« PreviousContinue »
place or state of constant punishment, but its inhabitants have all the enjoyments of which their perverted nature is capable, living under restraint of penalties which follow every violation of law; that heaven is a place of useful activity, in which each finds his appropriate sphere of action and happiness, and becomes subject to the process of perfectibility which goes on forever; that in the Scriptures there is a spiritual principle or fact corresponding to every natural act and object they record, a spiritual meaning distinct from, yet harmonizing with and based upon, the natural meaning of every word and sentence; that while the books of the Bible were written through various authors, each in his own natural style, it is nevertheless, by virtue of the infinite store of truth within it, a divine book, the Lord himself being its author. This view of the Bible is one of the chief distinctions of Swedenborgian belief.
The organization of the New Jerusalem Church is a modified Episcopacy, each society being, however, free to manage its own affairs. There are associations of societies, generally conforming to State lines, and a general convention composed of representatives of the associations, and also of a number of societies which have no associational connection. The service is generally liturgical. A variety of liturgies are in use in the different congregations or societies; the greater number, however, use the “ Book of Worship,” published by the General Convention. Three orders are recognized in the ministry. In connection with each association there is a general pastor, who bears the same relation to the association that a pastor does to a society. There are also pastors of societies, and preachers not yet in full orders.
The average seating capacity of the church edifices is 236, and their average value $15,755 ; 70 halls, with a seating capacity of 7165, are used as meeting-places.
SUMMARY BY STATES.
Organi- Church zations. Edifices.
3 347 41 28 50 93
4 3 I
180 1,895 950 495 75
1 I 3 2 14 4 6 3 I 4 9 22 5 2 5 I 6 II 13
2 13 3 3 I
9,000 163,700 641 16,500
61 33,000 289 44,600 368,500 1,684
163 29,000 80
42 24,500 323 192,900
560 103,500 657
300 45 230,500
774 39,000 130
500 64 4,000 40 500
88 20,810 $1,386,455 7,095
ALL societies observing the communal life, whether founded on a religious or secular basis, are embraced in these returns. Two of the societies are not religious, the Icarian and the Altruist, but it was deemed best not to omit them, on the technical ground that they are not organized to practice a faith, but to apply a social principle.
There are nine societies which properly come under this head. One of these, the Bruederhoef Mennonite, is omitted in this chapter because it is given in that on the Mennonites. The other societies are these:
5. New Icaria,
1.-THE SOCIETY OF SHAKERS.
The oldest of all existing communities in the United States is that of the Shakers, or, more accurately, “The Millennial Church, or United Society of Believers." Their first community was organized at Mount Lebanon, N. Y.,
They count themselves as followers of Ann Lee, an English woman, who was born in 1736 in Manchester and died in 1784 in this country. They revere“ Mother Ann," as she was called, as the second appearance of Christ on earth. She was a member of the Society of Quakers, and in a persecution which arose against them was cast into prison. While in prison she saw Christ and had a special divine revelation, which showed her that the only way mankind could be restored to the proper relation to God was by leading a celibate life. She came to this country in 1774 and settled at Watervliet, N. Y., in 1775, and died there. The popular designation “Shakers” was first used in England. Those Quakers who joined “Mother Ann" were noted for “unusual and violent manifestations of religious fervor," and were therefore spoken of as “Shaking Quakers.” Hence the term “Shakers."
The Shakers are strict celibates, have a uniform style of dress, and use the words “yea” and “nay,” but not “thee” or “thou.” They are spiritualists, holding that there is a “most intricate connection and the most constant communion between themselves and the inhabitants of the world of spirits.” They believe, as already stated, that the second coming of Christ is past, and that they constitute the true Church, and that “revelation, spiritualism, celibacy, oral confession, community, non-resistance, peace, the gift of healing, miracles, physical health, and separation from the world are the foundations of the new heavens.” They reject the trinitarian conception of God, holding that he is a dual person, male and female, and that the distinction of sex inheres in the soul and is eternal. Christ, they believe, first appeared in Jesus as a male and then in Ann Lee as a female. They worship only God.
Both sexes are represented in the ministry. Religious services, held on Sunday, consist of exhortation, singing, and marching and dancing to music. There is little audi
There are 15 communities of Shakers—3 each in Ohio and Massachusetts, 2 each in Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, and New York, and i in Connecticut. They have 16 church edifices, with a seating capacity of 5650, or an average of 353, and a valuation of $36,800, or an average of $2300. The number of members is 1728. In 1875, according to Nordhoff's “ Communistic Societies,” they had 18 communities and 2415 members. This indicates that they are decreasing.
This society calls its organizations, of which there are seven, “True Inspiration Congregations.” The community is confined to Iowa County, Ia., where its members exist in seven towns. They came from Germany in 1842 and settled near Buffalo, N. Y., whence they removed thirteen years later to their present location in Iowa. They are a religious rather than an industrial community, and