Last Witnesses: The Muggletonian History, 1652-1979
On three successive mornings in February 1652, God spoke to a London tailor by the name of John Reeve. Consequently he and his cousin Lodowicke Muggleton believed that they were the Last Two Witnesses prophesied in the Book of Revelation. Over the next six years the pair attracted a small but dedicated band of followers that, following the death of Reeve, became known as the Muggletonians. In this lively and engaging history, the origins of the sect during the religious turmoil and freedoms of the 1650s are described in detail. Their unique theology, beliefs and practices are described and traced throughout the changing circumstances of the centuries. Yet the book offers much more than a history of another puritan sect, for unlike many of their contemporaries, the Muggletonians persisted until the latter years of the twentieth century. Moreover, they preserved a comprehensive archive, rescued from the Blitz by a Kent farmer who transported the papers in empty apple boxes on his way back from market. Discovered by E.P. Thompson in 1974, this archive paints a vivid picture of the Muggletonians from their earliest days until the death of their last member in 1979. By following the history of the Muggletonians from the heady post-civil war days through to the 1970s, this work offers a unique perspective on radical Christian belief and practice, and how it adapted to the changing world around it. More than this, however, it tells the fascinating story of how a small religious group, which eschewed active proselytising and believed in the mortality of the soul, managed to overcome persecution and obscurity, to survive for 320 years.
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