Smith needed someone to step up and testify of his revelations. Eleven
men had testified earlier of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
All 11 had seen the plates. Three had seen an angel and heard the voice
of God.But in November of 1831 there was a new need for
boldness. Who would put their names and reputations on the line? Who
would stand up and let the world know that they knew that a collection
of Joseph's revelations, the Book of Commandments, was true?For
178 years the names of these testifiers were unknown. Their names were
erased from memory. Now, with the publication of the latest volume of
the Joseph Smith Papers: "Revelations and Translations: Manuscript
Revelation Books," their names are made known to the world.It
began on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 1831 in Hiram, Ohio when Joseph called a
special conference of elders. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints was small then, about the size of a large ward. Ten elders,
including Joseph, attended the conference to discuss the publication of
Joseph Smith's revelations. They voted to print 10,000 copies and
adjourned for the afternoon.During the break, Joseph received a
revelation, God's own preface to the Book of Commandments: "For verily
the voice of the Lord is unto all men, and there is none to escape; and
there is no eye that shall not see, neither ear that shall not hear,
neither heart that shall not be penetrated" (Doctrine and Covenants
1:2).When the conference reconvened, Joseph said that since the
Lord had given the great blessing of so many revelations, the elders
should decide what testimony they were willing to attach to the book.
After several present arose and said they were willing to testify to
the world, Joseph prepared a statement for the witnesses to sign. The
contemporaneous minutes described it as a revelation.The conference adjourned for the day. And then the trouble began."I
think they hope for an experience similar to one that the three
witnesses experienced: 'We'll bear testimony if we can see an angel or
see the presence of God,'" said Steven C. Harper, one of the three
volume editors for this Joseph Smith Papers volume. "'Maybe we can have
a marvelous experience where God would confirm to us the truthfulness
of the Book of Commandments.'"Joseph remembered later that "some
conversation was had concerning revelation and language." The potential
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