ORIGIN, HISTORY, PRINCIPLES, RULES AND REGULATIONS,
GOVERNMENT, AND DOCTRINES
WITH BIOGRAPHIES OF
JAS. WHITTAKER, J. HOCKNELL, J. MEACHAM,
AND LUCY WRIGHT
BY F. W. EVANS.
Originally Published: 1859
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.
INTRODUCTION 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 Christs Second Appearing CHAPTER IX Mode of Worship CHAPTER X. Doctrines of the Church of Christs Second Appearing PART I. Mosaic Sabbaths, Higher and Lower Law PART II. Probation, and Heavens and Hells PART III. God dual Father and Mother PART IV. Judgment-Day, and Confession of Sins PART V. The Bible
BIOGRAPHIES OF THE SIX FOUNDERS OF THE SHAKER SOCIETY
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 Christs 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 mans 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.
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