Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to William Drake (1678)
FIRST, There is a God, a holy, righteous, living, powerful God, who made heaven and earth, and all things therein; and at last made man in his own image, and set him over the works of his hands, to have dominion, and to rule in his wisdom and power over them; and to guide, order, and make use of them, to the glory of Him that made them. Now, in this state, God was pleased and took delight in the works of his hands, and in man above all.
Secondly, Man, sinning against his Maker, lost this image, which was his glory, and became brutish in understanding, and an enemy to God in his mind, and liable to the wrath of God's holy and righteous nature.
Thirdly, There is no reconciliation to be had between God and man any more, but by the change of this nature in man: for God is unchangeable, he is light, he is life, he is holiness unchangeable; and will never be reconciled to, or have fellowship with, darkness, with that which is dead and unholy, -- which man in his fallen estate is, until he be begotten again to God, changed and renewed from his evil and sinful nature, into a good and holy nature, and till he be turned from evil works, and know what it is to be the workmanship of God, created anew unto good works.
Fourthly, Nothing can produce this change in man, but the Spirit and power of Christ, but the grace and truth which is by Jesus Christ. Therefore a man had need be sure that he receive this Spirit and power, and that he feel the operative, changing virtue of it, and be really changed thereby, being created anew, begotten anew to God, in the holiness and righteousness of truth, a son and servant to the living God; or he can never know what belongs to true reconciliation with God, and to fellowship with him in the light and life of his Son.
Fifthly, All the religions and professions upon the face of the earth, which fall short of this Spirit, life, and power, and wherein this new creation in Christ Jesus is not witnessed, nor power received to abstain from what is evil, and to become sons to God, are not the pure, powerful, gospel religion, wherein the divine virtue and power of life operates; but that which men in the earthly wisdom have formed without life. And all religions <528> that have but a form of godliness, and not the power, are to be turned away from, and witnessed against, by such as are called forth to be witnesses to the true, gospel religion and way of worship, which stands in Spirit, life, and power.
Sixthly, This religion and worship, which stands in Spirit, life, and power, is the religion and worship which Christ set up about sixteen hundred years ago. John 4:23-24. 1 Cor. 4:20. Rom. 6:4. And this is the religion which God hath revived and set up again, as they that receive the gospel now preach it; and believing in the power, which is both outwardly testified of, and also inwardly revealed, they have the witness of it in their own hearts. Rev. 14:6-7. 1 John 5:10-12. Isa. 53:1. Oh, how sweet are these scriptures, when they are rightly read and rightly understood, the Lord giving the right understanding, and leading into the true experience of them!
Friend, thou expressed to one of my youngest sons, as he related to me, that thou hadst a desire I should visit thee, that thou mightst have some discourse with me about religion. That is the most profitable kind of discourse that can be, if it be ordered in the fear of the Lord, and in a weighty sense and dread of him. I am very serious in reference to religion, and would not therein mistake or miscarry, by any means; and if I might be helpful to thee, or to any man, as to the truth and power of religion, it would be matter of gladness to my heart, and of praising and blessing the Lord, in the sense of his stretching forth his hand towards the saving of any. Now, that our meeting and discourse may be the more solemn and advantageous, I have sent thee a few plain propositions to consider of; which I do not only find signified of in the Scriptures, but the Lord hath also written them on my heart; and if they be plain to thee, and thou be also in the serious sense of them, it may tend towards the making of our discourse the more easy and profitable.
These are the main things; and he that is rightly grounded, I mean, in the true and sensible experience of them in his heart, cannot miss of God's guidance to make a safe and happy progress therein; he daily waiting upon the Lord, to be taught and led by him, further and further, into the life, Spirit, and power of truth; so that he shall be taught of God to know his Son Jesus <529> Christ, and the freedom which is by the truth as it is in Jesus, daily more and more; which it is my soul's sincere and single desire, that thou, thy wife, and family may be experiencers and happy partakers of.
Oh, what a glorious state was man once in, before his transgressing the holy law of God! but when he sinned, how did he fall short of the glory of God! Yet, as he hears His voice, and follows Him, that leads out of sin into the image of God, into the holiness and righteousness of truth; how is he brought back by the Lord, and how doth he return, in the blessed leadings of God's blessed Spirit, into the glory of God again! Read 2 Cor. 3:18; and, oh that thou mayst livingly and sensibly know what it means!
I remain an acknowledger of thy kindness, and a desirer for thee, that thou mayst obtain from God the knowledge of himself and his Son, which is experienced, by them that receive it, to be, indeed life eternal.
This was written in true love and goodwill, and in the fear of the Lord, and in the springings and openings of his life in my heart, on the 19th of the Fifth Month, 1678