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UNITED SOCIETY OF BELIEVERS,
COMMONLY CALLED SHAKERS.
THE RISE, PROGRESS AND PRACTICAL ORDER OF
In the days of these kings shall the God of Heaven set up a kingdom which shall
never be destroyed. - DANIEL.
SECOND EDITION, REVISED AND IMPROVED.
PRINTED BY C. VAN BEN THUYSEN.
The first edition of this little volume having, for some years past, been mostly out of print, and the work having been frequently called for, it was deemed expedient to issue a new edition. For this purpose the authors have been called upon to revise the volume, with such improve. ments and additions as time and experience have suggested, to render the work instructive and beneficial to the reader. The original design of its publication was to present to the public a small, cheap volume, comprising particular information concerning the United Society, adapt. ed to the general class of readers, and calculated to answer the usual en. quiries respecting their religious principles and moral economy. A few improvements deemed essential, have been made to the work, and seve. ral important articles, never before published, have been added, which it is believed will prove instructive to the candid reader. The whole has been attentively examined and revised, and the original principles and design have been carefully preserved.
Those who may desire further information concerning the United Soci. ety, are referred to a larger work, entitled The Testimony of Christ's Second Appearing, containing a plain illustration of the work and dealings of God from the “ Beginning;" Together with a clear account of the principles and doctrines of the Society; and to an 8vo volume, called Dunlavy's Manifesto ; which contains very close and unanswerable reasonings in favor of the true gospel of Christ ; and to an 8vo volume entitled, "The Sacred Roll and Book, written by Divine Inspiration. These volumes may be had in any branch of this community.
New Lebanon, October, 1847.
The increasing attention which, within a few years, has been directed to the principles and practice of the people called Shakers, by travelers and writers of various classes and descriptions, has occasioned much enquiry among almost all classes of people. Publications have been issued from the press in almost every form. Historians of the various denominations of religion, writers of travels, compilers of Geographies and Gazetteers, the editors of periodical essays, and the publishers of common newspapers, have all in their turns, thought proper to notice in some way or other, the people so much “wondered at.” But in consequence of the various and contradictory accounts of many of these writers, and the false and erroneous statements concerning the principles of the people, which are so manifest in the generality of those accounts, the Society has been earnestly solicited by many candid and intelligent persons to publish a plain and correct statement of facts relative to the history of the Society, in a concise form, containing its origin, progress and present state; with a fair view of the religious faith and practice of the Society, and the principles on which their peculiar tenets are founded.
In compliance with these repeated calls, and with a view to afford the candid and unprejudiced of all classes a fair opportunity of examining for themselves, and obtaining a correct knowledge of the truth from the proper source, the following pages have been written, and are now offered to the public in a form which may easily be obtained and readily perused by every one who desires it.
We shall make no apologies for what 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 manifested 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. New Lebanon, May 12, 1823.