Frederick Evans Claims Priority for Shaker Spiritualism

F. W. Evans, “Shakerism vs. Owenism. A Letter to Robert Owen, by a Shaker,” Spiritual Telegraph, February 2, 1856:157.

New Lebanon, January 16, 1856.

[. . .]

It appears that you, my friend, are now a Spiritualist.  Spiritualism originated among the Shakers of America, after spiritual “darkness had covered the earth, and gross darkness the people” thereof, for more than twelve hundred years.  And it was also to and among them, a few years ago, that the avenues to the Spirit-world were first opened, when for seven years in succession a revival continued in operation among that people, during which period hundreds of spiritual mediums were developed throughout the eighteen societies.  In truth, all the members, in a greater or less degree, were mediums.  So that physical manifestations, visions, revelations, prophecies and gifts of various kinds, (of which voluminous records are kept,) and indeed “divers operations, but all by the same spirit,” were as common as is gold in California.

These spiritual manifestations were constituted of three distinct degrees.  The first had for its object, and was judiciously adapted to that end, the complete convincement of the junior portions of the associations—junior either in years or in privilege.  The second had for its object, a deep work of judgment—a purification of the whole people by Spirit agency.  Every thought, word, and deed, was open to the inspection of the attending Spirits; even the motives, feelings, and desires, were all manifest to their inspection.  “Judgment began at the house of God.”

The third had for its object a ministration of truth—millennial truths—to various nations, kindreds, tribes and people in the Spirit-world, who were hungering and thirsting after righteousness.  “These all died in faith, not having received the promises; God having provided some better thing for us, that they WITHOUT US should not be made perfect,” “which things the angels desire to look into.”

Spiritualism, in its onward progress, will go through the same three degrees in the world at large.  As yet it is only in the beginning of the first degree, even in the United States.  By inquiry, I presume you can put yourself en rapport with some of the Spirits who have visited our people, and perhaps procure some further information upon this subject, which might be of interest and profit to you.

The Shakers are the only people on the earth who will not, in their turn, become the subjects of Spiritualism, in its present and two succeeding degrees.  Spiritualism is the angel that John saw “come down from heaven, having great power, and the earth was lightened with his glory.”  After the earthly man is lightened and enlightened by it, he wil then need salvation from sin, and will feel that need.  [. . .]

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