SHAKER TESTIMONIES of the Life, Character, Revelations and Doctrines of Mother Ann Lee, and the Elders with Her.
Published by the Shakers in 1816; Reprinted 1888.  
     AUTHENTIC MANUSCRIPT — EXCERPT  3 of 8.
        Charity, Frugality, Cleanliness

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“Testimonies of Mother Ann Lee and the Elders”

Authentic Excerpt from: Chapter XXX, pages 207-210

Charity, Frugality, Cleanliness


 

CHAPTER XXX.

1. Great pains were taken by Mother Ann and the Elders to instruct the Believers in the care and management of temporal things. They were often taught to be industrious, to put their hands to work, and their hearts to God, to be neat and cleanly, and observe good economy; to use the things of this world as not abusing them; to be prudent and saving, and let nothing be lost, or wasted through carelessness, or neglect; to avoid equally, covetousness, and prodigality; to be kind and charitable to the poor, and to keep clear of debt.

2. These things were strictly enjoined upon the Believers from time to time, as matters of importance, in order to secure a spiritual blessing.  For it was always held up as a doctrine of truth, and which was abundantly proved by experience, that those who were unfaithful in temporal things, could not find the blessing and protection of God in their spiritual travel; hence, a faithful and wise improvement of their time and talents in the things of time was essentially necessary in order to inherit the true riches.

3. On a particular occasion, Mother Ann spoke to Zeruah Clark as follows, “Be faithful to keep the gospel; be neat and industrious; keep your family’s clothes clean and decent; see that your house is kept clean, and your victuals is prepared in good order, that when the Brethren come in from their hard work they can bless you, and eat their food with thankfulness, without murmuring, and be able to worship God in the beauty of holiness.  Watch, and be careful, don’t speak harsh, nor cast reflections upon them; but let your words be few, and seasoned with grace.”

4. At a certain time, on taking leave of some who had been at the Church, and were about to return home, Mother addressed them as follows: “Go home and put your hands to work, and your hearts to God; for if you are not faithful in the unrighteous mammon, how can you expect the true riches?   Mankind have fallen below the order of nature; even the beasts of the field might teach them knowledge.  Many will come to the Church and receive the gifts of God, then go away, be careless and idle, and lose them.  This is not right; you ought to be faithful, that when you come again, you may bring strength and not weakness.”

5. In the time of harvest, while some of the Brethren were reaping their wheat, Mother Ann sent Elder James into the field to teach them.  He went, and spoke to them as follows: “Cut your grain clean; God has caused it to grow, and you ought to be careful to save it; for you cannot make one kernel grow, if you know you must starve for the want of it.  In this country you abound in good things, therefore you are lavish and wasteful.”

6. Lucy Bishop was once scrubbing a room, and Mother Ann came in and said, “Clean your room well; for good spirits will not live where there is dirt.  There is no dirt in heaven.”  At another time she spoke to some Sisters who had been washing the floor, saying, “You ought to be neat, and clean; for there is no slovens nor sluts in heaven.” Lucy Prescott.

7. Phebe Spencer, being on a visit to the Church, at Watervliet, asked Mother’s counsel concerning some superfluities which she and her family had gathered, such as gold beads, jewels, silver buckles, and other ornaments of the kind.  Mother Ann answered, “You may let the moles and bats have them; that is, the children of this world; for they set their hearts upon such things; but, the people of God do not want them.”

8. She also said, “You ought to dress yourself in modest apparel, as becomes the people of God, and teach your family to do likewise.  You ought to be industrious and prudent, and not live a sumptuous and gluttonous life; but labor for a meek and quiet spirit, and see that your family is kept decent, and regular, in all their going forth, that others may see your good works.”

9. Addressing Phoebe Spencer and a number of others, Mother said, “You must remember the poor and needy, the widow and the fatherless; and deal out your bread to the hungry, and your clothes to the naked.   Your natures will say, ‘They may work and get these things for themselves.’  But Christ said, ‘Give to him that asketh, and of him that would borrow of thee, turn not thou away.’  If I had but two mouthfuls of bread, I would give to him that needed; and, if I had but two coats, I would give to him who had none.  You must put away your covetousness, your lust, and your filth, and be prepared for the increase of the gospel; for the time will come when this gospel will be preached to all nations, and many will flock to Zion to hear the word of the Lord.”

10. Soon after the opening of the gospel at Enfield, N. H., some of the Believers in that place, having more zeal than wisdom and understanding, imbibed a notion that they were not to continue in this world but a few years, and concluded that they need not make any further provisions for a living, in consequence of which they made a very undue use of their property, by squandering it away in a profuse manner, which brought great trials upon some others of their Brethren, particularly upon Jacob Heath.  Jacob, soon after, in company with Cornelius Goodale, went to see the Church, which was then at Ashfield, and opened his trials to some of the Elders respecting the matter.  On Mother hearing of it, she called Jacob and Cornelius, and after instructing them concerning these things, she bade them go home and set out apple trees, and raise calves, and make provisins as though they were to live a thousand years, and gather something to do good with. Jacob Heath.

11. Soon after this, Jacob Hunt, Ezekiel Stephens, and a number of other Believers, visited the Church at Ashfield.   Just before their departure, Mother Ann spoke to them, and gave them instructions concerning their temporal economy, saying. “Go home, and take good care of what you have.  Provide places for your things, so that you may know where to find them, at any time, by day or by night; and learn to be neat and clean, prudent and saving, and see that nothing is lost; and be kind to the poor and needy.”  To the Sisters she said, “Do not omit your washing till the latter end of the week; but do it on Monday; and set a good example before the world.” Jacob Hunt.

End of Excerpt 3

 

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