Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to Friends of both Chalfonts (1667)
OH! the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, the riches of love, mercy, life, power, and grace of our God, which are treasured up for the soul in the Lord Jesus; and are freely dispensed and given out by him, to them that come unto him, wait upon him, abide in him, and give up faithfully to the law of his life; whose delight it is to be found in subjection and obedience to the light and requirings of his Spirit.
Feel, my Friends, oh! feel your portion, and abide in that wherein the inheritance is known, received, and enjoyed. For there is no knowing Christ truly and sensibly, but by a measure of his life felt in the heart, whereby it is made capable of understanding the things of the kingdom. The soul without him is dead: by quickenings of his Spirit, it comes to a sense and capacity of understanding the things of God. Life gives it a feeling, a sight, a tasting, a hearing, a smelling, of the heavenly things, by which senses it is able to discern and distinguish them from the earthly things. And from this measure of life, the capacity increaseth, the senses grow stronger; it sees more, feels more, tastes more, hears more, smells more. Now when the senses are grown up to strength, then come settlement and stability, assurance and satisfaction. Then the soul is assured of, and established concerning, the things of God in the faith, and the faith gives assurance to the understanding; so that doubtings and disputes in the mind fly away, and the soul lives in the certain demonstration, and fresh sense, and power of life. It <495> daily feels the eternal Word and power of life to be, in the heart and soul, what is testified of it in the Scripture. It knows the flesh and blood of the Lamb, the water and wine of the kingdom, the bread which comes down from heaven into the vessel, from all other things, by its daily feeding on it, and converse with it in spirit. What heart can conceive the righteousness, the holiness, the peace, the joy, the strength of life, that is felt here!
For, Friends, there is no straitness in the Fountain. God is fulness: and it is his delight to empty himself into the hearts of his children; and he doth empty himself, according as he makes way in them, and as they are able to drink in of his living virtue. Therefore, where the soul is enlarged, where the senses are grown strong, where the mouth is opened wide (the Lord God standing ready to pour out of his riches), what should hinder it from being filled? And being filled, how natural is it to run over, and break forth inwardly in admiration and deep sense of spirit, concerning what it cannot utter! saying, oh the fulness, oh the depth, height, breadth, and length of the love! Oh the compassion, the mercy, the tenderness, of our Father! How hath he pitied, how hath he pardoned, beyond what the heart could believe! how hath he helped in the hour of distress! how hath he conquered and scattered the enemies! which, in the unbelief, the heart was ready often to say, were unconquerable, and that it should one day die, by the hand of one of other or its mighty enemies, lusts, and corruptions. How hath he put an end to doubts, fears, disputes, troubles, wherewith the mind was overwhelmed and tossed! and now he extends peace like a river; now he puts the soul forth out of the pit, into the green pastures; now it feeds on the freshness of life, and is satisfied, and drinks of the river of God's pleasure, and is delighted! and sings praise to the Lamb, and Him that sits on the throne, saying, Glory, glory! life, power, dominion, and majesty, over all the powers of darkness, over all the enemies of the soul, be to thy name for evermore!
Now, my dear Friends, ye know somewhat of this, and ye know the way to it. Oh be faithful, be faithful! travel on, travel on! let nothing stop you, but wait for, and daily follow, the <496> sensible leadings of that measure of life which God hath placed in you, which is one with the fulness, and into which the fulness runs daily and fills it, that it may run into you and fill you. Oh that ye were enlarged in your own hearts, as the bowels of the Lord are enlarged towards you! It is the day of love, of mercy, of kindness, of the working of the tender hand; of the wisdom, power, and goodness of our God, manifested richly in Jesus Christ! Oh! why should there be any stop in any of us? The Lord remove that which stands in the way; and, in the faithful waiting on the power which is arisen, the Lord will remove, yea, the Lord doth remove; and growth in his truth and power is witnessed by those that wait upon him. So, my dear Friends, be encouraged to wait upon the Lord in the pure fear, in the precious faith and hope which are of him; and ye will see and feel he will exalt the horn of his Anointed in you, over the horn of that which is unanointed, and will sweep and cleanse and purify, even till he hath left no place for the impure: and then ye shall become his full dwelling-place, the place of his rest, the place of his delight, the place of his displaying his pure life and glory; and he will be your perfect dwelling-place for evermore!
May the Lord God, in his tender mercy, and because of his deep and free love unto us, guide our hearts daily more and more in the travel, and into the possession of this; that every soul may inherit and possess, notwithstanding all its enemies, what it hath travelled into, and may also daily, further and further, travel into what is yet before.
Aylesbury Jail, 2nd & 3rd of Sixth Month, 1667
Be not discouraged because of your souls' enemies. Are ye troubled with thoughts, fears, doubts, imaginations, reasonings, &c.? yea, do ye see yet much in you unsubdued to the power of life? Oh! do not fear it; do not look at it, so as to be discouraged by it; but look to Him! Look up to the power which is over all their strength; wait for the descendings of the power upon you; abide in faith of the Lord's help, and wait in patience till the Lord arise; and see if his arm do not scatter what yours <497> could not. So be still before him, and, in stillness, believe in his name; yea, enter not into the hurryings of the enemy, though they fill the soul; for there is yet somewhat to which they cannot enter, from whence patience, faith, and hope will spring up in you, even in the midst of all that they can do.
Therefore into this sink; in this lie hid in the evil hour; and the temptations will pass away, and the tempter's strength be broken, and the arm of the Lord, which brake him, be revealed; and then ye shall see, that he raised but a sea of trouble to your souls, to sink himself by; and the Lord will throw the horse and his rider, which trampled upon and rode over the Just in you, into that sea; and ye shall stand upon the bank, and sing the song of Moses to Him that drowned him, and delivered you from him! and, in due season, ye shall sing the song of the Lamb also, when his life springs up in you in his pure dominion; triumphing over death, and all that is contrary to God, both within and without.
Now, Friends, in a sensible waiting and giving up to the Lord, in the daily exercise, by the daily cross to that in you which is not of the life, this work will daily go on; and ye will feel from the Lord, that which will help, relieve, refresh, and satisfy, which neither tongue nor words can utter. And may the Lord God breathe upon you, preserve and fill you with his life and holy Spirit, to the growth and rejoicing of your souls in Him, who is our blessed Father, and merciful Redeemer, -- in the Lord Jesus Christ, our Head and King for ever and for evermore!
And then, as to what may befall us outwardly, in this confused state of things, shall we not trust our tender Father, and rest satisfied in his will? Are we not engraven in his heart, and on the palms of his hands? and can he forget us in any thing he doth? Shall any thing hurt us? Shall any thing come between us and our life, between us and his love, and tender care over us? What though the fig-tree should not blossom, neither there be any fruit in the vine; what though the labor of the olive should fail, and the fields yield no meat; what though the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls; may we not for all this rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of our salvation? <498> And what though the earth be removed, and the mountains carried into the midst of the sea; what though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, and the mountains shake with the swelling thereof; is there not a river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God? Is not the joy, the virtue, the life, the sweet refreshment thereof, felt in the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High? And he that provides inward food for the inward man, inward clothing, inward refreshment; shall he not provide also sufficient for the outward? Yea, shall he not bear up the mind, and be our strength, portion, armor, rock, peace, joy, and full satisfaction in every condition? For it is not the condition makes miserable, but the want of him in the condition: he is the substance of all, the virtue of all, the life of all, the power of all; he nourisheth, he preserveth, he upholdeth, with the creatures, or without the creatures, as it pleaseth him: and he that hath him, he that is with him, he that is in him, cannot want. Hath the spirit of this world content in all that it enjoys? no: it is restless, it is unsatisfied. But can tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword come between the love of the Father to the child, or the child's rest, content, and delight in his love? And doth not the love, the peace, the joy, the rest felt, swallow up all the bitterness and sorrow of the outward condition?
The seed, the godliness, the uprightness, the true nature and birth, hath not only the promise of eternal life; but also whatever is necessary for the vessel, wherein it dwells, in this life too. So dwell in that to which is the promise, and live upon the promise; yea, live upon that which cannot miss of the promise, but feels the presence and power of the Father, in all and over all. The just lives by his faith; and he that is in union with the just, lives by the faith of the just, and takes no more care than the lilies, but leaves the care of all to him, to whom it properly belongs, and who hath taken it upon him; who nourishes, clothes, preserves, and causes the lilies of the field to grow and flourish in beauty and glory: and shall he not much more clothe, nourish, and take care of his own lilies, the heavenly lilies, the lilies of his garden?
Let us then not look out like the world, or judge or fear according to the appearance of things, after the manner of the <499> world; but let us sanctify the Lord of hosts in our hearts, and let him be our fear and dread; and he shall be an hiding place unto us in the storms, and in the tempests, which are coming thick upon the earth.
Thus, my dear friends, let us retire, and dwell in the peace which God breathes, and lie down in the Lamb's patience and stillness, night and day, which nothing can wear out or disturb: and so the preservation of the poor and needy shall be felt to be in his name; and glory shall be sung to his name over all, which is a strong tower, a mighty, impregnable rock of defence against all assaults and dangers whatsoever; which they that have trusted therein have already experienced it to be; and they that continue trusting therein, shall always experience it so to be, in all trials and dangers, whatever may happen, of what kind soever, even to the end. Amen.