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Now let us for a moment, examine this wonderful charge, and see whether those wise theologists who have made their sneering comments upon it, cannot with equal propriety, bring the same charge against Jesus Christ. “If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.” And again : “ Whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.” No reasonable person will pretend that Jesus alluded to the death of the natural body; if he did, his words have certainly failed. Yet when the Jews heard this testimony, they replied, “ Now we know thou hast a devil.”Mother Ann testified that the gospel of Christ was the power of eternal life, and that those who kept it would never fall under the power of death ;t and we still testify the same. So far from asserting that her natural body would never die, she invariably maintained the contrary; and no different doctrine lias ever been maintained in the Society, from its first rise to the present day.But as the unbelieving Jews charged Jesus Christ with falsehood, and with having a devil, because he bore the testimony above quoted; so the unbelievers in this day have charged Ann Lee with falsehood, and her followers with inconsistency.

As to the charge of changing our practice, we readily acknowledge that the United Society does not follow the example of any other religious denomination, neither in principle nor practice: for we have long been convinced that a uniform course of religious profession, joined to a lifeless stupidity in divine things, cannot be well-pleasing in the sight of God, especially when blended with an ardent pursuit of worldly honor and glory. And we have never seen any profit in practicing the same dull round of religious forms and ceremonies, from year to year, and from age to age, while the only active principle of life is swallowed up in the things of time. Nor do we see any consistency in making religious profession a mere name, by constantly pursuing a practice in conformity with that of those who make no religious profession at all.

But what is the amount of this charge of change in our practice? Shall a farmer who begins in the spring to plow his ground and prepare it for a future crop, be charged with instability and change, because he does not keep on plowing through the whole season, instead of sowing his seed, or cultivating his growing crops, * John yiii. 51 and zi. 26.

| Ses Rev. 2x. 6.

according to the requirements of the season? Can he obtain a crop by continual plowing, without sowing or planting? Does he not act more consistently in keeping pace with the course of the season, and varying his work according to the season? By pursuing this course, he may reasonably expect to gather a crop in its season; but if he should continue to plow all the year round, and never plant nor sow, nor tend his crops while in the progress of vegetation, he could never expect any harvest, nor would he deserve any

The first leaders of the Society may be compared to people going into a new country, and settling in the wilderness, where the first object is to cut and clear the land, and burn the rubbish, before the ground can be suitably prepared for cultivation. In this operation, the axe and the fire are used with no sparing hand; and the falling of trees and the crackling of burning brush and useless rubbish occasion much noise and bustle, and great confusion, especially among the wild beasts and noxious vermin that infest the land. These are now obliged to flee for their lives, into some other part of the wilderness, or the fire will consume them. But when the land is sufficiently cleared, and the rubbish consumed, and the wild vermin have all retreated, and the careful husbandman has securely fenced his field, he can then go on to prepare and cultivate his ground in peace; and if he is faithful to manage his business as he ought, he will continue to improve his prenises, from year to year; so that in a few years, this once dreary wilderness will be seen to “ blossom as the rose. Such has been the progress of the United Society, and such is the nature of the changes which it has passed through.

Doubtless many of the sentiments contained in the following pages, will be treated with contempt and ridicule by those professors of the christian name who are still bound in the chains of antichristian bigotry and superstition. Nor need it be a matter of surprize to any one if they should meet with opposition from such characters : for who can expect people of this description to throw off their chains, and divest themselves of prejudice, without a severer struggle than they are generally willing to make. Such people usually feel too much of “the pride of life,” to acknowledge truths which must necessarily require a sacrifice of that pride.

The Scribes and Pharisees of old had too much of this sort of pride, and too lofty an idea of that Messiah whom their ancient prophets described in such glowing figures, to be willing to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was that exalted personage. His character and birth, as well as the low character and callings of his disciples, appeared too mean and contemptible, and their number too small, and their connexions too well known to admit even a moment's belief, in their minds, that he was the promised MESSIAH.

And why should we expect the Scribes and Pharisees of the present day to act more out of character than those of old did ? They are no more willing to submit to the cross, and have their pride stained, than their predecessors were. They view a small Society of illiterate and contemptible Shakers, as they sometimes call them) in the same light that their ancestors did the ancient disciples and primitive christians; and like them, they have the unbelieving world on their side. And will they forego the friendship of the world, and sacrifice their spiritual pride, and the honors of their dignified station, with all they hold dear on earth, and yield their assent to a testimony so much beneath the calculations of all their learned theology, and all their towering ideas of the millennium ? It is too much to expect of them.

The small number of the Society, in comparison with those of other denominations, may be considered by some, as an argument against the truth of the testimony, that this is the second appearing of Christ; and it may also produce a belief in the minds of some, that the Society can never become numerous, especially as a life of continency is so opposite to the natural propensities of human nature, that few will be found willing to embrace it. These reasons will doubtless appear plausible and natural to people in a natural state; but God is able to accomplish his owo work, not only by small means and instruments, but by small beginnings, as he always has done, in all ages of the world. The little stone spoken of in Daniel, which was cut out of the mountain without hands, and which smote the great image, “became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” This significant figure shows in a very striking light, what the hand of God can effect by small means, and what the real work of God, tho small in its commencement,

will finally amount to. The smallness of the work is no discouragement to us, nor any disparagement to its first founders. It is indeed a work of too much purity to find a rapid increase among the inhabitants of a sinful world, who are so far lost and sunk in their carnal corruptions.

We shall make no apologies for wbat we have written, as to the matter or manner. It has been our aim to state the plain truth, without covering or disguise, according to the best of our understanding and abilities; and also to comprise the different subjects in as small a compass as could conveniently be done, and convey a clear understanding to the reader. To comprise much matter in a little space, and give a full and comprehensive view of many important subjects in a small compass, is not a small task. How far we have effected the object, remains to be seen and judged of by the candid and judicious reader. Plainness, clearness and simplicity have been objects at which we have aimed in our manner and style of writing; and we trust the matter will be found intelligible to every class of readers.

With respect to the subjects upon which we have written, our object has been to give a summary view of the rise, progress and present state of the Society, together with a plain illustration of its faith and principles : a few other subjects might have been added with propriety; but we have aimed at brevity, and we think we have noticed those of the most importance, and such as may give satisfaction to candid inquirers after truth. But as the light of Divine truth is progressive in the Church, and as the preparatory work of salvation and redemption increases on earth; so the solemn and important truths of the gospel will continue, from time to time, to be more clearly manisested to mankind. As to the real substance of the gospel of salvation, it was fully revealed to the first witnesses of Christ's second appearing ; but as the work of salvation advances, the light becomes more clear, and truth appears more plain; and while those who receive and obey it find increasing peace and justification; so those who see and reject it, will find their condemnation to increase with the increasing light of truth.


SETH Y. WELLS. Neu-Lebanon, May 12, 1823.



Rise and progress of the United Society, including some account

of the first Witnesses.



I. Introductory Remarks, comprising a short sketch of the state

of Religion, and the operations of the spirit of God which

led to the rise of the Society, ang the commencement of the

present testimony of the Gospel of Christ's Second Appearing, 1

II. Sketches of the life of Mother Ann Lee : her birth and pa-

rentage: her connexion with the society of James and Jane

Wardiy: her religious exercises and sufferings : her reve-

lation and testimony: persecutions in England; voyage to



III. Circumstances connected with the settlement of Mother Ann

and her little society in America ; Religious revival at

New-Lebanon : Commencement and progress of the testi-

mony, followed by persecution : Decease of Mother Ann, &c.


IV. Some further account of the life, character and ministry of

Mother Ann Lee,


V. A short account of the life and character of Elder William Lee, 38

VI. Sketches of the life, character and ministry of Elder James



Supplementary Article, concerning Elder John Hocknell, 49


The established order and religious practice of the United Society.



1. Formation of the Society into a united Budy, possessing a
consecrated Interest,


II. The established Order and Government of the Church,


III. The Government and Education of Children,


IV. Progress and present state of the United Society,


V. Remarks on the Worship of God: the origin, practice and

reasonableness of Dancing, as an act of Divine Worship,


The Nature of God and his Works of Creation.



1. The Attributes of God; their harmony and consistency mani-

fested in God's dealings towards his creatures: the idea of

christian sinners wholly inconsistent with these Attributes, 92

II. Concerning the Decrees of God, Election and Reprobation, 103

IN. The Creation and Order of the Natural World a figure of that

which is Spiritual,


IV. The established order of times and seasons in the natural cre.

ation, together with the primeval state and probation of



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