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Lesson 55 - Professor Anthon's Testimony

TitleLesson 55 - Professor Anthon's Testimony
Publication TypeManual Lesson
Year of Publication1898
Corporate AuthorsDeseret Sunday School Union
Manual TitleDeseret Sunday School Union Leaflets
PublisherGeorge Q. Cannon & Sons Company
Place PublishedSalt Lake City
KeywordsAnthon, Charles; Early Church History; Harris, Martin; Scripture Study

Having obtained the records, Joseph found that a very laborious undertaking was before him—that of translating them. His main difficulty lay, not so much in his lack of knowledge of the language in which they were written, (God supplied that deficiency) as in his lack of means to carry on his work. As has before been stated, Joseph was under the necessity of laboring daily for the support of his family and when he began the translation of the records, not only was this support taken away, but other expenses were necessarily incurred in the performance of the labor. In addition to this, persecution increased, and the Prophet saw that he must remove to another place where he could be practically undisturbed in his work.

Having made up his mind to move to the home of his wife’s parents, he was thinking how he could procure money to accomplish the journey, when Martin Harris, a farmer, advanced the means, and Joseph set out for Pennsylvania- Twice on the way his wagon was searched by evil men, endeavoring to find the plates, but they were unsuccessful.

Joseph now resumed the work of translation, by the aid of the Urim and Thummim, which made up the deficiency occasioned by his want of learning. Martin Harris again came to his assistance, but Martin’s faith was not very strong, and he desired to make a test of the truthfulness of the record which Joseph had found. The Prophet had copied some of the characters from the plates on sheets of paper, some of them accompanied by the translation. Harris asked that he might take these, and his request was granted.

Proceeding to New York City, Martin Harris showed these writings to a learned linguist, Professor Charles Anthon, asking his opinion of them. Anthon stated that they were true Egyptian characters, and that as far as he could judge the translation was correct ; he wrote a certificate to this effect and presented it to Martin. The Professor then asked where the writings were obtained, and who translated them. He was told that they had been delivered by an angel to a young man, and he had translated them by the gift and power of God. Anthon asked permission to see the certificate, when he immediately destroyed it, declaring that the day of angels was past.

He asked Martin to bring him the record itself, that he might see if it was genuine, but he was told that part of it was sealed, and God had forbidden that it should be exposed to the view of anyone whom he did not designate. This seems to have touched Professor Anthon’s pride, for he said in a sneering manner, "I cannot read a sealed book.” Thus he fulfilled, without knowing it, the prophecy contained in the first verse of our text.

This testimony was still farther confirmed by a Doctor Mitchell, another learned man; and, convinced by the statements of these men perhaps more than by the Spirit of God, Martin Harris offered to write from Joseph’s dictation. This offer was accepted, and the work of translation continued.

Scripture Reference

Isaiah 29:11-12