Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to Friends in Chalfonts (1667)
Have ye in any measure drunk in the sense of what the Lord hath done for you? and have ye felt meltings of spirit, and bowings before him, with praises to his name therefor? Indeed, my request is to the Lord for you, that he would please to keep you truly sensible of what he already is to you, and of what he hath already done for you; that he would also, of his tender mercy and great goodness, visit you yet further, increase life in you, cause faith to abound, give you to dwell in his power, and always abide in his seed, and feel that to be your hope, peace, joy, life, and strength continually; that ye may more and more give thanks unto him, as ye feel his pure life arising in you, and death and the grave swallowed up thereby.
Ah! my friends, can we ever forget the lost and miserable estate, wherein the mercy of the Lord and his power from on high visited us? Oh, the blackness of that day, the misery, the deep distress of that day, which some of your souls felt! Did ye not know what it was to want God, and to lie open to the furious assaults of the enemy; when ye felt no strength, nor knew whither to retire, to keep out any hurt, any temptation, any vain thought and imagination, or to give you any grounded hope in the goodness and mercy of the Lord? How did ye mourn? how did ye cry out and pine away in your iniquities day and night! and knew not which way to look, nor what to wait for! Are there not among you, who have known this state, and felt somewhat of that which I now relate? Sure I am, there are upon the earth, who can witness it to the full, whose mouths and <483> hearts are now filled with a sense of the Lord's goodness, and of his great salvation, and with deep and high praises to his name.
But, my dear friends, is there any of you (I know to whom I speak, even to the sensible, to the diligent, to the faithful among you), who cannot in truth witness as in God's presence, concerning the arm and power of his salvation, which ye have often felt? insomuch that ye can sing that song, "He hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; as he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets." Do ye not know the house of his servant David, with the horn of salvation in it, and that horn raised up to you for your defence and comfort? Yea, do ye not daily feel the Lord ministering out salvation to you from it? Are not your enemies daily overcome by the faith, which he hath given you in his power? May I not say to you, where is the strength of the tempter? Have ye not felt the seed of the woman to bruise the head of the serpent? so that, in the fear of the Lord, and in the strength, virtue, and dominion of his life manifested in you, ye can say, though as yet somewhat tremblingly, Where are those temptations, those lusts, vain thoughts, and imaginations, which once I was overcome by and overrun with? Surely, I may speak thus; for I know assuredly, that the power of the Lord God, as it is lifted up in any of you, scatters these, and gives you dominion over them. For the life and its power are given as bulwark and weapon of war against iniquity and its power; and, where it is received, it opposeth, warreth, striveth, until it overcome.
And, this is that which gives the victory and overcoming; to wit, faith in the seed. The seed felt, the soul joined to it, faith in it and from it given to the soul. Then it becomes the Leader, the mighty undertaker for the soul, and overcomes its snares and enemies for it; and, when it hath overcome them, they are overcome indeed. And then the soul lies down in peace, dwells in peace, feeds on the living nourishment, in the green pastures of life, in peace. Then Jerusalem, the building or life in the heart, becomes a quiet habitation, where God and the soul dwell sweetly together; and there is nothing that hath power in it to disturb, annoy, or make afraid. Why so? Because the Lord God <484> of power is present there, stretcheth out his wings there, is a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night there! He hath raised up his glorious life in that heart, whereof he is very choice; and he hath also spread a defence over his glory, with which the soul is so encompassed and defended, that it feels the walls of this city to be salvation, and its gates praise.
O my soul, travel on! O dear Friends! do ye also travel on, into the fulness of the glory of this state. There is no other thing to be desired and waited for. This is your portion, both here in this world, and for ever. Therefore wait in the seed of this life; wait to feel yet a further gathering into it, and a growing up in it; and give yourselves up to it, that it may overspread and cover you. And the Lord God of life daily open it, and manifest it more and more in you and to you; that ye may be more found in him, and yet more acceptable and pleasing in the eyes of your God; and may sing praises unto him, not only at the foot of the hill, in some true proportion and measure of his life, but in the very heights of Sion, even in the fulness of the measure of your stature in Christ; which ye are all diligently to press after, till ye arrive at. And then there is no more to be done, but to spread abroad into, and drink in of, and live in, the full pleasure and safety of life for ever! Then may ye eat freely of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God, and draw water, with joy, out of the wells of salvation!
Therefore feel, oh! feel, in spirit, the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus; and be daily looking up to that, which quickens to God, and keeps fresh and lively in him; that none of you grow slothful, drowsy, or negligent, and so, unfaithful in relation to the great talent which God hath put into your hands; and so the Lord be provoked against you, and suffer the enemy to tempt and prevail upon you; that a veil come over your hearts again, and the air thicken, and the earthly nature cover the seed; and he, that hath power in that earth, and over that air, captivate, oppress, entangle, and lead you back from God again. Oh! cry to the Lord to keep the eye open, and the heart single, and the soul in the true sense and feeling; that the heavenly voice, which drew you out of the earth, may be daily heard <485> further instructing you, and gathering you more and more up into him, who is your life. So ye that fear the Lord, and love his name, and have tasted of his goodness and powerful salvation, oh hate evil! All that his light hath made manifest, and drawn you from, oh take heed of ever dallying with again! Oh never hearken to the tempter! but pray to the Father, that ye may discern his baits, and at no time consult or reason with him; but still wait, in every thing, to feel the motion, guidance, quickening, and sweet, pure, heavenly leading of the spirit of your Father!
Hath the Lord spoken peace to you, peace which passeth man's understanding, and only flows from him? hath he given you any proportion of this precious peace? Oh! may he watch over you, and preserve you in that wisdom, in those heavenly instructions, in that heavenly life, divine power, and holy conversation, wherein ye met with that peace, and wherein alone ye can enjoy and possess it! and keep you out of all manner of sin, lust, and foolishness of the fleshly mind and spirit; for the peace is not there. That is the fruit of the enemy to your peace, and it hath of his nature in it; it always breaks your peace, and sows distance, difference, and division, between the Giver and Maker of your peace and you. Do ye not always (ye that are in the true sense, and have received the holy understanding) feel it thus, and know it to be thus? it is an eternal truth, and the eternal eye, wherever it is opened, witnesseth and sealeth to it. Therefore this little thing, this light of God in you, to which ye were at first directed and turned, which discovers all the darkness of the enemy, and all his deceits and devices, and keeps the minds of those that are staid by it, -- in this wait, to this let your minds be still turned, and in it still abide; and the power and glory of eternal life will daily, more and more, appear in you, yea, flow and break in upon you; to the filling of your vessels with its virtue, and the causing of your hearts to abound with joy before the Lord, and with thanksgivings to him.
May the God of tender mercies and everlasting compassions cause the bowels of his love to be daily yearning towards you; that you may be nursed up with the living food, and that that which would overturn and destroy his work may be opposed; that <486> ye may feel it daily go on, yea, mightily preserved and carried on by him, even till it be finished, and the top stone laid; and your souls, in the true and full sense of life, cry, Grace, grace, to Him that laid the foundation, raised up, defended, and carried on the building, and now, at length, hath perfected it. And thus, whatsoever ye have hitherto witnessed in measure, ye shall then witness in fulness; and see that all the promises of God are of a precious nature, and are "yea and amen" from God to the seed.
May the life, presence, and power of the Lord be with you in this seed; in your breathings after it, in your joinings to it, in your abidings and waitings upon him in it; and the Lord God give you to breathe after it, give you to join to it, give you to abide always, and wait upon him in it, and never to hearken to, and go out after, a contrary spirit and wisdom; but keep you in the simplicity, lowliness, humility, and tender spirit which is in Christ Jesus, to the praise of his own name, and preservation and joy of your hearts before him for ever, amen!
Written in the tender bowels and motion of the pure life, from the place of my confinement in Aylesbury.
1st of Third Month, 1667