Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > Deceit Brought to Daylight
Friends, this generation with speed fulfills its measure of wickedness against the seed of God, till the seed of Esau become a desolation forever; and the armies of Gog and Magog, with their men of war, appears from all quarters in defiance of Israel, till there be not a man left to handle the sword. We are become a prey to the slanderous tongue, and are made as a mark for the wicked, against which they bend their bow and shoots their arrows, even bitter words of lies and reproaches, more than may <510> be numbered; but the wickedness of the wicked shall slay him, and his transgression shall fall upon his own head. For though they strive, yet to no purpose, for the warrior loses his hand in the day of battle, and his strength becomes weakness, and his wisdom is turned into folly; and even this man Thomas Collier hath helped up the measure of his generation, and is no whit short, but the rather exceeding some of his brethren in lies and slanders and reproaches, and his testimony hath he given against the Lord, and his mite hath he cast in unto Babylon's confusion, to make up the number of the beast in the war against the Lamb, against which the whole body and train of darkness, from the head to the tail, is joined in the agreement of hell, and is now come forth in the power and authority of the beast; they are gathered against the Lord, that they may be scattered by the whirlwind of his wrath; and they are risen that they may be broken to pieces; and they have spoken that they may be condemned out of their own mouths. And this man with many of his brethren is justly fallen into the pit which he digged for another, and the snare hath trapped his own foot; and he is the man who is found and proved (in a high degree) guilty of that wickedness and transgression whereof he falsely accuses us, and the reproach stands upon his own head which he hath thought to lay upon the innocent. What? art thou among the rest, fled to lies for refuge as thy last defense? Is this the end of thy profession and of thy high notions, who was once mounted up into the air among the wandering stars, carried for a time as a cloud with the tempest; but now art thou fallen into the earth, because there was no abiding place for thee, and art turned again into the beggarly rudiments of the world, where the chains of darkness compasses thee about till the judgment of the great day, for which thou art reserved, and thy lies are numbered to go into the pit together. In this present answer unto thy foolish invented discourse, he that hath understanding may read thy shame and confusion; thou art not found only upon secret search, but manifestly thy impudence appears, and much need not be said, but only thy lies are sent back to thee in a gross sum gathered up from thy mouth, to seek a witness from thee of what thou hast asserted; thou hast slandered but given no evidence, and hast made thyself a transgressor of the law, which would thee to do as thou would <511> be done unto; and till then we do wait, or else forever do let them rest upon thy own head, as the founder of them; and thereof shalt thou have shame and reproach in the sight of all just men, in this present world, & vengeance in the sight of God in the world to come; and in that day shalt thou confess unto thy condemnation to be just, in the presence of the Lord God. How easy a thing is it for thee to make a lie and then to disprove it? But this is not the way to prove us deceivers; for our doctrine and conversation shall bear witness for us in the sight of men, and by the light in every man's conscience to be witnessed; and unto the living God we do appeal for judgment, and leaves it unto his day; and for this purpose hast thou appeared against us that thy folly might appear unto all men, and thou in thy secret envy (which hath lodged in thy heart) might be known unto all; who hath travailed to bring forth wickedness; and thou shalt be filled with thy own ways, and must receive the just reward thereof.
London, the 3rd of the fifth month, 1656
Friend, though thou be late with this thy work, yet one of Gog's army thou must appear, and having both questions and answers in thine own hand, thou hast made up a heap of lies and confusion to cast in amongst the rest, even such filthy things out of thy own unclean spirit hast thou cast upon the truth, as honesty would have been ashamed to utter, speaking evil of that which thou knows naught of but by hearsay, the life being that which thou art shut out of, and all the image-makers in the nations. Thou sayest our principles are but the principles of the old Ranters, which is as far from them both in principle and practice as light and darkness, which clearly shows thy ignorance of us and envy to us: it's true, the Ranters' principles thou hast known, and their practice also, and I should be glad to see thee as clear from them as thou would make people believe thou art; but our principle thou knows not, that eye is blind with which thou shouldst see it, or the life from which it arises, and therefore the liar is up in thee foaming out thy own shame, speaking things from the evil of thine own heart, which thou canst not prove, nor make appear, <512> things utterly false and untrue, which we can say before the Lord never entered into us to believe or declare, which thou lays down as our principles, and that spirit would say as much by our practice; but that thou would not be seen openly to be a liar.
And lest thou should say I wrong thee, I shall gather out some of thy lies thou hast falsely slandered us with in this book, and send thee them back to the founder to prove, if thou canst, or own thy condemnation for a false accuser; but by that time thy lies be sent back, the rest of thy book that concerns us will be soon answered. Thy lies be such as these:
First, thou sayest that all our principles are delusions.
That we hold not any one principle of truth truly as it is in Jesus.
That we forsake the true way decreed of God for the attaining of justification, which is by faith in Christ crucified.
That we call justification by faith in Christ crucified, carnal.
That we have set up another way to attain justification, that is, by quaking.
That we have outed Christ in his great work of justification.
That we have trampled under foot the blood of the covenant.
That we have counted the blood of the covenant a thing too unholy for us to look at for justification.
That we disown Christ in his ascension, intercession, and the works of his mediatorship.
That we have found another way to go to God than by Christ mediator.
That we disown Christ in his authority.
That we will not submit to Christ in his word.
That instead of hearkening to the voice of Christ in Scripture, we hearken to and follow after the voice of Satan.
That the best we hearken to is but our own deceitful hearts.
That we call the voice of Satan in our own deceitful hearts the voice of Christ.
That we do obey the voice of Satan in our own hearts, though contrary to all rules of God in Scriptures.
That we disown the coming of Christ from heaven.
That we disown Christ's kingdom, which is the great and blessed promise of the gospel: the faith and hope of saints.
<513> That we disown the resurrection of the dead in the second appearance of Jesus.
That we disown the eternal life with Jesus Christ.
That we own ourselves to be perfect.
That we own ourselves to be free from sin, entered into a state of justification, not by faith in Christ but by our own righteousness.
That we own neither salvation nor damnation of any person.
That our principles are but the principles of the old Ranters.
That the devil hath hemmed us in with a pretense of our own infallibility.
That we will not admit of no sober discourse, nor bring our principles to trial of Scripture.
That railing accusations, and hideous names, is the strength of our arguments for our way.
That amongst all the false ways of Satan, there is none more pernicious and dangerous than we are.
That we undermine the whole body of truth.
That our way makes an end of Christ in his person, offices, power, and being as a man all at once; and so makes an end of justification and salvation.
That we make an end of the authority of Scripture as a rule.
That we deny the birth from above by the Spirit.
That we hold it as our great principle that the light that is in all men is Christ.
That we turn from the light of Christ shining in the Scriptures, to follow our imaginations and fancies instead of Christ.
That we do but talk of the name of Christ for a juggle and a cheat.
That under the name of Christ we stobb him.
That we lay aside the man Christ Jesus our Lord, as a thing of naught.
That under a pretense of Christ within, we take an advantage to murder the true Christ.
That we are guilty of the great and damnable sin of unbelief in Christ crucified for sin, the way, the truth, and the life.
That we set up another salvation of our own within us.
That we sacrifice to our own nets.
<514> That we proclaim that all that own justification through faith in the blood of the covenant are deceived.
That we own it as a principle not to submit to any word or law of Christ written in Scripture.
That we trample under foot the laws and ordinances of Christ recorded in Scripture.
That we judge all those that walk therein to be enemies.
That we proclaim our own righteousness and perfection.
That we condemn the poor humble souls for publicans that live in a sight and sense of themselves.
That we shut up the kingdom of heaven, and will not go in nor suffer others that are entering.
That we will not enter unless we may enter by our own righteousness, and not by the blood of the covenant.
That we leave the weighty things of faith and obedience to the laws and ordinances of Christ undone, as vile and contemptible.
That we make God a liar.
That we destroy civil courtesy, as God hath commanded it.
That we level all conditions and relations, making all things common upon this account.
That under a pretense of perfection we bring forth a religion made up of infidelity, disobedience, hypocrisy, pride, trampling under foot the blood of the covenant, &c.
That we are guilty of that hell-born sin of lying and deceit.
These abominable falsehoods (with many more suchlike) hast thou uttered out of thy bosom; these lies comes with as much impudence and boldness as though thou should never be called into judgment for them hereafter, nor put to prove them now, much like to that scolding spirit which sticks not to call thief and whore freely, but when they should prove it falls on their own head; this is not the first time this venom hath been cast upon us by that brood whereof thou art; yet to us it sticks not, it comes no nearer the truth, but out of the liar's bosom, that it may return upon the liar's head; so take these again and prove us (whom thou hast slandered therewith) to be guilty, as thou hast said, or own thy condemnation for a false accuser before God and all the world before whom thou hast slandered us falsely, and before his light in thy conscience, to which thou art an <515> enemy, lest they remain with thee till the dreadful day of God's wrath against the liar and his father.
And now thy lies being sent back to the founder, the greatest part of thy book (as to what thou hast writ against us) is answered and come to naught; so the foundation is discovered on which thy work stands; take away the lie and thou art disarmed.
But now seeing thou hast falsely charged us to set up ways to salvation which are not the man Christ Jesus, I shall make it appear to be thy own work to set up a way to salvation to which thou would bind men, which is neither the man Christ Jesus nor his Spirit.
And I shall not imitate thee therein, by saying thou dost so, and so leave it; but first I shall prove it, and then let it stand on thy head forever, unless thou deny thy error and repent: thus I prove it.
In thy 15th page thou limits the conversion of all that have been, are, or shall be converted since the apostles' time, to that written by the apostles and left to after-generations; and in thy 17th page thou affirms it to be the absolute rule of saints.
And this letter of the Scripture or apostles' writing, I deny to be the man Christ Jesus; and that it is not the Spirit thyself confesses in page 22, in these words, where thou sayest, "to say that the Scripture is Spirit that discovers much ignorance, and indeed such look upon it with an idolatrous eye," and saith further, "that the Spirit of God is always distinguished from the Scripture."
My own I prove thus: the man Christ Jesus ascended, but the letter of the apostles did not ascend, nor could before it was written; for then it was no letter.
Again, if the writings of the apostles be the man Christ Jesus, then we have part of him visible here on earth, and part is lost, which few will say.
Again, the visible part of the apostles' writings is paper and ink; but so is not the visible part of the man Christ Jesus; more might be said which plainly proves that the apostles' writing is not the man Christ Jesus; and thou hast confessed they are not the Spirit, and yet thou affirms them to be the absolute rule of saints, and way of conversion, so as God may not convert any but by them, which he hath said of nothing but Christ himself; so that if thou have not set up an absolute rule that is not Christ's, and <516> bound God to work by, and all people to believe in a way of conversion and salvation that is not Christ, neither in flesh nor spirit, as is clearly proved, let the truth in all consciences judge, and see if the liar be not fallen into the pit he hath digged for the innocent.
Further, let the wise judge if thou have not hereby concluded all damned who have lived and died since the apostles' time, and have not heard the letter written by the apostles; for if all that have been, are, or shall be converted since the apostles' time, must be by their writings, then who hath not their writings cannot be converted nor brought to God.
Thus hath thou limited God to a Bible to convert by, and condemned all that have not one, or heard one; and with such blind stuff thou goes on to discover our errors, but cannot see thy own blindness.
Further thou hast set up a new way of converting souls, than by which Abraham and Enoch and the holy men of God was converted, and hath bound God to it; for they was not converted by the writings of the apostles, before they was, or they that writ them, and so art laying another foundation than was preached to Abraham, and was the foundation of the prophets and apostles, who was converted before the letter of the apostles was; and so art he thou tells on who art preaching another gospel, and accursed.
And now that I have proved thee one who art setting up another way to salvation that is not Christ, & setting up one to rule that is not Christ, and so art antichrist, I shall charge thee therewith till thou repent, and shall add this thy false doctrine to the rest of thy lies, by which I deny thy spirit to be of God: thy book, thy lies, thy confusion, thy feigned words, and thy antichristian doctrine, and all thou sayest, I do declare to proceed from the spirit of the false prophet, the liar and slanderer, and one that goes about to set up a way and rule absolute which is not Christ, and so another gospel and foundation, and no modesty can blame me for charging thy false doctrine upon thy head, being first thus plainly proved; and hadst thou thus proved before thou had slandered, thou had showed more of God's wisdom, and less of thy own wickedness; but the liar hath been thy tongue for lies like a bow with which thy bowels must be filled, yet canst thou not enter the truth, but thy arrows are driven back on thy own head.
And as that spirit of lies hath its enmity against Christ, and <517> would set up another; so it doth oppose his light which is the light of the world; and thou heaps up a deal of confusion to disprove the witness that John bare of Christ (John 1:9), who saith, "This is the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world," and this light John came to bear witness unto, "that all men through him might believe" (v. 7), and this he saith was in the beginning, and Christ saith John's witness was true (John 5:33); but saith the liar, that is but the common natural light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world, and is not able to lead to God; and thus they who likes thy testimony better than John's or Christ's, they may believe thee and deny Christ and his ministers; blind guides, how are you like to tell what the light will do or not do, who have been opposers of it ever since it was preached, but hath not followed it to the end? Are you like to know whether it leads? Did you ever follow it at all? If so, what evil hath it led you to? You confess it reproves and manifests sin, and doth not the apostle preach this for the light of Christ (Eph. 5:13-14)? but you have an imagination that Christ is the light only to enlighten you that call yourselves believers; but who must enlighten the rest? Christ saith, "I am the light of the world," he doth not say, "I am the light of such a form, or such a people," who are of a self-separation; but, "I am the light of the world, he that follows me shall have the light of life." But you who never followed it saith, "there is not life in following it"; so your blind testimony who were enemies to the light of the world stand against the testimony of Christ and the children of light (John 8:12).
But sayest thou, "if this be true, that Christ lighteth everyone that cometh into the world, which light being taken heed unto will lead to God, then Christ died in vain, and in vain hath he said, I am the way, the truth and the life"; which is as much as if thou had said, "if Christ be the light of the world which lighteth everyone which cometh into the world and leads to God, in vain did he come into the world to testify the same in preaching and suffering (without which it could not have been manifest and believed)."
But your blindness hath been so clearly laid open, and the light proved, even that which is the light of the world, to be the way to the Father, the truth and the life, as I need not say much <518> to thy blind opposition; only take these two scriptures, and shame with thy blindness, who would persuade people that the light of the world is not the way, the truth, and the life; or that there is any other way but the light of the world (John 8:12; John 14:6); if these be one then art thou blind; and if not one, then how should thou speak truth? who said, "I am the light of the world, the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh to the father but by me"; and John who saith, "This is the true light" (John 1:9). So now let all judge who have the light in them, whether I am in the error who believeth what the letter saith, that Christ alone is the true light, the way, the truth and the life; and that this is the true light that lighteth everyone that cometh into the world, and so owns Christ of whom the letter testifies; or thou who saith, the letter is the absolute rule, and this light of Christ cannot convert to God without the letter, and so limits God and denies him who was the way before the apostles was, or wrote the letter, and would make people believe that the writing of the letter had taken the office of Christ and were now become absolute in ruling, enlightening, and converting to God; and so you are become ministers of the letter and denies the Spirit to be able to convert to God without the letter; and so a contrary spirit hath possessed you than was in the apostles, who was ministers of the Spirit and not of the letter; and so contrary fruits are brought forth; and this your opposition of the light is but that you may appear to be the blind guides Christ foretold of, and by your fruits you must be known. Did ever minister of Christ preach against the least light of Christ, and say it was not sufficient to lead to God, or that none should never be converted but by the letter? Did ever minister of Christ preach against perfection as thou dost and thy brethren, who says thou dost not believe that perfection is attainable here? thou may as well say Christ is not attainable here, nor faith. Dost not thou here minister against the end of Christ's ministry, and that for which he sent them forth, which was for the perfecting of the saints, and that they might present every man perfect in Christ Jesus (Eph. 4:11-13; Col. 1:28)? and this thou ministers against, and sayest thou canst not believe it; and adds a lie to thy unbelief, saying it's an estate nowhere held forth in the Scripture as attainable here; and so would make God a liar and the Scripture also. As for instance, God said Job was a perfect man: Job 1:8 & 2:3; <519> Gen. 6:9; Job 8:20; Ps. 37:37; 2 Cor. 12:9; Phil. 3:15; 2 Tim. 3:17; Jas. 3:2; with other scriptures, too many here to mention, which all witness thee to belie God and the Scriptures, and to be no minister for Christ, nor believer of his ministry, who art against perfection and cannot believe it; this is a fruit of antichrist, & none of Christ's ministers, but they believed it and preached, which thou preaches against. And so by thy fruits thou art known and thy generation, as Christ hath said you should. But to cover thyself thou sayest it's the duty of everyone to press after perfection; so they must press after that which thou believes not, nor would have them to believe, so they must press after that which they believe must never attain here. What sort is this pressing of, which is against faith? yet this confusion is thy doctrine; for the devil knows that if he can but keep them from believing, they can never attain whatever their pressing be. And this is the devil's work to destroy the faith, & then set people on working; yet to confound thyself thou saith in page 114, "Let everyone that hath this hope in him, purify himself as Christ is pure." Yet thou goes on to 'thou' and 'thee,' and for this would accuse us as Pharisees because we use it to a single person; and in this thou confounds thyself as in the rest. First, thou confessest it to be the most proper, and that the Scripture useth it therefore; and when thou hast done, thou sayest those that speak it in this nation seem to be barbarous; so that by thy confession, he that speaks proper to you is a barbarian, yet must we be condemned who speak properly, and you justified who have lost your proper understanding through your pride and heathenish customs; and with such confused stuff as this thou proves us the most dangerous people in the world. But sayest thou, "Thou is to me as you, provided it be not made a matter of religion; but if it be, then thou abhors the ignorance from whence it comes." Herein showing thyself to be like thy father, who matters not what men do, so that they do it not out of conscience, but if out of conscience, then he abhors that ignorance from whence it comes; for a tender conscience that takes heed to his tongue, the devil abhors; for the devil can set the tongue on fire, when all members else are wearied with his service, provided he make it not matter of religion what he speaks; but if he be so precise that he make conscience of every <520> idle word, the devil abhors him, for he knows that he that offends not in word is a perfect man, so able also to bridle the whole body (Jas. 3:2). For the devil knows that by your words you shall be justified, and by them you shall be condemned, and for every idle word all must answer at the day of judgment. And this we know, though you have justified yourselves and are yet in your careless way without bridle, be ignorant of, whose religion will be found vain, like your vain talk.
And further, we know your way of ye-ing the proud, and thou-ing the poor, to be impurity, though thou falsely say the Scripture uses that language (thou) to every single person for its property and not for its purity. But what matter what thou says, who abhors it as ignorance that teacheth to speak properly as matter of religion; but had thy religion reached to the ordering of the tongue, we had not had such a number of shameless lies cast upon us by thee, as we have in this book, which indeed is little else but a heap of lies. But this know, that he that seems to be religious and bridleth not his tongue, his religion seems to be vain (Jas. 1:26).
Thou proceeds to tell of our quaking, and in that like the rest thou shows thy confusion. In thy 38th page thou says (but falsely), "It's a way that never came into the heart of God, to bring his people to perfection by"; when all that do declare the way they came to God witness quaking or trembling, and all that knew the word of God trembled at it.
And in thy 78th page thou owns it in the holy men of God (making thyself a liar) but says it is different from ours. To which I say, hast thou seen us both tremble? or how canst thou make a difference? let the wise judge; but that thy busy mind must be meddling to speak of that thou knows naught on, that thou might show thy envy & confusion, how should thou know trembling, who knows no word but the letter, & abhors that which should guide the tongue, and thereto would limit God forever, as to matter of converting of people; thou must needs cast out trembling who excludes the word. And in Isa. 66:5 thou mayest read thy generation and thy work, and thy judgment also; and what thou knows of trembling is seen by what thou knows of the word. It would be thy wisdom to stop thy mouth, and speak not evil of that thou knows not, thou may long read the letter, and call that the word with thy lying spirit, ere thou know what <521> the trembling is of God's people; such thou hates, as did thy generation in all ages.
Thou proceeds tell of great things in thy imaginations from the letter, and tells of a state of general reconciliation which all the world is recovered to, though not redeemed from any curse; and tells of a twofold reconciliation and a twofold redemption, and many such things in thy confused mind, which the Scriptures knows not, but knows not one redemption thyself, but art a servant of Satan in lies and false accusations against the innocent, such a redemption the devil can profess as stands in words from the letter without power and life; had there been no letter such a profession would have been as is your practice.
Thou goes about to describe who are the daughters of Babylon; and thou concludes all who come in after the Jewish rites, sprinkling or dipping infants, being exercised in Romish ordinances, &c. These are Rome's daughters, though they cry, "Out Harlot" against their mother; I say go one step higher and take in your own tradition (which is neither according to letter nor spirit, neither in call, manner, nor end, as I have divers times proved, and am ready to do as occasion is offered), and as it is with theirs, out of the true form, so is it out of the true power of godliness, and brings forth the same fruits with the world (if not worse) so that if any will own you for saints only because you have been two or three times dipped or sprinkled in the water more than others have been, then they may have such saints enough who do make dipping so many times, some twice, some thrice, as a god and ground of salvation and of union; but further than that doth differ you from the world, they shall never see anything of a godly conformity, and denying the world's customs, or conscientious walking, whereby you shall be known from other men, unless it be that you have got more subtlety to oppose the truth, being as the head of the image, got a little higher than the rest; but as enviously wicked and bloody as any is this day in the nations, and would as gladly stir up persecution had you but power, as some of your prime teachers have said to some in authority, "that he had rather a law was made to take away his life, than that we should be suffered"; and at this day are you scattered throughout the nation (by your letters) to rake up what filth you can to <522> cast upon the children of light. And if thou say thou art clear, then let this heap of lies out of thy book be witness against thee, which were they true might serve to take away our lives by the law of the nation; yea, such a heap of wickedness as if hell had been raked to bring it up to cast upon us; of which we are clear before God, but you being a people who have declined your principle of a tender conscience above all others; so you who have done it must needs exceed all others in mischief and hatred against such as retain God in their consciences and dare not sin against him; casting all manner of evil report on tender consciences, as because we cannot bow to your filthy pride and respect of persons, and give flattering titles to the spirit of exaltation in a proud man or woman; therefore by you we are accused as Pharisees, and that we destroy relations, and deny civil courtesy, as in this thy book; when we deny but the devil's pride; and if we take heed to our words, and by that which is pure of God in our consciences order them according to the sound words of Christ Jesus and the Scriptures, then we strain at a gnat and swallow a camel; so that to speak in the fear of God and in sound words, such that cannot be reproved, is a great offense to thee; and the camel we swallow is because we go not so often into the water as you do, in observance to your tradition, which is neither in power nor form of John's ministration (whom you would imitate) when you that go into the water come out as full of pride, envy, covetousness and all manner of wickedness as you go in, and the devil hardened in many of you in lying against the truth, only thereby being conceited that your sins are washed away, though when you are proved none more impudent and brazened in their wickedness than you are; witness the heap of lies in thy book, which the heathen that never had profession would be ashamed so falsely to utter, as will be seen now when thou art put in plainness to prove them.
Nay, were you not stark blind, and drunk with rage against the truth, you might once look back & see yourselves and what you are doing, and how you have dealt with the Lord, who once had betrusted a measure of simplicity to some of you which kept you tender, which you have betrayed above all people in the nation; was there not a time when you durst not have conformed to the world pride and filthy manners, their fashions and customs now <523> maintained, their false worships? was it not once with you that you could not use the world's language, as to their corruption therein upheld, and that out of tenderness of conscience? Was there not once in you a principle against lying and false accusing, and perfection for conscience sake? Then was you hated of the world as you now join with the world to hate us and belie us; nay, what thing is it now that your conscience will strain at? but you can swallow, rather than suffer persecution, reproach or loss of gain? Have not you been witness against the ministry of the nations to be of the whore, and their tithes and hire, till a great part of the most eminent of you be got into the same living out of which you have thrust them: let England and Ireland witness, though I will not say you are all guilty in this particular, for all have not been proved therein; but with what a face you can at this day call the ministry of the nations whorish, and then take the benefit of it yourselves, or maintain it in others, lest you should suffer the cross of Christ, let all who have the use of a good conscience judge. And you who can swallow all this and much more that might be named, contrary to your faith as you call it, and once contrary to your conscience when it was not seared: is it like that we should be owned by you in making conscience of every word? or can you do any otherwise but abhor it, who have thus made shipwreck in yourselves? and this is the fruits you have brought forth since you have set yourselves against the light of the Spirit which led into tenderness, and have set up the letter for the light; and so being become heart-blind are you grown past feeling, into open lying and wickedness as at this day it is seen and lamented.
And now do not say this is railing accusation and hard terms which is truth, but let the light of Christ which you thus hate search your hearts, and pass judgment upon you, and own it before the Lord and all the world, and give praise to the Son from whom the light comes, for you have nothing else will let you see your hearts and the desperate wickedness that lodgeth therein; it's the light that must search it out and reveal it to you, and not the letter. You may read in the letter what deceit was in other men's hearts; but it must be within you that lets you see your own, the eye of God it is must let you see and search the dark corners thereof, which is desperate wicked, and you know it not but by the light of the world, which lets all the world see their deceits (who doth but <524> mind it) which light is that the God of this world hates, and above all would blind that eye, for which end all his instruments are now at work (as is manifest) to make shipwreck of faith that is held in a pure conscience, and you in the head thereof; of which you must repent and return to your first tenderness, wherein you was once growing out of the elements and rudiments of the world, to be led by the spirit of the Lamb wherever he goes, and not by shadows which are left desolate, because of the wickedness of such as have lived therein: and look upon circumcision, for the continuance whereof the Jews had more from the letter than you have for your way of carnal water; for it was said it should be a sign forever; but so was it not said of water baptism, but the contrary; and mind what a generation was left in circumcision, when Christ led out by his Spirit from that ordinance: a company of envious murderers, liars, and false accusers, who set themselves against the way and light of Christ, to devour all that followed his light, against whom they pretended the letter, and thought they did right, and so do to this day; and were you not wholly blind you might read yourselves herein, and what hath befallen you since you set yourselves to this work? every day hardness and more blindness, till you be much more mad in mischief than they was, and more blind; for they fought against the light because it led out of their traditions which was after the letter; but you oppose the light when it leads to the sound words in the letter, and calls it Pharisaical, and self-righteous, or any filthy name to make it odious, and abhors it if it be but done in following the Spirit; so that to follow the spiritual light of Christ is abhorred by the devil and his instruments, though it be in that which they confess is proper, and used in the letter (which they say is their word), witness thy 57th and 58th pages.
And yet with all this wickedness and blindness (and much more) the like unchristian carriage in your forehead, would you bind all to fall down to your tradition you have set up, and worship that or else no Christians nor salvation, but all the filth of hell must be raked up and cast upon their godly conversation, for no other thing but because we cannot cry up that for salvation which cannot save you (witness how you are saved from these wickednesses who worship before it) further than in your imaginations, believing that obeying that ordinance, as you call it, you must be saved from hell when you are dead; but to be saved <525> from these wicked ways while you live, you never believe, nor doth your god teach any such faith; so they that are blind may deny the leading of Christ in Spirit, and follow your shadow, which can neither save you nor them.
But if you would have all to worship what you have set up (your called ordinance), let it appear to all men what is therein mighty to save. Is there some betterness betwixt being a captive to the devil in sin under your water, and being a captive to sin under the parish teacher's water, being both out of the true way declared in Scripture, only yours a little nearer in the letter, but both one in spirit & power, led captive at his will who rules in them & you, who are disobedient to the spiritual light of Christ? Will your water save you more than theirs when you both are unwashed from your sin, and live in rebellion against God? Doth your ordinance then save you?
But doth it not appear to all the children of light that you are in the state of the Jews, who cried "the temple, the temple" when God was departed? then they that was left in it was become abominable to God, that which was the house of God formerly was then become a den of thieves and murderers and liars; yet was they as zealous for their ordinances as you are for your water, and had as plain Scripture; yea, and their ordinances was in the right form and call, whereas yours are not as any of the saints did ever practice in Scripture declared; so if you be not stark blind, read yourselves and repent, and think not to say, "the ordinances, the ordinances," when you are both out of form and power; for if we must believe you for so saying, why not the priests also who cry the same with you, both taken on without true form, life or power; this we may not do, who have heard and learned of Christ.
But this I say to thee, and the rest that are joined with thee herein: if he be a God you would have us all to bow to, let us see what a God he is, whether it be the God of righteousness, or the god of this world and deceit; first let us see that by your ordinances thou thyself be led to repentance, and to confess all thy damnable heap of lies thou hast cast on us in thy book in envy against the light, and that as openly as thou hast slandered; also repent of thy false doctrine I have proved which thou hast published, and decline thy errors therein. And all the rest of you, deny <526> yourselves and the world and conform to Christ; leave your filthy pride and covetousness and abominable conformity to men of corrupt minds, for advantage respecting men's persons and maintaining their abominable worships and worshippers therein.
And you that say you are ministers, prove yourselves in all things as the ministers of Christ in watchings, in fastings, in wanderings, hunger and nakedness, having no certain dwelling place; in tumults often, in necessities, in stripes, in whipping, mocking, stoning and imprisonment, &c. Let us see if it be your manner to dispute in the idols' temple against their idols worship that deceives souls; and preach in the streets and markets daily, &c., and all this freely without hire. These are the apostle's ways, and this is the apostle's word; let us see if you be converted according to it, and that your God is the same as theirs was and will carry you forth in the same way and work, and that you dare trust him therein. And as we see you in the apostles' works, so we shall be engaged to believe that you are converted by their word, which was before the letter was, and the light thereof in all consciences will confess to you; and that this is the living God whose ways is righteous that you preach for all to worship; and then we shall own you, and the apostles' words will own you and your practice; but where you are now we cannot; nor can we worship with you that for God that which cannot save you from that wicked lying spirit that acts you, nor lead you into the same work that it hath done all his ministers in all ages; for we know that God, whose word is righteousness, and his ways truth, and what ordinances he sets up, that will we worship in, for those ordinances are spiritual and have life in them, wherein God dwells, and in them by him we shall be kept. And the clear water we know, wherein our bodies are washed; and the blood of cleansing, and the bread of life, which was broken for us and is given to us, by which we live and own the apostles' practices, to follow Christ in our measures, for which we are counted the offscouring of all things unto this day; and till then think not that we shall worship your tradition which brings forth a lie that cannot save the founder; for that wherein God dwells not is but a likeness, empty; and so your practice proves your way whereof it is.
Surely in vain do you set up idols; the Lord is risen, your carved images are lighter than vanity. All the idols of the <527> heathen are void of righteousness; truth is wanting in their inward parts; they have decked them with colors, they have covered them with words; they cry, "Come bow and worship," but doth not consider that a lie is in their right hand; there is none that considereth once to say in himself, "What is this that I am doing? What profit is there in that to which I fall down? is this the living God for whom I am thus contending that is not able to plead for himself and defend himself with righteousness, with judgment and equity, to plead against his enemies in their own hearts? that cannot strike through the loins of his adversaries & cover me with innocency and peace, while he covers his enemies with confusion? Is this he whose word endureth forever, from generation to generation, who hath left me to seek counsel in the letter and without his Spirit, and to consult with men how to keep up his ordinances, and to go to carnal weapons to avenge him on them who cast down his altars, who cut down his groves, and declares against the way of his worships?" O foolish people, is this he that pleads the cause of his people, who cannot plead for himself in judgment, nor for you in righteousness? Let him put spiritual weapons into your hands; let him fill your hearts with righteousness, and your ways with equity; let him cover you with innocency, and preserve you in patience, till he have made your light to shine in darkness, that therewith he may confound his enemies; let him cause truth to spring in the earth, and faith to bud and blossom, that righteousness may cover you from the storm, and the effect thereof may be peace: then shall all your enemies be ashamed and confounded before you; for his power shall pass before you to make the earth to tremble at his presence, whom the carnal sees not; let it be proclaimed before him, the Lord our righteousness, gracious and full of mercy, whose eye goes through the world, and who will by no means clear the guilty. And if this be the name of your God, let it be written upon you; let the zeal thereof be as a mark in your foreheads, and his righteousness upon you as a breastplate, that all may say, this is the Lord, bow before him, there is no other; who maketh his people lights in whom he holds forth salvation and healing to the nations: surely this is the Lord, and this is his work, and to him shall the world bow, and his saints confess his name forever.
<528> Verily in the Lord our God is salvation & strength; righteousness is thy right name, judgment goes before thy face to confound thine enemies; thy light is as a fire to consume the wicked, and by the same is thy word declared; therewith thou sends the rich away empty, but the poor thou satisfies with goodness everlasting: thou hides thy way from the subtle, that thou mayest let the prisoner out of the pit, that he may possess the gates of his enemies, and go in and out and feed in safety. Thou makes him strong that was feeble, but strikes through the loins of the wicked: thou dries up the depths of the sea that thy ransomed ones may pass over. Our enemies sees and are troubled, rage hath seized upon them; in travails they are with mischief, they are pained to bring forth, and their birth is a lie. Their son cannot save them; they have brought forth darkness and folly. Counsel and peace is not in him, therefore they stagger in judgment; but thou Lord God gives us light as in the beginning: the ancient of days is our stability, things of many generations hast thou set before us; the foundation that is unmovable is discovered therein. Thou hast set us as upon a rock, so that the floods of the ungodly cannot move us; thou hast lifted up an ensign, and the heathen are angry, the pride of the nations hath gathered against thee; thou hast set up judgment against them in the streets of wickedness and hath sent out the Lamb amongst the beast of the field; upon his head thou hast placed a defense, thou hast covered him with righteousness as with a garment; thou hast covered thy enemies with thick darkness, and their armies with a cloud; they grope at noon-day. Thou hast smitten the horse with blindness and his rider with madness; they have risen up against thee, they are confounded; they are driven back, their arm hath failed, and thou savest thy people with a mighty salvation: the meek sees it and rejoice; it glads the soul of the innocent to see thee. "Praise our God in the beauty of holiness, all that are come to the peaceable habitation. Sing unto the Lord a new song, you people of good understanding, who knows the root of righteousness where it springs, and are fed with the dew of heaven, whose hearts the Lord hath opened for himself that he may fill you with goodness, that you may bring forth as a watered garden, that the Lord may take delight in his own and dwell in you forever."
a. Thomason date: August 10, 1656.
b. stob: dialectical form for "stab" (OED).