Thou that wouldst enjoy thy beloved, and feel the rest of his gospel, and walk in that path which leads thereto, wait to learn of the Spirit.
Know what it is that is to walk in the path of life, and indeed is alone capable of walking therein. It is that which groans, and which mourns; that which is begotten of God in thee. The path of life is for the seed of life. The true knowledge of the way, with the walking in the way, is reserved for God’s child, for God’s traveller. Therefore keep in the regeneration, keep in the birth; be no more than God made thee. Give over thine own willing; give over thine own running; give over thine own desiring to know, or to be any thing, and sink down to the seed which God sows in the heart; and let that grow in thee, and be 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 portion. And as thou takest up the cross to thyself, and sufferest that to overspread and become a yoke over thee, thou shalt become renewed, and enjoy life, and everlasting inheritance in that.
Watch against the selfish wisdom, in every step of thy growth, and in every spiritual motion, that *that* come not between thee and thy life; that that deceive thee not with a likeness, a shadow, making it appear more pleasing to the eye than the substance. Every step of thy way it will be laying baits for thee; and it is easy for deceit to enter thee at any time, and for that wisdom to get up in thee under an appearance of spiritual wisdom, unless the Lord tenderly and powerfully preserve thee: and if it prevail, it will lead thee from the path of true wisdom; it will cozen thee with a false faith, instead of the true faith; with false praying instead of the breathings of the true child; with diligence and zeal in thy false way, instead of the true zeal and diligence; yea, it will hurry thee on in the path of error, shutting that eye in thee, which should see, and hardening thy heart against thy bosom friend.
Let nothing judge in thee, concerning thine own heart, or concerning others, or concerning any way or truth of God, but only the begotten of God in the heart. Let the light in which thou art begotten to God, and which shines upon his begotten, be the only judge in thee, and then thou canst not err in judgment. Be not hasty, be not forward in judgment; keep back to the life, still waiting for the appearance and openings of the life. A few steps, fetched in the life and power of God, are much safer and sweeter than a hasty progress in the hasty, forward spirit.
— Isaac Penington, 1661
This is an extract from an essay entitled Some Directions to the Panting Soul —this link takes you to the full essay at Quaker Heritage Press. The passage can also be found in Isaac Pennington’s The Light Within and Selected Writings, published by The Tract Association of Friends and in The Inward Journey of Isaac Penington, Pendle Hill Pamphlet #29, 1945.