This site is dedicated to anyone looking to further their knowledge of these men, understand their journey and hopefully strengthen or gain a testimony of The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
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The law of, existence of or need for witnesses is apparent throughout scripture. Obviously, in courts of law, witnesses are imperative. In the case of the establishment of the Church in the latter days, re-pleat with angelic visitations as well as the supernal visit from the Father and the Son, the term/position "witness" can bring eternal importance into our lives.
These three men, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer had different occupations, backgrounds, educations, and spiritual inclinations. We will put forth specific information on all three.
As one who has studied Church History, you, more than likely, will have seen that all three of these witnesses suffered some form of formal discipline or chastisement; even excommunication from the Church. This has been bothersome to some folks- but many of those that were bothered didn't do their extra homework. Two were re-baptized into the Church after the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the lone hold out for re-baptism was David Whitmer. To me, his testimony of the Book of Mormon is as powerful as anyone living in the Church today.
The Testimony of the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon
"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."
My name is Scott C. Nielsen. I attended both Brigham Young University and Utah State University not having graduated from either. One might ask, "Why, or what gives you the authority to give out this information without formal education?" I might answer: "Because we are all on our own path towards our Father in Heaven and The Savior Jesus Christ" I would add that a formal education of secular learning does not always insure that we are finding divine truth.
It has been my personal experience that learning happens, sometimes in the classroom setting, but more often in or with experience; Priesthood experience and leadership experience in the Church with both men, women and youth. We have been recently, wisely counseled that the home should be our place of safety, peace and learning.
I suppose that it is the "law of witnesses" (see Witnesses, Loren C. Dunn; Ensign, Oct. 1995) that has always interested me. Specifically within Church History. I used to maintain this site some years ago and since that time I have learned more about the men, the subjects of this site, and their roles in the foundation of the Church. I wish to share this knowledge. I have also found that this topic, The Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, is truly bedrock. The Book of Mormon was called the "Keystone of our religion" by the Prophet Joseph Smith. True as that is, not distant from that "keystone" is the testimony of these witnesses.
I have had multiple conversations with critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints. These exchanges have, more than likely, not been productive for the most part, but one conversation I had with one of the foremost critics of the Latter-day-Saints was telling.(She and her late Husband are very well known)
She presented me with many topics. I presenter her with one: The Three Witnesses. She couldn't answer with any reasonable explanation, the testimonies of their angelic experience(s). Her final comment about it was "even the Devil can appear as an angel of light"- To which I replied, "by their fruits ye shall know them".
I will footnote everything where possible. I've been tutored in recent years by some of the best educators in the Church. My ultimate goal in even making this effort is to heal those with damaged testimonies, and strengthen the testimonies of the valiant. Also to inform those that may be interested in the doctrines of the Church so as to possibly join with us in gathering Israel
It has been stated that Oliver Cowdery is perhaps the most important mortal figure in Church History, with the exception of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He was present during some of the most important, miraculous and holy events of The Restoration. Critics often point to the fact that Oliver was excommunicated from the Church.
There are competing opinions as to why he was dismissed. One claim is that he wanted to practice plural marriage instantly upon his learning of it from Joseph. ("The Kingdom or Nothing" Biography of John Taylor) He was warned against it. Whatever the case, It is the administrator's position that Joseph had little tolerance of opposition (not counsel) from other Church leaders. This belief is fostered by the fact that "they knew". The Three Witnesses had seen an Angel present the gold plates before them, and had heard the voice of God declare to them that the record was true.
A full biography of Oliver's birth and other information can be found here: http://www.gapages.com/cowdeo1.htm (thank you Grandpa Bill)
Oliver Cowdery described his experience with another angel, the ancient one who baptized the Savior Jesus Christ. Ponder the paragraphs below and think deeply about the language he used in this description of this holy event. Would a man, that would be accused of perpetrating a "hoax" write such a beautiful, heartfelt account?
As John the Baptist laid his hands upon the heads of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and conferred the Aaronic Priesthood upon them...
"his voice, though mild, pierced to the center, and his words, ‘I am thy fellow-servant,’ dispelled every fear. We listened, we gazed, we admired! ’Twas the voice of an angel from glory, ’twas a message from the Most High! And as we heard we rejoiced, while His love enkindled upon our souls, and we were wrapped in the vision of the Almighty! Where was room for doubt? Nowhere; uncertainty had fled, doubt had sunk no more to rise, while fiction and deception had fled forever!
“But, dear brother, think, further think for a moment, what joy filled our hearts, and with what surprise we must have bowed, (for who would not have bowed the knee for such a blessing?) when we received under his hand the Holy Priesthood as he said, ‘Upon you my fellow-servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer this Priesthood and this authority, which shall remain upon earth, that the Sons of Levi may yet offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness!’
“I shall not attempt to paint to you the feelings of this heart, nor the majestic beauty and glory which surrounded us on this occasion; but you will believe me when I say, that earth, nor men, with the eloquence of time, cannot begin to clothe language in as interesting and sublime a manner as this holy personage. No; nor has this earth power to give the joy, to bestow the peace, or comprehend the wisdom which was contained in each sentence as they were delivered by the power of the Holy Spirit! Man may deceive his fellow-men, deception may follow deception, and the children of the wicked one may have power to seduce the foolish and untaught, till naught but fiction feeds the many, and the fruit of falsehood carries in its current the giddy to the grave; but one touch with the finger of his love, yes, one ray of glory from the upper world, or one word from the mouth of the Savior, from the bosom of eternity, strikes it all into insignificance, and blots it forever from the mind. The assurance that we were in the presence of an angel, the certainty that we heard the voice of Jesus, and the truth unsullied as it flowed from a pure personage, dictated by the will of God, is to me past description, and I shall ever look upon this expression of the Savior’s goodness with wonder and thanksgiving while I am permitted to tarry; and in those mansions where perfection dwells and sin never comes, I hope to adore in that day which shall never cease.”—
Messenger and Advocate,vol. 1 (October 1834), pp. 14–16.
Martin Harris was an integral figure in the Restoration of the Church. His story is well known by many. His bio is represented well here: http://www.gapages.com/harrim1.htm
Although he had and presented challenges, he sacrificed much, including the mortgaging of his vast farm to provide the $5,000 needed to publish the Book of Mormon.
The cemetery and gravesite of Martin Harris lays in Clarkston, Utah. It is in Northern Cache Valley. If one takes the time to make a trip there and sit on the granite bench, ponders and remains still, wonderful soul stirring emotions appear.
David Whitmer and his family were also instrumental in the housing of the Smith Family while translation of the Book of Mormon was being completed. David's final testimony is very compelling.
Although disaffected from Joseph Smith and the early Church, he maintained his witness and testimony of "the angel" and the "voice of God" instructing him to be faithful in his testimony of his view of the aforementioned, as well as the plates containing the record- The Book of Mormon.
Read David Whitmer's moving testimony on page 8 of his work "An address to all believers in Christ"
"It is recorded in the American Cyclopaedia and the Encyclopaedia Britannica, that I, David Whitmer, have denied my testimony as one of the three witnesses to the divinity of the Book of Mormon; and that the other two witnesses, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, denied their testimony to that Book. I will say once more to all mankind, that I have never at any time denied that testimony or any part thereof. I also testify to the world, that neither Oliver Cowdery or Martin Harris ever at an time denied their testimony. They both died reaffirming the truth of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. I was present at the death bed of Oliver Cowdery, and his last words were, “Brother David, be true to your testimony to the Book of Mormon." He died here in Richmond, Mo., on March 3d, 1850. Many witnesses yet live in Richmond, who will testify to the truth of these facts, as well as to the good character of Oliver Cowdery. The very powers of darkness have combined against the Book of Mormon, to prove that it is not the word of God, and this should go to prove to men of spiritual understanding, that the Book is true. To show the reader what I have had to contend with, I give you below a copy of a leaflet which I had printed and distributed in March, 1881"...
Mary Whitmer (Mary Elsa Musselman Whitmer, August 27, 1778 – January 1856) was David Whitmer's mother. Her witness account is amazing. It appears to be a reward for the chaos and hardship that she witnessed with so many people in her modest home- namely the extra tenants, Joseph and Emma and others, along with her own large family.
Her story can be found here: https://www.deseret.com/2013/7/18/20522674/mary-whitmer-12th-witness-to-the-book-of-mormon
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