I know that reproach has been brought upon the Book of Mormon. Because some of those who believe it have drifted into wickedness, the world has rejected the book and turned it aside as a thing of naught; but if such persons will stop and think, they will see that they refuse to read this book, which claims to be a message from God, simply because some have transgressed who believe in the book! Such persons are not very earnestly seeking for truth. Those who have read the history of the apostolic church know, that before John wrote the Revelation, many of those who believed in Christ went into all manner of wickedness and heresies, practicing those things in the name of Christ, and thereby brought reproach upon the name “Christian.” Apostolic church history tells us that the Nicolaitanes (Rev. ii:15), who departed from the faith by following Nicolas, one of the first seven deacons (Acts vi:5), were also called “Christians;” also that many factions which sprang out of the Christian church, also called themselves “Christians.” The Nicolaitanes claimed that Nicolas had received a revelation from God to practice the doctrine of “free love,” which is worse than polygamy. (Irenaeus, Epiphanius, Hippolytus.) Reproach was thus brought upon the name “Christian,” just as it has been brought upon the words of Christ — the Book of Mormon. History tells us it was a disgrace in the eyes of the world to be called a “Christian,” even during the days of the apostles. In Acts xxviii:22 we find that the true church was evil spoken of. “For as concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken against.” Paul speaks of the reproach of Christ in Heb. xi:26 and xiii:13. Christ speaks of the reproach his disciples will have to bear for his name, telling them many times that his disciples would always be persecuted. Peter prophesied (2 Peter ii:1-2), that damnable heresies would be brought into the church; “and many shall follow their pernicious ways, by reason of whom THE WAY OF TRUTH shall be evil spoken of.” So has it been in these last days. On account of the heresy of polygamy and other heresies, “the way of truth” is evil spoken of; and those who believe in all the scriptures of our Lord Jesus Christ, are called by the world “Mormons,” and are looked upon with more or less shame by the majority of people; but we are willing to bear the reproach for Him who died for us, for we know that the Book of Mormon is His word, and by His word we can inherit eternal life if we are faithful in keeping His commandments. God’s wisdom is not man’s wisdom, and His ways are not man’s ways. He works in a way least expected by man. He does his work in a way that all men may stumble and not understand, unless their whole heart and desire is upon God, and not upon the things of this world. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John ii:15.) “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matt. vi:24.) He who makes up his mind to serve God with an eye single to his glory, the light that is in him will not be darkness to the truth as it is in Christ; such a person will overcome the stumbling-blocks by the Holy Spirit enlightening his mind, and he will see and understand the truth. God works by stumbling-blocks. He ordained that Christ should come as a stumbling-block to the Jews, so that all who did not have an eye single to his glory might stumble and not understand. “And He (Christ) shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, for a sin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.” (Isaiah viii:14-15.) (See also 1 Peter ii:7-8, 1 Cor. i:23, Rom. ix:32-33.) The Jews did not expect the Christ to come in the way he did, because the prophecies about his coming were obscure; so they rejected him.
The Gentiles cannot expect the words of Christ—the Book of Mormon—to come in the way it has, because the prophecies about its coming forth are obscure; so they have rejected it; but the stone which the builders have rejected, the same will become the head of the corner. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. The prophecies in the scriptures concerning the way in which Christ would come to the Jews, are obscure, but they are just as God wanted them. Likewise are the prophecies in the Bible concerning the coming forth of the word of Christ in these last days, which is “the dispensation of the fullness of times.” The prophecies which foretell the coming forth of the Book of Mormon are fully as plain to the Gentiles, as the prophecies were to the Jews concerning Christ’s coming. The people cannot understand why the Lord would bring forth his word from “a book (plates) that is sealed” and was buried in the ground by his ancient prophets on this land: and why He should have the words of the book delivered “to one that is learned,” telling him to read it, etc.; (see Isa. xxix) but the learned and wise men of the world could not read it; God gave to an unlearned boy, Joseph Smith, the gift to translate it by the means of a STONE. See the following passages concerning the “Urim and Thummin,” being the same means and one by which the Ancients received the word of the Lord. (1 Sam. xxviii:6, Neh. vii:65, Ezra ii:63, Num. xxvii:21, Deut. xxxiii:8, Exodus xxviii:30, Lev. viii:8.) But this is a great stumbling-block to the people now. They cannot understand why God would work in this manner to bring forth his word; and why he would choose such a man as Joseph Smith to translate it: and they think the canon of scripture is full: and that angels do not minister unto men in these days. But oh kind reader, if you desire to know the truth, be not hasty to condemn and judge, but I pray you to investigate. The scriptures teach that God works in a way least expected by men. “Neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” (Isa. LV:8). How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out.” (Rom. xi:33). Read Isa. xxix, whole chapter, which is a prophecy concerning the way in which the Book of Mormon was to come forth. “Out of the ground;” “Out of the dust;” From, “the words of a Book (plates) that is sealed:” The men of the world who are wise and prudent in the eyes of the world, shall be confounded; they will not understand the Lord’s way of working. “For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” But the meek and lowly in heart will understand it. “The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.” And those who are spiritually blind and deaf shall “hear the words of the Book,” and “see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.” “They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine;” (The above quotations are from the 29th chapter of Isaiah.) John, in his vision on the Isle of Patmos, of “things which must be hereafter,” saw “Another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell ON THE EARTH.” (Rev. xiv:6.) In Isaiah xi:11-12, it is prophesied as follows: “and it shall come to pass in that day (dispensation) that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people …. and he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah (the Jews) from the four corners of the earth.” The coming forth of the Book of Mormon is only a preparatory work for the great and “marvelous work” of God which is yet to come in gathering scattered Israel, which is spoken of so often through the prophets. The Book of Mormon contains many prophecies which are now and have been during my life, under course of fulfillment. It says that more records are yet to come forth from the “book that is sealed,” which book is the sacred scriptures or records of the people who inhabited this land of America.
The children of Israel are to be gathered by the record of Judah (the Bible); and the record of Joseph; of which record the Book of Mormon is only a part. I will now quote from Ezekiel xxxvii:16-21, which is plain concerning this matter. Remember that in ancient times, writing was engraved upon stone and upon metallic plates, and they also wrote upon parchment which they rolled around a stick. A roll of parchment was called a “stick.”
“Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: and join them one to another in one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not show us what thou meanst by these? say unto them, …. Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land.”
It is evident that this, like many other prophecies, refers to the time when the Israel of God will be gathered together in righteousness and holiness; when they shall be God’s holy people forever. It says in this chapter, 23d to 28th verses, that when they are gathered, they shall “No more defile themselves with their idols …. nor with any of their transgressions,” and the Lord “will cleanse them, so they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” … and “they shall walk in my judgments … and (I) will set my sanctuary in the midst of them forevermore. …. And the heathen (all who are not Israel) shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them forevermore.” (Concerning a literal gathering of the House of Israel, in righteousness and holiness, see chapter 2.) The Gentiles are first now, and the Jews last: but the Jews and all the House of Israel will be first some day, and the Gentiles last. It is through the “fullness of the Gentiles,” that the veil of blindness which is now over Israel, shall be taken away. The cup of iniquity of the Gentiles is almost full; then God will turn to Israel, for Israel is not cast away forever. “Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in…. There shall come out of Sion, the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” (See Romans 11th chapter)
It is recorded in the American Cyclopedia and the Encyclopedia 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 any 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.
“Unto all Nations, Kindred Tongues and People, unto whom these presents shall come:
“It having been represented by one John Murphy, of Polo, Caldwell County, Mo., that I, in a conversation with him last summer, denied my testimony as one of the three witnesses to the BOOK OF MORMON.
“To the end, therefore, that he may understand me now, if he did not then; and that the world may know the truth, I wish now, standing as it were, in the very sunset of life, and in the fear of God, once for all to make this public statement:
“That I have never at any time denied that testimony or any part thereof, which has so long since been published with that Book, as one of
the three witnesses. Those who know me best, well know that I have always adhered to that testimony. And that no man may be misled or doubt my present views in regard to the same, I do again affirm the truth of all of my statements, as then made and published.
” ‘He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear;’ it was no delusion! What is written is written, and he that readeth let him understand.
“And that no one may be deceived or misled by this statement, I wish here to state: that I do not indorse polygamy or spiritual wifeism. It is a great evil, shocking to the moral sense, and the more so, because practiced in the name of religion. It is of man and not of God, and is especially forbidden in the Book of Mormon itself.
“I do not indorse the change of the name of the church, for as the wife takes the name of her husband so should the Church of the Lamb of God, take the name of its head, even Christ himself. It is the Church of Christ.
“As to the High Priesthood, Jesus Christ himself is the last Great High Priest, this too after the order of Melchisedec, as I understand the Holy Scriptures.
“Finally, I do not indorse any of the teachings of the so-called Mormons, of Latter Day Saints, which are in conflict with the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as taught in the Bible and Book of Mormon; for the same gospel is plainly taught in both of these books as I understand the word of God.
“And if any man doubt should he not carefully and honestly read and understand the same, before presuming to sit in judgment and condemning the light, which shineth in darkness, and showeth the way of eternal life as pointed out by the unerring hand of God.
“In the spirit of Christ who hath said: ‘Follow thou me, for I am the life, the light and the way.’ I submit this statement to the world. God in whom I trust being my judge as to the sincerity of my motives and the faith and hope that is in me of eternal life.
“My sincere desire is that the world may be benefited by this plain and simple statement of the truth.
“And all the honor be to the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.
“Richmond, Mo., March 19, 1881.”