Source: Google Books Image, before modernization.
Penington writes with great sympathy and love to those who often sought his elderly advice. His kind, patient, expressions of essential truths, to many people at different stages in their spiritual journey to union with Christ in the Kingdom, make these letters a treasure to any sincere seeker. All of the early Quakers wrote strongly of the Light of Christ and its convincing, purifying operations of grace. There are many today who mistakenly believe the contact with the Light is the end result; Penington clearly distinguishes this error in the following extract:
Table of Contents
(click on the Letter number to go directly to it.)
A — The Requirements of GOD, Simply Stated
I — You must see and know the Gospel and the Scriptures in Your Heart.
II — Resisting and Receiving God's Spirit, Experiencing His Teaching
III — Of a growth in Grace, amidst Distressing Exercises of Spirit.
IV — On the State of the Puritans, and of Friends.
V — Dwell in the Cross to Attain Purity, Strength, and Peace.
VI — On Searching for the Hidden Treasure, and Selling all for it.
VII — To A Child of God.
VIII — Seeing Christ Within, and the Seeing the Sprinkling of His Blood Inwardly.
IX — The Way of God's Redemption is above the Way of Man's Wisdom.
X — How to Feed on the Pure, Living, Spiritual Food
XI — Retire from all that is unnecessary — and be content while waiting for understanding.
XII — The Power of Christ to Overcome all Sin Within You.
XIII — Advice to one Experiencing Demons.
XIV — On Obedience, Spiritual Growth, Establishment, and Victory.
XV — A Change of Heart is to be sought, rather than a Sign.
XVI — How the Scriptures must be Read to Avoid Your Own Opinions.
XVII — Focus on Christ as God, working in you by his Power, not as he was Man.
XVIII — On the Religious Care of Children.
XIX — Retire into the Lord, waiting, and he will bring your whole family into his protection.
XX — Abide to eventually enjoy the rest and joy for evermore.
XXI — Abhor judging — recognize, not everyone is equal in the Lord.
XXII — Caution to a Couple Considering Marriage.
XXIII — Wait, Give Up All, Feel the Birth Within, Defeat the Enemy.
XXIV — More Advice to those Beginning Their Feelings of the Spirit.
XXV — Suffering with Joy.
The Requirements of GOD, Simply Stated
To Sir William Drake (so styled).
FIRST. There is a God, a holy, righteous, living, powerful God, who made heaven and earth, and all things in it; 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 anymore, 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 is begotten again to God, changed and renewed from his evil and sinful nature, into a good and holy nature, and until he is turned from evil works, and knows 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 needs to be sure that he receives this Spirit and power, and that he feels the operative, changing virtue of it, and be really changed by it, being created anew, [the new creature], 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 in which 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, in which the divine virtue and power of life operates; but, that which men in the earthly wisdom have formed without life. And, all religions 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 has 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 5:11-12, Isa 50:1. Oh how sweet are these Scriptures, when they are properly read and correctly understood, the Lord giving the right understanding, and leading into the true experience of them!
You expressed to one of my youngest sons, as he related to me, that you had a desire I should visit you, that you might have some discourse with me about religion. That is the most profitable kind of discourse that can be, if it is 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 in it mistake or miscarry, by any means; and, if I might be helpful to you, or to any man, as to the truth and power of religion, it would be a 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 you a few plain propositions to consider; which I do not only find signified of in the Scriptures, but the Lord has also written them on my heart; and, if they are plain to you, and you are 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 in it; providing he is 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, 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 you, your wife, and family, may experience and happily partake of.
O 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, who lead out of sin into the image of God, into the holiness and righteousness of Truth; how he is brought back by the Lord, and how he returns, in the blessed leadings of God's blessed Spirit, into the glory of God again! Read 2 Cor 3:18; and, Oh that you may realistically and sensibly know what it means by actual experience, not imagined or presumed! I acknowledge your kindness, and desire that you may obtain from God the knowledge of himself and his Son, which is experienced, by those who 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.
19th of Fifth Month, 1678
You must see and know the Gospel and the Scriptures in Your Heart.
A question arises in my heart to you, which is this: How is the everlasting gospel, (in which Christ is truly made known, and salvation really witnessed in the hearts of those that receive it), preached at this day? How has the Lord appointed it to be preached, and how is it preached, and how may men come to hear it, that their souls may live? Are they not blessed that hear the joyful sound of it? Are they not wretched, and miserable, and blind, and naked, who mistake and miss concerning the sound of it, which it pleases the Spirit of the Lord to give forth in this our day? Oh Friend! I beseech you, consider it, and do not think it strange that I propose it to you; for he that would find the gospel, must search where it is hidden; and it is hidden in them that are lost, who go astray from the life and power of it.
It is a wonderful thing, to those whom the Lord has made truly sensible, to consider how the Truth, the gospel, the life, the power which saves, is one and the same in all ages and generations, and yet, still hidden from the wise, prudent, professing eye in every age and generation. Oh Friend, that you thoroughly knew that wise and prudent eye in yourself, from which the Lord hides it, and that eye, which perhaps you will not call prudent, to which the Lord opens it. Now, Friend, let me speak a few words to you, not only from what I have felt in my heart, but have also read in the Scriptures of truth.
The gospel, after the apostasy, is thus to be preached, "Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment has come; and worship him that made heaven, and earth," Rev 14:7. If you know the Preacher that preached this, if you have heard this preached in your own heart, if you have met with that fear there, which God's Spirit teaches and gives, if you have known the hour of God's judgment, and had the axe laid to the root of the tree; and if you have been taught by the Son to worship the Father in Spirit and truth; you have, without doubt, met with the gospel, the everlasting gospel; and if God requires of you, and assists you by his Spirit and power to preach this to others, you are a preacher of the everlasting gospel, and an able minister of the New Testament, not of the letter, [Scriptures] but of the Spirit. But, I beseech you, take heed of preaching your own formings and opinions regarding the letter, [Bible] as too many do in this day; for that falls short of true preaching to what the letter testifies. Oh let these things be weighty with you! That you may learn correctly to search and understand the Scriptures, and know how the Father has revealed the Son in this day, and how to come to him, to receive life from him. For many, through ignorance, err in this matter; and so run on in their own wills, wisdom, and comprehension of things, and miss of the drawings of the Father; and thus, come not correctly to the Son, but only according as they imagine and apprehend, according to what they have gathered and conceived upon the Scriptures. [In 2014, there are 41,000 different sects of Christianity — massive evidence of missing the Spirit's teachings, whose purpose is one faith].
Friend, God who caused light to shine in this outward world, has judged it necessary to cause the light of his Spirit to shine inwardly in the heart; and it gives the knowledge of the Scriptures, and the true sense and discerning of inward and spiritual things. Yes, here the Son is known, and his blood felt cleansing; which, without this, the Scriptures do not make manifest; but, in this, the Scriptures are a clear and faithful record of and testimony to them. Oh take heed how you read, and how you understand the Scriptures, — in what light, in what spirit! for, it is easy erring; and without the presence and guidance of God's Spirit within, you cannot walk safely.
And truly it is great presumption in any man to read the Scriptures boldly, and without fear and reverence to Him who penned them, or to put any of his own meanings and ideas upon God's words; which is easily done by those, who reads them in the liberty of his own spirit, out of the light of God's Spirit, which is the limit and yoke of the true readers, and of those who understand the Scriptures.
4th of Fourth Month,
Resisting and Receiving God's Spirit, Experiencing His Teachings
To Nathaniel Stoner
IT is a dangerous thing to resist God's Spirit; and yet, very easy for a man so to do, who has nor received a true understanding from the Lord, nor is acquainted with the leadings and outgoings of Him who is pure. He that is tender and truly sensible may discern when he resists, when he quenches, or when he grieves the Spirit of the Lord; but he that is not truly enlightened, nor in the true sense, cannot do so. The Scribes and Pharisees, who were interpreters of the law, and very strict in outward observations and ordinances, who blamed their fathers for killing the prophets, and said, if they had been in the days of the prophets, they would never have dealt with them as their fathers did; yet, concerning these, said Stephen, “You stiff-necked, and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you do also resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do you.” For until the stiff will and stiff wisdom is brought down in a man, he cannot but resist God's Spirit, and fight for his notions and practices, according to his interpretations of the scriptures, against the testimony of God's Spirit and power. Paul walked according to the letter of the law was blameless, yet he resisted the Spirit which gave forth the law. Those who would be found not resisting God's Spirit, must know the Spirit, receive the Spirit, live in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. He who is indeed turned to the redeeming arm, to Christ the power of God, and gathered into the power, and dwells in the Spirit and power of the Lord Jesus, and is taught and led by Him from path to path, and from pasture to pasture, as the Lamb, the Shepherd, goes before and guides him; — he is preserved from grieving the Holy Spirit, which moves and draws, instructs and quickens, all that are born of God. But, he that is only in the letter [the Bible], and in the form of godliness, out of the inward life and power, he is of that birth, mind, nature, and spirit, which cannot but resist God's Spirit. He knows not, he heeds not, His drawings, His movings, His light, His life, — the way thereof, — either in his own heart, or in the hearts of others; and so, walks in a way of rebelling against and resisting Him, who is the only Saviour and Redeemer of the soul. See Job 38:1-4, and 24:13. Oh that you might learn to wait correctly to learn these things, and come into the true sense and discerning of the Spirit and power of the Lord, that you might not any more resist it, neither in yourself nor in others. The Lord open your heart, and lay your spirit low before him; that you may come into a right sense and judgment, concerning the state of your own soul; and may experience the Lord manifesting things to you, as they truly are.
Wait to receive an understanding from the Lord, that you may come truly to know, whether you have resisted God's Spirit, or not; that you not lose the advantage of making peace with your adversary, while you are in the way with him.
I would not have you deceived about that virtue, life, and power which redeems the soul. For, there is no other Redeemer besides the Lord Jesus Christ, and he redeems by the grace of his Spirit, and by faith in his blood, which cleanses from sin; which blood is sprinkled on the consciences of those that believe,- and that, not in the darkness, but in the light; as is said in 1 John 1:7. “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin." Under the law, the blood of bulls and goats was sprinkled outwardly on the outward things, which sanctified to the purifying of the outward things; but under the gospel the blood of the Lamb is sprinkled inwardly, upon inward and heavenly things. See Heb 9:13-14, 22-23, 10:22, and 12:24. Oh that you truly understood the difference between your own claiming of Christ's blood to yourself, and the Lamb's sprinkling it upon you, and washing your soul within! Rev 1:5, and also, between your own believing, according to your own assumptions of things, and His giving you to believe in the light of his Spirit! and, between your own praying in your own spirit, and his giving you to pray in his Spirit!
Ah! the Truth of our God is precious! the knowledge of his Christ precious! It is a precious thing, to have the Son revealed by the Father to the renewed in mind. God himself is the teacher, in the new covenant of all the true disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ; and, Oh how the teachings of his Spirit differ, from all the knowledge and learning men can attain unto of themselves! The Lord give you the true understanding; and to know what it is to begin your religion in his Spirit; and batter down and bring to nothing the understanding in you, which is not true; that you may not find your soul deeply deceived at last, as to the true knowledge of Christ and mysteries of God's kingdom, -- and so, perish forever! This, in very dear, true, and tender love, from him, who most sincerely and heartily wishes well to you.
17th of Fifth Month, 1671
Of a growth in Grace, amidst Distressing Exercises of Spirit.
To Bridget Atley
My DEAR FRIEND,
If your heart comes to feel the seed of God, and to wait upon him in the measure of his life, he will be tender of you as a father of his child, and his love will be naturally breaking forth towards you. This is the end of all his dealings with you, to bring you here, to make you fit and capable of entering and abiding here. And he has changed, and changes your spirit daily; though it is as the shooting up of the corn, whose growth cannot be discerned at present by the most observing eye, but it is very manifest afterwards that it has grown. My heart is refreshed for your sake, rejoicing in the Lord’s goodness toward you; and that the blackness of darkness begins to scatter from you, though the enemy is still striving the same way to enter and distress you again. But wait to feel the relieving measure of life, and heed not distressing thoughts, when they rise ever so strongly in you; no, though they have entered you, fear them not, but be still awhile, not believing in the power which you felt they have over you, and it will fall on a sudden.
It is good for your spirit, and greatly to your advantage, to be much and variously exercised by the Lord. You do not know what the Lord has already done, and what he is yet doing for you in this. Ah! how precious it is to be poor, weak, low, empty, naked, distressed for Christ's sake, that way may be made for the power and glory of his life in the heart. And, Oh learn, daily more and more, to trust him and hope in him, and not to be frightened with any wonder, or to be taken up with the sight of the present thing; but, wait for the shutting of your own eye upon every occasion, and for the opening of the eye of God in you, and for the sight of things there, as they are from him. It is no matter what the enemy strives to do in your heart, nor how distressed your condition is, but what the Lord will do for you, which is with patience to be waited for at his season in every condition. And though sin overtakes you, let not that bow you down; nor let the eye open in you, which stands staring at that; but wait for the healing through the chastisement, and know there is an Advocate, who, in that hour, has an office of love and a faithful heart towards you. Yes, though you cannot believe, yet be not dismayed at it; your Advocate, who undertakes your cause, has faith to give; only do you sink into, or at least pant after the hidden measure of life, which is not in what distresses, disturbs, and fills you with thoughts, fears, troubles, anguish, darknesses, terrors, and the like; no, no! but in that which inclines to the patience, to the stillness, to the hope, to the waiting, to the silence before the Father; this is the same in nature, with the most refreshing and glorious-visiting life, though not the same in appearance; and if your mind is turned to the life, not minding but overlooking the other, you will find some of the same virtue springing up in your heart and soul, at last to settle you.
In and through these things, you will become deeply acquainted with the nature of God, and know the wonderful riches and virtue of his life, the mightiness of his mercy, and the preciousness of his love, the tenderness of his mercy, and infiniteness of his wisdom, the glory also, and exactness of his righteousness. You will be made large in spirit to receive and drink in abundantly of them; and the snares of the enemy will be so known to you and discerned, the way of help so manifest and easy, that their strength will be broken, and the poor entangled bird will fly away singing, from the nets and entanglements of the fowler; and praises will spring up, and great love in your heart to the Forgiver and Redeemer. Oh wait, hope, trust, look up to your God! Look over what stands between; come into his mercy! Let in the faith which opens the way of life, which will shut out the distrusting and doubting mind, and will close up the wrong eye, that lets in reasonings and temptations, the wrong sense and death with them.
Thus may you witness, in and through your Redeemer, the abundance of his life and peace.
On the State of the Puritans, and of Friends
The Lord God of heaven and earth, who searches the heart and tries the reins, knows, that we, who are called Quakers, have no secret things or hidden principles among us to win people to; but, as we have ourselves been won to the simplicity and plainness of Truth, as it is in Christ Jesus, and walk therein, so it is the single desire of our hearts to bring men there, where they may have the demonstration of God's Spirit, and hear the true witness speaking truth in their own consciences. And indeed, it was great matter of satisfaction to our hearts, when the Lord turned us to his Truth, that we found it to be no new thing, but what we had witnessed and experienced in the days of our former profession. For, we well remembered, that we had been acquainted with it then; and God now gives us the true and certain sense, that all the prayers, and knowledge, and understanding of the Scriptures, faith, love, zeal, meekness, patience, humility, and whatever we then had, which was dear to us, and precious in the eye of God, came from this Spirit of life, this principle of life, which God has now manifested to us, and turned our minds to. And, Oh that they, who yet speak against it knew it, as the Lord has given us to know! Surely they could not then either think or speak so harshly of it as they do. But Christ was the Son of God in his appearance in flesh, whatever the wise men and professors of that age judged and spoke of him. And this is the appearance and manifestation of the same Christ inwardly, even the same virtue, life, and power, which appeared in that body of flesh, whatever the profession of this age thinks or speaks concerning it; and they are guiltless before the Lord, but deeply guilty for rising up against it. There was a precious appearance of God, among that sort that were called Puritans, before there was such a rent among them, by falling into several ways of worship. There was among them great sincerity, and love, and tenderness, and unity in what was true; minding the work of God in themselves, and being sensible of grace and truth in one another's hearts. Now, to desire to know the true worship, this was good; but, everyone that had this desire, was not acquainted with the Spirit of the Lord, nor waited correctly on him, to be led by him into the true worship, but followed the apprehensions and ideas of their own minds regarding the Scriptures. Now, had these known the true Leader, they would have never thus wandered, nor have been so scattered from the Puritan state, which was better than any of these. For, is it possible, if the Spirit of God had been the Leader of these, they could thus have wandered from the truth, life, love and sense, into a barren dead state in comparison of that? It is true, there was a sincerity and simplicity in many of them; but was not that sincerity and simplicity betrayed, and drawn out, to seek the living among the dead, among dead forms, ways, and worships? For, though they carried some life with them into their forms, yet by degrees the form grew, and the virtue and power of godliness decreased, and they were swallowed up in high esteem of and contendings, each sort, for their forms; but they themselves had lost what they were inwardly to God, and had inwardly received from God in the days of their former zeal and tenderness. Oh that they could see this! Oh that they could return to their Puritan state, to the sense they then had, the love and tenderness that was then in them, to the feeling of the principle of life, which they then felt, and which then wrought in them! though, they then distinctly knew it not, yet they loved what gathered their mind to God, and in which they felt ability to pray, and which opened the Scriptures and the things of God and warmed their hearts truly and lively in some measure. Oh that they were but there again! They might soon come further. Oh that they knew their state, as it is known in the light of the Lord, and by the Spirit of the Lord! May the Lord open the true eye in them, and give them to see therewith.
19th of seventh Month, 1670.
Dwell in the Cross
To FRIENDS. He that is weak and foolish among the lambs, continually ready to wander, both out of the pastures and from the fold, and thus to betray his life into the hands of the enemy; — he who is continually scattering and squandering away what the Lord in mercy gathers for him, and freely bestows upon him; who through drowsiness and carelessness, has lost the benefit of, and forfeited the sweet and tender visitations of the Most High, and is now become dry, dead, barren, thick, earthy. Oh my God! Let that soul feel the stirrings of the springs of life and find some encouragements from you, to hope in the free and large mercies of the Shepherd of Israel, who casts not off his sheep because of their wanderings, because of their backslidings, because of their infirmities, because of their diseases. No, not because of their hardness; but pursues them with his love, finds them out, visits with his correcting hand according to their need, wounds with his sword, and melts in his fire, until he has made them tender and pliable, and then he pours in the fresh oil of his salvation and sweetly heals them.
Oh my Friends and brethren in the pure life! Be faithful to the Lord in returning him all the incomings of his Spirit; follow on in every drawing of his love, while any of the virtue of it lasts upon your spirits. Walk with him all the day long, and wait for him all the night season. And, in case of erring from him, or sinning grievously against him, be not discouraged; for he is a God of mercies, and delights in pardoning and forgiving much and very often. What tender mother can be more ready to forgive and embrace the child, that appears broken and afflicted with her sore displeasure! Yes, He gives brokenneses, he melts the heart, that he may be tender towards, and embrace it in his arms of reconciliation, and in the peace of his Spirit. Oh my dear companions, and fellow-travelers in spirit towards the land of the living! All the motions of the life are a cross to the corrupt [part] — dwell [in the life,] draw the yoke close about your necks, that you may come into unity with the life, and the corrupt be worn out. Take the yoke, the cross, the contrariness of Jesus upon your spirits daily; so what hinders the unity may be worn out, and so, you may feel your King and Saviour exalted upon his throne in your hearts. This is your rest, peace, life, kingdom, and crown forever.
On Searching for the Hidden Treasure, and Selling all for it.
To Catherine Pordage
Your estate and condition has been pretty much with me, since I last saw you. I am sensible how hard it is for you, to give up to be reached by the seed and power of life; how readily and easily your ear and heart is opened to another, and the adulterer [spiritual adulterer] entertained, who hunts after the precious life. This word of advice has been much in my heart to you this morning. Sit down and count the cost of ploughing up your field, and of searching after the hidden treasure of pure and true wisdom, and consider seriously, whether you can sell all for it, both inward and outward riches; that, if you do set your hand to the plough, you may not look back after anything else, within or without, but may be content and satisfied with the pearl of true wisdom and life alone.
Now, if you are truly willing in God's, sight thus to do, you must singly give up to follow the Lord in the leadings of his Spirit, out of all the ways of your own wisdom and knowledge, out of all things in which you have a life and delight out of him. You must not deter him with what you have a life in, but the Lord must search your heart, and he will soon show you of your heart to be naked and open before him, willing to hear and learn of him,- somewhat in your heart, somewhat in your ways, somewhat in your words, your thoughts, etc., which is contrary to his pure life and Spirit; and then that must be denied and given up immediately. And afterwards, perhaps the Lord will soon discover to you another lover, which has had more of your heart than you have been aware of; and so, you must part with one after another, until you have parted with all; and this will prepare you for the bosom of your Beloved, who is a Jealous God, and sees not with the eye by which man sees. But, if you are not thus singly given up, though you should put your hand to the plough, you will be looking back some time or other; and that worldly wisdom which draws aside from the Lord, will blind your eye and deceive your mind, and draw you from the simplicity and nakedness of Truth, into some image or other of it, so that instead of the pure Truth itself, you will believe and embrace a lie.
You have traveled long in the heights above the seed. Oh consider, if that is not yet standing in you, which could not have been found standing, if you had known the true seed, and travailed with it. This makes the price of Truth more precious to you, that you must part with more for it, than will be required of many others; yet, if you be faithful to the Lord, and diligently follow him in the simplicity, Truth will at length recompense you for all your labors, sorrows, and travels. But, the Lord will make a thorough work in your heart, if you singly give up unto him, and faithfully follow; and many deceptions will you meet with, to turn your mind out of the way, and to cause you to shun the bitterness of the cross, and to kindle and nourish a hope in you, that you may find a more easy way to the same life and everlasting substance. The Lord has reached to you, and the Lord is willing to search your heart, to find out the deceiver and enemy in his most secret lurking places; but, when the Lord has found him out, you must give him up to God's blows, and not suffer him to find a shelter in your mind to save him from. For he is very subtle, and will twist and twine all manner of ways to deceive you and save himself; nor are you yet acquainted with, or able to discern his devices.
The Lord alone can help you — and he will help you, if you are not hasty to join with the enemy, nor give up your judgment to believe what he represents, and seem inwardly to represent to you as true; but abide and dwell in the sense of your own inability to judge, waiting to feel what is true, pure, and living of God, judge in you, not so much in demonstrations of wisdom, as in tender and secret drawings of the beginnings of a new nature, away from what is of the earthly nature. For, you must come out of the spirit of this world, if you will come into God's Spirit; and you must come out of the love of the things of this world; if you will come out of the spirit of this world; for, in the love of the things of this world, the spirit of this world lodges and dwells, and you cannot touch the unclean thing, but you also touch something of the unclean spirit. Therefore, said John, from a true and deep understanding, "Love not the world, neither the things of the world," if you love the things of the world, you love the world,” for, "if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
The day of God's mercy and visitation is upon you, who is visiting that spirit in you which has led you aside, even with the judgment proper for it; that Zion in you might be thereby redeemed, and your soul converted to, and truly brought forth in righteousness.
To A Child of God
To Elizabeth Walmsley
My heart was exceedingly melted within me at the reading of your precious and tender lines; yes, indeed, I was quite overcome, and was willingly several times to break off; the freshness and strength of life in them did so flow in upon me; and I said, again and again, in my heart, It is the very voice of my Father's child, whose sound did deeply reach to, and refresh my very soul. And this my heart said, Blessed be my God, - for his tender mercies to you, in visiting, leading, and preserving you to this day, and for teaching his seed thus to speak in you. Oh! let his praise live and abound in your breast forever. And in the flowings and streamings of this life, remember me at the throne of my Father's mercy, by which alone I live, and have hope before him.
May the mercies, blessing, and pure presence of my God, fill your soul, and rest upon you forever! Amen! Amen!
Thus prays for you your unfeigned Friend, and dear lover of the pure seed of life in you,
Mind my dear love to your sister, whose inward welfare and prosperity I desire, even that she may be one with you in the seed and life of God.
Seeing Christ Within, and the Seeing the Sprinkling of His Blood Inwardly.
To Thomas Walmsley
FRIEND T. W.,
God is love, and he gives love, and teaches to love; and with the love which my God has given me, with which he has taught me to love, have I loved you, and sought the everlasting good of your soul, even as of my own.
This morning, the consideration of you was strong upon my spirit, how that you were stricken in years, and must shortly pass out of this world, and give an account to God; and this earnest desire was in my heart, that you might be fitted and rightly prepared, to give such an account, as the Lord, the great, righteous, and impartial Judge, might own and approve of, to your eternal joy. For which end, two things were upon my heart to propose to you, to be rightly considered by you.
One is, whether you can truly say, as in God's sight, that you have known and experienced Christ within, redeeming you from sin within? Has Christ indeed brought salvation home to your heart? Have you known his inward living power, breaking the strength and power of Satan within you? Have you known Him stronger than the strong man inwardly? Have you first known Christ to knock at the door of your heart, and opened to and let him in; and afterwards experienced what he does in the heart, where he is let in? Or have you had only a notional knowledge and belief concerning Christ without, and never known what it was to have the Son revealed in you? Oh! that you might know, and experimentally understand this Scripture, before you, go away and be no more seen, -" If Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin;"- and this other also, -" He that is Christ's has crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." May the Lord God make you truly weighty and serious, and rightly considerate, and give you true, unerring judgment; that you may not be deceived about this thing, which is of such deep and everlasting concernment to your soul!
The other is, whether you have experienced the 'sprinkling of the blood of the Lord Jesus upon your Conscience?’ The Jews were saved by the sprinkling of the blood of the lamb outwardly. The Lamb of God takes away the sins of the world, by the sprinkling of his blood inwardly. Now, I beseech you, consider: have you only a notion of Christ's blood as it was shed without, or do you also know the sprinkling within in your own heart? Has God made that new covenant, the everlasting covenant with you, in which the blood of sprinkling is felt, and the precious effects of it experienced? For then, indeed, iniquities are forgiven, and sin remembered no more; but the soul comes to witness real justification from sin, and that peace which passes understanding, which no man can give or take away; neither does any man know what it is, but he that has it. Oh that you may know the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and be clothed with it, that you may stand justified in God's sight forever, at that great day!
12th of Eleventh Month, 1677
The Way of God's Redemption is above the Way of Man's Wisdom.
My DEAR FRIEND,
This then is the way of redemption; to wait to feel the appearance of the light of the Spirit in the heart; and, at its least or lowest appearance, to be turned from the darkness towards it. Oh! feel the redeeming arm in yours own heart, and know the love which stretches it forth, and take heed of being prejudiced against its inward visitations to you; for, there is that near you which would darken you, and keep the seed of life in bondage. I know there is that in you, which pants and is not satisfied, something that thirsts after the living waters. The Spirit of the Lord said, Come, come to the fountain of eternal life; drink, and live. Oh Lord my God! Discover to the thirsty souls, what it is that withholds them from the living waters; that they may not labor and spend their strength in vain, in duties and ordinances invented by man, for that which may lull asleep for the present, but can never quiet the cry of the living seed, nor ever satisfy the soul.
I know your snare: there is a building in the earthly wisdom, a knowledge which you holds in the comprehension, out of the living feeling of that light, from which the true knowledge springs, and in which alone it is held. You must know the razing of this building, the confounding and scattering of this knowledge; that the true heir of the true knowledge may spring, and you may feel the babe raised, to whom God reveals the mysteries of his kingdom; which he hides from the wise professors and teachers in this age, as he has done in all ages. You are very wise; but you must sell all that, and become a very fool, if you will have the riches and everlasting treasure of the kingdom.
And, if you would draw near and find access to God in prayer, you must wait to feel the birth pray, and take heed of putting up requests in your own wisdom, and according to your own will; for these are the prayers of the false-formed child, or counterfeited birth, and not of the right seed; and the Father knows not, nor regards this voice. This is our religion: to feel that, which God begets in our hearts, preserved alive by God; to be taught by him to know him, to worship, and live to him, in the leadings and by the power of his Spirit: and, in this religion we have the comforts and appearance of his Spirit; which are past all the disputings and questionings of man's wisdom. Yes, and of our own hearts also, being demonstrated and made manifest to our spirits in a higher principle. I found my heart in great love drawn to write these things to you; and my soul pursues them with breathings to the Lord my God, that hereby, or by what other means he shall see good, you may be drawn into true unity and fellowship with the spring of eternal life; and not be deceived from the precious enjoyment of the God of your life here, or of the salvation of your soul forever. The path of life is living; and your feet must be guided into it, and walk faithfully in it to the end, if you will sit down in God's eternal rest and peace.
I have been long desolate, and a great mourner after my God, and know how to pity and weep over wandering souls; though I cannot but rejoice at this great day of salvation and powerful visitation of God's Spirit, in which he has sought out and gathered many into the fold of his pure rest, where he has become their living Shepherd, and daily ministers of his life unto them. And he is seeking out many more — happy are they, that know and return at the Shepherd's voice, when he calls after them.
I remain your true, entire, faithful, loving Friend, in the love and good-will of the Lord, wishing to your soul as to my own.
On the Pure, Living, Spiritual Food
And the Lord God preserve you, and give you to watch against, and to feel victory and dominion over, all that is contrary to Him in any of you; and which stands in the way of your fellowship with Him, and of your joy and peace in Him.
This sprang unto you in the good will of your Father, from the life and love of your brother in the Truth,
Retire from all that is unnecessary — and be content while waiting for understanding.
THE enemy kindles a great distress in the mind, by stirring up an earnest desire, and a sense of a seeming necessity, to know. When a motion arises, how shall I do, to know whether it is of God or not? For, if it is of God, it ought to be obeyed; and, if it is not of God, it ought to be resisted; but what shall I do, who cannot tell what it is? Must of necessity fall, either into disobedience to God's Spirit, or into the snares of the enemy? Thus the enemy raises up a strength in the reasoning part, even unanswerable there. But what if it is better for you, at present, to be darkened about these things, than as yet to know? Can that possibly be? Will the strong reason readily say: yes, that it may, in many respects? There is something else would live and be acting in you, if the clear and heavenly knowledge were given; and you would be centering in self, what you received from God. Yes, you would miss of the way of true knowledge, and never learn in every state to be content, nor know the pure way and actings of life in such a state. Truly, this is not the way of the child's knowing; but the child knows, in resignation and subjection of its very knowledge; and if there appears ever so great a necessity of knowledge, and yet knowledge is not given, it sinks, in fear and humility, into the will of the pure seed; and there something springs up, (unknown to the natural wisdom, and not in the way of man's wisdom), which at seasons preserves and bears it up in such a state. But this is a great mystery; yet sensibly experienced by the true travelers in this day.
Therefore, retire out of all necessities, according to the apprehension of the reasoning mind; and judge that only necessary, which God, in his eternal wisdom and love, proportions out unto us. And when you come to this place, you will have come to your rest [the beginning of it]; and as you abide here, you will abide in your soul's true rest, and know the preciousness of that lesson, and of whom you are to learn it, even, in every state to be content.
There was a quick sense of you upon my heart, and in that sense this cry was in me: — Oh! that you were acquainted with the pure, eternal power of the Lord, and might feel his outstretched arm revealed in you, and witness the faith which stands in that power; and in that faith, believe and wait for what God is doing, and willing to do, in and for his children.
"If you had faith," said Christ, "but as a grain of mustard seed, you should say to this mountain, be you cast into the midst of the sea, and it should be so." Indeed, the true faith, the pure faith, the living faith, which stands in the power, does remove all the mountains that are in the way, and makes the crooked ways straight, and the rough ways plain. If you had lived in the days of Christ's flesh, and wanted outward healing, and had been willing to come to him for healing, but had not come with faith that he was able and willing to heal perfectly; might not you have missed of that cleansing and outward health and salvation, which others met with? For, did not he say, "Be it unto you according to your faith?" And is not he the Physician of the soul and is not his skill to be trusted and believed in? He that hopes, and believes, and waits, and prays, and fights the good fight of faith, which gives victory over sin, Satan, and the world — he may possibly overcome; yes, he that wars lawfully, (that is, with the spiritual weapon, which is mighty through God,) he that wars with this only, and with this constantly, shall be sure to overcome. For, greater is He that is in the true believer, than he that is in the world. O that you might have experience of these things, and witness the manner of Christ’s love and power displayed in you, and the victories and conquests that come by these, and the safety and peace which is under it! For, of a truth, we do not boast, but are witnesses of the majesty of God's love and power, which we testify of. The Lord to enlighten and guide you, that you may obtain the desires of your heart; for, I really believe your desire is after holiness and after communion with the Father and the Son, and with the saints in light, Oh that you may be led into the true pure light of life, that there you may enjoy what in this kind you desire! This is from one, who singly, as in the Lord's sight, wishes well unto you.
Advice to one Experiencing Demons.
You have had the path of salvation faithfully testified of to you, and have come to a sense of the thing; even to the feeling of that, by which the Father begets life, and manifested his love and peace in and to the soul. Now, what remains; but that you look up to the Lord, to guide your feet in this path, and to preserve from what darkens and leads out of the way; that you may pass on your journey safely, and come to the inheritance and enjoyment of that, which your soul longs after.
There is life, there is peace, there is joy, there is righteousness, there is health, there is salvation, there is power of redemption- in the seed. Yes, there it is so. But your soul wants, and does not enjoy these things. Well, but how may you come to enjoy them? There is no way, but union with the seed; knowing the seed, hearing the voice of the seed, learning of, and becoming subject to, the seed. "Learn of me, take my yoke upon you," said Christ, "and you shall find rest to your souls." Would you feel your soul's rest in Christ? You must know the seed's voice, hear it, learn daily of him, become his disciple; take up, from his, nature, what is contrary to your nature. And then, as your nature is worn out, and his nature comes up in you, you will find all easy; all that is of life easy, and transgression hard-unbelief hard. Yes, you will find it very hard and unnatural, when the nature of the seed is grown up in you, either to distrust the Lord or hearken to his enemy. And then you will change that dwelling-place, (into which Satan brings dark thoughts, suggestions, and reasonings,) for the dwelling-place which is from above, which is the habitation of the righteous; in which there is light, life, peace, satisfaction, health, salvation, and rejoicing of soul from and before the Lord. Now, do not say, Who shall do thus for me! But know, the arm of the Lord is mighty, and brings mighty things to pass; and that arm has been revealed in you, and is at work for you. Oh that you could trust it! (Why can you not? For has it not sown a seed of faith in you?) Have you not come into, and do you not abide in the path, in which its mighty, powerful operations are felt and made manifest? And, Oh that you may find ability, to watch against what bows down, and not let it in, as you have done exceedingly, to the grievous wounding and distressing of your soul! For the enemy's dark suggestions work according to their nature; and, if you let them lie upon you, how can they but darken, afflict, and perplex you?
Therefore, in the evil hour, flee from all things that thus arise in you; and lie still, feel your stay, until His light, which "makes manifest," arises in you, and clears up things to you. And think not the time of darkness long; but watch, that your heart is kept empty, and your mind clear of thoughts and belief of things, until He brings in something, which you may safely receive. Therefore, say to your thoughts and to your belief of things, (according to the representation of the dark power, in the time of your darkness), "Go away!" And, if that will not do, look up to the Lord to speak to them; and to keep them out, if they are not already entered, or to thrust them out if they are already in. And, if he does not do so immediately, or for a long time, yet do not murmur or think much, but wait until it is done. Yes, though they violently thrust themselves upon you, and seem to have entered your mind, yet let them be as strangers to you; receive them not, believe them not, know them not, own them not; and your own will, keep chaste in the eye of the Lord, though they may seem to you to have defiled you.
Look up to the Father, that you may learn this of him; and, becoming faithful to him therein, you will find your darkness abate, and its strength more and more broken in you; and you will not only feel and taste a little, now and then, but also come to possess and inherit, and rejoice before the Lord in your portion.
Your Friend in the Truth, which changes not, but is pure, and preserves pure forever.
From Aylesbury Jail,
On Obedience, Spiritual Growth, Establishment, and Victory in
Some Scriptures did spring up and open in my heart towards you this morning.
One was, that of 2 Cor 10:4-6, which was mainly on my heart and is about the fulfilling of obedience. First, there is a knowing the will of God; while waiting to know and understand from God, what is his holy, good, perfect, and acceptable will. Then, as God gives the knowledge, he requires obedience; which is to be learned of God in the new spirit and life. For, in the old nature, mind and spirit, there is nothing but darkness and disobedience; in the new creation is the new obedience. So that, there is first a beginning of knowledge in the Spirit, a beginning of faith in the renewing power, and a beginning of obedience (in the same) to him that calls. Then, there is an increasing knowledge, of true, pure, living knowledge, an increase of faith, and a growing more and more obedient under the exercises, judgments, and chastisements of the Father's Spirit: even until, at length, the soul comes to witness a full readiness, skill, and strength (in and through Christ, in and through the measure of the gift of grace received from him) to obey in all things. When the new birth is thus grown up into strength and dominion, into the stature of a man in Christ; then the senses, which have been long exercised in discerning between good and evil, grow strong: and there is a quick discerning in the fear of the Lord, and an authority, in his name and power, over the enemy and his temptations: so that every strong hold is broken down, every imagination and false reasoning concerning the Truth, is subjected and broken by the evidence and power of Truth, every thought brought under, into captivity, even to the obedience of Christ; with a readiness to reject all unbelief and disobedience, that will so much as offer to rise up. Now, is not this the Christian state, which God would have his children aim and arrive at? And are not they blessed who witness it? And does not the true ministration of the gospel light, Spirit, and power lead to it? And should any be at rest in their spirits, in an easeful, formal, dry, dead profession without it?
Another Scripture was 1 Pet 2:2-5. It is precious to witness the state of a newborn babe, to be begotten to God by the word of life and power, even by the word which God engrafts into the heart. Oh what living desires, then, are there, after what nourishes the birth of life, which God breathes from his own Spirit, and begets the soul into! Now, as the birth is pure, so the nourishment is pure: — pure milk from the pure word ,- sincere, unmixed milk from the word of life, — from the breast of life. Who is it that begets to God? It is the Spirit, the Word, the second Adam, he whose name is the Word of God. Who is the mother of these children? It is the heavenly wisdom, the Jerusalem which is above. ("Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all." "Wisdom is justified by her children.") Now, who feeds these children? Who nourishes, who brings them up? Why, the mother which bore them, she holds forth the breast of life to them, she yields to them the pure milk of the word. The newborn babes, they long for it, they cry for their food, they earnestly desire after it; and the tender mother gives it forth to them, even the milk of the breast of life from the pure word of life; and by this they grow. But, how did the babes come to desire such pure, sincere, unmixed food? Oh! They have "tasted that the Lord is gracious." They have had the heavenly taste, they have tasted what was living and pure from God, from his tender mercy and grace, in which he ministers life and salvation. Oh the remembrance and sense of the sweetness of this, is upon their palates! Oh how precious and living is it, when it comes new and fresh from him! The words which he speaks, they are still spirit and life to the soul. How can they but desire, that from the breast of life, from the heavenly wisdom and divine knowledge of his Father, he would minister unto them of the pure food, that they may know and feed on the Truth as it is in Jesus? Here, they come to him as unto a living fountain, and a living stone, disallowed indeed, and rejected by the builders after the flesh, in all ages and generations; but chosen of God, and precious to all that have the true sense and understanding. Thus they come to him daily, and are built up into a living house, or spiritual temple and dwelling-place for God. He, the foundation stone, the corner atone, the top stone, the hope and crown of their glory; they, living stones in him, quickened and kept alive in and by him, and shining in his light and glory.
A third Scripture was Eph 6:10-13. Is not this a precious state, to be "strong in the Lord and in the power of his might?" to know " the whole armor of God," and to put it on and to be armed against the strength of the enemy, and to overcome him? Have you ever witnessed such a state in yourself? Yes, John writes to the young men in his time, because they had "overcome the wicked one." (Compare 1 John 2:14, with Eph 6:10 ). Could not such a thing be again witnessed, even now, in these our days? Would not anyone who told you such good tidings be a messenger of good, who could tell you from God, how you might come to know, to put on, to fight in this holy armor, and by this overcome all the adversaries of your soul? Does not the apostle say: "The weapons of our warfare are mighty through God?" Would not you be willing to witness them present in yourself? Mind then — in the measure of life, in the measure of grace and truth which is from Christ, all the knowledge, strength, and use of the armor lies. Thus, the Truth as it is In Jesus is the girdle of the loins; and from and through him, in his pure measure of life, righteousness springs up as a breastplate. There likewise, the feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; for there, the gospel, the life, the redeeming power and virtue is always in readiness, whenever the Lord sees service for it. And then, the shield of faith is known, which quenches the fire of the enemy's temptations. There also, is the helmet of salvation, the true hope; for in it, Christ, the hope of glory, is revealed, and felt to be near. And then, the sword of the Spirit is witnessed, which is the living Word, the Spirit which quickens and gives life; which Word is quick, piercing, and exceeding powerful, able to smite and wound death. (See Rev 1:16, Isa 17:1, Isa 11:4, and 2 Thes 2:8). And here, is pure praying in the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, and watching there with perseverance, both for itself in particular, and the whole body of the faithful in general; but for those more especially, on whom lies the weight of the service in and towards the body: so that here is prayer in its due season, weight, and order offered up to God, in true life and understanding; which prayer God always hears. Oh mind this thing diligently, for it is of a great concern to you! In the grace of the gospel, in the measure of truth and life from the quickening Word you meet with the whole armor of God. You may there know it, you may there put it on, stand armed with it, and fight with success against your soul's enemies. Out of this experience, you may get imaginations in your mind about it, but can never truly know it, can never come to it, or be covered and armed with it, to stand and fight successfully and victoriously against the enemies of your soul.
Ah ! Little do you know the loving kindness of the Lord in visiting you with his Truth, in giving you a sense beyond others, in so tenderly drawing and inviting your heart; or what this will come to, if you faithfully give up to hearken to and follow him.
20th of Tenth Month, 1671.
The least Messenger of the Gospel is not to be despised.
WHAT is Paul? What is Apollos? Or what is Cephas? It is one and the same pure life and word of power, which springs in all the holy brethren, whom God has sanctified and prepared to give forth the sound of his holy trumpet. It is the Lord himself, who gives forth the true and certain sound; great is the company of those, whom he has chosen and sent forth to publish it; none of whom can be despised in their message, without despising him that sent them; for he sends forth the least and weakest, as well as the greatest. Oh take heed of that nature and spirit in you, which desires or seeks after a sign. It is an evil and adulterous generation which seeks after a sign. But wait to meet with that inwardly, which changes the heart, and renews the mind to God; which teaches to love the Lord God with all the heart, soul, mind, and spirit — so that true life, from and in him, may be witnessed. And as for being one of us, you must be formed so by the Lord, by being inwardly changed and renewed by the Spirit and power of the Lord, otherwise you can’t witness true unity with us. If you feel the principle of Truth in your own heart, and in that know and own us, and so come among us, and join to us in the Truth, and keep faithful to the principle, you will never be in danger of leaving us, as they that depart from the principle in their own hearts, may soon and easily do.
How the Scriptures must be Read to Avoid You Own Opinion.
Hearken to a word of advice, which is in my heart to you; it may be of great use to you, if the Lord opens your spirit, and cause my words to sink into you. It is this:
Wait on the Lord, that you may, from him, feel the right limit to your mind, in reading the Scriptures. For, the mind of man is busy and active, willing to be running beyond its bounds, guessing at the meaning of God’s Spirit, and imagining of itself, unless the Lord limits it. Therefore, read in fear; and wait understandingly to distinguish between God's opening to you words concerning the kingdom and the things of the kingdom, and your own imaginations in reading about them; that the one may be always thrown away, and the other always embraced by you. And, always wait for God's timing and season. Do not presume to understand a thing, before he gives you the understanding of it, [which is only given while waiting in the Light, with a quiet mind, not reading]. And also know that he alone is able to preserve the true sense and knowledge in you; that you may live dependently upon him for your knowledge, and never "lean to your own understanding." Little do you know, what it has cost us, to have our own understanding and wisdom broken down; and how demonstratively by this Spirit the Lord opens Scriptures to us, (yes, and the things themselves, which the Scriptures speak of), ever since he has taught us to deny our own understanding, and to lean upon his Spirit and wisdom.
The Lord guide you by his certain, infallible Spirit, into the certain, infallible, everlasting way of life, that by the shinings of his light, Spirit, and power in you, you may see light and enjoy life. For, if you did, you would certainly and infallibly understand all the words, descriptions, and testimonies concerning the thing in the Scriptures; yet, it is one thing to understand words, testimonies, and descriptions; and it is another matter to understand, know, enjoy, possess, and live in that which the words relate to, describe, and bear witness of.
And, Friend, if you will be an inward Jew, and know and understand the laws of life, the laws of the new covenant, you must read them in those tables, where God writes them in [in your heart] and by the new covenant. Indeed, by reading in the letter, you may read testimonies concerning the Spirit and his ministration; but you must read in the Spirit, if you are ever to correctly understand the letter, [and reading the Scriptures, does not increase your measure of Spirit — only abiding in his Light does this]. And, the end of words is to bring men to the knowledge of things, beyond what words can utter. So, learn of the Lord to make a right use of the Scriptures; which is, by esteeming them in their place, and prizing that above them, which is above them. The "eternal life," the Spirit, the power, the fountain of living waters, the everlasting pure well is above the words concerning it. This, the believer is to witness in himself, and to draw water with joy out of it.
To Focus on Christ as God working in Power, — not as he was Man.
To the Friend of Francis Fines.
After some deep exercise of spirit concerning you, under great grief of heart for you, I felt a constraint of love, forcing these following considerations from me, to leave before you.
As for William Penn, you did not make mention of him to me in your former letter. And as to your charge upon him, that he denies the "Trinity," redemption by Christ's blood, and imputed righteousness, you may read his clarification, (and apology to those who misunderstood his writings), touching those things, which it is just you should seriously weigh, as in God's sight; and then, perhaps you will not so resolutely charge him as now you do. Christ is made unto us righteousness, by faith in his blood, and by faith in his Spirit; and he that does not believe in his Spirit, and does not receives instruction and help from his Spirit to believe, cannot believe correctly in his blood. All that is of Christ is righteous; and that of Christ, the righteous and holy root, is righteous and holy, wherever it is found. And, by Christ, that which is truly holy and righteous is brought up in us, and was forgiven and washed from our sins and iniquities for his name's sake. And the receiving of the pardon of sins is precious, and the bringing forth in the new life is precious also.
I am satisfied in God's Spirit, that what I have written in the last I sent to you, is the sum and substance of true religion; the sum and substance whereof, does not stand in getting a notion of Christ's righteousness, but in feeling the power of the endless life, receiving the power, and being changed by the power. And where Christ is, there is his righteousness. He that has the Son, has life and righteousness; but he that has not the Son, has not life nor righteousness. And where Christ is not, there is not his righteousness; but only a notion of him, from conclusions formed out of the Scriptures by man's wisdom, which should be destroyed. I would not have your knowledge here, nor your standing here, nor your faith here; but in the truth and life itself.
Christ was anointed and sent of God, a Saviour, to destroy the works of the devil, to break down all rule and authority contrary to God in man; for his work is in the heart. There he quickens, there he raises, there he brings into death what is to die, raising the seed immortal, and bringing the creature into subjection to it. Now, to feel the power that does this, and to feel this wrought by the power, this is far beyond all talk about justification and righteousness. Here is where I would have you come, out of the talk, out of the outward knowledge, into the thing itself, and into the trueness of the new and living knowledge, which is witnessed here.
There is a power in Christ, to mortify and overcome sin in the very root; it is not however overcome, except in the revealing of this power; nor is the soul justified, but in and by the working of this power. So that, justification is not the first thing, but the power of life "In and through which (revealed in Christ) the soul is both justified and sanctified through the working of the faith, which is from the power." And here salvation is felt near indeed, to those that truly fear the Lord; and glory dwells in the land which he has redeemed. There mercy and truth do indeed meet together, and righteousness and peace kiss each other. Yes, truth there springs out of the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. And here, the heavenly place in Christ is sat down in, towards which, is the travel of the disciple. For, Christ said to his disciples, "I go to prepare a place," and "I will come again," and translate you there. But, the disciples do not come to this place before their travel, or before any works of righteousness which God has wrought in them.
Therefore, he that will be justified by Him, must abide in the faith, where the justification is. The Father justifies what is of his own life in the Son, and the Son in his life; and the Son justifies what is of the Father in us, (what is of the Father's nature, the Father's spirit, the Father's life,) and justifies us from that, by his blood, from which we cannot otherwise be justified. Oh how precious it is, to see and feel this in the true light, where the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin! Here, is no covenant for us of ourselves to perform; but the true self-denial is witnessed, in which the covenant is performed; and Christ, the life, Christ, the power, Christ, the righteousness and wisdom of God, working all in us; and we, gathered into him, and living and working in him, by the faith which is of him. And here, is free-will indeed, even of the will which was bound and captivated before. And here, is the election known, which obtains; and the obedience and sufferings of Christ, not looked upon as superfluous, but highly prized, and looked upon as of inestimable value.
Do we cry up works against the workman? Man's grace and righteousness against God's? Conformity to Christ, against Christ? Or make a Christ, a righteousness, a Saviour of our conformity? Oh! What will you do, when God shall plead with you for these things! Also that charge of yours on us, that we deny the person of Christ, and make him nothing but a light or notion, a principle in the heart of man, is very unjust and untrue; for we own that appearance of him in his body of flesh, his sufferings and death, and his sitting at the Father's right hand in glory; but then, we affirm, that there is no true knowledge of him, or union with him, but in the seed or principle of his life in the heart; and that therein he appears, subdues sin, and reigns over it, in those that understand and submit to the teaching and government of his Spirit.
But, we cannot set the manhood above the life, and make that the main or chief in the work of redemption, and the life and Spirit of his Godhead, but supporting, enabling, and carrying him up in that great undertaking.
Consider, I pray you, if what you say is not contrary to the Scriptures? Was the work laid by the Father upon the manhood, or upon the Son who, in the life and by the life, was "mighty to save?" Who took up the manhood? Was it not the Son? “Behold! I come," says he, “a body you have prepared me." And was it not he that laid down his glory and made himself of no reputation but came in the form of a servant, (took upon him man's nature). Did not he do the work in man's nature? Did not the eternal Spirit sanctify the body in the womb? Did not the eternal Power act in him all along? Yes, did not the eternal Spirit offer the body to God a sacrifice? For the manhood would willingly have avoided the cup, (“Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me!"), but the Spirit taught him to be subject to the will of the Father. So that his giving up to death was rather to be attributed to his eternal Spirit than to his manhood: for that was the principal in the work, and not merely a by-product. And does not Christ confess as much to his Father, when he said, "I have glorified you on the earth. I have finished the work which you gave me to do;" and now, Oh Father I glorify you, with me with your own self, with the glory which I had with you before the world was. Though we are willing to honor the manhood of Christ, with the honor which the Father has honored it with; yet we cannot honor it in the first place, and attribute redemption to it in the first place; [instead of] making the Spirit and life of God first, but supporting, assisting, and carrying on in it. For, "God was in Christ," and it was his power, life, and virtue, that did it all in him, as it is a measure of the same life which does all in us; in which measure, we partake of his death, and not only so, but also of his life and resurrection. For, he is "the resurrection and the life," (which we cannot deny), and if by his death, we are reconciled to God, "much more shall we be saved by his life." And, if righteousness is revealed in us, imputed to us, and we partake of it, as we come into his death; we shall much more partake of it as we come into his life.
It is precious, indeed, to hear of Christ without; but it is more precious to feel him within; where the wisdom of our Solomon, his love, his riches, his treasures of life, and the glory of his kingdom, and order of his family, and food of his children and of his servants, are witnessed and revealed on his holy mountain; where be makes the feast of fat things to his, where the bread and wine of the kingdom is eaten and drunk abundantly, and the streams of the river of his own pleasures, water his gardens and refresh his heritage.
I have looked over all the Scriptures quoted by you, and find not one of them proving the thing you assert; (that is, attributing redemption properly to the manhood, and consequently improperly, in the second place, only as in being an assistant to the Spirit and life of the Godhead). But, if you would rightly distinguish, it is more proper to make the Word, (or Life, which was in the beginning the agent), which did all; and that body, which the Father prepared and sanctified – the form of a servant or garment, in and through which the life, being clothed with it, did act.
Now, the Jews did disdain Christ, as a man, in that his low appearance; therefore is the glory still given to "the man Christ Jesus;" but not to take the honor from the Son, who was God, and who saved by his Godhead, by the life, virtue, and power thereof. “I, even I, am the Lord," said Jehovah, “and beside me there is no Savior." The Word eternal which made all, redeems all that are redeemed; that body of flesh was that in which he appeared. And to what he did in it was attributed to his manhood, (and the man Christ Jesus did all that is attributed to him in the Scriptures), but not in the first place. Thus I speak for your sake, and sometimes, upon necessity, to help to scatter the darkness which is sealed in men's minds in this particular, which is very gross; many men having heaped unto themselves dark mountains, from their own imaginings and conceivings, upon which they stumble; and so, reading the Scriptures out of the pure life in which they were written, they gather not the true food, but food of their own imagining and invention; and so their table becomes their snare.
And since you charge us with making Christ only a pattern, not a Saviour-indeed, it is not so in God's sight; for, we own Christ to be a Saviour; but we lay the main stress upon the life, which took upon it the manhood. And that life, wherever it appears, is of a saving nature, and does save; the least measure of it, is of the nature of the rock, and he proves a rock to them that feel him, and whose minds are stayed upon him. Yet none, in the measure of this life, can deny the appearance of the fullness of life in that body of flesh, and what he did within the body towards the redemption and salvation of mankind.
Oh! Pure, spotless Lamb of God, how precious was your sacrifice in the eye of the Father! How acceptable a ransom for all mankind! For, in the free, full, and universal love of the Father, “he tasted death for every man."
On the Religious Care of Children.
I have not much freedom to write at present, being retired in spirit and mourning to my God, for the powerful bringing forth of his pure life, yet more perfectly, both in myself and other; yet, the spirit of your letter does so strongly draw, that I cannot be wholly silent.
This, therefore, in the uprightness, fear, and tenderness of my heart, I say to you.
There is a pure principle of life in the heart, from where all good springs. This, you are to mind in yourself; and this, you are to wait on the Lord, to be taught and enabled by him to reach to, in your children; that you may be an instrument in his hand, to bring them into that fear of him, which is acceptable to him, and will be profitable to them. Mind, therefore, its leadings in your heart, and wait to be acquainted with its voice there. And, when your children ask you any questions of this nature, — What God is; where he dwells; or whether he sees them in the dark? – Do not reject them; but, wait to feel something of God raised in you, which is able to judge, whether the question has been put forth in sensibility or in vanity; and which can give you an advantage of stirring the good, and reaching to that, which is to be raised both in young and old, to live to the praise of him who raises it. And, take heed of a judgment after the flesh; for by so, you may judge us, our principles and practices, and approve or disapprove, etc. But, wait to feel that raised in you, which judges righteous judgment in every particular; and wait the time of its judgment, and be still and silent, further than manifestly you know that it, and not you, judges.
And, as to your children, daily feel the need of instruction from the Almighty, to govern and direct them, and wait daily to receive it from him; and what you receive, give forth in fear, and wait for his carrying it home and working it upon their hearts. For he is a Father, and has tenderness, and gives true wisdom to every condition of his people, that wait upon him; so as He may be known to be all daily, and they able to be nothing without him.
Breathe unto the Lord, that your heart may be single, your judgment set straight by his principle of life in you, and your children guided to, and brought up in the sense of the same principle. As for praying, they will not need to be taught that outwardly; but, if a true sense be kindled in them, though ever so young, from that sense will arise breathings to Him that begat it, suitable to their state; which will cause growth and increase of that sense and life in them.
Thus, in the plainness of my heart, have I answered you, according to the drawings and freedom which I found there, which I dare not exceed; who am your unfeigned Friend, though outwardly unknown,
20th of Third Month, 1665
Retire into the Lord, waiting, and he will bring your whole family into his protection.
Dreadful is the Lord; it is now known and felt, beyond what can be spoken. Does your heart fear before him; are you willing to be subject to him; do you desire strength from him, to trust yourself and your family with him? Oh, that you may be helped daily to cry unto him, that he may have mercy upon you, who is tender-hearted and able to preserve, when his arrows fly round about!
Retire, deeply retire, and wait to feel his life; that your soul may be gathered out of the reasonings and thoughts of your mind, into what stays from them, and fixes beneath them; where the Lord is known and worshipped, in what is of himself, of his own-begetting, of his own forming, of his own preserving, of his own shutting and opening at his pleasure. And, living in the sense and pure fear of the Lord, (not meddling to judge others or justify yourself, but waiting for his appearance in you, who is the justifier and justification,) you will be enabled by the Lord, in his seasons, to bring your children and family into the same sense; that you and they together may enjoy the same preservation from him, so far as he sees is right, whose will is not to be limited, but to be subjected to.
And, if your heart is right, before the Lord, and your soul awakened and preserved in his fear, you will find something to travel out of, and something to travel into, and the Lord drawing and leading you. And this stroke, which is so dreadful to others, nor altogether without dread to you, will prove of great advantage in your behalf; in drawing you more into a sense and acquaintance of the infinite One, and in drawing you from your earthly thoughts and knowledge which will not now stand you in place of the truth.
8th of Seventh Month, 1661
Abide to eventually enjoy the rest and joy for evermore.
To Friends of Truth in and about the two Chalfonts.
I am separated, as to bodily presence, from you; but, I cannot forget you, because you are written on my heart, and I cannot but desire your peace and welfare, as of my own soul.
And this is my present cry for you. Oh, that you might feel the breath of life, that life which at first quickened you, and which still quickens; and that breath of life has power over death; and, being felt by you, will bow down death in you, and you will feel the seed, lifting up its head over what oppresses it. Why should the royal birth be a captive in any of you? Why should any of you travail and not bring forth? Why should sin have dominion in any of you, and not rather grace reign in its life and power in you all? Oh that you may receive quickenings! Oh that you may receive help! Oh that you may be led into the true subjection, which brings forth the true dominion! Indeed, I cry for my own soul, and I cry for yours also, that in one virtue and power of life, we may be knit together, and serve the Lord our God in perfect unity of spirit.
My Friends, what shall I say unto you? Oh! The Lord keep you living and sensible, and let your walking and conversation be with him, both in private and in your assemblings; be serious in your spirits, that you may feel the weight of his seed springing up in you, and resting upon you, to poise your hearts towards him. And let the earthly thoughts, desires, and concerns, which eat like a canker, be kept out by the power of that life, which is yours, as you abide in covenant with him that has gathered you, by his pure light shining in you. Oh that you may all dwell there; and not draw back into the earthly nature, where the enemy lies lurking to entangle and to catch your minds, and bring you to a loss!
Feel my love and tender care of you in the quickening life of God; and the Lord God watch over you for good, to perfect his work in you, and draw your hearts nearer and nearer to himself until they be quite swallowed up of him that you may at last find your hearts fitted for, and welcomed into, the bosom of your beloved; and there may sit down in the rest and joy of his fullness for evermore; which is the blessed end of the Lord's love to you, and all the faithful travails which have been for you.
Your Friend and brother in the Truth,
From my place of confinement in Aylesbury,
20th of Fourth Month, 1666.
Even when you were sitting together, waiting on the Lord, (some of you, I doubt not), did these things spring up in my heart towards you; and, if you taste any sweetness or refreshment in them, bow to the Fountain, and be sensible of his praise springing in the midst of you.
On True Judgment, and on Prejudices;
To Friends of Truth in and about the two Chalfonts.
As a father watches over his children, so do I wait and desire to feel the Lord watching over my soul continually. And in his love, care, wise and tender counsel is my safety, life and peace; and I never yet repented either wailing for him or hearkening to him. But if I have hearkened at anytime to anything and mistook his voice, and entertained the enemy's deceitful appearance, instead of his pure Truth, (which it is very easy to do), that grievous mistake has proved a matter of loss and sorrow to my soul. Now, Oh my Friends, that you might know and hear the voice of the Preserver! By this shall you be preserved, and kept from the voice of the stranger, which draws you aside from the pure principle of life, and the true feeling sense. There is that near you which watches to betray; Oh! the God of my life, joy, peace, and hope, watch over your souls, and deliver you from the advantages which, at any time, it has against any of you. The seed which God has sown in you, is pure and precious. Oh that it may be found living in you and you abiding in it! Oh that no other seed may, at any time, usurp authority over it! But that you may know the authority and pure Truth which is of God, and in that stand, in the pure dominion, over all that is against him. For, in the principle of life, which you have known and received in measure, is dominion; and you, being preserved in that, are in the dominion over the impure and deceitful one; and, that judging in you, has power to judge all impurity and deceivableness, as the light pleases to make it manifest to you. But, out of that, you will easily become a prey, and let up darkness for light, and account light darkness; and then, a wrong wisdom, confidence, and conceitedness, will get up in you, and lead you far out of the way and spirit of Truth. Oh my dear Friends! May that be kept down in you, which is forward to judge, to approve or disapprove; and may the weighty judgment of the seed be waited for. And, Oh! do not judge, do not judge, before the light of the day shines in you, and gives forth the judgment; but stand and walk in fear and humility, and tenderness of spirit, and silence of flesh, that the Lord be not provoked against any of you, to give you up to a wrong sense and judgment, to the hurt of your souls. And mind your own states, and the feeling of life in your own vessels; which will keep you pure, precious, and chaste in the eye of the Lord. And, Oh! Do not meddle with talking about others; which eats out the inward life, and may exalt your spirits out of your place, and above your proper growth. Be as the weaned child: simple, naked, meek, humble, tender; easily led by, and subjected to the Father; so will you grow in what is of God, and be preserved out of that, which hunts after the pure life, to betray and destroy it. I have an interest in you, my cries are to the Lord for you, and I exceedingly thirst after your preservation and growth in that which is pure; and in that breathing, longing spirit towards you, was it in my heart at this time to write unto you.
The Lord God of my mercies, hope and life, watch over you for good, and keep your hearts in the pure and single watch; that the enemy, by any subtle device of his, break not in upon you; nor you, by any temptation, be allured or drawn from the Lord; but, may know the pure, eternal, everlasting habitation, and may dwell and abide therein, to the joy of your own soul, and the rejoicing of the heart of all that have travailed for you in the Spirit of the Lord.
From your brother and companion in the faith, patience, and afflictions of the seed,
25th of Eleventh Month, 1666.
Thus, feel after what has gathered you to the Lord; and then also, in that, you will feel the life, freshness, and glory in the Lord, of those who have been made instrumental to gather you, and are still serviceable in his hand and leadings, to build you up; and then, what is ready to hearken to and receive prejudices, will be kept down, and the pure life will live over it, which he that feels has joy, and peace, and rest in God.
And Friends, you that are weak, bless God for the strong; you that have need of a pillar to lean upon, bless God, that has provided pillars in his house; and, in fear and the guidance of his Spirit, make use of these pillars; who are faithful, and have ability from God, in his power and glorious presence with them, to help to sustain his building, even as they had ability from the Lord to gather unto him. He that despises him that is sent, despises Him that sent him; and he that undervalues any gift, office, or work, that God has bestowed upon any person, despises the wisdom and disposal of the Giver. Are all fathers? Have all overcome the enemy? Are all grown up in the life? Are all stars in the firmament of God's power? Has God made all equal? Are there not different states, different degrees, deferent growths, different places, etc.?
Then, if God has made a difference, and given degrees of life, and gifts different, according to his pleasure; what wisdom and spirit is that, which does not acknowledge this, but would make all equal? Oh my Friends! Fear before the Lord; honor the Lord in his appearances, and in the differences which he has made among the children of men, and among his people. He gave prophets of old, and the rest of the people were not equal with them. He gave evangelists, apostles, pastors, teachers, etc., and the other members of the churches were not equal with them. He has given fathers and elders now, and the babes and young men are not equal with them. Thus it is, in truth, from the Lord; and what is of God in you, will so acknowledge it.
Therefore watch, everyone, to feel and know his own place and service in the body, and to be sensible of the gifts, places, and services of others; that the Lord may be honored in all, and everyone owned and honored in the Lord, and not otherwise.
26th of Eleventh Month, 1666
Caution to a Couple Considering Marriage.
It is a great and weighty thing that you are about; and you have need of the Lord's leading and counsel therein, that it may be done in the unity of his life; that so Friends in Truth may feel it to be of God, and find satisfaction in this.
Friend, the affectionate part will be forward in things of this nature, unless it be yoked down; and it will persuade the mind to judge such things to be right and of the Lord, when indeed they are not so. Now, if it is not of the Lord, but the affectionate part, Friends cannot have unity with it, nor will it prove a blessing to you; but you will find it an hurt to your conditions, and a load upon your spirits afterwards, and the fruits and effects of it will not be good, but evil; and then, perhaps, you will wish that you had waited more singly and earnestly upon the Lord, in relation to the thing; and that you had taken more time, and consulted more with Friends, before there had been any engagement of affections. The Lord, by his providence, has given you a little time of respite. Oh retire unto him, and abase yourselves before him, and pray him to counsel you, by his good Spirit, for your good! Pray that, if it is not of the Lord, the power, being waited on by you, may loosen your affections in this respect. But, if it is of the Lord, and is orderly brought before Friends, and their counsel and advice sought in the fear of the Lord, they will have unity with it, and with gladness express their unity; which may be a strength onto you, against the tempter afterwards.
This is in true love to you, and in singleness of
heart, the Lord knows.
I. P.4th of Third Month, 1668
Wait, Give Up All, Feel the Birth Within, Defeat the Enemy.
To John Mannock
Has the Lord drawn your heart to hear the sound of Truth, and given you some sense and savor thereof; though, perhaps, not as yet full satisfaction in all things that are truly and faithfully testified concerning it? Oh prize this love of God to you! and watch and pray, and come into the pure fear; that you may walk worthy of it, and may discern in spirit what it is that gives you the savor; and so, receive the leaven of the kingdom, and feel its leavening virtue upon your heart day by day. For, after the Lord has been at work, the enemy will be at work also; and you may meet with him both without, and within too, in reasonings and questioning! against the demonstration of God's Spirit to your heart and conscience. Now, if you hearken to these, they will eat out the sense and belief of what God's Spirit begat in you. Oh! How many wise men, and how many knowing men, that have tasted of some true experiences, yet do not have the sense and discerning of the Spirit and power of the Lord, as it is now made manifest; but speak hard words, and think hard thoughts of his Truth and its precious appearances.
Ah! What are we, any of us, on whom the Lord has shown his mercy, and whose hearts he touches, and makes sensible of his drawings; yes, and not only so, but also gives us to partake of the eternal life and virtue, which he has hidden in his Son from the eyes of all living. We sought it up and down, in the deeps and heights; but the deep said, It is not in me, and the highest mountain and hill that ever we met with, could not bring salvation to us. But, at length, we found the fear of the Lord to be the true wisdom, and that which taught us to depart from evil, gave us the true understanding. Now, if any among us are not thus taught, but only own the docterines of Truth published among us, being thereunto overcome by the demonstration of God's Spirit; yet, for all this, they are not felt by us in the life and unity of the Spirit of the Lord with us; and such, the Lord will manifestly prune out in his own due time, and graft in others in their stead. Yes, such as do indeed give up to Truth, and in measure feel the power of it, and are made by the power of the Lord subject to it — yet, if in anything they let in the spirit of the world, and act according to it, so far, they are not of the Truth, nor owned by it.
Now, dear Friend, (for, so far as your heart is touched by God's Spirit, and answers to it, you are dear unto me,) mind your condition, and wait on the Lord in humility of heart, and in subjection to what he inwardly, by his Spirit, daily makes manifest; that you may come into the obedience of the Truth daily. That you may daily feel the change, which is wrought in the heart and conscience, by the holy, eternal, ever-living power; that so, you may witness, according to the Scriptures, "what is born of the Spirit, is spirit." And then you will feel, that this birth of the Spirit cannot fulfill the lusts of the flesh, but will be warring and fighting the good fight of faith, in the power of life, against them; and thus, in faithfulness to the Truth, and waiting upon the Lord, you shall witness an overcoming in his due time. For, indeed, the true faith overcomes, the true shield beats down the most fiery darts, and, in the power of the Lord, the enemy is so resisted, that he flees; and the name of the Lord is, indeed, a strong tower to his children, to which his seed know how to retire and feel safety.
Oh the conquering faith, the overcoming life and power of the Spirit. We cannot but speak of those things; and cry up the perfect gift, and the power of Him, who is not only able to perfect his work in the heart, but delights so to do; and even to tread down Satan under the feet of those, that wait in patience for the perfect conquest; for, nothing else will fully satisfy. The rest, the peace, the liberty, the life, the virtue of the gospel, is not fully known and enjoyed, while there remains any sin to sting and trouble. And this I can faithfully witness; that when the power is revealed, when the blood washes, the soul is clean and as white as snow; and the enemy has no power to break in, but life triumphs over him. And why may there not be a continuance of such a state? Yes, I verily believe, many can witness a continuance of such a state; which the Spirit of the Lord does not call less in them than a perfect state, a sound state; wherein Christ, the heavenly Physician, has healed them perfectly, and made them witnesses of true soundness of soul and spirit in the sight of God. Oh that all knew and enjoyed it, who truly desire and long after it!
But as for you, this is in my heart to you. You have found the pearl; the Lord, in mercy to you, has discovered to you the true pearl. Now, this remain; that you be a wise merchant, selling all to purchase it. You must keep back nothing. Christ, the living Truth, the holy power of righteousness, must be dearer to you than all. If father, mother, livelihood, liberty, friendship, outward advantages, etc., or anything else, be dearer to you than him, he will look upon you as unworthy of him; and cannot but turn from you, and allow hardness and darkness to come again upon you. Therefore, prize the day of your visitation from the holy God, from the God of mercy and salvation; and be faithful in the little, in the day of small things, if ever you desire to enjoy and be ruler over much. The Lord may exercise you in, and require of you, little things; as he has done the rest of the flock, whose footsteps you are to follow to the Shepherd's tents; and the enemy will be endeavoring to stop you, and perplex you, in every little thing that the Lord requires of you. But, be you simple, like a child, not taking care what to answer wise believers, nor what to answer the reasoning of your own mind; but, seeing you have felt the demonstration of Truth from God's Holy Spirit, Oh, breathe unto the Lord, to preserve you in the innocence and simplicity thereof, that the Lord may still be with you; and thereby bring you through the day of Jacob's trouble, to taste of Jacob's deliverance and salvation out of trouble. For, you must meet with trials as well as others have done, and the enemy's endeavor will be, to make you stumble and start back in the day of trial. But, if your eye be towards the Lord, he will uphold and strengthen you, and bring you through all that stands in your way; manifesting to you, daily more and more, the path of holiness, in which the ransomed of the Lord walk, and enabling you also to walk in it.
Therefore, watch the thoughts and reasonings which rise in you, and retire from them, waiting to feel the pure seed, and to hear its voice in stillness; whose voice is different, than after the noises of the questionings and reasonings, which the enemy raises in the mind, to fill it with doubts and troubles; and to weaken the faith and sense which God wrought in the heart, when he reached forth his Truth, in the power and demonstration of his Spirit, unto it. This was God's love, this was the day of his power; which loosens the mind from its lovers, and the ways of its own choosing, and begets a willingness to be joined to the Lord and his pure Truth.
Oh, take heed of hearkening to the enemy, to the subtle reasoner, the entangler of the soul! Take heed of consulting there, where he lays his baits to entangle the mind, and undo the work of God's power in the heart; and so to make it unwilling again, after the Lord had made it willing. The steps which the soul takes in the power, even the inclining of the mind towards the Lord and his pure Truth, tend to salvation; but; if any let in unbelief of those things, concerning which God had wrought faith in them, they draw back to perdition; they hearken to what tempts from the Lord, and to him whose end is to destroy them.
This is in true love to you, and from an upright desire, that you may feel the Lord's preservation of your soul, in what is of him, and his separating you from all that is not of him.
From a Friend to all that breathe after the Lord, and desire to know and partake of the power and life of Truth, as it is in Jesus, the alone Redeemer and Saviour of the soul,
I. P.3d or 4th of Tenth Month 1668
More Advice to those Beginning Their Feelings of the Spirit.
To John Mannock
It is a wonderful thing, to witness the power of God reaching to the heart, and demonstrating to the soul the pure way to life, as in his sight and presence. Surely, he that partakes of power in the heart, is by that favored by the Lord, and ought diligently to wait, for the giving up to the leadings of his Holy Spirit in everything; so that, he may travel through all that is contrary to the Lord, into that nature and spirit which is of Him.
It is a wonderful thing, also, to witness God's preservation from backsliding, and from being entangled by the subtlety of the enemy; who has many ways and captivative devices to ensnare the simple mind, and draw it from the sense of Truth, into some notions and belief of things; wherein the soul may be lulled asleep with hopes and persuasions, but has not the feeling or enjoyment of the true life and power. Oh Friend! Have you a sense of the way to the Father? Then, be careful that your spirit daily bows before him, and waits for breathings to him from his pure Spirit, that he would continue his mercy to you; keeping you in the true sense, and making your way more and more clear before you every day; — yes, and bearing you up in all the exercises and trials which may befall you, in every kind; that, by his secret working in your spirit, and helping you with a little help from time to time, you may still be advancing nearer and nearer towards the kingdom; until you find the Lord God administer an entrance unto you to it, and give you an inheritance of life, joy, righteousness, and peace therein; — which is strength unto the soul against sin and death, and against the sorrow and trouble which arises in the mind, for want of God's presence and holy power revealed there. And, do not be concerned after the things of the flesh, but trust the Lord. Though you are weak, and little; though you meet with those that are wise and knowing; and almost every way able to reason you down; though you have not with which to answer; yet, you know and have the feeling of God's pure Truth in spirit, with a desire to have the life of it brought forth in you, and so, to witness the change and renewings which are by his power. Oh dear heart! In this you are accepted of the Lord, and here his tender love and care will be over you, and his mercy will daily reach to you; and you shall have true satisfaction in your heart, and hold the Truth there, where all the reasonings of men and all the devices of the enemy of your soul shall not be able to reach; — yes, you shall so feel the Lord to help his babe against the strength of the mighty [and worldly wise], in the seasons of his good pleasure, as shall exceedingly turn to his praise; and so, you shall experience, that whom God preserves, all the gates of hell shall not be able to prevail against. Therefore, look not out at men, or at the words and wisdom of men; but, keep where you have felt the Lord visit you, that he may visit you yet again and again, every day, and be teaching you further and further the way to his dwelling-place, and be drawing you there, where is righteousness, life, rest, and peace, forever!
This arose in my heart this morning, in tender love towards you. Look up to the Lord, who can make it useful to you, to warm, quicken, and strengthen your heart and mind towards the Lord, and his pure Truth, with which he has visited you. And if you feel anything therein, suitable to the state and condition of your soul, Oh bow before the Lord, that in the true humility you may confess, and give the glory to him of what belongs to him.
From your Friend in the Truth, which cleanses the heart from iniquity, as it is embraced and dwelt in.
23rd of Tenth Month, 1668
Suffering with Joy.
To Elizabeth Walmsley
Who is lovely to me in that precious life, by which the Lord has visited you, and in which he has brought you forth for his service, and to his praise.
Our Father is wise and powerful, who has begun a work which he is able to carry on; and all the briars and thorns of the wilderness, are not able to stop his course, who is “a consuming fire."
I find the spirits of Friends here much raised, who dwell in the fear and dread of the Lord God Almighty, where the fear and dread of man is removed far away. The Lord preserve us near unto himself, out of that which separates from him and weakens; and nothing shall be able to interrupt our joy in the Lord, nor our delight and pleasure in his will. Lo! I come, said the child, to do your will, O God! To drink the cup you have prepared; although there is a nature which cannot but say: if it is possible, let it pass away; but, that nature is bowed down and subjected under its proper yoke, and, in submission, is kept out of sinning against the Lord; and is accepted by him who bows it, and makes it willing to follow the Lamb in the day of his power.
Truly, the Lord has done great things for us! He has given us the sight and knowledge of himself in his Son, which is life eternal. He has given us of the nature and spirit of his Son; he has given us of the true faith, by which the just lives, and obtains victory over sin, death, and the grave; he has given us the hope which purifies the heart, and stays the mind in all storms; he has given us of the Lamb's patience and meekness, and more. And now, if he will brighten these by afflictions, and try them, and cause them to shine to his glory; yes, and take advantage to increase them, and add further virtue to them, what cause have any of us to complain? Israel, of old, after the flesh, murmured upon every trial; but Israel, after the new creation, does not do so, but blesses the Lord, and repines not at the instruments which he permits to afflict them; but they love the Lord and love his Truth, and are faithful in their testimony thereto, whatever befalls them. Yes, they rejoice that they are counted worthy to suffer in any kind for his name’s sake, and are like lambs before the shearers, not opening their mouths in a way of murmuring or reviling; but instead pitying them, praying for them, and blessing; because God has made them children of love, children of peace, children of blessing; which nature they retain, in the midst of all their trials and afflictions, and shows forth the virtues of Him that has called them.
So that, men shall not put out our life, nor put out our light, nor separate us from the love and power of God; but, the more need we find of our God, and of his help and strength, the nearer shall we be driven to him,- and dwell more closely in union with him, and in holy and humble dependence upon him. And, in this temper, shall we draw and receive more from him: and the more we draw from him, the better will it be with us, and the more like him shall we be.
The Lord keep open that heavenly eye in his children and servants, which looks over this world, with the affairs and concerns thereof, to what is immortal and invisible; where our life is hidden from others, though made manifest in and felt by us, from the living spring which quickens, nourishes, and refreshes. And as afflictions abound from men, so shall consolations, life, and strength abound from the Lord, unto all, and upon all, who look not out, but abide and await there, where it springs and flows.
My dear love is to Friends in these parts, (particularly M. O.). May the Lord preserve them and keep them near to himself, that they may receive counsel and strength from him, according to their need. I am sensible of your great love to us, expressed in your care and tenderness of our child, as well as in other things. I hope she is no burden to you. Oh that she might feel and be guided by that, which keeps in order all that is subject to it!
I remain your Friend and brother, in the life and love
which never dies or changes,
18th of Second Month, 1670
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