BIOGRAPHIES OF THE SIX FOUNDERS OF THE SHAKER SOCIETY.
1. ANN LEE was born February 29, 1736, in Toad Lane (now Todd's Street), Manchester, England. Her father, John Lee, was a blacksmith; and although poor, he was respectable in character, moral in principle, honest in his dealings, and industrious in his business. With him she resided until she embarked for America. Her mother was esteemed as a very pious woman. They had five sons and three daughters, who, as was then common for poor persons' children, were brought up to work, instead of being sent to school; by which means, Ann acquired an industrious habit, but could neither write nor read.
2. During her childhood and youth, she was employed in a cotton factory, and afterwards was a cutter of hatters' fur. She was also employed as a cook in the Manchester infirmary, where she was distinguished for her neatness, faithfulness, prudence, and good economy.
3. In appearance, Ann Lee was about the common stature of women. She was thick-set, but straight, well-proportioned, and regular in form and features. Her complexion was light and fair, blue eyes, and light-chestnut brown hair. Her countenance was mild and expressive, but grave and solemn. Her glance was keen and penetrating; her countenance inspired confidence and respect. Many called her beautiful.
4. She possessed a sound, strong, and healthy physical constitution, and remarkable powers and faculties of mind. At times, when under the operation of the Holy Spirit, her form and actions appeared to be divinely beautiful and angelic. The power and influence of her spirit was then beyond description, and she spoke as "one having authority."
5. In childhood, she exhibited a bright, sagacious, and active genius. She was not addicted to play, like other children of her age, but was serious and thoughtful. She was early the subject of religious impressions, and was often favored with heavenly visions.
6. As she advanced in years she was strongly impressed with a sense of the deep depravity of human nature, and of the odiousness of sin, especially the impure and indecent nature of sexual coition for mere gratification. To her mother she often expressed her feelings respecting these things, and earnestly desired to be kept and preserved from sin, and from those abominations her soul so much abhorred.
7. But, notwithstanding her repugnance to the marriage state, through the importunities of her relations, she was induced to be married to Abraham Stanley, a blacksmith, by whom she had four children, who died in their infancy.
8. She continued to reside at her father's house; but the convictions of her youth often returned upon her with much force, which at length brought her under excessive tribulation of soul, in which she sought earnestly for deliverance from the bondage of sin, and gave herself no rest, day or night, but often spent whole nights in laboring and crying to God to open some way of salvation.
9. In the year 1758, and 23d year of her age, she united herself to a society called Shakers which was under the ministration of Jane and James Wardley, formerly of the Quaker order. The people of that society were of blameless deportment, and were distinguished for the clearness and swiftness of their testimony against sin, the strictness of their moral discipline, and for the purity of their lives.
10. The light of this people led them to an open confession of every sin they had committed, and to take up a full and final cross against everything they knew to be evil. This endowed them with great power over sin; and here Ann found that protection she had so long desired, and which corresponded with her faith at that time. She was baptized into the same Spirit, and by degrees traveled to the full knowledge and experience of all the spiritual truths of the Society.
11. To her followers she said; "I love the day that I first received the Gospel. I call it my birthday. I cried to God, without intermission, for three days and three nights, that he would give me true desires. And when I received a gift of God, I did not go away and forget it, and travel no further; but I stood faithful, day and night, warring against all sin, and praying to God for deliverance from the very nature of sin. And other persons need not expect to find power over sin without the same labor and travel of soul.
12. "I felt such a sense of my sins that I was willing to confess them before the whole world. I confessed my sins to my elders, one by one, and repented of them in the same manner. When my elders reproved me, I felt determined not to be reproved twice for the same thing, but to labor to overcome the evil for myself.
13. "Soon after I set out to travel in the way of God, I labored a-nights in the work of God. Sometimes I labored all night, continually crying to God for my own redemption. Sometimes I went to bed and slept; but in the morning, if I could not feel that sense of the work of God that I did before I slept, I would labor all night. This I did many nights, and in the daytime I put my hands to work, and my heart to God; and when I felt weary and in need of rest, I labored for the power of God, and the refreshing operations thereof would release me, so that I felt able to go to my work again.
14. "Many times, when I was about my work, I have felt my soul overwhelmed with sorrow. I used to work as long as I could keep it concealed, and then would go out of sight, lest any one should pity me with that pity which was not of God. In my travel and tribulation my sufferings were so great, that my flesh consumed upon my bones, bloody sweat pressed through the pores of my skin, and I became as helpless as an infant. And when I was brought through, and born into the spiritual kingdom, I was like an infant just born into the natural world. They see colors and objects, but they know not what they see. It was so with me; but before I was 24 hours old, I saw, and I knew what I saw."
15. Ann was wrought upon after this manner for the space of nine years. Yet she often had intervals of releasement, in which her bodily strength and vigor was sometimes miraculously renewed; and, at times, her soul was filled with heavenly visions and Divine revelations. By these means the way of God and the nature of his work gradually opened upon her mind with increasing light and understanding.
16. The Divine manifestations she received from time to time were communicated to the Society, and tended greatly to enlighten the minds and strengthen the faith of the members, and to increase and confirm the testimony. Her mind, ever intent upon the great work of salvation, was greatly affected concerning the lost state of mankind. But the real foundation of that loss was still concealed from her view; nor could she see any prospect of recovery under the existing circumstances; for she had long been convinced that there was nothing in all the professions and practices of professors that could save them from sin here, or furnish to them any reasonable hope of salvation hereafter.
17. She spent much time in earnest and incessant cries to God, to show her the foundation of man's loss, what it was, and wherein it consisted; and how the way of salvation could be discovered and effectually opened to mankind in the state they were then in, and how the great work of redemption was to be accomplished.
18. The ultimate fruit of the labor and suffering of soul that Ann passed through was to purify and fitly prepare her for becoming a temple in whom the same Christ Spirit that had made a first appearance to Jesus, at his baptism by John in the Jordan (the river of Judgment), at which time he received the anointing which constituted him Jesus Christ, could make a second appearing; and through whom the God of heaven could set up a Church, or "kingdom, which should never be destroyed;" for all previous Churches had been destroyed by and through the operation of the fleshly lusts of their own members. They all commenced in the Spirit, and with a cross; but, through self-indulgence, "ended in the flesh."
19. While Ann, for her testimony against "fleshly lusts, which war against the soul," was imprisoned in Manchester, England, she saw Jesus Christ in open vision, who revealed to her the most astonishing views and Divine manifestations of truth, in which she had a perfect and clear sight of the "mystery of iniquity," the root and foundation of all human depravity, and of the very act of transgression committed by Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.
20. Thus it was made plain to her understanding how and in what manner all mankind were lost from God, and that a complete cross against the lusts of generation, added to a full and explicit confession, before witnesses, of all the sins committed under its influence, was the only possible effectual remedy and means of salvation; and also that absolute death to the generative or propagative life itself (in even its most innocent, uncorrupted state), was the preliminary step to the quickening and resurrection of the hidden spiritual life of God in the soul, which life is eternal in its nature and duration.
21. Does not this disclose the meaning of the Scripture phrase, " the Lamb slain from," cut off and elevated above, "the foundation" principle "of the" natural "world?" which is the life of the innocent generative nature of man operating upon the procreative or propagative animal plane, that from the beginning was designed to be merely temporary a stepping-stone to a superior order, as the worm state to that of the butterfly. And, after having subserved its use of producing and continuing the race, to be slain, and then supplanted by the opening of the next discrete degree the Divine-spiritual in the soul, which is the ultimate and final resurrection.
22. The foregoing is agreeable to the Scripture records, and is a fulfillment of the prophetic sayings in the books of the "Revelation" and "Psalms" "The marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready." "She is arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." The King and Queen mentioned in the forty-fifth Psalm do evidently show forth the dual order of the kingdom of Christ. No one disputes that the King refers to Jesus; but who is the Queen that stood at his right hand, adorned with gold of Ophir? To whom the Spirit saith, "Forget also thine own people, and thy father's house; so shall the King greatly desire thy beauty; for he is thy Lord, and worship thou him."
23. "She is all glorious within! Her clothing is of wrought gold and fine needlework," very labored: all going to show that she had a great work to do, to fit her for the spiritual order, and to "make herself ready."
24. The "virgins, her companions, that follow her", are the men and women who constitute the virgin Church. "They are brought with gladness and rejoicing to the King's palace." And the name of the Queen would be "remembered through all generations; and the people would praise her forever."
25. And, "instead of her father's, should be her children whom she would make princes in all the earth"; being of the spiritual posterity of the "King and Queen". All this is being literally accomplished in the Church of Christ's Second Appearing.
26. From the time of the appearing of Christ to Ann, in the prison, she was received by the people as a Mother in spiritual things, and was thenceforth by them called Mother Ann.
27. The exercises in their religious assemblies were singing and dancing, shaking and shouting, speaking with new tongues, and prophesying, with all those various gifts of the Holy Spirit known in the Primitive Church. These gifts progressively increased until the time of the full establishment of the Church in America.
28. From that time (1770) Mother Ann, by the immediate revelation of Christ, bore an open testimony against all lustful gratifications, as the source and foundation of human corruption and misery. She testified in the most plain and pointed manner that no soul could follow Christ in the regeneration, while living in the works of natural generation.
29. Her testimony was often delivered with such mighty spiritual power, accompanied with so heart-searching and soul-quickening a spirit, that it seemed to penetrate every secret of the heart. But to those who rejected her testimony, it often had the effect of arousing in them the most bitter and relentless spirit of persecution, more especially among high professors in the popular churches, in which the lusts of the world and religion were and are combined.
30. The ministration of power over all sin, attended with visions, revelations, and other spiritual gifts, was the seal of Mother Ann's testimony to those who received it.
31. The immediate cause, or pretense, of the imprisonment already referred to, was dancing, shouting, shaking, etc., in the worship of God, on the Sabbath day "Sabbath breaking."
32. These meetings excited public attention, and stirred up the malignant feelings of many, both professors (especially of the clergy) and profane, of almost every class and description, to such a degree of enmity, that, by formal opposition and tumultuous mobs, open persecution and secret malice, the life of Ann was many times in great jeopardy.
33. She was often shamefully and cruelly abused, and several times imprisoned. She was once dragged out of the meeting by a mob, and cast into a prison in Manchester. They put her in a cell so small that she could not straighten herself, and, with the design of starving her to death, kept her there fourteen days without food; nor was the door opened during all that time. She had nothing to eat or drink, except some wine and milk mixed, put into the bowl of a tobacco-pipe, and conveyed to her by inserting the stem through the key-hole once every 24 hours. This was done by James Whittaker, when a boy, whom Mother Ann brought up. When taken out of prison, her enemies were astonished to see her walk off, looking as well as when she entered.
34. "On another occasion," she said, "a great mob came against me, determined to put an end to my existence. They took me into the high road, and ordered me to advance. In submission thereto, I made the attempt, but was soon knocked down with clubs; and after I got up and began to walk, I was kicked every few steps for two miles. I then felt almost ready to give up the ghost, and was faint with thirst. While I was suffering by the merciless mob, not one friend was allowed to follow me. But God in his mercy remembered me, and sent a deliverer."
35. "A certain nobleman living some distance, who knew nothing of what was passing, was remarkably wrought upon in his mind, and urged by his feelings to go; but where, or for what cause, he did not know. He ordered his servant to fetch his horse immediately. The servant went in haste, but the nobleman's anxiety was so great that he sent a messenger after his servant to hasten him. Having mounted his horse, he rode as if it had been to save his own life, as he afterwards told me. He came to a large concourse of persons, and on being informed what their business was, he rode up to the place where I was, and sharply reproved the mob for their abuse and cruel conduct, and dispersed them, and I was restored to my friends."
36. Mother Ann was repeatedly delivered from imminent danger by the same invisible power that induced this nobleman to release her. At one time a mob attempted to bind her with ropes, but were unable to do so by reason of the spiritual power by which she was exercised.
37. At another time she was accused of blasphemy, and was told that her tongue should be bored through with a hot iron, and her cheek branded. She was brought before four ministers of the Established Church, with a view to obtain judgment against her. They asked her to speak in other tongues, but she told them that unless she should feel the power of God she could not do that. She was soon operated upon, and spoke for four hours of the wonderful works of God.
38. These clergymen were great linguists, and they testified that she had spoken in seventy-two different tongues. This had the effect of causing them to advise the mob not to molest her, which only disappointed and enraged them, and they resolved themselves into her judges and executioners, and decided to stone her to death as a blasphemer.
39. The mob then took Mother Ann, William Lee, and James and Daniel Whittaker into a valley outside the town; and having provided themselves with stones suitable in size and number they threw them at the victims, but could not hit either of them.. They then fell into contention among themselves, and abandoned their wicked design.
40. Mother Ann said: "While they were throwing the stones I felt myself surrounded by the presence of God, and my soul was filled with love. I knew they could not kill me, for my work was not done; therefore I felt joyful and comfortable, while my enemies felt confusion and distress."
41. Mother Ann related an instance of persecution she received from one of her brothers thus:"One of my brothers, being greatly enraged, said he was determined to overcome me; so he brought a staff about the size of a broom-handle, and came to me as I was sitting in a chair, singing by the power of God. He beat me over the face and nose with the staff, till one end of it was much splintered. I sensibly felt and saw the bright rays of the glory of God pass between my face and the staff, and I did but just feel the blows. He continued beating until he was so far spent that he called for drink. He then began again with the other end of the staff, and I felt my breath like healing balsam, which healed me, so that I felt no harm from the stokes."
42. "At another time [she said], in the evening, I was informed by a friend that there was a mob after me. I ran out to the back side of a hill, where there was a pond covered with ice. I laid down upon the ice, and remained there all night, in great peace and consolation, and did not take cold." These were but a small part of the persecutions suffered by Mother Ann.
43. On one occasion a man started from Manchester to go to the king, to obtain a license to banish Mother Ann and her followers from the country; but on the way he died, as was believed, by a judgment of God. Some others of their bitter persecutors met with untimely deaths in an unusual manner; others of them were deeply convicted; and fear fell upon the remainder.
44. For two years previous to their leaving England, persecution entirely ceased, and they enjoyed their faith in peace, and worshipped God unmolested.
45. On the 19th of May, 1774, Mother Ann, Abraham Stanley (her husband), William Lee, James Whittaker, John Hocknell, Richard Hocknell, James Shepherd, Mary Partington, and Nancy Lee embarked for America, in the ship Mariah, Captain Smith, of New York. All of them received spiritual manifestations, and the Spirits directed them to repair to America, and informed them that the Church of Christ's Second appearing would be established in that country.
46. Mother Ann said: "I knew by the revelation of God, that God had a chosen people in America; I saw some of them in vision; and when I met them in America, I knew them. I had a vision of America: I saw a large tree, every leaf of which shone with such brightness as made it appear like a burning torch, representing the Church of Christ, which will yet be established in this land."
47. "Previous to our coming we called a meeting, and there were so many gifts (such as prophecies, revelations, visions, and dreams) in confirmation of a former revelation for us to come, that some could hardly wait for others to tell their gifts. We had a joyful meeting, and danced till morning."
48. James Whittaker, one of Mother Ann's companions and followers, said: "Before we embarked, Mother Ann told the captain that he should not have whereof to accuse us, except it were concerning the law of our God. And when we went forth to praise God in songs and dances, the captain was greatly offended, and threatened to throw us overboard if we repeated the offense."
49. "But we, believing it better to obey God rather than man, when we felt a gift of God, again went forth in the same manner to worship Him, trusting in him for protection. This so greatly enraged the captain, that he attempted to put his threat into execution."
50. "This was in the time of a storm, and the vessel sprang a leak, occasioned by the starting of a plank; and the water flowed in so rapidly, that, although all the pumps were put into use, it gained upon us very fast. The whole crew were greatly alarmed, and the captain turned as pale as a corpse, and said all would perish before morning."
51. "But Mother maintained her confidence in God, and said, 'Captain, be of good cheer; there shall not a hair of our heads perish; we shall arrive safe in America. I just saw two bright angels of God standing by the mast, through whom I received this promise.' She then encouraged the seamen, and she and her companions assisted at the pumps, when there came a great wave, which struck the ship with such violence that the plank was forced into its place, and all were soon released from the pumps."
52. "After this, the captain gave us full liberty to worship God according to the dictates of our own consciences, and promised never to molest us again, and during the remainder of the voyage we were treated with kindness. In New York, the captain declared that, if it had not been for these people, he should never have reached America."
53. Having landed in New York (August 6, 1774), the company had to divide, to seek employment in different directions; for, being poor, manual labor was their only means of subsistence.
54. Mother Ann remained in New York; and the connection between her and Abraham Stanley was soon after dissolved by the latter marrying another woman; shortly after which, Mother Ann went up the river to Albany, and from thence to Niskeuna, (a wilderness, but) now Watervliet. Here the company was reunited, and remained very secluded for about three years and a half.
55. In the spring of 1780, the converts of a very remarkable religious revival at New Lebanon, N.Y., began to visit them, many of whom united with them; and thus the material was prepared for the Shaker Society at that place. Consequent upon this addition to their number, opposition and persecution were excited; and, as the revolutionary war was then in progress, some designing men accused them of being unfriendly to the patriotic cause, from the fact of their bearing a testimony against war in general.
56. They were arraigned before the commissioners in Albany, under the above charge, and were required to purge themselves from the suspicion of being enemies in disguise, by taking the oath of allegiance. But swearing was also contrary to their faith.
57. Whereupon David Darrow, Joseph Meacham, and John Hocknell were put into prison; then Hezekiah Hammond, and Joel Pratt; and finally, Mother Ann, Mary Partington, Wm. Lee, James Whittaker, and Calvin Harlow were also imprisoned in Albany, in July of this year.
58. These were the leaders and elders of the people. They were treated with kindness by the commissioners; and many sensible, candid persons expressed their displeasure at the injustice and inconsistency of imprisoning an innocent, harmless people for their religious faith, while the country itself was struggling for freedom of person and liberty of conscience.
59. The elders were much visited in prison, and many received faith in the people and their principles, and came and confessed their sins, and "showed their deeds." Such, indeed, was the power of God that accompanied the work and testimony, that often some in the crowd were seized with conviction; and open confession of every known sin was made through the grating of the prison, so mightily grew the Word of God, and prevailed. Thus, unwittingly, their persecutors took the most effectual means to spread the very work they aimed to suppress.
60. Believers were allowed the privilege of communing with them in prison, and administered to their necessities. Mother Ann, however was soon separated from the company, and, accompanied by Mary Partington, was conveyed down the river, with the intention of banishing her to the British army; but, providentially failing in that, she was lodged in the jail at Poughkeepsie.
61. Near the close of the same year, the elders in Albany were released from prison, without any trial, by order of Governor George Clinton, after being confined six months, without any cause, except their religious faith. And being informed by those released of the imprisonment of Mother Ann at Poughkeepsie, he released her also. This was in December, 1780, when she joyfully returned to her spiritual children, to their great comfort and consolation.
62. In May, 1781, Mother Ann and the elders left Watervliet, on a missionary journey to Harvard, Mass., and other places in the Eastern States, and did not return until 1783, having been absent two years and four months. During this journey many persons, in different places, received the Gospel and became joined to them.
63. Again they were subjected to the most bitter and violent persecutions. They were whipped, beaten with clubs, stoned, kicked, dragged about by their legs and arms, and sometimes by the hair of their heads; and they were driven from place to place in the most cruel and abusive manner, so that many of them narrowly escaped with their lives, and numbers of them carried through life the marks and scars of the wounds which they had received from their inhuman persecutors. Through all these trying scenes they were evidently protected and supported by the power and providence of God, so that no life was suffered to be taken.
64. Some singular and dreadful judgments followed the prominent actors in those persecutions; and it became a proverb among the world: "These Shaker drivers are all coming to nought," and the persecutions finally altogether ceased, but were the effectual means of spreading the faith and increasing the number of the believers in the second appearing of Christ.
65. Mother Ann, having finished her work on earth, departed this life, at Watervliet, on the 8th day of September, 1784, aged 48 years and six months.
66. [Christopher Love (who was beheaded under Cromwell) prophesied that "Out of thee, O England, shall a bright star arise, whose light and voice shall make the heavens quake and knock under with submission to the blessed Jesus." To whom could this apply, if not to the Divine light and work of Mother Ann?]
67. Mother Ann, being inquired of, by Joseph Meacham, as to how it was that she, being a woman, taught in the Church, and was even the Head of it, replied: "The order of God in the natural creation is a figure of the order of God in the spiritual creation."
68. "As in nature it requires a man and a woman to produce children, the man is first and the woman is second in the government of the family; he is the father, and she the mother; and the male and female children must be subject to their parents, and the woman subject to her husband, who is the first; and when the man is gone, the right of government does not belong to the children, but to the woman: so is the family of Christ."
69. Temporal economy she inculcated thus: "You must be prudent and saving of every good thing that God blesses you with, that you may have to give to the needy. You could not make either a kernel of grain or a spear of grass grow, if you knew you must die for want of it."
70. "The Gospel [she said] is the greatest treasure that souls can possess. Be faithful; put yours hands to work and your hearts to God. Beware of covetousness, which is as the sin of witchcraft. If you have anything to spare, give it to the poor."
71. At another time, in addressing a company of Believers, she said: "It is now spring of the year, and you have all had the privilege of being taught the way of God; now you may all go home, and be faithful with your hands. Every faithful man will go and put up his fences in season, and will plow his ground in season, and will put his crops into the ground in season. Such a man may with confidence look for a blessing."
72. "But the slothful and indolent will say: To-morrow will do as well, and to-morrow will do as well. Such a man never finds a blessing; or, if he get anything, it is afterwards, and there seems to be no blessing in it. Just so he is in spiritual things. He will be slothful in the work of God, and will reap his reward. He that is unfaithful in the unrighteous mammon, how can he be trusted with the true riches?"
73. To a sister she said: "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 you victuals prepared in good order; that when the brethren come home from their hard work, they may 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 harshly, nor cast reflections upon them. Let your words be few, and seasoned with grace."
74. To another sister she 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.'"
75. "You must put away your covetousness, your lust, and your filthiness, 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. Remember the cries of those who are in need and trouble, that when you are in trouble God may hear your cries."
76. To other sisters she said: "Little children are innocent, and they should never be brought out of it. If brought up in simplicity, they would receive good as easy as evil. Do not blame them for every little fault. Teach them obedience; let your word be law. Never speak to them in a passion; it will put devils into them. When I was a child my mind was taken up with things of God, so that I saw heavenly visions instead of trifling toys. Do all your work as though you had a thousand years to live, and as though you were going to die to-morrow."
77. Of herself, Mother Ann said: "Once my feet walked in forbidden paths; my hands handled unclean things; and my eyes saw nothing of God aright. Now my eyes see, my ears hear, and my hands handle the Word of life." To some she said: "You never can enter the kingdom of God with hard feelings against any one. For God is love; and if you love God, you will love one another."
78. In addressing an assembly of Believers, at Watervliet, shortly after her return from Poughkeepsie, she spoke as follows: "You are called in relation to all the rest of mankind; and through your faith and obedience they must receive the Gospel. Pain and sufferings will never cease in the Church until all souls have heard the Gospel of salvation; for this Gospel will be freely offered to all souls, and will be the savor of life unto life, or of death unto death."
79. "The increase of the Gospel, at first, will be small; but the time will come when souls will embrace it by hundreds and by thousands; for this testimony will overcome all nations. It will increase till the covering is taken off; then mankind will see the rottenness of antichrist's foundation; then those souls that are bound in their sins will call to the rocks and to the mountains to cover them. But the saints will never be overcome again by the beastly power of antichrist."
80. "The work of God, in this day, is an inward, spiritual work. It is not so great in outward appearance as it was in past Dispensations; therefore souls must be very cautious how they treat this Gospel. For such as finally reject the testimony thereof in this world, will not have another day equal to this; nor until an offer of the Gospel shall have been made to the entire race of Adam."
81. Those who obey the Gospel on earth, taking up their cross as Jesus did, "stand with him on Mount Zion," being of " the hundred and forty-four thousand:" these are in the first resurrection; while those who receive and obey the Gospel in their disembodied state constitute the second fruits. This class is thus noticed by the Revelator (Rev.vii.9): "After this, I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations. and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes [righteousness], and palms [victories they had gained] in their hands."
82. These "cried, with a loud voice, Salvation to our God." And the question being asked, "What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?" The answer was: "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and make them white in the blood [or by living the life] of the Lamb" in the spirit-world.
83. Mother Ann said: "All souls will have an offer of the Gospel in this world, or in the world of spirits." And she added: "You have your day now. You can, by obedience, travel out of your loss, by taking up the cross that Jesus did. But souls in the world of spirits have to travel through sufferings, passing from prison to prison, until they find the mercy of God."
84. Disembodied souls are saved through sufferings, and by the labors of the "kings and priests unto God and the Lamb," who had followed the example of Jesus in the earth-life. And as Jesus "preached to the spirits in prison," so such, like him, are "baptized for the dead." (See 1 Cor. xv.29.)
85. Mother Ann also said: "Those who voluntarily take up their crosses in this world, and faithfully endure to the end, will be more bright and glorious than any others. They will be the 'kings and priests unto God.' "
86. On a certain occasion she said: "Put not your trust in any man or woman, but in the power and gift of God." Again, she said: "The room over your head is full of angels of God. I see them; and you could see them if you were redeemed. I look in at the windows of heaven, and see what there is the invisible world. I see the angels of God, and hear them sing. I see the glories of God. I see Ezekiel Goodrich flying from one heaven to another." And, turning to the company present, she said, "Go in, and join his resurrection." She then began to sing, and they praised the Lord in the dance.
87. On another occasions she said: " The Apostles, in their day, saw as through a glass darkly; but we see face to face, and see things as they are, and converse with spirits, and see their states. The Gospel is preached to souls who have left the body. I see thousands of the dead rising, and coming to judgment, now, at this present time."
88. She also said: "If there be but one called of a generation, and that soul be faithful, it will have to travel and bear for all its generation; for the world will be redeemed by generations." She saw disembodied souls laboring for the power of God, and said that such were in a travail.
89. One morning she said: "Last night I was under sufferings. A great number of the dead came to me. Some of them embraced the Gospel; others chose rather to go to hell than confess their sins. I have seen, in a vision, beautiful souls of men arrayed in white, all in the resurrection. There is no fear of their going back. As for hell, they have had enough of it; and come back again into this world they can not. But poor man in the body is always in danger."
90. "I have seen Jane in the world of spirits, praising God in the dance. I have seen young Jonathan Wood among the dead; he was like claps of thunder among them, waking them up. I have been all night with the dead. I heard the arch-angel sound the trumpet, and I heard Ezekiel's voice roar from one prison to another, preaching to the dead; and they gather to him, and are thankful to hear the Word of God. [This was soon after the decease of Ezekiel Goodrich.] And if you do not receive the Word of God which is spoken to you, the dead will; for there is not one word of God lost that ever was spoken."
91. Speaking of a particular person who had deceased, Mother Ann said: "Since that time he has appeared to me again, and has arisen from the dead, and come into the first heaven, and is traveling on to the second and third heavens."
92. When any person knelt down to mother Ann, she would say to them; "Do not kneel to me; kneel to God. I am but your fellow-servant."
93. Believers were not gathered into the order of community of goods during the lifetime of Mother Ann. She said: "The time will come when the Church will be gathered into order, but not till after my decease. Joseph Meacham is my first-born son in America: he will gather the Church into order, but I shall not live to see it."
1. WILLIAM LEE was the fourth son of John Lee, and the brother of Ann Lee. He was born in the year 1740, in Manchester, England. By trade he was a blacksmith. He came to America with his sister Ann. He possessed uncommon physical strength and fortitude of mind. In his religious faith and practice he was zealous and influential, and in times of persecution always firm and undaunted. He knew not the fear of man.
2. He was married, and was an officer in the army the Oxford Blues previous to joining his sister Ann in her new system of religion. He described himself as having been a very proud, haughty young man, fond of dress and gaiety. But, under the influence of his religious convictions, he forsook all, to be a follower of his sister Ann, and to her he was an invaluable assistant and protector; the scars from wounds received in her defense he carried to his grave.
3. At one time his skull was fractured by a blow from an iron boat-hook. Indeed, his sufferings of body and soul for the Gospel cause, as preached and lived by Mother Ann, were such that his companions said that, "like Jesus, he was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief."
4. He was richly endowed with spiritual gifts of visions and revelations, and many divine manifestations; he abounded in mercy, love, and charity and his powerful spirit always maintained a swift testimony against sin.
5. He possessed a great degree of thankfulness for common blessings. At one time he said: "I fear you are not so thankful as you ought to be for the good things that God has provided for you; but you eat and drink of these precious things without considering from whence they come. The sin of ingratitude is a great sin see that you are not guilty of it. I often eat my food with thankfulness and tears every mouthful I eat." He manifested the same thankful spirit even for water, whether to drink, or for any other use.
6. To the brethren and sisters he said: "You ought to pass each other like angels. I know the condition of souls that have left the body. Where I see one soul in the body, I see a thousand in the world of spirits."
7. He said: "War will never cease until God has finished His work with the nations of the earth. And, although it may be buried for a season, yet, like fire, it will break out with sevenfold increase among the nations of the earth. The same sword that has persecuted the people of God in ages past will be turned into the world among themselves, and it will never be sheathed till it has done its work."
8. "We are poor [said he], but we are able to make many rich; poor afflicted people of God. Once I served God out of fear, but now I serve Him out of love. I love my Mother. Although she is my sister, yet she has become by Mother, and the Lord God has made me to love her."
9. The gift of songs was peculiarly his, and he had a melodious and powerful voice, and was a beautiful and musical singer. He deceased July 21st, 1784, aged 44 years.
1. JAMES WHITTAKER was the son of Jonathan Whittaker. His mother's maiden name was Ann Lee probably a distant relation of Mother Ann. They were members of the Society under Jane and James Wardley, and subsequently embraced the Gospel. His father had an anxious feeling to come to America with Mother Ann, but was not able. He died in the faith.
2. James was born February 28th, 1751, in Oldham, near Manchester, England. He received the testimony of the Gospel in his childhood, and used to accompany his parents to the meetings of Jane and James Wardley, and was faithful and obedient to the instructions of his teachers. In his youth he was placed under the care of Mother Ann, and by her was carefully instructed in the way of God. Having, by his faithfulness, gained a great portion of the light and power of the Gospel, he became eminently useful to her in the ministry.
3. Concerning his early experience in the way of God, he gave the following particulars: "I was brought up in the way of God by my Mother [Ann], and I knew no unclean thing. Yet, when by soul was waked up, I found myself a child of wrath. I then cried mightily to God. I do not think I spoke more than five words in a day; and I verily thought the earth trembled under me for the space of a whole year. At this time I saw, by vision, my own soul with Mother's in America, and I heard all the conversation that passed between us and the men that put us into prison in Albany; and yet, during the whole time of my imprisonment, I never once thought of my vision; but as soon as we were set at liberty, it all came fresh to my mind."
4. Among other extraordinary manifestations of God to him, in early life, are the two following, in his own words: "One day, as I was walking with Mother, I felt the heavens open; such flows of the heavenly manifestations and givings of God fell upon me in so marvelous a manner, that my soul was filled with inexpressible glory; and I felt such an overflowing of love to Mother, that I cried out, As the Lord liveth, and as my soul liveth, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." He added further: "Mother then and there prophesied that I should succeed her in the ministry."
5. He said: "When we were in England, some of us had to go twenty miles to meeting. We traveled a-nights, on account of the persecution. One Saturday night, while on our journey, we sat down by the side of the road to eat some victuals. While I was sitting there I saw a vision of America; and I saw a large tree, every leaf of which shone with such brightness as made it appear like a burning torch, representing the Church of Christ which will yet be established in this land. After my company had refreshed themselves, they traveled on, and led me a considerable distance before by vision ceased."
6. In his person, James was rather above the common stature, well proportioned in form, of more than ordinary strength, and of great activity. His complexion was fair, his eyes black, and his hair was dark brown, and very straight. His countenance was open and placid, with a pleasing gravity that evinced the goodness of his heart, and the amiable mildness of his disposition. His voice was clear and solid, but mild and pleasant. In short, his visage, deportment, and conversation were all marked with an inexpressible quality, which could not but impress the feelings of a stranger with confidence and respect. It was not uncommon among strangers, on hearing him, to say, "I love to hear that James Whittaker speak."
7. In his temper and disposition he was mild, gentle, and forbearing, yet firm, undaunted, and inflexible in his duty. So amiable was his deportment, and so winning his manners, that he often disarmed the most violent opposers of their rage. He possessed much meekness, humility, and simplicity of soul; he was tender-hearted, kind, and charitable, and abounded in heavenly love. The sympathetic powers of his soul were such that, when he wept, it seemed as though no feeling heart could refrain from tears; and when he rejoiced, every soul that possessed the life of the Gospel could not but feel the power of his joy, and rejoice with him.
8. In reproving sin he was sharp and powerful, yet wise and careful not to hurt the soul. In laboring with souls, in admonishing the careless, instructing the ignorant, strengthening the weak, and binding up the broken-hearted, he evidenced much wisdom. He knew how to come to souls in every situation, and to administer help in the due season.
9. He passed through many scenes of sorrow and affliction for the Gospel of salvation, and planted and nourished it in many souls. Being young while in England, he did not suffer so much persecution there as Mother Ann and Father William and others; yet he had his full share of sufferings to pass through, so that it might be truly said, the sufferings of Christ abounded in him.
10. In America he suffered much every way; yet he always bore his sufferings with fortitude, and even with cheerfulness; so that, when most cruelly abused by persecutors, he would often kneel down and pray for them with great fervency, sometimes in the words of Christ, saying, "Father, forgive them , for they know not what they do."
11. As he was brought up in the Gospel from childhood, he possessed a great degree of purity of spirit. Indeed, it seemed as though every feeling of his soul breathed purity, righteousness, and love; hence he was at all times able to bear a strong testimony against all impurity, unrighteousness, and every kind of evil. He often said, "The Gospel is without fault; it is as straight as straightness; it is pure as the heavens; and if you do not obey it, you will lose your souls."
12. With tears rolling from his eyes, he frequently expressed his love to God, and his thankfulness for the Gospel, in the following language: "O how precious is the way of God to my thirsty soul! I feel the love of God continually flowing into my soul, like rivers of living water! It is sweeter to my taste than honey in the honey-comb! I know that God owns me for his son, and yet I will pray to Him. I know how to pray, and I know how to be thankful for the Gospel. Even my breath is continual prayer to God."
13. He used to say: "I could willingly lay down by life for my brethren, if I were called to it; for I feel that degree of love for them, that they are near and dear to be like by own soul. My only treasure upon earth is in them that believe. I have no relation except in the people of God. They who are faithful to serve God are my relations; they are my interest and my treasure, and all I have is theirs."
14. Some individuals, who had great faith in Mother Ann, and were zealous during her ministration, suffered great loss after she was taken from them; for their faith centered in her person, and not in the revelation and power of God which dwelt in her, and which was transmitted through her to her successors. Father James felt a deep sense of their danger from this source; and being impressed with the unspeakable worth of souls, and the great importance of a deep and genuine work of salvation in every soul, he did not cease to warn the people, with many tears, to be faithful and persevering, so as not to lose that which they had already gained, by neglecting to labor for an increase of the Gospel in their own souls.
15. In solemn warnings to the people, and for their encouragement, he used to say: "Wherever you are, whatever may appear, how unjustly soever you may suffer, keep your faith; for the time will come when all wrongs will be righted, and every one will receive a just reward. I am not ashamed to build up your faith; for you faith is most holy. But I know you have infirmities, and I pray that the forbearance of God may be lengthened out to you, till you learn to do right; for you must have an exceeding righteousness; your righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees. Therefore, preserve within your hearts that holy treasure which will keep you in time of trouble. Keep your faith; for the end of your faith will be the salvation of your souls. When I am gone, and you see the branches grow and flourish, then know ye that the root is holy. I have ventured my life and soul among you, and you have received the Gospel, and you are welcome to it."
16. Father James, in seasons of Divine worship, often publicly abased himself before God, in deep humiliation of soul. One Sabbath day, at Harvard, he addressed a large concourse of persons with great solemnity, and evidently under a great weight of the power of God, which brought a very solemn and affecting sensation upon the whole assembly. He then knelt down, and the Believers immediately fell upon their knees, and many other persons, who were deeply affected with his discourse, did the same. While thus on his knees, in profound humiliation, he uttered these words: "I am but a poor worm of the dust, and a very little one, too. I feel oftentimes as though I could crumble into the dust before God." He often abased himself in this manner.
17. At another time, in a public assembly, at Enfield, before he began to speak, he knelt down, and, in tribulation of spirit, said: "God has committed the Gospel to my trust." He paused while the tears flowed plentifully down his cheeks. He then proceeded: "I pray that God would lay nothing to my charge. Christ is revealed. I feel his power in sorrow and in love. God has blessed me with a broken heart and godly sorrow for sin." After this he delivered a very affecting discourse, in which he preached the Gospel of self-denial and the cross, and urged the absolute necessity of confessing and forsaking all sin, and concluded in these words: "As you treat this Gospel, so God will treat you. If you slight it, God will slight you; if you regard it, God will regard you. For, as the testimony of Noah condemned the old world, so shall this testimony condemn the present generation."
18. Father James often solemnly warned Believers not to suffer themselves to be overshadowed and darkened with those things which have a tendency to shut the gift of God from the soul. "I warn you, brethren," said he, "not to be overcome with the cares of this world, lest your souls lose the power of God, and you become lean and barren." "The way to labor for the Gospel is to keep your mind exercised in laboring upon the things that belong to your peace, and not on the things of the world; for if you give your minds to labor upon the things of the world, they will become corrupted." " You ought to be watchful over your words at all times, and be careful to know that you speak the truth; and not tell things you do not know to be true, in such a manner as to deceive others. You ought to represent things as they are, and not deceive one another; it is lying; it is wicked."
19. He used often to say: "Be what you seem to be, and seem to be what you really are. Don't carry two faces. You that dare use deceit, remember what I say: God will yet meet you in a strait place." In reproving Believers, he used to say: " If you don't love to hear of these things, then leave them off. Put away the cause, and the effect will cease. I will know no man by his speech, but by the fruit he brings forth. Ye who have believed in God, be careful to maintain good works."
20. In the time of Shay's insurrection in Massachusetts, some of the Believers, in expressing their sentiments, manifested some party feelings concerning that event; but Father James rebuked that spirit, and said: "They who give way to a party spirit, and are influenced by the divisions and contentions of the world, so as to feel for one political party more than for another, have no part with me. The spirit of party is the spirit of the world; and whoever indulges in it, and unites with one evil spirit against another, is off from Christian ground."
21. In addressing a public assembly of Believers at Ashfield, he said: "You ought to fear God in all you do. When you are about your work, you ought to fear God. And even in the gifts of God, and under the operations of the power of God, you ought to keep the fear of God, lest, by feeling releasement in those gifts, you run into lightness. There are many pious souls in this world, who live up to the best light they know, that have never heard the sound of this Gospel; but, except your righteousness shall exceed theirs, you will in nowise enter into the kingdom of heaven. Heaven is a place of joy and tranquillity to those who find it. But I am jealous, and with a godly jealousy, too, that there are some here that never will find it." He further said: "Those who are called by the Gospel when they are children, and are faithful and obedient, and keep out of sin, will be the flower of heaven and the glory of paradise."
22. One Sabbath day, at Harvard, when the Believers were assembled together for worship, and were all sitting in profound silence, Father James, under a solemn weight of the power of God, suddenly raised both his hands, and exclaimed: "Heavens! heavens! heavens! " and instantly the house was shaken, and the casements clattered, as though the house had been shaken by a mighty earthquake. At another time, under a similar spiritual impression, he uttered the words, "Peace! peace! peace! What peace I feel! The peace of the Gospel is worth more than all the treasures of this world."
23. One day he was speaking respecting the privilege and call of Believers to rise out of the generative order, with all its animal, selfish ties, and relations, and he said: "I hate these things, as I hate the smoke of the bottomless pit. And, in lieu thereof, I behold in open vision the angelic hosts, and join in their melodious songs of praise and adoration."
24. One evening, in meeting, he said: "I should be glad to speak a few words, though I would not speak anything that is too hard for you to understand."
25. "I believe I was six hours, last night, in the belly of hell! Indeed, I know I was; and I preached to the spirits in prison. I never knew until then what that passage of Scripture signifies, which says, 'One day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.' But now, by what I have seen and felt, I can testify that, to a soul that has been in hell but one day, it appears like a thousand years. For the horrors of souls in hell are so extreme, and their banishment from God so great, that they can not measure time. It is called the bottomless pit, and souls in it feel themselves sinking further and further from God; and what still increases their torment is, they can see no way out. If a man should live to the age of Methuselah, and go through all the miseries of this life, it could not be compared to one day in hell. When I saw the state of the damned, I shuddered at the awful prospect."
26. "If you will take up your crosses against the work of generation, and will follow Christ Jesus in the regeneration, God will cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Men and women in this world can please themselves by fleshly gratifications; and, if they do not overcome their passions by the Gospel, they carry them with them into the world of spirits. Death does not destroy those passions, nor make them less powerful. But souls in hell feel their lustful passions rise a thousand times stronger in them than when in this world; yet they can find no way by which to gratify them; therefore their lust is their torment, and it torments them in proportion to its rage. They also feel the wrath of God against that filthy nature, and this is still a greater torment to them."
27. "I see, in open vision, souls in hell, under torment for their sins, which (were they in the body) would be enough to take away their natural lives."
28. "Souls that go out of this world, who have not heard the Gospel, do not know God, nor where to find Him. I have seen them wandering about, trying to find God, weeping and crying until, to appearance, they had worn gutters in their cheeks. All souls will be judged by the testimony of the Gospel, which you now hear."
29. About the middle of January, 1787, Father James, having assembled the Believers in New Lebanon together in the meeting-house, came in under great heaviness of spirit, and with tears flowing copiously, said; "I am going to leave you. I feel that my work is done here, and I do not know that I shall ever see you again in this world; but I leave those with you who are able to teach you the way of God. I desire that you would treasure up the Gospel, and make it your only interest. You are all the interest I have in this world. I have no other interest."
30. He then knelt down, and wept exceedingly. All the assembly knelt with him. After rising, he warned the people, in a very feeling and affecting address, to be faithful, and keep the way of God, when he was gone, saying: "We have given you the Gospel; see to it that you make a good use of it. Do abide faithful. Those of you who abide faithful will be like a bud in the bloom; but those who do not abide will be like a falling leaf; and you will remember these words when you can not see me."
31. He then addressed the elders and laborers among the people, and gave them a very solemn charge to be faithful and watch over the people for their protection. Said he: "Deal with the brethren and sisters as I have dealt with you." He also warned them in a very special manner concerning the youth and children, saying: "You must take care of the rising generation; for, if they are protected, the time will come when they will be the flower of the people of God."
32. The next morning, he set off for Enfield, in Connecticut, from whence he never returned. After tarrying a short time there, he visited the Believers at Harvard, Shirley, Woburn, and other places, where they then resided, and returned to Enfield in March, where he remained, and was continually visited by Believers till his decease.
33. Father James's ministry was short, but very active and laborious. He visited all the different places in the land where the Gospel had been planted some of them several times. His labors were continually employed in strengthening the weak, comforting the afflicted, and purging out sin. It was the peculiar gift of his ministry to wean the affections of Believers from their natural earthly ties, and prepare them for a spiritual relation in Church order, which he foretold was at hand, and often spoke of it. His instructions to Elder Joseph Meacham and those with him, relative to gathering, building, and establishing the Church in Gospel order, might with great propriety be likened to the instructions of David to Solomon, concerning the building of the temple, which was an eminent type of this very work.
34. Many were the instructions, exhortations, and solemn warnings that Father James delivered in the last days of his ministry. When he came near the close of his life he said: "I have given you my life; all I have I have given to you. If I ever had anything, you possess it it is yours; now see that you make a good use of it." About a fortnight before his decease, he said: "My body is under great sufferings, but I feel my soul at peace with God and man. I have given you the Gospel: now see to it what kind of use you make of it. If you keep the Gospel, the Gospel will keep you. I have given my life for the people. After I am gone there will be a great increase."
35. A little before his decease, a number of brethren and sisters came from New Lebanon to see him; and, when about to return home, they went into his room to take their leave of him. On entering his room, they all knelt down in sorrow and tears, and in prayer to God, feeling sensible that this would be the last time they should see him in this world. He addressed them as follows: "I feel thankful to see you all, and that you have come to see me in my sickness once more, before I leave the world. I feel weak in body, but comfortable in my spirit; and, whether I live or die, the Gospel will increase. I have had a great desire to come and see you all, but I have not been able. But my heart has been with you; and now your hearts must be with me, to labor for the power of God for one union. I desire you would give my love to the people where you go, and tell them that I am alive, and that I never expect to die; for the sting of death is taken from me, and all fear and terror; yet I expect soon to put off this earthly tabernacle. Farewell."
36. When he was dying, a number of the brethren and sisters went to see him. On inquiring how he felt, he said: "My sufferings are exceedingly great; but that peace and consolation that I feel in the Gospel I would not exchange for a thousand such worlds as this." He then exhorted all to hold on, and to hold out to the end, and said: " If you hold out to the end, you will feel that peace which I feel."
37. Thus he continued to exhort, strengthen, and encourage all around him till he expired, July 20th, 1787, in the 37th year of his age. His funeral was attended on the following day. The scene was very affecting to all the Believers, who viewed him as their Elder and Father, and the last of those faithful ministers of Christ who brought the Gospel of salvation to this land, and who had been called to stand in the Ministry.
1. JOHN HOCKNELL was a native of Cheshire, in England, a man of respectable character, and possessed considerable property. He formerly belonged to the Methodist Society, but afterwards he became a zealous member of the Society under Jane and James Wardley, and readily embraced the increasing light through Mother Ann, and became a faithful Believer.
2. He was a man of very meek deportment, and was greatly gifted in visions and prophecies; he also possessed the gift of healing. He was a great help to Mother Ann and her little family, in a temporal view, and was very zealous in the support of the Gospel. It was through his instrumentality that they were enabled to cross the ocean, and establish themselves in this land. Indeed, the temporal assistance which his zeal and liberality afforded the Society, in its infant state, was its principal dependence. He was a very honest, conscientious, and upright man, and continued faithful and zealous during life. He saw the Church established in Gospel order, and with great joy saw its growing prosperity in things temporal and spiritual. He departed this life Feb. 27, 1799, aged 76 years.
1. JOSEPH MEACHAM and LUCY WRIGHT were among the first of those in America who received faith in the religious principles of Shakerism. Upon them the leadership and government of the people (Shakers) devolved. Under their administration it was that the principles in regard to property and order in general were fully carried out and established.
2. They gradually gathered the people from their scattered condition into families, having their property in common. Orders, rules, and regulations, in temporal and spiritual things, were framed, appropriate to the new relations they were then coming into as a body of people. Elders and deacons of both sexes were appointed, and set in their proper order; and a Covenant was written and entered into for the mutual understanding and protection of the members.
3. The Society at New Lebanon was the first that was organized, and is the center of union to all the other societies. Yet the immediate duties of the Ministry (who are the Elders of the elders) extend only to the two societies of New Lebanon and Watervliet. The other societies are under the direction of Ministries appointed to preside over them. In most instances, two or three societies constitute a bishopric, being united under the superintendence of the same Ministry.
4. Joseph Meacham was born at Enfield, Conn., on the 22d of February, 1742, and deceased on the 16th of August, 1796.
5. Lucy Wright succeeded Joseph Meacham in the lead of the Society. During her administration, the several societies in the States of Ohio and Kentucky were established, and large accessions were made to the Eastern societies.
6. She was born in Pittsfield, Mass., February 5th, 1760, and deceased February 7th, 1821.