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KASPAR VON SCHWENKFELD, a nobleman of Germany, born in the fifteenth century, differed from other Reformers of the period on a number of points concerning the Lord's Supper, the efficacy of the external Word, and Christ's human nature. He did not form a separate sect, but his followers did so after his death, taking his name. Early in the eighteenth century they were scattered by persecution. Some fled to Denmark, whence they came to this country near the close of the first half of that century. They settled in Pennsylvania, where a remnant of them still exist. They celebrate the arrival from Denmark annually, making it a kind of festival.
They hold in general to the doctrines of the German Reformation, with a few peculiarities. The words of Christ, “ This is my body,” they interpret as meaning, “My body is this,” i.e., such as this bread, which is broken and consumed, and affords true and real food for the soul. The external Word, as they believe, has no power to renew; only the internal Word, which is Christ himself. The human nature of Christ was not a created substance. Being associated with the divine essence, it had a majestic dignity of its own.
Among the customs peculiar to the Schwenkfeldians is a service of prayer and exhortation over newly born infants, repeated in church when the mother and child appear. The churches are Congregational in government, each electing its minister and officers annually. The former is chosen by lot.
THE SOCIAL BRETHREN CHURCH.
This is a small body of about twenty congregations in Arkansas and Illinois, which had its beginning in 1867. In that year a number of members of various bodies, whose views concerning certain passages of Scripture and certain points of discipline were not in harmony with the churches to which they belonged, came together and organized a church and subsequently an association of churches. In 1887 a discipline, containing a statement of doctrine and rules for the government of the churches and the ordination of ministers, was adopted. The Confession of Faith, which consists of ten articles, sets forth the commonly received doctrine of the Trinity, the Holy Scriptures, the evangelical doctrine of redemption, regeneration, and sanctification, declaring that he that endures unto the end the same shall be saved; holding that baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances made binding by Christ, and none but true believers are the proper subjects. Three modes of administering baptism are recognized, and candidates are allowed to choose between them. The eighth, ninth, and tenth articles declare the right of lay members to free suffrage and free speech, that candidates shall be received into full membership by the voice of the church, and that ministers are called to preach the gospel, and not to preach politics or anything else. The associations correspond in general usage to Baptist associations. There are two classes in the ministry, ordained and licensed, also exhorters and stewards, as in the Methodist churches, and ordained deacons, as in the Baptist. It is quite evident that the denomination was originally formed of Baptists and Methodists, the ideas of both these denominations and some of their usages being incorporated in the new body.
There are 20 organizations, with ii edifices, valued at $8700, and 913 members; 6 halls, with accommodations for 600, are occupied.
THE SOCIETY FOR ETHICAL CULTURE.
This society was founded in New York in 1876 by Prof. Felix Adler. It was announced as “the new religion of morality, whose God is The Good, whose church is the universe, whose heaven is here on earth, and not in the clouds." Its aims have been thus defined by Professor Adler:
“I. To teach the supremacy of the moral ends above all other human ends and interests.
“II. To teach that the moral law has an immediate authority not contingent on the truth of religious beliefs or of philosophical theories.
“III. To advance the science and art of right living."
Meetings are held on Sunday, at which addresses or lectures are delivered. Societies having been organized in Chicago, Philadelphia, and St. Louis, as well as in New York, a convention was held in 1886, and "The Union of the Societies for Ethical Culture” formed, with a constitution calling for annual meetings. The four societies report an aggregate of 1064 members. The New York society has a cash fund in hand of $60,000. The 5 halls occupied have a seating capacity of 6260.
In connection with the New York Society considerable educational and philanthropic work is carried on, both by