(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 225-229.

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[P. 225] In the preservation of the Society upon Christian grounds there is perhaps no subject of greater importance [P.226] than that of the ministry. If this should become lifeless and formal the meetings of Friends would then cease to be edifying or instructive. It is therefore a subject that should be watched with godly care and jealousy. Friends have thought it right in order to have a minister that should agree in character and kind with that of the apostles' days that when any appear as Ministers they should be held for a time on trial and after they had appeared in that line for some time, to recommend them to the Quarterly Meeting of Ministers and Elders. If that meeting should believe that the individual has received a gift and is called to the service they record his name as one that they have approved, but if the Quarterly Meeting of Ministers and Elders do not unite in that ease the individual is not owned by the society as a minister. If he is owned as a minister he is then considered by his friends as one called to the solemn service, and it is the duty of the elders to watch over him, and as they see occasion, to caution and warn him against all errors, either by saying too much or too little, or in any other manner acting contrary to the openings and pure leadings of the gift. There is no concern in which the society should be more upon its guard than that of the ministry. When those who believe that they are called to this service depart from the precious life and become active in the mere will of the creature,--if such are permitted to go on they soon furnish occasion for painful exercise to their brethren, and if they are suffered to continue are apt to become very obstinate in their opinion, and sometimes will suffer themselves to be disowned by their friends rather than submit to be advised, or in any manner regulated in their movements.  [P. 227] It has often been cause of deep concern where persons become self-willed and not disposed to regard any opinion but their own. Such have run out from less to more until there was no room or place in their minds for advice. It has often been matter of wonder why any should so far presume upon their own judgment as obstinately to oppose their best friends on this subject, when it must be clear that when the communications of an individual are objected to by the meeting where they are offered they can be of no use. There are, no doubt, individuals furnished with a clear view of the nature of gospel ministry, in order that they might be proper judges of the ministry in the society, and this may be a purpose of divine wisdom in furnishing such a sight and judgment. It is obviously a matter of great importance to come to a right judgment on the subject. We may therefore conclude that it is acting the part of wisdom for such as Friends cannot approve, to submit to the judgment of their brethren rather than to go in their own self-will and wound the feelings of such as are concerned for their welfare. It is a mar~ of weak judgment when those who know that their communications are not satisfactory continue to impose them upon the society. Because if they would consider the effect, they must be convinced that all their engagements in that line were to their own prejudice and the injury of the cause. Sometimes Friends may become prejudiced against the testimony of an individual improperly and be the means of involving an honest mind in very serious trial that might have been avoided if there had been the exercise of more patience. But let the motive or reason have been what it may. If a person after appearing in the [P. 228] ministry finds that the way is not open, no better course can be taken than that of bearing their own burden for a time. Thus the meeting will eventually see and be satisfied that the testimonies are offered as a positive duty and that there is no self-will or stubbornness in the case. There is a precious simplicity and dignity in all those communications that are the fruit of the Divine Spirit that can never be imitated by the art of man. It is therefore much to be desired that all who believe they are called to this solemn and weighty concern might carefully wait for the openings and leadings of the true Spirit of the Gospel in their concerns to speak among the people. It is not only necessary to know the puttings forth of the great Head of the Church but we should also know when we are engaged in speaking to the people how to divide the word in such manner, as to produce the right effect upon the minds of the hearers. There is a right time to close a testimony as well as a right time to commence it, and where a Friend remains too long on his feet and the service begins to fail to command the true and solemnizing effect, it is much better to stop short and sit down than to continue without the life and power is felt to be in dominion. These are considerations connected with the ministry that may seem of minor importance but nevertheless deserve to be attended to by all those who feel bound to the work. In the wisdom of the great Head of the Church we discover that he has bestowed upon our organic nature powers of utterance and hence it is that we have the capacity, of understanding one another. The powers of communication by speech are very valuable, and in the occupancy of these powers we may become so well accomplished as to be [P. 229] easily and well understood. We may also acquire habits that would make it difficult for another to understand anything that we say. On this part of the concern it appears that in the primitive church the apostles recommended to hold fast the form of sound words. Now by this we may understand that they had a respect to the use of such terms as might be understood. And it would seem that they also must have had a respect to the manner of delivery as well as to the matter delivered. It has frequently been observed that those in the ministry amongst Friends fail to employ their own natural voices and often fall into the habit of making use of an unnatural one and are therefore sometimes not easily understood. Now although this may be considered as the less important part of the concern it is nevertheless entitled to some consideration. Those who adopt a clear and intelligent manner of speaking are generally acceptable among their friends.

20th of 2d month, 1841.