The Character and Conniving of the Wife of Martin Harris
The background for section 3 begins not with the story of Joseph Smith or Martin Harris; it begins with Mrs. Lucy Harris, Martin's wife. Her story is one of meddling and mischief that eventually resulted in the loss of the 116 pages. Joseph's mother tells the story, describing Mrs. Harris as a "peculiar woman...of a very jealous disposition." The Prophet's mother had been asked to call on Martin in their Palmyra home. The result of her inquiry is as follows:
Lucy Mack Smith
He (Martin) said that he would see Joseph in the course of a few days. At this his wife exclaimed, "Yes, and I am coming to see him, too, and I will be there on Tuesday afternoon, and will stop over night."
Accordingly, when Tuesday afternoon arrived, Mrs. Harris made her appearance and as soon as she was well seated she began to importune my son relative to the truth of what he had said concerning the Record, declaring that if he really had any plates, she would see them, and that she was determined to help him publish them.
He told her she was mistaken-that she could not see them, for he was not permitted to exhibit them to any one except those whom the Lord should appoint to testify of them. "And, in relation to assistance," he observed, "I always prefer dealing with men, rather than their wives."
This highly displeased Mrs. Harris, for she considered herself altogether superior to her husband and she continued her importunities. She would say, "Now, Joseph, are you not telling me a lie? Can you look full in my eye and say before God that you have in reality found a Record, as you pretend?"
To this Joseph replied, rather indifferently, "Why, yes, Mrs. Harris, I would as soon look you in the face and say so as not, if that will be any gratification to you."
Then said she, "Joseph, I will tell you what I will do, if I can get a witness that you speak the truth, I will believe all you say about the matter and I shall want to do something about the translation-I mean to help you any way."
This closed the evening's conversation. The next morning, soon after she arose, she related a very remarkable dream which she said she had had during the night. It ran about as follows: She said that a personage appeared to her who told her that as she had disputed the servant of the Lord, and said his word was not to be believed, and had also asked him many improper questions, she had done that which was not right in the sight of God. After which he said to her, "Behold, here are the plates, look upon them and believe." (History of Joseph Smith by His Mother [Salt Lake City: Stevens & Wallis, Inc., 1945], 116-117.)
As the wicked and adulterous sign-seekers, Mrs. Harris was neither humbled by this dream nor satisfied with the sign she received. Rather, her suspicions and jealousies ran their full course. In a way, she represents all those who declare that they will believe the Book of Mormon if they can first see the Gold Plates. Expecting to receive a witness before the trial of their faith, they misunderstand the process; for no miracle, no demonstration, no evidence is ever enough for the unbelieving heart.
The story continues when Martin is asked by the Prophet to show a transcription of the characters on the plates to the learned linguists of the day. Mrs. Harris was put off that she was not allowed to go with him. Whether out of revenge or jealousy, she bribed her daughter's suitor to secretly copy some of the ancient characters in her husband's possession. The young man succeeds in his covert operation, but Lucy remains dissatisfied.
Lucy Mack Smith
Mr. Harris began to make preparations to start for (Harmony) Pennsylvania the second time, with the view of writing for Joseph, his wife told him that she had fully decreed in her heart to accompany him. Mr. Harris, having no particular objections, informed her that she might do so; that she might go and stay one or two weeks, and then he would bring her home again, after which he would return, and resume his writing for Joseph. To this she cheerfully agreed. But Mr. Harris little suspected what he had to encounter by this move. The first time he exhibited the characters before named, she took out of her pocket an exact copy of the same; and told those present, that "Joe Smith" was not the only one who was in possession of this great curiosity, that she had the same characters, and, they were quite as genuine as those shown by Mr. Harris. This course she continued to pursue, until they arrived at Joseph's.
As soon as she arrived there, she informed him that her object in coming, was to see the plates, and that she would never leave until she had accomplished it. Accordingly, without delay, she commenced ransacking every nook and corner about the house-chests, trunks, cupboards, etc.; consequently, Joseph was under the necessity of removing both the breast-plate and the Record from the house, and secreting them elsewhere. Not finding them in the house, she concluded that Joseph had buried them, and the next day she commenced searching out of doors, which she continued to do until about two o'clock p. m. She then came in rather ill-natured; after warming herself a little, she asked Joseph's wife if there were snakes in that country in the winter. She replied in the negative. Mrs. Harris then said, "I have been walking round in the woods to look at the situation of your place, and as I turned round to come home, a tremendous black snake stuck up his head before me, and commenced hissing at me."
The woman was so perplexed and disappointed in all her undertakings, that she left the house and took lodgings during her stay in Pennsylvania with a near neighbor, to whom she stated that the day previous she had been hunting for the plates, and that, after a tedious search, she at length came to a spot where she judged, from the appearance of things, they must be buried; but upon stooping down to scrape away the snow and leaves, in order to ascertain the fact, she encountered a horrible black snake which gave her a terrible fright, and she ran with all possible speed to the house.
While this woman remained in the neighborhood, she did all that lay in her power to injure Joseph in the estimation of his neighbors-telling them that he was a grand imposter, and, that by his specious pretentions, he had seduced her husband into the belief that he (Joseph Smith) was some great one, merely through a design upon her husband's property.
When she returned home, being about two weeks after her arrival in Harmony, the place where Joseph resided, she endeavored to dissuade her husband from taking any further part in the publication of the Record; however, Mr. Harris paid no attention to her, but returned and continued writing. (History of Joseph Smith by His Mother [Salt Lake City: Stevens & Wallis, Inc., 1945], 121-122)
The Translation of the Book of Lehi
Mr. Harris, having returned from his tour, left me and went home to Palmyra, arranged his affairs, and returned again to my house about the 12th of April, 1828, and commenced writing for me while I translated from the plates, which we continued until the 14th of June following, by which time he had written one hundred and sixteen pages of manuscript on foolscap paper. Some time after Mr. Harris had begun to write for me, he began to importune me to give him liberty to carry the writings home and show them; and desired of me that I would inquire of the Lord, through the Urim and Thummim, if he might not do so. I did inquire, and the answer was that he must not. However, he was not satisfied with this answer, and desired that I should inquire again. I did so, and the answer was as before. Still he could not be contented, but insisted that I should inquire once more. After much solicitation I again inquired of the Lord, and permission was granted him to have the writings on certain conditions; which were, that he show them only to his brother, Preserved Harris, his own wife, his father and his mother, and a Mrs. Cobb, a sister to his wife. In accordance with this last answer, I required of him that he should bind himself in a covenant to me in a most solemn manner that he would not do otherwise than had been directed. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1: 20 - 21.)
Joseph Waits for Martin's Return; His Firstborn Son Dies; He Finds Out the Pages are Missing
Lucy Mack Smith
Shortly after Mr. Harris left, Joseph's wife became the mother of a son, which, however, remained with her but a short time before it was snatched from her arms by the hand of death. And the mother seemed, for some time, more like sinking with her infant into the mansion of the dead, than remaining with her husband among the living. Her situation was such for two weeks, that Joseph slept not an hour in undisturbed quiet. At the expiration of this time she began to recover, but as Joseph's anxiety about her began to subside, another cause of trouble forced itself upon his mind. Mr. Harris had been absent nearly three weeks, and Joseph had received no intelligence whatever from him, which was altogether aside of the arrangement when they separated. But Joseph kept his feelings from his wife, fearing that if she became acquainted with them it might agitate her too much.
In a few days, however, she mentioned the subject herself, and desired her husband to go and get her mother to stay with her, while he should repair to Palmyra, for the purpose of learning the cause of Mr. Harris' absence as well as silence. At first Joseph objected, but seeing her so cheerful, and so willing to have him leave home, he finally consented.
He set out in the first stage that passed for Palmyra, and, when he was left to himself, he began to contemplate the course which Martin had taken, and the risk which he (Joseph) had run in letting the manuscript go out of his hands-for it could not be obtained again, in case Martin had lost it through transgression, except by the power of God, which was something Joseph could hardly hope for-and that, by persisting in his entreaties to the Lord, he had perhaps fallen into transgression, and thereby lost the manuscript. When, I say, he began to contemplate these things, they troubled his spirit, and his soul was moved with fearful apprehensions. And, although he was now nearly worn out, sleep fled from his eyes, neither had he any desire for food, for he felt that he had done wrong, and how great his condemnation was he did not know.
Only one passenger was in the stage besides himself: this man observing Joseph's gloomy appearance, inquired the cause of his affliction, and offered to assist him if his services would be acceptable. Joseph thanked him for his kindness, and mentioned that he had been watching some time with a sick wife and child, that the child had died, and that his wife was still very low; but refrained from giving any further explanation. Nothing more passed between them upon this subject, until Joseph was about leaving the stage; at which time he remarked, that he still had twenty miles further to travel on foot that night, it being then about ten o'clock. To this the stranger objected, saying, "I have watched you since you first entered the stage, and I know that you have neither slept nor eaten since that time, and you shall not go on foot twenty miles alone this night; for, if you must go, I will be your company. Now tell me what can be the trouble that makes you thus dispirited?"
Joseph replied, about as before-that he had left his wife in so low a state of health, that he feared he should not find her alive when he returned; besides, he had buried his first and only child but a few days previous. This was true, though there was another trouble lying at his heart, which he dared not to mention.
The stranger then observed, "I feel to sympathize with you, and I fear that your constitution, which is evidently not strong, will be inadequate to support you. You will be in danger of falling asleep in the forest, and of meeting with some awful disaster."
Joseph again thanked the gentleman for his kindness, and, leaving the stage, they proceeded together. When they reached our house it was nearly daylight. The stranger said he was under the necessity of leading Joseph the last four miles by the arm; for nature was too much exhausted to support him any longer, and he would fall asleep as he was walking along, every few minutes, towards the last of this distance.
On entering our house, the stranger remarked that he had brought our son through the forest, because he had insisted on coming, that he was sick, and needed rest, as well as refreshment, and that he ought to have some pepper tea to warm his stomach. After thus directing us, relative to our son, he said, that when we had attended to Joseph he would thank us for a little breakfast for himself, as he was in a haste to be on his journey again.
When Joseph had taken a little nourishment, according to the directions of the stranger, he requested us to send immediately for Mr. Harris. This we did without delay. And when we had given the stranger his breakfast, we commenced preparing breakfast for the family; and we supposed that Mr. Harris would be there, as soon as it was ready, to eat with us, for he generally came in such haste when he was sent for. At eight o'clock we set the victuals on the table, as we were expecting him every moment. We waited till nine, and he came not-till ten, and he was not there-till eleven, still he did not make his appearance. But at half past twelve we saw him walking with a slow and measured tread towards the house, his eyes fixed thoughtfully upon the ground. On coming to the gate, he stopped, instead of passing through, and got upon the fence, and sat there some time with his hat drawn over his eyes. At length he entered the house. Soon after which we sat down to the table, Mr. Harris with the rest. He took up his knife and fork as if he were going to use them, but immediately dropped them. Hyrum, observing this, said "Martin, why do you not eat; are you sick?" Upon which Mr. Harris pressed his hands upon his temples, and cried out in a tone of deep anguish, "Oh, I have lost my soul! I have lost my soul!"
Joseph who had not expressed his fears till now, sprang from the table, exclaiming, "Martin, have you lost that manuscript? Have you broken your oath, and brought down condemnation upon my head as well as your own?"
"Yes; it is gone," replied Martin, "and I know not where."
"Oh, my God!" said Joseph, clinching his hands. "All is lost! all is lost! What shall I do? I have sinned-it is I who tempted the wrath of God. I should have been satisfied with the first answer which I received from the Lord; for he told me that it was not safe to let the writing go out of my possession." He wept and groaned, and walked the floor continually.
At length he told Martin to go back and search again.
"No"; said Martin, "it is all in vain; for I have ripped open beds and pillows; and I know it is not there."
"Then must I," said Joseph, "return with such a tale as this? I dare not do it. And how shall I appear before the Lord? Of what rebuke am I not worthy from the angel of the Most High?"
I besought him not to mourn so, for perhaps the Lord would forgive him, after a short season of humiliation and repentance. But what could I do to comfort him, when he saw all the family in the same situation of mind as himself; for sobs and groans, and the most bitter lamentations filled the house. However, Joseph was more distressed than the rest, as he better understood the consequences of disobedience. And he continued pacing back and forth, meantime weeping and grieving, until about sunset, when, by persuasion, he took a little nourishment.
The next morning, he set out for home. We parted with heavy hearts, for it now appeared that all which we had so fondly anticipated, and which had been the source of so much secret gratification, had in a moment fled, and fled forever. (History of Joseph Smith by His Mother [Salt Lake City: Stevens & Wallis, Inc., 1945], 125-129)
Immediately after my return home, I was walking out a little distance, when, behold, the former heavenly messenger appeared and handed to me the Urim and Thummim again-for it had been taken from me in consequence of my having wearied the Lord in asking for the privilege of letting Martin Harris take the writings, which he lost by transgression-and I inquired of the Lord through it, and obtained the following: (DC 3). (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1: 21 - 22.)
DC 3:1 The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated
Joseph Fielding Smith
[God] knew that Satan would try to frustrate the coming forth of the Book of Mormon by the stealing and changing of the manuscript, and provided for it hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Martin Harris without a doubt fell a prey to the enticings of Satan, in his constant pleading for the manuscript. Satan played upon his pride and he foolishly thought that by the showing of the manuscript his kindred could be convinced.
There is always danger when men boast in their own strength, or when they seek to satisfy their own desires. When those desires are contrary to the will of the Lord, and are still persisted in, they will without fail return in punishment upon their heads. (Roy W. Doxey, comp., Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 1: 35 - 36.)
Jeffrey R. Holland
At least six times in the Book of Mormon, the phrase "for a wise purpose" is used in reference to the making, writing, and preserving of the small plates of Nephi (see 1 Ne. 9:5; W of M 1:7; Alma 37:2, 12, 14, 18). We know one such wise purpose-the most obvious one-was to compensate for the future loss of 116 pages of manuscript translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith from the first part of the Book of Mormon (see D&C 3, 10).
But it strikes me that there is a "wiser purpose" than that, or perhaps more accurately, a "wiser purpose" in that. The key to such a suggestion is in Doctrine and Covenants 10:45. As the Lord instructs Joseph Smith on the procedure for translating and inserting the material from the small plates into what had been begun as the translation of the abridged large plates, he says, "Behold, there are many things engraven upon the [small] plates of Nephi which do throw greater views upon my gospel" (emphasis added).
So clearly this was not a quid pro quo in the development of the final Book of Mormon product. It was not tit for tat, this for that-116 pages of manuscript for 142 pages of printed text. Not so. We got back more than we lost. And it was known from the beginning that it would be so. We do not know exactly what we have missed in the lost 116 pages, but we do know that what we received on the small plates was the personal declarations of three great witnesses (Nephi, Jacob, and Isaiah), three of the great doctrinal voices of the Book of Mormon, testifying that Jesus is the Christ. ("For a Wise Purpose," Ensign, Jan. 1996, 13-14)
DC 3:2 God doth not walk in crooked paths
God doesn't walk in crooked paths. He doesn't go in one direction, then change his mind and go another. He doesn't try one thing for a while to see if it works. He needs no lessons on how to bring forth the Book of Mormon. His rule is not one of trial and error. He knows where he is going, and more importantly, he knows where we are going. In all of these qualities of certainty, purpose, and direction, we see the perfection of God. Like one who follows the equator of the cosmos, He always travels a straight line, yet "his course is one eternal round."
Neal A. Maxwell
At the beginning of each year, it would be quite human for us to say resignedly, "Here we go again!"... I am so glad Heavenly Father doesn't have such feelings. Even though His course is "one eternal round" (1 Ne. 10:19; D&C 3:2), as the plan of salvation is executed and re-executed, again and again, in realms beyond our purview, His love is constant and personal. ("Wisdom and Order," Ensign, June 1994, 43)
DC 3:3 it is not the work of God that is frustrated
Gordon B. Hinckley
When critics mock, when enemies deride, when cynics belittle this work, there comes into my mind this tremendous statement of the Almighty. The Lord does not excuse Himself for what He has said or done. Every promise shall be kept, every prophecy fulfilled, 'and the truth abideth forever and ever.'
In the same vein is this declaration concerning the diabolical schemes of enemies of the Church:
"I will not suffer that they shall destroy my work; yea, I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil." (D&C 10:43.)
In my own time I have seen much of the mischief of those who revel in demeaning this work and who would do all in their power to destroy it. These great words of the Lord, spoken through revelation, have given me comfort and assurance, as has the opening statement of section 3:
"The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught." ("The Order and Will of God," Ensign, Jan. 1989, 4)
DC 3:4 For although a man may have many revelations
Heber J. Grant
I have met many young men who have said to me, "I do not know that the Gospel is true. I believe it, but I do not know it." ...Some of them have said: "Oh, if I could only see an angel; if I could only hear speaking in tongues; if I could only see some great manifestation, then I would believe." I wish to say to all within the sound of my voice that the seeing of angels and great manifestations do not make great men in the Church and kingdom of God. Think of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon...Yet these men fell by the wayside, though they remained true and steadfast to their testimony to the Book of Mormon. (Conference Report, April 1900, Afternoon Session 22 - 23.)
Anthon H. Lund
I call your attention to this revelation given almost two years before the organization of the Church, before the Prophet had had any experience in Church government, and in the various ways in which men's minds act.
When it says, "although he may have many revelations," most anyone would wonder how a person having had a revelation could ever fall away? We would so think to ourselves, and the young man Joseph, if it had been his own invention, would not have thought of putting this paragraph in the revelation. But this he received from on high, and it shows that the Giver understood mankind and understood how fickle their minds often are. (Conference Report, October 1919, Morning Session 37.)
DC 3:6 how oft you have transgressed the commandments and the laws of God
"Section 3 of the Doctrine and Covenants stands as one of the great evidences of the Prophet Joseph's divine calling. As nearly as can be determined, this is the first revelation he ever recorded. (He had received other revelations earlier, but they had not yet been recorded.) This one is a powerful witness of his prophetic calling; no false prophet would have recorded such a stinging denunciation of himself, as Richard Bushman notes: "[In] the rebuke of Joseph in the revelation of July, 1828, ... [t]here is no effort to conceal or rationalize, no sign of Joseph justifying himself to prospective followers. The words flow directly from the messenger to Joseph and have the single purpose of setting Joseph straight.'" (Keith W. Perkins, "Thou Art Still Chosen," Ensign, Jan. 1993, 16)
Dallin H. Oaks
Joseph's candor about his shortcomings is evident in the fact that one of the first revelations he recorded in writing and published to the world was a crushing rebuke he received from the Lord..."Behold," the Lord declared, "how oft you have transgressed the commandments and the laws of God, and have gone on in the persuasions of men" (D&C 3:6). The Lord told Joseph to repent or he would be stripped of his prophetic role. Four later revelations, also published by the Prophet, command him to "repent and walk more uprightly" (D&C 5:21), speak of his having "sinned" (D&C 64:7; see also D&C 90:1), and rebuke him for not keeping the commandments (see D&C 93:47).
The Prophet Joseph had no role models from whom he could learn how to be a prophet and leader of the Lord's people. He learned from heavenly messengers and from the harvest of his unique spiritual gifts. He had to rely on associates who had no role models either. They struggled and learned together, and the Prophet's growth was extremely rapid.
When Joseph warned the Saints against mortal imperfections, he did not raise himself above them, and they loved him for it. He cautioned a group of Saints newly arrived in Nauvoo against the tendency to be dissatisfied if everything was not done perfectly right. "He said he was but a man and they must not expect him to be perfect," an associate recorded. "If they expected perfection from him, he should expect it from them, but if they would bear with his infirmities and the infirmities of the brethren, he would likewise bear with their infirmities" (The Papers of Joseph Smith, Volume 2, Journal, 1832-1842, ed. Dean C. Jessee , 489). ("Joseph, the Man and the Prophet," Ensign, May 1996, 71-72)
DC 3:7 you should not have feared man more than God
"The lesson from this experience remained with Joseph throughout his life; he had 'feared man more than God.' He had learned obedience and was later able to say, I made this my rule: When the Lord commands, do it. (History of the Church 2:170.)" (LDS Church News, 1994, 05/21/94)
“Which way do you face?” President Boyd K. Packer surprised me with this puzzling question while we were traveling together on my very first assignment as a new Seventy. Without an explanation to put the question in context, I was baffled. “A Seventy,” he continued, “does not represent the people to the prophet but the prophet to the people. Never forget which way you face!” It was a powerful lesson.
Trying to please others before pleasing God is inverting the first and second great commandments (see Matthew 22:37–39). It is forgetting which way we face. And yet, we have all made that mistake because of the fear of men. In Isaiah the Lord warns us, “Fear ye not the reproach of men” (Isaiah 51:7; see also 2 Nephi 8:7)…
At the youthful age of 22, even Joseph Smith forgot which way he faced when he repeatedly importuned the Lord to allow Martin Harris to borrow the 116 manuscript pages. Perhaps Joseph wanted to show gratitude to Martin for his support. We know that Joseph was extremely anxious for other eyewitnesses to stand with him against the distressing falsehoods and lies being spread about him.
Whatever Joseph’s reasons were, or as justified as they may appear, the Lord did not excuse them and sharply rebuked him: “How oft you have transgressed … and have gone on in the persuasions of men. For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God” (D&C 3:6–7; emphasis added). This poignant experience helped Joseph remember, forever after, which way he faced.
When people try to save face with men, they can unwittingly lose face with God. Thinking one can please God and at the same time condone the disobedience of men isn’t neutrality but duplicity, or being two-faced or trying to “serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24; 3 Nephi 13:24). (Ensign, Nov. 2014, 9-10)
DC 3:9 thou art Joseph, and thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord
Joseph of Egypt was told that a prophet would be raised of his lineage that would be named Joseph, "a seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins, and unto him will I give power to bring forth my word unto the seed of thy loins; and not to the bringing forth of my word only, saith the Lord, but to the convincing them of my word, which shall have already gone forth among them in the last days...and his name shall be called Joseph, and it shall be after the name of his father; and he shall be like unto you; for the thing which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand shall bring my people unto salvation." (JST Gen 50:30, 33, 2 Ne 3:6-11)
"It made no difference that he was a prince, chosen for his faithfulness before the world was, like everyone, he had to prove himself through obedience, and the Lord did not hold back his wrath.
"How do you set about to train and prepare a prophet? Is the way smoothed and straightened? Do you protect him from the vicissitudes of life so that he is free to concentrate on the great work he is destined to fulfill? We might think so, but the facts of history do not support this supposition. It is not just Joseph, but virtually every prophet of our dispensation." (Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith Memorial Sermons, Jan. 18, 1976, p. 8-9)
DC 3:12 God had given thee sight and power to translate
Neal A. Maxwell
Many who read the Book of Mormon understandably desire to know more about its coming forth, including the actual process of translation. This was certainly so with faithful and loyal Hyrum Smith. Upon inquiring, Hyrum was told by the Prophet Joseph that "it was not intended to tell the world all the particulars of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon" and that "it was not expedient for him to relate these things" (History of the Church, 1:220). Thus what we do know about the actual coming forth of the Book of Mormon is adequate, but it is not comprehensive...
Oliver Cowdery is reported to have testified in court that the Urim and Thummim enabled Joseph "to read in English, the reformed Egyptian characters, which were engraved on the plates" ("Mormonites," Evangelical Magazine and Gospel Advocate, 9 Apr. 1831). If these reports are accurate, they suggest a process indicative of God's having given Joseph "sight and power to translate" (D&C 3:12).
If by means of these divine instrumentalities the Prophet was seeing ancient words rendered in English and then dictating, he was not necessarily and constantly scrutinizing the characters on the plates-the usual translation process of going back and forth between pondering an ancient text and providing a modern rendering.
The revelatory process apparently did not require the Prophet to become expert in the ancient language. The constancy of revelation was more crucial... ("By the Gift and Power of God," Ensign, Jan. 1997, 39)
DC 3:12 thou deliveredst up that which was sacred into the hands of a wicked man
Joseph Fielding Smith
At heart Martin was not wicked and desired to do what was right. He had faith in the mission of Joseph Smith, and that very faith led to his undoing, for he could not stand the gibes of relatives and friends. It was because of this that he desired to obtain the manuscript that these relatives and friends might be convinced. Why he thought that an examination of the manuscript would be a means of convincing them, especially his wife, in the frame of mind in which she possessed, is not clear. His wickedness consisted in his selfish desire to gratify his own wish contrary to the will of the Lord, after he had been denied this request twice before it was granted. Moreover, he was wicked in that he violated a most sacred and solemn covenant and trust which he made with the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith. From his wicked act, or acts, he humbly repented and again found favor with the Lord to the extent that he was privileged to stand as one of the special three witnesses of the Book of Mormon, and to behold the plates in the presence of the holy angel. He was deprived, however, from ever again acting as scribe in the translation of this sacred record of the Nephites. (Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 1: 26 - 27.)
DC 3:13 Martin has broken the most sacred promises which were made before God
...permission was granted him to have the writings on certain conditions; which were, that he show them only to his brother, Preserved Harris, his own wife, his father and his mother, and a Mrs. Cobb, a sister to his wife. In accordance with this last answer, I required of him that he should bind himself in a covenant to me in a most solemn manner that he would not do otherwise than had been directed. He did so. He bound himself as I required of him, took the writings, and went his way. Notwithstanding, however, the great restrictions which he had been laid under, and the solemnity of the covenant which he had made with me, he did show them to others, and by stratagem they got them away from him, and they never have been recovered unto this day. (History of the Church, 1:21)
What happened to Martin?
"Martin Harris now found himself discredited and humiliated. Suffering and remorse dogged his footsteps. Even the Spirit of the Lord was withdrawn. The separation from his wife and breaking up of his family soon followed.
"Discord between Martin Harris and his wife, Lucy, grew with Martin's every contribution of time, labor, or money to the cause of the Church. Records bring to light the ironic fact that she was the first recorded donor of actual cash towards the translation of the Record, and the instigator of the first legal proceedings against Joseph Smith, Jr." (Improvement Era, Vol. Lviii. March, 1955, No. 3)
DC 3:14 thou hast lost thy privileges for a season
How long were the Prophet's privileges revoked? It had been about a month since Martin had lost the manuscript and the Urim and Thummim had been taken from Joseph. Even though the Lord tells Joseph that he is called to the work. He would not receive the Urim and Thummim for the work of translation until September 22, 1828, exactly one year from date he received the plates from Moroni. The summer of 1828 must have been the darkest period in the Prophet's life, rivaling or even exceeding the darkest days of Liberty Jail.
Even after September, the work progressed very slowly, with Emma acting as scribe, until the arrival of Oliver Cowdery in Apr. 1929. Therefore, the loss of the 116 pages resulted in an almost 1-year delay in the process of translation. Consider the following timeline:
"12 Apr. 1828: Joseph Smith commences translation of the Book of Mormon with Martin Harris as scribe, Harmony, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania.
"14 June 1828: Martin Harris leaves Harmony with 116 translated pages of the Book of Lehi. The pages are stolen in Palmyra Township, June-July 1828.
"15 June 1828: First son, Alvin, born; dies within hours, Harmony.
"July 1828: Joseph's first known recording of a revelation immediately after receiving it (D&C 3).
"July 1828: Interpreters and plates are taken from the Prophet by angel Moroni.
"22 Sept. 1828: Interpreters and plates returned to the Prophet by angel Moroni, Harmony.
"5 Apr. 1829: Oliver Cowdery arrives at Harmony from New York; translation recommences on 7 Apr. 1829...
"June 1829: Finishes Book of Mormon translation at Fayette, Seneca County, New York." ("Highlights in the Prophet's Life," Ensign, June 1994, 24, 26)
DC 3:16 Nevertheless, my work shall go forth
Joseph Fielding Smith
If Joseph Smith had been guilty of practicing a fraud; if he had endeavored to palm off the Book of Mormon on this hostile, unbelieving world, he never would have dared to say that it would go forth to the convincing of Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ. Even if he had been foolish enough to make such a declaration, and the work being spurious, it would have come to a speedy and ridiculous end. It never would have survived the first year of its existence. It would have been so filled with flaws that the scrutinizing gaze of the world would have exposed it in all its folly. The truth remains that after the thousands of attacks and scores of books that have been published, not one criticism or attack has survived and thousands have borne witness that the Lord has revealed to them the truth of this marvelous work. (Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 1: 27.)
DC 3:16-17 even so shall the knowledge of a Savior come...to the Nephites, and the Jacobites, and the Josephites, and the Zoramites
How could the gospel be restored to the Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, and Zoramites if they were all killed off in the final battle against the Lamanites? Well, a careful reading of the Book of Mormon clearly demonstrates that many Nephites (and presumably Jacobites, Josephites, and Zoramites; see Morm. 1:8-9) survived the battle, either by intermarriage or desertion to the Lamanites. Near the end of his mortal life, Alma prophesied that there would be Nephites who would survive the final battle, "But whosoever remaineth, and is not destroyed in that great and dreadful day, shall be numbered among the Lamanites, and shall become like unto them" (Alma 45:14). This wasn't just a few, for Mormon wrote Moroni, "many of our brethren have deserted over unto the Lamanites, and many more will also desert over unto them" (Moro. 9:24, italics added).
Clearly, the Lord knows the Nephite genealogy better than we. He knows that the blood of Nephi, Jacob, Joseph, and Zoram still flows freely among the natives of the western hemisphere. Accordingly, Nephi received the promise that his seed would not be utterly destroyed. They were to be preserved even amidst the persecutions which the native Indians were to suffer at the hands of the early Americans, for an angel promised Nephi, "that the Lord God will not suffer that the Gentiles will utterly destroy the mixture of thy seed, which are among thy brethren" (1 Ne. 13:30).
DC 3:19 for this very purpose are these plates preserved
B. H. Roberts
In this passage we have substantially the same reasons given why the Book of Mormon was written, though not stated in the same order, but as follows:
First, that a knowledge of a Savior might come unto the remnants of the house of Israel in the western hemisphere, who are called Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Lamanites, etc.
Second, that the Lamanites might come to a knowledge of their fathers.
Third, that the Lamanites might know the promises of the Lord, both to their fathers and to themselves.
Mormon also left upon record his testimony as to why the book which bears his name was written, and why it would be preserved and come forth in the last days. In his own book, by which I mean that book in which he wrote the things which he saw in his own day, Mormon says:
"Now these things are written unto the remnant of the house of Jacob; ... and behold, they shall come forth according to the commandment of the Lord, when he shall see fit, in his wisdom. And behold, they shall go unto the unbelieving of the Jews; and for this intent shall they go-that they may be persuaded that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God; that the Father may bring about, through his most Beloved, his great and eternal purpose, in restoring the Jews, or all the house of Israel, to the land of their inheritance, which the Lord their God hath given them, unto the fulfilling of his covenant; and also that the seed of this people may more fully believe his gospel, which shall go forth unto them from the Gentiles." (Morm. 5:12-15) (New Witnesses for God, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1909], 2: 62 - 63.)
DC 3:20 that the Lamanites might come to the knowledge of their fathers
Spencer W. Kimball
Every Lamanite who reads the Book of Mormon with a sincere desire to know its truth will get a testimony that those are his ancestors, that it is his record, and that he is one of them. (quotes D&C 3:18-20.)
One of the first things that Joseph Smith did when he was organizing the Church was to preach the gospel to the Lamanites himself, and then he sent his brethren-Ziba Peterson, Parley P. Pratt, Oliver Cowdery, and Peter Whitmer. And the Lord said, "... and I myself will go with them and be in their midst; and I am their advocate with the Father, and nothing shall prevail against them." (D&C 32:3.)
The development and growth and progress of the Lamanite people are of prime importance to all Mormondom, to the whole Church program, to Christianity... It is like one of the Lamanites said: "This gospel, which is sometimes called Mormonism, is something we have been trying all our lives to remember; now all at once it comes back." (Spencer W. Kimball, "Of Royal Blood," Ensign, July 1971, 9)
Spencer W. Kimball
You who are Lamanites remember this: Your Lamanite ancestors were no more rebellious than any of the other branches of the house of Israel. All the seed of Israel fell into apostasy and suffered the long night of spiritual darkness, and only through the mercy of God have any of the branches been saved from utter destruction-the gentile-Ephraimite mixture first, and then the Lamanite remainder of Joseph, that the saying might be fulfilled, "the last shall be first, and the first last." (Matt. 20:16.) You who are Lamanites remember...You are a chosen people; you have a brilliant future. You might possess all of the wealth of this earth, but you would be nothing compared to what you can be in this Church. You might rule over many nations, but you would have nothing compared to what you can have, through the holy priesthood, as a king or a queen unto the Most High God. ("Our Paths Have Met Again," Ensign, Dec. 1975, 6)