Lucy Mack Smith Account:
On the 22d of September 1824, Joseph again visited the place, where he found the plates the year before; and supposing, that the only thing required in order to possess them until the time for their translation, was, to be able to keep the commandments of God, and as he firmly believed that he could keep every commandment which had been given him, he fully expected to carry them home with him. Therefore, having arrived at the place and uncovered them, he put forth his hand and took them up; but, on starting off with them, the unhappy thought darted through his mind: that probably there were something else in the box besides the plates, which would be of some advantage in a precuniary point of view; So, [p. 87]
in the moment of excitement; he laid them down very carefully to cover the box, lest some one might happen that way and get whatever there might be remaining in it; and, after covering it, he turned around to take the record again, but behold it was gone, and where he knew not, neither did he know by what means it had been taken from him. At this he was much alarmed— he kneeled down, & asked the Lord, why the record had been taken from him; whereupon the angel of the Lord appeared to him, and told him, that he had not done, as he had been commanded: in a former revelation he had been commanded, not to lay the plates down, or put them for a moment out of his hands, until he got into the house and deposited them in a chest or trunk, with a good lock and key; but, contrary to this, he had laid them down, with the view of securing some fancied or imaginary treasure that remained, and thus had broken the commandment of God.
Joseph, in the hour of excitement, was overcome by the powers of darkness, and forgot the injunction that had been laid upon him.
He had some farther conversation with the angel at this interview; after which he was permitted to raise the stone again, when he beheld the plates as before: he immediately reached forth his hand to take them; but instead of getting them as he expected, he was hurled back upon the ground with great violence. When he recovered the angel was gone; and he arose and returned to the house, weeping with grief and disappointment.
Being aware that we expected him to bring the plates home with him, he was greatly troubled, [p. 88]
fearing that we might doubt his having seen them. When he entered the house my husband asked him, if he had obtained the plates. He answered, ‘No, father, I could not get them.”
His father then said: “Did you see them?
“Yes, returned Joseph, ‘I saw them, but could not take them”
“I would have taken them,” rejoined his father, with much earnestness, “if I had been in your place.”
“Why’ replied Joseph, in quite a subdued tone’ you do not know what you say; I could not get them, for the angel of the Lord would not let me.”