The Testimony of The 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 was the Church's second Elder, often called the "Second President." The early day companion of Joseph Smith, he was scribe for the Book of Mormon, present at the "Restoration of the Priesthood,' and as close to the real truth as any man.(1) However, in 1838 in Kirtland, Oliver confronted Joseph Smith with the charge of adultery with Fanny Alger, and with lying and teaching false doctrines.(2) Joseph Smith denied this and charged Cowdery with being a liar.(3)
Church records now show Miss Alger was Smith's first "spiritual wife." Oliver was telling the truth!(4) Cowdery was excommunicated for this and other "crimes."(5) Later, as a Methodist, he denied the Book of Mormon(6) and publicly confessed his sorrow and shame for his connection with Mormonism.(7) While the Mormon church claims he rejoined them in the fall of 1848,(8) they also accused him later that year, with trying to ëraise up the Kingdom again' with the Apostate, William E. McLellin.(9)
Oliver Cowdery was publicly charged by Joseph Smith and leading Mormons with stealing, lying, perjury, counterfeiting, adultery, and being the leader of a gang of "scoundrels of the deepest degree!"(10)
David Whitmer saw the plates ëby the eye of faith' handled by an angel.(1) He later told of finding them lying in a field and later still, told Orson Pratt that they were on a table with all sorts of brass plates, gold plates, the Sword of Laban, the ëDirector' and the Urim and Thumim.(2) During the summer of 1837, while in Kirtland, he pledged his new loyalty to a prophetess ( as did Martin and Oliver) who used a black seer stone and danced herself into ëtrances.'(3) It was the start of the finish for him.
It ended in 1847 in his declaration to Oliver that he (Whitmer) was to be the Prophet of the New Church of Christ and Oliver a counselor.(4) In the meantime, he was excommunicated and roughly put out. His and Oliver's families were, in fact, driven into the streets and robbed by the Mormons while Whitmer and Cowdery were away trying to arrange a place to flee.(5)
Cursed by leaders such as Sidney Rigdon, Whitmer was denounced by the Prophet Joseph Smith as a "dumb beast to ride" and "an ass to bray out cursings instead of blessings."(6)
Martin Harris was first a Quaker, then a Universalist, next a Restorationist, then a Baptist, next a Presbyterian, and then a Mormon.(1) After his excommunication in 1837, he changed his religion eight more times, going from the Shakers to one Mormon splinter group to the next, and back to the main group in 1842.(2) Yet, in 1846, Harris was preaching among the Saints in England for the Apostate James J. Strang.(3) Harris testified that his testimony for Shakerism was greater than it was for Mormonism.
The Shaker's "Sacred Roll and Book" was also delivered by an angel.(4) His later testimony that he saw the plates by "the eyes of faith and not with the natural eyes" should eliminate him automatically as a witness.(5) In the Elder's Journal for August, 1838, Joseph Smith denounces him as "so far beneath contempt that to notice him would be too great a sacrifice for a gentleman to make. The Church exerted some restraint on him, but now he has given loose to all kinds of abominations, lying, cheating, swindling, and all kinds of debauchery."(6)
- 1. Pearl of Great Price, JS 2:72-76
- 2. Private Letter to Brother, Warren Cowdery, by Oliver Cowdery, Jan. 21, 1838.
- 3. History of the Church, vol. 3 pp. 16-18.
- Elder's Journal, Joseph Smith, July 1838.
- 4. Historical Record, 1886, vol. 5, p. 233.
- 5. History of the Church, vol. 3, pp. 16-18.
- 6. Times and Seasons, vol. 2, p. 482.
- Improvement Era, Jan. 1969, p 56.
- "Oliver Cowdery-The Man Outstanding," Joseph Greehalgh, 1965, p. 28.
- 7. The True Origin of The Book of Mormon, Charles Shook, 1914, pp. 58-59.
- 8. Historical Record, 1886, vol. 5, p. 201.
- 9. The Mormon frontier, Diary of Hosea Stout, vol. 2, p. 336.
- 10. Senate Document 189, Feb. 15, 1841, pp. 6-9.
- Comprehensive History of the Church, B. H. Roberts, vol. 1, pp. 438-439.
- 1. Mormonism Unveiled, E. D. Howe, 1834, pp. 260-261.
- 2. Improvement Era, March 1969, p. 63.
- Journal of Discurses, vol. 7, p. 164, Brigham Young.
- 3. Church Chronology, Andrew Jensen, 1899, p. 31; Millennial Star, vol. 8, Nov.
- 15, 1846, pp. 124-128.
- 4. Case Against Mormonism, Tanner, Vol. 2, pp. 50-58; Martin Harris-Witness & Benefactor,
BYU 1955 Thesis, Wayne C. Gunnell, p.52.
- The Braden & Kelly Debate, p. 173
- 5. Gleanings by the Way, J. A. Clark, pp. 256-257.
- 1. Palmyra Reflector, March 19, 1831.
- 2. Millennial Star, vol. XL, pp. 771-772
- 3. Biographical Sketches, Lucy Smith, pp. 211-213.
- 4. Letter to Oliver Cowdery, by David Whitmer, Sept. 8, 1847, printed in the
Ensign of Liberty,' 5/1848, p. 93; also see ëEnsign of Liberty,' 8/1849, pp. 101-104.
- 5. John Whitmer's History of the Church, Modern Microfilm, SLC, p. 22.
- 6. History of the Church, vol. 3, p228.