A Young Folks' History of the Church
is the Book of Mormon? 13. Who wrote it? 14. Who had charge of the plates? 15. Where
were they hidden? 16. Who translated them into the English language?
The Three Witnesses
All who read this book ought to turn to one of the first pages of the Book of Moromon
and read a paragraph signed by three men whose names are Oliver Cowdery, David
Whitmer, and Martin Harris. You will notice in that paragraph that these men bear a most
solemn witness that the book is true; that an angel of God came to them with the plates
and laid them before their eyes; and that they were translated by the gift and power of
The three names signed to this testimony are so important that I wish to tell you
something about these men. You have learned a little about them already, but here is a
good place to tell you something more about their lives.
Martin Harris was a farmer who became acquainted with Joseph about the time he
received the plates. You will remember that Martin visited Joseph in Pennsylvania and
did some writing for him. Martin Harris was the man who took some of the writings
copied from the plates, with their translation, to the city of New York, and showed them
to a learned man named Professor Anthon. The professor seemed pleased with what was
shown him, and gave Martin a certificate that the writings were true characters. He also
offered to assist in translating the plates, but when Martin told him that an angel had
given Joseph the plates, and that part of the book was sealed, he took back the certificate
and tore it up, saying "I can not read a sealed book."
If you wish to read something in the Bible that will remind you of this incident you may
find it in Isaiah, 29th chapter, beginning at the 10th verse.
Oliver Cowdery became acquainted with Joseph's family, while he boarded with them
one winter when he was teaching school. Hearing of Joseph in Pennsylvania and the
work he was there doing, Oliver prayed to the Lord for light regarding the matter.
Receiving a testimony that it was true, Oliver went to visit Joseph, and there, as we have
seen, he wrote for him.
David Whitmer was a friend of Oliver's, and the latter told David many things regarding
Joseph. While he was in Pennsylvania, Oliver wrote to David telling him to come down
and see them. David came, found everything as had been told him, and took the two
young men back to his father's home.
While translating the plates, Joseph came to the passage where it says that there should be
three witnesses to these things. (Book of Mormon, II Nephi 11:3; also 27:12.) On
learning this Oliver, David, and Martin asked Joseph to enquire of the Lord if they might
be these witnesses. Joseph did so, and their request was granted. They, with Joseph then
went out into the woods and prayed so earnestly that an angel came and showed them the
sacred treasure exactly as they have testified.
For some years these three men continued to take a prominent part in the affairs of the
Church as you will see in future chapters.