SHAKER TESTIMONIES of the Life, Character, Revelations and Doctrines of Mother Ann Lee, and the Elders with Her.
Published by the Shakers in 1816; Reprinted 1888.  
        Confession of Sin

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“Testimonies of Mother Ann Lee and the Elders”

Authentic Excerpt from: Chapter XXVIII, pages 192-194

Confession of Sin



1. The doctrine of confessing every secret sin, one by one, to the witnesses of God, was continually taught by Mother Ann and the Elders, from the beginning of their ministry.  Their labors in this particular were often attended with such mighty power, and such sharp and piercing testimony that those who heard it were unable to resist the powerful conviction that attended it.

2. Many were so powerfully wrought upon, that they could not refrain from crying out and confessing their sins on the spot, before large assemblies of people.  Others, who were more bound in their feelings, could find no rest, day nor night, from the tormenting weight of their sins, till they had honestly confessed them to some of these witnesses of God.

3. Some, who obstinately opposed their own conviction, were bowed down by an invisible power, in such a manner that they were unable to move hand or foot, and under such extreme sufferings that their flesh sometimes turned almost black.  In this situation, they have continued several hours, before they would yield to conviction and be willing to confess their sins.

4. If any, through deceit or hypocrisy, attempted to confess a part, and keep back such things as were more shameful, and more crossing to their feelings to confess, the Elders were sure to uncover them and bring all their secret abominations to the light.  This was done, in many instances, to the honor of the testimony, and the shame of hypocrites.

5. But, the far greater part, who were the subjects of this powerful and heart-searching testimony, could not but feel as though all the sins they had ever committed in their lives, lay open and naked before Mother and the Elders, and were as plainly seen as their faces; which, indeed, was a real truth, as was abundantly proved, in many instances.

6. Much was said and done, from time to time, both in public and private, to show the absolute necessity of bringing the hidden works of darkness to light, by a full, free, and honest confession, in order to find the mercy and forgiveness of God.  To write the whole would not be possible, nor even necessary; yet, we think proper to record a few particulars.

7. After Mother Ann and the Elders arrived at Harvard, in the summer of 1781, Ivory Wilds, and many others, went to see them, and after hearing Christ preached, and the loss of man clearly laid open, they were convinced that Christ had come, in very deed, without sin unto salvation.  Mother then addressed them in the following manner: “The first step of obedience that any soul can take is, to confess all sins to God, before His witnesses.  Herein Christ is to be found as a Savior and a forgiver of sins, and nowhere else; for herein is contained the promise of God; but not in any other way.”

8. Mother Ann also said, “It was by the revelation of God that I came to America, to bring glad tidings of peace and salvation to all who are willing to confess and forsake their sins.  I know by the spirit and power of Christ, that what I have said is the truth,” and then added, “It is the heart which God looks at.  The heart, with its hidden abominations covered and concealed from the witnesses of Christ, becomes like a cage of unclean birds, and never can be cleansed, short of a full and free confession.”

9. “Those who honestly confess all their sins, with a full determination to forsake them forever, will find strength of God to forsake them; and in taking up their cross against every known sin, and following Christ in the regeneration, in that life of obedience, they will be clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and become the sons and daughters of God, being heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.”  Father William Lee, and Father James Whittaker, often spake to the same purpose. Ivory Wilds.

10. Again, to Abigail Stanhope, and others who were present, Mother Ann said, “When I confessed my sins I labored to remember the time when, and the place where, I committed them; and when I had confessed them I cried to God, to know if my confession was accepted; and by crying to God continually, I traveled out of my loss.” Abigail Stanhope.

End of Excerpt 2


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