Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to Women Friends at Armscot (1678)
In your meetings together to do service for the Lord, be every one of you very careful and diligent in watching to his power, that ye may have the sensible, living feeling of it, each of you in your own hearts, and in the hearts one of another; and that ye may keep within the limits of it, and not think, or speak, <536> or act beyond it. And know, oh! wait more and more to know, how to keep that silence, which is of the power; that in every one of you, what the power would have silent, may be silent. Oh! take heed of the forwardness of the flesh, the wisdom of the flesh, the will of the flesh, the talkativeness of the flesh; keep them back, oh! let them for ever be kept back in every one of you, by the presence and virtue of the power.
The power is the authority and blessing of your meetings, and therein lies your ability to perform what God requires; be sure ye have it with you. Keep back to the life, keep low in the holy fear, and ye shall not miss of it. You will find it easy to transgress, easy to set up self, easy to run into sudden apprehensions about things, and one to be of this mind and another of that; but feel the power to keep down all this, and to keep you out of all this; every one watching to the life, when and where it will arise to help you, and that ye may be sensible of it when it doth arise, and not in a wrong wisdom oppose it, but be one with it. And thus, if any thing should arise from the wrong wisdom in any ye may be sensible of it, not defiled or entangled with it, but abiding in that which sees through it and judges it; that so, life may reign in your hearts and in your meetings, above that which will be forward, and perking over the life, if ye be not very watchful.
So the Lord God of my life be with you, and season your hearts with his grace and truth, and daily keep you in the savor thereof; that ye may be blessed by him, and a blessing in his hands; all that is evil and contrary to truth being kept down in your own hearts, ye will be fit to keep down evil in the minds and hearts of others; and if any thing be unsavory anywhere, it will be searched into, judged, cast out, and the recovery of the soul which hath let it in sought, that if possible it may be restored; and then, ye will know the joy of seeking out and bringing back the lost sheep. And be tender to others, in true compassion, as ye would be tendered by others, if ye were in their conditions.
There is that near you, which will guide you; oh! wait for it, and be sure ye keep to it; that, being innocent and faithful, in following the Lord in the leadings of his power, his power may <537> plead your cause in the hearts of all his tender people hereabouts; and they may see and acknowledge, that your meetings are of God, -- that ye are guided by him into that way of service, in his holy fear, in which he himself is with you, and by the movings of his Holy Spirit in your hearts, hath engaged you. Be not hasty, either in conceiving any thing in your minds, or in speaking it forth, or in any thing ye are to do; but feel him by his Spirit and life going along with you, and leading you into what he would have any of you, or every one of you do. If ye be in the true feeling sense of what the Lord your God would have done, and join with what is of God, as it riseth in any, or against any thing that is not of God as it is made manifest among you; ye are all in your places and proper services, obeying the blessed will, and doing the blessed work, of the Lord your God.
I had somewhat upon me yesterday to you, but my weakness was great. This morning, this lay as a weight upon my spirit to lay upon yours; may the weight of it come upon you, to weigh down whatever is light or chaffy in any of you, that the seed of life may come up over it, and ye may be weighty before the Lord, in the weighty seed of life. The Lord make you rightly serviceable to him, and truly glorious in your meetings, and in your several places. Ye will find a great work to keep one part down, that that which is pure and living of God may come up in you, and ye act only in it, not exceeding the limits of it.
Written at John Hawford's, 7th of Seventh Month, 1678