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The Book of Mormon: a Testimony of Joseph Smith

As is the case with the two previous testimonies, the Prophet Joseph's testimony of the Book of Mormon also deals with the origins of the book and the events that he deemed most important in the book's coming forth.

With that in mind, the bulk of his testimony deals with the ministering visits of the Angel Moroni. Perhaps the bulk of the first paragraph which describes the angel's appearance, could have been fabricated, if we wanted to approach it from that angle. But there are specific descriptions in the second that seem to be beyond fabrication. Essentially, Joseph saw an angel in the 1820's and was reflecting back to that occasion in 1838 when he made his record of the events. Joseph describes the angel's countenance as lightning. I don't quite know how to envision a countenance as lightning except that it had the effect of being striking.

The angel's mode of teaching is notable. Four visits: three at night, one the next day. In the first visit, Moroni informs Joseph that his name will be had for good and evil among all peoples.* In each of the angel's subsequent visits, he repeated his former instructions and then added to them. At his third visit, he added a powerful warning, telling Joseph that Satan would try to tempt him with the Gold Plates to get rich. He forbade Joseph from doing this, then counseled him concerning his motifs.

This is most significant counsel: the purpose in obtaining the plates must be to Glorify God and to build up His Kingdom. Any other motive would cause him to forfeit the plates if he were to obtain them. So it wasn't just that he shouldn't be tempted to use the plates to get rich, but that his singular objective in obtaining the plates (and keeping them until he had finished the work of translation) would require him to seek only the Kingdom of God and His Glory.

The plates were successfully obtained and translated. This stands as a testament to Joseph's integrity and unwavering motives.

*John Groberg demonstrated the fulfillment of that prophecy when as a missionary he visited a remote island in the South Pacific in the 1950's, completely untouched by modern civilization. He was surprised that though they had very little knowledge of anything related to the modern world or the Church, when he shared with them the story of the prophet Joseph Smith, they already knew of him. In this instance his name was regarded as evil. Nevertheless, this is direct fulfillment of angelic prophecy. (see In the Eye of the Storm, Groberg, John.)


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