Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
So that the true church government being in the Spirit, and over the conscience as in the sight of God, the great care must be to keep it within its bounds, that nothing else govern but the Spirit, and that the government be extended only unto that which is to be governed.
First, Care must be had that nothing govern in the church of Christ, but the spirit of Christ: that nothing else teach; nothing else exhort; nothing else admonish and reprove ; nothing else cut off and cast out. Every minister in the church is to watch over his own spirit, that it intrude not into the work of God, that it take not upon it to be the teacher, the exhorter, the reprover, &c. And every member is to wait in the measure of the Spirit which he hath received, to feel the goings-forth of the Spirit in him who teacheth and governeth ; and so to subject not to man, but to the Lord ; to receive from the Lord, to obey the Lord. Not to know any minister according to the flesh ; but to receive and submit to what comes from the Spirit, in the Spirit. Not to know Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, but the Spirit ministering in them. Paul may err, Apollos may err, Peter may err (and did err, when he compelled the Gentiles to live as the Jews, Gal. ii. 14. for which Paul withstood him to the face. ver. 11.), and Barnabas also did err. ver. 13. But the Spirit cannot err; and he that keeps to the measure of the Spirit in himself, cannot let in any of their errors, if they should err, but is preserved. For the least measure of the Spirit is true, and gives true judgment; but he that receiveth ever so great a measure of the Spirit, yet if he keep not low therein, but lifteth up himself because thereof above his brethren, may easily err himself, and draw aside others into his error.
Secondly, Care must be had that the conscience be kept tender, that nothing be received, but according to the light in the conscience. The conscience is the seat of faith; and if it be not kept close to the light which God lighteth there, faith is soon made shipwreck of. Christianity is begun in the Spirit, which keepeth out the fleshly part, with all its fleshly wisdom and reasonings about spiritual things; and the beginning is in the anointing, so must the progress be. As the Spirit begins in the conscience, by convincing that, by persuading that, by setting up his light there, and leading the soul by that light; so that light must still be eyed, and according to its growth and manifestation in the conscience, so must the soul stand still, or go on.
Isaac Penington "The Works" Vol. 1 page 459
"The conscience is the seat of faith" and "the Spirit begins in the conscience" are phrases speaking to very core and essence of christened human being. When reading first Quakers and their regular and frequent use of the "conscience," a deeper insight into their meaning is gained by keeping in mind the etymology of conscience. During the 17th century, when the first Quakers were writing, conscience had a more nuanced meaning than the moral component of today. It also carried the sense of consciousness or conscious or self- conscious ( see https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ME36XOI32OZZQLqyG_mJqPKPO4xN2ns...).
So when Penington writes "the conscience is the seat of faith" a more nuanced sense of the meaning behind his use of the term is conscious and conscience is the seat of faith or the Spirit begins in the conscious and conscience. That is why I often use a phrase like "a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by the unmediated Presence." It is a way of honoring the nuance in the the first Quakers use of conscience.
When Penington writes "the Spirit begins in the conscience" he is saying the activity or work of the spirit is in consciousness and conscience. The inward working of the Spirit is in influencing or illuminating the conscious and conscience directly. This witness to the Spirit governing and anchoring conscience and conscious is the essence of first Quaker experience and the experience of those who share the same experience today.
What does this witness of the Spirit working in and governing the conscious and conscience mean? In essence, this experience is a different way of being conscious and a re-direction of how the conscience is informed. In this different conscious and conscience, the Spirit itself begins to anchor conscious in itself rather than in the normal way of consciousness which is anchored in outward forms like sense perceptions, thoughts, emotions, will, secular or religious ideology, religious theology, scripture, secular and religious institutions, secular or religious tradition, etc. The conscious anchored in these outward forms cannot sustain without them. This is easily illustrated by imagining being without sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing, thoughts from the brain, emotions from the heart, desires and will. When the physical body which supports these expires consciousness know longer sustains. A conscious anchored in the body or bodily nature dims with the expired body. The fear of death is the fear of loss of consciousness. Also, the informing the conscience directly is a redirection away from a conscience largely informed by outward forms. It is morality oriented from a different direction inwardly in the Spirit itself rather than mediated through the outward shadows or similitudes of the Spirit. The Spirit itself mediates.
Another way of sensing a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed the Presence itself is to ask who or what is seeing those hands typing on the computer; who on what looking at that body? Really ask yourself, who looking at your body? If you wait long enough in this question, you will begin to sense a Presence that is always there. A Presence that never leaves even when you no longer sense it because conscious and conscience are gathered up again into outward forms ... conscious is caught up the bodily nature. That is, there is work to do, babies to feed, errands to run. Imagine though, doing all those daily activities and staying gathered in that Presence.
Turning to that inward Presence begins in the conscious and conscience. Each of us has a measure the Spirit. We need only wait in that inwardly experienced measure we have and we will experience an increase so that our conscious will become more and more illuminated by inward Spirit and our conscience will become more and more informed by the Spirit directly than through outward secular and religious forms or through ouwardly expired or expressed thoughts and practices of other people. In the christening of the Spirit you will know and experience a different consciousness and a different conscience anchored in a informed by the immediancy the Spirit itself ... you will know and experience a conscious and conscience that will live and sustain even upon the expiration of the body ... you will know and experience eternal life ... you will be born again into a different conscious and conscience ... you will be saved. That is the promise of the new covenant.