Page:Yorkshire Oddities, Incidents and Strange Events.djvu/66

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Yorkshire Oddities and Incidents.

Joanna Southcott, all sealed members paid according to their income or ability. It was a sacred fund retained by the Society for the purpose of publishing the Eternal Gospel and sending it to all parts of the world, proclaiming the millennium, the outpouring of the Spirit, and the Great Desolation. This eternal Gospel was to be published forty years after the death of Joanna.[1] The sum amounted to a large amount—over two thousand pounds.

Wroe bought a piece of land on a height near Wakefield, and on this began to build. The house, said Wroe, was to be dedicated to the Lord, and was to belong to the members of the "House of Israel" gathered out of all nations. No architect was to be employed. It was to be built as the Spirit directed.

Subscription-books were issued to all the sanctuaries. Every member's contribution was to be entered separately, and no man was to know what his neighbour gave. The poorest workman was to contribute not less than 10 per cent. of his earnings.[2] All extra gifts were to be sent to John Wroe at Wrenthorpe, near Wakefield, and those who did not wish to pay to the local treasurers might send their subscriptions direct to the Prophet.

During 1855 and 1856 post-office orders poured in from all parts, and it was said in Wakefield at the time that

  1. Is it more than a coincidence that the Southcottites should reproduce the forms and terminology of a heresy of the fourteenth century? The Abbot Joachim was the prophet then, and his "Eternal Gospel" proclaimed precisely the same doctrines as the "Eternal Gospel" of Joanna. This heresy invaded the ranks of the Franciscans, and produced a tremendous schism, which ended in the prescription of the Fraticelli. For an account of the Abbot Joachim and the Eternal Gospel see Hahn, "Ketzer Geschichte," ii. and iii.; and Dean Milman's "Latin Christianity."
  2. The members were obliged to keep books of their earnings, and exhibit them, to prove that they paid 10 per cent. to Wroe.