Special Witnesses

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President Thomas S. Monson

We see today the beautifully and authentically restored Grandin Building situated in Palmyra, New York. The restoration of the Grandin Building had as its objective “to maintain the historical integrity of the building, while allowing the visitor to be enveloped in the history of the time.”

This is where the first edition of the Book of Mormon was printed, with the number of copies in this first edition totaling 5,000, an unusually large order for the rural printing business. Mr. E. B. Grandin had acquired a Smith Patented Improved Press from New York. The press featured new technology over the common presses of the day and offered the Prophet Joseph Smith the prospects of printing the Book of Mormon closer to his home.

Let’s turn back the pages of history that we might more fully appreciate one of civilization’s greatest wonders, namely the advent of movable type. Before Gutenberg discovered the possibilities of movable type, everything was printed with a quill pen, letter by letter, line by line, page by page. It was movable type from which Mr. Grandin printed the Book of Mormon. It was tediously composed by the hands of a skilled compositor, who learned from memory and experience every typeface, font, and size available. After the page was formed, it was inked and printed and then was available for binding.

The Lord brought forth the Book of Mormon at a period of time when printing methods would enhance its distribution far and wide. Modern-day printing presses now enable the Church to print and distribute millions of copies of the Book of Mormon each year.

May I share with you an experience I had many years ago in the southern area of the United States when, after a stake conference, a woman came forward and asked, “Do you know Elder Delbert L. Stapley?” I replied that he and I were Apostles of the Lord, serving together in the Master’s work. She then handed me a copy of the Book of Mormon which contained an inscription and the signature of Delbert L. Stapley. She indicated the volume had been given to her grandmother when Elder Stapley was a young missionary. She added, “Could you present this book to Elder Stapley and tell him hundreds of my grandmother’s descendants have been converted by this volume; and they, in turn, conveyed the message of the Book of Mormon to others.”

I presented that signed copy of the Book of Mormon to Elder Stapley. He listened attentively when I explained where and how it had been given to me. Quietly he examined his signature and said, “This is one of the happiest days of my life.”

It is my personal testimony that the Book of Mormon changes human lives. It is indeed another testament of Jesus Christ.

 

What a privilege to be here at the Hill Cumorah and to reflect on the momentous events that unfolded on September 22, 1827, when a plowboy prophet took a horse and wagon and, in the dark of night, rode to this hill, where he received an ancient record from the angel Moroni. In a remarkably short time, this untutored young man translated a record detailing 1,000 years of history and then prepared the Book of Mormon for public distribution.

The way of Joseph Smith was not without mean-spirited criticism or monumental effort. Joseph did not wilt, nor did he waver. He later declared: “By the wisdom of God, [the plates] remained safe in my hands, until I had accomplished by them what was required. … When, according to arrangements, the messenger called for them, I delivered them up to him” (JS—H 1:60).

This beautiful area of God’s garden attracts literally millions of visitors, most of whom come to see the Hill Cumorah Pageant. The visitor often comes with an attitude of curiosity. He or she departs with a soul touched by the Spirit of the Lord.

The Book of Mormon is a new witness of Jesus Christ. Its message spans the entire earth and brings its readers to a knowledge of truth. It answers that piercing and universal question best phrased by Job of old: “If a man die, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14).

Many years ago I was called to the bedside of Robert Williams, a young man who lay dying. His wife and their two children stood nearby. We were all trying to be brave, but tears were in our eyes. Robert asked me, “Where does my spirit go when I die?” I offered a silent prayer. I noticed on his bedside table a copy of the triple combination. I reached for the book and fanned the pages.

Suddenly I discovered that I had, with no effort on my part, stopped at the 40th chapter of Alma in the Book of Mormon. I read these words to Robert: “Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.

“And … the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow” (Alma 40:11–12).

As I continued to read about the Resurrection, a glow came to Robert’s face, a smile graced his lips, and his tired and ill body slept. I said good-bye to his wife and children. I next saw them at Robert Williams’s funeral. In those precious corridors of memory, I think back to that night when a young man pleaded for truth and, from the Book of Mormon, heard the answer to his question.

I read the words, but God turned the pages. Yes, our Heavenly Father does answer prayers, in His own time and in His own way. I bear an apostolic witness that Jesus is the Savior of the world and that He and His Father appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith to usher in this dispensation of the fulness of times, and so declare in His holy name, the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Special Witnesses