Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > A Fool Answered According to His Folly
To thee, George Emmot, and the rest of thy confederacy, who calls thyself a gentleman, for a Jew thou art not nor of that seed, as plainly thou hast showed thyself in thy writing who hath manifested thyself a heathen before all men, and thy confusion; for in thy epistle thou sayest it was the case of thy special friend which he promiscuously declared and imparted to thee in private, which thou hast endeavored methodically to put in order, and here in confederacy is seen, and then owns it with thy name subscribed as thy own case; and says thou wast a brother amongst us; but thy brotherhood we deny and all thy filthy practice; who as thou confesseth art fallen from the gospel love through a self end, thwarting and overthwarting the gospel precepts, believing nothing though never so true but what thy own private spirit, though never so false, did move thee to; following dreams and fancies and the proud and lofty thoughts (all which thou confessest) whereby thou art led from one form to another but faithful in none, being led by the devil or blind zeal, as thou confessest; and he who hath led thee in all thy rambling and gaddings hath now brought his end about in thee; that is, to cast all thy dirty stuff thou hast gathered upon the truth, which he and thou dost ever most envy: oh that ever envy to the truth should so blind the serpent as to lay open his filthiness before all men as thou dost in thy paper; so that were it not that he hath ever some so blind as to cry up the filthiest work that he can bring out: thy book needs nothing to make it more odious to all that have the least love to God and his truth than that practice and language thou dost manifest in it, wherein thou showest a light vain spirit, unsavory to any who have but the least of the wisdom of God and his fear, which leads to sobriety, tossed in thy vain mind thou knowest not where, who art but yet at the best an atheist, a liar, slanderer, and false accuser (as thou art found in thy paper) following such a worship as Christ and all his bears witness against, and pleading for it as is plain in thy paper, and all that have the spirit of judgment may easily see thee, the end of thy gadding, who hast now taken up thy rest with that generation of priests who are called of men Master, bear rule by their means, &c., which did ever crucify Christ and imprison him, as at this day it is seen, as ever it was; and thou that art in the midst of this mind and stark blind there, which would set up thyself as a way-mark to others, calling them <36> giddy people, but never knew nothing thyself to guide thee but a giddy deluded brain or men's words, as appears by thy own confession; but it's no wonder to see him that fails by the weathercock to arrive at adventure. And this I say of thee and all such guides as thou art, and all that's so blind as to follow thee, so that thou art so far from getting disciples to thee in this mad way thou art in as that thou hast sufficiently warned everyone that loves his soul to wait on the Lord, and in his light, for a better guide.
In thy confused mind thou runs over many of thy worships thou wast in at Rome, not worth the mentioning after thee, which thou left (as thou sayest) because thou couldst not understand their language. Then thou sayest thou camest to the reformation into a cathedral, and with the organs thou was well pleased, and to such foolish music and worship thou sayest thou joined thy heart and voice and understanding, and of all thy gadding ways it seems this thou likest best, as suiting most to thy light, vain mind, for here thou sayest thou stayed till fear of an alteration possessed thee; then thou turned to like the priests as well without as with a surplice, where thou plainly shows what principle led thee all along, whoever kept thee ready to change as times and thy fears moved, and these and other superstitious things thou sets down as a thing past, and with a vain mind makes a scoff of thy folly, but blind beast cannot see thyself got no further yet than those filthy popish traditions of men, which with corrupt minds they hold up for their own ends, which thou art still pleading for, calling the papists' houses churches, and the popish bishop-made priests that still in that generation beget one another, calling them Christ's ministers when not one thing they perform in those popish houses is so much as in the form of the saints' worship, and yet in thy filthy mind would wrest Paul's words, who never worshipped in those places but called out of them, and said God dwelt not in them; and when at any time he went into them, it was not to worship in them, as thou would wrest it, but to dispute against them and such a worship as now is performed in them; yet art thou not ashamed to bring his words to prove them; and him who was not a minister of man, nor made by man, nor the will of man, him thou brings to prove the practice of the hirelings, begetting one another in their own wills, all for gain; but if any preach freely him they persecute, such practice Paul's words will not warrant: and because no <37> Scripture there is that will prove their practice herein, thou art forced to bottom their foundation with a lie which thou thyself makes, saying that 'ere Paul was sent any message to preach he was ordained of the church, and this is thy proof, saying, try Acts 13:3, where Paul was separated to go to the Gentiles; and this thou sayest was done 'ere he had any message to preach, but if thou read Galatians 1, or Acts 9:27, there thou mayest see thyself proved a liar and perverter of the Scriptures, and yet with thy whore's forehead art not afraid to say it is what the Spirit of God hath given thee to speak; and this is thy spiritual converted Quaker, who art turned an impudent liar, even of the Spirit of God himself, and thus the devil hath not lost his labor on thee in leading thee thus long; but now he hath begotten thee to himself wholly, and thou art become his bold-faced child, so that when he begets a lie in thee thou art not ashamed to bring it forth into the world, even against the truth itself, by which thou art judged from the beginning, and the testimony of plain Scripture is against thee, which all that read may witness. Yet art thou so hardened in thy wickedness as thou art not ashamed to put thy folly in print to be seen of all the world, so that thou mayest but have the least hope to preserve thy father's kingdom by casting thy filthiness upon the truth, for this ever is the way of Satan to act wickedness, but never own it further than to make truth odious, which is the only thing that troubles his kingdom: and in thy paper thou hast clearly acted his part, laying open so many of his filthy movings and actings in thee, only to cast them upon us, all which we deny, and thy end thou shalt not accomplish; for did but all the nation know our practice as well as they are ready to believe lies against us there had been no need to have writ anything for clearing the truth, which as it spreads shall clear itself; and thou begins to show thy filthy ways, to cast them upon us, showing that thou wast popishly affected and joined to that filthy idol, then to the bishops and priests which are the pope's children, all which we deny, and all their forms of worship, as being distant from the foundation of truth upon which we stand; and though thyself be amongst them still, yet thou lays open their skirts, if so be thou might but cast some of their shame upon us, when it's well known that the papists, thou, and the priests are all joined together against us for the truth's sake; though in some ceremonies your own carnal ends breed quarrels amongst yourselves, <38> and neither their reproach nor thine can lie upon us, for the day is come, and they must bear the shame that is found in the shameful work: the devil can hide himself no longer with reproaching others, and that's the cause of his rage.
Then thou sayest thou left the railer and went to hear one who had brought them from the table to the pulpit. I say, amongst these railers thou art it, railing against the truth, and pleading for them, though this thou speaks to cast upon us.
Then thou tells of thy brotherhood among the Independents. Truly they had lost their savor that took thee for a brother, but thy running wit (it seems) led thee to think that all that suffered thee to hear them owned thee for a brother.
Then thou sayest thou met one of thy old acquaintance, who told thee of a spiritual teaching and wished thee to look within, and brought thee Scripture for it, but this (it seems) thou hadst no mind to follow.
Then thou sayest thou met with George Fox, who told thee that thou wast wading in a whirlpool, who helped thee out and then confirmed thou hadst Christ in thee; and she came after that brought the bottle, and with once telling thou was perfect. To which I say, if thou wast not and yet art wading in a whirlpool, let any wise man judge that reads thy book and sees thy frantic ways thou walks in; but that ever thou knew Christ or his Spirit in thee to guide thee, I know George Fox would never confirm to thee, for who knows Christ in them is led out of all those reprobate ways thou walks in. But this thou speaks here of George Fox and the woman carrying the bottle, and that known lie of his deceiving people with ribbons, which a vain fellow was not ashamed to put into a diurnal to feed vain light minds who are out of the fear of God and so given over to believe lies: I say all these and much more suchlike dirty stuff is from one root of the old lying serpent, who hath now many plants like himself, and his reward you shall all witness when you have filled up your measure, and these things cannot lie on the truth but must fall on your own heads, yea while you think to make the truth odious herein you make but yourselves a scorn to fools, for all the world that knows us, yea them of your own brood, shall note you for liars and laugh at your folly, and as truth spreads you shall be further known so to be; your woe is coming on apace, your damnation slumbers not.<39>
Thou says thou was light, but not in the light, and in thy lightness, which was not in the light, thou says thou made thyself ready for that which without God's special providence thou wast running to; thou rent off thy new apparel, put on an old cast suit, a small cord about thy hat, threw away thy Bible, slighted thy calling, would not be careful for thy family, like an infidel or worse, and in this garb (thou says) thou thought thyself not worldly but spiritual, and thus thou art forced to confess that thou was led by thy thoughts, though thy venom is to have cast it upon George Fox, who thou confesseth was thy friend and told thee truth, and thus being not in the light (as thou art made to confess) with thy vain thoughts thou judges that putting a cord about thy hat and so forth made thee spiritual; and yet, blind sot, would cast these things upon the light, which in thy thoughts thou acted without the light, for hadst thou minded the light and spiritual teaching it to have followed, thou wouldst first have seen the inside reformed and that obedience which stands not in thy vain thoughts and light mind, running from one carnal thing to another, but in obedience to that Spirit that leads to moderation. For the business of Ratcliffe's wife whom thou calls a prophetess, and the things she held out, I say she was led with a light spirit like thine (and having lost her guide), thereby was led out into carnal signs and lying wonders; but the great thing that thou and she was most troubled at was that those who stood in the counsel of God should interrupt your passage and discover your spirit of delusion, and these thy mischievous mind would slander to have the devil in them because they discovered the devil in thee, that he could proceed no further in deceiving. And thou tells of false prophets, but is there any falser prophets than these that leads into such lying wonders and carnal imitations, who in thy vain thoughts, not in the light (as thou says) imagine that putting a small cord about thy hat and tearing thy clothes off thy back, will conform thee to Christ, when a vain light lying spirit possesses thee: and thou goes on in this vain mind trying the papists and others and says if thou hadst a teacher not inferior to Paul yet thou wouldst try him by the gospel. Thou blind beast that art out of the light, what gospel hast thou, or what canst thou try, can thy dark thoughts judge either with the Scripture or without it? Thy judgment is manifest of what kind it is all along in thy paper; thou <40> sayest out of scorn, thou flies from the congregation or church on the Lord's day because they are sinners, and here thou hast tried thyself to be a scorner, and what thou dost is out of scorn by thy own confession, and all scorners are out of the church and a synagogue of Satan. Thou says Christ accompanied with prodigals and harlots, and then says try John 15:2, and there thou art tried to be a liar and a fruitless branch cut off; and though Christ taught prodigals and harlots, yet he was not a companion with them; neither can thy harlot's mind, who are out of the light, know him or his company. The devil further pleads for lengthening his kingdom, says the godly and the wicked ought not to be separated till he send reapers who shall divide the one from the other; I say, the reapers are seen, the separation is making, and such cursed tares as thou are bundling together for the fire, and your torment is drawing on apace. An objection thou makest to prove your popish houses churches; the place is nothing but a heap of stones, the saints is the church; thy answer is, as divines do teach that the word hath a twofold sense, sometimes for the place which is literal, sometimes for the body, whereof Christ is the head, and thou says the place is more holy than one of your own houses, thatched over with hypocrisy. I answer, this divinity literal signification and two-fold sense and holiness thou brought with thee from Rome, from whence thy divines that do so teach have their foundation; and for thy literal sense, it is thy own lie; there is no such letter in Scripture, neither in law nor gospel, that calls those places churches, but idols' temples and a place for unclean birds, and thou and thy divines appears to have your houses thatched over with hypocrisy and steeple height iniquity (as thou sayest) who are not ashamed to teach such doctrine and lay your lies upon the letter. And to make thy folly more further manifest, thou says are not the saints the temple of the Holy Ghost? I say yes, and your idols' temples synagogues of Satan. Thou says the teachers of the word are a stumbling block or stone of offense in your way, at which you throw your fireballs; I say so too, as appears by your many filthy lying slanders cast upon the truth; but this thou speaks to reproach us, for because we deny thy divines and teachers of lies who are out of the word and enemies to it, and found in such a way of worship as Christ and the saints have ever borne witness against, which we by the same spirit bear <41> witness against, even their whole worship in their Romish houses performed, every particular to be out of the forms of godliness, much more out of the power; and it is not calling themselves ministers, nor thy bringing Scripture that speaks of a ministry that will hide them, for not one Scripture there is (without the devil do wrest it) that will own them, their practice, or manner of worship, as they perform it in their high places. And now seeing that their wickedness is manifest throughout the nation, and thou canst not hide it, serpent-like thou makes a crooked way and turns to lay open some of their beastliness, which thou wouldst confine to some of them, that so thou might the better hide the rest; and thou says, were it not the miraculous work of Christ, many of them would rather eradicate than build the fabric, like whale fishes devouring their fellows, proudly lording over them; others thou has known merely sottish, who by favor obtain great benefits, though the parishioners pay excise for their souls, some (thou sayest) are covetous, lascivious, proud, and envious, yet these thou sayest thou would excuse (where thy nature is seen), and the better to cover thee and them thou says love covers a multitude of sins. I say, thou art curst, and thy love, who would cover such a priesthood, for that love that covers the sins lays it open and leads out of it, but that love the dogs and swine knows not, thou nor these filthy beasts thou art covering, other thou says are so poor their words are not of force, and other filthy practices thou reckons up which thy love would cover, and the better to hide them thou says the people are in part the cause of it; thou says in Jeremiah's days the Lord viewed and both priest and people was profane; but now they that preach Christ do they not preach truth? The priests before mentioned taught lies, suborned evildoers, held out visions of their own heart? I answer, where Jeremiah's spirit is, the same profaneness is seen now which Jeremiah laid open, but thou profane one would hide it; do not they teach lies who teach others that they live not in themselves, that the light of Christ wherewith he hath enlightened everyone that cometh into the world is natural and not sufficient, and many such lies they teach, and do not they suborn evildoers who stir up the people to beat and imprison the innocent, yea shed their blood with their own hands, which is worse than the false prophets in Jeremiah's time; and what visions have these to hold out, but what they <42> imagine, who have no visions nor revelations from God, but say God hath spoken his last? and are not these profane, and thou a profane liar would hide them, and calls them the messengers of the Lord? who deny to have any message from him, and yet thy shameless lips says these are they whom the Lord is pleased to speak to his people by, whose lips shall preserve knowledge. Then thou turns again and says, because they have profaned the holy covenant, therefore they are become contemptible among the people, and thou says try Mal. 2, and there thy ministers and messengers are tried (by thine own confession) to be profaners of the holy covenant, and what knowledge their lips have preserved is manifest in such serpents as thee, who hath got subtlety to cover such a priesthood as thou confesses has profaned the holy covenant, and this is thy soul-saving advice to the giddy people of England, which hither thou would have converted; and here thou art tried by thy works, and thy conversion. Further, thou goes on to plead for great livings for these messengers, which the apostles had not but went teaching from place to place, but (says thou) the case is different, and the condition between the apostles then and the ministers now. I answer, so it ever was between the ministers of Christ and the ministers of Antichrist, the case, the condition and the end, which with the servants of Christ is the same forever, who follows the Lamb and not the times nor self- ends in their ministry. And in scorn an objection thou makes: the ministers teach for hire and therefore are but hirelings, and in thy vain mind thou answers it when thou hast done, saying if I and thou would but perform the same to them as their followers did to the apostles, this bramble bush would be converted into a lily. I answer, when they come out of their great livings to do the apostles' work, then let him bear his sin who refuses to give the apostles wages, till then I say the same of him who under pretense of the ministers of Christ, leads the lusts of the ministers of Antichrist. Thou tells of some of them who before they will lose their benefits they will agree to the protestation, subscribe the Scotch Covenant, go to the mass school and learn to say mass, and these thou says was the false prophets Peter spoke of, which makes merchandise of souls. I answer, so they was and so they are, but with thy blind eye thou canst not see it, yet hast thou gone so far in laying open the deceit of some, as thou hast proved <43> them all guilty, and so they must pass till thou instance one who hath not conformed to the times or those filthiness thou hast mentioned, and thus thou hast excused them till they be all left without excuse; and now look back and see thy divines their practice, their fruits, and thy own blindness; and there in the mud I leave thee and them, and neither Deut. nor any other Scripture thou canst bring proves means or maintenance for such a ministry, nor did ever Paul ordain these or any such, but from the pope they have ordained one another, without that Paul-like vision thou tells on, and their hands being polluted, on whom they lay them are defiled, and taking up a form without the power is the petty treason thou speaks on, for who walks in the way before mentioned hath not the Spirit, therefore cannot give it to others, though with the magicians of Egypt they may make serpents.
To slander us further thou says the magistrates to you are no magistrates, neither will you call any man father nor use any reverence to persons of dignity; you would have a parity which at length would prove a disparity. I answer, these things thou takes to yourself, and so let them lie upon you, not as our practice but as yours; for magistrates we own, and the power of God, who bear the sword of God, which is a terror to the evildoers and is to be laid upon the offenders ordained of God for that purpose, and to this ordinance for conscience sake we are subject, fathers of children we own, and the authority God hath placed in them is to be obeyed for conscience sake, but respect of persons we deny, and that faith which stands in respect of persons, and so we are taught by him, who is the God of order and not of confusion, who never set up a magistracy to stop his own work nor rule over the consciences of his people, which he has preserved to himself. Thou tells of magistrates to be nursing fathers: I say, those that know him who hath set them there are so, and the thing they are to nurse is justice, righteousness and a pure conscience, bearing witness against all sin, but what is nursed when snares are laid for them that reprove sin in the gate, and for that alone are they beat and imprisoned, whipped, and their blood shed, when fighters, drunkards, and swearers, and suchlike are set free here; that is nursed which God hath cursed, which the sword of the Lord is a terror to, and dreadful will be the account of such magistrates when that which they have nursed riseth to judgment.<44>
Thou says the word ye term a dead letter, and tells of Christ mauling the devil with an old text, and many such things in thy vain thoughts thou imagine and talks of: to which I say, thou that calls the word a dead letter knows not the word but art blind, and we deny thee herein with the light, with which we know the living word and the dead letter, as the children of light have ever done, and thy conjured word of a declarative word we deny, with the living word of which the letter declares, and that which Christ resisted the devil with thou knowest not, who saith it was an old text, for thou hast read many texts, and yet the devil lives unmauled in thee, who art a liar and blasphemer, out of the light (as thou says), and here thou art tried to be one of those who hath the letter without the life, the form without the power, and so art he whom (thou says) the apostle prophesied of should be in the last days (2 Tim. 3:5).
Thou says people who are not of the same opinion with you, you look squintly on with a scornful reproach; I say, so it seems by thy paper, which thou hast filled with scorn and reproach to cast upon us, who denies all your popish opinions, and here thou hast declared thy scornful nature by which thou hast been led & now lives in, and God scorns thee who art a scorner, and this sentence of condemnation I pass upon thee which God hath passed upon all the generation of scorners. Thou tells of seeing roll of predestination: I say thy blind eye that's out of the light of Christ is far from seeing predestination or election; thou art so blinded by the prince of darkness thou cannot see thyself to be a reprobate, who makes a scoff at Christ being within thee, and this is not contrary to the words of the Bible thou tells on, but with the Scripture thou art tried and found so to be.
Thou tells of people wearing apparel beyond their calling, which thou says is not the pride the Spirit speaks of, for that serpent lies in the heart. I answer, doth not the Spirit call to moderation in apparel? and spoke forth Scripture to that purpose (1 Tim. 2:9-10), which whosoever exceeds goes beyond their calling, which here thou art pleading for, and thus the serpent thou tells on is found in thy own heart, pleading for his own kingdom of pride and filthiness, yet to hide him with thou wouldst cast a mist by telling of Solomon's robes, but thou that art of Ishmael's brood knows Haman's robes better than <45> Solomon's; and this pride and respect of persons thou art pleading for, which Solomon never did, and when thou hast pleaded against what the Scripture calls to, then thou wishes that all may be performed according to the Bible, and here thou wouldst cover thyself with a vain wish, who hast been teaching contrary to Scripture; but when all comes to be performed according to the Scripture then woe to thee and that for which thou art pleading.
Thou tells further how near you run to the abscondities if not absurdities of the papists; I answer, thou need not conjure up such words to declare your nearness to the papists, for in plainness of speech we who are come out from among you do declare you to be one with them against the lambs of Christ, and your worship all arising from one root and leading to one end, only your division arises about carnal things, as steeplehouses and tithes and so forth, who should have them; the papists say they are theirs by antiquity, as being the first founders, but you say they are yours by reformation; but the saints of God had never aught to do amongst you, except it be to declare against you. And thou says you are posting on the same road with the papists, without a guide to Tyburne, and such vain words thy airy spirit vomits forth. To which I answer, without a guide you are who are out of the light, and your posting is to make papists and atheists (as thou says) which are all made out of the light, neither can you make any but such as yourselves: such as you sow, such you must reap; and so your posting is to destruction and take others with you though you escape Tyburne.
Then thou tells of seeking the radix of your preposterous ways; in thy mad seeking thou finds windmills and whirling about and gusts of wind, which thou utters out in thy vain mind and says, thou couldst never be resolved; I say thou art guided by thy imaginations, proud and lofty thoughts, windmills and gusts of wind whirling about, being dislocated from thy center as thou says, and out of the light, what place is there left in thee to be resolved or settled in the truth so long as that figinb mind leads thee, but art like the horse or mule, which cannot be guided without bit or hook: great plagues remains for such, and though thou confesses thou couldst never be resolved in our way, yet with thy <46> inference (as thou says) thou judgest, and with thy ignorant inference thou finds the first radix, as thou calls it, of those distempers to be ignorance, and so with thy ignorance thou goes about to discover ignorance in us and cannot see so much ignorance in thyself as to stop thy mouth, yet with this ignorance thou confesses thou read the Scriptures, framing expositions with thy own private spirit, and with thy own thoughts judgest of them. I answer, with what spirit else couldst thou read them, who art out of the light of Christ and therefore must needs read them and judge them with thy dark thoughts, and here thou lays open thy own condition, in subtlety to cast it upon us, who by the light of Christ and his Spirit have those dark thoughts and private spirit judged in us, by which thou art guided and read the Scriptures still, wresting them to maintain pride, respect of persons, the hirelings' worship, etc., all which things the Spirit that gave forth the Scripture, by which we are guided, did ever bear witness against, and this ignorance thou calls thy first radix, and yet in this thy ignorance, blind sot, would be a judge and teacher of others.
Thy second radix is thy selfish principle or sinister end, which (thou says) thy experience holds out, upon which thou says thou gave thy vote for taking away the idol of tithes only in hope to gain thine own part, which thou usest to pay, and this thou wouldst cast upon us and bids us try our ways. I answer, here thy deceitful heart is tried, and that spirit by which thou art guided: thy zeal for Christ and the true God, who though thou sees tithes to be an idol (with that which is thy condemnation) yet thou art not incited to bear witness against that idol, but from a selfish principle, and here the beast and the false prophet is found in thee, and in this beastly mind the devil leads thee to judge others like thyself.
Thy third radix thou says is pride, and this thou says thou hast by experience, for thou thought thyself no whit inferior to the greatest because the text saith, "God is no respecter of persons," and now thou says thou thought thou was grown wise because thou couldst give the language "thou" and keep on thy hat, when thou confesses the ground why thou kept on thy hat was lest any should espy more hair than wit. I answer, such is the wisdom of God and his work now to leave such as thee to lay open your own shame before all men, who would set yourselves to oppose the truth, as thou dost manifest throughout thy paper that filthy spirit <47> by which thou art guided, and spews out thy venom but cannot come to thy purpose, which if thy filthiness should be laid open by another it might not be so easily believed, especially by such as know not the depth of Satan, by whose principle thou plainly appears to have been carried on all along, different from us as light and darkness, for we that follow Christ seeing God to be no respecter of persons are therefore led out of ourselves out of the nature where pride lodges, which God respects not, into that which God respects as they who knew God and Christ ever was, and all may see thy principles which leads thee when the humility of God led thee to pride, and here thou art separated from us and thy end and the use of Scripture which thou makes we deny. As for the language "thou," we own it, as all the saints in Scripture ever did, and the keeping on the hat in obedience to a meek spirit, not from thy cursed corrupt proud principle. For thy other vain light words they are not worth mentioning after thee.
Thy fourth radix thou says is wilfulness, and this (as thou sayest) thou art taught by thy own experience, for thou would hear no reproof against thy way. I answer, thou art in the same condition still, though thy blind eye cannot see it, and in thy own way thou art lying and slandering showing forth thy own folly and wickedness wherein thou hast traded all along. And that beastly nature wherein thou livest and by which thou art led hath and ever had the adder's ear, not willing to receive reproof, but in thy imaginations art framing strange ways, out of the knowledge of God and of his power, by which power we are made a willing people to receive his reproof, having seen the day of his love and of his light, and therefore all the beasts of the field, serpents and night birds, who are not willing to own his light and power, are gathered against us in their own power, that the Lord may get himself a name upon you, who are not willing to be instructed by him. Many more vain words thou usest, telling how thou wast carried contrary to all commentaries, telling of sounding brass and tinkling cymbals, things thou knows nothing of but by hearsay, thou never came so far yet as a tinkling cymbal, but art brazened out of the form, and therefore thy brass sounds shamefully; thou says thy affections was averse to the voice of a minister, and that was the reason Christ left off his miracles among the natives, here thou speaks thou knows not what: Christ never owned such a <48> ministry as thou pleads for, neither could they ever own his miracles as now they nor thou cannot practice, who denies him and his light, and it had been more profitable for thee to have seen the cause why Christ has left thee glorying in thy shame, casting up thy dirt and mud to defile others, but thou art blind of that eye. Thou says thou hast forgot that learning taught thee to read the Bible and so to hear of God. I say it had been better for thee never to have read the Scriptures than thus to abuse and wrest them for the devil's service and to thy own destruction, so had it been better for thee never to have heard of God than thus to talk on him in thy light mind and live out of his fear as thou dost, and so cause his name to be blasphemed by such beastly ways as thou lives in, as in thy paper is declared. And the day is coming on apace when it shall be manifold more easy for them that never heard of God nor Scripture than for thee, for thou art he whom God hath seen to slight the truth, therefore he hath taken away his candle and fire of love, and thou art he that's grown blind and envious, foaming out thy own shame to cast upon others out of envy, and here thou art tried and thy ways.
Now thou follows with an exhortation (turn again to the Lord), but this voice thou says thou wouldst not hear till a strange kind of inward susurration from whence thou knows not ceased upon thy soul. I answer, that voice that should turn thee to the Lord thou still refuses and never heard it nor turned to him, but by that voice thou knows not from whence thou art still guided, and here be witness against thyself that thou art guided thou knowest not by what, nor from whence thy guide comes. And all that read thy book may see thou art going thou knows not whither, and yet busybody would be a guide to others. Then thou says, thou was invited by thy singular good friend Cynothiticon to discourse a little with a minister; to which I say, thou being come to be guided thou knewest not by what, was in the fittest condition to be led with the blind, to go to such as thou calls ministers; for such silly women they lead, who have lost their guide, laden with divers lusts, where thou hast been wading; for to none but such can they wrest the Scriptures and lead them so blind till they make them believe that the words of Paul (who wandered up and down and had no certain dwelling place, suffered hunger and nakedness, coveted no man's silver or gold but wrought with his hands lest <49> he should be chargeable to any) will prove it lawful for them to have a great house to live in, two or three hundred a year to maintain them in pride and idleness, and for this they may sue people and take it by force; also that the words of Christ, who commands all his not to be called Masters, etc., may in these days be so altered as to bind people to call them Masters, and many such things can they do when they meet with such as thee, who art led thou knows not by what nor from whence it comes; and of such in these days they make up their believers. And their calling you saints takes so with such vain spirits as thee, who are out of the election and therefore made to be deceived, that you cry them up for ministers of Christ and are offended with all that will not.
Thou says he told thee of a house, ye know by the Spirit, made without hands eternal in the heavens. I say, that house is not known to the hireling that seek his house here nor to thy spirit of susurration which came thou knewest not from whence, nor to no such profane Esaus is that birthright known, who bear rule over their brethren by earthly things; whose heart is in the old creation knows nothing of the new though he and thou may talk of it to satisfy your vain minds, as many other things thou says he told thee, and framed morals to convince thee of thine error and confirm thee in the truth. But hadst thou not been blind and out of the light of Christ, thou mightest have known that it is the Spirit of Christ that convinces of errors and not morals formed by Antichrist nor his ministers for their own ends, which thou says he led thee to, holding forth that all should communicate to them that teach; but he that spoke this had it not for framing morals but for sowing spirituals. But from this (sayest thou) he drew a conclusion concerning the necessity of teaching for eternity. To which I say, I knew before thou toldst me that their necessity of teaching lay here and still is drawn from that conclusion, that earthly things may be communicated to them; for were it not for that, they might teach that would for them or any other necessity that lies upon them. I never yet knew that necessity laid upon any of them to call them to a people where there is nothing to be gotten, neither will they suffer others to go to such if they can hinder it, lest thereby their trading be spoiled; and these are the ministers made by the will of man, and this is their necessity which they would conclude for eternity, but from what <50> Scripture did he prove that their teaching should endure to eternity? It seems thou either forgot it, or he could find none that he could wrest to that end, seeing thou canst remember and hast set down so much of your other jangling, but that's left out. But their teaching which they would have to endure to eternity (by him who is from eternity) is coming to an end, and therefore the wolves rage the child to devour.
Thou says he divinely held out the 23rd of Jeremiah, that the word was a hammer with which he knocks at man's heart. But Jeremiah, who had that hammer, bears witness against that horrible thing that he and thou lives in, which is for the fire. And these are the false prophets thou tells on, which Jeremiah bears witness against with their false hammers and false dreams which err and cause people to err from Jeremiah's practice and the word that he preached. Many other things in thy vain mind thou rambles over, talking of minerals, mysteries of godliness revealed and studious endeavors to that end, spinning out words into several threads, winding them upon wheels, and much chaff flies abroad with thy airy spirit, telling of something that's lost, but cannot see thyself to be lost.
Thou sayest "turn again to the Lord" it points out the butt or mark at which all the arrows of thy inventions, thoughts, words and actions should be shot. I answer, the arrows of thy inventions and vain thoughts, wicked words and filthy actions, flies abroad throughout the nation in this filthy book, and against the Lamb and his truth hast thou shot them. Woe unto thee who hast no other butt to shoot thy inventions at, for thee is the sword of the Almighty furbished, and with his arrows shalt thou be scattered, and thy generation and brotherhood thou tells of, with all your inventions, and the way thou hast chosen shall fall upon thy own head, and the judgments of God shall overtake thee, which thou says thou hast laid before thee. And now thy airy spirit hath lifted thee up to be a teacher, and thou sayest, if thou wilt turn by praying, God will turn to thee by promising and performing; and here thou lays thy prayers as a foundation, whereon God's promises and performances must be built. But thy foundation is seen and curst by him who to the foundation is come, before prayer was, which is the foundation of all prayer which God accepts; and thy prayers which are before, before thou be turned to this foundation and on <51> it, are the prayers of the wicked, an abomination to the Lord. Thou says thy counsel is to have a favorable respect to a painful minister, who waits for the soul. I say, if we have respect to such as wait for the souls, then we must deny the idol shepherds, who waits for their gain from their quarters and takes it by force where the soul lies in death and where it is quickened not by them. Thou says Ahab would call for prophets, but they you all know was idolatrous; but Jehoshophat inquires for one of the Lord's prophets. I answer, the liar speaks in thee; thou dost not know the multitude of Israel's prophets to be false, but art amongst them, pleading for them with the same falsehood they are in, neither dost thou know that one true prophet, which never prophesies good of them nor thee, neither canst thou believe him, but hast sent out thy railing letter against him and art that Rabshakeh thou tells of.
Thou says that Hezekiah, having received that railing letter, takes not upon himself, but sends for the prophet to pray, and here the liar speaks in thee again. For Hezekiah spread the letter before the Lord and prayed, neither sent he for the prophet, but to the prophet to pray, though thou says he admits of none but who was for that office to speak in public, as though Hezekiah had excluded some from praying in that case, doubling the lie two- or threefold to make thy cords strong to uphold the hireling, which is all the refuge they have to hold them by, now that the light is come. But their refuge of lies is sweeping away, and the land is cleansing, and this is thy converted Quaker which is thus stuffed with lies, and this is thy truth thou art established in and thy advice to the giddy people of England.
And towards thy conclusion thou exhorts to take Christ's counsel (Matt. 6:6): Enter into thy private chamber where then (as thou sayest) they shall plainly see within the closet of their hearts the City of God the new Jerusalem, the spiritual Solomon, the attendance, the gates, the keepers of those gates with the keys thereof, and many such things which thou hast seen in the letter, which thy vain mind babbles on, but knows nothing of them in thy life, who exhorts others to find them in their hearts, but thou thyself returned into the idols' temple to seek them. Thou sayest to others let the word of God be a light to their paths, but confesses thyself to be out of the light, and so all that know the light and read thy practice, lies, and light language expressed in thy book, shall so <52> judge of thee, thou child of darkness. And lest thou should prolix (as thou sayest) in this puddle of confusion, thou ends thy heap of folly and shuts up thy desires with the prophet's words (Isa. 30:20): hoping though the Lord give thee the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet shall not your teachers be removed into a corner, &c. "And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy upon the Israel of God." To which I answer, what has any these hireling or greedy dogs (who by their oppression cause others to eat the bread of adversity and drink the water of affliction) to do with these words which Isaiah spoke who bare witness against all such, who though they be amongst Israel, yet they are not of Israel's seed nor walk according to their rule, which is Christ the Lamb, but follows Cain and Balaam, and upon none such is mercy or peace.
Thou begins and ends with thy runesc which as they stand are sufficient to show forth thy folly guided by a light spirit, who art erred from the truth; and now look back to thy ways wherein thou hast walked and wherein thou art found blaspheming and lying upon the Spirit of the Lord, saying that what thou hast writ in thy book was what the Spirit of God gave thee to speak, but art found in a foolish vain lying light language, as far from the language of the Spirit as darkness from light; slandering the people of God and his way, which is too pure for such profane Esaus as thou to walk in, whose shameful steps thou hast declared in thy book, and that lying condition thou art now in, and yet would set thyself up as a teacher to others when as indeed all that hear of thee may fear the Lord and take heed to his light, which thou says thou art out of, that so they may be kept in his fear, to avoid thy ways. Oh shame that ever thou shouldst be thus brazened in thy filthiness to put such things as these into print, and to vomit out thine own filthiness out of envy to the truth wherein thou couldest never walk, which all may stand as a curse upon thy head and a warning to generations to come, and that shame which thou had thought to have cast upon us, is fallen on thyself. Blessed be our God who is confounding the devil, saving his people, and raining the snares of the wicked upon their own head.
That you all wait on the Lord and in his light, the spirit of judgment, to receive from God who hath set you in your places, that with it you may come to discern and judge of the things that differ, now in this day, when God is getting himself a name in the earth, that so you may be one with the Lord in his work and not against it, that you may answer the end of your calling, and so come to give your account with joy and receive your reward with such magistrates of which you read in the Scripture, who never used their power against God nor his work.
That you all take heed how you believe reports from self- ended men guided by corrupt principles against the truth, who would render it odious to establish their deceit wherein they live, and so you be found fighters against God, you having seen what he hath done to those who withstood him before you, and they are taken away, and you are set up (oh that you saw the hand by which it is done). Now this God requires at your hands, that you stop not his work, nor hinder his spiritual kingdom thereby thinking to establish your own, for which you see he hath overthrown kingdoms; neither think to stop the truth by putting the bodies of such where it is risen, into holes and prisons; for hereby you shall but (Pharaoh-like) see it faster to grow, and increase your own plagues, which all that loves God would have his creatures to escape.
But if any of you do so much own justice as that with an honest heart you say you would not have a hand in opposing the truth if you knew it, but what you do is to stop errors, and you hear many loud cries against this way, and it's everywhere evil spoken on, and some say we are sent from Rome, that we are <54> Jesuits, Franciscan friars, and the like: To such magistrates I say, you have us in the nation, and our accusers, and we have done nothing in corners, let us be called before you and our accusers, and if so we be proved let us suffer, but if not why should this reproach lie upon the truth to be a stumbling block to you; but if it be said, though we be freeborn, and have been friends to the truth and to the Commonwealth, yet now we are turned seducers and teach errors, &c. To that I say you have the Scriptures, which shows the saints' lives, wherein they taught and walked, wherein errors was judged. This I say without boasting: for clearing the truth let us and our accusers come to face before you, and he that cannot own the Scriptures and the saints' practice therein declared, as they stand without wresting thereby to be tried, their life and their doctrine, therewithal let him be condemned, and let the life of Christ and all that followed him, recorded in Scripture, be witness against such that they are erred from the doctrine of Christ and the practice of the saints, and therefore are antichrists, and their sayings shall not cover them, so may you come to see the truth cleared and that time not evil spent.
But for those of you who are so set in your purposes against us, as that you will not give liberty to innocency to clear itself before you and so keep you clear of innocent blood, and that because of hats and bowing and such things as godly magistrates never required, nor they that follow the Lamb cannot perform, but depart out of the faith and defile their consciences; and which things are not against justice, righteousness, mercy, the wellbeing of the nation; I say to such a magistrate, the day is coming on apace that thou shalt see and confess to the everlasting words of Christ, that it had been better for thee that a millstone had been hanged about thy neck and thou cast into the sea, than to have been one of the number that is risen to oppose the kingdom of Christ and to offend his little ones, though all thou canst do his workd shall not hinder. He that can receive it let him.
a. Thomason date: May 25, 1655.
b. or possibly sigin. Neither word is in the OED.
c. runes = rhymes, verses.
d. Whitehead moves "his work" to the end of the sentence.