Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of Isaac Penington > Isaac Penington to E. Terry




If the Lord hath extended favor to thee and shown thee mercy, I therein rejoice on thy behalf.

Thy desire, that what thou wrotest may be looked upon as nothing, and that no contest may be raised from it, I am content fully to answer thee in; nor do I desire to have any advantage against thee, nor art thou at all disparaged in my thoughts by what thou hast written, but it is in my heart as nothing, and my love flows to thee; for I take notice of thy seriousness, and what I have unity with in this letter, and overlook the other.

As touching disputes, indeed, I have no love to them: Truth did not enter my heart that way, nor do I expect to propagate it in others that way; yet, sometimes a necessity is laid upon me, for the sake of others. And truly, when I do feel a necessity, I do it in great fear; not trusting in my spear or bow, I mean in strong arguments or wise considerations, which I (of myself) can gather or comprehend; but I look up to the Lord for the guidance, help, and demonstration of his Spirit, that way may be made thereby in men's hearts for the pure seed to be reached to, wherein the true conviction, and thorough conversion of the soul to God is witnessed. I had far rather be feeling Christ's life, Spirit, and power in my own heart, than disputing with others about them.

Christians that truly fear the Lord, have a proportion of the <17> primitive Spirit; and, if they could learn to watch and wait there, where God works the fear, they would daily receive more and more of it, and in it, understand more and more the true intent and preciousness of the words of the Holy Scriptures. He that will truly live to God, must hear wisdom's voice within, at home, in his own heart; and he that will have her words made known, and her spirit poured out to him, must turn at her reproof. Prov. 1:23. Indeed, I never knew, and am satisfied that none else can know, the preciousness of this lesson, till they are taught it of the Lord.

There is one thing more on my heart to express, occasioned by thy last letter, which is this: I have more unity in my heart and spirit before the Lord, with the Puritan state, than with the churches and gatherings which men have built up and run into since. Indeed, men have enlarged their knowledge and comprehension of things; but that truth of heart, that love, that tenderness, that unity upon truth's account, which was then amongst them, many have made shipwreck of, and do not now know the state of their own souls, nor truth in the life and power of it. This principle of life and truth was near me, as well as others; yea, with me in that day; but I wandered from it into outward knowledge, and, with great seriousness, into a way of congregational worship, and thereby came to a great loss; and at length, for want of the Lord's presence, power, and manifestation of his love, was sick at heart. But now, the Lord, in great love and tender mercy, having brought me back to the same principle, and fixed my spirit therein, I discern the truth and beauty of that former estate, with the several runnings out from it; and find what was true or false therein, discovered to me by the holy anointing, which appears and teaches in that principle. And, friend, it is not a notion of light, which my heart is engaged to testify to; but that which enlivens, that which opens, that which gives to see, that wherein the power of life is felt. For truly, in the opening of my heart by the pure power, was I taught to see and own the principle and seed of life, and to know its way of appearance; and so can faithfully and certainly testify, that that which is divine, spiritual, and heavenly, is nearer man than he is aware, as well as that which is earthly and selfish.

O friend! if thou canst not yet see and own the principle and seed of Christ's life and Spirit, nor discern his appearance therein; <18> yet take heed of fighting against it; for, indeed, if thou dost, thou fightest against no less than the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

I. P.