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The apostles and primitive christians were charged with being drunk with new wine; because under the operation of the Holy Ghost, they worshipped God in a manner so different from that practiced by the Scribes and Pharisees, and the rest of the unbęlieving Jews. The unbelievers and enemies of the cross could then say they saw it with their own eyes, and could therefore report it as an undeniable fact. And doubtless many anbelievers who heard and believed this report, thought it as presumptious in Peter and the rest of the apostles to pretend to deny it, as to deny that their accusers had eyes, seeing their conduct was so visible to all around them. Peter however did deny it with boldness and confidence; but we do not find that their enemies were willing to believe him : for their enmity and opposition still continued. Yet this new wine, as they called it, had a powerful effect in producing faith in the multitude, and in turning many souls from the error of their ways: But the apostles suffered much persecution in consequence of it.
The charge of drunkenness alleged against Ann Lee and her companions, had no more foundation in truth, than the same charges alleged against the apostles and primitive christians at the day of Pentecost. The truth is, they were under the operation of the same Spirit; and it was attended with the same effects on those who received it, and excited the same opposition in their enemies, and gave rise to the same false accusations. And tho this and other charges of immoral conduct have originated entirely from the blindness and opposition of their accusers, who viewed every thing which was said and done among the believers, through the eyes of enmity, prejudice and unbelief; yet these calumnies are still maintained by the enemies of the cross, and eye witnesses are not wanting, who can attest to these things with as much assurance as the unbelieving Jews could testify that the apostles were drunk at the day of Pentecost, because they saw it with their own eyes.
“But every tree is known by its fruit.” It would indeed be a most extraordinary phenomenon in nature for grapes to spring from thorns, or figs from thistles. Nor would it be less extraordinary for a religion productive of the best moral principles and practice, to spring from drunkenness and debauchery; or in other words, from leaders and founders who were so notorious for base
ness and immorality as the first leaders of the United Society have been represented. It is truly surprising that the propagators of such reports cannot themselves see the inconsistency, and no longer expose themselves to ridicule for believing and propagating reports which, to all men of sense, must appear incredible.
It is much to be regretted that any writers who are not personally acquainted with the United Society, should have recourse to the malignant slanders of the basest characters for information; or that they should even suppose that they could obtain any correct information from such a source. Tho these slanders have, in a variety of instances, proceeded from persons who have occasionally visited the Society, and from their natural opposition to a life of purity, joined with an inherent propensity to slander, have afterwards taken occasion to indulge that propensity for their own gratification; yet they have mostly originated from those who have apostatized from the Society, or were excluded from it for their own immoral conduct.
And it is well known that apostates from any religious society whatever, will naturally incline to seek the friendship of the world, and endeavor to justify themselves to the public for their apostacy; and the only reasonable prospect of success many such can have, depends on successfully slandering the society from which they have apostatized. This is a matter of such frequent occurrence in all societies, that it cannot reasonably be disputed. Indeed it is the natural consequence of their apostacy: for they very well know that if they should speak or write favorably of the society from which they have apostatized, every body would be ready to reproach them for their folly. And tho some who have left this Society, have been candid enough to tell the truth, and acknowledge their folly; yet the greater part have found it more to their present interest to charge the fault of their apostacy upon the Society, than to take it to themselves, even if they were obliged to admit that the Society possessed some good qualities.
But there is no man nor woman, who is well acquainted with the Society and its principles, and who has spoken and written from a principle of candor and conscious integrity of mind, that has under the influence of this principle, ever written or spoken aoy
thing whatever, against the established principles and practices of the Society. This we can assert with confidence; because we know that such a character will not do it. Doubtless much has been spoken and written from false information, and erroneous impressions, by those who never had any personal acquaintance with the Society, which is, in many respects, quite unfavorable, and for which the writers may find some apology in their want of correct information, without being chargeable with any design to calumniate the Society. But those who write for the public, ought to consider their responsibility to the public for the truth of what they publish, and not run the risk of scattering false information through the world, and imposing upon public credulity by neglecting a careful examination into the truth of what they are about to publish.
As to the misconduct of individual members of the Society, it has generally proceeded from those who have afterwards left the Society; and in several well known instances, such individuals have accused the Society of crimes which they themselves had committed; and for which they were excluded from the Society. Nor need it appear strange that those who have been excluded from the Society by their own unfaithfulness, should prove to be the calumniators of the Society which they have left, especially when they very well know that there are so many in the world who are always more ready to believe evil reports, than to seek after the truth. But truth is truth, and the truth will stand, when all falsehood and deception will entirely be done away. The world will yet know the real foundation of all those false charges and base calumnies, and be fully convinced of the baseness of those characters who have so maliciously fabricated and propagated them.
Tho we feel unwilling to hold up names to public censire; yet justice and truth require that we should bear testimony against injustice and deception. Of all classes of writers we consider the malignant slanderer as the most vile and contemptible, and the least deserving of attention. And tho numbers of that class have endeavored to distinguish themselves by their writings against the Society; yet we have never met with any that we considered as deserving a serious reply on our part; and if we should ever at
tempt a direct reply to any such writer, it must be merely for the sake of those who are in danger of being deceived and imposed upon by them, and for no other cause. Tho we have no wish to injure them in person or character; yet as they have exposed themselves by their malignant calumnies, it becomes necessary for us to caution the public against imposition from such characters.
The great professions of truth and impartiality, and the imposing appearance of honesty and candour in the writings of some of these calumniators, have doubtless deceived many. · So a counterfeiter may impose his trash upon the public by imitating genuine bank bills, and may deceive thousands; yet all the arts of deception can never make a bad bill good, nor transform falsehood into truth; the deception will be discovered and the deceiver will be detected in the end. Nothing but the plain and simple truth will pass the final trial; and every man's work will eventually prove what he is.
Among all the accounts of the United Society that have ever yet appeared before the public, from under the hands of those who have apostatized from the Society, whatever the writer's pretensions might be, we have never yet seen one that has met our approbation, or that we could justly consider as entitled to the character of truth, honesty or impartiality. And all who have drawn their accounts from such writers, have only deceived themselves and the public in so doing. Tho we are far from feeling any disposition to reply to such writers; yet we think we may be fully justified in stating as a general remark, that those who have writo. ten against the Society; or in any way endeavored to calumniate i after having apostatized from it, have never yet raised their reputation for honesty and integrity, nor mended their moral characters by their works.
Notwithstanding all the pretended discoveries of error and delusion, and all the charges of injustice and deception, by those who have left the Society, not a solitary instance has ever yet appeared, where any one, after having renounced the faith of the Society, and rejected the testimony maintained by the people, has ever turned to a more moral course of life. If, as they pretend, they found the principles of the people bad, or their lives immoral,
they have turned to worse principles, and more iinmoral lives. „.Nor do. we believe that there can be found throughout the United
States, a single instance where any such person has pursued a better course of life, or obtained a better reputation for religion, honesty, morality or integrity than he had before. But instances enough may be found of increasing degeneracy and depravity in those who have apostatized.
There are many among mankind who are willing to acknowledge the moral principles and practice of the Society, in its present state, to be very good, and readily allow the people much credit for their honesty and sobriety, their exemplary lives and moi rals, their uprightness and punctuality in all their dealings, their kindness and charity to the poor, their industry, temperance and good economy in the management of all their concerns, and the like; but still insist that their principles and practice are greatly changed from what they were formerly; that they have renounced many of the wild extravagances in principle and practice, which were formerly taught by Ann Lee and the first leaders of the Society; and that, of course, the people have greatly reformed, both in principle and practice.
With regard to a change of principles, we can assure our readeřs that there was not a single principle of faith ever advanced by Mother Ann and the first Elders, of which we have any knowledge, but is still maintained by the Society, without any variation whatever. As all the principles then advanced have been fully and abundantly proved by long experience, and the increasing light and understanding in the Society, to be principles of truth; so the practice of the Society has ever been conformable to them. Among many other ridiculous charges of the like nature, it has often been asserted and reiterated, " that Ann Lee declared that she should never die; and that the principle was taught and believed by the people in her day, that after having arrived to a certain degree of purity and holiness, they would never die; and that after the death of Ann Lee, the principle was discarded as upsound and untenable.” Those who are so ready to charge inconsistency upon the Society, have harped much upon this story, while in fact, the inconsistency lies altogether in their own ignorance of the truth.