Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > Antichrist in Man the Quakers' Idol
Dearly beloved in the Lord, although many of my brethren have taken in hand to declare the spirits, ways, and opinions of these poor deluded people, which are so satisfactory, that I confess it were but superfluous in me to add more to the press. Yet when I seriously ponder that this may appear where those books have not been divulged: and sometimes I am apt to think that a few leaves from one known in each country may tend more to the satisfaction of the people therein, than from a stranger, though for my part I am the weakest and unworthiest <362> of all for this work; but seeing Providence hath cast me in that place where I have had more converse with and knowledge of them than many others, I intend this book principally for the sakes of the people where I live. And truly I am necessitated to appear thus openly in respect of the lies and false rumors abroad, and for the truth's sake, which seeks no corners. O Beloved! remember that these are the last times, and this is the most insinuating depth of antichrist that ever was. Indeed in the Ranters, the devil appeared as he is (black, but I fear the white devil is too near these. Was he not in the Pharisees? and yet they were devout men), now may he be called transformed into an angel of light. The Lord help you to continue in the faith till Christ comes; keep your lamps burning, study more the deceitfulness of your hearts, try doctrines by the Spirit and Scriptures together, be not hasty to hear everyone or everything, frequent more the society of gospel saints, hold fast prayer in the Holy Spirit, waiting upon God in his ordinances—and in so doing you are in the safest way for instruction.
From my house at Cardiff the 20th of Octob. 1655
Your servant in the
God hath given us of this island several warnings for this many years, both outwardly in the kingdoms of men, and inwardly in the kingdom of Christ: the former we have for this many years felt the smart thereof; and yet are we like the man that sleeps on the top of a mast. Grey hairs are upon the head of this nation, for our murmurings, ingratitude, not living holy to our liberty enjoyed; but oh sad indeed is the warnings in his spiritual kingdom. What talk we formerly had of setting up Christ in our hearts, in our houses, in the camp, in the court; but hath not many like Baruch been seeking great things for themselves, and forget crucified Christ? O ye magistrates! can you see Christ bleeding afresh every day in city, town, village, country, speared by oaths, lying, drunkenness, profanation of the Lord's day, whoredoms, blasphemies? Are you Christian magistrates and will not step in to punish such offenders? Oh! ye saints, can you hear the most abominable errors vented, and neither pray against nor weep over them? Where is the ancient zeal of David to the temple, of Jehu against Jezebel, of Paul against the Athenians, of John against antichrist? Can you bid God-speed to Christ's enemies, and not shed a tear for that? (Oh let us of England look into our hearts, and examine what's the cause of these spiritual judgments <363> now among us: these people called Quakers are to me the saddest and most deplorable spectacles of revolted professors that ever I have heard or read of since my knowledge of them. I find the book called The Perfect Pharisee a most notable yet lamentable description of them.
I will in the subsequent lines give you a short yet faithful relation of their ways, opinions and carriages, not from other men's books, but for the most part upon personal knowledge; and what else, upon evident witnesses. And herein my desire is to give a testimony to the truth of Jesus, so far as I have had converse with them.
And first I shall answer that common objection amongst them, namely, they say a great power of God goes with them that carries them out against sin. And therefore hence they infer that their way is of God.
Wherefore I will first answer this, before I enter upon the manifestation of their ways and doctrines; I answer this two ways.
First I say, Greatness of power in man is no argument of divine goodness, or true religion, if their principles and doctrines be heterodox: the devil is said to be of great power, "we wrestle against principalities and powers" (Eph. 6:12); yea he is said to work mightily, that is with forcible and strong impulsions on the spirits of men; therefore the Scripture must try all such strong motions, or else God knows whither such strong powers will lead.
A mighty power hath gone with the Turk, to enlarge both his dominion and religion; yet I hope that's no argument his religion is of God; read that word in 2 Thess. 2:10-11: it's said the Lord shall send them strong delusions to believe a lie, the reason he gives you in the preceding verse, yet this strong delusion is Satan's throne.
And this makes me the less to wonder at that spirit by which they are drawn forth.
But secondly, they say, this power is of God, because it leads them out against sin: to this I answer that herein they may be mistaken—for I question not but Satan may have his throne in the heart, and yet the outward carriage to man honest and devout, for he hath his wiles and devices (2 Cor. 2:11); and how far he may carry men out to be against the act of sin, and yet sin the end of that intention, the Pharisees are a lively testimony thereof. Paul knew this well when he foretold the devil should transform himself into an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14); now angels of light are holy and without sin, which thing if you hear some affirm, consider they may be devils for all that.
Therefore I will briefly give a few demonstrations to unfold this orthodox paradox, how the devil may carry a man out against sin, and yet sin be the end of that outward holiness, and such men as much in the power of Satan as they were before.
<364> And this both in doctrine and practice.
1. For doctrine, many a man may acknowledge a Christ, and a hell; yea, confess him God's son, yet in the power of Satan's kingdom. What have we to do with thee thou son of God? art thou come to torment us before our time? (Matt. 8:29); mark, this was the devils that spake and confessed Christ; yet while they thus confessed Christ, their end was evil, for hereby they would have persuaded him to have let them alone in the poor men possessed, till the day of judgment, for they would not be tormented before the time. So that on the other hand it is evident that the devils acknowledge a hell, which many men worse than devils deny.
Therefore such as confess Christ (only) for fear of torment, to me that have only Satan's spirit, and his acknowledgment of Christ with theirs, both proceed from one root.
But for the practice, the devil may and doth in these four respects suffer his instruments sometimes to be strict against sin, and yet they under his dominion. Christ tells us that all the while the Pharisees was devout, yet they were of their father the devil (John 8:44); did not he stir up those devout women to persecute the apostles? (Acts 13:50).
Satan may help a man to leave some sins for divers ends, for the end crowns the action.
1. A man may be empowered to leave some sins for fear of hell only, and yet have hell in his conscience all that time; upon this account to me is all these abstinences, devotions, pilgrimages of monks, nuns, and friars. Thus they compass sea and land to make a proselyte, and hereby make him ten times more the child of the devil than he was before (Matt. 23:15); they rise oft in the night to prayers, go barefoot, sometimes in haircloth many a mile in cold weather, and yet the Quakers in doing thus do but imitate the monk of Rome. Who leads them to all this? truly not God, for he teacheth no man by good works to purchase heaven; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrite, who shall dwell with everlasting burnings (Isa. 33:14). What are hypocrites but seeming devout persons; yet fear of hell or Satan is the cause of their religion; fear takes hold of them certainly, I am of this opinion that a hypocrite is as much the child of the devil, all the while he is so, even as a profane person, it's not to be doubted that such as fear hell most are in part, if not altogether under his power, let them seem never so religious to man. To instance this, I have read of a people called Coordes, that worship the devil; for say they, God is a good man and will not hurt us, but the devil is cross and will.
2. Satan may set and engage some to speak against sin very zealously, and yet make them hug sin in the heart. Who did prompt Judas <365> to say, this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor? the Spirit of God tells you, it was the money devil (John 12:4,6); he had no more intent to relieve the poor than I have to go barefoot to Rome. So the Lord tells the prophet that many came to hear him, and spoke well of his doctrine, as if it were sweet and a lovely song to them, yet for all these fine words, their hearts went after their covetousness (Ezek. 33:31); who did teach them to speak so hypocritically but Satan, just thus have some now turned Quakers, formerly confessed they have received much good through my preaching. I do readily believe that in times of gospel light and liberty, Satan appears in no garb more than in hypocrites' apparel.
3. Satan may carry men to forsake many sins, and yet pride, ambition, may be the end of that holiness; the Pharisees fasted that they might appear unto men (Matt. 6:16), ambition was the end of their devotion. What made Absalom to speak so fair to his father's subjects, saying, "Oh that I were a king in Israel, I would do right to all?" a good pretense, yet ambition of the crown was the motive to such good speeches, as you may read; afterwards he made war against his father to dethrone him (2 Sam. 15), and this is common amongst many men at this day. And this is no riddle in divinity to say that the devil may lead men to a holy action in show, and yet the end thereof sin; of this take one instance more: what led King Herod to desire to worship Christ? Nothing but murder, for he intended to kill him (Matt. 2:8,16).
4. The devil may be said to lead men out to some good actions in appearance, and yet the world may be the end thereof. What moved Demas to forsake the church, that hath moved many to be of the church. As in those times, blessed be God, the saints have liberty, yea have been preferred to honor, religion being in fashion, which I desire may never be out of fashion, yet many will follow it while the dole of worldly advantages goes therewith, and when they have gotten sufficiently, or can get no more, they pull off their vizards, and we find by woeful experience too many are returned with the dog and the swine to their vomit and wallowing in the mire (2 Pet. 2:22). I beseech the Lord enable us to ken Satan's wiles this way (Eph. 6:11); what moved Judas to betray his master, that moved many to own him a while.
I shall not insist further on this matter, you see Satan may act men to some good actions: I mean not which are properly good, for so none but God can; but so in appearance, as Christ told the Pharisees; that which is highly esteemed amongst men (when the heart is naught) is abomination in the sight of God (Luke 16:15).
Therefore you that fear the Lord, let not the seeming holy carriage of any draw you, if so be you find their opinions are contrary to the <366> Scriptures, especially if they deny fundamentals; for how can that man's conversation be holy (before God) when he holds not fast the truths of Jesus Christ? Remember what Paul writes: if I or an angel from heaven preach another gospel (Gal. 1:8), you know a curse attends though he be as holy as Paul; nay if he pretends to be perfect without sin as an angel, yet we must not believe him the more for that any other gospel, mark its unsound or cursed doctrine that shall be preached by any, contrary to what the apostles did, then certainly this salvation by the light in us is cursed; for Paul nor any of his brethren never taught any such thing. Where do you find one syllable of their bidding men turn in to the light in them? They preached faith altogether which relates to some object without men.
Now God willing, I shall without partiality give you my friends, especially in and about Cardiff, a faithful relation so far as I can remember of my dealings with them, though I am a stranger in this county where I was called, both by God and good men; yet am I made the chiefest mark of their shafts; I know not why, unless it is because I formerly loved them too much; therefore they will now hate me the more, and my residence amongst them lays me open to their more often oppositions.
I did warn some amongst them to avoid the society of some whom I knew not sound in the faith, yet they would plead for a liberty, which I feared would in the end snare their souls, which is now woefully effected.
I have been four times publicly railed at, three times by one man, whereof twice in one day at St. Andrew's, and Licwith, at Cardiff since that, and now lately on the 16th Octob. being the Lord's day at Cardiff, by a young man and two women.
I never met with such a railing, reviling, brawling spirit, or heard the like; they might give us as good language as the angel did the devil; but I think they cannot bridle their tongues (Jas. 1:26); such words as these I have had from them: thou priest, deceiver, false prophet, hireling, thou preachest nothing but lies, blind guide; with such a bed-roll of junctives, that the oyster women of Billingsgate would blush to name: O sirs is this the spirit of Christ, which is a meek, sweet, gentle, loving spirit, certainly their hearts are not very clean, whose mouths are full of cursing and bitterness; yea the poison of asps is under their tongues (Rom. 3:13), they manifest pride and passion sufficiently, the Lord rebuke them.
F.G. At Cardiff on the 19th Septem. 1655: in discourse with a Quaker about the Scriptures, I exhorted him to own them as God's word, and it would be no dishonor to Christ; he denied, saying often thou liest, they are not God's word. I said to deny them under this <367> name was the way to derogate from truth; and in time, this will lead us next not to use them at all; he gave most intolerable revilings for this, that would have moved the tongue of the dumb, but I bore all patiently through grace.
After that he held out perfection in this life from sin. I told him we are free from sin only in respect of the guilt (Heb. 10:2) and power thereof (Rom. 6:14), but not in respect of the seed or motion, or act of sin. I confessed that I had sin in me; he answered, then thou hadst none of Christ; for he that's born of God doth not commit sin (1 John 3:9). I told him the word was doth (not make sin); it reigns not in him, but he would admit no interpretation thereof; then said I, doth not the same apostle tell us, if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and are liars? (1 John 1:8). His answer was, that word was spoken by the carnal man. Friends I pray take notice, he calls John the apostle a carnal man, because he confessed he had sin.
I could not make him acknowledge that Christ ascended with his body to heaven, but he did shift and evade the same.
After this, he came to St. Andrew's, and when the sermon was ended he began publicly to rail at me in the usual terms. And there denied any mediate call to the ministry, charged me with a lie for saying Paul had sin after converted; but I quoted the 7th Rom. 13 to prove it; he would not hear, but fell to the fisher-women's weapons, so I left the place but could not be rid of him.
Since this, to silence their Rabshakeh spirits, I often made a challenge to dispute if they could find a man of reason or Scripture; for they commonly say that ministers preach nothing but lies; and indeed they deny any minister or ordinances since the days of the apostles: so that by their doctrines the blessed martyrs in Queen Mary's days was no ministers. Most abominable doctrine!
At last in answer to my challenge I received this letter from a Quaker:
Joshuah Miller, I being brought by providences in the place where thee and Edmund Ellis were together: and at my coming away thou didst boast in challenging any of us whom thou callest Quakers to dispute with thee. Appoint the time and place, and it's like some of them whom thou in scorn callest Quakers may be with thee to know what thou hast to lay to their charge.
From one who is known to thee by the name of
Octob. 11, 1655
In answer to this, because I would not shun any occasion to own the truth, I instantly sent this answer following in general to any of them:<368>
Let him who hath a spirit of love, meekness, and moderation, void of railings and bitterness, judgings and condemnings, that can bridle his tongue, if any such man be among you, if he will own these errors here set down, and dispute for them, let me know it; and I shall God willing appoint the time and place.
1. That the light which God hath given to every man that comes into the world is sufficient to salvation, without the help of any other means or discovery.
2. That the Scriptures are not the word and mind of God to us, but the conditions of them that spake them forth.
3. That spirits are not to be tried by Scriptures.
4. That there ought to be no sense, meaning, or expounding the Scriptures to the people.
5. That we are not justified by faith upon Christ's death and resurrection, in what Christ purchased for us, but by what Christ doth in us.
6. That Christ ascended not into heaven with the same human body he had on earth (though glorified).
7. That the human bodies of all men, after death, shall not rise again at the day of judgment.
He that will undertake to maintain any or all of these, and will dispute them by Scripture, send me word thereof.
F.G. Upon the next day at night, I received a long letter from the same man, whereby he would seem to justify some of the aforesaid opinions; but because he could not spell my name nor write true English, and much nonsense, I sent the letter back with this answer, that I would receive no papers from him, for I challenged a public dispute according to promise.
T.H. After this, on the 13th of October, came another Quaker into my house, who in his mummical posture sat down; I asked him his business. He said he came to deny that John, apostle John, was not his idol, as I had told him. I answered, thou speakest falsely: I never told thee so, it seems my wife had spoken those words, but his memory was not perfect; hereupon I entered into discourse with him in hopes to convince him of his errors. And after about two hours conference, I made him recant these four opinions:
1. That the light in every man is sufficient.
2. That Christ is in all men.
3. That the Scriptures are not God's word.
4. That a converted man hath no sin.
Then I said go home and come no more into the Quakers' company; <369> you have now denied their errors; for if you do I will look upon you as a dissembler and a hypocrite.
But the next morning he comes into my house with these words: I am come to recant what I said yesterday, in that I said the Scriptures were the word of God, now it's an error. I asked him, who told him so? He answers, the witness within me; then it seems the Scripture is no rule, but you must judge them. But to be short with you, do you own them God's word, or not? He answers, no, it's an error. Then I took him by the shoulder to turn him out of my house, but he would not go till my wife did use her strength to heave and thrust him forth, and that with much ado.
So that they will say and unsay, affirm and deny, in a few hours; therefore well are they compared to waves to the wind, being tossed to and fro with every doctrine (Jude 13; Eph. 4:14). And yet these men desire to be teachers of the law, whereas they know not what they say, nor whereof they affirm (1 Tim. 1:7).
All this while while I received no answer of their accepting to dispute upon any of the points before mentioned; but upon the 16th of the same month, being the Lord's day, in the midst of my sermon at Cardiff, where was about four hundred people, came in three of the Quakers, namely, Mary Erbury, Elizabeth Richards, and Francis Gauler, with others; they again fell to their railings, having nothing else to speak, so that I was hereby hindered from proceeding in my sermon; the tumult could not be appeased. I told them again before all the people that I did there challenge any man that could dispute for any of the opinions I sent them; but all in vain. Two of the aldermen, Mr. R.D, Mr. A.R., desired me to come down, for my staying there was endless; for which I thanked them for their love and care of me. But after I was gone forth, the bailiff sent me a paper Mary Erberry gave him for me, which contains a wild chase answer to the seven points I sent them; but this was contrary to their promise who accepted a dispute, and now they think to put me off with a paper argument.
Upon the next day the bailiffs sent for them to the hall, intending to commit them as disturbers, according to law; but at last they being over-biased by discourse, and their relations. As also F.G., to get off, told the bailiffs I had appointed the first meeting to dispute, and that was the first meeting; which I protest before the Lord, angels, and men, is a most abominable Cretian lie, for I had no more discourse with them than what is here set down in reference to any time concluded; here take notice for all their perfection, this man had the brazen face to sin against God before the face of the magistrates; and by these tricks they obtained a dismission.
<370> All this being the sum and substance of my discourse with them, I am now cried out for an answer to their paper which I might refuse, but hold to the first challenge of a dispute, but seeing none of them is of that ability to make a syllogism, who can neither speak or write true orthography, I have for the truth's sake, and at the request of some of my Christian friends, and for the satisfaction of all, in the subsequent pages, made a discovery and confutation of the most horrid opinions held forth in their paper; and herein I shall pass over all the revilings I find, together with what truth is spoken, I only intend to extract the errors they maintain; and shall, the Lord assisting, set them down in their own words, without the least variation of one syllable; and I conceived it the more honorable and just to set it forth in print: 1) that all might see and judge thereof, for in secret I will say nothing; 2) because I would not have my advice falsely interpreted by them, who have great heads and subtle wit; 3) because I know not whether they might put forth my answer in print, according to their own private advantage, who would stigmatize my words. And this is the last answer I intend, God willing, to make unto them, let them write or speak what Satan will have them, for fools will be babbling, unless I shall find some extraordinary call thereunto; and in this all that have wisdom to judge aright will acquiesce.
1. That which thou callest error, that the light which God hath given to everyone that comes into the world, is sufficient to salvation without the help of any other means or discovery.
Answ. The gift of God is perfect, and he hath given Christ the light of the world, which doth enlighten everyone that comes into the world. And this is the true light which is able to the utmost to save them, and hath not the god of this world blinded thy eyes, who calls it an error, that the measure God hath given is not sufficient to salvation, without any other means or discovery, as if Christ were not the only means to salvation. And now to the light in thy conscience I speak, which is the light of Christ, which discovers thy evil thoughts and makes manifest thy evil deeds, which will lead thee to God if thou hearken to that which is sufficient. And thou that sayest it is an error to say that the true light which lightens everyone that comes into the world, is sufficient to lead to salvation. Oh, art not thou ashamed!
Confut. In answer to this, I shall divide what they say into three <371> heads, and pass their reiteration of the same things which is vain tautology.
The sum of what they affirm in this answer is:
1. They affirm that Christ (under that name) doth enlighten every man, and hereby that Christ is in every man.
2. That this light Christ gives to all is sufficient without any other means or discovery.
3. That Christ is the means, and that there is no other means of salvation.
Which are all three (as I shall prove by Scripture) errors, if not damnable.
1. To the first I answer that Christ gives light to no man under that name, but to him that believes. And this I have cleared in some sermons at Cardiff on John 1:9; for consider, it's God as Creator enlightens all, but not as Christ; for that name was never attributed to him but as God- man, the anointed of God for our redemption, as John 1:1 tells us that this God doth lighten all. True, Christ is God, yet not as he is called Christ, for so he is a mediator, a middle person betwixt God and man; therefore if they had said, God as the Creator gives a light to all, I should agree. But under that appellation as he is Christ, it's unsound, and not to be received. And from hence will follow that which I have noted, that then Christ is in all men; which is so directly contrary to Scripture that unless men be in the dark, they will not own.
Therefore he that said upon that word, know you not that Christ is in you, except ye are reprobates (2 Cor. 13:5) (W.E.) made this interpretation, that Christ is in all men, only they are ignorant thereof, went much wide from the sense, and hath helped the Quakers to this opinion.
I shall therefore briefly lay down two arguments that evince the contrary, drawn from Scripture, that Christ is not in all; and therefore, as Christ, doth not enlighten all.
Argument 1. All in whom Christ is, have the spirit of Christ; but some have not the spirit of Christ. Ergo, Christ is not in all men.
The major is evident and needs no proof, for Christ and the spirit cannot be divided.
The minor I am to prove, that all men have not Christ's spirit: "these be they who separate themselves, having not the Spirit" (Jude 19); "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Rom. 8:9), implying that there are a sort of men without the Spirit, and consequently without Christ: so that this argument is impregnable, if the Scripture be judge, as he that hath a body without a spirit is not a man; so he that is without the Spirit of Christ, hath not Christ.
Argum. 2. He that hath no faith, hath not Christ; but some men <372> have no faith, therefore they have not Christ.
The major I prove by these scriptures: Paul tells how he was in Christ, and Christ in him (Gal. 2:20): "The life I lead in the flesh, is by the faith of the Son of God," or upon him; he knew no other way of Christ being in himself or other men; therefore he prays for the Ephesians that Christ might dwell in their hearts by faith (Eph. 3:17); yea, it must needs argue Christ is in none but by faith, because damnation is so often threatened to him that believes not.
The minor, that all men have not faith, it's manifest by these two scriptures: Moses tells the people that they were children in whom was no faith, for they sacrificed to new gods, which new gods were but old devils, as read Deut. 32:17,20. So Paul bids us pray that we may be delivered from unreasonable men; for all men have not faith (2 Thess. 3:2), therefore all men have not Christ. Faith is the hand that receives Christ; otherwise it's a riddle to the Scripture to aver that Christ is in him that wants faith. Let's take heed of adding to the word, as such an opinion doth, lest all the plagues therein be poured out upon us. And thus I pass to the second head in the first position—namely, that this light is sufficient to save without any other means.
This opinion flatly contradicts the whole current of Scripture; for it's nowhere said the light in every man will save, but only Paul tells us that it's sufficient to excuse, accuse, and condemn (Rom. 2:15), so that the heathens who have this light shall be condemned thereby, and not for their unbelief.
For first this opinion affirms that we are saved by what's in us, which is too near the pope's, to the heathens that have it, deny Christ to this day. Consider with me, how can this light in every man discover these three things?
1) That Christ was born of a virgin, it must be faith to understand this, which was a riddle to the wisest philosopher; and in time if men follow this light in them they will come to deny the birth of Christ.
2) Will it tell this, that the world was made out of nothing? The wisest men of old, said, ex nihilo, nihil fit (out of nothing, nothing can be made); therefore, Aristotle mocked at Moses for saying God created all things out of nothing; nay doth not the author to the Hebrews inform us that by faith we understand the world was framed (Heb. 11:3).
3) How will the light in every man convince of the resurrection and ascension of bodies? It's an opinion in philosophy that nothing can move out of its element. Certainly the wise heathen had a greater measure of the light in them, which is the first Adam, than I can think any men have now; they denied all these with many more, which through faith we receive. And truly, this opinion leads us to the heathen for our gospel; but <373> let them that will, go; for my part I never intend to run to the heathen for the gospel. How did Apollos convince the Jews that Jesus was the Christ—by the light in them? No, but by the Scriptures (Acts 18:28).
|2. This opinion destroys all means of salvation; for so is the third head, wherein they affirm that Christ is the only means: true, without Christ we cannot be saved; yet I would know where they read that word that Christ is styled the means, and not salvation itself; this is too light a word of Christ, and makes him but an instrument; whereas he is called the Savior, the redemption, not the means of salvation; this opinion denies three things.||Yea it denies Christ to be an absolute Savior, but only an outward means of salvation.|
1) It denies all faith; for if my salvation be by what's in me, then faith is void, for what's seen is not faith (Heb. 11:1). Is not faith the instrument or means of salvation, often named in Scripture? ye are saved by faith. He that believes shall be saved (Mark 16:16; John 3:18), with divers other places; though I say faith justifies not as an act but as it relates to the object of justification, which is Christ; so that faith is the means to apprehend Christ, who alone justifies us, in and through faith (Rom. 5:1).
2) This opinion denies preaching to be a means of salvation, directly contrary to Paul's testimony thereof. It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe (1 Cor. 1:21), but it seems these men are so wise that it pleaseth them that preaching shall not be a means of salvation—read Rom. 10:14,15,17.
3) Then the Scriptures it seems are no means in their account, to what end was they written here? A learned man tells you that the Scriptures are able to make us wise to salvation through faith in Christ (2 Tim, 3:15): doth not this maintain other means besides Christ?
What can be said more to condemn this damnable doctrine that denies all external means of salvation? as if a man might be saved without Scriptures, preaching, or faith.
But I will end the answer to the first error, or rather heresy, by giving this distinction of a threefold light, which to me the Scripture warrants. The first is, the light of nature or reason, this every man hath. And this is meant by that word (John 1:9): yea this light it is, the Quakers contend for to be sufficient, and this is but a comparative darkness to the second. And that you may have not my words for the same, Paul upholds this distinction: the Gentiles which know not God do by nature the things contained in the law. Where take notice what doth Paul mean by nature: nothing else but the light they have to distinguish them from beasts: yet mark, he saith, they know not God for all this light. So, 1 Cor. 11:14, "doth not nature teach you?" what can <374> be more perspicuous then, to signify the light which is natural, or common to all, without exception?
2) Light is that of grace, which is through faith in Christ, and the first is called the light of God; this second the light of Christ. Awake thou that sleepest, and Christ shall give thee light (Eph. 5:14); he means here of a secure sinner under Satan's power, so it's said, he hath redeemed or called us out of darkness into his marvellous light. What's this marvellous light? but that of faith in bringing the sinner to Christ. The first light is no wonder, because it's common to all; this second is to be admired because peculiar to some (1 Pet. 2:9).
3) Light is that of glory, which is the consummation and perfection of the two former. And this I understand by that word of Christ, he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life (John 8:12); mark, it speaks in the future tense, as if our life now was not full of light, that is, totally freed from dark thoughts, evil motions, and the like. But the time shall come when he that follows me shall partake of a life without sin or any darkness at all. Now let none misunderstand me, I do not say or mean that there are three lights in God, but a threefold degree of the same light: as the sun shines not, nor heats not all over at first breaking forth so gloriously as it doth at noon: as there are three lights in the firmament, yet they are from one.
So this threefold light the Lord hath made to manifest himself three ways: the first was under and before the law; the second was in the gospel; and the third is in glory.
The first light makes us men, the second light makes us Christian men, the third glorified men. The first brings us under the rule of the law; the second brings us under the rule of Christ in the gospel; and the last brings us to the kingdom of God in the beatifical vision. And I hope that we may safely distinguish where the Scripture doth. He that understands these three degrees or measures of light, will be able to escape the snare the fowler of this opinion hath laid for him.
I come now to the second: that the Scriptures are not the word and mind of God to us; but the conditions of them that spake them forth.
Answ. In the beginning was the word, and the word was God, which was before Scripture was written; neither was it in the beginning; and the Scripture is but that which testifies of it. And here that which thou callest error is divined; for the Scripture is one thing, and the word of God another thing; and thou that hast no knowledge of the mind of God but by Scriptures, dost manifest thyself that thou hast no better knowledge of God than the heathen, which did write on their altar, "To the unknown God." And thou art not a minister of the Spirit, who saith, it's an error to hold that the Scriptures are not the word of God. And <375> thou that hast no word of God, nor knows nothing of God but by the Scriptures, declarest thyself that thou art a stranger to God and his word.
Confut. In this answer you may see as in a glass what they maintain: I shall take it into three parts, and answer the same.
1. They aver the Scriptures not to be God's word; and what reason they give is, because Christ is called the word of God in divers Scriptures; but will it hence follow that we may not call the Scriptures God's word? no more than David's calling himself, though prophetically of Christ, a worm and no man, makes him the less a man (Ps. 22:6); did not the word of the Lord come to the prophets? And is not that word set down in divers chapters? as Jer. 2:1; 7:1; Hosea 1:2; is not this the word of the Lord to us for our instruction, though it came first to them? Was it the word of God then and not now? Shall we take the writings as the words of the prophets, or not rather the word of God, spoken by them?
Indeed here lies the distinction: Christ is the original and essential word of God; but the Scriptures are the word of God declarative. What difference betwixt a man's mind and his word? nothing but the word of man is the declaration of his mind. The Scripture must be either of these words:
1) The word of the devil, or
2) The word of man, or
3) The word of God.
To say the first is diabolical blasphemy.
To aver the second is idolatry.
But to hold the third is sound and sober divinity; I will only give one plain argument from Scripture to prove it God's word.
Argum. If one command of God in scripture is called God's word, then all the commands of God in Scripture are and may be called God's word. But one command is called God's word, Ergo.
The proving of the major will ratify the minor without further demonstration; for if I make appear that one command is styled the word of God, then it must needs follow the rest are so.
For proof hereof, read the words of Christ himself (Mark 7:10-13), where Christ quotes the fifth commandment and tells them that some, not obeying that in relieving their parents, had made the word of God of none effect. "For Moses said in the law, Honor thy father and mother; and whosoever curseth father or mother, let him die the death; but ye say, if a man shall say unto his father or mother, Corban, that is to say, it's a gift by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me, he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do aught for his father or mother, making the word of God of none effect by your tradition." What was this word of God they made of none effect, but this fifth commandment? <376> no other sense can be put upon it. Now if Christ, who is the essential word, thinks it no disgrace to himself to call one command God's word, I may safely call all the commands God's word, having Christ my example; for he makes two words, and is not Christ better able to tell us what we shall call them than the Quakers? Yea sure, let them prattle what they will, this testimony is unanswerable. What word did Paul and Barnabas teach in the synagogue, but the prophets (Acts 13:5; 2 Cor. 4:2). I doubt atheism will creep in by such unwholesome words. So came in popery; yet to give them their due, the Quakers was not the first that broached this opinion; for Schwenckfeld, that lived in the 16th century, denied the Scriptures to be the word of God; so that this is no new light, but old error raked up from his writings. And let sober men judge whether this is not the next step to make doubt of the truth of the Scriptures, and then we shall be heathens indeed.
2. Take notice how they set Christ and the Scriptures at variance, in saying the Scripture is one thing, and the word of God another thing: do not they divide? whereas Christ saith they testify of him; and as he and God are one, so is Christ and the Scriptures one; for they cannot be broken (John 10:35).
3. They compare all our knowledge of God by Scriptures to be no better than that of the heathen's inscription of the altar: so that by this monstrous opinion of theirs we first worship an unknown God, while we do worship by the Scriptures. Secondly, it follows that it's idolatry to worship him by the Scriptures; which saying, to me, is manifest blasphemy. Yea thirdly, we are all strangers to God that thus know him, and we with all the saints before us, that knew God in and by the Scriptures, are but heathens, and so in a damnable condition; for these are their words: "And thou that knowest nothing of God but by the Scriptures, thou art a stranger to God and his word."
What need Paul exhort Timothy to give himself to reading, if no knowledge of God was to be had thereby? (1 Tim. 4:13).
A gentlewoman of repute, whom I judge to be faithful to Christ, told me that one of them sought to dehort her from reading the Scriptures, which it seems this opinion allows. Oh how sad are these things! that the Lord hath cast us in such an age, wherein our ears shall hear one thus endeavor to pervert another; had not the Quakers themselves all the knowledge they now abuse by the Scriptures? Oh ungrateful men! yet some will pretend they have all the Bible in them, and they never read it; which I dare boldly say is a lie with a witness. And this leads me to the third opinion: that spirits are not to be tried by Scriptures.
Answ. And thou that sayest it's an error to say that spirits are not to be tried by Scriptures; thou art in the error and dost manifest thyself, <377> that thou wouldst try the living by the dead.
Confut. The reason they give for this, namely, that God is called the searcher and trier of hearts, this will stand them in no stead at all.
For I shall prove that the Scripture is the rule and touch of doctrines by this argument.
Argum. If we are to receive no other doctrine but what is agreeable to Scripture, then the Scriptures are the trial of doctrines. But the Scriptures command us to believe no spirit or doctrine but according to them. Ergo.
|The proof of the major resolves all, and the fabric of this error falls (Isa. 8:20): "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it's because there is no light in them." What's the law and testimony, but Moses and the prophets, which was to be the rule of judging doctrines? And mark, though men might pretend that they had a light in them, and therefore would not be tried by the Scriptures, the prophet plainly tells us that it's no light at all; it's rather a ground of darkness in them.||The Church of Rome holds this opinion that spirits must not be tried by the Scriptures.|
|And Luke did ill in those Quakers' account to commend the Bereans for being so noble as to search the Scriptures, to know and try Paul's doctrine, whether it was agreeable thereunto. Acts 17:11, are we not bid to try the spirits? And how must that be? By a light in us? Oh strange unheard of doctrine! yet why say I unheard of? the old enthusiasts hold thus, and thence came in visions and immediate revelations with him, as doth begin now, some saying they have the Scripture by immediate revelation. Let us view that word of 1 Pet. 1:10: "We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well to take heed, as unto a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawn, and daystar arise in your hearts."||Or we have a more sure word of the prophets. See Ursinus chat., p. 35.|
What's this sure word of prophecy Peter would have the Jews that were believing take heed to or keep, but the prophets which was more certain than any voices or revelations? and therefore be careful ye receive no other doctrine but agreeable to the Scriptures. How long must we take heed to them? until the dawn or daystar arise? that is, until Christ rise in and raise up your hearts to perfect glory—for the daystar and day dawning are the ushers in of perfect day. So to me the Scriptures is our rule till Christ bring us to the day of perfect glory, where shall be no more night; until then keep to the Scriptures, as the more sure word than all visions or the like. And this is safest, for every man to suspect his own spirit and opinion, that it's not from God, if it concurs not with the Scriptures.
And this dark place is our hearts.
Verily, I much fear that the next step such people will take will be that they may write as authentic letters as the apostle Paul, and as good Scripture: of this opinion was the old Caraphyrgians from Montanus their leader, in the year of Christ 145, who held that he had a greater measure of the spirit than the apostles had, therefore might make new Scripture.
For the Scriptures being a dead letter, as they say, we know how to understand better than they, having been many years in Christ, before most of them knew anything of God.
For the letter killeth not of itself, but by an accident as Rom. 7:12-14.
The fourth error they seem to own is that there ought to be no sense, meaning nor expounding the Scripture to the people.
As to this as all the rest, they begin as conjurers do, with many good words, but in the middle lies the poison, where they say:
Answ. And whilst thou puts meanings and senses to that which was given forth by the Holy Ghost, dost not thou discover that thou hast not the same spirit that gave them forth? for the epistles and writings of the apostles was given to be read in such a place, to such a people, and not to make a trade of them, as thou dost.
Confut. In this they deny any interpretation of Scripture because say they, we have not the same Spirit that gave them forth, which I deny; for the Spirit is given to every believer to profit withal (1 Cor. 12:17); though we have not the same measure of the Spirit the apostles had, yet the Lord hath left us sufficient to understand the Scriptures by. Hath the Lord left in the church to that end pastors and teachers? and have not they God's Spirit (Eph. 4:8:11 & 4:6; 1 Cor. 12:3); but the truth is, they would have no opening the Scripture at all, as by their writing pamphlets doth appear.
Whereas did not Ezra wade,b and give that sense of the law (Neh. 8:7-8)? Did not Christ expound (Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:17,22)? for all wondered at the gracious words that came from him, which intimates he preached from that Scripture. So read, Luke 24:27, after his resurrection, he opened the Scriptures concerning himself. Did not Philip (Acts 8:32,35) expound Isaiah 55:7 to the eunuch? Read also how many Scriptures Paul expounded and opened (Acts 13:33); he opened the 2d Psalm, as also Isaiah 55:3, so he gave the sense of Ps. 16:10. Acts 13:36, when Paul was brought prisoner to Rome, he expounded both the law and the prophets (Acts 28:23). So that what the minister doth now in taking a text and opening thereof is warranted by the former practices.
In that the Quakers say the epistles was written to such a people: in that they say true; but what would they infer hence? therefore they are not for us to use or preach upon; they may say the like of all the rest of the Scriptures; but if they would have no interpretation of Scriptures, what will they say of 2 Peter 3:6, who saith that in Paul's epistles are many things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do other Scriptures, to their own destruction? whereby I gather that even in Paul's epistles many things are mystical and must be opened in the spirit of wisdom. Alas, if no expounding Scriptures, then will they take these in the letter (John 3:4). How can a man be born again? shall he enter again into his mother's womb? Cut off thy right hand, pull out thy right eye. I have read of some that understood this in the letter & did pull out their eye; but if they had let it alone, the Scripture had not been broken. What misery fell upon the Jews, because they did not better expound Christ's words, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it in three days"?
I might call a cloud of witnesses in this case.
Therefore let them say what they will, God hath owned the way of expounding and opening Scriptures, to the conversion of thousands as seals to the ministry. And herein I bless God I am not without witness in the hearts of some at this day; yea, some of them now turned enemies to truth have openly owned me as the instrument in God's hand, for their good (I speak it with grief) and to their shame; to the intent if God will give them grace to repent of their errors and hypocrisy (2 Tim. 2:25).
Now I come to the fifth, which you shall see whether they own or not.
5. That which thou callest error, that we are not justified by faith upon Christ's death and resurrection, in what Christ hath purchased for us, but by what Christ doth in us.
Answ. To this they answer seemingly fair; yet as the fox, Herod, did to Christ, so do they with the truth. The saints say they were justified by faith, and it's Christ that justifies; and he that hath the faith of Christ lives in him. But the faith and justification which stands in the comprehension and conceiving of Christ without will stand them in no stead. And thou that puts the Scriptures for the word are not justified at all, but art under the condemnation; and had not thou been a reprobate, thou wouldst have known Christ in thee.
Confut. I confess in this answer of theirs they contradict themselves often, one while affirming and denying: I know this before them, that Christ is in the believer and that it's that Christ justifies, but not by his being in us; for so they would have it, by telling us that the faith which stands in the conceiving Christ without will stand us in no stead. I <380> wonder first how all the patriarchs and prophets was justified before Christ came, but in conceiving Christ without? And where did the apostles teach such chemical doctrine as this? so that to me, this opinion of theirs totally rejects justification upon Christ's death without us, which is directly contrary to the following Scriptures: "who was delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification" (Rom. 4:25). "Being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him" (Rom. 5:9). But now once in the end of the world hath he appeared, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself; it's needless to heap Scriptures to prove this, which is as clear as the sun. What a riddle is that in divinity, for them to say we are justified by faith, and that upon Christ within—is this faith or sight? What I have in possession I need not believe I have it, for I know it: this is sense and not faith; therefore they speak nonsense. The prophet tells us by his stripes we are healed, but they make all Christ did but a pattern and example, which is an old heresy newly revived; it seems all the faith of the apostles will stand them in no stead by this doctrine, for they never did preach justification by what's done in us, but by Christ without us (read Rom. 5:10; Heb. 9:14-15). Alas, what need Christ to have taken upon him our nature and suffer such mighty persecutions as he did, if he hereby did not perfect salvation for us? or as if such a faith as lies upon his merits were invalid, as the Quakers would make it? I must tell you plainly that I had rather live amongst heathens that never heard of Christ nor the Scripture than with such people, who after they have had all their knowledge of God and Christ through the Scriptures, and the preaching thereof, should now vilify them and blaspheme them. Yea, some pretend that they should have known as much, if they had never read the Scriptures. Oh detestable doctrine! and ungrateful men thus to despise the outward means of salvation! how many saints of old and in Queen Mary's days sacrificed their lives for this very truth now opposed?
What difference betwixt popery and this opinion? For that which he calls justification by works or inherent grace; that they call Christ. I make no question but the pope will give them his blessing for this; yea, and canonize them as saints also. Now antichrist works in a mystery and is within men indeed; I am sure if he be literal they are mystical antichrist. John tells us that antichrist was in the world in his time, which was before the pope or papacy had a beginning many years (1 John 2:18); this of justification by a righteousness within us is man's grand idol and Christ's archenemy. O beloved! take heed of losing your faith on Christ's satisfaction to God for you, without you, lest you hereby at once lose all your comfort.
To the sixth opinion, that Christ ascended not to heaven with the <381> same body he had on earth, though glorified.
Answ. To this they make an equivocal answer in these words, concerning Christ's body, as the devil contended about the body of Moses. And if thou hast ears to hear thou mayest hear, the same is he that descended, hath also ascended, who is a spirit, that saith the flesh profiteth nothing, &c.
Confut. Wherein I easily perceive they speak like the blind oracles of Delphos, which shows their hearts not right in this matter.
1) They imply ye might as well say, I am a devil for disputing about Christ's body; for so they make the comparison.
2) It seems that as the devil nor none could find Moses' body to this day (Deut. 34:6), so Christ either hath no body, or else it's not to be found; truly this sense I must in charity make of their words; yea I have sufficient ground to believe that some do deny Christ ascended with his body, whereas (Acts 1:11-12), "Men and brethren why stand ye gazing? this same Jesus which ye see go up into heaven shall so come," &c. Christ ascended with a body, because they saw him with their natural eyes; for a spirit is not seen in that manner. Our vile bodies shall be made like to his glorious body (Phil. 3:21). Paul it seems knew that Christ's body was glorified and affirms the resurrection of the saints' bodies to the same glory. Job long before Christ came in the flesh believed that he should with his eyes, yea and in his flesh, see the God-man Christ Jesus at last (Job 19:26); there is one mediator betwixt God and man, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5); mark, Paul affirms it in the present tense; not "there was," as if his human nature was vanished; but there is still the man Christ: it's needless to spend time in proving so plain and glorious a truth; but that I find some question it, and others deny it: yet the first fathers of this heresy was above 1500 years agone. Apelles, a Syrian by birth, taught that Christ only ascended with his spirit, and left his body to return to the earth.
And if Christ's body did not ascend, as some would have it, then the bodies of the saints shall not ascend; and this must necessarily follow. But as to that they give me no answer by way of justification; therefore I will not treat of; supposing here is sufficient delivered for confutation of six most damnable heresies, which it's evident by their words they maintain, unless they will confess and deny in an hour, as some of them have learned the art of dissimulation, equivocation, and mental reservation, indifferent well already.
Therefore my humble request to all God's people, especially to those in the county of Glamorgan, with bleeding hearts, consider the blasphemies vented forth, yea, and publicly owned and pleaded for by some men; and shall not ministers preach and pray against these things? <382> Shall Quakers have their liberty, and we be deprived of ours by their revilings, even in the times of our exercise? In the paper they sent me they deny disputing, for indeed they cannot, for their mouths are full of railings; so that argumentum bacchalinum is the fittest way to deal with them. As Agur said of himself, may well be applied to them, surely they are more brutish than any man, and have not the understandings of a man (Prov. 30:2). And in contending with them I have fought with beasts, not at Ephesus, as Paul did; but at _____.c
What monstrous doctrine is this? to suffer women to be preachers by way of authority, condemned as against nature (Isa. 3:12; 1 Cor. 14:34-35; 1 Tim. 2:12,14); this opinion was first held by the Pepuzians, that women might preach, because they wickedly affirmed Christ assumed the form of a woman and not of a man. In France, they allow not a woman to be a ruler over the affairs of men's goods. But with us some women will be rulers over, and directors of men's consciences; for so amongst the Quakers, women commonly teach as well as men.
1) I will touch now upon some of their less trivial matters: at first they keep a stir about the ministers going into the pulpit, saying he is a Pharisee for that; verily, if Ezra the scribe was alive, they would call him Pharisee also, for going into his pulpit (Neh. 8:4); is not that the most convenient place for the people to hear? So they quarrel about words to no purpose. Paul condemns such strifes (1 Tim. 6:4; 2 Tim. 2:14): avoid such contendings.
2) F.G. As for thee and thou to one person, it's indifferent to me, but when they lay a command upon it. As one did in discourse with me; I asked him where was the command? He said the fifth commandment saith, "Thou shalt honor." I told him the command was not to the word "thou," but the honoring of parents, which I feared he did not; yet read John 1:51, where Christ saith "you" to Nathaniel. Again what a noise have we about putting off the hat with them, as if respect was to be showed to none? wherein they miserably wrest that scripture, that he who respects person, sinneth. Which is meant principally for magistrates and such as sit in the seat of judgment, and condemns only partiality; but there is a civil respect to all men, "Honor all men" (1 Pet. 2:17), let them read that word if they dare, Lev. 19:32: "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear God"; it seems by this that little fear of God dwells in the heart, when honor and respect is denied to the ancient, seeing God calls himself the ancient of days (Dan. 7:9). And for their horrid abuse of Christ's <383> ministers, we can best bear it, seeing we should have most patience. Paul did teach Timothy another lesson: the elders that rule well are worthy of double honor, especially they that labor in the word and doctrine (1 Tim. 3:17; Heb. 13:17). But all the dirt and plagues they cast on the faithful ministry will fall upon their own heads; for the younger not to honor the elder and ruler is threatened as a curse, which I think in these men is now manifest. Did not the Lord by Isaiah the prophet complain of this, that the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honorable? Isa. 3:5-6: read but what evils and tyrannies fell on the state of the Jews after this; therefore we know through grace how rightly to divide the word of truth in this case, better than the Quakers, for all their immediate calls (2 Tim. 2:15).
Thirdly, I have observed the strange kind of apish postures they appear in, sometimes like the swine, looking and bending to the earth, then staring and raving like the men in Bedlam, anon they go with bended back, arms enfolded, thus mocking the Lord their maker, that hath made them otherwise; sometimes they weep and howl Pharisee-like to be heard of men, as if they were in hell already, for Christ tells us the damned shall so do (Matt. 24:51), besides the disfiguring their faces makes them Pharisees (Matt. 6:16).
I wonder much at their weepings, if they have no sin, as some of them affirm.
Again, I have heard them hum like a swarm of bees, as if Beelzebub, the god of flies was there. Well dear Christians some of you have read the life of Gilpin, a great Quaker, but lately brought back to Christ. How he manifests that he was often possessed with the devil. As also you have heard of the fly that came to two men in a bed at Wrexham. Let's be warned by these things to hold fast to Christ's person, keep your faith and profession without wavering (Heb. 10:23). Let's not be Reubenites unstable as water, for we shall not excel (Gen. 45:4).
I beseech you to conform to wholesome words of the Lord Jesus (1 Tim. 6:3), for popery came in at this door. And unless our God prevent it heathenism will creep in the same way.
Secondly, I advise you to withdraw from the company of these men; and in so doing you will keep the Scripture rule and find much peace and comfort in your soul. A heretic after the first and second admonition reject (Titus 3:10), though I believe many are not heretics amongst them, but are like silly sheep merely deluded; pity them and pray for their return; yet take heed of touching pitch lest you be defiled therewith; if any man brings not the doctrine of Christ, receive him not into your house, nor bid him God-speed (2 John 10); if many had kept <384> this word they might have been kept from the hour of temptation that now hath overtaken them; we are forbid to keep company with a railer too (1 Cor. 5:11), as these men are.
Thirdly, keep and ask for the old paths, not in which wicked men have trod, but all the saints before you. Many have lost their zeal to contend for the faith (Jude 3). Truly they have need to be inquired after (Jer. 6:16): the indifferency of spirit about Christ, his ordinances and ministry, hath exceedingly hurt the souls of many; take heed lest that word (Jer. 18:15) fall to your share, "because my people have forgotten me; they have burnt incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways, to walk in a way not cast up." Mark how full this scripture is to condemn such people as bring such opinions that was never cast up by the apostles and prophets, for they never bid men turn in to the light within; no nor never said to any man, to the light in thy conscience I speak; this word was unheard of till now, neither is there any such expression in all the Scripture.
To sum up my discourse, I understand that popery and vain philosophy is the foundation of their religion; the Jesuits without doubt are unknown to them and us, amongst them; the Lord reveal this man of sin, and I question not but that he shall not be hid.
In order to this, take this relation I received from good hands:
A gentleman of this county upon the road meets with one that seemed a stranger to him, they fell in discourse upon the Quakers; the stranger justified them to be a people of the highest light and holiest conversation. After this he owned and justified transubstantiation also; and this man is since found to be one Baras, supposed to be a Romish priest. It's more than suspicious, they are near of kin to the pope when his emissaries will plead for them; for I am sure they condemn the true Protestants as heretics.
Seeing they are against all ministers as antichristian, the pope laughs in his sleeve at this, for he hath told them so; for this is known to all men of understanding, that the Church of Rome denies any gospel ministry in England; therefore the pope and the Quakers in this agree.
And that you may without spectacles see that his agents are not strangers amongst them, take this following relation, as a most evident demonstration hereof.
[We here omit "The Information of Geo. Cowlishaw," as it is included in Richard Baxter's "The Quakers' Catechism," pp. 119-120 of Volume 2 of this series.]
This matter is well known to many in the city, that this oath was <385> taken by the foresaid person: only John Audland in his paper against Mr. Farmer saith that they were in Bristol before the time herein mentioned, which may well be, and yet Mr. Cowlishaw speak true, that they were not there to his knowledge. And herein I leave all men whose wits are not bewildered with fancies to judge whether this man's testimony upon oath is to be believed, before all their railings and paper denials.
These things are for our warning to take heed of this mystical antichrist in man, who appears under all forms, to the intent to destroy both forms and religion also; when they call all our worship of God but idolatry, which opinion is an absolute point of the papacy to this very day.
And to believe or think our justification is by something wrought in us is that antichrist whose name is Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots, which John saw in his vision (Rev. 17:5), and this was before any pope appeared in the world; therefore beloved remember that there's a twofold antichrist in the world, literal and mystical; the one all have heard of, the other few believe, because it's inward and less dissemblable, and this is that antichrist now amongst the Quakers who say in these words: but the faith and justification which stands in the comprehension and conceiving Christ without, will stand thee in no stead. I leave every understanding Christian to judge whether this affirmation be not a denial of salvation by the blood and satisfaction of Christ. But this I have fully answered before; only I request all that love their souls to take heed, for there are many Christs now in the world (Matt. 24:5). Grace and peace be with all that love the Lord Jesus.
I conceive it not amiss to give a brief answer to that act of their quaking fits; the ground they have is because the prophets did so. But to this I shall answer in a few particulars.
First for Moses' quaking, remember the occasion thereof and the place where it was, even at Mount Sinai, and the terror of the sight was thunderings and lightnings, the noise of trumpets, the mountain smoking (Exod. 20:18); now this is no pattern to us unless we live at Sinai—for the author to the Heb. 12:21 saith we are not come to Sinai, but to Zion, where is no more such terrors and legal tremblings; and to me, Moses' quaking at that time was the weakness of his faith, as well as the people's, which practice we must not follow in their fears and amazements, if we be the sons and daughters of Zion. And verily, to judge charitable of some called Quakers, I think they are gone back with the Galatians to the law of Moses, only some opinions they hold <386> even contrary to that law.
Secondly, for the prophets' quaking, we read of three especially—but they are not examples to us, for what they did was for signs. As Jer. 23:9, he did tremble in respect of the adulteries and swearings of the people, being amazed to think what judgments should fall upon them for their sins. And Ezek. also ch. 12:18, he was commanded to eat his bread and drink his water with quaking, the reason in the next verse he gives is for a sign of the desolation and famine that should come upon the Israelites and their cities. So Habakkuk did quake also at the high consideration of God's wonders in the sea for the children of Israel's deliverance, so that to me here's no ground for example to us, unless some will pretend to be prophets by foretelling things to come, which I shall never believe, until they can manifest a better commission than I see they have; therefore let's not wonder if you hear some go naked also because Isaiah did; for believe it, they may as well attempt to walk on the sea, as Peter did too; but how they condemn us for taking the prophets' and apostles' words and preaching them to the people; and yet themselves take the prophets' signs, and would imitate them in doing the same; but remember Christ tells us that an evil and adulterous generation seeks after signs, even such as adulterate the precious truths of Christ (Matt. 12:39). Yea they would willingly be prophets, if the people would but account them so; then they might thunder us with bell, book, and candle like the pope, as they do pretty well already because we receive not their doctrine.
Thirdly trembling of the body was never commanded, nor yet used as a sign of conversion, as the Quakers make it, some saying they were never converted till now. Indeed I read only of Paul's trembling (Acts 9:5-6) at the voice, when going to Damascus, which did arise only from a terror and fear, being at once struck to the earth and blind; his conversion was after this in a miraculous way, and one swallow makes not a summer. So you read the jailer trembled at the earthquake for fear of the loss of his prisoners. So Felix trembled at Paul's speaking of judgment, yet went away the same man (Acts 24:25). So that sin was not the ground of trembling in these men.
Fourthly, neither did the apostles preach such doctrine: how many do you find that thus trembled corporally at their preaching? Verily, you may put their names all in a ring; but for men now to make it necessary, yea a sign of conversion to quake, the apostles themselves are strangers to this. Sure the conversion of some with us is very sudden, if quaking be a sign; but Paul's words satisfy me that there's nothing of God, yea no profit in such motions of the flesh; for bodily exercise profits <387> nothing (1 Tim 4:8). I have seen counterfeit beggars in London that would artificially shake their whole body for money; without doubt, if they came among the Quakers, they might pass for good converts.
Fifthly, neither can I read any quakings of the former prophets above once, and that for signs; but behold these do it often; yea, I admire at one thing, why they tremble, seeing some of them affirm they have no sin; herein their very practice & opinions are riddles even to themselves. So that out of their mouths the most just hand of God toucheth them that they shall fear where no fear is (Ps. 53:5).
And for the Scripture bidding us work out our salvation with fear and trembling signifies not a bodily one, but that of the heart, as Elihu tells us (Job 37:1), which is an awful reverence of God's presence in the beholding all our actions, but slavish fear is excluded (Luke 1:74); he hath delivered us from the hands of our enemies, that we might serve without fear.
Lastly, trembling sometimes is an effect of God's wrath, which a believer is freed from (Jer. 10:10): at his wrath the earth shall tremble, so that the devils tremble at the wrath of God, and the execution of his justice upon them (James 2:19)—how far this quaking differs? or how near kin it's to that of Satan's and hypocrites'? he that hath an eye may resolve. The Lord tells us that fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites (Isa. 33:14). And if so, then trembling as an effect of fear will follow, so that in this act of their quaking, they do no more than the devil and wicked men from slavish fear and legal frights did before them.
But where perfect love is, it casts out this fear which hath torment (1 John 4:18): for unbelief is one of the proper causes of all such motions, whether it be in saints or sinners.
By all this it's evident that their quaking is not from the prophets, seeing they did it for signs, and but once; I will not wish that which David did prophetically to Christ's enemies, to fall on them.
Let their eyes be darkened that they see not, and make their loins continually to shake (Ps. 69:23); truly poor souls their eyes are too much darkened already; therefore I beg of God they may be opened to see their error, nor can I desire their loins should continually shake, for that's as great a judgment as the former; but affectionately request that they may shake no more. Yet I will comfort myself with this, though the mountains do shake and tremble with them. Though great men should quake too, for they are mountains; yet I will not fear (Ps. 46:2,3), but shall through grace with the humble saints of Christ stand still and see the salvation of God (Exod. 14:13).
a. Thomason date: 11 Feb. 1655/56.
b. wade = proceed, go
c. Blank line is in the original pamphlet.