Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to Women's Meeting at John Mannock's
Dearly beloved and honored in the Lord, because of his honorable presence and power, which is so preciously manifested and found to be among you in your meetings.
Blessed be the Lord, who hath thus gathered you! and given you hearts to meet together, to feel his precious presence and power, and wait to do his will therein, as he shall please to call, and make your way clear thereto. And, blessed be the Lord! who doth encourage and reward you daily, and make your meetings pleasant and advantageous to your own souls, and towards the seasoning and holy watching over the several respective places where your lot is fallen.
Oh! what could the Lord do more for his people, than to turn them to that pure seed of life, which will make them all alive, and keep them all in life and purity; and then to make use of every living member in the living body, as his Spirit shall <530> please to breathe upon it, and his power actuate it? And indeed, there is need of all the life and power to the body, which the Lord sees good to bestow on any member of it; every member of the body having life given it, not only for itself, but likewise for the use and service of the body. Only, dear Friends, here is to be the great care, that every member keep within the limits of life, wherein its capacity and ability for service lies, and out of which, it can do no real service for God, or to the body. Oh, therefore, eye life, eye the power, eye the presence of the Lord with your spirits! that he may go along with you, and guide you in every thought ye think, in every word ye speak, in reference to his work and service.
And mind, Friends, what is now upon me to you: it is one thing, to sit waiting to feel the power, and to keep within the limits of the power, thus far; and another, yea, and harder, to feel and keep within the sense and limits of the power, when ye come to act. Then your reasonings, your wisdom, your apprehensions, have more advantage to get up in you, and to put themselves forth. Oh! therefore watch narrowly and diligently against the forward part; and keep back to the life, which, though it rise more slowly, yet acts more surely and safely for God.
Oh, wait and watch, to feel your Keeper keeping you within the holy bounds and limits, within the pure fear, within the living sense, while ye are acting for your God! that ye may only be his instruments, and feel him acting in you. Therefore every one wait to feel the Judge risen and up, and the judgment set, in your own hearts; that, what ariseth in you, may be judged, and nothing may pass from you publicly, but what hath first passed the pure judgment in your own breasts. And let the holy rule of the blessed apostle James, be always upon your spirits, "Let every one be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath." Oh, let not a talkativeness have place in any of you! but, abide in such gravity, modesty, and weightiness of spirit, as becomes the judgment-seat of the Spirit and power of the Lord. Ye can never wait too much for the power, nor can ye ever act too much in the power; but ye may easily act too much without it.
And as for this troublesome, contentious business (if the Lord should yet order it to be brought before you), the Lord <531> teach you to consider of, and manage it in a wise, tender, and healing spirit. Ye must distinguish in judgment, if ye judge aright, between enemies and erring friends. And take heed of the quickness and strength of reason, or of the natural part, which avails little: but wait for the evidence and demonstration of God's Spirit, which reaches to the witness and doth the work. Are they in a snare? are they overtaken in a fault? yea, are they in measure blinded and hardened, so that they can neither see nor feel, as to this particular? Retire, sit still awhile, and travail for them. Feel how life will arise in any of you, and how mercy will reach towards them; and how living words, from the tender sense, may be reached forth to their hearts, deeply, by the hand of the Lord, for their good. And if ye find them, at length, bowing to the Lord, oh, let tender compassion help them forwards! that what hath been so troublesome and groundedly dissatisfactory in the progress, may, at length, have a sweet issue for their good, and our joy and rejoicing in the Lord.
So, my dear friends, the Lord be with you, and guide you in this, and in all that he shall further call you to; and multiply his presence, power, and blessings upon you, and make your meetings as serviceable to the honor of his name, as he himself would have them, and as you yourselves can desire them to be.
Your friend and brother in the tender truth, and in the pure love and precious life.
19th of Fifth Month, 1678