S A I N T S: “TOO MUCH TO SWALLOW”
“[Martin Harris] had come to Harmony seeking evidence of the plates, and he left with a revelation testifying of their reality. He could not use it in court, but… Later, when Martin stood before the judge, he offered a simple, powerful testimony. With a hand raised to heaven, he witnessed of the truth of the gold plates.”
~Saints: The Standard of Truth 1815-1846, 1:6:58~
The character of Martin Harris lends itself perfectly toward being the scapegoat and/or fall-guy for many troublesome aspects of early Mormonism. Even within its own pages, the official history of the church seems to be fine depicting him as being slightly off, even though the reality is that he was perhaps mentally deranged on a large scale.
He was, however, generous, loyal, and (at least ‘initially’) convinced of the truthfulness of the gospel. All these characteristics seem to be traits 21st century General Authorities find to be desirable.
One can hardly look at Martin’s life without noticing the glaring fault which is also desired by the church today: gullibility.
Martin had been hounding Joseph for an opportunity to see the plates. He’s received pressure at home, from his skeptical wife, Lucy Harris, to provide evidence of their existence, and the reader gets the feeling that Martin wonders how deep his pockets need to be as Joseph’s benefactor, before he can get a glimpse.
Of course, since the plates never really existed in any form, except perhaps as a prototype stack of crude tin sheets, there was no way Martin would EVER see them. Using his cunning art, Joseph placates Martin into accepting a ‘revelation’ in place of a peek.
As gullibility plays its part, Martin seems satisfied with the communication, and stands before a judge to declare the truthfulness of the gold plates; not because of seeing them, but because Joseph held a séance in his behalf.
The read is laughable: “seeking evidence of the plates… he left with a revelation.”
RE-rewrite: “It was becoming increasingly evident to Martin that the gold plates did not exist. No one had seen them, aside from Joseph himself. Martin had come to Harmony seeking evidence of the plates, and he instead, left with a revelation testifying of their reality. He could not use it in court, but… Later, when Martin stood before the judge, he offered a simple, powerful lie. With a hand raised to heaven, he witnessed of the truth of the gold plates, to which he had never laid eyes on.”