Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to the Friend of Francis Fines
After some deep exercise of spirit concerning thee, under great grief of heart for thee, I felt a constraint of love, forcing these following considerations from me, to lay before thee.
As for William Penn, thou didst not make mention of him to me in thy former letter. And as to thy charge upon him, that he denies the "Trinity," redemption by Christ's blood, and imputed righteousness, thou mayst read his apology touching those things, which it is just thou shouldst seriously weigh, as in God's sight; and then perhaps thou wilt not so resolutely charge him as now thou dost.
Christ is made unto us righteousness, by faith in his blood, and by faith in his Spirit; and he that doth not believe in his Spirit, and receives not instruction and help from his Spirit to believe, cannot believe aright in his blood. All that is of Christ is righteous; all that is of Christ, the righteous and holy root, is righteous and holy, wherever it is found. And by Christ, that which is truly holy and righteous is brought up in us, and we forgiven and washed from our sins and iniquities for his name's sake. And the receiving of the pardon of sins is precious, and the bringing forth in the new life is precious also.
I am satisfied in God's Spirit, that that which I have written in the last I sent to thee, is the sum and substance of true religion; the sum and substance whereof doth not stand in getting a notion of Christ's righteousness, but in feeling the power of the endless life, receiving the power, and being changed by the power. And where Christ is, there is his righteousness. He that hath the Son hath life and righteousness; but he that hath not the Son hath not life nor righteousness. And where Christ is not, there is not his righteousness; but only a notion thereof, from apprehensions formed out of the Scriptures by man's wisdom, which should be destroyed. I would not have thy knowledge here, nor thy standing here, nor thy faith here; but in the truth and life itself.
Christ was anointed and sent of God, a Saviour, to destroy the works of the devil, to break down all rule and authority contrary to God in man; for his work is in the heart. There he quickens, there he raiseth, there he brings into death that which <460> is to die, raising the seed immortal, and bringing the creature into subjection to it. Now, to feel the power that doth this, and to feel this wrought by the power, this is far beyond all talk about justification and righteousness. Hither would I have thee come, out of the talk, out of the outwardness of knowledge, into the thing itself, and into the trueness of the new and living knowledge, which is witnessed here.
There is a power in Christ to mortify and overcome sin in the very root; it is not however overcome, but in the revealing of this power; nor is the soul justified, but in and by the working of this power. So that justification is not the first thing, but the power of life, in and through which (revealed in Christ) the soul is both justified and sanctified, through the working of the faith, which is from the power. And here salvation is felt nigh indeed, to those that truly fear the Lord; and glory dwells in the land which he hath redeemed. There, mercy and truth do indeed meet together, and righteousness and peace kiss each other. Yea, truth, there, springs out of the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven, &c. And here, the heavenly place in Christ is sat down in, towards which is the travel of the disciple. For saith Christ to his disciples, "I go to prepare a place," and "I will come again," and translate you thither. But the disciples do not come to this place before their travel, or before any works of righteousness which God hath wrought in them.
Therefore he that will be justified by Him must abide in the faith, where the justification is. The Father justifies what is of his own life in the Son, and the Son in his life; and the Son justifies what is of the Father in us (what is of the Father's nature, the Father's spirit, the Father's life), and justifies us from that, by his blood, from which we cannot otherwise be justified. Oh, how precious it is, to see and feel this in the true light, where the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin! Here is no covenant for us of ourselves to perform; but the true self-denial is witnessed, wherein the covenant is performed; and Christ the life, Christ the power, Christ the righteousness and wisdom of God, working all in us; and we gathered into him, and living and working in him, by the faith which is of him. And here is free-will indeed, even of the will which was bound and captivated before. And here is <461> the election known, which obtains; and the obedience and sufferings of Christ, not looked upon as superfluous, but highly prized, and looked upon as of inestimable value.
Do we cry up works against the workman? man's grace and righteousness against God's? conformity to Christ against Christ? or make a Christ, a righteousness, a Saviour of our conformity? Oh! how wilt thou do, when God shall plead with thee for these things? Also that charge of thine on us, that we deny the person of Christ, and make him nothing but a light or notion, a principle in the heart of man, is very unjust and untrue; for we own that appearance of him in his body of flesh, his sufferings and death, and his sitting at the Father's right hand in glory: but then we affirm, that there is no true knowledge of him, or union with him, but in the seed or principle of his life in the heart; and that therein he appears, subdues sin, and reigns over it, in those that understand and submit to the teaching and government of his Spirit.
But we cannot set the manhood above the life, and make that the main or chief in the work of redemption, and the life and Spirit of his Godhead but supporting, enabling, and carrying him up in that great undertaking.
Consider, I pray thee, if what thou sayest be not contrary to the Scriptures? Was the work laid by the Father upon the manhood, or upon the Son, who, in the life and by the life, was "mighty to save"? Who took up the manhood? Was it not the Son? "Lo! I come," saith he, "a body hast thou prepared me." And was it not he, that laid down his glory, and made himself of no reputation, but came in the form of a servant (took upon him man's nature) -- did not he do the work in man's nature? Did not the eternal Spirit sanctify the body in the womb? Did not the eternal Power act in him all along? Yea, did not the eternal Spirit offer the body to God as a sacrifice? For the manhood would fain have avoided the cup ("Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me!"), but the Spirit taught him to be subject to the will of the Father herein. So that his giving up to death was rather to be attributed to his eternal Spirit than to his manhood; for that was the chief in the work, and not merely assistant to him. And doth not Christ confess as much to his Father, when he saith, "I have glorified thee on the earth, I have finished the work which thou <462> gavest me to do; and now, O Father! glorify thou me with thy own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." Though we are willing to honor the manhood of Christ, with the honor which the Father hath honored it with; yet we cannot honor it in the first place, and attribute redemption to it in the first place, making the Spirit and life of God but supporting, assisting, and carrying on therein. For "God was in Christ," and it was his power, life, and virtue did all in him, as it is a measure of the same life which doth all in us; in which measure we partake of his death, and not only so, but also of his life and resurrection. For he is "the resurrection and the life," (which we cannot deny) and if by his death we be reconciled to God, "much more shall we be saved by his life." And if righteousness be revealed in us, imputed to us, and we partake of it, as we come into his death; much more shall we partake of it, as we come into his life.
It is precious indeed to hear of Christ without; but it is more precious to feel him within; where the wisdom of our Solomon, his love, his riches, his treasures of life, and the glory of his kingdom, and order of his family, and food of his children and of his servants, are witnessed and revealed on his holy mountain; where he makes the feast of fat things to his, where the bread and wine of the kingdom is eaten and drunk abundantly, and the streams of the river of his own pleasures water his garden and refresh his heritage.
I have looked over all the scriptures quoted by thee, and find not one of them proving the thing thou assertest; that is, attributing redemption properly to the manhood, and consequently improperly, in the second place, only as an assistant, to the Spirit and life of the Godhead. But if thou wouldst rightly distinguish, it were more proper to make the Word (or Life, which was in the beginning) the agent, which did all; and that body which the Father prepared and sanctified, the form of a servant or garment, in and through which the life, being clothed with it, did act. Now the Jews did disdain Christ, as a man, in that his low appearance: therefore is the glory still given to "the man Christ Jesus;" but not to take the honor from the Son, who was God, and who saved by his Godhead, by the life, virtue, and power thereof. "I, even I, am the Lord," saith Jehovah, "and beside me there is no <463> Saviour." The Word eternal, which made all, redeemeth all that are redeemed: that body of flesh was that wherein he appeared. And so what he did in it was attributed to his manhood (and the man Christ Jesus did all that is attributed to him in the Scriptures), but not in the first place: -- thus I speak for thy sake, and sometimes, upon necessity, to help to scatter the darkness which is seated in men's minds in this particular, which is very gross; many men having heaped unto themselves dark mountains, from their own imaginings and conceivings, upon which they stumble: and so reading the Scriptures out of the pure life wherein they were written, they gather not the true food, but food of their own imagining and inventing therefrom; and so their table becomes their snare.
And whereas thou chargest us with making Christ only a pattern, not a Saviour; -- indeed, it is not so in God's sight; for we own Christ to be a Saviour: but we lay the main stress upon the life, which took upon it the manhood. And that life, wherever it appears, is of a saving nature, and doth save: the least measure of it is of the nature of the rock, and he proves a rock to them that feel him, and whose minds are staid upon him. Yet none, in the measure of this life, can deny the appearance of the fulness of life in that body of flesh, and what he did therein towards the redemption and salvation of mankind.
O pure, spotless Lamb of God! how precious was thy sacrifice in the eye of the Father! how acceptable a ransom for all mankind! For in the free, full, and universal love of the Father, "he tasted death for every man."