Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to Widow Hemmings (1672)



THERE are two or three scriptures now on my heart to lay before thee; and it is the desire of my soul, that thou mayst so know the Lord, and so receive his Son, as that thou mayst experience them.

The first is in Prov. 5:15: "Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well."

The second is the words of Christ: John 7:38. "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers (or streams) of living waters." For "there is a river the streams whereof make glad the city of God."

The third is that of John 4:14. where Christ signifies, that whosoever drinketh of the water which he giveth, shall never thirst more after water from without, but shall for ever thenceforward be satisfied with the springings up of the well of life from within.

To these I may add the precious promise of the sweet state of the gospel: Isa. 12:3. "Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation." The outward Jew drew the outward water from the outward wells: they had the upper springs, and the nether springs outwardly; but the inward Jew, in the light of the gospel day, draws inward water out of the inward wells with joy. The thirsting after it, when the soul could not meet with it, was a time of great sorrow and perplexity; but when the river of life is found, when the well of life is received, and the water springs up, the soul draws it from the spring, and drinks it with unspeakable joy. This metaphor, or similitude, is explained by the evangelist John, in chap. 7. ver. 39. The receiving of the Spirit, the receiving of the substance, belongs to the Christian's state, as the receiving of the figures did to the Jew's state. When the Spirit is received, the river, the well of life, is received; and then the waters thereof flow, and are drawn and drunk of. Now, the primitive Christians did receive the Spirit, not only in gifts and manifestations, but as a fountain of life and heavenly virtue dwelling within them. Rom. 8:9. And as he dwelt in them, so life sprang up from him, -- peace, joy, knowledge, virtue, wisdom, power, &c.; even the peace which passeth all man's understanding, and joy which is unspeakable and full of glory. The presence <495> of God was with these, and they knew the times of refreshment, even the times of consolation from the holy Comforter.

These things are witnessed now again, in the preaching of the same everlasting gospel, by the same eternal Spirit and power which preached it at first. For though the vessels in which the power appears are contemptible now, to the professors and wise ones of this age, as they were then, to the professors and wise ones of that age; yet it is the same treasure of life which is hid, and at times is made manifest, revealed in and through the earthen vessels: blessed be the Lord! of whom is the excellency of the glory, and not of us, who are but instruments and vessels in his hand. Now, seeing the Lord hath given us to partake of the riches of his grace, and of the precious treasures of life in his Son, and of his everlasting kingdom, we cannot hold our peace; but are required of him to proclaim the day of the Lord, the day of the gospel, even the everlasting day, which never shall have an end; and invite to the waters of life, the pure, still streams of Shiloh, which our souls drink of, and are satisfied with; especially to such as now thirst after them, as our souls once vehemently did, and were near failing through the extremity of thirst; which thirst, or desire, for the nature of it (blessed be the Lord!), is not lost or extinguished, but satisfied. And so the spouse having heard the Spirit inviting to the waters, being taught by Him to come to and drink of the living streams, daily also enjoying life and sweetness therefrom, -- now she cries also to her fellow-travellers, to the weary and thirsty ones: Oh come, saith she, to the fountain of life, which I mourned after, and languished for want of! oh, taste the sweetness of my Beloved, for whom my soul fainted, when I could not find him! So that not only the Spirit of the living God saith, Come; but the bride also saith, Come; for the fountain is not now sealed any longer, but open through the tender mercies of our God, for every thirsty soul; that whosoever hath a will kindled in him by the Lord may come to drink of the water of life freely.

Oh! drink then no longer at the muddy streams of your own conceivings and imaginations, with which, that which inwardly thirsts after the living God, and his pure streams of life, cannot be satisfied (it is not the true seed, it is another birth which is <496> satisfied with these things, before the fountain of life comes to be opened in the heart); but wait on the Lord, retire in spirit to be gathered into his light which he causes to shine in the heart, and into his Son's life and Spirit, which he manifesteth and revealeth there; that ye may eat that which is good, and be satisfied with the fatness of his house, and drink of the river of his pleasures. For indeed, the Lord, in this his gospel day, doth make to his children a feast of fat things, and of wines on the lees well refined, on his holy mountain, even in the kingdom which cannot be shaken; and the Beloved doth not only knock at the door of the heart, but comes in, and sups with his, and they with him.

I. P.

16th of Eighth Month, 1672