Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to a Parent (1665)
I have not much freedom to write at present, being retired in spirit, and mourning to my God, for the powerful bringing forth of his pure life, yet more perfectly, both in myself and others; yet the spirit of thy letter doth so strongly draw, that I cannot be wholly silent.
This, therefore, in the uprightness, fear, and tenderness of my heart, I say to thee.
There is a pure principle of life in the heart, from whence all good springs. This thou art to mind in thyself; and this, thou art to wait on the Lord, to be taught and enabled by him to reach to, in thy children; that thou mayst be an instrument in his hand, to bring them into that fear of him, which is acceptable to him, and will be profitable to them. Mind, therefore, its <462> leadings in thy heart, and wait to be acquainted with its voice there. And, when thy children ask thee any questions of this nature, -- What God is; where he dwells; or whether he sees them in the dark -- do not reject it; but wait to feel somewhat of God raised in thee, which is able to judge, whether the question be put forth in sensibility or in vanity; and which can give thee an advantage of stirring the good, and reaching to that, which is to be raised both in young and old, to live to the praise of him who raiseth it. And take heed of a judgment after the flesh; for so thou mayst judge us, our principles and practices, and approve or disapprove, &c. But wait to feel that raised in thee, which judges righteous judgment in every particular; and wait the time of its judgment, and be still and silent, further than manifestly thou knowest that it, and not thou, judgeth.
And, as to thy children, daily feel the need of instruction from the Almighty, to govern and direct them, and wait daily to receive it from him; and what thou receivest, give forth in fear, and wait for his carrying it home and working it upon their hearts. For he is a Father, and hath tenderness, and gives true wisdom to every condition of his people, that wait upon him; so as he may be known to be all daily, and they able to be nothing without him.
Thou expectest, perhaps, from me, an outward rule; but I have no rule, but the inward life, and that not in the way of outward knowledge, but daily made known as my Father pleaseth; nor can I direct thee to any other, but to wait, that life may be revealed in thee daily, according to thy daily need in every particular. And this I say to thee, in the love of my heart, wait, O wait, for the true discerning which is given to the true seed (in the raising and dominion of which in thee thou wilt feel it, and not otherwise), that a wrong thing judge not in thee, in the reasoning and fairly appearing wisdom; for then thou wilt judge and be led amiss, and, through error of judgment, stray aside, and wander from the desire of thy heart.
But breathe unto the Lord, that thy heart may be single, thy judgment set straight, thou thyself by his principle of life in thee, and thy children guided to, and brought up in, the sense of <463> the same principle. As for praying, they will not need to be taught that outwardly; but, if a true sense be kindled in them, though ever so young, from that sense will arise breathings to him that begat it, suitable to their state; which will cause growth and increase of that sense and life in them.
Thus, in the plainness of my heart, have I answered thee, according to the drawings and freedom which I found there, which I dare not exceed; who am thy unfeigned Friend, though outwardly unknown,
20th of Third Month, 1665