I have also looked upon the plates and handled them with my hands and can testify of the same to the whole world. I have received for myself a witness that words cannot express, and no tongue can describe, and I bless God in the sincerity of my soul that he has condescended to make me, even me, a witness of the greatness of his work and designs in behalf of the children of men.’ Oliver and David also joined with him in solemn praises to God for his goodness and mercy.
“We returned home the next day, a cheerful, happy little company.”[ii]
What joy for Joseph! What joy for Oliver, David and Martin! And they were not only shown the plates but they were shown other ancient artifacts, namely, the Plates of Brass (that Nephi had obtained from Laban in Jerusalem), the Liahona (the brass ball of curious workmanship that had directed Lehi and his family through the wilderness and across the great deep), the breastplate, the Urim and Thummim and the sword of Laban. They also heard the voice of God testifying to them: “That part of the record which my servant Joseph has translated is true and you must bear record of it to all the world or you shall be damned.”
That testimony received by the Three Witnesses in the woods of the Whitmer Farm that day is affixed to every copy of the Book of Mormon that goes forth the nations of the earth.
Individual Testimonies of the Witnesses
Although hundreds of quotes could be added to this conclusion, the following will suffice.
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 obey its precepts, you will be saved with an everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God on high." (Quoted in Millennial Star 27 [January 28, 1865]: 58.)
Elizabeth Whitmer Cowdery, wife of Oliver, testified of her husband: "From the hour when the glorious vision of the Holy Messenger revealed to mortal eyes the hidden prophecies which God had promised his faithful followers should come forth in due time, until the moment when he passed away from earth, he always without one doubt or shadow of turning affirmed the divinity and truth of the Book of Mormon."[iii]
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."[iv]
David Whitmer boldly averred: "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 truth, and if there is no truth there is no God; if there is no God then there is no existence. But there is a God, and I know it."[v]
[i] Smith, Lucy Mack. The Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith by His Mother. Edited by Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Proctor. Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1996, p. 199.
[ii] Ibid, p. 201.
[iii] Quoted in Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981], p. 63.
[iv] Ibid, p. 117.
[v] Cook, Lyndon. David Whitmer Interviews. Grandin Press, Orem, Utah. pp. 95-96.