Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to Ann Fleetwood (1672)
My dear Friend, my ancient Friend,
AH, hadst thou known the precious appearance of the spirit and power of our Lord Jesus Christ, as it has broken forth in many spirits in this our day; blessed be the name of our God for ever; I say hadst thou known it, and embraced it, and followed the Lamb faithfully in the light and leadings thereof, ah, what mightest thou have attained to in the life and truth of righteousness before this time! Indeed thou mightest have been established in the place which the Lamb gives; and in his unspotted righteousness, which flows in as a river, and like waves of the sea, upon his seed and offspring. O, blessed be the Lord our righteousness, <491> and holy Redeemer, for ever; for indeed, dear Ann, he that once appeared outwardly, doth now appear inwardly; and he doth those works inwardly (at and by his inward appearance), which he gave signification of, in his outward appearance; and, O, that as thy soul needeth, so it might partake thereof. I can truly say, in the sight of the Lord God who hath created me anew in Christ Jesus (blessed be his name, O, blessed be his name), that I knew a true birth from the holy seed of life in the days of my former profession; and that it was this birth which Christ visited in me, after many sore travails and grievous desolations, by his fresh and living appearance; in which my soul has felt redemption and washing, through the blood of the everlasting covenant; and that in and through this appearance, power is given to become sons; and we are made kings and priests to God, in and through his Son; and the holy sacrifices are offered up in the life which is eternal; and the holy dominion over sin and death is partook of, and he that led captive is led captive, and his strength broken: O, blessed be the Lord, for indeed our hearts are filled with blessings and praises to the God of our life, in and through the name of his Son, who lives in us: and because he lives, we live also. The Lord knows that I speak not these things boastingly, but in fear and reverence towards him, and in humility of heart, and meltings of spirit before him: and indeed we are required of God to speak of his power, and of the wonderful works which he hath wrought, and daily worketh, thereby inwardly. O, my friend, that thou knewest thy Lord and Saviour as he now appears. Why, through mistakes and prejudices, shouldest thou think hardly of him? He is Lord of the sabbath; he is Lord and commander over all outward ordinances whatsoever; he is not a transgressor in making or causing any shadow to fly away; but a fulfiller of his Father's word and counsel, in shaking what is shakeable, that that, which cannot be shaken, might remain in his Father's kingdom for ever. And indeed an entrance into the everlasting kingdom is administered, and the holy disciples (which are washed with the pure water) enter thereinto; and the bread of the kingdom is eat of, and the wine drunk of; and that which is living, and pure of God, feeds on the pure sincere food of the word of life, which lives and abides for ever; which is above all words <492> that ever were spoken, or can be spoken concerning him. The words concerning the manna (even such as come from him who is the manna), are one thing; the manna itself, another. O, that thou knewest my voice; shall I say, if thou knewest the Shepherd and Bishop of the soul, thou wouldest know my voice, because it is not mine, but the voice of the Shepherd in me and through me. I do not say that every word I speak is the voice of the Shepherd; but indeed the words which spring from his life in me, and which his life and power gives forth, are no less. O, that thou knewest the appearance of him which lives for ever; and what it is to eat his flesh, and drink his blood, that thou mightest become flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, and feel full and true unity with him, and abundance of life from him.
I have had great travail and living breathings for thee; one while, that thou mightest know the Truth, the living Truth, in power as it is in Jesus; another while that that, which I formerly knew to be in thee, which hath long languished for want of the true ministration of life and power, I say that that, might secretly be kept alive, in the midst of the many temptations and darknesses which thou meetest with. Well, this I have had a deep sense of, long, concerning thee, namely; that thou wantest the help of the Lord, and the comforts of his Spirit, more than thou art willing should be took notice of. O, that thou mightest meet therewith; and, for that end, that thou mightest be led by the Lord into the way (even into that inward way of light and life) wherein thou shouldest certainly meet therewith. This is in friendship, and in that love of the Lord Jesus Christ to thy soul; though thou (through mistake and error of judgment) greatly fallest short in love to him, his Truth, and people.
From thy soul's true friend, and most hearty well-wisher,
P.S. The way of God, and covenant of life, is but one and the same throughout all ages and generations; but it hath been variously made manifest. And the same thing (even the same word of life which was from the beginning) which was held forth in the Apostles' days, is also to be held forth after the apostacy, in a seeming different sound of words, to what was then preached, according as was foretold, Rev. 14:6-7. For though <493> it be the same gospel (being the everlasting gospel which is then to be preached), which was preached before (in Abraham's, the holy Prophet's, Christ's, and his Apostles' days ); yet the sound of it is so ordained by God to be given forth, and seemeth so different as to the words of expressing it, that none but such as are taught of God, can know it, for it is to go forth after this manner, or to this effect, Fear God, and give glory to him; worship the Creator; be sensible of the hour of his judgment, which is come. Now in this manner the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is preached in this our day, and they that are taught of God know the sound thereof. Others cannot know it, but set up the letter, instead of the spirit; words, instead of the thing itself; and so err and mistake both concerning the Scripture written formerly, and also concerning the present appearance of life and power itself.
O, consider, I beseech thee, in the fear of the most High God, if the gospel be thus to be preached after the apostacy, by the ordination of God; and if it be thus preached in this our day; then they that receive this message in the authority and power of it, receive the everlasting gospel; and they that through prejudice and mistake reject it, reject the everlasting gospel and tidings of salvation, and the spiritual appearance of the Saviour; and whatever men may profess concerning Christ, and his former appearance in the flesh; yet thus turning against the life and power of the Lord, and the holy message of salvation, as now preached by God's holy Spirit, the life and power turns against them, and they are shut up in darkness (in that which in God's sight is darkness), and meet not with the light of the living. Ah, what a difference there is between men's apprehendings and conceivings, upon the holy words of the Scripture, and God's leading the soul into Truth, and evidencing the mysteries of life and salvation, in the light and demonstration of his own Spirit. He knows Christ indeed, who knows him a mystery of life in him, and feels life springing up from the holy seed in him, in a mysterious way, hid from the eye of his own wisdom. These things sprang livingly in me this morning towards thee, and they are laid before thee in the melting tenderness of true and unfeigned love.
9th of 5th Month, 1672