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2 Nephi 26-30

Martin Harris Shows Plates to Professor Anthon

In 2 Nephi 27: 15-20, an incident is described in the coming forth of the Book of Mormon which found fulfillment in the life of Martin Harris. Before the translation process began, Martin obtained from Joseph a copy of some of the ancient characters from the plates with the translation. Then, according to Martin’s own account, “I went to the city of New York and presented the characters which had been translated, with the translation thereof, to Professor Charles Anthon, a gentleman celebrated for his literary attainments. Professor Anthon stated that the translation was correct, more so than any he had before seen translated from the Egyptian.

I then showed him those which were not yet translated, and he said that they were Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyric, and Arabic, and he said that they were true characters. He gave me a certificate certifying to the people of Palmyra that they were true characters and that the translation of such of them as had been translated was also correct. I took the certificate and put it into my pocket, and was just leaving the house, when Mr. Anthon called me back and asked me how the young man found out that there were gold plates in the place where he found them. I answered that an angel of God had revealed it unto him. He then said to me, ‘Let me see that certificate.’ I accordingly took it out of my pocket and gave it to him, when he took it and tore it to pieces, saying that there was no such thing now as ministering of angels, and that if I would bring the plates to him, he would translate them. I informed him that part of the plates were sealed, and that I was forbidden to bring them. He replied, ‘I cannot read a sealed book.’ I left him and went to Dr. Mitchel [Samuel L. Mitchell], who sanctioned what Professor Anthon had said respecting both the characters and the translation.”(1)

Three Witnesses

A second event which occurred during the Restoration is prophesied in 2 Nephi 27:12.

Here the Lord says that the book will be hid from the eyes of the world, however, three witnesses will be able to behold the book and testify to its truth. “Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris, all of whom had had much to do with the record, desired with all their hearts to be those special witnesses with Joseph.

“Accordingly, the four of them went into a nearby grove and began offering up their prayers to God that He would give them a view of the ancient record and a sure witness of the same. For some time they prayed with great fervency, but to no avail. Martin Harris felt himself unworthy and left the other three.

Then began to pray again. Later they recorded, ‘We beheld a light above us in the air of exceeding brightness, and behold, an angel stood before us, in his hands he held the plates…he turned over the leaves one by one so that we could see them, and discern the engravings thereon distinctly…immediately afterwards we heard a voice from out of the bright light above us, saying, “These plates have been revealed by the power of God, and…have been translated by the power of God; the translation of them which you have seen is correct, and I command you to bear record of what you now see and hear.’

“After this manifestation, Joseph went a considerable distance and found Martin fervently engaged in prayer. He had not yet prevailed with the Lord and desired Joseph to join him. Ultimately, the same vision and witness was given to him. ‘Tis enough, ’tis enough; mine eyes have beheld,’ he said. Then ‘jumping up he shouted, Hosanna, blessing God; and otherwise rejoiced exceedingly.’

“Upon returning to the Whitmer home, Joseph threw himself down by his parents and said, ‘You do not know how happy I am: the Lord has now caused the plates to be shown to three more besides myself. They have seen an angel, who has testified to them, and they will have to bear witness to the truth of what I have said, for now they know for themselves, that I do not go about to deceive the people, and I feel as if I was relieved of a burden which was almost too heavy for me to bear, and it rejoices my soul, that I am not any longer to be entirely alone in the world.'”(2)

All three of the witnesses bore mighty testimony of their experiences.

Oliver Cowdery witnessed: I beheld with my eyes, and handled with my hands, the gold plates…I also saw with my eyes and handled with my hands the ‘holy interpreters.’ That book is true…It contains principles of salvation; and if you, my hearers, will walk by its light and obety its precepts, you will be saved with an everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God on high.”

Martin Harris testified: “I know what I know. I have seen what I have seen, and I have heard what I have heard. I have seen the gold plates…An angel appeared to me and others.” He further testified: “I might as well doubt my own existence as to doubt the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon or the divine calling of Joseph Smith.”

David Whitmer affirmed, “I have been visited by thousands of people, believers and unbelievers, men and ladies of all degrees, sometimes as many as 15 in one day, and have never failed in my testimony. And they will know some day that my testimony is true. I had a mob of from four to five hundred surrounding me at one time, demanding that I should deny my published statement in the Book of Mormon; but the testimony I bore the mob made them tremble before me. I heard the voice of the Angel just as stated in said Book, and the engravings on the plates were shown to us, and we were commanded to bear record of them; and if they are not true, then there is no existence. But there is a God, and I know it.”(3)