Account of a singular Sect called Shaking QuakERS in America.
I N the United States of America there are some Jews, and various denomications of Christians, –as Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers, Dunkers, Moravians, Deists, Methodists, Newlights, Sandimanians, Universalists, and Shaking Quakers; all of whom are allowed to perform religious worship accoridng to the dictates of their consciences.
The Shaking Quakers are a new sects, that sprang up about the year 1769 : an old woman called the Elect Lady, with twelve disciples, all of which were said to be Europeans, were the founders of this new mode of worship ; they drew thousands of people after them, who pretended they were visited with power from on high to work miracles, heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out devils, and speak in unknown languages.
This Lady risided in the north-westerly part of the State of New York, where she began to instil her tenets into some of the people there:– afterwards she rambled from place to place, promulgating her religion, and gaining proselytes in New England, and elsewhere:–she engrossed the kingdom of heaven to herself and followers, to the seculsion of all others.
She pretended her mission was immediately from heaven;–that she travelled in pain for her elect, –could speak in seventry-two unknown languages, in which she conversed with those that had departed this life,–that there had not been a true church upon earth since the days of the Apostles, until her’s was erected,–that both the living and the dead must be saved, in, by, and through her –must confess their sins unto her, and procure her parson, or they could not be saved;–that that she gathered her church from both earth and hell, as every person that had died since the time of the Apostles, until her church was set up, was damned, and that they were ocntinually making intercession to her for salvation, which was the occasion of her talking to them in those unknown tongues.
Those that entered into her church were obliged to confess their sins, and deliver up their jewels, rings, necklaces, buckles, watches, &c. to be disposed of as she thought fit.
It has been reported that some of these confessions proved very beneficial; for some of her church members owned they had stolen things that had been laid to innocent persons.
When these people carry on their worship, they pretend to praise the Lord by singing, dancing, jumping, turning round, falling down, tumbling, &c. and in the mean time some will be trembling, groaning, sighing, and sobbing: whilst others are preaching, praying, exhorting, &c. others will be clapping their hands, shouting, hallowing, screaming, and making such a hideous noise, that it may be heard at a great distance, and will often affrighten the spectators.
They often dance three hours without intermission, and when any of them are tired of praising the Lord that way, they are whipped by others, to make the worship go on briskly. They dance till they are much emaciated ; the young women grow pale, appear like ghosts or apparitions, or like deserters from a church-yard, –if I may use the sailor’s phrase.
They make no use of the Eucharist, or of water baptism in their churchs; are averse to wars, fighting, and swearing ; they use the plain language, and cry– yea, and nay, instead of yes and no : but the other Quakers do not approve of all their tenets.
At particular times they labour very hard at their respective occupations, and are very careful that no time is spent in idleness.
They pretend they hold a correspondence with the saints and angels, and that they frequently see and converse with the spirits of their departed friends.
Many of them refuse to be with their wives, because they suppose they are part of the hundred and forty and four thousand mentioned in the Revelations that were redeemed from the earth, and were not defiled with women.
They hold, that they have already been made partakers of the first resurrection, and that on them the second death will have no power.
They do not allows the instrumental music in their churches, because they suppose it was ceremonial, and is abolished;–but pretend that they carry on their worship by the immediate power and influence of the Holy Ghost, and that they have scripture warrents for their practice, a[?]– Sing unto God,–Praise the Lord in the dance; –O clap your hands, all ye people;–Shout on to God;–Make a joyful noise;–Fall down before the Lords,&c.
Citation: Glasgow Advertiser (Glasgow, United Kingdom), 14 December 1789, available at the Scissors and Paste Database, http://www.scissorsandpaste.net/42.