(Part of the Collection, Kersey's Essays)

Jesse Kersey

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 191-194.

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[P. 191] The church of Christ is one body, the members of which live under the government of the same Head, and are bound by their allegiance to him to maintain the same important testimonies. Hence, a question arises whether, in the present divided state of the Society of Friends,(1) those who are of one heart and of one soul are not kept more distinct and separate than they should be in the right order of things? If this is found to be the case,--and if in unity there is strength, what is the part we are called upon to act in our present condition? I am of the judgment that it is time for something to be done that might lead to a reunion of the society of Friends.

It has been a settled opinion in my mind, that our religious society has not been raised up and rendered conspicuous in the world exclusively for our own [P. 192] sakes; but on the contrary, that we were intended to be as lights in the world--as a city set on a hill that cannot be hid. We have been called to hold up testimonies of great magnitude, and they are still required to be maintained. Our testimony to a free gospel ministry, which is opposed to a ministry brought forth in the will and contrivance of the natural man,--is not among the least; nor is our testimony to the nature of that spiritual worship which is acceptable to the divine mind. These, as well as various other testimonies which we have been called to bear, are of vast importance to ourselves and to the world of mankind.

Considering those facts, it has been to me an instructive, as well as humbling circumstance, to witness the simultaneous and awful shaking which has taken place in all parts of the society; and I have been ready to conclude it was just such a shaking and overturning as we stood in need of. And it may even yet be that a still more awful and solemn overthrow is to follow. For what can we say has been the effect of the shaking and agitation we have had? Has it been the means of humbling us, and bringing us back to the original ground and fundamental principle of our profession? Or rather is it not obvious that too much formality, indifference, and self-importance remain, and have even increased among us?

Instead of being humbled, and recurring to first principles, and to our first love, are we not building again those very things which are to be taken down--joining hands with formal professors, and saying, "See how they are coming over to us; witness their zeal in forming temperance societies, and in our testimony against slavery." But did the will and contrivance of the  [P. 193] natural man ever work the righteousness of God? Verily nay; it never did, and never will. If we look back to Friends in the beginning, it is manifest that they were led by the Divine Spirit in carrying on the works of righteousness, and bearing a faithful testimony to the Truth. But the world and the priests persecuted them, and were very far from owning them or their doctrines and testimonies. Have we any reason to believe that the spirit of the natural, unregenerate man is in any degree different now from what it was then? Certainly not any. And therefore if the preservation of a pure testimony to the way and work of God's salvation now, is the same as it was in the beginning, it must be evident that those who are joining with the spirit of the world are departing from the true ground and foundation, and are entering into connection with that which is no better than idolatry. For other foundation can no man lay than that which is already laid, Jesus Christ, the righteous. Hence we may infer that as respects the principles of the Society of Friends, the stir and noise that is being made in the world, are only the products of that spirit which is "cursed above every beast of the field." It is therefore highly, needful for Friends to have their eyes opened, and to see where they are going, and what they are doing. For if the cause of God and the advancement of his kingdom is promoted in the earth, it must be by his own Spirit alone, and not another.

If the foregoing views are correct, it is high time for the members of our Society to be awakened, and to recur to first principles; for it is certain that if we depart from the Divine Guide, and connect ourselves with those who do not believe in the testimony and [P. 194] influence of this precious gift, there will be on our part a falling away from the Truth,--and the spirit of antichrist will gain the ascendency. I am abundantly convinced that it is not in the wisdom or talents of the natural man merely to see into the path of divine appointment, nor can the mere wisdom and contrivance of the creature ever promote the great and glorious cause of the all wise Creator.

Hence I feel it as a duty to leave this testimony behind me, to the absolute necessity that exists for the Society of Friends to maintain their profession and practical belief in the only sure and saving principle of divine wisdom given to man for his guide into all Truth. And I am persuaded that as we come home to this heavenly ground and abide on this safe and solid foundation, the great body of Friends will continue to be made use of by our holy Head in advancing the blessed kingdom and government of Christ on the earth. But should we suffer ourselves to be beguiled and led away from the sure foundation, and thus join in with measures pursued by the carnal wisdom and will of the natural man, we shall fall away from our proper standing, and shall wither and dwindle from the life and power of the gospel. It is therefore my ardent concern to call all my dear friends every where, to come out of Babylon, and touch not the unclean thing. Then He that was the morning light of the Society, and by whose light and power Friends were marvelously directed and preserved, will continue to be our leader, our guide, and our preserver, in safety and in peace, to our great consolation, and to the glory of his ever excellent name.

1. Alluding to the separation of 1827. (Note in original.) <-Back