Nicholites a sect of religionists who professed pearly the same principles as the Quakers, and were ultimately incorporated with them, flourished in Maryland (Caroline Co.) in the latter half of the 18th century. Their chief support and founder was Joseph Nichols, a man possessed of strong powers of mind. and a remarkable flow of spirits, though of limited education, and a husbandman by, occupation. His vivacity and humor caused his company to be much sought after, and gave him great influence over his companions. On the first day of the week, and at other times of leisure, many collected to hear his entertaining conversation. At one of these convivial meetings he was accompanied by an intimate friend, who was taken ill and died suddenly at the place where they were assembled. This solemn warning was through divine mercy made effectual in awakening the attention of Joseph Nichols, showing him the uncertainty of life, and producing a radical reformation in his character. His mind became enlightened and imbued with heavenly truth, and, being called to a holy life, he yielded obedience to the impressions of divine grace. When his neighbors came around him as usual, seeking mirthful entertainment, he appeared more serious, and proposed that they should spend their time more rationally than they had done, and that a portion of the Scriptures should be read. They assented to his suggestions, and for some time their meetings were gradually changed from scenes of mirth to seasons of serious thoughtfulness, until at length he was led to appear among them as a preacher of righteousness. His meetings attracted much attention, and crowds assembled to hear him. His ministry being attended with heart- searching fervor, many were so reached by it that they embraced his views, and endeavored to conform their lives to the dictates of that holy principle which he inculcated, believing it would lead out of all error and into all truth. Such was the authority and unction with which he sometimes spoke, and the deep feeling that pervaded the audience, that some would cry out audibly, and even prostrate themselves in the meeting. He traveled as a minister through the districts on the eastern shore of Maryland, in some parts of the western shore, and in Pennsylvania and Delaware. In his meetings he sat in silence until he believed himself called and qualified to preach. Sometimes, feeling no such qualification, the meetings terminated in silence. When asked whether he would preach that day, his answer was, "I mean to be obedient." His meetings were frequently held under the shade of trees, sometimes in private houses, and occasionally in the meeting-houses of Friends. As he continued to hold meetings for divine worship, a change in the habits and appearance of the people became conspicuous. He insisted on the doctrine of self-denial, and the subjugation of every appetite or desire that would lead the soul away from God. Hence the Nicholites were remarkably plain in their dress and in the furniture of their houses; they bore a decided testimony against war, slavery, oaths, and a stipendiary ministry. On account of these testimonies, some of them suffered by distraint of their goods and imprisonment. William Dawson, for his testimony against a hireling ministry, was confined in Cambridge jail, thirty miles from his place of residence. He and James Harris were the first among them to set an example of justice towards the African race held in bondage. They liberated their slaves, and their example being soon followed by others, it became an established principle among the Nicholites that none of their members should hold slaves or even hire them of their masters. Some of them carried their zeal still further, among whom was James Homey, who refused to eat with slaveholders, or to partake of the produce raised by the labor of slaves. The Nicholites applied to the Legislature of Maryland and obtained an act authorizing them to solemnize their marriages according to their own order, and without the aid of a priest; also allowing them the privilege, in judicial cases, of affirming instead of taking an oath. In this act they were called "Nicholites, or New Quakers;" but the appellation which they gave themselves was Friends. Joseph Nichols was not permitted long to continue with the flock he had gathered, being called away by death. He had given evidence of his sincere piety by the practice of all the Christian virtues, and left a pure example that was encouraging to survivors. He had been remarkable for his liberality and kindness to the poor, insomuch that it was reported of him that he took off his coat and gave it to a poor slave who attended meetings without one; thus literally fulfilling the precept, "he that hath two coats let him impart to him that hath none." Those who had been convinced and proselyted by his ministry, feeling the necessity of some organization, concluded to establish a regular order of Church discipline, which was effected about the year 1780. About this time several persons among them appeared in the ministry, and exercised their gifts to the edification and comfort of the members. Ground was purchased and held by trustees for the use of the society, and three meeting-houses, in Caroline Co., Maryland, were built. in which divine worship was held on First-days, and in the middle of the week. Their practice was to sit in silence in order to hold communion with the Father of Spirits, and wait for his aid to enlighten and strengthen them, without which they believed no acceptable worship could be performed. They also held meetings for discipline once a month, and adopted rules for Church government similar in principle to those established in the Society of Friends. After the Nicholites had continued as an independent association about twenty years, some of the most discerning of its members concluded it might tend to mutual advantage if a union with the Society of Friends could be effected. Many Friends, traveling in the line of the ministry, had visited the meetings of the Nicholites, whose hearts were always open to receive them; they had read Friends' books, held social intercourse with them, and found the two societies were-one in the vital, fundamental principle of their profession. The strict rules of discipline adopted by the Nicholites began to be considered too strait for some of their members, especially their young people, who longed for greater liberty, and indulged themselves in the wearing of dyed garments. At length a proposition to unite themselves with the religious Society of Friends was brought before their monthly meeting, but not then adopted. After more than a year it was again brought forward and met with a similar result. When several months had elapsed, it was moved the third time, and afterwards the fourth time, the opposition at each beeoming less. Finally, those who were unfavorable to the measure proposed that such as were prepared to unite with the Society of Friends had better do so; and such as were not. prepared would continue as they were; and they added it might be of use to those who remained, as it would lead them to a serious examination that might result in entire unanimity. Accordingly a committee was appointed to attend the nearest monthly meeting of the Society of Friends, and lay the matter before them. The proposition for a union being laid before Third Haven Monthly Meeting, was deliberately considered, and a committee appointed to take an opportunity with the applicants in a collective capacity, and "treat the matter with them as way may open as to the grounds of their request; and report of their situation and state of unity in regard thereof to our next meeting." The result was that nearly all who had made application (about four hundred in number, including the children who were added) were received into membership; and most of those few who were not received acknowledged it was quite as well for them to be left at present. Those who had thus voluntarily withdrawn from the Society of the Nicholites, for whose use their meeting-houses were held, conceived that they had forfeited their claims to the property; but those who remained attached to the old order thought differently, and wished that they should all continue to meet together as they had previously done. They accordingly met together on First-days for divine worship in perfect harmony and mutual love. Their meetings in the middle of the week were held on different days, on account of the meetings for discipline held separately by each society, and the Nicholites continued the title of the property in their own name by mutual agreement. After time and opportunity had been given for showing the effect of the union, those of:the, Nicholites who had remained and kept-up their organization, finding their apprehensions were not realized, and that those who had united themselves with Friends continued to be plain, self-denying, and upright in their conduct, concluded to follow their example, and were received. into membership with Friends. Prior to the dissolution of their society, the Nicholites transferred to the Society of Friends the three meeting-houses they held in Caroline Co., Maryland, which were called Centre, Tuckahoe Neck, and North-west Fork. The first two still remain in the occupancy of Friends; the meeting-house at North- west Fork was in the year 1848 removed to another district, and the name changed to Pine Grove. The condescension and brotherly love manifested by the Nicholites while deliberating on the proposition to. unite with Friends, and the subsequent joint occupation of their meeting-houses after a part of them had seceded, are worthy of especial attention, as an example of Christian charity rarely equaled in ecclesiastical history. See Janney, History of the Religious Society of Friends, vol. 3, ch. 18.

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