Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
The Country was facing a time when spiritual values, morals, and judgments were lost in many American trust. Complete strangers from around the nation would claim to see the light and announce to their small group of followers that they were the chosen ones and for all America. Convincing church leaders were making Utopia Community all across the united states mainly in a place where people where physically and mentally vulnerable. America was introduced to a Holy revolution, a revival movement in which in many ways was affected by other movements such as the salvation, personal religion, greed, and slavery.
The salvation movement played a big role in Matthias’ new religion people felt guilty and blamed their problems on other church organizations and Satin! Many Americans felt separated from God and there weak soul in which they felt was being invaded by the devil’s evil deeds. According to Johnson & Wilentz states ” While the revivals reshape the landscape of mainstream American Protestantism, smaller groups went beyond evangelical orthodoxy into direct and often heretical experience of the supernatural”(6). This was a huge advantage for a false religious teacher like Matthias and many people took the bait and followed him.
In addition, Religious Utopian communities were spreading across the nation which was a new tread that helped Matthias travel all across the country looking for the holy site where he would claim that he was the chosen one and all who shall follow him would be saved. As a result, religion and spiritual faith in Matthias’ opinion were only awarded to a hand full of a spiritual leader who disapproved of other communities of faith accusing them of the problems the nation is facing and implementing the devil into their spiritual life. According to Johnson & Wilentz “Against the Finneyites’ feminized spirituality of restraint, Smith and Matthias (each in his own way) resurrected an ethos of fixed social relations and paternal power” (9).
Matthias’ background wasn’t peaches and cream he wasn’t rich he was an orphan whose parents died at an early age and he was taken under the guidance of the local church where he learned the word of god in which later in his life received the word of god in voices. According to Johnson & Wilentz ” In 1835, an enterprising Manhattan journalist disclosed that, as a boy, Robert Matthews had his conversation with supernatural spirit and impressed his friends with feats of clairvoyance” (56).
Matthias’ strong belief in the holy spirit was changing his confidence and self-esteem he felt he was getting strong vibes from the holy spirit which was leading him to the promised land believed he was sent to solve the problem of a weak nation. According to Johnson & Wilentz ” The United States, he said, had promised union, freedom, and equal rights but in fact produced political and religious confusion-a nightmare world where the wicked spirit separated what God had joined and joined what God had split apart” (5). This was Matthias’ way of telling his followers that he was the chosen one and he could forgive their sins, not the government.
Matthias’ spiritual journey started to come together with the support of an unlikely rival which had himself his own supernatural downfall. Elijah Pierson, a self-proclaimed prophet, which spiritual diminished his reputation when came to an end when he couldn’t bring the dead back to the living. Regardless of whether Pierson liked Mathis or not he decided to unite into his Matthias conjugation. According to Johnson & Wilentz “Matthias told Pierson that it was a big mistake to pray for the Son’s Kingdom, when it was the reign of the Father that was at hand. (92). Matthias believes that only his words of prayer connected to the heavenly father and there was one spiritual leader and it wasn’t Pierson.
On the other hand, Matthias pocketbook look toward his economical backers for spiritual support in which no company or business could run right without money. In his case, his religion needs to be funded for personal and economic purposes. As a result, his utopian community was forming into what he saw as his own Holyland. According to Johnson & Wilentz “The neighbors later recalled that Mount Zion had looked like any other well-ordered house: the men and boys labored in the fields, and the women and girls worked in the house, all under the command of an authoritative father”. (105).
For that reason, a scenario of death and loyalty came in the picture in which an ex-slave name Isabella Van Wagenen which was also an employee of Elijah Pierson meet Matthias during a meeting for the first time. Isabella Van Wagenen was a great example of weakness in which Matthias believes the weaker they are spiritually the easily they would look for a savior to save them from evil. According to Johnson & Wilentz ” It was she who opened the door to Matthias the following spring, and she recognized him right away as the Jesus that she had always expected to meet ” (117). This was a big influence that Matthias had in which he probably realized that there a lot of weak religious African Americans who are slaves looking for a sign from God and Matthias was there answer to salvation.
Matthias couldn’t fool the American public anymore, many American were catching up to Matthias conniving, immoral and heartless spiritual scam which not only embezzled hard-working Americans money but was looked at as a womanizer and soon to be criminal.
According to Johnson & Wilentz ” As for women, Matthias kept them in the house” (105). This was a Utopia gender level in which secretly private communities were harming and abusing women.
Robert Matthews was committed to crime, in which murder was involved in just like every other secret community he was but on trial in which his spiritual values and lies were on trial. According to Johnson & Wilentz ” If men who keep about their business, maintain their characters, make bargains, make money, and give no other proof of an impaired intellect, can fall into the belief of so revolting, so amazing a fraud and lie, who is safe” (152)? Matthias knew that even he was found guilty of his scam as a spiritual leader was unfolded.
Furthermore, the only positive feedback which came throughout this whole spiritual soap opera was that of a slave woman which took part of Matthias spiritual organization, in which she campaigned for the right and freedom for African American. According to Johnson & Wilentz “Isabella Van Wagenen, who had taken the surname of the man who had bought her freedom, and who had learned how to crush her enemies with truth, also became a traveler, and God renamed her too (179).
In the end, America has always seen the rise of false prophet during good economic times and bad economic times in which evil is always looking to change the minds of the innocence of men, women, and children of all races or social standings from a world of wealth and everlasting life in which no preacher or human bean can guarantee life after death miracles.
Johnson, P. E., & Wilentz, S. (2012). The Kingdom of Matthias: a story of sex and salvation in 19th-century America. New York: Oxford University Press.