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, his 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 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, 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.
THE TESTIMONIES OF THE FIRST WITNESSES
Before any formal witnessing to the Book of Mormon took place in late June 1829, there were two initial witnesses that should be recognized:
“The plates often lay on the table without any attempt at concealment, wrapped in a small linen tablecloth, which I had given him to fold them in. I once felt of the plates as they thus lay on the table, tracing their outline and shape. They seemed to be pliable like thick paper, and would rustle with a metallic sound when the edges were moved by the thumb, as one does sometimes thumb the edges of a book. . . I did not attempt to handle the plates, other than I have told you, nor uncover them to look at them. I was satisfied that it was the work of God, and therefore did not feel it to be necessary to do so.”1
Acknowledging that there are only secondhand accounts of her story, Mary Whitmer, wife of Peter Whitmer, Sr., was visited in June 1829 by the angel, whom her grandson said she always referred to as “Brother Nephi.” Nephi stated to her, “You have been very faithful and diligent in your labors, but you are tired because of the increase of your toil. It is proper therefore that you should receive a witness, that your faith may be strengthened.”2This angelic messenger then personally showed her the Book of Mormon record, turning “the leaves of the book of plates over, leaf after leaf, and also showed her the engravings upon them.”3
AND ALSO THE TESTIMONY OF EIGHT WITNESSES
Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come, that Joseph Smith, Jr., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated, we did handle with our hands. And we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen, and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world to witness unto the world that which we have seen; and we lie not, God bearing witness of it.
PETER WHITMER JR.,
JOSEPH SMITH SEN.,
SAMUEL H. SMITH.
1 Emma Smith interview, The Saints’ Herald, vol. 26, 289, 290 [1 Oct 1879]; cited in Joseph Smith, Heman Conoman Smith, and F. Henry Edwards, The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Independence, Mo: Herald House, 1967), 3:353–358.
2 David Whitmer’s account, according to an interview with Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith in September 1878, published 16 November 1878 in the Deseret News.
3 Interview of John C. Whitmer with Edward Stevenson and Andrew Jenson in Richmond, Missouri, 1888, in Andrew Jenson, Latter-day Saints Biographical Encyclopedia, vol. 1, 283; Historical Record, vol. 7, 621; Juvenile Instructor, vol. 24, 22; The Children’s Friend, Deseret News, vol. II, 1903, 190–191. See also Interview with David Whitmer by Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith, September 1878. Source: “Report of Elders Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith,” Millennial Star, 40 (9 Dec 1878), 771–74; Deseret News, 16 Nov 1878; Cook, David Whitmer Interviews, 42–43.