Don't skip the prelude! Last year at this time I had just finished writing, directing, and starring in a theatrical production of "Christmas with the Smiths". I don't think my testimony of Joseph Smith will ever be the same. After reading thousands of pages of Church History, personal journals, and eye-witness accounts of his time, I have come to feel that the prophet Joseph Smith is more human and more real than I ever before imagined.
So, as I read the Title page, the Witnesses testimony, and the Introduction, I see them as though they were events that were happening or being recorded afresh. The angel Moroni's "instruction and intelligence" during the "interviews" with Joseph Smith each year were not just kept to himself, but you find out by reading from his Mother's writings that young Joseph shared these things with his family in the evenings to pass the time.
You wonder if the Witnesses were afraid to sign their names to the document, or were they more fearful of the consequences if they let down the powers of heaven that allowed them to see what they did.
Even Joseph Smith's testimony comes alive when he states: "I soon found out the reason why I had received such strict charges to keep them safe, and why it was that the messenger had said that when I had done what was required at my hand, he would call for them. For no sooner was it known that I had them, than the most strenuous exertions were used to get them from me. Every stratagem that could be invented was resorted to for that purpose." Just leaving the place where he obtained the plates and getting back to his wife who awaited him with horse and wagon in the middle of the night, Joseph was attacked by assailants. But the miracles were not only in the escapes from constant danger. To me the miracles were in the ways the plates could be taken and given again on at least two occasions to keep them safe until, as Joseph says, "by the wisdom of God, they remained safe in my hands, until I had accomplished by them what was required at my hand."