Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to Lady Conway (1677)




I have heard both of thy love to truth, and of thy great afflictions outwardly; both which occasion a sense concerning thee, and breathings to the tender Father of my life for thee; that thy heart may know and be joined to the truth, and thou mayst live and walk in it, reaping the sweet comfort, support and satisfaction, which God daily ministers in and through it, to his gathered and preserved ones. I am satisfied thou hast need of comforts and support; oh that thou mayst be led thither, and be daily found by the Lord there, where the Comforter doth daily delight to supply the afflicted and suffering ones, whether inwardly or outwardly, with comfort.

And, my dear friend, take heed of that wisdom and knowledge which is not of the seed, and which can be held in the mind, without the springing life of the seed. The first day I was convinced, I was not only convinced in my understanding concerning the seed, but I felt the seed in my heart, and my heart was enraptured with the sense and feeling of it; and my great cry to the <520> Lord was, that I might faithfully travel through all the sufferings and death of the other part, into union with an enjoyment of it; and that that wisdom, which was not of the pure living root and nature, might die in me. Now, how I have been exercised and taught since is hard for me to utter. What poverty, what weakness, what foolishness I have been led into! how I have learned, in a sense, out of the reach of the comprehending, knowing mind; how tender I have been of every secret shining of light in my heart; how the Lord hath taught and enabled me to pluck out my right eye, and cut off my right hand, and cast them from me, that I might not see with that eye, nor work with that hand, but be greatly maimed in the sight of men, and in my own sight too.

O friend! wait daily to feel the seed, to feel the seed live in thee, and the most pleasing part of thy nature die, as it can live out of the seed. Oh that thou couldst change all old knowledge, for that which is new and living! The seed is the well: receive the seed, then thou receivest the well: let it spring, wait for its springing, wait to know its springing: bear all the trials and judgments, which the Father of life sees necessary to prepare the heart for its springing. Oh, feel that which limits and subdues thoughts, and brings them into captivity and subjection! Be not exercised in things too high for thee -- David, the man after God's own heart, who was wiser than his teachers, was not; -- but come out of knowledge into feeling, and there thou wilt find the true knowledge given, -- arising, springing, and covering thy heart, as the waters cover the sea. And still wait to be taught of God, to distinguish between the outwardness of knowledge -- the notional part of the thing known, as it can be comprehended in the mind, -- and the life of it, as it is felt and abides in the heart.

The Lord God of my life be thy Teacher; point thy mind to the pure seed of the kingdom, and open it in thee; make thee so little, that thou mayst enter into it, and keep thee so low and poor, that thou mayst abide in it; managing these troublesome times in the outward, for thy advantage in the inward; that the city and temple of the living God may be built in it, and thou mayst know him daily dwelling and walking therein. Thus mayst thou be married to the Lord, and become one spirit with him; finding that daily removing from thee, [which is to be removed, <521> even] by the mighty arm and pure operation of his Spirit, till all that is contrary be done away; then may thy soul dwell with its Beloved in fulness of joy, life, and peace for evermore.

This is from the tender love, and fresh breathings of life, in thy soul's true Friend, and most hearty well-wisher,

I. P.

17th of Third Month, 1677