I had previously been able to convince myself that the reason we don’t have the gold plates is because Joseph Smith, Jr would have been hunted to an even earlier death if he had kept them. Still, I, and I think every member, has a secret wish that the Lord would decide it was time to return the gold plates to the Church now that the threat is gone. But I convince myself that it unfortunately wouldn’t really ever happen — since it would, of course, eliminate the need for faith which is essential to salvation.
So, we don’t have the gold plates as evidence of Joseph Smith, Jr’s heavenly calling and gifts, but we do have the source material of another translation of his. If Joseph’s translation of the other sources are legitimate, then we should have much more confidence that he really did translate the Book of Mormon. The clearest example of this is the Book of Abraham. There are two other examples where Joseph Smith was presented with what appeared to be ancient texts, and he claimed to know the source and contents of the document through revelation. Nothing ended up in our Standard Works so they are less known than the Book of Abraham. They are the Kinderhook plates and the Greek Psalter. I won’t go into the details of those texts here, but please follow the links if you would like to learn about them.