Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to his brother Arthur (1676)
I have been a traveller after the Lord from my childhood, and great misery have I undergone for want of him. That which I wanted was his Spirit, life, virtue, and redeeming power to be revealed in my own heart. Oh, blessed be the Lord! beyond my expectation, he hath directed me where to wait for this within, and hath revealed it in me; and now I can say in truth of heart, and in the sense of that birth which God hath begotten in me, "Lo! <515> this is my God whom I so wanted and waited for;" and I find him stronger in my heart than the strong man, which possessed it before he cast him out from thence, and made a spoil of his goods. And now, dear brother, how can I hold my peace, and not testify of the love, mercy, and good-will of the Lord towards me, and invite others to the redeeming power, of which the Lord in his goodness hath made me a partaker? And now, brother, a few words respecting thy return to what I sent thee; not for contention's sake (the Lord knows my dwelling is in that life and peace which shuts them out), but in the tender love and care of my heart concerning the eternal welfare of thy soul, which I would not, by any means or device of the enemy, have eternally deceived.
All sides may agree in notions about the regenerating power; but all do not receive the regenerating power, nor are truly regenerating in the sight of God; nor come to witness the head of the serpent inwardly crushed, and his works destroyed, and kingdom laid waste inwardly by this power; which must needs be, before a man be translated out of the kingdom of darkness, into the kingdom of the dear Son. There is a kingdom of darkness inwardly, which the unbelieving and disobedient to God's Spirit and power dwell in; and there is a kingdom of light inwardly, wherein the children of light dwell with God, and walk in the light as he is in the light.
But that the work of regeneration is only begun in this life, and not finished till the other life, that is a great mistake. For the Scriptures testify, that salvation is to be wrought out here, and not hereafter. Christ had all power in heaven and earth, and he sent forth his Spirit and power to work out the work here; and his sanctifying Spirit and power is able to sanctify throughout, in soul, body, and spirit; and the gifts of the ministry are for perfecting the saints, till they all come in the unity of the faith, unto a perfect man, that they may be presented to God perfect in Christ Jesus. The holy leaven is put into the lump here, and it is able to leaven the lump here; and holiness is not only to be begun, but perfected in the fear of God, as the apostle exhorts, who did not exhort to a needless or impossible thing; and the whole armor of God is able to defend the whole man from all the assaults of the wicked one; for greater is He, in the saints, that <516> preserves from sin, than he that tempts to sin. Oh, how precious is it to war with the enemy in this conquering faith, and to resist him therein! that he may still flee away, for fear of God's power and sword, which will pierce him and can easily overcome him.
There is a state where the spirit is willing, but the flesh weak: yet it is not so where the spirit is become strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. There is a holy hill of God, a spiritual Zion, a mountain whereupon his house is built, which the wing of the Almighty overshadows; and his sheep that are gathered by the great Shepherd and Bishop of the soul feed there, and none can make afraid. The flesh will be rebelling against the Spirit, until it be destroyed by the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. But when a man is really crucified with Christ, and dead to sin, sin hath no more power over him; for Christ lives in him and reigns in his heart over sin and the temptations thereof. When the God of peace treads Satan under the feet of the soul that was once captived by him, there it is known whose the kingdom and the power and the victory and the dominion is.
And this is true blessedness begun, carried on, and upheld by the pure, sanctifying power of the word of life in the heart; and the birth which is born of God, knows it to be no delusion, but the truth as it is in Jesus. And such are obedient to the holy church of God, and to the holy ministry, which he hath brought out of the wilderness; and know of what nature the churches and ministry have been, which have appeared and been set up in the world, since the true church fled into and was hid in the wilderness, and was fed there by the Lord God of life. The devil hath long transformed himself into the likeness of an angel of light, and cheated and beguiled souls; while the false church hath reigned, antichrist sitting in the temple, the man-child having been caught up to God, and the true church in the wilderness; and men have generally put darkness for light, and light for darkness. But blessed be the Lord! the true light, which shone in the apostles' days, now shines again; and discovers the mystery of iniquity, and the golden cup of abominations, wherewith the earth hath been made drunk; and Satan falls down like lightning before the power of Him, on whom the true church leaned, when she came out of the wilderness, and still leans, and will lean upon for ever; <517> and the gates of hell shall not be able to prevail against her.
And blessed be the Lord! who hath brought many wanderers and distressed ones to the sight of the true church, and to delightful obedience to her, whose voice is not different to Christ's, but one with it; and such are in fellowship with the Father and Son, and with the saints who dwell in the light. These are clothed with the Lamb's innocency and righteousness, and do not dwell in darkness nor in sin; having crucified the old man with his affections and lusts, and put off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, and put on the new man which is created in Christ Jesus, in the righteousness and holiness of truth. They that are here dwell not in fancies, nor feed on fancies, but on eternal life, in the pure pastures of life, where the Shepherd of the inward and spiritual Israel feeds his holy flock day by day.
As for the Romish church, or any other church built up in the apostasy from the spirit and life of the apostles, the Lord hath given me to see through them, to that which was before them, and will be after them. And O dear brother! if thou couldst but rightly wait for and meet with the holy, regenerating, purifying power, which in tender love I testified to thee of; it would lead thee to that which is the true church indeed, which hath been persecuted by the dragon and false church, and the blood of her seed made drunk by the bloody, dragonish church, for many ages.
The Lord hath made me thy brother in the line of nature; oh that thou wert my brother in that truth, which lives and abides for ever! Oh that thou knew the church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, the Jerusalem which is above, which is free, which is the mother of all who are born of the regenerating virtue and power!
20th of Seventh Month, 1676