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


TO _______ _______

THE Lord God of heaven and earth, who searcheth the heart and trieth the reins, knows, that we who are called Quakers have no secret things or hidden principles among us to win people to; but as we have ourselves been won to the simplicity and plainness of truth, as it is in Christ Jesus, and walk therein, so it is the single desire of our hearts to bring men thither, where they may have the demonstration of God's Spirit, and hear the true witness speaking truth in their own consciences. And indeed it was great matter of satisfaction to our hearts, when the Lord turned us to his truth, that we found it to be no new thing, but that which we had witnessed and experienced in the days of our former profession. For we well remembered that we had been acquainted with it then; and God now gives us the true and certain sense, that all the prayers, and knowledge, and understanding of the Scriptures, faith, love, zeal, meekness, patience, humility, and whatever we then had, which was dear unto us, and precious in the eye of God, came from this Spirit of life, this principle of life, which God hath now manifested to us, and turned our minds unto. And oh that they, who yet speak against it, knew it, as the Lord hath given us to know! surely they could not then either think or speak so hardly of it as they do. But Christ was the Son of God in his appearance in flesh, whatever the wise men and professors of that age judged and spake of him. And this is the appearance and manifestation of the same Christ inwardly, even the same virtue, life, and power, which appeared in that body of flesh, whatever the professors of this age think or speak concerning it; and they are not guiltless before the Lord, but deeply guilty for rising up against it.

There was a precious appearance of God among that sort that were called Puritans, before there was such a rent among them by falling into several ways of worship. There was among them great sincerity, and love, and tenderness, and unity in that which was true; minding the work of God in themselves, and being sensible of grace and truth in one another's hearts. Now to <439> desire to know the true worship, this was good; but every one that had this desire, was not acquainted with the Spirit of the Lord, nor did wait aright on him, to be led by him into the true worship, but followed the apprehensions and conceivings of their own minds upon the Scriptures. Now had these known the true Leader, they would never thus have wandered, nor have been so scattered from the Puritan state, which was better than any of these. For is it possible, if the Spirit of God had been the Leader of these, they could thus have wandered from the truth, life, love, and sense, into a barren, dead state in comparison of that? It is true there was a sincerity and simplicity in many of them; but was not that sincerity and simplicity betrayed, and drawn out to seek the living among the dead, among dead forms, ways, and worships? For though they carried some life with them into their forms, yet by degrees the form grew, and the virtue and power of godliness decreased, and they were swallowed up in high esteem of, and contendings, each sort, for their forms; but themselves had lost what they were inwardly to God, and had inwardly received from God in the days of their former zeal and tenderness. Oh that they could see this! Oh that they could return to their Puritan state, to the sense they then had, the love and tenderness that was then in them, to the feeling of the principle of life, which they then felt, and which then wrought in them! though they then distinctly knew it not, yet they loved that which gathered their minds to God, and in which they felt ability to pray, and which opened the Scriptures and the things of God, and warmed their hearts truly and livingly in some measure. Oh that they were but there again! they might soon come further. Oh that they knew their state, as it is known in the light of the Lord, and by the Spirit of the Lord! The Lord open the true eye in them, and give them to see therewith.

I. P.

Reading Jail, 19th of Seventh Month, 1670