To Friends in Amersham
Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another; but praying for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand, if there has been any slip or fall; and waiting until the Lord gives sense and repentance, if sense and repentance in any be wanting. Oh! wait to feel this spirit, and to be guided to walk in this spirit, that ye may enjoy the Lord in sweetness, and walk sweetly, meekly, tenderly, peaceably, and lovingly one with another. And then, ye will be a praise to the Lord; and any thing that is, or hath been, or may be, amiss, ye will come over in the true dominion, even in the Lamb`s dominion; and that which contrary shall be trampled upon, as life rises and rules in you. So watch your hearts and ways; and watch one over another, in that which is gentle and tender, and knows it can neither preserve itself, nor help another out of the snare; but the Lord must be waited upon, to do this in and for us all. So mind truth, the service, enjoyment, and possession of it in your hearts; and so to walk, as ye shall bring no disgrace upon it, but may be a good saviour in the places where ye live, the meek, innocent, tender, righteous life reigning in you, governing over you, and shining through you, in the eyes of all with whom ye converse.
Aylesbury, 4th of Third Month, 1667.
My Quaker faith is a warm spiritual constant in my life. I try every day to live the Testimonies that are central to a Quaker: Truth, Simplicity, Justice, Compassion, Peace and Equality. This doesn`t mean I am any better or more worthy that anyone else – far from it, but I just try to be what I think I should be, and not what society thinks I should be. The fact that I may look, or behave “different” to others is of no consequence to me; I am a Quaker, and I live my life with that knowledge, and it gives me strength that I may see the world around me differently to others. Isaac Pennington experienced the mystery of God and became a convinced Quaker, which led him to “Swim in the Life of Spirit.” It`s not just the early Quakers who were seen as “peculiar people” at a time when religious tolerance was unheard of. Isaac wasn`t a practical man, but one who set himself high spiritual, moral and ethical standards. Like so many early Quakers, he spent long periods in prison in the foulest conditions imaginable, and like George Fox, also suffered from depression. “The dark night of the soul” as he put it, would be a constant, and agonizing presence throughout his life, which made him feel during a visitation of the Black Dog, that God had deserted him. Like all early Quakers, he was a wise, spiritual, inspirational mystic, more interested in the soul than in mammon. My understanding is, that these early Quakers lived lives that are right to aspire to in an age of callous self interest and greed. God Bless Isaac Pennington, and all who walk in his shoes.
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 sows in thy heart, and let that be in thee, and grow in thee, and breathe in thee, and act in thee, and thou shalt know by sweet experience, that the Lord knows and loves and owns that, and will lead it to the inheritance of life, which is his portion – Isaac Pennington.