Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to Nathaniel Stonar (1671)
IT is a dangerous thing to resist God's Spirit; and yet very easy for a man so to do, who hath not received a true understanding from the Lord, nor is acquainted with the leadings and outgoings of Him, who is pure. He that is tender and truly sensible may discern when he resisteth, when he quencheth, or when he grieveth the Spirit of the Lord; but he that is not truly enlightened, nor in the true sense, cannot do so. The Scribes and Pharisees, who were interpreters of the law, and very strict in outward observations and ordinances, &c., who blamed their fathers for killing the prophets, and said, if they had been in the days of the prophets, they would not have dealt so with them as their fathers did: yet, concerning these, said Stephen, "Ye stiff-necked, and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do also resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye." For, till the stiff will and stiff wisdom be brought down in a man, he cannot but resist God's Spirit, and fight for his notions and practices, according to his apprehensions of the letter, against the testimony of God's spirit and power.
Paul, who walked, according to the letter of the law, blameless, yet resisted the Spirit which gave forth the law. He must know the Spirit, receive the Spirit, live in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, and not fulfil the lusts of the flesh, who would not be found resisting God's Spirit. He who is indeed turned to the redeeming arm, to Christ, the power of God, and gathered into the power, and dwelleth in the Spirit and power of the Lord Jesus, and is taught and led by him from path to path, and from pasture to pasture, as the Lamb, the Shepherd, goes before and guides him, -- he is preserved from grieving the Holy Spirit, which moves and draws, instructs and quickens, all that are born of God. But he that is only in the letter, and in the form of godliness, out of the inward life and power, he is of that birth, mind, nature, and spirit, which cannot but resist God's Spirit. He knoweth not, he heedeth not, His drawings, His movings; His light, His life, -- the way thereof, -- either in his own heart, or in the hearts of others; and so walks in a way of rebelling against, and resisting Him, who is the only Saviour and Redeemer of the soul. See Job 29:3-4. and 24:13. Oh that thou mightst learn to wait aright <480> to learn these things! and come into the true sense and discerning of the Spirit and power of the Lord, that thou mightst not any more resist it, neither in thyself, nor in others.
The Lord open thy heart, and lay thy spirit low before him; that thou mayst come into a right sense and judgment, concerning the state of thine own soul; and mayst experience the Lord manifesting things to thee, as indeed they are.
15th of Fifth Month, 1671
Wait to receive an understanding from the Lord, that thou mayst come truly to know, whether thou hast resisted God's Spirit, or no; that thou lose not the advantage of making peace with thy adversary, while thou art in the way with him.
I would not have thee deceived about that virtue, life and power, which redeems the soul. For there is no other Redeemer, besides the Lord Jesus Christ, and he redeems by the grace of his Spirit, and by faith in his blood, which cleanseth from sin; which blood is sprinkled on the consciences of those that believe, -- and that not in the darkness, but in the light; as is said in 1 John 1:7. "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin." Under the law, the blood of bulls and goats was sprinkled outwardly, on the outward things, which sanctified to the purifying of the outward things; but under the gospel, the blood of the Lamb is sprinkled inwardly, upon inward and heavenly things. See Heb. 9:13,14. and 22,23. and chap. 10:22. and 12:24. Oh that thou didst truly and understandingly know the difference, between thy own applying Christ's blood to thyself, and the Lamb's sprinkling it upon thee, and washing thy soul therein! Rev. 1:5. and also between thy own believing, according to thy own apprehension of things, and his giving thee to believe in the light of his Spirit! and between thy own praying in thy own spirit, and his giving thee to pray in his Spirit!
Ah! the Truth of our God is precious! the knowledge of his Christ, precious! It is a precious thing, to have the Son revealed by the Father to the renewed mind. God himself is the teacher, <481> in the new covenant, of all the true disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ; and oh how do the teachings of his Spirit differ, from all the knowledge and learning men can attain unto of themselves! The Lord give thee the true understanding; and to know what it is to begin thy religion in his Spirit; and batter down and bring to nought the understanding in thee which is not true; that thou mayst not find thy soul deeply deceived at last, as to the true knowledge of Christ and mysteries of God's kingdom, -- and so perish for ever!
This, in very dear, true, and tender love, from him, who most sincerely and heartily wisheth well to thee.
17th of Fifth Month, 1671