A Sermon Delivered by JESSE KERSEY at Darby (Pennsylvania) April 15, 1827. Taken in Short Hand by Marcus T.C. Gould.
The Quaker, Vol. II, No. 1 (July, 1827) Pages 33-36.
This is The Quaker Homiletics Online Anthology, Part Three: The 19th Century.
In relation to his example, my mind, in this meeting, has been led to that period when he was forsaken by all his disciples, and when, as it related to his outward manhood, it was stripped of every possible ground of comfort, when he stood in the judgment hall, and witnessed the accusations that were multiplied upon him. It is natural to human nature under circumstances of this kind, to attempt to make its own defence. But the blessed Jesus, standing in the dignity of the divinity of his character, was capable of sustaining the whole weight of their accusations; and Pilot marveled at his silence. He was not in possession of any evidence, which would go to satisfy him, how it was possible, for a human subject, such as he esteemed him to be, under such circumstances to maintain a profound and dignified silence. And it seems the company were not aware of the important subject they had in hand, until they had passed sentence of death upon him. It was subsequent to this event, that circumstances concurred to demonstrate that it was no common case. And their impressions of doubt were occasioned by the admirable evidence that followed; and which you, who hear these views, may examine at your leisure. But this unequaled example - this blessed and glorious light that came to enlighten the Gentiles, and for God's salvation to the ends of the earth, has not only in this instance given ample proof of the vast powers of his divine nature; but he has also given demonstration, of the passive ground on which every disciple in his church should stand. And in the exposition of the nature of that religion that is from heaven, and which raises the soul of its possessor with a divinity of feeling and sensation that surpasses the common comprehension of man, he states a case, and a remarkable case, on being questioned which were the important commands to be regarded. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." The inquiry was raised in consequence - "And who is my neighbour ?" Jesus puts to him a case of a man that traveled from Jerusalem to a place of diminished character and condition, Jericho, and that in his way "he fell among thieves which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side." They did not turn their attention to their suffering fellow subject, so as feelingly to regard his case. "But a certain Samaritan (who was despised by the Jews, and considered beneath the range of their notice) as he journeyed, came where he was, and when he saw him he had compassion on him." You may read also this passage, and it merits the consideration of every professing Christian, and see whether there was any thing in the nature and temper of the character developed, that is proper to be cherished among the rational creation. Here the inquisitor perceived and had to acknowledge, that he who showed mercy was the neighbour to him that fell among thieves.
My soul can never sufficiently adore, magnify and reverence, that God who has given me the impression, that this is the temperament that be enjoins and requires of those who become members of that kingdom "of the increase and government of which there shall never be an end."
Let us, then, under these considerations say to ourselves, how are we to be combined in this company? The way is plain, and the door is wide for our acceptance. He that is the fountain of life, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace, hath invited us to come into his own heavenly nature, and to live in possession of those precious feelings, in which our souls can move in tender love toward another. Now do you believe, or is it possible to believe that this is a dangerous state? And can you believe, that the opposite one is a safe one, where the soul becomes contracted within an enclosure of its own, and excludes its fellow creatures? Do you believe that such a soul is under subordination to the Prince of Peace? And if there has not been spread in our day delusion, to harden the heart, to blind the eye, and close the way, then I have been, in the evening of my life, deceived; and that without intention - and with a heart disposed; that the latter part of my days might be dedicated to God. If these feelings are deceptive, I am deceived; and may the deception go with me to the grave, for if they lead the soul to expand in love to all, they must be an effect of that grace which is revealed to all God's rational creation - diversified as we are in our constitutions - varied as we are in our temperaments and dispositions. And as it relates to temporal situations, some are dragging along with every faculty bound to the toils of the world, in the lowest and most trying stages - some are buoyed up, and supported in all the luxuries of life - some who have never known any thing else from infancy to maturity, while others have been struggling through poverty all their days. May we apply to these diversified situations a salvo? If it be one which is applicable to the whole, it must consist in an enlargement of the soul of man - in that brotherly love and charity which embraces every fellow creature, and which delights in the relief of the whole. As sure as God can only speak the truth, so certain is it that they who live in him live in love, and so certain is it, that while they are in the light of the sun of righteousness, they never can be separated from this Principle; it will run through all, till all souls and generations of men gain an inheritance in that kingdom, "of the increase, government, and peace of which there shall be no end."
I had no view of expressing much, but my mind was quickened, and my soul
enlarged in that current of devotion which flows unto him, who is the Creator of
all things, and by whom the world was made. And it has seemed to me that we
have experienced his power to be present in this assembly, bowing every soul
with a conviction, that he is the Everlasting Father, and that he delights in our
entertaining those feelings of tender regard, which will induce us to sympathise
with all who suffer, under every worldly trial and distress.