Pictured is the reconstructed home of Joseph and Emma Smith in Harmony, Pennsylvania.
Joseph and Emma Smith moved from Palmyra, New York to Harmony, Pennsylvania to escape persecution. Joseph had been commanded to continue translating the plates, but the tasks of everyday life prevented the work from moving forward. Joseph asked the Lord to send him a scribe.
During this same time, Oliver Cowdrey found work in Palmyra as a school teacher. It was the custom for the school teachers of that day to live with the family of the children he taught. As a result, Oliver lived with the Smith family where he learned of Joseph Smith’s First Vision and the translation of the plates. He was fascinated with what he was learning and wanted to meet the prophet himself.
Oliver would later record that he had received a spiritual witness of the truthfulness of the Restoration and Joseph’s prophetic calling through humble prayer while in Palmyra, before ever meeting the Prophet.
After arriving in Harmony, Oliver began working full time as Joseph’s scribe. Oliver frequently asked Joseph if he could see the plates to which Joseph would always reply that he was not allowed to show the plates to Oliver at that time. Oliver desired to see the plates so he could obtain a witness of the work. Finally, in answer to Oliver’s petitions, Joseph received a revelation from the Lord for Oliver which is now recorded as Doctrine and Covenants Section 6.
In Section 6, the Lord reminds Oliver that he had already received a witness that the Book of Mormon was true and that Joseph was a prophet. Verses 22-23 says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?”
Oliver would later say in response to this revelation that he had not told anyone of his secret prayer in Palmyra regarding the truthfulness of Joseph’s work. Yet, the Lord reminded him of the spiritual witness he had obtained which was greater than if he had seen the plates.
In today’s busy, chaotic, information overloaded world, sometimes the easy thing to do is to turn to Google, Facebook, or others to determine what is truth and what is not. There is a trap set to seek answers beyond the promised spiritual witness each of Heavenly Father’s children are entitled to. President Uchtdorf has said, “Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.”
It is important in today’s busy world to take time to remember the moments when we have felt the spirit testify to us that this gospel is true. We need to keep fresh in our minds the times we have felt that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is the prophet of the Restoration, and that Jesus Christ is our Savior and the head of this church. Not only do we need to remember our past spiritual witnesses, but it is just as important to create moments when we can witness again the feelings of the spirit testifying that these things are true. And then we need to “doubt our doubts” because what greater witness can we have than that given to us from a loving Heavenly Father?