The Shakers were a unique Christian group who fled persecution in England, arriving in America in the 18th Century. They believed that their founder, Ann Lee, was the second coming of Christ. The Shakers believed that God had both male and female aspects, and practiced equality of men and women at all levels in their organization. They were one of the first churches in America to integrate their congregations, involving both Blacks and Native Americans from the very start. Known for simple values, hard work, communal living and absolute celibacy, the Shakers went into a long decline during the 20th Century. They are only today represented by a few elders at one farm. It is difficult not to be moved by their sincere belief that any act, including dance, song, and even manual labor, can be an act of worship. – jbh
S H A K E R S
C O M P E N D I U M
ORIGIN, HISTORY,PRINCIPLES, RULES AND REGULATIONS,
GOVERNMENT, AND DOCTRINES
UNITED SOCIETY OF BELIEVERS IN CHRIST’S
WITH BIOGRAPHIES OF
WILLIAM LEE, JAS. WHITTAKER, J. HOCKNELL, J. MEACHAM,
AND LUCY WRIGHT
BY F. W. EVANS.
“O my soul, swallow down understanding, and devour wisdom;
for thous hast onoly time to live.” — Esdras
Originally Published: 1859
TO THE READER.
In respectful response to the often-expressed desire of the public, to have the information respecting Shakers and Shakerism, that is now spread through some five or six volumes, concentrated in a Compendium, this work has been prepared by the author and compiler, in union with and aided by, his Gospel friends.
It being, as stated in all previous publications by the Society, the settled faith of the Church, from the beginning, that its foundation was Divine REVELATION; and that the records of past Dispensations, and their revelations, can be understood and interpreted aright only by means of a present living revelation; we therefore feel ourselves untrammeled by the letter of yesterday, and write and express our views in accordance with the increasing light of to-day, as we hope and trust, subject to the dictates of “the Comforter,” or “Spirit of Truth,” dwelling and abiding in the Church, which is gradually, but surely and safely, leading it into the knowledge of “all truth.” For “in Christ are hid,” as we fully believe, “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Committee of Revision. F.W. EVANS
- CHAPTER I. — Origin of the Society
- CHAPTER II. — Rise, Progress, and Present State of the Society
- CHAPTER III. — Qualifications for Membership, and Rules and Regulations
- CHAPTER. IV. — Characteristics and Doctrines of Jesus Christ
- CHAPTER V. — Character of the Primitive Christian Church
- CHAPTER VI. — Fall of the Primitive Christian Church
- CHAPTER VII. — Rise of the “Two Witnesses”
- CHAPTER VIII.— Character of the Church of Christ’s Second Appearing
- CHAPTER IX. — Mode of Worship
- CHAPTER X. — Doctrines of the Church of Christ’s Second Appearing
- CHAPTER XI. — Ann Lee
- CHAPTER XII. — William Lee
- CHAPTER XIII. — James Whittaker
- CHAPTER XIV. — John Hocknell
- CHAPTER XV. — Joseph Meacham and Lucy Wright
The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, at this day, stand before the public in a very different attitude from what they have ever done at the time of issuing any of their previous publications.
Many of the most obnoxious features of the Society — such as drew down upon it the opposition and secret or open persecution, particularly of religious professors — are now becoming the popular views of the times, at least of all the progressive minds of the age.
Again. The ignorant or willful misconceptions of what were the actual doctrines, principles, and faith of the Society, are being corrected; and the false judgings of certain discrepancies existing between the profession and practice of the people, are almost entirely removed from the public mind.
It is no longer believed that Ann Lee was a “witch” , because she was known to possess supernatural powers; or that the Shakers think her to be something more than human — equal to Christ; or that they worship her, etc., etc.
It is now generally known, that we do not condemn the marriage institution, in its own order, and when governed by it true laws; but simply hold that it is not a Christian institution.
The wonderful and almost incredible openings of light and truth pertaining to this and the external spiritual world, and which address themselves almost exclusively to the external man, by sensuous facts and physical demonstrations, and which, in former times and other ages, were suppressed and condemned, as the effect of unlawful communings with the powers of darkness, are now being received with joy and gladness by thousands of person, as proof of a telegraphic communication established between the two worlds; and no more to be disputed or doubted than is the existence of that marvelous submarine telegraphic cable that connects the Eastern and Western continents.
In all these advances of the human mind in knowledge relating to the mundane and supermundane planes, we find cause for hope and encouragement that the time is drawing nigh when the interior and truly spiritual powers of the souls of our fellow-creatures will be awakened as from a long night of slumber, and when human hearts will be touched with the fire of conviction for sin, from the altar of religious truth, quickening them into that affection for each other that shall burn up selfishness, and draw them, as with strong cords of love, into communities of brotherhood and sisterhood, not only under a Christian profession, but also into a Christian practice — a CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
All truth, being primarily of Divine origin, is fit food for human souls when ” rightly divided” and properly used. The observation of natural facts and phenomena on the earth plane, and the orderly arrangement of such facts, together with the scientific deduction of general principles therefrom, which can be applied to the use and benefit of mankind, are, in their place and order, right and good.
With such knowledge we have no war; for “we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.” All truth, when unadulterated with human pride and self, is a unit. And true earthly knowledge, talents, and capacities bear the same relation to the Divine revelation of spiritual good and truth that the vessels which the widow borrowed bore to her cruse of oil. There was no limit to the flow of the precious oil, except the number and size of the vessels that contained it.
It is man’s duty in this world to cultivate his natural powers and capacities, solely with reference to the rendering himself the better recipient of the truths of the higher spheres, and of the elements of eternal existence. The Divine revelations of former Dispensations were limited and molded by the knowledge of this natural world of the mediums and people of those times.
“Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians;” and their ideas of geology and astronomy governed, in a measure, his account of creation, though written by inspiration; as was also that of the lengthening of the day when the ” sun stood still upon the mount Gibeon, and the moon in the valley of Ajalon.”
Let us all, then, be diligent to add “to our faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness, which is profitable unto all things, of the life that now is, and of that which is to come;” and thus we shall abound in that true love to God which results in loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.
SHAKERS AND SHAKERISM.
ORIGIN OF THE SOCIETY.
1. SHAKERISM is claimed, by its advocates, to be the ultimate, or second Christian church — the Millennium.
2. The inquiry naturally arises, What elements produced the Shaker Societies? To meet this, reference must be had to historical facts bearing upon the subject. But let the following proposition be first considered: namely, that at a given part, point, and time of every cycle of human affairs, in all ages, nations, and tribes, there have invariably arisen an order and people analogous (in some measure) to the American Shakers. No matter what the name by which history designates them; they are easily recognized by certain distinguishing marks.
3. China, Persia, India had their ascetics; Rome, her sibyls and vestals; Egypt, her Therapeutics; and Judea, the self-denying Essenes, among whom it is thought Jesus received his education and early training. Speaking of these, Philo says: “In many parts of the earth, such a people exist; for it is fitting that both Greek and Barbarian share in the absolute good.” Pliny the Elder says: “The Essenes were a sort of people who lived without women and money.”
4. As the lowest types of humanity are those who seek happiness the most exclusively in the indulgence of the baser and animal propensities, so the saints of all times have moved the farthest in the opposite direction. Abstinence from sexual intercourse, from private property, from war, oaths, and the honors of the world, have ever been the chief characteristics of ascetics, in all ages.
5. The principles and maxims of Jesus, as explained and confirmed by his own teaching and practice, and measurably by that of his first twelve converts and most intimate friends, the Apostles, seem to give countenance to the idea, that some great and important truths underlie all these (often) abnormal operations of mind that, from age to age, were struggling for expression and embodiment in human action.
6. The whole of human history is comprised within four large cycles, three of which are already past, and the fourth has commenced. Within these exist an almost infinity of smaller cycles, as was well and beautifully illustrated to the prophet Ezekiel, in a vision of a number of wheels revolving within wheels.
7. Every cycle of human history, whether on a low or high plane, or small or large scale, has its point of highest development: first, of the physical; devoted to the supply of the mere animal or bodily wants: second, of the moral; which subserves a negative protective influence to the physical: third, of the intellectual powers; by which tools and machinery are created (constituting man a tool-making animal), which facilitate and increase the means of physical subsistence, and greatly enhance the enjoyment of the moral faculties, on the one hand; and, on the other, they prepare the soul for the opening of its spiritual capacities; by which means an intelligent union and connection is formed and sustained between the visible and invisible earths, or worlds, and their respective inhabitants.
8. All these, combined, form the basis of the final unfoldment of the last and highest property and faculty of the soul, viz. the religious. Consequently the quality and abstract truthfulness of the purest form of religion evolved in any given cycle, was determined by the time of day in the great year of progress, and the number and plane of the cycle. But, whether higher or lower, it was, in its degree, the witness of the Church of the future — a lively type of Shakerism, the ultimate Christian, or Millennial, Church, for the redemption of our race.
9. Whenever, in a cycle, the culminating point of Spiritualism has been reached, then the religious element has moved thereupon, and finally ultimated itself in a Church, which was emphatically the Church of God of that cycle and period.
10. The flood of Noah was merely the greatest spiritual-physical manifestation of the cycle of that day. The building of the ark was the organization of the religious constructive elements that moved upon the spiritual. In the next great cycle the spiritual elements had, in Egypt, progressed and ripened up in the days of Moses. The ten plagues were ten spiritual-physical manifestations; and Moses came off conqueror, in his contests with the Egyptian magicians (spiritual media), because he was vitalized by the religious or controlling element of that order.
11. Under its influence, Moses organized the whole nation of the Hebrews into a highly spiritualized religious body, or Church; the most perfect that had ever been established upon earth, for the simple yet significant reason, that he had been previously fully developed in all the preceding preparatory degrees of the cycle. He “was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in word and deed,” having been educated under the auspices of the royal family.
12. The third great cycle culminated in Spiritualism, in the days of Jesus. That such is the fact, is abundantly proved by the testimony of profane as well as sacred history. Dr. Lightfoot observes: “Judea was so infested with spirits at that time, that thousands of persons were obsessed by them; many of whom Jesus and his disciples released.” Josephus, an eye-witness, relates that sights, sounds, and voices were seen and heard by the whole city of Jerusalem. And, according to the Scriptural records, dumb animals were sometimes taken possession of by spirits.
13. Spiritual-physical manifestations attended the whole life of John and Jesus, from their conception to their death. The religious elements of that cycle were concentrated in Jesus, as an individual. At the day of Pentecost, the same elements concentred, and were organized in the most spiritually endowed body of people, or Church, that any cycle had ever been capable of producing.
14. Jesus and his Apostles continually referred to the next, or fourth and last, great cycle as the time for “the restitution of all things, which God had spoken by the mouth of all his prophets [in all nations and cycles] since the world began.” It was at the spiritual acme of this cycle, that the Christ (whom John saw as a dove appear to Jesus) would come again, to some other individual. This second coming, the Shakers claim, must of necessity have been to a woman, because the race is female as well as male.
15. We will endeavor so show, in its right place, from proper historical data, that the rise of the Shaker Church, or order, has been agreeable to the premises above laid down; as has also the formation of all the Shaker communities.
16. Dr. Adam Clarke says: “Every dispensation of God must begin in some one individual, and at some particular time and place.” That is correct. A true Church could have originated only by a new revelation from God to some one person; and then by that person reducing the truths and requirements thereof to practice.
17. Shaker Societies always originate in the spiritual part of the cycle. There is, first, a general agitation of the spiritual elements; out of that arises a movement of the religious elements in man. This leads to the formation of one or more Shaker Societies, according to the order of the cycle that is revolving. Therefore the Shakers now confidently expect the time has nearly arrived for a further extension of their order.
18. The natural and spiritual worlds are now coming into a state of rapport with each other; and the spiritual faculties in man, which have for a long time been in a state of dormancy, are being aroused and developed very extensively; and soon the religious nature of man will be quickened, and religious revivals will commence on a grander and more effective scale than have ever been witnessed; for they will rest upon the basis of, and spread over the ground prepared by, Spiritualism.
19. In the beginning of the eighteenth century, Spiritualism broke out on the continent of Europe, and was followed by most remarkable religious revivals; out of which arose the “French prophets.” These were wrought upon in a very extraordinary manner; not only in their minds, but also in their physical systems. They had visions and trances, and were subject to violent agitations of body. Men and women, and even little children, were so exercised, as that spectators were struck with great wonder and astonishment. Their powerful admonitions and prophetic warnings were heard and received with reverence and awe.
20. They testified that the end of all things drew nigh; and admonished the people to repent, and amend their lives. They gave warning of the near approach of the kingdom of heaven, the “acceptable year of the Lord;” and , in many prophetic messages, declared to the world, that those numerous Scripture prophecies concerning the new heaven and the new earth, the kingdom of the Messiah, the Marriage of the Lamb, the first resurrection, and the New Jerusalem descending from above, were near at hand, and would shortly be accomplished.
21. They also testified, with great power and energy of spirit, against those false systems of religion, and that antichristian dominion, which had borne such extensive sway among mankind; and predicted their certain downfall and destruction. They declared that, when all these false systems, of human invention, and all the deceitful and abominable works of man, should be pulled down and destroyed, there would be but one Lord, one faith, one heart, and one voice among mankind; and that these things would be wrought by a spiritual influence proceeding from living witnesses, who, by the inspiration of the Spirit, should be sent forth as laborers into the harvest field.
22. They continued their prophetic warnings (under much persecution) for several years, over the greater part of Europe. And, in the year 1706, the revival extended to England, where it spread far and wide.
23. About the year 1747, some members of the Society of Quakers, who had become subjects of the revival, formed themselves into a society, of which Jane and James Wardley were the lead. Of this little society Ann Lee and her parents were members. They were all devoutly sincere in the cause of God. James was gifted in public speaking.
24. This infant society practiced no forms, and adopted no creeds, as rules of faith or worship; but gave themselves up to be led and guided entirely by the operations of the Spirit of God. Their meetings were powerful and animated, and were attended with remarkable signs and operations, and with the spirit of prophecy and Divine revelation.
25. They boldly testified that the second appearing of Christ was at hand; and that the Church would rise in its full and transcendent glory, and effect the final downfall of antichrist. They affirmed that the work of the great day of God was then commencing, and would increase, until every promise of God should be fulfilled.
26. Sometimes, after sitting awhile in silent meditation, they were seized with a mighty trembling, under which they would often express the indignation of God against all sin. At other times, they were exercised with singing, shouting, and leaping for joy, at the near prospect of salvation. They were often exercised with great agitation of body and limbs, shaking, running, and walking the floor, with a variety of other operations and signs, swiftly passing and repassing each other, like clouds agitated with a mighty wind. These exercises, so strange in the eyes of the beholders, brought upon them the appellation of Shakers, which has been their most common name of distinction ever since.
27. They were exposed to much opposition and persecution. Their houses were often beset by mobs, their windows broken, and their persons were shamefully abused. But they bore these things with great patience, and fearlessly continued their assemblies and their testimony. Their meetings, which began in Bolton, near Manchester, were afterward held alternately in Bolton and Manchester; and occasionally at Chester, Mayortown, and some other places in the vicinity of Manchester.
28. They continued to increase in light and power, with occasional additions to their number, till about the year 1770, when, by a special manifestation of Divine light, the present testimony of salvation and eternal life was fully revealed to Ann Lee, and by her to the Society, by whom she, from that time, was acknowledged as Mother in Christ, and by them was called Mother Ann.
29. Mother Ann said: “I saw in vision the Lord Jesus in his kingdom and glory. He revealed to me the depth of man’s loss, what it was, and the way of redemption therefrom. Then I was able to bear an open testimony against the sin that is the root of all evil; and I felt the power of God flow into my soul like a fountain of living water. From that day I have been able to take up a full cross against all the doleful works of the flesh.”
30. About the year 1774, Mother Ann received a revelation, directing her to repair to America; also that the second Christian Church would be established in America; that the Colonies would gain their independence; and that liberty of conscience would be secured to all people, whereby they would be able to worship God without hindrance or molestation.
31. This revelation was communicated to the Society, and was confirmed by numerous signs, visions, and extraordinary manifestations, to many of the members; and permission was given for all those of the Society who were able, and who felt any special impressions on their own minds so to do, to accompany her.
32. Those who became the companions of Mother Ann, in her voyage to America, were: Abraham Stanley (her husband), Wm. Lee (her brother), James Whittaker, John Hocknell, Richard Hocknell (son of John), James Shepherd, Mary Partington, and Nancy Lee (a niece of Mother Ann). Having settled their affairs and made arrangements for the voyage, they embarked at Liverpool, and set sail on the 19th of May, 1774, and debarked on the 6th of August following, at New York.
33. Arrived in America, they settled in the woods, seven miles from Albany, where is now located the village of Watervliet. Here, surrounded by Dutch settlers, they resided three years and a half, waiting for the fulfillment of Mother Ann’s prophecy —the gathering of persons to the Gospel of Christ’s second appearing, of which she was the Messenger.
RISE, PROGRESS, AND PRESENT STATE OF THE SOCIETY.
1. Community of goods has never been so successfully accomplished as by the Shakers. We propose, therefore, first to take a view of them from that stand-point.
2. Shakerism as a system is more varied in its elements, and complex* and expansive in its character, than is any other purely religious system within our knowledge, and of course its adherents esteem it as the most perfect and comprehensive; urging as a reason, that it takes possession and entire cognizance of the whole man; and instead of attending solely to his spiritual necessities for only one day in seven, IT cares for and supplies all his temporal as well as spiritual wants seven days in the week.[*COMPLEX in the sense of a large “assemblage” of ideas, or “collection” of elements of truth, “twisted” or “wove” together into a unitary system.-Webster]
3. The physical (not the mere animal) and moral, and the intellectual and affectional nature and faculties, together with the spiritual as the ruling and governing element, are all to be fully developed and pre-eminently satisfied by the ultimate operation of this system, according to the faith and confident expectation of its votaries.
4. In 1779, a very singular and strange revival of religion occurred in the town of New Lebanon, N.Y., and the surrounding country. The people were powerfully and wonderfully exercised in body and soul. Professors of religion who had been the most exemplary and strict in the observance of every means of grace, began to doubt the foundation upon which they had built their hopes of salvation.
5. Some had visions and prophecies that the day of judgment and redemption was at hand, and that the second coming of Christ was nigh – even at the door. In their meetings were heard loud cries for the kingdom to come, and a powerful testimony against all sin; and the various exercises and gifts of the Spirit gave convincing evidence of its being a genuine work of God.
6. Some, under a deep conviction of their sins, cried for mercy; others felt unspeakably happy in the joyful visions and revelations of the glory of the latter day, and of the commencement of the kingdom of Christ upon earth, which was to put an end to wars and fightings, and all manner of violence, restore peace on earth, make an end of sin, bring in everlasting righteousness, and gather the saints into one harmonious communion.
7. The work was powerful and swift, but of short duration. In a few months their visions and prophecies ceased, the extraordinary power of their testimony seemed to be at an end, and none of those things of which they had testified appeared. In this situation they were filled with deep distress and anxiety of mind, but still retained their confidence in the near approach of Christ’s kingdom, and continued their assemblies with earnest prayer and exhortations, encouraging one another to maintain their faith and hope, to wait with patience, and to “pray and not faint.”
8. This was the state of the people in the spring of 1780, when some of them visited Mother Ann and her little family, and were soon convinced that they were in the very work for which themselves had been so earnestly praying, and for which they had been looking and waiting with such ardent expectations.
9. Attracted by the reports of these, others were induced to visit them; and the fame of these strange people, who lived in this obscure corner of the wilderness, extended far and wide. Many from New Lebanon and the country round resorted to them; and when they heard the new and living testimony, and saw the various and extraordinary operations of the Divine power among them, they were fully confirmed in the belief that Christ had in very deed appeared again on earth, and many of them (of various denominations) embraced the faith of the Society.
10. Such were some of the preliminary spiritual and religious operations that preceded the organization of the Shaker Society at New Lebanon, and are a fair specimen of the manner in which all the succeeding societies originated and have been founded.
11. About the beginning of the present century, another extraordinary revival of religion, known as the “Kentucky Revival” commenced in the Western States. This work was also very swift and powerful, and gave such evident proofs of supernatural power, that it excited the attention of all classes of person, and for a season bore down all opposition. The very astonishing outward operations that attended that work are widely published, and have been subjects of close and serious investigation.
12. Besides the wonderful operations of spiritual power upon their bodies, the subjects of this work were greatly exercised in dreams, visions, revelations, and spirit of prophecy. In these gifts of the Spirit they saw and testified that great day of God was at hand, that Christ was about to set up his kingdom on earth, and that this very work would terminate in the full manifestation of the latter day of glory.
13. This spiritual manifestation extended through several of the Western States, and continued, with increasing light and power, for about four years. During the latter part of the year 1804, many of its subjects were powerfully impressed with a belief that another summer would not pass away without realizing a full display of that great salvation from all sin for which they had been so long and earnestly praying.
14. The Believers in the Eastern States received repeated intelligence of this work through the public papers; and, well remembering the prophecy of Mother Ann, that the next opening of the Gospel would be in the West, they began to look for its speedy fulfillment. This prophecy had often been spoken of while that country was the theater of Indian wars, and it appeared that its fulfillment was near at hand. Accordingly, the next year, the Church at New Lebanon sent three missionaries to them.
15. Without any previous acquaintance in that country, or any correspondence with any of its inhabitants, these messengers, on the first of January, 1805, set out on a pedestrian journey of more than a thousand miles. They arrived in Kentucky about the first of March. They then went to a number of places where the spirit of the revival had prevailed, and conversed with many who had been the subjects thereof; and having, with some freedom, declared the object of their mission, they passed over into the State of Ohio. After visiting and conversing with some of the subjects of the revival in Springfield, they proceeded on to Turtle Creek, near Lebanon, in the county of Warren, whither they arrived on the 22nd of March.
16. They were spiritually led to the house of Malcham Worley, a man of respectable character, handsome fortune, liberal education, and who had been a leading character in the revival. Here they felt free to declare their mission, and to open their testimony in full, which Malcham received with great joy, and declared to them that it was the very work that, by the spirit of prophecy, he had been taught to look for.
17. This man had very frequently testified, by the Spirit, that the work of the latter day which would usher in the kingdom of Christ in that county would commence at that place, which was situated between the two Miama rivers, near Turtle Creek; and there the work did commence, and he and his family were the first to embrace it. From thence it spread, and was cordially received by many of the subjects of the revival in that vicinity, and in a short time it had an extensive circulation through that part of the State, and soon afterward it extended into Kentucky and Indiana, and was joyfully received by many.
18. The testimony mostly prevailed in the States of Ohio and Kentucky, where societies are now established. Many persons from other States, having received the testimony, have become members.
19. In the State of Ohio there are four societies – one at Union Village, about four miles west from Lebanon, and about 30 miles north-by-east from Cincinnati, Warren County. This is the oldest and largest society in the Western States, and contains about 500 members. The second Society is a Watervliet, on Beaver Creek, about 22 miles north from Union Village, and six southeast from Dayton, in Montgomery County, and contains about 100 members.
20. The third Society is a Whitewater, 22 miles northwest from Cincinnati, Hamilton County, and contains about 200 members. The fourth Society is a North Union, about eight miles northeast from Cleveland, and contains about 200 members.
21. In the State of Kentucky there are two societies — one at Pleasant Hill, about seven miles easterly from Harrodsburg, and 21 miles southwest from Lexington, Mercer County, which contains between four and five hundred members. The other is at South Union, Jasper Springs, about 15 miles northeast from Russellville, Logan County, and contains between three and four hundred members.
22. There are 18 Shaker Societies, all holding property in common. Yet this does not represent the actual number of their community organizations, from the fact, not generally known, that each society is constituted of several distinct families, or communities, which are self-supporting, and possess within themselves perfect organizations in both temporal and spiritual matters, regularly officered, comprising elders, deacons, care-takers, etc., of both the male and female order, agreeably to the unique custom of this singular people, who, although regarded by the world as almost misogynists (woman-haters), have been the first to disentrall woman from the condition of vassalage to which all other religious systems (more or less) consign her, and to secure to her those just and equal rights with man that, by her similarity to him in organization and faculties, both God and nature would seem to demand, inasmuch as the sisterhood is officered and governed throughout by members of their own sex.
23. The Society of New Lebanon possesses eight of these families, or communities.
24. The Shaker Societies have not yet extended beyond the boundaries of the “Model Republic;” which is accounted for by the Shakers themselves thus: — They say their religion can not exist and flourish except under such governments as secure freedom of person, freedom of speech and of the press, liberty of conscience, and perfect separation between church and state.
25. In the public mind an unusual amount of interest attaches to these organizations, from the consideration that among the tens of thousands, in both Europe and America, who (theoretically) as fully endorse the principle of community of goods, and approve the abnegation of the private, selfish property principle, as do the “American Shakers” themselves; yet hitherto no attempts to found and perpetuate a community of interest and of goods, and to reconstruct society upon this basis, have proved really successful, except when made under the auspices of, and in accordance with, the peculiar religious requirements of all the combined elements of Shakerism.
26. “The full tide of their successful experiments” has already extended itself over seventy years, without a single failure; while the followers of Own and Fourier have established communities only to awaken hopes that were doomed to be frustrated by their early dissolution; and if any yet remain, they give marked indications of the winding up of their affairs at no distant period in the future.
27. The oldest and largest Shaker Society is at New Lebanon, two miles and a half from Lebanon Springs, and 25 miles southeast of Albany, Columbia County, N.Y. It contains about 600 members.
28. There is also a society at each of the following places, namely: Watervliet, about seven miles northwest of Albany, N.Y. Members, over 300. Groveland, Livingston County, N.Y., about four miles south of Mount Morris. About 150 members. Hancock, three miles from New Lebanon, and five from Pittsfield, Berkshire County, Mass. Members, between two and three hundred. Tyringham, 16 miles from Hancock, same county and State. Members, about 100. Enfield, Hartford County, Conn. Members, about 200. Harvard, Worcester County, Mass. Members, about 200. Shirley, Middlesex County, Mass. Members, about 100. Canterbury, Merrimack County, N.H. (near Concord). Members, about 300. Alfred, York County, Maine. Members, about 150. New Gloucester, Cumberland County, Maine. Members, about 100.
29. These societies were all formed within a period of five years – from 1787 to 1792 – and no others were formed until 1805.
30. At the commencement of the year 1780, the whole number of Shakers was only about ten or twelve persons, all of whom came from England. In the spring of that year the American converts began to gather to them, and a gradual accession to their numbers continued until about the year 1785. In 1787, under the supervision of Joseph Meacham (formerly a Baptist preacher), the people collected together at New Lebanon, and were organized into a community, or church, which is the pattern and center of union to all the societies, or branches, connected therewith.
31. At that time many of the people were poor in this world’s goods, and in debt, and some of them lived in log-houses on the side of the mountain, where now the village of New Lebanon is located.
32. The different communities, or families, in each society number from 30 to 150 members, of both sexes, who generally occupy one large unitary dwelling-house, in which the brethren and sisters live together in a spiritual order and social relation, which is the most perfectly represented by a house or family where the parents have numerous sons and daughters.
33. The fact that, in all civilized countries, families are not expected to form any other than a brotherly and sisterly union, and which may never, however indirectly, tend toward an incestuous conjugal relation, does not prevent their enjoyment of social, friendly intercourse, and a daily interchange of kind offices with each other, there being other planes besides the procreative for the action of the affectional nature in males and females, even in the order of natural generation.
34. The Shakers testify that they, as a people, find more pleasure and enjoyment — real good — arising from the celibate spiritual union of the sexes, and more of an absence of the afflictions and annoyances — real evil — arising from the generative union of the sexes, than, as they believe, is ever experienced in the order of the world.
35. The apartments of the brethren and sisters are usually at the opposite sides or ends of the house, which is divided by spacious halls. From two to six live in a room. They all eat at the same time, in a large dining-room, at different tables.
36. Each dwelling-house contains a large meeting room, sufficiently spacious to accommodate all the members of the family, in which they assemble several times a week for worship; and twice or thrice a week they have union meetings in their private rooms, where from four to eight or ten brethren and sisters spend an hour, sitting together in social conversation, singing, etc.
37. There are also large buildings, containing numerous workshops, connected with each family; one for brethren, the other for sisters. In these, various branches of manufacture are carried on, consisting of necessary articles for home consumption and for sale. They have all the mechanical trades necessary to meet the wants of a family. Hitherto, horticulture has been the leading business in many of the societies, but they are now turning their attention considerably to agriculture.
38. The Society at New Lebanon owns about 6,000 acres of land, a large proportion of which is devoted to fuel, timber, and sheep, it being very mountainous and rocky. The largest part is in the State of Massachusetts. The proportion of land is about ten acres to each individual. other societies do not vary much from the same ration.
39. It is now some ten years since the eighteen societies discontinued the use of swine as food. Alcoholic preparations are not drank or used, except under medical advisement. With the Shakers the objects of dress are modesty, health, and comfort; and unless one or other of these objects can be promoted, they never change their fashion.
40. Entire sexual purity, temperance in food and in all other things, plainness and simplicity of dress, neatness, industry, peace, charity to the poor, and a prudent, saving economy in all temporal things, are among the virtues inculcated and practiced by the various fraternities of the Shakers, wherever located; all of which greatly tend to promote the physical health and material prosperity of these united societies, and to insure the good-will of their fellow-creatures, and the blessing of Divine Providence upon all their labors.
QUALIFICATIONS FOR MEMBERSHIP, AND RULES AND REGULATIONS.
1. A CONVERT to the faith of Shakerism, who wishes to become a Covenant member, is required to pay all his just debts, to discharge all legal obligations upon him, and, if possible, to make restitution for all the wrongs committed against any of his fellow-creatures. A full dedication and consecration of person and property is granted only as a special privilege to such as have been the most faithful to comply with the terms of probation. Nor is any property required as a requisite for admission.
2. No flattery, or any undue influence, is ever used to draw parties into a oneness of temporal interest, as this can be permanently satisfactory only when it is a voluntary act understandingly performed. Hence the most plain and explicit statements are always laid before the inquirer, so that the whole ground may be fully comprehended by the candidate for admission; for no act of service is considered by this people to be acceptable to God, except it flows from the free, voluntary emotions of the heart. And let the reader bear in mind that all Shaker communities are essentially religious institutions.
3. No believing husband or wife is allowed to separate from an unbelieving wife or husband, except legally, or by mutual agreement. Nor can any person who has abandoned his or her partner, without just and lawful cause, be received into communion with the Society; and in the case of separation between husband and wife, the latter must have a just and righteous share of all property in their possession. Nor are parents allowed to divide their property unequally among their children, whether they be in or out of the Society.
4. The Society is not responsible for debts contracted by persons previous to their becoming members; and it is expressly contrary to the established principles of the Society for any of its officers, agents, or Covenant members to contract debts, either on behalf of the Society or of themselves individually. All the consecrated property of the Society is held in trust by trustees belonging to each community.
5. As industry, temperance, and frugality are cardinal virtues, all (without exception, if able) are employed in manual labor.
6. The government of the Society is adapted to the several orders of which it is composed; and, not being founded upon force and fraud, as a late Austrian minister of state, Metternich, is reported to have declared all human governments to be, it addresses itself to man’s moral and affectional nature. All power and authority under it grow out of the mutual faith, love, and confidence of all its members. It is these that give effective force and power to the principles, laws, rules, and regulations of the Society; and no person who becomes permanently dissatisfied is ever desired to remain in the Society.
7. The societies are divided into different orders, or classes, commonly called families.
8. The first, or novitiate class, are those who receive faith and come into a degree of relation with the Society, but choose to live in their own families and manage their own temporal concerns. Any such who choose may live in that manner, and be owned as brethren and sisters in the Gospel, so long as they live up to its requirements.
9. Parents are required to be kind and dutiful to each other; to shun every appearance of evil; to provide for their family; to bring up their children in a godly manner; and to use, improve, and dispose of their property wisely; but may manage their own affairs according to their own discretion. They may continue thus as long as it comports with their faith, circumstances, and spiritual improvement.
10. They are, however, required to bear in mind the necessity and importance of a spiritual increase, without which they will be ever exposed to fall back into the spirit and course of the world; for they can no longer hold their connection with the Society than they continue to conform to its faith and principles. Such persons are admitted to all the privileges of religious worship and spiritual communion in the novitiate order, and receive instruction and counsel, according to their needs, whenever they feel it necessary to apply for it; and are not debarred from any privilege of which their choice, local situation, and circumstances will admit.
11. Members of this class are not controlled by the Society, with regard to either their property, families, or children, but can act as freely in all these respects as do the members of any other religious society, and yet enjoy all their spiritual privileges, and retain their union with the Society, provided they do not violate the faith and the moral and religious principles of the institution.
12. No children are ever taken under the immediate charge of the Society, except by the request or free consent of those who have the lawful right and control of them, together with the child’s own consent. Children thus received are treated with great care and tenderness. The government exercised over them is mild, gentle, and beneficent, which usually excites in them feelings of affection towards one another, and confidence and respect towards their care-takers and teachers, which generally produces a willing obedience in whatever is required of them. The practical exercise of mildness and gentleness of manners is early and sedulously cultivated.
13. Children are early led into the knowledge of the sacred Scriptures, instructed in their history, and practically taught the divine precepts contained in them, particularly those of Jesus Christ and his Apostles. They are brought up to some manual occupation suited to their capacities, by which to be enabled to obtain a livelihood, whether they remain with the Society or not.
14. Of Shaker schools, we simply give an extract from the “Report of the Select Committee of the Legislative Assembly of the State of New York, April 2d, 1849:” “On examining the schools at Watervliet (a fair specimen of those in the other societies), a model worthy the imitation of the best society was presented. A full and excellent library of the most approved books was found, and a thorough education for the business man is there imparted, by teachers who are competent for the task. The scholars, both male and female, seemed highly pleased with their situation, and were in the apparent enjoyment of all the pleasures of youthful life.”
15 The Second, or Junior Class, is composed of persons who, not having the charge of families, and being under no embarrassments to hinder them from uniting in community order, choose to enjoy, the benefits of that situation. These enter into a contract to devote their services freely to support the interest of the family of which they may be members, so long as they shall continue in that order, at the same time stipulating to claim no pecuniary compensation for their services. Every member of such family is benefited by the united interest and labors of the whole family, so long as they continue to support the order thereof, and is amply provided for in health, sickness, and old age.
16. Members of this class have the privilege, at their option, of freely giving the improvements of any part, or all, of their property, to be used for the mutual benefit of the family to which they belong. The property itself may be resumed at any time, according to the contract, but no interest can be claimed for the use thereof; nor can any member of the family be employed therein for wages of any kind.
17. Members of this class may retain the lawful ownership of all their own property as long as they think proper; and at any time, after having gained sufficient experience to be able to act deliberately and understandingly, they may, if they choose, dedicate and devote a part or the whole, and consecrate it forever to the support of the institution. This however, is a matter of free choice.
18. The third, or Senior Class, is composed of such persons as have had sufficient time and opportunity practically to prove the faith and manner of life of the Society, and who are prepared to enter freely, fully, and voluntarily into a united and consecrated interest. These covenant and agree to devote themselves and services, with all they possess, to the service of God, and the support of the Gospel, forever, solemnly promising never to bring debt or damage, claim or demand, against the Society, or against any member thereof, for any property or service they may thus have devoted to the uses and purposes of the institution. This class constitutes what is denominated Church Order.
19. To enter fully into this order is considered a matter of the utmost importance to the parties concerned, and therefore required the most mature and deliberate consideration; for, after having made such a dedication, according to the laws of justice and equity, there can be no ground for retraction; nor can any one, by those laws, recover anything thus dedicated. Of this all are fully apprised before they enter into the order. Yet should any afterwards withdraw from the Society, the trustees have discretionary power to give them what may be thought reasonable. No person who withdraws peaceably is ever sent away empty.
20. During a period of seventy years, since the permanent establishment of the Society at New Lebanon and Watervliet, there has never been a legal claim entered by any person for the recovery of property brought into the Society.
21. The members of this order are all entitled to equal benefits and privileges, and no difference is ever made on account of the property any individual may have contributed.
22. The following extract from a charge to a jury, delivered by the Hon. John Breathitt, of Kentucky, shows the light in which the “Covenant” of the Senior Order has been viewed in a court of justice: “And is it matter of objection against any man that his motives are so pure and disinterested that he desires to be released from earthly thralldom, that he may fix all his thoughts and affections on his God? After they have signed the Covenant, they are relieved from earthly care. I repeat it: That individual who is prepared to sign the Church Covenant stands in an enviable situation. His situation, indeed, is an enviable one, who, devoted to his God, is prepared to say of his property, Here it is, little or much, take it, and leave me unmolested to commune with by God. Indeed, I dedicate myself to — what? — not to a fanatical tenet! — O no! to a subject far beyond — to the worship of Almighty God, the great Creator and Governor of the universe. Under the influence of his love I give my all: only let me worship according to my faith and in a manner I believe to be acceptable to my God. I say again: The world can not produce a parallel to the situation which such a man exhibits – resigned to the will of Heaven, free from all the feelings of earthly desire, and quietly pursuing the even tenor of his way.”
23. We believe the history of the world does not furnish a single instance of any other religious institution having stood 70 years without a visible declension of its principles and order, and in the general purity and integrity of its members.
24. An institution with a united interest in all things has been a desideratum of the world for many ages; and although attempts to establish such have been made in various ages and countries, apparently under favorable circumstances and well adapted plans, yet they have as often failed; while the central society of this community has stood upon the ground of a united and consecrated interest, and maintained the institution of equal rights and privileges in all things, both spiritual and temporal, for more than 70 years, without the least appearance of failure in either the parent Society, or any of its branches.
25. Well-defined fixed principles, that are perfectly understood and cordially received by all the members, constitute the foundation of the Shaker government.
26. Growth is secured and progress effected by a continual influx of light and love from the Fountain — God — by means of Divine revelation through spirits. The rulers are but the executive of the principles above referred to, and of the laws deduced therefrom. Their means, and the object, of government consist in bringing the principles so approved to bear upon the consciences and affections of the ruled. To this end the male and female elements are equally balanced in the leaders. The former has reference to, and operates more specifically upon, the rational faculty in human nature; the latter, to the affectional.
27. The Ministry, who are the central executive of the whole order, consists of two brethren and two sisters, and every regularly organized community or family in a society has two elder brethren and two elder sisters, who have the charge of the spiritual affairs; also, two deacons and two deaconesses, who have the care of the temporalities. All other positions of care and trust are filled after the same dual order. Yet each sex continues in its own appropriate sphere of action in all respects, there being a proper subordination, deference, and respect of the female to the male, in his order, and of the male to the female in her order; so that in any of these communities the zealous advocates of “Women’s Rights” may here find a practical realization of their ideal.
28. To the mind of the simple, unsophisticated Shaker it seems marvelously inconsistent for any human government to be administered for the sole benefit of its own officers and their particular friends and favorites; or that more than one half the citizens should be disfranchised because they happen to be females, and compelled by the sword to obey laws they never sanctioned, and ofttimes in which they have no faith, and to submit to taxation where there has been no previous representation; while still millions of other fellow-citizens are treated as property, because they chance to possess a darker-colored skin than their cruel brethren. And again, that the members (brethren and sisters) of the same religious body or church should be divided into rich and poor in the things of this temporary world, but who are vainly expecting that, in the world to come, they shall be willing to have eternal things in common!
29. And when this same unjust and unequal administration is confirmed and carried out in the most popular religious organizations of Christendom, the Shakers think the climax of absurdity, tyranny, and oppression well-nigh attained.
CHARACTERISTICS AND DOCTRINES OF JESUS CHRIST.
1. CHRIST was “the Author and Finisher of the faith” of Christianity; and in Jesus Christ was the first Christian Church, which was perfect and prolific spiritually just so far as Adam was perfect and prolific naturally, before Eve was brought forth.
2. Christ (dual) is a supermundane being, and was the Agent of the new revelation to Jesus, the truths of which were, first, the immortality of the soul, which Moses never taught; and, second, the resurrection of the soul – t hese being two distinct things; the former, the continuous existence of the soul after mere physical death; the latter, the quickening of the germ of a new and spiritual life in the soul, consequent upon, and succeeding to, the death of the first Adamic o r generative life, which can only be effected by the faith and the cross of the second Adam – Christ.
3. As all the future powers and faculties of the natural man are germinal in the infant, so the life and faculties of the future spiritual man are germinal in the soul of the natural or “old” man; and these are never quickened, except by the same power that destroys the life of the “old man” – the desire of generation. “I wound, and I heal; I kill, and I make alive.” These are the two lives that Jesus alluded to when he said, “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it, and keep it unto life eternal.”
4. The prophet Isaiah, speaking of Jesus, says “His life was cut off from the earth; and who shall declare his generation?” Meaning that his earthly life, which supports the work of generation, was “cut off,” as must be also the earthly life of every true Christian. And Jesus himself said: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life. No man taketh it from me; but I lay it down of myself.”
5. The beginning of Christianity was the end of generation – of the world – in Jesus. “Ye are they [said the Apostle] upon whom the ends of the world have come” already. Thus the same Spirit that creates souls “anew in Christ Jesus,” causes them to “forsake and to hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, houses and land, and their own [generative] life also.” This hitherto paradoxical and hard saying of Jesus, the Shakers simplify upon the above premises, affirming that all these characters can be hated without the least enmity against any human soul.
6. It is the generative life in man and woman that induces them to assume the character of husband and wife; the same life impels them to become father and mother; and hence result the children, who are brothers and sisters, all of whom require, desire, and (if they can) acquire houses and land, to support the earth-relation thus formed. All these can be forsaken and hated without hating the persons of the original man and woman, or of the children.
7. It is the earthly, fleshly, relation that must be hated by all who would become followers of Jesus – Christians-“children of the resurrection,” of whom Jesus said, ” They neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as angels of God in heaven.”
8. All who “marry and are given in marriage,” or who support that order, the Shakers term “the children of this world;” thus, on this ground, throwing heathens, Turks, Catholics, Protestants, infidels, etc. , all into one general class, or company. They quote Jesus: “Think not that I am come to bring peace on earth [to the earthly procreative relation]; for I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and to make a man’s foes those of his own household.”
9. Yet the Shakers do not condemn marriage as an institution of “the world,” to whom only it belongs; but they say that the procreative powers should be used by them exclusively for offspring, and that all beyond that, however perfectly it may be covered by the mantle of human law, they call “the unfruitful works of darkness.”
10. “He that looks upon a woman to lust after her, has [in the sight of God] committed adultery with her” none the less because she is his legal wife. God looks at the impelling motive , not the human legality, of the action. “Blessed are [not the legal, but] the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
11. Those who will “crucify” the old man, with all his affections and lusts, shall see a greater manifestation of God than it is possible for a generative man to behold; to prove which, the Shakers adduce scientific no less than scriptural reasons. “The natural man discerneth not the things of the Spirit; neither can he know them,” any more than fishes can see and know the things pertaining to land animals, or than the chrysalis can be cognizant of the fields and flowers of the future butterfly.
12. Second. Another practical principle, in which Christ instructed Jesus, was Brotherhood – to love his neighbor as himself, and not to appropriate to his own selfish use, to the exclusion of those on the same plane, either of the life-elements – earth, air, fire or water. Foxes had holes in the ground, and birds nests in the trees, but Jesus had no place or home to call his own.
13. And except a man forsook all that he had, he could not be a disciple of Jesus. Hence the rich young man went sorrowful away, rather than sell and distribute his great possessions, and thus become a poor man, in order to join Jesus and his company. This also explains why a cable could go through the eye of a needle easier than a rich man could enter into the kingdom of heaven, which was formed within, or among his disciples.
14. Five dollars of private, selfish property would exclude a man from the communion of a company who, as did Jesus and his Apostles, possessed their property in common, as effectually as would five millions; for the law of the Gospel is, “Except a man forsake all that he hath, he can not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” In addition to that, he must also follow the example of Jesus in “taking up the cross”, and living a virgin life.
15. The third principle exemplified in the life of Jesus, and which came from the same source as the preceding ones, is, “Resist not evil” — non-resistance. “If any man smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Love your enemies. Do good to them that hate you. Bless them that curse you.” “He that taketh the sword shall perish by the sword.” “The Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” So that, according to Shaker doctrines, there can be no such thing as a Christian warrior. With them the time has come to beat the sword into a plowshare, and the spear into a pruning hook, and they will not practice or learn war any more.
16. Fourth. Jesus took no part in earthly governments. When he was offered all the kingdoms of the world for his possession, he utterly refused them, and thus crucified his ambition. He also taught his disciples that, although “the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them, it shall not be so among you; for whosoever will be great and chief among you, let him be your minister – servant – least of all.”
17. Fifth. Christ saved Jesus from sin; and “his name was called Jesus, because he should save his people from their sins.” Hence the Shakers claim a present salvation from sin as essential to the Christian character. They say that the Law of Moses (in respect to salvation was “weak through the flesh” (generation), which it allowed at the same time that it condemned all who practiced it.
18. For it enjoined that “the man who shall lay with a woman . . . . was unclean;” that they were “both unclean”, — sinful: and “the bed whereon they lay was unclean,” or defiled; and they were separated from the camp of Israel therefor. Nor could they be again admitted until they had been re-baptized (washed all over) with water.
19. Jesus escaped this only by living “separate from sin and sinners;” that is, by living a virgin life. If he had married, and lived in generation, he must have been subject to the Law as above stated, and paid the penalty; for he “came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfill” the righteousness thereof.
20. John the Baptist told the soldiers to “do violence to no man.” And the Jewish Apostle said, ” Marriage is honorable in all, if the bed be undefiled.” The sin was not in being a soldier, but in doing violence; nor was the sin in the fact of marriage, but in the act of generation; for persons may have been married before being called to be Christians, as was the case with Peter and others.
21. The penal law was added because of transgression; the typical law, of baptism, circumcision, etc., to foreshadow things to come. The latter was abolished by the substance — virgin life; and the former, by “ceasing to do evil, and learning to do well.” There could be no sin-offering where there was no sin; no type, when the antetype had come; and no tithes, where there was no individual property, but “all things common.”
CHARACTER OF THE PRIMITIVE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
1. Jesus Christ foretold two things of great importance. One was, that the Christian Church, which he originated, would not continue, but would be utterly destroyed. He said that himself and his disciples were “the light of the world;” and he counseled souls to walk in the light while they had it, because “the night cometh wherein no man can work.” That is, there would come a time when “iniquity would abound, and the love of many would wax cold,” and there would be no true Church on the earth. The same was confirmed by his Apostles, who said there would be “falling away,” and that “that man of sin would be revealed,” in place of a revelation of Christ.
2. The other was, that another appearing on earth of the same Christ (or second Adam and Eve) as had been manifested to him (Jesus) would take place, to establish a second and more perfect Christian Church, precisely according to the Pattern of the Christian Church in himself; for then Christ would come, not in one individual only, but “in the clouds of [the fourth] heaven, with power and great glory;” that is, in numbers of persons, or “clouds of witnesses,” in and among whom Christ would make his “second appearing without sin unto salvation”. “Behold the Lord cometh in ten thousand of his saints.”
3. For the Shaker idea is, that in Jesus alone were all the characteristics of a perfect Christian; that the Apostles stood upon a lower plane, and were children of God by “adoption” only, not really. This point is conclusively proved from the conjoint testimony of themselves and Jesus.
4. Jesus said he had “many things to say unto them that they were not able to bear,” and exclaimed of them, “O ye of little faith!” These expressions, with the mistaken conceptions the Apostles had formed of the nature of his kingdom and of the resurrection, demonstrate that they only “knew in part, prophesied in part, and saw as through a glass darkly” and imperfectly.
5. The Apostles were “only a kind of first-fruits;” not the kingdom itself. But they had the spirit of promise and of hope, that in the second appearing, when Christ should be manifested in the order of Mother, through a female, as he had been in the order of Father, through Jesus, they should sit down with Jesus on his throne — rise to the same plane.
6. This was the condition and expectation of the Apostolic Church, whose members were all Hebrews. For, as Maria Childs remarks, “Christianity was somewhat exclusive and national in its character, being preached only by Jesus, and addressed only to Hebrews.”
7. The Church professed to live a virgin life; and those in it who “waxed wanton against Christ,” and married, had “damnation, because they had cast off their first faith” of celibacy. “They had all things common.” The 8,000 who were converted in two days “sold all their possession: of houses and land, and formed a perfect community. They did not call the least thing their own.” They took no part in the heathen governments, either in being officers or electing officers. They would not swear, or take oaths. They would not fight, or engage in war; and they suffered much persecution because they would not enlist in the armies of the Roman empire.
8. They bore a testimony against sin, saying, “He who sinneth hath not seen Christ, neither known him.” They had the gift of healing the sick. “Is any sick among you? let him send for the elders of the Church,” etc.; and often their shadow or their clothes imparted a healing power to the invalid. They “looked for a second appearing of Christ, and hasted unto the coming of the day of the Lord.”
9. This was the Jewish Christian Church, the temple of God, and was founded by the Apostles one degree below the Church in Jesus. And when Peter preached Christianity to the Gentiles, he founded the Gentile Christian Church on a plane still lower than that of the Jewish Christian Church.
10. The Gentile Christian Church did not introduce war or slavery, but it did introduce marriage and private property; yet both these institutions were under restrictions drawn from the Mosaic laws, to which the Gentiles had never been accustomed. They were restricted to one wife, and subjected to self-denial in many respects; that was all they were able to bear. But they were not saved from sin; and they looked for the second coming of Christ, when, as the Apostle told them, those who had wives would be just the same as if they were not married; and those who owned property, as though they possessed nothing; as then they would rise into the order of the Church above them.
11. The Shaker writers say that unless this distinction between the Jewish Christian Church and the Gentile Christian Church be observed, the various writings of the new Testament can not be understood, as all the Epistles to the Gentile Christian Churches contain very different doctrines to those addressed to the Hebrews, and as contained in the four Gospels. The Gentile Christians were fed with “milk, and not with meat, because they were not able to bear it.” They were written to “as unto carnal, and not as unto spiritual.”
12. The five most prominent practical principles of the Pentecost Church were, first, common property; second, a life of celibacy; third, non-resistance; fourth, a separate and distinct government; and fifth, power over physical disease.
FALL OF THE PRIMITIVE CHRISTAN CHURCH.
1. When Constantine was converted, he founded and became the heathen* head of the Roman Catholic Church, which was formed upon a very much lower plane than was even the Gentile Christian Church. [*Constantine, who was a heathen, was never converted to even Roman Catholic Christianity. Mosheim says of him: “It is certain that he was not received by baptism into the number of the faithful until a few days before his death,” and then only in order that he “might ascend pure and spotless to the mansions of light and immortality;” notwithstanding his having cruelly murdered his father-in-law, his wife, his son, his brother-in-law, his nephew, and others, besides his numerous other abominations. (See Mosheim’s Ecclesiastical History, by Dr. Maclaine, American edition, 1797, vol. i., cent.iv., part i., chap.i., pp.313, 314.)]
2. It was distinguished from that, first, by the union of church and state, the Church gradually assuming the supreme power and control of all civil as well as ecclesiastical matters; second, by the introduction of war as a permanent element of theology, using the sword not only against external enemies of the church and state, but as a means of conversion to Roman Catholic Christianity, and also turning the same sword against the internal enemies of this mongrel church and its theology, by the establishment of the inquisition, based upon the absurd idea that faith, or want of faith, is the result of the will, and not of evidence, or the absence thereof; by monopoly of the elements of existence, particularly of the earth and its produce; by slavery, which was also incorporated into the church as a part of its theological creeds; and by oaths.
3. The Roman Catholic Church is the “beast” that John saw, which combined the wild, destructive characteristics of the bear, the leopard, and the lion.
4. And John was commanded to “rise and measure the temple of God [the Jewish Christian Church] and them that worship therein. But the court, which is without, measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles [the Gentile Christian Church]; and they shall tread down the holy city forty-and-two months” — 1,260 years.
5. That was the falling away and degenerating of the Gentile Christian Church into the Roman Catholic Church; and the union of church and state, with the adoption of war, possessed it of physical power, by which means it trod down liberty of conscience, requiring the Jewish Christian Church to come to its standard of orthodoxy, or endure physical torture, and the breaking up of their communities, by the operation of its oppressive organic laws.
6. John also “saw a beast, great and terrible [as above described], rise out of the sea” — the spiritual elements of the Primitive Church. “This beast [the Roman Catholic Church] made war with the saints, and overcame them; and all the world wondered [and wandered] after the beast.” And he ruled over all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, and there was no power on earth able to wage war with this beast; therefore it is plain that that church is the beast of the Apocalypse.
7. And John “saw another beast rise out of the earth [Rationalism and Materialism], having two horns like a lamb, but spoke with the mouth of a dragon.” This was the “image of the first beast; and it exercised all the power of the first beast,” war, persecution, etc. This is Protestantism, in which Lutheranism and Calvinism are the two principal powers (or horns), for they divide the kingdom of the “image of the beast” between them.
8. In no one important practical principle of life did the Protestant Church differ from the Roman Catholic Church. Both of them hold to marriage, private property, union of church and state, ambition, oaths, persecution, war, slavery, monopoly of the life-elements in its most aggravated form; salvation, an unmeaning something to be possessed in some distant, unknown world, but gained and secured in this by means of water, bread, wine, blood, and belief in the cruel murder of the best man the earth ever produced, or faith in a wooden cross, the instrument of his crucifixion. And both alike inherit all the diseases of the Egyptians, and (as churches) are utterly destitute of the gift of healing, as well as of all the other gifts that were possessed by the Primitive Church.
9. Thus the “beast which ruled over all nations, kindreds, people, and tongues,” and “the great Whore of Babylon, the Mother of Harlots and of abominations of the earth, who sitteth upon many waters” (and “the waters where the whore sitteth are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues”), are the one and the same Roman Catholic Church. She is the “woman,” the “great city that ruleth over the kings of the earth” for forty-two months; and her endless brood of harlot daughters, “hateful , and hating one another,” are the divided, warring Protestant sects.
10. And the mother and her daughters, for want of a common enemy, bite, rend and devour each other; and, in their jarring creeds, they not only “teach for doctrines the commandments of men,” but they teach even the “doctrines of devils,” as before enumerated; and, by external laws, “forbidding to marry” — the counterfeit of a virgin life; and “commanding to abstain from meats” — the counterfeit of true temperance in all things, the legitimate fruit of the testimony of Jesus; “preaching for hire, and divining for money” — a fictitious Gospel that is not “without money and without price.”
11. Therefore Christendom (Babylon) “has become the habitation of devils [demons, or disorderly disembodied spirits, who are ministers of falsities and confusion], the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every hateful and unclean bird.” For there is no form of human wickedness which can not be found within the pale of the theological organizations of Christendom.
12. That the Protestant Reformation effected a revolution for the better, the Shakers do not question; nor that even Roman Catholicism itself is an advance upon mere heathenism; for the laws of progress will assert their supremacy in all human affairs, and God can make (or overrule) even the wrath of man to praise Him.
13. Adjudged from the stand-point of the people and age upon whom, and in which, they operated, both Constantine, Luther, and Calvin were real reformers; but adjudged from the stand-point of Jesus and his seven principles (true Christianity), they were what Luther, in his last will and testament, subscribed himself as being, “a damnable man,” and as both Catholics and Protestants say of themselves, “miserable sinners.”
RISE OF THE “TWO” WITNESSES.
1. Next in order come the “two witnesses,” who were to “prophesy [and mourn and repent] in sackcloth and ashes,” during the forty-two months’ reign of the beast and his image.
2. Although the “holy city,” or Jewish Christian Church, was trodden down by the Roman Catholic, or fallen Gentile Christian Church (antichrist), yet God, by revelation, raised up in every age of the apostasy male and female witnesses, who, reviving the principles or testimony of the Jewish Christian Church, as already set forth, testified, or witnessed, against the beast and his image, by word and by their lives of innocence. They held no union with church or state; they took no oaths, bore no arms, held no slaves, lived a virgin life, and “had all things common.”
3. These were the “holy people,” whose power was continually scattered by the persecuting arm of antichrist. They were known to their enemies by the term “heretics,” and by historians as Marcionites, Therapeutics, Manicheans, Nestorians, Waldenses, Moravians, etc., and lastly, as Quakers, who, with the exception of a virgin life, embodied more of the principles of the Primitive Church than any other of the “witnesses”.
4. It has been estimated that fifty millions of these “witnesses,” or “heretics,” have been tortured to death by the Inquisition, and other instrumentalities of the terrible beast, or Roman Catholic Church; and by the image of the beast, a proportionate number.
5. The full history of the rise and fall of these “witnesses,” should such ever be impartially written, would prove a highly interesting record. Each of them “began in the Spirit.” They originated in a revelation to some man or woman, as Marcion, Manes, Priscillian, Fox, Joanna Southcott, Jemima Wilkinson, and others. When they had “finished their testimony, the beast made war against them, and killed them; but they would not suffer the dead bodies to be put into graves,” but left them lying in the streets of his city of Babylon; and thus the “kingdom of the beast has become full of names” (they are numbered by hundreds) of sects who have lost their spiritual life, finished their testimony against sin, and have given their power and influence unto the kingdom of the beast, by uniting with, and building up, the very things they formerly took up their cross against.
6. Persecution continued while their testimony lasted, and they grew in grace and truth. It was when the church and state began to favor and speak well of them that concessions became mutual – then it was that they were “killed” spiritually, and not by persecution.
7. The monks and nuns are some of the “dead bodies” of the Roman Catholic Church; and the Dunkers, Waldenses, Baptists, Methodists, and Quakers (who may be taken as a type of all the witnesses) are some of the “dead bodies” of the Protestant Church.
8. It was this unbroken chain of “witnesses” that connected the first and second Christian Churches. At the end of the 1,260 years, “the Spirit of life from God” entered into some individual “witnesses” of that “dead body” called Quakers, and “they stood upon their feet,” or spiritual understandings, “and they heard a voice from [the resurrection plane of the fourth] heaven, saying, Come up hither;” and they obeyed it; “and they ascended up to heaven in a cloud,” or body; and they have dwelt in heaven more that 70 years; for the kingdom of heaven is formed “within,” or among, “them”. They have the testimony of Jesus, and they live in a more perfect Christian order, and possess a greater gift of salvation from sin, than did the Jewish Christian Church at Jerusalem.
9. As John preached repentance unto Moses, to prepare souls for Christ’s first appearing, so did Fox, and Jane and James Wardley preach repentance unto Christ’s first appearing, to prepare souls for the second coming of Christ, and the setting up of his final kingdom upon earth.
10. Thus, out of the last of the “witnesses,” the Quakers, the “forty-and-two months” having expired, arose Ann Lee and her little company, to whom Christ appeared the second time, “without sin unto salvation,” and made a new revelation to her of the seven principles, and of all the truths that had been revealed, in his first appearing, to Jesus; the practice of which constituted him the first Christian Church; and the same principles being reduced to practice by Ann Lee, constituted her the second Christian Church.
11. The “marriage of the Lamb had come, for this wife had made herself ready [thus showing that she was not born ready]; and to her was given to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; the fine linen was the righteousness of saints,” nothing more.
12. Ann, by strictly obeying the light revealed within her, became righteous even as Jesus was righteous. She acknowledged Jesus Christ as her Head and Lord, and formed the same character as a spiritual woman that he formed as a spiritual man.
13. Ann followed Jesus, not as an imitator, but through being baptized with, and led by, the same Christ Spirit that he was baptized with and led and guided by. She became a Mother in Israel, and was thenceforth known to her followers (or children) by the endearing name of Mother. Still it was the principles (before explained) that were the foundation of the second Christian Church, and not man or woman, whether Jesus or Ann. Their importance is derived from the fact of their being the first man andfirst woman perfectly identified with the principles and Spirit of Christ.
14. A part of the curse pronounced upon woman was, that man should rule over her, which has been fully accomplished; for, from the fall to the present time, all human governments have claimed it to be the sole right of the man to “rule”, whether in religious or political organizations, and Christian churches and governments (so called) have been no real exception to this rule.
15. As Christ’s first appearing was only to and in the male part of humanity, the Jewish as well as the Gentile Christian Churches were governed almost entirely by men. The Roman Catholic and Protestant world know only male rulers; woman is ignored. The Quakers, the last of the “witnesses,” began to include the female element in their system; but not until Christ had made his second appearance in and to the female, was woman ever allowed a full and equal share in any civil or religious government, or established in the possession of her just and equal rights*.[*The fact that females sometimes reign over nations as queens, is only an apparent exception to the above rule and practice, it being so only in case of default of male issue; for they do not reign as women, and over females only, but as men, instead of men, and over men, which, as women, is not their right.]
16. Naturalists state that the larvae of the common working bee, by simply feeding it upon superior food, can be progressed to a queen bee. This, if true, proves that every such bee possesses the undeveloped germ of a queen bee, and is a beautiful figure of the spiritual life that is hid with every natural man and woman, “hid with Christ in God,” waiting the second advent of Christ, to feed and quicken it into being, on a plane above that of the earthly animal order of generative reproduction.
17. This is the true resurrection state in which Jesus stood when he said, “I am the resurrection.” To this state Paul desired to arrive when he said, “I follow after, if that by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” This could not mean the re- animation of the physical body, as that (if true) would be as independent of the will as was its physical birth or death. A physical resurrection, the Shakers hold to be utterly repugnant to both science, reason, and Scripture.
CHARACTER OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST’S SECOND APPEARING.
1. In the fourteenth chapter of the book of the Revelation, the second appearing of Christ is described as already past. The hundred and forty-four thousand mentioned are not a particular number; it is a Hebraism, denoting a perfect character by numbers 12 x 12, a perfect square: they are virgins; they are redeemed from the earth, from among men; they “follow the Lamb [Jesus] whithersoever he goeth;” they are without fault or sin, and they have the everlasting Gospel to preach to them that dwell upon the earth.
2. An angel proclaims the fall of Babylon, as the effect of the preaching of the Gospel. Another angel denounces a woe upon those who have the “mark of the beast” — the seal of authority placed upon the organ of causality preventing the action of the reasoning faculties.
3. There is the “white cloud” — a sinless innocent company — upon which “one sat like unto the Son of man;” for as Eve was like unto Adam — bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh” — so was Mother Ann like unto Jesus — of the human race, of the same origin, life, character, and principles.
4. The “sharp sickle” with which another angel “reaped the ripe harvest of the earth,” is the testimony of Jesus — the everlasting Gospel — which cuts souls off from the field of generation, and thus (in them) brings the world to an end.
5. The angel alluded to in the eighteenth chapter, who “came down from heaven, having great power, and the earth was lightened with his glory,” and who proclaimed the fall of Babylon, is Spiritualism. The physical manifestations exhibit the power of the invisible over the visible world, the light of which is to enlighten the earth — materialists — by leading them to a knowledge of the immortality of the soul, of the existence of a spirit-world, of the fact of the intercommunication between the two worlds, and of the rights of man.
6. Spiritualism can minister physical power and spiritual light, but not a knowledge of the way of salvation from sin. It can confound earthly and religious materialists, and reveal the false doctrines of antichrist, of which itself is an integral part, and thus accelerate her fall; but it is not able to re-arrange society.
7. The Spirit is indeed being “poured out upon all flesh,” without distinction of age, sex, party, or even moral condition. But it comes to pass that only such as “call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” For in Jerusalem, and in Mount Zion alone, is deliverance from the power of sin.
8. And the one sitting upon the “white cloud,” from whose face the heavens and the earth — the old religious and civil systems of Babylon — “fled away,” and who is “like Jesus,” she possesses that power, and utters a voice to those in falling Babylon: “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”
9. And those who hear the voice of “the Spirit” (Christ Jesus) and of “the Bride” (Mother Ann) form the “new heaven and the new earth, wherein dwells righteousness.” And they build the tabernacle of God, which is with men; “and God Himself shall dwell with them, and shall be their God, and they shall be his people,” All this the Shakers believe, and hold is fulfilled, or being fulfilled, in their order — its faith, principles, and communities.
10. “For now has come salvation and strength, the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ.” For the tyrant, lust, “the accuser of the brethren” in all the three preceding Dispensations, is now cast out; “and the ransomed of the Lord have come to Zion, with singing, and with everlasting joy upon their heads.”
MODE OF WORSHIP.
1. It is pretty generally known that the Shakers serve God by singing and dancing; but why they practise this mode of worship is not so generally understood.
2. It should be recollected that “God is a Spirit,” and can be worshipped only “in spirit and in truth.” Without the presence of the Spirit there can be no true worship. Conviction of sin, godly sorrow, and repentance, are the first effects of the Spirit of God upon the conscience of a sinner. And when sin is fully removed, by confessing and forsaking it, the cause of heaviness, gloom and sorrow is gone; and joy and rejoicing, and thanksgiving and praise, are then spontaneous effects of a true spirit of devotion. And whatever manner the Spirit may dictate, or whatever the form into which the spirit may lead, it is acceptable to Him from whom the Spirit proceeds.
3. All the sabbaths among the Jews as hereafter set forth, were joyous festivals – times for men to do good to each other, by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc.; for all to make each other happy, and thus rejoice before the Lord, “with music and dancing.”
4. Dancing was a national custom among the Hebrews upon all extraordinary occasions of some great good, as a victory, etc. They expressed their satisfaction and happiness by dancing, as the Americans do by the abnegation of temperance, and the explosion of gunpowder