Sunday, March 19, 2017

Martin Harris and the Book of Mormon

I don't know a lot about Martin Harris, but I've been learning much more about him through this Primary class than I had ever known about him before. For example, I knew that he had been responsible for the loss of the 116 pages, and that it had cost him his role as Joseph Smith's scribe, and I knew that he was one of the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, but I wasn't sure exactly how that all worked out until last week.

Last week, I learned that when Joseph Smith and the soon-to-be Three Witnesses gathered for the prophesied revelation to take place, it didn't happen at first. They prayed, but Angel Moroni didn't come. They tried again and still got no answer. Martin Harris felt that he was the reason the revelation wasn't happening, so he went off on his own to pray. Sure enough, after Martin Harris left the group, the Angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith and the other two of the Three Witnesses and showed them the plates. After that, Joseph Smith joined Martin Harris and they both prayed earnestly, and Moroni ultimately appeared to Martin Harris as well, so he, too, could witness the Gold Plates.

Martin Harris repented, and now I'm learning that that's not all he did. Though he was no longer involved in the translation of the Gold Plates, he sold 151 acres of land to raise the $3000 needed to pay for the initial printing of the Book of Mormon. $3000 is a lot of money nowadays, and it would have been worth even more back then. Selling his land to pay for the publication was a huge sacrifice for Martin Harris, and his willingness to make that sacrifice says a lot about his character and his dedication to the cause.

Now, I've heard that Martin Harris left the church eventually, and I look forward to learning more about that. Specifically, I'm eager to learn whether or not it's true, and, if it is true, I'm interested in learning how and why it happened. However, regardless of what happened later in his life, Martin Harris was deeply involved in the production of the Book of Mormon during this part of the story. He was the first scribe to help Joseph Smith translate the plates, he was one of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, and he paid at least most of the cost for printing the first 5000 copies of the Book of Mormon. Whatever faults he may have had or later gained, Martin Harris was instrumental to the  publication of the Book of Mormon and he never denied its truthfulness.

It's easy to judge Martin Harris by the mistakes he has made, but he has done a lot of good, too. Similarly, it's easy to judge others by their mistakes while failing to see their good sides. So, let's not be so quick to judge others and think badly about them. There is good in everyone, and too much of it gets taken for granted or forgotten.

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