Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > The Snare Broken
Good is the word of the Lord, who by his Spirit hath foretold of the heathen raging, and the people fancying and imagining to themselves vain things, thereby to subdue the true appearance and exaltation of the King of Righteousness, in every age of his coming into the world; who hath also foretold of such whose coming should appear as the angels of light (being transformed in the outward shape or discovery of the image of <325> God), and in this his appearance, as a special end for the effecting of his bewitched design, he intrudes into the comprehension of words, even words that are sound and perfect, words of life and power which came forth from the Spirit, whose way is truth and whose end is life; but being ignorant of that Spirit from whence they came, they change them into fables and so are become blasphemers of that immortal seed by which they were brought to light. As also for the maintaining of their corrupt practice (being not possessors of the perfect truth) they desire to make a fair show in the flesh, and to that end they seek to give place to some self-humility, that they may be distinguished by men, that therein they may glory, as though in the sufferings of Christ; but from that Spirit and light in which there is no deceit, but the perfection of truth, let such learn reproof and suffer rebuke, who boast of the light to be their guide and yet are found in the pit of wasps, watching to afflict the children of my people, saith the Lord, and are searching secretly for a stumbling stone to cast for a rock of offense in the streets of the holy Jerusalem, even for a shelter for the accursed seed, not only in those who are brought into the way which guides to salvation, and that have received in their knowledge a measure of the infallible truth, but also in such who have something of the simplicity arising to life in them, by which they are guided in love to seek after the way of truth, if that for Zion's sake they might come to know where they might find the sufferings of the cross, for the restoration of the righteous seed which maketh free the city of God.
But the word of Scripture hath foretold that such heresies and schisms must be in the church, that the approved of the Lord might be made manifest; and now it will plainly appear to those who are in any measure of the light and faith of Christ, such a one hath been found in that blasphemous work, the answer of that book set forth by me, entitled The Foot out of the Snare; for that from the root of bitterness and envy there is brought to light a bundle of unclean venomous things and filthy deceitful lies, confusion, and rashness, in evil speaking against the truth, yet notwithstanding are they all sought to be justified in the deepest subtlety of the serpent, by going about to entrap the simple mind with much using those words which were spoken from the simplicity in such a life, for such an end, that he which abides in a lie knoweth not.
Now unto such who for a persuasion have and do satisfy themselves in things which those that are by them judged to be before them in the faith doth believe and declare for truth; unto such, I say, read and see your vanity; for herein is the deceiver greatly upheld, you being not eye-witnesses to what you believe in yourselves; and though the leaders and you people are both joined in one to speak against imitation, yet in your hearts are you both confederate in this whoredom and birth of fornication, <326> in that the one imagines and frames in his mind a certain belief that what is spoken from the other must be true, rooted and grounded in him from a persuasion in himself that his leader is in the enjoyment of the covenants, in the redemption and purchased possession of the blood of the Lamb, a spiritual man moved and guided to speak in, by, and from the Spirit; and the other, which is the leader, concludes in himself that such a belief in a weak brother, who is not yet come to that measure of Spirit or resurrection of life with himself, is in the faith and power of truth; "but for this cause many are sick and weak, and many sleep."
Who is there in whom there is any knowledge that will not condemn this faith, the truth in this practice, of taking things upon trust, being sold for usury: the Spirit of God saith, "Follow us, as we follow Christ"; but it doth not say, "Follow us, because we believe or do so," but herein, thou who art in this practice art witnessed to be in the corrupt nature, in self-worship, where all the blind guides in the world are leading silly people, who know not the perfect ways of truth, to say as they say and do as they do, though the end of such a worship is death.
And for thee, James Nayler, thy madness and folly is made manifest in what thou hast done, and thy vain deceit discovered, yet not unto the adulteress' eye, but unto that light which is of God, the witness of truth against deceit in all consciences; and thy troops of lies, which are sheltered under thy great swelling words of vanity, are here laid open before thee and turned back again to their own habitation, even into thy own bosom; and though thy envy had a respect to what scandal and reproach thou couldst cast upon me, on purpose that thou mightest make me to appear odious, yet do I not value thy deceit therein, neither am I in the least dissatisfied as to my person, yet sorrow and a lamentation there hath been because of what evil thou hast brought upon thyself and that truth which thou professest, and also the effects which that Spirit thou hast appeared in might accomplish upon such whom otherwise might have learned wisdom from that plain simple mind which appeared in me, in what I have discovered. Have I spoken in soberness and dealt moderately, and have I therein smitten the truth? How is it thou wouldst have had me to a spoken? Can truth speak but its own? Had I appeared a transgressor of the law, like to thyself, with a rebellious provoking spirit, then mightest thou have justly reproved me; but now for this thy uncleanness (it being a work of thyself) know this, that judgment will rest upon thee, for that I gave thee divers cautions, yet hast thou rebelled against knowledge; but now henceforwards learn from this thy weakness to cease from rashness, and not to run before that light of which thou declarest to be thy perfection, for thou art no more the minister of circumcision, for the crucifying of the body, and the abolishing of flesh, <327> I say, no longer than thou abide in the faith thyself; but thou art become the minister of circumcision for the service of the outward law of words.
But to examine and search thy work, the foundation and the end thereof.
Thou beginnest with a discourse to we nine, calling us the heathen raging, of which the Spirit of the Lord foretold, and that we imagine vain things, and so stop the appearance and exaltation of the king of righteousness in this age; and that we are Gog and Magog, who battle against the Lamb, which Lamb thou sayest is in thee (though here thou wilt be found a liar and instead of a Lamb will appear a wolf). Then thou callest us subtlety, sorcerers, and witchcrafts, who are of the devil; and that we hate innocency; and so thou goest on, calling us "the deceived and the bewitched of the devil, with lies and lying wonders, joining together head and tail, root and branch, in that nature, to trample upon the appearance of Christ and shut up the kingdom against men"; and thou goest on, calling me the child of perdition; and after much more such kind of stuff which thou speakest of me, thou callest me a Judas, and those who put their hands to my book, thou sayest they are the chief priests, and so thou goest on, calling us the dragon and "the beast, with the many heads and horns, with blasphemy on every head," and that my book is blasphemy; and then thou sayest, it doth now appear so to be, whereas thou hast not witnessed from truth one word of blasphemy in the whole book. All these and many more filthy, corrupt, and deceitful lies (in respect of that work which is in hand) (as may be seen by the impartial eye in all those whose eyes are in their head, if observing the following discourse) being laid as a foundation for thy bewitched end, thou presentest them before three sorts of persons, whom thou sayest are much concerned in what we nine have hatched and brought forth (calling it a filthy thing); which blasphemous lie thou wast forewarned of before, as I have said, not only in my book, but also justified to thy face when we spake together; and for instance, thou mayest well remember the first work thou wast guided in, when after I was known to thee, was in much subtlety to search what thou couldst get forth of me, as touching this, and also concerning other matters which respected the ministers, which being seen, I refused thy spirit, for which thou hadst not a word to speak, but did rest silent. Mayest thou not blush for shame, for that thou shouldst dare to appear in slandering of so many persons after so gross a manner as thou hast here done, to the view of all the world? O thou corruption! dost thou boast of the law? "Through breaking the law dishonorest thou God, for the name of God is now blasphemed among the heathen, through you"; for as I have said, thy circumcision profits not, while as yet thou art found in the transgression; and here is Korah, who <328> came forth of Egypt and yet gainsaid; thinkest thou it will serve thy turn to say, thy thoughts were so, and now to say thou wilt do so no more; nay, it will not, but thy reward shall abide shame and dishonor which thou hast brought upon thyself and that truth which thou professest.
Thou goest forwards in thy design, and for a better encouragement of thy end towards those three sorts of persons, &c., and for a further discovery of thy malice towards the ministers, in thy haste thou hast reproved them for witnessing the truth, which thou deniest not; but thy deceit calleth it the devil's actings: true that relation which declares of those effects which a deluded spirit wrought in and upon me, under a pretence of light, that speaks of the devil's actings, and for that cause were they discovered, because they were "the devil's actings, who is a liar from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, neither doth he abide in the truth," and those works of the devil were discovered for that end, that the nature and the effects thereof might answer to the good of others; yet darest thou say, that those who are in the least measure of the light seeth this deed to be a secret smiting against the just? but thou art denied, and that light by which thou speakest, for that by which they were brought to light, was life.
Having thus made a preparation by thy lying spirit, in the using of those words of Scripture which were spoken in knowledge for a true end by those who writ them, thinking thereby to darken the understanding, thou goest forwards in thy sixth page, directing thy mind to us all, giving us to know from thy besotted and self-will mind, that we all "are joined to bear witness to confusions and lying wonders," directing us that we turn to the light of Christ and take notice against whom we are joined therein, which light thou sayest hath appeared in thee and may be seen by us in this thy work of laying open lies, confusions, and lying wonders; and then thou goest on, bearing witness against thyself, saying that we never saw it or heard it, and confirmest what thou so speakest with another lie, saying that we also confessed what thou speakest to be true. Now if thy saying here were true, how is it that I could have written it, or any of those ministers appeared in it? but this I shall bear with, judging it to be a mistake, and if thou hadst judged in righteousness, and not according to a seeming appearance, as thou couldst not otherwise be convinced in thyself concerning those words spoken by the ministers, which are less in a mistake then these here of thine, then thou couldst not have been found in this work, but with the light of which thou speakest thy corrupt judgment and filthy nature is here seen. Their words speak of "a sad and remarkable providence," to which they give witness, which words are the sum of all that their mind and meaning did signify, witness by the light in thy own conscience, for thou knowest well they are <329> strangers in their judgment to all those things discovered by me as yours, as also divers of those discovered as mine; but were they not those words, "a sad and remarkable," may not have any respect to any particular contained in the book, but that scope and matter which discovers those wiles and subtleties, which from time to time I was ensnared in by the evil spirit, together with what providence attended me, while under those temptations; but yet to me there is a mistake, which I seek not to justify, which thy malice against knowledge hath taken hold on.
So thou goest on in contradiction to thy former words, repeating some of those words which the minsters have put their hands unto, which speaks that some of them have perused a part of my writings, which thou deniest not, but believest; and then thou goest on reproving them for their tenderness in so speaking, and for bearing witness to what I had declared touching the nature of those works which the evil spirit guided me in subjection unto; and yet, as I have said, there is not one word in thy whole book which beareth witness against what thou hast reproved them for, but for the answering of thy end thou sayest I am "one possessed with a deluded spirit"; then if so, how is it that the light and Spirit of Christ hath here appeared in laying open thy deceit, but thy words and their end are seen; yet it is true, time was that I was possessed with a deluded spirit, even exceedingly possessed, but now great is my peace, yea great is my peace, the Lord having wrought for his name's sake a deliverance for his chosen; and hath made known his election, praises to his name forever.
Thou sayest further, that we "are found falsifying our own words, and so have ensnared ourselves in our own wickedness, and this we call The Foot out of the Snare." Thus directing thy mind to us all, whereas not one of them had the least knowledge of the title, or any particular contained in the epistle, until it came forth to the sight of the world, and so thou sayest "our work is begun with a lie, and so carried on, who in our title page" (speaking in a lie, thy mind being to us all) "tell of the manner of my separation from the Quakers," which as thou sayest is false, speaking in these words: that "those we call Quakers did separate from me, and denied me both in word and writing, because of my following a bewitched spirit, and would not be reclaimed by you, who often reproved and judged me for it with one consent"; and then for a witness to what thou hast spoken, thou goest to the latter part of my book to borrow a proof from my words to bear thee up, but think not to justify thyself with lies, which thou canst not witness; for from that time of my first compliance with you, until about a week before that time which the evil spirit guided me in that bewitched service of imitating the crucifying of Christ, I say, from that time until this time of which I speak, there was not one word of reproof given unto me by any one of them, but great <330> tenderness and love they bear towards me, by which may clearly be seen that there was great hopes in them concerning me, yea, and there was great hopes of me, for that they observed my zeal and faithfulness in that work I was called unto, for which I received from them great encouragement, but whether or no the nature of the greatest part of those temptations which are related in my book, with many more, was known unto them, I cannot say; and whereas thou sayest that any of you did separate from me, or deny me in word or writing, because I would not be reclaimed by them, it is true they did deny me, and so I have said in my book that they did deny me, and that because I would not be reclaimed by them; but as thy own words speak in contradiction to what thou sayest, before I did deny them first, yet not with a bewitched spirit, and what I then did deny, I deny still; which deed in me is true and abides, yea, and will abide when thy vanity (if I may so call it) in those things which thou respectest, as worship to God, wherein is emptiness and nothingness, when I say this thy vanity shall cease, and this do I speak in a good conscience, except thy knowledge is yet before mine, in respect of those things of which thou mayest understand that I now speak of.
So thou goest on with a lie (in respect of the ministers) saying that we "told of what judgment I was learned in by the ministry of those people (meaning yourselves), and so we bear witness we know not to what"; for that thou sayest, that "both they (speaking of the minister) and I am yet unlearned in the judgment and ministry of those we call Quakers," and yet in thy fifteenth page, after thou hast repeated much of what I have spoken, thou confessest that they were precious truths, and also that I have discovered in my book of "many more precious truths, which nearly concerns the salvation of every soul"; and in thy 22nd and 37th page, thou deniest not but that I "was restored again by the true light" from that sad and lost condition which I was in, and that afterwards I was "guided in that obedience which was professed by the Quakers": but this it may be thou wast persuaded to make use of, for that it concerned thee for the answering of thy end, in respect of what thou speakest in thy following discourse; yet here thy end is seen, thou art made manifest, thy blindness and thy confusion is brought to light. Darest thou say that light guided thee in this thy work? silence for shame; silence thyself until thou canst speak in plainness with a true mind and a right understanding.
Thou goest on with thy lie, saying that in our epistle "we say the subject matter of our discourse relates principally to the persons who go under the name of Quakers," whereas (as I have before spoken) not one of them had any knowledge of any one particular contained therein, until it came forth to the sight of the world.
Then thou goest forward repeating many words, saying, We "confess <331> that many have abused the truth by seeking to defend themselves in that deceit, which that Spirit which is of God in those we call Quakers, have witnessed against"; I say that word, "we call" as to me, is a reproach.
So you go forwards with my words, which speaks that the "generality of men are already beyond measure bitterly incensed against you," for which tenderness and simplicity of mind, which respects an advantage to you, thou repliest with a reproof, saying, "Let our practice judge us as to the thing in hand," confirming thy reproof with a lie (so far as it is known to me), saying that we "seek to defend ourselves in that deceit which the Spirit of God in you have witnessed against," and so hath made thyself manifest to be one "of those who have abused the truth" of which thou sayest it is thy guide. And whereas thou goest on, saying that "the devil had never such a design on foot for the incensing of people against you," as my book; I say thou art found herein witnessed to be the liar from thy own words, in that thou dost acknowledge in thy 23rd and 27th pages and in other places of thy paper that I have oftentimes in my book cleared you from prejudice. Again, thou reprovest us that "we are not ashamed in that we say the subject matter doth relate principally to you, which" thou sayest "was acted amongst us, who are joined on in it against that Spirit of God in the Quakers by which it was denied in the persons of them, both root and branch thereof, as" thou sayest "is confessed and witnessed by us." To which I say, for the ministers, they are not concerned therein, and for what I have so spoken I am not ashamed, for it doth and may concern them and also others besides them, for hath God made known his judgments and showed his power upon me, for that I departed from the truth and gave heed unto lying vanities, by which sorrow and misery did befall me, and the seed of the righteous became desolate; and did this evil befall me while I was amongst you? and have I now plainly, as from the Lord, discovered the nature thereof, he having showed unto me the cause and the end thereof? and have I now showed unto you and to the world the true cause and the end, that so such who are of you unsettled in their minds, or unfaithful in their work towards the Lord, might thereby learn to fear and to be kept stayed in the love and faith which is professed? which end thou makest of what I have writ unto them thyself; nay, didst thou ever see anything that might serve more for caution or reproof to such who are of yourselves, than this, are you here accused? then understand wherein and wherein you are accused: I say, see if you may not therein learn reproof, but you are not only accused, but you are excused, where it is yours and where truth abides, there it is seen; and also thy deceit hath confessed the same, as from what I have spoken in many places of my book, though other things in the same deceit thou hast changed into lies (but that is for thy design). So (in thine own <332> words) I say, "let all now judge who have the Spirit of truth, if thou art not one of those misguided spirits" who stand up in defense of deceit against the Spirit of truth, that thereby thou mightest cast a stumbling block in the plain way of the Lord, that so his people might be stayed in the midst thereof; and let your work "judge you who have taken part with your deceit acted between yourselves, in despite to the Spirit of God."
Thou goest further, saying that "Judas and the chief priests might as truly charge what they did in combination together against Christ, upon the eleven disciples, as we charge our act and combination upon the persons of you, or the Spirit of God in you"; unto which, I say, a lie speaks, for our act and combination it was not, neither have I charged what is spoken upon you, or the Spirit of God in you, but where anything that I have writ doth gainsay the evil spirit that is in any of you, that is yours, and good is it that you have seen a visitation thereby.
Again thou sayest that in our epistle we "tell of expressing tenderness towards our brethren"; yea, and I do so say, "tenderness towards my brethren who are misguided in their spirits, subjected under laws and traditions," &c., which stands in the invention, by which they are covered in deceit, and through their weakness they are led forth, "denying themselves what is just and lawful in the sight of God; and this they do through fear," in slavery to the prince of deceit.
Thou goest on, directing thy false mind in a confused manner to us all, whereas thy scope, by what I can understand, reflects upon the ministers; and then in thy 9th page thou sayest, "as for the denying ourselves liberty, lawful or unlawful, we are little guilty of that crime"; sayest thou so, then thy accusation is ceased; for if we deny not lawful liberty, then are we in the redemption, in which faith our work shall abide (but I plead not to justify the flesh); yet for my own part, am I free or not free, it is far short of thy knowledge. But here thou manifestest thy confusion and contradictions, for if any part of what the law requireth be overcome by that which is without law, then is the requirings of law denied; or if any part of what is without law be subdued by the requiring of the law, then is it, that what is without law is denied; but if thou sayest in thy folly that we deny not the requiring of the law, as thy words must speak, otherwise they must speak perfectly on the contrary, then I say thy whole book was spoke in and from a lie, and there is nothing more but confusions, so thou goest forwards in thy own by-way; and then thou speakest of "changeable fashions and foolish childish toys in our habits, which" thou sayest "we are pleading for," whereas there is no such matter in any one word contained in my whole book.
In thy 10th page, thou demandest what liberty you are charged to deny; I say, that liberty denied by you, of which I spake, may plainly <333> be seen by what I have already spoken in my former: you tell again of what I spake, in that I would give an account of my separation from you, which thou deniest, but that lie thou here spokest on is already returned whence it came; for I first did separate from you, as I have said, the manner of which is discovered in my former book.
Thou goest forwards doting in thy lie, speaking to the ministers, saying that "in their caution to the reader, they confess, that my errors from what was written in the Scripture, and in myself, was that by which I deeply suffered," and sayest thou, that "before we have cast it on the persons of the Quakers," whereas (as before is witnessed) there is no such thing; but here thou art found with that deceit in thy own mouth which thou castest upon us.
In thy 14th page thou repeatest my words, which speaks that "I have been for divers years full of zeal after the things of God, seeking after the knowledge of Christ"; and then (for the answering of thy end) thou skippest over divers lines, leaving the scope and true meaning of what is related contained in those words, "I was persuaded"; and so thou bringest my words spoken in another place, with purpose to show a contradiction in me. When thus thou hast confounded thyself in leaving out those words which speaks the truth of my mind, then in the close of the same page, for thy purpose, thou repeatest these words, "ways most useful," but leaves out the word "persuaded." And having thus done, thou requirest of us to tell thee if "all that consider of it may not see us start blind and drunk with abomination and confusion." To which I answer, no, they may not; for having here considered and tried thy spirit, they may see plainly that the blind and drunk with abomination and confusion is thyself. Then thou makest thy application upon this thy own confusion unto us, saying "Can ways most useful" (leaving out the word "persuaded") "for clearing my conscience in order to my upright and close walking with God, &c., and resting in much fleshly wisdom and glorying in being covered with deceit, stand together in one person." To which I answer the perverter of truth no, neither have I said any such thing as thou here charge us with; for if thou believest my saying, that I was covered over with deceit, and rested in much fleshly wisdom, then thou mayest clearly see that it is thy work, and not ours, which cannot stand together. For was not Paul led forth very strict in zeal, and as touching the law blameless, and was he not persuaded that therein he was the servant of God, for the clearing of his conscience, but yet notwithstanding this, when he came truly to see his condition, he saw his strictness of zeal, his service of the law, and his persuasion therein; to be all fleshly and carnal, which kind of worship we have too much amongst us; and these things are not unknown to thee, yet thou gainsayest this <334> testimony, and thou reprovest the ministers for their tenderness; in saying some of them read it all over.
In thy 12th page, thou repeatest a part of my words in thy own way, and leavest out others, as thou didst before, speaking of "a spirit which I said was infused in me, by the operation whereof, together with what I apprehended of myself; after a short time there was made clear to my understanding what follows." Having thus in thy confused way spoken thy mind and meaning contrary to mine, thou goest forwards, saying that we confess "this spirit from which I had those apprehensions was infused into me before I knew the Quakers. After which" (sayest thou) "I became affected with those people called Seekers, and afterwards met with two of those called Quakers, and yet the drift of thy book is to make people believe that I received this spirit amongst the Quakers"; and so thou sayest we have "cleared" you (speaking in a lie) of that "we intended for slander"; but to prove thy work, my words thou mayest see speak thus, with respect to you, where I say, "by whose doctrine (together with what I apprehended of myself) by the operation of a spirit infused into me after a short time," &c. And then I say that "first I shall declare the manner of my entrance into this belief," which manner of entrance may be seen plainly (as is expressed by that word "first") to be the door, through and by which I was guided to that belief before spoken; so that the infused spirit of which I spake was not before but after I knew the Quakers, which snare I was caught in by their words, through consulting with myself; so that here thou shalt see that this piece of confusion thou hast cast upon us is thy own.
Again thou goest on with thy former deceit, speaking part of my words and laying aside others to serve thy end, saying that I "tell of the Quakers that which they spake was against all sin, yet they discovered nothing of the mystery of the gospel of Christ"; which is false, for what is true speak not so, but as it is related it was "my wisdom," which word "wisdom" thou hast here left out, and in divers other places of thy book, for others of thy false ends, thou hast owned the word and made use thereof; and for that I said they "spake against all sin," it is true they did so speak, but their words were few spoken after this manner: "lie not, deceive not, let your words be yea and nay, deal truly with God and man," and suchlike expressions that are one and the same with the Scripture thou speakest on, which saith, "Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon thee"; which manner of speaking, as I have said, I concluded in my wisdom to come short of the mystery of Christ; so that here we, which thou chargest with a lie, stand free, and those words which I spake withal witness that the lie is thine own; canst thou look upon thy unclean work of deceit which thou hast formed against us and <335> not learn reproof? What boldness canst thou have to appear herein? Is this from the Lord? Or is it not from thy own willful corruption, when thou shalt take part of my words to carry on the design of a lie in enmity against us and leave the other part, by which we are justified in the truth and thou condemned in the work of thy lie, yea, surely it is so, and so own it as the work of thy corruption.
In thy 13th page (speaking to the ministers) thou sayest they "tell of one whom I knew to be a very serious true-hearted man, which was converted to your belief, which gave me to understand that the person, that Son of God which died at Jerusalem, was not the redeemer of man from sin."
All which in thy meaning I deny; for (as before is witnessed) they said not so, but I said so; and if thou wilt so have it, they witnessed me in so speaking, and not I them; and for that, I say, "he gave me to understand, that the person, that Son of God that died at Jerusalem, was not the redeemer of man from sin"; it is true in the words themselves, but not (as I say) in thy meaning, which thing also in the close of this page thou hast both confessed and denied thyself, saying that "all which ever knew you will bear you witness that you own no redeemer but that Son of God which died at Jerusalem, whom," say you, "we witness in us, the light by which you see sin, and by obedience thereto are led out of sin."
If thy words here, speaking of the Son of God, respects the spirit of that person which died at Jerusalem (as I judge it doth) then may thy saying be understood in those words, "We witness him a light in us," &c., for in him dwelleth fullness of the Godhead, by which fullness of his have all those who have lived in his light received grace for grace. Now if this be thy meaning, then have I witness from thyself, for what is discovered touching the person of that Son of God which died at Jerusalem; but if thy meaning must be taken as thou hast said, then thy words are not, for that what they speak cannot be; but now witnessed by thyself we are not slanderers nor backbiters, neither doth that person deserve admonition which spake the words; yet if thou wouldst know his name from me, though I judge thou art not ignorant who it was, it was Simon Dring, who meeting with me in the street, at the head of Bartlemy Lane behind the Exchange, had some conference with me, the effects whereof (as could remember) I have declared.
In thy 14th page thou sayest I "seem to reproach you," in that I say "some of you fasted 30 or 40 days"; I say, the words themselves speak no such thing, neither is it in my mind, but as such a work was this discovered "for a sign," according as thyself hath applied.
Thou goest further in this page, telling of those "two spirits which was in me, one contrary to the other, by which I did many things in my <336> will against my will," and then thou skippest to the end of my book, where I say, "before I was persuaded to comply with you I had a right knowledge of your belief and practice," and then sayest thou "here is another piece of my confusion manifested," and for a proof thereof thou goest to the end of that relation, which declares of what delusions I was in; where I have said that I was judged by you; and when thou hast thus blinded the truth by this thy own work of despite, and so the confusion thy own; thou callest us "false witnesses which cannot agree together in our work"; but who is there that may not see thy vain mind and the false witness of which thou speakest, which cannot agree in one, to be in thyself; cease for shame, cease from disturbing the truth and perverting the right mind of the Lord; have I in simplicity declared the way by which I came to be lost and so ensnared by the deceiver, that his way and works being laid open, it might answer to the benefit of others; and yet goest thou about to make use thereof for by-ends, and to cast a stumbling block before what good might otherwise be learned thereby; look upon thy work, and behold thy end; I say, as I have declared before, "I had a right knowledge of your belief and practice," but when coming to be guided by what I had learned in my understanding, that "fiery zeal" of which I spake, being in my will, brought in darkness upon my spirit, by which darkness I was overcome "to do many things in my will against my will," and for reproof from any of you I received none; until that time I have before mentioned; and here as to what thou hast spoken thou art left without excuse, being witnessed against by the light of Christ which thou sayest we have accused; and the unsavory stuff it is thy own, which thy slandering spirit have cast forth of the bottomless pit.
In thy 15th page thou sayest, I "tell of my believing that what was manifested of God in man was the light of life, and one with himself, and that man was the cause of all his distractions and confusions in himself, and that man having lost the kernel and substance, he feedeth on dry husks, and being not refreshed with bread and water of life, he remaineth always seeking and never satisfied, and that eternal life living in us, there needs no more thirsts," &c. And having thus done, thou confessest they and many more which thou hast not mentioned are "precious truths," and sayest thou, "these being things which the devil most envy," we (speaking in a lie) "have mixed with them some of our own deceits, thereby the better to make people believe they are errors"; to which I say, why didst not thou declare those errors, that so I might have seen my weakness and the people have learned knowledge; but here thou exclaimest against the truth and stayest at home to cover thy deceit; but this is to carry on thy design amongst those who say as thou sayest, discovered in those words, We "strike at the whole foundation at once," after which subtle design <337> thou repeatest part of my words, which speaks another thing and relates to another end than what is before discovered contained in those words,"I shall declare some of those effects which this change wrought in me," and having so done, thou skippest to the end of my relation, confounding thyself in not observing the scope and order of my words, and there repeatest the "crucifying of myself, and burning my leg, and pricking needles in my thumbs, and suchlike," which thy subtlety calls "bewitched stuff," though it is true it was (as I have so called it) bewitched stuff, hadst not thou dealt fairly and truly with thyself and with me also, in taking the scope and order of my writing as things were discovered, have I not said those temptations overpowered me at my first entrance, occasioned by the fire of my zeal, and that afterwards, when I came to see my folly, "I was restored to a right understanding" of what was true, which thing thou hast acknowledged in divers places of thy book, in owning my words which speaks that "I was guided in that obedience which was professed by you"; if then I make a difference between that obedience you professed, and that practice I was guided in, while under those temptations, which I have done in many places, then I say where art thou in this thy work? if not drunk with new wine and smothered in the dark clouds of the misty day: behold confusion upon confusion, is Babylon overcome? is Babylon ceased? when so many languages, voices, and sounds breaks forth and discover themselves in a confederacy against the simplicity of truth? yet will not my people see these things, saith the Lord; but though they will not see, yet will I go up to the mountain of my holiness, and there will I plead for my name's sake, that if may be the restorer might comfort Zion, and Israel my glory might see their deliverer.
Thou goest on with my words, which speaks that "I was guided not to pluck off my hat to any man, to speak the words 'thee' and 'thou,' not to bow to any man, not to direct my mind in drinking to any, to pull off my points at the knees, and my buttons which were unnecessary; and suchlike things" which thou sayest we "would loath see go down, and therefore give it as though it was the spirit of the devil which bear witness against them, and so we would condemn the Spirit of God and practice of the saints," to which I say thou art denied in what is spoken; for that cause and end for which those things were discovered was to show the rashness and forwardness of my zeal, by which I was guided in all those things without the Spirit of God; and though the Spirit of God should witness the denial of all those things in another (which I can yet scarce believe), yet I say in that my hasty work of denying them, it was not of God but of the devil, and let such who are found in the practice of them see if the same spirit be not the ground of their practice; yet do I not judge, for judgment is committed to the Son, whose light is in you <338> all, but for pride and excess I rest silent, directing that moderation might be our guide, and for a moderation in all those things I find not the Spirit of God anywhere witness against. But thou sayest I am a Judas, for that I have betrayed thy light, and so I cannot see, being overshadowed with darkness. Well, is it so? am I a Judas? then it is unto thee; for that what I have betrayed is thy light; if then this thy light be darkness, my work is true; yet however thy light, as touching what we have before spoken, is darkness to mine, and for that I have done, and do, my conscience beareth me witness in the sight of God, which otherwise were I a Judas a burden would rest upon me; but know this, I have seen the end of things, and have learned to cease from man; and if for these things thou smitest at us because I call my work, The Foot out of the Snare; or, a restoration of the Inhabitants of Zion into their place; then is it that truth is ceased, for it is not that Zion the city of the Lord was lain waste, and the inhabitants thereof dispersed to the ends of the earth, was not the mountain of the house of the Lord laid low, and the inhabitable parts of Jerusalem made desolate; yea surely, and a great cry and lamentation there was for the desolation of her people; but now the everlasting Father of love in time hath made known his power, by which deliverance hath been wrought for his name's sake; praises, praises to his name forever. And as touching those things before spoken, I have given in my witness already, they are no snare unto me, yet do I not boast in them, for that I know much temptation attends upon them, therefore I direct to all, as I have done before, wait for a moderation, for the righteous judge is in his work, and by your deeds you must be proved, and not by words, and your reward shall be accordingly.
Thou goest forwards, speaking of the restoration of that whereof I say was immutable, and when thou hast so done, thou sayest we "condemn that spirit and way which caused the restitution"; and so thou goest on, passing judgment upon us for what thou hast conceived with thy own feigned imaginations; turn over and read once more what I have spoken, and see if truth doth not speak plainly its own meaning, and for that thou sayest, "here are the two spirits we tell on which were contrary to the other"; it is true, here they are the effects of the one, and the effects of the other, but as touching that spirit which guided me in the "denial of the spirit of meekness," and so in the "exalted spirit, following my damned imaginations" (if thou canst see what plain words speak) I have not cast them upon you, but the way by which I became possessed I have declared, the end of which is a warning to others (to speak in the spirit of truth, deny me if thou canst), and whereas thou sayest, this thing being so (speaking of my delusion), I "was by you denied"; I say, as to my person thy words are not witnessed by what is before spoken, but as <339> touching the deluded spirit, read my words in the close of my relation, and thereby rest silent, for truth hath spoken, by which truth is set free.
In thy 19th page thou repeatest my words, where I say that "a short time after my compliance with that spirit which entered into me by the observation of your practice"; and then thou goest back to my second page, and there in thy deceit thou borrowest a composed lie of thy own to witness against this truth before spoken; but this lie is before laid open; and for that I said "the entrance of this unclean spirit was by the observation of your practice, which practice you declare to be from the Spirit"; it is true, I say the entrance was so, for the first entrance and work of deceit in me after I came amongst you was my taking up of divers your practice in the imitation, the manner of which deceit I have (in its place) laid open; but as touching those things thou hast related, as the effects of this my saying, I deny, neither hast thou any ground or reason for what thou hast declared, but herein thou showest thy busy mind, as one loving to pick quarrels, and watching to lay a snare before the truth, but now receive thy words as thy own; "O thou shameless man!" behold, amongst men, who would have judged like unto thee?
But to prove thy work of seeking to bring me into a confusion, after thou hast discovered thy vain mind in thy own by-way, thou comest in thy 21st page to relate my words, which speaks of my "hasty, forward mind, and my own resolved covenant, by which in the fire of my zeal I was hastily carried forth before the true light," &c., which things are true, and thy own confusion being laid open, thou mayest read them so to be; for this hasty forward mind, and this resolved covenant in this fire of zeal, was that by which I was overcome, and so took up things in the imitation, by which was received in that deluded spirit of which I have spoken, and so by degrees carried on, as I have said, for a warning to others, that they also come not in the same excess; and yet how is it thou canst appear in such a witness as to declare that what I have done is the work of the devil?
Thou goest on forwards with thy slanderous tongue in this thy false design, and then in the close of this page thou sayest I "confess that when I came to the place where the Quakers were, showing the holes I made in my thumbs and telling those lying wonders which I had been acting, many of the Quakers being there, all of them judged me with one consent," &c., and then sayest thou "in my 51st page I confess I was restored to a right understanding, and my life became a clear light, being guided in that obedience which was professed by those people." And then sayest thou, "all this being my own confession, yet I charge it upon a spirit which entered in me by the observation of your practice," and so thou goest on with thy refuge of lies, and then ask "if <340> ever such a heap of confusion and falsehood was uttered and signed for truth," &c.; but those things being cleared already I shall let them pass, only thou speakest here of "lying wonders," which either discovers thy meaning, that what I have related are lies, otherwise they are the works of a lie wrought and witnessed in me by that deluded spirit which led me forth in obedience to them; now if thy meaning be thus, then is thy witness true, but if thou meanest that my words are lies, then why is it that thou didst not witness any one of them so to be, that so I might have seen my errors? but herein is thy subtlety seen.
Thou goest further, uttering much words to us for what thou hast feigned in thy own imagination, and then in thy 23rd page thou askest, "Is there any in this city but they are ashamed to have a hand in such a filthy thing?" speaking of what thy imagination hath conceived, which thou hast cast upon us; to which I answer, nay surely I judge there is not any but thyself, and so receive these thy own words, "consider thy work in this thy confused thing, wherein thou hast been forced so often to clear us," both with thy own words and also with mine, "of those things thou hast so often accused us of, and to the world declare thyself, whereof all the world cannot prove us guilty of these deceits and open manifest inventions wrought by thee, further than to testify against thee and that spirit in thee and them by which thou wast helped in this thy works of lies and slanders, which are one; for the sorcerer, the murderer, and the liar is one spirit, so thou who hast cast these things upon us, which thyself doth testify we denied," and for that cause judgment was given, and a witness for truth hath appeared to the world, "let all men see by what spirit thou was led. Was there ever such a thing done amongst the people of God? hadst thou lived in the apostles' time, wouldst not thou have slandered the truth & the persons of the saints with the act of Simon Magus (though it was much better than this of thee, who sell the truth for a lie)? wouldst not thou have charged the act of the incestuous person upon the apostles, and that of Ananias and Sapphira upon that spirit which appeared in them, and that of Judas upon Christ and his disciples, which is the like case" (all these being thy own acts, thou hast appeared in their spirit, and then thou castest thy work upon us), "and now had this been just dealing to accuse the innocent, or have you done here as you would be done unto? nay wouldst thou have the false witnesses in this thy paper cast upon the innocent the abominations that is of thyself cast upon us," this being the true case between thee and us, whose persons thou hast slandered; "take it into consideration and let the light of Christ" of which thou speakest "be judge in you, whether you have kept the royal law, 'Do as you would be done unto,' let him be witness between us and you, whose spirit you have blasphemed this day; also let all the judges of this <341> nation give their testimony, and all that understand law between man and man, if such a witness deserve not punishment suitable to his slander, who would dare to be a witness against others in things he never saw nor heard, though I am far from desiring that any such thing should befall thee, but that thou mayest come to see thy unjust dealing after the manner of men, in that thou darest to act and witness such contradictions and confusions as is in this thy book, and become a certain witness to that thou never saw nor heard, and so speak thou knowest not what," and yet notwithstanding thou hast thus discovered the vain deceit of thy own mind, that thou shouldst for a cover thereof (to darken the understandings of the simple) dare to appear with such an appeal unto such persons of sound judgement and clear understanding, in respect of those things whereof thou speakest as they are: O man! where art thou, if not beside thyself? Is thy understanding laid aside? or art thou predominate in thy affections, that thou mightest boast in vanity? "was there ever such a thing done by any that feared God? A moderate heathen would have blushed thereat. But now how art thou fallen? and how hath envy besotted thee" in this thy work? These things, and much more of which I am ashamed to speak, hast thou prepared a work for, and they for thy work. Did not Haman insult against Mordecai, and so brought the evil upon himself which was designed for Mordecai? and is it not so between thee and us? hast thou not laid a snare before the truth to entrap us, and then prepared a scourge? but now thou hast brought that evil upon thyself which thou intendedst for us, and here is thy deceit made manifest.
Having thus discovered thy uncleanness and work of a lie, thou goest on in thy 23rd page with my words, where I "say that I had a clear understanding of what your ministry held forth and a right knowledge of your belief and practice before I complied with you," and then sayest thou, "here I add another lie to cover the former," and so I go "about to clear you" again; to which I answer, as I have cleared already, what I have spoken is true, & thy deceit being laid open, thou mayest read them so to be; have I all along in my book discovered the truth of things, that those scandals which have passed abroad might be seen and witnessed against? Nay, couldst thou have done more thyself, had the case been thy own? and yet for all this goest thou about to reproach and revile me for that I have thus done, and that by turning truth into lies, and so make a scorn and derision of the work of the Spirit? and yet dost thou justify thy deed as though thou wast thus guided by the Spirit, let all those of whom thou callest to witness between thee and me, whose eyes are in their heads, bear witness in truth without partiality between us, and then shall they not see thy folly? yea, also read thyself and thy own condemnation, that so thou mayest for the time to come learn more wisdom, and <342> not dare to appear in such a fair show as though in love to truth, whenas thou makest thyself manifest to be a devourer of the truth.
In thy 26th page thou confessest thyself, that I "tell the occasion how I came to be lost in my understanding, and so distracted and confused in mind," and then thou goest on repeating my words, which discovers the occasion to be another thing than your persons, and yet the whole scope of thy book is intended to make people believe that I cast it upon your persons; and again thou acknowledgest that what I have here discovered is "for the clearing of truth," and yet in thy confusion thou callest this "subtlety"; but if so, then thou art subtlety, for that thou deniest not by these words, but that it is "for the clearing of truth"; was not deceit uppermost when thou appearest in this work, and thy understanding covered with darkness? yea surely, and so it was; and here that judgment of which thou speakest is "witnessed out of thy own mouth" to be thy own; "for if it was the true spiritual light which let me to see my darkness," as I have said it was, "and that it would have guided me out of the works of the flesh, self-thoughts and imaginations, and if the cause why I turned from that light was my natural forward mind and resolutions" (as it was) and so "led forth in obedience to a covenant of my own before the true light, by which the light of the sun was darkened, and a shape formed in the likeness of the true light whereby deceit got power to do those filthy things; and if I was restored again by the true light" (as I was) and so "guided in the obedience which is professed by you"; if these things are true (as they are) "then let all" unto whom thou appealest, "wherein there is the least measure of honesty, judge" righteously between us, and see if that the "blasphemy, lies and slanders, and abominable confusions" which thou cast upon us, be not in truth thy own, "who all along in thy book hath gone about to defile and slander the true light of the Spirit of God," under a pretense of clearing the truth, but receive thy own words as they are thine; "canst thou behold thy confusion and not be ashamed?" Dost thou scoff at me for calling my work the Foot out of the Snare, and declare against it, calling it the Foot in the Snare? "Art not thou ashamed at thy envy against the innocent?" Is this that innocency of which thou boastest on? hast thou not cast a stone at us? but is it not fallen back upon thyself? Is this thy Foot in the Snare? then consider thy work and see thy end, for that thou hast ensnared thyself, and so receive thy own; "canst thou say and unsay, accuse and excuse and all in one thing, and yet witness all for truth? who would have fed upon mischief like thee? Dost thou believe that all are so blind as some who are led by you, to believe all for truth that thou speakest without examination? Or dost thou think that wisdom and light is wholly excluded" (as thou sayest) "and true judgment wholly respected? then mightest thou <343> think" with thy words "that thy lies and deceits might have passed without reproof, and thou cover thyself therewith as with a garment, but the Lord is risen, and rising, and the light is come, and the day springing from on high, is visiting his people, and all works of darkness must come to judgment"; and for those "despised people" of whom thou speakest, "who have none to take their part in the earth," I refuse to appear in enmity against them, but for that I see "you builders" have led them forth into bondage and have spoiled what is their liberty; have I spoken; my word shall stand in truth. But for "Herod and Pilate" I deny, and all who are in their worship, and that I own which is one in Spirit and power, which is no lie; but that "Lamb of God and his light" whereof thou speakest, in whom there is no sin, and for the liar it is thyself, witness the light in thy own conscience, and divers thy own words, which from that light thou wast constrained to speak in the justifying of that truth which appeared in me, and with that light art thou comprehended, by which thy ground and thy end is seen, with the depth of thy own deceit; and though we are strangers in spirit, and enmity is gotten in between us, yet that "arm of the Lord is seen" whereof thou speakest, "gathering his sheep which have been scattered upon the mountains this cloudy dark day, who restores the lame, strengthens the feeble, and carries the lambs in his bosom because they are his own," glory be to his name forever; and as for "worship, adding to, or altering from what was in his saints," by the same light in my measure which was in them I deny; and also for those "vinedressers" who stand up in defense of themselves "against the heir, who is coming to call for fruit, whose vineyard brings forth pride, vainglory, and respect of persons, love of the world, and conformity thereto, creature worships, and one which is not of God," I say as for all such I deny, and their worship, neither have I pleaded in the least for them, but for those and their fruits which are out of time, out of the spirit of this world, and as for "greatness of rage" in me against such whose lives are thus hid with Christ in God, it hath not appeared in me, neither dare I to appear in such a work, for that I know there is a seed, whose name is perfection, which is risen and rising to utter his voice to the ends of the earth, that he might establish his own name for a light to his people Israel. This do I see and know, and for that cause do I rest silent; and these are those of whom it is true, they have "lost their kindred," the pleasure of the earth, and the delights therein is brought to their end, they have seen a cessation of time, and they are laid much lower than the lowest of men; and for this cause are they worthy, who follow the Lamb wheresoever he goeth, and in his life they shall live, yet such there are of whom thou art not known, though not altogether, but for "the potters of the earth they shall be dashed in pieces"; therefore, O ye sons of men! <344> "why will ye not turn to the rock from whence ye were hewn, and to that pit out of which ye were digged," that ye might draw from thence the fresh springs of that fountain which giveth to his people eternal life? I am a fountain set open for sin and for uncleanness, come unto me all ye who are weary and heavy laden, that ye might be watered with the dew of heaven, and ye shall find rest for your souls; my yoke is easy and my burden is light; but for such who are gathering together in a confederacy against my name, when my wrath is waxed hot I will arise in my fury and recompense you according to your work.
Thou beginnest in thy 31st page with a word to me, discovering "what I said to divers friends, that I did put forth what I have done to clear the truth professed by you from many scandals cast upon it through my means"; and then sayest thou, "that truth by you professed is a witness against me forever, that I have not sought to clear it, but I have sought my own, and also that I have caused the truth to be blasphemed above all that ever was before me in this generation since the time of his appearance who is the light of the world, and for that end I have gone to consult with the greatest enemies to that truth professed by you that are in the nation." Now as touching all what thou hast here spoken, I utterly deny; for did I so speak to friends my words are true, for that I have spoken in much plainness to that end, witnessed and proved by all what I have before spoken. And whereas thou sayest that truth professed by you witnesses against me that I have not so done, I say, by that truth of which thou speakest I deny thy words, and that from whence thy words came; and this is a standard from the Lord in defense against thee, and the depth of thy backsliding work also; and now shall the people mourn because of thee, who hath so much appeared in defense of the truth and yet art found thyself smothered in such filth as thou hast here appeared in; a man of unclean lips and defiled tongue; shall not all in whom there is the least measure of truth bear witness against thee? Yea surely they shall so if they appear for truth (as I have said) without partiality. And now is it, that it is thyself who "hath sought thy own," and not the good of that whereof thou speakest, but hath brought a tenfold greater reproach upon that truth professed by thyself than can be witnessed I have; and for that thou sayest I "consulted with the greatest enemies of truth in the nation," I deny thee thou body of deceit; how is it (as I have said) thou darest to speak what thou neither saw nor heard, yet not so alone, but also "foretold," and (as I have said) "witnessed to thy face," when privily thou wentest about to inquire of one, if the Anabaptist or any other had not a confederacy with me in what I have done. Is this the work of simplicity? Nay surely, it is not. I say I did not consult with any, neither was there any addition or exchange of one word but what is my own, all which I yet <345> own and am fully satisfied in being witnessed therein by truth, only for that I was persuaded to engage those ministers, and so have brought them under the reach of thy snare, when in truth, as to them, were it not for that mistake they stood free in what they have there done, and also for that I was overcome in such a great mistake, and carried aside by vanity in that deed of engaging them: I say, only for these things I have much been disquieted, and it doth repent me that I have appeared therein; but for the rest it was not mine but another's, whose work shall abide, and for this (to prevent thy former lying spirit) I declare that not one of those ministers, or any other person who would have stored me up herein, I say, not one of them have the least knowledge of what I have here done, neither shall it be known to any one of them until it be published to the sight of the world; and now for that that thou hast declared to come upon me, fear possesseth me not, but I bear with thy weakness therein; yet for the reproach it is thy own, and for that thou sayest I "gainsaid and turned into fables, and believed lies"; it is true, great was my folly, I did so; yet in thy meaning thou art denied, for they were not peremptory acts on purpose to oppose the Spirit of God, but I was guided therein through mistake, in much love towards God, the manner of which mistake I have plainly laid open; and let all be warned thereby, for "truth changeth not"; and for "the priests making me their refuge" there was no such thing, for I was guided of myself to go unto them, and being well known to some of them, they gave credit to my words (as touching those things whereof their names were intended) though they saw not my work, which was one and the same as though they had seen it, for the thing itself being only a relation, and no discovery of judgment. Did I make known in few words what I had declared in many words? and were those few believed? then was there as good faith in believing the truth of the one as the truth of the other, but that thy contentious mind must be at work.
Thou goest forwards, saying, "Was I brought to see my sin, and yet I heard nothing of the gospel?" I say, I have not spoken that I heard nothing of the gospel; but if thou here meanest that I did not hear anything of the gospel, then hast thou spoken thou knowest not what, for I have heard and seen the ministry of the gospel, and the power thereof; but for my "believing of lies and gainsaying the truth," I say, by the Spirit of truth, is that spirit from whence thou hast so spoken denied; and had I "dealt with Abel my brother like Cain," or "turned back into Egypt like Korah," then would their judgment have rested upon me, (as I have before spoken); fear possesseth me not, my conscience bearing me witness in the sight of God; but were it so I had dealt with Abel like as did Cain, yet nevertheless the day of my visitation had not been over, neither had the law power over me any longer than I had been a servant <346> unto corruption; for when Cain had killed his brother there was yet mercy if that he increased not in his uncleanness, as the Spirit saith unto him, "If thou doest well, thou shalt have thy reward, if otherwise, then sin lieth at the door." Now where either of us are found in ungodly deeds, the Lord rebuke us; but for thy railing accusation, and turning truth into fables, and so making lies thy refuge, thou art come up for proof before the Lord, by whose Spirit thy spirit it is which is savored and tried, unto whom thy voice is known and witnessed against, as being the voice of a roaring lion and a ravenous beast, and not from the Spirit of the Lord; and now is it that thou art the man who hath ensnared thyself and brought a prejudice upon the truth, for that thou hast consulted with the beast and the false prophet, and so thou art become the devourer; and here is Judas and the chief priests, and their false witnesses; and here are the lies and the confusions, lest simple minds should be led with a lie through some of the frogs.
And now art thou made manifest in this thy work, as one who is gone astray out of the plain way of the true shepherd, and so art become a stranger to the flocks of his companions, wherefore learn hence to stay at home, and receive teachings from that true shepherd, that thou mayest know his voice and follow him, who gives to his chosen eternal life, who is the light of the world and enlightneth every one that cometh into the world; whose judgment is true upon his enemies, and whose condemnation abideth forever.
Wherefore a word to those "three sorts of people" (of whom thou speakest) who may be "concerned" in what I have done.
To "the first sort, those who have received the light of Christ, whose eye is in their head, who are come to any measure of the anointing, who are joined in the election"; to you I say is this deliverance from the bonds of iniquity and from that captivity wherein you were carried aside from the peaceable union and enjoyment of the eternal love; to you is this deliverance given, that your lives might show forth the life and death of him by whom you were called, to the praise and glory of his grace, and for which end he have given his light, that with it ye might see all what is darkness, all what loveth and maketh a lie, all what is fallen from God; that ye might comprehend the depth of Satan and all the secret bonds of iniquity; and here is the rock Christ, before whom all shall fall, and this rock, this light is your defense, in whom abiding, the false prophet, the beast and the deceiver is seen and rejected, and not only in yourselves but also in the persons of those in whom he doth appear; wherefore stand fast in that liberty whereunto you are called, that your obedience being wrought in that faith which giveth life, ye might in the end obtain the crown.
<347> To "the second sort, those who in their hearts are convinced of the way of truth, but finding it strait to their carnal pleasures and profits, not loving the truth more than the world but taking pleasure in unrighteousness, and serving and loving the creature more than the Creator"; to you I say, watch while as yet ye have time, and please not yourselves with vanity and the work of lies, that ye stumble not in the way which leadeth to life and so be swallowed up of corruption; for if while you seek to be justified by Christ you are found in the transgression, and so frustrate the grace of God, there remains no more sacrifice for sin; wherefore call to mind your former condition, when you were strangers to the true faith, and so kept in bondage under the law, and learn from him who is true, to receive the love and grace made known, that ye might walk worthy of that calling whereunto you are called, and show forth the praise of him who hath opened your eyes, and give you to see that darkness by which (in times past) you were sold under sin; wherefore in love receive admonition, that so being redeemed out of the world, ye might grow up in him who is the fountain of eternal life, and be brought to see the glory of the Father's love: "this then is the message that we have heard of him and declare unto you, that God is light, in him is no darkness at all: if we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth" (1 John 1:5-6).
To the "third sort, such who have a simplicity in them, and a love to the truth and the way thereof, and would walk in it did they know it, but are yet kept in blindness and darkness by their blind guides, who take advantage by these works of the devil, lies, and slanders, to thicken the veil and strengthen the bonds, thereby to keep them from the light of life and the way of peace, and so in the way of destruction for their corrupt ends, I say, for you who are in this case, out of the knowledge of God, his light and life, which is salvation, for you have I much been disquieted, being sensible of your condition"; but as I have already endeavored to remove that prejudice which may attend you by those false conclusions which have appeared in enmity to what I have done, though I may not say directly in enmity to you; and as I have discovered the truth of that cause and end for which I have appeared to the world, which thing is not that thereby ye should be "affrighted from the truth," but when received, that ye might give heed to abide in that by which you were convinced, that so ye may not run into the same excess, so also that ye may not be overcome with that spirit of deceit and stablished in that corrupt mind in which you have been kept and guided out of the ways of truth, I say, that ye may not be overcome (by any work of mine) to abide in this darkness. That God who is a Spirit is not divided, but his name is one, and this God cannot be known by any ways of <348> worship or practice amongst men, but by his Son, who is that Spirit and life by which the election of God are redeemed out of all corruption, out of all ways and works of the flesh, into a spiritual union with that God who is the Father of Spirits, and cannot be worshipped but by and in the Spirit, and therefore is it spoken in Scripture concerning Christ, "That for this purpose was he made manifest, to destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3.8). Now where is this manifestation of Christ to be found, for the destruction of the works of the flesh or of the devil, but in fallen man, where the works of the unclean spirit are wrought? and from whence they do proceed? and for which cause was that promise given, "that the seed of the woman should break the head of the serpent"? which seed is Christ; he was born under the law to redeem them that were under the law; he was brought forth into the world and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it; he suffered in his body the death of the cross, and after that time, appointed of his Father, he was raised out of the grave, clothed with immortality, and received up into glory; and now he hath given gifts unto men, he hath dispersed his seed, he hath given of his Spirit, he hath made known his light in and unto all the children of men, that by and with this his manifestation and discovery of himself, his eternal love and grace, I say, that by and with this men might see and understand, and receive power for the destruction of the body of corruption, and for the service and worship of God in Spirit, in obedience to a living faith; and now let men profess what they will, and assemble themselves in what way and under what manner soever, yet if they receive not their ministry from this Spirit Christ Jesus revealed in all, and follow him who is the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin, that they may receive power from him to be redeemed out of sin, I say, if they receive not their testimony from this Spirit of Jesus, to live therein, they shall not, neither can they ever come to see that eternal love, that peace and union, which is in God through Christ Jesus the portion of the faithful, in him who is perfect. Wherefore I say unto you all, who take pleasure in your uncleanness, and sport yourselves with your secret abominations now in the daytime, and yet boast of your redeemer: I say unto you repent, lest that day come upon you unawares in which there is no time or space for repentance, and look unto him who is the light of Israel and is given for a light to the Gentiles, that they might see and return unto him who is the redeemer out of all sin, who restoreth the breaches and buildeth up the walls of Jerusalem, and giveth life unto his two witnesses who have lain slain in the streets thereof, that they might go forth and declare the everlasting gospel of peace.
a. Thomason date: 31 Jan. 1655/56.