Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to Friends in Chalfonts (1666)
As a father watcheth over his children, so do I wait, and desire to feel the Lord watching over my soul continually. And in his love, care, wise and tender counsel, is my safety, life, and peace; and I never yet repented either waiting for him or hearkening to him. But if I have hearkened at any time to any thing else, and mistook his voice, and entertained the enemy's deceitful appearance, instead of his pure truth, which it is very easy to do, that grievous mistake hath proved matter of loss and sorrow to my soul.
Now, O my Friends, that ye might know and hear the voice of the Preserver. So shall ye be preserved, and kept from the voice of the stranger, which draweth aside from the pure principle of life, and the true, feeling sense. There is that near you which watcheth to betray. O the God of my life, joy, peace, and hope, watch over your souls, and deliver you from the advantages which at any time it hath against any of you. The seed which God hath sown in you is pure and precious. Oh that it may be found living in you, and ye abiding in it! Oh that no other seed may, at any time, usurp authority over it; but that ye may know the authority and pure truth which is of God, and therein stand, in the pure dominion, over all that is against him. For, in the principle of life, which ye have known and received in measure, is dominion; and ye therein preserved are in the dominion over the impure and deceitful one; and that judging in you hath power to judge all impurity and deceivableness, as the light thereof pleaseth to make it manifest to you; but out of that ye will easily become a prey, and set up darkness for light, and account light darkness; and then a wrong wisdom, confidence, and conceitedness will get up in you, and lead you far out of the way and spirit of truth. Oh, my dear Friends, that that may be kept down in you which is forward to judge, to approve or disapprove; and the weighty judgment of the seed be waited for. And oh do not judge, do not judge, before the light of the day shine in you, and give forth the judgment; but stand and walk in fear and humility, and tenderness of spirit, and silence of flesh, that the Lord be not provoked against any of you, to give you up to a wrong sense <480> and judgment, to the hurt of your souls. And mind your own states, and the feeling of life in your own vessels; which will keep you pure, precious, and chaste in the eye of the Lord. And oh do not meddle with talking about others, which eats out the inward life, and may exalt your spirits out of your place, and above your proper growth; be as the weaned child, simple, naked, meek, humble, tender; easily led by, and subjected to, the Father; so will ye grow in that which is of God, and be preserved out of that which hunteth after the pure life, to betray and destroy it. I have an interest in you; my cries are to the Lord for you, and I exceedingly thirst after your preservation and growth in that which is pure; and in that breathing, longing spirit towards you was it in my heart at this time to write unto you.
The Lord God of my mercies, hope, and life, watch over you for good, and keep your hearts in the pure and single watch; that the enemy (by any subtle device of his) break not in upon you; nor ye, by any temptation, be allured or drawn from the Lord; but may know the pure, eternal, everlasting habitation, and may dwell and abide therein, to the joy of your own souls, and the rejoicings of the hearts of all that have travailed for you in the Spirit of the Lord.
From your brother and companion in the faith, patience, and afflictions of the seed,
Aylesbury Prison, 25th of Eleventh Month, 1666
And Friends, you that are weak, bless God for the strong; you that have need of a pillar to lean upon bless God, that hath provided pillars in his house; and, in fear and the guidance of his Spirit, make use of these pillars; who are faithful, and have <481> ability from God, in his power and glorious presence with them, to help to sustain his building, even as they had ability from the Lord to gather unto him. He that despiseth him that is sent, despiseth Him that sent him; and he that undervalues any gift, office, or work, that God hath bestowed upon any person, despiseth the wisdom and disposal of the Giver. Are all fathers? Have all overcome the enemy? Are all grown up in the life? Are all stars in the firmament of God's power? Hath God made all equal? Are there not different states, different degrees, different growths, different places, &c.? Then if God hath made a difference, and given degrees of life, and gifts different, according to his pleasure; what wisdom and spirit is that which doth not acknowledge this, but would make all equal? O my Friends! fear before the Lord; honor the Lord in his appearances, and in the differences which he hath made among the children of men, and among his people. He gave prophets of old, and the rest of the people were not equal with them. He gave evangelists, apostles, pastors, teachers, &c., and the other members of the churches were not equal with them. He hath given fathers and elders now, and the babes and young men are not equal with them. Thus it is, in truth, from the Lord; and that which is of God in you, will so acknowledge it.
Therefore watch, every one, to feel and know his own place and service in the body, and to be sensible of the gifts, places, and services of others; that the Lord may be honored in all, and every one owned and honored in the Lord, and no otherwise.
26th of the Eleventh Month, 1666