Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Isaac Penington's Works > Isaac Penington to Catherine Pordage and Another
Take heed of that spirit, which will be stirring up hard thoughts in you of God and his way, and the faithful testimony thereof, when, in the tender mercy of the Lord, it is given forth to you; for that spirit is your souls' enemy. Wait, therefore, to know in yourselves that which is to stumble, and fall, and be snared, and broken, and taken; for it cannot receive God's truth.
And take care of that spirit which hateth 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 that which ye 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 ye walk faithfully in this dispensation, ye shall in due time know another, when the work of this is over; for really, friends, ye must be emptied of that wherewith ye are now filled, before ye can be filled with that which is true and living. If I should say one word to you, could ye bear it? and yet this counsel is with me towards you: Oh! wait for, receive, embrace, be glad of, that which reproves you, and be afraid of that which comforts you in your present state; for ye 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 thence, <486> confounded and destroyed, before ye can possibly come into the true ministration of life and power. Ye must die to your own wisdom, if ever ye will be born of and walk in the wisdom of God. Yea, ye must die to that part, that is so active from and in that wisdom, and which would be laboring in the very fire for what is but vanity, if ye will receive the knowledge, which springs out of truth and life itself, which indeed flows over and covers 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. Oh, what a day of mercy have you met with! and how great will be your condemnation, if ye become as deaf adders to the Spirit of the Lord, and so miss of his salvation. And if ye will ever know the Spirit of the Lord, ye must meet with him, as a searcher and reprover, in your own hearts; yea, the merciful God must ye meet with, as a severe Judge, and 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.
Oh, hear the voice of the living God! His word is nigh, nigh you; and his word hath a voice that speaks. Oh 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 ye will come to know the voice more and more; which, though it prove very bitter to that which is of a contrary nature, and would not hear the voice, yet will be sweet, yea, sweeter and sweeter daily, to the true birth. And here, ye will witness true death to that which is to die; and true life, ministered by Him who lives for ever, to that which is to live.
But while ye are striving to comprehend, and to begin obedience after that wisdom, ye will find the power, which opens to others, shutting you out from that which is true; and yourselves liable to be tempted, and persuaded to esteem and <487> take up that which is false, instead of that which is true.
What spirit is that in you, which prejudices your hearts inwardly against, and makes you 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? 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 have its thorough course and effect upon you; and that none of his kingdom will be left standing in you.
7th of Seventh Month, 1671