Wednesday, 09 October 2013 22:02

The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. XII, No. 3 (Jan., 1905), page 315

Written by  A. Wayne Webb
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The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. XII, No. 3 (Jan., 1905), page 315 [Click for larger image]The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. XII, No. 3 (Jan., 1905), page 315

kers.] Their habit seems to be peculiar to themselves, consisting of a long tunic or coat, reaching down to their heels, with a sash or girdle round the waist, and a cap or hood hanging from the shoulders. They do not shave the head or beard. " 'The men and women have separate habitations and distinct governments. For these purposes they erected two large, wooden buildings, one of which is occupied by the brethren, the other by the sisters of the society; and in each of them there is a banqueting-room, and an apartment for public worship; for the brethren and sisters do not meet together even at their devotions. " 'They used to live chiefly upon roots and other vegetables, the rules of their society not allowing them ftesh, except upon particular occasions, when they hold what they call a love-feast, at which time the brethren and sisters dine together in a large apartment and eat mutton, but no other meat. [The Dunkers do perpetuate the Apostolic lovefeast - a-gape—at which the meat used is almost invariably mutton, or veal.] In each of their little cells they have a bench fixed, to serve the purpose of a bed, and a small block of wood for a pillow. They allow of marriages, but consider celebacy as a virtue. " 'The principal tenet of the Tunkers appears to be this—that future happiness is only to be obtained by penance and outward mortifications in this life, and that, as Jesus Christ, by his meritorious sufferings, became the Redeemer of mankind in general, so each individual of the human race, by a life of abstinence and restraint, may work out his own salvation. Nay, they go so far as to admit of works of supererogation, and declare that a man may do much more than he is in justice or equity obliged to do, and that his superabundant works may, therefore, be applied to the salvation of others.' " This is, perhaps, the climax, but there is more of the same sort. We can excuse Howe in some measure, perhaps, because he only followed in his account what he regarded as a trustworthy publication, and I have found almost the identical words that Howe quotes in Edwards' Enclycopaedia of Religious Know/edge; but he is grievously in error, nevertheless. As a matter of fact, many German Dunkers did settle in Botetourt county at an early period, and their descendants—most of them still Dunkers—number thousands in Botetourt and adjoining counties to-day; but what Howe says here is not descriptive, except in the particulars I have indicated, of these people, either then or now. What he says is, I suppose, true in the main of the Ephrata Society; but it is not, and never was, true of the Dunkers. The Dunkers have been confused not only with their ascetic off-shoot, the Ephrata Society, but also with other sects better known. I quote from the Schaff-Herzog Enc/ycopaedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol.

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