“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another…” Colossians 3:16
An example from the pen of Isaac Pennington
14th, 12th Month, 1678
To S. W.
Dear S. W.
I have ever had a love to you, and have many times been filled with earnest desires for you, that you may know the Lord in his own pure teachings, and travel into and dwell in the fullness of the kingdom of his dear Son.
In order to arrive here you must wait to know God and Christ in the mystery of their Spirit, life, and power, and here you will find the secrets of the mystery of darkness searched and purged out, and the mystery of godliness opened and established in your heart in its place. You must know Christ formed inwardly, the soul formed, yes, and created inwardly anew in him. You must know a real transplanting into his death, and a real feeling of his springing and rising life in all of its sweetness, safety, and virtue. So you must be only what you are made and preserved to be in the light, grace, life, virtue, and power of the Lord Jesus Christ, and must feel him remove anything that is unrighteous, and clothe you with his pure life, Spirit, and righteousness.
Oh this is indeed the pure, precious, living knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, which all outward knowledge must lead to, and where it is comprehended and finds its end [culmination]. This is the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord, which Paul was so ravished with, and for which he counted all things but dross and dung.
Now, that you may obtain this, mind the inward appearance, the root, the fountain, the rock within, the living stone within. Mind its openings, its springings, its administering life to you, and take heed of running into the outwardness of openings concerning heavenly things, but keep in the inwardness of life within! This is the everlasting habitation of the birth which is begotten and brought forth, bred up and kept alive by the presence, power, and operation of the living Spirit alone. The Lord Jesus is that Spirit, as really as he was once Man, even the holy, heavenly, immaculate, spotless Lamb of God. And in this state, life reigns in the heart, and the horn of the Holy One is exalted, the head of the serpent crushed, yes, Satan is trodden underfoot by the God of peace. For the Lord desires that his children dwell in the sweetness and fullness of the gospel, in the peace, life, righteousness, and joy of his blessed Spirit and power.
Oh, who would not desire after and wait for and walk with the Lord towards the obtaining and possessing of these things? All the promises in Christ are yes and amen.
- Inward victory is promised;
- the inward presence of God is promised;
- God’s dwelling and walking in the soul is promised;
- Christ supping with the soul, and the soul with him, is promised;
- putting the law in the heart, and the writing of it there, and putting the pure, living fear into the heart, and the holy, powerful Spirit which can cause it to walk in God’s ways, and to keep his righteous judgments and do them—all of this is promised.
Yes, the Lord is able to do this work in the heart, for what cannot the Spirit of judgment and burning consume and burn up within? Indeed, all these things are promised. He can cause the soul to rejoice in the Lord, and work righteousness, and to remember the Lord in his ways, as some were taught and enabled to do in former times (Isa. 64:5). Yes, he can bring into the way of holiness, the King of glory’s highway, into which no unclean thing can enter. And truly, they that are kept undefiled in the way taste of the sweetness, blessedness, purity, and holy pleasure.
Certainly, if that is indeed put off wherein the enemy’s power lies, and that indeed is put on wherein the strength of the Lord Jesus is revealed, and if the soul is really in the possession of, and abides in this state—how can it not be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might? How will it not witness the good pleasure of the Lord fulfilling his good work, and the work of faith going on with power, daily, more and more? A little measure of this kept to, removes the mountains inwardly, and gives strength over the enemy.
O my friend, there is an ingrafting into Christ, a being formed and newly created in Christ, a living and abiding in him, and a growing and bringing forth fruit through him into perfection. Oh, may you experience all these things! And that you may do so, wait to know life, the springings of life, the separations of life (inwardly) from all the evil which hangs about it, and would be springing up and mixing with it, under an appearance of good. I desire that that life may come to live fully in you, and nothing else. So sink very low, and become very little, and know little. Yes, know no power to believe, act, or suffer anything for God, except as it is given to you by the springing grace, virtue, and life of the Lord Jesus. For grace is a spiritual, inward thing; it is a holy seed, sown by God, springing up in the heart. People have a notion of grace, but know not the thing. Do not concern yourself with the notion, but feel the thing, and know your heart more and more plowed up by the Lord, that his seed’s grace may grow up in you more and more, and you may daily feel your heart as a garden enclosed, watered, dressed, and delighted in by him.
This is a salutation of love from your friend in the truth which lives and changes not,
“Isaac Penington (1616-1679) was the son of a prominent English politician, and the father-in-law of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania. Though born into a family of wealth and reputation, Penington’s heart was set upon things above from his earliest days. Even as a child, he recognized that the religion of his day stood in the will and understanding of man, in outward practices, duties, and scriptural truths that were professed but not truly possessed. Isaac Penington longed for more. Motivated by an insatiable hunger for truth, he sought the Lord with all his heart and discovered a Christianity that stood in, and flowed out from, the light and life of Jesus Christ reigning in the inner man.”
Mystery of godliness 1 Tim. 3:16
Clothed with Christ Rom. 13:14
Self righteousness as rubbish Phil. 3:8
Christ in you Col. 1:27
Satan crushed Rom. 16:20
Christ Jesus is yes and amen 2 Cor. 1:20
Dining with Christ Rev. 3:20
God’s law written in the heart Jer. 31:33
Spirit of burning Isaiah 4:4
Put off, put on Eph 4:22,24
Be strong in the Lord Eph.6:10
Work of faith with power 2 Thess. 1:11
God’s Word as seed 1 Peter 1:23; 1 John 3:9