OF THE SECT SELF-STYLED
WITH A SUMMARY VIEW OF THEIR LEADING DOCTRINES.
By Rev. HUBBARD EASTMAN.
For there are certain men crept in unawares; . . . ungodly men.
Such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves
PUBLISHED BY THE AUTHOR.
“Hyper” Preterism: John Humphrey Noyes and “Hyper-Preterism” “Perhaps the most infamous group of pre-1970 hyperpreterists was a group in upstate New York in the late 1800s. This group was called the “Oneida Community” (search wikipedia.org). This group formed a commune & practiced their hyperpreterism to the extent of no longer having individual marriages but instead everyone having sexual relations with everyone else — they thought this would be a “logical” conclusion if the resurrection is already passed & people are no longer given in marriage. (Mt 22:30)”
“Theses of the Second Reformation.”
From Aug. 20, 1837
DOCTRINES OF THE PERFECTIONISTS.
Perfectionist CreedóTheses of the Second Reformation.
Having disposed, in the main, of the historical part of Noyesism, we now proceed, in pursuance of our plan, to notice some of its leading doctrines. We shall in the first place give the Perfectionist Creed, at least so far as it has been presented to the public in a tangible form.
In the Witness of Aug. 20, 1837, we find the following:ó
” What we believe.”
1. ” We believe, that God is the only rightful interpreter of the Bible, and teacher of theological truth,ó hence,
2. We believe, that no doctrine can become an article of true faith, which is not recognized by the believer as an immediate revelation to him from God,ó
3. We believe, that God, ” who worketh all in all,” can and does teach his own truth, through his written word and through the testimony of his sons,ótherefore,
4. We believe it is proper, that we should state, as witnesses for God, the fundamental articles of Out own faith.
5. We believe ” there is none good but one, that is God,”óthat all the righteousness in the universe is God’s righteousness.
6. We believe, that God’s righteousness may be revealed in his creatures, as a man’s spirit is revealed in the motions of his body.
7. We believe, that ” the works of the flesh, [i. e. human nature,] are adultery, uncleanness, envyings, strife, and such like” only.
8. We believe, that all attempts to produce better results from human nature, by instruction and legal discipline, only increase the evil,óinasmuch as they refine and disguise, without removing it.
9. We believe, that the Son of God was manifested in human nature for the purpose of destroying, (not reforming,) the works of the flesh, and revealing the righteousness of God.
10. We believe, that the righteousness of God was never revealed in human nature, till the birth of Jesus Christ.
11. We believe, that the object of all God’s dealings with the human race before the birth of Christ, was, not to promote the righteousness of the flesh, i. e. self-righteousness, i. e. the perfection of sin; but to prepare the way for the manifestation of his own righteousness through Jesus Christ,óhence,
12. We believe that the righteousness of the saints, under the law before Christ, was only ” a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things,” bearing a relation to the true righteousness of God, like that of a type to its anti-type.
13. We believe, that the servants of God under the law, by submission to the discipline of the dispensation in which they lived, were prepared for, and became heirs of the righteousness of God, afterward revealed by Jesus Christ.
14. We believe, that ” God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself,”óthat the union of human and divine in him, made the righteousness of God accessible to all men.
15. We believe, that Christ is properly called the second Adam, and as the human race in spirit is one body, that he became, by his incarnation, ” the light that lighteth every man.”
16. We believe, that all who are apprized by the gospel of the fact, that the Son of God has come, are thereby called to choose whether they will hold the fallen or the risen Adam as their head.
17. We believe, that faith alone receives, and unbelief alone rejects, the blessings given to men by the second Adam,óby faith men awake to a perception of the truth as it is in Christ,óunbelief is the devil’s dream.
18. We believe, that Christ, as he is in his resurrection and glory, is given to every member of the human race.
19. We believe, that all the faith, righteousness, liberty and glory of the risen Son of God, are given to every man.
20. We believe, that Christ in his incarnation was ” made under the law,” and that the christian dispensation did not commence, in any sense, until he ascended up on high.
21. We believe, that none are Christians, in any sense, till they receive Christ in his resurrection,ó hence,
22. We believe, that the disciples of Christ, during his personal ministry in the flesh, were not Christians.
23. We believe, that Christ in the resurrection is free from sin, from the law, from all ordinances, and from death ; hence all who are subject to any of these, are not properly called christians, as not having attained the hope of their calling.
24. We believe, that the history which the Bible contains of the Church, after Christ’s ascension, comof the latter-day glory of Judaism, than of the commencement of christianity.
25. We believe, that the apostles and primitive believers, so far as they were subject to sin, law, and death, were Jews and not christians.
26. We believe, that Christ plainly and repeatedly promised to his disciples, that he would come to them a second time and complete their salvation within the life-time of some of his immediate followers.
27. We believe, that the primitive church, living in the transition period, from the first to the second coming of Christ, were more or less partakers of the resurrection, holiness, liberty, and glory of Christ according to their faith.
28. We believe, that at the destruction of Jerusalem, the end of the Jewish dispensation, Christ came to believers the second time, according to his promise.
29. We believe, that at the period of the second coming of Christ, christianity, or the kingdom of heaven, properly began.
30. We believe, that this was the period of the full development of the New Covenant, (Heb. viii.) which secures to believers perfect and eternal salvation from sin, full freedom from written law and human instruction.
31. We believe, that the whole body of Christ, i. e. the church, attained the perfect resurrection of the ï spiritual body at his second coming.
32. We believe, that Antichrist, at the same period, attained the perfect resurrection of damnation.
33. We believe, that this was the period of the redemption from the law and legal instructionóa perfect resurrection of the spiritual body, and a standing on the plain of eternity beyond the judgment.”
Many judicious persons were decidedly of the opih* ion that the welfare of community required the publication of a work like the one here presented. It was thought that the public ought to be put in possession of facts, sufficient to enable them to form a correct judgment, in relation to the moral character of the Society which has lately arisen under the auspices of Mr. John H. Noyes. It was also deemed important that the pernicious principles, propagated by Mr. Noyes and his coadjutors, should be exhibited in such a manner that their immoral tendency and ultimate ruinous results might be clearly seen.
Moreover, several professional gentlemen of high standingówho were familiar with the principal facts elicited by some startling disclosures made at Putney, Vt., in the autumn of 1847ówere consulted in reference to the propriety of publishing the present work; circumstances not only justified, but loudly called for suet a publication.
Furthermore, a prospectus was issued, briefly stating the design of the work, and about three hundred copies were readily subscribed for in the town where the Society und´r the immediate supervision of Mr. Noyes was located, and which, for several years, was the headquarters of the sect, self-styled Perfectionists. Many subscribers were also obtained in adjacent towns, and in other places at considerable distanceóthus affording unmistakable indications of public sentiment relative to the propriety ef the present undertaking.
The writer, for a few years past, having been a resident of the village where the Community under the immediate control of Mr. Noyes had its location, and also having had access to the published documents of the Perfectionists, has thus been favored with many facilities for acquiring a knowledge, not only of the doctrines of the sect, but of the character and policy of the Society in Putneyótheir head-quarters, until recently. The work, however, owing mainly to the mass of material and the peculiar character of the subject, has been one of much labor and many difficulties. To prepare, select, and arrange such matter as would be suitable for the public eye, adapted to the design of the work, and proftask. How far the object in view has been successfully accomplished, is left for the reader to decide.
The following pages contain matters, not merely of local or sectional interest, but bring to view some important facts and principles in which all classes of community have a common interest. Disclosures have been made, clearly exhibiting the practical tendency of the pernicious principles held and promulgated by the Perfectionists. An account of recent developmentsó so far as deemed advisableóhas been given ; and one of the most iniquitous systems ever devised and propagated under the name and garb of Christianity, is brought to viewóexhibiting a deeply laid scheme of personal aggrandizementóa scheme designed to sever the ties of consanguinityósunder the social relationsó subvert the present order of societyósap the foundations of civil governmentóand erect upon the ruins of republican institutions and the relics of morality, a petty Monarchy, with a head as dogmatical and merciless as lie Papal Throne,, and the whole throughout as corrupt and shameless as the ” Mother Of Harlots And Abominations “óthus exalting an ambitious individual who aspires to be sole dictator of all under his direction and control; and who has assumed that he and his adherents, in their present ” advanced position” are
Matters connected with recent disclosures, have, to some extent, been legally investigated, and the results of that investigation are givenóalso all events worthy of note connected with the history of the sect, so far as known, have been recorded.
Owing doubtless to the nature of the facts which have gone out from the head-quarters of the sectóaccompanied it is presumed by some exaggerated statements and false rumorsósome persons entertain slight fears as to the moral influence of an exposure. But it is probable that this impression prevails only to a limited extent; and arose doubtless from a misapprehension of the design and character of the work. Facts sufficient to exhibit the most prominent features of the sect, must necessarily be given; but this has been done in language -the least objectionable. Although it was necessary to speak of vice with some degree of freedom, under the peculiar aspect which, in the present instance, it has assumed; yet it has been the design throughout to do it in the most proper manner ; and at the same time the most correct moral sentiments have been strictly mculcated and strongly enforced. An extended detail of disgusting scenes has not been given ; neither a repetition of ª ï ^i ï -.* ´sed by
Mr. Noyes. This was vh* . > .. i highly
improper. One purpose of this present work has been to place upon record such matters as the times imperiously demand. Were this not done at the present juncture many facts might be forgotten, and at some future period this hideous monster of iniquityówhich still existsómight rise up, with renewed vigor, when the facts necessary to counteract its deadly influence could not be rescued from oblivion. It does not enter into the design of the present work to discuss the subject of perfection as presented in (he Bible. Every person conversant with the Scriptures is familiar with the fact that the terms perfect and perfection are employed to designate a state or standard of moral attainments, especially under the Gospel Dispensation,, which men are exhorted to strive to attain. As to the height or definite point to which we may arrive in the present life, there is some difference of opinion among evangelical denominations. In regard to this question sincere Christians may honestly entertain different views without being derogatory to their Christian character. Touching this matter it does not come within the province of this work to give even an opinion ; but to exhibit the kind of perfection taught by Mr. Noyes and his followers. Bible perfection and Noyesism are as diverse as light and darkness. The one ia the highest state of moral purity at which man is capable of arriving: the other is the worst of spiritual
with which man’s moral nature was ever infected. Bible perfection is moral purity,óthe perfection of Noyes and his followers is perfection in sin !
The issue of the work has been delayed beyond the time originally intended. This was rendered necessary in consequence of the impracticability of obtaining at an earlier date some important facts and documents deemed very essential. The delay, however, will doubtless add to the permanent value of the work. The subject has lost none of its importance ; meanwhile, matters of considerable interest have been in a course of gradual development, and it is believed that the additional information obtained will amply compensate for the necessary delay.
Having been prepared to meet the present exigencies, this unpretending volume is now commended to the favor, and submitted to the candid consideration of the public, with an earnest desire that it may be instrumental of good. Should it contribute something toward effectually correcting the existing eviló-which it is designed to exposeóand thereby subserve, to some extent, the cause of truth and correct morals, the end of its publication will be answered.
Putney, May, 1849.
Introduction, ……. 13
Preliminary RemarksóBirth, Parentage, and Early His-
tory of John H. Noyes, 25
Origin of Modern PerfectionismóBrief Sketth of its
Early History, 30
Legal Proceedings, 35
Legal Proceedings Continued, …. S9
Confessions of John H. Noyes, 46
Action of the Citizens of PutneyóProceedings of Public
Meetings, ‘ 51
Citizens of Putney falsely charged with having adopted
Leading Perfectionists, 68
Reproaches cast upon the Citizens of PutneyóCry of
Persecution raised by the Noyesites, . . ï ” –
Noyesisua at Putney,
Principles taught by Noyes, ….. 85
The Battle Axe Letter and its History, . . . n
Principles on which the doctrines of the Battle Axe
Letter are based, …… 102
Ultimate results of the sentiments of the Battle Axe
Letter, ……. .117
Extracts of letters addressed to Mr. Noyes ó Noyes’s letter
to Miss Harriet A. Holton, . . . . 127
Noyesite Community at Oneida ó Rule in the Putney
Communityó State of things in New York, . 137
Extracts from Correspondence ó Visit of Mr. Lowell to
the Oneida Community, . . . . . 14?
ïNoyea searching for Stolen Goods, . . . . 154
Affidavit of Alexander Wilder ó Expulsion of Mr. John
B. Lyvere and Miss Almira Edson, . . . 159
Bible Secret! vencss …….. 173
Pretended Miracles of Noyes continuedóCase of Mrs.
Harriet A. Hall continued, . . . . 19$
Fretended Miracles of Noyes continuedóCase of Miss
Mary A. Knight, 21ª
Pretended Miracles of Noyes continuedóSundry Cases, 238
Prominent trait in the character of NoyesóHis Censori-
ousnessóIntolerant Spirit of NoyesismóFake state-
ments of NoyesóMartyr-Spirit of ancient Chris-
Article from th´ Advocate of Moral ReformóRemarks
of Rev. Joseph Tracy and Rev. S. B. Yarrington, 259
Remarks of O. H. Platt, Esq., 271
Patney Perfectionism, 284
Asaamed and acknowledged Supremacy of NoyesóHis
female co-workers at PutneyóRemarks of Mrs. S.
T. Martyn, 288
LatitudinarianisaióEffects of Licentiousness, . . 298
Doctrines of the PerfectionistsóPerfectionist Creedó
Theses of the Second Reformation, . . . 309
Uoyes’s Views of DeityóImage of GodóView of Noyes
concerning Angels, 324
Noyesite Theory of Disease, ….
Distinguishing and Leading Doctrines of Noyesism, . 364
Origin of EvilóHuman DepravityóHoliness of Adam-
Judgmentó Resurrectionó SabbathóTemperance
AmusementsóFellowship, ….. 383
Concluding Observations, 397
Aeeenbix, ï 407
Ik every age and among all nations impostors and fanatics bare existedóruinou* errors and pernicious ieresies have prevailedóand delusions dark and deep have exerted a wide-spread and destructive influence. But the present appears to be an unusually prolific period, distinguished for the multiplicity of erroneous systems and idle theories, which are starting into existence in rapid succession on every hand; and which, after continuing for a time, will undoubtedly share the fate of many which have gone beforeóbe exploded and pas away, or remodelled and merged in other ayatenw of kindred character, between the essential elements of wskai there is & close affinity…
dency of their distinctive doctrines ; but of late there has been such a disgusting exhibition of their legitimate fruits among the leading Perfectionists at head-quarters as to shock the moral sense of the community, demand some legal action, and call for a public exposure of the enormities of this sect.
Perhaps, as a general rule, the best method to overthrow error is to present its oppositeóplain, simple, unvarnished truth. Bat when new and erroneous systems, and especially such as are peculiarly iniquitous, are firs* being promulgated and urged upon public attention, a presentation of such facts as may have come to light, tending to exhibit their true character, and an investigation of their fundamental principles, are sometimes, if not always, demanded. The the public good imperiously requires.
Recent disclosures of a startling character have elicited some astounding facts, which, together with sentiments heretofore published by the Perfectionists, place this sect, but more especially the leaders and most prominent members, before the public in a very unfavorableóyea, in a most contemptibleólight; and they now occupy a no very enviable position. The veil, which had been spread, and had long hung, over this hydra-headed monster of iniquity, has at length been removed, and the principal actors in the scene behind the curtain are now exposed to public view. And N. was arrested in the fall of 1847, for some very high crimesóthat he was placed under heavy bondsóthat he absconded soon after his arrestóthat the Grand Jury for Windham County found a Bill against himó and that he did not appear at Court when his case came on for trial, and his bonds were forfeited. Now, these circumstances are sufficient to fasten the conviction upon every mind that Mr. N-. is guilty of the charges alleged against him; but in addition to this, there is abundant proof in relation to this matter, and not a shadow of doubt remains as to his guilt.
Prior to his arrest, Mr. N. and his coadjutors had put in motion a somewhat complicated machinery, which required some ingenuity to invent, and considerable time and labor to construct and bring to completion. This engine, the product of so much labor and skill, was designed to operate against all existing organizations, both of Church and State.
Many of the views advanced by Mr. Noyes are so peculiar to himself, and the doctrines taught so diverse from evangelical truth, and the system in all its fundamental principles and practical tendencies so evidently anti-Christian, that we think it should hereafter be known by the more appropriate name of Noyesism, in preference to Perfectionism. But for the sake of convenience these terms are used as synonymous in the present work.
Noyesism is evidently near akin to, if not the worst there is not a shadow of doubtóthis its advocates acknowledge and assert. It aims a deadly blow at the foundations of the civil and social fabric, and is as detrimental to the moral interests of a community where its influence is felt, as the pestiferous Sirocco is to the health of the person who inhales its baneful breathó and it is as fatal to the moral principles of those who are brought fully under its power, as the deadly Simoom is to the hapless wanderer who may chance to fall in its way.
Such being the character and tendency of Noyesism, arguments for its refutation may seem almost superfluous. Indeed, so numerous are the discrepancies in the writings of Mr. N. and his co-labªrers, and such palpable absurdities appear in almost every part of the system, that it carries to every considerate mind its own refutation. The contagion contains, to some extent, its own antidote.
That the character of the sect, and the tendency of the entire system of doctrines which they advocate and to which they pertinaciously adhere, are what they are here represented to be, is abundantly sustained by a multitude of well authenticated facts ; and when divested of the false glosses which its principal advocates have thrown around it, the’ whole system is so utterly revolting that it can gain no credit in an intelligent and virtuous community;óit needs only to be known, to be discarded.
Hence it has evidently been the settled policy of the ´xtent, its true character and direct tendency concealed from public view; and although much was inferable from the language used at different times, yet such confused explanations of terms and phrases were often given, and so many artful disguises thrown around it, that the mind of the reader would be darkened, and the whole subject mystified, except to those wko had been initiated into the secrets of the system. Moreover, when facts discreditable to the characters of the leaders were in danger of being disclosed, every possible efibrt was made for their suppression.
It is deeply to be regretted that this enormous system of error and iniquity ever had an existence, and rendered an exposure necessary; but it must be a matter of heartfelt rejoicing to every lover of truth and good morals, that facts have been so far divulged as to undeceive the public in relation to the character of the sect, and the tendency of their distinctive doctrines. And even now, rather than exhibit the guilt of those concerned, it would be more agreeableówere it compatible with the public good, and in peeping with correct principlesóto throw the mantle of charity, or the pall of oblivion, over the whole matter, and let it forever rest in undisturbed repose. But this can never be consistently done;óthen if it cannot be buried in ïoblivion, nor covered with the broad mantle of Christian charity, it should be held up to public view with all its ” imperfections upon its head,” and its most glaring features exposed to the gaze of an outraged and justly indignant community.
The subject, we are aware, is naturally uninviting and even quite repulsive; but, however irksome or unpleasant the task imposed, exposure is necessary in. order to afford timely warning to the unwary, and guard against further encroachments of one of the most fatal delusions which ever had an existenceónot unapt^r termed a mushroom growth of all modem fanaticisms. How exceedingly strange that men wilf plunge into those follies which make them the derisiou of their race ! But ” the more egregious a foolery, tit*more greedily do men weallmo it down, and the mart anxious are they to be gulled until still more monstrous absurdities.”
Had the principal advocates of this system renounced their errors, and abandoned their vicious course of conduct, the necessity of exposure would have been greatly diminished, if not entirely obviated. Brit thiï is not the case. They have renounced none of thenprinciplesóthey have abandoned none of their practi ces; but on the contrary are laboring, and evidently intend to labor with renewed zeal and redoublerl energy for the dissemination of their heretical and dangerous doctrines ; and they will contmue to exist ancf exert a fatal influence wherever their touch is felt, unless some counteracting influences are brought to bear against them.* Information of what lias trans utney, Mr. Noyes located at a place called New York, and is now building up a Community ï ‘ ‘ .me principles of the one formerly under his superris
pired at Putney should be communicated to all parts where the contagion has spread. But says oneó” Let it alone and it will die of itselfólet it take its natural course and it will work its own cure.” This is just the doctrine the leaders would like to have preachedó such a course would essentially subserve the interests of their own cause. The history of the past clearly exhibits the incorrectness of such sentiments. If applicable in one case they would be in all,* and if universally applied it would be a death blow to every moral enterprise of the age. Moral evil finding in the unregenerate heart a congenial soil, if not timely eradicated, shoots up with the rapidity and luxuriance of a noxious plant.
Aside from occasional references to this sect by a few public journals, it has passed almost entirely unnoticed. The movement has generally been regarded aa a mere chimera of a distempered brain, and looked upon as an insignificant and harmless affair, utterly unworthy of notice. A public attack, it was thought, would give it a notoriety and importance to which it J.as not entitled. Thus it was permitted secretly to i use its p0;son through society, until it began to
‘>urne a threatening aspect, and call loudly for exposure.
u* the peculiar character of the subject renders it Dtte‘jr embarrassing. To give publicity in a proper _er to a sufficient number of facts, and exhibit the ar doctrines of the sect in such a manner as to e ^e public a correct idea of its character, and the tendency of the whole system, and at the same time
not outrage the moral sense and offend the correct taste
of an intelligent and virtuous community, is a difficult
work. Moreover, objections are sometimes made to
, any disclosures or efforts for the suppression of the sin
of licentiousness. It is true, there are extremes to be
‘i avoided on either hand. Indiscriminate disclosures
/’ and1 injudicious efforts on the one hand, and profound silence and a heartless apathy on the other, are equally to be deprecated. The proper position is a medium point equi-distant from these two extremes.
Noyesism, in all its essential elements, tends to immorality, and has resulted in systematized licentiousness ! This is the sum and end of the system ! But what renders it doubly dangerous is the fact that it originated with, and is sustained by, a few persons of considerable talent; but delusions are not confined to the ignorant, and vice in its most revolting forms often appears among persons of acknowledged talent. The odious sin of licentiousness, in whatever form it makes it sappearance, is debasing in its character,’ and ever ruinous in its results. That it exists throughout the
i land, and prevails to an alarming extent in our principal cities, we are compelled to believe ; and this state of things calls for combined and energetic efforts for its suppression. In view of its bearing upon this subject, we think it proper here to notice briefly some recent action in one of our principal cities. A large number
city, in consequence of the increase of licentiousness, held, in the winter of 1848, a series of meetings for consultation, and for the purpose of directing attention to this subject. The various Protestant denominations of the city were represented, and more than seventy clergymen were present at different periods in the course of the proceedings. At one of the meetings a resolution was adopted, appointing a committee to prepare an Address to the citizens of Boston, which was to be confined ” to the consideration of the opinion entertained by many persons, that licentiousness is a subject of such a nature as not to admit of any direct notice ; an opinion tohich, so far as it prevails, must prevent any action that would be effectual in restraining the increase of this sin.”
The committee appointed reported an Address to an adjourned meeting, which, after being amended, was adopted, and, by a special committee appointed for that purpose, presented to the citizens of Boston through the public prints. That Address contains some sentiments so truthful and well-timed, touching matters under consideration, that we shall make no apology for quoting a few paragraphs. In reference to licentiousness, the Address speaks thus:ó
” It is the impression of many thoughtful and excellent persons, that this is a vice so peculiar in its chareffort for its suppression, lest the evil should be aggravated, rather than diminished. We do not wonder ai this apprehension, or at the silence and inaction which it produces. But we entreat our friends to review their judgment under the light of this single consideration, that, if nothing be done, or said, or attempted, the evil must go on increasing, multiplying its means of destruction, and augmenting the number of its victims.
” This is not a vice that declines by being ‘ let alone.’ It thrives under concealment. It spreads its snares, and destroys its prey, with the advantage which it gains from being left to pursue its plans unreproved and unobserved.óIt seems to us clear, therefore, that disregard of its existence is unwise and wrong. To do nothing, to attempt nothing, to say it is so difficult or so delicate a subject that we cannot even speak of it without aggravating the evil, is to yield to a despair, as unjustifiable on principles of reason and experience, as it is unworthy of those who have faith in Christ and his religion. We know that harm has come from injudicious action and inconsiderate speech. We know that the subject is environed with difficulties. But we also believe, that the difficulties which lie in the way of abating any morarnuisance, and the mistakes which have been made by others, should only quicken our endeavors to discover and apply the proper means for
its suppression All history and observation, the
tendencies of human nature, and the facts of universal experience, contradict the supposition, that this vice, having its origin in an abuse of our nature which many of the habits of modern civilization tend rather to encourage than to check, will cease from the land through its own want of ability to perpetuate itself. ,of social circumstances. It is found among the poor and among the rich, the coarse and the refined, in the
country and in the city There is no alternative,
ïas we conceive, but direct eflbrt for the suppression of this vice, or its unchecked continuance and probable increase. We say probable, but we might more justly
speak of its certain increase We are pursuaded,
that the reluctance which so many feel, to have any connection with it even in thought, keeps them in ignorance of much that ought to be known. And worse still, it prevents that contemplation of the real character of the evil, which could not but awaken an anxious ïdesire to be instrumental in its removal. If a proper sense were entertained of the enormity of the vice ; if its mournful and fatal consequences were rightly.apprehended ; if the wise and good would allow themselves to think about it long enough to see what it is, and what it producesówe cannot believe they would rest in that inactivity which now leaves the mischief to its own natural power of diffusion.”
Emanating from so high a source, the foregoing sentiments are entitled to serious ‘consideration. They are so candid and weighty that they can hardly fail to ´arry conviction to every unprejudiced mind, of the propriety and importance of judicious action in relation to this subject. A strong reason for directing special -attention to this matter at this time, is found in the fact that licentiousness as an integral part of Noyesism has come up in a new formóhas assumed an aspect before unknown. Hitherto this vice has shunned the public gaze, and been content to live and thrive in its own secret haunts. All have been ready to admit its faeinousness, not excepting its votaries and victims.
But happily our Savior has given us a plain, simple rule by which all difficult and doubtful cases may be readily decided. He said, in reference to the false teachers of primitive timesó” By Their Froits Ye ªshall Know Them.” This rule is not only applicable to all teachers of like character in every age, but it contains a principle by which all false systems of religion may be tested. The nature of doctrines may be known by their legitimate fruits. Practical consequences ever stand as a fair commentary upon principlesó the character of which may be as definitely determined by their results, as the nature of the tree is known by its fruit. The ruinous results of erroneous doctrines should be faithfully exhibited, that their true nature may be known, and their certain tendency clearly seen óthat thus a sufficient number of beacon-lights may be set up along the dangerous coast of error to afford a timely warning to the inexperienced voyager upon the ocean of life, lest his bark be suddenly wrecked upon the hidden rocks below.
Without a knowledge of facts, the innocent and unsuspecting would often be unapprized of the dangers to which they stand exposedóand, lured by a syren song, they might be unconsciously drawn aside from the path of rectitude, and fall victims to a fatal delusion. For the purpose of exhibiting the nature, tendency and Dractical results of Novesism. we proceed to give a
John H. Noyes claims to have been the founder of this sectówhich claim it is presumed no one will feel disposed to contest, for such honors are not to be coveted.
To gratify, to some extent, a natural curiosity, existing in the public mind, in regard to persons who have published new doctrines and founded new sects, we shall briefly refer to the parentage and early history of the founder of modern Perfectionism.
John H. Noyes was born at West Brattleboro, Vt., Sept. 3, 1811, and was the eldest son of John and Polly Noyes.
Hon. John Noyes, the father of John II., was a man of respectable talents, had a liberal education, and in early life proposed to enter the Christian ministry, but subsequently abandoned the idea, and devoted himself to mercantile pursuits, in which for many years he was extensively engaged. Being successful in business, he accumulated considerable property; and subsequently acquired some political distinctionóbeing a Representative in Congress in 1816, from the Southern Congressional District of Vermont. He became a resident of Putney about the year 1823, where he afterward lived, óand died in 1841. At his decease the lawful heirs to his estateóconsisting of three sons and three daughtersóinherited each a handsome patrimony.
Thus it appears that the founder of the sect of Perfectionists had a respectable, and even somewhat honorable parentage. But in a country like this, where every person
resources if he would rise to eminence, or be extec sively useful, the question of pedigree can never be one of very great importance in a moral point of light. Ancestral titles and artificial distinctions can never screen the guilty, and make vice honorableóneither will a want of them detract from true merit, and render virtue valueless.
We are not apprized of any thing remarkable in the early history of Mr. Noyes ; we shall, therefore, pass over the scene of his boyhood as affording little worthy of note, simply adding an item of information, which he has given of himself:ó” Much of my youth was spent in reading history, romance and poetry, of a martial character, such as the Life of Napoleon, The Crusa ders, Marmion, &c.”
Mr. N. graduated at Dartmouth College in 1830, being then nineteen years of age. Soon after leaving college, he commenced the study of the law. After having studied law about one year, or, in August, 1831, his attentionóas he says, in giving an account of himselfówas directed to religious subjects, and he soon after made a profession of religion, at a protracted meeting held in Putney, Vt., and became a member of the Congregational church in that town. Soon after uniting with the church in Putney, Mr. N. determined on entering the ministry, and commenced his studies preparatory to engaging in that work. In about four weeks from the time of his professed conversion, he entered the Theological Seminary at Andover, Mass., where he remained one year, and then went to New
Haven, Ct., and entered the Theological Seminary connected with Yale College, in the fill of 1832. In August, 1833, he was licensed to preach, by the New Haven Association. After receiving license, he labored for six weeks as pastor of a small church in North Salem, N. Y. In February, 1834, he came out a Perfectionist, so called.
Soon after this took place, the Association from which Mr. N. received license to preach, withdrew that license ; and subsequently, he was excommunicated from tiie Congregational church in Putneyóof which he had been a memberófor heresy and breach of covenant, on the ground of the following ” specifications of charges,” which, together witii several others of a more local character, were fully sustained:ó
” 1. That he has taught that the ordinances, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, are done away.
” 2. He has spoken of social and public prayer in terms of condemnation, as being hypocritical.
” 3. He has inculcated the sentiment that the Sabbath is abolished, and that the whole moral law, as summarily contained in the ten commandments, is abrogated.”
Distinguishing and Leading Doctrines of Noyesism.
In June 1839, Rev. Charles T. Torrey of Salem, Mass., addressed a. letter to Mr. Noyes in which he made several inquiries relative to Perfectionism. Mr. N., in his reply to that letter, says :ó
” In order that I may give a definite answer to your inquiries relative to matters of fact, I must first define Perfectionism. You are aware that a considerable sect has recently appeared among Calvinists, with President Wuhan at its head, who believe that perfect holiness is attainable in this life, and yet are not called Perfectionists. You are also aware, as your letter intimates, that similar classes of believers exist among the Methodists, and Friends, who likewise decline the name of Perfectionists. So that it is evident that Perfectionism, in the prevailing sense of the word, is not distinguished from other religious systems merely by the doctrine of perfect holiness. What then are the adjuncts of this doctrine peculiar to Perfectionists, which actually distinguish them from all other sects ? I answeró
1. ” Their belief that perfect holiness, when attained, is forever secure. This point is not insisted upon by any of the classes before mentioned. . . .
2. ” Their belief that perfect holiness is not a mere privilege, but an attainment absolutely necessary to lem. . . . Perfectionists insist upon this doctrine, as the foundation of the two preceding.
” Other distinctive tenets of Perfectionists might be named, and perhaps would be regarded by many as more important than those to which I have adverted ; for example, their ‘ Antinomianism,’ their belief of a present resurrection, their peculiar views of the fashion of this world in respect to marriage, &c., but I regard all these as secondary consequences of the doctrines I have mentioned, not essential in a radical definition of Perfectionism. . . . Then, you will understand that by Perfectionists, I mean that class of religionists who hold the three points of faith above noticed.”
We shall merely glance at the doctrines above mentionedóas the limits of this work will admit of nothing moreóand then proceed to briefly notice a variety of other points embraced in Noyesism.
The position assumed by Mr. Noyes in relation to the second coming of Christ, viz., that it took place at the destruction of Jerusalem, appears to be regarded by him as as an all-important pointóa leading and very essential doctrine. That there was a coming of Christ in the events connected with the destruction of Jerusalem, might be readily granted without strengthening the position of Mr. N. or proving prejudicial to the opposite view of the subject; but that the Second Coming of Christ took place at that time, we deny point blank. At the ascension of Christ the angels said to those who witnessed that eventó
” This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall eo come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”óActs 1: 11.
Until Mr. N. can point us to the book, chapter, and verse, where it is said in unequivocal language that this prediction has been literally fulfilled, he must not complain if we refuse our assent to his doctrine of the second coming. Mr. N. assumes without a particle of proof, that Christ’s coming at the destruction of Jerusalem took place in the spiritual world! But was not the ascension of Christ a visible event ? and did not the disciples behold him with the natural eye when he ascended ? Then if he is to “so come in like manner” as he was seen to ascend, will it not be a visible transaction ? Most certainly. Mr. N. asserts that Christ came in the spiritual world ; but how does he know this ? He has not learned it from the Scriptures, for they, teach no such doctrine. Where, then, did he find it ? Why, forsooth, he assumes that he is inspired, and was taught it by the Spirit! And lo, his followers believe it! In all ages individuals have been found afflicted with a similar disease. A few years ago, when the Millerites were moving heaven and earth and compassing sea and land to make proselytes to their faith, some of the wisestóin their own eyesóamong them, roundly asserted that the Spirit had revealed to them the precise time when Christ would make his appearing. With all such, reasoning was out of the questionó entirely at an end. You might as well undertake to reason with a mad m;´i, as with such persons. But i:ó3 proved all their predictions false, and their revelaïYent by the board. They might have been 1 by a, but certainly they were not by the Spirit,
in this matter. And so it is with Mr. Noyes. He and his followers assume that they are inspired and are receiving special revelations. They also profess that they are living under a new dispensation, as far in advance of the Gospel as that was of the Jewish dispensation. The followers of Noyes believe that he wrote the Berean by inspiration, and in their estimation it is as much more valuable than the New Testament, as that is than the Old! The word of John H. Noyes with his disciples is better authority than the sayings of Christ and his Apostles recorded in the New Testament. They receive the doctrine that Christ came in the spiritual world from his mouth as undoubted truth, without a particle of scriptural proof to sustain it, and even in opposition to the plain language of Scripture ! The doctrine that Christ came in the spiritual world appears to be the mere creature of Mr. N.’s perverted imagination in its erratic wanderings. That his mind is subject to excursive ramblings is very evident from his own language.
In the Spiritual Magazine of March 15,1846, speaking in reference to his future course, Mr. N. says:ó
” Without pledging ourselves to any precise course, (for we cannot foresee very definitely the travels of our own minds) . . . we expect to extend our excursions freely hereafter beyond the province of Perfectionism into other and all regions of spiritual science.”
” Beyond the province of Perfectionism ” ! Where ia the man going! No wonder that he is already lost in the mazes of error ! And we might as well undertake to follow the thunder-bolts of heaven in their travels through the trackless ether, as the fitful excursions of such a mind in its undefined and indefinable course !
But to return:óNearly allied to Noyes’s doctrine of the Second Coming of Christ, stands the idea that ” perfect holiness is not a mere privilege, but an attainment absolutely necessary to salvation.” If by this is meant that moral purity is a pre-requisite or passport to a full possession of the heavenly inheritance, we do not object; but if it means that no person in a state of justification, prior to perfect purification, can have a well-grounded hope of future happiness, we enter our solemn protest against the doctrine.
Next, as a distinguishing tenet of Noyesism, stands the doctrine of the security of the saints. Mr. N. asserts that “perfect holiness, when attained, is forever secure.”
In support of this position he relics very much upon the following passage :ó” Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin ; for his seed remaineth in him ; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”ó 1 John 3 : 9.
Mr. N. rejoices over this passage as though he had found great spoil. He ensconces himself behind thisó as he supposesóimpenetrable shield, or invulnerable rampart, and is ready to defy the world in arms to meet him. The rigid interpretation which he gives,
If Mr. N. adopts the principle of exegesis that the term cannot implies an impossibility, we think he -will find that in many cases it will prove quite too much, and will not always work well in its application. If he will turn to the 24th chapter of Joshua, he will find that the term cannot is there used without implying a moral impossibility. Joshua, after rehearsing to the heads of Israel the dealings of God with them, and cautioning them against the sin of idolatry, exhorts them to serve God ; and the people replied emphatically that they would serve him. Then ” Joshua said unto the people, ye cannot serve the Lord: for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.”ó.Josh. 24: 19. ” And the people said unto Joshua, Nay ; but we will serve the Lord.”óVerse 21. ” So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.”óVerse 25. ” And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and the days of the elders that outlived Joshua.”óVerse 31.
The sum of the whole isóThe people of Israel asserted that they would serve the LordóJoshua says, Ye cannot serve himóthe people repeat, We will serve himóJoshua makes a covenant with themóand Israel then serves him. No person will contend that the term cannot in this case implied a moral impossibility, for matter-of-fact shows to the contrary. . .-..
Now if the term cannot, did not, in the case under consideration, imply an impossibility, it may not in other cases. That it does not when used by St. John is quite probably, if not morally certain; for were it otherwise, all the warnings, admonitions, and cautions, as well as the exhortations to steadfastness and perseverance, addressed in the Scriptures to Christians, would be perfectly nugatory !
We have’ thus briefly noticed‘ the points which Mr. N. has set forth as the distinguishing doctrines of Perfectionism; and we shall now proceed to notice several others- embraced in the same system.
Let us hear Mr. Noyes in relation to the Primitive Church. He says:
” The Apostles, prophets, and believers, who were gathered into Christ during the period preceding the destruction of Jerusalem, are certainly still in existence. This no one doubts. They are risen from the dead, and glorified with Christ. This no one will deny, who believes that Christ came the second time according to his promise. But have they any concern with this world? Are they not laid away in some secret mansion of the universe, so distant that they have nothing to do with us or we with them ? These are questions to which conscience as well as curiosity demands an answer. The fact that the primitive church has passed through death into the invisible state, does not prove that it has no concern with this world. . . . The first thing to be done in order that we may have fellowship with the primitive church, is to believe that it is a real, living church, and is at work over us and around its.”óBerean, pp. 497, 499.
In the Spiritual Magazine of May 15, 1847, we find the following language:ó
” The Magazine is the exponent and organ of a
religious body whose direct ambition is to give the renewing power of God full scope in their characters, and to multiply their points of sympathy and attraction with the primitive church, until a perfect junction is formed.”
In the Magazine of June 15,1846, we read as follows touching this matter:ó
” Again, when we consider the object which is before us, of joining ourselves to the primitive Church, we shall not think it strange that we are tried with fiery trials. We believe that God has gathered a glorified throng, and that the church is one ; and our aim and calling are, to approach toward it and enter into sympathy with itóto join it here in this world, and to invite it into this world. And the only way for us to join that church, is, to be strained up to the pitch of love and faith which exists in it. To use a vulgar expression, if we are to be welded on to the primitive church, both ends of the irons must be white hot. Cold iron’ cannot be welded. If God is ever to raise a touching point between believers here and his church above, he must find a way to bring up our faith and love to the white heat of heaven.”
This is Perfectionist dialect, and it contains the Noyesite Shibboleth. Comment is uncalled for.
As being closely connected with the foregoing remarks relative to the Primitive Church, we proceed to give the views of Perfectionisto in relation to the Kingdom of Heaven. Mr. N. Sliumes that the com-. missions given by Christ and the Apostles did not extend beyond the destruction of Jerusalem, A. D. 70 óthat all the commissions since that time handed
it contains the Noyesite Shibboleth. Comment is uncalled for.
“Mr. N. claims that the commissions given by Christ and the Apostles did not extend beyond the destruction of Jerusalem, A. D. 70 óthat all the commissions since that time handed down in the various Christian churches are not validó and that the kingdom of heaven exhibited in this world, and the divine authority derived from Christ and his Apostles, must stop at the destruction of Jerusalem”
What do YOU think ?