Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to Catherine Pordage (1670)




Thy estate and condition hath been pretty much with me since I last saw thee. I am sensible how hard it is for thee to <431> give up to be reached by the seed and power of life; how readily and easily thy ear and heart is opened to another, and the adulterer entertained, who hunteth after the precious life. This word of advice hath been much in my heart to thee this morning: Sit down and count the cost of plowing up thy field, and of searching after the hidden treasure of pure and true wisdom, and consider seriously, whether thou canst sell all for it, both inward and outward riches; that if thou do set thy hand to the plow, thou mayest not look back after any thing else, within or without, but mayest be content and satisfied with the pearl of true wisdom and life alone.

Now if thou be truly willing in God's sight thus to do, thou must singly give up to follow the Lord in the leadings of his Spirit, out of all the ways of thy own wisdom and knowledge, out of all things wherein thou hast a life and delight out of him; thou must not determine what thou hast a life in, but the Lord must search thy heart, and he will soon show thee (if thy heart be naked and open before him, willing to hear and learn of him) somewhat in thy heart, somewhat in thy ways, somewhat in thy words, thoughts, &c., which is contrary to his pure life and Spirit; and then that must be denied and given up immediately. And afterwards perhaps the Lord will soon discover to thee another lover, which hath had more of thy heart than thou hast been aware of; and so thou must part with one after another until thou hast parted with all; and this will prepare thee for the bosom of thy Beloved, who is a jealous God, and seeth not with the eye wherewith man seeth. But if thou be not thus singly given up, though thou should put thy hand to the plow, thou wilt be looking back some time or other: and that wisdom which draweth aside from the Lord will blind thy eye, and deceive thy mind, and draw thee from the simplicity and nakedness of truth, into some image or other of it, so that instead of the pure truth itself, thou wilt believe and embrace a lie.

Thou hast travelled long in the heights above the seed; oh, consider if that be not yet standing in thee, which could not have been found standing, if thou hadst known the true seed and travelled therewith! This enhances the price of truth as to thee, that thou must part with more for it, than will be required of many <432> others; yet if thou be faithful to the Lord, and diligently follow him in the simplicity, truth will at length recompense thee for all thy labors, sorrows, and travels. But a thorough work will the Lord make in thy earth, if thou singly give up unto him, and faithfully follow; and many devices will thou meet with to turn thy mind out of the way, and to cause thee to shun the bitterness of the cross, and to kindle and nourish a hope in thee, that thou mayest find a more easy way to the same life and everlasting substance. The Lord hath reached to thee, and the Lord is willing to search thy heart, to find out the deceiver and enemy in his most secret lurking-places; but when the Lord hath found him out, thou must give him up to God's stroke, and not suffer him to find a shelter in thy mind to save him therefrom. For he is very subtle, and will twist and twine all manner of ways to deceive thee and save himself; nor art thou yet acquainted with, or able to discern his devices. The Lord alone can help thee, and he will help thee, if thou be not hasty to join with the enemy, nor give up thy judgment to believe what he represents, and seems inwardly to represent to thee as true; but abide and dwell in the sense of thy own inability to judge, waiting to feel that which is true, pure, and living of God, judge in thee, not so much in demonstrations of wisdom, as in tender and secret drawings of the beginnings of a new nature, away from what is of an earthly nature. For thou must come out of the spirit of this world, if thou wilt come into God's Spirit; and thou must come out of the love of the things of this world, if thou wilt come out of the spirit of this world; for in the love of the things of this world, the spirit of this world lodgeth and dwelleth, and thou canst not touch the unclean thing, but thou also touchest somewhat of the unclean spirit. Therefore said John from a true and deep understanding, "Love not the world, neither the things of the world," (if thou love the things of the world, thou lovest the world), for "if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

The day of God's mercy and visitation is upon thee, who is visiting that spirit in thee which hath led thee aside, even with the judgment proper for it; that Zion in thee might be thereby redeemed, and thy soul converted to, and truly brought forth in, righteousness.

I. P.

11th of First Month 1670.