Book Review: Jane Lead and her Transnational Legacy

Jane Lead and the Philadelphian Society are not particularly well known figures to most scholars of late 17th- and early 18th-century religion. Born in 1624, Lead experienced a spiritual awakening aged 16. On Christmas Day 1640, while her family danced and celebrated, she was overwhelmed with a ‘beam of Godly light’ and a gentle inner voice offering spiritual guidance. After the death of her husband in 1670 she received daily spiritual outpourings, finding comfort in…

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The Theosophical Transactions of the Philadelphians (No. 3)

The third volume of the Philadelphian’s Theosophical  The movement faces its first criticisms  Transactions reveals that the enthusiasm present in the first and second volumes was on the decline. It starts with a condemnation of an attack on the Philadelphian Society, published as The principles of a people stiling themselves Philadelphians (1697). The book was written by the exiled French Huguenot Daniel Lafite, who had been ordained as an Anglican deacon and priest in 1687.…

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The Theosophical Transactions of the Philadelphians (No. 2)

The second of the Philadelphian’s Theosophical Transactions was published in April 1697. The front cover contained a quote from Revelation, ‘Behold, I have set before thee an Open Door: and no Man can shut it’ (Rev 3:8). This second memoir contained letters from actual members of the Philadelphians concerning subjects brought up in the previous months publication. Despite this, it was substantially smaller than the first, suggesting that Lee and Roach had expended most of…

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Who were the Philadelphian Society?

The Philadelphian Society emerged into public view in 1697 and declared themselves to be returning to the teachings of the ancient Church from the time of the Apostles. They took their name from the Philadelphian Church described in Revelation 3:7-8, which promised to ‘set before thee an open door’ which ‘no man can shut’. They strongly denied accusations they were a new sect, but rather insisted that they were a society under which those of…

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