Stephen Burnett on Martin Harris: "But he never saw them only as he saw a city through a mountain"

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Stephen Burnett on Martin Harris: "But he never saw them only as he saw a city through a mountain"

Stephen Burnett, who considered Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to be "notorious liars," related what he heard Martin Harris say:

After we were done speaking M Harris arose & said he was sorry for any man who rejected the Book of Mormon for he knew it was true, he said he had hefted the plates repeatedly in a box with only a tablecloth or a handkerchief over them, but he never saw them only as he saw a city through a mountain. And said that he never should have told that the testimony of the eight was false, if it had not been picked out of [h]im but should have let it passed as it was....I am well satisfied for myself that if the witnesses whose names are attached to the Book of Mormon never saw the plates as Martin admits that there can be nothing brought to prove that any such thing ever existed for it is said on the 171 page of the book of covenants that the three should testify that they had seen the plates even as J S Jr & if they saw them spiritually or in vision with their eyes shut—J S Jr never saw them any other way & if so the plates were only visionary...[1]

Notes

  1. Stephen Burnett to Lyman E. Johnson, 15 April 1838, Joseph Smith Letterbook (1837-43), 2:64-66, Joseph Smith Papers, LDS Church Archives. Cited in "Stephen Burnett to Lyman E. Johnson, 15 April 1838," Early Mormon Documents 2:292-293.