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    Waiting in Silence

    Wisdom from an Early Quaker

    By Isaac Penington

    December 19, 2021

    This article was originally published on July 7, 2017.

    After the mind is in some measure turned to the Lord – his quickenings felt, his seed beginning to arise and spring up in the heart – then the flesh is to be silent before him, and the soul to wait upon him (and for his further appearings) in that measure of life which is already revealed.

    Now, this is a great thing: to know flesh silenced, to feel the reasoning thoughts and discourses of the fleshly mind stilled, and the wisdom, light, and guidance of God’s spirit waited for. For we are to come into the poverty of self, into the abasedness, into the nothingness, into the silence of our spirit before the Lord; into the putting off of all our knowledge, wisdom, understanding, abilities, all that we are, have done, or can do, out of this measure of life, into which we are to travel, that we may be clothed and filled with the nature, Spirit, and power of the Lord.


    Photograph by Vitaly Otinov

    God is to be worshipped in spirit, in his own power and life, and this is at his own disposal. His church is a gathering in the Spirit. If any speak there, they must speak as the oracle of God, as the vessel out of which God speaks; as the trumpet out of which he gives the sound. Therefore there is to be a waiting in silence till the Spirit of the Lord move to speak, and also give words to speak. For we are not to speak our own words, or in our own wisdom or time; but the Spirit’s words, in the Spirit’s wisdom and time, which is when he moves and gives to speak. 

    Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart how and what things God reveals to his children by his Spirit, when they wait upon him in his pure fear, and worship and converse with him in spirit; for then the fountain of the great deep is unsealed, and the everlasting springs surely give up the pure and living water.

    Source: “A brief account concerning silent meetings; the nature, use, intent, and benefit of them,” published 1680 (text lightly modernized).

    Contributed By IsaacPenington Isaac Penington

    Isaac Penington (1616–1679), the oldest son of a Lord Mayor of London, became a leader in the Quaker movement founded by his younger contemporary George Fox; shunned by family and friends for his convictions, he was imprisoned six times.

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