Jemima Wilkinson and the Indian


Elder John Leland

IMPROVED.  From: “The Writings of Elder John Leland” P. 339

THE high claims of Jemima Wilkinson* (that Christ has descended the second time, and dwells in her,) are generally known. Her place of residence (Editor-cir. 1777-1790) is in the town of Jerusalem, Ontario County, and State of New York.

A few years past, a religious Indian paid her a visit, with intention to find out wherein her great strength lay. After discoursing with her some time, in English, he changed his dialect, and spake in his own mother tongue; to which Jemima replied, in her plain manner of speaking, "thee must not speak to me in Indian language, for I do not understand it." " Ah !" said the Indian, " then I know you are not my Saviour ; for my blessed Jesus understands poor Indians." How significant the words, and how marvellous the idea of the Indian!

More than a thousand different dialects now exist, among the various nations of the earth, which bear so little affinity to each other, that the people who speak one of them understand little or nothing of another. Supposing a thousand congregations, belonging to a thousand distinct nations, should assemble in some spacious plain, and the whole number of individuals, in each congregation, should lift up their voices in prayer and praise to God; is it probable that Jesus would understand them all? Like the Indian, I believe he would. Should any individual, in the vast assembly, hear all the voices, what a din of confusion would assail his ears; but all would be order and significance with the dear Redeemer. If this conclusion is just, it is presumptive evidence that Jesus Christ is the omniscient God. If it should be objected, however, that it is possible for Omnipotence to make a creature of such extensive faculties, that he can understand all that is said by all, it will not hastily be denied.

But, supposing the public worship of this great assembly should close, would Jesus then know the temper of each heart? Can an inarticulate prayer of the heart rise to God, through the mediation of Christ, and at the same time the Mediator know nothing of it? It cannot be admitted. He must then know the hearts of men.

When he was on earth, he perceived the thoughts of the people, and knew what was in man. If we consider Solomon's address to Israel's God, "Thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of men," it will be substantiated that Jesus, who knew the thoughts and hearts of men, IS Israel's Lord and Saviour; for it is not possible for Omnipotence to make another creature of co-omniscience with himself.

[*] Jemima Wilkinson was a charismatic American Quaker and evangelist. Wilkinson was born in Cumberland, Rhode Island to Quaker parents. After suffering from a severe illness and fever, Wilkinson reported having the experience of death and return from heaven, reincarnated as a prophet known as the Public Universal Friend, who was neither male nor female. Wilkinson chose the self description of "Universal Friend" and preached the Ten Commandments (Editor: and other doctrines) and sexual abstinence to followers. Thus formed the "Society of Universal Friends." These terms were probably borrowed from The Quakers who were also called the Society of Friends.

Wilkinson preached and traveled in New England, where they were generally rejected by traditional Quakers. The Universal Friends settled for a time in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the national capital at the time and a city with a sizable Quaker community. There they attracted followers. In 1790, The Society moved to western New York, to settle on land newly purchased from the dispossessed Seneca people. Most of the Seneca and other Iroquois peoples had been forced out of the state, having been allies of the British during the American Revolutionary War. Wilkinson and their followers founded Jerusalem, New York, since renamed as Penn Yan. It is located in Yates County at the north end of Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes region.

(This additional information is added from Wikipedia, Encyclopedia, for clarity on Wilkinson)