Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to John Mannock (1668)
Hath the Lord drawn thy heart to hear the sound of truth, and given thee some sense and savor thereof, though perhaps not as yet full satisfaction in all things that are truly and faithfully testified concerning it? Oh prize this love of God to thee! and watch and pray, and come into the pure fear; that thou mayst walk worthy of it, and mayst discern in spirit what it is that gives thee the savor; and so receive the leaven of the kingdom, and feel its leavening virtue upon thy heart day by day. For after the Lord hath been at work, the enemy will be at work also; and thou mayst both meet with him without, and within <425> too, in reasonings and questionings against the demonstrations of God's Spirit to thy heart and conscience. Now if thou wilt hearken to these, they will eat out the sense and belief of what God's Spirit begat in thee. Oh! how many wise men, and how many knowing men, that have tasted of some true experiences, have not the sense and discerning of the Spirit and power of the Lord, as it is now made manifest; but speak hard words, and think hard thoughts of his truth and its precious appearances.
Ah! what are we, any of us, on whom the Lord hath shown his mercy, and whose hearts he toucheth, and maketh sensible of his drawings? yea, and not only so, but also gives us to partake of the eternal life and virtue, which he hath hid in his Son from the eyes of all living. We sought it up and down, in the deeps and heights; but the deep said, It is not in me; and the highest mountain and hill that ever we met with, could not bring salvation to us. But at length we found the fear of the Lord to be the true wisdom, and that which taught us to depart from evil, gave us the true understanding. Now if any among us are not thus taught, but only own the doctrines of truth published among us, being thereunto overcome by the demonstration of God's Spirit; yet for all this they are not felt by us in the life and unity of the Spirit of the Lord with us; and such the Lord will manifestly prune off in his own due time, and graft in others in their stead. Yea, such as do indeed give up to truth, and in measure feel the power of it, and are made by the power of the Lord subject to it -- yet, if in any thing they let in the spirit of the world, and act according thereto, so far they are not of the truth, nor owned by it.
Now dear friend (for so far as thy heart is touched by God's Spirit and answereth thereto, thou art dear unto me), mind thy condition, and wait on the Lord in humility of heart, and in subjection to what he inwardly by his Spirit daily makes manifest; that thou mayest come into the obedience of the truth daily; that thou mayest daily feel the change which is wrought in the heart and conscience by the holy, eternal, ever-living power; that so thou mayest witness according to the Scriptures, "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." And then thou wilt feel that this birth of the Spirit cannot fulfil the lusts of the flesh, but will be warring and fighting the good fight of faith, in the power of <426> life against them; and thus in faithfulness to the truth and waiting upon the Lord, thou shalt witness an overcoming in his due time. For indeed the true faith overcomes, the true shield beats down the most fiery darts, and in the power of the Lord the enemy is so resisted, that he fleeth; and the name of the Lord is indeed a strong tower to his children, to which his seed know how to retire and feel safety.
Oh the conquering faith, the overcoming life and power of the Spirit! We cannot but speak of those things; and cry up the perfect gift, and the power of Him, who is not only able to perfect his work in the heart, but delights so to do; and even to tread down Satan under the feet of those that wait in patience for the perfect conquest; for nothing else will fully satisfy. The rest, the peace, the liberty, the life, the virtue of the gospel, is not fully known and enjoyed while there remains any sin to sting and trouble. And this I can faithfully witness; that when the power is revealed, when the blood washeth, the soul is clean and as white as snow; and the enemy hath not power to break in, but life triumphs over him. And why may there not be a continuance of such a state? Yea, I verily believe many can witness a continuance of such a state; which the Spirit of the Lord doth not call less in them than a perfect state, a sound state; wherein Christ, the heavenly Physician, hath healed them perfectly, and made them witnesses of true soundness of soul and spirit in the sight of God. Oh that all knew and enjoyed it who truly desire and long after it!
But as for thee, this is in my heart to thee. Thou hast found the pearl; the Lord, in mercy to thee, hath discovered to thee the true pearl. Now this remains; that thou be a wise merchant, selling all to purchase it. Thou must keep back nothing. Christ, the living truth, the holy power of righteousness, must be dearer to thee than all. If father, mother, livelihood, liberty, friendship, outward advantages, &c., or any thing else be dearer to thee than him, he will look upon thee as unworthy of him; and cannot but turn from thee, and suffer hardness and darkness to come again upon thee. Therefore prize the day of thy visitation from the holy God, from the God of mercy and salvation; and be faithful in the little, in the day of small things, if ever thou desire to enjoy and be ruler over much. The Lord may exercise <427> thee in, and require of thee, little things; as he hath done the rest of the flock, whose footsteps thou art to follow to the Shepherd's tents; and the enemy will be endeavoring to stop thee, and perplex thee, in every little thing that the Lord requires of thee. But be thou simple, like a child, not taking care what to answer wise professors, nor what to answer the reasonings of thy own mind; but seeing thou hast felt the demonstration of truth from God's Holy Spirit, oh! breathe unto the Lord to preserve thee in the innocency and simplicity thereof, that the Lord may still be with thee; and thereby bring thee through the day of Jacob's trouble, to taste of Jacob's deliverance and salvation out of trouble: for thou must meet with trials as well as others have done, and the enemy's endeavor will be, to make thee stumble and start back in the day of trial. But if thine eye be towards the Lord, he will uphold and strengthen thee, and bring thee through all that stands in thy way; manifesting to thee daily more and more the path of holiness, in which the ransomed of the Lord walk, and enabling thee also to walk therein.
Therefore watch the thoughts and reasonings which rise in thee, and retire from them, waiting to feel the pure seed, and to hear its voice in stillness; whose voice is otherwise, than after the noises of the questionings and reasonings, which the enemy raiseth in the mind, to fill it with doubts and troubles; and to weaken the faith and sense which God wrought in the heart, when he reached forth his truth in the power and demonstration of his Spirit unto it. This was God's love, this was the day of his power; which loosens the mind from its lovers, and the ways of its own choosing, and begets a willingness to be joined to the Lord and his pure truth.
Oh, take heed of hearkening to the enemy, to the subtle reasoner, the entangler of the soul! take heed of consulting there, where he lays his baits to entangle the mind, and undo the work of God's power in the heart; and so to make unwilling again, after the Lord had made willing. The steps which the soul takes in the power, even the inclining of the mind towards the Lord and his pure truth, tend to salvation; but if any let in unbelief of those things, concerning which God hath wrought faith in them, they draw back to perdition; they hearken to that which tempts <428> from the Lord, and to him whose end is to destroy them.
This is in true love to thee, and from an upright desire, that thou mayest feel the Lord's preservation of thy soul, in that which is of him, and his separating thee from all that is not of him.
From a friend to all that breathe after the Lord, and desire to know and partake of the power and life of truth, as it is in Jesus, the alone Redeemer and Saviour of the soul.
3d or 4th of Tenth Month, 1668.