Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to Elizabeth Stonar (1675)
Whose life in the Lord, and prosperity in the truth, my heart greatly desireth; even that thou mayst come to the perfect service, and free and full enjoyment of thy soul's Beloved; in which, if I could be in any way helpful to thee, my heart would greatly rejoice and bless the Lord. This morning, when I awoke, my heart was exercised before the Lord concerning thee; and several things did spring up in my mind relating to thee, which I may now signify to thee, as the Lord shall please to bring them again to my mind, and open them in my heart in reference to thee. I would fain have thee rightly understand, and be found doing, what the Lord requires of thee; that it may go well with thee, and that thy heart may be satisfied, and thy soul blessed, in believing and obeying the truth as it is in Jesus.
The first thing that rose up in my heart concerning thee this morning was, about confessing Christ before men. It is a great duty, and I would not have thee mistake about it or fail in it; but diligently wait on God to know what it is, and faithfully to practise it in thy state and place; which if thou do, thou wilt find life and blessedness flowing with it upon thy soul.
After this, several scriptures, sweet and precious to my taste, sprang up in my heart to lay before thy view; that thou also mightest suck sweetness, and reap benefit through the living sense of them, and the bowing of thy spirit to what the Lord shall please to make manifest to thee thereby.
The first scripture that sprang up in me to thee, was that of Rom. 12:2. not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of thy mind, that thou mayst prove that good, that acceptable and perfect will of God. Thou must stand at a distance from the spirit of this world, thou must not touch the unclean thing, but be a chaste virgin in heart, in word, in conversation, if thou expect to be married to the Lamb, to become one spirit with him, to know his mind, and to enjoy the love and be the delight of his Father.
The next scripture in my heart was, Rev. 2:10. "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer." Upon which scripture this question rose in my heart to thee, Dost not thou fear the <506> sufferings which may attend thee, in thy state and place, for truth's sake? Dost not thou look out at them? If thou do, it will weaken thy faith, and be a snare to thee; and such a beam in thy eye, that thou wilt never be able to see that particular way and path of truth, which is most proper for thy soul, till this beam be plucked out and separated from thee.
Unto this was soon added that of Isaiah 51:12-13. "I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; and forgettest the Lord thy Maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day, because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor?" Oh, take heed of distrusting the Comforter, thy Comforter! who is able and ready to help and comfort the souls of his, in the sorest distresses and oppressions that can befall them, either within or without. And consider this also, that forgetting the Lord is the necessary consequence of fearing man. It cannot be, but that he that feareth man should in some measure or degree forget the Lord, -- his love, his wisdom, his power, his goodness, his faithfulness to, and tender care over his children in their following him, -- especially in the midst of the cruel hardships and sufferings which often befall them therein.
The next was Samson's riddle: Judges 14:14. "Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness." It is everlastingly true, both inwardly and outwardly, to the children of the Most High, who live in his Spirit, and walk in his Spirit, and are guided by the power and virtue of his life. Every thing that would devour and destroy them the Lord destroyeth, by the power and virtue of his life and Spirit springing up in them; and out of that which is strong against them, which roars against them in the strength and power of darkness, the Lord brings forth sweetness in and to their spirits.
Then that of Luke 9:23-24. came before me (which is said to all that hear Christ's voice and blessed counsel): "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same <507> shall save it." Now, I beseech thee, consider; dost thou take up the daily cross, and bear it faithfully for Christ's sake? Dost thou stand a faithful witness against the spirit of darkness, and works of darkness, where thou livest? Dost thou not comply with any worship there which thy heart knoweth to be out of the truth and Spirit of life, wherein all true, holy, living, spiritual worship can alone be performed? Oh! take heed of shunning the cross in any respect; for then thou givest way to unbelief, and to that wisdom, thoughts, reasonings, and judgment which are not of the truth, but of the flesh: shunning that which God hath appointed to crucify sin in the heart, and under which the seed is to spring up and live, which is the power of God unto salvation, to all that abide under it, and daily bear it.
The last scripture, which at this time sprang up in me to thee, was that very sweet one in Solomon's Song of Songs: chap. 1 ver. 7-8. "Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions? If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents." If thou wouldst come to the feeding-place of the flock, and to rest in the pure life, power, and righteousness of the Lord with them; thou must mind their footsteps, thou must go forth out of that which God hath gathered and led them forth out of, thou must forsake whatever is not of the Father, but of this world (and in forsaking it, stand a witness against the world), as God hath taught them to forsake it. Thou must wait for the same Spirit, for the same cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of the same flaming fire by night, to lead thee and preserve thee, which hath led and preserved them. See Isa. 4:5. And this will lead thee out of the same Egypt and Sodom, and all the remainders of Babylon, wherein as yet thou mayst be held captive; and this alone must break the oppressing spirit and power which stands in thy way, through thy faithful sufferings under it. And through the same wilderness and righteous judgments of the Lord, thou must pass, that they have passed. For Zion and her converts must be redeemed with judgment and righteousness, and with the Spirit of burning, <508> and the pain of the cross; nor dost thou know, how thou standest in the way of thy own soul's good, while thou in any measure avoidest or escapest it. And if thou be one of the called, chosen, and faithful, following fully after the Lord, in the same Spirit, and power, and banner of the cross, under which his called, chosen, and faithful ones have followed him; he will lead thee into the same land of life, rest, and peace, and holy dominion over sin and Satan, into which he hath led those, who have faithfully followed the Lamb, whithersoever he hath pleased to go before, and lead them. So thou must wait to have thy heart daily more and more opened, and guided purely and livingly and sensibly by the Lord, into what he hath led his children, servants, family, and redeemed heritage. For of a truth, the Lord hath raised the seed of life in his people; and what his seed denies, what the life of the Son denies, what truth in the heart denies, all that are of the truth and in the truth, will be taught by it, and learn of it, to deny also.
Thus, my dear friend, in the most dear, tender, and true love, have I opened my heart to thee, as things sprang in me for thy sake: and the desire of my soul to the Lord is, that they may be serviceable to thee, and that thou mayest be led by the holy, leading Spirit more and more into truth, and live in truth, and feel the life of truth living and reigning in thee; being delivered from the enemy's temptations, and the subtle twinings of the serpent, which thy condition will often meet with: the Lord discover them to thee, and preserve thee from being ensnared with them.
Thy constant friend in the dear love and service of the truth.
Amersham, Bury End, 20th of First Month, 1675