Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to _____ _____ (1671)
I CANNOT but write a few words in truth and innocency (concerning the book thou sentest me to peruse), what reception soever they may have.
As for what he writes concerning fearing God and the king; and that God is to be feared first, and then the king; and that if God command one thing, and the king the contrary, God is to be prefered, and the king is to be obeyed passively, when he cannot actively; in these things I fully assent unto him, and it is well known to have been both our principle and practice (who are called Quakers), from the beginning, to be subject to, and obey, authority for conscience sake.
As to the Quakers, whom he stileth nonsensical, and saith, if they had power to their wills, they would soon lay the axe to the root of all magistracy and ministry whatsoever; this I know to be utterly false; for we are heartily for magistracy, as knowing it to be of God, and ordained by him to be a terror to evil doers, and a praise to them that do well; and we love and desire <472> magistracy, knowing very well that miserable would be the state of mankind without it; nor are we against all ministry whatsoever, but greatly for that ministry which is of God, and goeth forth in his name and power, making an effectual change in people's hearts, and turning them from their iniquities, to the true sense, fear, and awe, of the Most High God.
As to his relation of the affairs of the late times, I was observed by all sorts to be one of a retired spirit and conversation; not meddling with affairs, covenants, or engagements, nor taking any advantage of preferment, gain, or honour, in those times, when thrust upon me; but mourned with those that suffered in those times, not expecting much happiness from outward changes, nor satisfied with any of the changes that then were. I wish to see the change, which is not of the outward form of government, but from unrighteousness to righteousness.
This is from one who never thought nor wished ill concerning thee, but is a real desirer of thy good, and a well-wisher to thee, being not only required, but also taught of God to love his enemies.
Reading Gaol, 1st of the 2nd Month, 1671