I love the testimony of the witnesses as they powerfully declare an additional witness of the truth of this work. Again, those reading the book have to grapple with the powerful testimony that these men held even unto death. Were they collectively deceived or just after their own interests? The historical record does not reflect that
Again, from the start this book is a loaded gun and demands a serious readers attention. Unfortunately most non-members have not truly read the book and have not begun to grapple with these witnesses. These were men of respect in society and they swore upon their honor that the book was true.
As Elder Holland powerfully witnessed
Witnesses, even witnesses who were for a time hostile to Joseph, testified to their death that they had seen an angel and had handled the plates. “They have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man,” they declared. “Wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true.” (2009 October General Conference, Safety for the Soul, Sat. Afternoon Session – Jeffrey R. Holland)
Especially powerful is the witness of the three who not only saw the plates and an angel but heard the voice of the father!
And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. (Book of Mormon, Introduction)
This is a remarkable declaration since few men have been privileged in the history of the world to hear the voice of the father. Usually the father bears witness of the son, and this incident shows how important the Book of Mormon is as a witness of his only begotten. As shown in the first vision and this account the father himself is intimately involved in the process of restoration as he was in the meridian of time when his voice was heard on several dramatic occasions. The restoration is THAT important!
The coming forth of witnesses was prophecies in the text itself and it seems clear that these men knew that they were fulfilling a divinely mandated role.
12 Wherefore, at that day when the book shall be delivered unto the man of whom I have spoken, the book shall be hid from the eyes of the world, that the eyes of none shall behold it save it be that three witnesses shall behold it, by the power of God, besides him to whom the book shall be delivered; and they shall testify to the truth of the book and the things therein. (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi, Chapter 27)
These men knew that they were under command of god to bear witness of this work and their lord
And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. (Book of Mormon, Introduction)
From this they did not shirk but were true to the end!
May we also be as strong in our defense of truth. May we be bold in our declaration that this work is true and fearless in inviting others to come and gain a personal witness for themselves.