(Lashers), also called Danielites, is the name of a powerful Russian sect. They call themselves "people of God," "Tribe of Israel," " worshippers of the true God," or " Brothers and Sisters." They originated in the first year of the reign of the emperor Alexis (A.D. 1645). According to their tradition, there descended, in the days of Alexis, upon Mt. Gorodin, in the district of Wladimir, in great power, on a wagon of fire surrounded by a cloud, "God the Father," accompanied by the hosts of heaven. The latter returned again to the other world, but the Lord himself remained on the earth, and manifested himself in the flesh in the person of Daniel Philippon (or Philippitch). This they hold to have been the second manifestation of God the Father in the flesh, and as in his first manifestation Jerusalem was enlightened, so at this time Russia was blessed with special divine favor; and, corresponding to Jerusalem, they point out as their Zion, or, as they call it, " the higher region," the province Kostroma, in which Daniel Philippon was born. The historical facts in the case, as related by Dixon ('Free Russiai, p. 139), however, are, that Daniel was a peasant in the province of Kostroma, and, after serving for a time in the Russian army, ran away from his flag in battle, declared himself the Almighty, and wandered about the empire, teaching those who would listen to his voice his doctrine, inculcated in the following twelve commandments:
1. I am the God of whom the prophets spoke. I came for the second time into the world to redeem the souls of men. There is no God besides me.
2. There is no other doctrine, and no other is to be sought.
3. In what you are taught, therein also remain.
4. Keep the commandments of your God, and become fishers of men in general.
5. Drink no strong drinks, and do not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
6. Do not get married, and whosoever is married let him live with his wife as with his sister. This is the sense of the Old Testament Scriptures. The unmarried should not marry, and those who are married should separate.
7. No abusive word (diabol) is to be used.
8. Not to attend wedding or baptism festivities, or drink at parties.
9. Not to steal; and if any one takes of another the smallest coin, it will have to melt on his head at the judg ment day from the heat of punishment before he can be pardoned
10. These commandments are to be kept secret, not to be revealed even to father or mother. The suffering from fire and the knout must be endured, because for it the kingdom of heaven and bliss on earth are obtained.
11. Friends are to visit friends, to give suppers of friendship, to exercise love, to keep these commands, and pray to God.
12. To believe in the Holy Spirit.
Their own tradition asserts that Daniel himself did not issue these commands, but that a son was born to revenged him fifteen years before his appearance in this world, in the person of Ivan Timofejen, in the village Maksakon, of a woman one hundred years old. That this Ivan, when thirty- three years old, was summoned by Daniel to the village Staraja, and there received his godhead, and that, thereupon father and son ascended into heaven, and, after a short tarry, from the same place descended Jesus the Christ, in the person of Ivan, who at once commenced to preach, assisted by twelve disciples, the doctrines embodied in the twelve commandments above cited, and entered into the state of holy matrimony with a young female, whom they call " the daughter of God." To add to the romance of the story, the persecutions to which these fanatical religionists were subject has given rise to an imitation of the resurrection narrative of the N.-T. Scriptures. After suffering persecution under various forms and of divers kinds, Ivan was partly burned and then crucified; but, after removal from the cross, and his burial on a Friday, he rose again, and on the Sunday after appeared in the midst of his followers. Again seized by the authorities, he was tried and crucified a second time, and his skin taken off; one of his female followers standing by then wrapped the body in a sheet, out of which a new skill formed itself, and after burial he again rose and commenced anew the preaching of his doctrines, and made many followers.
Thereafter Ivan took up his residence at Moscow, and openly taught his new religion. The house which he occupied was called the " New Jerusalem." He died on the day of St. Tichon, after living some forty five years at Moscow, and ascended to heaven in presence of his disciples, to join his father and the saints. Notwithstanding the frenzy of this fabulous narrative, the sect is numerous, and has among its members many of the nobles of the land.
Like the Skoptzi, the sect of the Khlistic also observe some of the practices of the regular Church, to ward off suspicion and to shield themselves from persecution. From their usages it is known that before they go to communion in the church they first partake of it according to their own form. They also have a separate form of baptism. They have pictures of their god Daniel Philippon, their Jesus Christ, their mother of God, saints, prophets, and teachers whom they adore. The orthodox church edifices they call " ant-nests," and their priests "idolaters and adulterers." Marriage is considered an impurity, and all entering this state are lost, yet they permit one of the nearest relatives of Daniel Philippon and Ivan Timofejen to enter this state to prevent the interruption of the lineage. The water from a well in the village Staraja, near Kostroma, is in the winter sent about in the shape of ice, and used by them to bake their communion bread. In the same village lived in 1847 a girl, Uliana Visilijewa by name, who was adored as the last of the lineage by many from all parts, among them nobles and merchants of Moscow, and though for this reason the government passed unnoticed her sacrilegious acts, she was at last arrested and sent to a monastery.
Their mode of worship is very much like that of the Skoptzi, except that after service they partake of an ordinary meal in common, which is prolonged till late in the evening, and often becomes the occasion of licentious sins. This sect is known in various localities by different names; in some parts they are called Ljady (useless), in others Chorashy (hypocrites), Vertvni (turners), Kupidony (Cupido, the god of love). Great numbers of these heretics have been sent into the Causasus and Siberia, where many of them have been forced to enter the armies and the mines. See Dixon Free Russia, Chap. 24