A Young Folks' History of the Church by Nephi Anderson - HTML preview

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The Sacred Plates

 

About two miles south of Joseph's home, in Manchester, is a large hill, the highest in that part of the country. To this place Joseph went on the morning after the angel's visit, as this was the spot he had seen in his vision. On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, Joseph found a large, rounded stone, nearly covered with earth. Prying this up, he found it to be the lid of a stone box which was buried in the earth. Raising the lid, he looked in, and there indeed were the sacred treasures about which the angel had told him. As he stood looking at them in wonder, the angel Moroni came to his side, and Joseph was taught many things about the future. He was shown in a vision the glory of the good and the darkness of the evil.

Joseph was about to take the plates from the box, when the angel forbade him, telling him the time had not yet arrived, but that he should come to the hill in one year from that date when the angel would meet him. This he must do for four years, at the end of which time, if Joseph was faithful, the plates would be given to him to translate and publish to the world.

True to the angel's instructions, Joseph went to the hill Cumorah on the 22nd day of September of each year, at which time Moroni appeared to him and gave him many teachings about the word of God.

During all this time Joseph had to labor hard on the farm, sometimes hiring out to work for others. In October, 1825, he worked for a man by the name of Josiah Stoal, who took Joseph to the State of Pennsylvania, and set him with other men, digging for a silver mine which he thought he could find. After working at it for some time, Joseph persuaded his employer to give it up. It was from this incident that Joseph's enemies sometimes called him a "money digger."

While working for Mr. Stoal, Joseph boarded for some time with the family of Isaac Hale. Here he met Emma Hale who became his wife, they being married in the year 1827.

The four years were now passed. On the 22nd of September, 1827, Joseph went on his fifth visit to the sacred hill, and on that day the angel Moroni delivered to him the plates and the Urim and Thummim. He was told to take good care of them as evil men would try to take them from him; but if he, Joseph, would do all he could to preserve them, the Lord would come to his assistance when it would be needed.

The records which Joseph received consisted of a great many gold plates nearly as thick as common tin. They were about seven by eight inches in size, and were bound together by three rings running through holes, in the edges of the plates. This made the plates like a book, so that they might be turned as the leaves of a book are turned. On each side of every plate were engraved beautiful letters, in a language which Joseph could not read. The book was about six inches thick. A part of it was sealed, and Joseph was told not to open it, as the time had not yet come for that part to be made known to the world.

The Urim and Thummim consisted of two transparent stones, clear as crystal, set in two rims of a bow. It was used in ancient times by the seers, and through it they received revelations of things past and future. You may read about this instrument in the Bible, in Exodus, 28: 30; and Ezra 2: 63.As soon as it was known that Joseph had the plates, many evil-minded persons tried to get them from him, and he had to hide them in different places to keep them safe. Mobs began to surround his house, men tried to catch him on the roads or in the fields, and he was even shot at a number of times. Joseph now saw how timely the angel's warning was.

Living thus in constant fear, Joseph could not do anything towards translating the records; so he moved, with his wife, to her old home in Pennsylvania. While on the way an officer overtook him and searched his wagon for the plates, but could not find them. They were there, however, safely hidden in a barrel of beans.

Arriving in Harmony, where his father-in-law lived, Joseph began to translate some of the writings on the plates. As Joseph was a slow writer he did not make much progress, and so he asked the Lord to send someone to help him. In answer to this request a man by the name of Martin Harris came to him from Palmyra, New York. Now the work went better. Martin wrote while Joseph translated.

They had translated one hundred and sixteen written pages, when Martin asked Joseph to let him take the writings and show them to some of his friends. Joseph asked the Lord about it, and the answer was that he must not; but Martin kept on teasing Joseph till at last the Lord permitted him to show them to certain persons. But Martin showed them to others, and the writings were lost. The Lord was displeased at this, and told Joseph not to translate the same over again, but to write from another part of the plates which told about the same events. However, the Urim and Thummim was taken from Joseph for a short time, and when he received it again, his wife Emma wrote a little for him.

Now the Lord sent another helper to Joseph. He was a young school teacher, named Oliver Cowdery, and these two men worked hard at the translation. You will remember that Joseph was poor, and it seemed they would have to stop translating and find other work whereby to earn means to live. They were now also again annoyed by evil men and mobs.

In the midst of this trouble the Lord sent aid again. A man named Joseph Knight came to them with provisions, and soon after Joseph was visited by a young man named David Whitmer, who came to invite them to his father's house in Fayette, Seneca county, New York. This invitation was gladly accepted, and Joseph and Oliver went back with him.

At the Whitmers' they lived and labored in peace until the work was completed. David, John, and Peter, sons of Peter Whitmer, Sen., helped all they could, and soon the book was ready to be printed. Martin Harris also helped Joseph in getting out the work. The first edition of five thousand copies was printed in Palmyra, in 1830. Since then the book has been printed in many languages and read by many thousands of people. It is called THE BOOK OF MORMON. The next chapter will tell you why it is so called, and a little of what it contains.

Topics.—1. Joseph's visits to Cumorah. 2. Joseph in Pennsylvania. 3. Description of the plates and Urim and Thummim. 4. The translation.

Questions and Review.1. Where is the hill Cumorah? 2. What did Joseph find there? 3. Why did not Joseph carry away the plates the first time? 4. How many visits did he make to Cumorah? 5. Where did Joseph go to work? 6. Whom did he marry? 7. When did Joseph get the plates? 8. Describe the plates. 9. What was the Urim and Thummim? 10.Who first helped Joseph to translate? 11. Who was Oliver Cowdery? 12. What help did the Whitmers give Joseph? 13. When was the Book of Mormon published?