While hosting me for my little fireside up in American Fork last Saturday, Ben Pack kindly gave me (among other things) a copy of David Hammer, comp., The Pamphlets of Orson Pratt: The Complete Collection (Salt Lake City: Eborn Publishing, 2017)
One of the essays contained in the volume is “Evidences of the Book of Mormon and Bible Compared,” which was published as Number 4 in the series Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon. This particular essay appeared at Liverpool, England, on 15 December 1850. Here is a passage from it that occurs on page 344 of the book:
Here, then, are twelve witnesses of the existence of the plates. Neither of these witnesses has ever denied his testimony to this day. Some of these witnesses have died — some have been martyred for their testimony; and one is still living. Is there a person on the earth, that can prove that these witnesses did not see the plates? No, there is not. The existence of the plates, filled with engravings, is proved by twelve eye witnesses; while the correctness of their translation is proved by four eye witnesses, not only of the plates, but of the angel. Therefore, the evidences which this generation have of the Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, and of the existence of the plates, are far greater than the evidences which they have for the truth of any of the books of the Bible. Hence, if they would be condemned for rejecting the Bible, how much more will they be condemned for rejecting the Book of Mormon which was confirmed, in its very origin, by so many witnesses?
I was struck by Elder Pratt’s comment. (He was including Joseph Smith among the “Four” and the “Twelve.”) He knew all of the witnesses personally and well, although most of them were dead by 1850 and he had pretty much lost touch with the rest of them by then.
As a matter of fact, though, several of them — not just one — still lived in 1850. Oliver Cowdery had died earlier that year, at the tragically young age of 43. But David Whitmer and Martin Harris were still very much alive, as were Jacob Whitmer, John Whitmer, and Hiram Page.
I find the witnesses to the Book of Mormon — including the unofficial ones not mentioned by Elder Pratt — extraordinarily persuasive. That’s why we’ve undertaken the creation of a major dramatic documentary about them (“Creating a Witness to the Witnesses”).
And, speaking of those witnesses, here’s a new book: