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The Missing Cross to Purity


51-75


The Letters Of Isaac Penington
(Continued)

Table of Contents

(click on the Letter number to go directly to it.)

LI — Chastising One Who Avoids the Cross

LII — On Love, Meekness, and Watching over each other

LIII — The Revelation of Christ within your heart- a new eye, ear, heart, mind, duty, experiences, home

LIV — Do not despise small beginnings, small steps

LV — The Covenant is not Scripture; it is Christ's Change of a Heart to Union and the Trial of spirits.

LVI — Accept Remaining Discipline, Ignore the Accuser, Daily Keep Your Eye Fixed on Christ

LVII — Four Type of Believers: Two False, One Ready to Become True, and One True — of the obedient and disobedient

LVIII — The True Lord's Supper

LIX — To Someone Insisting Penington Pay Him Tithes

LX — On Election, and on Falling away. True Righteousness — placed in us by Christ's changes

LXI — Falseness of Roman Catholic Faith, Believing Regeneration Happens in the Next World

LXII- In Regard to Catholics


LXIII — On Baptism by Water

LXIV — Being Satisfied With Little, and Unreserved Obedience to However Small the Commands

LXV — To THE POOR AMONG FRIENDS, who are relieved by the charity

LXVI — Afflictions may work out a Weight of Glory. To my dear suffering Friends in Scotland.

LXVII — Doubting, Reasonings Against Teachings Received, Expecting Greater Things

LXVIII — Advice to Wait on the Lord to create a belief in your soul and crush the enemy of your soul.

LXIX — Wait to be translated into the Kingdom of God.

LXX — Wait to be taught by God and have God formed in your heart — to the Kingdom.

LXXI — Advice to Women's Meeting Regarding Judging Disputes.

LXXIII — Travel On! To the Fullness of Christ, there to Maintain Your Vigilance Against Evil .

LXXIV — The Holy Scriptures are not the Primary Rule. Who Gave them Forth is the Rule.

LXXV — Wait to feel the seed within and the destruction of your pleasant part.

<<<<To Letters 1-25 >      <<<<To Letters 26-50>     <To Letters 76-104 >>>

LETTER LI

Chastising One Who Avoids the Cross

To Catharine Pordage

Ah! my poor, distressed, entangled Friend,

While you seek to avoid the snare, you deeply run into it; for, you are feeding on the tree of knowledge, in giving way to these thoughts, reasonings, and suggestions, which keep you from obedience to what has been made manifest to your understanding. And you may well be feeble in your mind, while you are thus separated from Him who is your strength, and let in his enemy. This is not the right feebleness of mind which God pities, nor the right way of waiting to receive strength. Why should not you act, so far as God gives you light? And, why should you not appear willing to obey him, even in little things, so far as he has given you light? What if I should say, that all this is nothing but the subtlety of the serpent's wisdom to avoid the cross, and is not that simplicity and plainness of heart towards God, which you take it to be; and that you are loath to be so poor, and low, and beggarly in the eyes of others, as this practice would make you appear!

Your Friend in the Truth, and in sincere love,

I. P.

Amersham,

25th of Ninth Month, 1675

LETTER LII

On Love, Meekness, and Watching over each other.

To Friends in Amersham.

FRIENDS,

Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another; but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand, if there has been any slip or fall; and waiting until the Lord gives sense and repentance, if sense and repentance in any be needed. Oh! Wait to feel this spirit, and to be guided to walk in this spirit, that you may enjoy the Lord in sweetness, and walk sweetly, meekly, tenderly, peaceably, and lovingly with each other. And then, you will be a praise to the Lord; and anything that is, or has been, or may be amiss, you will come over in the true dominion, even in the Lamb's dominion; and, that which is contrary shall be trampled upon, as life rises and rules in you. So, watch your hearts and ways; and, watch one over another, in that which is gentle and tender, and knows it can neither preserve itself, nor help another out of the snare; but, the Lord must be waited upon, to do this in and for us all. So, mind Truth, the service, enjoyment, and possession of it in your hearts; and to to walk, as you may bring no disgrace upon it, but may be a good savor in the places where you live the meek, innocent, tender, righteous life reigning in you, governing over you, and shining through you, in the eyes of all with whom you converse.

Your Friend in the Truth, and one who desires your welfare and prosperity in the Truth.

L P.

Aylesbury
4th of Third Month, 1667

LETTER LIII

The Revelation of Christ within your heart- a new eye, ear, heart, mind, duty, experiences, home

O! FRIEND,

That you had the true sense of the drift of my heart in writing and sending things to you! which is and has been this that you might be acquainted with that of God in the heart, which quickens to him; and, in the light of that, might try your heart and ways, and so, only justify in yourself what God justifies, and let all else go.

Shall the Lord appear mightily on the earth, and Israel not know him! Shall the professors of this age understand no more his appearance in Spirit, than the Jews did his appearance in flesh! Shall they stumble at the very same stumbling stone! Yes, the same stumbling stone is laid, for that wisdom to stumble at, as in all generations; and, there is no avoiding stumbling, but by coming out of that wisdom into babe-like simplicity, which gives entrance into pure, heavenly wisdom. And this I dare affirm, as in God's presence and in his pure fear, having received the sense thereof from him — that there is none that opposes this his present appearance, (by the greatest knowledge and wisdom of their comprehensions from the letter of the scriptures), but would also have opposed and denied his appearance in that body of flesh, had they lived in that day. For, the wisdom which they gathered from the letter, did not reveal Christ in that day; but only the Father could reveal him to those in that day; and the same is true as to the revealing of  Him in today. Oh that you could feel the pure revelation from the Father to your heart! Oh wait for a new heart, a new ear, a new eye! even to feel the pure in you, and your mind changed by the pure, that all things may become new to you; the Scriptures new, (they are so, indeed, when God opens them and shows them to you), duties new, ordinances new, graces new, experiences new; a new church of the Spirit's building, in which He and your soul may dwell together; and you may be able to say, in the presence of the Lord: This is a city of God's own building, the foundation whereof is laid with sapphires, whose walls are salvation, and its gates praise!

I. P.
12th of Third Month, 1669

LETTER LIV

Do not despise small beginnings, small steps

OH! DEAR FRIEND,

The eternal love of my Father is to you; and, because he loves you, and would entirely enjoy you, therefore does he so grievously batter and break down that which stands in the way. What he is doing towards you, you cannot know now, but you shall know hereafter. Only be still, and wait for the springing up of hope, in the seasons the Father sees necessary; that you may not faint under his hand, but be supported by his secret power, until his work is finished. The great thing necessary for you at present to know is the drawings of his Spirit; that you may not ignorantly resist or neglect them, and protract the day of your redemption.

Oh ! look not after great things:-small breathings, small desires after the Lord, if true and pure, are sweet beginnings of life. Take heed of despising "the day of small things," by looking after some great visitation, proportionate to your distress, according to your eye. No, you must become a child, you must lose your own will quite by degrees. You must wait for life to be measured out by the Father, and be content with what proportion, and at what time, he shall please to measure.

Oh ! be little, be little; and then, you will be content with little: and if you feel, now and then, a check or a secret smiting, - in that is the Father's love; be not overly wise, nor overly eager, in your own willing, running, and desiring, and you may feel it so; and by degrees come to the knowledge of your Guide, who will lead you, step by step, in the path of life, and teach you to follow, and, in his own season, powerfully judge that which cannot, nor will not follow. Be still, and wait for light and strength; and desire not to know or comprehend but to be known and comprehended in the love and life, which seeks out, gathers, and preserves the lost sheep.

I remain your dear Friend, and a well-wisher to your soul, in the love of my Father.

I. P.

LETTER LV

The Covenant is not Scripture; it is Christ's Change of a Heart to Union and the Trial of spirits.

DEAR FRIEND,

I received your letter kindly, and in the tenderness of love; which desires your enjoyment of the Lord in this world, and the eternal welfare of your soul with him forever. It is a great matter, to have the mind rightly guided to that in which God appears, that the soul may wait at the posts of wisdom to hear wisdom's voice; and he that hears and observes wisdom's voice, what said wisdom concerning such an one? " I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you." Pro 1:23.

You have read, in the Scriptures, of the kingdom of God, which, Christ told the Pharisees, was within them. He also in parables, expressed what it was like; even, like a grain of mustard seed, like a pearl of great price, like a lost coin, or piece of silver, like a treasure hidden in a field, like leaven, etc. Now, Oh that you might come to the discerning of this. Is there any such thing in you? Surely there is. Do you know it? Are you in union with it? Is it grown and enlarged in you? Is there room made for it, and does it overspread your heart? Oh that it were thus with you!

Whereas you say, The covenant, the new covenant, is contained in the scriptures; that expression of yours is not clear, as to the nature of the thing. There are, indeed, descriptions of the covenant in the scriptures; but, the covenant itself is an agreement of life and peace, made with the soul in the Lord Jesus Christ, upon his believing in His power and obeying His voice; according to that Scripture, “Hear, and your soul shall live, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." Isa 55:3. Now, this is what the soul is to wait for; even to feel the power of life breaking the bonds of death, and opening the ear to the voice of God's Spirit, that it may receive the impressions of it, and feel the new creation inwardly, the new heart, the new mind, the new law of life, written within by the finger of God's Spirit, even the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. And then, this law is the rule inwardly, as the outward law was the rule to the outward Jews,

You think I am somewhat too sharp and severe, in my sentence concerning the ministers [of the day]. I do not remember that passage. I have received great mercy, and I would not be sharp or severe towards any. If, therefore, any such thing was, be assured it was in faithfulness to the Lord. All sorts of Christians own Christ in words, but all do not distinguish, discern, [nor are] subject to the appearances of his Spirit and power; but resist, argue, and oppose, through error and mistakes at first, until at length they come to hardness. These are the builders who refuse the Corner-stone. The builders rejected Christ's appearance in flesh, in the days of his flesh; and the builders again refuse his appearance in spirit in this day of his Spirit. Oh that any who are tender among them might be sensible of it, that they might not draw down God's severity and sharpness upon their heads; which, if they do, it is not our joy, but a matter of grief to us. And, Friend, the state of profession [belief] is not what it was, when you and I were acquainted; but, a withered state in comparison of that. I can truly say, concerning many believers, Oh that I could find them to be now, what they were twenty years ago! They have gotten more head-knowledge; but, that savor of Life, which was then in them, is now not to be found among them. Truly, I speak not otherwise concerning them, but as I feel the Spirit of the Lord testifying in me; neither would I have mentioned this at this time, but for your sake. Whatever is of God in any, my heart cannot but own: but, many take that head-knowledge to be of God, (that fear, that faith, that love, those prayers, those hopes, that peace, that joy, etc.), which is not of him. Oh how precious is that, which truly and rightly distinguishes! "My sheep hear my voice." The voice of the Shepherd distinguishes every deceit and every deceiver.

But, whereas you say, The spirits are to be tried by the Scriptures; I have found it otherwise in my experience. The Scriptures may try words; but, nothing can try spirits, but the Spirit. "I will know," said the apostle, "not the words of those who are puffed up, but the power." Deceivers may come with Scripture words; but they cannot come with the true power. Therefore, the apostle John, who advised the believers try the spirits, told them, they had an unction from the Holy One, and pointed them to the anointing. 1 John 2:20-27. But, who can judge of this, but who has the anointing, and is taught of the Lord to try things by it? He knows how it tries, and what a certain judgment it gives concerning the nature of things, and concerning every voice and every appearance. The Spirit of God searches all things, discerns all things, discovers all things,- every snare, every device of the enemy, the net spread ever so secretly; blessed are they, whose eyes are opened and kept open by Him!

Site Editor's Comment : Although scriptures cannot try spirits, you can use scriptures to avoid following the advice of what you hear spoken, impersonating the Spirit of God or Jesus, that advises you to commit some sin under whatever creative pretext imaginable. The scriptures definitions of what is sin, what is immorality, should never be assumed to be trumped by 'the light.' The light or words heard, if from Christ, will never violate or conflict with the scriptures' definitions of evil, regardless of whatever twisted logic may be used. Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of God, is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. Jesus has not gone modern with a new definition of morality.

There was a time when great darkness took me, in which all that I had known and formerly experienced, was hidden from me; and I cried out, "I know not the Lord; and yet, I cannot live without him; Oh what shall I do?"  But I never denied Christ to be the way of salvation, in my deepest darkness and distress. And now, at length, — blessed be the Lord! — I have lived to see the day, in which he has made of God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption to me; and I feel his blood sprinkled and overflowing, which makes whiter than snow; and find him to be the mercy-seat, through whom I have access to God; and live by mercy and the deep compassions of God towards me, which, because they fail not, but are daily renewed upon me, therefore is my soul preserved in life before my God.

O wait to know that in which the Lord inwardly appears! And take up the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ to everything that is contrary to God; that, it all may be crucified in you, so that your soul may live in the abundance of life and peace. God is not lacking to any of the children. Oh that none of them may be lacking in their own bowels! And, be not discouraged because of any weakness, or because of your age. What can you know, what the Lord will or will not do for you? Your weakness is not your disadvantage, but an advantage; for the weaker you are in yourself, the fitter are you to have Christ's power revealed and manifested in you. Only wait to know God's appearance in your heart, even the holy seed, the immortal seed of life; that it may be discerned, distinguished and have scope in you; that it may spring up in your heart and live in you, and gather you into itself, and leaven you throughout your body, mind, and spirit with its nature; that you may be a new lump, and may walk before God, not in the oldness of your own literal knowledge or apprehensions of things, but in the newness of his Spirit.

May the Lord appear to you, in the light and demonstration of his spirit in your heart and conscience, touch you, quicken you, and lead you, — guide and make you sensible of every appearance of his, that no motion or drawing of his Spirit may be quenched in you, nor any motion of the contrary spirit, under any deceivableness, listened to; that you may travel faithfully, and come to the end of your travels with joy and full peace, reaping the sheaves in life everlasting, of all that you have sown to the Spirit.

This is the earnest and single desire of my soul for you, who am your true and faithful Friend, and an hearty well-wisher to you and yours.

I. P.

LETTER LVI

Accept Remaining Discipline, Ignore the Accuser, Daily Keep Your Eye Fixed on Christ

FRIEND,

Your advantage in your travels is great over what it has been; the Lord having given you a better sight both of your enemies, and of that in which his strength against them is revealed.

Now, what remains? But that you hope in him, and breathe unto him, and hang upon him; that his virtue may flow into you, and the mountains and difficulties may pass away, before the presence of the Seed, who is revealed in you. Look down no more, look out no more; but, dwell with your Beloved, in the tent that he has pitched for you. Let him do what he will, let him appear how he will, wait on him in the daily exercise; stand still in the faith, and see him working out your salvation, and scattering the bones of those who have besieged you. Do not think him to be harsh, by no means; question not his scourging and disciplining work. He knows what yet he has to do; and with what strategy the enemy yet has to surprise and entangle you. Oh feel his arm stretched out for you! And be not so much discouraged, in the sight of what is yet to be done, as comforted in his good-will towards you. It is true, he has chastened you with rods and sore afflictions; but, did he ever take away his loving kindness from you? Or did his faithfulness ever fail in the sorest, blackest, thickest, darkest night that ever besieged you! And breathe to him, for the carrying on of his work; that you may feel his presence and life, getting dominion over death daily in you, more and more. And wait to feel strength of life, that your growth may be pure, and the holy seed may have dominion and be all in you.

I. P.

8th of the Eighth Month, 1666.

POSTSCRIPT

The enemy will be laying snares, and forging subtle devices to darken and bow you down, which, (you, not being hasty to believe, join with, and let in as true; but waiting on the Lord in singleness, fear, and humility,) his light will spring up in you, and help you to discern. And oh! how sweet will it be for you, who have so often been ensnared, to escape the traps and nets of the fowler, and to dwell in the rest and peace, of which your soul has tasted, and which is the proper place of your habitation.

Indeed, the Lord's thoughts have not been towards you, as you have believed all along. His anger was towards the enemy, towards the oppressor, not towards you. Nor does He judge and smite the mind, in the same manner that the enemy does accuse; but, according to his own nature, sweetness, and tender love. And, His judgments and blows have other effects, than the serpent's accusations and piercings; for they do not drive away from Him, but, they melt, and tender and prepare the heart for union with Him. Oh! keep close to the measure of life, in which you may discern and distinguish these things; and take heed of letting in one thought of despair, but look up to him who has freely loved, and has abounded in mercy towards you; that in the faith, patience, stillness, and meekness of his seed, you may be found always waiting upon him, in the several exercises, with which he shall daily see good to exercise you; until he brings forth his seed in dominion in you, and thereby give you your desired and expected end.

I. P.

9th of the Eighth Month, 1666

LETTER LVII

Four Type of Believers: Two False, One Ready to Become True, and One True — both the obedient and disobedient

To Colonel Kenrick

The gospel dispensation consists in spirit and power. The kingdom which Christ and his apostles preached, (which the true believers were to receive, and to wait for an entrance to be ministered to them into), stood not in words, but in power. Now, there are four sorts of believers of the Christian religion in this our day, and only one is acquainted with the gospel dispensation.

First, There is one sort, which have been nurtured in a profession of Christianity by education, and have improved it by study, but have never known the power, virtue, and inward life of it; but, as men, with the man's part, wisdom, understanding, and seriousness of mind, have considered of the truth and weight of things contained in the Scriptures, and so have received something of the holy doctrine into their natural understanding, and given themselves up to the observation and practice of it, according to their understanding of the scriptures and tradition. These have become more serious and excellent men than others, but fall very far short of the nature and state of Christianity. Yes, the strictest among these, many times, become the greatest opposers and persecutors of true Christianity.

Secondly, There are some who have had a taste of the true power, and have had living desires and breathings after it, and a sense of the preciousness and excellence of it; who have also felt the quickening [life giving] Spirit, and began in it; and yet, have afterwards lost that sense, and centered in a literal knowledge and wisdom about those very things, which they had once some living experience of. These are like salt, which has lost its savor; and it is hard for them ever to be seasoned again; and from among these, do rise the greatest persecutors and bitterest persecution against the life, Truth, and power.

Thirdly, There are some, who, though they never came to the distinct knowledge of the power, yet have had a great sense of their lack of it, and have abode in that sense; and, in all the ways and forms of religion they have been or are in, still seek after it; and take no account of form in anything, but as the power in some measure appears in it; and the cry of their souls is daily after it, and their waiting is for it. These, wherever they are, are of the true seed; these are the birth of the heavenly Spirit and wisdom; these are sheep of the true Shepherd's fold, though not yet gathered home to the fold to which they properly belong. These are the broken, the bruised, the sick, the wounded, the captives, the distressed, the poor, the naked, etc., to whom the gospel of peace, the gathering, the salvation, and redemption belongs. And, the cries of  these sheep are known. Yes, their longing and cry after the redeeming and gathering power of the Shepherd, is felt; however they may be, at present, prejudiced against that very dispensation of Truth, life, and power, by which  the Shepherd gathers.

Fourthly, There are some, whom God has brought to the distinct sense and knowledge of the power. There are some, whose minds God has turned to the inward light and power. There are some, whom the Shepherd has gathered home to the Father's house, where there is bread enough, and to the true fold, where is rest and peace enough — some, who have seen an end of all perfection, in the legal opinions and man’s  strivings after life, righteousness, and holiness, and have come to the commandment which is exceedingly broad, and, in which is life everlasting. Now, these experience something of the gospel dispensation, and know the difference between being under the law and under grace; and can tell what the kingdom is, which Christ preached and commanded men seek; and what the gospel is, which the poor in spirit receive; and what the healing is, which drops from under the wing of the Saviour and Redeemer. And, they can tell what justification is, and what sanctification, regeneration, and redemption is; and can distinguish between truth as testified in the Bible, and as truth it is in Jesus; between the law of the letter, and the law of the Spirit, which is written in the new heart and mind, by the finger of God's pure and living power. Now, the knowledge of these, the faith of these, the peace, the joy, the justification, and sanctification, and redemption of these, differs greatly from all the former; from the two first sorts in nature and kind, from the latter in degree, clearness, and purity. For, though all the sheep of the true Shepherd have somewhat of the true knowledge, somewhat of the true faith, somewhat of the true justification, somewhat of the true sanctification, and may at times have some taste of true peace and joy, and have true breathings and supplications in their spirits towards their Father that created them; yet, they are not clear, they are not pure, they are not unmixed; there is a great deal, which is not true, which passes for truth with them; because, they have not yet come to the anointing, to the eye-salve which opens the eye, nor to the Spirit of judgment and burning, which separates inwardly in the heart, understanding, mind, and judgment, between the precious and the vile. So that, when they speak of the heavenly things, they only stutter and stammer; and though truth can sometimes own their sense, yet, many times, not their words; there is such a mixture of the dark, earthly comprehension in them, which they are not delivered and redeemed from. But it is otherwise with those, who are turned to the light and power of our Lord Jesus Christ, and have known it, and been exercised, fanned, and purged by it: for, in them, the blind eye is opened, the deaf ear unstopped; and, to them, the pure understanding and language is given, by which they know and understand, not only words concerning Him, but Him himself who is true, and are in him that is true, even in Him, who is the very God and life eternal.

Yet, there are different states among those, who are thus effectually called and gathered home, according to their growth in the Truth, and faithfulness to it. For, if there is not great care and watchfulness, there may be a neglecting to hear the voice of the Shepherd, and to walk with him; and then such miss the pastures of life, and of the pure rest, joy, and peace, which he administers to others; and of the garment or covering of the Spirit, which they, who live and walk in the Spirit, in everything giving up to the Spirit, and denying all the lusts and fruits of the flesh, daily find themselves covered with. Nor does God so "dwell in them and walk in them," as he does in those, that remain separate from all evil, (from which the Spirit of judgment and burning purifies and separates), and touch no unclean thing. Yes, they who grieve Christ's Spirit, and do not heed his call and knocks, he does not sup with them, nor they with him; nor do such partake of the river of life and wine of the kingdom, as those whose ear is open to him, and who are always ready to obey and follow him " wherever the lamb goes."

I. P.

19th of Fourth Month, 1673

LETTER LVIII

The True Lord's Supper

To Widow Hemmings

MY DEAR FRIEND,

Whom I truly love, and whose prosperity in the Truth I earnestly desire. Because I find your mind much engaged about one thing, namely, receiving bread and wine in remembrance of Christ's death, which I am tender to you in; yet withal, it is on my heart at this time to say something to you; perhaps the Lord may open your mind, and let you into some sense of the thing.

There is a supper, or supping with Christ, beyond outward bread and wine, which he promised to those that heard his voice, opened the door, and let him in. Rev 3:20. Now, it is that supper, that my heart desires you may be acquainted with and partake of, and as you come to be acquainted with it and partake of it, you will call it the feast of fat things, and of wines on the lees well refined. Christ said: Henceforth I will drink no more of  the fruit of the vine, until I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. What wine, what fruit of the vine is it which Christ drinks new with his disciples in his Father's kingdom? Is it not that wine, which he and they drink now together, when he sups with them? Oh! the Lord give you an understanding, that you may come to the substance, feel substance, and inherit substance forever. “Flee from idolatry, my dearly beloved," said the apostle, 1 Cor 10:4. What idolatry did he mean? ”I speak as to wise men;" said he, “judge you what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" About the outward cup and bread, might they not easily run into idolatry! But they that knew, discerned, and minded the body and blood indeed, they did not run into idolatry. “For we, being many, are one bread and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread." Oh deep, deep, indeed! The bread which comes down from heaven, that is the bread which gives life to the soul: and, unless we eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, we have no life in us. And, if we eat his flesh and drink his blood, we become one flesh with him, and bone of his bone. Yes, we become of the same bread with him, and so of the one body of the living bread. My dear Friend, may the Lord give you an understanding, and open your heart, and cause you to grow into union and into sense of his Truth; that by growing up in the Truth, you may come more and more to understand it and be acquainted with it.

Your unfeigned Friend in the Truth, which is pure.

Reading Jail,   I. P. 3rd of Sixth Month, 1670

LETTER LIX

To Someone Insisting Penington Pay Him Tithes

To James Eeles

FRIEND,

God is my witness, to whom I must give an account of all my actions, that it is my desire to be found in all true love, courtesy, and righteousness, in my dealings towards all men; and that I would by no means deny any man his just due, which he can by any just law or right claim from me.

Now, as touching tithes, the payment or refusing of them is to me a matter of conscience, weighty on my heart before the Lord; and I would do in it as he might justify, and not condemn me. I know, tithes were ordained by God, to be paid to the Levitical priesthood, under the law: but, the same power that ordained them under the law, disannulled them under the gospel, Heb 7:12,18. Here is God's power and authority for disannulling them. Now, that any man or men have true right, power, and authority to set up or require to be paid, under the gospel, what God's power has disannulled, — indeed, I do not see; nor can I be subject to any human authority or law in this thing, without sinning against God, and incurring his wrath upon my soul; which I have formerly found very dreadful, and would not, for fear of sufferings in this world, expose myself to the bearing of. Besides, Christ said, " He that denies me before men, him will I deny before my Father." He is the substance of all the figures under the law; he has put an end to them; he is King, Priest, and Prophet in the church of God; all power in heaven and earth is given to him, and he sent forth his ministers without tithes. Now, tithes were set up in the dark time of popery, and not by the gospel light; and they who know the gospel light, dare not be subject to that, which was set up in matters of religion by the dark power of Rome in the time of darkness.

I was willing to give you this plain and naked account, that you may see how weighty the thing is with me, and how dangerous it would be to me, to do what you require of me; for, in so doing, I should lose my peace with God, I should be unfaithful to the testimony he has given me to bear, I should dishonor his name and Truth, and bring his sore wrath and displeasure upon my soul and conscience. Judge, it yourself, in this matter; whether I had better not expose myself to any outward sufferings though ever so great, (either from you, or any you shall make use of), than expose my soul to so great inward misery and sufferings, for disobedience to the Lord in this particular.

Consider Ralph Trumper a just, tender, honest hearted man, — how much he has suffered in this respect. to keep his conscience clear in this thing; who, I believe, would rather suffer all his former losses ten times over again, than suffer what he did, (to my knowledge), for paying tithes, after he was convinced of the evil and unlawfulness of it. I do not contend with you by the law of the land; but, I must be subject to the law of God, who shows me from what root tithes came; and that they are not the maintenance of the ministry of Christ, or allowed by Christ; but, the maintenance of the ministry Rome's power set up, both which ministry, and its maintenance, is to be denied and witnessed against, by those, whom he calls forth to testify to his Truth in these things. So, at present. I say no more; but remain your Friend, ready to do you any good, though I should suffer ever so deeply from you.

I. P.

25th of Fourth Month, 1677

LETTER LX

On Election, and on Falling away. True Righteousness — placed in us by Christ's changes.

To Ruth Palmer

My DEAR FRIEND,

Whose love I am sensible of, and whom I entirely wish well unto, and desire for you, that you may purchase and possess the pearl of price; and to know and enjoy Christ Jesus, the Lord, as that you may witness him to be eternal life to your soul. I received a letter from you, which occasions this my writing to you. It is precious, indeed, to have the Spirit of God witness to us, that our sins are pardoned. And they who are truly pardoned, to whom the Spirit so witness, receive the Spirit; indeed, all that are Christians receive the Spirit; for, he that has not the Spirit of Christ, is none of His. And where the Spirit is, there is He who has power over sin, who delights to exercise his power in mortifying and subduing sin, and in reigning and triumphing over it. Now, they that have received the Spirit, are to live in the Spirit, and walk in the Spirit; and, doing so, they cannot fulfill the lusts of the flesh, nor love the world, nor the things of the world, nor fashion themselves according to it, but are redeemed out of it, in heart, spirit, life, and conversation, up to God. Oh my Friend! let no religion satisfy you, but that which brings you here, and which brings forth this fruit in you. We must needs own Christ to be the spring, and that we can do nothing without him, but only by, and in, and through him; because we daily experience it to be so.

As touching election, we do believe it, according as the Lord has taught us, and as the Scriptures express it: but, such an election, as shuts out any from the salvation God has prepared for the sons of men, we cannot own; because the Scriptures expressly testify that God "would have all to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the Truth." Yes, also, we know it to be his nature. It is the nature of the destroyer to destroy,- he would have none saved; but, it is the nature of God, the Saviour, to save, he would have none perish. But, as there is a making the calling and the election sure, so, there is first a coming into the calling and into the election. Now, the election cannot perish, no, the elect Seed cannot be deceived. And, as we are chosen in him, and come into him, (out of darkness into his marvelous light, out of death into his life), so we must abide in him; and the promise is to him, that continues to the end. And Christ said to the church of Ephesus, "Remember from where you have fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else," etc.;and mind, what a state they fell from, and how far they had fallen, when so severely threatened. It was not wholly; it was but from the first love and first works; and yet, if they failed to repent, how great was their danger.

As for that place of Rom 11, it is manifest, that there is an election, and that this election is not of works, but of grace. Yet, there must be a hearing of the voice; "to-day," said the apostle, "if you will hear his voice;" and so, there must be a coming to Christ, and an abiding in him, and a walking in the strait way; for, it is the way God chooses. God has chosen Christ, and the soul in him; and the message is, to invite to come to him, and abide in him to the end. And the condemnation is, upon rejecting him, and the salvation, to them that receive him, which is not of man's self either, but, men are made willing so to do, in the day of God's power: and the power is not far from, or wanting to any, in the way that the Lord has appointed; though there are also the aboundings of love, mercy, and power according to his pleasure. The falling away is, not because persons were not elected, but because they let in that, which is contrary to the election, and cleave to it. So, there is, a "heart of unbelief;' in which men depart from the living God, and make shipwreck of faith and of a good conscience; and the ground of their falling is their listening, not to the Lord, but to the voice and temptations of the enemy. There are the called, and faithful, and chosen. These are states, to be come into and abide in. Many may be called, who never come to be faithful, or chosen, To witness the peculiar choice of God, this is precious: — and then, not to be content with a touch of the calling, or a touch of the election, but to “make" them "sure.' There is no choosing, but in the seed. Make sure of that seed, and you make both your "calling and, election sure." For indeed, "many are called, but few chosen," And yet, when a man comes this far, so as to know himself chosen, is he quite out of danger! Did not Paul know his election sure? Yet, was he not afterwards careful to keep that under and in subjection, which was to be kept under and in subjection? "lest," said he, "when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." You say, Whom God once loves, he loves to the end. Did he not once love all men, even the whole world! Did he not manifest it, in sending his Son for them? And they that come into his Son, they come into his love, and they that come into his love, must continue in his love and in his goodness. For, it is not persons, ("God is no respecter of persons"), but the seed, God loves. "In your seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed,” and, in that seed, they are loved, and continuing there, they continue in the love. It is true, God's grace appears, and thereby many are gathered. And when any fall, the grace of God appears again, and thereby many are restored. But, if any be hardened by "the deceitfulness of sin," that they hearken not to the voice of grace, when it comes to restore, are they restored by it? And God's compassions failed not to Israel of old, nor to Israel now; yet, were not some consumed then, who, though they came out of Egypt, yet rebelled, and lusted, and tempted Christ, etc., and so, were destroyed by the destroyer! And so, do none make shipwreck of faith now, whereby the standing is? as the apostle expresses, Rom 9:19-22. Read, and consider. And the apostle, in the sense of things, cries, "Oh the depth!" etc. Love in severity, mercy in severity! If it is stopped one way, it will break forth more abundantly in another way. And, "who has known the mind of the Lord," or given him counsel, which way he should manage his love and mercy! as in Rom 11:33-34. Indeed, all the salvation is to be ascribed to God, and is ascribed to God by all that receive salvation from him; but still, God saves in the way He has appointed, (in coming into the way, in abiding in the way, in walking in the way), -there, alone is safety; but, out of it, death and destruction forever.

All our best righteousness is as filthy rags, it is true; but, the gift of God is not as filthy rags, the righteousness of his Son revealed in the heart, is not as filthy rags. The pure offerings and incense, which are offered up to God in the times of the gospel, are not as filthy rags. See Mal 1:11; and consider, whether he that offers up to God the male, offers up a corrupt thing, a filthy rag, or not, Mal 1:14. Oh what a state of blindness are many in, that they cannot distinguish between what is of themselves, and what is of God in them; and so, avoid offering up the corrupt thing, and offer up that which is holy and pure, even the holy sacrifice, with the holy fire, upon the altar of God! Consider Mal 3:3; and tell me, if you know, what an offering in righteousness is, whether it is as filthy rags, or not Consider that place, John 3:21. "He that does truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God," And what are those deeds, that are wrought in God? Is not God holy and pure! And is anything wrought in him, but what is holy and pure! And mind that place, where the prophet speaks, "All our righteousness is as filthy rags." Mind Isa 64:5-6, and see if they are not two different states? None of those, whose righteousness was as filthy rags, called upon the name. of the Lord, Isa 64:7 7. Did not  the prophet call on the name of the Lord? The prophet there represents the state of backsliding Israel, that did not remember God in his ways, nor, through faith, work righteousness, as some others did, verse 5; all their offerings, all their sacrifices out of the faith, was as filthy rags, as the cutting off of a dog's neck, etc.; but the offering of Abel, and the sacrifice of the righteous were not so, in any age or generation. Therefore, we should wait rightly to distinguish things, and not jumble the precious and the vile together as if they were all one.

As for method of speaking, I have none of my own, but wait for the method and words, which God's wisdom teaches. Indeed, when I speak of the light, and the life, and the power, I do mean Christ Jesus, who is is the light, life, and power; but, it is a great matter, to come to know him so revealed in the heart; for, where he is so revealed, darkness; and death, and the power of Satan, is scattered and put to flight by him. Yes, Satan falls like lightning before the power of his kingdom, where it is revealed.

This is a blessed experience; and these know Christ Indeed. The Lord grant that you may so do! which is the hearty desire of your soul's true and faithful Friend,

I. P.

LETTER LXI

Falseness of Roman Catholic Faith, Believing Regeneration Happens in the Next World

DEAR BROTHER, (his brother in the flesh, and a Roman Catholic)

I have been a traveler after the Lord from my childhood, and great misery have I undergone for want of him! That which I wanted, was his Spirit, life, virtue, and redeeming power to be revealed in my own heart. Oh blessed be the Lord! he has directed me beyond my expectations, where to wait for this within, and has revealed it in me; and now I can say in truth of heart, and in the sense of that birth, which God has begotten in me, "Lo! this is my God, whom I so wanted and waited for;" and, I find him stronger in my heart than the strong man, which possessed it before He cast him out from thence, and made a spoil of his goods. And now, dear Brother, how can I hold my peace, and not testify of the love, mercy, and good-will of the Lord towards me, and invite others to the redeeming power, of which the Lord in his goodness has made me a partaker! And now, Brother, a few words respecting your return to what I sent you; not for contention's sake, (the Lord knows, my dwelling is in that life and peace which shuts them out), but, in the tender love and care of my heart concerning the eternal welfare of your soul, which I would not, by any means or device of the enemy, have eternally deceived.

All sides may agree in notions about the regenerating power; but all do not receive the regenerating power, nor are truly regenerating in the sight of God; nor come to witness the head of the serpent inwardly crushed, and his works destroyed, and kingdom laid waste inwardly, by this power; which must needs be, before a man be translated out of the kingdom of darkness, into the kingdom of the dear Son. There is a kingdom of darkness inwardly, which the unbelieving and disobedient to God's Spirit and power, dwell in; and there is a kingdom of light inwardly, in which, the children of light dwell with God, and walk in the light as he is in the light.

But, that the work of regeneration is only beginning in this life, and not finished until the other life, that is a great mistake. For, the Scriptures testify, that salvation is to be wrought out here, and not hereafter. Christ had all power in heaven and earth, and he sent forth his Spirit and power to work out the work here; and his sanctifying Spirit and power is able to sanctify throughout, in soul, body, and spirit; and the gifts of the ministry are for perfecting the saints, until they all come in the unity of the faith, unto a perfect man, that they may be presented to God perfect in Christ Jesus. The holy leaven is put into the lump here, and it is able to leaven the lump here; and holiness is not only to be begun, but perfected in the fear of God, as the apostle exhorts, who did not exhort to a needless, or impossible thing; and the whole amour of God, is able to defend the whole man from all the assaults of the wicked one; for, greater is He, in the saints, that preserves from sin, than he that tempts to sin. O! how precious is it, to war with the enemy in this conquering faith, and to resist him in it; that he may still flee away, for fear of God's power and sword, which will pierce him, and can easily overcome him. There is a state where the spirit is willing, but the flesh weak: yet, it is not so, where the spirit is become strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. There is a holy hill of God, a spiritual Zion a mountain whereupon his house is built, which the wing of the Almighty overshadows, and his sheep that are gathered by the great Shepherd and Bishop of the soul, feed there. and none can make afraid. The flesh will be rebelling against the Spirit, until it is destroyed by the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. But, when a man is really crucified with Christ, and dead to sin, sin has no more power over him; for, Christ lives in him and reigns in his heart over sin and the temptations thereof. When the God of peace treads Satan under the feet of the soul that was once captive by him, there it is known, whose the kingdom, and the power and the victory, and the dominion is.

And, this is true blessedness begun, carried on, and upheld, by the pure, sanctifying power of the word of life in the heart; and the birth which is born of God, knows it to be no delusion, but the truth as it is in Jesus. And such are obedient to the holy church of God, and to the holy ministry, which he has brought out of the wilderness; and know, of what nature the churches and ministry have been, which have appeared and been set up in the world, since the true church fled into, and was hidden in the wilderness, and was fed there by the Lord God of life. The devil has long transformed himself into the likeness of an angel of light, and cheated and beguiled the soul; while the false church has reigned, antichrist sitting in the temple; the man child having been caught up to God, and the true church in the wilderness; and men have generally put darkness for light, and light for darkness. But, blessed be the Lord, the true Light which shone in the apostles’ days, now shines again; and discovers the mystery of iniquity, and the golden cup of abominations, by which the earth has been made drunk; and Satan falls down like lightning before the power of Him, on whom the true church leaned, when she came out of the wilderness,- and still leans, and will lean upon forever; and the gates of hell shall not be able to prevail against her.

And blessed be the Lord! who has brought many wanderers and distressed ones to the sight of the true church, and to delightful obedience to her; whose voice is not different to Christ's, but one with it; and such are in fellowship with the Father and Son, and with the saints who dwell in the light. These are clothed with the Lamb's innocence and righteousness, and do not dwell in darkness, nor in sin; having crucified the old man with his affections and lusts, and put off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ, and put on the new man which is created, in Christ Jesus, in the righteousness and holiness of Truth. They that are here, dwell not in notions, nor feed on fancies, but on eternal life, in the pure pastures of life, where the Shepherd of the inward and- spiritual Israel, feeds his holy flock day by day. As for the Roman church, or any other church, built up in the apostasy from the spirit and life of the apostles; the Lord has given me to see through them, to that which was before them, and will be after them. And, Oh dear Brother! If you could correctly wait for and meet with the holy, regenerating, purifying power, of which in tender love I have testified to you; it would lead you to that which is the true church indeed, which has been persecuted by the dragon and false church, and the blood of her seed made drunk by the bloody dragonish church, for many ages. The Lord has made me your Brother in the line of nature; Oh that you were my Brother in that Truth, which lives and abides forever! Oh that you knew the church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, the Jerusalem which is above, which is free, which is the mother of all who are born of the regenerating virtue and power!

I. P.

LETTER LXII

In Regard to Catholics

To Joseph Wright

I ENTREAT your Son to acquaint my Brother Arthur, that I took very kindly, and was very glad of his affectionate expressions towards me; having been somewhat jealous, that though my religion had enlarged my love towards him, yet, his religion might have diminished his to me. I bless the Lord on his behalf that he enjoys his health so well: and for myself, though I have been exceedingly weak formerly, yet, the inward life and comfort, which the Lord daily pleases to administer to me, increases the health and strength of my natural man, beyond my expectation; blessed be my tender and merciful Father, who has visited one so distressed, miserable, and helpless as I was, for so many years!

And, whereas he said, he is like me in speech, but most unlike me in opinion; I pray, tell him from me, that my religion does not lie in opinion, but in that which puts an end to opinion. I was weary and sick at heart of opinions; and, had not the Lord brought that to my hand, which my soul wanted, I would have never meddled with religion more. But, as I felt that in my heart, which was evil and not of God, so the Lord God of my life, pointed me to that of him in my heart, which was of another nature, teaching me to wait for and know his appearance there; in subjection whereto, I experience him stronger than the strong man, that was there before. And, by his power, he has separated me from that within, which separated me from him before; and, thus being separated, truly, I feel union with him, and his blessed presence every day, — which, what it is unto me, my tongue cannot utter.

I could be glad, if the Lord saw it good that I might see my Brother before I die; and, if I did see him, I would not be quarrelling with him about his religion, but embrace him in brotherly love, and in the fear of the Lord. As for his being a Papist, or an arch-Papist, that does not dampen my tender affection to him. If he is a Papist, I had rather have him a serious than a loose Papist. If he has met with anything of that, which brings forth an holy conversation in him, he has so far met with somewhat of my religion, which teaches to order the conversation correctly, in the light, and by the Spirit and power of the Lord Jesus. My religion is not a new thing, though newly revealed more fully than in many foregoing ages; but consists in that, which was long before Popery was, and will be when Popery shall be no more. And, he that would rightly know the true church, must know the living stones of which the true church is built, against which the gates of hell cannot possibly prevail. Oh the daily joy of my heart, in feeling my living membership in this church! where the true “gold," the "white raiment," the pure "eye-salve," (with which the eye, being anointed, sees correctly), is received and enjoyed inwardly, by such as the world knows not, but despises: blessed be the name of the Lord! I desire my sincere, entire affection, as in God's light, may be remembered to my dear Brother.

I. P.

 

LETTER LXIII

On Baptism by Water

To William Rolls

FRIEND,

David saw through sacrifices and burnt offerings in his time; and the spiritual eye sees through all shadows to the substance, which have no place in the brightness of the day of God: and outward washing is no more than outward circumcision, (no more of a gospel nature,) nor can avail any more, but is of the nature of the things, that were to be shaken and pass away; that the spiritual kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the things which cannot be shaken, might remain.

I could say very much to every passage of your letter; but to what purpose would it be?  For if the Lord gives you a sense of where the true understanding is given, and teaches you correctly to wait for it, you may then receive it from him. This will allow you to discern the nature of that wisdom, from which God has hidden the mystery in all ages and generations, and from which he hides it still. With knowing from where true wisdom comes, you may experimentally know, what it is to become a fool in yourself for Christ's sake, that you may be wise in him. It is easy to have many notions in the mind about Christ, but hard to come to the true experience of him and his wisdom.

These are the breathings of my heart for you, in the flowings of my love; who desires, that you may not seek after the knowledge of the Scriptures in that, which cannot understand them; but, may meet with the right key and the right understanding, in which your soul will be safe and happy: which is my heart's desire for you, who am a real Friend, and well-wisher to your soul in the Lord.

I. P.

LETTER LXIV

Being Satisfied With Little, and Unreserved Obedience to However Small the Commands

To Bridget Atley

DEAR FRIEND,

I know your soul desires to live; and my soul desires, that you might live. Oh! why are you so backward in listening to the voice which is near you, in which is life? Why do you reason? Why do you consult? Why do you expect! Why do you hope? Why do you believe against your own soul? The snares of the subtle one will entangle forever, unless you wait for, listen to, and obey the voice of the living God, who leads the single-hearted and obedient out of them. Is there any way of life but one? Is not the Lord leading his children in that way? Must not all that come after, follow in the footsteps of those that go before? Is there any Savior, but the seed of life and the Father of it? Is it not the same in you as in others? Has it not the same voice? O that you had the same ear and the same heart, that you might hear, receive, and live! They wait correctly; do you wait so? They hope correctly; do you hope so? If not, what will your waiting and expecting come to? In that, which has sometimes inclined your heart, there is Truth, there were the beginnings of salvation; but in that, which draws you out, to expect some great matters, and dries up your present sense, and hinders your present subjection, therein is deceit and the destruction of your soul. Therefore, if you desire and love the salvation of it, Oh hasten, hasten out of it! Wait for the reproofs of wisdom; and what it manifests to be of the earthly and worldly nature in you, (the words, ways, thoughts, customs of it), hasten out of it! Oh turn your back to the world with speed, and turn your face towards the heavenly wisdom and light eternal! Which wisdom and light will be springing up in you, if you turn your back upon the world, and wait for it.

And, do not look for such great matters to begin with; but, be content to be a child, and let the Father proportion out daily to you what light, what power, what exercises, what straits, what fears, what troubles, he sees fit for you; and bow before him continually, in humility of heart, who has the disposal of you, whether to life or death forever. Ah! That [human] wisdom, which would be choosing, must be confounded, and the low humble thing raised, which submits, and cries to the Father in every condition. And, in waiting to feel this, and, in joining to this, you may meet with life; but death, destruction, and separation from God, is the portion of the other forever! Oh! That you may be separated from it, and joined to the seed and birth of God; that, in it, your soul may spring up to know, serve, and worship the Lord, and to wait daily to be formed by him, until you become perfectly like him. But, you must join in with the beginnings of life, and be exercised with the day of small things, before you meet with the great things, in which is the clearness and satisfaction of the soul. The rest is at noonday; but, the travels begin at the breakings of day, in which are but glimmerings, or little light in which the discovery of good and evil are not so manifest and certain; yet there must the traveler’s beginning and travels; and in his faithful travels, (in much fear and trembling, lest he should err), the light will break in upon him more and more.

This have I written in tenderness to you, that you might not miss of the path of the living, which is appointed of the Father to lead, and He alone can lead the soul to life. Oh! that you might be enlightened and quickened by the Lord to walk in it, and might be thankful for, and content with, what he gives you, and walk in it, from the evil to the good, from the earthly to the heavenly nature daily, and might not despise the cross or the shame of the seed. For, I know there is a wisdom in you, which will despise and turn from it, until the Lord batters and crucifies it; and, I can hardly put up a more proper request for you, than, that the Lord would draw out his sword against it, and deeply perplex and confound it in you.

 I. P.

1665

LETTER LXV

To THE POOR AMONG FRIENDS,
who are relieved by the charity and bowels of love, which God opens in other Friends towards them.

O FRIENDS, You ought deeply and often to consider of God's visiting you with his precious Truth, whereto being faithful, you are sure to be happy forever; however hard it goes with you, and however difficult your condition should be, in reference to the things of this world.

But, you have not only this assurance and benefit by the Truth, but you are also come to partake of a better provision, as to your necessities outwardly, than other poor meet with. For, God himself takes care of you, in drawing the hearts of his children to consider of your wants, and make supply unto you; so that, many of you are so provided for, as you had never like to have been while in this world, bad it not  been for the interest, God gives you in the hearts of others, through and because of his Truth. Surely, this should not be forgotten by you, but daily acknowledged to the Lord, in the use and enjoyment of those things, which you ought to receive as from his hand, through those who minister to you in his name, and for his sake. And, take heed of murmuring, if the supply answer not any of your expectations; for, if we wait upon the Lord, to be ordered and guided by him in this matter, and answerably witness his presence with us, and holy wisdom ordering us in these affairs; your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord. And, if you watch narrowly over yourselves, you will find, it is the unsubdued part, which is apt to be repining and murmuring; but, that which is of the Lord and eyes him, is that which is sensible of his goodness, and thankful to him for it. But, if there be judged to be any neglect towards any, or any just cause of complaint; let it, in tenderness, meekness, and the fear of the Lord, be laid before us; and we will wait upon him to give it a due and full consideration, and do in it as the Lord shall open and guide our hearts. For, great exercises of spirit do we meet with in these affairs, and great are our cries of spirit to the Lord, to guide and order us according to his will and holy counsel in it.

And, dear Friends, wait to feel that which stays your minds on the Lord, and keeps your eye towards him; and take heed of judging us in things, in which we truly desire to act singly towards the Lord, and of which we must give an account to him; and, if you in anything judge us, in which our God justifies us, certainly the Lord will in it condemn you. Therefore, be wary and watchful in this matter.

LETTER LXVI

Afflictions may work out a Weight of Glory. To my dear suffering Friends in Scotland.

DEAR FRIENDS AND BRETHREN,

Who have partaken of the tender mercy and blessed visitation of the Lord. Oh! blessed be the Lord, who pitied and helped us in our low estate, and whose tender love and mercy has followed us, from his first visiting us to this present day! And indeed, the Lord is with us, (what can we desire more), preparing us for himself, preserving us in the life of his blessed Truth, building us up more and more, and causing his Spirit of glory and living power to rest upon us, and the virtue thereof to spring up in us day by day.

Oh! the beauty and glory of the day of our God increases upon his heritage, blessed be the name of the Lord! And, to what tend all the workings of the contrary spirit and power, but, to eat out its own interest and kingdom, through the Lord's blessed ordering of things; so that, all things work together for good, and for the advancing of Truth, and the growth of it in the hearts of God's heritage.

So, my dear Friends, none look out, either at outward or inward sufferings; but to the Lord only, whose life, Spirit, and power is above them, and bears up all over them, who are in spirit joined to him, faithfully waiting upon him; which God daily teaches and enables his to do. Thus, my dear Friends, feel the Lord's presence and power among you, who is always near his, but especially in the time of their straits, trials, and sufferings: and wait to feel the life springing, and doing its proper work in each of you day by day; working out what is to be wrought out in any, and working more and more into the glory of the heavenly imager that, through the sufferings, you may come into the glory, and be crowned with the glory, virtue, holiness, righteousness, and dominion of life over all; and thus, the Son may sit upon his throne in you, and wield his holy and righteous scepter, and give you dominion in and with him over all that would veil life, or keep it under, in any of you. So, my dear Friends, be strong in the Lord, with the strength of the Lord, with which he is clothing those, whom he has emptied and made weak; for the trials, temptations, and afflictions, prepare for, and (as I may say) lead into the possession of the desired inheritance; where, all that the soul has breathed and waited for, is bestowed upon it, by the bountiful hand of the Father of mercies, who keeps covenant and mercy forever, and renews covenant and mercy day by day.

So, the tender God of my life, and Father of the blessings and mercies of my once greatly distressed and miserable soul, instruct you, preserve you, watch over you; exercise your spirits most advantageously, daily open you to himself; keep you empty and naked before him of all your own clothing and righteousness, and fill you with that, which flows from the pure living fountain; to the unspeakable joy of your hearts. and the glory of his own name over all forever!

Be of good faith, my dear Friends, look not out at anything; fear none of those things you may be exposed to suffer, either outwardly or inwardly; but trust the Lord over all, and your life will spring, and grow, and refresh you, and the love and power will purge out, and keep out, what would hinder its growth: and you will learn obedience and faithfulness daily more and more, even by your exercises and sufferings; Yes, the Lord will teach you the very mystery of faith and obedience; (oh blessed lesson!) and you shall not be disappointed of your hope or crown, by anything the enemy can plot or bring about against you, but have the weight of glory increased and enlarged by his temptations, and your many sufferings; the wisdom, power, love, and goodness of the Lord, ordering every thing for you, and ordering your hearts in everything, — you having given up to him, and keeping them continually given up to him, in the holy seed of Truth, in which he has in some measure already joined, and is daily more and more joining you to himself.

This is the salutation and tender visit of the love of your brother in the Truth; whose breathings are to God for you, and his praises unto Him, through the sense of his being with you, and daily showing mercy to you, upholding and preserving you in the midst of your sore trials and afflictions.

I. P.

London, 5th of Fifth Month, 1676.

LETTER LXVII

Doubting, Reasonings Against Teachings Received, Expecting Greater Things

To Sarah Bond

DEAR SARAH,

I have had many thoughts of you in this my imprisonment; in which, I have seen in spirit your error and miscarriage, and a hope and expectation in your heart, which will deceive you. O how much precious time have you lost! in which you might have been traveling far on your journey, while you are disputing in your mind, and wandering in the deceitful reasonings of your heart. And indeed, it must not be, it must not be as you imagine, but you must begin low, and be glad of a little light with which to travel out of the earthly nature, and be faithful to it; and in faithfulness expect additions of light, and the necessary power to help you to continue. And though you may be long low and weak, and little, and ready to perish; yet, in the humble and self-denying state, the Father will help you, and cause his life to shoot up in you, in the shooting up whereof will be your redemption.

But, Oh hasten! Oh hasten out of the earthly nature, while you have time, or any visitations from the Spirit of the Lord; and do not in your wisdom limit him, but accept what at present comes from him; for the flood is breaking out, and will swallow up and drown all, that are not found in the ark. Oh therefore, enter, enter quickly; mind what checks in your heart; mind also that which reasons against those checks, to hold you still in captivity, and to keep you from traveling out of the earthly nature, spirit, wisdom, and practices; and come out of the spirit and way of this world, that you may live, and not die. For none shall live, but those that walk in the way of life, and leave the paths and course of the dead, in which you are yet entangled. Oh! that you might be loosed, and travel out of there, with a little light and a little help; and not limit the Holy One of Israel in your desires or expectations, but thankfully receive the smallest visitation that comes from him to your soul; for there is life and peace in it, and death and perplexity in turning from it. And, this will not be your comfort or satisfaction hereafter to have had a day of visitation and mercy from on high; but to have received the visitation, and to have been turned in it from the darkness of the earthly mind and nature into the light of the living and redeemed souls — this will be comfortable, indeed! And this is my tender counsel to you: wait for and graspingly receive the checks of the Most High, and take heed of reasoning against them; but, as that, (though in a low, and mean, and despicable way to your wisdom), draws and leads you out of any earthly thought, word, custom, or practice, follow diligently; not reasoning against it, but, waiting to have your reasonings subdued to the smallest motions, and lowest guidance of life in you. For, I know that life is near you, even the life that would effectually redeem you; but, it is bowed down and held captive under the dominion of the earthly wisdom; and so, your redemption (which is to be wrought out by it) sticks, and will stick, until your heart is persuaded to join to it and become subject, without, reasoning, without consulting, without disputing. For, I certainly know, the light manifests in you; but, the darkness puts off the present manifestation of the light, and expects another; and, this is in the will of the flesh, which the Father will not answer; and, in this will and expectation, you will perish; but, your help, life, and salvation, is, in being subject to the present manifestation of light; parting with, and departing from, what you already know to be of the earth, and not of God.

And, in thus doing, more will be made manifest in the Lord's season, and power given to become a child, after some belief in the Father, and some entrance into the child-like nature; but, the will and expectation of the flesh in you, shall never be answered: — it has been long written in my heart concerning you, but I dared never utter it to you — Oh that it may be now uttered, to the melting and advantage of your heart! For, indeed, I love you, and have travailed for you, and desire the salvation of your soul, as of my own. Oh that you may be led out of that wisdom which destroys, into that which saves! and may there, in humility of heart, receive instruction daily, according to your need. But, indeed, of a truth, you must come into and come under that, which crucifies your nature and wisdom; and there, (in the seasons of God's wisdom, who answers the desires of his own Spirit in the heart, but regards not the flesh), may you meet with life and power, but nowhere else.

I am your Friend, and a dear lover of that in you, which desires the Lord; and, Oh that that might come up in you, and be severed from the earth, that your soul might live!

I. P.

LETTER LXVIII

Advice to Wait on the Lord for a substance of himself to be created and raised in you

FRIEND,

The vessel, or created nature, poisoned by sin and death, nothing can redeem, except the life and power of God revealed in the vessel. This life, this peace, this power, this righteousness, this salvation, is the Lord Jesus Christ. And he that feels anything of this, feels somewhat of Christ; and being joined to, and partaking of it, partakes somewhat of his redemption; for, it is not by an outward knowledge, but, by an inward virtue and spiritual life, received from Christ, and held in Christ, that those who are saved, are saved. This is the thing of value with me, for which I have been made willing to part with all, and into this purchased possession am I daily traveling; and in my travels, the Father of life and tender mercy pleases to help me.

Now, to have you gathered into this light, this life, this power, which is of Christ, and in which he is, and appears, is the desire of my soul, in uprightness of heart before the Lord for you: and if he please, I am willing to be instrumental in his hand, towards the bringing forth of this in you. It is not my desire, to bring forth new notions in you; but rather, that you might wait on the Lord, for him to bring up his living, powerful Truth in you, in which the knowledge of the new and living way, is alone revealed. I am a worm, I am poor, I am nothing; less than nothing, as in myself; weaker than I can express, or you imagine; yet, in the midst of all this, the life, power, righteousness, and presence of Christ, is my refreshment, peace, joy, and crown: and that, to which I invite you, is substance, everlasting substance, which you shall know and acknowledge in spirit to be so, as that is created and raised in you, which can see and acknowledge it in Truth. Oh! wait on the Lord, fear before him, pray for his fear in the upright breathings, (which are not of your spirit's forming, but of his pure begetting), that you may be led by him, out of that wisdom which entangles, into that innocence, simplicity, and precious childishness, in which the Father appears to the soul, to break the bonds snares of iniquity; for by this the evil spirit not only involves you in iniquity, but begets a belief that there can be no redemption from it, until the time of redemption has passed.

This truly loving Friend, desires the right guidance and happiness of your soul by the Lord Jesus Christ, the single skillful Shepherd and Guide, which I desire for you even as though you were my own soul.

I. P.

Aylesbury Prison, 20th of the 10th Month, 1666

LETTER LXIX

Wait to be translated into the Kingdom of God.

For my dear Friends in the Truth at Lewes.

THE God of truth plants his Truth in the hearts of people, that it might grow there, and bring forth fruit to him. Oh my dear Friends! feel it grow in every one of your hearts, and bringing forth the proper fruits of its growth to the Lord.

Mind what arises from the Truth, what Truth brings forth, and wait for and receive your nourishment from the Lord, that it may be brought forth in you. And, that which the Lord has made barren (in you, who have experienced his righteous judgments), let it be kept so, by the same power which made it barren, that no more fruit may be brought forth to sin and unrighteousness, by any of you. Then shall you live the life of Truth, and no life but the life of Truth, and dwell and walk in the Truth, than which, there is no greater joy, delight, or peace to be desired or enjoyed.

Oh my dear Friends! know, and every day experience Enoch's life, — to be translated out of the kingdom of darkness, into the kingdom of the dear Son, and of walking with the Son in his kingdom; then, you will walk with the Father also, and know the heavenly paths of life, joy, righteousness, and peace in the pure light of life, which is no less than a paradise to the renewed soul.

I would willingly have seen you together, had the Lord made way; but, let me feel you in the bidden life, and meet you at my Father's throne, where, let us beg of our God, what our souls and His whole flock stand in need of, praying for the peace and prosperity of Jerusalem, unto the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hears our prayers; that we may daily see and feel the going on of the work of our God, in our hearts, and in the kingdoms of the world, (which must become the Lord's and his Christ's), and may bless and magnify his name, who has power over all, and orders all for good to his chosen heritage.

This is the salutation of my love to you, which lay to upon me, that I could not  pass it by, who am your Friend, in the everlasting unchangeable Truth of our Blessed God and Saviour.

I. P.

LETTER LXX

Consolation for a Mother on the death of her Child.

To Sarah Elgar

The child, which the Lord has taken from you, was his own. He has done you no wrong, in calling it from you. Take heed of murmuring, take heed of discontent, take heed of any grief, but what Truth allows you. You have yet one child left. The Lord may call for that one too, if he pleases; or he may continue and bless it to you. Oh mind a right frame of spirit towards the Lord, in this your great affliction! If you mind God's Truth in your heart, and wait to feel the seasoning of it that will bring you into, and preserve you in a right frame of spirit, the Lord will not condemn your love and tenderness to your child, or your tender remembrance of him; but still, in it, be subject to the Lord, and let his will and disposal be bowed unto by you, and not the will of your nature set above it. Retire out of the natural, into the spiritual, where you may feel the Lord your portion; so that now, in the needful time, you may day by day receive and enjoy satisfaction in it. Oh wait to feel the Lord, making your heart what he would have it to be in this your deep and sore affliction!

Nunnington,

Sixth Month, 1679

Now let the world see, how you prize Truth, and what Truth can do for you. Feed on it; do not feed on your affliction; and the life of Truth will arise in you, and raise you up over it, to the honor of the name of the Lord, and to the comfort of your own soul.

LETTER LXXI

Advice to Women's Meeting Regarding Judging Disputes

To the Women's Meeting of Friends in the Truth at John Mannock's.

DEAR FRIENDS,

Dearly beloved and honored in the Lord, because of his honorable presence and power, which is so preciously manifested and found to be among you in your meetings.

Blessed be the Lord, who has thus gathered you! and given you hearts to meet together, to feel his precious presence and power, and wait to do his will in it, as he shall please to call, and make your way clear to it. And, blessed be the Lord! who encourages and rewards you daily, and makes your meetings pleasant and advantageous to your own souls, and towards the seasoning and holy watching over the several respective places, where your lot has fallen.

Oh! what could the Lord do more for his people, than to turn them to that pure seed of life, which will make them all alive, and keep them all in life and purity; and then, to make use of every living member in the living body, as his Spirit is pleased to breathe upon it, and his power to actuate it! And indeed, there is need of all the life and power to the body, which the Lord sees good to bestow on any member of it; every member of the body having life given it, not only for itself, but likewise for the use and service of the body. Only, dear Friends, here is to be the great care, that every member keep within the limits of life, in which its capacity and ability for service lies, and, out of which, it can do no real service for God, or to the body. 0h! therefore, eye life, eye the power, eye the presence of the Lord with your spirits! that he may go along with you, and guide you in every thought you think, in every word you speak, in reference to his work and service.

And mind, Friends, what is now upon me to you: it is one thing, to sit waiting to feel the power, and to keep within the limits of the power, thus far; and another, yes, and harder, to feel and keep within the sense and limits of the power, when you come to act. Then, your reasonings, your wisdom, your apprehensions, have more opportunity to get up in you, and to put themselves forth. Oh! therefore, watch narrowly, and diligently against the forward part; and keep back to the life, which, though it rises more slowly, yet acts more surely and safely for God.

Oh, wait and watch, to feel your Keeper keeping you within the holy bounds and limits, within the pure fear, within the living sense, while you are acting for your God, that you may only be his instruments, and feel him acting in you. Therefore, everyone wait to feel the Judge risen and up, and the judgment set, in your own hearts; that, what arises in you may be judged and nothing may pass from you publicly, but what has first passed the pure judgment in your own breasts. And, let the holy rule of the blessed apostle James, be always upon your spirits, "Let every one be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath." Oh let not a talkativeness have place in any of you! But, abide in such gravity, modesty, and weightiness of spirit, as becomes the judgment-seat of the Spirit and power of the Lord. You can never wait too much for the power, nor can you ever act too much in the power; but, you may easily act too much without it.

And as for this troublesome, contentious business, of the Lord should yet order it to be brought before you, the Lord teach you to be considerate of, and manage it in a wise, tender, and healing spirit. You must distinguish in judgment, if you judge correctly, between enemies and erring friends. And, take heed of the quickness and strength of reason, or of the natural part, which avails little: but wait for the evidence and demonstration of God's Spirit, which reaches to the witness and does the work. Are they in a snare? Are they overtaken in a fault? Yes? Are they in measure blinded and hardened, so that they can neither see nor feel, as to this particular? Retire, sit still awhile, and travail for them. Feel how life will arise in any of you, and how mercy will reach towards them; and how living words, from the tender sense, may be reached forth to their hearts, deeply, by the hand of the Lord, for their good. And, if you find them, at length, bowing to the Lord, Oh let tender compassion help them forwards! That what has been so troublesome and grounded dissatisfactory in the progress, may at length, have a sweet issue for their good, and our joy and rejoicing in the Lord.

So, my dear Friends, the Lord be with you, and guide you in this, and in all that he shall further call you to; and multiply his presence, power, and blessings upon you, and make your meetings as serviceable to the honor of his name, as he himself would have them, and as you yourselves can desire them to be.

Your Friend and brother in the tender Truth, and in the pure love and precious life.

I. P.

19th of Fifth Month, 1678.

LETTER LXXII

Why not to Pray with Your Will, and the state of Believers of the day.

Because my not praying in my family, according to the custom of 'believers', seemed to be such a great stumbling-block to you, it sprang up in my heart to render you this account of it.

I did formerly apply myself to pray to the Lord, morning and evening, (besides other times,) believing in my heart, that it was the will of the Lord I should so do. And this was my condition then: — sometimes I felt the living spring open, and the true child breathe towards the Father; at other times, I felt a deadness, a dryness, a barrenness, and only a speaking and miring of the natural part, which I, even then, felt was not acceptable to the Lord, nor did profit my soul; but, apprehending it to be a duty, I dared not but apply myself to it.

Since that time, — since the Lord has again been pleased to raise up what he had formerly begotten in me, and began to feed it, by the pure giving forth of that breath of life which begat it, (which is the bread that comes down from heaven daily to it, as the Lord pleases freely to dispense it), — the Lord has shown me, that prayer is his gift to the child which he begets and that it stands not in the will, or time, or understanding, or affectionate part of the creature, but in his own begetting, which he first breathes upon, and then it breathes again towards him; — and that he works this at his own pleasure, and no time can be set for him as to when he shall breathe, or when he shall not breathe; and that when he breathes, then is the time of prayer, then is the time of moving towards him, and following him who draws. So that, all my times, and all my duties, and all my graces, and all my hopes, and all my refreshments, and all my ordinances are in his hand, who is the spring of my life, and conveys, preserves, and increases life of his own good pleasure.

I freely confess, all my religion stands in waiting on the Lord, for the riches of his Spirit and in returning back to the Lord, (by his own Spirit, and in the virtue of his own life), that which he pleases to bestow on me. And, I have no faith, no love, no hope, no peace, no joy, no ability to anything, no refreshment in any thing, but as I find his living breath beginning, his living breath continuing, his living breath answering and performing what it calls for. So that, I am become exceedingly poor and miserable, except for what the Lord pleases to be to me by his own free grace, and for his own name's sake, and in rich mercy. And, if I have tasted anything of the Lord's goodness sweeter than ordinary, my heart is willing, so far as the Lord pleases, faithfully to point any others to the same spring; and not discourage or witness against the least simplicity, and true desire after God, in them. But where they have lost the true living child, and another thing has gotten up in instead, (which, though it may bear it image to the eye of flesh, yet is not the same thing in the light of God); and where this nourishes itself by praying, reading, meditating, or any other such like thing, feeding the carnal part with such a kind of knowledge from Scriptures, as the natural understanding may gather and grow rich by; this, in love and faithfulness to the Lord and to souls, I cannot but testify against, wherever I find it, as the Lord draws forth my spirit to bear its testimony. And this I know, from the Lord, to be the general state of believers in this day. The Spirit of the Lord has departed from them, and they are joined to another spirit, as deeply and as generally as ever the Jews were; and that their prayers and reading of the Scriptures, and preaching, and duties, and ordinances, are as loathsome to the soul of the Lord, as ever the Jews’ incense and sacrifices were. And this is the word of the Lord concerning them. You must come out of your knowledge, into the feeling of an inward principle of life, if ever you are to be restored to the true unity with God and to the true enjoyment of him again. You must come out of the knowledge and wisdom you have gathered from the Scriptures, into a feeling of the thing which is written about, as it pleases the Lord to open and reveal them in the hidden man of the heart.

This is it, you are to wait for from the Lord; and not to boast of your present state, as if you were not backslidden from him, and had not entered into league with another spirit; which keeps up the image of what the Spirit of the Lord once formed in you, but without the true, pure, fresh life.

From a faithful Friend and lover of souls.

I. P.

LETTER LXXIII

Travel On! To the Fullness of Christ, there to Maintain Your Vigilance Against Evil

To the single, upright-hearted, and faithful Friends of Truth, in and about the two Chalfonts.

DEAR FRIENDS,

Have you in any measure drunk in the sense of what the Lord has done for you? And have you felt meltings of spirit, and bowings before him, with praises to his name? Indeed, my request is to the Lord for you, that he would please to keep you truly sensible of what he already is to you, and of what he has already done for you; that he would also, of his tender mercy and great goodness, visit you yet further, increase life in you, cause faith to abound, give you to dwell in his power, and always abide in his seed, and feel that to be your hope, peace, joy, life, and strength, continually; that you may more and more give thanks unto him, as you feel his pure life arising in you, and death and the grave swallowed up thereby.

Ah! My Friends, can we ever forget the lost and miserable estate, in which the mercy of the Lord and his power from on high visited us? Oh the blackness of that day, the misery, the deep distress of that day that some of your souls felt! Did you not know, what it was to want God, and to lie open to the furious assaults of the enemy; when you felt no strength, nor knew whither to retire, to keep out any hurt, any temptation, any vain thought and imagination, or to give you any grounded hope in the goodness and mercy of the Lord? How did you mourn, how did you cry out, and pine away in your iniquities day and night! and knew not  which way to look, nor what to wait for? Are there not among you, who have known this state, and felt somewhat of that which I now relate? As sure I have, there are upon the earth, who can witness it to the full, whose mouths and hearts are now filled with a sense of the Lord's goodness, and of his great salvation, and with deep and high praises to his name.

But, my dear Friends, is there any of you, (I know to whom I speak, even, to the sensible, to the diligent, to the faithful among you), who cannot in truth witness, as in God's presence, concerning the arm and power of his salvation, which you have often felt? So much that you can sing that song, "He has raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; as he spoke  by the mouth of his holy prophets." Do you not know the house of his servant David, with the horn of salvation in it, and that horn raised up to you for your defense and comfort? Yes, do you not daily feel the Lord, ministering out salvation to you from it? Are not your enemies daily overcome by the faith, which he has given you in his answer? May I not say to you: where is the strength of the tempter? Have you not felt the seed of the woman to bruise the head of the serpent? So that, in the fear of the Lord, and in the strength, virtue, and dominion of his life manifested in you, you can say, though as yet somewhat tremblingly: where are those temptations, those lusts, vain thoughts, and imaginations, which once I was overcome by and overrun with? Surely, I may speak thus; for, I know assuredly, that the power of the Lord God, as it is lifted up in any of you, scatters these, and gives you dominion over them. For, the life and its power is given as a bulwark and weapon of war against iniquity and its power; and, where it is received, it opposes, wars, and strives, until it overcomes. And, this is that which gives the victory and overcoming; namely, faith in the seed. The seed felt, the soul joined to it, faith in it and from it given to the soul. Then, it becomes the Leader, the mighty undertaker for the soul, and overcomes its snares and enemies for it; and, when it has overcome them, they are overcome indeed. And then, the soul lies down in peace, dwells in peace, feeds on the living nourishment, in the green pastures of life, in peace. Then Jerusalem, the building of life in the heart, becomes a quiet habitation, where God and the soul dwell sweetly together; and there is nothing that has power in it to disturb, annoy, or make afraid. Why so? Because the Lord God of power is present there, stretches out his wings there, is a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night there! He has raised up his glorious life in that heart, of which he is very choice; and he has also spread a defense over his glory, with which the soul is so encompassed and defended, that it feels the walls of this city to be salvation, and its gates praise. O my soul, travel on! — O dear Friends! Do you also travel on, into the fullness of the glory of this state?

There is no other thing to be desired and waited for. This is your portion, both here in this world, and forever. Therefore, wait in the seed of this life; wait to feel yet a further gathering into it, and a growing up in it; and give yourselves up to it, that it may overspread and cover you. And, may the Lord God of life daily open it, and manifest it more and more in you and to you; that you may be more found in him and yet more acceptable and pleasing in the eyes of your God; and may sing praises unto him, not only at the foot of the hill, in some true proportion and measure of his life, but in the very heights of Zion, even in the fullness of the measure of your stature in Christ; which you are all diligently to press after, until you arrive at. And then, there is no more to be done, but to spread abroad into, and drink in of, and live in, the full pleasure and safety of life, forever! Then may you eat freely of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God, and draw water with joy out of the wells of salvation! Therefore feel, Oh! feel in spirit, the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus; and be daily looking up to that, which quickens to God, and keeps fresh and lively in him; that none of you grow slothful, drowsy, or negligent, and so, unfaithful, in relation to the great talent, which God has put into your hands; and so, the Lord be provoked against you, and suffer the enemy to tempt and prevail upon you; that a veil come over your hearts again, and the air thicken, and the earthly nature cover the seed; and he that has power in that earth and over that air, captivate, oppress, entangle, and lead you back from God again. 0h cry to the Lord, to keep the eye open, and the heart single, and the soul in the true sense and feeling; that the heavenly voice, which drew you out of the earth, may be daily heard further instructing you, and gathering you more and more up into Him, who is your life. — So, you that fear the Lord, and love his name, and have tasted of his goodness and powerful salvation, Oh hate evil! All that his light has made manifest, and drawn you from, Oh take heed of ever dallying with it again! Oh never listen to the tempter! But pray to the Father, that you may discern his baits, and at no time consult or reason with him; but still wait in everything, to feel the motion, guidance, quickening, and sweet, pure, heavenly leading of the spirit of your Father!

Has the Lord spoken peace to you, peace which passes man’s understanding, and only flows from him?  Has he given you any proportion of this precious peace?  Oh! May he watch over you, and preserve you in that wisdom, in those heavenly instructions, in that heavenly life, divine power, and holy conversation in which you met with that peace, and in which alone you can enjoy and possess it! and keep you out of all manner of sin, lust, and foolishness of the fleshly mind and spirit;- for, the peace is not there. That is the fruit of the enemy to your peace, and it has of his nature in it; it always breaks your peace, and sows distance, difference and division, between the Giver and Maker of your peace and you. Do you not always (you that are in the true sense, and have received the holy understanding), feel it thus, and know it to be thus? It is an eternal truth, and the eternal eye, wherever it is opened, witnesses and seals to it. Therefore, this little thing, this light of God in you, to which you were at first directed and turned, which discovers all the darkness of the enemy, and all his deceits and devices, and keeps the minds of those that are stayed by it, — in this wait, to this let your minds be still turned, and in it still abide; and the power and glory of eternal life, will daily more and more appear in you, yes, flow and break in upon you; to the filling of your vessels with its virtue, and the causing of your hearts to abound with joy before the Lord, and with thanksgivings to him.

May the God of tender mercies and everlasting compassions, cause the bowels of his love to be daily yearning towards you; that you may be nursed up with the living food, and that which would overturn and destroy his work, may be opposed; that you may feel it daily go on, Yes, mightily preserved and carried on by him, even until it be finished, and the top stone laid; and your souls, in the true and full sense of life, cry, Grace, grace, to Him that laid the foundation, raised up, defended, and carried on the building, and now at length has perfected it. And thus, whatsoever you have previously witnessed in measure, you shall then witness in fullness; and see, that all the promises of God are of a precious nature, and are, "Yes and amen" from God to the seed.

May the life, presence, and power of the Lord be with you in this seed; in your breathings after it, in your joinings to it, in your abidings and waitings upon him to it; and, the Lord God give you to breathe after it, give you to join to it, give you to abide always, and wait upon him in it, and never to listen to and go out after a contrary spirit and wisdom; but keep you in the simplicity, lowliness, humility, and tender spirit which is in Christ Jesus, to the praise of his own name, and preservation and joy of your hearts before him forever, amen!

Written, in the tender bowel and motion of the pure life, from the place of my confinement in Aylesbury.

I. P.

1st of Third Month. 1667.

LETTER LXXIV

The Holy Scriptures are not the Primary Rule. Who Gave them Forth is the Rule.

To Nathaniel Stonar,

DEAR FRIEND,

There was something on my heart towards you this morning, which I am willing in truth and uprightness to express to you, as the Lord knows.

There is a great dispute between us and other believers, concerning the rule; which they hold forth the Scriptures to be. Now, truly I could wish, from the depth of love in my heart to them, and from my desire of their good, that the Scriptures, rightly understood by them, were their rule; and not their own reasonings, concepts, and apprehensions about the Scriptures. But yet, if it were so, they would have to agree with me, that the Spirit of life, — that the Truth, which lives in the heart, — that the law, written by the finger of God in the inward parts ,- is nearer and more powerful, than the words, or outward relations concerning those things in the Scriptures. There is a measure of life to be received, — there is the Spirit of life to be received, there is a well of life, from which pure life springs up, to be received and enjoyed by those who truly and rightly believe.

The Lord, in the gospel state, has promised to be present with his people; not as a wayfaring man, for a night, but to dwell In them and walk in them. Yes. if they are tempted and in danger of erring, they shall hear a voice behind them, saying, "This is the way, walk in it." Will they not grant this to be a rule, as well as the Scriptures? No, is not this a more complete direction to the heart, in that state, than it can pick to itself out of the Scriptures! Truly, this ensuing testimony is true, which now springs up in my heart to you, which is this: the Lord has poured out his spirit upon his sons and daughters, in and by this precious dispensation of Truth, and of the pure seed, which is so despised. And the Spirit, which gave forth the words, is greater than the words; therefore, we cannot but prize Him himself, and set Him higher in our heart and thoughts, than the words which testify of Him, though they also are very sweet and precious to our taste.

There was a measure and rule, which the true minister of Christ and the believing Gentiles had attained, by which they were to walk ; as is mentioned in 2 Cor. 10:13-15, "According to the measure of the rule, which God has distributed to us" — "according to our rule," and in Philippians, 3:16, "Thereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing;" as also in Galatians, 6:15-16, “For, in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy." Now, consider what that rule was. O! that you may know it and walk thereby, as they that had received God's Spirit did. For, I am assured in my heart, that, if you receive God's Spirit, and live and walk in it, you cannot fulfill the desires of the flesh; but, you will find your heart owned thereby into a true sense, understanding, and right use of the Scriptures. For, the Scriptures of the New Testament were written to the saints, and cannot be truly or rightly understood or made use of, but as men come into their spirit and state. (For more on this subject, see James Parnell's excellent writing.)

Site Editor's Comment : But before a man comes into the spiritual state to be able to understand the depth of the scriptures' meanings, reading the Scriptures is profitable for: 1) building hope, 2) definition of what is sin, and 3) the promises of God to be obtained. It is a serious mistake, to discount the scriptures altogether; even to the spiritually immature, their reading is very helpful; but the all-too common mistake is not to seek He of whom the scriptures testify, to only read about Him, rather than to experience Him by silently waiting on Him to receive His teachings and changing grace. Children should be encouraged to read the Bible for a basic understanding of what God expects from us. Whatever time you give to the reading of the Bible, you should give far more time to silent waiting on the Lord.

These things are of great weight and concernment: the Lord open and guide your heart into true satisfaction in this and other things also, from the demonstration of his own Spirit; that you may be able truly to say, as in his sight. Now I believe and understand things; not because this or that man has so said, but because the Lord, who is the Teacher indeed, has taught and assured my heart concerning the Truth itself, as it is in Jesus; which I feel to be to, by its living virtue and powerful operation in and upon my heart. This is my desire for you, who am your soul's true and sincere Friend, who would by no means have you deceived about anything that concerns it.

Reading Jail, 24th of Seventh Month, 1670.

 

LETTER LXXV

Wait to feel the seed within and the destruction of your pleasant part.

To the Lady Conway

DEAR FRIEND,

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

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

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

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

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

I. P.

17th of Third Month, 1677

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