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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Jumpers or Barkers

is a name for those persons who, as an inference from 2 Samuel 6:16, believe that religious worship must be accompanied by violent, agitations, convulsive leaping and dancing. This singular religious belief is said to have originated among the congregations of Mr. Whitefield, in the western part of Wales, about 1760, but it soon found friends among the Quakers, and later among the Irvingites. The Jumpers found special defenders in the Welsh poet William Williams (q.v.), Harris Rowland (q.v.), etc. They are sometimes called Barkers because frequently they do not confine their religious exuberances to jumping and dancing, but accompany them with violent groans and incoherent remarks, often degenerating into a sort of bellowing. Discountenanced in England, the Jumpers emigrated to the United States, and here they continue to flourish moderately. We believe they have some adherents in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and particularly in the extreme West. Evans, in his Sketch of the Denominations of the Christian World (Lond. 1811), relates his experience in a meeting of the Jumpers which he attended: "About the year 1785 I myself was very accidentally present at a meeting which terminated in jumping. It was held in the open air, on a Sunday evening, near Newport, in Monmouthshire. The preacher was one of lady Huntingdon's students, who concluded his sermon with the recommendation of jumping; and I must allow him the praise of consistency, for he got down from the chair on which he stood and jumped along with his hearers. The arguments he adduced for this purpose were, that David danced before the ark, that the babe leaped in the womb of Elizabeth, and that the man whose lameness was removed leaped and praised God for the mercy which he had received! He expatiated on these topics with uncommon fervency, and then drew the inference that they ought to show similar expressions of joy for the blessings which Jesus Christ had put into their possession. He then gave an impassioned sketch of the sufferings of the Savior, and thereby roused the passions of a few around him into a state of violent agitation. About nine men and seven women for some little time rocked to and fro, groaned aloud, and then jumped with a kind of frantic fury. Some of the audience flew in all directions; others gazed on in silent amazement. They all gradually dispersed except the jumpers, who continued their exertions from eight in the evening till near eleven at night. I saw the conclusion of it; they at last kneeled down in a circle, holding each other by the hand, while one of them prayed with great fervor, and then, all rising up from off their knees, departed; but previous to their dispersion they wildly pointed up towards the sky, and are minded one another that they should soon meet there, and never again be separated."

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Jumpers or Barkers'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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