Joseph Smith was Unable to Translate the
Golden Plates When There was Contention with Emma
David Whitmer explains how Joseph had to be humble, contrite, free of contention and in tune with the Holy Ghost for the translators to work.
"He [Joseph Smith] was a religious and straightforward man. He had to be; for he was illiterate and he could do nothing of himself. He had to trust in God. He could not translate unless he was humble and possessed the right feelings towards everyone. To illustrate so you can see. One morning when he was getting ready to continue the translation, something went wrong about the house and he was put out about it. Something that Emma, his wife, had done. Oliver and I went up stairs and Joseph came up soon after to continue the translation, but he could not do anything. He could not translate a single syllable. He went down stairs, out into the orchard, and made supplication to the Lord; was gone about an hour--came back to the house, asked Emma's forgiveness and then came up stairs where we were and then the translation went on all right. He could do nothing save he was humble and faithful."
"At times when Brother Joseph would attempt to translate he would look into the hat in which the stone was placed, he found he was spiritually blind and could not translate. He told us that his mind dwelt too much on earthly things, and various causes would make him incapable of proceeding with the translation. When in this condition he would go out and pray, and when he became sufficiently humble before God, he could then proceed with the translation. Now we see how very strict the Lord is, and how he requires the heart of man to be just right in his sight before he can receive revelation from him."
David Whitmer, "Address to All Believers in Christ", March 19, 1881
David Whitmer statement to Wm. H. Kelley, G. A. Blakeslee, of Gallen, Michigan, September 15th, 1882
Braden and Kelley Debate on Divine Origin of Book of Mormon, p, 186. 1884
B. H. Roberts, "Defense of the Faith and the Saints", Vol.1,