Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Queries to the Cavaliers











WHETHER all those sufferings, which have befallen that party for these many years, were just as relating to God or no? that is, whether they so sinned against him, forgetting his name and fear, dealing hardly with such as truly desired to fear him, (and who in his true fear did differ from their way of worship) exalting man in an hard and arbitrary government both over the consciences of the upright-hearted towards God, and over the rights, liberties and persons of the nation, which with many other things, as the vanity and excess of the Court, the looseness and profaneness of the gentry, swearing, drinking of healths, and following the vain pomps and vanities of the world, (which by their very baptism they stand engaged to deny) might fill up their ephah, sway down their balance, and sink their prosperity: I say, whether these and such like things, might not justly provoke the Lord to turn his hand upon them, to overturn their church government, smite their King who was their strength, and bring them under the feet of those, whom before they had trampled upon and oppressed? Now though they may cry out against men, and in the day of their power fly out upon the rod wherewith the Lord chastised them, yet this is more proper and safe for them now, to consider what hand the Lord had in all these things, and whether he was just therein or no.


WHETHER in these their sufferings they have humbled themselves before the Lord, submitting to his hand, mourning <85> over their sins and transgressions against him, and have more desired his gracious mercy and power, to pardon and deliver them from their sins, than to be freed of their sufferings; so that if ever it should please him to take his hand from off them, and bring them again into place and power, they might not so provoke him any more, either against themselves or their King, but in true humility and in his fear (and in love to his name, truths and people, and the people of this Nation) might walk righteously, meekly, and faithfully in the exercising of authority for the good and peace of all, and not for the hurt of any?


WHETHER the cause (which they now may easily trample upon and despise) in those people who were engaged against them, was not just on their behalf also in its first rise, and at the beginning of the controversy; and whether their spirits might not be stirred up by God thereunto? wherein if they had continued faithful, going on singly in the work of the Lord, and not seeking themselves, nor the hurt of any, but the just rights, liberties, and good of all according to their engagements, this overturn might never have befallen them. But they letting God's cause fall day after day, time after time, one opportunity after another, no marvel though the Lord hath suffered them to fall also: for it was not the intent of the Lord to set up their persons (as was often testified to them while they stood) but to set up truth and righteousness in these nations, and to give his people full liberty of fearing and obeying him without fear of men. This the Lord began to effect by them, wherein their service was very precious and acceptable to him, which if they had gone on faithfully in, they had never seen this day.


WHETHER they consider the hand of the Lord in turning things thus about, or whether their eye be on instruments: on such as were against them on the one hand, and on such as were for them on the other hand? for is it not very wonderful to consider, how many plots and contrivances they have had one after another to bring this about (some whereof were very likely <86> to take, and hard to be disappointed) and yet all have still failed: and now at length unlooked for, it hath as it were dropped into their mouths in such a way, & after such a manner, and in so full a measure, as they could hardly have expected. O that they could eye the Lord herein, and fear before him, earnestly desiring and waiting for his grace to guide them, that at length one generation on whom he shows mercy, might show themselves worthy of his mercy, and not provoke him against them by abusing it, & so on a sudden forfeit and hazard the loss again, of what they have been so long desiring and aiming at!


WHETHER they consider how easy it is for the Lord to turn things about again, in as unexpected a way to them, as this was to those who are now overturned. Indeed they are settled as to the eye of man: what can withstand them? what can rise up against them? but alas what is the strength of a nation to the Lord? The whole nation are men, and not God; and their whole strength flesh, and not Spirit: and if the Lord rise up against them, what are they before him? O that they could fear the Lord for his goodness, and that those that are fallen under them might fear him for his severity, and that we might all give over upbraiding and fighting against one another, and every man fight against the lusts of his own heart: against pride, passion, envy, covetousness, hard-heartedness, oppression of men's consciences, doing to others what we would not receive from others, &c. for the hand of God is swift against the unrighteous spirit, and he overturns apace. And if this present settlement do not please him, but if this generation after all their afflictions prove unworthy of this mercy, not letting fall what the hand of the Lord hath gone forth against, but thinking again to settle upon firmer foundations what God hath all this while been shaking, the Lord will laugh at their counsels and at all their strength, and overturn them in a moment. This hath been it hath undone the foregoing powers, they have been eyeing men, and strengthening themselves against men, and if they could but be strong against the visible powers, they thought they were safe and secure enough, and so have overlooked the invisible hand, which was the <87> strength that went further against them. Therefore O Cavaliers consider in this your day, how strong are ye against the invisible arm of the Lord? If ye are not able to deal therewith, fear before it, and make peace with it, lest it prove that the Lord hath raised you up to make his power known upon you, and to get himself a name by your overthrow. This is a warning of love to you, even from that which saw this your day before it came.


WHETHER an evil spirit, a loose spirit, a spirit which is out of the fear of God (and against them that fear God) hath not risen up in the Nation, and been too much encouraged since your coming into power? The end of government is to bring men into, and encourage and preserve them in the fear of God, which is the spring of all goodness, righteousness and equity (not to bring men into a formal way of worship, that the Lord always loathed; but to encourage in the true fear, which teacheth that worship of him in heart and spirit which his soul ever loved.) Now consider seriously, is not iniquity broke loose? is not the chain as it were taking off from the wicked, and preparing to be laid on the righteous? What vanity, what excess, abuse of the creatures, swearing, drinking, scoffing, &c. is already broke forth? yea and how are those that in truth of heart fear the Lord, and apply themselves to meet in his fear to worship him, already derided, disturbed, and threatened as if this should not be lawful for them much longer? Alas, alas; If ye do not take heed, your ruin will be writ on the very entrance into your prosperity! O nation of England, why do ye thus provoke the Lord against yourselves, against your King, against your Parliament, against that part of the nation who have been so long sufferers? will ye throw away the Lord's mercy as soon as it is bestowed on you? will ye hasten to stir up his anger & jealousy against you? O how short will your day be, if ye proceed after this manner! O remember God, and be troubled and deeply humbled for these things; and rejoice with trembling, and do not show vain expressions of joy out of his fear, but let your joy be in his fear, and then we also shall rejoice with you, and hope that the wrath of the Lord may be diverted from this nation, which these things help to kindle and increase.



HAVE ye considered, or do ye yet seriously apply yourselves duly to consider, what the Lord's controversy with this nation and the powers thereof all this while hath been, and how it may be ended, that there may be no more striving against him, neither by the powers nor people of the nation? for what are men, that they should contend with God? how can they prosper therein? had they never so great advantage of gaining or carrying a cause against him, yet how certainly would they fall before him! Now look back honestly, singly, faithfully, in the simplicity of your hearts, search and consider, what God hath contended with the powers of the nation for, these many years: and if the Lord please (to such as thus search after it) to discover what it hath been for, let the Lord have his pleasure; for assuredly he will not fail of recovering and advancing his cause, how much fallen soever it seemeth to men, & how impossible soever it seem to be recovered. Let me in the uprightness of my heart propose some few things to you.

First, is not this a likely thing, that the Lord would have the reformation from popery perfected? If the Protestants did well to leave popery, then surely the more they leave it and come out of it, cannot but be acceptable to God: and the same Spirit which drew out of popery, will be drawing out of all the relics of it, and still bringing into a purer and more inward and spiritual worship? Now consider seriously of this matter, will ye give God leave to draw his people out of whatever is left of popery in this nation? Will ye forbear forcing of them to such things as they verily believe in their hearts to be a denial of Christ their Lord and Master? If ye suppose such, or such a ministry and way of worship to be good, can ye not enjoy it yourselves without forcing others (who cannot but from their hearts disown it in the sight of God) to submit to it, and to help to maintain it? how can they do this thing, and sin against the Lord? O do not strive, like Jeroboam the Son of Nebat, to make God's Israel to sin! The Lord God considers the sufferings of his people for his name's-sake. O England take heed of this thing, and do not <89> hinder any in reforming either their lives or their worships, but at length amend this thing, which hath been so long amiss in the government of this nation. The government of this nation hath been gentle to the loose spirit, to the profane spirit; but hard to the strict spirit, even to that which fears to offend the Lord, let it now at length, after thus much desolation and distress, become gentle to that which fears the Lord, and more severe to that which is loose and profane. Surely he that governs under God, it becomes him to cherish that which is tender to God. And let the laws in this kind be considered of, and set strait for the encouragement of the good, and for the curbing of the unrighteous loose and profane spirit, that it may no longer thus swim on top, and abound in the nation, but be brought under.

2. Is not this also likely and a fitting thing, that the Lord God should have the leading & guidance of those whom he beget by his Spirit, and who are born thereof? Shall not the everlasting Father have the ordering and dispose of his own children, to whom he gives his Spirit to that very end, that they may be led by it, Rom. 8.14. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the spirit, John 3.8. Now he that is begotten and brought forth by a free breath of the Spirit, shall not the same Spirit guide and lead him out of the world to the Father, out of the love of it, out of the customs, fashion, worships, and whole course of it? They are not of the world saith Christ, even as I am not of the world, John 17.16. They walk not as men, or according to men, I Cor. 3.3. Indeed he that is Christ's is crucified with him, the man's part is slain, and he can walk no more as a man, but as one redeemed out of the earthly nature and spirit: therefore the world hates him, John 17.14. and is ready to crush and oppress him, Gal. 4.29. but this is not righteous before God, that his children and people should be hated, hunted and persecuted, because of their likeness to God by partaking of his image, and because of their obedience to his Spirit, which draweth them out of all the unrighteousness of the world, yea and out of its righteousness <90> too, that they may be found in the righteousness, faith, and obedience of God's Spirit in every thing.

3. Is it not fitting that the Lord should have and enjoy the worship of such, as he teaches and seeks to worship him in spirit and in truth? The worship in spirit and in truth is the Father's worship, that is the worship which he hath appointed and chosen, and which he teacheth his children, and such worshippers the Father seeks to worship him, John 4.23. men seek such worshippers, as will own their form and way of worship: but God seeks such as are born of his Spirit, and are willing to learn of him to worship him in spirit and in truth. God is a spirit, and such as worship him, must worship in his Spirit. John 4.24. and such as live to him, must live in his Spirit & such as walk with him must walk in his Spirit, Gal. 5.25. this is the true gospel religion, first to wait for the promise of the Spirit, and then to worship and walk with God in the Spirit. Now will ye not suffer God to enjoy the worship of his own people, into whose spirits he breaths life, and whom he forms and begets into his own likeness? Consider how provoking this must needs be to God, of what dangerous consequence this hath been to the foregoing powers, and how dangerous it may prove to you.

4. Consider whether it be in your hearts to bring us back to Egypt, and whether ye be able indeed so to do. It was an heavy yoke which we lay under by the government of Episcopacy, and our spirits cried and groaned to the Lord, and he did deliver us, and hath brought us from under it. Now a power is risen up which hath not felt nor known the burthen of our spirits, nor been acquainted with our secret breathings & mournings to the Lord; nor seen his mighty hand in what he hath done for us, and so ye may easily be tempted to attempt either to bring us back into our old bondage, or to fall upon us and crush us. But if this be your aim and intent, it will soon prove your ruin: for the Lord God who hath given you a day (and in whose hand your breath is, and before whom all your power is nothing) if he see you thus make use of it can soon put an end to it. What is all your visible strength before the invisible arm and power? Therefore be not high minded because ye are outwardly so strong and <91> invincible, but fear before him who is stronger, whose eyes run to and fro through the earth to behold the carriage of things, that he may be ready to stretch forth his arm for the saving or his people, when there is none left to help them.

5. Consider seriously and pray earnestly, that ye may know what God hath put this opportunity into your hands for; and do not seek the regaining of the earthly glory and greatness (which we know to be falling, that the Lord alone may be exalted, as the Scripture also hath testified, Isa. 2.17.) but be sober and moderate as to that, and seek the glory of the immortal God who is to rise in the kingdoms of the earth over all (Rev. 11.15.) and seek righteousness, meekness, the peace, good and welfare of all, neither doing nor suffering to be done to any sort of persons, what ye would not be willing to have done to you by them, if ye were in their case, state and condition: and in any thing wherein ye have been injured in the time of your sufferings and sore visitation by God's hand, though ye may now blame, and seek to right yourselves on the instruments which God pleased to make use of to afflict you, yet it will be safer and better for you, if ye can forgive.

These things belong to your peace, and by this means the Lord's favour may turn towards you, who cannot but dislike your beginnings: but if in a fleshly confidence because of your outward strength, ye shall set yourselves against the work of the Lord, his cause and people, we can say to you in the dread of our God, Who are thou O great mountain? We do not doubt but before the Fanner of Babel to see thee made a plain, and are prepared in our Spirits to stand still to see the salvation of our God, whose arm is not shortened that it cannot save, even when the enemy's strength, resolution and advantage is greatest.

This is from one who hath mourned for the oppressed, and because of the oppressions which have long abounded, praying to and waiting on the Lord for the good and prosperity of the nation in general, and for the bringing forth of that righteousness, fear of the Lord and true peace, which alone can make it happy.

Isaac Penington, the Younger