EDITED BY PETER SIPPEL
SECTION 3.1: THE 19TH CENTURY (HICKSITES)
The Gospel Dispensation. Comly, then the Assistant Clerk, was, according to his own
Journal, was the one who conceived of the idea of a separation in Philadelphia Yearly
Meeting and traveled about the Yearly Meeting promoting the idea. As such he was one of
the most important of the 19th century figures.
SUNDERLAND P. GARDNER:
The Woman Clothed With the Sun. A funeral sermon, taken largely from John and
Revelation and like most addressed to the living. Gardner, from Farmington, N.Y. was from
the Hicksite Genesse Yearly Meeting (later laid down with the Meetings divided between
New York and Canada.) This message includes a brief section on war near the end. A brief
reference in his Journal reads "Eight month 11th.--The funeral of Demaris Hoag, widow of
Jacob Hoag. She was about ninety years of age, a worthy and exemplary woman. The
meeting on the occasion was largely attended by various classes of people. It was thought a
favored meeting." (Pages 85-86.)
Righteousness Exalteth A Nation. Probably the best known of the 19th century liberal and
activist Friends; this message was delivered in 1860 at the Bristol, PA Meeting. This is
included for historical reasons, not because the editor thinks much of her.
There Is a River. A speaker otherwise unknown to me; largely an exhortation to humility
and self abasement, following the pattern of our great example, to be enabled to know the
light of Christ within.
ELIAS HICKS AND OTHERS:
Let Brotherly Love Continue/Strengthening the Hand of the Oppressor/Fallen Angels. A
lengthy message, dealing with three different themes, delivered at Byberry Friends Meeting,
(Philadelphia Yearly Meeting) 4th day morning, 8th of 12th month, 1824. Selected as an
example of his anti-slavery preaching.
Great is The Sin of Unbelief. At the Rose Street Meeting in New York City, June 1st, 1826;
sermon by Elizabeth Robson followed by a prayer by Anna Braithwaite; followed by a
sermon in response by Thomas Wetherald and remarks by Elias Hicks. A good example of
the contrasts in theology, with each accusing the people on the other side of unbelief.
The Blood of Jesus. Sermon and Prayer, Delivered at Darby Meeting (Philadelphia Yearly
Meeting) November 15th, 1826. This demonstrates how he made a very sharp (and, the
editor think, fundamentally false) distinction between the "animal nature" and the "immortal
soul," which appears to be the root cause of at least some of the controversy.
Peace, Be Still. Sermon by Elias Hicks; responses by Jerusha Curtis and Philadelphia
Pemberton; response to them by Elias Hicks; Sermon by Othneil Alsop; Sermon in response
by Elias Hicks (he spoke three times in one Meeting.) Delivered at Key's Alley Meeting,
Philadelphia, December 12th, 1826.
Let Love Be Without Dissimulation. Sermon delivered by Elias Hicks; Responses to Hicks
by Jonathan Evans and Isaac Lloyd; and Responses to them by Elias Hicks and Willet
Hicks. Delivered at Pine Street Meeting in Philadelphia, December 10, 1826.
The Foundation Principle Jesus Laid. Delivered at Ohio Yearly Meeting, September 7th,
1828; with response by Elisha Bates.
No New Doctrine/War. Dealing with Divine Revelation and War. Jackson was a second
generation Hicksite, son of Halliday Jackson, one of the instigators of the Hicksite
separation in Philadelphia; the editor believes a close examination of the sections dealing
with revelation shows that the "Hicksite" tendencies of taking one part of the truth and
neglecting the rest entered very early.
And Shall Our Stubborn Hearts Refuse/the Grateful Song to Raise? An early sermon,
paraphrased and put in poetic form by a listener; a look at how nature praises its creator and
points us to the same. "Then let us praise Him and adore / In early youth's fresh bloom,
/Nor cease till life's pulse beats no more / And the last summons comes. Ironically, Kersey
once stayed at the home of George and Ann Jones prior to his becoming a Hicksite and
their becoming vehement critics of Hicks.
This Is The Temperament That He Enjoins. Touching upon the parable of the good
Samaritan, and saying that this temperament is one that enables the Christian to identify
with the suffering, the poor, etc.
The Green Street Sermon. This was the message he delivered at the Green Street Meeting
during the Green Street Meeting during the Yearly Meeting of 1827, at which the
separation between the Hicksite and the Orthodox Friends took place. I wish I could say it
was profound sermon that addressed the issues that were so divisive, but it is not; in this
editor's humble opinion it wanders from platitude to platitude without developing good
cases for any of them and never addresses the problems existing in the Yearly Meeting.
Perceiving with the Spiritual Senses. Shortly after the separation the Hicksites arranged a
series of Meetings held at Carpenter's Hall in Philadelphia; the spot being intentionally
chosen for its association with independence. This is one of the sermons delivered in those
Meetings, dealing with the need to be spiritually perceptive, an ability that comes only from
the gift of God. This is the only sermon I have found by Kersey that includes a prayer.
The More I Am Convinced That God Is Love. Also delivered in Carpenters' Hall. Most of
the content is good, but he begins with a subtle setting up of a strawman, then going on to
declare that he agrees with the Apostle John. It ends with an invitation to the youth present
to take upon the yoke of Christ.
The Light Is Bursting Forth. Dealing with the universality of the Inward Light. This sermon
is directly connected with the I have entitled "When the Mind is Humble" by Joseph Moore,
with Moore preceding Kersey at the same Meeting at Green Street, and both are in the
same file. It is the most upbeat and optimistic of the sermons by Kersey I have found,
frequently taking on the tone of an invitational message.
Obedience to Parents Jesse Kersey was recorded as a minister in Philadelphia Yearly
Meeting prior to the separation of 1827; he is best known as the author of Kersey's
Treatise, or more officially, A Treatise On Fundamental Doctrines of Christianity, published
in 1815. His was a difficult life with multiple business failures, severe familial losses, and
even a period of alcoholism and drug addiction as the result of the medical treatment he
received for Typhus (from which he did recover.) He joined the Hicksites after the
separation, but was soon disappointed with them too, and once remarked that he hoped the
real Quakers in both groups would reunited and let the others go their other way if need be.
A Prophecy by Jesse Kersey. Delivered at New York Yearly Meeting, 1845, very late in his
life. Like most such prophecies, most of this one including the most important points, did
not come to pass and still seems unlikely to come about.
SAMUEL J. LEVICK:
Hearken Unto The Voice of The Lord. Levick was one of the most conservative members
of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (Hicksite) and an active citizen of Philadelphia; member of
the Pennsylvania Bicentennial Commission, The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals, an advocate of a public school system, etc. This is an exhortation, apparently given
to a mixed audience.
The Word is Nigh You. Lower, from the Green Street Meeting in Philadelphia, described in
Ingle's Quakers in Conflict as "combative" and "a self styled illiterate cabinet maker," was
perhaps the most aggressive and badly behaved person at the Yearly Meeting of 1827. This
message, post separation, is taken largely, it appears, from Hebrews.
When the Mind is Humble. A brief exhortation to remember that while the Lord is present
and willing to speak and be heart, the heart and mind must be humbled enough to be
receptive. This message directly connected with the sermon by Jesse Kersey I have entitled
"The Light Is Bursting Forth," with both messages given at the same meeting and Kersey's
in response to Moore's.
The Good Feelings I Experienced! A brief sermon taken from a childhood reminiscence.
Ritter was a fascinating individual, brought up a German speaking Lutheran yet attracted to
Friends from early childhood, and given to experiencing visions, and one of the proteges of
We Must Keep Each Other Awake. A very short (two sentences) message addressed to
people sleeping in Meeting.
LOUISA J. ROBERTS:
What Must I Do To Be Saved? An example of 19th century Hicksite liberalism. Roberts, a
former Baptist, was a minister in Green Street Meeting, Philadelphia, one of the organizers
of first day Bible schools, and an editor of Friends' Intelligencer. It is interesting to note
how quickly the fictitious story of William Penn and his sword came to be accepted as truth.