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




I observed yesterday, that thou didst own the light to be the principle of life; and that thou didst affirm, that those people with whom thou walkedst also owned it and directed to it. Now, it is one thing to own the principle in judgment; another thing to know it, feel its guidance, and be subject to it. It is a good step to own it in the comprehension, from the testimony without; but yet they that go so far may never come truly to know and own the thing itself. Now, nothing redeems, or can preserve, but the light and life itself. Therefore, how to meet with the thing itself, and be changed by it into its own nature, and therein to believe, know, will, understand, and judge, -- that is a skill which none can learn, but those that are taught of God, and keep close to the foundation, not rising in the high elevations above it. Ah, the humility of the seed, and of that soul that is one with the seed! Ah, how low it lies, and how weighty its sense and operations <473> are, and how pure and infallible is its judgment! The great danger is, in rising up above the thing itself, which whoso doth, miscarrieth, whatever he hath formerly known or enjoyed.

There now springs up in my mind a state since Adam, which I would have thee seriously consider of; and then tell me, if thou hast known or heard of such another. It is recorded in Ezekiel, 28th chapter, of one that was "perfect in wisdom and beauty." In what wisdom; in what beauty? Let thy soul, if it hath understanding, answer. For he had "been in Eden, the garden of God," (what! had any been so since Adam?) "and had every precious stone for his covering." What a glorious temple then was he! yea, and he was created (by what creation?) unto this state. Yea, he was "the anointed cherub that covereth," and God had "set him so." (What is it to be the anointed, covering cherub, and to be so set by God?) He was also "upon the holy mountain of God," and "walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire." Yea, saith the Spirit of God further concerning him, "Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day thou wast created." Yet after all this, "iniquity was found in" him, and the hand of the Lord turned against him. Answer me now; was this a state of mixture, or no? And if so perfect a state was liable to this, what is a state of mixture liable to?

Ah! many have had some touches of the light, some true appearances thereof, and tastes of the glory; but who hath been so united to the light, as to keep out of all that corrupteth? There is somewhat still lives near, that would fain be mixing with it, and drawing higher than the pure light of life and truth; but this leads out of the way, above the pure, the true, the innocent, the simple: and then there is a making haste to be rich and glorious, and a departing from that poverty of spirit, wherein is the safety and preservation. How have some that have come among us, here split themselves by aspiring! Ah, what a foolish thing it is, to be found singing, before dominion is witnessed, and victory over that which captivateth: such songs will end in desolation, anguish, and confusion; for thereby the lust of the mind goes forth, and that is fed, which keeps from the victory and the dominion. It is better to know the old bottle emptied, yea, broken, than filled with new wine. And how many have <474> taken themselves to be new made, who, when the Spirit of the Lord hath come to search them by his pure, eternal light, have been found and are found in the old nature and spirit!

Come, live no more, know no more of thyself; but wait to feel the pure seed raised to live and know in thee, and to feel its light enlightening thee, and creating a new capacity in thee; and that will give thee to bear the pain of dying, and taking up the cross, which will really slay every life, appearance, and power that is not of its own nature. Thou hast formerly taken up crosses in a way of wisdom, and according to a comprehensive knowledge and judgment; come, now, learn to take up the seed's cross in the true foolishness. For there is not another thing that gives life, than the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, which truly and really slays; and to that which can discern and take up this cross, and live and walk under it, the yoke is easy and the burden light. But that must first be brought under and destroyed which counteth it hard, before it can be felt and owned to be so. If thou couldst come out of thy own wisdom and consideration of things, into the simplicity of the seed, thou wouldst soon recover thy lost ground again; and see how the enemy, with his subtlety, hath gained upon thee, and into what great danger he hath brought thy soul.

The Lord searcheth and trieth the heart, and that is the true state thereof, which his light discovereth. That is not the state, which the mind out of the light apprehendeth it to be, as we have often had experience of in ourselves. Therefore, be still; justify not thyself, nor condemn the judgment of others, till the Lord make things manifest to thee. If it then prove better with thee than others have said, that will be thy advantage; but if thou then prove mistaken, and the judgment, which thou in thy heart has condemned, should stand, it will be thy great loss and disadvantage.

This is in love and true friendship to thy soul, in a deeper sight of thee and sense concerning thee than thou art aware of.

I. P.

26th of Third Month, 1671