Quote #4 – John A. Clark

Quote #4 - John A. Clark Quoting a Palmyra Gentleman Quoting Martin Harris (1840)

I saw them with the eye of faith.

CES Letter, Page 93

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When Martin Harris was asked, “But did you see them [plates] with your natural, your bodily eyes, just as you see this pencil-case in my hand? Now say no or yes to this.” Martin answered, “I did not see them as I do that pencil-case, yet I saw them with the eye of faith; I saw them just as distinctly as I see anything around me, though at the time they were covered over with a cloth.” – Origin and History of the Mormonites, p.406

Why couldn’t Martin just simply answer “yes”?

CES Letter, Page 94

This is from a letter from John A. Clark, Letter to Dear Brethren, 31 August 1840, The Episcopal Recorder (Philadelphia) 18 (12 September 1840): 98-99. Reprinted in John A. Clark, Gleanings By the Way (Philadelphia: W. J. & J. K. Simon, 1842), 256-58; The Visitor, or Monthly Instructor, for 1841 (London: Religious Tract Society, 1841), 237-39. It is quoted twice in The CES Letter, all in red and underlined.

To know how much this testimony [of three witnesses] is worth I will state one fact. A gentleman in Palmyra, bred to the law, a professor of religion, and of undoubted veracity told me that on one occasion, he appealed to Harris and asked him directly,--"Did you see those plates?" Harris replied, he did. "Did you see the plates, and the engraving on them with your bodily eyes?" Harris replied, "Yes, I saw them with my eyes,--they were shown unto me by the power of God and not of man." "But did you see them with your natural,--your bodily eyes, just as you see this pencil-case in my hand? Now say no or yes to this." Harris replied,--"Why I did not see them as I do that pencil-case, yet I saw them with the eye of faith; I saw them just as distinctly as I see any thing around me,--though at the time they were covered over with a cloth

This letter is a recollection at least ten years after the reported event would have occurred.

John A. Clark possessed obvious biases against Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.  Elected pastor of Palmyra's Zion's Episcopal Church in 1824, he resigned in 1826 but was still living in the area in 1827 and 1828, when Martin Harris came to his home and they they reportedly conversed. By 1840 Clark had become one of the editors of the Episcopal Recorder and rector of St. Andrew's Church in Philadelphia. After visiting friends in Palmyra in August 1840, he began writing a series of letters to the Episcopal Recorder in Philadelphia "detailing some facts connected with the rise and origin of Mormonism.”

All three witnesses agree that the plates were shown to them in a vision that was presented by an angel during the daytime so it was a spiritual experiences their eyes perceived.

David Whitmer related: “A bright light enveloped us where we were, that filled [the woods as] at noon day, and there in a vision or in the spirit, we saw and heard just as it is stated in my testimony in the Book of Mormon.”[75]

Oliver Cowdery described it: “It was a clear, open beautiful day, far from any inhabitants, in a remote field, at the time we saw the record, of which it has been spoken, brought and laid before us, by an angel, arrayed in glorious light, ascend out of the midst of heaven.”

“Spiritual eyes” is an ambiguous term. The Apostle Paul described one of his visionary experience saying:  “whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth” (2 Cor.12:2-3). The CES Letter seems to demand a precise description of an interaction that is beyond the experience of almost all listeners. 

Of the eleven “evidences” given here in The CES Letter, two (like this) are cited twice.  Another three are simply references to John H. Gilbert’s writings. The CES Letter gives the appearance of eleven statements supporting its view, but in reality there are only seven.

This is an example of one of the more egregious misrepresentations in The CES Letter.It quotes a few statements from 8 of the 68 accounts and ignores the rest. Virtually all of them affirm that the Three Witnesses did see and angel and the plates. Click here.

68 separate references to the testimonies of the Three witnesses have been accumulated. There are no denials but there are six denials that they ever denied their testimonies. Click here.