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.  

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“Testimonies of Mother Ann Lee and the Elders”

Authentic Excerpt from: Chapter XXX, pages 217-219




9. Mother Ann and the Elders always manifested great care and feeling for youth and children, and oftentimes counseled and instructed their parents concerning children; and frequently took great delight in speaking to the children of Believers and teaching them how to be good children and to be obedient to their parents.

10. In the spring of the year, 1781, a large number of people being at Watervliet, Mother Ann spoke to them concerning children, saying, “Little children are nearer the kingdom of heaven than those who have grown to riper age.  Christ took little children in his arms, and blessed them, and said, ‘Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’  Little children are simple and innocent; they should be brought up so; and they never ought to be brought out of it.  If they were brought up in simplicity they would receive good, as easily as they would evil.  God, at first, created the soul pure and innocent, and when souls shall have been redeemed from their loss, they will again be pure and innocent.” Hannah Cogswell.

11. Father James Whittaker said “Blessed are the children of those who believe the gospel, and those of the rising generation who touch no unclean thing; they shall suck at every flower, and smell at every lily.” Anna Northrup.

Again, on taking leave of the people at Shirley, he addressed himself to the youth, and children in particular, and said, “lf you are faithful, you shall feed on every lily, and suck at every flower.” Eunice Wilds, 2nd

12. When Mother Ann was at John Spier’s in New Lebanon, Nathan Farrington’s family all being present, she took Nathan’s youngest daughter, Esther, into her arms, kissed her, and said, “Child, I bless you, as Christ blessed little children, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.   This child is a Believer, she is my child;” and again kissed her.  The child, at that time, gathered great love to Mother, grew up in the faith and love of the gospel, and deceased in the twenty- third year of her age. Mehetabel Farrington.

13. At a certain time Mother spoke to some little children, and instructed them how to pray, and taught them that when they knelt down, before they ate, they should say, “I pray God bless me, and give me grace, and make me a good child,” and after eating to say, “I thank God for giving me victuals; I pray God give me grace, and make me a good child.” Hannah Cogswell.

14. Phebe Spencer, being in conversation with Mother Ann at Watervliet, spoke to her concerning her youngest daughter, who saw beautiful visions.  Mother said, “She may open her visions to you; but do not let her know that you take much notice of them; if you do, it will lift her up; but you may notice them yourself.”  She also said, “Do not examine your small children very closely in respect to wickedness; for if you do, they will want to act it, to get the knowledge of it.  But you may watch over them closely.”  She further said, “When children are put to bed, they ought to be made to lie straight, to prevent them from growing crooked.”

15. At Ashfield, Mother spoke to some who were parents, as follows, “You ought to keep your children neat, and clean; keep their faces clean, and clean their heads from lice, and scabs; and see that their clothes are mended, and kept decent.  If children are nasty, they will not have the gifts of God; but, if they are kept clean, and decent, as they ought to be, they will have the gifts of God as well as grown people.   You ought never to call children bad names, as some people of the world do; but call them by their proper names, and set a godly example before them, as becomes the gospel.  And you must keep them to work; not allow them to be idle; for if you do, they will grow up just like the world’s children.  Let your conversation before your children be that which becomes godliness.  Do not talk about that which will excite their minds to evil; you ought not to talk about the flesh before them, lest it corrupt their minds, and make them want to act in these things.” Lydia Mathewson.

16. Again, at Watervliet, Mother addressed herself to some of the Believers who were parents, saying, “You have been cunning to serve the devil, and now you must be cunning to serve God.  You must not lose one moment of time, for you have none to spare.  If you are faithful, the world will be dependent on you; and the dead will be released, by your labors.”   “You must bring up your children in the fear of God, and never give them playthings; but let them look at their hands and fingers, and see the work of God in their creation.  And be ye faithful in all things; for God will have a people who are zealous of good works; and, if you are not faithful, God will turn to another people, who will serve him.” Hannah Goodrich, 1st.

17. Anna Cogswell, 1st, being on a visit to Watervliet, after Mother Ann’s return from the eastward, among other counsels and instructions, Mother warned her to keep her children out of sin; for, said she, “A child four years old, indulged in sin, will bring the judgment of God upon a family.”

18. Again, Mother Ann warned parents against allowing dogs to be in their houses; for, without are dogs and sorcerers.  Do not let your children play with them; if they do, they will catch evil spirits, and be stubborn and wicked.  This is often the case with children, and parents do not know the cause.  You should examine your children and bring them to confession, and teach them to fear God, or, they will bring you to great trouble. Jonathan Slosson.

19. At Shirley, Mother Ann reproved the people for allowing, and the children for having and playing with toys, and playthings, and said, “When I was a child, my mind was taken up in the things of God, so that I saw heavenly visions, instead of trifling toys.” Jemima Blanchard.

End of Excerpt 4


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