Witnesses Never Denied Testimonies
CES Letter, Page 88
Several of the witnesses left the Church forever, while others returned, but none denied their testimonies of the things they had experienced with the Book of Mormon.
Oliver Cowdery described their situations: “A thousand things may be conjectured, but when a man declares openly, candidly, and seriously, of what he has seen, hefted and handled with his own hands, and that in the presence of a God who sees and knows the secrets of the heart, no man possessed of common reason and common sense, can doubt, or will be so vain as to dispute."
Multiple members of the witnesses insisted that they had not recanted their testimony, and denied that any of the other witnesses, with whom they remained in contact, had done so either.
John Whitmer wrote in 1876: “I have never heard that any one of the three, or eight witnesses ever denied the testimony that they have borne to the Book as published in the first edition of the Book of Mormon."
In an 1884 interview David Whitmer “felt very indignant while speaking of certain statements published recently to the effect that he and Oliver Cowdery had denied their statement as published in the Book of Mormon. This he denounced as false in every particular.” Then he said:
Oliver never wavered in his testimony, and when he was on his death bed, I was there, with many of his friends, until he passed away. He bore the same testimony on his dying bed that he had always borne through life, and earnestly called upon all to cleave to the truth revealed through the Prophet Joseph, and to serve the Lord. As for myself, I have never denied my testimony that is published in the Book of Mormon, for I know that God has revealed these things for the salvation of the children of men, and to Him belongs all the honor, the power and the glory.
All eleven Book of Mormon witnesses publicly reaffirmed their testimony as printed.
Richard Anderson described multiple accounts of all the Witnesses bearing testimony and reaffirming their published testimony and summarized: “The three Smiths who formally gave their names as seeing and handling the plates were the Prophet's father, Joseph Smith, Sr.; the Prophet's older brother, Hyrum; and his immediately younger brother, Samuel Harrison. They sometimes joined the other Book of Mormon witnesses to reaffirm their testimony printed in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon regarding lifting and turning the leaves of the plates. After quoting the published statements of the Three and Eight Witnesses, and describing the experience of the latter group, Lucy Smith relates, ‘The ensuing evening, we held a meeting, in which all the witnesses bore testimony to the facts as stated above.’ Two years later, in the period of dynamic preaching of the early elders, a conference was held near Cleveland, Ohio, remembered by Luke Johnson as follows: ‘At this conference the eleven witnesses to the Book of Mormon, with uplifted hands, bore their solemn testimony to the truth of that book, as did also the Prophet Joseph.’"
The CES Letter makes much of the fact that the witnesses were family members, and then ignores the implication—they were in an excellent position to know if someone had changed their testimony, because they continued to associate with these family members even if they apostatized. There is no evidence that any witness recanted.