Religious Seekers and the Advent of Mormonism
by Dan Vogel

Chapter One
The Seeker Movement

[p.1]In an 1831 letter to her brother Solomon, Lucy Mack Smith, mother of the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, wrote that one purpose of her son’s recently published Book of Mormon was to show the apostate condition of the Christian church. Thanks to the new scripture, she declared, “we can see the situation in which the world now stands; that the eyes of the whole world are blinded; that the churches have all become corrupted, yea every church upon the face of the earth; that the Gospel of Christ is nowhere preached.” But the world was not left in this apostate condition, Lucy continued: “God, seeing our situation, had compassion upon us, and has sent us this revelation that the stumbling block might be removed, that whosoever would might enter. He now established His Church upon the earth as it was in the days of the Apostles. He has now made a new and everlasting covenant.”1

Like his mother, Joseph Smith also emphasized Mormonism’s restorationist nature. Thomas Bullock, who took notes of Smith’s Nauvoo, Illinois, sermons, recorded the following from a 16 June 1844 address, given only days before Smith’s untimely death:

[The] old Catholic Church is worth more than all [the Protestants]—here is a princ[iple]. of logic—that men have no more sense—I will illustrate an old apple tree—here jumps off a branch & says I am the true tree. & you are corrupt—if the whole tree is corrupt how can any true thing come out of it—the char[acte]r of the old ones have always been sland[ere]d. by all apos[tates] since the world began—I testify again as God never will acknowledge any apost[ate]: any man who will betray the Catholics will betray you . . . all men are liars who say that they are of the true [tree]—God always sent a new dispensat[io]n. into the world—when men come out & build upon o[the]r men’s foundat[io]n.—did I build on anot[he]r [p.2]mans found[a]t[io]n. but my own—I have got all the truth & an indepen[den]t. rev[elatio]n. in the bargain—& God will bear me off triumphant.2

Here, Smith distinguished between his own work as a restorer and that of the Reformers. The Seekers, who awaited a divinely revealed restoration rather than a reformation through human ingenuity, made the same distinction.

Seekerism existed at the radical end of the Reformation spectrum. Scholars have generally emphasized “the primitive gospel movement” in ante-bellum America, but diverse versions of Christian primitivism already existed in post-Reformation Europe and in England after Henry VIII severed the English churches from the papacy. Justification for reform was usually couched in Primitivistic rhetoric, accusing the Roman church of corrupting the pure gospel, for example. Thus Seekerism—whether in Europe, England, or America—existed within a larger primitive gospel movement.3

Although the Primitivist movement began in Europe and England, it flourished in the freer environment of post-Revolutionary America. At first widely scattered, by 1850 the American Primitivists had produced two sects with significant followings: the Disciples of Christ and the Mormons.4 However, these two groups shared competing approaches to the problem of the perceived apostasy from primitive Christianity.

In Europe and England tension existed between conservative, liberal, and radical versions of Christian Primitivism. Debate usually centered on how strictly the Christian church should adhere to the Bible or follow tradition in matters of church practice. Before Primitivism was transplanted to America, the conservative version held sway. As Sidney Mead observed, the Reformation took shape in “right-wing” Lutheran, Anglican, and Reformed versions, which “held the doctrine of the Word together with doctrines of the Church and Ministry in such fashion as to guard against individual ‘enthusiasm’ and to preserve the sense of the unbroken historical continuity of Christianity.”5

Those in Europe and England who held more radical views—such as Anabaptists, Seekers, Familiests (those in “The Family of Love”), Ranters, and Quakers—were entirely overshadowed by the state churches. The leading Reformers—Luther, Zwingli, and [p.3]Calvin—attacked the views of the Anabaptists (literally “rebaptizer”), who repudiated infant baptism and Calvinistic predestination, and believed in new revelations, the imminent appearance of Christ, and the establishment of the New Jerusalem.6

The use of Primitivist theology by one Church of England divine demonstrates how those in the “right-wing” incorporated radical tenets. When Charles II married the Portuguese princess, Catherine of Braganza, for political purposes, English churchmen were outraged by the alliance with a Catholic nation. In 1662 Charles’s chaplain, Thomas Pierce, delivered a sermon before the king in which he defended the Protestant church and attacked Catholicism as a corruption of primitive Christianity. “We cannot better put them to shame and silence,” Pierce argued, “then [sic] by demonstrating the Novelty and base extraction of their Pretensions, whilst we evince at the same instant the Sacred Antiquity of our own. . . . When they obtrude their Revelations, or teach for Doctrines of God the meer commandments of Men,” he continued, “we must ask them every one, how they read in the beginning.”7 Among the corruptions listed by Pierce were celibacy, denial of divorce, transubstantiation, and withholding the Bible from parishioners.8

Pierce elaborated on the claim of biblical authority over tradition:

The Popish Writers . . . ever complain we have left their Church; but never shew us that Iota as to which we have left the Word of God, or the Apostles, or the yet uncorrupted and primitive Church, or the Four first General Councils. We are so zealous for Antiquity, (provided it be but antique enough) that we never have despised a meer tradition, which we could track by sure footsteps from as far as the times of the purest Christians. But this is still their childish fallacie.9

Pierce did not attack Catholic novelties per se. Corruptions “alone cannot justifie a Peoples’ Separation from any Church,” he argued. Separation is only justified when the novelties are “reputed as things without which there is no Salvation” or “obtruded upon the People amongst the Articles of their Faith.”10 The Anglican chaplain emphasized this distinction because his church had retained many Catholic innovations.

In the latter half of the sixteenth century, the Puritan movement began to call for reform within the Church of England. Puritans believed the Antichrist had corrupted the church but not completely destroyed it, and they sought to “purify” the church by [p.4]eliminating all Catholic doctrines and practices. They eventually came to see themselves as “a church within a church.” Thomas Cartwright (1535-1603), a leading Puritan, argued that the true church fell when it abandoned the divinely commanded presbyterian form of government for one based on human invention. Even the ceremonies of the Church of England, Cartwright charged, were an offense to conscience because of their origin in Catholic ritual and by association with papist understanding of theological concepts such as grace.11

For the most part, Church of England clerics opposed such dependence on the Bible. Richard Hooker (1553/4-1600) argued in his work Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity that the church was not slavishly bound to the primitive form. While bound by scripture in matters of doctrine and salvation, the church was free to evolve in matters of church government.12

When their goal to transform the Church of England was frustrated, some Puritans formed their own “Separatist” congregations. These Separatist Puritans were eventually driven from England to Holland. However, those who carried the Puritan vision to the shores of New England in 1620 were nonseparating Puritans who had little tolerance for Separatist dissenters.13

The Puritans came to the New World to build a society established on gospel principles, which they felt would become an “ensign to the nations.” In America, they believed, they could better attain the salvation of their souls, since they would be free from the medieval shackles of the Anglican Church, still close to Rome, which mixed saints and sinners in its communion. They soon boasted with John Cotton that the churches which they had formed in New England were very close to what would have been set up “if the Lord Jesus were here himself in person.”14

The Puritans did not cross over to America to evolve new creeds and forms but rather to protect and maintain those already conceived. The leaders of New England’s first generation—William Bradford, John Winthrop, Francis Daniel Pastorius—turned their energies to safeguarding their new, autonomous religious societies. However, the Puritan model society in the wilderness soon began to evaporate in the heat of religious controversy. Puritan hegemony was threatened by such heretics and schismatics as the Antinomians, who set grace above law; the Arminians (followers of Dutch reformer Jacobus Arminius), who set piety above grace; and the Quakers, who placed personal revelation above scripture. Just as the Puritans had sought to purify the Church of [p.5]England, so others in New England sought to purify the Puritans. As early as 1679, a formal synod met in Boston under the leadership of Increase Mather to declare that one of the reasons New England had suffered was because of “contention” in the churches.15

An intolerant spirit took hold as the Puritan leaders tried to maintain control. Various dissenters, such as Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson and other “Antinomians,” the Gortonists, Quakers, Baptists, and “Anabaptists” were either banished from the Puritan community or openly persecuted.16

The economic success of New England in the mid-seventeenth century was accompanied by the second generation’s neglect of spiritual matters.17 By the end of the century Puritanism was in full decline. The death blow came in the mid-eighteenth century, when religious revivalism on one side and Arminian rationalism on the other choked off what little life remained. Historians Alan Heimert and Perry Miller have characterized the Great Awakening of the 1740s—largely inspired by the preaching of the “moderate” Calvinist Jonathan Edwards—as “the dying shudder of a Puritanism that refused to see itself as an anachronism.”18

The transition from state religion to pluralism was difficult to make for those who came to North America to create a society which would be an example for English Puritans. Many of the religiously conservative would later criticize the federal constitution’s separation of church and state as a ploy of the devil.19 However, by 1800 most states had dissolved their religious establishments, opening the way for intense competition as each denomination vied for membership. Organized efforts at persuading the unchurched to come to Christ included revivalistic camp meetings and missionary societies. Such efforts were aimed particularly at the west. This period of transition from “coercion to persuasion,” as Sidney Mead phrased it, also witnessed increasing prominence for the primitive gospel movement.20

Kenneth Scott Latourette in his monumental History of the Expansion of Christianity describes the environmental factors helping to make liberal Primitive Christianity the “dominant” religious tendency of post-Revolutionary American Protestantism. Liberal Primitivism had existed among the more extreme Protestant groups in Europe, but in nineteenth-century America such groups were free to grow without organized opposition. In the United States, Old World institutions were suspect. In this [p.6]unfettered environment, liberal versions of Christian Primitivism flourished. Never had there been such a large body of Christians, Latourette argues, that were “more nearly divorced from what in the broad sense could be called Catholic Christianity.”21

The primitive gospel movement22 emerged first among the “common” folk of New England, the South, and West between the years 1790 and 1830. The “rural, socially harmonious village community with its dominant religious orientation, which its leaders had known in New England,” had generally disintegrated, while a “commercially oriented, acquisitive, openly pluralistic and competitive, and implicitly secular social and religious order” triumphed.23 Responding to this crisis, Unitarian Joseph Priestley dedicated his 1793 History of the Corruptions of Christianity to “the friends of pure christianity” and promised his readers, “our religion will, in due time, purge itself of everything that debases it.”24 Priestly felt that the disparate groups could find agreement if they upheld “no creed but the Bible.”25 An increased emphasis on biblical patterns would lead to a greater unity of faith.

In his short history of the primitive gospel movement, the Reverend David Millard wrote:

Within about one half century, a very considerable body of religionists have arisen in the United States, who, rejecting all names, appellations, and badges of distinctive party among the followers of Christ, simply call themselves CHRISTIANS. Sometimes, in speaking of themselves as a body, they use the term Christian Connexion. In many parts of our country this people have become numerous. . . . They rose nearly simultaneously in different sections of our country, remote from each other, without any preconcerted plan, or even knowledge of each other’s movements.26

The leaders of the three branches of this movement, according to Millard, were Abner Jones of Vermont, James O’Kelly of Virginia, and Barton W. Stone of Kentucky.

Abner Jones was one of the first to preach against Calvinism in New England. He originally wanted to become a Baptist preacher, but, finding he could not accept the doctrine of election and other tenets, he withdrew from them, announcing “his determination to stand alone, and acknowledge the authority of no church or set of men.”27 In 1801, Jones headed a group in Lyndon, Vermont, determined to make a church “by the name of CHRISTIANS only.”28 In 1802 he established a second church at Bradford, Vermont, and a third at Piermont, New Hampshire, the following year.29 Jones influenced Elias Smith of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, [p.7]a Baptist minister who also doubted the doctrine of election. By 1803 Smith had separated from the Calvinistic Baptists to start “The Christian Connexion.”30 Through the efforts of Jones and other Baptist preachers, Millard reports, “churches of the order were soon planted in all the New England states, the states of New York, Pennsylvania, [and] Ohio.”31

In southern Virginia the Primitivistic movement began among latitudinarian Methodists frustrated by authoritarian leadership. Following revivals in the region in 1787 and 1788, a group of Methodists headed by Irish-born minister James O’Kelly separated from the main body, called themselves “Christian,” and resolved to have “no creed or discipline but the Bible.”32 O’Kelly’s group proved to have nationwide influence.

Yet another primitive gospel movement began under former Presbyterian Barton W. Stone. His separation came during the revivals at Cane Ridge, Kentucky (1800-1801). The emotional conversions at the camp meetings caused him to question further his own doubts about Calvinistic election. Although he enjoyed the spirit of unity at the revivals, he dreaded the conflict over doctrine occurring in their wake. Stone and other dissenters withdrew from the Kentucky Synod to form a new presbytery, but in 1804 they dissolved the “Springfield Presbytery” and called themselves “Christians.”33 Stone’s group renounced infant baptism and practiced baptism by immersion.34 Stone preached for twenty-five years and later joined Alexander Campbell’s movement.35

Millard emphasized the diversity of these three groups of the “Christian Connexion.” The principal leaders of the movement, he pointed out, “originated from the three principal Protestant sects in America. The branch at the south from the Methodists, the one at the north from the Baptists, and the one at the west from the Presbyterians. The three branches rose within the space of eight years, in sections remote and unknown to each other, until some years afterwards. Probably no other religious body ever had a similar origin.”36

Irishman Alexander Campbell, schooled in the primitive gospel in Scotland,37 followed his father, a minister in a seceder branch of the Presbyterian church in Ireland, to western Pennsylvania in 1809. The elder Campbell withdrew from the orthodox Presbyterians in Pennsylvania after being found guilty of violating the closed communion principle. In 1809 the Campbells formed The Christian Association of Washington, which became a church in [p.8]1811. The institution of baptism by immersion soon led to union with the Baptists in the Redstone Association.38

By 1830 Alexander Campbell had broken completely from the Presbyterians to form a new religious denomination, the Disciples of Christ, a model primitive gospel movement.39 That same year Campbell began publishing a new religious journal, the Millennial Harbinger, which he and others filled with expressions of hope that the spread of Christian unity would usher in the great Millennium.

Many who believed that there had been an apostasy from primitive Christianity remained within the traditional denominational churches, convinced that the corruptions were not sufficient for separation. These persons advocated a more conservative reform, as opposed to the liberal reform sought by Jones, O’Kelly, Stone, and Campbell. Others, on the fringe of American society, often referred to as Seekers,40 looked for an even more “radical” restoration. Seekers suspended the performance of ordinances until the time when God would restore authority to perform them. Seekers therefore withdrew from organized Christian denominations and impatiently awaited a new revelation.

In its most narrow meaning, “Seeker” refers to a small, “radical” sect which arose out of the mystical and spiritual elements in Puritanism41 and, more or less, associated with the Independents42 in mid-seventeenth-century England. “Seekerism” more broadly refers to a movement or tendency beginning with Luther, momentarily culminating with the Seeker Sect in the Commonwealth (1649-53), and persisting afterwards in the beliefs of various individuals and groups. It is from descriptions of English Seekers that one finds the most detailed information about Seeker philosophy, however.

Seekerism in England developed slowly after the ecclesiastical ferment of the 1590s. Among the early advocates of Seekerism were brothers Walter, Thomas, and Bartholomew Legate, and John Wilkinson (d. ca. 1620) and Edward Wightman. Both Edward Wightman and Bartholomew Legate were burned at the stake in 1611 for heresy.43 Seekerism began to flourish during the ecclesiastical and spiritual turmoil of the 1640s and expanded rapidly during the Civil Wars (1642-48) in the northern counties of Yorkshire, Westmoreland, and Lancashire, and in the west in Bristol and even London. It reached its peak in the English Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell, who remained uncommitted to any particular sect but exhibited some Seeker sympathy.44 The [p.9]Seeker sect grew to such proportions that by 1646 army chaplain John Saltmarsh apparently considered it the fourth most important sect in England. Presbyterian Thomas Edwards feared that he would see all other sects “swallowed up in the Seekers.”45

English Seekers were spiritual heirs of the sixteenth-century “spiritual reformers” on the Continent. Hans Denck, Sebastian Franck, Kasper Schwenckfeld, Sebastian Castellio, and Dirch Coornhertz were some of the important leaders of radical reform on the Continent.46 The writings of Coornhertz inspired the Seeker attitude of the Amsterdam-based Collegiant (i.e. “gathering”) movement in seventeenth-century Holland.47 Many Continental Seekers followed Coornhertz in the belief that the visible church was only temporary and the saints should wait for the true apostolic church, a purely inward church, to be divinely commissioned.48

As early as 1560 John Knox found it necessary to refute a book written by Sebastian Castellio.49 Even during the reign of Elizabeth the ideas of the radical reformers were already drifting across the channel into England. During the reign of James I (1603-25), John Everard, a Cambridge scholar who preached a curious blend of Seekerism and spiritual alchemy, translated into English selected works of Denck, Frank, and Castellio.50 It was during the period of Everard’s preaching that Seekerism as a movement was born in England. Everard, together with Roger Brierly (or Breirly), a minister at Grindelton, John Webster of Clitheroe, an ordained priest, and John Saltmarsh, rector of Heslerton in Yorkshire and an Antinomian with Seeker leanings and eventually one of Cromwell’s army chaplains, were the “fathers” of English Seekerism. But actual communities of Seekers did not form until later.

Robert Bayllie, a Scots Presbyterian, described the English Seekers in 1647:

Very many of the Anabaptists are now turned Seekers, denying the truth of any Church upon earth for many ages past, denying that there are any pastors now on the earth, that there may be any preaching of the word, any joining in prayer, any celebration either of Baptism or of the Lord’s supper, any church discipline at all, or any church Act, church state, or church ordinance whatsoever; while God from heaven send new apostles to work miracles and set up churches, which for the space of fourteen hundred years at least have totally failed in the whole world.51

[p.10]There were basically two types of Seekers.52 The first followed in a direct line from the radical reformers of Europe and conceived the restoration, the church, the ordinances, the Second Coming, and the millennial kingdom as spiritual notions. These spiritualistic Seekers53 needed no physical church or ordinances but sought a restoration of God’s spirit and power among the true believers. William Allen, a General Baptist, described this type of Seeker in his 1655 book A Doubt Resolved, or Satisfaction for the Seekers:

There are too many in these times, who to render waterbaptism [sic] unnecessary, do construe most of these Scriptures [which speak of baptism] as meant of the Baptism of the Spirit . . . who do interpret those words, 1 Cor[inthians] 12. 13. By one spirit we are all baptized into one body to be meant of the baptism of the spirit; and so do take themselves as having the spirit, to be duly incorporated visibly into this one body of Christ which is his church, by virtue of their being baptized with the spirit, whether they have ever received water-baptism or no.54

The second type of Seeker waited for the reestablishment of the visible church, the return of authority to perform the ordinances, and the Coming of Christ to destroy the ungodly and establish the political kingdom of God. These literalistic Seekers55 also awaited the restoration of apostolic authority, though they were unsure about its exact nature or precisely how it would be returned. William Allen also described this type of Seeker:

They make a considerable obstacle in their way of coming into Church-communion, Gospel ordinances, viz., the want of a right administrator: For they suppose that since that general apostasy, from the purity of faith and Gospel order, which befel the Churches, upon the entering of the Papacie into the world, there hath none appeared sufficiently Authorized by God, to rally again what had been routed by [the] hand of the enemy, or to gather Churches, or [to] administer Ordinances; all due Administrators in this kind, being perished from the earth: and that therefore we must be content to wait till God shall raise up some such, whose authority in this behalf he shall attest with visible signs of his presence, by gifts of the Holy Ghost; and divers miracles as at the first erection of Gospel Churches and ordinances.56

John Saltmarsh also mentioned such Seekers:

They wait, in this time of the apostasy of the Christian [p.11]churches, as the Jews did in the time of their apostasy, and as the apostles and disciples at Jerusalem, till they were endued with power from on high, finding no practice for worship, but according to the first pattern. . . . They wait for a restoration of all things and a setting up [of] all gospel officers, churches, ordinances, according to the pattern in the New Testament. They wait for an apostle or angel, that is some with a visible glory and power able, in the Spirit, to give visible demonstration of their sending.57

These two positions described by Allen had Continental antecedents extending back to Luther’s day. Sebastian Franck reported in 1536 that “some desire to allow Baptism and other ceremonies to remain in abeyance till God gives another command” and “sends out true labourers into His harvest.” “Some others agree,” Franck continued, that “the ceremonies since the death of the apostles are equally defiled, laid waste and fallen” but differ in their belief that “God no longer heeds them and does not desire that they should be longer kept, on which account they will never again be set up, but Christians are now to proceed entirely in the Spirit and in Truth and never in an outward manner.”58 These spiritualistic and literalistic positions appear and reappear in the Seeker movement.

By the beginning of the English Civil War in 1642, societies of Seekers had begun forming. In 1652 many of these Seekers were absorbed by George Fox’s Society of Friends. It is from early Quaker documents that much of the understanding about early Seeker communities comes.59

In his Preface to Fox’s Great Mistery of the Great Whore Unfolded (1659), Edward Burrough described the religious experience of many early Quakers, including himself, before their conversion:

We went through and tried all sorts of teachers, and ran from mountain to mountain, and from man to man, and from one form to another, as many do to this day, who yet remain ungathered to the Lord. . . .

[Then] we ceased from the teachings of all men, and their words, and their worships, and their Temples, and all their baptisms, and Churches, and we ceased from our own words, and professions, and practices in Religion . . . and by this Light of Christ in us were we led out of all false waies and false preachings, and false Ministers, and we met together often, and waited upon the Lord in pure silence, from our own words, and all men’s words, and harkened to the voice [p.12]of the Lord, and felt his word in our hearts, to burn up and beat down all that was contrary to God.60

Many early Quakers had left Puritanism in search of a living church, wandering from one church to another until they found the Society of Friends. Such was the experience of Isaac and Mary Penington of London, Charles Marshall of Bristol, Francis Howgill, John Camm, John Audland, and George Fox himself. “As I grew in years,” wrote Charles Marshall, “I grew more and more dissatisfied with lifeless empty Professions and [religious] Professors . . . and feeling that I could not find the living among the Dead . . . I spent much time in retirement in the Fields and Woods.”61 Marshall gradually fell in with the Seekers and remained in their ranks until his conversion to Quakerism.

George Fox had been a spiritual pilgrim from 1643 to 1648: “But as I had forsaken the Priests, so I left the Separate Preachers also, and those called the Most-Experienced People: For I saw, there was none among them all, that could speak to my Condition.” In 1646 Fox concluded that only those receiving spiritual rebirth were true believers. Two years later he had a vision in which he was told to call people out of spiritual Babylon to the Inner Light by bringing

People off from their own ways, to Christ . . . from their Churches (which Men had made and gathered) to the Church in God . . . and off from all the Worlds Worships, to know the Spirit of Truth in the inward Parts. . . . I was to bring them off from all the World’s Fellowships, and Prayings and Singings, which stood in Forms without Power . . . that they might Pray in the Holy Ghost, and Sing in the Spirit. . . . I was to bring People off from Jewish Ceremonies, and from Heathenish Fables . . . and all their beggarly Rudiments, with their Schools and Colledges [sic], for making Ministers of Christ . . . and [from] all their Images and Crosses, and Sprinkling of Infants.62

Fox was drawn north to Pendle Hill where he had a vision of people dressed in white by the river’s side coming to Jesus. In the town of Sedbergh, in the northwest corner of Yorkshire, he found a community of Seekers, “a prepared people, waiting to be gathered.” Beginning with the conversion of the Sedbergh Seekers, the Quaker gospel spread to other areas in the north. Whole groups of Seekers in Yorkshire, Westmoreland, and Lancashire were gathered into the Quaker movement within two years. In the spring of 1652 Fox visited Ulverston in Furness, where [p.13]Margaret and Thomas Fell of Swarthmore Hall and many other Seekers were converted. These conversions would prove important to the Quaker cause, for Swarthmore Hall eventually became the unofficial center of the missionary movement. Yet there were many, both in England and in America, who did not become Finders with Fox but remained Seekers.63

The Quakers also found a “prepared people” in the American colonies for their gospel of the Inner Light. Seeker influence seems to have been felt in several areas in the Plymouth colony, including Lynn and Salem, in the Rhode Island towns of Newport and Providence, and in the Long Island towns of Flushing, Gravesend, Jamaica, Hempstead, and Oyster.64

As early as 1641, fifteen years before the arrival of the Quakers, several religious groups in Newport, Rhode Island, were expressing views which one historian found “extraordinarily akin to those later held by the Society of Friends.”65 In 1641 Jonathan Winthrop described the Seeker attitude of some of the leading inhabitants of Newport, stating that they “maintained that there were no churches since those founded by the apostles and evangelists, nor could any be, nor any pastors ordained, nor seals administered but by such, and that the church was to want these all the time she continued in the wilderness, as yet she was.”66

In America, as in Europe and in England, two kinds of Seekers existed. Roger Williams, for example, waited for a new dispensation of apostolic authority, to a return to the practice of baptism and communion, and the anticipated literal return of Christ and the establishment of his kingdom. The Quakers, who began entering the colonies in 1654, quickly gathered the spiritualistic Seekers. Quakers eliminated all distinctions between clergy and laity, downgraded scripture in favor of direct revelation, eliminated the sacraments of baptism and communion, and rejected the physical and organizational structure of established churches. Contrary to Roger Williams’s view, Quakers believed the return of Jesus Christ was figurative, referring only to the reception of the Inner Light by converts.67 The Puritans of New England found both Williams and the Quakers distasteful and banished them from their colony.

Although Williams was a staunch defender of religious liberty, he also fiercely resisted the Quakers. He rejected the belief that ordinances would never again be necessary, that the Second Coming was within the believer, and especially the claim that George Fox and his associates were “Apostles and Messangers [p.14]of Christ Jesus.”68 In 1676, Williams wrote to Fox: “I profess that if my soul could find rest in joining any of the churches professing Christ Jesus now extant, I would readily and gladly do it, yea unto themselves whom I now opposed [i.e., the Quakers].”69 Despite his animosity, Williams gave Fox’s followers sanctuary in his Rhode Island colony.

When Williams presided over the Salem church in 1633, he advocated a complete separation from the Church of England. At Salem, according to John Cotton, Williams would not receive persons into “Church-fellowship untill they first disclaime[d] their Churches in England as no Churches” and “rejected all Communion with the Parish Assemblies, so much as in hearing the Word amongst them.”70 John Cannes’s Necessitie of Separation from the Church of England (1634), in the opinion of Williams, “unanswerably proved” the correctness of separating from the Church of England “to seek out the true way of Gods [sic] worship according to Christ Jesus.”71 For a short time after leaving Salem, he associated with the Anabaptists in Providence, Rhode Island.

Soon after his baptism by Anabaptist Ezekiel Holyman in 1638 and subsequent founding of a church of immersed believers at Providence, Williams became convinced that the authority to perform the ordinances had been lost in the apostasy and that no one could restore them without a special revelation from God. After describing Williams’s baptism in his Magnalia Christi Americana (1702), Cotton Mather stated:

But Mr. Williams quickly told them, That being himself misled, he had led them likewise out of the way: he was now satisfied that there was none upon Earth that could Administer Baptism, and so that their Last Baptism, as well as their First, was a Nullity, for the want of a called Administration: he advised them therefore to Forego all, to Dislike everything, and Wait for the coming of New Apostles; whereupon they dissolved themselves, and became that Sort of Sect we term Seekers, keeping that one Principle, That every one should have Liberty to worship God according to the Light of his own Conscience; but owning of no true Churches or Ordinances now in the World.72

Although Williams never used the term “Seeker” to identify himself, he obviously held Seeker beliefs. According to one contemporary, Williams believed that “there is no church, no sacraments, no pastors, no church-officers or ordinances in the world, nor has been since a few years after the apostles.”73 John Winthrop [p.15]reported that Williams questioned the validity of his baptism, because he was unable “to derive the authority of it from the apostles, otherwise than by the ministers of England, (whom he judged to be ill authority,) so he conceived God would raise up some [new] apostolic power.”74 Despite all efforts at reformation, Williams declared in The Bloudy Tenent that the Puritans of Massachusetts had not “separated from the rubbish of Antichristian confusions and desolations” and “must needs confesse, that as yet their Soules are farre from the knowledge of the foundation of a true Christian Church.” There is no foundation for a true church, explained Williams, because there is no apostolic ministry.75 Williams would wait, wrote John Cotton in 1647, “till God shall stirre up himselfe, or some other new Apostles to recover, and restore all the Ordinances, and Churches of Christ out of the ruines of Antichristian apostasie.”76

Williams seems to have contacted the London Seekers during his two visits to England in 1643-44 and 1651-54. His influence on them was such that a leading English Puritan, Richard Baxter, referred to Williams in 1656 as “the father of the Seekers in London.”77 Though Baxter’s statement is probably an exaggeration, it nevertheless revealed Williams’s close, albeit short-lived, association with the London Seekers.78

Most English and Continental Seekers had adopted a “moderate” Calvinism.79 But Seekers in post-Revolutionary America followed the trend of the primitive gospel movement toward Arminianism, which attacked the dogmas of election, predestination, and original sin. Seekers were also excited by the heightened millennial expectations characteristic of American religion at the time.

One independent Seeker, Asa Wild, of Amsterdam, New York, published in 1824 a short work describing his revolt against Puritanism and his conversion to Seekerism. His work, A Short Sketch of the Religious Experience, and Spiritual Travels, of Asa Wild, outlines the classic Seeker position and demonstrates his yearning for a restoration and the Millennium.80

Wild describes his New York mentors, beginning with Jared Spaulding, of Providence, New York, who taught him the Seeker gospel in 1823.81 Wild was further instructed in Seekerism by Eliot Ward, of Pittstown, New York,82 and eventually converted to the Seeker position, receiving a revelation in late 1823 of the imminent destruction of the wicked and the restoration of the true church.83

[p.16]Another Seeker, Erastus Hanchett of Lima, New York, implored his countrymen to “come out of the troubles of the world, and vain speculations and inventions of the human will, in matters of religion, into that perfect peace. . . . And say not in yourselves, that this state is not attainable.”84 In 1825, Hanchett, a spiritualistic Seeker, published A Serious Call in Christian Love, to All People, which outlined his belief in the “religion of revelation.” After describing the miracles and spiritual gifts enjoyed in the primitive church, Hanchett declared: “If these signs are to follow the true believer in Christ; I would ask the candid reader, where shall we find one in the present day.”85 Hanchett’s was a plea shared by many.

Notes:

[p.16]1. In Ben E. Rich, Scrap Book of Mormon Literature (Chicago: Henry C. Etten and Co., n.d.), 1:544-45. Letter dated 6 Jan. 1831, original in LDS church archives, Salt Lake City, Utah.

2. Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, comps. and eds., The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Religious Studies Center, 1980), 381-82. Cf. Joseph Smith, Jr., et al., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2nd ed. rev., 7 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1964), 6:478-79; hereafter HC.

3. For Christian primitivism generally, see Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of the Expansion of Christianity, Vol. 4: The Great Century, A.D. 1800-A.D. 1914 (New York and London: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1941), 428; Sidney E. Mead, “Denominationalism: The Shape of Protestantism in America,” Church History 23 (Dec. 1954): 295-99; B. Cecil Lambert, “The Rise of the Anti-Mission Baptists: Sources and Leaders, 1800-1840,” Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1958, 67-410; James DeForest Murch, Christians Only: A History of the Restoration Movement (Cincinnati: Standard Publishing Co., 1962), 63-137; William Garrett West, Burton W. Stone: Early American Advocate of Christian Unity (Nashville, 1954), 1-6; I. Daniel Rupp, comp., He Pasa Ekklesia. An Original History of the Religious Denominations at Present Existing in the United States (Philadelphia, 1844), 166, 251, 257, 264, 520-21, 731; William Warren Sweet, Religion in the Development of American Culture, 1765-1840 (Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1963), 193-98, 203-6, 216-33; Elmer T. Clark, Small Sects in America (Nashville: Cokesbury Press, 1937), 269-76; Nathan O. Hatch, “The Christian Movement and the Demand for a Theology of the People,” Journal of American History 67 (Dec. 1980): 545-67. Christian Primitivism in early Mormonism is explored in Marvin S. Hill, “The Role of Christian Primitivism in the Origin and Development of the Mormon Kingdom, 1830-1844,” Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1968, and “The Shaping of the Mormon Mind in [p.17]New England and New York,” Brigham Young University Studies 9 (Spring 1969): 351-72.

4. By 1850 the Campbellites and the Mormons were listed seventh and ninth, respectively, in numerical strength among religious sects in the United States. See Daniel Dorchester, The Problem of Religious Progress (New York: Phillips and Hunt, 1881), 538-40.

5. Mead, “Denominationalism,” 295-96.

6. For a general history of Anabaptism, see James Hastings, ed., Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, 13 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1908-21), 1:406-12; Harold S. Bender, et al., eds., The Mennonite Encyclopedia, 4 vols. (Scottdale, 1955-59), 1:113-16; William R. Estep, The Anabaptist Story (Grand Rapids, 1976); and Robert Friedmann, “Recent Interpretations of Anabaptism,” Church History 24 (1955): 132-51. For comparisons between Anabaptism and Mormonism, see David B. Davis, “The New England Origins of Mormonism,” New England Quarterly 26 (June 1953): 148-65; Robert J. McCue, “Similarities and Differences in the Anabaptist Restitution and the Mormon Restoration,” M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1959; William E. Juhnke, “Anabaptism and Mormonism: A Study in Comparative History,” John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 2 (1982): 38-46; and D. Michael Quinn, “Socio-religious Radicalism of the Mormon Church: A Parallel to the Anabaptists,” in New Views of Mormon History: A Collection of Essays in Honor of Leonard J. Arrington, eds. Davis Bitton and Maureen Ursenbach Beecher (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1987), 363-86. Caution should be taken with regard to the Anabaptist concept of “restoration” since it refers to a personal commitment and not to the reestablishment of a lost church. See Friedmann, “Recent Interpretations of Anabaptism,” 137.

7. Tho[mas] Pierce, The Primitive Rule of Reformation: Delivered in a Sermon before His Majesty at Whitehall, Febr. 1, 1662. In Vindication of Our Church against the Novelties of Rome (London, 1663), 6-7.

8. Ibid., 13, 23-30.

9. Ibid., 14.

10. Ibid., 31, 10.

11. On Cartwright’s primitivism, see Andrew Forret Scott Pearson, Thomas Cartwright and Elizabethan Puritanism, 1535-1603 (Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1966), esp. 26-29, 42, 60, 89-90, 188, 207-8, and Church and State: Political Aspects of Sixteenth Century Puritanism (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1928), esp. 11, 120, 123-24. Especially helpful are John Kenneth Reynold Luoma, “The Primitive Church as a Normative Principle in the Theology of the Sixteenth Century: The Anglican-Puritan Debate Over Church Polity as Represented by Richard Hooker and Thomas Cartwright,” Ph.D. diss., Hartford Seminary Foundation, 1974, and James C. Spalding, “Restitution as a Normative Factor for Puritan Dissent,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 44 (March 1976): 47-63. For the important documents dealing with the Puritan revolt, see Walter Howard Frere and C. E. Douglas, eds., Puritan Manifestoes: A Study of the Origin of the Puritan Revolt (London: SPCK, 1954).

12. Luoma, “The Primitive Church as a Normative Principle”; Stanley Archer, Richard Hooker (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1983); Robert Kenneth Faulkner, Richard Hooker and the Politics of a Christian England (Berkeley: [p.18]University of California Press, 1981); Peter Munz, The Place of Hooker in the History of Thought (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1971); and W. Speed Hill, ed., Studies in Richard Hooker: Essays Preliminary to an Edition of His Works (Cleveland: Press of Case Western Reserve University, 1972). Hooker’s works have been published in John Keble, ed., The Works of Richard Hooker, 7th ed. (New York: G. Olms Verlag, 1977).

13. That the Puritans of New England were nonseparating is discussed in Edmund S. Morgan, Visible Saints: The History of a Puritan Idea (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1963), 64-66.

14. Perry Miller, Orthodoxy in Massachusetts, 1630-1650 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1933), 160.

15. [Increase Mather], The Necessity of Reformation (Boston, 1679), 2.

16. On the fragmentation of Puritan society, see William G. McLoughlin, New England Dissent, 1630-1833, 2 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971), and Franklin Hamlin Littell, From State Church to Pluralism: A Protestant Interpretation of Religion in American History (Chicago: Aldine Publishing Co., 1962).

17. On New England economics and the decline of Puritanism, see Bernard Bailyn, The New England Merchants in the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1955).

18. Alan Heimert and Perry Miller, The Great Awakening: Documents Illustrating the Crisis and Its Consequences (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1967), xiv. In connection with revivalism and the decline of Puritanism, see James Deetz’s discussion of the change in the dominant design of New England gravestones, In Small Things Forgotten: The Archaeology of Early American Life (Garden City, NY: Anchor Press, 1977), 64-90. Deetz found that the decline of the death’s-head marker and the rise of a new design, the winged cherub, coincided with the decline of orthodox Puritanism and the revivalistic activity of the mid-eighteenth century.

19. See, for example, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Age of Jackson (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1945), 350-60.

20. Sidney E. Mead, “From Coercion to Persuasion: Another Look at the Rise of Religious Liberty and the Emergence of Denominationalism,” Church History 25 (Dec. 1956): 317-37.

21. Latourette, History of the Expansion of Christianity, 4:428.

22. My discussion of the primitive gospel movement in America owes much to Marvin S. Hill’s “Role of Christian Primitivism,” 6-36.

23. Marvin S. Hill, “Quest for Refuge: An Hypothesis as to the Social Origins and Nature of the Mormon Political Kingdom,” Journal of Mormon History 2 (1975): 4; see also Geoffrey F. Spencer, “Anxious Saints: the Early Mormons, Social Reform, and Status Anxiety,” John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 1 (1981): 43-53. On the instability of the early national period, see Roland Berthoff, An Unsettled People: Social Order and Disorder in American History (New York, 1971).

24. Joseph Priestley, History of the Corruptions of Christianity, 2 vols., 3d ed. (Boston, 1797), 1:iii.

25. John W. Nevin, “The Sect System,” Mercerburg Review 1 (1849): 499. See also Mead, “Denominationalism,” 295-99.

[p.19]26. David Millard, “Christians, or Christian Connexion,” in Rupp, He Pasa Ekklesia, 166.

27. Memoir of Elder Abner Jones by His Son, A.D. Jones (Boston, 1842), 49.

28. Ibid., 34-36, 48.

29. Ibid., 49-52, 62, and Rupp, He Pasa Ekklesia, 167.

30. Ibid., 64. See also The Life, Conversion, Preaching, Travels and Sufferings of Elias Smith (Portsmouth, 1816), 58.

31. Rupp, He Pasa Ekklesia, 168.

32. Wilbur E. MacClenny, The Early History of the Christian Church in the South (Raleigh: Edwards and Broughton, 1910), 117, and Rupp, He Pasa Ekklesia, 167. Probably the best treatment of O’Kelly is Charles Franklin Kilgore, The James O’Kelly Schism in the Methodist Episcopal Church (Mexico City, 1963). O’Kelly’s primary works are The Author’s Apology for Protesting against the Methodist Episcopal Government (Richmond, 1798) and A Vindication of the Author’s Apology (Raleigh, 1801).

33. William Garrett West, Barton W. Stone: Early American Advocate of Christian Unity (Nashville: Disciples of Christ Historical Society, 1954), 61, 75.

34. Rupp, He Pasa Ekklesia, 168.

35. For primary documents of Stone’s movement, see “The Last Will and Testament of Springfield Presbytery,” in John Rogers, The Biography of Elder B. Warren Stone (New York, 1972), 51-53; Barton W. Stone, An Apology for Renouncing the Jurisdiction of the Synod of Kentucky (Lexington, KY, 1804); [Richard McNemar], Observations on Church Government, by the Presbytery of Springfield (Cincinnati, 1807); Robert Marshall and James Thompson, A Brief Historical Account of Sundry Things in the Doctrines and State of the Christian, or, as It Is Commonly Called, the Newlight Church (Cincinnati, 1811).

36. Rupp, He Pasa Ekklesia, 168.

37. Lynn A. McMillon, “The Quest for the Apostolic Church: A Study of Scottish Origins of American Restorationism,” Ph.D. diss., Baylor University, 1972, traces Campbell’s primitive gospel influences to his association in Glasgow with Grenville Ewing, Robert and James Haldane, and other Scotch Independents. Nathan O. Hatch, “The Christian Movement and the Demand for a Theology of the People,” 551, stresses the Americanisms in the Christian movement and minimizes Campbell’s Scottish influence.

38. W. Garrison and A. T. DeGroot, The Disciples of Christ (St. Louis: Christian Board of Education, 1948), 139, 155.

39. See Robert Frederick West, Alexander Campbell and Natural Religion (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1948); Garrison and DeGroot, Disciples of Christ; David Edwin Harrell, Jr., Quest for a Christian America: The Disciples of Christ and American Society to 1866 (Nashville, 1966). See also Alexander Campbell, ed., Memoirs of Elder Thomas Campbell (Cincinnati, 1861); and Robert Richardson, ed., Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, 2 vols. (Cincinnati, 1913).

40. For general treatments, see Hastings, Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, 11:350-51; Samuel Macauley Jackson, et al., eds., New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, 12 vols. (New York and London: Funk and Wagnalls Co., 1908-12), 12:235; M. J. Havran, “Seekers,” New Catholic [p.20]Encyclopedia, 17 vols. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1967), 13:47. For English and colonial American Seekerism, see Rufus M. Jones, Mysticism and Democracy in the English Commonwealth (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1932), esp. chap. 3; Rufus M. Jones, Spiritual Reformers in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1971), 84-86, 340-42; George Arthur Johnson, “From Seeker to Finder: A Study in Seventeenth-Century English Spiritualism Before the Quakers,” Church History 17 (1948): 299-315, and “From Seeker to Finder,” Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1948; James Fulton Maclear, “`The Heart of New England Rent’: The Mystical Element in Early Puritan History,” Mississippi Valley Historical Review 42 (March 1956): 621-52; James Anthony Vendettuoli, “The English Seekers: John Jackson, the Principal Spokesman,” Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1958; John Garrett, Roger Williams: Witness Beyond Christendom, 1603-1683 (New York: Macmillan, 1970), esp. chap. 7; and James Ernst, Roger Williams: New England Firebrand (New York: AMS Press, 1969), esp. chap. 2; Mauro Calamandrei, “Neglected Aspects of Roger Williams’ Thought,” Church History 21 (1952): 239-58.

41. See Jerald C. Brauer, “Puritan Mysticism and the Development of Liberalism,” Church History 19 (1950): 151-70; see also Maclear, “`The Heart of New England Rent,'” 621-52; Jerald C. Brauer, “Francis Rous, Puritan Mystic, 1579-1659: An Introduction to the Study of the Mystical Element in Puritanism,” Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1948; and Winthrop Hudson, “Mystical Religion in the Puritan Commonwealth,” Journal of Religion 28 (Jan. 1948): 51-56.

42. See New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, 10:235. A contemporary statement is given by Thomas Edward: “Independency is the door to let in to Anabaptisme, and Anabaptisme was the door to let into the Truth, meaning that from thence they would come to be Seekers, Perfectionists, &c. Independency and other Sects are so neer of blood, that a man may for the most part without any great Solecisme say, Independency is all Sectarisme, and all Sectarisme is Independency; Independents turn Anabaptists, Seekers, &c. and Sectaries turn Independents; we have now few Independents (strictly so called) but Independents, Antinomians, Independent Anabaptists, Seekers, &c.” Ganoraena: or, A Catalogue and Discovery of many of the Errours, Heresies, Blasphemies and pernicious Practices of the Sectaries (London, 1646), 125.

43. See Champlin Burrage, The Early English Dissenters in the Light of Recent Research (1550-1641), 2 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1912), 1:123, 192-94, 216-20; Robert Barclay, The Inner Life of the Religious Societies of the Commonwealth (London, 1876), 173-74.

44. See, for example, Thomas Carlyle, ed., Oliver Cromwell’s Letters and Speeches, 4 vols. (London: Chapman and Hall, 1897), 1:254; also Wilbur Cortez Abbott, ed., The Writings and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell, 4 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1937-47), 1:416. On Cromwell’s independence from any particular sect and his sympathy with Seekers and others, see C. H. Firth, Oliver Cromwell and the Rule of the Puritans in England (London: Putnam, 1947), 150, and Antonia Fraser, Cromwell: The Lord Protector (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1973), 405.

[p.21]45. See John Saltmarsh, Sparkles of Glory (London, 1647), 289 ff., Groanes For Liberty (London, 1646), 22-23, and Smoke in the Temple (London, 1646), 7-13. See Thomas Edwards, Ganoraena, 2 vols. (London, 1646), 2:13-14.

46. See Jones, Spiritual Reformers; Hans-Jurgen Goertz, ed., Profiles of Radical Reformers: Biographical Sketches from Thomas Muntzer to Paracelsus (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1982).

47. The most developed expression of Dutch Seekerism is in the tract Lucerna super candelabro (Amsterdam, 1662), probably written by Peter Balling, a Collegiant of Rynsburg, and subsequently translated into English by Quaker Benjamin Furley as The Light on the Candlestick (London, 1665). See also William Penn’s description in his Account of William Penn’s Travels in Germany and Holland ([London], 1694).

48. See Hastings, Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, 11:350.

49. John Knox, The Confutation of the errours of the careless by necessitie (London, 1560). This is pointed out in Jones, Mysticism and Democracy, 63.

50. Everard published Hans Denck’s Confession of Faith, Sebastian Franck’s The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and Sebastian Castellio’s Theologia Germanica. See Jones, Mysticism and Democracy, 64-66. Everard also translated and published several alchemical works, including Hermes Trismegistus (London, 1657). See Robert M. Schuler, “Some Spiritual Alchemies of Seventeenth-Century England,” Journal of the History of Ideas 41 (April-June 1980): 308-18.

51. Robert Bayllie, Anabaptism, the True Fountaine of Independency, Brownisme, Antinomy, Familisme, And the most of the other errours, which for the time doe trouble the Church of England, Unsealed (London, 1647), 96-97.

52. Although John Jackson divided Seekers into three categories, most contemporaries recognized only two types. See Robert Barclay, The Inner Life of the Religious Societies of the Commonwealth (London, 1876), 413. One scholar attempted to distinguish six types of Seekers: C. E. Whiting, Studies in English Puritanism from the Restoration to the Revolution, 1660-1688 (New York and Toronto: Macmillan Co., 1931), 271-72. I find it most convenient to place Seekers into one of the two generally accepted categories.

53. There are several reasons for using the term “spiritualistic” rather than “mystic” in referring to this type of Seeker. A major distinction pertains to the role of the spirit. While the Holy Spirit plays a part in mysticism, the spiritual experience is temporary and usually ecstatic. With spiritualism, on the other hand, life is lived so as to enjoy the continual possession of the spirit, leading ultimately to human perfection. Iconoclasm is another aspect of spiritualism, which is rarely if ever the case with mysticism. My distinction between “mysticism” and “spiritualism” is influenced by George Arthur Johnson, “From Seeker to Finder,” 299-300. However, I have not used, nor do I agree with, Johnson’s term “Finder” in reference to spiritualistic Seekers. Most did not become Finders until their conversion to Quakerism. See also Brauer, “Puritan Mysticism,” 153; and Vendettuoli, “English Seekers,” 14-17.

54. William Allen, A Doubt Resolved, or Satisfaction for the Seekers (London, 1655), 37.

[p.22]55. I know of no other writer who has used the expression “literalistic” Seekers, which I find useful as a comparative term. This is not to say that this type of Seeker was not spiritual.

56. Allen, Doubt Resolved, 14.

57. Saltmarsh, Sparkles of Glory, 292.

58. Sebastian Franck, Chronicle (1536), in Jones, Mysticism and Democracy, 66. See also Barclay, The Inner Life of the Religious Societies of the Commonwealth, 410-11.

59. See William C. Braithwaite, The Beginnings of Quakerism (London: Macmillan and Co., 1912), esp. 58-65, 78-97, and “The Swaledale Papers,” Journal of the Friends’ Historical Society 5 (1908): 3ff; John L. Nickalls, ed., The Journal of George Fox (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952), 106; The First Publishers of Truth, ed. Norman Penney (London: Friends’ Historical Society, 1907); Elbert Russell, The History of Quakerism (Richmond, IN: Friends United Press, 1979), 31-32; and Champlin Burrage, “The Antecedents of Quakerism,” English Historical Review 30 (1915): 78-90.

60. George Fox, Great Mistery of the Great Whore Unfolded (London, 1659), “The Epistle to the Reader” by Edward Burrough, unpaginated.

61. Charles Marshall, A Short Narrative of My Pilgrimage, in Rufus M. Jones, Mysticism and Democracy in the English Commonwealth, 99.

62. George Fox, A Journal, ed. Margaret Fox (London, 1694), 8, 5, 23-24.

63. See Braithwaite, Beginnings of Quakerism, 78-97; Russell, History of Quakerism, 30-35. Concerning the preparedness of the Westmoreland Seekers to the Quaker message, two former inhabitants reported that it “was a Field white unto the Harvest, a People ripe to be gathered.” Thomas Camm and Charles Marshal, The Memory of the Righteous Revived (London, 1689), unpaginated.

64. Rufus M. Jones, The Quakers in the American Colonies (New York: Russell & Russell, 1962), 57-58, 65, 217-18.

65. Jones, Quakers, 23.

66. Jonathan Winthrop, Winthrop’s Journal “History of New England,” 1630-1649, ed. James Kendall Hosmer, 2 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1908), 2:39.

67. See Rufus M. Jones, Quakers.

68. Roger Williams, George Fox Digg’d out of His Burrowes (London, 1676), 2.

69. In Emily Easton, Roger Williams: Prophet and Pioneer (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1930), 224.

70. John Cotton, A Coppy of a Letter of Mr. Cotton of Boston, in New England, Sent in Answer of Certaine Objections Made against Their Discipline and Orders There ([London], 1641), 1; John Cotton, A Reply to Mr. Williams his Examination, 61, published at the back of Cotton’s The Bloudy Tenent, Washed . . . whereunto is added a Reply to Mr. Williams Answer, to Mr. Cottons Letter (London, 1647).

71. Roger Williams, Mr. Cottons Letter Lately Printed, Examined and Answered (London, 1644), 39.

72. Cotton Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana: or, The Ecclesiastical History of New-England (London, 1702), Bk. VII, 8-9. On Roger Williams’s Seekerism, see John Garrett, Roger Williams: Witness Beyond Christendom, [p.23]1603-1683 (New York: Macmillan Co., 1970), 145-75; and James Ernst, Roger Williams: New England Firebrand (New York: AMS Press, 1969), 207-8, 226-27, 254-55, 282, 479-92; Vernon Louis Parrington, “Roger Williams, Seeker,” in Main Currents in American Thought, 3 vols. (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1927-30), 1:62-75.

73. In Benjamin Hanbury, Historical Memorials Relating to the Independents, or Congregationalists, 3 vols. (London, 1839-44), 2:444.

74. Winthrop, Winthrop’s Journal, 1:309 (dated 5 July 1639).

75. [Roger Williams], The Bloudy Tenent ([London], 1644), 22, [21].

76. Cotton, Reply to Mr. Williams, 2; cf. p. 9.

77. Richard Baxter, Plain Scripture Proof of Infants Church-Membership and Baptism (London, 1656), 147.

78. Edmund S. Morgan minimizes Williams’s contact with the English Seekers. See Roger Williams: The Church and the State (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1967), 53, 152n56. John Garrett, on the other hand, argues for a closer contact. See Roger Williams: Witness Beyond Christendom, 29, 145-75.

79. Robert Bayllie reports that some Seekers were antitrinitarian or antinomian. See Anabaptism, 96-97.

80. [Asa Wild], A Short Sketch of the Religious Experience, and Spiritual Travels, of Asa Wild, of Amsterdam, N.Y. Written by himself, by Divine Command, and the most infallible Inspiration (Amsterdam, NY: printed for the author by D. Wells, 1824). On 22 October 1823, the Wayne Sentinel reprinted an article from the Mohawk Herald (Amsterdam, NY) describing Wild’s forthcoming work. On 27 November 1823, Boston’s Zion’s Herald announced the publication of Wild’s work and described his major beliefs. However, Wild was finishing his book in February 1824 (Short Sketch, 83). Asa Wild, of Amsterdam, Montgomery County, New York, appears in the 1830 and 1840 federal censuses. In 1830, he was married, had three children, and was between thirty and forty years of age. He does not appear to have held a professional occupation, at least in 1840; he is listed under “Manufactures and Trades.” Federal Census of New York, Montgomery County, 1830, 115; Federal Census of New York, Montgomery County, 1840, 293.

81. See Wild, Short Sketch, 43-44. Jared Spaulding, of Providence, Saratoga County, New York, appears in the 1820 and 1830 federal censuses. In 1820 he was married, had three children, and was between thirty and forty years of age. Federal Census of New York, Saratoga County, 1820, 239; Federal Census of New York, Saratoga County, 1830, 253.

82. See Wild, Short Sketch, 50-51. Eliot Ward, of Pittstown, Rensselaer County, New York, appears in the 1830 federal census. He was married, had five children, and was between thirty and forty years of age in 1830. He was thus between twenty and thirty years of age in 1820. Federal Census of New York, Rensselaer County, 1830, 142.

83. Wild, Short Sketch, 77-78.

84. Wayne Sentinel, 23 Feb. 1825.

85. Erastus Hanchett, A Serious Call in Christian Love, to All People; in the Form of A Letter to Henry Colman, Minister of the Unitarian Independent Congregational Church Society, in Salem, Mass. Being an answer in part, to a Book which he read to his people on the 7th December, 1824, at the opening of a New Meeting House. Also An Appendix to the same, being an Address in [p.24]Love to all people, particularly those who hold the doctrines of Calvinism and Universalism (Boston: Printed for the author, [1825]), 9, 10. Erastus Hanchett of Lima, Livingston County, New York, appears in the 1820, 1830, and 1840 federal censuses. In 1820, Hanchett was married, had four children, and was between thirty and forty years of age. He did not hold a professional occupation and is listed under “Manufactures and Trades” in the 1840 census. Federal Census of New York, Ontario County, 1820, 363; Federal Census of New York, Livingston County, 1830, 83; Federal Census of New York, Livingston County, 1840, 143.