On my passage from Beyrut to this place (Jaffa) night before last, at one o’clock, as I was meditating on the deck of the vessel, as she was beating down against a sultry wind, a very bright glittering sword appeared in the heavens, about six feet in length, with a beautiful hilt, as plain and complete as any cut you ever saw; and what is still more remarkable, an arm with a perfect hand stretched itself out, and took hold of the hilt of the sword. The appearance really made my hair rise, and the flesh, as it were, crawl on my bones. The Arabs made a wonderful outcry at the sight. Allah! Allah! Allah! [O Lord, O Lord, O Lord] was their exclamation all over the vessel. I mention this because you know there is a commandment of God for me, which says, “Unto you it shall be given to know the signs of the times, and the sign of the coming of the Son of Man.”
Oliver Cowdery went with the Prophet Joseph when he deposited these plates. Joseph did not translate all of the plates; there was a portion of them sealed, which you can learn from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. When Joseph got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the hill Cumorah, which he did. Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large and spacious room. He says he did not think, at the time, whether they had the light of the sun or artificial light; but that it was just as light as day. They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up in the corners and along the walls. The first time they went there the sword of Laban hung upon the wall; but when they went again it had been taken down and laid upon the table across the gold plates; it was unsheathed, and on it was written these words: “This sword will never be sheathed again until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God and his Christ.” I tell you this as coming not only from Oliver Cowdery, but others who were familiar with it, and who understood it just as well as we understand coming to this meeting, enjoying the day, and by and by we separate and go away, forgetting most of what is said, but remembering some things. So is it with other circumstances in life. I relate this to you, and I want you to understand it. I take this liberty of referring to those things so that they will not be forgotten and lost. Carlos Smith was a young man of as much veracity as any young man we had, and he was a witness to these things. Samuel Smith saw some things, Hyrum saw a good many things, but Joseph was the leader.