A Vision of the Gold Plates of the Book of Mormon
By John Landers
We heard the first sound of the restored gospel through my wife’s brother, John Cairns, who had been baptized by Father Blakeslee. John preached one sermon to us, and I believed what he preached to be the truth, and told him so. Some time after, a traveling elder came that way, and I went to hear him preach. At the close of his sermon he bore a strong testimony to the truth of the work, and holding up the three books—Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants—he testified that he knew them to be all sacred, and that they all agreed in teaching the same doctrine.
After the service I invited the man home with me, and he went. One of my first questions was, “How can you say you know these books are true?”
He answered by relating to me how he had seen a vision concerning the plates, and when he had finished I said, “Well, that may be satisfactory to you, but your knowledge will not suffice for me. If I had such a vision, I should know.” He rose and advanced to me, saying, “I want to prophesy upon your head,” and laying his hands upon my head, he prophesied that I should have as great, as certain a knowledge, as he had.
I heard him preach four discourses, and while listening to the fourth, the Spirit of the Lord bore witness that he was the servant of God and that it was my duty to obey. I was baptized on the seventh day of October 1836.
A conference was called in November and I was ordained an elder. I immediately formed a circuit and began to travel, preaching every night. My nephew, a young man, traveled and labored with me. One night we had appointed a meeting at a private house. After the meeting was closed, a man came to me and asked me how this doctrine that I was preaching came into the world, and I told him in response all that I had been told concerning it and the origin of the Book of Mormon. The man sat down beside me, and just then my brother’s son arose and began speaking in tongues, and immediately I was carried away in vision and stood on the hill of Cumorah.
I looked and saw the box containing the plates. I stood at the southeast of the box, and the cover was removed from the southeast to the northwest corner, so that I was enabled to look into the box. The box was made of six stones, a bottom stone, a top one and four side stones; at the corners and edges they were joined by a black cement. The bottom of the box was covered by the breastplate; in the center of the box and resting on the breastplate, were three pillars of the same black substance that was used to cement the stones.
Upon the pillars rested the plates which shone like bright gold. I saw also lying in the box a round body, wrapped in a white substance, and this I knew to be the ball, or directors, which so many years ago guided Lehi and his family to this land. The top stone of the box was smooth on the inner surface as were the others, but on the top it was rounded.
All this was described by the young man speaking in tongues, and as he talked I understood all he said, for I saw it in the vision. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy that had been pronounced upon my head, and the Spirit of the Lord said to me that this had been granted me that I might speak with certain knowledge when questioned concerning the origin of the Book of Mormon and the latter day work. (Vision 23:23; Autumn Leaves 3:68)