Apostolic Circle

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Apostolic Circle

A sectarian group of early American Spiritualists that claimed to be in communication (through the mediumship of Mrs. Benedict of Auburn) with the apostles and prophets of the Bible. The sect also believed in a second advent. James L. Scott, a Seventh Day Baptist minister of Brooklyn, joined the group in 1849. He delivered trance utterances in the name of St. John and edited, jointly with the Rev. Thomas Lake Harris, a periodical of the Apostolic Movement: Disclosures from the Interior and Superior Care for Mortals.

Not long after, the partnership was dissolved, and in October 1851 the remaining members of the group settled at Mountain Cove, Fayette County, Virginia. Scott declared himself medium absolute. Owing to strife and dissension, the settlement was given up in February 1852. Scott went to New York, and as Thomas Lake Harris succeeded in arousing the interest of several wealthy men for the movements, the surrendered property was repurchased. A new era began in which Scott and Harris, the first the mouthpiece of St. John, the second of St. Paul, acted as "the chosen mediums" through which "the Lord would communicate to man on earth."

Their house was called "the House of God," and Mountain Cove was "the Gate of Heaven." They proclaimed themselves to be the two witnesses named in Rev. 10 and claimed to possess the powers spoken of. In one of his prayers Harris said, "Oh Lord, thou knowest we do not wish to destroy man with fire from our mouths!" However, the two "perfect" prophets could not smother the growing discord against their autocratic rule, and soon the whole community dispersed.


Cuthbert, Arthur. The Life Worldwork of Thomas Lake Harris, Written from Direct Personal Knowledge. Glasgow, Scotland, 1909.

Schneider, Herbert W., and George Lawton. A Prophet and a Pilgrim. New York: Columbia University Press, 1942.