Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to the Earl of Bridgewater (1666)




It is the desire of my heart to walk with God, in the true fear of his name, and in true love and good-will to all men, all my days here upon the earth. For this end, I wait upon God, night and day, to know his will, and to receive certain instruction from him, concerning what is acceptable in his sight. After he hath in any thing made manifest his pleasure, I wait upon him for strength to perform it: and when he hath wrought it by me, my soul blesseth him therefor. If this be a right course, I am not to be condemned herein; if it be not, and thou knowest better, show me, in love, meekness, and tenderness; as I would be willing to make anything known to thee, for thy good, which <474> the Lord hath shown me. But this I am fully assured of, that God is higher than man; and that his will and laws are to be set up, and obeyed, in the first place; and man's only in the second; and in their due subordination to the will and laws of God.

Now, friend, apply thyself to do that which is right and noble, and that which is truly justifiable in God's sight, that thou mayst give a comfortable account to him, when he shall call thee thereunto. That which thou hast done to me, hath not made me thy enemy; but in the midst of the sense of it, I desire thy welfare, and that thou mayst so carry thyself in thy place, and actions, as that thou mayst neither provoke God against thee in this world, nor in the world to come. Hast thou not yet afflicted me enough without cause? Wouldst thou have me bow to thee therein, wherein the Lord hath not given me liberty? If I should give thee outward titles and honors, might I not do thee hurt? Oh come down, be low in thy spirit before the Lord! Honor him in thy heart and ways, and wait for the true nobility and honor from him. Thou hast but a time to be in the world, and then eternity begins: and what thou hast sown here, thou must then reap. Oh that thou mightst sow, not to thy own will and wisdom, but to God's Spirit; and know his guidance, who is only able to lead man aright. Indeed, thou shouldst be subject in thy own heart, to that which thou art offended at in others, even that in the inner parts, which testifies for God and against the thoughts, ways, and works of corrupt man; that thou mightest feel a principle of life from God, and good fruit brought forth from that principle to him; and that the evil nature, with the evil works thereof, might be cut down in thee; that thy soul may escape the wrath and misery, which attend the works and workers of iniquity.

I have sent thee this enclosed, in love. Read it in fear and humility, lifting up thy heart to the Lord, who giveth understanding, that it may be a blessing to thee; for in true love was it writ, and is of a healing and guiding nature. I have formerly writ to thee; but my way hath been so barred up, that I have not found access easy; and how or whether this will come to thy hand, I know not; but this I truly say to thee, I have felt the <475> Lamb's nature, under my sufferings from thee, whereunto I have given thee no provocation, neither for the beginning nor continuance of them; and if thou canst bring that thing to the trial of the witness of God in thy heart, that will deal truly with thee, blaming what God blames, and justifying what he justifieth. And though the Lord beholdeth, and will plead the cause of his innocent ones (who, the more helpless they are, the more they are considered and tendered by him), yet I do not desire that thou shouldst suffer, either from God or man, on my account; but that thou mightest be guided to, and preserved in, that which will be sweet rest, peace, and safety, to all that are sheltered by it, in the troublous and stormy hour; in which, the Lord will distress man, and make him feel his sin and misery.

This is the sum of what I have at present to say, who have written this, not for any by-end, but in the stirrings of true love towards thee; and from a true desire, that thou mightest feel the power of God forming in thy heart aright, and bringing forth the fruits of righteousness in thee; that thou mightest be made by him of the seed of the blessed, and inherit the blessing, and find the earthly nature consumed, and brought to nought in thee; to which is the curse, and which must feel the curse, as God brings forth his righteous judgments in the hearts, and upon the heads of the transgressors. And, knowing there to be a certain day of God's calling transgressors to account, and the terribleness of his wrath and consuming pleasure in that day, I warn thee in tenderness, and in the bowels of love beseech thee, to consider thy ways, and make thy peace with him; that thou mayest not be irrecoverably and eternally miserable; but mayst be transformed by his life and nature, and sow to him the fruits thereof, that thou mayst reap, and receive of him that which is the soul's joy.

And, friend, know this assured truth; it is not a religion of man's making or choosing (neither the Pope's, nor any other man's), but only that which is of God, which is acceptable to him: and what will become of that man, whose very religion and worship are hateful to God? Where will he stand, or what account will he be able to give, when he appears before him?

Thou hast not often met with such plain dealing as this. <476> These things very nearly concern thee. Oh wait upon God for his true light, that thou mayest not be deceived about them; because thy loss thereby will be so great and irreparable.

I am thy friend in these things, and have written as a true lover and desirer of the welfare of thy soul.

I. P.

From Aylesbury Jail, 24th of Sixth Month, 1666