I don’t understand why some of the original witnesses (of the plates) of the Book of Mormon left the Church, but never recanted their testimony. If they saw the plates, and knew they were authentic, how could they leave? If this is too lengthy to answer here, would you please guide me to any LDS books on the subject? I am a convert with a strong testimony, but I believe we are required to increase our knowledge of all things pertaining to the Church.
We read in James 2:19,
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. Belief, or knowledge, is one thing. Obedience to principal is yet another. For various reasons, some of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon and others were disaffected. Every case of disobedience to principal, without exception, can be traced to some act or attitude of disobedience. If we succumb to pride or to other temptations, as the scriptures say,
And then in D&C 121:37:
…the heavens withdraw themselves and the Spirit of the Lord is grieved….
We may then make unwise choices that will leave us at odds with the principles of the gospel, and bereft of the faith that is required to follow the directions of the Lord’s servants. However, we cannot deny the knowledge of our own experiences. These brethren had seen the Plates; they had seen an angel and he testified to them of the validity of the work in which the Prophet was engaged. Although through their acts of disobedience they could not qualify for the blessings of the Lord, and in some cases were required to relinquish their membership in the Church, yet they could not deny what they knew to be true from their own experience.
The fact that they could not and would not deny what they had seen and knew to be true in the face of their hatred of the Prophet and their opposition to the Church is a great and powerful evidence of the truthfulness of that which they say they had witnessed. If they somehow had not seen the Plates nor conversed with an angel, but falsely admitted that they had, when they had turned against the Church they would have had every reason to disavow that to which they had earlier laid claim. They simply would not have maintained their testimonies of those sacred experiences if they had not been true.
Some of those brethren admitted their mistakes, repented of their actions, requested to be again admitted to the fellowship of the Church, and were baptized again, while others remained outside the Church until their dying day. Yet not one recanted their claims as witnesses to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Through their actions we are left with the sure knowledge that the Plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated do in reality exist, and that the Book translated from those Plates, is indeed the word of God. We can have full and complete confidence in the words of the Prophet that
I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.