[THE LOVE OF POWER AND PREFERENCE]
(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 237-242.
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[P. 237] Perhaps there is no disposition common to man, which has been the cause of more strife and confusion [P. 238] than the love of power and preference. We have an example of this kind given in the case of the mother of Zebedee's children who came to Jesus, worshiping him, and soliciting for her two sons that they might be preferred by him when he should come into his kingdom. But it may be easily perceived that he disapproved of the application, and adopted a plan which should serve to convince his followers that this was a state of mind which they were not to countenance. He reminded them how it was among the Gentiles. "The princes," says he, "of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them; but it shall not be so among you, but whosoever will be great among you let him be your minister. And whosoever will be chief among you let him be your servant. Even as the Son of Man came not t6 be ministered unto but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." If in religious Society the doctrine given in the foregoing case had been wisely regarded, much evil might have been prevented. The Society of Friends, once a happy people, and in many respects an example to others, might have remained in perfect harmony, had they maintained that humility of mind and manners, so continually required by the Great and Holy Head. But a spirit opposed to the meekness and gentleness of the dear Son of God, having obtained the dominion over us, it was impossible for us in this state to maintain anything like unity. Nor will any society long remain united while those turbulent tempters are permitted to rule. To gain the Lamb's victory we must always expect it through patient suffering. All conquests sought in any other :way, must be connected with that spirit which obtains its end by confused noises and garments rolled in [P. 239] blood. Hence it is said that "cursed is the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm." With carnal weapons the Christian can take no part. He is to come himself, body, soul and spirit, under the yoke of Christ; and in this state he has entered into the Kingdom of Righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Now it cannot be that any of these living members, while they are under and subject to the precious Gift, will ever desire to bear rule over the minds and consciences of their brethren. And if such at any time should feel in themselves a spirit of domination, they would know that next there could be no peace. It is not the design of our Holy Head, we may judge either from his example, or his precepts, that the members of his church should ever depend upon the arm of flesh for its government; and therefore it is the duty of his members to employ no other power for the conquest of disorders, than the power of Love. When this does not succeed, the living must take their stand in the everlasting patience. It has been the portion of the faithful to have trials. They have seen unruly spirits and, they have suffered from them the toss of everything, and even life itself, but this was their victory, even their faith, which they held in a pure conscience; and to such all things have worked together for good. They have found that all manner of evil spirits were made subject to them in the Lord's time; and as they have placed all their hope and confidence in him, so they have not been suffered to fall; but have stood firm and faithful to the end, and it is the end which crowns all.
Confiding in the truth of the foregoing doctrine, [P. 240] and having the most powerful assurance that the gospel of Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation to all them that believe, consists of Love,--we are next to show that this is the state to which every follower of the Lamb of God is called. "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you;" and "what greater love hath any man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend." Such are the precepts and such was the example of the Saviour of men. He has condescended to be our instructor, and those who become his subjects find that it is by living in love that they are preserved in the unity of the one eternal Spirit. As therefore pure and unfeigned love is to be the governing principle among Christians; it is evident that they can never depart from it and remain members of the church of Christ. When any therefore suffer their minds to be carried away from the mark of Discipleship, they cease to be Christians and join themselves in spirit to a different order, of men. As well might it be expected to make darkness light, or falsehood truth, as that any should depart from the Spirit of Love and at the same time be Christians; or, which is the same thing, disciples of Christ. But when this heavenly command to love one another is lived in, the members have passed from Darkness to Light, from the kingdom and government of this world, to the kingdom and government of the Prince of Peace. The great duty therefore of all the members of this heavenly kingdom is to keep clear of all Strife and contention--to live in Love and keep it alive in the Lord, both towards God and man. Thus they will be without [P. 241] any defilement having their lamps trimmed and their lights burning.
In order to promote the gathering and perfect establishment of this true
church of God, it is necessary that there should be raised up men and women
of honest and sincere minds, who will not seek to obtain dominion over their
brethren, nor suffer themselves to be carried away by any worldly object;
but, believing in the great truths of the gospel, they will be careful to
keep unspotted from the world. Not pleading for the indulgence of human
infirmities, but walking in the light as He their Holy Head is light they
will have fellowship one with another. Oh the depth, both of the mercy and
goodness of God, to such gathered souls! They have the power and the privilege
given them to enter within the veil, and know what it is to witness the living
power and presence of their holy teacher; who opens to them a sight and a
sense of the Holy of Holies, where they can adore him that was, and is, and
is to them to come in his own glory. The Lord of Hosts, the God of the spirits
of all flesh is their Alpha and Omega. And because of the brightness of his
coming, and the glory of his beings they can say that he is to them more
than the increase of corn, wine, or oil. When these sons and daughters of
the Most High are permitted to worship Him in the beauty of holiness, the
shadows flee away; and they see that they are not now come to the mount that
might not be touched; but on the contrary they have come to Mount Zion, and
unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable
company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first born which
are written in heaven, and to God [P. 242] the judge of all, and to
the spirits of just men made perfect. Such then are the living members of
God's invisible church. Now this heavenly company can never be divided, but
must be and remain the one eternal body of which Christ Jesus is the Head.
And as the head is perfect, so must the body be perfect also; being fitly
compacted and joined together by unlimited power and wisdom; and all the
members of this living and heavenly body must be capable of a spiritual