Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to _____ _____
There is a question ariseth in my heart to thee, which is this:
How is the everlasting gospel (wherein Christ is truly made known, and salvation really witnessed in the hearts of those that receive it) preached at this day? How hath the Lord appointed it <421> to be preached, and how is it preached, and how may men come to hear it, that their souls may live? Are not they blessed that hear the joyful sound thereof? Are not they wretched, and miserable, and blind, and naked, who mistake and miss concerning the sound of it, which it pleaseth the Spirit of the Lord to give forth in this our day? O friend! I beseech thee, consider it, and do not think it strange that I propose it to thee; for he that would find the gospel, must search where it is hid; and it is hid in them that are lost, who go astray from the life and power of it.
It is a wonderful thing, to those whom the Lord hath made truly sensible, to consider how the Truth, the gospel, the life, the power which saves, is one and the same in all ages and generations, and yet, still hid from the wise, prudent, professing eye in every age and generation. O friend! that thou didst thoroughly know that wise and prudent eye in thyself, from which the Lord hides it, and that eye, which perhaps thou wilt not call prudent, to which the Lord opens it.
Now friend, let me speak a few words to thee, not only from what I have felt in my heart, but have also read in the Scriptures of truth.
The gospel, after the apostasy, is thus to be preached. "Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come; and worship him that made heaven, and earth," &c. Rev. 14:7. If thou knowest the Preacher that preached this, if thou hast heard this preached in thine own heart, if thou hast met with that fear there, which God's Spirit teacheth and giveth, if thou hast known the hour of God's judgment, and had the axe laid to the root of the tree; and if thou hast been taught by the Son to worship the Father in Spirit and truth; thou hast, without doubt, met with the gospel, the everlasting gospel; and if God require of thee, and assist thee by his Spirit and power to preach this to others, thou art a preacher of the everlasting gospel, and an able minister of the New Testament, not of the letter, but of the Spirit. But I beseech thee, take heed of preaching thine own formings and conceivings upon the letter, as too many do in this day; for that falls short of true preaching the letter. Oh let these things be weighty with thee! that thou mayst learn aright to search and understand the Scriptures, and know how the Father <422> hath revealed the Son in this day, and how to come to him, to receive life from him. For many, through ignorance, mistake in this matter; and so run on in their own wills, wisdom, and comprehension of things, and miss of the drawings of the Father; and thus, come not aright to the Son, but only according as they imagine and apprehend, according to what they have gathered and conceived upon the Scriptures.
Friend, God who caused light to shine in this outward world, hath judged it necessary to cause the light of his Spirit to shine inwardly in the heart; and this gives the knowledge of the Scriptures, and the true sense and discerning of inward and spiritual things. Yea, here the Son is known, and his blood felt cleansing; which, without this, the Scriptures do not make manifest; but in this, the Scriptures are a clear and faithful record of and testimony to them. Oh take heed how thou readest, and how thou understandest the Scriptures, -- in what light, in what spirit! for it is easy erring; and without the presence and guidance of God's Spirit herein, thou canst not walk safely. And truly it is great presumption in any man to read the Scriptures boldly, and without fear and reverence to Him who penned them, or to put any of his own meanings and conceivings upon God's words; which it is hard for him to forbear to do, who reads them in the liberty of his own spirit, out of the light of God's Spirit, which is the limit and yoke of the true readers, and of those who understand the Scriptures.
4th of Fourth Month, --