(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 272-273.

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[P. 272] Respected Friend:

As by thy letter I am informed of the interest thou hast felt in the subject which has been lately agitated in your meeting--it has appeared to me that I might state in answer--that as to the subject itself there appears in my mind no difficulty--but I feel some concern lest my friends should too zealously dispute upon it--the foundation upon which society must stand if it stands at all is the spirit of condescension and mutual forbearance--any degree of selfishness or opposition must be destructive of its very existence so far as it is permitted to take hold--on this general principle I have ever thought it safe to give my judgment to my friends--and having done so passively to leave the subject--thou seest therefore that as it relates to any question which may be agitated among Friends I can have no point to carry--my judgment being settled that all conclusions which take place in the harmony are right as respect the body which adopts them though they may be defective as respects the question settled. In the order of society there is no necessary subordination to be observed, and without which confusion must follow. No question can be finally settled by a Monthly Meeting which does not come within the limits of its province, and all questions which relate to general practice must of consequence be settled by general consent. The general practice of society in regard to marriage can never be settled by a Monthly Meeting, but must be guided by the harmonious conclusion of the Yearly Meeting. Let it be supposed that with a small exception in your Monthly Meeting, the Society [P. 273] are uniform in the marriage covenant--and enter into that solemn obligation by the same form of expression. Canst thou conceive that such uniformity should be changed in a society professing to be led by the one Spirit and formed into the one body especially where the act is the same, as is the fact in the case of marriage? If every Monthly Meeting within the limits of our Yearly Meeting were to take up the question and deviate in the same degree from each other that Salisbury appears to have done, what would be the consequence? Would it not produce very disagreeable impressions--and that they would be liable to deviate cannot be doubted by any one who are acquainted with the present state of Society--I therefore conclude that subjects of a general kind are wisely held within the control of the Yearly Meeting--therefore without entering into the arguments which might be Used on either side of the subject--I hold it safe for me to stand subordinate to the present custom of the Society--but should the objections rise in any to the present custom so high as that they might believe it proper to lay them before a Monthly Meeting, and thence to take their regular course to a quarterly, and so if found of sufficient weight to a Yearly Meeting. In that stage I should be willing to try the whole subject--at present I do not consider it open for discussion, and shall consequently avoid any specific sentiment upon it. I am satisfied with what has been the uniform practice of society--and willing to remain so until the subject in the course of order and in the line of my duty shall come before me. If from what I have said thou should be in any manner benefitted thou art welcome to so much of the attention of thy affectionate friend,

Jesse Kersey