Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > Higginson's Reply to Saul's Errand
There is an unlicensed pamphlet called Saul's Errand to Damascus lately procured to be printed, wherein divers ministers of Westmorland and Lancashire are falsely aspersed and maliciously belied and traduced. Had it not been for the clearing of their innocency, and the discovery of the falsities contained in that book too apt in this credulous age to be believed (as whatsoever is spoken against a minister) there had not been one word written in answer to it. And for the rest of that book that concerns us not, I should be loath to betray my indiscretion so far as to attempt a full answer to such a heap of words, or to trouble any judicious reader with such fruitless contests. Good readers, you have that book by you, or can think it worth your buying or perusal, let me entreat you to read it with some observation of the contents. And if you be men whose inner man hath been indeed illuminated by the good Spirit of the Lord, and the knowledge of the truth, or whose reason hath been at all refined or polished by learning or good education, you will easily perceive by what they have to say for themselves, that they are men whose knowledge is science falsely so called, that these men are blind leaders, that while they pretend to be full of the Spirit, full of <538> light and revelations, they are led a captive prey to the spirit of lies, that spirit that works in the children of disobedience, that they walk in thick darkness, that they go they know not whither, and speak they know not what. Something they would say to clear themselves of those blasphemies and cursed speeches they have been overheard to utter, and have been deposed upon oath against them, both in Westmorland and Lancashire, if they could tell how. Flatly deny them they cannot, they do not, & you will even wonder to see how they bungle out an answer. You will admire at their impertinencies, inconsistencies, irrational, insensate, misty expressions, as ambiguous sometimes as the devil's oracles, and stand amazed to see their impudence and how magistically they can revile & censure to the pit of hell, & how boldly they dare avouch an error and offer a rape upon the holy text, wrest and misapply it, and father their heretical, absurd tenets & assertions on it, & that in print even to the face of the world. While they would defend themselves before you, they bewray themselves, and if you be intelligent readers, will stink in your nostrils. Nor will you need that any man should take the pains of any reply; the book is big with folly & madness. It is self-accused and carries its confutation with it. Here is therefore notice taken chiefly of the calumnies charged upon some ministers in Westmorland, as to matter of fact (lest they should triumph in our silence, and the world look upon their relations as truth) to which you may expect an answer so true, that if need be, it [last line of this page is missing].
The first epistle in Saul's Errand to Damascus inscribed (I suppose) chiefly to that sort of the people whose irreligion and horrid impieties have been in the former part of this book sufficiently manifested, intrudes to raise up your honor and procure a precious esteem for them among those that are saints indeed, and therefore tells them that the Lord Jesus Christ, and Christ with all his train, and bids them glory in their habit, and persuades them they wear the signal favors of the King of Kings, by which the author saith, he knows to whom they belong, because they love the brethren.
Reader, we could wish that not one of that apostatized generation but were such indeed, that they all had that genuine and real glory upon <539> their souls which this enemy would varnish them over with, to deceive those that know them not. But alas, how shall the most extended charity that knows them be persuaded to entertain such a high opinion of them? If to hate the truth as it is in Jesus, to adulterate, oppose it, to worship the mental idols of their own imaginations—if to cast off and deny all Christ's ordinances, if zealously to malign, revile, reproach, taunt, speak all manner of evil falsely against all the ministers of his gospel without exception, and against the most honest godly spiritual Christians that live near them—if this be to love Christ, then may this people be thought to love the Lord Jesus indeed. But if to live and delight in those impieties be not love, but real hatred to Jesus Christ, then may this people (if any in the Christian world) be justly reputed his professed enemies.
We must confess their love to those of their own society seems to be much, and sometimes discovers itself too unhandsomely and uncivilly to give advantage for a spiritual and saintlike love.
But be their affection eminent among themselves, it is too palpably turned into the gall of bitterness against all not of their principles, so that the author of the epistles to justify his sayings must be forced to condemn all the professors of Christ except his own epileptic society, as none of the saints, brethren or train of Jesus Christ.
If any of those who dwell in the bosom of the Son of God, and by the flamings of their own souls in love to Christ and to his saints do know the proper colors and operations of a divine affection, can say there is any spark of what the epistle pretends to, of love to Christ and his train in this generation, I must confess our sight much less able to see it than our soul is ready to desire the Lord by his converting power would plant it in them.
In the second and third epistles he again represents them as peaceable, holy, humble, self-denying men, precious Christians, such as have for some time past forborne to concorporate in parochial assemblies, wherein they profess themselves to have gained little of the knowledge of Christ: such as demean themselves without giving any offense to those that for God, &c., and after calls their meetings Christian and peaceable exercises.
The author of those epistles (it seems) thinks to gain advantage upon the reader's affections for this people by telling him what a well qualified people they are, how pious, how peaceable, humble, self-denying. How easy is it to call evil good, and good evil?
We could wish from our souls they were all what is spoke of them, and it is our prayer to the Lord for them, that they may yet become <540> such, be clothed with those Christian graces, and filled with these gifts of the Spirit, which are ornaments of great price before God. But true it is, the contrary is too manifest. Their blasphemies and hellish errors, their superstitions, irreligion, self-conceitedness, their uncharitableness, censoriousness, constant sabbath-breaking, living according to the impulse of their own wills, their professed enmity to Christ's gospel, the preaching of the word, and violent endeavors to overturn all ordinances and ways of worship, and invectives against them, their incomparable reproachings of the servants of the living God, and turbulent behavior more fully spoken to in the former narrative, do too openly declare them to the world to be quite opposite to what this man would represent them to be, viz. to be enemies to peace and piety, and full of the worst kind of pride and arrogancy of that which is spiritual.
If Lancashire produce a fairer crop, and the pasture of theirs be different from ours, if they be there better fed and taught than with us, we are glad they are not so ill in any place as ours. But we fear those of this society with them do fall under the same unanswerableness, to the praise of these epistles, as these in Westmorland do. We speak of whom we know, and do conclude that they are so unlike to pious and peaceable men, that as it would be a mercy to some congregations if they might wait upon the God of their fathers in peace, so we have reason to solicit the Lord in our prayers, that he would still continue to spread the skirt of the magistrate's protection and power over the churches, without which we must learn to prepare for those times wherein the people shall perish for lack of vision, and the prophet shall say with Elijah: It is enough Lord, let me die.
For their forbearance to concorporate with parochial congregations, it is no commendation to them, that they refuse to be hearers in such assemblies where the word of God is purely preached. It is no sin to hear the word in a mixed congregation. Christ himself preached most frequently to unconverted multitudes, nor had his disciples learned from him to forbear to concorporate with them, as far as came to the hearing of the word among them. He sent forth his apostles with commission to preach the gospel to all nations, to every creature, and therefore it was the duty of every creature, the worst of sinners as well as the best of Christians, wherever they came to hear them. It would rather have been matter of sin and shame, than praise, for any companion of the apostle Paul, when he preached on Mars Hill in Athens, to have denied to hear him preach there because his auditors were Epicureans and Stoics, and all save Paul's associates, idolaters.
But this is made use of only for advantage, by reason of that odium <541> that he knows lies upon parochial constitutions. The whole nation almost knows that most of the congregations in Lancashire are reduced to a narrower compass than that of parochial. And we are assured that James Nayler, one of their leaders, deserted a gathered congregation in Yorkshire, whereof he was and had continued a good while a member.
And however they deny any benefit received by the public ministry, yet we believe whatever relics of sound knowledge are in any of them, they owe them to it; and for what imaginary knowledge or unsound principles they have learned otherwise from their new teachers, cursed had our condition been if we had given these stones instead of bread, such poisonous deadly scorpions, instead of fishes.
We must confess the major part were never savingly wrought upon by the gospel whereof we have the ministration. It was our great Master's case. His combatsb in the time of his ministry on earth were but few (Acts 1:15). The apostles' case sometimes, when they preached the glad tidings of salvation by Jesus Christ to crowds of people, some one or two only believed their report and rejoiced in it. And though it be our case, yet it is our complaint to the Lord continually.
And (as some godly persons have out of their own experience, as far as they could discern, professed) the greatest part, the generality of these of this way in Westmorland, are of that number, viz., such as have had no saving work of God upon their spirits by the ministry of his word, but such as have been ignorant of, or erred from the truth, and whose religion consisted in the praise of opinion and floatings of their own fancies, and who have been carried with great zeal and heat of spirit, through all forms of religion (as some call them). Insomuch that scarce a knowing Christian among us but could have easily pointed at those whom these foxes were like to deceive before they came, and whose spirits would be ready to strike in with any principle might subvert the truth of the gospel. In the meantime the seals of the ministry of those that have been faithful to Christ in their stewardship, such Christians as have looked in themselves stand still, and are rooted faster than to be removed to another gospel by the blasts of such delusions as have their descent written in their foreheads.
In the title page, he compares the peaceable petitioning of some ministers in Lancashire to the Council of State, to Saul's errand of Damascus, and a little after saith their petition breathes out threatenings and slaughters against a peaceable and godly people, by him nicknamed Quakers.
<542> In the second and third epistles also, the author hath divers insinuations of charges against some gentlemen and ministers in Lancashire, as that they make none but the Lord's disciples the object of their indignation. That they never did proclaim war against drunkards, swearers, common blasphemers, enemies to the Lord and his people. That their high-flown contending spirits are gone beyond slender wrestlings, and they scorn to encounter with any below the degree of a saint. Other wickednesses he point blank lays to your charge, as that those sons of Levi, as he saith they call themselves, pretend a jus divinum to persecution. That they troubled the Council of State with abominable misrepresentations of honest, pious, peaceable men. That the Quakers have been more faithful to the interest of the godly people in this nation than any of the contrivers of the petition. That they exalt themselves above all that are called God's people in these parts.
I wonder much at the spirits of these men, and what eyes they see withal. They would make the world believe they can espy the spirit of Saul, while he was unconverted, in the breasts of others, comminations and persecution, blood and slaughter, where they can see nothing but Christian modesty and the words of truth and sobriety. Surely blood and slaughter are the objects of their meditation by day, and their dreams in the night are dreams of cruelty. Otherwise the humble, innocent, sober petitions of Christians jealous for the glory of God, and the welfare of his church, and studious to prevent the enemy from making such havoc of souls as he hath done of late in some parts, would not so presently put them in mind of them.
And where he saith in this your petition, they troubled the Council of State with abominable misrepresentations, &c., it is itself an abominable untruth; and I do verily believe that epistoler's conscience tells him so. There was indeed such a petition prepared and intended to be presented to the Council of State, but as I am certainly informed it never was presented to them. Nor did that petition contain the least tittle of any misrepresentation, but a brief and true relation of some of your abominations, which are too famously and evidently known to the whole country to be denied. Oh the impudency of that lying spirit that hath entered into this generation of men.
To all the other false and railing accusations of this man brought against (I do verily believe for some of them) the faithful ministers and servants of Jesus Christ, I shall only answer as Michael to the devil, "The Lord rebuke thee."
I could have rather desired that some of these ministers in <543> Lancashire would have answered this calumniator, and made him ashamed of his falsities.
Some of them are known to us, and we are confident are as clear from all those charges as the newborn child, and such as according to that precept (Isa. 51:7), "Fear not the reproach of man, nor are afraid of their revilings."
If the author of these epistles prefixed to Saul's Errand, &c. lives in Lancashire, as it is supposed he doth, he cannot but know that there is more real worth, truth of godliness, Christian simplicity and white innocency in some of them than in 160 such foxes as now spoil the vineyards.
He might have considered whose work it is to accuse the brethren, and who hath from thence deserved the name of .c
Methinks he manifests himself to be of that generation (Prov. 30:14) "whose teeth are swords, and whose jaw teeth are knives to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men." While his words are smoother than butter, and softer than oil to those of his way, war is in his heart against others, and his words are drawn swords, and the breathings of a spirit possessed with malice. The apostle describing the men that shall make the last times perilous, saith among other characters of them, they shall be false accusers, fierce despisers of those that are good. I do not wish my greatest enemy so much hurt as that he should be one of them.
But those in authority know they might not give ear to the calumnies of every anonymous (Ps. 101:5,7) "who so privily slandereth his neighbor" (saith David) "him will I cut off. He that worketh deceit, shall not dwell in my house. He that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight." And that it was Saul's sin and shame to harken to the calumnies of Doeg against those that ministered at the altar to the Lord.
And we all know it is no new thing for the ministers of Christ to be the object of the world's indignation and accused of all manner of evil. Our Savior Christ himself, his apostles, and the best of the Christians in the primitive times did not escape the scourge of the tongue, the worst of slanders. Well therefore may the false aspersions of this man be borne as an easy burden.
"But thou O Lord, deliver my soul from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue" (Ps. 120:2).
"Let thy mercies also come unto me, O Lord, even thy salvation according to thy word. So shall I have wherewith to answer him that <544> reproacheth me, for my trust is in thy word" (Ps. 119:41-42).
The next part of this pamphlet which I shall give some answer to consists of a false and scandalous relation, wherein Nayler, or some friend of his for him, foolishly complains of persecution, and maliciously abuses and belies divers ministers in Westmorland as his persecutors, who I am confident never used any unchristian language to him, and were never guilty of the least incivility in action towards him, notwithstanding his outcry of persecution by them. Now because I intend to say something by way of reply to this relation, as also to their false narrative of the proceedings of the justices at Appleby against James Nayler, Jan. 8, 1652, I think it will not be amiss, first to expose the Quakers' own relations verbatim, to the view of my reader, as they are contained in Saul's Errand to Damascus.
[Here Higginson prints two sections of Saul's Errand to Damascus: "Divers particulars of the persecutions of James Nayler by the Priests of Westmorland," and "The Examination of James Nayler upon an Indictment of Blasphemy, at the Sessions at Appleby, in January 1652." See pp. 23-37 above.]
Thus is the second part of this pamphlet ushered in with such an inscription (as if James Nayler had been a real martyr of Jesus Christ, and not an open enemy to him and his gospel) might well have served for the title page of his martyrdom.
You see reader their language, and how bloodily they charge us in the very entry of their relation. The term "priest" which they give us here and all over by way of contempt, may discover to the world what is the rancor of their souls against us. However it be grown the common reproach against us in the mouths of those that know not God, yet we hope the Lord will teach them better language in his season. I am credibly informed that a little while ago, one of them railing with that and other language against a minister, went from him home and died presently. Whatever scorn they intend to heap upon us by that word, we do not own it, nor ever did as a title proper to the office of the ministers of the New Testament, or to their persons, further than as they are Christ's disciples, who hath made all whom he hath loved and washed from their sins with his blood, kings and priests to God his Father (Rev. 1:5-6). And in this sense, if themselves do but once become priests, they will become companions of devils forever.
And for persecution, the Lord forbid that we should be persecutors, as they render us to the world to be, while ourselves are designed as the <545> objects of it by some, if their power answered their wills, and do already suffer the persecution of the tongue in as high a degree as ever did ministers of Christ in any age. The Lord forbid that we should lift up our hand or open our mouth against the least of saints. We know what reward our Savior hath promised to him that shall give to drink unto one of his little ones a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple (Matt. 10:ult) and on the other hand what severity of judgment he hath threatened to those that do offend them (Matt. 18:6). We do not therefore pretend a jus divinum to persecution, as one (I heartily believe) most falsely and maliciously accuses the ministers of Lancashire to do, but do from our souls rather wish to be sufferers of it ourselves than defiled with the least tincture of the guilt of that red sin of persecuting others.
If to be steadfast in the profession of the truth, to warn and charge those that are committed to our charge, who we hope shall be our crown and joy in the day of the Lord, to take heed of seducers; if to labor to keep them from being robbed of the salvation of their souls, if to satisfy the desire of some of our people whom we heard continually wishing that we would have some conference with these men, if to contend for the faith against those men that are the open enemies of it, and to petition for their liberties when they are confined—if this be persecution, then we must confess ourselves persecutors, and deserving blame for it: but if these actings do not savor of a spirit of persecution, we can then challenge the whole world to prove us guilty.
And for Nayler's sufferings, which the unfaithful relator calls persecutions, he knows, or might as well as we, that that little restraint only which he suffered as an evildoer was by the order of the justices; and we know that we did not so much as desire his sufferings in the least, and that we sought and desired nothing but the preservation of religion and peace among us, and that those authors and fomentors of the disturbances of this poor county might return to their habitations and callings, and there according to the apostle's rule study to be quiet and do their own business. And must we upon this account stand charged with persecution? But the Lord the righteous judge, though we should altogether hold our peace, will one day plead for us against those that have hated us without a cause and are our enemies because they see us friends to truth and peace. "The Lord lay not this sin to their charge."
The relator in Saul's Errand to Damascus saith that James Nayler, meeting at a house near Kendal, the priests in the town having notice, <546> raised the town of Kendal against him, but being long in gathering, the meeting was done. But spies being set on the steeple and other places, notice was given which way James passed from thence; and coming down towards Kendal, two priests with a justice, &c. and an exceeding great multitude of people following them, met him, &c.
'Tis true Mr. Coale met Nayler at the time mentioned near Kendal, and there was no other minister with him then: Master Turner the schoolmaster came to them about a quarter of an hour after. But that they raised the town is a notorious falsehood. That they set spies on the steeple is false again. That they set spies in other places is another untruth. That any gave notice which way Nayler went, is another. That they met him with a great multitude is a fixed lie in the narrative already. How easily is that cause discovered that hath a lie in its right hand, and falsehood for its foundation.
Mr. Coale was earnestly pressed by some that feared the Lord in Kendal, and whose spirits were troubled to see the disorders of these men to take the opportunity to go up to widow Cock's to speak with Nayler, being a ringleader of that way, which at last he was, though unwillingly, persuaded unto. All that accompanied him was but Mr. A. and 6 more, nor was any more near, till meeting with divers of that party coming towards them, they were informed the meeting was done. Yet lighting so patly on Nayler himself (for he was with the multitude that came from the meeting) he thought it necessary (though not very convenient there) to have a little discourse with him. Upon occasion of which stay so near the town, the people, as is usual in cases of novelty, in an hour's time or less were flocked about him in great multitudes: but a great part of them was Nayler's company that came before him and with him, and followed him from their meeting.
We should admire to find such gross lies against men, did we not see their lies against the Lord more shameless and more impudent. And we wish Nayler, or whosoever else relates such things, to tremble before the presence of the Lord, that will shut out every liar from his kingdom, and to false things will give sharp arrows of the Mighty, with coals of juniper. But no marvel such lies may steal forth in press, where they may hope to meet with so much credulity from some as may make them current, when Thomas Willen, that lives in town, one of that sect, had the impudence to tell Mr. Archer that the bell was rung to give notice of Nayler's coming. If necessity require, these slanders may be proved to be such by hundreds of evidences.
The particulars of that conference M. Coale had with him were these: Mr. Coale told him the Lord had put it upon his spirit, and he had <547> a message from the Lord to deliver to him. His best answer was this: "Hast thou received a message from the Lord to speak to me, and I not know it?" Mr. Coale was somewhat astonished with such a blasphemous expression and told him how like he spake to Zedekiah, the son of Chanannah (2 Chron. 18) that said to Micaiah, "Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me, to speak to thee?" but this he wholly passeth over. Mr. Coale then demanded of him, by what power he did exercise such tyranny over the bodies of such poor creatures, viz. in their quaking fits. To which he answered much to the same purpose his relation hath it. Mr. Coale still pressed him with it. Nayler said, "Dost thou acknowledge it to be done by a power?" To which Mr. Coale answered not one word, which he forgeth as answered to that; but said, "Yes, I do well know whose coming is after the power of Satan with all signs and lying wonders, &c." This was all the account he could get of Nayler, concerning these horrible pangs the bodies of men, women and children are taken with at the time of their speaking. Mr. Coale told him, "It was not by the power of Christ, or his saving work in conviction of sin and horror because of it, lying in and upon the soul and conscience, and not the body." This the relator falsely perverts, and says the priest said, "When Christ comes he comes to torment souls and not bodies," which with his answer to it are both falsehoods. Mr. Coale proceeded, because he could give no account of it himself, to give him an account thereof and to prove it to him: "not to be from the saving work of God, but from the spirit of darkness and delusion"—which he mentions not at all.
Amongst other things proposed to convince him of this, this was one: "That the constant operation of this quaking in all, was immediately to fill their souls with a crowd of all damnable and destructive doctrines, and an absolute turning away from Christ in all his ways and truths and ordinances." Amongst others he instanced in what he specifies in his relation, to which Nayler answered, as is there expressed; and asked him further if ever he heard him aver any of those things. M. Coale told him he never saw his face before and so could not hear them from himself, but he knew them to be the principles of his followers. He said, what was that to him. And whereas the relator saith, Mr. Coale was not able to prove any one particular, is known to the contrary. For so the Lord ordered it, that to put to silence the foolishness of evil men, among Nayler's followers present, was one Strickland, with whom, and one Thomson, Mr. Coale had had private discourse before, who plainly denied to him the use of teaching, of Bibles, the duty of children to their parents, and of any man to a magistrate, and that in the presence of many more besides himself. <548> When Nayler called for proof, Mr. Coale took Strickland by the hand, and presented him to Nayler as one of his followers, and one that held those principles, and had told him he received those doctrines from Nayler. Nayler again said, what was that to him; but could not be got either to a confession or denial of those wicked principles.
Mr. Coale proceeded further to charge him with what he knew to be a principle with them all, and which Nayler had so publicly professed that he thought he durst not deny it, and that was this. Nayler had affirmed, "That every man in the world had a light within him sufficient to guide him to salvation." This Mr. Coale disputed with him till he ran him to this absurdity, "That if an Indian were there, that had never heard or read of Christ, that he knew Jesus Christ as well as any of us." At which the people making some noise, and Mr. Coale being partly satisfied, as having witnessed to the doctrine of truth in these particulars against those men; and the crowd increasing, their conference ended. Now the relator to add yet sin to sin saith he charged him for holding out a light to convince of sin which all have not. Alas poor hearts, if they could persuade the world that a man of such known learning and abilities as Mr. Coale is, had no knowledge, and though it be true that the Gentiles have their (Rom. 2:25). What will this advantage their cause? Think they he was ignorant that all nations and kindreds have some sparkling of light and knowledge, some twilight streamings of understanding, the candle of the Lord within them? But what is this to a light sufficient to save them? Can the owning of those implanted natural principles bring us to know Jesus Christ and his gospel, which is a doctrine of pure revelation, and which the world could never have known by all its wisdom, had not God by his Son, and by his servants the prophets and apostles, revealed it from heaven unto us?
And whereas they would persuade the world that what rude behavior was after, was by the priests' party, scornfully so called: had the relator any spark of ingenuity left in him, he knows Mr. Coale's unwillingness to discourse in that place, as fearing some tumult, and that those that came with Mr. Coale to speak with Nayler did guard him with safety through the town.
And where they say the raging priests continued shouting, crying, and throwing stones at him a quarter of a mile out of the town, their souls may blush for shame to print such a palpable execrable falsehood. Those whom they so nickname, have, I am confident, more compassion in them for such beguiled souls, than passion, and were so far from being engaged in such a barbarous and unchristian act, that their souls <549> would loathe the very thoughts of it. Mr. Coale saw not Nayler at that time after he was departed from the place where he discoursed with him, but stayed there with four Christian friends till the people were gone, and Nayler conveyed safely through the town by a magistrate. "But let them not be deceived, God is not mocked; for they that thus sow to the flesh shall of it not fail to reap corruption."
At the close of the book, I find the word "priests" in this place among the Errata's, and that you should read not the raging priests, but the raging people. A willing erratum doubtless, and an excellent back door here is to avoid a lie. But how shall these Errata's which one of 100 reads not, and few in comparison know the use of, take off this base aspersion?
It is well that either J. Nayler his particulars, or George Fox his press of persecutions, are either capable of mistakes, or have the modesty to confess an error. We shall not challenge what the reparation of their honesty doth at their hands, viz., to alter their relations, and speak truth, and right the names of those they have wronged, in their Saul's Errand to Damascus, but shall bind all their aspersions of us as a crown upon our heads, having learned in some measure to go through both good and bad report, and desiring to be crucified to vain estimations of men.
He saith, many Christian friends did desire his coming to Orton. Who those were, or whether desirous of his coming or no, I did not inquire, since we know too well that such guests as he may be had upon very easy terms. He is indeed for any way but home, or where he hopes to find entertainment, and then the feat is to pretend that either by voice or revelation, or at least by the entreaty of their brethren, they were called thither. And it is probable upon this last score Nayler came to Orton. Fox was heard to say a few days before, he thought God would give him a call to speak at Orton shortly. But thither came Nayler instead of Fox, and with him a great company of all sorts and both sexes, where true it is that some ministers were, but that any multitude or number of people was drawn together by their procurement is utterly false. As for his temptations by the ministers, and their intentions of violence against him, and the appearance thereof afterwards, his paper when he writ it would have answered him with a blush if it had been capable of shame.
The relation which Nayler, or some for him, makes of the conference <550> betwixt ourselves and him that day is very confused, imperfect and false. Briefly and truly thus it was: Mr. Fothergill, minister of Orton, wished the constable to do his office so far as to ask Nayler by what authority and to what end he had drawn together that multitude. Nayler replied, the end of his coming thither was to declare what God had revealed in him.
If so, said Mr. Fothergill, that thou comest to instruct the people, it is a good work, if so be thou hast a lawful calling so to do. Then showing him an ordinance of Parliament, forbidding any to preach publicly but such as were lawfully called thereunto, he asked what calling he had to do so. Nayler answered, he had a calling. If so, said M. Fothergill, it is either extraordinary or ordinary, one or both, or neither, which I rather believe. To which Nayler's reply was that distinctions were from the seed of the serpent. Yea, said M. Fothergill, what sayest thou then to that distinction (1 John 5:16), "There is a sin unto death, and a sin not unto death." "I spake of thy distinction," said Nayler, though indeed he spake of distinctions generally. But leaving this discourse, Nayler affirming that there was no other kind of call to the ministry but such as the apostles had, M. Fothergill proceeded to give some instances of extraordinary calls in the prophets and apostles, and of ordinary calls, as in the successive ministers of the New Testament by imposition of hands. And lastly, of both in the example of Paul, of whose immediate and extraordinary call we read (Acts 9), and of his mediate and ordinary call, by imposition of hands (Acts 13:2). Against this Nayler spake many words to little purpose, out of Gal. 1. And when he saith he could have no answer though he asked 3 times whether "the imposition of hands" (Acts 13:2) were Paul's "calling to the ministry," it is untrue. For he was answered then, that it was his ordinary or mediate call to the ministry among the Gentiles, and a confirmation of that extraordinary call which he had before. Not, said Mr. Fothergill, as though that extraordinary call had not been of itself sufficient, but that the church's consent and approbation being hereby signified, he might be the more welcome to, and the better received of the Gentiles to whom he was sent. Nor do we judge amiss if we think that the Lord hereby would also signify what manner of calling to the ministry he intended to continue in the church to after ages.
That other minister, that the relator contemptuously calls "priest," was myself. I told him then that seeing he denied the office and teaching of all the ministers in England without exception, and did pretend that himself, together with his fellow speakers, were the only true ministers and messengers of Christ, that we desired to know his <551> faith, and to hear from him if we might, the sum of that doctrine of the gospel which he came to preach. I told him further, that ourselves and the country in general did look upon him and his fellow speakers as seducers, such as preached another gospel, and another Jesus than we had preached: and that therefore for the clearing of himself and the satisfaction of the country and ourselves there present, it was but meet that he should give us then, desiring it some account of his faith. And to do that I told him I hoped he would not be unwilling, seeing the apostle Peter exhorts all Christians to be ready to give a reason of the hope that is in them, to everyone that asketh.
To this he replied nothing, but stood as one that had naught to say. I then asked the people there present if they did not generally desire to hear something from him touching his faith in some of the main principles of religion. To which many of them said it was their desire.
Whereupon I entreated Nayler to answer plainly to a few questions which I desired to propound to him.
The first question I propounded was whether he believed the holy Scripture to be the very word of God.
To this he answered, there was no word but Christ, which he would have proved out of John 1:1: "In the beginning was the word, &c."
I told him we did not deny Jesus Christ to be the word, but did believe him to be the essential word of his Father. I further told him (according to that distinction of the word into verbum Deus, & verbum Dei) that the word was twofold: "the word, that is God, which is Jesus Christ, and the word of God, which is the holy Scripture." Then altering the former question a little, I asked him whether he did believe the holy Scripture to be the written word of God.
To which, after many words to no purpose, being pressed to answer positively, he said. It is not the word of God, there is no written word.
The next question I asked him was, Whether he that speaks or teaches that which is directly contrary to the doctrine of the holy Scripture is to be looked upon as one speaking from the immediate inspiration of the Spirit, though he pretend to do so.
To this he replied, "The word and the Spirit are one."
"What," said I, "do you understand by the 'word," when you say the word and the Spirit are one?" He said, by the word, he meant Christ. I told him we did believe Christ and the Holy Spirit to be one God, and that if that was the matter of his answer, that Christ and the Holy Spirit are one, it was impertinent to my question.
I then put the case touching myself thus: "If I" (said I) "should pretend to preach from the immediate assistance of the Spirit, and <552> preach that which is repugnant to the holy Scripture, whether would yourself believe that the Spirit of God spake by me or no?"
To this he answered as before, "I say" (saith he) "the Spirit and the word are one."
I told him he did not answer like a rational man, and pressing him to answer plainly and not so cloudily and darkly as he did endeavor to do, that those were auditors could not understand what he meant, divers of his followers that were there present, said altogether almost the devil spoke in me, the serpent spoke in me.
I told them that was a pure language that became a Quaker better than a Christian.
His disciples there present desired he should propound some question to myself. I told them upon that condition he would answer me plainly to some questions I further desired to put to him. I would answer him to any question of his as plainly as I could.
He then asked me how I could prove myself to be a minister of Jesus Christ.
I told him that I had been called and ordained to the work of the ministry, by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery, and that the Lord had been pleased mercifully to furnish me with some (though very mean) abilities for the discharge of that work, and that I desired and, as far as the Lord assisted, labored to walk as became that doctrine.
He told me I did not live as became a minister of Christ.
I asked him wherein he could accuse me.
He said I preached for hire, and suffered myself to be called "Master," contrary to the command of Christ.
To the first I replied, that for the terms "hire" or "wages," they were used in Scripture, that our Savior speaking of those that labor in the gospel saith "The workman is worthy of his hire." And that the apostle scrupled not to say he received wages. Accordingly I told him I took hire, or received wages for preaching the gospel, but did not preach for it, did not make that the end of my ministry.
And for being called "Master," I told him that I was not ambitious of that title. That my name was F.H.d and that it would please me very well to be called by that name. I said further, when our Savior says (Matt. 23 & 10) "Be not ye called masters," he does not simply forbid them to be so called, no more than in the foregoing verse he forbids children to call an earthly parent "father," but that he there forbids such proud and ambitious affectation of titles of respect as was <553> in the case of the scribes and Pharisees.
"Away, away," says Nayler, "with your expositions of Scripture. The Scripture is not to be expounded, and God will add to such as expound them all the plagues written in that book."
I replied that the apostles knew the meaning of the precept of Jesus Christ and were obedient to it, and yet suffered a title superior to that of "Master" to be given to them (John 12:21 & Acts 16:30) and that they reproved not them that so called them, which they would have done if it had been unlawful for them to have been called "Master," and that (John 20:15) Mary Magdalene called our Savior "Sir," supposing him to have been the gardener. (The Greek word translated "Sir" is and does properly signify Lord and is, as linguists know, a title of greater respect than , the term used [Matt. 23:10].)
The next question I asked him was not as he saith, whether Christ was ascended into heaven as man (that was in another place about 5 days after), which yet some of their speakers have denied and argued against, but whether he did believe Jesus Christ to be true God and true man also in one person. And first said I, whether do thou believe Jesus Christ to be true God?
The question I asked because I had heard that some of them had affirmed that Christ was no more than another man.
Instead of replying to this question, he stood like a man astonished and said nothing at all.
I desired him to answer, telling him he need not be afraid or ashamed to confess Christ before men, and that if he should desire myself to tell him my faith concerning Jesus Christ my Savior, I would do it with all cheerfulness, yea though in the presence of his professed enemies.
He then faintly bade me answer the question he had propounded to me. I told him I had done so, but that we might not lose time, I desired him not to trifle, but to answer in five words, and plainly. His spirit here it seems began to move him, and while we thought he had been about to shape some answer to the foresaid question, he slipped into one of their speakings, exhorting the people to look only to the light, and to Christ within them, and not to look forth, telling them they had no need of any teacher without, with other such stuff. When he had proceeded a little while, I interrupted him, and told him that we came not thither to hear a seducer, and such a one we took him to be, and that we are commanded in the Scripture to beware of false prophets, and to avoid them that are known to be such. Then urging him again for the clearing of himself, to let us hear what was his faith <554> concerning Christ, and first for the particular above mentioned, concerning Christ his deity, he utterly refused.
When we saw we could not get a word more from him, we quietly departed and left him in the field, with as many as pleased to stay with him.
The Quakers' relation saith the people cried out saying, "let us hear him," &c., a notorious untruth, that any did speak such a word there mentioned, save some of their own faction that did desire he might go on in his speech.
Their relator saith also, there could be no peace, that some kept close about Nayler to keep him from the violence of some that came along with the priests, but they raged so that he and some other friends received stripes.
Reader, believe them not; their words are as light as wind and vanity. All that had the color of any affront offered to Nayler was only this, and that a good while after we were once away. A young man in Orton parish as Nayler was going down the hill set his staff or foot before him. I do not now remember well whether, and caused him to stumble, but he fell not; for which act this poor man was indicted at the Sessions and fined 20 s., so ready were the justices to appear against any that offered the least shadow of violence to them.
A little after the author of that lying relation saith that the raging Sodomites waited about the door to do mischief and kept shouting about the house, &c.
Inquiring of this particular since, some of the townsmen told me that it is true there were some little boys and girls that made some noise about the house while Nayler was speaking. These were his raging Sodomites: upon these they also bend the bow of their tongue and spend these words of gall.
Their relator saith the priests missed of their purpose at Orton. He intimates we had purposes of violence against Nayler when we met him at Orton a little before. But the searcher of hearts knows that we never intended no more violence to him than to ourselves, and they know also as well as we, that we offered none.
The end why any of us desired to speak with him was this. Having heard much of his seductions of great numbers of people on the other side of the country to their wicked way, and knowing he had no <555> other errand among us but to infect the people of our several congregations with their infernal doctrines, and to persuade them to desert the preaching of the word, and all their ordinances of Christ, and to render not only ourselves but the very calling of the ministry hateful to them, we therefore thought it fit to go to him and have some discourse with him about some fundamental points of religion, that if we found him to be erroneous in these principles we might exhort the people of our respective congregations to beware of such false prophets, though they came to them in sheep's clothing. And therein we did nothing but what we took ourselves obliged to do in duty to God whom we serve in the gospel of his Son, and the souls of the people related to us. Should we being shepherds and overseers of the flock stand still, look on and be silent, or fly when the wolf comes and labors to devour? Should we not rather warn all men under our charge if it were possible day and night with tears to beware of such impostors as are risen up among us, teaching such errors as have overthrown the seeming faith of many, and speaking perverse things to draw disciples after them?
Their relation saith further, the next Lord's day after, we prepared our sermons suitable to what we intended.
We intended with the assistance of God to do our endeavor (and shall while we have a mouth to speak) to help those to whom we preach the gospel, as far as in us lay, free from the contagion of the Quaker's errors; and to this our intention some of us did then suit our sermons. And blessed be God that hath given to any of us some, though weak ability to suit our sermons to the present occasions. Solomon tells us how pleasant and profitable a word spoken in season is (Prov. 25:11).
Their relation saith further that we said the Parliament had opened a gap for blasphemy.
I do not believe these words were ever spoken by any of us. There is one Mr. Dodson, a minister of Rassendale, I am persuaded an honest godly man, that is accused to have uttered these words on the 24th of October, by two of Nayler's proselytes, but the most judicious knowing hearers of that congregation then present deny to their best remembrance that ever any such words were there spoken. And whereas this relator affirms them to be spoken the 5th of December, he might have remembered that true saying, "A liar had need of a good memory."
The following part of the relation is a mere heap of lies, as that any of us said they did God good service that would knock him down, is a wicked malicious lie. That we stirred up the ruder sort of people, is another. That any of us solicited Mr. Burton to come to Mallerstang is another untruth. That the priest's son got him to come, is another <556> falsity. It is well known to those to whom he is known, that he neither hath, nor ever had son or daughter.
That Mr. Burton had been in actual arms against the Parliament, is another revengeful lie; and an imputation of unfaithfulness to those gentlemen that were of the committee for sequestration.
That the multitude was armed, is another horrid falsity, or that any was armed, save that 2 gentlemen there had their swords with them, which is not unusual with them when they go abroad, and 1 country man. And if he brought his sword thither upon that occasion, as not using to wear one, it was rather for fear of the Quakers, than to offend them.
That any threatened to knock out his brains against the wall, to pull down the house, that the priests rushed in violently and took him by the throat and haled him out of door, that there M. Burton struck off his hat with a pitchfork, or anybody else, or that any violence was done to him anywhere, are such notorious falsehoods as I think the father of lies himself would be ashamed to forge, seeing there are so many sorts of people that can bear witness against them. There was no minister there but myself, and if Nayler, or any of his lying followers can say that I was guilty of the least incivility towards him, either in word or action, let them not spare to charge me with it before any authority. I shall dare the whole generation of them to do it: what was done there was not done in a corner, but before many witnesses, by whom the truth may easily be made to appear.
Reader, I will not detain thee with reckoning up all the falsities contained in this relation, only in general, I beseech every man fearing God that shall read these lines to believe, that there was no one of those abuses offered to Nayler that are there spoken of in our sight or hearing that were there present. If when we were absent anyone used any railing language to Nayler or his followers, according to their own constant custom towards others, I do not here go about to justify them in that sinful practice.
For the particulars of our conference there, if the recital of them might benefit the reader, I would set them down exactly according to truth. While we were discoursing, Nayler was answered one question for another, and I think to his own conviction, seeing his relation neither mentions those questions he propounded nor my answers to them, I am sure his mouth was stopped then, he had nothing to gainsay.
For that particular which he charges me with, that I said "Christ was in heaven with a carnal body," I shall reply to it by and by in my relation of the examination of Nayler, at the Sessions at Appleby.
And where he saith his commitment was for thouing Master Burton <557> and refusing to put off his hat to him, it is most untrue: though his pride and contempt of authority did thereby sufficiently appear.
M. Burton, as all other inhabitants of these parts, had heard much of the blasphemies of these wicked speakers, Fox and Nayler, etc. Of the seeds of heresies they had sown, the damnable doctrines they had broached, the distractions and disturbances they had caused in towns and families in other parts of the country, and of the great number of people they had perverted, and looked upon it (as I have heard him say) as necessary to give some check to the proceedings of these men, for the preservation of the public peace. This he thought to have done only by binding Nayler over to the Sessions, where he hoped some order might be made for the bridling of the growing insolencies and impieties of this turbulent sect. But Nayler, refusing to yield obedience to the law in giving security for his appearance at the next quarter Sessions, which were then nigh, occasioned Mr. Burton to write a mittimus, and send him to Appleby to continue in the jail's custody, till the Sessions should be.
For Howgill's business, there were three or four of their speakers or praters rather, in the marketplace, all of them speaking together, more like madmen than ministers of Christ or sober teachers of the gospel, and virulently railing against those that were so indeed; and this Howgill amongst them: who affirmed for his part that all the ministers in England that preach in steeplehouses were liars against Jesus Christ. M. Burton being then in the town sent for him to reprove him for this language. When he came in, he behaved himself very contemptuously, & his words were very stubborn & peremptory. Some present told him M. Burton was a magistrate, and it was meet he should show him at least some civil respect, as that of putting off the hat. Howgill denied to do it. M. Burton told him in a friendly manner how far they were degenerated from all civility and common manners, and that for himself, he did not desire the respect of putting off the hat from him, or any man (though he knew that such behavior was due towards a magistrate as might show some reverence and respect to him, but did much wonder they were so superstitiously scrupulous of it, as if it were some great sin. Howgill replied, God had not commanded him to put off his hat, and that he did not owe him that respect nor would he give it to him. Whereupon one that stood by took it off and laid it upon the end of the table by him. Howgill took his hat and put it on again. another standing by him took it off again, and laid it in the fire within his reach. He refusing to save his hat himself, one that stood by presently took it off the fire before it had received any hurt, and gave <558> it to him, and he wore it according to his own mind. Among other peremptory expressions he used to Master Burton, this was one. The law (saith he) thou actest by is tyranny and oppression. For this and other wicked speeches, M. Burton desired him to find bail among his friends (many of whom were then in the town) for his appearing at the Sessions then not far off, which when he utterly refused to do, he made him a companion to Nayler.
Where the relator saith there were 3 large petitions prepared, stuffed with most filthy untruths and slanders, raised out of the bottomless pit, the reader may know that there were indeed 2 petitions then presented to the justices, one of which came from the town of Kendal, the other from some other parts of the country. Nor will the subscribers be ashamed to own them, being able to make every particular good with advantage.
But I doubt I have already exacted upon the patience of my reader, and am even weary of raking in this relation, wherein untruths lie as thick as worms in old dunghills. But I am not curious to observe all the material Errata's in it.
The reader may be assured of this, that if they had had anything whereof they could have justly accused us, we should have heard of it in another manner than out of Saul's Errand to Damascus long before this time, and louder complaints would have been made than those of this relator. But if they have neglected hitherto to accuse any of us in particular of such wrongs as they complain to have been done in general, why do they not apply themselves to those in authority, and charge him or them by name that did infer the injury, and prove it by witnesses, that they may bring such to condign punishment? Or if the justices have done them injustice, why do they not petition to their superiors for remedy?
If any man shall yet mistake the commitment of Nayler for persecution, it were good (if he have been a stranger to his sufferings) he were acquainted with the greatest heat of it. It was no more but his confinement to the jailer's house, where he had as good accommodation as I think his own house would have afforded him, or he did desire, and better surely than he did deserve, and from whence he is now gone well amended both in body and raiment, and in purse also. For his incomes from the contributions of his proselytes, as is reported by some that have reason to know were not inconsiderable, nor would he have had much cause to complain but that he wanted liberty to range the country, if it had lasted as long as he had lived.
Reader, I suppose thee in this book at least to have perused that untrue and halting narration of Nayler's examination procured by him or some of his friends to be printed and spread abroad for no other end, as to us it appears, but to belie, slander, wrong, dishonor and bring an odium upon both the magistracy and ministry in this county of Westmorland, that have any way appeared against the wickedness of that man and his faction, and to render them contemptible in the eyes of the people of this nation, and those that fear God in it, that are strangers to that business, if it were possible. Thus they give their mouths to evil, and their tongues frame deceit, against them that never merited it at their hands or pens, and desired naught to them but good. But the Lord will one day examine and reprove them, and set this sin among the rest in order before them, except they yet become convicts,e which from our souls we wish on their behalfs.
To wipe off that dirt wherewith they have aspersed the gentlemen that then sat on the bench, I must first inform my reader that whereas he saith he was indicted for blasphemy, for saying Christ was in him, and that there was but one word of God, it is a notorious untruth known to all the country then present; I cannot but wonder at their impudence in printing so well known a lie. It easily discovers to him that will see, of what spirit they are: they would make the world believe those gentlemen were ignorants indeed, that had no better skill than to take those words for blasphemies. 'Tis true, these words were contained in his indictment, which he spoke in the hearing of an hundred people, that he affirmed Christ was in him as man, and that the holy Scripture was not the word of God, which last words though they may be truly said to be blasphemous, taking blasphemy in a larger sense, as it is used (Acts 6, 1 Tim. 1:6, Tit. 2:5). Yet that he was indicted for blasphemy at all is utterly false; what was the cause of his confinement I have in another place informed my reader.
But further, to discover the falsehood and wilful omissions and imperfections of their narration I shall give my reader a true account of the examination of, and discourse had with James Nayler at the Sessions, in all the material passages of it, which was as followeth.
After the justices had spoken something to Nayler, concerning his <560> refusal to put off his hat in the presence of authority, which he then and there denied to do, and had put some question to him concerning the place of his birth and habitation, his profession being a soldier, Col. Briggs demanded of him the cause of his coming into these parts.
To which Nayler, "If I may have liberty" (saith he) "I will declare it. I was in the fields at the plow in barley seed time, meditating on the things of God, and suddenly I heard a voice, saying unto me, Get thee out from thy kindred and from thy father's house, and I had a promise given in with it, whereupon I did exceedingly rejoice that I had heard the voice of that God which I had professed from a child, but whom before that day I had never known. So I went home and stayed there a good while, and not being obedient to the heavenly call, I was in a sad condition as my friends know, and those that knew me wondered at me, and thought I was distracted, and that I would never have spoken nor eaten more."
Hereabouts as he was going on, Col. Briggs interrupted him with this question:
"Friend," said he, "didst thou hear that voice thou sayest spoke unto thee?"
Nayler answered, "Yea, I did hear it."
Col. Briggs questioned him again thus, "Were there not some others besides thyself at plow with thee?"
"Yea," saith Nayler, "there were two more besides myself."
"And did not they," said the Col., "hear that voice as well as thyself?"
"No friend," saith Nayler, "it was not a carnal voice, audible to the outward ear."
"Oh then," said Col. Briggs, "I know what voice it was."
Nayler then proceeded thusf: "After I was made willing to go, I gave away my estate, and cast out my money, and I began to make some preparation, as apparel and other necessaries, but a while after going a-gateward with a friend from my own house, having an old suit without any money, having neither taken leave of wife or children, nor thinking of any journey, the voice came to me again, commanding me to go into the west, not knowing whither I should go, nor what I was to do there; but when I had been there a little while, it was given me what I was to declare, and ever since I have remained not knowing today what I am to do tomorrow." When he had finished this relation touching his call, Col. Briggs put this question to him:
<561> "Friend, you said, you gave away your estate, and cast out money before you came forth; to whom did you give your estate and money?"
Nayler said, "I gave it to my wife."
Col. Briggs replied, "Dost thou call that a giving away of thy estate, and casting out thy money? I should not much care if all my estate were so given away. But what was the promise which thou saidst was given in to thee?"
Nayler said, "That God would be with me, which I find made good every day."
Said Col. Briggs., "I never heard of such a call as thine, in our time."
To which Nayler replied, he believed so.
M. Pearson then asked "whether Christ was in him as man, as he had before affirmed?"
Nayler replied, "Christ God and man is not divided; separate God and man, and he is no more Christ. Christ God and man is everywhere."
"I ask thee," said Mr. Pearson, "whether thou believest Christ as he is man to be in thee?"
"I witness him in me," said Nayler, "and if I should deny him before men, he would deny me before my Father which is in heaven."
"How do you mean," said Mr. Pearson, "that Christ is in you; do you not mean that he is in you spiritually?"
"Yea," answered Nayler, "spiritually."
"By faith," saith he, "you mean, or how else?"
"By faith," saith Nayler.
"Why, what difference is there then in this point" (said Mr. Pearson) "between the ministers and you?"
Nayler replied, "the ministers affirmed Christ to be in heaven with a carnal body, but he is with a spiritual body."
"Which of the ministers say so?" saith Mr. Pearson.
The minister of Kirkby Stephen being present rose up and said thus: "I confess I said Christ was in heaven with a carnal body; I was willing to own a truth though in coarse language. I look upon it as an unmeet expression, and should not have used it had I not been drawn to it upon this occasion: discoursing with Nayler at Mallerstang about the reality of Christ's human nature, I asked him 'whether he did believe that Jesus Christ now glorified in heaven was a true real man as well as true God.' When according to his manner he labored to speak as ambiguously as he could, and would plainly affirm or deny nothing. Urging him with the same question again, with some little alteration, I asked him 'whether he did believe that Jesus Christ was now in heaven in a body of flesh?' <562> to which when I pressed him to answer plainly: Thomas Aray, one of Nayler's companions, said to me thus: 'Dost thou imagine that the body of Christ in heaven is a carnal body?' To which I answered presently thinking they had understood English language: 'Thomas, take the word carnal, not as it is used in the Scripture in opposition to that which is holy or spiritual, but according to its natural and proper signification, as it signifies fleshly, and so I do believe the body of Christ in heaven to be a carnal body' (that is) as I said, a body of flesh."
Nayler's relation saith, he perceived him to be offended because he had told of his saying. And said, "Friend I had not accused thee, had I not been asked what was the difference between the ministers and me, for I am not come to accuse any." It is true, some such words he immediately spoke. But that the minister of Kirkby Stephen was offended at him is an untruth. He knew no cause he had to be offended at him, but saw cause rather to pity his ignorance.
M. Pearson was here saying something manifesting some desire that some of the ministers there present should discourse with Nayler about some of his erroneous opinions, but in regard it was then night, and they had much business to do before they rose, it was thought unseasonable.
Col Briggs then asked him if he had not been a member of a church about Sawrby.
Nayler answered, he was a member of an Independent church at Woodkirk.
Col. Briggs told him "that he had heard he was excommunicated out of that church for some blasphemous opinions," and asks him if it was not so.
Nayler said, he knew not what they had done since he came forth, but before he was not to his knowledge. One that had it from Mr. Marshall's own mouth, who is pastor of that congregation at Woodkirk, told a friend of mine lately that it is very true, that Nayler was there excommunicated for his blasphemous tenets.
Col. Briggs then asked him further, "if he did not write a letter to one in Lancashire, wherein he told him, that if he hoped to be saved by that Christ that died at Jerusalem, he would be deceived." Such a letter Nayler did write to one Henry Holme, containing these wicked words in it. And when he was taxed for them, though he could not deny it, yet he would not at first confess them, till Col. Briggs asks him "if he would deny his own hand." To which he replied, "No, if he might see it." Col. Briggs told him he thought he could procure the letter; Nayler desired it might be kept as a witness against him. Col. Briggs asked him, "what was his reason to use such a cursed expression?"
<563> Nayler to season it, had this grain of salt in readiness (an ill shift is better than none). "If," saith he, "I cannot witness Christ nearer than Jerusalem, I shall have no benefit by him, but I own no other Christ but that who witnessed a good confession before Pontius Pilate, which Christ I witness suffering in me now."
There were 2 petitions presented to the justices, subscribed by the hands of many gentlemen, ministers and others of known integrity and honesty, occasioned by the troublesome insolent behavior of this people, especially their gross disturbance of whole congregations in time of public worship; and because it may be some satisfaction to the reader, I shall here adjoin the true copy of some of them which I have by me.
[The text of the petition that Higginson inserts here can be found, with Nayler's answers interspersed, on pp. 92-109 above.]
When this last petition was read, Mr. Coale was called for and examined what disturbances he had received, or could witness. He told the justices, he came thither to beg the state's protection, and not to endeavor the prejudice of any man's person, and that the petitioners did challenge protection as their native right and purchased due, and as what he knew was the mind of the Parliament: and that he desired no more for himself in this respect, than he did for those of differing judgments, only craved that we in our several congregations might worship God without disturbance and affronts.
It is known to the whole bench and present multitude that he persuaded with the justices that he might not instance in any of these particular public disturbances by naming the persons, till they had promised to pardon what was past, which was done. Upon which Master Coale instanced in several men and women, whose uncivil, unchristian, boisterous carriages in public assemblies, and turbulent spirits fully speak what freedom might be expected to be given to our congregations if they might sway the nation according to their wills. And that the spirit of persecution rests indeed in their breasts, whatever strangeness they pretend to it, and notwithstanding their untrue complaints of suffering of it.
Orders being given by these Gentlemen that then sat in the bench for the peaceable preaching of the gospel, Master Pearson asked Nayler this question: "How comes it to pass" (saith he) "that people at your meetings do sometimes fall into such horrid quakings and tremblings?"
The Scriptures, said Nayler, witness the same condition in the saints formerly, as in David, Daniel, Habakkuk and others.
Master Coale replied that David also sometimes saith "his bones were out of joint and broken," yet notwithstanding, his bones were sound.
Nayler then instanced again in the trembling of Moses, and Habakkuk, <564> and Paul.
Master Coale told him it was true; yet he might understand that in Scripture these words of quaking and trembling were not always taken in a literal sense but did signify that trembling of spirit and horror of conscience that God did bring upon the soul in the sense of sin and his displeasure, the breaking of the bones of our comfort, and shaking of the soul's strongest confidences. Sometimes again (he said) they were to be taken literally, as in Moses, Paul, &c. But then they were upon occasion of a more extraordinary manifestation of the majesty and glory of God, appearing to them, which was an act of extraordinary providence, and not the Lord's ordinary work.
Nayler replied that they (viz., that fell into the quaking fits among them) also saw the glory of God; but saith he, did they, Moses and Paul, &c., see it with their bodily eyes.
"Yea," saith Master Coale, "Moses did see the glory of God upon Mount Sinai with his bodily eyes, and not only he, but also the whole host of Israel, and desired they might not see that sight any more."
Nayler said, "How then is it said, 'Who can see the face of God, and live'?"
Master Coale answered, "True, it is so said; but that face of God which Moses saw is not spoken of as that full vision of God, which we cannot have till we be changed, but of a more extraordinary appearance of God in his outward discovery of his glory. And therefore when afterwards Moses desired to see God's face, he showed him but his back parts."
"Dost thou then believe," said Nayler, "to see God with thy carnal eyes?"
Master Coale answered, in the words of Job, "'Yea, with these eyes shall I see him.' Only," said he, "friend understand, that though these same eyes shall see him, yet they must be, though not in substance, yet in quality changed. 'He shall change this vile body' (saith Paul) 'and make it like unto his own glorious body.'"
Saith Nayler, "Had I said so, I had been charged with blasphemy, though it be truth." Master Coale answered, "he would then have had a great deal of injury done him, but" (said he) "though we shall be made like unto him, I do not understand it thus, that we shall be equal to him, there is a vast difference betwixt likeness and equality."
Nayler, after this speaking of the life of Christ, said, "he lived by the life of Christ, and Christ in him."
Master Coale told him "it was true, that a Christian lives by the life of Christ, but that life" (saith he) "which I live, is a created life, <565> and 'tis I am quickened, and I that am made alive."
"I live," saith Nayler, "by an uncreated life."
"True," said Master Coale. "A Christian doth so, but he must make a difference between living the essential life of Christ and living by it: the essential life of Christ" (said he) "is the cause of my life, but not the matter of it. For they were the influences of that life upon me, that did beget a life in me, but that life that is in me is a created life"; for which he quoted Ephesians 2: "You hath he quickened," and 1 Cor. 15, "The last Adam is made a quickening Spirit, or a life-creating Spirit," as he told him the word signifies. Also 2 Cor. 5, "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature: and you are his workmanship created in Jesus Christ unto good works."
To these he replied nothing, but said, "I do witness Christ is in me and is persecuted in me this day."
Master Coale told him, "he persecuted him not, but came to crave protection."
The foregoing discourse produced some words about justification, touching which Nayler said, he was justified by Christ in him.
To which Master Coale replied thus: "Christ in me is my sanctification, but Christ fulfilling the law for me, is my justification. Justification is an act of God for Christ's sake, acquitting me and absolving me from the guilt of sin, not done in me but without me, in the court in heaven. Only the manifestation of it is in my conscience."
Nayler said nothing to this, but "that which is without, is without."
Being asked whether the Scriptures were the word of God, he answered, "he knew no word of God but one."
Being asked again, whether he believed the written word to be the word of God, he said, "I know no such thing."
Master Coale told him, "That it was true, that Jesus Christ is the eternal word; but in the ordinary sense, a word is as much as the declaration of a man's mind." He asked him therefore, "whether he believed the Scriptures did declare to us the mind of God, and so whether that which they deliver to us is the very mind of God?"
He answered, "I do believe it."
And now good reader, compare this faithful relation, which may be attested by many judicious and observant witnesses, with their foolish and scandalous stories and you may find them full of such gross abuses, and pernicious suggestions and falsehoods, as are apt to proceed from a spirit that premeditateth mischief and abhorreth not evil.
I think none of us that are traduced in Saul's Errand to Damascus <566> should have made anything public in this kind in respect to ourselves. We know 'tis as easy as common for Christ's disciples indeed to bear the lying accusations and reproaches of his enemies. But knowing again how error may strengthen itself and get a party by lying reports, and the cause of God contract an odium by misrepresentations, and religion sometimes suffer through silence, especially when Satan labors to speak so like the language of a complaining saint, and truth itself is under prejudice and disadvantage, we were moved in Spirit, to speak what we have heard and know, and to testify what we can witness though the world should not receive it.
That mystery of iniquity which doth so energetically work against the gospel in this nation, and that design of Satan which now appears with open face in multitudes of his agents, to overturn the ministry of the New Testament and root out the soul and life of Christianity from among us, the despised servants of the Lord in these parts are hopefully encouraged that the Lord will ere long crush to pieces, and make it as the untimely fruit of summer, and as the grass upon the housetop, of which the mower filleth not his hand, nor he that bindeth sheaves, his bosom.
Yea, we see already some probable symptoms of death upon these newborn principles, and the marks of vengeance from heaven upon them. The hollowness and unholiness of their fanatic notions, which as blazing stars do dazzle the weaker, or delight the more wanton eyes of many. The fruit of our prayers in the returning of some who were esteemed godly; the divisions of the rest; their visible palpable atheism, and the Lord's eminent leaving of them both, living and dying in either the most despairing or most brutish condition ever heard of; which though sad as to their persons yet we cannot but look upon them as signal testimonies of GOD against their heresies and impieties.
O that men would receive the truth of God in the love thereof, that those glorious beams of the eternal word might ravish the affections of all that know them: lest otherwise (as is the sad condition of this poor country) the Lord do in his just judgment send them some strong delusions to believe a lie, and plunge their souls from their imaginary highest elevation of spiritual knowledge into the lowest depth of atheistical heathenish or popish darkness. In this prayer I hope, good reader, we shall have the communion of your spirit, and the joint compassion of your souls for a misguided generation. The Lord enable us to contribute what strength we have for the gospel's interest.
a. This is the second part of Francis Higginson's well-known anti-Quaker tract: A Brief Relation of the Irreligion of the Northern Quakers.
b. Perhaps "combats" here is a printer's error for "converts."
c. The Greek word diabolos etymologically means "accuser," or "slanderer," as does the Hebrew satan.
d. "T.H." in original, which we take to be a printer's error.
e. become convicts = come to see their own sins.
f. These 4 words, illegible in my copy, are found in Emlyn Warren's reprint.