Jesse Kersey

Philadelphia: Emmor Kimbor, 1815. Pages 112-120.

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[p. 112] The foregoing I have written in consequence of a belief that many in the Society of Friends are not sufficiently acquainted with the nature of our profession; also with a prospect that strangers might be informed, without much reading, what we believe, and not be left to form opinions of the Society from the reports they may hear, or from the ministry alone. Because, in either case, the means for a correct judgment would be insufficient. From the labours of those engaged in the ministry, it would not be reasonable to expect a minute explanation of the doctrine of Friends in each particular case. Their service is much more frequently to speak to the states of the people, and to call home the mind to the Light of Christ within, than to offer extensive doctrinal testimony. It may be thought by some, that the Society have already a sufficient number of explanatory treatises, and that anything further is unnecessary. But I believe that on deliberate [P. 113] examination, this will not be found to be the case, though there are many valuable works extant. I feel particularly concerned that the rising generation may be drawn off from the deceptive glitter of the world, and that early attention may be given to their religious improvement. In consequence of this concern, my thoughts have been often exercised. In the course whereof, I have been led to take into view some of the disadvantages under which they labour; and it has appeared to me, that the young and tender minds of children are often injured for want of proper religious weight in parents. Early in Life, their attention is open to observe the conduct of parents; and if they see there is want of regularity, that parents are sometimes amiable and pleasant; and at others fretful and ill natured, this tends to produce difficulty to them, and they are at a loss to know how to conduct, so as to obtain approbation. But if, as they advance in years, the shepherd of souls should visit their tender minds by the Word of his grace, which I have no doubt is the case at a much earlier period than many are aware of, should they then find that their parents were not subject to the Divine principle, it must be a cause of stumbling, [P. 114] and thus the mind may be retarded in its progress from earth to heaven. The dispensations of Divine love which are shed over young minds, lead into love and affection for all around them; and when they are in this precious state, how must they be shocked, if for some trivial, act, which may be the effect of want of judgment, they should be addressed in passion. And yet this is what all parents of children are liable to, unless they are themselves brought under the Divine government. I have seen that while it is a beautiful and interesting task, it is a very important one, to educate and bring up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; nor do I believe that any can perform this duty as they ought to do, who are not subject to the Light of Christ. And I have often thought, that if parents were more heavenly minded, their children would be less hardy, and more passive to them and among their friends, than is the case with many in our day. The truly awakened and dedicated mind may often find occasion to shed the tear of sorrow over the children of this generation. But I am of the opinion, that if we lived in the humility and reverence before God, which our Holy profession calls for, we should have [P. 115] greater access to the throne of his grace, and the Life and power of the Gospel would spread in our families. He who was the friend of faithful Abraham would clothe us with greater authority and qualification to command those of our household. And our precious offspring, beholding the solemnity and sweetness of our spirits, would feel an early and dutiful attachment to us; they would not be difficult to command, but would be led into obedience by the concurrent operation of our Divine guide, who is ever willing to assist us in every duty which he is requiring at our hands. He is able to meet with our children when they are in their retired places, and if we were witnesses for him, would make our conduct instrumental to awaken his Light and Truth in their souls. But in the present state, how many who are parents have been unfaithful, and turned their attention to an outside religion fulfilling the works of the law, which never made the comers thereunto perfect, careful to lay a fair foundation in the world, and to lay up treasure on earth; very industrious and frugal, plain in living and plain in manner, but enemies to the cross of Christ, not scholars in his school, [P. 116] and therefore not qualified to instruct their children; but their spirits being in the world, their conversation relates to it; for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. When the rising generation are educated under these circumstances, and the conversation they daily hear is bounded by temporal concerns, the effect must be to obstruct the growth of the seed of the kingdom of heaven in them; and it afterwards seems to require something like a miracle to bring their minds back to the principle we profess. If in our religious meetings they are sometimes spoken to in the demonstration and power of the Spirit, they find on their return home, that they are soon landed in the same round of subjects and conversation. Thus the Lord's work is retarded in its progress in the souls of the youth, and many of them grow up with but little religious concern about them. It appears to me, therefore, that the day calls for an awakening testimony to be borne among the people, both among the professors, and others, and I am often put in mind of the instruction given to the disciples. "Then saith he, unto his disciples, the harvest truly is plenteous, but the [P. 117] labourers are few. Pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his vineyard." Matt. 1037-38. At this day, there are bright talented men in the Society, and I have no doubt the Head of the Church has often awakened their souls, by his all powerful Word of Truth, and brought thereto see the neglected state of his cause. And I believe, that if such were faithful to the day of their visitation, they would be taken from their state of worldly security, as well as from their worldly pursuits, and prepared for the Master's use; and a beautiful band would be raised to proclaim the wondrous works of the Lord. The Church would be replenished with judges, as at the first, and counselors, as in the beginning. I have felt an awful blank in my day, a blank which I have seen is owing to the unfaithfulness of the strong men of the world in the present time; and I believe that unless these, who have been cared for by the bishop of souls, become obedient to the heavenly vision, and submit to walk in the straight and narrow way, the seed of the kingdom in them will be so deeply buried in their earthly nature, that the warming beams of the sun of righteousness will no more act upon it, and they be left to themselves. But O! ye quickened souls, of [P. 118] every description and station in the Church, let us unite, and with all humility, patience, and perseverance, fulfil the work of our day, and though we should, in the assemblies of the people, have little else but trials and sufferings, may we be kept the Lord's time, and in no instance attempt to reign, while he that is our best Life is in suffering. But as we remain inwardly attentive to the unfolding of his Light, we shall be opened in a clear sight of the state of the seed of the Kingdom, and our ministry will be crowned with a Holy and penetrating authority; the weak will be strengthened, the hungry fed, the blind brought to see, the deaf to hear, and the dead in trespasses and sins quickened and brought to Life. I have seen that much depends, in this day, upon the leaders of the people keeping their feet upon the true and living foundation, walking in the Light, even as he, our Holy Head, is in the Light; and I am satisfied, that the more these are concerned to have their lamps trimmed, and their lights burning, the less they will be moved by what may be going on in the earth. For it is a consequence of the Truth, where it has the full government, to make its followers unchangeable. It is itself so, and all they who come to live in it, are grounded and settled on [P. 119] an unchangeable foundation. And though they see all things change around them, they have a Holy habitation unmoved; and protected by him that has all power in heaven and in earth. Now, those who enter this Holy and heavenly habitation, they are redeemed from the Spirit and love of this world; and they know, that as the Kingdom of their Lord is not of this world, so neither is theirs; and though they are subject to every ordinance of man, for conscience sake, yet they are not in the spirit or measures of the kingdoms of this world. They may see the governments of men turn and overturn, but on their part they neither build up nor pull down; neither their joys nor their sorrows depend upon the measures of this world; but only and alone upon the dispensations of their Divine Master. I wish not to tire my reader by speaking of the state of a dedicated follower of Christ; but I much desire that my fellow professors of the same faith, as we believe we are called to lift up an ensign to the nations, even the ensign of peace, may be so guarded as to keep separate from every measure which may in any degree disqualify for this important service. And I have no doubt but, whatever persecutions and trials may come upon us, through the mistaken policy [P. 120] of men, for our faithfulness to the testimony of the Gospel Spirit, we shall in the end, if we keep our places, have to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.