Joseph Smith's story of finding golden plates by Rich Kelsey - gold plates fraud, golden plates myth, gold plates hoax, brass plates, Mormon, hoax, Joseph Smith, fraud, LDS, Book of Mormon - whatever happened to the golden plates?
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An Incredible Story Part IV — Those Mysterious Golden Plates
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Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, was raised in one of the most intriguing periods in American religious history. If one were to experience this era with today’s knowledge, they would have an opportunity to evaluate that history better than many who actually lived it. That is what we can do as we journey to 19th century America, to experience the mindset and lifestyle of Joseph Smith and his colleagues.
At one time Smith’s stories had all the flair one would
expect from someone with his unique upbringing.
Yet, over the years
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has sterilized the over the top
lifestyle and activities Smith was once known for.
Many plain and precious truths have being taken away.
me as we turn back the hands of time to a period in Smith’s life which barely
resembles what is taught by the LDS Church today.
Together we will open the Church’s vault,[i]
sift through various historical records, and document early Mormon history
before the sugar-coating was applied.
For some, this will be too bitter of a pill to swallow.[ii]
find healing through digesting its message.[iii]
Joseph Smith’s world consisted of:
■ “…telling where hidden treasures in the earth were by means of looking through a certain stone…”[vi]
■ Being able to “see anything” by looking through mysterious “glasses.”[vii]
Smith’s father testified that God had given his son,
Smith himself claimed,
“[he] possessed one of the attributes of Deity, an All-Seeing-Eye.”[ix]
What Joseph was actually talking about was a seer stone.[x]
Joseph claimed that when he,
“placed it in his hat... [he] discovered that time, place and distance were annihilated; [and] that all intervening obstacles were removed.”[xi]
This is the stuff that dreams are made of!
Imagine waking up in New York to find a world brimming with folklore,[xii] interspersed with folk-magic,[xiii] and steeped in strong religious views; that would be a dream come true for some. Meeting friends and neighbors with limited educations, who believe in the superstitions of the day, would certainly add color to the dream.
A Humble Beginning:
When the Mormon prophet was 10 years old his father moved the family from Sharon Vermont to Palmyra New York. The year was 1816. New York was frontier country; it had yet to be settled. Lumber was plentiful, game was abundant; the land was fertile.
New York was a land of opportunity; yet for the Smith family, this move was just
another stop on a long road of broken dreams.
Hard work was necessary[xiv]
to secure enough food to make it through the winters; and to procure enough cash
to pay state imposed land taxes.
When they arrived in Palmyra, they bought another farm by making payments on a loan; they ended up losing this farm too; because they were not able to make the final payment in time. Once again the Smith family moved, this time to a nearby town in Western New York called Manchester, in Ontario County. Western New York was a land of mystery. Burial mounds blanketed the landscape.
Common folktales of the time included stories of the Vikings, or the lost ten tribes of Israel, being responsible for the numerous burial mounds found in America. Yet these folktales, unlike some of the tall tales that were common[xv] in the 1800s, were thought to be true.
People in the 1800s had several reasons to doubt that American Indians had constructed the burial mounds scattered across the land. The term "mound builder" back then had connotations of a mysterious,[xvi] ancient race. Envision Joseph Smith, in his formative years,[xvii] being raised[xviii] in an atmosphere[xix] where the mystery of the “mound builders” was the talk of the town.
belief that the Indians were not the peoples who built the mounds, but had
actually killed off the “mound builders” was popular in Smith’s time.
Driving Indians from their land was justified[xx]
in the minds of many who believed the dark skinned[xxi]
Indians had wiped out the ancient white skinned[xxii]
On Golden Plates:
Joseph Smith was living on the family farm in Manchester, New York, when he became famous for his story of finding “gold plates.”[xxiii] According to the story, Smith brought forth the Book of Mormon from this golden record; which had been buried by America’s former inhabitants.
Speaking about the plates and how Smith first discovered them, Martin Harris, who was one of the Book of Mormon’s Three Witnesses, said:
“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 things to my certain knowledge. It was by means of this stone he first discovered these plates… 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… (Joel Tiffany, Interview with Martin Harris, in Tiffany's Monthly, 1859, New York, p. 163-164)
In this interview Martin Harris described a well documented event in Josephs Smith’s life, in which Smith used a stone to search for buried treasure.[xxiv] Smith himself talks about this briefly[xxv] in the History of the Church.
His father in law adds more detail to the story:
"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 found—he 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)
Joseph Smith’s father in law spelled out the word “enchantment” while describing what Smith said. Then, Martin Harris verifies that Smith used the word “enchantment” in the interview with Joel Tiffany.
It's interesting that LDS author/scholar Richard Bushman also used the word "enchantment" while describing the golden plates:
“The plates walk a fine line between magic and religion, between enchantment and disenchantment, between fraud and religious genius... They make the claim that the supernatural has entered into the natural world.” (Presentation given at Utah State's Eccles Science Learning Center on March 22, 2012)
Tiffany Interview Continued:
“… and then he [Joseph Smith] told them the enchantment was so strong that he could not see, and they gave it up.” (Joel Tiffany, Interview with Martin Harris, in Tiffany's Monthly, 1859, New York, p.163-164)
Smith was brought to court over this money digging venture.[xxvi]
courtroom, while under oath, a fellow worker also used the term
“enchantment” to describe why
they gave up digging.
Over the course of history some of the details have become sketchy. It’s possible that this ‘Trial’ was just a pre-trial hearing. However, there are several separate records of this court case; among the least biased of the records we find these words:
“Thompson says that he believes in the prisoner's professed skill; that the board which he struck his spade upon was probably the chest, but, on account of an enchantment, the trunk kept settling away from under them while digging; that, not withstanding they continued constantly removing the dirt, yet the trunk kept about the same distance from them.” (1826 Trial, Tuttle account)
We have just documented various accounts of people saying that when Joseph Smith used the word “enchantment,” the money diggers became discouraged. “Enchantment” was once a common term used by those who spoke of, believed in, and/or practiced folk magic. The problems Smith and the rest of the money diggers were experiencing supposedly had to do with a treasure guardian[xxix] and/or a magic charm.[xxx]
The 1826 Trial record spelled out:
“… he [Joseph Smith] discovered distinctly the two Indians who buried the trunk; that a quarrel ensued between them, and that one of said Indians was killed by the other, and thrown into the hole beside of the trunk, to guard it, as he supposed.” (1826 Glass Looking Trial, Jonathan Thompson testimony, Tuttle account)
The words “as he supposed” are noteworthy! They give us a glimpse into Smith’s mindset. Joseph Smith was caught up in the understanding that a dead man, who was now a spirit, could keep watch over buried treasure.
Also, when Smith said,
“the enchantment was so powerful that he could not see”[xxxi]
indicated that he was dealing with an evil spirit.
who were evil in this life could remain on earth as evil spirits after death.
against this spirit of darkness.”[xxxii]
Spirits guarding treasure in Smith’s day were usually evil.[xxxiii]
“The utmost silence was necessary to success. More than once, when the digging proved a failure, Joe explained to his associates that, just as the deposit was about to be reached, some one, tempted by the devil, spoke, causing the wished-for riches to disappear.”[xxxiv]
“If Joseph actually did possess the ability as the witnesses testified would he be judged guilty of glass looking? Yes. But wouldn't that also mean that he was innocent of deception and the reason the law was created?” (Just the Facts - The 1826 Trial (Hearing) of Joseph Smith, lightplanet.com)[xxxv]
Because Mormon apologists imply that,
“…Joseph actually did possess the ability as the witnesses testified…”
“…he was innocent of deception…”
let’s consider what the witnesses said in court to see if this argument holds up under examination:
· Josiah Stowel said “…that he positively knew that the prisoner could tell, and professed the art of seeing those valuable treasures through the medium of said stone… that he had been in company with prisoner digging for gold and had the most implicit faith in prisoner's skill.” (1826 Trial, Tuttle account)
· Stowell also said, “that the prisoner possessed all the power he claimed, and declared he could see things fifty feet below the surface of the earth…” (1826 Trial, Purple account)
· Jonathan Thompson stated, “he believes in the prisoner's professed skill...” (1826 Trial, Tuttle account)
Note: Not all of the witnesses who testified in the 1826 Glass Looking Trial believed Smith had the ability to see things in his stone:
· Arad Stowel testified: ”The deception appeared so palpable, that [he] went off disgusted.” (1826 Trial, Tuttle account)
· McMaster testified: “…he went with Arad Stowel to be convinced of prisoner's skill, and likewise came away disgusted…”(1826 Trial, Tuttle account)
One thing is clear: the witnesses who believed in Smith were the ones telling Judge Neely about a chest full of treasure being watched over by a dead Indian and how Smith could see this by looking in his stone.[xxxvi] This in itself points to deception on Smith's part; because, there was never a chest full of treasure to be found.
Instead of trying to discredit those court testimonies, are Mormon apologists really asking us to believe them?
It's not likely that apologists are asking investigators to accept what the witnesses said about the trunk full of treasure slipping away from them as they dug for it, etc. In fact, they would probably dismiss that as nonsense, while still holding to the notion that Smith could see things invisible to the human eye. Yet, claiming Smith could see things in his stone, while admitting that what he claimed he saw was not real, is nothing less than doubletalk.
Also, the problem with picking and choosing what parts of Smith’s story to believe, is that practically everything the witnesses testified to in court is beyond belief. Surely Smith did not see buried treasure and a dead Indian in his stone.
This is a real problem for Mormons; because, if what Smith told Stowell and his crew is fictitious, then the odds are good that the gold plates story, which is along similar lines, is also pure fiction.
The gold plates were also supposedly buried in a box by the ancients and held in charge by the spirit of a dead man.[xxxvii] Smith was telling people he was trying to obtain the gold plates during the same period in his life he was brought before Judge Neely for glass looking.[xxxviii]
Gold Plates — Illusion or Reality:
It is written,
“The golden plates are history's most stunning 'find' in the field of religion.” (Neal A. Maxwell)
Yet, unlike other stunning 'finds’ in history, the gold plates are nowhere to be found; and stories of their final resting place are just like stories found in mythical tales:
“… the hill was not only the place where Joseph Smith received the plates but also their final repository, along with other sacred treasures, after the translation was finished. …Joseph Smith and others returned the plates to a cave in the Hill Cumorah after he finished translating them. At least 10 different accounts, all secondhand, refer to this cave and what was found there.
With these reports of a cave in the Hill Cumorah comes the question, Was this a real cave that Joseph and others actually walked into, or was it a visionary, or "virtual," experience?”
The author goes on to say,
“…this question cannot be answered unless we find firsthand information regarding the cave." (Cumorah's Cave - Cameron J. Packer)
Obviously, if the cave was a visionary experience then Smith did not take any real plates to any real cave. The gold plates seem to have the same elusive qualities as buried treasure from Smith’s money digging days.
For example: Brigham Young, the Second "Prophet, Seer, and Revelator" of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, painted a picture of a man of faith praying and then seeing angels and plates in the vision of his mind:
“Some of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, who handled the plates and conversed with the angels of God, were afterwards left to doubt and to disbelieve that they had ever seen an angel. One of the Quorum of the Twelve - a young man full of faith and good works, prayed, and the vision of his mind was opened, and the angel of God came and laid the plates before him, and he saw and handled them, and saw the angel, and conversed with him as he would with one of his friends; but after all this, he was left to doubt, and plunged into apostacy, and has continued to contend against this work. There are hundreds in a similar condition.” (Brigham Young, JoD: vol. 7 p. 164, June 5, 1859)
In the material world, people do not need faith to see or handle things, nor do people usually doubt they once handled tangible objects; unless they are suffering from a delusionary state. Perhaps these people were mesmerized by the power of suggestion;[xxxix] then later, they woke up to the reality that they had only imagined seeing gold plates? For hundreds of people to be “in a similar condition”[xl] indicates that something is seriously wrong!
deplorable fraud recorded in history.”[xliii]
The record gets worse:
Included in Joseph Knight’s account of Smith’s first attempt at obtaining the gold plates is this troubling piece of evidence:
● He took hold of the book, but this time he could not move it.
● He was answered, “The 22nd day of next September if you bring the right person.”
● “Joseph says, ‘Who is the right person?’”
● “But before September came his oldest Brother died.”
According to the Bible, God knows,
“the end from the beginning.”[xliv]
Smith’s oldest brother Alvin died[xlv] 10 months before, “the 22nd day of next September.” If the spirit really was an,
the angel should have known that Alvin could not possibly accompany Joseph to the Hill Cumorah[xlvii] the following year. Therefore, if an actual spirit did appear to Smith, it was very unlikely to be a messenger from God. One would think that after Alvin died, Smith himself would have realized that he was merely dealing with an evil spirit, once again; just as he had in past money digging ventures. One thing we can be certain of: Joseph Smith did not know his oldest brother would die before next September 22nd.
Alvin’s death over this period of time is no doubt the reason this version[xlviii] of Smith’s story is unknown to most Mormons today. Knowledge of it would certainly hinder those trying to build faith in Smith as a prophet.
An Odd Admission:
Joseph Smith recorded in his 1832-34 diary that because he sought the plates for impure motives he was prevented from acquiring them until he was 21 years old:
"for now I had been tempted of the advisary and sought the Plates to obtain riches and kept not the commandments that I should have an eye single to the glory of God therefore I was chastened and sought diligently to obtain the plates and obtain them not until I was twenty one years of age..." (Page 5, lines 1-5)
Obviously, this runs contrary to earlier accounts, such as the one written by Joseph Knight, where the personage promised Smith that he could have the plates next September 22nd if he brought the right person.
Smith seeking to obtain the plates for their material value and to not keep God’s commandments over this 3 to 4 year time-span certainly is an odd admission! Perhaps Smith was trying to add credibility to the story he was telling of finding tangible plates, which could have been melted down and sold; and, how he overcame that temptation for the glory of God? One thing is certain: later versions of Smith's stories add details unheard of in earlier versions.
or Divine Calling:[xlix]
Mormon apologist Mark Ashurst-McGee begs this question:
“Whether or not one believes an actual being appeared to Joseph Smith, the question is whether Moroni evolved from a treasure guardian into an angel in Joseph’s telling of the event.[l]
To answer Mark’s question, let’s look into a few early accounts of Smith trying to obtain the gold plates: Let's start at the point in Smith's story where he removes the plates from the stone box and sets them on the ground; which is something the personage, angel of the Lord, or spirit, depending on which account one reads, had told him not to do:
Smith’s mother Lucy explained:
“In the moment of excitement, Joseph was overcome by the powers of darkness, and forgot the injunction that was laid upon him. Having some further conversation with the angel on this occasion, Joseph was permitted to raise the stone again, when he beheld the plates as he had done before. He immediately reached forth his hand to take them, but instead of getting them, as he anticipated, he was hurled back upon the ground with great violence. When he recovered, the angel was gone, and he arose and returned to the house weeping for grief and disappointment.” (Lucy Smith, Biographical Sketches, p. 347)
The accounts of Martin Harris, Joseph Knight and Lucy Smith paint a far different picture than what is spelled out in the final version of Smith's story:
Nowhere[li] in Smith’s 1838 History, is it mentioned that:
■ Smith discovered the plates with his stone.
■ He laid the plates down contrary to the spirit’s instruction.
■ He was hurled back when trying to obtain them a second time.
■ He was told to bring his oldest brother Alvin, and if he did, he could have the plates next September 22nd.
died before another attempt could be made .
■ Smith didn’t know what to do.
■ He was told once more that he might have them the next September 22nt if he brought the right person.
The conversation about the spirit[liii] telling him from the very beginning that:
“…the time for bringing them forth had not yet arrived; neither would it, until four years from that time…”[lii]
runs contrary to general theme of all the early accounts
which is a clear indication that this, (four-year-from-now) doctrine, is a later
Inconsistencies — Continued:
● [Once again] “…the personage appeared and told him he could not have it now. But the 22nd day of September next he might have it if he brought the right person.”
● “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.”
These details are also left out of Smith’s 1838 History which is the version the LDS Church maintains today.
Note: According to the story, Joseph Smith left his wife in the carriage
on the night of September, 22nd, 1827; then he proceeded up the hill alone to
meet Moroni and receive the plates. Why would he not bring Emma to meet Moroni if Emma was the right person to bring? One would think leaving Emma
in the carriage would be a violation of the angel's instructions. Could it
be that in reality there was no angel for her to meet?
Note: According to the story, Joseph Smith left his wife in the carriage on the night of September, 22nd, 1827; then he proceeded up the hill alone to meet Moroni and receive the plates.
Why would he not bring Emma to meet Moroni
if Emma was the right person to bring? One would think leaving Emma in the carriage would be a violation of the angel's instructions. Could it be that in reality there was no angel for her to meet?
Also, in Knight’s account we see that Smith has a “glass” or in
other words a “stone” in which he can discern spiritual things.
Joseph’s mother: Lucy Mack Smith speaks of the family drawing “magic circles,” “abrac” — which is short for (abracadabra), and “sooth saying.”
“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.” (Biographical Sketches… Smith, Lucy Mack, Liverpool, England: S. W. Richards. 1853)
Magic circles are used to form a space of magical protection from the spirit the person is invoking. Soothsaying is the supernatural ability to perceive things, including what may happen in the future.
Smith’s Mother Lucy said,
“…for in a former revelation he had been commanded not to lay the plates down, or put them for a moment out of his hands, until he got into the house and deposited them in a chest or trunk, having a good lock and key, and, contrary to this, he had laid them down…”[lv]
to Lucy: The “angel of the Lord”[lvi]
had made it very clear to her son, that he was not to put the plates out of his
hands, even for a moment! Years before,
the angel had chastised Joseph by violently hurling him for disobeying this
The morning Joseph Smith supposedly really did get the plates, what he actually came home with was another story. That morning he told his family that he had hidden the plates in the woods three miles away:
[When Joseph] “…went to bring the record which he had deposited in a cavity in a birch log 3 miles distant he too and covered it with the bark of the same he took the plates from their place and wrapping them in his linen frock put them under his arm and started for home the house.” (Lucy Smith, Biographical Sketches, First Draft, 1844/45 p. 385) [original spelling]
Hiding the plates in the woods 3 miles away is without a doubt a major violation of the angel’s primary command? It certainly falls into the category of letting them out of his hands before he brings them into the house.[lvii]
The only thing that makes sense: Smith changed his story again; because, he came home empty handed one more time. Also, it is recorded in Lucy’s history that Joseph Smith had yet to find a chest, or have one built, to put the plates in, until after[lviii] he supposedly obtained the plates and hid them in the woods. Lucy writes about a neighbor who asked Joseph to dig a well for her. Lucy explains that, by digging the well, Joe was earning the money to pay the cabinet maker. What all this means is: as the story goes, the plates were in the woods for several days at the very least, before Joseph brought them into the house.
During this time Joseph assured his family that the plates were safe because he had a “key.” He explained that this “key” made it possible for him to tell if the plates were in danger:
“Joseph kept the urim and thumim (sic) constantly about his person as he could by this means ascertain at any moment whether <if> the plates were in danger & having just looked into them before Emma got there he perceived her coming and came up out of the well and met her … he told her that the record was perfectly safe for the present.” (Lucy Smith, Biographical Sketches, First Draft, 1844/45 p. 384)
Point of Interest: In Lucy’s rundown of her son’s history, she had used the term “keys” earlier, to describe why Josiah Stoal [Stowell] wanted her son to work for him:
“…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.”
(Biographical Sketches… Smith, Lucy Mack, Liverpool, England: S. W. Richards.
Smith had been using his seer stones, along with his supposed gift of second sight, years before the angel gave him the “key.” This is good example of history being re-interpreted. From this point on, Smith became known as the prophet who obtained the Urim and Thummim from an angel. Turning his back on his old stone-peeping days!
That understanding is only an Illusion.[lix]
Urim and Thumim (sic) were never spoken to Lucy Smith by her son Joseph in the late
1820s. Smith originally called the stones supposedly supplied by the divine
“The book of Mormon… was translated by the gift and power of God, by an unlearned man, through the aid of a pair of Interpreters, or spectacles-(known, perhaps, in ancient days as Teraphim, or Urim and Thummim)” (The Evening and Morning Star, Vol. 1 p. 57, Jan. 1833)
From that point on, the words Urim and Thummim were written into foundational Church History.
Here is an example:
BOC 9:1, p. 22 — Now, behold I say unto you, that
because you delivered up so many writings, which you had power to
translate, into the hands of a wicked man, you have lost them, and you
also lost your gift at the same time…
D&C 10:1 — Now, behold I say unto you, that
because you delivered up those writings, which you had power given unto
you to translate by the means of the Urim
and Thummim, into the hands of a wicked man, you have
Smith described the Urim and Thummim as a pair of glasses or spectacles. Yet, there is no credible[lxii] evidence that people wore glasses in Old Testament times. The idea of a holy prophet of God putting on a pair of spectacles with diamond like seer stones “set in glass”[lxiii] as lenses, first originated with Joseph Smith.
God is speaking?
Some people envision Joseph Smith as a humble, devout, prophet of God, who brought forth divine communications while under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. But, what if this were not true?[lxiv] Lucy Harris, who was the wife of Martin Harris, claimed that Smith was a “grand imposter.”[lxv]
She went on to say that,
seduced her husband into the belief that he was some great one…”[lxvi]
had all the markings one would expect[lxviii]
from a con man. Therefore, Lucy had
reasons to be concerned about Smith’s control over her husband.
(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;”
The obvious question: Who is really speaking here, God through Smith, or Smith pretending to be God?
In verse 1, someone is laying the groundwork to establish that,
“…Joseph Smith, Jun., [has] … got the plates...”
Yet, doesn’t it only make sense that if Smith had the plates, then Martin would not need to rely on faith[lxx] to view[lxxi] them. Neither would God need to threaten Martin Harris with condemnation if he did not say,
(Verse 26) … “I have seen them...”
Also, if Smith had the plates, it sure seems odd that God would pressure Harris to say,
(Verse 26) “…they have been shown unto me by the power of
One may wonder if it was God[lxxii] insisting:
(Verse 27) But if
he [Martin] deny this he will break the covenant which he has before covenanted
with me, and behold, he is condemned.”
One thing is clear:
If God were speaking through Smith, one would expect God’s words[lxxiii] to resemble accepted scripture; or at the very least, to make sense. Yet, this dialog of God entering into a covenant with Harris about seeing the gold plates makes no sense whatsoever; neither does it sound like something God would say.[lxxiv] This so called 'Revelation' has all the markings of a swindler putting pressure on his mark to testify about something of questionable nature.[lxxv]
Also, it's interesting that out of all the witnesses, perhaps Martin Harris was the one who wanted to see the plates the most; yet, he was counted among the witnesses who had the most trouble seeing them.
For example: Mormon leader, Stephen Burnett, left the LDS Church after hearing,
Harris state in public that he never saw the plates with his natural eyes only
in vision or imagination, neither [did] Oliver nor David.”[lxxvi]
When Smith came into Martin's world Smith turned it upside down. Martin lost his farm.[lxxvii] He lost his wife. Smith took control of his money.[lxxviii] Eventually, the only thing Martin had left to lose was his testimony. If he had forsaken that, he would have been left with nothing. Is this why Martin Harris endorsed Joseph Smith’s prepared statement; known as the “Testimony of Three Witnesses?” For whatever reason, Martin did claim he saw the golden plates; the rest is history.
Historical Difficulties — one long attempt at fraud:
“This, then, is the historical difficulty of the plates. Accounts of hiding the plates, wrapping the plates with cloth, showing the plates and translating from the plates become nothing more than one long attempt at fraud and make everything else Joseph Smith did doubtful. ‘Like a beggar claiming to have a diamond that he allows nobody to see,’ … So in the plates we have joined the two characterizations of Joseph Smith, ‘the fraud and the prophet, with the plates as the hinge between the two.’" (Statements from Richard Bushman - Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum's Conference, Oct. 23, 2010)
Over the years Joseph Smith’s stories have been re-written to standards which people can, and do, put their faith in. Yet, how many investigators would ask God in prayer about the truthfulness of Smith’s stories if they only had early versions to base their findings upon?
“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God…” (John 7:17, KJV)
We can know the truth. Yet, asking God if a fabricated story is true, with the only acceptable answer being, “Yes,” may not be a sound method to finding God’s guidance in the matter.
LDS Church has certain documents containing primary source material
locked away. On this
subject, Mormon historian and former professor at BYU, Dennis Michael
Quinn, wrote: “President Hinckley telephoned in June 1982 to say that he
was sympathetic about a request I had written to obtain access to
documents in the First Presidency's
vault but that my
request could not be granted...” (Article, THE SEPTEMBER SIX - 'THE LDS
CHURCH SANCTIONS SIX PROMINENT SCHOLARS' 1993, Malcolm J. Vickery)
[ii] "I, along with colleagues, and drawing from years of research, find the evidence employed to support many traditional claims about the church to be either nonexistent or problematic. In other words, it didn't all happen the way we've been told.” (An Insider's View of Mormon Origins, Grant H. Palmer, Signature Books, 2002, p. xii)
[iii] "The foundation events were rewritten by Joseph and Oliver and other early church officials so the church could survive and grow. This reworking made the stories more useful for missionary work and for fellowshipping purposes. But is this acceptable?” (An Insider's View of Mormon Origins, Grant H. Palmer, Signature Books, 2002, p. 260)
[iv] “At length the time arrived for obtaining the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate. On the twenty-second day of September, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven, having gone as usual at the end of another year to the place where they were deposited, the same heavenly messenger delivered them up to me with this charge: that I should be responsible for them; that if I should let them go carelessly, or through any neglect of mine, I should be cut off; but that if I would use all my endeavors to preserve them, until he, the messenger, should call for them, they should be protected.” (History of the Church Vol. 1, 1:59)
said there was a book deposited, written upon
gold plates, giving an
account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from
whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting
Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient
inhabitants” (History of the Church Vol. 1. 1: 34)
“Josiah Stowel sworn. Says that prisoner had been
at his house something like five months. Had been employed by him to
work on farm part of time; that he pretended to
have skill of telling where hidden
treasures in the earth were, by means of looking through a certain stone;
that prisoner had looked for him sometimes, - once to tell him about
money buried on Bend Mountain in Pennsylvania, once for gold on Monument
Hill, and once for a salt-spring, - and that he positively knew that the
prisoner could tell, and professed the art of seeing those valuable
treasures through the medium of said stone…” [note: the words “pretended
to have” were probably added by Miss Pearsall]
(1826 Trial, Miss Pearsall Account, Josiah Stowell
” When Joseph returned with the horse and carriage, he exclaimed, “It is
ten times better than expected… Then he went on to tell the length and
width and thickness of the plates’ and said, ‘they appear to be Gold…'
But he seemed to think more of the glasses…
[Joseph Smith said] ‘I can see anything; they
are Marvelus (sic).’” (Joseph Knight’s Recollection - Joseph Smith’s
“Joseph Smith, Sr., was present, and sworn as a
witness. He confirmed, at great length all that his son had said in his
examination. He delineated his [son’s] characteristics in his youthful
days--his vision of the luminous stone in the glass--his visit to Lake
Erie in search of the stone--and his wonderful triumphs as a seer. He
described very many instances of his finding hidden and stolen goods. He
swore that both he and his son were mortified that this
wonderful power which God
had so miraculously given him should be used only in search of filthy
lucre, or its equivalent in earthly treasures…” (1826
Trial, Purple account, Joseph Smith Sr. testimony)
[ix] “With some labor and exertion he found the stone, carried it to the creek, washed and wiped it dry, sat down on the bank, placed it in his hat, and discovered that time, place and distance were annihilated; that all intervening obstacles were removed, and that he possessed one of the attributes of Deity, an All-Seeing-Eye. He arose with a thankful heart, carried his tools to their owner, turned his feet towards the rising sun, and sought with weary limbs his long deserted home.” (Purple account, Joseph Smith Testimony, 1826 trial)
D. Michael Quinn, former Mormon professor and historian at BYU spelled
“During this period from 1827 to 1830, Joseph Smith
abandoned the company of his former money-digging associates, but
continued to use for religious purposes the brown seer stone he had
previously employed in the treasure quest. His most intensive and
productive use of the seer stone was in the translation of the Book of
Mormon. But he also dictated several revelations to his associates
through the stone.” (Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, D.
Michael Quinn, Signature Books, SLC, 1987, p. 143)
[xi] (Purple account, Joseph Smith Testimony, 1826 trial)
Pratt’s note: …“The fact that Joseph Smith with others did at one time
seek for treasure, either that contained in mines, or that supposed to
have been gathered by others and deposited by them in places of safety,
the traces of which were lost, has formed a serious objection to
Mormonism… It was rumored that in or near to Harmony, Pennsylvania…
there had been found at some time in the past, rich silver deposits,
from which the discoverers had taken fabulous sums, considerable
portions of which had been coined, and left in safe places waiting the
convenience of its owners to remove it; that owing to the uncertain and
shifting nature of the times these hidden treasures had not been
removed, but that the secret of their places of deposit and the mines
whence they were taken had been lost.” (Lucy Smith, Biographical
Sketches, Coray, Pratt, 1853, endnote 82)
[xiii] ‘When the Manchester treasure seekers came looking for the plates, they brought divining rods and seer stones to assist them—the same kind of objects Joseph, and later Oliver, used to receive revelation.” 'I Should Have an Eye Single to the Glory of God': Joseph Smith's Account of the Angel and the Plates, Larry R. Morris, Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 2005).
“I was born in the town of Charon in the (State) of Vermont North
America on the twenty third day of December A D 1805 of goodly Parents
who spared no pains to instructing me in (the) christian religion at the
age of about ten years my Father Joseph Smith Siegnior moved to Palmyra
Ontario County in the State of New York and being in indigent
circumstances were obliged to labour hard for the support of a large
Family having nine chilldren and as it required the exertions of all
that were able to render any assistance for the support of the Family
therefore we were deprived of the bennifit of an education suffice it to
say I was mearly instructed in rules reading and writing and the ground
(rules) of Arithmatic which constuted my whole literary acquirements.” (The
Early Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision, Dean C. Jessee, BYU
Studies, copyright 1969, p.3) [original spelling: the words in brackets
were written in above the original text]
1800s is known for its clever folklore, including tales about Paul
Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, and John Henry.
“Mound Builders, in North American archaeology, name given to those
people who built mounds in a large area from the Great Lakes to the Gulf
of Mexico and from the Mississippi River to the Appalachian Mts. The
greatest concentrations of mounds are found in the Mississippi and Ohio
valleys. The term “Mound Builders” arose when the origin of the
monuments was considered
mysterious, most European Americans assuming that the Native
Americans were too uncivilized for this accomplishment. In 1894, Cyrus
Thompson of the Smithsonian Institution concluded that the Mound
Builders were in fact the Native Americans…” (The Columbia Electronic
Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2007, Columbia University Press)
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)
"We are not able to determine whether the elder Smith was ever concerned
in money digging transactions previous to his emigration from Vermont,
or not, but it is a well authenticated fact that soon after his arrival
he evinced a firm belief in the
existence of hidden treasures, and that this section of country abounded
in them. --
He also revived, or in other words, propagated the vulgar, yet popular
belief that these treasures were held in charge by some evil spirit...”
(THE REFLECTOR February 1, 1831)
Over the last two decades, many historians have reconsidered the origins
of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the context of the
early American tradition of treasure hunting. Well into the nineteenth
century there were European Americans hunting for buried wealth. Some
believed in treasures that were protected by magic spells or guarded by
(Moroni as Angel and as Treasure Guardian, Mark Ashurst-McGee, BYU, NY
Faculty, p 1., 1999, FARMS – Review, 2006)
“The US removal in the 1830s of most American Indians from the mound
builder regions, by means of the forced Trail of Tears, was partly
justified by the theory that the Indians had destroyed the mound
builders. Because some thought that the mound builders may have been
ancient Europeans, the removal of the Indian tribes was
justified to reclaim
European land, as well as to ensure the safety of civilization.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mound_builder_(people)#Hoaxes)
[xxi] Mormonism teaches that America’s former inhabitants were white and had sailed to America from the Holy Land:
“O my brethren, I fear that
unless ye shall repent of your sins that
their skins will be whiter than
yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of
God.” (Jacob 3:8) This verse in Jacob 3:8 implies that when dark skinned
people repent of their wickedness, their curse will be lifted, and their
skins will once again become white.
“And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites.” (3 Nephi 2:15)
“And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore
cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their
hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore,
as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that
they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a
skin of blackness to come
upon them.” (2 Nephi 5:21)
“He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an
account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from
whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting
Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient
inhabitants;” (Joseph Smith History—1:34)
“Joseph Smith, founding prophet of the Mormon religion, had participated
in several treasure-hunting expeditions in his youth.” (Moroni as Angel
and as Treasure Guardian, Mark Ashurst-McGee, BYU, NY Faculty, p 1.,
1999, FARMS – Review, 2006)
“…In the month of October, 1825, I hired with an old gentleman by the
name of Josiah Stoal, who lived in Chenango county, State of New York.
He had heard something of a silver mine having been opened by the
Spaniards in Harmony, Susquehanna county, State of Pennsylvania; and
had, previous to my hiring to him, been digging, in order, if possible,
to discover the mine. 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.”
(History of the Church Vol. 1:56)
[xxvi] ARTICLES OF AGREEMENT
We, the undersigned, do firmly agree, and by these present bind ourselves, to fulfill and abide by the hereafter specified articles:
First: That if anything of value should he obtained at a certain place in Pennsylvania near a William Hales, supposed to be a valuable mine of either gold or silver and also to contain coined money and bars or ingots of gold or silver, and at which several hands have been at work during a considerable part of the past summer, we do agree to have it divided in the following manner, viz: Josiah Stowell, Calvin Stowell and Wm. Hale to take two-thirds, and Charles Newton, Wm. I. Wiley, and the widow Harper to take the other third. And we further agree that Joseph Smith, Sen. and Joseph Smith Jr. shall be considered as having two shares, two elevenths of all the property that may be obtained, and shares to be taken equally from each third.
Second: And we further agree, that in consideration of the expense and labor to which the following named persons have been at (Johs F. Shepherd, Elijah Stowell and John Grant) to consider them as equal sharers in the mine after all the coined money and bars or ingot are obtained by the undersigned. Their shares to be taken out from each share; and we further agree to remunerate all the three above named persons in a handsome manner for all their time, expense, and labor which they have been or may be at, until the mine is opened, if anything should be obtained; otherwise they are to lose their time, expense and labor.
Third: And we further agree that all the expense which has or may accrue until the mine is opened, shall be equally borne by the proprietors of each third and that after the mine is opened the expense shall be equally borne by each of the shares.
Township of Harmony, Pennsylvania, November 1, 1825
In presence of:
Joseph Smith Sen.
Charles A. Newton
Joseph Smith Jr.
Wm. I. Wiley
[xxvii] “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, 1:479. ASIN B000HMY138)
“Certain ceremonies were always connected with these money-digging
Midnight was the favorite hour,
a full moon was helpful, and Good Friday was the best date. Joe would
sometimes stand by, directing the digging with a wand.” (Lippincott's
Magazine, August, 1880 / narrative from the book: Mormon Origin, William
Alexander Linn, Hackensack, N. J., 1901)
[xxix] Treasure Seeking:
“For the most part, the quest
for buried wealth and its associated belief system have slipped away
into a forgotten world. Though strange to us today, treasure-seeking
beliefs probably influenced hundreds of thousands of Europeans and
thousands of early European Americans. Many early Americans believed
that treasures had been secreted in the earth by ancient inhabitants of
the continent, by Spanish explorers, by pirates, or even by the dwarves
of European mythology. Treasure hunters usually looked for caves and
lost mines or dug into hills and Native American mounds to find these
hidden deposits. A legend, a treasure map, or a dream of buried wealth
initiated the hunt. Local specialists were enlisted to use their
divining rods or seer stones to locate the treasure. To hide from the
scrutiny of skeptics and the notice of other treasure seekers, they
worked under the cover of darkness. Gathering at the designated spot,
the treasure seekers staked out magical circles around the treasure.
They used Bible passages and hymns, prayers and incantations, ritual
swords and other magical items, or even propitiatory animal sacrifices
to appease or fend off preternatural
guardians of the treasure.
Excavation usually commenced under a rule of silence. Should someone
carelessly mutter or curse, the treasure guardian could penetrate the
circle or carry the treasure away through the earth.” (Moroni as Angel
and as Treasure Guardian, Mark Ashurst-McGee, FARMS Review Vol. 18
p.p. 34-100, Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute,
Mr. Thompson, an employee of Mr. Stowell, was the next witness. He and
another man were employed in digging for treasure, and always attended
the Deacon and Smith in their nocturnal labors. He
could not assert that anything of value was ever obtained by them. The
following scene was described by this witness, and carefully noted:
Smith had told the Deacon 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. So, after
arming themselves with fasting and prayer, they sallied forth to the
spot designated by Smith. Digging was commenced with fear and trembling,
in the presence of this imaginary
charm. (1826 Trial, Purple account, Jonathan Thompson
(Affidavit from Isaac Hale, Joseph Smith’s father in law - March 20,
[xxxii] “After some five feet in depth had been attained without success, a council of war against this spirit of darkness was called, and they resolved that the lack of faith, or some untoward mental emotion, was the cause of their failure.” (1826 Trial, Mr. Thompson, an employee of Mr. Stowell, Purple account)
[xxxiii] -- He [Joseph Smith Sr.] also revived, or in other words, propagated the vulgar, yet popular belief that these treasures were held in charge by some evil spirit...” (THE REFLECTOR February 1, 1831)
[xxxiv] (Lippincott's Magazine, August, 1880 / narrative from the book: Mormon Origin, William Alexander Linn, Hackensack, N. J., 1901)
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.
"Moroni, the person who deposited the plates, from whence the book of
Mormon was translated, in a hill in Manchester, Ontario County, New
being dead, and raised again therefrom, appeared unto me, and
told me where they were; and gave me directions how to obtain them."
(Smith, 1838, pp 42-43).
[xxxviii] “…he had a certain stone, which he had occasionally looked at to determine where hidden treasures in the bowels of the earth were; that he professed to tell in this manner where gold-mines were a distance under ground, and had looked for Mr. Stowel several times, and informed him where he could find those treasures” (1826 Trial, Miss Pearsall Account, Joseph Smith Jr. Testimony).
[xxxix] “Suggestion is the psychological process by which one person guides the thoughts, feelings, or behaviour of another.” (Wikipedia Encyclopedia on-line, Suggestion, 2011)
[xl] “…the vision of his mind was opened, and the angel of God came and laid the plates before him, and he saw and handled them, and saw the angel, and conversed with him as he would with one of his friends; but after all this, he was left to doubt, and plunged into apostacy, and has continued to contend against this work. There are hundreds in a similar condition.” (Brigham Young, JoD: vol. 7 p. 164, June 5, 1859)
“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)
[xliii] "Packing his valise, he [Martin Harris] cut sticks for Kirtland, where he lived unto 1870, when he went to Utah and ended a miserable life, raving in his last delirium over the Book of Mormon -- witnesses, facts and fictions of the most deplorable fraud recorded in history. Never was credulity or avarice more useful in a bad way, or knavery more successful than in the lives of Joe Smith and Martin Harris." (Morning Oregonian Vol. XV. Sept 16, 1875 No. 189)
[xliv] “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’” Isaiah 46:10, NIV)
[xlv] Alvin Smith (11 February 1798 – 19 November 1823) was the older brother of Joseph Smith Jr., the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement. (Wikipedia, 2011)
[xlvi] “When he <Joseph> took the plates into his hands at this time the angel of the Lord stood by and said now you have have got the record into your own hands and you are but a man therefore you will have to be watchful and faithful to your trust or you will be overpowered by wicked men…” (Lucy Smith, Biographical Sketches, First Draft, 1844/45 p. 388)
[xlvii] The Hill Cumorah is located. It is one of many drumlin hills in the Finger Lakes region in Western New York in Manchester, where Joseph Smith Jr. said he found a set of golden plates.
[xlviii] LDS publication documenting four trusted accounts of Alvin being the right person:
· Two latter reports
“Willard Chase evidently
reported the instructions concerning Alvin correctly. The event was
confirmed by Joseph Knight, the LDS convert who supplied Joseph and
Oliver with necessities while they translated the Book of Mormon.
Brother Knight tells how Joseph first went to the hill but was denied
the record because of carelessness: “Joseph says, ‘When can I have it?’
The answer was the 22nd day of September next if you bring the right
person with you. Joseph says, ‘Who is the right person?’ The answer was
‘Your oldest brother.’ But before September came his oldest brother
died.” — Dean Jessee, “Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon
History,” BYU Studies, Autumn 1976, p. 31. — Two later reports tell
similar stories, basically repeating the Chase affidavit. —
Lapham claimed to give particular words of Joseph Smith, Sr., forty
years after conversing with him: “The Mormons,” Historical Magazine 7
(2d ser. 1870): 305–9; also cited in Kirkham, 2:283–391. Here the
command to bring Alvin is given at a second visit to the hill, and
“during that year … his oldest brother died.” See also the Kelley
interviews with Lorenzo Saunders. On 17 September 1884, Lorenzo said to
William H. Kelley that the ‘angel’ appeared to Joseph ‘in the woods’ and
‘told him where the plates were and he could take his oldest brother
with him in a year from that time and go and get them. But his oldest
brother died before the year was out.” (E. L. Kelley Papers, box 1, fd.
7, pp. 9–10, historical archives of the Reorganized Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter Day Saints, hereafter cited as RLDS Archives.) On 12
November 1884, Lorenzo said: “he saw the angel and … was notified of
these plates … but it was not at that time made known to him, but he
must take his older brother and go to the spot and he could obtain them.
Before that time his oldest brother died.’” (E. L. Kelley interview with
Saunders, E. L. Kelley Papers, box 1, fd., 1884 Nov. and Dec., p. 16,
RLDS Archives.) - (Ensign, 1987, August, The Alvin Smith Story: Fact and
Fiction, By Richard Lloyd Anderson)
Treasure seekers at the time of Joseph Smith “were most often devout
Christians who … sensed no sharp division between religion and magic. We
know from his dreams how strongly Joseph, Sr., wanted salvation; it is
even possible that along with the hope for riches, treasure-seeking was
part of his religious quest.” (Richard L. Bushman, "Joseph Smith's
Family Background," in The Prophet Joseph:
Essays on the Life and Mission of Joseph Smith,
ed. Larry C. Porter and Susan Easton Black, Salt Lake City: Deseret
(Moroni as Angel and as Treasure Guardian, Mark Ashurst-McGee, BYU, NY
Faculty, p.39., 1999, FARMS – Review, 2006)
made an attempt to take them out, [the gold plates] 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.” (History of the Church Vol. 1, 1:53)
(History of the Church Vol. 1 1:53)
“In the month of June, 1827, Joseph Smith, Sen. related to me the
following story: ‘That some years ago, a spirit had appeared to Joseph
his son, in a vision, and informed him that in a certain place there was
a record on plates of gold, and that
he was the person
must obtain them…” (Willard Chase, 1833 affidavit. Joseph Smith’s New
York Reputation Reexamined, Rodger I. Anderson, Signature Books, 1990,
(BYU Studies, Joseph Knight’s Recollection of Early Mormon History, Dean
“At this, as a natural consequence, he was much alarmed. He kneeled down
and asked the Lord why the Record had been taken from him; upon which
the angel of the Lord
appeared to him, and told him that he had not done as he had been
commanded, for in a former revelation he had been commanded not to lay
the plates down, or put them for a moment out of his hands, until he got
into the house and deposited them in a chest or trunk, having a good
lock and key, and, contrary to this, he had laid them down with the view
of securing some fancied or imaginary treasure that remained.” (Lucy
Smith, Biographical Sketches, p. 347)
[lvi] Ibid (▲ same reference ▲)
[lvii] “At this, as a natural consequence, he was much alarmed. He kneeled down and asked the Lord why the Record had been taken from him; upon which the angel of the Lord appeared to him, and told him that he had not done as he had been commanded, for in a former revelation he had been commanded not to lay the plates down, or put them for a moment out of his hands, until he got into the house and deposited them in a chest or trunk, having a good lock and key, and, contrary to this, he had laid them down with the view of securing some fancied or imaginary treasure that remained.” (Lucy Smith, Biographical Sketches, p. 347)
“…soon after he came again and asked my advice what it was best to do
about getting a chest made I told him to go to a cabbinet maker who had
been making some furniture for my oldest daughter and tell the man we
would pay him for making a chest as we did for the other things viz half
money and half produce he said he would but did not know where the money
would come from for there was not a shilling in the house.” (Lucy Smith,
Biographical Sketches, First Draft, 1844/45
“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…” (Martin
Harris’s “statement to Edward Stevenson,” Millennial Star, February 6,
[lx] “Latter-day Saints associate the term "Urim and Thummim" with these interpreters. Gardner notes, We all know that Joseph used the Urim and Thummim to translate the Book of Mormon—except he didn't. The Book of Mormon mentions interpreters, but not the Urim and Thummim. It was the Book of Mormon interpreters which were given to Joseph with the plates. When Moroni took back the interpreters after the loss of the 116 manuscript pages, Joseph completed the translation with one of his seer stones. Until after the translation of the Book of Mormon, the Urim and Thummim belonged to the Bible and the Bible only. The Urim and Thummim became part of the story when it was presented within and to the Great Tradition. Eventually, even Joseph Smith used Urim and Thummim indiscriminately as labels generically representing either the Book of Mormon interpreters or the seer stone used during translation. After the loss of the 116 pages, contemporary accounts are very clear that Joseph continued the translation using his seer stone. In later years, the term "Urim and Thummin" was retroactively applied to both the Nephite interpreters and to Joseph's seer stone.” (Joseph Smith/Seer stones/Used for Book of Mormon translation, online article, Fairmormon.org)
"These were days never to be forgotten — to sit under the sound of a
voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost
gratitude of this bosom! Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to
write from his mouth, as he translated, with the Urim and Thummim, or,
as the Nephites would have said, 'Interpreters,'
the history, or record, called The book of Mormon." (Oliver Cowdery,
Messenger and Advocatee, Kirtland, Ohio, 1834, vol. 1, no. 1, p.14)
“Around 1284 in Italy, Salvino D'Armate is credited with inventing the
first wearable eye glasses.” (The History of Eye Glasses or Spectacles,
Mary Bellis, About.com Guide)
[lxiii] “I knew not what he meant but took the article in my hands and upon after examining it <found> * [* with no covering but a silk handkerchief] that it consisted of 2 smott<ooth> 3 cornered diamonds set in glass and the glass was set in silver bows stones conected with each other in the same way that old fashioned spectacles are made.” (Lucy Smith, Biographical Sketches, First Draft, 1844/45 p. 379)
“…she [Lucy Harris] 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)
“…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)
[lxvii] Doctrine & Covenants 19:
(Introduction): “Revelation given through Joseph
Smith, at Manchester, New York, March 1830…. 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” (History of the Church, 1:72).
(Verse 10): “For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great is it! For, behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore—“
(Verse 11): “Eternal punishment is God’s punishment.”
(Verse 12): “Endless punishment is God’s punishment.”
(Verse 13): “Wherefore, I command you to repent, and keep the commandments which you have received by the hand of my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., in my name;”
(Verse 14): “And it is by my almighty power that you
have received them;”
(Verse 15): “Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not”
(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— “
“…in the midst of our afflictions we found a friend in a gentleman by
the name of Martin Harris, who came to us and gave me fifty dollars to
assist us on our journey.” (History of the Church Vol. 1, 1:61)
[lxix] “Mrs. Harris [Lucy] persisted in her endeavors to expose the fraud…” (MORMONISM, AN EXPOSURE OF THE IMPOSITIONS. ADOPTED BY THE SECT CALLED “THE LATTER-DAY SAINTS” – pamphlet by the Rev. F.B. Ashley, UK, 1851, p. 13 - MORMONISM, AN EXPOSURE OF THE IMPOSITIONS. ADOPTED BY THE SECT CALLED “THE LATTER-DAY SAINTS” – pamphlet by the Rev. F.B. Ashley, UK, 1851, p. 13)
[lxx] “By faith the Three Witnesses shall see the plates and other sacred items…” (Doctrine & Covenants 5, Introduction)
“…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.” (D&C 17:5)
“And now, except he [Martin] humble himself and acknowledge unto me the
things that he has done which are wrong, and covenant with me that he
will keep my commandments, and exercise faith in me, behold, I say unto
him, he shall have no such views, for I will grant unto him no views of
the things of which I have spoken.
And if this be the case, I command you, my servant
Joseph, that you shall say unto him, that he shall do no more, nor
trouble me any more concerning this matter.” (Doctrine & Covenants 5:
“…and these are the words which he shall say.” (D&C 5:26 b)
[lxxiii] “Therefore be diligent; stand by my servant Joseph, faithfully… for the word’s sake.” (D&C 6:9)
"Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the
story of Joseph
Smith.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1954, vol. 1, p.
[Martin] 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
chapter 25, verse 1, original spelling).
[lxxvi] (Stephen Burnett letter to Lyman E. Johnson dated April 15, 1838 - Typed transcript from Joseph Smith Papers, Letter book, April 20, 1837 - February 9, 1843, microfilm reel 2, pp. 64-66, LDS archives).
[lxxvii] “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)
[lxxviii] “And let my servant Martin Harris devote his moneys for the proclaiming of my words, according as my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., shall direct” (D&C 104:26).
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