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The Missing Cross to Purity


76-104


The Letters Of Isaac Penington
(Continued)

Table of Contents

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

LXXVI — On Disputes and Puritans. A Plea to Know Christ Within, and not to Persecute Him Where He Has Appeared

LXXVII- Self-Deceit. The Unity of the Spirit. The Younger are to Submit to the Elder


LXXVIII — Wishing for the Power of the Lord to Descend Upon Her

LXXIX — Renewed in Mind, Suffering, the Cross, Avoiding all Deceits

LXXX — Observations on the Ministry

LXXXI — Of Love, Humility, and Order among Friends. Also of Persecution.

LXXXII — On the Danger of Self-complacency.

LXXXIII — Against Self-exaltation; and on the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ

LXXXIV — Do not Miss the Holy Way of Life

LXXXV — The Plain Path and Way Of Salvation

LXXXVI — Christ's Blood Acknowledged, but also His Living Spirit in His True Followers

LXXXVII — A Plea to Experience the Spirit's Drawings, Workings, Cleansings from Sin

LXXXVIII — The Danger of Prayers from the Mind and Flesh

LXXXIX — The Burden Can be Light or It Can Be Heavy

XC — On Abiding in the Root of Life.

XCI — The Unsearchable Riches of Christ. The Epitome of Encouragements.

XCII — Fear God. Change while there is still Time.

XCIII — Some Doubts Answered About Prayer.

XCIV — On Drinking of the Fountain of Living Water — Life

XCV — False Building, Prayers Not Heard, and Make-Believe Righteousness

XCVI — Keep Up Your Testimony, Respect the True Ministers, Guard Against Deception

XCVII — On Hating Reproof

XCVIII — Fleshly Wisdom

XCIX — Wait on the Lord to Guide Your Works

C — Loving Advice to his persecutor, the Earl of Bridgewater

CI — How to Handle a Conflict Between Brothers

CII — On Dwelling with the Lowly Seed of Life in all Conditions

CIII — To One Who Sees Anointed Ministers Critically, with Envy

CIV — Of the Spirit's Building of the Church of Living Stone

<<<<To Letters 1-25 >      <<<<To Letters 26-50>    <<<<To Letters 51-75 >

LETTER LXXVI

On Disputes and Puritans.
A Plea to Know Christ Within, and not to Persecute Him Where He Has Appeared.

To E. Terry

FRIEND,

If the Lord has extended his favor to you and shown you mercy, I rejoice in that on your behalf:

I am fully content to comply with your desire that what you wrote may be looked upon as nothing, and that no contest may be raised from it; nor do I desire to have any advantage against you, nor are you disparaged at all in my thoughts because of what you last wrote. All of that is in my heart as nothing, and my love flows to you. In this letter of reply, I take notice of your seriousness, and I speak to that which I am in unity.

Regarding disputes, indeed, I have no love of them. Truth did not enter my heart that way, nor do I expect to propagate it in others that way; yet, sometimes for the sake of others, a necessity is laid upon me. And truly, when I do feel a necessity, I dispute in great fear; not trusting in my own spear or bow, (I mean), in strong arguments or wise considerations, which I, (of myself), might gather or comprehend. Instead I look up to the Lord for the guidance, help, and demonstration of his Spirit, so that a way may be made by which the pure seed is reached in men's hearts, where the true conviction and thorough conversion of the soul to God is witnessed. I had far rather feel Christ's life, Spirit, and power in my own heart, than disputing with others about them.

Christians that truly fear the Lord, have a portion of the primitive Spirit; and, if they could learn to watch and wait there, where God works the fear, they would daily receive more and more of it, and, in it, understand more and more the true intent and preciousness of the words of the Holy Scriptures. He that wishes to truly live to God, must hear wisdom's voice within, at home, in his own heart; and he that will have wisdom's words made known, and her spirit poured out to him, must turn at her reproof: Pro 1:22-23. Indeed, I have never known, and am satisfied that no one else can know, the preciousness of this lesson, unless they have been taught it by the Lord. There is one thing more on my heart to express, occasioned by your last letter, which is this: I have more unity in my heart and spirit before the Lord with regard to the Puritan state than with the churches and gatherings, which men have built up and run into since. Indeed, men have enlarged their knowledge and comprehension of things; but, that truth of heart, that love, that tenderness, that unity upon Truth's account, which was previously among them, many have made shipwreck of, and do not now know the state of their own souls, nor Truth in the life and power of it. This principle of life and truth was near me, as well as others. Yes, it was with me in that day; but, I wandered from it into outward knowledge, and with great seriousness into a way of congregational worship, by which I came to a great loss; finally becoming sick at heart for lack of the Lord's presence, power, and manifestation of his love. But now the Lord in great love and tender mercy has brought me back to the same principle and fixed my spirit in it. I discern the truth and beauty of that former estate, with the several departures from it; and I understand what was true or false in it, as shown to me by the holy anointing, which appears and teaches in that principle. And, Friend, it is not a notion of light, which my heart is engaged to testify to; but, that which enlivens, that which opens, that which gives to see, that in which the power of life is felt. For truly, in the opening of my heart by the pure power, was I taught to see and own the principle and seed of life, and to know its way of appearance; and so, I can faithfully and certainly testify, that that which is divine, spiritual, and heavenly, is nearer man than he is aware, as well as that which is earthly and selfish. Oh Friend! If you cannot yet see and own the principle and seed of Christ's life and Spirit, nor discern his appearance in it; yet take heed of fighting against it; for indeed, if you do, you fight against no less than the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

I. P.

LETTER LXXVII

Self-Deceit. The Unity of the Spirit. The Younger are to Submit to the Elder.

To Miles Stanclif

DEAR M. S.,

You are often in my heart; and indeed, I do many times bow unto the Father of spirits, for the preservation of whatever is good in you, for the clear discovery to you of what is not of his pure life, and for the separation of your mind from it; that the life of Christ may conquer in you, and you thereby be fully redeemed to the Lord. I often inquire after you; and, when I hear of any tenderness or diligence in you towards the Truth, my heart rejoices in it.

Dear Friend, deceit is very deep, and has much prevailed; but, the Lord is gathering out of it, and preparing such, by the power of his life, against future snares. Oh dear Friend! Take heed of your own wisdom, your own sense, your own judgment, which by mistake you may easily call the Lord's; but rather have all that originates from self searched out and brought under, and the mind made truly sensible of, and fully subject to the life in every thing, — this is a difficult travel; and it is very hard to come here, through all the deceits and entanglements. The Lord entirely join your mind to that, and preserve you in that, which gives you at anytime a sense of Truth, and of those who are in the Truth: these are to be known and honored in the Lord, according to their growth. And, take heed of what prejudices and disjoins; but feel and cleave to that, which unites in love, life, and pure power. Know that unity and fellowship, which is in the Spirit; and keep it, keep it in the bond of pure peace; and take heed, Oh forever take heed of whatever would break the bond! But, what makes of one mind and one judgment, one heart and one soul, that is the living principle, that is the living power, which all the members of the body are to inhabit and be one in. And, watch against the reasonings of the mind, and the thoughts of your heart; watch to the sense, which rises up in the fear, in the love, in the humility, that you may feel the leadings of God's Spirit, and come through all that stands in your way; having the help of all whom the Lord has ordained, and made able to be helpers to you. For, life is not to be limited, but we are to be limited by what is of the life; and, in cases of doubt, it is the ordinance of the Lord, for the weak to receive counsel and help from the strong, and for the lesser to be watched over and blessed by the greater,- by such as are more grown in the life, and into the power.

So, the Lord God Almighty lead you fully into, and preserve you perfectly in, the way everlasting!

Your Friend in the true love,

I. P.

16th of Third Month, l668

LETTER LXXVIII

Wishing for the Power of the Lord to Descend Upon Her

To Elizabeth Walmsley, of Giles Chalfont

DEAR FRIEND,

The thoughts of you are pleasant to me; indeed, I am melted with the sense of the Lord's love to you, as to my own soul.

What were we, that the Lord should stretch forth his arm to us, and gather us? And what are we, that the Lord should daily remember us, in the issuing forth of his loving-kindness and mercies? Oh his pity, his compassion! — (must I forever say) — that my soul yet lives, and has hope before him! And, cannot you also say the same? Oh my Friend! We feel mercy and salvation from the Lord. Oh that he might have pure praise and service from his own in us! And yet, that will be little thanks to us, but rather a new mercy received from him. But, all is his own, and of his own do we give him, — and that, only when he quickens, helps, and enables us to give. Dear Friend, my desire for you is, that the power and blessings of life may descend upon you, and that you may feel your God near, and your heart still ready to let him in, and shut against all that is of a contrary nature to his; that you may know that death passing upon you, and perfected in you, which prepares for, and lets into, the fullness of his pure, unspotted life.

You may commend my dear love to your sister, and to all Friends, as you have opportunity, who breathe after the Lord, and desire in uprightness of heart to walk with him.

I am your Friend, in the affection which is of the Truth,

I. P.

Aylesbury, 20th of Fourth Month, 1666.

LETTER LXXIX

Renewed in Mind, Suffering, the Cross, Avoiding all Deceits

Elizabeth Stonar

DEAR FRIEND,

Whose life in the Lord, and prosperity in the Truth, my heart greatly desires; even, that you may come to the perfect service, and free and full enjoyment of your soul's Beloved; in which, if I could be in any way helpful to you, my heart would greatly rejoice and bless the Lord. This morning, when I awoke, my heart was exercised before the Lord concerning you; and several things did spring up in my mind relating to you, which I may now signify to you, as the Lord shall please to bring them again to my mind, and open them in my heart in reference to you. I would willingly have you rightly understand, and be found doing, what the Lord requires of you; that it may go well with you, and that your heart may be satisfied, and your soul blessed, in believing and obeying the Truth as it is in Jesus.

The first thing that rose up in my heart concerning you, this morning, was, about confessing Christ before men. It is a great duty, and I would not have you mistake about it, or fail in it; but diligently wait on God to know what it is, and faithfully to practice it in your state and place; which, if you do, you will find life and blessedness flowing with it upon your soul.

After this, several Scriptures, sweet and precious to my taste, sprang up in my heart to lay before your view; that you also might suck sweetness, and reap benefit through the living sense of them, and the bowing of your spirit to what the Lord shall please to make manifest to you thereby.

The first Scripture that sprang up in me to you, was that of Rom 12:2, not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove that good, that acceptable, and perfect will of God. You must stand at a distance from the spirit of this world, you must not touch the unclean thing, but he a chaste virgin in heart, in word, in conversation; if you expect to be married to the Lamb, to become one spirit with him, to know his mind, and to enjoy the love and be the delight of his Father.

The next Scripture in my heart. was, Rev 2:10, Fear none of those things which you shall suffer. Upon which Scripture, this question rose in my heart to you: Do you not fear the sufferings which may attend you, in your state and place, for Truth's sake? Do you not look out at them! If you do, it will weaken your faith, and be a snare to you; and such a beam in your eye, that you will never be able to see that particular way and path of Truth, which is most proper for your soul, until this beam be plucked out and separated from you.

Unto this, was soon added that of Isa 51:12-13. "I, even I, am he that comfort you: who are you, that you should be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; and forget the Lord your Maker, that has stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and have feared continually every day, because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor?" Oh take heed of distrusting the Comforter, your Comforter! Who is able and ready to help and comfort the souls of his, in the sorest distresses and oppressions that can befall them, either within or without. And, consider this also, that forgetting the Lord, is the necessary consequence of fearing man. It cannot be, but that, he that fears man should in some measure or degree forget the Lord, — his love, his wisdom, his power, his goodness, his faithfulness to, and tender care over his children in their following him, — especially, in the midst of the cruel hardships and sufferings, which often fall on them in it.

The next was Samson's riddle, Judges 14:14, "Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness." It is everlastingly true, both inwardly and outwardly, to the children of the Most High, who live in his Spirit, and walk in his Spirit, and are guided by the power and virtue of his life. Everything that would devour and destroy them, the Lord destroys, by the power and virtue of his life and Spirit springing up in them; and, out of what is strong against them, which roars against them in the strength and power of darkness, the Lord brings forth sweetness in and to their spirits.

Then, that of Luke 9:23-24, came before me, (which is said to all that hear Christ's voice and blessed counsel), "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For, whoever will save his life shall lose it; but whoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it." Now, I beseech you, consider; do you take up the daily cross, and bear it faithfully fur Christ's sake! Do you stand a faithful witness against the spirit of darkness, and works of darkness, where you live? Do you refuse any worship there, which your heart knows to be out of the Truth and Spirit of life, in which all true, holy, living, spiritual worship, can alone be performed? Oh! take need of shunning the cross in any respect; for then you give way to unbelief, and to that wisdom, thoughts, reasonings, and judgment, which are not of the Truth, but of the flesh: shunning that, which God has appointed to crucify sin in the heart, and under which the seed is to spring up and live, which is the power of God unto salvation, to all that abide under it, and daily bear it.

The last Scripture, which at this time sprang up in me to you, was that very sweet one in Solomon's Song of Songs 1:7-8, "Tell me, Oh you whom my soul loves, where you feed, where you make your flock to rest at noon: for, why should I be as one that turns aside by the flocks of your companions? If you know not, Oh you fairest among women, go your way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed your kids beside the shepherd's tents." If you would come to the feeding-place of the flock, and to rest in the pure life, power, and righteousness of the Lord with them; you must mind their footsteps, you must go forth out of that, which God has gathered and led them forth out of, you must forsake whatever is not of the Father, but of this world, (and, in forsaking it, stand a witness against the world), as God has taught them to forsake it. You must wait for the same Spirit, for the same cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of the same flaming fire by night, to lead you and preserve you, which has led and preserved them; see Isa 4:5. And this will lead you out of the same Egypt and Sodom, and all the remainders of Babylon, in which you may still be held captive; and this alone must break the oppressing spirit and power which stands in your way, through your faithful sufferings under it. And, through the same wilderness and righteous judgments of the Lord, must you pass, that they have passed. For, Zion and her converts must be redeemed with judgment and righteousness, and with the spirit of burning, and the pain of the cross; nor do you know, how you stand in the way of your own soul's good, while you in any measure avoid or escape it. And, if you be one of the called, chosen, and faithful, following fully after the Lord, in the same Spirit, and power, and banner of the cross, under which his called, chosen, and faithful ones have followed him; he will lead you into the same land of life, rest, peace, and holy dominion over sin and Satan, into which he has led those, who have faithfully followed the Lamb, wherever he has pleased to go before, and lead them. So, you must wait to have your heart daily more and more opened, and guided purely, and with life, and sensibly by the Lord, into what he has led his children, servants, family, and redeemed heritage. For, of a truth, the Lord has raised the seed of life in his people; and what his seed denies, what the life of the Son denies, what Truth in the heart denies, all that are of the Truth and in the Truth, will be taught by it, and learn of it, to deny also.

Thus, my dear Friend, in the most dear, tender, and true love, have I opened my heart to you, as this sprang in me for your sake: and the desire of my soul to the Lord is, that they may be serviceable to you, and that you may be led by the holy leading Spirit more and more into Truth, and live in Truth, and feel the life of Truth living and reigning in you; being delivered from the enemy's temptations, and the subtle twinings of the serpent, which your condition will often meet with: the Lord discover them to you, and preserve you from being ensnared with them.

Your constant Friend, in the dear love and service of the Truth,

I. P.

Amersham, Bury End. 20th of First Month, 1675.

LETTER LXXX

Observations on the Ministry.

To a near Relative

DEAR______,

The gospel is the power of God unto salvation; it is the glad tidings of freedom from sin, of putting off the body of sin by the circumcision and baptism of the Spirit, of being delivered out of the hands of our spiritual enemies, that we may serve God, (without fear of them any more), in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life.

The ministers of the gospel are those, who, in the Spirit of Christ, by the gift and inspiration of it, preach these tidings to the poor and needy, to the captives, to those that groan under the pressure of the body of corruption.

This gospel, through the great mercy of God, I have at length heard preached; and I have not heard man, but the voice of my Beloved; whose voice is welcome to me, even if found in the poorest boy, or most contemptible female. For, in Christ, there is neither male nor female; nor should his Spirit, which is not limited to males be quenched in any. And though you, through prejudice, call this speaking of the Spirit through servants and handmaids, prating, (foolish talk), yet the Lord can forgive you; for surely, if you knew what you did by this, you would not thus offend the Lord ; — extolling preaching by man's wisdom, from a minister made by man, for gospel-preaching, and condemning the preaching of persons sent by God, in the immediate inspiration of his Spirit. I am confident, if, without prejudice, and in the fear of God, you had the patience to listen to one such female, you would be unable to stop from saying in your heart: It is the voice of God, in truth! — but, who has not the sheep's ear, can never own the voice of the true Shepherd.

As for those whom you call ministers, if I should speak concerning them, the very truth from the mouth of the Lord, you could not, in that state in which you stand, receive it; yet I am far from accounting them the off-scouring of the earth; for I look upon them as wise and knowing, and as of great beauty in the earthly learning and wisdom; but surely not as having "the tongue of the learned," “to speak a word in season to him that is weary;" no, they are men unlearned in this kind of learning, and are such that toss, and tear, and twist, and wrest the Scripture, in their uncertain reasonings and guessings about the sense of it, and in the various doubtful interpretations they give.

And, whereas I am blamed, for not putting a difference between the profane and scandalous ministers, and the reverend and godly sort; my answer is: They are united in one ministry: and the question is not concerning the persons, but the ministry; in which they are one, — their call one, their maintenance one, their way of worship and preaching one, their standing and power of government one; which is not by the power and presence of the Spirit, but by the strength of the magistrate. But, the true gospel and ministry is spiritual, and cannot stand, nor be upheld by what is carnal, neither in its call, maintenance, government, or what else belongs to it. When Christ came in the flesh, the words he pronounced were not so much against the profane and scandalous among the Scribes and Pharisees; but against those that appeared most strict, and were accounted among the Jews the most reverend and godly. And, if these men had not had the appearance of godliness, the persecution of the present times would have been far less, the true cause not so lost, and the work of reformation, (in as much as it relates to men), not so overturned as it has been, [their appearance of godliness, covered their evil actions in the eyes of the nation]. There was once a beginning thing of the Spirit in several of those ministers, which my soul would rejoice to see revived; but, as the seat of government ate out the good that was in the bishops, [of the Church of England], so grasping after the seat of government [by the Puritans] has sunk the good thing in them also; and made their eye so dim, that they cannot see the mighty breaking forth of the Spirit of Christ in his people. [The power corrupted whatever movements of the Spirit they originally had].

I.P.

LETTER LXXXI

Of Love, Humility, and Order among Friends. Also of Persecution.

To a Near Relative

Ah! DEAR___________,

Why do you so often give me occasion of mourning before the Lord, on account of hard and unrighteous charges from you! How often have I solemnly professed, that there was never any desire in me, or endeavor used by me, to draw you to this way [the Quaker faith]. All that is in my soul is this: that you might have the true knowledge of Christ, that you might indeed hear his sayings and do them, and not set up your own or other men's imaginations and invented reasonings, instead of the sayings of Christ.

Now, though I am not for ways or opinions, but only for Christ, the substance, the living power of God in the heart; yet, because you stumbled at these things, and, through prejudice, refused the living testimony of God concerning Christ the Rock, building upon what you have imagined concerning the Savior, in love and pity to your soul, I cannot but say somewhat; — for, who knows, but that God may finally give you repentance to the acknowledgment of the Truth, and to the disclaiming of the way of error. You lay down three reasons, why you cannot believe our way to be of God. First. That God's way is a way of love, peace, and unity. Answer. If you had that eye which can see the things of God, and did apply yourself to look at them, you might see that peace, that love, that unity among this people, [Friends,] which other men do only talk of. But, if you take things by the report of the enemies both to God and them, you shall be sure to hear and believe bad enough. These people have no war with anything except unrighteousness, and with that they cannot have peace, no, not even in their dearest relatives. They love the souls of their enemies, and think no pains or hazard are too much for the saving of them. When persecuted, they bless, being reviled, they entreat, and pray for their persecutors. They are at unity with whatever is of God, but with the seed of the serpent they cannot be at unity; they know the "generation of vipers" in this present age, and can witness against them under their several painted coverings, as freely as ever Christ and his apostles did against the Scribes and Pharisees. For, the spirit of the Scribes and Pharisees is now in the world, as is also the Spirit of Christ and his apostles, and they must fight, each with their proper weapons; the one with their stocks, whips, fines, prisons, etc., the other with the spiritual armor of Christ. Thus, the false Christians wrestle with flesh and blood, fights with the creature, harms it; the other loves the creature, seeks the saving of it, and fights only with the power of darkness, which rules the creature. Now, which of these are the ministers of Christ? Those that stir up the magistrate to afflict the body, or those that use the sword of the Spirit to wound the conscience?

And this peace, this love, this unity they attain, not by their own strivings, but by receiving it from above. Indeed, all our religion lies in receiving a gift, without which we are nothing, and can do nothing, and in which nothing is too hard for us. Yes, being kept in that, up to God, we can do all things, we can believe all things, we can suffer all things. Never was there a generation brought forth weaker in themselves, more foolish, more ridiculous to the fleshy wisdom, more exposed to sufferings from the world and worldly professors; yet, being kept faithful to Him that has called us, we sometimes feel strength and wisdom, even such, as the most zealous in the worldly ways of religion, have not an ear to hear the relation of.

Secondly. You say, that God’s way is a way of humility. Answer. If this people had not been humbled and broken by God, they could never have entered into a way, which the lofty, fleshly part abhors; nor is this a voluntary humility, but a humility which crosses and breaks their will the whole day long. You judge at a distance, and with what is not to judge, but to be judged.

Thirdly. That God is a God of order, and not of confusion. Answer. Blessed is the Lord, who has recovered somewhat of the true church's order for us, and delivered out of the confusion of antichrist. We know order in the light, order in the Spirit, order in Christ the Truth; but what man in his wisdom calls order, is only antichrist's order, which with God — is confusion. To have man's spirit speak, and God's Spirit Stopped: this is the order of all the antichristian congregations, and churches; but to have man's spirit stopped, and God's Spirit speak: this is the order of Christ's church. It is this order we know, and rejoice in, finding that raised in us, which teaches us to "cease from man," and his voice [as man] is not at all "accounted of;" but, the voice of the living God is heard, known, loved, and obeyed, by what he has quickened in us, and made to live to himself. The Lord is judging what has loved man's meanings and inventions, (all that the human part in us could gather from the Scriptures), and is nourishing what is of Himself, what can receive no food but from his hand.
You don’t believe that Mr. Gurdon, or any other godly man, persecutes these people for the exercise of their consciences. Answer. I know, no of no godly man that can persecute; the lamb did never worry the wolf. But, the grossest persons will not acknowledge that they persecute for conscience, but accuse those whom they persecute for being evil-doers, and say, they suffer as evil-doers. Can not you see the stupidity of this excuse? Would the Scribes and Pharisees, and zealous among the Jews, confess, that they put Christ and Stephen to death for conscience! Did they not put them to death as evil-doers, as blasphemers, as speaking against the holy temple of God, the laws and ordinances of Moses? Ah! --, the children of wisdom were never justified by that wisdom, with which you judge things. The Scribes and Pharisees were as confident that Christ and his disciples were deceivers, and that they brought up a new way of religion contrary to Moses, as any can be that these people [Quakers] are deceivers, and that their way is new. The scene is turned; the same things that were then, are now; and the eye of that spirit is as blind now, as it was then; it cannot see its own deceit. O pierce into the nature of things! Don’t set up illusions instead of the Truth; wait for the gift; receive the true love, the true peace, the true unity, the true humility, which lies not in the will of the creature, but destroys that will; — then, we shall soon know one another, and have comfort one in another.

I. P.

14th of Twelfth Month, 1658

LETTER LXXXII

On the Danger of Self-complacency.

To Catherine Pordage

FRIEND, In truth of heart and tender love to you, it is with to return answers to the chief passages in your letter, as briefly as I may.

It has not  been my work, to bring you out of esteem or into esteem of persons. The Lord guide you into true judgment, and keep you out of judging, except so far that is raised in you, which the Lord makes able to judge. But, I have known several, who have spoken most gloriously and ravishingly, as to the Scriptures, opening things even to admiration, who have been out of the mystery of Truth; and who have sparkled with the light and life of a wrong spirit, though they themselves were not aware of it. It is better for him who feels his own unwillingness, and waits to be made willing by the Lord, than with him, who thinks he is willing, and, upon his own search, finds and judges himself to be so. I have thought I had been willing in several cases; and that, if the Lord would have showed me his will, I would have obeyed it; which I then found to be otherwise, when the Lord came to lay the law of his Spirit and life upon me. This I am sure of; there is something in you, which is not willing to be impoverished, and I cannot say concerning you, as in God's sight, that you are yet separated from it. Now, while it is in you, it will be working in a mystery of deceit, hidden from your heart, which you cannot possibly discern until the seed is raised, and the pure light shines in you. You may easily think better of yourself than indeed it is with you; but, it is hard for you, in this your present state, to know what and how you are in the sight of the Lord.

You shall know the tenderness and melting compassion of the Lord, when that is broken down in you, towards which his tenderness is not, and that raised up in you and your mind joined to it, towards which his tenderness is; but great and subtle workings are there in your mind, from the enemy, against God's Truth, which you do not discern and eschew, but rather embrace, as if they were true and precious. If that tenderness were ministered to you, either from God immediately, or from us, which you expect and desire, (perhaps, thinking your state is wronged, in not  being so dealt with), it might soon destroy you and that forever.

Thus, in great plainness, have I written to you, and beseech you to be willing, or rather, to look up to the Lord to make you willing, to have the wound kept open in you, which the condition and state of your soul needs; that it may be thoroughly searched, and that which is for judgment judged and destroyed; and so, your soul everlastingly saved by the everlasting Physician, who is wise and skilful in ministering both judgment and mercy to everyone, according to their need.

Your Friend in true, faithful, and unfeigned love and tenderness,

I. P.

25th of First Month, 1671.

LETTER LXXXIII

Against Self-exaltation; and on the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

To Catherine Pordage

FRIEND,

I observed yesterday, that you did own the light to be the principle of life; and that you did affirm, that those people with whom you walked, also owned it and directed to it. Now, it is one thing to own the principle in judgment; another thing to know it, feel its guidance, and be subject to it. It is a good step to own it in the comprehension, from the testimony without; but yet, they that go so far, may never come truly to know and own the thing itself. Now, nothing redeems, or can preserve, but the light and life itself. Therefore, how to meet with the thing itself and be changed by it into its own nature, and in it to believe, know, will, understand, and judge, — that is a skill which none can learn, but those that are taught of God, and keep close to the foundation, not rising in the high elevations above it. Ah! The humility of the seed, and of that soul that is one with the seed. Ah! How low it lies, and how weighty its sense and operations are, and how pure and infallible is its judgment! The great danger is, in rising up above the thing itself which whoever does, miscarries, whatever he has formerly known or enjoyed.

There now springs up in my mind a state since Adam, which I would have you seriously consider of; and then tell me, if you have known or heard of such another. It is recorded in Ezekiel, 28th chapter, of one that was  “perfect in wisdom and beauty," in what wisdom, in what beauty? Let your soul, if it has understanding, answer. For, he had "been in Eden, the garden of God," (what had any been so since Adam?), “and had every precious stone for his covering." What a glorious temple then was he! Yes, and he was created (by what creation?) unto this state. Yes, he was "the anointed cherub that covered," and God had "set him so." (What is it, to be the anointed, covering cherub, and to be so set by God?) He was also “upon the holy mountain of God," and "walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire." Yes, said the Spirit of God further concerning him, “You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were" created. Yet, after all this, “iniquity was found in" him, and the hand of the Lord turned against him. Answer me now: was this a state of mixture or not? And if so perfect a state was liable to this, what is state of mixture liable to?

Ah! Many have had some touches of the light, some true appearance of it, and tastes of the glory; but, who has been so united to the light, as to keep out of all that corrupts? There is something that still lives near, that would willingly be mixing with it, and drawing higher than the pure light of life and truth: but this leads out of the way, above the pure, the true, the innocent, the simple; and then, there is a making haste to be rich and glorious, and a departing from that poverty of spirit, in which is the safety and preservation. How have some that come among us, here split themselves by aspiring? Ah! What a foolish thing it is, to be found singing, before dominion is witnessed, and victory over what captivates, such songs will end in desolation, anguish, and confusion; for thereby, the lust of the mind goes forth, and that is fed, which keeps from the victory and the dominion. It is better to know the old bottle emptied, yes, broken, than filled with new wine. And, how many have taken themselves to be new made, who, when the Spirit of the Lord has come to search them by his pure, eternal light, have been found and are found in the old nature and spirit?

Come, live no more, know no more of yourself; but, wait to feel the pure seed raised to live and know in you, and to feel its light enlightening you, and creating a new capacity in you; and that will give you to bear the pain of dying, and taking up the cross, which will really slay every life, appearance, and power, that is not of its own nature. You have formerly taken up crosses in a way of [worldly] wisdom, and according to a comprehensive knowledge and judgment; come, now, learn to take up the seed's cross in the true foolishness. For, there is not another thing that gives life, than the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, which truly and really slays; and to what can discern and take up this cross, and live and walk under it, the yoke is easy and the burden light. But, that must first be brought under and destroyed, which counts it hard, before it can be felt and owned to be so. If you could come out of your own wisdom and consideration of things, into the simplicity of the seed, you would soon recover your lost ground again; and see, how the enemy with his subtlety has gained upon you, and into what great danger he has brought your soul.

The Lord searches and tries the heart, and that is the true state of it, which his light discovers. That is not the state, which the mind out of the light understands it to be, as we have often had experience of, in ourselves. Therefore, be still; do not justify yourself, nor condemn the judgment of others, until the Lord make things visible to you. If it then proves better with you than others have said, that will be your advantage; but, if you then prove mistaken, and the judgment which you in your heart have condemned should stand; it will be your great loss and disadvantage. This is in love and true friendship to, your soul, in a deeper sight of you and sense concerning you, than you are aware of.

I. P.

LETTER LXXXIV

Do not Miss the Holy Way of Life.

To Such as Drink of the Waters at Astrop Wells. (a popular health resort)

I ENTREAT you to consider what is within written for your eternal good; and be not deceived by the enemy of your souls, in things of an everlasting concern. Some queries propounded to your consideration, in the tender melting love of my heart towards your everlasting welfare.

First query. Is not the great God, who created heaven and earth, light, pure light, spiritual light, eternal light, in whom is no darkness at all?! 1 John 1:5.

Second query. Is not man, in his natural, unregenerate, corrupt state, darkness! And can he possibly, in that state, have any union or fellowship with the great God and Saviour? See Eph 5:8, 2 Cor 6:14, 1 John 1:6.

Third query. Does not the great God, in his tender love to mankind, cause his pure heavenly light to shine in man's heart, in this his dark and corrupt state? 2 Cor 4:6; John 1:5.

Fourth query. What is the end of God's causing his pure light to shine in man's corrupt heart! Is it not, that man might be turned from darkness, and from the power of Satan, which keeps him in darkness, to the light which God causes to shine in him, and to God from whom this light comes? Acts 26:18; that so, following Christ, and not walking in darkness, he might obtain the light of life. John 8:12.

Fifth query. Does man, in his natural corrupt state, love this light, when it shines in him; or rather hate it ?And can he hate it, without hating God from whom it comes, and of whose nature it is?

Sixth query. Why does man, in his natural corrupt state, hate this light! Is it not, because his deeds are evil; and because he would continue in his evil deeds, without being disturbed or reclaimed by this light? John 3:19- 21.

Seventh query. What does this light of the pure God, and of his Christ, do for those who receive and obey it! Does it not bring them out of darkness, and change their nature; so that they become children of light, and no more darkness, as they were before, but light in the Lord? John 12:36; Eph 5:8.

Eighth query. How shall it fare with those, who receive the shinnings of this light of God and Christ in their consciences, listening to the reproofs of it; eschewing what it shows to be evil, and doing what God by it shows to be good! Shall not they receive the remission of their sins from God, and an inheritance among the saints in light? Acts 26:18; Col 1:12-13.

Ninth query. What will become of those, who do not mind the shining of God's light in their hearts, nor are turned to it, nor changed by it; but spend their time in what pleases the corrupt part in themselves? Will they not be separated, when they go out of this world, from God who is light, and have their portion with dark spirits, in utter darkness! 2 Thes 1:6-10. See also Mat 25:30.

O consider these things, while you have time, for your souls' eternal good! that you miss not of the holy way of life and salvation, and so perish; whom God would not have perish, but stretches forth his hand of love, by his inward "light of life," effectually: to save your souls, .

I. P.

Astrop,

20th of Sixth Month, 1678

LETTER LXXXV



A Response to a Reply to My Letter to All at Astrop Wells

I had no end in writing or sending those papers, but true love to your immortal souls; that you might seriously consider of it, and be found in the practice of them, and so be happy forever, For, as Christ said to his disciples, so it is with me in this ease towards you, "If you know these things, happy are you if you do them." I have felt the sweetness and great benefit in the practice of them, which I heartily desire you may also experience. I here send enclosed a token of my love to you in particular, which your courteous message drew from me. It contains, in a few words, the true path-way of salvation; which, though you may know already, yet the reading and serious consideration of it, may not be unserviceable to you.

I am your Friend, in true love and desires for you,

I. P.

THE PLAIN PATH-WAY OF SALVATION.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the only Saviour. Grace and Truth comes by Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ saves by the grace and Truth which comes by him.

For, it is the grace of God that brings salvation, and it is the Truth, as it is in Jesus, which makes free indeed.

He, therefore, that would be saved from sin and condemnation, must wait for the inward manifesting and revealing of the grace and Truth in his heart; and must receive it, and be subject to it, learning of the grace, to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts in every kind; and he must learn of the Truth as it is in Jesus, to deny whatever is contrary to the life, nature, and Spirit of Jesus. He must likewise learn of the grace and Truth, to fear God; to turn from all false, invented worships and ways of men, and to worship God, the Father of spirits, in spirit and in truth! and, as he learns and practices this, he will also learn of the grace and Truth, to live soberly and righteously in this present world, yes, and godly also, even as the holy God would have him; for, God would not have men live otherwise, than as his grace and Truth teaches them. Now, God's grace and Truth, and the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which is written in the inward parts, do not only teach what is good, and to deny and depart from that which is evil, but give ability so to do. "My grace is sufficient for you," said God to Paul. And the Truth of Jesus, revealed inwardly, has virtue and power in it; insomuch, that they who receive the grace and Truth which comes by Jesus Christ, receive power to become sons to God. For the grace, the truth, is not a notional thing, but has the virtue and power of life, and mortification [putting to death of sin], in it; and they that truly receive it, partake of its virtue and power in operation and exercise of it in their hearts, and are thereby really made dead unto sin, and alive unto God. So, then, he that knows the grace and Truth which comes by Jesus Christ, receives it, learns of it, is subject to it, and partakes of its virtue and power, he knows Christ unto salvation; but, he that knows not, receives not, is not subject to the grace, does not experience the sufficiency of the grace, nor witness ability and power through it to become a son to God, and to do the will of God, — he does not yet at all know the Lord Jesus Christ unto the salvation of his soul notwithstanding whatsoever he may profess or believe concerning him.

Astrop,

28th of Sixth Month, 1678.

LETTER LXXXVI

Christ's Blood Acknowledged, but also His Living Spirit in His True Followers

To Richard Roberts

R.R.

YOU did acquaint me, that Timothy Fly, the Anabaptist teacher, did charge me with denying Christ's humanity, and also the blood of Christ, which was shed at Golgotha, without the gates of Jerusalem; and that I own no other Christ but what is within men.

I am sure that T. Fly or any other man never heard me deny that Christ, according to the flesh, was born of the Virgin Mary, or that his blood  was shed without the gates of Jerusalem. And the Lord, who knows my heart, knows, that such a thing never was in my heart. No, I do greatly value that flesh and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I witness forgiveness of sins and redemption through the blood. Yet, if I should say, I do not know, nor partake of his flesh and blood in the mystery also, I should not be a faithful witness to the Lord. For, there is the mystery of God and of Christ; and that is the soul's food which gives life to the soul, even the living bread and the living water. For, there is living bread and living water; and the flesh and blood in the mystery, on which the soul feeds, is not inferior in nature and virtue to the bread and water. There is a knowing Christ after the flesh, and there is a bowing to him after the Spirit, and a feeding on his Spirit and life; and this does not  destroy his appearing in the flesh, or the blessed ends of it, but confirms and fulfills them.

The owning of Christ being inwardly in his saints, does not deny his appearing outwardly in the body prepared; unless T. F. maintains that Christ, who appeared outwardly in the flesh, cannot appear inwardly in the Spirit. "Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you. except you are reprobates!" 2 Cor 8:5. "And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin," Rom 8:10.And “Christ in you, the hope of glory." Col 1:27. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him." Rev 3:20. “I will come again," said Christ: You are now in pain, as a woman in travail, full of sorrow for the loss of my outward, bodily presence; but I will come to you again in spirit; see John 16; and John 14:17. "He," that "dwells with you, shall be in you;" and then, when the Bridegroom is inwardly and spiritually in you, and with you, "your heart shall rejoice, and no man can take your joy from you," John 16:22. And so, the apostles and primitive Christians did "rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory," 1 Pet 1:8, because of the spiritual appearance and presence of the Bridegroom. And yet, there is no other bridegroom, who now appears in spirit, or spiritually in the hearts of his, than He that once appeared in the prepared body, and did the Father's will in it.

I. P.

LETTER LXXXVII

A Plea to Experience the Spirit's Drawings, Workings, and Cleansings from Sin

Addressed to the Independents [Congregationalist Puritans] at Canterbury.

I have been a seeker after God, and a worshipper of him from my childhood, according to the beat of my understanding; and, at last, sat down in that way, which is called Independency, believing it to be the way of the gospel, and entering into it with much fear and seeking of God. In which way, the Lord had regard to the uprightness and tenderness of heart, which he had formed in me.

But, at length, the Lord's hand fell upon me, breaking me all to pieces in it, as to my inward state; for what cause, I had then no knowledge at all of; but mourned before him unutterably, night and day, and lay panting and languishing after him, who was the only Beloved of my soul. Many pitied me, but none could reach my state, but, after much serious discourse with me, greatly wondered: and some said, it was a prerogative case, and would without question end in goodwill and mercy from the Lord to me. I parted from that people in great love and tenderness. They expected me to return to them again, (the love between me and them being so exceedingly great, and I had not let in any prejudice against them), and I knew nothing to the contrary.

But, it pleased the Lord, after many years, when my hope nearly failed, to visit me in a wonderful manner, breaking my heart in pieces, giving me to feel his pure, living power, and the raising of his holy seed in my heart by his power; so much so that I cried out inwardly before him, " This is He, this is He whom I have sought after, and so much wanted! This is the pearl, this is the holy leaven! Do what you will with me, afflict me how you will, and as long as you please, so that at length I may be joined with this, and become one with this!" So, the eye of my understanding was from that day anointed, and I saw and felt the pure life of the Son made manifest in me; and the Father drew me to him, as to a living stone, and has built my soul upon him, and brought me to mount Zion, and the holy city of our God; where the river of life sends forth its streams, which refresh and make glad the holy city, and all the tabernacles that are built on God's holy hill. And indeed, from this holy hill and city, the law and word of life does issue, and the inhabitants of the rock of life hear it, and are friend to the Bridegroom, and glad of the Bridegroom’s voice, and follow the Lamb, the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls, wherever he leads; who leads them into the pastures of life, and folds of pure rest, and gives them eternal life to feed on, and his peace and patience to possess their souls in.

O you Independents! Whom I have loved above all people, and never had thoughts of rending from you, but was forcibly taken by the hand of the Lord out of your Society; — yet, not without a desire to return to you again, if the Lord is pleased to make any way to it. I say, Oh you Independents, above all professions, the one most dearly beloved by me! — Oh that you could hear the sensible, experienced testimony, that is on my heart to you concerning my Beloved, concerning his appearance, concerning his church, concerning his way, his Truth, his kingdom. It is nearer than you are aware, and above all that you can comprehend concerning it. Oh that you might inwardly know these things! Turn in, turn in: mind what stirs in your hearts; what moves against sin and what motivates towards sin. The one is the Son's life, the Son's grace, the Son's Spirit; the other is the spirit and nature which is contrary to it. If you could only come to the sense of this, and come to a true, inward silence, and waiting, and turning at the reproofs of heavenly wisdom, and know the heavenly drawings into what is holy and living; you would soon find the Lord working in your hearts, to stop the issues of death, and to open the issues of life there; and you would find yourselves anointed daily by the Lord, (for there is not a day but we need to see the anointing, nor a day that goes by, but that the Lord gives light), and an understanding also would be given you to know Him that is true, and the "eternal life," 1 John 1:2, and an abiding in him that is true. And, abiding here, you cannot fail to receive his power, (from him, who ministers according to the power of the endless life), not only to overcome sin and your soul's enemies, but to become sons to God, with delight in performing his will. And then that yoke which yokes down and subdues sin in you, will be easy; yes, the ease, pleasure, and joy of your souls.

May the Lord open an ear in you to hear as the learned, that you may experience and possess these things; for, in truth, the Lord has arisen to terribly shake the earth, and to build up his Zion, and to give unto his people "a peaceable habitation, and sure dwellings, and quiet resting places" upon Mount Zion. Isa 32:18.

I. P.

LETTER LXXXVIII

The Danger of Prayers from the Mind and Flesh

To Catherine Pordage

FRIEND,

It is true, the way to life is so difficult and intricate, that none can find it, but such as are lighted by the Lord, and follow the guidance of his Spirit.

Christ, who preached the kingdom, and told men to seek it, yet said, "Strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leads to life, and few there be that find it." In a race, many run, but only one obtains the prize. Can you read what Christ said, "Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you;" that seemed a hard saying to some of his own disciples, many of whom left him. And truly, Friend, as it is not an easy thing to come into the way, so neither is it an easy thing to abide in the way; for, many are the by-paths, many and great the temptations, both on the right hand, and on the left. The way was always the same, fully as difficult and hard formerly as now; but, the states and conditions of some make it harder to them, than it is to others. Yes, it is easier now, than it has been in many foregoing generations, being prepared and cast up by the Lord.

It is sad, indeed, that any should be convinced of Truth, and not come into subjection to it; yet, it is very easy and common. For, men cannot withstand conviction, when it comes in power; but, they may deny obedience to that, which they are convinced of. No, some in the apostles' day went further, even to taste of the heavenly gift, and power of the world to come, and to partake of the Holy Ghost, and yet ran away. Was not this very sad! and yet, this was not a well-grounded objection against the Truth and way of God then. Indeed, I severely discount illumination of understanding without subjection to him that illuminates, in those things in which he has illuminated. But, that is a great mistake, to suppose I condemned any waiting or praying, that is according to a true illumination and leading of God's Spirit; for, the true light and spirit are not separated; but, the exception I have against the prayers of 'believers' is, that they are so much out of the true illumination, in a light of their own apprehension, forming, and conceiving. Now, these are only the limits of the fleshly birth, out of which comes nothing that is pleasing to the Father.

Did I, or any of us, ever affirm, that the forbearance of the means was the way to attain the end? But, the setting up or using a false means, is not the way to attain the true end. "So run," said the apostle, "that you may obtain;" did he not forbid all running, but the right running! The praying of the fleshly birth, or in the will, and according to the wisdom of the flesh, is not the means or way to obtain the everlasting kingdom; but the prayers of the true birth are. And, If I should say thus again and again to you: So pray, so that you may obtain what you pray for, (such a request is not from an enemy); for it is easy asking incorrectly, and not so easy to ask correctly. The ability to pray is a gift; and he that receives it, must first come to the sense of his own inability; and so, wait to receive; and, perhaps, to begin with only a groan or sigh from the true Spirit, and thus grow in ability from the same Spirit; denying the ability to pray from the flesh. Fleshly prayer abounds in many, who mistake and err in judgment, not waiting on the Lord, to be enabled by him rightly to judge and distinguish between the flesh and the spirit, but are many times willingly ignorant in this particular, — it will cost greatly to come to a true understanding in it.

Has not  all flesh had some manifestation of God's Spirit allotted it? Was not that which might be known of God manifest in the Gentiles? And ought not all flesh, in that, to call upon the Lord, as the true sense is given them from it? But because of this, might the heathen pray according to their own imagination? Is there not  a rule of prayer? Is not God's light, God's gift, God's Spirit, the rule to all? Is any prayer required or accepted out of this! Indeed, he that has the sense of being but a dog, as I may say, and not worthy to be counted a child, yet, may pray for crumbs, and be heard, and receive them. But, what are prayers, out of the light and life of God's Spirit? Are they not prayers of the fleshly birth, fleshly will, fleshly wisdom? Can they that are in the flesh, or pray in the flesh, please God? Oh forsake your own wisdom, regardings, will, and desires; that you may come to true understanding in this particular.

As to stirring up the gift, 2 Tim 1:6, Paul knew to whom he wrote: Timothy had a great understanding, and both knew the gift and how to stir it up; but, he who has not a true understanding, may stir up something else, instead of stirring up the gift, and so, kindle a fire of his own, and offer up his own sacrifice, with his own fire, neither of which are acceptable to the Lord.

The troubled soul is not only to go to the Lord, but, it must be taught by him, how to go to Him. The Lord is the Teacher; and this is a great lesson, which the soul cannot learn of itself, but as it is taught by him. Men abound in their several ways in religion, in what God is arising to scatter and confound; to that, it is not the great and main work, to be found doing, but to be found doing correctly, from the true teachings, and from the right Spirit.

In the time of great trouble, there may be life stirring underneath, and a true and tender sense, and pure desires, in which there may be a drawing near and breathing of heart to the Lord; but, in the time of trouble and great darkness, may not a man easily desire wrongly, and pray wrongly, if he does not have the Guide? A little praying from God's Spirit, and in that which is true and pure, is better than thousands of vehement desires in one's own will, and after the flesh. For, as long as a man prays in that way, what should die in him, lives in his very prayers; and how shall it ever be destroyed, if it gets food and gains strength there? But, life and virtue may be felt, as well as what troubles may be near too, and greatly troubling. Did Christ feel neither life nor virtue, in the time of his great trouble?

We neither lay weight on outward things, as considered in themselves, nor take off from the inward. Ah! consider what spirit this charge [that we deny inward prayer] comes from; and if you discern it, take heed of joining to it, and bringing forth the fruits of it any more. What, if God has chosen weak and foolish things to the eye of man's wisdom, now, as formerly! Do we, in so testifying, lay any more weight thereupon, than God lays? And what, if God has thrown by all preaching, prayers, singings, (yes, even inward,) which are not in his Spirit, but from the transforming spirit and birth. In this do we debase, or testify against, anything that is inwardly of God? That part of outward religion, which is right in God's sight, must come from the inward, but not from the inward will or wisdom of the flesh, but from the inward light and Spirit of God; but, it is a great matter to receive singly and go along with the inward light, and avoid the inward, deceitful appearance of things.

There is one thing has been with me all along, still, throughout your letter, even a cry to you for obedience, obedience to the Spirit and power of the Lord; and to consider, whether disobedience has not drawn this darkness and power of the enemy upon you. It is not your proper work, to look out at the way, or think it hard, (for, it is not hard to the true seed,) but, to be traveling in faithfulness, as you are drawn and led; and this will save you much sorrow.

As for Christ being a Mediator and Reconciler, it is by his death and life; both of which are partaken of, in the light which comes from him, even in the grace and truth which he dispenses. For, as God wrought all in him by the fullness which he bestowed on him, so, he works all in his by a measure of the same Spirit, life, and power. But, why do you so desire to be able to comprehend and reason about these things? That is not your present work, but to feel after and be joined to that, by which Christ renews and changes the mind, and in which he gives the knowledge of his good, and acceptable, and perfect will. Beware of exalting yourself above your measure, or desiring to know the things of the kingdom in the flesh; for, it is better to lie low, and as a child to enter the kingdom, and to receive the knowledge of the things of God there, than to be feeding that knowing mind, which is to be kept out and famished.

Ah! Watch, that you may not lose your Leader, and meet with the deceiver, instead of Him that is true; and go back from light, life, truth, and power, instead of going forwards toward them. Indeed, your letter makes me afraid, as Paul speaks to the Galatians, for fear I have bestowed labor on you in vain; for, there seems to me to be in you, a strengthening of your mind towards returning back to that, from which the Lord in his mercy has been redeeming and gathering you. If you feel the right seed, and come to be of the right seed, the way of the seed will not be too hard for you; otherwise, it will. This is to you, in love and grief, from your soul's true Friend,

I. P.

21st of Sixth Month, 1671.

LETTER LXXXIX

The Burden Can be Light or It Can Be Heavy

Believers have long known the name of Christ, and what the Scripture relates concerning him so named; but, Oh that they could once know Christ [himself] and receive him into their vessels, and feel life flowing from him into them. Then, would they indeed know Christ according to the Spirit; which knowledge quickens, but the literal knowledge kills. For, he that has the Son, he that is in true union with Him, (and is really changed by him, so as to become one nature and Spirit with Him,) he has life; but, he that has not the Son, has not  the life of the Son, nor the liberty of the Son, but is in the death of sin, and in service to sin. The directions from God's Holy Spirit in the Scriptures, are exceedingly weighty and precious in themselves, and very proper to the several states to which they were given forth; and, blessed is he, who is found in the practice and observation of them. And it has been the desire of my heart from my childhood, and still is, that I might be found walking with the Lord, according to what the Scriptures teach and proscribe to the children of God, in the several foregoing ages and generations; which things were written, and are useful, for our instruction also, being read by us, and heeded, in what gives the true understanding of them. But, though this was my desire, yet, in my way to attain this, I missed; for, I thought, that by getting the directions of Scripture into my mind, and applying myself to the strict observation of them, and praying for God's Spirit and help, I might obtain what I desired. And truly, the Lord was merciful to me, and did help me in a great measure, to walk uprightly and lowly with him, and inoffensively before men; yet not so, but that I often felt the temptations and darkness of the enemy nearer me than my rule, and in many cases knew not what to do, nor how to be resolved from the Scriptures.

At length, the Lord greatly distressed me, and brought me to a fuller sense of my want of his Spirit and power, and dashed all my religion in pieces; that I was just like Babylon, for in one hour judgment and desolation came upon me, Rev 13:10; and I knew not what to do without the Lord, nor which way to draw near to him — but, then was the Lord preparing for me that day of mercy, which since, in his tender goodness, has broken in upon me. And now, the eye which he has opened in me sees, that the gospel is a ministration of the Spirit and power of the Lord Jesus Christ; and that he who would be his disciple indeed, must be turned to His Spirit, and receive the immediate light and shinnings of His Spirit into his vessel; and must feel the law of life, the holy laws of the new covenant, not comprehended outwardly in his mind, but written inwardly in his heart by the finger of God's Spirit. And, being written in his heart, they have power over his heart, and cause him to obey them; so that, being here, he cannot possibly fail to fulfill the holy directions of the Scriptures, because he is in that spirit from which they came, which reveals the substance of them unto him, and makes them living and powerful in him. For, indeed, the law of sin and death has power over a man so long as he lives; but, when he meets with that, which kills sin and death in him, and makes him alive to God, and he receives life in abundance in and through the Lord Jesus Christ; then, the fruits of life become easy and natural to him, and the fruit, and ways of sin, unbelief, and disobedience unnatural: and here, the yoke is easy and the burden light, and none of the commandments of our Lord Jesus Christ grievous. But, take them merely out of the letter, not feeling the Spirit leading into them and quickening and enabling to the performance of them, O how heavy, how hard they are! How impossible to believe correctly, hope correctly, pray correctly, walk correctly, watch correctly over the heart, fight against the enemies, lusts, and corruptions correctly! On the other hand, how pleasant is the way of life in the covenant of life, in the power and virtue of life and ministered from the Spirit of our God! And here, he is praised, and victory over his enemies witnessed, and peace with him enjoyed in the pure seed of life; blessed be the name of our God forever! For the letter, [Scriptures] or description of things, is not the way; but the life is the way. The Spirit the way, the power the way, the Truth as it is in Jesus the way, which none can truly and rightly know, unless they are engrafted into and formed in him, and he formed in them. This is only obtained, witnessed, and preserved, in the soul's union and communion with, and obedience to his Spirit and power inwardly revealed and made manifest.

Friend, there is something further in my heart towards you, which I have the true and certain sense of, which is this: the Lord, who is near you with his Holy Spirit and power, has been begetting life in you, and has at times given you a true sense and discerning, in some measure; but, there is also something near you, which watches to destroy and devour what the Holy Spirit of God begets in you, and to beget another sense and belief in you, different from it, and indeed contrary to it. Now, it behooves you to exceedingly watch, and to pray to the Lord for help; for, the life of your soul depends upon the one of these, and death and destruction will inevitably break in upon you, and have power over you, if you listen to the other. Whom does the enemy so much strive to devour, as the sheep and inheritance of the Lord! And, they are only preserved in the Lord's way, and in subjection to his Spirit. Oh how many has the enemy betrayed and deceived of the life of their souls! How many men's spirits are now cankered, and the good long ago eaten out of them, who had once some tenderness and upright breathings after the Lord! But now, their silver has become dross, and their wine mixed with water, so that the very nature and property of it is changed; the salt has lost its savor, — by which shall it be seasoned! I mention this to you, that you may watch and pray; that you yourself do not lose your savor, and sense, and tenderness, which the Lord at some times kindles in you, by listening to the subtle reasonings and suggestions of another spirit, either in yourself or others.

This is in the nakedness of my heart, as in the Lord's light, and in the truth of friendship towards you.

I. P.

27th of Ninth Month, 1670.

LETTER XC

On Abiding in the Root of Life.

For my dear Friends, Brethren, and Sisters in the Truth, in and about the two Chalfonts,

FRIENDS,

The Lord will wonderfully teach his people, and wonderfully help them! He will pour of his life and virtue into them, and cause his strength to appear in them, and break forth through them, to the glorifying of his name, and making glad the hearts of those that have breathed after him, and waited for him. Therefore, let us lift up our heads, and "fear the Lord, and his goodness in the latter days!" And, let us wait to be made able by him to receive of his riches, and drink in of his fullness, that we may become rich and full in him, and kept empty and poor in ourselves; that the more the life arises in us, the more we may feel our own nothingness, and be to the praise of the riches of his grace and mercy, in which and whereby he has made us accepted in his Beloved.

And, dear Friends, mind the principle, mind the root, into which the Lord has engrafted us; that we may abide and grow up in it, and daily find and feel the sap of it springing up in us, and quickening us more and more to God. You know how you entered; even so, you must abide and grow up,- even, in the light, in the life, in the power, which gathered, preserves, and causes to flourish. So, my dear Friends, let us all dwell in our everlasting habitation, and no more go forth, but sink into the kingdom, and wait to feel the dominion, righteousness, holiness, power, and purity of it, daily revealed more and more in our hearts. For, there is no other root or spring of life, than that into which the Lord has gathered us, no other true life and power in any vessel upon the earth, besides what springs from it. Therefore feel, O! feel what establishes, and that in which the establishment is, and your union, life, and strength in it; that you may not be bowed down or overborne by whatever happens, either from within or without; but, may feel and enjoy the rest and peace of your souls, in what is over all, and orders all to the good of those who fear him, and in uprightness of heart wait upon him!

I. P.

Aylesbury Jail, 23rd of Fourth Month, 1667

LETTER XCI

The Unsearchable Riches of Christ. The Epitome of Encouragements.

To Friends of both the Chalfonts,

OH! the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, the riches of love, mercy, life, power, and grace of our God, which are treasured up for the soul in the Lord Jesus; and are freely dispensed and given out by him, to those who come unto him, wait upon him, abide in him, and give up faithfully to the law of his life, whose delight it is, to be found in subjection and obedience to the light and requirements of his Spirit.

Feel, my Friends, O! feel your portion, and abide in that in which the inheritance is known, received and enjoyed. For, there is no knowing Christ truly and sensibly, but by a measure of his life felt in the heart, by which it is made capable of understanding the things of the kingdom. The soul without him is dead, until by the quickenings of his Spirit, it comes to a sense and capacity of understanding of the things of God. Life gives it a feeling, a sight, a tasting, a hearing, a smelling of the heavenly things, by which senses it is able to discern and distinguish them from the earthly things. And, from this measure of life, the capacity increases, the senses grow stronger; it sees more, feels more, tastes more, hears more, smells more. Now, when the senses are grown up to strength, then comes settlement and stability, assurance and satisfaction. Then, the soul is assured of, and established concerning the things of God in the faith, and the faith gives assurance to the understanding; so that doubtings and disputes in the mind fly away, and the soul lives in the certain demonstration, and fresh sense, and power of life. It daily feels the eternal Word and power of life, to be, in the heart and soul, what is testified of it in the Scriptures. It knows the flesh and blood of the Lamb, the water and wine of the kingdom, the bread which comes down from heaven into the vessel, from all other things, by its daily feeding on it, and converse with it in spirit. What heart can conceive the righteousness, the holiness, the peace, the joy, the strength of life that is felt here?

For, Friends, there is no narrowness in the Fountain. God is fullness: and it is his delight to empty himself into the hearts of his children; and he does empty himself, according as he makes way in them, and as they are able to drink in of his living virtue. Therefore, where the soul is enlarged, where the senses are grown strong, where the mouth is opened wide, (the Lord God, standing ready to pour out of his riches), what should hinder it from being filled? And, being filled, how natural it is to run over, and break forth inwardly, in admiration and deep sense of spirit, concerning what it cannot utter! Saying, Oh the fullness, Oh the depth; height, breadth, and length of the love! Oh the compassion, the mercy, the tenderness of our Father! How has he pitied, how has he pardoned, beyond what the heart could believe! How has be helped in the hour of distress! How has he conquered, and scattered the enemies! Which, in the unbelief, the heart was ready often to say, were unconquerable, and that it should one day die, by the hand of one or other of its mighty enemies, lusts, and corruptions. How has he put an end to doubts, fears, disputes, troubles, with which the mind was overwhelmed and tossed! And now, he extends peace like a river; now, he drags the soul out of the pit, into the green pastures; now, it feeds on the freshness of life, and is satisfied, and drinks of the river of God's pleasure, and is delighted! And sings praise to the Lamb, and Him that sits on the throne, saying, glory, glory! Life, power, dominion, and majesty, over all the powers of darkness, over all the enemies of the soul, be to your name for evermore!

Now, my dear Friends, you know somewhat of this, and you know the way to it. Oh be faithful, be faithful! -travel on, travel on; let nothing stop you; but, wait for and daily follow the sensible leadings of that measure of life, which God has placed in you, — which is one with the fullness, and into which the fullness runs daily and fills it, that it may run into you and fill you. O that you were enlarged in your own hearts, as the bowels of the Lord are enlarged towards you! It is the day of love, of mercy, of kindness, of the working of the tender hand, — of the wisdom, power, and goodness of our God, manifested richly in Jesus Christ ! O! why should there be anything stop in any one of us! May the Lord remove what stands in the way; and, in the faithful waiting on the power which is arisen, the Lord will remove, yes, the Lord does remove; and growth in his Truth and power, is witnessed by those that wait upon him. So, my dear Friends, be encouraged to wait upon the Lord in the pure fear, in the precious faith and hope which is of him; and you will see and feel, he will exalt the horn of his Anointed in you, over the horn of what is not anointed, and will sweep, and cleanse, and purify, even until he has left no place for the impure: and then, you shall become his full dwelling-place, the place of his rest, the place of his delight, the place of his displaying his pure life, and glory; and he will be your perfect dwelling-place for evermore!

May the Lord God, in his tender mercy, and because of his deep and free love unto us, guide our hearts daily more and more in the travel, and into the possession of this; that every soul may inherit and possess, notwithstanding all its enemies, what it has traveled into, and may also daily, further and further, travel into what is yet before.

I.P.

Aylesbury Jail,

2nd & 3rd  of Sixth Month, 1667

POSTSCRIPT

Friends,

Be not discouraged because of your soul's enemies. Are you troubled with thoughts, fears, doubts, imaginations, and Reasonings? Yes? Do you see, yet there is still much in you left unsubdued to the power of life! O! do not fear it; do not look at it, so as to be discouraged by it; but look to Him! Look up to the power which is over all their strength; wait for the descendings of the power upon you; abide in faith of the Lord's help, and wait in patience until the Lord arise; and see, if his arm do not scatter, what yours could not. So, be still before him, and, in stillness, believe in his name; Yes, enter not into the hurryings of the enemy, though they fill the soul; for, there is yet somewhat to which they cannot enter, from whence patience, faith, and hope, will spring up in you, even in the midst of all that they can do.

Therefore, into this sink; in this lie hidden in the evil hour; and the temptations will pass away, and the tempter's strength is broken, and the arm of the Lord, which broke him, is revealed; and then you shall see, that the tempter raised a sea of trouble to your souls, to only sink himself by; and the Lord will throw the horse and his rider, which trampled upon and rode over the Just in you, into that sea; and you shall stand upon the bank, and sing the song of Moses to Him that drowned him, and delivered you from him! and, in due season, you shall sing the song of the Lamb also, when his life springs up in you in his pure dominion; triumphing over death, and all that is contrary to God, both within and without.

Now, Friends, in a sensible waiting and giving up to the Lord, in the daily exercise, by the daily cross to that in you, which is not of the life, this work will daily go on; and you will feel, from the Lord, that which will help, relieve, refresh, and satisfy, which neither tongue nor words can utter. And, may the Lord God breathe upon you, preserve and fill you with his life and holy Spirit; to the growth and rejoicing of your souls in him, who is our blessed Father, and merciful Redeemer-in the Lord Jesus Christ, our Head and King forever and for evermore!

And then, as to what may befall us outwardly, in this confused state of things, shall we not trust our tender Father, and rest satisfied in his will! Are we not engraved in his heart, and on the palms of his hands, and can he forget us in anything he does? Shall anything hurt us! Shall anything come between us and our life, between us and his love, and tender care over us? What, if the fig-tree should not blossom, neither there be any fruit in the vine; what, though the labor of the olive should fail, and the fields yield no meat; what, though the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls: may we not, for all this, rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of our salvation! And what, though the earth be removed, and the mountains carried into the midst of the sea; what, though the waters of it roar and be troubled, and the mountains shake with the swelling of it; is there not a river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God! Is not the joy, the virtue, the life, the sweet refreshment of it, felt in the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High! And He that provides inward food for the inward man, inward clothing, inward refreshment; shall he not provide also sufficient for the outward? Yes, shall he not bear up the mind, and be our strength, portion, armor, rock, peace, joy, and full satisfaction, in every condition! For, it is not the condition makes miserable, but the want of him in the condition; he it the substance of all, the virtue of all, the life of all, the power of all; he nourishes, be preserves, he upholds, with the creatures or without the creatures, as it pleases him; and he that has Him, he that is with Him, he that is in Him, cannot want. Has the spirit of this world contentment in all that it enjoys? No: it is restless, it is unsatisfied. But, can tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword, come between the love of the Father to the child, or the child's rest, content, and delight in his love? And does not the love, the peace, the joy, the rest felt, swallow up all the bitterness and sorrow of the outward condition?

The seed, the godliness, the uprightness, the true nature and birth, has not only the promise of eternal life; but, also whatever is necessary for the vessel, in which it dwells, in this life too. So, dwell in that, to which is the promise, and live upon the promise; Yes, live upon that, which cannot miss of the promise, but feels the presence and power of the Father, in all and over all. The just lives by his faith; and he that is in union with the just, lives by the faith of the just, and takes no more care than the lilies, but leaves the care of all, to Him to whom it properly belongs, and who has taken it upon him; who nourishes, clothes, preserves, and causes the lilies of the field to grow and flourish in beauty and glory: and shall he not much more clothe, nourish, and take care of his own lilies, the heavenly lilies, the lilies of his garden?

Let us, then, not look out, like the world, or judge or fear according to the appearance of things, after the manner of the world; but let us sanctify the Lord of hosts in our hearts, and let him be our fear and dread; and he shall be an hiding place unto us in the storms, and in the tempests, which are coming thick upon the earth.

Thus, my dear friends, let us retire, and dwell in the peace which God breathes, and lie down in the Lamb's patience, and stillness, night and day, which nothing can wear out or disturb: and so, the preservation of the poor and needy shall be felt to be in his name; and glory shall be sung to his name over all, which is a strong tower, a mighty, impregnable rock of defense, against all assaults and dangers whatsoever; — which, they that have trusted in it, have already experienced it to be; and they that continue trusting in it, shall always experience it so to be, in all trials and dangers, whatever may happen, of whatever kind, even to the end. Amen.

LETTER XCII

Fear God. Change while there is still Time.

To those Persons that Drink of the Waters at Astrop Wells.

THERE is a great God, the Creator of all things, who gave man a being here in this world; to whom every man must give an account, when he goes out of this world.

This great God, who loves mankind, and would not have them perish, is near unto man, to teach him the fear, which is due from him to God. The man that learns this pure fear of God, is daily exercised by it in departing from evil, both in thought, word, and deed, and in doing what is good in his sight.

There is likewise another teacher near man, who is also ready to teach such as do not know God, or fear God, what is dishonorable to the great God, who made man a vessel of honor, and to be to his glory. They that learn of this teacher, learn not to fear God, or to do good, but to please themselves in dong evil, both in thought, word, and deed. Oh what account will ass such give, when they go out of this world, and come to be judged by the great God, (who is of pure eyes, and cannot behold iniquity), when all their sins are set in order by him before them, and just judgment is apportioned by him to them! O! Why do men forget God their Creator for days without number, listening instead to he who first deceived them, doing the will of the deceiver and destroyer of souls, and not the will of the blessed Creator and Savior!

O! Listen to wisdom’s counsel, when she cries in the secret of your hearts against what is evil, and contrary to the nature, life, and will of God; for fear a day of calamity from God will come upon you, and then you will cry to the merciful and tender God, and his face is turned against you, and refuses to show mercy to you! Read Pro 1:20-33; and may the Lord give you the weighty consideration and true understanding of it for you soul’s good, and for the reclaiming of you from anything that is evil, and destructive to your souls.

This is written in tender love unto you, from one who pities and loves you, and desires your prosperity in this world, and your everlasting happiness with God forever.

I. P.

Astrop,
15th of Sixth Month, 1678

LETTER XCIII

Some Doubts Answered About Prayer.

To Widow Hemmings

FRIEND, Well may there doubts and scruples arise in the minds of persons concerning prayer, as they come to any sense or touch of Truth from God's Holy Spirit; that. duty having been performed and practiced so long from the fleshly mind and nature, and not in the leading will and compass of God's Holy Spirit and power. And those who doubt in it, cannot be satisfied, until the Lord opens their spirits and make the thing manifest to them! Yet, this is most certain, that all prayer, all true prayer to God, is in and from his Holy Spirit! And whatever is otherwise, is not accepted of the Father. The promise, indeed, is to the prayer in faith and to the Holy Spirit; but not to the prayer of the fleshly birth, will, or wisdom. Therefore, the great care and concern in prayer is, to pray unto God the Father in the quickenings and motions of his own Spirit. For, the dead cannot praise God, nor can the dead truly pray unto him. And truly, if prayer is avoided, there can be no peace, for we are to pray continually; nor in praying in a formal way without life, without God's Spirit, (who gives to pray, and who makes intercession), can there be any peace within; rather accusation and anguish to that mind, which, desiring to pray correctly, yet knows not how so to do. But it is manifest, prayer is not in the time, will, or power of the creature; for, prayer from the Spirit is a gift of God, and the ability lodges in his Spirit, it is not ours, but only as given of his Spirit, - which, therefore, is to be waited upon, [in silence until] when it will move and breathe in us, and so give us the ability of calling upon the Father, and the power of prevailing with the Father, in the name, and through the life of the Son.

Now as to your queries, I shall answer in plainness, as the Lord shall please to open my heart.

As to the first: Whenever the creature finds breathings to the Father from a sense of its wants, these are not to be stopped, but to be offered up in that, from which the breathings come. For, there is no true sense of one's condition, or of one's wants, but from the Spirit of the Lord; and the Lord gives this sense, that the soul might feel its need of him, and cry to him; and every sigh and groan, that is thus offered up to him, is accepted of him, and prevails with him for good towards that soul, which it shall certainly receive, as it comes to know the Lamb of God, and follow him in the leadings of his good and Holy Spirit. And, in particular, it ought to pray for the appearance of God's Spirit and power; and, if it already tastes somewhat of it, it ought to pray for more of the Spirit, and that it may distinguish the requests that rise up in the heart, whether they come from God's Holy Spirit and will, or from the fleshly nature and will. For, the wrong birth also desires the kingdom, and would have the kingdom, and prays for the kingdom, and strives for the kingdom; but it prays incorrectly, and it strives incorrectly, even so, as it shall never obtain the kingdom, being appointed for, and given to another.

To the second: Those who do not know, nor are sensible partakers of the Spirit, yet feeling their want of it, and true desires after it, ought to offer up those desires to God; and keeping in what begets those desires, they shall not long be ignorant –of God's Spirit, but find that God is more willing to give it, than apparent to give necessary things to his children. But, those that have prayed long for the Spirit, yet have not previously received it, have just cause to question the nature and ground of their prayers; since God is so ready to give the Spirit to his children. For, does a child ask bread of his father for man years, and not receive it! Oh consider this thing! If the child asks the Spirit correctly, it is impossible but he should receive some portion of it from the Father, so much as is necessary to his present state. God does require his children to perform everything to him in and with his Spirit, knowing they can do nothing right without it; and surely, he will not require duties of them, and withhold that from them, without which, they cannot acceptably perform these duties to him.

To the third: A notion that all the soul's supplies are from the Father, is not a sufficient ground of prayer; for the false birth may, and often does pray so; but, a true feeling of the thing, is a sufficient ground, if the heart and mind keep within the limits of the feeling, and offer up no more than what arises there; for, truly, that is from the Spirit, of the Spirit, and in the Spirit, wherever it is found. And, O! that everyone who has any true sense of God, might wait on him, to savor this little which arises from God, from [amidst] the multitude of his thoughts, words, and desires, which are from another root, — even from the flesh, and are of a fleshly nature, neither are of value, nor avail with the Lord; but, the birth of life, the sensible breathings of his own life, in the poorest and weakest babe, are always of esteem, and prevail with the Father.

To the fourth: The creature may misapprehend its duty, may have a wrong sense, apprehending that to be its duty which is not, and may not apprehend that to be its duty which is; and so, if the sense is wrong. then the act of obedience, (according to this wrong sense,) is wrong also, and is not accepted with the Father. It is true, prayer is of God, and is a duty; not all prayer, but prayer after that manner that the Lord requires, which is in the true sense, and within the limits of the true Spirit and power-praying always in the Holy Ghost. The pure prayer, the pure breathings of God's child, of the true birth, is always within the limit which God has prescribed. Therefore, watch unto prayer, watch unto God's preparing the heart, by the motion and virtue of his good Spirit, and offer up the breathings that then arise; and wait to distinguish between the desires which arise from the fleshly part, and the desires which arise from the spiritual and heavenly part. For, the first nature is earthly; but the second nature, the nature which is from the second Adam, the quickening Spirit, is pure and heavenly; and such are all the desires and breathings, that spring from that nature in the vessel. And, as you come into that nature, and into that Spirit from which the nature proceeds, you will truly distinguish concerning prayer, concerning faith, concerning love, and all other spiritual things; and will know Him who is Truth and no lie, who deceives not, but preserves that mind which is given up to him, and abides in him, out of all error and deceit. You seem, also, to be disturbed about some other duties, as well as prayer. If the Lord has begun to put a stop to the workings of flesh in you, and you are subject to him in it, and cease from yours own willings and workings, and wait on him to be taught to perform things correctly, — this is his love to you; and, if you come to feel the leadings of his Spirit further, and follow him, you will have cause to bless his name, as many others have, whom in this day he has thus led. Indeed, flesh should be silent before him. Alas! what room is there for his Spirit and power, when there is such a multitude of thoughts, and workings, and reasonings, such a noise of flesh in many hearts and spirits? Happy is he, who feels flesh silent, who comes to an end of his own willing and running, though that is a time of great distress, when the full mind is emptied and brought low; but then, He who shows mercy is near, and the day of mercy is not far off to that soul.

May the Lord raise up that in you, which is of him; and so guide and order your heart, that it may long and cry after him, and be heard and satisfied by him.

I. P.

28th of Ninth Month, 1670

LETTER XCIV

On Drinking of the Fountain of Living Water — Life

To Widow Hemmings.

THERE are two or three Scriptures now on my heart to lay before you; and it is the desire of soul, that you may so know the Lord, and so receive his Son, as that you may experience them.

The first is in Pro 5:15, “Drink waters out of your own cistern, and running waters out of your own well."

The second is the words of Christ, John 7:38, "He that believes on me, as the Scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers (or streams) of living waters." For,"there is a river the streams whereof make glad the city of God." Psa 46:4.

The third is that of John 4:14, where -Christ signifies, that whoever drinks of the water which he gives, shall never thirst more after water from without, but shall forever from then on be satisfied with the springings up of the well of life from within.

To these! may and, the precious promise of the sweet state of the gospel, Isa 12:3 "Therefore, with joy shall you draw water out of the wells of salvation:" the outward Jew drew the outward water from the outward wells; they had the upper springs, and the nether springs outwardly; but the inward Jew, in the light of the gospel day, draws inward water out of the inward wells with joy. The thirsting after it, when the soul should next get more, was a time of great sorrow and perplexity; but, when the river of life is found, when the well of life is received, and the water springs up, the soul draws it from the spring, and drinks it with unspeakable joy. This metaphor or similitude is explained by the evangelist John in Chapter 7:39. The receiving of the Spirit, the receiving of the substance, belongs to the Christian’s state, as the receiving of the figures did to the Jew’s state. When the Spirit is received – the river, the well of life is received; and then the waters of it flow and are drawn and drunk. Now, the primitive Christians received the Spirit, not only in gifts and manifestations, but as a fountain of life and heavenly virtue dwelling within them. Rom 8:9. And, as He dwelled in them, from him sprang life: peace, joy, knowledge, virtue, wisdom, power, etc.; even the peace which passes all man’s understanding, and joy which is unspeakable and full of glory. The presence of God was with these, and they knew the times of refreshment, even the times of consolation from the Holy Comforter.

These things are now witnessed again, in the preaching of the same everlasting gospel, by the same eternal Spirit and power, which preached it at first. For, though the vessels in which the power appears are contemptible now, to the professors and wise ones of this age, as they were then to the professors and wise ones of that age; yet, it is the same treasure of life which is hidden, and at times shown, revealed in and through the earthen vessels: — blessed be the Lord! Of whom the excellence of the glory, and not of us, who are but the instruments and vessels in his hand. Now, seeing the Lord has given us to partake of the riches of his grace, and of the precious treasures of life in his Son, and his everlasting Kingdom, we cannot hold our peace; but are required by him to proclaim the day of the Lord, the day of the gospel, even the everlasting day, which never shall have an end; and invite to the waters of life, the lure, still streams of Shiloh, which our souls drink of, and are satisfied with;- especially to such as now thirst after them, as our souls once vehemently did, and were near failing through extreme thirst; — which thirst or desire, for the nature of it, (blessed be the Lord), is not lost or extinguished, but satisfied. And so, the spouse having heard the Spirit inviting to the waters, being taught by Him to come to them, and drink of the living streams, daily also enjoying life and sweetness from it; now, she cries also to her fellow-travelers, to the weary and thirsty ones, — O come, says she, to the fountain of life, which I mourned after, and languished for want of! Oh taste the sweetness of my Beloved, for whom my soul fainted, when I could not find him! So that, not only the Spirit of the living God said, Come; but the bride also said, Come; for, the fountain is not now sealed any longer, but open, through the tender mercies of our God, for every thirsty soul; that whoever has a will kindled in him by the Lord, may come to drink of the water of life freely.

O! drink, then, no longer at the muddy streams of your own conceivings and imaginations, with which, what inwardly thirsts after the living God, and his pure streams of life, cannot be satisfied; (it is not the true seed. it is another birth which is satisfied with these things, before the fountain of life comes to be opened in the heart); but wait on the Lord, retire in spirit to be gathered into his light, which he causes to shine in the heart, and into his Son's life and Spirit, which he manifested and reveals there; that you may eat what is good, and be satisfied with the fatness of his house, and drink of the river of his pleasures! For, indeed, the Lord, in this his gospel day, does make to his children a feast of fat things, and of wines on the lees well refined, on his holy mountain, even in the kingdom which cannot be shaken; and the Beloved does not only knock at the door of the heart, but comes in, and sups with his, and they with him.

I. P.

16th of Eighth Month, 1672

LETTER XCV

False Building, Prayers Not Heard, and Make-Believe Righteousness

To my Friends at Horton and thereabouts.

THERE has been a cloudy and dark day, in which God's church and building has been laid to waste, and his holy city, (according to his decree and purpose), trodden under foot by the Gentiles; in which time, his church has been as a desolate widow, mourning in the wilderness. Yet, during this season, God has not left his people; but, there have been breathings and stirrings of life in and from the precious seed; in which breathings of life, they have seen something of the beauty of the built state, and have had true desires and longings after it: but, in the midst of these desires, the enemy has struck in upon their spirits, and put them upon pressing more forward towards it, than they. have been truly led. So, reading in the Scriptures of a Church state and church orders, they thought it was their duty to set up building; and so, have thrust themselves into these things, in which they have not been accepted of the Lord ; though, in their breathings and true desires, they were accepted. And, what has been the issue of these buildings? Ah ! the pure seed has been buried in them — they have been as a grave to it; and their own imaginations, and wrought out knowledge, and way of worship, has been of high esteem. O Lord my God! Raise again, I beseech you, the pure life, and those pure breathings which have been drowned, lost and buried in these buildings!

Now, dear Friends, the Lord alone built his church at the first. The Lord also laid the buildings waste, and carried his living temple, out of the shell of it, into a wilderness. And the Lord alone can lead his church out of the wilderness, (leaning upon her Beloved), into her built state again. Ah! dear Friends, all must be scattered, all must be scattered, — all the gatherings, all the buildings, which are not of the Lord; so that his gathering, his building may be known and exalted in the earth. Therefore I would not have you hold up anything in this day of the Lord, (it is so, indeed), against the light and power of the Lord. The Lord is able and will maintain his building, however weak and low of esteem it is in the eye of man; but, man shall not be able to maintain his buildings, however high and strong in his own eye. Yes, every high tower, and every fenced city shall fall before the dread of His presence, who has now appeared among his poor, desolate people, and gathered them within the verge of his power: blessed be his holy name forever! And, since my spirit is at this time thus unexpectedly opened, in love and in life, towards you, I shall mention one or two great snares, which I see professors entangled in; that you may wait on the Lord, to escape the evil and danger of them.- One is this: they look too much at outward time and outward things, and their expectations are too much that way. O let it not be so with you! But wait for the inward day, in which, the things of God are wrought in the heart. And take heed to your steps, thoughts, and ways: for, the Lord, who has long tenderly visited, is now laying stumbling-blocks; and not only for the world, but for even professors also, who shall be hardened, snared, fall, and be taken; and this word shall be fulfilled, even among them, “He takes the wise in their own craftiness." But, woe unto him who has stumbled at the living appearance of God's precious Truth in this our day, and in his wisdom has exalted himself above that appearance, which he should have fallen down before! O that none of you, (whom I have dearly loved, and still love, and whom I have truly sought in the Lord, and still seek), ever prove sad examples and spectacles of what I now write, in a living, feeling sense! Oh that that, which has mourned and is oppressed among you, might live and rise up in the power of life, over what has grieved and oppresses it! For, in truth, I feel among you a I wisdom and knowledge, which is not of the seed, but oppresses it. Oh what plainness of speech does the Lord give me towards you! indeed, I am melted in concern for you; and in the strength of that love which searches into your bosoms, desire that the abominable thing among you might be discovered and purged out, and that which is indeed of God might spring up, live, and flourish among you.

A second thing, in which professors grievously mistake, is, about praying in the name of Christ; in which name, he that asks, receives: and out of which there is no right asking of the Father. They think that praying in the name of Christ, consists in using some outward words as, "Do this for your Son's sake," or, " We beg of you in Christ's name;" whereas, that in the heart, which knows not the Father, may use such words; and what is taught of the Father to pray, and prays in the Son, may not be led to use those words. The name, in which the asking and acceptance is, is living; and he that prays in the motion of the Spirit, and in the power and virtue of the Son's life, he prays in the name, and his voice is owned of the Father; but the other prayer is not, from who has learned in his own will, time, and spirit, to use those words relative to the Son.

Another thing, in which professors exceedingly err and mistake, is about the applying of Christ's righteousness, which is only rightly done in the Spirit, where the application has its true virtue. But, man's misapplication has no virtue; for, despite that, his sins remain; and so; the comfort, hope, and joy in his heart, that his sins are pardoned, is only a pleasing dream, which will deceive him when he awakes, and finds his sins not blotted out by God, but only in his own presumption, [as a make-believe Christian].

Ah, Friends! That you might travel into Truth, and meet with the unerring substance of things, that you might live and not die; and then, you will see, how man has erred and errs, -yes, even the man in you. Only the seed, and only they that are born of the seed, know the living Truth, and walk in the living path, where there is no error, no deceit, but a perfect preservation out of them. There, it is my desire to meet and embrace you, in the dear bowels of love, where we may unite and know one another, in the spiritual birth and life, inseparably, forever; if we daily mourn after, and faithfully wait upon, the true Guide and leader unto that. I remain your imprisoned Friend, according to the wisdom of God, and in his pure content and fear; though the wisdom of man might easily have avoided these bonds.

I. P.

Aylesbury Jail

22nd of Eighth Month, 1665

LETTER XCVI

Keep Up Your Testimony, Respect the True Ministers, Guard Against Deception

To Thomas and Ann Mudd.

DEAR FRIENDS, Of whose love to me, I have been and am sensible, and to whom I bear true love.

When I was last at Rickmansworth, it was on my heart to visit you; and, while I was there with you, true and living breathings did spring up in my heart to the Lord for you. Since, I have often thought of you, and in my desires have wished well concerning you, as concerning my own soul.

Your days here cannot be long; and what you sow here, you must reap, when you go out of this world. Oh that you may now so sow to the Spirit of God, as that you may then reap of him life everlasting!

Last first-day, my wife had a letter that George Fox had sent her, which I heard read that night. In the reading of it, I had many thoughts relating to you, and a desire that you might sincerely and uprightly, without prejudice, peruse it; which I sent unto you, the next day, for that end.

Now, this morning, you were upon my heart; and two or three things rose up in me in reference to you, as very necessary for you, that you may be safe, and that it may go well with you forever.

One was, that you keep steadfast in that holy testimony of Truth, which was given forth among us at the beginning. For, this Truth is the same, and the testimony of it does not vary or pass away, but shall last throughout ages and generations, to redeem all that receive it and are faithful to it. The testimony was, to draw from outward dead knowledge, and out of dead practices and worships, after men's own conceivings, into an inward principle, and into worship in spirit and truth, both inwardly in the heart, and outwardly in the assemblies of God's gathering.

The second was, that we keep in the sense, esteem, and sanctified use of those holy instruments, which God has made choice of, both to gather and build up his called and chosen ones. It was never well with Israel, when they slighted Moses, (though they many times had exceptions against him); nor when they despised the prophets, whom God sent afterwards, (though they were also often prejudiced against them) nor was it well with any of the churches, when, by the subtlety and seeming simplicity of those that endeavored to betray them, or by any other means, they were drawn to think poorly of any of the apostles or ministers of Christ, in their day. And the Lord, who preserved Moses in his day, and the prophets in their day, and the apostles and holy ministers of Truth in the first promulgation of the gospel, is the same God still; and does, and will preserve those, whom he has in this age sent forth to publish his everlasting gospel, and to gather his lambs and scattered sheep into holy gatherings and assemblies.

The third was, that you are daily exercised, guided, and your hearts opened and quickened, by the principle and Spirit of Truth; that so, you may know what it is, to walk with the Lord, and to feel the power of the Lord, and enjoy the presence of the Lord; and be led by him out of, and away from, the mysterious workings of the power and spirit of darkness, inwardly. For if, through grievous mistake, you let this into your minds and spirits, instead of the Spirit of Truth, you will call darkness light, and light darkness; truth error, and error truth; and so will err from that, which is indeed the way, into something that God's sight is not acceptable.

For, there is a spirit of delusion, as well as of truth. this spirit of delusion works in the heart as a claimed minister of righteousness, in a seeming light, and, warming the heart with a wrong fire, brings it into a wrong bed of rest, and administers to it a wrong peace, hope, and joy; setting up there a wrong sense, belief and judgment concerning itself and others. This leads to separate from those who are true, and joins to them that are false; draws from the assemblies and worships of God's gathering, and begets prejudices against and hard thoughts of those, who are owned by the Lord, and are kept in their habitation by him, who dwells in them, and they in him. O my Friends, may the Lord give you the true discerning of this spirit, and of his own Spirit; and deliver you out of the snare of the enemy, and open that eye in you, to which he gives the sight of what is, and who are of him, and what is, and who are not of him: that you may be disjoined from anything that is not of God, and joined to the Lord, abiding and walking in him; and may know, that God does not cast off his holy people, gatherings, and assemblies, but constantly appears in the midst of such as truly and humbly wait for him; glory be to his name!

God knows in what sense, in what understanding, in what love, in what desire, in what fear, in what knowledge from him.

 I write this to you; who am a true Friend to you both, (in true and faithful love, as in God's sight), and an hearty desirer of your everlasting happiness.

I. P.

19th of the Twelfth Month, 1672.

LETTER XCVII

On Hating Reproof

To Catherine Pordage and another.

FRIENDS,

Take heed of that spirit, which will be stirring up hard thoughts in you of God and his way, and the faithful testimony of it, when, in the tender mercy of the Lord, it is given forth to you; for, that spirit is your soul's enemy. Wait, therefore, to know in yourselves what it is to stumble, and fall, and be snared, and broken, and taken; for, that spirit cannot receive God's Truth.

And, take care of that spirit which hates reproof; for, the reproofs of instruction are the ways of life, and, whom the Lord loves, he rebukes and chastens. And truly, Friends, this is God's Truth in my heart to you both, this morning: — the ministration of conviction and reproof, is what you are to come under; and, it is your proper state to wait daily, not for comforts, not for refreshments, (that day is to come afterwards), but, for convictions and reproofs of that in you, which is contrary to God. And, if you walk faithfully in this dispensation, you shall in due time know another, when the work of this is over; for really, Friends, you must be emptied of that with which you are now filled, before you can be filled with what is true and living. If I should say one word to you, could you bear it! And yet this counsel is with me towards you: O! wait for, receive, embrace, be glad of what reproves you, and be afraid of what comforts you in your present state; for, you are to come through the trouble, judgment, breaking down, plucking up, consuming, and burning of the contrary nature and spirit, which yet deceives you; and to witness all the knowledge, profession, practices, beliefs, hopes, that are founded there, and spring up there, confounded, and destroyed, before you can possibly come into the true ministration of life and power. You must die to your own wisdom, if ever you will be born of, and walk in the wisdom of God. Yes, you must die to that part, that is so active from and in that wisdom, and which would be laboring in the very fire for nothing but vanity. If you will receive the knowledge, which springs out of truth and life itself, which indeed flows over, and cover the earth of God's heritage, as the waters cover the sea, in this day of his great goodness and plentiful redemption.

When we were in desolation and great distress, indeed, unutterable, we had none of these helps and instructions, which abound towards you. O what a day of mercy have you met with! And how great will be your condemnation, if you become as deaf adder to the Spirit of the Lord, and so miss his salvation. And, if you will ever know the Spirit of the Lord, you must meet with him, as a searcher and reprover, in your own hearts. Yes, you must meet with the merciful God as a severe Judge and an unquenchable, consuming fire against that spirit, wisdom, knowledge, and faith in you, which is but of a chaffy nature. Truly, Friends, it is far better to be stripped of it, than to find any rest or pleasure in it.

O hear the voice of the living God! His word is near, near you; and his word has a voice that speaks. O that the ear that can hear, -might be opened in you! And the ear stopped, which will not, cannot hear the voice of the Shepherd! Oh wait for the Reprover! and turn the ear to him, letting in his reproofs, and turning from what he reproves for, without murmuring, without disputing; and the exercise of that ear, will open it more and more. So that, you will come to know the voice more and more; which, though it prove very bitter to what is of a contrary nature, and would not  hear the voice, yet will be sweet, yes, sweeter and sweeter daily, to the true birth. And here, you will witness true death to what is to die; and true life, ministered by Him who lives forever, to that which is to live.

But, while you are striving to comprehend, and to be obedient to that fleshly wisdom, you will find the power, which opens to others, shutting you out from what is true; and yourselves liable to be tempted, and persuaded to esteem and take up what is false, instead of what is true.

What spirit is that in you, which prejudices your hearts inwardly against, and makes you so apt to cry out [because] of destroying? Is it not that spirit, which would save alive what is to be destroyed in you, that your souls might live in and to God! May the Lord discover to you, how the enemy works in you, against the life and salvation of your souls; for He knows what will be the issue of this destroying work, if it has its thorough course and effect upon you; and that none of His kingdom will be left standing in you.

7th of Seventh Month, 1671.

LETTER XCVIII.

Fleshly Wisdom.

To Francis Pordage,

FRIEND,

There is a mind, which can never know nor receive the things of God's kingdom; and yet, this mind is very busy in searching and inquiring after them. The Scribes and Pharisees were still questioning Christ, and desiring satisfaction about the kingdom, and about his doctrine and miracles, and the practice of hi disciples, but could never receive satisfaction; yet, the disciples themselves were many times afraid to ask him questions, there being a dread of God upon their spirits, and a limit to the knowing and inquiring part in them; for indeed, the true birth learns under the yoke.

This, therefore, is precious; to come to feel somewhat to limit that mind, which is forward and inquisitive out of the true nature and sense, and to receive the yoke, and to be limited by it and famished; for famine, not food of life, is appointed for that mind and birth. It is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." Now, this is precious and greatly needful: for a man to know, and discern, and watch against that wisdom and understanding in himself, which God will destroy and bring to nothing; for, to be sure, while he is learning and striving to know with that, God will never teach him, but rather hide the mystery of life and salvation from him. And, what is all of man's knowledge worth, that he learns of himself without God's teaching; and which he receives into that understanding, which is to perish and be destroyed! In the new understanding, God sets up the true light; but, in the other understanding, are false lights set up, which do not give a true distinction of good and evil, but they call good evil, and evil good, and put darkness for light, and light for darkness, and cannot do otherwise; because, the light in them is darkness, it not being the gift of grace whereby they see and judge, but a light of their own forming, according to their own comprehension of things, in the dark and fallen understanding. Now, the Lord has taught us the difference between all these lights, and the light of his grace, which purely teaches, with life teaches, not in the reasonings of the mind, but in the evidence and demonstration of God's Spirit in the soul and conscience. When we came to see in this light, we found, that what we had called good, according to our former apprehension of things, was not so in the true balance; and what we thought had pleased God, was abominable in his eyes. And truly, all that are not come to this light, they offer what is abominable to God, and yet think it pleases him; and what a gross and dangerous mistake is this! indeed, all are no better than will-deeds, which are done out of the light, life, virtue, and power of God's Spirit. For, the root must be good, or the fruit cannot be good. The mind must be renewed, or the knowledge is but old, dead, literal, and fleshly; such as the fleshly understanding comprehends and receives, which can neither know nor receive what is spiritual.

Truly, the Lord has led us a great way in our journey, and done great things inwardly for and in our spirits; yet, if we were not kept under the yoke, but that part in us had liberty to know, and live, and act, and worship, we should yet perish, and be cut off from the land of the living.

I.P.

LETTER XCIX.

Wait on the Lord to Guide Your Works

To the Women Friends that meet at Armscot in Worcestershire.

DEAR FRIENDS,

In your meetings together to do service for the Lord, be everyone of you very careful and diligent in watching to his power, that you may have the sensible, living feeling of it, each of you in your own hearts. and in the hearts one of another; and that you may keep within the limits of it, and not think, or speak, or act beyond it. And know, O! Wait more and more to know, how to keep that silence, which is of the power; that, in every one of you, what the power would have silent, may be silent. O! Take heed of the forwardness of the flesh, the wisdom of the flesh, the will of the flesh, the talkativeness of the flesh; keep them back, O! Let them forever be kept back in everyone of you, by the presence and virtue of the power. The power is the authority and blessing of your meetings, and in it lies your ability to perform what God requires; be sure you have it with you. Keep back to the life, keep low in the holy fear, and you shall not miss of it. You will find it easy to transgress, easy to set up self, easy to run into sudden apprehensions about things, and one to be of this mind and another of that; but, feel the power to keep down all this, and to keep you out of all this; every one watching to the life, when and where it will arise to help you, and that you may be sensible of it when it does arise, and not in a wrong wisdom oppose it, but be one with it. And thus, if anything should arise from the wrong wisdom in any, you may be sensible of it, not defiled or entangled with it, but abiding in that which sees through it and judges it; that so, life may reign in your hearts and in your meetings, above that which will be forward, and perking over the life, if you be not very watchful.

So, the Lord God of my life be with you, and season your hearts with his grace and Truth, and daily keep you in the savor of it; that you may be blessed by him, and a blessing in his hands; all that is evil and contrary to Truth, being kept down in your own hearts, you will be fit to keep down evil in the minds and hearts of others; and, if anything is unsavory anywhere, it will be searched into, judged, cast out, and the recovery of the soul which has let it in, sought, that, if possible, it may be restored; and then, you will know the joy of seeking out and bringing back the lost sheep. And, be tender to others, in true compassion, as you would be tendered by others, if you were in their conditions.

There is that near you, which will guide you; O! wait for it, and be sure you keep to it; that, being innocent and faithful, in following the Lord in the leadings of his power, his power may plead your cause in the hearts of all his tender people hereabouts; and they may see and acknowledge, that your meetings are of God, — that you are guided by him into that way of service, in his holy fear, in which he himself is with you, and by the movings of his Holy Spirit in your hearts, has engaged you. Be not hasty, either in conceiving anything in your minds, or in speaking it forth, or in anything you are to do; but, feel him by his Spirit and life going along with you, and leading you into what he would have any of you, or every one of you do. If you be in the true feeling sense of what the Lord your God would have done, and join with what is of God, as it rises in any, or against any thing that is not  of God, as it is made manifest among you; you are all in your places and proper services, obeying the blessed will, and doing the blessed work, of the Lord your God.

I had somewhat upon me yesterday to you, but my weakness was great. This morning, this lay as a weight upon my spirit to lay upon yours; may the weight of it come upon you, to weigh down whatever is light or chaffy in any of you, that the seed of life may come up over it and you may be weighty before the Lord, in the weighty seed of life. May the Lord make you greatly serviceable to him, and truly glorious in your meetings, and in your several places. You will find a great work to keep one part down, that that which is pure and living of God may come up in you, and you act only in it, not exceeding the limits of it.

I. P.

Written at John Hawford's,
7th of Seventh Month, 1678.

LETTER C.

Loving Advice to his persecutor, the Earl of Bridgewater

(Note: By the military order of the Earl of Bridgewater, Penington was sent to Aylesbury jail because he would not address him as "My Lord" and say "Your humble servant." At this particular time the plague was raging in the prison. Once afterward, he was incarcerated by order of the Earl of Bridgewater. These two imprisonments lasted, respectively, nine and eighteen months.)

FRIEND,

It is the desire of my heart to walk with God, in the true fear of his name, and in true love and goodwill to all men, all my days here upon the earth. For this end, I wait upon God night and day, to know his will, and to receive certain instruction from him, concerning what is acceptable in his sight. After he has in anything made manifest his pleasure, I wait upon him for strength to perform it; and when be has wrought it by me, my soul blesses him therefore. If this is a tight course, I am not to be condemned herein: if it is not, and you know better, show me, in love, meekness, and tenderness; as I would be willing to make anything known to you, for your good, which the Lord has shown me.

But, this I am fully assured of, that God is higher than man: and that his will and laws are to be set up, and obeyed, in the first place; and man's only in the second; and, in their due subordination to the will and laws of God.

Now, Friend, apply yourself to do what is right and noble, and what is truly justifiable in God's sight; that you may give a comfortable account to him, when he shall call you to himself. That which you have done to me, has not made me your enemy; but in the midst of the sense of it, I desire your welfare, and that you may so carry yourself in your place, and actions, as that you may neither provoke God against you in this world, nor in the world to come. Have you not yet afflicted me enough, without cause? Would you have me bow to you in it, in which the Lord has not given me liberty? If I should give you outward titles and honors, might I not harm you! O come down, be low in your spirit before the Lord! Honor him in your heart and ways, and wait for the true nobility and honor from him. You have but a time to be in the world, and then eternity begins; and what you have sown here, you must then reap. Oh that you might sow, not to your own will and wisdom, but to God's Spirit; and know his guidance, who is only able to lead man correctly. Indeed, you should be subject in your own heart to that, which you are offended at in others, — even that in the inner parts, which testifies for God and against the thoughts, ways, and works of corrupt man; that you might feel a principle of life from God. and good fruit brought forth from that principle to him; and that the evil nature, with the evil works of it might be cut down in you; that your soul may escape the wrath and misery, which attends the works and workers of iniquity.

I have sent you this letter enclosed, in love. Read it in fear and humility, lifting up your heart to the Lord, who gives understanding that it may be a blessing to you; for. in true love was it written, and is of a healing and guiding nature. I have formerly written to you; but my way has been so barred up that I have not found access easy; and how or whether this will come to your hand. I know not; but, this I truly say to you, I have felt the Lamb's nature, under my sufferings from you, to which I have given you no provocation, neither for the beginning nor continuance of them; and if you can, bring that thing to the trial of the witness of God in your heart, that will deal truly with you, blaming what God blames, and justifying what he justifies. And, though the Lord beholds, and will plead the cause of his innocent ones; (who, the more helpless they are, the more they are considered and tendered by him), yet, I do not desire that you should suffer, either from God or man, on my account; but, that you might be guided to, and preserved in, what will be sweet rest, peace, and safely, to all that are sheltered by it, in the troublous and stormy hour; in which, the Lora will distress man, and make him feel his sin and misery. This is the sum of what I have at present to say; who have written this, not for any other purpose, but, in the stirrings of true love towards you; and from a true desire, that you might feel the power of God forming in your heart correctly, and bringing forth the fruit of righteousness in you; — that you might be made by him of the seed of the blessed, and inherit the blessing, and find the earthly nature consumed, and brought to nothing in you. For, to [this nature] is the curse, and it must feel the curse, as God brings forth his righteous judgments in the hearts, and upon the heads of the transgressors. And, knowing there is a certain day of God's calling transgressors to account, also the terribleness of his wrath and consuming pleasure in that day, — I warn you in tenderness, and in love beseech you, to consider your ways, and make your peace with him; that you may not be irrecoverably and eternally miserable; but, may be transformed by his life and nature, and sow to him the fruits of it, that you may reap, and receive of him that which is the soul's joy.

And, Friend, know this assured truth, — it is not a religion of man's making or choosing, (neither the Pope's, nor any other man's), but only what is of God, which is acceptable to Him: and, what will become of that man, whose very religion and worship is hateful to God! Where will he stand, or what account will he be able to give, when he appears before him?

You have not often met with such plain dealing as this. These things very nearly concern you. Oh ! Wait upon God for his true light, that you may not be deceived about them; because your loss thereby, will be so great and irreparable.

I am your Friend in these things, and have written as a true lover and desirer of the welfare of your soul.

I. P.

From Aylesbury Jail,
24th of Sixth Month, 1666

LETTER CI.

How to Handle a Conflict Between Brothers.

DEAR FRIEND,

I have heard that you have something against W. R., which has resulted in you failing to come to meetings at his house. You ought to seriously consider and weigh if the path you are taking in right and straight according to the Lord. Is the thing, or are the things, which you have against him fully so as you believe them to be? Have you seen evil in him or evil actions by him? Have you considered and dealt with him as you would want to be dealt with if it were your problem? Have you pitied him and mourned over him, cried to the Lord for him, and in tender love and meekness of Spirit discussed with him the problem? And, if he has refused to hear you, have you tenderly mentioned it to others, and desired them to go with you to him, so  that what is evil and offensive in him might be more weightily and advantageously laid before him, for his humbling, and for his recovery unto that, which is a witness and strength against the evil. If you have proceeded thus, you have proceeded tenderly and orderly, according to the law of brotherly love; and God's witness in your conscience will justify you in it. But, if you have let in any hardness of spirit, or hard reasonings against him, or hard resolutions as relating to him, the witness of God will not justify you in that, And if, at anytime hereafter, you have anything against others, Oh learn, from that of God in you, to show compassion towards them, even as the Lord has had pity on you! And keep to his witness in your heart. Wait to feel the seed, and to keep your dwelling in it, that you may abide in the peace and rest of it, and not depart out of your habitation, out of the sense of Truth; for, that will let in temptation on you, give the enemy strength against you, and fill your soul with anguish and perplexity.

So, the Lord God of infinite tenderness renew his mercy upon you, and keep you in that, in which his love, life, rest, joy, peace, and unspeakable comfort of his Holy Spirit, (which keeps the mind out of all the snares and temptations of what is unholy), is felt and witnessed, — by those, who are taught and enabled of him, to abide and dwell in that, into which he gathered them, — and in which he has pleased to appear unto them.

This is, in the love and tender goodness of the Lord to you, from your Friend in the Truth, and for the Truth's sake.

I. P.

13th of Tenth Month, 1667

LETTER CII.

On Dwelling with the Lowly Seed of Life in all Conditions

To M. Hiorns,

DEAR FRIEND,

I received two letters from you lately, whereby the sense is revived in me of your great love to me, and the Lord's great goodness to you, in administering that which rejoices and refreshes you.

Now, this advice arises in my heart. O! keep cool and low before the Lord, that the seed, the pure, living seed, may spring more and more in you, and your heart be united more and more to the Lord in it. Coolness of spirit is a precious frame; and the glory of the Lord most shines in it,-in its own luster and brightness; and, when the soul is low before the Lord, it is still near the seed, and preciously, (in its life), one with the seed. And, when the seed rises, you shall have liberty in the Lord to rise with it; only, take heed of that part, which will be outrunning it, and getting above it, and so, not ready to descend again, and keep low in the deeps with it. o my Friend! I have a sense, that this has been the error of that people, you have formerly walked with: and I observe in your spirit yet a liability to it.; which the Lord give you to watch against, that you may come to a pure observation and discerning of the everlasting, unchangeable seed in your own heart, and may daily feel your mind bowed down and worship in it, becoming wholly leavened into it, and perfectly changed and preserved by it.

We are here but a while in this world, for the Lord to make use of us, and serve himself by us; and so, by his ordering of us, to fit us for the crown of glory, which he will give us fully to wear in the other world, Now, feel the child's nature, which chooses nothing, but desires the fulfilling of the Father's will in it. I cannot desire to enjoy anything, (said the nature of the true birth,) but as the Father, of himself, pleases to give me to enjoy. There is a time to want, as well as to abound, while we are in this world, And the times of wanting, as well as abounding, are greatly advantageous to us. How should faith, love, patience, meekness, and the excellency and sufficiency of God's grace shine, but by, in, and through the many exercises and varieties of conditions, with which the Lord visits his? Yes, the greatest in the life, power, and glory of the Lord, have the greatest trials ana exercises, which is to their advantage, as also for the good and benefit of others, and to the great honor and glory of the Lord. Oh ! at all times, and in all conditions, take heed of a will, take heed of a wisdom, above the seed's will, and above the seed's wisdom. Let the Lord alone be all in you, and make you every day what he pleases; and, in due time, you shall know a life, even the seed's life, the Son's life, whom all the angels are to worship,-and the mystery of whose life, the angels desire to look into, as it is revealed and brought forth! So, be still and quiet, and silent before the Lord; not putting up any request to the Father, nor cherishing any desire in you, but in the seed's lowly nature and purely springing life; and the Lord give you the clear discerning, in the lowly seed, of all that springs and arises in your heart. You did read precious things of the seed, when you were here, written outwardly; Oh that you might read the same things, written inwardly in your own heart; which that you may do, become as a weaned child, not exercising yourself in things, too high or too wonderful for you. Every secret thing, every spiritual mystery, but what God ')pens to you, is too high and wonderful for you. And, if the Lord at anytime open to you deep mysteries; fear before the Lord; and go no further into them, than the Lord leads you. The error is, still, in the comprehending, knowing mind, but never in the lowly, weighty seed of life;-whither the Lord God of my life more and more lead you, and counsel you to take up your dwelling-place there, daily instructing you so to do. For the greatest, as well as the least, must be daily taught of the Lord, both in ascending and descending, or they will miss their way; Yes, they must be daily taught of him to be silent before him, and know [what it is] to be still in him, or they will be apt to miss in either.

This from your Friend,

Amersham, Woodside, 4th of Fifth Month, 1679

LETTER CIII.

To One Who Sees Anointed Ministers Critically, with Envy

DEAR BROTHER,

This morning, as I was going out to walk, somewhat sprang up in my heart freshly and with life to you; whereupon, I consulted not, but immediately turned back so to do. Now, if the Lord make it useful to you, you will have cause to bless his name; and so shall I also, who heartily desire the life and welfare of your soul in the living God, and your avoiding all such snares as the enemy lays to betray, and to keep it in death and bondage. The thing that rose up in me, was this.

God gave some apostles, some prophets, etc., for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body, for the perfecting of the saints. This was God's gift, in mercy and love, to them in that day, of which gift. they were to walk worthy, and to be thankful for it.

And, in these days, the Lord has given gifts to some for this work, which the body has need of; and the body is to wait on the Lord in the use of his gift, in fear and humility. For, those that gather the soul to the Lord, they also are appointed to watch over the soul, in the same power and authority that gathered. Now, what is of God in any heart, being heeded, will teach to make use of the gift and ministry which is of Him; and it cannot be despised, but God is despised ; nor can it be neglected, without loss and danger to the soul that neglects it. For God is wise, and his ordinances, his ministry, his gifts are weighty, and his blessings go along with them. Who have been gathered to him in these days, but by his ministry which he has appointed and sent to gather! and who have been preserved, but those who have waited on the Lord, and been subject to his spirit in the same ministry which has gathered! Mark, Brother, in every age, God's ministers have been despised. Moses and all the prophets were despised in their day. What ! [said the despisers.] has God spoken only by Moses! Has he not spoken also by us? The apostles were despised in their days, by those that kept not to the anointing; for this always teaches to reverence, in subjection to the Lord, the ministry which is of the anointing. "He that despises you," said Christ, "despises me." He that despises them in their gathering, or in their building up, despises Him that sent them. They were earthen vessels, in presence contemptible, and very liable to be despised. It is easy still, to despise God's messengers and servants; but, he that will truly and rightly esteem them, must lie low, must dwell in the pure fear, and in the sense of life, that he may be taught of God so to do. It is an easy matter to have objections enough against them; but, to see through all prejudices and objections, to the pure and precious life in them, and to the gift and spirit and power of the Lord, in which and whereby they minister, — this requires a true eye, and an heart opened by the Lord.

Ah Brother! This is a snare, in which many have been caught in former ages, and in this age also, which it is easy falling into,-but, the preservation out of it, is not easy, but only by the power and mercy of the Lord. And blessed are those, whom the Lord so favors as to preserve out of it, and to remove from them those prejudices and devices, whereby they are entangled.

Dear Brother! when I am in the pure sense before the Lord, and my spirit opened by him, and you presented before me; I could even beg most earnestly of the Lord, that he would open your eye, and give you a true sight of your state, and cause your spirit to bow before him, and not by any device of the enemy, be hindered from receiving what he holds out to you in tender love and mercy.

And, dear Brother, mind this advice which just springs in my heart: pick out some of the faithful ones of the Lord's servants and open your heart to them, as, in the leadings of the Lord and waiting on him, you find  freedom to do it. Indeed; Brother, I have had, for a long time, a deep sense of  danger towards you: may the Lord prevent it, that your soul may live to him, and not  die from him! There is a wisdom, a will near you, which will destroy you, unless the Lord destroys it in you.

O that you might come to wait correctly for the motion of his Spirit! And you might be kept by him in what knows the drawing; then will you hunger and thirst after the righteousness of his Kingdom, and long after times of meeting and assembling with his people, and find your sense of them living, and your life refreshed in it. For, God is with his people, of a truth, and they meet not without him ; but, his presence is in the midst of them, causing his life to flow into every vessel, that stands open to him. And, death has not come over his people, whatever the enemy suggests, where he gets an ear open; but, life grows more and more in freshness and into dominion in them. Oh Brother! May the Lord fully gather you into and preserve you in that, in which you may feel this in your own particular.- O in which you may feel the freshness of life, and the power of it in them; that your heart, also, may be as a watered garden, and as a living temple, in which the pure, living God dwells! I am satisfied in my heart, that not only my love, but my life speaks to you. Oh that you could hear, and feel, and fear, and bow down before the Lord! that he might, in his due season, raise you up in his life and power among his people, purifying you, and preserving you pure and living to him forever.

POSTSCRIPT.

Dear Brother,

The desire of my heart to the Lord for you is, that he would open and keep open in you the eye which sees, and the ear which hears, and the heart which understands his truth; and that he would prevent the enemy from raising up another thing in you,' instead of the seed of life and holy witness.

Great has been the subtlety, and deep has been the error from the Truth; and many who seem to be Jews are not, but have erred from the Spirit, life, and power, with which they were at first convinced, and by which they were at first led. And, in these, the enemy has raised up a seat of prejudices, and strong-holds, against the ministry and power of the living God; but, those that are of the right seed, bless the Lord, beholding his work, while others slight it, and are expecting something else; they bless also the church which the Lord has built, and the ministry which he has sent forth to gather and build it.

O Brother! There is an high-mindedness in some which takes upon it to judge beyond its growth and capacity; and there is a fear in the hearts of others, lest anything in them should get up, or judge, or be anything, beyond or beside the pure Truth ;- this teaches to honor and prefer those, whom the Lord has preferred, the other has accusations and pleas against them; the one of these witnesses preservation from God, the other is left to fall. Dear Brother, believe a traveler in the path of life, (may the Lord God raise up in you what can believe), — the enemy with great subtlety has laid his snares, —  has taken many in his snares, — even in the snares which he laid by his instrument, J P ; and many did let in his spirit before they were aware, and are at this day, (unknown to their own hearts), entangled in it. The Lord God will terribly appear against such, (indeed, it is truth), unless they bow to his light, acknowledge their error from the Truth, and come back to the body by repentance, and turning from that, in which this spirit has entangled them.

Dear Brother, it is my desire that you may not perish, but feel the carrying on of the work of salvation in you; travel on in the pure, holy, living, powerful path, and receive the crowd of fidelity to the Truth! Ah Brother! Mourn to the Lord; fear before him; converse and consult with those that abide faithful; and they may help you to see, (through the guidance, presence, and power of the Spirit of the Lord with them,) what of yourself, you are not able to see. Remember this counsel; your life is wrapped up in it; for you have need of the helps, which the Lord in his tender mercy has provided, and cannot be safe without them.

Your dear Brother, in the unity of nature, longing after perfect sense of you, and unity with you, in the pure life.

I. P. Aylesbury Jail,

7th of Eighth Month, 1667.

LETTER CIV

Of the Spirit's Building of the Church of Living Stones

In reply to an answer of  I. H. to somewhat written on behalf of Truth.

-- INDEED, to speak properly, the church of the gospel, or new testament church, is invisible. The persons in whom the church is, are visible: yet, the new testament church is not a society of men, but rather, of the invisible life in men. It is a fellowship in the faith, in the spirit, which is the bond of their unity and of their peace.

The life is breathed invisibly into the hidden man, John 3:8; it is there nourished and built up invisibly into a spiritual invisible temple, house, or church, and in that is the unity and fellowship. So that, the church is a mystery, and the fellowship a mystery, which is hidden from every eye but the eye of life; and there is no having fellowship one with another, but by coming to that, and keeping in that, in which is the fellowship. 1 John 1:7. It is of inward Jews that the church is built. God seeks the inward Jews to frame his new house of worship, under the gospel. John 4:23-24. Now, of such stones as these, the Lord builds up a temple for his Spirit to dwell in, a house for his life and presence to manifest itself in, — even a church for the living God. This building is by the Spirit, in the Spirit, and of what is spiritual; this building is one with the foundation, and therefore is the pillar and ground of Truth, which none is but Christ, and what is married to him, and so one with him! Tim 3:15. Consider the place well, and see whether it relates to that, which you call the invisible, or to that, which you call the visible church.

It is the candlestick in persons, that is the church; not any outward meeting of persons, or joining together by covenant, or receiving or practicing of ordinances, can make a church; but, the eternal life in believers, formed by the Spirit into a candlestick, to hold the eternal lamp or light, with the everlasting oil of  salvation, The light thus shining in this candlestick, continually refreshed by this oil, — here is a flourishing temple, wherever it is found; here is the church of the living God, here is the spouse married to the Lamb, her Husband. But, grieve the Spirit, quench the Spirit, despise the prophesyings of it, (and light up a candle of the fleshly wisdom and knowledge of the things of God, instead of these), the oil soon fails; the oil failing, the lamp goes out; the lamp, or light being gone out of the candlestick, the Lord soon removes the candlestick; and the candlestick being once removed, the very same persons may meet together often, and hold up the form, (performing things mentioned in the Scriptures concerning a church, and observing such things as they may call the institutions and ordinances of it), — but they are far from continuing to be a church. Take away the faith, what is left of a Christian? and take away the candlestick, what is left of a church?

It is the Spirit alone that can square stones, and fit them for building a church of: and if he alone can build them up into a house, when he has squared them, Eph 2:22. And, after he has built, He can pull down again, and bring into a wilderness state: for there is a wilderness state of Christianity, as well as a built state, Rev 12:6; and as, in the built state, it is dangerous to be out of the church, so, in the wilderness state, it is dangerous remaining in that building, which the Spirit of the Lord has forsaken. Now, if the Spirit is the builder, then, surely, he will take in no stones, but those which he has first squared and fitted for the building. And, after the church is built, it is he alone who adds to the church; who will be sure to add none, but those whom he has first converted. Acts 2:47.

The church is a body gathered in the Spirit, and watching to the Spirit; who is present there with His pure, searching, discerning eyes; so that, nothing that is impure can enter, (they watching to the Spirit, according to the order of the gospel); no, not one counterfeit Jew, no, nor so much as one false apostle, though they clothe themselves ever so like angels of light. Rev 12. But if they are negligent, and from off the watch, not waiting for the guidance of the Spirit; then, what is corrupt may creep in, and endanger the body. Jude, 4.

The End

 

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