- Born: Abt 1616, Chalfont, St.Giles, Buckshire, England
- Marriage: Mary Proude about 1654 in London, England
- Died: Abt 1682, Bucks County, Pennsylvania about age 66
Isaac Pennington (1617-1679) was an expert in inward experience. He was a
man who knew the true meaning of mysticism. He was a Quaker whose life and
writings reflect the certainty, conviction, and commitment of a disciple of Christ.
Pennington was born into a prominent Puritan family; his father was once Lord
Mayor of London. His education was of the best for that period; his style of
writing reflects his wide acquaintance with literature and his absorption of the
flavor and beauty of the finest writers.
In 1658 Pennington and his wife joined the Quaker movement and devoted all
their talents to this renaissance of first-century Christianity. With George Fox,
Robert Barclay, James Naylor, William Penn, and others they helped to make
Quakerism a powerful force In the England of their day.
Pennington's greatest contribution was through his public ministry, through his
remarkable letters, and through his many publications. Robert Barclay was the
scholarly, logical protagonist of Quakerism; Pennington the literary, mystical
interpreter of the new movement. Eleven years of imprisonment was a price he
paid for his faith, but nothing daunted his devotion to Truth.
Across the years Pennington still speaks to our condition even though the quaint
phraseology of the 17th century may seem a bit strange to our ears.
ON HIS CONVERSION...
"…at last (when my nature was almost spent, and the pit of despair was even
closing its mouth upon me) mercy sprang, and deliverance came, and the Lord
my God owned me, and sealed his love unto me, and light sprang within me,
which made not only the Scriptures, but the very outward creatures glorious in
my eye, so that everything was sweet and pleasant and lightsome round about
'Well, then, how came this about?' will some say. Why thus. The Lord opened
my spirit, the Lord gave me the certain and sensible feeling of the pure seed,
which had been with me from the beginning; the Lord caused his holy power to
fall upon me, and gave me such an inward demonstration and feeling of the seed
of life, that I cried out in my spirit, This is
he, this is he, This is he; there is not
another, there never was another. He was always near me, though I knew him
not. . . . oh! that I might now be joined to him and he alone might live in me."
"I gave up to be instructed, exercised, and led by him, in the waiting for and
reeling of his holy seed, that all might be wrought out of me which could not live
with the seed."
ON HIS COMPULSION TO TESTIFY...
"Now thus having met with the true way. . . . I cannot be silent (true love and
pure life stirring in me and moving me), but am necessitated to testify of it to
others; and this is it: to retire inwardly, arid wait to feel some what of the Lord,
somewhat of his holy spirit and power, discovering and drawing from that which
is contrary to him, and into his holy nature and heavenly image."
"The main thing in religion is to receive a principle of life from God, whereby the
mind may be changed, and the heart made able to understand the mysteries of
his kingdom, and to see and walk in the way of life; and this is the travail of the
souls of the righteous, that they may abide, grow up, and walk with the Lord in
this principle; and that others also, who breathe after him, may be gathered into,
and feel the virtue of, the same principle."
"The beginning of this religion, of this power and holy inward covenant, is sweet;
but the pure progress and going on of it much more pleasant, as the Lord gives
to feel the growth and sweet living freshness of it; not withstanding the
temptations, tears, troubles, trials, oppositions, and great dangers, both within
ON THE GOSPEL STATE...
"The gospel state is a state of substance, a state of enjoying the life, a state of
feeling the presence and power of the Lord in his pure holy spirit, a state of
binding up, a state of healing, a state of knowing the Lord and walking with him
in the light of his own spirit. It begins in a sweet, powerful touch of life, and there
is a growth in the life (in the power, in the divine virtue, in the rest, peace, and
satisfaction of the soul in God) to be administered and waited for daily. Now art
thou here, in the living power, in the divine life, joined to the spring of life,
drawing water of life out of the well of life with joy? Or art thou dry, dead,
barren, sapless, or at best but unsatisfied mourning after what thou wantest?"
ON CHRIST ...
"Christ is a perfect physician, and is able to work a perfect cure on the heart
that believeth in him, and waiteth upon him. Yea, he came to destroy the works
of the devil, to cleanse man's mind of the darkness and power of Satan, and to
fill it with the life and power of truth; and he sent forth a ministry not only for the
beginning but for the perfection of the work; yea, his sword in the mouth and
heart is powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, and he can cast out the
strong man, and cut down all that is corrupt and contrary to himself, and break
down every stronghold in the mind, and spoil all the goods of the enemy."
"Christ is the minister of the true sanctuary, which God hath pitched, and not
man. There is a city whose builder and maker is God. The foundation stone, the
cornerstone, the top stone of this city or building is Christ, He, therefore, that
would know Christ, and be built upon Christ, must find a holy thing revealed in
his heart, and his soul built thereon by him alone can raise this building, who can
rear up the tabernacle that hath long been fallen down. Who can build up the old
waste places, and restore the paths for the ransomed and he deemed of the
Lord to walk and travel is."
"Christ bath plainly chalked out the path of his rest to every weary, panting soul,
which he that walketh in cannot miss of . . . the rest is at the end of it, nay, the
rest is in it; he that believeth entereth into the rest."
ON THE SEED OF GOD IN MAN...
"The seed of God is the word of God: the seed of the kingdom is the word of
the kingdom. It is a measure of the light and life, of the grace and truth, which is
why Jesus Christ, whereof in his is the fullness. It is a heavenly talent, or
manifestation of his spirit in the heart, which is given to man for him, in the virtue
and strength of Christ, to improve for God. This which God hath placed in man,
to witness for himself, and to guide man from evil unto good (in the pure
breathing, quickenings, and shinings of it) this is the seed, which is freely
bestowed on man, to spring up and remain in him, and to gather him out of
himself into itself."
"The pure, living, heavenly knowledge of the Father, and of his Son Christ
Jesus, is wrapped up in this seed."
"...he that is united to the seed, to the measure of grace and truth from Christ...is
united to God, and ingrafted into Christ; and as the seed is formed in him, Christ
is formed in him; and as he is formed and new-created in the seed, he is the
workmanship of God, formed and new created in Christ."
"What is the nature of the seed of God, or the seed of the kingdom?
It is of an immortal, incorruptible nature...
It is of a gathering nature...
It is of a purging, cleansing nature...
It is of a seasoning, leavening, sanctifying nature...
It is of an enriching nature...
It is of an improving, growing nature, of a nature that will grow and be
"Prayer is the breath of the living child to the Father of Life, in that spirit which
quickened it, which giveth it the right sense or its wants, and suitable cries
proportionate to its state, in the proper season thereof ... Prayer is wholly out of
the will of the creature; wholly out of the time of the creature; wholly cut of the
power of the creature; in the spirit of the Father, who is the fountain of life, and
giveth forth breathings of life to his child at his pleasure."
"Lord, take care of all thy children. Oh thou tender Father, consider what they
suffer for the testimony of thy truth and for thy name's thyself. Oh carry on thy
glorious work which thy own mighty arm hath begun and cut it short in
righteousness for thine Elect's sake, that it may be finished by thee, to thine own
ON HOLY OBEDIENCE...
"Give over thine own willing, give over thine own running, give over thine own
desiring to know or be anything, and sink down to the seed which God sews in
thy heart and let that he in thee, and grow in thee, and breathe in thee, and act in
thee, and thou shalt find by sweet experience that the Lord knows that and
loves and owns that, and will lead it to the inheritance of life, which is his
ON THE QUAKER MEETING...
"And this is the manner of their worship. They are to wait upon the Lord, to
meet in the silence of flesh, and to watch for the stirrings of his life, and the
breaking forth of his power amongst them. And in the breakings forth of that
power they may pray, speak, exhort, rebuke, sin, or mourn, and so on,
according as the spirit teaches, requires, and gives utterance. But if the spirit do
not require to speak, and give to utter, then everyone is to sit still in his place (in
his heavenly place I mean) feeling his own measure, feeding there-upon,
receiving there from (Into his spirit) what the Lord giveth. Now in this is
edifying, pure edifying, precious edifying; his soul who thus waits is hereby
particularly edified by the spirit of the Lord at every meeting. And then also
there is the life of the whole felt in every vessel that is turned to its measure;
insomuch as the warmth of life in each vessel doth not only warm the particular,
but they are like an heap of fresh and living coals, warming one another,
insomuch as a great strength, freshness, and vigor of life flows into all. And if
any be burthened, tempted, buffeted by Satan, bowed down, overborne,
languishing, afflicted, distressed, and so on, the estate of such is felt in spirit, and
secret cries, or open (as the Lord pleaseth), ascend up to the Lord for them,
and they many times find ease and relief, in a few words spoken, or without
words, if it be the season of their help and relief with the Lord."
"...we wait on the Lord, either to feel him in words, or in silence of spirit without
words, as he pleaseth."
ON HIS TESTAMENT OF FAITH…
"But some may desire to know what I have at last met with. I answer, I have
met with the seed. Understand that word and thou wilt be satisfied. I have met
with my God; I have met with my Savior; and he hath not been present with me
without his salvation; but I have felt the healings drop upon my soul from under
his wings. I have met with the true knowledge, the knowledge of life, the living
knowledge, the knowledge which is life; and this hath had the true virtue in it,
which my soul hath rejoiced in, In the presence of the Lord. I have met with the
seed's Father, and in the seed I have felt him my Father. There I have read his
nature, his love, his compassions, his tenderness, which have melted, overcome,
and changed my heart before him. I have met with the seed's faith, which hath
done and doth that which the faith of man can never do. I have met with the true
birth, with the birth which is heir of the kingdom, and inherits the kingdom. I
have met with the true spirit of prayer and supplication, wherein the Lord is
prevailed with, and which draws from him whatever the condition needs; the
soul always looking up to him in the will, and in the time and way which is
acceptable to him."
"(Belief in the light) brings peace, joy, and glory. . . . And this is the true peace,
and certain peace. . . . Here is joy, unspeakable joy, joy which the world cannot
see or touch, nor the powers of darkness come near to interrupt ... and this Joy
is full of glory, which glory increaseth daily more and more, by the daily sight
and feeling of the living virtue and power in Christ the light.
Isaac married Mary Proude, daughter of Sir John Proude and Anne Fagge, about 1654 in London, England. (Mary Proude was born about 1631 in Gladstone County, England.)