ON THE MINISTRY
Taken From A Narrative of the Early Life, Travels, and Gospel Labors of Jessey Kersey, Late of Chester County, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Chapman, 1851, pages 190-191.
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[p. 190] It has been the opinion of Friends, that the great Creator of man
is the sovereign Lord of conscience. In accordance with this opinion, if
any member believes that he or she is called to the work of the ministry,
such have a right to offer their communications in our meetings; and after
hearing them, Friends are to judge whether they have received a gift in the
ministry or not. In fulfilling this duty great care should be exercised not
to admit into the mind any prejudice against the individual so appearing,
lest we should be thereby prompted to throw discouragements in the way of
a tender and rightly-exercised mind, and thus hinder him or her from coming
forward, as might have been the ease had he or she been properly or tenderly
treated. For it sometimes happens that the great Head of the church, in calling
his exercised children to the ministry, requires of them only the expression
of a few words; and these appearing very simple, Friends who judge only by
the strength of the natural understanding, may condemn or not approve them,
when the appearance has been the fruit of pure obedience to a Divine call.
In such ease the poor minister may be at a loss how to get along; when he
feels in himself an approving conscience for what he has done, but finds
his friends are dissatisfied. In this close trial, if the individual sincerely
believes that he is called to appear in the ministry, and the officers of
the church tell him he had better be quiet, he had better be silent; because
the instrument can be under no obligation to speak, where there are none
to hear. But there may [P. 191] be a want of qualification to hear and to
judge correctly,--as well as to speak. Where the defect may be in the hearers,
it may be thought to be oppression, under these circumstances, to silence
the speaker. But I do not consider that to be the case: because the speaker
is to lay by for a time only, and this may be profitable for his deepening
in the root of life; for by this submission to his Friends, he is not to
consider himself acquitted from the concern, but merely held as a probationer
for a season, and may come forward again when he feels the weight of the
Divine call renewed. Thus, harmony, and unity and peace may be preserved,
and the right thing in due time take place.