A PREVIOUSLY UNPUBLISHED LETTER BY JESSE KERSEY, 25TH OF 3RD MONTH, 1827
Transcribed From the Original MS at the Friends' Historical Library, Swarthmore College
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From the information I have lately had it appears to me that there is reason to expect a course will be taken by Friends which may result in very important consequences. In my reflections upon the case, I have had to a take of view of some of these causes which have tended to bring about the present state, among which stands pre-eminent the practice of determining in the will and wisdom of man upon subjects in small circles that which should have been deliberated upon in solemn assemblies of the body concerned and in a state of humble waiting for the guidance of the Divine spirit. My fears are that in attempting to reform these evils which have thus grown up in the Society the same blind calculating spirit may be suffered to get up, may be busy in planning and arranging for the Church. Should this be the case it will only increase the evils in society instead of lessening them. The true Church will always be kept under the guidance of the Divine spirit, and the glory of it will never be promoted by any policy or by that wisdom which originates from material causes; our next Yearly Meeting there is reason to fear may be made of many selfish beings, and in the fervor of the zeal and temper of such many difficulties may arise. To be favored with such a state of simple dependence upon the holy Head in the midst of this mixture as to remain unmoved, and keep a single eye to the heavenly guide, is what I much desire for myself, and all my dear friends in that case I have no doubt way will open for the relief of the oppressed, and the power and dignity of truth be manifested to the consolation of every sincere mind. The present time of great anxiety with many has not been the fruit of accident, nor will it terminate short of breaking down much of that kind of system, which has grown up in the Society, upon the mere principles of human policy and which has tended to eclipse the glory and beauty of the gospel spirits and to subject many of its devoted advocates to limits, which were never prescribed by the Eternal Mind. When the deadening trammels of this dark policy should be thrown off and the Church has nothing to clog it then and not till then will she be seen leaning upon the breast of her beloved clear as the sun the ministers will have no reliance upon creed and dogmas their preaching will be in the demonstration of the Spirit, and with power that the faith of the heavens may not stand in the wisdom of man, but in that blessed gospel which is preached in every creature. At present if they should not fit the opinions of men darkened by a spirit as censorious as it is ignorant, they are to be opposed, and their standing among the Society laid waste. But this state will not nor cannot continue. The great and blessed light which has dawned upon many minds, will rise higher and higher and the benign objects of love, which God has created, and visited, will be led more and more out of the wilderness. My mind is filled with gratitude in the contemplation of those views, and I acknowledge that I have great occasion to be thankful and reverently to adore that special providence who in his wisdom separated me from those ties which tended to destroy my freedom of soul, and in some measure to darken my judgment. In the sincere desire that I may now be ready for an honest and faithful discharge of every remaining duty
I am thy affectionate
friend J. Kersey
The foregoing I had written after some conversation with a friend before the receipt of thy last on looking over it, I am not aware that it contains anything unfit for the notice of my friends it is true there are some remarks about planning for the church. By these however I would not be understood to condemn the sober communication of the prospect of [crossed out "these"] friends one to another, nor would I have any thing thrown in the way of those who feel they are oppressed, it may be well enough for them to consider how they can be relieved; why 12th St. Meeting should delay my certificate I must leave; but I am happy to find that my own mind is at rest, and that I have no anxiety on my own account, about the measure that may be meted to me, by the Society, in its present divided and unhappy state. All I wish for, is to remain in connection with that blessed Spirit, which has been the guide of my youth, and by the sustaining power whereof I have been kept from sinking in times of trial and desolation. In thy letter it is remarked that a meeting is looked for a branch of Darby monthly Meeting to be held at Hamilton Village, and in that case how pleasant it would have been to have had me still in that place. No doubt great and valuable events will take place in the course of a little time if the minds of those who are longing for a return to first principles are faithful and I can readily believe that the way is now making, out of the sight of men, for the devoted followers to meet with one accord, and sit together as in heavenly places, worshiping the Eternal in the same Spirit and enjoying together a seal of his favor who has said "by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another."