Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > An Answer to The Quakers' Catechism
To thee Richard Baxter,
Who hast bent thy tongue against the innocent, casting out thy envious slanders against the Lamb, who is appeared against the oppression and deceit of all sorts of people who have professed his pure name in words but have not joined to his life and Spirit, but are joined to the worldly lovers and stand in your own will; and the poor is oppressed by him that is too strong for him; and with that proud spirit art thou joined, pleading its cause against the Lamb, who cannot bow to any unrighteousness; and against him art thou fighting with the same weapons that ever thy generation used. Canst thou behold and not blush at the lies thou hast mustered up in this book against the truth? Is this the end of all thy profession, that thou art become a bloody persecutor? Is there no difference with thee now between suffering for conscience sake and burning a thief in the hand? Thou art he that ever numbered the Lamb <146> amongst transgressors; and what are we, that thou art set against: a poor despised people, trodden upon everywhere at your wills and pleasures? Will this be for your honor, to combine together against a people which by thy own words are so contemptible? Is all your proud, high-flown spirits joined against so low a people that anyone can trample under foot? It's easily seen, there is something in the bottom of greater price than all that's visible—else why should you gather thus from all quarters? Truly this will not be for your peace. He against whom you are risen will break you to pieces, whatever become of our persons. And thou wilt see the day, Rich. Baxter, when thy deeds will come to remembrance, and thy slanders set in order, and thou shalt see to whom thou art an enemy, though now thou be willfully ignorant of him. Were there any jot of his fear left in thee, might thou not once look back and see thy ways to be such as none of Christ's ministers were ever found in? Dost thou believe that ever thy works must be proved or that thy kingdom of sin must come to an end? Must not thy covenant of sin be broken? though thou intend it for term of life, yet remember thy latter end; was not ever the old persecutors as blind as thou art, till wrath was upon them from heaven? Must they account for it that do not visit him in prison, and shall such escape as cast in prison? Will it avail thee to say thou knew not that it was he? Is not this sufficient ground for thee to suspect thy way, seeing none of Christ's was ever in it before? But remember now thou art warned while thou hast time.
Though striving for masterhood and vain jangling I abhor, yet for the truth's sake, and the seed that is scattered, I cannot be silent but must reprove that lying spirit that's gone out into the world and hath got entrance, and hath hardened many who sometimes were somewhat tender: but now hath he brought them forth against the Lamb to battle, and he hath none like these for his design, being finely covered with words; but their works find them out. Blessed be God forever.
In what thou writes to the reader in thy book, thou says thou supposes he will marvel thou troubles thyself with so wild a generation as the people called Quakers are, or that thou writes these few hasty lines on such an occasion: but thou sayest thou wilt tell the cause, which is, that they have sent to thee five several papers, one of them with these queries which thou answers, and <147> others of them almost nothing but a bundle of filthy railing words, as serpent, liar, deceiver, child of the devil, cursed hypocrite, dumb dog.
I say every rational man may well marvel that these words should be so hastily by thee called filthy railing words, who professes thyself a minister of Jesus Christ, and the Scripture thy rule—seeing there is not one of these words but by the Spirit of Jesus Christ they have been used, to such who are in that nature to whom they belong; and the same Spirit can do no other but use the same words, without respect of persons, wherever any is found in that practice. Hadst thou said we had been railers, the sin had not been so great, but to say those words given forth by the Holy Ghost, as is plain in Scripture, are filthy railing words—here thou calls the Spirit filthy and unclean: but if thou read Mark 3:29-30, there thou mayest read thy blasphemy and what generation thou art of, and what shall befall thee. Dost thou profess thyself a minister of Christ, and says the Scriptures are the word, and calls the language of them filthy railing words? That these words belong to thee, and that thou art in the same generation against whom they were spoken, I shall manifest it from thine own mouth, and bring thine own book to witness against thee, and leave them to any honest heart who shall read them both to judge if thou be not found in the same practice and so guilty of the same reproof. I tell thee, the scribes and Pharisees and false prophets might have had more show to have spoken thus of these words than thou hast; for they had no Scriptures that had them in; but thou professes that Scripture, which declares of the words from whom they were spoken, and to what sort of people, and art found in their works; and of such Christ himself was judged to be beside himself. And we are called a wild generation. So the servant is no better than his Lord, and the Scripture is fulfilled.
Thou sayest further, they chose a day to come into your assembly and fell a-questioning the preacher thine assistant, and because he avoided disputing with them and fled, therefore they called him the hireling that fleeth and so confessed themselves to be wolves. I say, that you are hirelings is plain by your practice; and thou confesses he avoided to dispute with them, and fled; and was not this true? But though the hireling did flee, doth this prove them wolves? or did they then confess themselves to be wolves? If <148> they did not, then he that saith they did is a liar. But sayest thou, it seems they referred it to John 10:12. I say that place, though it declare you to be hirelings, yet doth it not declare all to be wolves that come to dispute with you, unless they be found guilty of devouring the people, as you are found guilty, in preaching for hire. But that they chose out a day when thou should be absent, is false: for the Spirit of the Lord, by which we are guided, regards neither person nor places; but though they missed thee then, did not they meet with thee at Worcester, even in the high place where thou wast preaching, and there demanded of thee, How the ministers of Christ and the ministers of antichrist might be known? but could get nothing from thee, more than from thine assistant, unless such words as these: "people, regard him not"; and words stirring up the people to hale them out—which being readily executed by thy hearers prevented the hirelings fleeing. But Tho. Goodaire staying till thou had done, and then speaking to thee and the people, all the satisfaction he got was that he was haled to prison: yea twice hath he been imprisoned by thy ministry. Oh shame with thy epistle and thy book, may not the reader read thee a dissembler, who says they chose a time when thou was confined to thy chamber? Thou mayst well call these hasty lines, for hadst thou taken counsel at wisdom thou hadst not thus manifested thy folly.
Thou sayest they would not suffer thee to answer them peaceably in their assembly without disturbance; I say, had not this been a seasonable time for thee to have proved thy ministry and to have reproved gainsayers? And had not thy hearers been as able to have kept thee from the disturbance of one man as to have haled him out of doors? Is not he blind who sees not thee through this cover? Are not thou ashamed to say that we are the children of darkness, and will not bring our deeds to the light in this particular, as thou dost in thy third page? Couldst thou have had a better opportunity than before so many people, and thou in thy high place where none could disturb thee? But in these excuses thou layest but open thy own shame, as in the rest of thy book. To send a man to prison for speaking to thee before thy congregation and then accuse them that they will not come to the light.
But sayest thou, "I would have answered them in their assembly"; but why not in thine own? If the things had been profitable, <149> might they not have been serviceable to them as well as to the other? But above all things, you cannot endure to be laid open before your hearers. You have led so many blind, and there have kept them, that if ever they come to see your deeds laid open you know you will lose them, so that your best defense is to keep truth and light out of doors with clubs and halberds, and so to preserve your deeds of darkness undiscovered. And if any of your hearers begin to look towards the day, or light of Christ, and find something in their conscience bearing witness against their sin and wickedness, of all other things you are most afraid, lest by that they should be guided, showing yourselves to be those builders who most refuse the cornerstone, the light of the world; and of all things that ever were preached you bid stand afar off from this, as the greatest error. And whereas thou would make people believe that we would not suffer you to come to our meeting, did not Richard Farnworth in one letter charge thee and Priest Osland to come to a meeting which was appointed at Chadwitch, in answer to your own letters? Which meeting was appointed and kept, and many people of several judgments came into the meeting with expectations, but neither thou nor Priest Osland appeared, though you had sent your boasting letters for a challenge about the same; such as thou, no wonder, though thou preach down the light and plead a continuance in sin whilst thou lives, who makes no more use of the light in thy conscience, in thy writings and actions.
Thou sayest, they charged thee in the name of the most high God to answer their questions in writing, that they might print them with their reply.
And sayest thou, "if I write to them they will print it," therefore thou chosedst rather to print thine own papers, how mean soever, than let them do it.
I say, how doth thy speech bewray thee, who whilst thou art accusing us for not bringing our deeds to the light, thou confesses our publishing things hath put thee upon printing: and are they to be blamed for charging thee to answer their questions in writing, who would neither come to their meeting nor suffer them to speak at thine, but sent them to prison, and calls it no more persecution than to burn a thief in the hand? But though they charged thee to answer either in writing or printing, yet another principle guides <150> thee in uttering these falsehoods, that they charged thee not.
Two objections thou sayest that thou sees will be raised against thee: one is that the persons are so contemptible, and the errors so gross, that it is a needless work to strive against them—to which thou answers that our multiplying where we come, and the salvation of poor Christians makes the necessity.
To which I say, What generation thou art of, who holds the persons of any contemptible, is easily judged by any who have that Spirit which respects no man's person; but from that Spirit you are grossly erred. And for our multiplying, that must increase to thy torment, and all Babylon's merchants, for God is multiplying his seed as the stars of heaven, though Gog and Magog be gathered against it, yet to the brightness of his rising shall the nations come, and the desire is kindling now after the shaking (Isa. 6:3; Hag. 2:7), and the Lamb hath set up his standard whereat all the beasts of the field rage; yet he will take the victory. And for thy salvation thou tells on, what dost thou intend to save them from, who art preaching up sin as long as they live?
And again thou sayest, it's but the churches of the Separatists and Anabaptists that are emptied by these seducers, and it's best to let them alone to keep their own flocks.
I say, some of your churches are so emptied that you have few left to hear you but profane persons, swearers, oppressors, drunkards and fighters, such as beat in your synagogue; and these are become your prime hearers. But canst thou not see thy confusion, who in thy last was saying we multiply where we come, and now it's but the churches of the Separatists and Anabaptists: then why cries thou out of so much danger? Doth not thy speech bewray thee? But sayest thou, here and there one of the unsettled sort, for that had no religion, inclines to them.
I say therefore, one day shall those whom you have most settled in your deceit have most cause to curse you, when they shall see them come from far and sit down in the kingdom, and themselves cast out.
Sayest thou, "I had far rather they had continued Separatists and Anabaptists than turn Quakers"; therefore wouldst do all thou canst to hinder.
I say, thy generation of priests was ever haters of the greatest appearance of truth, and that we can witness. When we were of <151> those churches, we were hated by you when we walked as near as we could to the letter, though the life we knew not; but now you have ceased your envy against all them, and against the life and light of Christ in us is your greatest envy.
And sayest thou, it's better to stop them where there's some hope of salvation than let them run to perdition.
I say, thou hast undertaken two ways to stop us: one is with lies and slanders, which thy book is full of; and another way taken with thee and thy generation, is to get us stopped into dungeons and prisons, and strait watch set, that none come to us, nor that we may have liberty to write nor speak to any: but the latter of these is holden by you for the better weapon. Yet both to no purpose, further than to prove our patience and obedience in Jesus, and yourselves of your father and in his works acting, that by them ye may be known, and we also.
But says thou, "I chose rather to tell the world of these passages between us than leave them to their reports, especially hearing how they increase in London and other parts," and that the ignorant have need of some plain information to prevent their apostasy and perdition in this temptation.
I say, they are ignorant indeed that needs thy information; and what thou tellest is most suitable to the world to be believed; for all who owns that light that leads out of the world, or where that eye is open that leads out of the world, thy false information is judged and prevented, thy perdition and thy temptation. And with that light that sees thee and thy deceit shall we grow both in London and other parts, and thy refuge of lies be swept away.
As to thy paper to the Separatists and Anabaptists, as thou calls them, I desire not to be busy in other men's matters; only this: whereas thou casts it on the separated people to be nurseries of impiety and infidels, I say, thou dost but here manifest thy shameless spirit, who matters not what thou sayest of others, so thou may but seek thy own praise. For all that know anything of the fear of God knows that most of those people have separated from you parish teachers upon this very account, to wit, your infidelity and impiety. And if any amongst them turn so grossly filthy that they cannot keep them amongst them, lest it should shame their religion; yet these return to you, who forthwith receive them and boast of them <152> as rare converts; nay, none so bad in their conversation but if they have but either pig or goose, or aught to be got towards hire, they are yours, and you are their masters; such as no one sort of people in the nation will join with, but only you, parish teachers.
But it seems thou hast lost some of thine also, as well as the Anabaptists; and thou prints a letter thou sayest thou sent to one of them to reclaim him, under pretense that he desired thy thoughts of us, and thy evil thoughts thou returns him in this letter.
And thou says, he was a young and unsettled one; yet tells how much pains he had taken in duty, how much zeal he had professed for God, and that he by so great a work of grace was converted from profaneness, &c., and thus with thine own shame thou goes about to cover thee, having boasted afore as though none followed us but separated people, or such as had no religion, or ever was accounted so to be. And thou goes on to show him that he must needs be fallen from grace, because he is fallen from your ministry, and thy arguments are such as these: are not we those ministers and in those ordinances you despised before conversion?
I say, the greatest papist in the world, having begot a proselyte, if he turn away from him, may as well use that argument as thou, if falling from any such form or person be the error; but thou should have first proved thyself a minister of Christ in thy life & thy worship as he appointed it, and not changed in matter or manner, then hadst thou said somewhat to the purpose; else, it's no error to deny the hireling and his false worship, and turn to the light of Christ, by it to be guided out of your deceits. And says thou, Alas! that ever a man in his wits should no better know the work of Christ from Satan's, nor know that it is the dragon whose warfare these men do manage. I say, thou shameless one, dost thou cause the servants of the living God to be haled to prison, and suffer them almost to be murdered before thy face, not at all resisting, but the people by thee stirred up to the thing, and for no other thing but coming to declare to thy face against thy false worship, which God ever sent his servants to do? And sayest thou, we manage the war of the dragon, and do the work of Satan: is not the war of the dragon to devour the Lamb where he is manifest? Which ever was the work the hirelings was found in; and is it not the devil that casts into prison the innocent? (Rev. 2:9-10), and was ever any under the gospel found in that work <153> but such who was of the synagogue of Satan, though they called themselves Jews, as you call yourselves Christians, but in the same nature and deeds? And do we manage the dragon's war, who suffer all this at your hands and much more? Prove that in Scriptures or be ashamed of thy false accusation, and take it to thyself, till thy rage cease, and thou give over devouring the lambs. Such never take pains with men's souls, who takes care and lays snares to destroy their bodies. Christ's sheep was never such wolves; by their fruits we know them; they who believe these to be Christ's ministers may soon believe the devil is God (as thou sayest) who would be worshipped and obeyed in you.
Thou further goes on and tells him whence this error comes, even from hellish pride; and to prove this thou tells him, where we have spent one hour, thou hast spent an hundred in study and meditation, and prays to God for his Spirit of truth and grace, and that thy prayers is as earnest as ours, and thy life is much more holy and heavenly than ours, and therefore God is as it were more engaged to thee, to make known his truth to thee, than to us. And is not this apparent pride for us to be so confident that we are wise and beloved in the eyes of God, and that we run about with the shells on our head, &c., in comparison of thee.
I say, the hellish pride thou hast plainly discovered, where it is. But whose righteousness is all this by which thou hast thus engaged God to thee, who art but yet praying for the Spirit of truth and grace; will God be engaged with thy graceless lying spirit, which thou uses in this thy book, wherein thou utters so many graceless untruths to engage the world to thee? Thou art mistaken, God will not be so engaged, nor with that spirit; he will be served with his own. Thy earnest prayers and righteousness, before the Spirit of truth and grace, and without it—how they engage God thou mayest read in 1 Kings 18, from the 16th to the 30th, and Luke 18:11-12; and there thou mayest read thy boasting lines, and their acceptance, and thy engagement, and thy name. We know God freely gives a measure of his Spirit to every one of us, freely to profit withal; and improving that to his praise we receive more freely, and we are so far from engagement of God by all we dothat we find ourselves unprofitable servants; but this thou knowest not with thy vain light words, who tells of our running away with the shell on our head. Our head thou knows not, who <154> must break thee to pieces with all thy light boasting vain words. Thou tells of Paul forewarning Timothy to ordain none who was a novice, lest he should be lifted up with pride and so fall into the condemnationof the devil; then thou mayest take this back again and apply it, and therein read thyself and thy end in whom the pride is found andnot in the Quakers; and they are blind who cannot see it in this thy boasting. And thou sayest, pride is the master sin of the Quakers, and thou proves it because that we go in a poor garb and cry out against pride, as if we were sent from heaven to persuade men to wear no lace, cuffs or points, and to damn so many ministers for being called Master. But, sayest thou, spiritual pride is the most killing, and so goes on railing against us for these things, calling that Spirit in scorn, an excellent spirit, that can trample on all worldly glory. I say, blasphemer, thou shalt know when thou hast finished thy rage that thou hast spoken against the holy Spirit of God, sent from heaven, which both in Christ and his apostles did persuade against and condemn such things which thou by the spirit of the devil would uphold and dost plead for. And thou sets down four particulars, wherein thou wilt prove our language of hell, and the devil speaking by our mouths, and the first is: They affirm themselves perfect without sin. And this thou sayest is unpossible, and they are mad that believe it. I say, that we affirm self-perfection is but thy lying slander, or that we say we are Christ or God, as thou sayest we do; but that we witness perfection from sin sofar as we have received Christ, we own it as God's commands and gift, the end of Christ's coming, and of giving forth his ministry, as these scriptures may witness: Matt 5:48; Jas. 1:17; 1 John 3:8; Eph. 4:11-13. And that it was the work of the ministry whereunto they labored, read Col. 1:28-29; and thou that ministers against this, and calls it the language of hell and the devil's mouth, which the Scriptures witness, art a blasphemer and a minister of antichrist; and it's no railing to judge the tree by its fruit. And when thou hast done thou sayest, the devil himself hath less pride than to think himself perfect without sin; and if we have no sin, what need we pray? or what need have we of the blood of Christ? I say, thy confusion is manifest, who before accused that the devil spake this in our mouths, and now thou art clearing him of it; but what hast thou to do, or he either, with perfection, who art out of Christ and <155> in your own wills, worldly-pleasing and envious, murderers, in rage and slanders; what perfection is there, unless perfect wickedness? Neither doth perfection exclude praying and the blood of Christ, for in his blood and prayer it is wrought, and we kept.
Thy second thing is, that we set up ourselves above all the people of God on earth, that we vilify the most holy and eminent servants of God, and condemn all the churches of the world. To which I shall say no more but this: that these are three of thy lies ranked up together, lest thou should fail.
Thy third thing is, that we damn all the people of God for 1600 years at least. I say, this may well be matter of offense to thee, to deny all thy generation since the pope to this day; therefore thou call'st it unmatchable pride; but for those whom you have tortured, martyred and burned, whipped and imprisoned, to this day, who suffered for conscience sake, following the Lamb; in their measure them we own, and with them we suffer. Though thou say, God had never such a people on earth of these men's ways, yet was this the church of Christ, whereof he was the head, and is the head, and there it was visible, and there it is to all who are not blind; but none of these pleaded for honorable titles, as thou dost, nor none ever did that believed; such was ever out of the faith. Read James 2:1-10, John 5:41 and 44, and if these be the few heretics thou tells on that thou says were our predecessors of old, I say, we cannot but own these in their measure, though we go under the name of heretics with them, by the same generation.
Thy fourth thing is, that which thou callest our proud, scornful, railing language, which thou sayest should put it out of doubt what spirit we are of, to any who are acquainted with Christ's Spirit, and of Satan, and are able to judge of spirits, and know darkness from light, I say, the language of Christ we use to thee, who art found in the work of Satan, therefore thou canst not bear it; but thy filthy, unclean words thou hast cast upon us in thy book, which none in Scripture ever used, we shall leave to the judgment of Him that judges spirits, and to all who know light from darkness. But thou, foreseeing thyself guilty, makes an objection: "It is Scripture language which they speak"; and when thou hast done deceitfully, answerest, saying, the greater your presumptuous sin in making so ill an use of Scripture language, and calls it serving Satan; and thus thou proves it, saying, what if Christ called Judas <156> a devil; is it therefore lawful to call Peter so? I say, yea, if Peter be found in the devil's work (Matt. 16:23), much more thou and thy generation, who none of you yet came so far as Judas, who denied all to follow Christ; but you will have all you can get, though you deny Christ and all his rules, for the getting of it; and such are no faithful servants of Christ, but of their own bellies, and their lusts and pride; as thou goest on still pleading for thy masterhood, saying, alas that a Christian should be so ignorant as not to know that your being called Master, and Lord too, is commonly allowed in the Scripture; and that it is not the title, but the lording over men's faith, that is forbidden. I say, all those that know anything of the faith of Christ sees you to be guilty of both, but will give you neither, which faith leads out of respect of persons, and to serve a better master than he that bears rule by his means. And thou tells thy thoughts of us: sayest thou, it was the main advantage that the reformers had for the ruin of the papal kingdom, to persuade men that the pope was antichrist, and to disgrace the popish clergy; and says thou, they would attempt the destruction of our church by the same means. I say, Why not? Why may not that which lopt off some of your branches now (the time is come) cut up the whole root, being laid to it by the same power, in a greater measure? Thou sayest, our first way is to bring people in dislike with their teachers, without which we have no hope of succeeding. I say, Why not? you being of those who ever shut up the kingdom; therefore Christ, his prophets and apostles, did ever most cry out against the false prophets, blind guides and hirelings, who in all ages withstood him, coming to his kingdom, as you do now with the same weapons in this generation; and Christ's way is not changed, so the same woe against you is pronounced, which you must inherit. And whereas thou sayest that the papists have begotten this present sect of Quakers: I say, the devil is not divided against himself: had we been begot by the papists we should have had more favor from you, who are come of that line, as having hopes of us to have been restored to your former kingdom, which ever stood so much in multitudes of people, that you might be lords and masters over them. And thou says, we have here and there a papist lurking to be the chief speaker amongst us. I say, here thou dost but manifest thy envy and <157> deceit, to us and the Commonwealth, if thou know such amongst us and do not produce it, then art thou deceitful to the trust of the nation. But if thou know none, then art thou a false accuser, and out of thy own mouth art thou judged, who says we are headed with dissembling friars; and this thou would make people believe with adding lies, saying that we say the pope is not antichrist, that we undermine the Scriptures, decry the ministry, unchurch churches, slight justification by imputed righteousness, draw men to admire our adherent righteousness, set up strength of man's free will, the exalting of monastical community and virginity, and alienation from worldly employment. All this, sayest thou, the papists have taught the Quakers, so thou makes them up ten lies together. And instead of proving us headed with friars, thou hast proved the devil thy head and father; for we confess the pope to be antichrist, and all your popish clergy of his lineage, and with the Scriptures we so prove it; which Scriptures we own, with the true ministry and churches; justification by Christ's righteousness, freely put and given to us; whereby our own righteousness we deny, and set up the light within us, and witness revelations, which the hirelings know not, therefore not common, and we witness a judge above Scripture, and before Scripture, which we will not change for the pope and all his clergy, which we extol, and do not abstain from worldly employments further than by the Lord we are called, whom we prefer before all the world, which is our perfection and freedom from sin in this life, which none of the popish clergy can teach us, though you may talk on it; but only the Spirit of God, which we witness, which the devil and the hirelings never befriended.
Thou makes another objection: that they hold out many certain truths, and cry down pride and drunkenness and worldliness, and cry up mortification, charity and humility. And in thy answer thou sayest, so do you as well, and better than we can do; it is common amongst you, and thou hopes a little better maintained. These you say are points where you agree with the papists. I say, much like, & to the same effect, but see how it is maintained in your practice; thy crying up humility is seen in this thy boasting, who says thy teaching is better than we can do; were it the gift of God thou would see it to be free, and he not limited (by thy "cannot") but free to give it to whom he pleaseth, without respect <158> of persons. And for thy charity which thou cries up, is that it by which Thomas Goodaire was carried twice to prison for coming into the idol temple; if that be it, it's preached through the nation; thou might have saved labor of printing it, not many of thy brethren but they have acted it. And if thy mortification stands in cuffs and ribbons, lace and points, being called Lord and Master, &c., then it cannot be decried, but thou hast cried it up in thy book, and that very strongly. And for your crying down pride, drunkenness, and worldliness, let your kirks and markets witness for you or against you, the effect of your crying and fruits of your ministry, which have all bent yourselves in your pulpits to preach up sin for term of life in yourself and your hearers; and here, thy crying up cuffs and points, and suchlike stuffs. The heathen are ashamed of your teaching and the fruits of it.
|And thou bringest against us the testimony of a friar, whom thou calls Master Coppinger, thou sayest, of the Franciscan order. I say, by the mastership thou givest him, he is one of thy order, whereby you are both distinguished by the words of Christ to be none of his ministers, and so fittest for your purpose; and if reason may judge, most likely came over to second your envy against those you call Quakers; else why did not you keep him? seeing the law required it; then might it have been proved if he had been a speaker amongst us; but you show yourselves and your envy in this thing, as in many other, who would force the testimony of a condemned person, and he not present, nor no two ever see him, by thy own confession in thy paper; and yet this you print so often over, thereby to deprive thousands of their liberty in the service of God, who are faithful and have made proof of it, having thereto been called, against the popish clergy and bishops and the powers they stirred up, as the nation can witness; and if you were numbered from the first to the last, with your secret actings against us, there's not many of you in the nation would be found clear of it, though now you be stirring up these powers against the peaceable people, as you did the other, as a generation never well but when you are in mischief; but our defense is the same against you, who will accomplish his own work and set his King upon his hill, notwithstanding your hellish rage.||Read the judgments of God begun on him who took that oath, and take warning.|
<159> Thou goes on telling, if any further ask thee, why the papists are so diligent in those works; and thou sets down many hopes we have to accomplish great things as to their way, which words are not worth raking up after thee. But to them all I shall say this: whosoever hath but heard of the blood that hath been shed, and the violence done to the innocent by your forefathers, the popish clergy, before they were denied in the nation; also what blood hath been shed, and misery undergone, to bring down your power set up in the presbytery in Scotland and England, the two last of these, which we can witness by sad experience: I say, here's small hopes for any that either loves God or their souls or bodies either, or the peace of the nation, to labor in bringing forth such a birth of vipers. Nay, we rather rejoice to see the work begun thus far in the nation, whereby he will rid us of the rest of that brood and their burdens, which is the greatest oppression that remains in the nation, though this must be done with suffering, as the other was done with acting; the Lord having drawn forth many to that purpose against whom you are gathered, as the sand for multitude; yet are we not dismayed, though beset on every side, yet not destroyed; for we know him in whom we have believed.
And thou sayest, consider well of that Scripture, Eph. 4:12-14, &c., where Christ gave ministers for edification, unity, and the perfecting of the body, amongst which thou hast thrust in thy cursed addition, saying "at last" the perfecting of the body; I say, when must that last be, seeing thou hast denied any perfection whilst any lives in this world? It seems thou dreams your ministry must last in another world, else how must you perfect them by your ministry? Or shall death do that which cannot be done while they are living? So we have considered of that scripture and find you to be none of those ministers whom Christ gave, nor ministering for that end, but against it, and so ministers of antichrist, blaspheming the work of God, who calls his power, at which all flesh shall tremble, the power of the devil. And sayest thou, if you turn to the Quakers, we shall know that you were before an unsettled novice; and thou brings that of 1 John 2:19—"they went out from us, but they were not of us"—I say, what hast thou to do with these words? John was no hireling, nor persecutor as thou art: thou art one of those whom John forewarns of, who abides not in the doctrine of Christ; and all that owns John or his epistle <160> must keep thee out of their houses and have naught to do with thee. If thou read his second epistle, 9th, 10th, 11th verses, there thou may read thyself cast out by John's ministry, and there is few that comes from thee need to look for aught but reproaches; for then the hope of thy gain is lost, further than thou takes by force. And thou falls a-praying the Lord to open his eyes and acquaint him with his great darkness and imperfection. I say, what eye is that which thou would have opened, since thou denies the light within? Is the man blind of his bodily eyes? and to what end should he see his imperfection, seeing that thou denies that ever perfection can be attained to? Thy prayers are an abomination, and they are blind indeed that stands in need of such a teacher, and knows no better spirit to pray with.
Then thou makes an oration, before thou answers the queries, wherein thou tells of several papers which thou received from several persons, as one Jane Hicks, Thomas Chandler, and Edward Neway, Richard Farnworth, and Thomas Goodaire; but not being acquainted in the business, and seeing nothing herein of moment but what is answered in other places, I shall leave it till more knowledge of the thing.
Then thou goes making a show, as that thou would answer our queries, and these thou folds up by six together, which thou canst not answer, and sends us to a book, we know not where, to seek an answer, which thou calls a defense of a petition. Yet though thou answer not one of the six, in what thou falls short in answering thou makes up in asking: asking ten, where thou answerest not one. So that instead of answering 24, thou hast asked above threescore; but few of those thou wast asked hast thou gone about to answer. But thou begins, as followeth, with our first query, and thy false slanders and lies thou casts upon us are double to thy queries, as I shall make it appear if I be called to number them; but I am weary with raking in that filthy puddle, yet thy queries are answered and some of thy lies disproved.
Our 1st query is first, What's the first principle of pure religion?
Thy answer is, That God is, and next, that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and thou queries the ground of our asking.
I say, the ground of our asking is that the folly of such <161> teachers as know not God and his way may be made manifest, as it is by thy answer, for the knowledge of what God is, is the substance, ground, and end of all pure religion, which admits of no second, for it is life eternal. But if thou say thou means believing there is a God, then there is something God hath appointed as a way to God, which must be learned before God can be known, wherein the creature must be principled, which must turn the mind towards God, before the creature know God, seeing God is not known to the world till the creature be turned out of the world. So saith Christ, "None knows the Father, but to whom the Son reveals him." Such as thou have got the name of God to talk on, but when you should come to principle people in the way to him, you say, God is it, which if bare saying God is it be all thou can do in way of teaching, then you may stop your mouths (if it be not for losing your gain), for all can say that there is a God as well as thou; yea, the devil can preach that doctrine,1 but thou knows if thou had answered this query to the satisfaction of any honest desires, then thou must have confessed to the light that God hath given in Christ Jesus, to lead out of darkness.2 But that destroys the devil's kingdom; and therefore all his ministers are deaf of that ear, and so children of darkness, and keep others so.
2nd Query: Whether they are a church of Christ that beat and persecute them that witness forth the truth in his name? And to this thou answered, that it's possible for a true church to be guilty of injuries, but to cover thy guilt in this, thou would rank us amongst Turks and witches, wherein thou shows how thou would order these injuries done to us, if it were in thy power. And further, to hide thyself from answering, thou bids us ask this question of the Spanish Inquisition, and those who have shed the blood of so many hundred thousand true Christians, &c. I say we are asking it of the same generation of priests, who have all along been the cause of shedding that innocent blood, where they could prevail with the powers of the earth to act their bloody ends under religious pretenses, calling that heresy that crosseth their lusts, as it's well known, you cease not to press the power to it still, and prevail as far as you can, and where you can, and have used many <162> ways secretly and openly to undermine them where you cannot. And where the magistrate is not ready to execute your designs, you have some of the baser sort ready with you, that will do it at your commands, as some of you priests have set them on, saying, "fight, lads, for the gospel." Nay, I can make it appear of above 30 of you, who have fought with your own hands, many of them to the shedding of much blood, even by the highway, when the innocent have but passed by. And now wherein do you differ from them who shed the blood of the martyrs? unless it be in this, that they would forbear till they had some show of authority, which you cannot, but fall on with your own hands, showing your thirst to be greater than ever theirs was, and yourselves more shameless. Now if it be not an offense to judge you after Christ's rule, then finding you to be in the same fruit, we must know the same generation all along; and we bless our God who hath chained the devil that he must but only manifest himself in casting some of us into prison for our trial, but cannot have his will further, but to show what he would do if he had power: praises be to our God forever.
3rd Query: Thou says is about infants baptism. And not being able to prove thy practice herein, either by command or example, thou shuffles it off with telling of a book, and asking a query to the Anabaptists, nothing at all to the purpose, yet lest thou should be found out of thy father's work, thou enfolds a lie in it, saying, the Anabaptists are our founders.
And 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th Queries: Thou sayest are all about tithes, but takes a ready way to escape them. Instead of answering falls a-questioning, showing thyself to be one of those who can sooner start questions than answer them, and instead of answering six of ours, thou starts ten of thy own.
The first is, whether we have read any of those books that proves that tithes are still of divine right; I say, by no other divinity than the pope's authority canst thou nor all his clergy prove tithes to Christ's ministers to be by divine right; therefore we deny the pope, his divinity, his clergy, and all their lying books, and challenge thee and all thy generation to prove it by the book of Scripture.
Thy 2nd and 3rd Queries is whether the Scripture doth warrant a man to dedicate part of his lands to God for the service of his church, and is it not lawful to take what is so dedicated, and <163> thou instances them that sold their lands in the apostles' times.
I say, suppose that be granted, that a man may freely give his own to God, must the hireling therefore take men's goods against their wills, to maintain such a ministry and worship as God never set up, but is denied by him and all that ever he sent? Nor did the apostles put the price of other men's lands into their purses, but it was distributed to such as had need; and when your ministry brings forth the like effect, then take food and raiment freely, as the apostles did; but in the meantime do not you spoil men's goods by force and call them robbers of churches.
4th Query: If our ancestors having given to the church the tenths, are not those church-robbers that now take them away? I say, if my father had given the tenth land in my field to the hireling, then had he given his own, and no right had I to have gainsaid that he should have given what was his, but that he could give the tenth sheaf, pig, goose or egg, which is God's blessing and the fruits of my labors, and never was his, that I deny; and he is the thief that takes the fruits of another man's labors against his will. For if I sow no corn, thou hast no sheaf, and if I have no sow, thou hast no pigs, &c., so if my labors you take, which never was my father's. But who gave you money out of servants' wages, and for smoke passing up people's chimneys, crisoms and mortuaries, and suchlike? which you had all from your ancestor the pope, from whom you had your first rise, tithes, and maintenance all your parish priests, who so dearly tendered his children that, lest they should want, provided that there should be no profit but they should be sure of their share, providing you a house in every parish to sleep in, making you masters, and his spiritual courts to force people to work for you, that you might be sure to have enough, whosoever wanted: and since those fell you have been hard put to it, and sore afraid you are lest the earthly powers should leave you; for if they do, your gospel will starve you. Such is the fruits of your plowing and sowing, and so your maintenance is as ancient as the Man of Sin, and no elder, and you must fall together as you have stood together.
5th Query: if one that bears the bag prove a Judas or thief, or one Nicolas, a deacon, should lead a sect of Nicolaitans your predecessors, were all the apostles therefore thieves, or all the churches and pastors greedy dogs, for taking much more than the <164> tenth, even men's whole estates, that gave them to that use?
I say, that the Nicolaitans is our predecessors is one lie, and that the apostles took men's whole estates, that's another; so we think it not strange to suffer with them.
But you that take men's labors against their wills, by force, are much worse than Judas and more greedy than all the dumb dogs we read on, who though they were, maybe, as covetous as you, yet they were never so shameless as to take it by force and plead for it; and having got a pretense of a law to cover you it must not be called thievery; but a while will that hide you. God is about to lay you open, and the mountains must not cover you; then woe to you.
Thy 6th is, whether you ask so much of people as Quakers do. Thou shameless man, whom do we ask anything on? We abhor thy beggarly practice herein, and are fed freely. Prove whom we have burdened, or asked anything on; but maybe you will excuse your asking, with taking it by force.
7th Qu: If it be not a wrong to the people more than the ministers to have the standing church maintenance taken away, why then do people petition so hard for augmentations, where means is wanting? or else do worse. I say, because Babylon's wares are grown costly, and the merchants rich. Time was when 50 pounds would have hired a priest, which now will not serve under 500; yet his stuff no better, but much worse; and this must needs be raised, whether the people have it or no, and so they must petition for augmentations. But he is blind who believes this is done to right the people of their wrongs, which lays so many 1000 pounds upon the people of this nation, more than was formerly. You are rightly called leaders of the blind, if your followers see no further but to believe you herein; you may keep those you have blinded as long as you can, but where the eye is open you are seen, and your end.
The sum of thy 8th Query: If the rulers may lay excise or taxes, why not a settled maintenance for you? I say, because the one is allowed on in the Scripture, but the magistrate was never to force a maintenance for the ministry, neither under law nor gospel; but God ever took care for them that are his; and are you Christ's ministers that pleads for settled means? Is he grown less careful for his? Nay, it's you that knows him not, therefore dare not trust him, but envies such as do.
In thy 9th and 10th thou tells of God commanding a sufficient <165> maintenance, and asks what Scripture forbids taking of tithes. And says God hath left to human prudence to judge what is sufficient before they give it. And thou tells the old lie over again, saying the apostles took more than the tenths. I say, out of thy own mouth be thou judged and thy generation, who takes it where human prudence judges not fit to give you, even from them who reap nothing by you, and that God hath commanded any maintenance at all for the hirelings I deny, or any things by force of law for his own, or any other way but freely. And he that reads Heb. 7 with the first verse of the eighth may see tithes preached down, priests and priesthood that did receive them, though they never had them by force.
10th Qu. Whether Christ enlightens everyone that cometh into the world. And thy answer is: all that come into the world of nature he enlightens with the light of nature, and this thou says is begotten by the book of the creature. And all that comes into the world of grace he enlightens with the light of supernatural revelation. I say, thou hast plainly showed thy knowledge of Christ and his way of working, who says that light which Christ enlightens the creatures with is begotten by the creature's book; and this light which is so begotten, which thou calls natural, is all the light the creature hath till he comes into the world of grace. Then, sayest thou, he is enlightened with a supernatural light. Thou blind guide, doth any light lead into the world of grace, as thou calls it, but the light of Christ? And is that begotten by the creature's book? Art not thou antichrist, who are setting up another way out of the world than Christ and his light, who saith, "I am the light of the world, he that follows me shall not abide in darkness"? Was this light natural, or begotten by the creature's book? Was that a natural light, that covenant of light that God promised to give into the world, which the prophets prophesied of, and John bare witness of, saying, "This is the true light that enlightens everyone that comes into the world. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness." Did ever any give such a testimony of the light which God sent into the world, to call it natural and say it's begotten by the book of the creature? Art not thou a blind guide indeed? yet being told of it, calls it railing; where thou might as well say Christ railed, who told such blind guides (who denied the cornerstone) what they was, yet was they never so blind as thou, for they did not deny but Christ should be the light of <166> Israel when he came; but thou says he is come and yet art setting up a creature light, and to blind the business with, thou adds a heap of queries: 1st, whether this light be sufficient to leave men without excuse; or is it sufficient to salvation? I say, both to condemn such as love their evil deeds and to lead to life all that follow it (John 3:19 and 8:12). 2nd Query, was it sufficient before Christ preached the gospel, or is it now sufficient to all that never heard the gospel? If so, is not the gospel needless? I say, all that believed in him to come had sufficiently of his light to guide them, in what God then required; but when he was come, then the gospel was preached to every creature under heaven, then all was called to repent and wait for the kingdom of God, which was at hand within them, which they did not know who denied the light, yet the light being come into the world was their condemnation, & thus the gospel is not a needless thing but the power of God to salvation to all that receive it: for as many as received the light, to them he gave power to become the sons of God; to the rest it is condemnation. 3rd Query, If the world have sufficient light, what need they your teaching? I say, to exhort them to that light, to wait and abide in it, it being the hirelings have blinded that eye, this time of the mystery of iniquity hath been working which was begun in the apostles' time; and to open this eye was Paul sent, and to turn them from darkness to this light;3 and this answers thy fifth query, why Paul was sent to open the blind eyes and turn to light.
4th Query, If all have sufficient light within them, what need there any converting grace? That's converting grace that hath appeared to all men, teaching us to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts,4 which such as thou turns into a lasciviousness, and will not be taught by it, therefore lives in sin, and pleads, so you must do while you live. And thou in scorn bids us rub our eyes, and tells thee, if all have it, why did we pronounce thee to be in darkness? I say, because thou denies the light, and follows it not: so that light that's in thee is become darkness, and great is that darkness, as doth appear, who art lying again, saying the papists are our teachers, but art in the relics of their worship thyself, for which we with the light deny them and thee, and your teaching.
<167> Our 11th Query, Whether thou hast seen God's face? And to this thou offers a deal of confusion, saying, that by the eye of reason, thou hast seen God to be infinite, incomprehensible, and saith, none hath seen God; and then asks a query: whether he that hath seen God do abhor himself as Job did? and says, is it likely that ever those men had the true knowledge of God, who exalt themselves as having the Spirit, and being perfect men without sin?
I say, art not thou ashamed of thy folly, who would persuade people that having the Spirit, and being without sin, could keep from seeing God. Thou blind sot, can any come to know God but by the Spirit? and where wilt thou have this Spirit if not within? Can he be any of Christ's who hath not his Spirit? or can any unclean thing stand before God, or come in his sight? But if any witness this Spirit, and sanctification by it, thy filthy mind calls it pride. Blush for shame. Did ever any but the devil minister against having the Spirit, or freedom from sin? How art thou afraid thy father's kingdom should fall? Yet being told of this, thou calls it railing, as thy forefathers would be ever in the devil's work, but would not be called his children; but would call God their father, but hated all that was in his work, as thou dost.
12th Query: Whether you have the same infallible Spirit as the holy men of God had, who spoke forth the Scripture? And instead of answering plainly, thou falls a lying again, saying, thou hears the croakings of our papist guides; and thou wouldst thrust us in with them, because we say the Spirit is infallible; and they say that their church is infallible; so that for us to say the Spirit of God is infallible is popery; but what religion is thine who cannot bear it, to say the Spirit is infallible? Where must the infallibility be, in your church, or in the letter, or in your priests? It is likest thou intends the last because you would bind all to believe your meanings; but when thou writes again, deal plainly, and tell us where thou would have it, since it must not be in the Spirit. But to the answer, thou says, the prophets and apostles were guided infallibly in the manner and matter: so that what they writ to the church was true; but thou hast no such infallibility. I say, if thou had such a Spirit, your pulpits would have more truth, and thy book not so full of lies as it is; but wilt thou not call it railing, if I tell thee that thou who hast not that Spirit hast the spirit of the devil? If thou do, yet the truth is no less, for the Spirit of God is but one, <168> and who hath it hath an infallible guide in matter and manner if he keep to it. And he that is not guided by this hath the spirit of Satan, and I know that so far as any are led by the Spirit, it guides into all truth if it be not erred from.
But says thou, I shall never like such pretenders to the Spirit. I say, I know thou dost not, for that guide leads out of thy kingdom. Sayest thou, all true Christians are certain of their fundamentals, yet with doubting.
Here thou hast declared thy damned foundation, but true Christians know a foundation without doubting; and thou falls to comparing us with the pope, and would make us like him.
I say, were it not we cry down his worship, means, and authority that remains in you we should not have so much of your malice. Are not you his dear children, as like as may be? Have you so soon forgot who begot you into your parsonages and masterships, and ordained you and your place and form of worship? He is but a young priest who was not consecrated by his cathedral order, though now you see the bishops your masters are down with the magistrates and the people. You can talk against them, as they did against the pope their master when the kings would own him no longer, nor they could not be suffered to profess his authority in this nation, then they would rather turn than fly. And have not you stuck to episcopal worship? till you see you were like to be turned out, and then your wisdom would convince you of your error.
Is not he blind that sees not you one with the papist in the main? It's not getting into their houses, and talking against them that can blind us, when we see their foundation standing; and not one thing you do, which is as the apostles or believers did it, but either as the pope and his councils invented, or as you have invented since in your councils, but never came to the saints' form, much less to the power. For shame be silent in this business, till you have more hopes of hiding yourselves; you have lost your old way of stopping preaching and printing, and now your slandering your popery upon other men's backs will but cause all to see you more plainly: people are now grown so wise as they begin to know the tree by its fruit; your words will not serve, your covering grows thin, it must be rent, and your refuge of lies are a- sweeping away, your raving in your own filth doth but cast dung in your own faces. The truth is living and pure, and will clear <169> itself and all that abide in it, but shame shall cover the wicked.
And thou calls the Ranters our brethren, but they are your brethren and hearers; they come not amongst us unless it be to oppose, as you do; there is no more communion with us and you than light and darkness. Will this cover you who have them with you, preaching to them, and they maintaining you? Nay, it's well known that there is none so bad in the nation but if he have but anything to add to your hire you are for him, and he is one of your church and brotherhood. Is there either drunkard, swearer, or whoremonger whatsoever, but you will reap his carnals, with or against his will, and you will tell him you sow to him spirituals, and such your is seed, and such fruits comes on it, yet thy shameless lips will call such our brethren, when we have turned from them for these filthinesses, and you have received them with it; nay, some of you boast of such converts, when we have denied them.
13th Qu.: What is hell's mouth that the wicked go in at? And to this thou says it sufficeth thee to know that hell is a state of endless misery, where such as we shall everlastingly bear God's wrath. I say, that's thy desire to know, but wert thou not blind thou wouldst know it is for liars, slanderers, the man of sin, and his disciples, who plead for his kingdom.
14th Qu.: Whether the Bible be the word of God? and Matthew, Mark, Luke and John the gospel? and whether there were any gospel before them? and whether they be the light? And to this thou gives not answer, but tells of a temporal word, so much knows thou of that word that endures forever, and a word that is a sign of God's mind, & such confused stuff, & tells of a different sense betwixt Christ, the Scriptures; and thou says it was written that it might be a standing rule, and kept entire and sure to the world's end. But how often have you and your generation altered this rule? insomuch as scarce two of you can agree about it: what is the meaning of it, and how many copies is there of it? Which of them is the standing rule? That which stands most suitable to your wills and pleasures? and how entire is it kept when much of it is quite lost? but thou might have said of it, as of the infallible Spirit, if the letter be not it thou hast none thou knows on; that had been plainer dealing. And thou says this word is the light, but not as Christ is the light, or the Spirit, for there are many lights; and so with thy many lights thou shows thyself to be ignorant of the one <170> light the Scriptures speaks of, which holds out but one light and word; but thou hast many in the dark lantern of thine imaginations not one like another, and so imagines that Christ, the Spirit, and the Word are not one, nor enlightens all alike. Sayest thou, man's reason is the eye, and the gospel is external, and the Spirit closeth these two together and so breedeth a spiritual illumination, which the word alone could not procure, whereas the Scriptures witness the word by which alone all externals were made, and the word for reconciling again and making new. But sayest thou, the word without reason and externals cannot produce; and this is thy word thou preaches, and so it seems by what it produces.
And thou asks some queries: 1st, Whether we believe the Scriptures be true. I say yea. Then says thou, they call themselves the word of God; and thou brings some Scriptures to prove it, but not one that says the letter is the word. And thou brings Rom. 10:8, "The word is nigh you, even in your hearts, and in your mouth." But is the Bible there? And thou brings 1 Pet. 1:25: "The word of God endures forever," and before called it the temporal word. Thy 2nd qu.: Will we give you leave to smell the pope in our endeavors to disgrace the Scriptures though our nose be stopped? I say, wert thou not stark blind and drunk with envy, thou might see thy own confused scornful spirit, with which thou hast discovered thy folly, who one while will have the word temporal, and another while to endure forever, and to prove the Bible to be the word, brings "the word is in the heart." But no wonder thou be blind, who says man's reason is the eye, and hast an illumination that the word cannot produce.
15th Query: Whether you own revelations or no. And to this thou says, thou owns all divine revelations and disowns all diabolical ones. But in thy 10th page hath denied revelations. But the revelations thou own is what is written; but hath not the devil these also? yes, and can preach them as well as you, and take them to plead for his kingdom as well as thou. Yet says thou, these are able to make men wise to salvation, without any further additions, and when thou hast done, says, they must have the Spirit of Christ to help them. But thou might do well to show thy opinion, whether the Spirit can make wise to salvation without them: it seems to be thy opinion that it is not, by thy former query, where thou asks whether the light of Christ be sufficient, where your gospel is not <171> preached; which no gospel you have but the letter, which if you had it not, you would be as dumb as those which Isaiah speaks on. And in thy conclusion thou tells of other helps which are of flat necessity besides the Spirit. And thy literal revelations, which before thou said was sufficient to salvation without any addition, but by thy own words, if there had been no book thou had had no revelation. And yet in word seems to deny thy father the pope, who hath kept thee thy revelations; else thou had been without, for aught thou knows; yet you cannot bear it to be called ministers of the letter and not of the Spirit; and the apostles was ministers not of the letter but of the Spirit: this with you is railing.
16th Qu.: Is about singing David's Psalms, and for answer to this thou sends us to a book of Cotton and Ford, and says thou knows no reason why thou should add any more; a pretty shuffle to get shut of that thou canst not prove. Yet though thou have lost thy reason to answer, thou will ask more queries: 1st, If the Scripture be written for our use, why may not we speak to God in David's words? I say, because David would not keep a liar in his house; may thou who art found a liar, sing these words? The Scripture was not written by such a spirit, nor to such a spirit, nor doth such learn aught by the letter, but to cover thy shame and deceive others, as appears by thy practice. 2nd qu. They being used by the church till the apostles' time, where was they abolished? I say is that church thou means on the Pharisees? Such a church uses them now, though not so well as they did; for they did not put them into rhymes as you do; and when the saints sung with the Spirit and with understanding, and he that had a psalm sung his own and not another's, then was the way of Pharisees abolished. 3rd qu. Whether it is more lawful for us to sing in the words of David, or for you to rake together all the sharp reproofs in Scripture to rail on me with; I say here is as much betwixt the lawfulness of them, as betwixt truth and a lie, for when we take Scripture language by the same Spirit that gave it forth to reprove the same deceit in thee, which Christ and his prophets & apostles did in the chief priests, Pharisees and hirelings, then we speak truth, though thou call it railing; but when thou and thy hearers sings David's words, saying, you have no scornful eye, you have roared all the day long, your bones hath quaked, you have made your bed to swim with tears, no liar shall dwell in your houses, <172> &c., are not a nest of liars all found lying together? And he that says otherwise of you, is a liar like you.
|17th Qu.: What is the soul of man, &c. And thou says it's the cause of our life. I say thou knows not him who is the cause of our life, no more than thou dost the soul, but here thou would deny God to be the cause of life, and put the soul in his stead; as thou hast denied the Spirit to set the letter in his stead, so art thou drawing downward as fast as thou canst; but says thou, the whole man in Scripture is taken for the soul, so by thy opinion the man is the cause of life. So thou hast showed what life thou lives, and what thou knows of the soul, yet thou wilt ask more queries though resolve none. And first thou begins to wrangle with the command of Christ that forbids thy masterhood, saying, is not many words in the Scriptures translated "master," of as low and humble importance as ruler? I say the words of Christ was ever in the way of the hirelings and Pharisees and priests, and their pride; but they could not get them removed, though they were next at them, and would not have them applied to them no more than thou. But let his words alone; thou must not wrest them out of their place and power, canst not bow them but must bow to them; they was given to beat thee and thy pride, and not to be broken by thee nor thy teachings.||Can the cause of life die, or be cast into hell?|
2nd qu. Thou says if God bid people obey you as rulers, and the Quakers persuade people to reject you as serpents, &c., which is to be obeyed? God or the Quakers? And whether is the Spirit of God or of the devil the Quakers speaks by? I say, God did never bid people obey hirelings, and such as are out of the doctrine of Christ (as you are), but the Spirit of God called such serpents,5 and so doth now, which is not the spirit of the devil, as the devil would slander it to be both then and now; you being found in the same practice are reproved with the same Spirit.
3rd qu. Thou asks, Is it the ministers or Quakers that have the rule over people, and wait for the good of souls? I say the Quakers abhors such rule as you bear; and for the good of souls thou must first know what the soul is before thou can watch for the good of it; nay thou watches to destroy souls for dishonest <173> gain, hirelings was never souls' shepherds.
4th qu. Thou says if the present pastors be not true ministers, tell you who are and where you may find them, and where they have been from Christ till now? I say those are true ministers and ever was, who wandered to & fro, having no certain dwelling place, of whom the world was not worthy, who ever bore witness against the false prophets that bear rule by their means, and the priests that preached for hire, and the people that loved to have it so, and whose manner was to go into the synagogues and idols' temples to disprove the hirelings' false worship and call people from them to the true shepherd; and you may find many of these in the most prisons of the nation for so doing, by your means, against whom we are sent to witness; and these have been banished to and fro (since the mystery of iniquity and the popish priesthood was set up) into corners, but now are come to light, to witness against the mystery of iniquity; therefore do the heathen rage, the Man of Sin and all his ministers, because his end is near.
5th qu. Thou asks if it will be for the people's profit to despise their teachers and guides? I say you who have despised Christ's commands to set up your own lusts and pride, covetousness and false worship, must be despised; and when such guides are discovered, then shall the people profit when they come to be guided with that Spirit God hath given to every man to profit withal, who you will keep them from as long as you can, that you may fill up your measure, and wrath come upon you to the uttermost, being captivated by the devil soul and body, the god of this world having blinded the eye,6 so that the gospel is hid from you, and you lost, setting up the letter instead of it, having denied the light and erred from it, are got up into hardness of heart, imprisoning, beating, and making havoc like mad beasts. Whatever the devil did where he reigned, so do you, being the head of the serpent which Christ is come to bruise, as he did in his own person so he is the same brood, who now are found in the same bloody plots against the seed of God, worse than ever any, seeking the lives of others for practicing that in life which yourselves will preach in words for money. Such a generation of raging beasts was never yet in the <174> world, who seek to devour on every side you; and who departs from sin is your prey, the greatest deceivers that ever yet come; now when you come to be revealed, who would have believed that you, who have had so many millions of pounds for teaching people to forsake sin, and now if any declare that he hath forsaken it and is set free, you preach it down as the most dangerous error that ever was, and cry out to drunkards, swearers, thieves and murderers and whoremongers, come not near them lest you be deceived, and now get up more money for preaching up sin while the world stands, than you took for preaching it down. Yet if we tell you, you are bringing up people into covenant with the devil for term of life, you say we rail on you when you have begot the faith of that covenant in the whole nation. Ask any that ever believes your teaching if they believe that Christ is able to redeem them from committing sin in this world, and presently they are ready to give account of their faith; nay none can be free here, but when they are dead in another world they shall, so the faith and covenant is suitable for no less time than till men can sin no longer. And if any have broke this covenant through the righteous covenant, they are ready to stone him; yet lest thou should be seen in this filth, you cast a mist before the simple, saying you must strive after perfection and freedom and purity, and to be set free from sin; but once, knowing that unbelief is in the bottom, there is little danger of freedom, for the devil whose work you are doing knows full well that if he can but have people to believe they cannot be free, he knows they are safe with him forever coming at it: no faith, no obtaining, according to every man's faith so shall it be unto them, and that striving which is not in faith to obtain is self-righteousness. But who believes that Christ is able to save to the uttermost? All that come to God by him shall see it so, but this the blind knows not; who would have believed that these priests that now is had been the greatest persecutors that ever was before them, who have preached so long against it? But say you, this persecution of ours is not as theirs was; they persecuted Christ and such as he sent, but these are wanderers and vagabonds, and disturbs our peace and worships, &c.; but the light is come, your mists will not hide you, the sun is risen, and you are seen in the work against the same Spirit, nothing altered but the persons or places or time. Where had ever ministers of Christ hand in <175> persecuting any upon any account whatsoever? Prove your practice herein. Then thou goes on to tell what that death is that passed upon all men, and thou says it's the separation of the soul from the body. Thou blind sot, did not death pass upon Adam till soul and body was separated? This is like thy opinion of the soul; but how canst thou who art in death know what it is? Those whom Christ quickened, who were dead (Eph. 2:1,5), was they such who had no souls? Nay, thou must own the light before thou know what death is; death reigns in liars and envious ones.
18th Qu. What is the flaming sword that keeps the tree of life and the cherubims? And this thou answers with calling it a foolish question, and adds a lie to it, saying we have not seen it. Thou says it shall suffice thee to know there is such a thing (which knowledge is no more in thee but hearsay), but the sight thou puts far off into the world to come, and the tree of life also; for thou that never saw the flaming sword and cherubims never came near the tree of life, but as I said before, feeds upon death, thy own cursed carnal knowledge, which God hath forbidden.
19th Qu. Whether they that stand praying in the synagogues or idols' temples, and love greetings in markets, and bind heavy burdens on the people, and are called of men masters, be not out of Christ's doctrine? and this falling upon the head of the serpent, being thy own practice, thou art forced to take thy old crooked winding ways to get out. And thou begins to question instead of answer, saying if your temples be Christ's temples, do not we make Christ an idol by calling them idols' temples? I say, they are not Christ's temples, unless thou mean the pope be he, whose temples they are, who builded and consecrated them into the names of dead men and women, and set up in them a dead worship, all which Christ never commanded, but the temple of Christ is made without hands, and there he dwells, and not in temples made with hands. Hast thou a face to father those upon Christ, wherein your generation of blood-suckers have worshipped in them ever since they was builded? Do not they stand witnesses against you, that you are the children of them who slew the martyrs, and now are found beating in the same synagogues and shedding blood as far as you can get the same power by which they did it? Christ had never such temples; stop thy mouth for shame. And thou goes on, and where thou cannot deny but thou art in the steps of the <176> Pharisees, yet says thou, I do not love it; they loved it to be called masters, &c., but I do not. Well, thou says in words thou loves it not, but come to thy practice, and it will appear thou who art but one, hast made more lies and crooked ways to uphold it in this thy book, than all the generations of thy fathers the Pharisees did that ever was before thee, and dost thou think to cover all this by saying thou loves it not? but you have used so long to lead the blind that you would put out the eyes of them that see. And thou says it was Pharisees' pride that was condemned; I say so it is your pride that is your condemnation, nor can thou clear thyself of the very same things they was found in; but lest thou should lose all, yet says thou, Christ bids them hear the hypocritical Pharisees, and observe to do as they bid you. I confess, to plead for hypocritical teachers is the likest way to get in, to have people commanded to hear you, had not you run so gross till you have lost all also, even the outward form of godliness which they had, and upon that account he bade hear them, because they sat in Moses seat and read the letter truly without adding. But you are neither set in Moses' seat nor Christ's, but run in your own imaginations, till neither law nor gospel-letter will warrant any one thing of your worship—matter nor manner, means nor maintenance—as I shall be ready to prove that not one particular of your worship you act in your idols' temples, nor wages for so doing, can you prove by plain Scripture to be so much as in the form commanded or practiced by Christ and his saints; and yet calls yourselves upright and faithful ministers. For shame be silent as to boasting, till you acquit yourselves of this charge by plain Scriptures without wresting it; and would you have us bound to hear such under pretense of hypocrites, who have lost both power and show of godliness? And says thou, it is not being called Master that Christ intended; thou lying spirit, would thou make him a liar like thee? Did not he intend as he spoke? Or thou takes him to be an hypocrite like the Pharisees, whom thou would thrust in amongst with thy consequence; and thou says he forbids the name of fathers; I say, he forbids not children and fathers but such as you, then thou goes on in thy old way, lying, saying we forbid the owning of any relations, and all affections and respects to them. I say thy father hath fitted thee with boldness to bring forth his work, who dare declare thy own <177> shame to all that know our practice, what disaffection canst thou charge upon any of our relations, unless thou accuse us because we cannot affect the devil's pride, and bow to it in such as thee?
And to plead for this mastership further thou says thou will tell us something we know not, and that is that the disciples of the sect-masters of the Pharisees so gloried in their masters that they were ready to go by the ears and kill one another; and this thou would send us to see amongst them as a strange business, which we see daily amongst you and your disciples, how many sects and sect-masters is amongst you priests and your disciples, and have been all by the ears as thou calls it, even unto blood, till you have vented all your envy against the lambs of Christ, as they did then; though thou would put it far off, yet we see it here present, and sayest thou, these called they rabbis, as the papists do the pope, but why wilt thou not read in one word further: as your hearers do you. No doubt but this is as true though not so much for thy purpose, who art hiding thyself by accusing others; and so now that I have set thee in, thou may read on all the rest of thy charge against the pope and find thyself guilty, and stop thy mouth, and see the Pharisees, the pope, and thee and thy brethren all on a line, and that it is not words we contend about, but your whole practice, which being found in and condemned, words and meanings cannot hide you. And if the Scriptures be not right translated, as thou pleads, then is less confidence to be put in any of you who had it in doing, yet thou says it's a standing rule. Thus Babylon's children are clashing one against another, but all against the Stone, by which we see your fruits to be the same with the Pharisees, change the letter as often as you will; woe to him that hath no other guide and rule but that which you have so often chopped and changed, and not still will it please you. Thou may well call it a temporal word, for you will make it serve all times, or you must want of your wills; it's no hard thing with you to take Paul's words, who wandered up and down in hunger and nakedness,7 coveted no man's money nor gold nor apparel, and was chargeable to none, nor took aught against the will of the owner, &c., and with two or three consequences and meanings from your original you will make <178> it prove your four or five hundred a year and a great house to live in, and this you will not have by favor but force; and yet they are thieves that denies to give you their goods when you ask it. But now when your practice and Paul's are compared they are as far distant as before; could you bend his life as you do his words to your own, then might ye deceive the elect; but God hath left this a rule forever: by their fruits shall you know them. So by your works you are so far from Paul that you are outrun Balaam and all the false prophets and greedy dogs you read on in the Scriptures, who never took it by force under pretense of a law, taking three for one, as you do. Yet this truth which is as clear as the sun must be called railing, because it falls upon your deceit, and because a servant calls master in Scripture, says thou, why may not thou be so called, as a minister? Thou may as well say, because a servant doth own his master, why may not I break the commands of Christ? and says thou, Paul he was called a wise master builder; I say those words will not fit thee who would build up thy pride with them; he was Paul a servant, and not master Paul. If thou canst own it thou may; if not let it alone. I say thou must be proved by thy deeds, not with wresting his words; nor was the masters of assemblies Solomon spoke on such as thou, but of one shepherd, which the hirelings never knew, nor any who would take Solomon's words to destroy Christ's commands; did thou know him thou would not teach men to break one of the least of them, much more that which hath ever distinguished false prophets from true, nor is there any one command more plainly expressed nor more faithfully obeyed by his ministers than this that thou art teaching men to break, it being now the great controversy with Christ and Antichrist who should be master and who should be bowed to, and how loath are his ministers to lose it, as is seen by thy crooked ways thou takes to keep it. But thou must lose it, and the Lamb must have it, who will not bow to thee; and Abraham and Festus and Agrippa cannot bear thee out in breaking Christ's command; those were not forbidden as thy practice is, who art pleading for titles of honor to you priests as a duty. O shame thou infidel! how canst thou believe that's seeking for honor from men? Was ever any ministers of Christ found in that work? And is not this the greatest thing thou stands for in thy book? Is it not seen whose honor thou art seeking against the commands of Christ? nor <179> is he void of the fear of God who denies thee to be a faithful minister of Christ, who ministers against the command of Christ; nor are we so sottish but we can judge who is in the work of Christ and who is against him, with lies, saying a minister of Christ is called Master and that to deny your Greek and Hebrew is to deny Christ, as though a natural language was Christ, and thou calls some sacred languages, thou idolater, is not every language natural to them who are bred in them? is not our English as sacred among the Greeks as theirs is here? But such as thou will worship anything rather than the Spirit; and after all thy lies in this book, says we are not able to charge thee with any crime but human frailties, when thou art found full of gross wickedness, as in thy book is laid open; and here thou may receive an answer to thy query. And thou boasts that thou can talk better than we; I say thou makes it not appear in thy book, for if truth had ordered thy tongue I had not found so many open falsehoods and confusions as I have laid open already. And thou says thou would thresh and dig and labor if God will give thee leave; I say, what a God dost thou serve which will not allow of labor? Our God condemns idleness, and says if any will not work, neither should he eat;8 but the god of this world is the god of idleness and fulness of bread, which the priests of this nation have been known to serve more than any one sort of people else. And thou says our prater is a liar for saying if thou had no pay thou would not preach; I say, prove him a liar and shame him: come out and preach freely, and then if he say so of thee I shall say he is a liar too; but I suppose thy god will not suffer thee to do this no more than he will suffer thee to labor, for these must go together. But let me ask thee one question amongst all thine: qu., The ministers of Christ said follow us, and walk as you have us for examples; but if thou should say so to thine, and all the parish masters in this nation also, and your hearers should follow you as you do, what a nation would here be—all idle, all proud and covetous, all live on the sweat of other men's brows, all masters, &c., would not this destroy relations? Who would you have to worship you? Therefore take heed how you bid them follow you. I have heard of some of you (maybe foreseeing part of this) have been so <180> wise as to say, do as I say, but not as I do; I say this is plain dealing compared with thee who acts all this, charges God with it, and when thou hast done says we are not able to charge thee with any crime, so thou would have us to charge it upon him who will not let thee labor.
20th Qu. Did ever the Lord of heaven and earth, or Jesus Christ bid thee or any of you go and preach to a people? Or was any of the apostles or ministers of Christ made ministers by the will of man? To this thou answers after the old way, and begins another story, telling the Lord called the apostles by his own voice, and left them to call one another to the end of the world, and to prove this untruth thou brings Matt. 28:21, which chapter hath not 21 verses in, but there is not one verse in that chapter, nor in all the book, that says the apostles was to leave such an order to the end of the world, so that a verse beyond number is fittest to quote for such a lie, but what apostle was that who left order with the pope, from whom all the parish teachers both in this nation and many more have had their ordination and holy order since the pope's time; he says from Peter, and if thou say so too I shall not believe you, till I see better proof than yet thou hast quoted; but thou proceeds to deny any to expect a call from heaven, and the signs of thy call thou sets down: First, thy competent qualification, yet hast thou naught freely, but so hard to study for it that thou hast no time to work, and that never was Christ's call nor qualification; 2) thy thirst after the good of souls, yet thou knows not what the soul is; 3) the ordination of authorized church officers, what sort those are and the rise of them hath been declared before; 4) the call of the people and their consent over whom he hath set thee; I say none that ever was sent by Christ ever wont to ask the consent of the people; 5) the success of thy labors; but how many of thy hearers are set free from sin? yea thyself yet a liar; 7) some testimony of the Spirit, yet thou denies any infallibility, and that Spirit with the Spirit of God that never erred is denied. These seven sayest thou set together are the signs of Christ's call and thy mission; show you the like if you can; to which I say, never any of Christ's ministers showed the like, nor do I neither; and thou tells the old tale over again, that no immediate call since the apostles, which thou never proved yet, and thou concludes: will not all this suffice? I say those who know not the Scriptures nor the power of <181> God may trust thee and be sufficed with a lie, but who knows either, sees whence thou art. Was not Ananias,9 and Barnabas,10 and others in the Scriptures called immediately? and with the power and Spirit by which I am called immediately do I testify against thee with the Scripture.
21st Qu. Whether had any ministers of Christ an hourglass to preach by, or took a text and raised doctrine, uses, reasons, motives, or a carnal bell to call people together by, prove these things by plain Scripture, or else be silent, and never profess yourselves to be ministers of Christ more. And to this thou answers with telling of spectacles, doublet, and breeches, and suchlike vain words, but dare not compare your practice with the saints in Scripture; thou wilt not be tried by thy own standing rule, but says these are purposely left by Christ to be determined of human providence. What providence is that which is human providence, to which your worship of God is left: is his worship human and your tithes divine? They who worship in truth have the Spirit of Truth to guide them into all truth11 in his whole worship; but your human providence hath led you out of that worship in all things, and thou says thou can limit thyself and not limit the Spirit; so the Spirit and thou are not one. I say I know self orders thee, and thy times are in thy own hands; but with Christ and his it never was; the query is of the manner of thy worship, and thou answers, did the apostles preach in doublets and breeches? Is doublets and breeches forms of God's worship? A man may alter doublets and breeches, but may he alter the form of worship which Christ appointed? The saints met together, says thou, and did not stay two or three days; therefore why may not I have an hourglass? I say they meet together, sometimes stayed whole days, and sometimes whole nights, as they was moved, and this did not limit the Spirit, but can you therefore set an hour to begin and end for hundreds of years, by a glass, or by a clock either, and not limit the Spirit? If thou knew the Spirit and its moving, thou would know to the contrary. Christ would not go to worship at his own time, nor any that knows the Spirit, but they are ordered by it, both for time and manner; but this the wolves never knew. Thou says if thou had <182> our Spirit, thou should be angry at the hourglass and preach the people out of their places. I say thou art a man pleaser, who keeps an hourglass to please the people; and a man pleaser cannot please God, but the hireling must do his work, as may assure him of his wages; if people set you your work, it's fit that they should have it done in their own time, and after that manner they like best; this we should not deny you, did you not pretend ministers of Christ. But if Christ set a work, it's as much reason that he should have the like freedom to order his workmen, seeing he never sends his to the world for counsel nor hire; this we know, though thou dost not. And thou says Christ took a text and applied it, and this thou would bring to prove your literal ministry to be the ministry of Christ. I say Christ took a text and said it was fulfilled in him; but if you take no text but what is fulfilled in you, then you must take only such as John 10:12-13; and those scriptures that tell of a priesthood that were called of men Masters,12 bore rule by their means,13 cried peace while people put into their mouths, but if not prepared wars,14 that were proud and covetous, taught for fleeces, beat and cast out of synagogues, wolves in sheep's clothing, &c., these and suchlike which suit your practice you must take, and then say this day is these scriptures fulfilled in your ears, and then read your portion. So take your own, then you are no thieves; for the word of God you have not, nor was it ever preached in your manner, nor for your ends; and your dividing is to cry peace, though God hath not spoken peace in the conscience, and are daubers, and tread the lambs under your feet. Read Ezek. 22:25-26, and you may see what dividers you are, and what it is you divide.
22nd Qu.: Whether are not they that bear rule by their means & seek for their gain from their quarter, and seek for the fleece, and make a prey on the people, and are hirelings, be not false prophets, yea or nay? And are not such to be cried out against now as they was then? And this being thy own condition, thou art so wise as to let it alone without an answer; if thou had done so with all the rest thou had kept thyself longer covered; thou bids us read Malachi; so we have, and in the second chapter, <183> first and last, and the rest of the chapter, we find thy generation and thy practice, and your end coming on apace.
23rd Qu. Whether do you own trembling and quaking which the Scriptures witness? And this thou looks upon to be a curse, or a papist trick, or motion of the deceiver, &c., showing thyself to be one of those spoken of (Isa. 66:5); there thou may see thy work and ours. Thou blasphemer, dost thou call that a papist trick and the power of the devil, that all the holy men of God that ever did declare the way how they came to see God, came through, as the Scriptures can witness, in Moses, David, Daniel, the prophets and apostles; but says thou, perfect love casts out fear. What now! art thou talking of perfection? Is it not blasphemy to name such a word? Art thou now come to perfection? Thou art well grown since thou begun thy book, wherein thou was pleading against any possibility of perfection but in heaven; art thou got so high now? Take heed thou deny it no more, lest thou shame thyself; but it's not a lie that will make thee blush. Thou hast cast out that fear, but it's self-love that hath cast it out, for the love of God casts not out the fear of God, blessed he is that feareth always,15 but thou art cursed who hast cast it out.
Last Query: Whether do you say you shall be free from the body of sin while you are on the earth, and whether shall any be perfect, yea or nay? And to this thou says, thou believes that in the instant of death when you part with the flesh, you part with all the remnants of sin. I say thou hast made thy confession according to thy faith and covenant I told thee on before; that is, you must part with your sin when you are dead and can sin no more if you would, and the devil too; but that this covenant of hell and death should be for any less than term of life, that's against your faith which you have preached and live in, and against your covenant too; yet if we do but say that you are ministers of the devil and such as uphold his kingdom of sin while people live and the world stands, you cannot bear it; though we do but declare thy own confession. And for sinless perfection, thou says thou believes the devil bred it, and thou says Christ detests it, and never man that had true grace believed it. I say, for thy faith that believes the <184> devil bred perfection, I know thou art of that faith that ever called Christ Beelzebub, and his works the devil's works, so in that faith I do not expect any other confession. But thy lie thou says upon Christ and the saints, saying Christ detests it, and the saints believed it not, I shall reprove and disprove by plain scriptures: Matt. 5:48, be ye perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Did he command here what he detested? or was this a sinful perfection he called for? Wouldst thou make him a liar and a dissembler like thee? And for the saints owning perfection, read Eph. 4:12-13; Col. 1:28; Phil. 3:15; 1 Thess. 3:10 & 5:2; Ps. 18:32; Ps. 101:2; Heb. 10:14; 1 Cor. 2:6; Jas. 1:4; 2 Cor. 7:1, with many more places, too many to set down here, which all declare their belief in perfection, and thee a false witness, preaching such a faith as never any of God's ministers ever did; nay thou exceeds all the hirelings and false prophets that ever was, never any of them durst say it was of the devil before thee, and thou says it's the papists' dung we feed upon: O thou blasphemer! dare thou speak thus of the perfection of God, which he gives to all that wait upon him and hunger after his righteousness? Thou makes it appear thou never knew the good & perfect gift that comes from above; thou runs too greedily after gifts and rewards from below.16 Thou hast blinded that eye that should see perfection; and says thou, the father's kingdom before had perfect subjects, and so shall it have again when Christ hath perfected us. Thou blind guide, had the first man Adam power to defile in this world? And hath not the second Adam power to cleanse to the uttermost in this world what is defiled all that come to him? Thou showest thyself plainly whose power thou art under; none under the power of the devil could ever witness the power of Christ. Stop thy mouth, thou false witness; we know the power of Christ and the virtue of his resurrection, and that he is greater in us than he that is in the world, and that he is more able to save than the other to destroy, to cleanse, than the other to defile. But while we believed with thee, we knew no more of it than thou dost, but with that faith which overcomes the world and the devil and purifies the heart do we deny thee and thy faith, which lies under sin and the devil, and <185> in league with him for term of life, and would have all so too; and thou dost what thou can to withstand, that ever the Father should have such subjects again as he had before the fall; never while the world stands. The last enemy (says thou) is death, which shall then be overcome at the last resurrection; a large time art thou taking for sin and death to reign, till all men be dead. Thou art faithful for thy god, and art making a league for him with all that believe thee, even for them and their children after them, till there be not a man left to sin any more, yet must not we say thou art in the devil's work, but we must call thee a minister of righteousness, though thou never read of such a faith and ministry in all the Scripture. But thou hast in this thing plainly declared thou knows not the resurrection nor fellowship of it, who art yet in death, and pleading for it. And to complete thy covenant of sin, lest any should deny it or break it, or suspect thee to be pleading for Satan, thou concludes thy work with that old refuge of the devil, that is to take the letter which was written to keep out of sin, and to wrest it to encourage to sin; and thou runs to that one place which all thy father's children use to plead: 1 John 1, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." Therefore, says thou, the truth is not in you Quakers. I say John was there showing to little children that there could be none free from sin further than they was in Christ, not in self, nor while anything of self remained, therefore says, if we so think we deceive ourselves; and though John say "we" yet was it not his condition, but as he comes down to them to minister to their measures, who was not yet cleansed, so he saith "we" whereof he was not guilty, no more than James the apostle was of cursing men with his tongue, where he saith, "therewith bless we God, therewith curse we men" (Jas. 3:9). And many other places of Scripture, where they come down to the condition of the weak, yet partake of no man's sin, though such unclean beasts as thee would take these Scriptures to plead for sin so long as the world stands, which John wrote that they sinned not; and thou concludes with this question: if you think you are perfect without sin, whether do you also think that you are already in heaven or perfect glory; for what can keep the soul from perfect enjoyment of God but sin, and to enjoy God perfectly is to be glorified perfectly; but sayest thou, I have forgot that your <186> brethren think heaven, hell, is only within men. I say, hadst thou forgot that lie it had been an injury to him whom thou serves, but I find little of that forgetfulness in thy book, and for perfect enjoyment of God, had not Adam in his innocency perfect enjoyment of God? and Christ in his time when he was upon the earth, though their bodies was upon the earth, and so far as any is covered with God's righteousness, so far perfectly glorified. But thou and thy brethren knows little of this, nor none that ever sought the honor and glory of this world;17 the prayers of such was ever an abomination, and their profession out of the faith of Christ.
Thou proceeds to ask more queries, and thou desires me to speak truly to the point in question; I say, so I shall in plainness, passing by words to no purpose.
And first: Thou says, are not they the very same ministers you rail at, which all the drunkards, swearers, whoremongers, and sensual wretches in the country do hate and rail at? & are not ye on their side & professes the same spirit, would not all covetous malignants have tithes down as well as you; were not they of the same sort of ministers which the late bishops silenced, is it not then the same spirit, by which you are acted?
Ans. I say railing we deny, and speak the truth against those we find out of the doctrine of Christ, who are one with drunkards and swearers, whoremongers and sensual wretches, and whose church and hearers is made up of many such, and who by such are upholden, maintained, and defended, who fight for such a ministry with clubs and stones and stocks; and these are of the same spirit with them and on their side against the servants of God, beating in their synagogues and haling out, as they ever did the ministers of truth, who was sent to preach the gospel and bear witness against their false worships, whom they raged against with carnal weapons, as they had opportunity. And for having tithes down, they are so plain against the practice of the saints, by you upholden, that they are blind that sees it not, yea good and bad, except those who have a gain by them, and I cannot blame the enemies of God for upholding that which is contrary to God. And for bishops silencing, I say you are in the same work, and would silence all the <187> appearance of God had you power, exceeding all the bishops herein, having persecuted and imprisoned more in one year's space than the bishops did in ten; and for such truths declaring, as the bishops would have been ashamed to have imprisoned for. Yea some of you priests, proceeding to blood with your own hands, being more exceedingly mad than ever your fathers was, who would pretend a law for that which they did, but you have none for many things you do, for you are acted by the same spirit but exceedingly heightened in rage, more than ever they was.
The second query is made up of a bundle of lies, which I shall return thee again from whence they came: as first, that we seduce the people from true teaching; 2) that we contemn the Scriptures; 3) that we prefer some translation or language before another; 4) that we maintain free will before conversion; 5) or deny it to be only the fruit of the Spirit in the elect; 6) that we hold forth any for the fulfilling the commands of God, but Christ only in them that believe; 7) that we make our perfection only in casting off worldly callings, relations, names, or any other thing, but in Christ himself; 8) or that thou hast anything under our hands that saith so; 9) that we place our righteousness in our own works; 10) that we deny the imputed righteousness of Christ; 11) that we (instead of preaching the righteousness of Christ) call out for our own formal righteousness; 12) that our righteousness consists in any outward thing or places; 13) that we say no man may call master or mistress any further than Christ forbids it, to the devil's pride in proud men as Pharisees, hirelings or the like; 14) that our righteousness lies in forbidding those things; 15) that we are ignorant of Christ's righteousness; 16) that we take the most satanical lies and slanders to be our righteousness; 17) that the papists and we conspire together. These seventeen devilish lies hast thou laid upon us; yet if we so call them the father of them is offended, though we have no other name for them by the Spirit of God, which comes not to cover the liar but to lay him open, nor gild his works with a fine name; and thou says thou could tell many more were it not too tedious, but if thou undertake in plainness to prove but one of these thou hast telled, it will be more tedious than they are all in telling; and for the papists denying your ministry, or confessing the sufficiency of the light of Christ, or witnessing freedom from sin in him, wherein (by thy confession) they come <188> nearer to the truth in words than you do, though as far off in practice; I say, shall we deny the truth because they profess it? or the light of Christ and his redemption because they profess it in words? I say nay, nor doth this prove us of the same spirit with them, for it is the fruits that manifests the Spirit, and not words; and by that we deny both the papists and you, and all that say and do not; and wherein you say the truth, that we observe, but do not as you do,18 and so to the point the question is answered.
Quest. 3. Whether there were ever greater monsters of ingratitude than these are? who set their hearts and tongues against the ministers of Christ that lay out themselves for saving of souls, through all the scorn and opposition of all sorts of wicked men, with whom these wretches join against them, yea and make their very study and labor their crime, when it were much easier for us to preach without study, and that I hope with somewhat more truth, sense, and order than they that so boast of the Spirit.
Ans. The sum of this query hath been formerly answered, that you are not the ministers of Christ neither do abide in his doctrine, but are those with whom these wretches thou speaks of join both in your worship and to uphold you, and that ministry which abides not in the doctrine of Christ is not for saving of souls, nor do we make your study your crime, but your whole worship, which by the doctrine of Christ we deny, and for thy more sense and order which thou boastest on, than we that boast of the Spirit, I say we have nothing else to boast on but that Spirit that was always counted madness and disorder to thy generation, and that's the Spirit of Truth, which with thy sense and sensual wisdom thou reproachest; and this is the end of thy study, as appears in thy paper.
Qu. 4. Were not these faithful servants of God that suffered martyrdom under heathen and Arian persecutors, just such ministers as these men vilify? or wherein was the difference, and do not these wretches justify their murders?
Ans. I say no, nor like them, no more than the sufferer is like the persecutor, and therein was the difference and is the difference: they suffered in obedience to that measure of light in their times, and we suffer in obedience to the light of Christ in <189> these times; they suffered by the chief priests in their times, who had got power from the magistrate; and we suffer by the chief priests who have got power from the magistrate; and it is not the name of pope, bishop, or priest, that makes just such, or not such, but the practice wherein they are found; and such are the servants of God who are found in the work of God, and such are the servants of the devil who are found persecutors then and now justifying their murders, who then acted such.
Qu. 5. Are not the ministers whom these men despise of the same calling, practice, as those were that suffered death in the flames in Queen Mary's days, such as Bradford, Hooper, Latimer, Ridley, Cranmer, Saunders, Philpot, and the rest; were not these called Masters, did they not preach in pulpits and take tithes or money for preaching, as their due maintenance, and the other things that the Quakers accuse us for, and do not these men justify the bloody opposers of them, and condemns God's saints afresh?
Ans. I say it was for denying of that which was the popish way of worship, according to their measure of light, that these men then suffered, and being faithful to that measure they were accepted, though the fulness of the light was not then come; but this is no ground to uphold the rest of their popish inventions contrary to gospel worship; and if they thus fared, who did but witness against some branches, what may we expect, who holds forth that light which strikes at the root? Therefore we think it not strange to see your rage greater, if you had power, than theirs was; and it is you that justifies the bloody opposers, and condemns the saints afresh, as may be seen in the jails of the nation, whom you have imprisoned, not having yet an opportunity for blood, and here you are found in the practice that the popish priests was in, persecuting and not suffering.
Qu. 6. Whether ever the earth bore men that did more proudly despise others in comparison of themselves, and whether their language savor of the Spirit of the Lamb of God, or can he have any taste of that Spirit of Christ in himself, that doth not even feel that their proud and railing language is of the devil.
Ans. Proud and despiteful comparisons we deny, and find thee in that nature in thy 3rd query, wherein thou says, without study thou canst preach more sense and order than we that boast of the Spirit, where thou compares thy sense with the Spirit, and <190> boasts above it, neither canst thou charge us with any language but what the Lamb used, and those that was guided by him, and thou that calls that railing and the language of the devil, hast no taste of the Spirit of Christ in thee.
Qu. 7. Was there ever a generation known on the earth that did more arrogantly step up into the throne of God and censure his servants, whose faces they never saw, & who they can charge with nothing but being preachers of the gospel, and that in a pulpit, having an hourglass, taking tithes, &c., to be ministers of the devil, sons of perdition, with much of the like; though Christ hath said, "judge not lest ye be judged," and "who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he stands or falls."
Ans. This query is wholly made up of deceit, for they are not the preachers of the gospel whom we charge, neither in power nor form, but out of the doctrine of Christ19 and the practice of his ministers, both in maintenance and manner of worship, who preach in pulpits with hourglasses, and take tithes, &c. And finding them out of the doctrine of Christ and practice of his ministers, they are declared to be the ministers of antichrist, and no servants of Christ; and so they are judged, and Christ never said judge not such, but prescribed a rule whereby we should judge them: even by their fruits ye shall know them; so to thy master thou art fallen, and to him thou stands pleading for his kingdom, and in this fruit I find thee and know thee, & with the Spirit of Christ I judge thee, though thy face I never see, and the generation that ever judged such was never known to the earth, though they walked on the earth and by the earth suffered, wherein is arrogancy that steps up into the throne of God and persecutes his servants.
Qu. 8. Was there ever a generation of men on whom the image of the devil was more visible than on these? He is the prince of darkness, pride, and malice, and the depth of ignorance and height of pride and malice breaks out so abundantly in their carriage and discourse, that all that are not utterly blind may see it; it is the work of the devil to be an accuser of the brethren, and so it is the very religion and business of these wretches to accuse ministers and godly people to be hypocrites, liars, children of the <191> devil, serpents, vipers, with much the like.
Ans. There was a generation of men wherein the image of the devil was the prince of darkness, and these was they that denied the light of Christ to be sufficient, were proud and covetous, laid heavy burdens on the people, said and did not, professed God but brought forth the works of the devil, and the depth of their ignorance and height of pride brake out so abundantly in their practice that all that were not utterly blind might see it, and it was the practice of Christ and his ministers to declare these openly to be hypocrites, liars, children of the devil, serpents, vipers, and much the like; and they did not herein accuse the brethren nor godly ministers, nor godly people, but such as walked contrary to God, and to speak the same words to the same generation that are found in the same works by the same Spirit, is the same to God as it was then, and the same to that generation, who are found in their works; if not, prove thou when it was changed, else thou art the accuser of the brethren, and that falsely.
Qu. 9. Is it no kind of blasphemy of the Holy Ghost, for such wretches, when they have poured out the most horrid lies, slanders, railings and false doctrines, to profess solemnly that all this is from the Spirit of Christ within them, and make God and his holy Spirit the pattern of all.
Ans. To be found in the same practice that Christ and his ministers was found in, bearing witness against the same things, is no railing, slandering, nor no false doctrine, being done from the Spirit of Christ within them, is no blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, but obedience to it; and in thee, who knows not God's holy Spirit to be the author and pattern of all, thy author and pattern is the devil. Where God is not the Author and Father, the works begotten and brought forth by him, such are of your father the devil,20 and his works you do; this is that spirit I told thee of before, who denies God to be thy author and pattern, the author and finisher of our faith and works, so must we needs be contrary, the one to the other, both in judgment and practice, as far as Christ and Belial, as in our measures we have received him who is the faithful witness in all generations, against those ways you now live in.
<192> Qu. 10. Can that man that hath one spark of grace believe that he hath no sin, &c.
Ans. I say by grace we are saved, which we have received of God, which teacheth us to speak the truth, by which truth we are set free, so far as we know him, and so far we declare our freedom according to our measures, and he that sees himself set free from all sin by that power, and brought wholly unto Christ, where there is no sin, self-shame, the body of sin put off, and nothing living in him but the life of Christ;21 if he declare this to his praise, he is no liar; and if such an one abide in Christ, he sinneth not,22 neither doth such an one say he hath no knowledge of Christ, nor need of the physician, nor that he will not be beholding to him for his blood, or to make intercession; neither doth he deny that he hath sinned, but confesses to his praise who hath him cleansed according to his measure, nor is this to say he will not be beholding to God any more, who stands by faith in his power, and is beholding to him daily, and to his blood daily, which as it hath washed so keeps pure from horrid railing, slandering, and other wickedness; thy swearing and drinking thou speaks on; and this is to confess Christ came in the flesh, the just man on the earth that doth good and sins not, who is greater than Solomon, and such deny the Pharisees and papists, and all that justify themselves are liars before him, and to him Solomon confessed, though the law made not perfect,23 yet he doth all that come to him, and so presents them to the Father. And this is our standard against the enemy that would overflow us,24 which the hireling knows not, whose the sheep are not, nor their pasture, who are not wretched, nor under the power of the deceiver, which things thou would charge upon us.
Qu. 11. Whether those that deny Scripture to be God's word, as these Quakers do, and deny that there is any such person as Jesus Christ which suffered at Jerusalem, now glorified in heaven, in the human nature, and only calls somewhat that is within themselves by the name of Christ, I say, whether are not these abominable infidels, having nothing to do with the name of Christians?
Ans. That we deny the person of Jesus who suffered at Jerusalem, now glorified in heaven in his body, is a lying slander, <193> but thou that denies God to be the word and says the letter is the word art ignorant both of the word and Scriptures, as plainly they shall witness against thee, which says "God is the word,"25 and the word of God is the name of Jesus,26 as the Scripture declareth, but never takes that name to itself. "And the word of God endures forever";27 and this is the word which by the gospel is preached, which is not the letter; and thou that knowest not Christ within thee art the infidel and reprobate thou speaks on,28 who hath nothing to do with the name of a Christian, who art adding thy lies and slanders, as though only we limited Christ within us because we witness him in us, so with the Scripture thou art proved to be ignorant of them and the power of God, from which they were written.
Qu. 12. Is it not damnable hypocrisy in the wretches to prate so much of Scripture, and call for Scripture, while they thus deny it to be God's word?
Ans. In this query thou shows thy confusion, one while charging us to prate too much of Scriptures and call for Scriptures, and yet thy end is to make people believe that we deny Scriptures because we will not own the Scriptures by the name of Christ, who is called the word of God; and in thy seeking occasion to slander, but can find none, thou shows thy damnable hypocrisy and wretchedness, and denies both the word and Scripture.
Qu. 13. Is it not damnable hypocrisy in them to call themselves Christians, when they are infidels, and deny the person of Christ crucified to be in heaven?
Ans. It is damnable hypocrisy and wickedness for thee to continue thy lying, saying that we deny the person of Christ crucified to be in heaven, and thou thyself art the infidel, who cannot believe Jesus Christ in the saints,29 but calls it a thing within us, but canst not own it by the name of Christ, as in thy 11th query; and that faith is reprobate, and thou that knows not Christ in thee art the infidel, for he that believes hath the witness in himself.30
Qu. 14. Is not he a pagan and no Christian that thinks that the light which is in all the Indians, Americans, and other pagans <194> on earth, is sufficient without Scripture?
Ans. I say that light which the Gentiles had, which brought them to do the things contained in the law, showing the work of the law written in their hearts, was sufficient without the circumcision of the letter, which the Jews stood so much on, yet brought not forth the same fruits which God accepted, though they could call them heathens and gentiles, as thou dost the Indians and pagans. But if the Indians and pagans own that law written in their heart, and come to receive power to bring forth the fruits of it, which thou dost not, I shall say of you both as Paul did of the Jews (Rom. 2:12-13, &c.): not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. But art not thou a pagan, if not worse, who would conclude all in condemnation, but who comes to hear you hirelings, and your expositions of the Scriptures? Nay thou art a blasphemer, above all thou readest on in the Scripture, who would make the light of Christ (wherewith he hath enlightened everyone that comes into the world)31 to be insufficient without Scripture, and so condemn all the saints and their sufficiency, before the letter was, and so destroy Abraham's faith and sufficiency, which had no letter to add to it, but this is all thou knows of it or its foundation, who denies its sufficiency.
Qu. 15. Was that light in Paul which persuaded him that he ought to do many things against the name of Jesus, sufficient to convert him to the faith of Jesus? Or did Christ give him needlessly a light from heaven, and by Ananias his doctrine? Or had Cornelius sufficient light within him before Peter preached unto him? Or had all the world sufficient light within them, before Christ sent abroad his apostles to preach the gospel unto them? Or did Christ send them a needless light by his apostles? Have those persecutors sufficient light within them to cause them to believe in Christ, who think they do God service in killing or reproaching his ministers and people?
Ans. I say Christ hath enlightened everyone that comes into the world, which Ball, and thou, and many of thy generation, being exceedingly mad, and with envy and rage running in your own wills and acting against it, your light is become darkness; and so <195> great is that darkness, that you are reproaching, persecuting, and killing the people of God now, as he was then, and think you do God service; yet is the light in darkness, though darkness comprehends it not;32 and therefore Peter was sent to Cornelius, Ananais to Paul, and the apostles to the world, not to give them eyes, but to open the blind eyes, and to turn them from darkness to the light, as is plain; Christ and the apostles came into the world for that purpose, though Christ was the light before the world was, yet came into the world to open the eyes (Isa. 42:6-7) and sent his apostles to that end, as is plain (Acts 26:17-18); and to the light that shone in darkness was they to turn them.33 And this was the way by which they knew God, to which they confessed, as is plain in the Scripture, till which time the gospel was hid, and the creature lost by reason of that darkness, wherewith the prince of this world had their hearts blinded (2 Cor. 4:3 to the 8th verse), and this light did not persuade Paul to be a persecutor, nor thee neither, but the prince of darkness which hath thee blinded, wherein thou appears to be one of those builders who refuses the cornerstone and denies God's covenant, which was a covenant of light34 and not of the letter; and the law written in the heart, and not in the tables; which the carnal eye sees not, who art crying, lo here, lo there without thee; but saith Christ, go not forth,35 the word is nigh thee in thy heart;36 and that word of faith the apostles preached, which was in people's hearts; but such was not ministers of the letter but of the Spirit, nor did ever say the letter was the word, as thou dost, but if the letter be not the word, it seems thou hath none of the word, but art one of those who saith, "hear the word of the Lord," when the Lord never spoke to thee,37 but hath stolen it from thy neighbor which is none of the word of the Lord to thee, so thou perverts it, taking the Scriptures to plead for sin which was written against sin, which they that had the word of the Lord never did, and that light which thou deniest to us is become the head of the corner, and we witness it sufficient without any other addition; but thy testimony of it is the testimony of an unbeliever, contrary to what Christ commandeth, thereby to become the <196> children of light; there is the covenant and the promise of it (John 12:36; 8:12), and out of the light there's no promise. And all that thou hast here proved is but thyself a child of darkness and no other ways to be believed, so brings forth thy deeds of darkness, speaking evil of that thou knowest not, and none can own Ananias' doctrine who denies immediate callings.38
Qu. 16. If all have sufficient light within them, what need you go up and down to persuade them; is it needless light that you bring them, or is it hellish darkness?
Ans. We are sent to declare that light which is sufficient, which witness within us, & to draw people from that hellish darkness into which the blind guides have led them, and from all the dark worships set up in the imaginations unto the light of life, which is only sufficient, which bears witness in them against all the deeds of darkness, showing what is to be reproved and what is wrought in God (Eph. 5:13; John 3:21); so to turn people to that light and Spirit of Truth which leads into all truth39 is the end of our teaching, and the enemy of hellish darkness, and that spirit is in them, and they shall know it who turn to it.
Qu. 17. Is it not a most sottish trick of you to go up and down prating and commanding, and yet refuse to show your commission from God, and to call ministers to show theirs and refuse to show your own, but say it is invisible with you? Are you so mad to expect that any should believe an invisible and indemonstrable commission, and might not we as well tell you ours is invisible, but that indeed it is not, or should we believe everyone that prates of a commission within him or no? If not, why should we believe you more than others that say the like?
Ans. Our call and commission is invisible as to you, as ever it was to the world, yet herein is it showed that we are found in the same practice and sufferings that all the saints of God ever was, for declaring against the false worships; and this we refuse not to show in the midst of your envy, in the patience of Christ and his longsuffering, in the midst of your bloody persecution; and here is your commission showed also, and from whom you have it, even him that is within you, who is known by his fruits <197> outward, a murderer from the beginning; so is the Spirit of God by its fruits outward, a sufferer from the beginning, so each tree is known by its fruit, whatsoever you tell us, and that's the sot which cannot see it nor believe it.
Qu. 18. Seeing you cry down our ministry and churches, tell us which is the true ministry and church and when yours begun? and where it hath been since Christ's abode on earth till now? Speak plainly and let us know whether you indeed are papists or pagans?
Ans. The true ministry and church is those who abide in the doctrine of Christ, guided by his Spirit, in the way of his worship; and this church begun to be separated from the world first in Abel, and since Christ's abode on the earth hath been thrust into corners, persecuted and imprisoned, and killed by Cain's generation, who was ever worshippers yet in their murderous nature. And here we speak plainly such was pagans and papists, though they called themselves Catholics; the same are you now, who are found in the same works, though you call yourselves Christians, and such churches we cry down, and their ministry, who hath their hands in blood and persecution, whatsoever they are called by. And now that we have spoken plainly and truth also, see thou be not angry and call it railing, and plot mischief against us in secret, as your father Cain did, and all his generation, when you cannot do it openly.
Qu. 19. Is not that man an infidel and a scorner of Christ that dare say he came into the world and shed his blood to gather only a few raging Quakers in England, 1652 years after his incarnation? If Christ have no subjects but these, he is a poor king. If Christ have been till now without subjects, he was no king; if without a body, he was no head; if without a spouse, he was no husband. Therefore show us what a church Christ had, or confess yourselves infidels.
Ans. The nearest comparison as I find in Scripture whereby to show what a church Christ had, since the mystery of iniquity, and popish priesthood, and parish masters was set up in the falling away, may be compared to his church from the time that the hirelings and false prophets begun amongst the Jews to preach for hire and bear rule by their means, &c., even till Christ's coming in the flesh, which church was sometimes visible but in a few despised <198> prophets, who was sent one after another to cry down the false worships and covetous practices and to testify of his coming, which always suffered by the multitude of priests and false prophets, who when they came still conspired against him; and if thou look back since your lordly authority was set up in your ministry, you may see they have had their hands in the like practice against those who lived in hope of his appearance, denying their worships. And now it is fallen into your hands, who are garnishing their sepulchers, crying out against your fathers, the popes and the bishops, for their cruelty, but are found deeper in it to your power than ever they was, scarcely ever ceasing to stir any authority of the nation against the Lamb and his light where it is made manifest. Yea many of your generation, not finding the magistrate so ready to execute your bloody designs as you would have them, have shed blood with your own hands, even of the innocent, and they are not a few that are guilty hereof in the north parts of this nation; and the kingdom of Christ hath been poor according to thy judgment, yet hath these been his subjects; nor hath he been without a body, nor without a spouse, so thou mayest read what a church Christ hath, and what a church he hath had formerly; yet is he not come to save a few raging Quakers only, but with ten thousand of his saints is he come to be avenged of that bloody generation: and for the infidel thou tells on, and the scorner of Christ, that is he that cannot believe in him, his light to be sufficient; and what a church Christ hath had and hath, we have showed.
Qu. 20. Did not the spirit of the Quakers speak in Numbers 16:3, just as you do now against magistrates and ministers, and is not God very patient that causeth not the earth to open and swallow you up quick, as it did them? Do you understand that the Simonians (or disciples of Simon Magus) and the Nicolaitans, whose doctrine and deeds Christ hateth (Rev. 2), and other gnostic heretics in the apostles' days, did deal by them and the church then as you do by us now, and that the second epistle of Peter, the epistle of Jude, much of the first of John, and the second of John, were written purposely against them, besides many other Scriptures, and have you well considered those Scriptures, and applied them to yourselves?
Ans. That Spirit of Christ we own is that meek Spirit that was in Moses, against which the rebellious Levites was then gathered, <199> who would condemn it of too much purity, saying that all the congregation was holy, the same which you do now, calling all Christians and sprinkling their children under the name of believers; and that Spirit which we own speaks not against magistracy nor ministry, such as are appointed by God, though it hath ever testified against the corruption of that magistracy which by God was appointed, yet canst not thou here shelter thyself, who art out of the doctrine of Christ in all thy ministry, and was never called by him. And thy spirit we understand to be worse than Simon Magus, for he believed in the light of the gospel, but thou deniest it, and he would have bought the gift which thou would sell if thou hadst it, neither had he a hand in such works of envy against the truth as thou and thy generation are found in, though there then was heretics who dealt with the apostles then as you do with us now, and those was and are the heretics who abides not in the doctrine of Christ, who are proud and covetous, cannot cease from sin, have hearts exercised in wicked practices after Cain and Balaam, and of these did Peter and Jude speak of in their epistles, and John also, who declared that then antichrist was gone into the world,40 and that was the spirit of antichrist who denied Christ in them; but they that believe hath the witness in themselves,41 and they that abode not in the doctrine of Christ, and had the Father and the Son, they was not to receive them into their houses neither bid them Godspeed,42 and wouldst thou be found in these practices, and have us to apply these scriptures to us, who deny those practices? thou canst not hide thyself here. When thou finds us in those things, apply thou those scriptures unto us; in the meantime, take thy portion from them, being condemned by them; and we have considered those scriptures and find them written against thy generation and your practice, and so we apply them unto you.
First, Hath the first Adam power upon earth to defile all that <200> are in him, and hath not the second as much power and virtue to cleanse from all sin all that are in him? If so, then what is the cause men must commit sin and be imperfect while they live in this world?
2. Whether is that new birth spoken on (without which none can be saved) Christ formed in believers, or only a believing that he was manifest in the flesh, 1655 years since, and hath not the devil and reprobates this belief latter mentioned?
3. Hath any life eternal in them, but who hath the flesh and blood of Christ in them? and is life eternal known any other way savingly in this world while people live?
4. Is any the sons of God further than they are guided by the Spirit of God in all things? and is not the Spirit of God a sufficient guide to all who have it in all things, without any other help according to the measure received?
5. Whether the Spirit of God in them who have it (according to its measure) be not the absolute Judge of all spirits, the opener of all Scriptures? and whether needs it any visible thing to add to it, or can any other thing judge it?
6. Whether can any other spirits judge of Scripture, or any of the works of God aright, but wrests Scripture to the destruction of creatures, and calls light darkness, and darkness light, and can any other spirit judge according to God in anything?
7. Whether the word of God can be changed, or can admit of several meanings, as to one particular thing? is it visible or invisible, or is there any word but one, and whether was that word before the letter, and shall be when the letter is turned to dust?
8. Whether is the least measure of saving faith present power against the greatest power of darkness, and able to keep out of all sin whatsoever, if the creature abide in it?
9. Whether ever any minister of Christ had any hand in imprisoning any man for coming into their meeting places; or was any beat in the meeting places where a minister of Christ was preacher, and was it not the manner of the apostles to reason and dispute in the synagogues against their false worship, and was not all persecutors and fighters against God, who opposed them, and is it not the same now where the same spirits are, and is that the spirit of God or of the devil which says it's no more persecution to put <201> such in prison than to burn a thief in the hand, as thou dost?
10. Where that temple of God is where the man of sins sits, showing himself that he is God, and must not the light of Israel reveal him first where he is and then bind him and cast him out, and when he is cast out whether is not the body of sin wholly put off, yea or nay? or can he return in again unless the creature's mind go out to his temptations first, and do not such depart out of the covenant of life and faith and so make shipwreck of the good conscience?
11. Whether is the light of Christ spiritual, or can it be known any other way but in Spirit within, and is not the light of Christ within the absolute way out of death and darkness, or doth it stand in need of any temporal thing to help it to enlighten those who are turned to it, believe in it and love it?
12. Whether is the gospel ministry the same it was in the apostles' times, both for matter and manner, means and maintenance? If not, when was it changed (and by whom) into steeplehouses, tithes and great parsonages, and that order of worship now used, seeing you are erred out of the way of the apostles in every particular of your worship.
13. Whether may not the Spirit of God (in whom it is) use the same words against false teachers now, as it former hath done against them that was found in the same practice? and is there any plainer trial of these two spirits in this world than by their fruits herein, as is found in Scripture; and is it now any more railing & blasphemy than it was then, or by what name must a lie be called according to Scripture and the practice of Christ?
These queries I have not put forth to keep up strife, but being things much contended about with many, if thou in plainness give an account of thy faith herein, the difference may be known betwixt us and you priests, teachers: and whether of us owns the saints' practice as is declared in Scripture, but if thou fold them up by six together, and send us to a book to seek an answer we know not where, as thou didst in thy last book, or if thou answer them with sleighting and shuffling when thou come to the thing intended, as thou hast done, thou wilt be seen, and thy cover will discover thee to all the children of light.
1. Jas. 2:19.
2. John 8:12.
3. 2 Cor. 4:6.
4. Tit. 2:11-12.
5. Matt. 23:33.
6. 2 Cor. 4:4.
7. 2 Cor. 11:27.
8. 2 Thess. 3:10.
9. Acts 9:10.
10. Acts 13:2.
11. John 16:13.
12. Matt. 23.
13. Jer. 5:31.
14. Mic. 3:5.
15. Ps. 2:11; 72:5; Prov. 28:14.
16. Jude 11.
17. John 5:44.
18. Matt. 23:3.
19. 2 John 9.
20. John 8:44.
21. 2 Cor. 4:10; Gal. 2:20.
22. 1 John 3:5-6.
23. Heb. 7:19.
24. Isa. 59:19.
25. John 1:1.
26. Rev. 19:13.
27. 1 Pet. 1:25.
28. 2 Cor. 13:5.
29. 2 Cor. 13:5.
30. 1 John 5:10.
31. John 1.
32. John 1:5.
33. 2 Pet. 1:19.
34. Isa. 42:6.
35. Matt. 24:23,26.
36. Rom. 10:8.
37. Jer. 23.
38. Acts 9:10-11.
39. John 16:13.
40. 1 John 4:2-3.
41. 1 John 5:9-10.
42. 2 John 9-10.
a. Thomason date: August 6, 1655.