There is an amazing new find discussed in the Juvenile Instructor: a letter written in 1829 by Oliver Cowdery giving his testimony of seeing the original plates of the Book of Mormon.
The letter is complex, including responses to past letters, but here is the highlight in my opinion:
“You also wished Mr. Harris to inform you respecting his seeing this book, whether there could not possibly have been some juggling at the bottom of it. A few words on that point may suffice.—
“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, [who] ascend [descended I suppose] out of the midst of heaven.”
“Now if this is human juggling—judge ye.”
Juggling is an early 19th century term that referred to people trying to fool each other.
So, in the clearest terms possible, Oliver Cowdery in this new letter is reaffirming his testimony that he did indeed see the plates, that he saw an angel and that Joseph Smith could not have fooled him in any way. Take that, Fawn Brodie!
Readers may want to keep in mind that Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris and David Whitmer all left the Church at one point or another, but none of them ever recanted his testimony that they were shown the plates by an angel. Oliver Cowdery later rejoined the Church.
Before he died, Oliver Cowdery reaffirmed his witness of the truth of the Book of Mormon. From the Wikipedia account of Cowdery’s life:
Shortly before Cowdery died of a respiratory illness, he was visited by Jacob Gates, an early Mormon leader in the church, who inquired about his witness concerning the Book of Mormon. Cowdery reaffirmed his witness saying,
“Jacob, I want you to remember what I say to you. I am a dying man, and what would it profit me to tell you a lie? I know,’ said he, ‘that this Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God. My eyes saw, my ears heard, and my understanding was touched, and I know that whereof I testified is true. It was no dream, no vain imagination of the mind—it was real”.
This new letter shows that Cowdery’s testimony remained firm from 1829 until his death.