Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to Catherine Pordage (1671)




In truth of heart and tender love to thee, it is with me to return answers to the chief passages of thy letter, as briefly as I may.

It hath not been my work, to bring thee out of esteem or into esteem of persons. The Lord guide thee into true judgment, and keep thee out of judging, except so far as that is raised in thee, which the Lord maketh able to judge. But I have known several, who have spoken most gloriously and ravishingly, as to the Scriptures, opening things even to admiration, who have been out of the mystery of truth; and who have sparkled with the light and life of a wrong spirit, though they themselves knew it not to be so.

It is better with him who feels his unwillingness, and waits to be made willing by the Lord, than with him who thinks he is willing; and, upon his own search, finds and judges himself to be so. I have thought I had been willing in several cases; and that, if the Lord would have showed me his will, I should have obeyed; which I found to be otherwise, when the Lord came to lay the law of his Spirit and life upon me. This I am sure of; there is that in thee, which is not willing to be impoverished, and I cannot say concerning thee, as in God's sight, that thou art yet separated from it. Now, while it is in thee, it will be working in a mystery of deceivableness, hidden from thy heart, which thou canst not possibly discern, but as the seed is raised, and the pure light shines in thee. Thou mayest easily think better of thyself than indeed it is with thee; but it is hard for thee, in this thy present state, to know what and how thou art in the sight of the Lord.

Thou shalt know the tenderness and melting compassion of the Lord, when that is broken down in thee, towards which his tenderness is not, and that raised up in thee and thy mind joined to <471> it, towards which his tenderness is; but great and subtle workings are there in thy mind, from the enemy, against God's truth, which thou dost not discern and eschew, but rather embrace, as if they were true and precious. If that tenderness were ministered to thee, either from God immediately, or from us, which thou expectest and desirest (perhaps thinking thy state is wronged in not being so dealt with), it might soon destroy thee, and that for ever.

Thus, in great plainness, have I written to thee, and beseech thee to be willing, or rather to look up to the Lord to make thee willing, to have the wound kept open in thee, which the condition and state of thy soul needs; that it may be thoroughly searched, and that which is for judgment judged and destroyed; and so thy soul everlastingly saved by the everlasting Physician, who is wise and skilful in ministering both judgment and mercy to every one, according to their need.

Thy friend in true, faithful, and unfeigned love and tenderness,

I. P.

25th of First Month, 1671