from the drawer, with the view of retaining it, until another translation should be given, then, to alter the original translation, for the purpose of showing a discrepancy between them, and thus make the whole appear to be a deception.”[lv]

The defendant was supposedly,

“… commanded of the Lord … not translate the same over again, for Satan had put it into their hearts to tempt the Lord their God, by altering the words, that they did read contrary from that which I translated and caused to be written; and if I should bring forth the same words again, or, in other words, if I should translate the same over again, they would publish that which they had stolen…”[lvi]

Rebuttal: 

This is pure doubletalk.  The con-game would be over if the truth were found out — that Joseph Smith could not recreate a word-for-word copy.  Mrs. Harris’s claim that he was a grand imposter was reinforced when he failed to re-create the original work.  Statements claiming that the original work had been, or would be altered, were just a smokescreen. 

Martin Harris Loses Faith in Joseph Smith:

During this dark hour, Martin’s faith in the defendant took a nosedive, then his seed of doubt[lvii] sprouted and grew until it came into full bloom.  For a period of time, Harris set out to destroy Smith’s reputation.

Then Smith receives a revelation from God saying that Martin Harris is a wicked man.

God supposedly said,

“Behold, they have sought to destroy you, yea, even the man in whom you have trusted, has sought to destroy you, and for this cause I said, that he is a wicked man, for he has sought to take away the things wherewith you have been entrusted, and he has also sought to destroy your gift;… And behold, Satan has put it into their hearts to alter the words which you have caused to be written, or which you have translated…”[lviii]

One might wonder why the defendant would now publically accuse his former scribe of a conspiracy[lix] to ruin his reputation.  Well, at this point in time Smith may have believed that Harris was a lost cause.

Starting Over With New Plates

Smith’s reputation was in jeopardy.  His original manuscript had been stolen, and he dare not try to reproduce it.  Nothing less than an incredible story was needed to redeem the defendant from his present distress; so, an incredible story is just what he conjured up.  The answers to Smith’s troubles were supposedly written in gold.  A prophet from the Book of Mormon came to his rescue.  Instead of starting over with the plates of Lehi, he would start over with the plates of Nephi:

Defense:

Objection your honor; how is this relevant?

Prosecution:

If it pleases the court, I would like to continue with this rundown, what I am presenting shows a telling pattern, it is relevant; without this information key elements in this case would be left unheard.

Court:

Objection overruled; you may continue.

Smith never translated another word from the supposed plates of Lehi — the translation of which Harris lost.  Instead, Smith supposedly replaced the lost pages from the plates of Nephi.[lxi]

Official LDS statement on the subject:

The Book of Lehi:

Joseph Smith began with the book of Lehi when he was translating the Book of Mormon. It was a record that Mormon had abridged from the plates of Lehi. After he had 116 pages of manuscript that he had translated from this book, Joseph gave the manuscript to Martin Harris, who had briefly served as Joseph’s scribe in the translation of the Book of Mormon. The pages were then lost. Joseph did not retranslate the book of Lehi to replace the lost manuscript but instead translated other related accounts from the gold plates (Guide to the Scriptures, Lehi, Father of Nephi, The Scriptures, LDS.org).

 

THE WORDS OF MORMON

CHAPTER 1

Mormon abridges their history onto the plates of Mormon—He inserts the plates of Nephi into the abridgement

Verse (3) And now, I speak somewhat concerning that which I have written; for after I had made an abridgment from the plates of Nephi, down to the reign of this king Benjamin, of whom Amaleki spake, I searched among the records which had been delivered into my hands, and I found these plates, which contained this small account of the prophets, from Jacob down to the reign of this king Benjamin, and also many of the words of Nephi.

This chapter contains the story of Mormon finding a set of plates entitled, “the plates of Nephi.”  Mormon realizes that “the plates of Nephi” contain the same basic record as the plates of Lehi.  Mormon then inserts “the plates of Nephi” into the ancient record along with the rest of the golden plates.

The Words of Mormon Continued:

Verse (6) But behold, I shall take these plates, which contain these prophecying (sic) and revelations, and put them with the remainder of my record, for they are choice unto me; and I know they will be choice unto my brethren.

Verse (7) And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will (Words of Mormon 1:6-7).

In the Words of Mormon the Prophet Mormon is explaining that he is taking the plates of Nephi and adding them to the golden record.  The chapter Words of Mormon is one small chapter in the Book of Mormon, half of which is devoted to explaining that the prophet Mormon found the plates of Nephi and inserted those plates in with the rest of the record.

Members of the jury; in the practice of law, what is written here easily fits the description, “too much information.”  When criminals are implicated in a crime they often attempt to beef up their alibi by adding more information than would normally be expected.  That extra information is supposed to point the focus of the investigation away from the subject in question.  A good counselor can see through this.

The First Translation:

Following is a statement on how Joseph Smith and Martin Harris went about the translation process:

Perfectly Translated[lxii]

Another perfection of the book is its translation. Edward Stevenson related Martin Harris's description of the necessity for the translation to be perfect before the Lord would allow progression to the next character:

“By aid of the seer stone, sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written by Martin, and when finished he would say, ‘Written,’ and if correctly written, that sentence would disappear, and another appear in its place, but if not written correctly, it remained until corrected, so that the translation was just as it was engraved on the plates, precisely in the language then used” (Martin Harris’s “statement to Edward Stevenson,” Millennial Star, February 6, 1882, p.86-87).

Rebuttal:

The defense has not proven that the words Harris heard were actually seen by the defendant in the seer stone.  Not only did Harris never[lxiii] actually see the plates while Smith had possession of them, he also did not see the sentences on the stone that were supposedly appearing and disappearing before Smith’s eyes.

It was Smith who passed this information on to Harris, since accounts are clear that Harris was on the opposite side[lxiv] of a suspended blanket[lxv] while taking dictation.

Harris was told that it would,

“…arouse the most terrible divine displeasure,”[lxvi]

if he should attempt to draw near the sacred chest, or look at Smith while he was engaged in the work of deciphering the mysterious characters.

Testimony has been introduced in which the wrath of God would be poured out upon Harris, unless he complied with what the defendant told him.  Also, the witness has painted a picture of a man behind a curtain with something to hide.

Oliver Cowdery Takes Over as Scribe: 

The 116 pages of the early Book of Mormon manuscript were never found.  Lucy Harris probably burned[lx] them.  Because of all the mistrust that Smith and Harris suffered during that time, Smith found a new scribe.  A distant relative of the Smith family, Oliver Cowdery came to his aid; together they finished the manuscript.

The Second Translation:

Accounts of the translation process between the lost work and the manuscript that became the 1830 Book of Mormon are almost identical:

“Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light. And in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe. And when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God and not by any power of man. The characters I speak of are the engravings on the golden plates from which the book was translated.” (Address to All Believers In Christ, David Whitmer, 1887, p. 11; republished in Ensign 1977, September, By the Gift and Power of God, p. 79, Richard Lloyd Anderson)

David Whitmer is one of the Book of Mormon’s Three Witnesses; his statement about the Book of Mormon translation is given much credence by none other than Richard Lloyd Anderson: Professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University.

Rebuttal:

Whitmer’s statement spelled out a foolproof method to ensure a perfect translation of the original 1830 Book of Mormon — one character at a time.

Also, consider the catchphrase used in Whitmer’s testimony,

“Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God and not by any power of man.”       

That sounds like it came right out of the defendant’s mouth, because that saying closely resembles Smith’s prepared statement, which the three witnesses signed:

“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.”[lxvii]

It also resembles a statement that Smith included in the first edition of the Book of Mormon:

“…I would inform you that I translated, by the gift and power of God, and caused to be written, one hundred and sixteen pages, the which I took from the Book of Lehi…” (Preface to the 1830 Book of Mormon)

If Smith was an illusionist then these statements were part of his trickery.  If he was a con-man, then they were part of his confidence game.  If what Smith was selling was imaginary, then there would be no substance to what he was saying.

Court:

Counsel, tell the jury what you are demonstrating.

Prosecution:

I am demonstrating that the Book of Mormon is a fabricated work.

Witness for the Defense:

After the relationship between Joseph Smith and Martin Harris was restored, Martin once again became obedient to revelations given through the Prophet:

THE
DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS
OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS

SECTION 5

Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Harmony, Pennsylvania, March 1829, at the request of Martin Harris. … Three witnesses shall testify of the Book of Mormon…  Martin Harris may repent and be one of the witnesses.

Verse (1) Behold, I say unto you, that as my servant Martin Harris has desired a witness at my hand, that you, my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., have got the plates of which you have testified and borne record that you have received of me;

Verse (26) And I the Lord command him, my servant Martin Harris, that he shall say no more unto them concerning these things, except he shall say: I have seen them, and they have been shown unto me by the power of God; and these are the words which he shall say.

Verse (27) But if he deny this he will break the covenant which he has before covenanted with me, and behold, he is condemned (Doctrine and Covenants 5:1, 26-27).

 

When Harris heard the words of the Lord, spoken through the Prophet Joseph Smith, he did as instructed.  He bore witness that he had been shown the plates:

“…they have been shewn 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…” (The Testimony of Three Witnesses)

John H. Gilbert, the man who did most of the typesetting for the original 1830 Book of Mormon, asked Harris about his testimony as he was setting the type for “The Testimony of Three Witnesses.”     

“Martin was in the office when I finished setting up the testimony of the three witnesses,--(Harris--Cowdery and Whitmer) I said to him,--‘Martin, did you see those plates with your naked eyes?’ Martin looked down for an instant, raised his eyes up, and said, 'No, I saw them with a spiritual eye.'"[lxxx]

Rebuttal:

·       Leading the witness — Martin Harris was told exactly what to say. 

·       Unsubstantiated Evidence — Martin is led out into the woods, but instead of seeing the plates with his eyes, he sees them with a spiritual eye or, in other words, “by faith.”[lxxxi]  He could have had his natural eyes closed for all we know. 

·       Making a False Statement — nowhere in the Testimony of Three Witnesses is it explained that the witness, Martin Harris, only saw the plates with a spiritual eye.  In fact, the Testimony of Three Witnesses clearly records, “…an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates…”  This comes about as close to perjury as one can get! 

·       Coercion — Martin was told that if he did not say, “I have seen them” (the plates), then he would have broken a covenant with the Lord and he would be condemned.  The rules of evidence do not allow testimony gathered under the threat of divine condemnation; therefore I ask that this testimony be marked inadmissible. 

Note of Caution:

Judge to defense attorney:

“If the defense continues to submit testimony obtained by intimidation, you will leave this court no choice, but to order an official reprimand.  Consider yourself warned.”

Side note:

(By introducing that testimony the defense has opened up an opportunity for the prosecution to present corroborating evidence demonstrating that the defendant has a history of threatening Martin Harris with God’s wrath).

Attorney for the prosecution:

I would like to introduce Section 104 of the Doctrine and Covenants at this time:

Court:

You may do so.

THE
DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS
OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS

SECTION 104

Revelation given to Joseph Smith the Prophet, April 23, 1834, concerning the United Order…

Verse (18) Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment.

Verse (26) And let my servant Martin Harris devote his moneys for the proclaiming of my words, according as my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., shall direct (Doctrine and Covenants 104).

Threatening someone with hellfire is the ultimate intimidation tactic.  Martin Harris was pressured to do exactly what came forth from the defendant’s lips, even to the point of giving the defendant control over his money.

Let us proceed:

God allegedly said[lxxxii] that when Martin is shown the plates, the event will convince Martin that the defendant has,

“…got the plates…”[lxxxiii]

Yet, according to the Testimony of Three Witnesses, the angel that came down from heaven showed Martin the plates; not the defendant!

Obviously, if the defendant had the plates, there would be no need for an angel to come from heaven to show them to Martin!  To the contrary; the story of an angel showing the plates to Martin established that Joseph Smith Jun. did not have the plates.

To make matters worse, in the introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants Section 17, it is written,

By faith the Three Witnesses shall see the plates and other sacred items…”

 

THE
DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS
OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS

SECTION 17

The Prophet inquired of the Lord, and this revelation was given in answer, through the Urim and Thummim.  1 – 4, By faith the Three Witnesses shall see the plates and other sacred items;…

Verse (1) Behold, I say unto you, that you must rely upon my [God’s] 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 Thummim… “

Verse (5) And ye shall testify that you have seen them, even as my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., has seen them; for it is by my power that he has seen them, and it is because he had faith.

 

So we're clear; for the record, the witnesses were to see the plates and the other items,

even as … Joseph Smith, Jun., has seen them; for it is by my [God’s] power that he has seen them, and it is because he had faith” (D&C 17:5).

Side Note:

(This revelation is a bombshell for the defense.  Basically eliminating any tangible nature of the plates, and putting them into a spiritual state of existence; one in which faith and God’s power are the keys to seeing them).

“…the prophet had always given out that they [the plates] could not be seen by the carnal eye, but must be spiritually discerned; that the power to see them depended upon faith…” (Thomas Ford, A History of Illinois, from Its Commencement as a State in 1818 to 1847, Chicago: S. C. Griggs and Co., 1854, 256-258)

 

Let us proceed:

THE
DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS
OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS

SECTION 17

Verse (3) And after that you have obtained faith, and have seen them with your eyes, you shall testify of them, by the power of God;

Verse (4) And this you shall do that my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., may not be destroyed, that I may bring about my righteous purposes unto the children of men in this work.

Was it God putting pressure on the three witnesses to testify?  Or was it the defendant?  In either case the witnesses were told that it was God, who was telling them,

“…this you shall do…”

which is a textbook example of leading the witness.

God also supposedly told the witnesses why He was asking them to testify;

“[So His servant] Joseph Smith, Jun., may not be destroyed…” 

On that summer day in 1829, when the defendant walked Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris into the woods near the Whitmer home to prepare to see the gold plates, surely they were compelled to follow the commandments of God.  No doubt they put their best effort into obtaining faith necessary to see the plates.  But did they see the plates with their eyes like God supposedly said they would?

No!  Not according to one Mormon leader, who left the LDS Church after hearing,

“…Martin Harris state in public that he never saw the plates with his natural eyes only in vision or imagination, neither [did] Oliver nor David” (Stephen Burnett letter to Lyman E. Johnson dated April 15, 1838).[lxxxiv]

This corresponds with what Harris told the Book of Mormon typesetter.  Yet, God supposedly said that Martin, Oliver, and David would see the plates with their “eyes.”[lxxxv]  Was it God who couldn’t keep His story straight or was it the defendant?

THE TESTIMONY OF EIGHT WITNESSES:

A character from the Book of Mormon brings the gold plates for this group of witnesses to examine:

”…Joseph had been instructed that the plates would be carried there by one of the ancient Nephites.”  (Lucy Smith, Biographical Sketches, First Draft, 1844 – 45, p. 456)

Let’s consider how the defendant prepared these witnessesWere they manipulated like Martin Harris was?  Did they also sign a statement that did not resemble what really took place?

Probably. 

There are strong reasons[lxxxvi] to believe that Joseph Smith used the same type of confidence game with this new group of witnesses that he had used on his original witnesses.

John Whitmer claimed,

"I now say, I handled those plates; there were fine engravings on both sides. ...they were shown to me by a supernatural power" (History of the Church, Vol. 3, p. 307)[lxxxvii]

Members of the jury, doesn't it seem a bit odd that Whitmer started his testimony with the words,

"I now say..."

That's a clear indication that he has altered his original testimony; yet, the most glaring problem is Whitmer's assertion that a

“a supernatural power”

made it possible for him to view the plates?  If he handled the plates, did he handle them while in a visionary state of mind; or, in his imagination?  How many people in this courtroom have with them a wristwatch?  Please take that watch and place it in your hands.  Now, look at it.  Are you seeing your watch by a supernatural power?

No!

Because the watch you have is tanagble, unlike the golden plates, which the Eight Witnesses supposedly handled.

We find the same inconsistencies with the Testimony of Eight Witnesses as we do with the Testimony of Three Witnesses.  These testimonies fall short of the standards of proof expected from sound evidence.

Side Note:

(Just because, as in this case, the burden of proof rests on the prosecution; that doesn’t mean the jury has to buy into every questionable statement that the defendant submits).

 

THE TESTIMONY OF EIGHT WITNESSES

 

Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph Smith, Jun., 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.

Christian Whitmer
Jacob Whitmer
Peter Whitmer, Jun
John Whitmer
Hiram Page
Joseph Smith, Sen
Hyrum Smith
Samuel H. Smith

 

Four words jump right off of that page,

“And we lie not…”

It is common knowledge that when people are trying to convince others they are not lying, they probably are lying.[lxxxviii]

Also, if what was recorded in that Testimony is true,

“…and [we] know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates…”

Then, why could the witnesses only see the plates by supernatural means?

One more thing; the defendant used the same phrase

“got the plates”

in “The Testimony of Eight Witnesses” as God supposedly used while speaking through the defendant to Martin Harris:  

Verse (1) Behold, I say unto you, that as my servant Martin Harris has desired a witness at my hand, that you, my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., have got the plates (Doctrine and Covenants 5:1)

It is so easy to see through the duplicity.  God was not the one speaking; it was the defendant.

Closing arguments:

Several problems with the Book of Mormon point to its true origins:

Direct Evidence: 

·       Changes in word content.

·       Poor grammar.

·       Use of idioms and terminology which is out of place among supposed ancient text.

Mormon sources admit,

“The first edition of the Book of Mormon carried numerous sentences with a plural subject and singular verb, and vice versa; it sometimes placed an idiomatic “a” before a participle (“a marching”) or an idiomatic “for” before an infinitive (“for to destroy them”); it regularly used “which” for the personal “who.” Such language clearly originated with the Prophet as he dictated, not with the secretary” (Ensign, September 1977, “By the Gift and Power of God,” Richard Lloyd Anderson).

Obviously, the reason,

Such language originated with the Prophet…”

is because Joseph Smith is the source of the idiomatic language.  Yet, Smith claimed the Book of Mormon is the record of ancient holy men.

His scribes attested,

“…the translation was just as it was engraved on the plates, precisely in the language then used” (Martin Harris’s “statement to Edward Stevenson,” Millennial Star, February 6, 1882, p.86-87).

In reality, the Book of Mormon is not what Joseph Smith or his scribes claimed it to be.[lxxxix]  Neither are the so called Revelations found in the Doctrine and Covenants.  There is no reasonable doubt that both works are fabrications.

Circumstantial Evidence:

Joseph Smith’s: 

·       Denials[xc]

·       Evasions[xci]

·       Contradictions[xcii]

Then, we have the defendant’s,

Previous History: 

·       Money digging[xciii]

·       Glass looking[xciv]

 Along with his, 

Contemporary History: 

·       Glass looking[xcv]

·       Receiving revelations through[xcvi] stones[xcvii]

 There are the, 

Coincidental circumstances:

As a young man Joseph Smith was influenced by the folk magic practiced among his family[xcviii] and prevalent in his day.  Looking into the depths of the earth by gazing at a seer stone is nothing less than folk magic.  Claiming to have second sight without actually having it is nothing less than a confidence game.  

Timeline: 

·       In 1823, Smith supposedly discovered golden plates using a seer stone.[xcix]

·       In 1825, Smith was employed to search for buried treasure using a seer stone.

·       In 1826, after being instructed by an angel to bring the right person so he could obtain the plates, Smith looked into a seer stone[c] to find the right person.

·       From 1827 through 1829, Smith translated the golden plates using a seer stone, or stones.

·       In 1829, several revelations currently published in the Doctrine and Covenants, were received by Joseph Smith using seer stones.

·       In 1843, Joseph Smith taught,

“The place where God resides is a great Urim and Thummim[ci]

This is another way of saying that God lives on a giant seer stone.

Smith’s preoccupation with seer stones is well documented.[cii]  It began 10 years before the Book of Mormon was published.  It continued 13 years after the Book of Mormon was published.  Moroni even supplied a set of seer stones with the golden plates so Smith could translate the record on the plates.

Or, was that a fabricated story?

Yes.  It was!

There is absolutely no substance to the stories and written works brought forth from the Mormon Prophet.  Joseph Smith gazed into his crystal ball, then reached into his magic hat; what he pulled out was pure smoke!

Deliberation:

When a jury hears a matter, they are supposed to carefully weigh the evidence presented to determine if the charges leveled at the suspect will withstand reasonable doubt. 

Jury Instructions:

Court:

Jurors, you are the sole judge of whether the testimonies in this case should be believed or not.  While deliberating, please consider:

# 1.  Was the witness's testimony consistent?

# 2.  Was the witness's testimony supported by, or contradicted by other evidence?

# 3.  Has the prosecution proved his case beyond a reasonable doubt? 

Now it is time to come up with a verdict.  If you determine that Joseph Smith is guilty of being an imposter, with the offence of creating forgeries with the intent to deceive people, then please move on to the sentencing phase.

Sentencing Guidelines:

Obviously,

“If Joseph Smith was a deceiver, who willfully attempted to mislead the people, then he should be exposed; his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false…”[ciii]

Since Smith is no longer living, we cannot impose penalties upon him personally.  Yet, to this day his published works are thriving in the literary market.  Therefore, the penalty will be imposed upon the defendants published works, specifically, the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants.

Souls Crying Out For Justice:

Envision a young woman putting her trust in Joseph Smith’s claims only to find out years later that she had been deceived by the defendant.  Consider the anguish that victim is suffering.  Then, multiply this scenario by the tens of thousands.  How much sorrow do people need to go through before action is taken to end th cycle of pain? 

The Sentence:

To serve justice, the order of this court is to expose Joseph Smith as an imposter, by sending links to this treatise as well as other parts in this series to individuals in need, and to all those who care about the truth.

 

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Endnotes:

 

[i] “…without the restoration of the gospel, we wouldn’t be able to have the whole truth.” (Max H Moldgard and Allan K. Burgess, The Best of Fun for Family Night, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003], p. 32-34)

 [ii] "…If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation" (Doctrines of Salvation Vol. I, p. 190)

 [iii] “Also, that there were two stones in silver bows—and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim—deposited with the plates; and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted “seers” in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. I:35)

 

[iv] THE
DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS
OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS

SECTION 17

The Prophet inquired of the Lord, and this revelation was given in answer, through the Urim and Thummim.  1 – 4, By faith the Three Witnesses shall see the plates and other sacred items;…

  1 Behold, I say unto 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 Thummim, which … “

[v] Public Sermon by Mormon President Brigham Young:

“Oliver Cowdery went with the Prophet Joseph when he deposited these plates…  When Joseph got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the hill Cumorah, which he did. Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large and spacious room. He says he did not think, at the time, whether they had the light of the sun or artificial light; but that it was just as light as day.

    They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up in the corners and along the walls.

    The first time they went there the sword of Laban hung upon the wall; but when they went again it had been taken down and laid upon the table across the gold plates; it was unsheathed, and on it was written these words: "This sword will never be sheathed again until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God and his Christ."

Journal of Discourses, 19:38 (June 17, 1877). © 2005 Deseret Book Co. By Mark L. McConkie June 06, 2005, Printed from Mormon Life,  (http://deseretbook.com/mormon-life)  

[vi] “There had lived a few years previous to this date, in the vicinity of Great Bend, a poor man named Joseph Smith, who, with his family, had removed to the western part of the State, and lived in squalid poverty near Palmyra, in Ontario County. Mr. Stowell, while at Lanesboro, heard of the fame of one of his sons, named Joseph, who, by the aid of a magic stone had become a famous seer of lost or hidden treasures. … as a seer, by means of the stone which he placed in his hat, and by excluding the light from all other terrestrial things, could see whatever he wished, even in the depths of the earth.” (CHENANGO UNION, Vol. 30, Norwich, N. Y., Thursday, May 2, 1877, No. 33, Joseph  Smith  The  Originator  of  Mormonism, Historical  Reminiscences  of the town of Afton, BY  W. D. PURPLE)

[vii] (History of the Church Vol. 1, 1:56)

[viii] (Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet and His Progenitors for Many Generations. Smith, Lucy Mack, Liverpool, England: S. W. Richards. 1853, pp.91-92)

[ix] "(Joseph) Smith, and his father, with several other ‘money diggers’ boarded at my house while they were employed in digging for a mine that they supposed had been opened and worked by the Spaniards many years since. Young Smith, gave the ‘money diggers’ great encouragement, at first, but when they had arrived in digging to near the place where he had stated an immense treasure could be foundhe said the enchantment was so powerful that he could not see. They then became discouraged, and soon after dispersed. This took place about the 17th of November, 1825… " (Affidavit from Isaac Hale, Joseph Smith’s father in law - March 20, 1834)

[x] John S. Reed, Smith's legal counsel during his 1830 trials, remembered that Smith had been arrested "for the crime of glass looking …" (John S. Reed to Brigham Young, 6 December 1861, p. 1, Brigham Young Collection, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, UT).

[xi] William D. Purple took notes at the trial and tells us, "In February, 1826, the sons of Mr. Stowell,  ...were greatly incensed against Smith, ...saw that the youthful seer had unlimited control over the illusions of their sire...” Francis Kirkham, A New Witness for Christ in America: The Book of Mormon, 2 vols., (Salt Lake City: Utah Printing, 1959[1942]), 1:479. ASIN B000HMY138)

[xii] “…some very officious person complained of him as a disorderly person, and brought him before the authorities of the county...” (Messenger & Advocate, October, 1835, Oliver Cowdery, p. 201)

[xiii] "At length the public, becoming wearied with the base imposition which he was palming upon the credulity of the ignorant, for the purpose of sponging his living from their earnings, had him arrested as a disorderly person, tried and condemned before a court of Justice. But, considering his youth, (he being then a minor,) and thinking he might reform his conduct, he was designedly allowed to escape. This was four or five years ago. From this time he absented himself from this place, returning only privately, and holding clandestine intercourse with his credulous dupes, for two or three years." (Benton, Abram W. "Mormonites." Evangelical Magazine and Gospel Advocate. Vol. II. Utica, N.Y. April 9, 1831. p. 120).

[xiv] JOSEPH SMITH'S 1826 GLASSLOOKING TRIAL — article @ Fairmormon.org :

“Josiah Stowell wanted Joseph to help him in his quest to find treasure in an ancient silver mine. Joseph was reluctant, but Stowell persuaded Joseph to come by offering high wages. According to trial documents, Stowell says Joseph, using a seer stone, ‘Looked through stone and described Josiah Stowell's house and out houses,… by means of said stone’” (Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents Volume 4, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2002, 252–253)

[xv] "For several years preceding the appearance of his book, he was about the country in the character of a glass-looker: pretending, by means of a certain stone, or glass, which he put in a hat, to be able to discover lost goods, hidden treasures, mines of gold and silver, &c. Although he constantly failed in his pretensions, still he had his dupes who put implicit confidence in all his words. In this town, a wealthy farmer, named Josiah Stowell, together with others, spent large sums of money in digging for hidden money, which this Smith pretended he could see, and told them where to dig; but they never found their treasure. (Benton, Abram W. "Mormonites." Evangelical Magazine and Gospel Advocate. Vol. II. Utica, N.Y. April 9, 1831. p.120).

[xvi] “By 1825 Joseph’s fame as a ‘peeper’ was wide spread. Josiah Stoal came from Chenango County to get Joseph’s assistance in digging for a silver mine…” (The Founder of Mormonism, Woodbridge Riley, Dodd, Mead & Co., 1903, p.189)

[xvii]  “...much speculation has existed, concerning a pretended discovery, through superhuman means, of an ancient record, of a religious and a divine nature and origin, written in ancient characters, impossible to be interpreted by any to whom the special gift has not been imparted by inspiration. It is generally known and spoken of as the ‘Golden Bible.’”  (Wayne Sentinel, June 26, 1829)

[xviii] (CHENANGO UNION, Vol. 30, Norwich, N. Y., Thursday, May 2, 1877, No. 33, Joseph  Smith  The  Originator  of  Mormonism, Historical  Reminiscences  of  the  town  of  Afton, BY  W. D. PURPLE)

[xix] “The Fraser's and Purple accounts of Josiah Stowell's testimony do not entirely agree. While both have Stowell testifying that he believed in Joseph's divining powers, Purple has Stowell saying Joseph could see treasures fifty feet underground, a statement which brought a direct challenge from Justice Neely. Stowell stuck to his story, however, and said he not only believed it but knew it. Both accounts give Jonathan Thompson as the last witness but with widely differing and contradictory versions of his testimony. Fraser's has Thompson relating how he, a man named Yeomans, and Joseph Smith went out at night and began digging, after Joseph told them the exact position of a treasure chest. They dug several feet and struck something with their shovel, after which Joseph looked into his glass and became frightened, seeing there an Indian who had buried the treasure and then killed his friend and buried him to guard it. Thompson said he believed that Joseph could divine such things with his stone and recounted how the chest, which was enchanted, kept settling away from them as they dug.

In the Purple version of Thompson, Joseph Smith told Stowell that a band of robbers had buried a treasure and placed a charm over it, which could only be removed by fasting and prayer. They dug for the treasure to a depth of five feet but decided they lacked sufficient faith to secure it. They offered the blood of a lamb as propitiation, but the treasure continued to recede from their reach.”  (Joseph Smith and the 1826 Trial: New Evidence and New Difficulties by Marvin S. Hill, BYU Studies Vol. 12, Winter '72, p. 223-234)

[xx] (CHENANGO UNION, Vol. 30, Norwich, N. Y., Thursday, May 2, 1877, No. 33, Joseph  Smith  The  Originator  of  Mormonism, Historical  Reminiscences  of  the  town  of  Afton, BY  W. D. PURPLE)

[xxi] Thompson went on to say, “Mr. Stowell went to his flock and selected a fine vigorous lamb, and resolved to sacrifice it to the demon spirit who guarded the coveted treasure. …Smith, with a lantern in one hand to dispel the midnight darkness… making a circuit around the spot, sprinkling the flowing blood from the lamb upon the ground, as a propitiation to the spirit that thwarted them... but the treasure still receded from their grasp, and it was never obtained.”  (Dr. William Purple’s account of the 1826 trial — Greene, April 28, 1877)

[xxii] Golden Plates: “He and Emma talked about it. “I’ll need to go to the hill after midnight during the early hours of September 22,” Joseph explained. “Fortunately, most people will be asleep then.” …Joseph guided the horse as Emma held the lantern. They proceeded slowly so that the wagon would not rattle too much and wake people along the way. It was almost pitch black outside, with only the faintest sliver of a moon. Occasional clouds scudded across it, blocking out what little light it provided.

At the bottom of the hill, Joseph stopped the wagon. “All right, Emma,” he whispered. “I’ll be back soon.” He asked if she wanted him to leave the lantern. “No,” she said. “I’ll be less likely to be seen here in the darkness.” Grasping the handle of the lantern, Joseph climbed the hill to the clearing where the stone box was buried.” (Deseret Book® Family Home Evening Materials, Theme: Joseph Smith Story: Joseph Receives the Golden Plates, Packet #060106 —  Richard E. Turley Jr. and Lael Littke, Stories from the Life of Joseph Smith, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003], p. 41).

[xxiii] Owing to the many reports which have been put in circulation by evil-disposed and designing persons, in relation to the rise and progress of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, all of which have been designed by the authors thereof to militate against its character as a Church and its progress in the world—I (Joseph Smith) have been induced to write this history, to disabuse the public mind, and put all inquirers after truth in possession of the facts, as they have transpired, in relation both to myself and the Church, so far as I have such facts in my possession. (History of the Church, Vol. 1, Chapter 1:1)

[xxiv] “Joseph clung to this seer stone the rest of his life, even after his first employment of it had become a memory to be curtained off by his will, and as late as 1841 he exhibited it to some of his followers. ‘Every man who lived on the earth,’ Joseph said to them, ‘was entitled to a seer stone, and should have one, but they are kept from them in consequence of their wickedness, and most of those who do find one make evil use of it.’ The persistence of peepstones among the early Saints, and also this view of them, was attested by Priddy Meeks, who has explained that ‘seer stones, or peepstones, as they are more commonly called" were the connecting link between the visible and the invisible worlds.’” (Dale Morgan on Early Mormonism: Correspondence and a New History, John Phillip Walker, Editor, Chapter 2, A Stone in a Hat)

[xxv] "In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us." (History of the RLDS Church, 8 vols. Independence, Missouri: Herald House, 1951. Last Testimony of Sister Emma, 3:356)

[xxvi] “Revelation given to Joseph Smith the Prophet and Oliver Cowdery, at Harmony, Pennsylvania, April 1829, when they inquired through the Urim and Thummim as to whether John, the beloved disciple, tarried in the flesh or had died. The revelation is a translated version of the record made on parchment by John and hidden up by himself. HC 1: 35–36.” (THE DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS, SECTION 7 — INTRODUCTION)  — (Also see footnote 96)

[xxvii] “Behold, they have sought to destroy you, yea, even the man in whom you have trusted, has sought to destroy you…,” (Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 27)  Also, speaking of Martin Harris “…a wicked man.  Who has set at naught the counsels of God, and has broken the most sacred promises which were made before God, and has depended upon his own judgment and boasted in his own wisdom.” (D&C 3:12-13)

[xxviii] “…Joseph arose from his knees, and approaching Martin Harris with a solemnity that thrills through my veins to this day, when it occurs to my recollection, said, ‘Martin Harris, you have got to humble yourself before your God this day, that you may obtain a forgiveness of your sins. If you do, it is the will of God that you should look upon the plates, in company with Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer.’

    In a few minutes after this, Joseph, Martin, Oliver, and David, repaired to a grove, a short distance from the house, where they commenced calling upon the Lord, and continued in earnest supplication, until he permitted an angel to come down from his presence, and declare to them, that all which Joseph had testified of concerning the plates was true.

    When they returned to the house, it was between three and four o’clock P.M. Mrs. Whitmer, Mr. Smith, and myself, were sitting in a bedroom at the time. On coming in, Joseph threw himself down beside me, and exclaimed, ‘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…’” (Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 31)

[xxix] Verse (26) “And again, I command thee that thou shalt not covet thine own property, but impart it freely to the printing of the Book of Mormon, which contains the truth and the word of God— “

Introduction to Doctrine and Covenants Section 19: “In his history the Prophet introduced it as ‘a commandment of God and not of man, to Martin Harris, given by him who is Eternal.’” Verse (35) “Pay the debt thou hast contracted with the printer. Release thyself from bondage.” (Doctrine and Covenants 19:26 and 35)

[xxx] “…Most of our readers have probably heard of the Golden Bible, which it is asserted was found not long since, in some part of Ontario county. Some of the circumstances attending the remarkable discovery of this truly remarkable work, may not be uninteresting to some of our readers, as they serve to show how easily ignorance and superstition are made to support whatever doctrines may be advanced -- no matter how revolting they may appear in the light of reason. An angel appeared to an ignorant man near Palmyra and directed him to dig at a designated place, with a promise that he would there find a new revelation engraved on plates of metal. The man obeyed the messenger, and on digging, soon discovered an oblong box tightly cemented together. Upon opening this, he found enclosed a bundle of plates similar to gold, about 7 inches long, 6 broad, and all about 6 inches deep each sheet being of about the thickness of tin. They were united at one edge with 3 silver wires, so that they opened in a manner similar to a book.” (AUBURN FREE PRESS, Vol. VII. Auburn, N. Y., Wednesday, December 8, 1830. No. 28)

[xxxi] I would also inform you that the plates of which hath been spoken, were found in the township of Manchester, Ontario county, New-York.  (Preface, 1830 Book of Mormon)

[xxxii] “It is possible that this neighbor was Emma’s mother, Elizabeth Hale, who ran “an inn or tavern” and whose house was near the one that Joseph and Emma occupied on land they had purchased from Isaac Hale” (Newell and Avery, 3).

[xxxiii] “When she returned home, being about two weeks after her arrival in Harmony, the place where Joseph resided, she endeavoured to dissuade her husband from taking any further part in the publication of the Record; however, Mr. Harris paid no attention to her, but returned and continued writing.” (Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 24)

[xxxiv] “This was Harris's own account of the matter to me. What other measures they afterwards took to transcribe or translate from these metallic plates, I cannot say… In addition to the facts with which I myself was conversant in 1827 and 1828, connected with the rise of Mormonism…”, (Gleanings by the Way, 1842, W.J. & J.K. Simon, pp. 222ff) [Microfilm copy]

[xxxv] “When it was became necessary for Martin to return home ) remained with my son and wrote dilligently untill he had transcribed nearly 116 pages of the record when it <then> became necessary for him to return home—he now began to requested Joseph to permit him to look upon the plates for he desired a further witness that of their work <actual existance and> that he might be better able to give a reason for the hope that was within <him> of seeing great things come to pass in the last days—“ (Lucy Smith History: First Draft  Biographical Sketches, chapter 25, verse 1).

[xxxvi] “By the middle of June, 1828, Martin had covered 116 pages of foolscap with text from the golden plates, and yet uncertainty still beset him.” (Joseph Smith and the beginnings of Mormonism, Richard L. Bushman, 1988, P. 90)  

[xxxvii] “Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God…” (Doctrine and Covenants 135:3)

[xxxviii] “Yet uncertainty still beset Harris.” (Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, Richard L. Bushman, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 2005, p.66)

[xxxix] “When she returned home, being about two weeks after her arrival in Harmony, the place where Joseph resided, she endeavoured to dissuade her husband from taking any further part in the publication of the Record; however, Mr. Harris paid no attention to her, but returned and continued writing.” (Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 24)

[xl] “Mr. Martin Harris, who was employed as Mr. Smith's scribe at the beginning of the translation, had written out with his own hand 116 pages of manuscript. By long and persistent coaxing, and the most faithful promises of secrecy, he secured Mr. Smith's permission to carry said manuscript to his own house for his wife's inspection—a woman who is accredited with a very irascible temper. Before the precious treasure was returned to its owner, a sad domestic quarrel so thoroughly provoked Mrs. Harris, that in an evil hour she put said manuscript forever out of the way. The general belief was that she burned it.” (The Stolen Manuscript: The lost 116 Pages of the Book of Mormon; Excerpt from The Golden Bible by Rev. M. T. Lamb, 1887, p. 118)

[xli] “…for behold you should not have feared man more than God…” (Lucy Smith History - First Draft / Biographical Sketches, chapter 27)

[xlii] (Martin Harris) “...has whipped his wife and beaten her so cruelly and frequently, that she was obliged to seek refuge in separation. He is considered here, to this day, a brute in his domestic relations, a fool and dupe to Smith in religion, and an unlearned, conceited hypocrite…” (Statement from Jesse Townsend, pastor of Palmyra’s Western Presbyterian Church, 1817-20, and at nearby Sodus, 1827-31, Vogel 3:23)

[xliii] “…and that she was compelled to deposit a few things away from home in order to secure them. So she carried away her furniture, linen, and bedding; also other moveable articles, until she nearly stripped the premises of every thing that could conduce either to comfort or convenience, depositing them with those of her friends and acquaintances, in whom she reposed sufficient confidence to assure her of their future safety.”(Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 24)

[xliv] “…his wife’s anger kindled afresh at his presence, insomuch that she prepared a separate bed and room for him, which room she refused to enter.” (Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 24)

[xlv] In the 1872 Palmyra Courier, James H. Reeves published , ”He (Martin) vowed that he would not allow her in his room and she declared she would never trouble him on that score. So determined were they in occupying separate apartments, that both expressed themselves to the hired man, that if he ever knew of their occupying the same sleeping room, they would give him their best cow.” (Vogel 2:343).

[xlvi] “…Martin laid it aside (The 116 pages) and went with Mrs H to visit a relative of her’s who lived [blank] miles distant and as his wife declined returning with him he left her with her friends and went home alone — shortly after he got there a very particular friend made him a visit to whom he related all he knew concerning the record The man’s curiosity was much excited and he earnestly desired to see the transcript Martin was anxious to gratify his friend although it was contrary to his obligation. but when he went to seek for it he found that key could not be found but he soon resolved to carry his design into execution and to do this he picked the lock and in so doing he injured his lady’s beaureau considerably”(Lucy Smith History First Draft / Biographical Sketches).

[xlvii] “…when Mrs Harris returned and beheld the marred and injured state of her beaureau her irracible temper knew no bounds and an intolerable storm ensued throughout the house which descended with greatest force upon the head of the devoted husband” (Lucy Smith History First Draft / Biographical Sketches).

[xlviii] “His (Joseph’s) occupation was that of seeing, or pretending to see by means of a stone placed in his hat, and his hat closed over his face.  In this way he pretended to discover minerals and hidden treasures.... The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret, was the same as when he looked for the money-diggers, with the stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the Book of Plates were at the same time hid in the woods!” (Isaac Hale affidavit, Joseph Smith, Jr.'s father-in-law, Susquehanna Register, May 1, 1834)

[xlix] “Behold thou art Joseph, and thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord but because of transgression if thou art not aware thou wilt fall but remmember (sic) God is merciful therefore repent of that which thou hast done which is contrary to the commandment which I gave you and thou art still chosen and art again called to the work except thou do this thou shalt be delivered up and become as other men and have no more gift.” (Lucy Smith History: First Draft  Biographical Sketches, chapter 27)

[l]  The inspiration for the Book of Mormon may have come from a book entitled View of the Hebrews, or the Tribes of Israel in America, by Ethan Smith (no relation to Joseph Smith), who was a pastor in Poultney, Vt..  View of the Hebrews was first published in 1823 and in 1825 an enlarged edition was published. One thing is certain: Oliver Cowdery, one of Joseph Smith's scribes, lived in Poultney, Vt. at that same time, and Oliver's family belonged to Ethan Smith's church.

In View of the Hebrews, Ethan Smith told a story of some of the tribes of Israel coming to the Americas in ancient times; and, that as time passed, these peoples were divided into two rival factions: a savage faction that lived a wild, hunting existence, and a more civilized faction that built cities. After long wars between them, the savage faction exterminated the civilized faction, and the savage faction came to be the Indians which later European settlers found in America.


[li] "In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us." (History of the RLDS Church, 8 vols. Independence, Missouri: Herald House, 1951. Last Testimony of Sister Emma, 3:356)

[lii] Smith already had four long years to plan what he was going to do with the plates when he got them:

(Verse 53) I made an attempt to take them out, but was forbidden by the messenger, and was again informed that the time for bringing them forth had not yet arrived, neither would it, until four years from that time; but he told me that I should come to that place precisely in one year from that time, and that he would there meet with me, and that I should continue to do so until the time should come for obtaining the plates.

(Verse 54) Accordingly, as I had been commanded, I went at the end of each year, and at each time I found the same messenger there, and received instruction… (History of the Church, Vol. 1)

[liii] “…when you get the record (golden plates) take it immediately into the house and lock it up as soon as possible and let no one see it till it is translated and then show it to such as the Lord chooses as a witness to the world” (Lucy Smith History: First Draft  Biographical Sketches, chapter 19).

[liv] (MORMONISM, AN EXPOSURE OF THE IMPOSITIONS. ADOPTED BY THE SECT CALLED “THE LATTER-DAY SAINTS” – pamphlet by the Rev. F.B. Ashley, UK, 1851, pp. 12-13)

[lv] (Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 26)

[lvi] TO THE READER—

    As many false reports have been circulated respecting the following work, and also many unlawful measures taken by the evil designing persons to destroy me, and also the work, I would inform you that I translated, by the gift and power of God, and caused to be written, one hundred and sixteen pages, the which I took from the Book of Lehi, which was an account abridged from the plates of Lehi, by the hand of Mormon; which said account, some person or persons have stolen and kept from me, notwithstanding my utmost exertions to recover it again—and being commanded of the Lord that I should not translate the same over again, for Satan had put it into their hearts to tempt the Lord their God, by altering the words, that they did read contrary from that which I translated and caused to be written; and if I should bring forth the same words again, or, in other words, if I should translate the same over again, they would publish that which they had stolen, and Satan would stir up the hearts of this generation, that they might not receive this work: but behold, the Lord said unto me, I will not suffer that Satan shall accomplish his evil design in this thing: therefore thou shalt translate from the plates of Nephi, until ye come to that which ye have translated, which ye have retained; and behold ye shall publish it as the record of Nephi…” (Preface to the 1830 Book of Mormon)

 [lvii] “Between April 12 and June 14, 1828, the two of them completed 116 pages of manuscript. At this point, Harris, who suffered from his wife's doubts about the existence of the plates, asked permission to show the manuscript to her and four other family members.” (Church History 1820 – 1831, Background Founding New York Period; light planet on-line article)

[lviii]

(Doctrine and Covenants 10:7 and 10; also, Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 27)

[lix]

  “For he [the Devil] hath put into their hearts to do this, that by lying they may say they have caught you in the words which you have pretended to translate.” (Doctrine and Covenants 10:13)

  “For, behold, they shall not accomplish their evil designs in lying against those words. For, behold, if you should bring forth the same words they will say that you have lied and that you have pretended to translate, but that you have contradicted yourself.” (Doctrine and Covenants 10:31)

[lx] “The most widespread rumor was that Harris' wife, irritated at having earlier been denied a glimpse of the ancient plates, had removed the manuscript translation from Martin's unlocked bureau and burned it. Not long afterward, she and Martin separated.” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Manuscript Lost 116 Pages, Macmillan 1992).

[lxi]

(Verse) 32 And, behold, they will publish this, and Satan will harden the hearts of the people to stir them up to anger against you, that they will not believe my words.

(Verse) 33 Thus Satan thinketh to overpower your testimony in this generation, that the work may not come forth in this generation.

(Verse) 34 But behold, here is wisdom, and because I show unto you wisdom, and give you commandments concerning these things, what you shall do, show it not unto the world until you have accomplished the work of translation.

(Verse) 35 Marvel not that I said unto you: Here is wisdom, show it not unto the world—for I said, show it not unto the world, that you may be preserved.

(Verse) 36 Behold, I do not say that you shall not show it unto the righteous;

(Verse) 37 But as you cannot always judge the righteous, or as you cannot always tell the wicked from the righteous, therefore I say unto you, hold your peace until I shall see fit to make all things known unto the world concerning the matter.

(Verse) 38 And now, verily I say unto you, that an account of those things that you have written, which have gone out of your hands, is engraven upon the plates of Nephi;

(Verse) 39 Yea, and you remember it was said in those writings that a more particular account was given of these things upon the plates of Nephi.

(Verse) 40 And now, because the account which is engraven upon the plates of Nephi is more particular concerning the things which, in my wisdom, I would bring to the knowledge of the people in this account—

(Verse) 41 Therefore, you shall translate the engravings which are on the plates of Nephi, down even till you come to the reign of king Benjamin, or until you come to that which you have translated, which you have retained;” (Doctrine and Covenants 10:32-41).

[lxii] (2009 Fairmormon.org article: Book of Mormon as the most correct book)

[lxiii] “Again, he told me, that when I got those plates of which he had spoken—for the time that they should be obtained was not yet fulfilled—I should not show them to any person; neither the breastplate with the Urim and Thummim; only to those to whom I should be commanded to show them; if I did I should be destroyed” (History of the Church Volume One, 1:42).

[lxiv] “When Bill McKeever visited the restored Peter Whitmer cabin at Fayette (NY) in April of 1990, a curtain was hanging between two tables where the translation supposedly took place. In the adjacent visitor's center a painting of Smith "translating" the plates also showed a curtain separating Smith and his scribe. Page 29 of the book, Meet the Mormons (1965 ed.), also shows a curtain separating Smith from his scribe Oliver Cowdery.” (A Seer Stone and a Hat - "Translating" the Book of Mormon, by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson)

[lxv] “The way that Smith made his transcripts and translations for Harris was the following: Although in the same room, a thick curtain or blanket was suspended between them, and Smith concealed behind the blanket, pretended to look through his spectacles, or transparent stones, and would then write down or repeat what he saw, which, when repeated aloud, was written down by Harris, who sat on the other side of the suspended blanket.”  (Account of Martin Harris given to the Rev. John A. Clark, as related in his 1842 book, Gleanings by the Way, W.J. & J.K. Simon, pp. 222ff). [Microfilm copy]

[lxvi] “Harris was told that it would arouse the most terrible divine displeasure, if he should attempt to draw near the sacred chest, or look at Smith while engaged in the work of decyphering (sic) the mysterious characters.” (1827 — Account of Martin Harris given to the Rev. John A. Clark, as related in his 1842 book Gleanings by the Way, W.J. & J.K. Simon, pp. 222ff). [Microfilm copy]

[lxvii] 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.

Oliver Cowdery
David Whitmer
Martin Harris

_

[lxxx] John H. Gilbert, who set up the majority of the type for the Book of Mormon, prepared a statement in preparation for the World's Fair held in Chicago, Illinois, in 1892. The following transcript was published by Wilford C. Wood in Joseph Smith Begins His Work, Vol. 1, introductory pages, (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1958).  

”I am a practical printer by trade. I have been a resident of Palmyra, N.Y., since about the year 1824, and during all that time have done some type-setting each year. I was aged ninety years on the 13th day of April 1892, and on that day I went to the office of the Palmyra Courier and set a stick-ful of type. My recollection of past events, and especially of the matter connected with the printing of the ‘Mormon Bible,’ is very accurate and faithful, and I have made the following memorandum at request, to accompany the photographs of ‘Mormon Hill,’ which have been made for the purpose of exhibits at the World's Fair in 1893.”

 

[lxxxi] THE
DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS
OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS

SECTION 17

The Prophet inquired of the Lord, and this revelation was given in answer, through the Urim and Thummim.  1 – 4, By faith the Three Witnesses shall see the plates and other sacred items;…

[lxxxii] “And now, behold, this shall you say unto him—he who spake unto you, said unto you: I, the Lord, am God, and have given these things unto you, my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and have commanded you that you should stand as a witness of these things;” (Doctrine and Covenants 5:2)

[lxxxiii] Verse (1) Behold, I say unto you, that as my servant Martin Harris has desired a witness at my hand, that you, my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., have got the plates of which you have testified and borne record that you have received of me; (D&C 5:1)

[lxxxiv] Typed transcript from Joseph Smith Papers, Letter book, April 20, 1837 - February 9, 1843, microfilm reel 2, pp. 64-66, LDS archives)

[lxxxv] (Doctrine and Covenants 17:3)

[lxxxvi] “It is related that the prophet's early followers were anxious to see the plates; the prophet had always given out that they could not be seen by the carnal eye, but must be spiritually discerned; that the power to see them depended upon faith, and was the gift of God, to be obtained by fasting, prayer, mortification of the flesh, and exercises of the spirit; that so soon as he could see the evidences of a strong and lively faith in any of his followers, they should be gratified in their holy curiosity. He set them to continual prayer, and other spiritual exercises, to acquire this lively faith by means of which the hidden things of God could be spiritually discerned; and at last, when he could delay them no longer, he assembled them in a room, and produced a box, which he said contained the precious treasure. The lid was opened; the witnesses peeped into it, but making no discovery, for the box was empty, they said, ‘Brother Joseph, we do not see the plates.’ The prophet answered them, ‘O ye of little faith! how long will God bear with this wicked and perverse generation? Down on your knees, brethren, every one of you, and pray God for the forgiveness of your sins, and for a holy and living faith which cometh down from heaven.’ The disciples dropped to their knees, and began to pray in the fervency of their spirit, supplicating God for more than two hours with fanatical earnestness; at the end of which time, looking again into the box, they were now persuaded that they saw the plates…” (Thomas Ford, A History of Illinois, from Its Commencement as a State in 1818 to 1847, Chicago: S. C. Griggs and Co., 1854, 256-58)

[lxxxvii] Also see:  (Theodore Turley, "Memorandums," 1845, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah).  Turley was a leading Mormon; He recorded this recollection very close to the time of the supposed event.  Church historians in the mid-1840s included it in the Manuscript, History of the Church.

[lxxxviii] “The following techniques to telling if someone is lying are often used by police, and security experts:

A person who is lying to you will avoid making eye contact. If they won’t look you in the eye’s or if they look you in the eye’s while saying “I’m looking you in the eye’s, so I’m not lying.” They are probably lying... They will normally raise their voice, get defensive and will totally want to change the subject. Go with your first gut feeling that feeling is normally right…  The guilty person may speak more than natural, adding unnecessary details to convince you…” (Detecting Lies: 10 Subtle Signs of Lying)

[lxxxix] “…we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.” (Verse (8) Articles of Faith History of the Church, Vol. 4, pp. 535—541)

[xc] Denials:

    “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…’” (Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 31)

[xci] Evasions:

    “Again, he told me, that when I got those plates of which he had spoken—for the time that they should be obtained was not yet fulfilled—I should not show them to any person; neither the breastplate with the Urim and Thummim; only to those to whom I should be commanded to show them; if I did I should be destroyed” (History of the Church Volume One, 1:42).

[xcii] Contradictions:

    “Take away the Book of Mormon and the revelations, and where is our religion? We have none.” (History of the Church 2:52)

[xciii] “Hence arose the very prevalent story of my having been a money-digger” (History of the Church Vol. 1, 1:56)

[xciv] "…do I understand you as swearing before God, under the solemn oath you have taken, that you believe the prisoner (Joseph Smith) can see by the aid of the stone fifty feet below the surface of the earth; as plainly as you can see what is on my table?" (Sworn statement of Josiah Stoal to Judge Neeley in Joseph Smith’s 1826 glass looking trial; CHENANGO UNION, Vol. 30, Norwich, N. Y., Thursday, May 2, 1877, No. 33, Joseph  Smith  The  Originator  of  Mormonism, Historical  Reminiscences  of  the  town  of  Afton, BY  W. D. PURPLE)

[xcv] “Then he [Joseph Smith] looked in his glass and found it was Emma Hale.” (Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History, LDS publication, BYU Studies, 1976, by Dean Jessee) 

[xcvi]

•  “Revelation given to Joseph Smith the Prophet… The revelation was given through the Urim and Thummim.” (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 3, Introduction)
  “The Prophet inquired of the Lord through the Urim and Thummim and received this response.” (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 6, Introduction)
  “Revelation given to Joseph Smith the Prophet and Oliver Cowdery, at Harmony, Pennsylvania, April 1829, when they inquired through the Urim and Thummim as to whether John, the beloved disciple, tarried in the flesh or had died. The revelation is a translated version of the record made on parchment by John and hidden up by himself.” (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 7, Introduction)
  "Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet to his brother Hyrum Smith, at Harmony, Pennsylvania, May 1829. HC 1: 39–46. This revelation was received through the Urim and Thummim in answer to Joseph’s supplication and inquiry. “History of the Church” suggests that this revelation was received after the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood. (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 11, Introduction)
  "Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet to David Whitmer, at Fayette, New York, June 1829..." This revelation and the two next following (Sections 15 and 16) were given in answer to an inquiry through the Urim and Thummim…" (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 14, Introduction)
  "Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet to Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris, at Fayette, New York, June 1829, prior to their viewing the engraved plates that contained the Book of Mormon record…. The Prophet inquired of the Lord, and this revelation was given in answer, through the Urim and Thummim."  (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 17, Introduction)
  “The revelations in the Book of Commandments up to June, 1829, were given through the ‘stone,’ through which the Book of Mormon was translated.” (An Address to All Believers in Christ, David Whitmer, 1887, p. 53) Note: the Book of Commandments is an early version of the Doctrine and Covenants.

[xcvii] “Also, that there were two stones in silver bows—and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim—deposited with the plates; and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted “seers” in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book.” (History of the Church 1:35

[xcviii] In her History, Joseph’s mother: Lucy Mack Smith speaks of the family drawing “magic circles,” “abrac” — which is short for (abracadabra), and “sooth saying.”  Magic circles are used to form a space of magical protection from the spirit the person is invoking.  Here is the quote: “Let not the reader suppose that because I shall pursue another topic for a season that we stopt (sic) our labor and went at trying to win the faculty of Abrac drawing Magic circles or sooth saying to the neglect of all kinds of business.” (Rough Rolling Stone, Bushman, 2006, p.p. 50-51; quoted from, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet and His Progenitors for Many Generations. Smith, Lucy Mack, Liverpool, England: S. W. Richards. 1853)

[xcix] “There is considerable evidence that the location of the plates and Nephite interpreters (Urim and Thummim) were revealed to Joseph via his second, white seer stone. In 1859, Martin Harris recalled that ‘Joseph had a stone which was dug from the well of Mason Chase...’It was by means of this stone he first discovered the plates.’  Some critics have sought to create a contradiction here, since Joseph's history reported that Moroni revealed the plates to him (Joseph Smith—History 1:34-35.42). This is an example of a false dichotomy: Moroni could easily have told Joseph about the plates and interpreters. The vision to Joseph may well have then come through the seer stone, as some of the sections of the Doctrine and Covenants (e.g., Section X) would later be revealed. (Joseph Smith and seer stones, Fairmormon.org, 2009; cited in article “Mormonism II,” Tiffany's Monthly, June 1859)

[c] Supposed conversation between an angel and Joseph Smith about who Smith should bring with him to obtain the golden plates the following September 22nd as recorded by Joseph Knight:

“Joseph says, ‘Who is the right person?’ the answer was, ‘You will know.’ ‘Then he [Joseph Smith] looked in his glass and found it was Emma Hale.’” (Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History, LDS publication, BYU Studies, 1976, by Dean Jessee)

[ci]  

8 The place where God resides is a great Urim and Thummim.

9 This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ’s.

10 Then the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17, will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher  order of kingdoms will be made known; (Doctrine and Covenants 130:8-10) 

 

[cii]

Interview with Martin Harris
in Tiffany's Monthly
1859
New York:
Published by Joel Tiffany, No. 6  4th Ave.
 

 
"THE following narration we took down from the lips of Martin Harris, and read the same to him after it was written, that we might be certain of giving his statement to the world. We made a journey to Ohio for the purpose of obtaining it, in the latter part of January, 1859. We did this that the world might have connected account of the origin of Mormonism from the lips of one of the original witnesses, upon whose testimony it was first received. For it will be remembered that Martin Harris is one of the three witnesses selected to certify to the facts connected with the origin of that revelation.

Mr. Harris says: 'Joseph Smith, jr., found at Palmyra, N. Y., on the 22d day of September, 1827, the plates of gold upon which was recorded in Arabic, Chaldaic, Syriac, and Egyptian, the Book of Life, or the Book of Mormon. I was not with him at the time, but I had a revelation the summer before, that God had a work for me to do. These plates were found at the north point of a hill two miles north of Manchester village. Joseph had a stone which was dug from the well of Mason Chase, twenty-four feet from the surface. In this stone he could see many thing to my certain knowledge. It was by means of this stone he first discovered these plates.

In the first place, he told me of this stone, and proposed to bind it on his eyes, and run a race with me in the woods. A few days after this, I was at the house of his father in Manchester, two miles south of Palmyra village, and was picking my teeth with a pin while sitting on the bars. The pin caught in my teeth, and dropped from my fingers into shavings and straw. I jumped from the bars and looked for it. Joseph and Northrop Sweet also did the same. We could not find it. I then took Joseph on surprise, and said to him--I said, ‘Take your stone.’ I had never seen it, and did not know that he had it with him. He had it in his pocket. He took it and placed it in his hat-- the old white hat--and placed his face in his hat. I watched him closely to see that he did not look one side; he reached out his hand beyond me on the right, and moved a little stick, and there I saw the pin, which he picked up and gave to me. I know he did not look out of the hat until after he had picked up the pin.

Joseph had had this stone for some time. There was a company there in that neighborhood, who were digging for money supposed to have been hidden by the ancients. Of this company were old Mr. Stowel--I think his name was Josiah--also old Mr. Beman, also Samuel Lawrence, George Proper, Joseph Smith, jr., and his father, and his brother Hiram [Hyrum] Smith. They dug for money in Palmyra, Manchester, also in Pennsylvania, and other places. When Joseph found this stone, there was a company digging in Harmony, Pa., and they took Joseph to look in the stone for them, and he did so for a while, and then he told them the enchantment was so strong that he could not see, and they gave it up. There he became acquainted with his future wife, the daughter of old Mr. Isaac Hale, where he boarded. He afterwards returned to Pennsylvania again, and married his wife, taking her off to old Mr. Stowel’s, because her people would not consent to the marriage. She was of age, Joseph was not.

After this, on the 22d of September, 1827, before day, Joseph took the horse and wagon of old Mr. Stowel, and taking his wife, he went to the place where the plates were concealed, and while he was obtaining them, she kneeled down and prayed. He then took the plates and hid them in an old black oak tree top which was hollow. Mr. Stowel was at this time at old Mr. Smith’s, digging for money. It was reported by these money-diggers, that they had found boxes, but before they could secure them, they would sink into the earth. A candid old Presbyterian told me, that on the Susquehannah flats he dug down to an iron chest, that he scraped the dirt off with his shovel, but had nothing with him to open the chest; that he went away to get help, and when they came to it, it moved away two or three rods into the earth, and they could not get it. There were a great many strange sights. One time the old log school-house south of Palmyra, was suddenly lighted up, and frightened them away. Samuel Lawrence told me that while they were digging, a large man who appeared to be eight or nine feet high, came and sat on the ridge of the barn, and motioned to them that they must leave. They motioned back that they would not; but that they afterwards became frightened and did leave. At another time while they were digging, a company of horsemen came and frightened them away. These things were real to them, I believe because they were told to me in confidence, and told by different ones, and their stories agreed, and they seemed to be in earnest--I knew they were in earnest.

Joseph did not dig for these plates. They were placed in this way: four stones were set up and covered with a flat stone, oval on the upper side and flat on the bottom. Beneath this was a little platform upon which the plates were laid; and the two stones set in a bow of silver by means of which the plates were translated, were found underneath the plates.

These plates were seven inches wide by eight inches in length, and were of the thickness of plates of tin; and when piled one above the other, they were altogether about four inches thick; and they were put together on the back by three silver rings, so that they would open like a book.

The two stones set in a bow of silver were about two inches in diameter, perfectly round, and about five-eighths of an inch thick at the centre; but not so thick at the edges where they came into the bow. They were joined by a round bar of silver, about three-eighths of an inch in diameter, and about four inches long, which, with the two stones, would make eight inches.

The stones were white, like polished marble, with a few gray streaks. I never dared to look into them by placing them in the hat, because Moses said that ‘no man could see God and live,’ and we could see anything we wished by looking into them; and I could not keep the desire to see God out of my mind. And beside, we had a command to let no man look into them, except by the command of God, lest he should ‘look aught and perish.’

These plates were usually kept in a cherry box made for that purpose, in the possession of Joseph and myself. The plates were kept from the sight of the world, and no one, save Oliver Cowdrey [Cowdery], myself, Joseph Smith, jr., and David Whitmer, ever saw them. Before the Lord showed the plates to me, Joseph wished me to see them. But I refused, unless the Lord should do it. At one time, before the Lord showed them to me, Joseph said I should see them. I asked him, why he would break the commands of the Lord! He said, you have done so much I am afraid you will not believe unless you see them. I replied, ‘Joseph, I know all about it. The Lord has showed to me ten times more about it than you know.’"--Here we inquired of Mr. Harris-- How did the Lord show you these things? He replied, "I am forbidden to say anything [about] how the Lord showed them to me, except that by the power of God I have seen them."

Mr. Harris continues: "I hefted the plates many times, and should think they weighed forty or fifty pounds.

When Joseph had obtained the plates, he communicated the fact to his father and mother. The plates remained concealed in the tree top until he got the chest made. He then went after them and brought them home. While on his way home with the plates, he was met by what appeared to be a man, who demanded the plates, and struck him with a club on his side, which was all black and blue. Joseph knocked the man down, and then ran for home, and was much out of breath. When he arrived at home, he handed the plates in at the window, and they were received from him by his mother. They were then hidden under the hearth in his father’s house. But the wall being partly down, it was feared that certain ones, who were trying to get possession of the plates, would get under the house and dig them out. Joseph then took them out, and hid them under the old cooper’s shop, by taking up a board and digging in the ground and burying them. When they were taken from there, they were put into an old Ontario glass-box. Old Mr. Beman sawed off the ends, making the box the right length to put them in, and when they went in he said he heard them jink, but he was not permitted to see them. He told me so.

The money-diggers claimed that they had as much right to the plates as Joseph had, as they were in company together. They claimed that Joseph had been [a] traitor, and had appropriated to himself that which belonged to them. For this reason Joseph was afraid of them, and continued concealing the plates. After they had been concealed under the floor of the cooper’s shop for a short time, Joseph was warned to remove them. He said he was warned by an angel. He took them out and hid them up in the chamber of the cooper’s shop among the flags. That night some one came, took up the floor, and dug up the earth, and would have found the plates had they not been removed.

These things had all occurred before I talked with Joseph respecting the plates. But I had the account of it from Joseph, his wife, brothers, sisters, his father and mother. I talked with them separately, that I might get the truth of the matter. The first time I heard of the matter, my brother Presarved Harris, who had been in the village of Palmyra, asked me if [I] had heard about Joseph Smith, jr., having a golden bible. My thoughts were that the money-diggers had probably dug up an old brass kettle, or something of the kind. I thought no more of it. This was about the first of October, 1827. The next day after the talk with my brother, I went to the village, and there I was asked what I thought of the Gold Bible? I replied, The Scripture says, He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is foolishness unto him. I do not wish to make myself a fool. I don’t know anything about it. Then said I, what is it about Joe’s Gold Bible? They then went on to say, that they put whiskey into the old man’s cider and got him half drunk, and he told them all about it. They then repeated his account, which I found afterwards to agree substantially with the account given by Joseph. Then said I to them, how do you know that he has not got such gold plates? They replied, ‘Damn him! angels appear to men in this enlightened age! Damn him, he ought to be tarred and feathered for telling such a damned lie!’ Then I said, suppose he has told a lie, as old Tom Jefferson said, it did [not] matter to him whether a man believed in one god or twenty. It did not rob his pocket, nor break his shins. What is it to us if he has told a lie? He has it to answer for if he has lied. If you should tar and feather all the liars, you would soon be out of funds to purchase the material.

I then thought of the words of Christ, The kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. I knew they were of the devil’s kingdom, and if that is of the devil, his kingdom is divided against itself. I said in my heart, this is something besides smoke. There is some fire at the bottom of it. I then determined to go and see Joseph as soon as I could find time.

A day or so before I was ready to visit Joseph, his mother came over to our house and wished to talk with me. I told her I had not time to spare, she might talk with my wife, and, in the evening when I had finished my work I would talk with her. When she commenced talking with me, she told me respecting his bringing home the plates, and many other things, and said that Joseph had sent her over and wished me to come and see him. I told her that I had a time appointed when I would go, and that when the time came I should then go, but I did not tell her when it was. I sent my boy to harness my horse and take her home. She wished my wife and daughter to go with her; and they went and spent most of the day. When they came home, I questioned them about them. My daughter said, they were about as much as she could lift. They were now in the glass-box, and my wife said they were very heavy. They both lifted them. I waited a day or two, when I got up in the morning, took my breakfast, and told my folks I was going to the village, but went directly to old Mr. Smith’s. I found that Joseph had gone away to work for Peter Ingersol to get some flour. I was glad he was absent, for that gave me an opportunity of talking with his wife and the family about the plates. I talked with them separately, to see if their stories agreed, and I found they did agree. When Joseph came home I did not wish him to know that I had been talking with them, so I took him by the arm and led him away from the rest, and requested him to tell me the story, which he did as follows. He said: ‘An angel had appeared to him, and told him it was God’s work.’" Here Mr. Harris seemed to wander from the subject, when we requested him to continue and tell what Joseph then said. He replied, 'Joseph had before this described the manner of his finding the plates. He found them by looking in the stone found in the well of Mason Chase. The family had likewise told me the same thing.'

Joseph said the angel told him he must quit the company of the money-diggers. That there were wicked men among them. He must have no more to do with them. He must not lie, nor swear, nor steal. He told him to go and look in the spectacles, and he would show him the man that would assist him. That he did so, and he saw myself, Martin Harris, standing before him. That struck me with surprise. I told him I wished him to be very careful about these things. ‘Well,’ said he, ‘I saw you standing before me as plainly as I do now.’ I said, if it is the devil’s work I will have nothing to do with it; but if it is the Lord’s, you can have all the money necessary to bring it before the world. He said the angel told him, that the plates must be translated, printed and sent before the world. I said, Joseph, you know the doctrine, that cursed is every one that putteth his trust in man, and maketh flesh his arm; and we know that the devil is to have great power in the latter days to deceive if possible the very elect; and I don’t know that you are one of the elect. Now you must not blame me for not taking your word. If the Lord will show me that it is his work, you can have all the money you want.

While at Mr. Smith’s I hefted the plates, and I knew from the heft that they were lead or gold, and I knew that Joseph had not credit enough to buy so much lead. I left Mr. Smith’s about eleven o’clock and went home. I retired to my bedroom and prayed God to show me concerning these things, and I covenanted that if it was his work and he would show me so, I would put forth my best ability to bring it before the world. He then showed me that I was his work, and that it was designed to bring in the fullness of his gospel to the gentiles to fulfill his word, that the first shall be last and the last first. He showed this to me by the still small voice spoken in the soul. Then I was satisfied that it was the Lord’s work, and I was under a covenant to bring it forth.

The excitement in the village upon the subject had become such that some had threatened to mob Joseph, and also to tar and feather him. They said he should never leave until he had shown the plates. It was unsafe for him to remain, so I determined that he must go to his father-in-law’s in Pennsylvania. He wrote to his brother-in-law Alvah Hale, requesting him to come for him. I advised Joseph that he must pay all his debts before starting. I paid them for him, and furnished him money for his journey. I advised him to take time enough to get ready, so that he might start a day or two in advance: for he would be mobbed if it was known when he started. We put the box of plates into a barrel about one-third full of beans and headed it up. I informed Mr. Hale of the matter, and advised them to cut each a good cudgel and put into the wagon with them, which they did. It was understood that they were to start on Monday; but they started on Saturday night and got through safe. This was the last of October, 1827. It might have been the first of November.' "  (Joel Tiffany, Interview with Martin Harris, pp.163-170)
 

[ciii] (Doctrines of Salvation, Joseph Fielding Smith, 1954, vol. 1, p. 188)