Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of Isaac Penington > Isaac Penington to the Independents at Canterbury
I HAVE been a seeker after God, and a worshipper of him from my childhood, according to the best of my understanding; and, at last, sat down in that way which is called Independency, believing it to be the way of the gospel, and entering into it with much fear and seeking of God. In which way, the Lord had regard to the uprightness and tenderness of heart, which he had formed in me.
But, at length, the Lord's hand fell upon me, breaking me all to pieces therein, as to my inward state; for what cause, I had then no knowledge at all of; but mourned before him unutterably, night and day, and lay panting and languishing after him, who was the only Beloved of my soul. Many pitied me, but none could reach my state, but, after much serious discourse with me, greatly wondered: and some said, it was a prerogative case, and would, questionless, end in good-will and mercy from the Lord to me. I parted from that people in great love and tenderness; they expecting my return to them again (the love between me and them being so exceeding great, and I having let in no prejudice against them), and I knowing nothing to the contrary.
But it pleased the Lord, after many years, when my hope nearly failed, to visit me in a wonderful manner, breaking my heart in pieces, giving me to feel his pure, living power, and the raising of his holy seed in my heart thereby; insomuch, that I cried out inwardly before him, "This is He, this is He whom I have sought after, and so much wanted! this is the pearl, this is the holy leaven! do what thou wilt with me, afflict me how thou wilt, and as long as thou pleasest, so that at length I may be joined with this, and become one with this!" So the eye of my understanding was from that day anointed, and I saw and felt the pure life of the Son made manifest in me; and the Father drew me to him, as to a living stone, and hath built my soul upon him, and brought me to Mount Zion, and the holy city of our God; where the river of life sends forth its streams, which refresh and make glad the holy city, and all the tabernacles that are built on God's holy hill. And indeed, from this holy hill and city, the law and word of life doth issue, and the inhabitants of the rock of life hear it, and are friends to the Bridegroom, and glad of the Bridegroom's voice, and follow the Lamb, the Shepherd and Bishop of <22> their souls, whithersoever he leads; who leads them into the pastures of life, and folds of pure rest, and gives them eternal life to feed on, and his peace and patience to possess their souls in.
O ye Independents! whom I have loved above all people, and never had thoughts of rending from you, but was forcibly taken by the hand of the Lord out of your Society; yet not without a desire to return to you again, if the Lord pleased to make any way thereto; -- I say, O ye Independents, above all professions the one most dearly beloved by me! oh that ye could hear the sensible, experienced testimony that is on my heart to you concerning my Beloved, concerning his appearance, concerning his church, concerning his way, his truth, his kingdom. It is nigher than ye are aware, and above all that ye can comprehend concerning it. Oh that ye might inwardly know these things! Turn in, turn in: mind what stirs in your hearts; what moves against sin, what moves towards sin. The one is the Son's life, the Son's grace, the Son's Spirit; the other is the spirit and nature which is contrary thereto. If ye could but come to the sense of this, and come to a true, inward silence, and waiting, and turning at the reproofs of heavenly wisdom, and know the heavenly drawings into that which is holy and living; ye would soon find the Lord working in your hearts, to stop the issues of death, and to open the issues of life there; and ye would find yourselves anointed daily by the Lord (for there is not a day but we need to see, nor a day but the Lord gives sight), and an understanding also would be given you to know Him that is true, and the "eternal life," 1 John 1:2, and an abiding in him that is true. And, abiding here, ye cannot fail of receiving power (from him who ministers according to the power of the endless life), not only to overcome sin and your souls' enemies, but to become sons to God, with delight performing his will. And that yoke, which yokes down and subdues sin in you, will be easy, yea, the ease, pleasure, and joy of your souls.
The Lord open an ear in you to hear as the learned, that ye may become experiencers and possessors of these things; for, of a truth, the Lord is arisen to shake terribly the earth, and to build up his Zion, and to give unto his people "a peaceable habitation and sure dwellings and quiet resting-places" upon Mount Zion. Isa. 32:18.