(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 268-271.

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[P. 268] In reflecting upon the doctrine of rewards and punishments, it has presented as a clear case that it never was consistent with the attributes of the Deity to [P. 269] impose suffering upon any of his creatures. But he has done all that could be done to make all parts of his creation happy; and therefore all the misery that we experience is the consequence of our own misconduct. In the formation of man it appears that it was consistent with the wisdom of his great Author to constitute him a being capable of devotion; and to this end he gave to him an amount of freedom agreeing with the capacity that he was endued with. Hence he would think for himself, and make his own elections by following his passions and appetites, and indulging them, he would run into excesses, and those excesses would produce their own sufferings. Experience teaches us that every act has its consequence. Thus we find a motive for self-government, and as we learn on the one hand that every improper indulgence produces misery, so we find on the other that the more we become subject to the principle of self-government, the greater is our happiness. In those two cases of fact we have full proof that it is not the pleasure of the Creator that we should be sufferers, but that he has done all that could be done consistent with the nature or-our being to render us completely happy. Had we been created without any portion of freedom, we could never have known or enjoyed devotional feelings, but must have moved along in life as mere machines. Having then a devotional capacity, it must follow that when all our experience proves the goodness of God to us in giving us the means of happiness, that this knowledge should excite the highest sense of obligation, and of course the most pure devotion and love to God. If we were obliged to contemplate him in any other light, it would have the most melancholy effect upon us. [P. 270] Finding, then, that by regarding the light of Truth and walking in it, we give energy and dominion to our more exalted and higher nature, and witnessing daily the consequence to be a complete quietude of the passions, and the most perfect possession of intellectual happiness, we are thus united to the great Fountain of spiritual good, and are one with our glorious author. We cannot believe, while possessing this blessed state, that it ever was any part of the design or purpose of God to render any part of his creation miserable. Of course we must be convinced that all the miseries of mankind are the fruit of their own doings. According to those views it will appear that there is nothing in the attributes of God that ever can consist with dealing out penalties and afflictions upon his finite creatures. Hence we come to the belief that because it was necessary in order to our own preservation, that evil and folly should bring sufferings upon us as a consequence, or otherwise we should never be brought out of it; therefore those sufferings themselves are demonstrations of the goodness and mercy of God to man. The truth appears to be that in every case where we witness suffering, there is no more of it than seems necessary to promote their own good. In looking into the human composition, and considering it in agreement with the foregoing sentiments, we find an admirable proof of the sublimity and greatness of the Christian system. By this we are taught to believe that we have to control all our animal passions, in order to become acceptable to God: and by our own positive practical knowledge we are convinced that our happiness can never be completed by sensual indulgences. The obligations of Christianity and those that are found from the operation [P. 271] of the laws of our nature, both prove that they have the same origin; that is, the wisdom that dictated the christian path of duty, and that fixed the consequences of sensual excess is one and the same. Therefore, however the reputed philosopher, or the common sceptic may point the finger of derision at the humble and self denying follower of the Son of God, it is impossible for himself to be happy in any other course of life than that which is adopted by the latter. But we are told that there must be some mistake on the part of those who would prohibit the indulgence of the passions and appetites of nature. "Why," say they, "were they given, if they must .be kept in such strict subordination?" The answer is not difficult, because it is easy to prove that the same wisdom and power that gave those dispositions, has set for them the requisite boundary, and no man can pass it without bringing upon himself consequences of a suffering kind. From which we might expect every enlightened individual would surely be convinced that the precepts themselves that are taught by Christianity have flowed from the same fountain of perfect wisdom.