AGENTS OF PRIESTHOOD
(Part of the Collection, Kersey's Essays)
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 221-223.
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[P. 221] The religious society of Friends have known what it was to feel the weight of persecution; and history furnishes ample proof that a great part of the suffering which Friends have had to pass through, has been at the instance of the Priests. Finding at length that it was impossible to force Friends to desert the ground which they believed they were called to stand upon in supporting the testimonies of Truth,--this same class of men have of latter time resorted to other means to accomplish their purpose. They have turned their attention to some of the testimonies of Truth embraced and professed by Friends, and would seem to want to [P. 222] promote the same. They have therefore formed associations in order to accomplish their purpose of drawing Friends away from their original ground, and getting them to join with others in advancing these righteous testimonies by means of popular opinion, and the excitement of the passions and sympathies of the natural man. For this purpose they instituted Peace Societies,--Temperance Societies,--Abolition, or Anti-Slavery Societies,--and many others.
Now the priests themselves have not in person appeared as the most active agents in the formation of these associations, and the publication of newspapers, pamphlets, &c. But it is somewhat singular that their lecturers should come into the neighborhoods of Friends, and deliver their lectures and take other measures among them, in aid of their cause. But here appears to be the object to get our members to join in these associations, and so break the unity of the Society. For, when they find there are many Friends who do not think it right to form any alliances with them and their measures and manners,--but on the contrary, in agreement with our religious principles and persuasion, believe it obligatory for the Society to maintain its original ground of waiting for the mind of Truth to qualify them for rightly moving in support of its testimonies,--those lecturers and some of our fellow professors who join with them, take the liberty to call in question the integrity of their brethren and fellow members,--and charge them with having lessened in their concern and testimony on those subjects, and become lukewarm and indifferent.
Now, for the sake of preserving, if possible such of our members as so join
with the agents of priestcraft, [P. 223] and doubt the faithfulness and
uprightness of their brethren, it seems necessary to remind them of the
difference which has always existed between Friends and others. As a religious
Society, we profess to believe that it is not in the power of man to promote
or advance the Lord's work by the mere efforts of his own will and contrivance.
But we have ever believed that every step in the support and advancement
of the testimonies of truth, must be taken in conformity with the clear openings
of the Light of Truth itself. Now, as we cannot command this Light or its
openings at any time we may please, we have always professed to wait for
its blessed shining in us, to direct us and qualify us for service. Hence
we cannot mingle in association with those who are always ready, and who
do not profess to believe in such openings of the mind of Truth,--but rely
upon the reason and talents of the natural man, and the activity of his