The American Revivalist movement coincided with the heyday of bundling which you may remember from this old post. One of the proponents of this practice was Lavinia Umphreville who advocated the renunciation of normal marriage in favour of more spiritual unions.
“Holy kisses” were regarded as specially praiseworthy and Lavinia’s young followers devoted themselves to the pursuit of these holy kisses and more.
The Rev. John H. Noyes saw with alarm the signs of a coming storm. He found that among this group of beautiful women, not a few of the more passionate creatures were falling into a state of frenzy, over which he feared that he could exercise no control. The preacher of holiness felt that in the presence of these seductions he was but a man, and liable to fall so he fled from the dangerous predicament.
This sudden disappearance of the preacher only fanned the fire at Brimfield. Two days after his departure from the town, Mary Lincoln and Maria Brown found their way into the Rev. Simon Lovett’s room, awoke him from his sleep, and suffered themselves to be taken in the act.
When they found out that Mary had been banished (cast out, as they said, for the sake of Christ) her friends came flocking to her side ; Maria Brown, Abby Brown, Flavilla Howard and many more who then began to praise the Lord, to sing, and dance, and kiss each other in a frantic way.
It quickly became a custom for fervently religious young ladies to enter the bedroom of a preacher in the middle of the night for bundling and other purposes. The clergy responded enthusiastically and it was only when the three ladies who had initiated the movement overstepped the mark by running naked through the countryside that authority brought the practice to an abrupt end.