Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > Index > To those who were in Authority
O men of England, whose day is over, and whose time is passed away from you, and you are now left as men in desolation and darkness; you had a large day and time to have done good and to have answered God's requirings of you and your engagements to him, and so to have laid up treasure with God against the evil day, which is come from far upon you; and you had a large time and a great power in your day to have made you friends of the unrighteous mammon, by doing justly and showing mercy therein, that so you might have had a habitation in the day of adversity; and in your day the heavens were fair, and the Son <270> gave you his light, shining upon you through many clouds that seemed to arise, over which he sent you light, that in his light you might have walked and seen light; and his visitations and risings towards you was often, and his appearance was lovely towards you, even as a calm sunshine after a stormy tempest, and as warm clearness after rain, to the softening of the earth and to make it fruitful, that he might have received of his tillage a good savor from the fruit of his labors and have blessed you. But O people! you would not hear nor regard in that day when his work was good towards you every morning, and his mercies upon you all the day long; but you grew high and lofty in yourselves, and proud in your minds, and self-conceited and self-ended, and hardened your hearts against his tender witness in your conscience, and walked rebelliously against his good Spirit in your own hearts; and he could not cause you to hear, but you grew past feeling of anything that is called God in you.
Then you daily waxed fat, and fullness increased, and pride gendered into your hearts, and you grew wanton and kicked against him that bore you, and made light of his pricks in your consciences; thus was your ear stopped towards God and you wholly lost from all that he might speak unto you in Spirit or counsel, or fear, and from the way of his teaching and reproof you was utterly gone and had removed your hearts far away from hearing his voice, for you had filled them with pride and vainglory, and your unjust gain had made many of them even as the nether millstone, so you became unmovable in your way.
Then did the Lord raise him up servants that would hear and gave them his light to see what you were doing against the Lord your God, who had redeemed you out of all adversity and had raised you up out of a low estate, and had done for you exceedingly, even to win you as a people to himself; and also what God was a-doing against you, because of this your contrary walking towards him, and that he would certainly bring you down before your enemies if you did not return and humble yourselves before him. And these he sent amongst you with his word, rising early and sending them to speak his mind expressly what he minded to do, and it could no longer slumber; but you would not hear, neither would you believe, but the same which had stopped your <271> ear and hardened your hearts in your own selves from feeling, that had wrought too such hardness, dullness and unbelief, till God's word could have no entrance into you, nor his servants liberty to walk among you to publish it, but you begun to question in your unbelief, whether it was the word, and in your pride to scorn it, and in the hardness of your hearts then you begun to persecute the messengers of the Lord, which he sent with it to you for your good, and many hundreds suffered in all parts of the nation upon this account, till there was no hope of your hearing or obeying the voice of your return.
Then did the Lord raise up signs and wonders among you, if by any means he might appear as one to be feared or observed by you. And he stript his children nakeda and sent them among you, and some he clothed in sackcloth, as mourning over you, and some with ashes upon their heads he sent into your assemblies of worships and your assemblies in your feasts, and of your fasts, which was all abominable to him, while you walked in your own ways and would not hear his voice; but these you used worse than formerly, and your rage increased in stocking, beating, whipping and imprisoning, until the cry of oppression was so great that there was no remedy; and then the Lord arose and shaked you in pieces, as a mighty one in his anger, and broke you with such a breach so as you could not be healed nor be a power any longer, and so hath brought the wheel over you, and from far without help hath he caused the rod to blossom.
And the just Lord is now seen in the midst of you, and which of you is able to stand before him in judgment or to condemn him in the thing he hath done; and captivity is taken captive before him, and you that did imprison are imprisoned, and you that sought to make yourselves dreadful by oppression now knows not where to hide yourselves from the mighty day that's coming upon you from the God of the whole earth.
And now this is the word of the Lord to you all, you sturdy oaks and tall fruitless trees, whom the wind of the fierce wrath of the Almighty hath thus shaken: Hear the rod and who hath appointed it, and bow before the terrible judge of all flesh, and <272> seek not to save yourselves with your former consultations, with that spirit in which you have always rebelled against God till this day, and in whose counsel you have wrought this great evil to provoke the Lord, and in which you have ever rejected his word in yourselves and others; neither trust to your friends to make flesh your arm yet further to provoke the Lord to your utter confusion; neither trust in your prayers or performances or aught you can do, while you are in that rebellious spirit of disobedience to God's witness in your own consciences; for verily God will not hear you while you are unwilling to hear him. And now for this he is come near you at last to judgment, and he hath brought near his righteousness that you might see it and lay hold on it and make peace therewith now at last for your souls, that you may be saved, and your return must be first to that Spirit against whom you have sinned, there to make peace.
And now spend not your time in vain talks & vain practices, and so still serve that evil spirit that hath all along betrayed you of your obedience to God, but wait to feel that Spirit which calls you to mourn apart every one for the evils of his own heart against his God, and let that be minded which leads to repentance towards God first, that if by any means you may find a place for repentance, which will be hard for many of you to do, you have so long dissembled with God and betrayed his witness in you through deceit; for this is the truth to you all, if you find that from the Lord in Spirit, that will let you see the evils of provocation and give you power to put it off, whatever it be, you will find favor with God therein for your souls; but if you find not that Spirit you will find small peace with God, and then that which men can do for you will be little available; for it is for want of hearing and obedience towards God that all this evil is come upon you, which must be turned to ere it can be taken everlastingly off; for if you had hearkened to his light in your consciences, and his word had had a place in your hearts to obedience, when you was yet tender, then would it have kept you in his fear, so that you durst not have coveted that cursed thing, with which you hid and covered that just principle in you and blinded your eyes with the riches and spoil of your enemies, nor durst you have set up what you had cast down and got into their <273> estates, and so into their pride by unrighteous gain, whom God had cast out; then had you not provoked God by these things to your utter ruining; or if after this was entered upon you, you had hearkened to his reproof and put this off yourselves with his Spirit, then had he not brought this terrible besom to sweep it away from off you and from within you, who hath left you no place to hide your glory or your riches where his hand shall not reach and his eye find them out.
And there is now no hope for agreement with God in yourselves, nor that he will cease his anger against you, till you return to that from which you departed, that the same Spirit may be confessed and glory given thereto by putting off in his counsel and motion that which was put on in your counsels against that Spirit and his light in your own consciences, and also in many others whose souls were troubled and grieved for you in that day; and this the Lord God looks for, that glory be given to the Just in his sight, and in the sight of all before whom his name hath been blasphemed.
And this is now the work of this your day while you have a little time, and for this he waits and forbears, that he may be gracious to your souls for his name's sake; and it is not a time for you to sleep and sit at ease, nor spend your time in vanity, nor seek to hide that which God is resolved to declare openly, nor with fleshly counsel seek to save that which God will destroy; it's time now at last to see what that selfish spirit and its counsel hath done for you, and repent of it, by following whereof all this evil is come upon you; for your authority hath vomited you out, your glory hath left you naked, and your riches cannot profit you in this day of wrath from the Almighty. This was I moved of the Lord to write to you.
a. W. changes "stript his children naked" to "stripped some of his children."