“You Shall Have a View of the Plates, . . . and after That You Have Obtained Faith, and Have Seen Them with Your Eyes, You Shall Testify of Them, by the Power of God”

Doctrine and Covenants 17:1–5

1 Behold, I say unto you, that you must rely upon my word, which if you do with full purpose of heart, you shall have a view of the plates, and also of the breastplate, the sword of Laban, the Urim and Thummim, which were given to the brother of Jared upon the mount, when he talked with the Lord face to face, and the miraculous directors which were given to Lehi while in the wilderness, on the borders of the Red Sea.
2 And it is by your faith that you shall obtain a view of them, even by that faith which was had by the prophets of old.
3 And after that you have obtained faith, and have seen them with your eyes, you shall testify of them, by the power of God;
4 And this you shall do that my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., may not be destroyed, that I may bring about my righteous purposes unto the children of men in this work.
5 And ye shall testify that you have seen them, even as my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., has seen them; for it is by my power that he has seen them, and it is because he had faith.

President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:

“These [Three Witnesses] were to view the plates, Urim and Thummim, the breastplate, which is a part of the Urim and Thummim, the sword of Laban and the Liahona, by the gift of faith. This required humble and fervent prayer. Martin Harris, who had been granted the privilege of being a witness with Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, in viewing the plates and bearing testimony to the world, had to sincerely humble himself before this privilege was granted. The object of this witness . . . was that the world might be placed under obligation before the Lord, for these witnesses were to bear testimony ‘by the power of God’ [D&C 17:3]. [See History of the Church, 1:52–59.] Moreover, the purpose of this testimony was that Joseph Smith might not be destroyed; in other words, had Joseph Smith stood alone without these witnesses, he could not have fulfilled the law, and his testimony would have fallen to the ground and he and his work would have been destroyed; but this testimony buoyed him up and makes his story binding on all who hear it.”

(Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. [1953], 1:44–45.)