Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to _____ _____
Hearken to a word of advice which is in my heart to thee; it may be of great use to thee, if the Lord open thy spirit, and cause it to sink in. It is this: --
Wait on the Lord, that thou mayst, from him, feel the right limit to the mind in reading the Scriptures; for the mind of man is busy and active, willing to be running beyond its bounds, guessing at the meaning of God's Spirit, and imagining of itself, <458> unless the Lord limit it. Therefore read in fear, and wait understandingly to distinguish between God's opening to thee words concerning the kingdom, and the things of the kingdom, and thy own apprehensions about them; that the one may be always cast by, and the other always embraced by thee. And always wait God's season: do not presume to understand a thing, before he give thee the understanding of it: and know also, that he alone is able to preserve the true sense and knowledge in thee; that thou mayst live dependently upon him for thy knowledge, and never "lean to thy own understanding." Little dost thou know what it hath cost us, to have our own understanding and wisdom broken down; and how demonstratively by this Spirit the Lord opens scriptures to us (yea, the things themselves, which the Scriptures speak of), ever since he hath taught us to deny our own understanding, and to lean upon his Spirit and wisdom.
The Lord guide thee by his certain, infallible Spirit, into the certain, infallible, everlasting way of life, that by the shinings of his light, Spirit, and power in thee, thou mayst see light, and enjoy life. For if thou didst certainly and infallibly understand all the words, descriptions, and testimonies concerning the thing in the Scriptures; yet it is one thing to understand words, testimonies, and descriptions; and it is another matter to understand, know, enjoy, possess, and live in that which the words relate to, describe, and bear witness of.
And friend, if thou wilt be an inward Jew, and know and understand the laws of life, the laws of the new covenant, thou must read them in those tables, where God writes them in and by the new covenant. Indeed, by reading in the letter, thou mayst read testimonies concerning the Spirit and his ministration; but thou must read in the Spirit, if ever thou come rightly to understand the letter. And the end of words is to bring men to the knowledge of things, beyond what words can utter. So learn of the Lord to make a right use of the Scriptures, which is by esteeming them in their place, and prizing that above them, which is above them. The "eternal life," the Spirit, the power, the fountain of living waters, the everlasting, pure well, is above the words concerning it. This, the believer is to witness in himself, and to draw water with joy out of it.