The Amish, by A.M. Aurand, , at sacred-texts.com
"Plain People."—A very large sect known as the German Baptist Brethren or "Dunkers" goes a long way toward making up the plain people population of Pennsylvania. Other states have respectable numbers of them, and find them among the best of their citizenry.
Their church ritual is practicable. It requires discipline among its members, among other things. The membership finds it no hardship to practice what they preach and it is a splendid example of a peaceable and industrious God-fearing Christian people that we have among us.
Their origin is based on substantially the general ideals for living so common among the plain people, or "sects," as they are sometimes called. However, they have off-shoots like the several others, and we find them sometimes believing that they are more than right, no matter how trivial the matter may be. But are we not all that way about little things?
While their lives are well-ordered they have not gone to the extremes noticeable among some of the other sects. Even the general run of Mennonites conform generally to habits not at all unusual. It is the extremists that our foregoing account covers.
The following brief references have been taken from a pamphlet on "The Brethren," descriptive of their "Faith and Practice," edited by one of their prominent members, Elder D. L. Miller:
Introduction.—The Brethren are a large body of Christians, whose faith and practice are not generally known outside of their immediate localities. The errors in, the books that attempt to describe the Brethren have been both numerous and lamentable . .
Faith and Practice.—The Brethren hold the Bible to be the inspired and infallible Word of God, and accept the New Testament as their rule of faith and practice . in the Trinity, divinity of Christ and the Holy Ghost, and in future rewards and punishments . .
Baptism . . . is administered by trine immersion . . . the
applicant is taken down into the water, and, kneeling, reaffirms his faith in Christ . . follow closely the practice of the apostolic church, and admit none into fellowship until they have been baptized . . . Infants can neither believe nor repent, hence they are not proper subjects for baptism . . . Changes were gradually made from trine immersion to sprinkling, but the church that made the change, the Roman Catholic, still retains the three actions in applying water to the candidate . . . nearly all Protestant churches that practice sprinkling retain the same form . . .
Love Feast and Communion . . . of bread and wine . . . A full meal is prepared and placed upon tables, used for that purpose, in the church, and all the members partake of the supper .
Feet-Washing . . . Before eating supper, the religious rite of washing feet is observed . . following very closely the examples of the Master . water is poured into a basin, a brother girds himself with a towel and washes and wipes his brother's bared feet, and in turn has his feet washed . . . the sisters wash their sisters' feet and all the proprieties of the sexes are most rigidly observed . . .
The Supper . . . (following the feet-washing) is eaten with solemnity . . . at the conclusion of the meal thanks are returned . . . the right hand of fellowship and the kiss of charity are given . . . The salutation of the kiss of love in worship and in customary greetings, as enjoined by the apostles, is never observed between the sexes .
Communion . . . is then administered . . . Love-feasts are held in each congregation usually once or twice each year.
Plainness . . . The Brethren claim to be, and are in many respects, a peculiar people . Plain dressing is taught and required and a general uniformity is observed, but this is regarded as a means to an end . . .
Non-Litigant . . . not allowed to go to law with one of their own number, nor with others, without first asking the counsel of the church . . .
Non-Resistant and Non-Swearing . . . take no active part in politics, and "swear not at all." If called upon to testify in the courts, they simply affirm . . . Yea, yea; Nay, nay.
Secretism . . . No brother may become a member of any secret or oath-bound society . .
The Anointing . . . (James v, 14, 15), annoint the sick with oil . . . only by request of the sick . . . officiating elder applies the oil to the head three times, two elders then lay their hands on the head of the sick, and offer a prayer for the anointed one.
Marriage . . . bonds can be dissolved only by death . . .
There is another sect known as the "River Brethren," in the section south of Harrisburg. One of their schools is the Messiah Bible School, at Grantham.