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Ih the Pint Edition of this work, printed last year, (at Lebanon, In the State of Ohio,) the reader was notified that, from a variety of causes, several important errors had passed through the press uncorrected; some of which were afterwards corrected in the sheet, Mid others of hiss importance still remained. Since that time the "work has been carefully reviewed, and where any words or sentences were discovered that appeared not to convey a clear under* standing of the sense, or likely to mislead the reader's tnind from the true meaning of the subject, they have either been struck out, or others added, in order to render the sense more clear, plain and familiar to the understanding of common capacities. Some verses, not essentially connected with the main subject, have been placed in the form of Notes at the bottom of the pages j a few of less importance have been excluded, and a number of new Notes added. Some of the long chapters, for the sake of convenience, have been divided: this improvement, together with some amendment in the division of the verses, has occasioned a variation from the first copy in the numbers of many of the chapters and of the verses in general; but the true sense and order of the original is, throughout, preserved entire. This is to notify the reader that this Second Edition is c6rrected and improvedby the authors.
Done near Lebanon, in the Miami Country,") *nd State of Ohio, 29th of Nov. 1809. 5 PREFACE.
Jviaxy liave undertaken to write and publish concerning the ftrinci/ilc* and /iractice of a people, who, in derision, are "called SHAKERS, and cither through ignorance or prejudice have misrepresented both: so that no true information, from this quarter, could be obtained by those who desired it i hence many have become solicitous of having, from the people themselves, a correct statement of their faith. It is, therefore, in answer to the long-repeated requests of the unprejudiced and candid part of mankind, that the following sheets have been prepared for the press.
The greatest part that hath been published abroad in the world, by common fame, or through such preachers or writers as were either unacquainted with the people, or actuated by a spirit of prejudice, is too ridiculous, absurd, and contradictory, to merit the least attention; nor has any thing, hitherto,* been published that meets our approbation, except a small pamphlet, entitled, A concise statement of the firincifdea of the only true Church, written to a deaf man, by particular request, and printed at Bennington, Vermont, in the year 1790'; and a pamphlet published last year, under the title of The Kentucky Revival.
Some things, however, have been published from a spirit of detraction and slander, which are not altogether unworthy of notice, inasmuch as they have some appearance of authority, and claim for their foundation, certain well known facts, from which undue advantage has been taken, not only of staling facts in an imperfect light, but also of'adding the most groundless falsities.
This remark will justly apply to an anonymous publica* tion, printed in Danville, (Kentucky,) 1805, said to be taken from the Theological Magazine. A specimen of this garbling writer is, that, "The first founder of this w^Id sect was "one Jane Lees: she lived in the town of Manchester, in "England; was of low parentage, and procured her living at "the expencc of her chastity. She sustained the character "of a woman of ill fame in England, which character she^ "supported in America until her death."
That God did make use of a woman to open the present Testimony of Christ, is a fact; and also that she lived in the town of Manchester, in England, and was of low parentage: But the writer unhappily mistook both her name and character, which may have given occasion to a thousand other mistakes, or palpable falsehoods, conce'rning the people. <
The woman whose character he attempts to slander, we can confidently say, upon good evidence, was a chosen vessel, ordained of God, to convey the knowledgeof his will to a lost world; and for no other cause than the purity of her life, and the piercing truth of the testimony which she bore against the hidden abominations of the wicked, was her chastity called in question, and all manner of evil spoken against her falsely.
And her sustaining the character of " a woman ofill fame," in the midst of a crooked and fierverse nation, was one very striking evidence that -she was not of the world, for the world loveth its own: ar.d in this it is very evident that she bore the more striking relation to-the Son of God, who, as to outward appearance, was so particularly noticed for the meanness of his • parentage and character; and who was well known to have been a person of ill fame, in Judea, among the Scribes and Pharisees, until he was publicly executed as a malefactor, between two thieves.
But there is, still, a more striking analogy between this -rionymous libel, and the character of the Virgin Mary, given by Celsus, the epicurean, namely: "That the mother of "Jesus, being great with child, was put away by the carpcn"ter, who had espoused her, he having convicted her of "adultery with a soldier named Paniheraa," (See Part III. Chap. IV. v. 19.)
Long experience and observation, however, have afforded sufficient evidence, that the most eminently virtuous and useful characters on earth, have been the most scandalized and traduced by the, tongue of common fume; insomuch that men of prudence and candour, in many cases, are able to see through -the deception, and reasonably expect the best where the worst is said.
Probably no work of God, in any dispensation, has been more misrepresented than the present, nor any people more wrongly reported; yet it is no unpleasing reflection to us, that from the beginning of the work to the present day, we have never published any reply to any of those reports, (however evil and false we knew them to be,) either in defence of our character, or the cause we have espoused; but have peaceably passed on without regarding them any more than if they had not been; and that for the following reasons.
First: Because the testimony which we gladly received, pointed out to us a very strait and narrow way*of self-denial, and mortification to all that natural men call good and great; and opened to us that hidden treasure which we esteemed so far beyond any thing we possessed, or wished to possess on earth, that we were cheerfully willing to sacrifice our character and our all, to obtain it: so that the world could take nothing from us that we were unwilling to part with for Christ's sake and the gospel's.
Therefore, whatever evil was reported, being conscious of our innocence, it only served to increase our consolation in Christ, and afforded an increasing evidence to the candid and judicious, that we were following the des>pised footsteps of him who said, Blessed are ye when men ajtall revile ycu,and persecute you,and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely far my sake.
Secondly: With regard to the defence of the cause in which we were engaged: We had long been weary of those human creeds and confessions, and subtle arguments, written in defence of divided and sub-div ided parties, which, for many ages, had perplexed the human race, and in the end, left their abettors (and us with the rest) totally destitute of the real power of salvation from all sin.
When, therefore, we were called by the gospel, and received that anointing power which bringeth salvation, we were led and influenced by the spirit of the work, (and found it to be a point of wisdom,) first to prove the faith we had . received, for ourselves, and to manifest it by our works, as the greatest confirmation, both to ourselves and others, that the work was verily of God,, before we could feel justified in giving that full-and perfect information which the weight and importance of the subject demands. Por, until it was sufficiently proved, that the gospel which wc received, was, in its own nature, productive of the works and fruits of righteousness, justice, mercy and peace, and that it was planted by the,finger of God, and nourished and supported by his wisdom and power, separate from, and wholly independent of all human laws and creeds of men, we never could with a just confidence and propriety say, Thus hath God wrought.
The Third, and most weighty reason why we have never made any reply to those clamorous reports, and given a public statement of our faith and practice, was, that we could not have done it without acting contrary to the order of God in every dispensation of his grace. It was the gift of God to Moses, long after the flood, to record the lives and trans-, actions of the Patriarchs; and the character and works of