Peculiar People

Peculiar People is the name of a recently founded religious sect which originated in England, and is to be met with chiefly in the county of Kent, but they themselves claim to be strong in numbers also in Essex, Sussex, and Surrey. Their principles are very similar to those of the American Tunkers (q.v.). They are a sort of Perfectionists. They claim to be the real exemplars of true and undefiled religion. If a man cannot say he lives without sin, they set him down as no Christian. Religion has no difficulties for them, no mysteries; nothing beyond the reach of man; neither heights to which he cannot ascend, nor depths which he cannot fathom. To come together and declare their unspeakable joy is all that they have to do. For this the beginner is as competent as the gray-haired believer, the sister as well as the brother, the ignorant as well as the learned; and thus, in turn, they all preach and pray. In Church membership they have no preliminaries. All who come are of the Church; those whom the Lord calls will surely join them. They consider that every service is the sacrament, and they have no special form. In the same way they have no baptism; infant or adult creeds, confessions of faith, forms of prayer, ministers-all these things they have done away with. They profess to have no leaders; yet they have elders, but they claim that they are simply elders by lapse of time alone. They have great faith in prayer. If one lack anything, it is to be looked for by asking of God. Hence it is a prime article of faith of this denomination never, under any circumstances, to call in a doctor. They believe only in anointing with oil and prayer as a means of restoring the sick. The English government has therefore interfered with them in recent times, and several trials of members of this sect have occurred. Thus, at Plumstead, a little girl of an elder of the Peculiar People had the smallpox. The elders prayed over her; they laid hands on her; they anointed her; and, generally speaking, "put their trust in God." In eleven days, without the administration of any medicine, with only a little arrow-root and wine to nourish the body, the poor thing died. Of course the Peculiar People are consistent enough to believe neither in vaccination nor contagion. In this case a jury returned a verdict of "manslaughter" against the father. There are no statistics or extensive data from which to judge of their number and the power of the sect. We have given all that is accessible to outside parties by personal observation.

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