Quaker Heritage Press >Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > To you that are called by the name of Baptists
I. You that imitate John in Luke 3, where is your fruits brought forth? Where is the axe laid to the root of the tree? You baptists that were oppressors before, where is your oppression ceased? You that have two coats, where do you give to them that have none? Where do you feed the hungry, and clothe the naked, and let the oppressed go free, and use no violence? Where do you act according to John's counsel in that of Luke, chap. 3, ver. 8 to 15?
II. You that imitate a baptism from Christ because he went down into the water (Matt. 3:16-17):
When did ever the heavens open to any of you? And when did you after you came out of the water, at any time see the Spirit of God to descend like a dove and light upon you, as it did upon him? And when did you hear a voice from heaven saying to you, "Ye are my well beloved sons, in whom I am well pleased," to confirm your way of baptizing as it did then?
For they that are guided by the Spirit of God are the sons of God, and if sons then heirs, and joint heirs with Christ, as they were who were baptized into the death of Christ and buried with him in baptism, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, so they to newness of life, who were owned with the love of God, and were sons (1 John 3:1-2, Rom. 8:14-18, and Rom. 6:3-5).
<299> They who baptized them had manifest tokens of the love and power of God to confirm that visible and outward baptism of water.
But what power or manifest token have you baptizers that do but imitate them who had the Holy Ghost and the power; is not that wanting? and doth not accompany your baptism, and so it is but as a bell without a clapper, and dead as a body without a spirit, and so a form without power.
III. You baptized people that imitate Philip, that preached to the church.b When did the Spirit bid you go, as it did him? And when were you caught away out of sight by the Spirit, after you had done, as Philip was? Where is your confirmation, or signs, or miracles, to accompany your baptism, as it did theirs? Are you all chaff and no wheat? What is the form to the power, saith the Lord? Is not my word as a fire and a hammer, to beat down and to burn up?
IV. You that imitate Peter when he went to the Gentiles to preach the word in Cornelius's house, and the Holy Ghost fell on them at the preaching of the word, to show that God would make choice of the Gentiles as well as the Jews; and seeing that they received the Holy Ghost as well as they of the circumcision, none ought to forbid them of being partakers of the privilege of Christ, as well as the Jews; and they were baptized as well as they. But where is your vision that Peter had before he went to the Gentiles? Where is your power to give the Holy Ghost? Are you not sayers but no doers, having a form but want the power? Acts 10.
V. You that imitate the apostles' way of baptizing with water but cannot give the Holy Ghost? Where have any of you sold your possessions? and laid the price down at the apostles' feet as the baptized people did in Acts 4, and suffer none to want but have all things common, as they had? Acts 4:31-32 to the end.
VI. You that are baptized with water but want the gift of the Holy Ghost: how can you cast out and deliver up to Satan? by what power do you that? Can Satan cast out Satan? Or a kingdom divided against itself, how can it stand?
VII. You dippers and sprinklers, why do you differ, one <300> dip, another sprinkle? And what have you to do to busy yourselves to press people to that thing as necessary to salvation, and you have not power to establish them? When did any receive the Holy Ghost and power from on high by laying on of your hands? Give over your dipping and your sprinkling, you imitators, that have the form but want the power. And return me your answer to these few questions propounded to you.
For Christ hath not sent me to baptize but to lay open deceits and deceivers and to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be of none effect, for the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 1 Cor. 1:17-18.
The baptism of Christ we own, which all the saints were baptized into, which was "by one Spirit into one body," as in 1 Cor. 12:13, & by this baptism we do witness the washing away of sin, not only the washing away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God. But sprinkling of infants we deny, which there is no Scripture for. And all you who from your imaginations do imitate John's baptism, and so go into the water, and say you are believers and have right to the ordinances of Christ, but you to be believers we deny, who are not yet come to repentance, and your water baptism, which is but an imitation from the letter. For the Lord never sent you forth, nor commanded you neither to preach nor baptize, as they did whom you go about to imitate, who are not yet come to repentance nor to the first principle of the doctrine of Christ; nor to own the light of Christ in your consciences, who should exercise them and lead you to wait upon God, and lead you to repentance; and the faith of believers you know not, for "the mystery of faith is held in a pure conscience" (1 Tim. 3:9), which you cannot witness, which hates the light of Christ which should exercise your consciences, and so your minds and consciences is defiled, and with that mind you talk of faith and of the ordinances of Christ, and of water baptism, which serveth unto us for a figure, as the apostle saith (1 Pet. 3:21). And Jesus Christ was baptized by John by water, "that he might <301> fulfill all righteousness" (Matt. 3:15). And John was a prophet, and Christ is the end of the prophets; and John's baptism was but a figure; for he said, "he did but baptize with water," but Christ is the end of all figures, types and shadows, and did fulfill them; for he fulfilled all righteousness and John's ministry, and John's baptism, and he that fulfilled all righteousness, the same baptizeth, which John did bear witness unto; and all men came unto him (John 3:16); but he baptized none with water. But this is a mystery to the dark mind, which knows not the baptism of Christ, nor John's doctrine, nor Jesus Christ "the true light which enlighteneth every one that cometh into the world," which John bare witness unto (John 1:9), but goes to hold up the types and figures which Christ came to fulfill, and so deniest Christ to be come in the flesh to fulfill all righteousness. And so thou art an antichrist, who holds up the figures which Christ came to fulfill, and so thou denies the Scriptures and Christ, who said he was to fulfill all righteousness; and the saints' baptism thou art ignorant of, which is "by one Spirit into one body" (1 Cor. 12:13). And Paul, who was a minister of Christ and preached the gospel, did bring many into this baptism, and he was not sent to baptize with water, but to preach the gospel, and all the churches which he preached unto came to witness Christ's baptism with the Holy Ghost and with fire, by one Spirit, into one body, and was baptized into Christ, who was the head of the body (Rom 6:3), and by this baptism we are thus washed from all filthiness of flesh and spirit; but your imitated baptism of water we deny, who live in your filthiness of flesh and spirit, whose minds and consciences are defiled; but the baptism of Christ we own, which purifies our consciences from dead works and keeps our minds undefiled, "by the washing of generation, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Tit. 3:5).
For the word sacrament, there is no such Scripture which speaks of a sacrament; therefore we do deny you and your sacrament, and your bread and wine, which is carnal and feeds the carnal which must die, and your communion is in that which is carnal in the creatures, and drunkards and swearers have fellowship together with you in those things, and all liars, covetous ones, profane and idolatrous ones eats of the bread and drinks of <302> the cup, and sits at the table, which is the table of devils, and this is your sacrament, which stands without in carnal bread & wine, and feeds the carnal, which oppresseth and murders the seed of God within you, and you say, "Christ hath left that as an ordinance for you to practice," which is false, which we deny; but the supper of the Lord we own: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? and the bread which we break is it not the communion of Christ? For we being many are one bread; for we are all partakers of that one bread" (1 Cor. 10:16-17,21-22). "And this is the bread which came down from heaven, he that eateth thereof shall never die"; and this bread we all eat of, and this cup we all drink of, and this is that which is practiced and commanded in the church of Christ. And so we sit at the table of Christ and cannot sit nor have fellowship with the table of devils; and they who sit at your table and your sacrament, and eats of your bread, and drink of your wine, they die; for it is not the bread of life, and you who eats and drinks it doth not discern the Lord's body; for it is spiritual, and your sacrament is carnal. "And so you eat and drink damnation to yourselves, not discerning the Lord's body"; feeding the carnal with the carnal; and so we deny your sacrament to be an ordinance of Christ, or the supper of Christ (1 Cor. 11:29).
All who stumbles at the light are without, and are not come to repentance, and so all who stumbles at the light stumbles at repentance. All who stumbles at the light, stumbles at the door: the door is known by the light which is come from Christ. And all who stumbles at the light, stumbles at the way, for Christ hath enlightened every one, that with the light he might see the way (which is Christ) to the Father. So all who stumbles at the light, stumbles at the Scriptures, and doth not know the meaning of them, for that eye that is turned from the light is the blind and leads into the ditch, and is to be condemned with the light from Christ. All who stumbles at the light never knew hope which purifies, nor faith which purifies, nor the belief which overcomes the world; but he walks in darkness and doth not know whither he goes. And the children of light, which dwells in the light, to him their condition is unknown, for he hates that which they walk in. So with that he is condemned, and to you all this is the <303> word of God. And all who stumbles at the light, stumbles at the prophets' words, and cannot understand the words of them, spoken from the light which in them was. And all who stumbles at the light stumbles at the apostles' words, which were declared from the light which was made manifest in all consciences which ministered to the spirit in prison. So all who stumbles at the light, they are to be condemned with the light from the life of the prophets and apostles which dwelt in the light, with the rude wicked world. And here everyone shall witness his condemnation just, and see it just, with the light which shows him his evil deeds, and Christ's words true, and to his own condemnation.
1. What and where that new Jerusalem is which came down from heaven, in which there is no night, neither needs it light of sun, moon, or candle, but the Lord God is the light thereof: and into which shall in no wise enter anything that defileth, worketh abomination, or maketh a lie, but whose names are written in the book of life?
2. What and where that Zion is, to which all nations shall flow, where the Lord shall teach of his ways, and from whence the law of God and his word shall go forth; after which they shall learn war no more, but shall say, Come let us walk in the light of the Lord?1
3. What and where that covenant is wherein the Lord will write his law in people's hearts, and put it in their inward parts: and they shall no more teach every one their neighbor and brother, saying, Know the Lord; for all shall know him, from the least to the greatest; and whether any may expect to come into that covenant in these days?2
4. What and where that unction and anointing is by which the saints knew all things and needed not that any should teach them, but as that anointing taught them of all things which was <304> true, and in it was no lie? and whether it be of the same effect in these days?
5. What and where that comforter is, which doth reprove the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment, and doth guide into all truths, and shows things to come, and shows the things of Christ, and glorifies him: and whether that comforter may be expected in these days?3
6. Whether any of the saints of God may expect, and wait to receive his word from his own mouth immediately, as all the messengers of God did in all ages; or there must be no word now but the letter taken out of books, and which hath been formerly spoken to others?4
7. Whether any may wait for that promise fulfilling in these days, that all the children of God shall be taught of God; and whether that teaching be sufficient to salvation, without any human help or learning from man?5
8. What and where that word is that people shall hear behind them saying, This is the way, walk in it, when they turn to the right hand or to the left, and what that teacher in the midst of them is, which shall be no more in corners: and whether any may expect that word and teacher in these days?6
9. What that word of faith is, which needs none to say, Who shall ascend up into heaven, or into the depth, to fetch Christ from above, or below; but which was nigh in the heart, which the apostles preached to them which had it in their hearts: and whether the same word be not in the hearts of people now, though they mind it not?7
10. What that voice of Christ is which his sheep knows, and how they come to know it from all other voices, and which all that hear it will no more hear the voice of a stranger, hireling, or thief, but by that voice are brought to follow Christ alone; and whether Christ's sheep hear the same voice now and know it from all false voices?8
11. What that way in the wilderness is which is called the <305> way of holiness, which the unclean shall not pass over, but it shall be for the wayfaring man, and fools shall not err therein: in which way the redeemed shall walk, and the ransomed of the Lord shall come up to Zion; and whether any may expect to find that way who are strangers and fools in these days?9
12. What that ministration of spirit is which is given to everyone to profit withal, and whether there can be any profiting without it: and whether it be not of itself an infallible guide in all the ways of God according to its manifestation?10
13. What and where that worship of God in Spirit and truth is, which God alone seeks to be worshipped in; and whether any can worship in Spirit but he who is born of the Spirit; and whether he that is born of the Spirit needs any other guide in that spiritual worship but that Spirit of which he is born, according to its measure, and whether such worshippers have not been, and are now different from all other worships, and therefore hated by them as in all ages?11
14. What and where that light is which enlightens everyone that comes into the world, and is the condemnation of all that loves darkness because of their evil deeds, and whether there be any other condemnation but this light to all who believe not in it, but hate it?12
15. What that law of the Spirit of life is, which after Paul's warfare did set him free from the law of sin and death; which formerly had led him captive into the law of sin and made him wretched; and whether any now in these days may look to be set free by the same law of the Spirit of life from the said wretched condition who find themselves in it?13
16. What that grace of God is which brings salvation and hath appeared to all men, and teacheth the saints to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts; and whether it would not teach all men the same, if they did not turn it into lasciviousness, and they need no other teacher?
Friends, You that look out at teachers without you, consider what you have been doing all this while, and what you have learned. You will see yourselves to be strangers from the covenant of promise, by which all come to know the Lord and need not teach one another. This covenant of peace you are strangers from, who own not the light which Christ doth enlighten everyone that cometh into the world withal to teach you; if you have the light which Christ doth enlighten everyone with, which shows you sin and evil, and the deceits of your hearts, and how you have spent your time, and how you spend it, and whom you have served, and whom you do serve, that light in your minds to teach righteousness, for it is righteousness. That light will be your condemnation, hating it; and you set up such teachers as hate this light, that are called of men masters, have the chief places in the assemblies, which Christ cried woe against, and so doth not own that Christ which the Scripture speaks of but sets up such as Christ cried woe against: as you may try your spirits, read Matt. 23. If you will own the Scriptures, and if ever you will own God you must own that light in your consciences which Christ has enlightened you with; for it is the eye, and if ever you see the church which is in God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, it must be with this light which Christ hath enlightened you with; but hating this light, you run to the teachers of the world, and worship of this world, and so from God and the church in God, and this light will be your condemnation that hate it. Now if you love this light it will teach you when you lie in bed, and show you where your heart is, and what your thoughts are upon, and all the deceits of your hearts, and bring you to stand in the counsel of God to receive instruction from God, and direction how to walk before him, and as this light doth show you sin and the deceits of your hearts, stand still in the light and will nothing; but wait for the power of God to stand against that nature which the light of Christ discovers in you, and here is your first step to peace.
And eternally you shall witness what I speak,
For to that in your consciences do I speak.
1. Isa. 2; Micah 4.
2. Jer. 31; Heb. 8.
3. John 16.
4. Jer. 23.
5. Isa. 54:13; John 6:45.
6. Isa. 30.
7. Deut. 30:14; Rom. 10.
8. John 10.
9. Isa. 35.
10. 1 Cor. 12:7.
11. John 4:23-24.
12. John 1:9; John 3.
13. Rom. 8.
a. Thomason date: 18 Aug. 1654.
b. Perhaps a printer's error for "eunuch."