Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > Strength in Weakness
Friend, before thou readest the ensuing letters (mayest thou be advertised) touching the occasion of their publication: This daughter of Abraham (who is the subject) having been visited by many of the persons distinguished and commonly known by the name of the Northern people, at sundry times, and in sundry manner of ways, which occasioned (as inherself) much inquiry accompanied with many prayers and soul-searchings, not without great and sore temptations, from that terrible adversary, who was not wanting to help on the affliction to the utmost, which conflict was repeated and renewed (as oft as opportunity was given by her new visitors) and hath produced (in many persons whose eyes were fastened upon her) much thinking, and some speakings, what is or would be the issue hereof; having this opportunity of knowledge under her own hand, I thought it was not sufficient for me to know how it stood with her soul after all those bitter assaults and contests which she hath sustained by her adversary and enemy of her peace, both within her and without her; but that those also who desire satisfaction herein may inform themselves hereby; this is one reason why thou hast this trouble given thee, but chiefly and above all, that it might be testified to sons and <289> daughters, to small and great, that not withstanding all her exercises and trials, which have not been small, yet her bow is caused to abide in strength, to the glory and praise of him on whom it is given her to believe; and this is necessary to be known by those who desire to know it.
Touching the letters themselves, I will not at this time say anything, but leave it to the most wise and holy God to direct the wise in heart to consider them. Farewell.
Friend, a seed is in thee which I own, which hath kept thee tender, in a measure of the fear, for whose sake some openings of the Lord's love thou hast had, by which some hope thou hast had of the presence of the Father of love, which hope was given for staying the mind till the light of the Covenant should appear to lead thee into the Covenant: him to know, and his face to see which is eternal life, this was manifest in the time of thy tenderness to stay thy mind on him till the time appointed, that the door of the inheritance should be opened, whereat to enter; but in the mean time the fear being lost, another principle hath catched the hope into the comprehension, and hath led thee out into the visible expectations of a thing to come, so that instead of growing into that measure thou hadst till the day, thou hast lost that which thou sometimes had, and knows not where to come to it again, thy imagination being got betwixt (which ever shut up the kingdom), and now thou stands afar off, when thou should enter, and not being joined to that Spirit which is able to try all things and hold only to that which is good, thou art afraid to be deceived, yet hast thou not that which thy soul longs after to be deceived on; but that which hath deceived thee puts thee in fear, and this thou should see, didst thou take counsel where thy hope was first awakened: and this I say to thee in the word of the Lord, that covenant must be broken to which thou art now joined, before ever thou see his presence whom thy soul longs after, though there be nothing (by that spirit that now rules in thee) more feared, and this that in thy conscience which is my witness, thou shalt confess to at that day when the Book is opened.
A Lover of thy Soul,
Friend, your writing I have I trust seriously considered of; I therefore do the more wonder how thou durst adventure upon one thou knewest not, to lay such a heavy charge as thou hast done on me, whose face thou never sawest; a seed thou ownest in me which thou affirmest kept me in a measure tender, for whose sake (thou sayest) I received some openings of the Father's love; to this I answer, I find no seed can keep from sin <290> nor make known the Father's love to poor sinners but Jesus Christ; the Scriptures bear witness thereunto (John 1:3,9; Matt. 11:27); him once received is the only true door of entrance, and only new covenant keeper; and in those only is and doth Christ Jesus make known himself unto, and they alone which have so known him can truly bear testimony of this truth. Your catching principle I let pass, not knowing it (by that name) what thou meanest, but in the holy fear of my God, rejoice in this: that I am kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, yet nevertheless am still kept groaning, waiting for the adoption (to wit) the redemption of my body, and so, through grace, can this day testify the gracious preservation my heavenly Father doth daily visit me with a teaching leading power of his holy Spirit, whereby I find myself in the kingdom of grace, not shut out, as thou sayest, by my comprehension nor vain imagination, having received union with that holy Spirit in my measure do daily take counsel, and try first my own deceivings which are within me, and those also which are without, which causeth me to turn away from so many who profess they are sent messengers from the Lord. Great cause have I to take careful heed from being deceived, and fear it also, when my only foreseeing Lord Jesus did so strictly forewarn and foretell what should come to pass in the last days (Matt. 24).
The good Lord, I believe, assuredly will, as he hath faithfully promised to my soul, break every yoke of sinful covenant in me; 'tis no grief of heart but true joy, yea wonderfully more than my pen at this season can express, to feel and find the increase of his grace in my soul, with his peace which passeth man's understanding, yea even thy deep censures; for thy appealing to my awakened conscience I make my appeal already to him who alone is the alone judge between thee and me, that I know not any of thy charges to be true, thou hast sent me written in thy letter; if now thou hast thus written by revelation to me, or by information from others, consider from whence it cometh. I say consider whether either the apostles or the prophets thou art like unto herein; I know it to be no evil but my duty to wait for the enjoyment of all that is foretold in the holy Scriptures. O my soul! Wait thou on God for my expectation is from him; leave me to the Lord's trial. So do I freely leave thee, not having faith to follow thee nor thy friends, yet to manifest love to thee and thy friends, for thy soul at the throne of grace, and all other outward expressions of love for thee and thy friends, as in my measure I am able through Christ.
The 16th of the 4th Month, 1655
Friend, had I known thee no other way but by sight or hearing, or any outward appearance, I durst not have written to thee nor owned a <291> seed in thee, nor do I appear to that in thee which so judges, my witness is that in thee that never changeth, which shall confess what I have writ to be from the Eternal Unity and Love to thy soul, which another principle calls a heavy charge; yet art thou made to confess it in thy letter. If thou didst but see it who art yet groaning and waiting for adoption, and yet says thou art in the kingdom: truly friend thou knowest not what it is to be in the kingdom: none are there but sons; yea canst thou not bear it that it should be called comprehensions though it be sound and not flattering? As for these Christ Jesus foretold to come in the last days, they are come and in the world have been many hundred years, and their fruits do make them manifest as he hath spoken: and were thou joined to that seed thou talkest on thou should know them and avoid them, not because they are messengers sent of the Lord, but because they run unsent, and those are enemies to such are sent, and was ever; and whereas thou says thou knows not any one thing true that I writ to thee, I say if thou hadst known it then should I not have been moved to write to thee of it. But for thy sake who knows not, who hast not, him whom thy soul longs after, which is the sum of my writing, which thou denies, calling God to judge between us; and yet confesses thou art waiting for adoption and redemption, which if thou had it why shouldst thou wait for it? as that of God in thy conscience shall witness when thou shalt cease to put the judge afar off thee, for that wisdom could never own apostles nor prophets; yet was they manifest to every man's conscience in the sight of God; and if thou read me in that which is meek and longs after Christ Jesus, then the harsh nature will be judged, and thou wilt see that plainness is pure love, till then I must bear the reproach of the world, and looks for no other from all whom I have to deal with, knowing that my message is against the will of all men.
Friend, I am no way troubled at thy continual charges, but do assuredly know in whom I have believed, and certain knowledge I have received of my spiritual sonship in Christ Jesus, and by this holy union with Christ Jesus my head have been by him taught, many years past, to try the public teachers of this nation, with those private also, who have held forth themselves to be sent messengers from Christ Jesus, and by his holy Spirit, to which I am united, am taught to turn from them and from thee also, who has run before thou wast sent with this false message to me, assuredly knowing myself to be in the kingdom, though men and devils say never so much to the contrary; my assurance whereof I speak came not by them, therefore they cannot take it from me; I am not afraid <292> to declare what the Lord hath done for my soul before the faces of thousands if I knew it were my duty, this with holy confidence do I know, and lift up my head with joy when the fire shall try (and doth already) every man's work of what sort it is. So I leave thee to him who is the only righteous judge between thee and me, desiring thee no more to write unto me, for I am taught to turn from thee, as I already have done from others; yet remaining to manifest duties of love to thee and thy friends, through the strength of my Christ as need is offered.
[here Jackson includes Nayler's paper, The Secret Shooting of the Wicked Reproved (see pp. 284-287 of this volume)]
As now the living God is visiting and gathering his seed out of bondage and confusion, so hath he been ever doing from the time of the manifesting his pleasure in that word of grace, Gen. 3:15 (if by the seed be intended the remnant whom the Lord our God shall call—Acts 2:39; Rom. 8:28; Rev. 12:17; Rev. 17:14. That seed of whom it's said, "A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation," Ps. 22:30). This seed hath the most high been gathering since the time of their first scattering, and for that cause, among others, is Jesus Christ said to be the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8), being the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). The apostle witnessing in the second of the Cor. 4:13 that he and others had received the same spirit of faith with those who had been before, reciting for testimony and proof hereof a passage of the Psalms—"I believed, therefore have I spoken"—we also believe, therefore speak. It is therefore not a new thing (implied in the word "Now") that God is doing but that which was from the beginning, which doubtless every day shall be more and more perfected, but especially then when that other angel shall fly in the midst of heaven preaching the ancient (or everlasting) gospel to them that dwell on the earth and to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people,1 whose appearance shall be with great power, the earth being enlightened with his glory;2 which day the Lord hasten for his name's sake, and let all his people say, Amen.
Against the appearance of which day the old serpent, the devil, is at work in the form of an angel of light, that he might seem to be the enlightener <293> of the earth with a glory like unto the glory spoken of before; if it were possible thereby to deceive the very elect, under the great and specious show and pretense of piety and sanctity. And as no other cover or clothing can become him, pretending himself an angel of light, so no other shape or appearance can endanger the very elect (they which are so indeed) but such an appearance as this. Therefore our blessed Lord Jesus, speaking of the last times and forewarning his scholars and followers touching false Christs and false prophets which should arise, saith, "If any man shall say unto you, lo here is Christ, or there, believe it not, for there shall arise false Christs and false prophets and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that if it were possible they should deceive the very elect. Behold I have told you before, go not forth, believe it not," Matt. 24:23-26, "but take you heed; behold I have foretold you all things" (Mark 13:21-23). "Take heed lest any man deceive you" (Mark 13:5-6; Col. 2:8,18; Luke 17:23; Luke 21:8). "Take heed you be not deceived, for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near, go ye not therefore after them."
Great cause have therefore all the followers of the Lamb (the true and only Lord Jesus) to take heed how they hear and who they hear, and whom they follow and go after, trying the spirits whether they be of God, forasmuch as many false spirits are gone into the world, and the enemy is at work, knowing he hath but a short time, and his actings are not so much amongst us in the form & shape of a dragon (by outward force and hostility) as in the form of a serpent, saying now as of old to Eve, "yea, hath God said?"
It is necessary therefore, that the witnesses and followers of Christ be jealous over themselves and over each other, with a godly jealousy, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so their minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ, provoking one another and stirring up one another, that as we have received Christ Jesus the Lord, that so we walk in him, rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as we have been taught, not being moved away from the hope of the gospel.
And it is the desire of my soul that both the reprover and others of his mind were at leisure to consider seriously and calmly whether the serpent may not be at work in them and making use of them as once he did of Eve, in her innocency and simplicity, to bring about his end, though they themselves may not be aware thereof.
Touching the reprover's paper, it contains such a bundle of arrows, and they so sharpened at the Philistine's forge, that they are greatly provoking and can scarce be meddled withal without begetting their like; a most undesired and unpleasing return. And were it not for the truth's sake that suffers, and for the reprover's sake that he may see what yet he sees <294> not (if God peradventure may give him repentance for his sinful rashness), I should not trouble myself to write nor him to read these lines.
A few things amongst many I shall set free from his false glosses, and the rest shall submit to further trial, knowing that he before whom all things are naked, and will try the work by fire, of what sort it is, will manifest a righteous judgment in his day.
Reprover: Hast thou not helped on the devil's kingdom with lies; for says thou, her temptations, afflictions, and conflict was repeated and renewed so often as opportunity was given by her new visitors (which visitors are these letters which thou hast published). But, saith she, I am no way troubled at thy continued charge: Now how must this be divided betwixt you, seeing the one at least must be the liar, both in this and divers other things I might instance, but I delight not to rake into such filth.
Reply: Thou that reprovest another, judgest thou not thyself? Is such a sentence in the publisher's paper as thou recitest, and sayest he says? Read it again, and whereas thou sayest "which visitors are these letters which thou hast published," art thou not reproved in thyself? Forasmuch as the publisher saith that she hath been "visited by many of the persons distinguished and commonly known by the name of the Northern people, at sundry times and in divers manner of ways." And these were the new visitors of which the publisher speaks; for he speaks of persons, not of papers, but leaves the letters to speak for themselves, using these words, viz., "Touching the letters themselves I will not say anything at this time, but leave it to the most wise and holy God to direct the wise in heart to consider them."
For the liar, and who it is, do but exercise a little patience, and 'twill presently be out of all dispute, and thou wilt see cause to say, it repenteth thee of thy rashness and unadvised censure.
For the better clearing of which seeming contradiction, take a few words from her own mouth, whom thou so much disdainest (calling her daughter of disobedience), it is a passage of a letter sent me then when I received the copy which is now printed.
"I have enclosed another answer to James Nayler, when I was about it, my soul was distressed much under this consideration; it was pressed with strong cries to him who alone knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, to uphold my distressed soul under his heavy charge. This merciful refreshing I received: I will set him at liberty from him that puffeth at him, or from him that would ensnare him, so I desire to bless God, and wait for the issue."
By this which is here declared it's most apparent that the things spoken by both parties are reconcilable, and that there is no lie to be divided between us nor applied to either of us, for that her soul was in bitterness and conflict at thy charge laid upon her, 'tis evident; which <295> sent her to him who alone knows how to deliver his sons and daughters when they fly and cry unto him, and before her answer was returned to thee, was heard in what she feared. The strength of Israel was prevailed with, and it was said unto her soul, I will set him at liberty from him that puffeth at him: thus of weak was made strong by the arm of the mighty God of Jacob, who had set her above thy charge; and therefore well might she say at the sending the answer to thee, I am no way troubled at thy continued charges; thus hast thou this filth wiped off, and needest not be troubled, except it be that thou hast spoken unadvisedly with thy lips in accusing the innocent.
Reprover: Only I shall let thee see in a few words what a body of confusion is in this daughter thou art boasting of.
She says she knows herself assuredly to be in the kingdom of God, yet still kept groaning for adoption.
Reply: Hast thou fairly and honestly recited passages, or hast thou not injured the truth in this thy recital? Shouldst not thou have used her own words when thou sayest she says? Thou shouldst have said the kingdom of grace, for so saith the letter. And hast thou not left out a material sentence which manifestly alters the case and makes it speak another thing than is intended; the words in the letter are these, "Yet nevertheless am still kept groaning, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of my body."
Which last clause thou hast wholly omitted, which is the explanation of the former, and may not be read without it. Was it not an aggravation of the fault in the tempter to pretend Scripture to back his temptation with an omission of a material part of a sentence (Matt. 4:6). I will not apply it, perhaps thou mightest do it ignorantly, not willingly; however at best it was not fair (to say no more).
2. But why should it seem to thee a thing incredible and be branded with so much contempt, that a son or daughter of God, who hath received the spirit of adoption or sonship, and translated into the kingdom of the dear Son of Love, the Lord Jesus; that such should groan within themselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of their body.
Hast thou never heard of a company of redeemed ones who were delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom ofthe dear Son of the Father's love, in whom they have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins? Yet even these redeemed ones, these that are thus translated into the kingdom of his dear Son, are advised to take heed of being spoiled through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. These are further exhorted to mortify their members which are upon the earth, to put off anger, and to put on bowels of mercy; and <296> above all, to put on love, which is the bond of perfectness: there is all this and much more to be found in that letter or epistle written by Paul to the Colossians, who also testifies it was his own case as appears in the eighth of the Romans, where notwithstanding that the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus had made him free from the law of sin and death (verse the second), and that he and the believing Romans had the witness in themselves, the Spirit itself bearing witness with their spirits that they were children of God and had received the spirit of adoption, whereby they did cry Abba Father. Yet nevertheless this holy and blessed witness of Jesus, Paul himself, and others with him, notwithstanding they had received the spirit of adoption and all that is above mentioned, yet account it but as a first fruits of the Spirit, and groan within themselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body; these were those who were heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, who nevertheless waited for the adoption in the sense mentioned before; here is no cover, no gloss, no interpretation, no meanings but plain testimony of Scripture to which agrees that which is witnessed of the condition of other saints of God, who although they were translated into the kingdom of the dear Son yet had something still to be subdued and mortified, and were to cleanse themselves from all pollution or filthiness, both of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
These things considered, I hope thou wilt see cause to cease to condemn the generation of the righteous because they dare not say they are perfect, though notwithstanding (through the strength of Christ) they are going on to perfection, striving against sin, watching against it, and warring against it, and assured, in their measure, that they shall one day be more than conquerors through him that loves them, who both teacheth their hands to fight and their fingers to war; and what else means those words of this friend whom thou dost charge with obstinate wickedness, who saith in these words following:
"Through grace I can testify the gracious preservation my heavenly Father doth daily visit me with a teaching, leading power of his Holy Spirit, whereby I find myself in the kingdom of grace, not shut out as thou sayest by my comprehension nor vain imagination, having received union with that Holy Spirit in my measure do daily take counsel, and try first my own deceivings which are within me, and those also which are without which causeth me to turn away from so many who profess they are sent messengers from the Lord.
"The good Lord, I believe, assuredly will, as he hath faithfully promised to my soul, break every yoke of sinful covenant within me; it is no grief of heart but true joy, yea wonderfully more than my pen at this season can express to feel and find the increase of his grace in my <297> soul with his peace which passeth man's understanding, yea even thy deep censures."
This may suffice to clear away that body of confusion at which thou art so causelessly offended and so grossly stumblest.
Reprover: And had she known the kingdom of God in her, she had never wondered how I durst adventure to write to one whose face I had not seen, as she doth in her paper; and says she, consider whether even the apostles or prophets thou art like herein.
Reply: Art thou not still out of the way? wouldst thou bear it from another? See if thou hast not again varied the case much, and judge if it be fair.
Doth the letter say she wondered how thou durst adventure to write to one whose face thou hadst not seen? or doth it not say, I therefore do the more wonder how thou durst adventure upon one thou knowest not to lay such a heavy charge as thou hast done on me whose face thou never sawest.
Now consider if there be not a great difference between writing to one thou never sawest and laying an heavy charge on one thou never knewest nor sawest: however thou mayst deem, yet this is certain, thou hast not done well nor truly in saying she saith, and yet hast not repeated the words she spake or writ therein but thine own.
2. Instead of answering and showing which of the apostles or prophets thou art like herein, thou glidest off by a question of thine own in these words:
Reprover: I say, did not God command his servants to write his message to strange lands, and strange persons, and did he first send them to look upon their faces to know what to write to them, or doth that add to his word? oh shame with your blindness therein.
Reply: Hadst thou answered directly to the former question as it was propounded and showed to which of the prophets thou wert like in this thing, there might have been occasion administered (Berean like) to have searched the Scriptures whether these things were so or no, and by that means our blindness might have been in part removed, though our shame had rested upon us. But now in thy not answering at all thou hast left us as blind as thou foundest us but for the shame that must be returned from whence it came and there abide till thou hast given better satisfaction.
Yet let it be remembered that before God would charge sin upon Sodom it is thus recorded, "I will now go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it which is come unto me, and if not I will know."3 Hath not this some teaching in it both to thee and me?
<298> But thou sayest,
Reprover: Had I known thee no other way but by sight or hearing or any outward appearance, I durst not have written to thee.
Reply: Well, if thou hadst another way of intelligence besides sight and hearing, or outward appearance, and knowest persons without words, as in this thy reproving paper thou sayest thou dost: till I see some evidence and demonstration thereof I must give others leave to believe it if they can, for I dare not, having no word warranting me so to do, remembering what is written, "Whoso boasteth of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain."4
Touching that which remains in thy paper unspoken to, they are great high swelling words, full of fury, and a repetition of more charges against the innocent; the answer to them shall be comprehended in these few words, "The Lord rebuke thee, even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee; but let mercy rejoice over judgment."
What is before mentioned was written upon another occasion as thou mayest perceive, and before our last conference (which to me was so unexpected, and far from my intention). Nevertheless thou having then and there moved me to write I have proposed these ensuing queries to thy consideration as judging that the matters in question between thee and me do mainly consist therein; and I do entreat thee as thou professest plainness and simplicity for Jesus Christ, and a desire of profiting all men, so that thou wouldst in the same plainness and simplicity of spirit give answer thereunto, confirming what thou shalt say therein by plain texts of Scripture, though never so briefly, and be assured whatever use I make thereof, yet thy reward will be with God who will not forget any labor of love manifested to his name; therefore though I be never so much despised, yet he is worthy, and for his name's sake be free and plain herein.
1. Whether God enlightens everyone that comes into the world with the light of Christ (as thou didst affirm at our first conference), and what that light of Christ is?
2. Whether everyone that's born into the world by natural generation be at the time of his or her receiving life in the womb, or at their being brought forth into the world, enlightened by God with that light of Christ, or if not then, say when they are so enlightened?
3. Whether the light wherewith every man is enlightened be sufficient, as it is in man, to lead him to the discovery of Christ, without any other means of discovery but that light that's in him?
4. Whether the seed which is said to be in prison and groans <299> through the earth for deliverance be the seed of God, or a talent of grace in everyone that is born into the world, as is before mentioned? or whether it be in anyone before they be regenerate and born again, and what that seed is?
5. What that perfection is which is attainable in this life, and whether thou thyself art perfect, and sinnest not?
6. What the spirit of a man is, and how dost thou distinguish it from the Spirit of God, called the Spirit itself, bearing witness with our spirit (Rom. 8:16)?
The 25th day of the fifth month, 1655
Thy Friend, and a lover
of thy soul, J. J.
Friend, he that believes is born of God, and he that's born of God is not of this world; only such know God's gathering, the time and way of it; but such never questioned the light of Christ, nor the sufficiency of it, for by that alone was they gathered, and against that in them did the old serpent rage, who now is at work, and his actings are now amongst us, as much in the form of the dragon and his power as ever; though in some he acts in the form of a serpent, binding in secret, being ashamed as yet of open persecution; yet these in whom he thus acts being the head are joined to the other all against the Lamb; and these are the false spirits gone out into the world and are in the world and of the world, though of divers colors and forms, yet all in one work, by which they are all known, as Christ hath said; and as Christ the true light and shepherd is gathering the seed, so these tares are bundling together; and as they come nearer the fire their smoke ariseth whereby to darken the light of the sun. But who takes Christ's counsel keeps within, where the kingdom and light is, and goes not forth after them, and such their smoke cannot blind, who keeps in the kingdom of light and everlasting covenant. As for thy reproachful words cast upon my paper, I leave it to clear itself in the sight of the wise; and for the Philistine's forge, I never were at it; so thou may reprove thyself till thou prove that I was. A few things thou sayest thou wilt clear from my false glosses, and the rest thou wilt leave to God's judgment, but must not God judge of those hast covered also? But had it not been more plainness to have said, thou wilt put a gloss upon as many of them as thou can have a pretense for, and the rest thou wilt let alone? This thou hast done, though thou hast not said it.
And thou would charge me with lies because I say she says I am no way troubled at thy continued charges; but if thou read her papers over thou may find the thing confessed by her. Also thou would charge me with a lie because I say the visitors are those letters published, and thou sayest the publisher speaks of persons, not of papers; I say, let the things <300> published be witness against thee herein, wherein is no persons named but I and she. And whereas thou sayest the publisher speaks not of papers, if thou read his first line thou mayest see he speaks of letters, and then thy testimony is false unless thou think to escape between the word "papers" and "letters"; but there thou canst not hide thyself. And seeing the publisher names no other visitors in particular but I, and I not visiting her any other way but by these letters, must not those papers needs be the visitors spoken of? Nor doth my paper exclude any other visitors, but in answer to the particulars published. Again, thou goest about to put it out of dispute who is the liar, and to clear thyself thou wouldst have me take a few words from her mouth, wherein she tells how she was distressed under my heavy charge; and in her letter before she said she was no way troubled at that charge, and so thou hast proved her the liar (as thou sayest by her own words) and so put it out of doubt. And when thou hast done thou goes about to clear her by thy crooked way, that she might be distressed in soul for a time at my letters, and yet no way troubled at them. But this cover will not hide thee; these two cannot stand together; the matter being naught, raving in it makes it worse. Also thou chargest me because where she says assuredly she knows herself to be in the kingdom, and my offense is because I call this the kingdom of God. I say in Scripture I read but of two kingdoms: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, reading nowhere of the kingdom of grace that I know of; and she in this letter not naming any kingdom in particular, my offense is that I took her words in the better sense. And whereas thou sayest the words in the letter are these, where she says she knows herself assuredly to be in the kingdom I should have said the kingdom of grace, for so saith the letter: I say read that letter again which speaks of assuredly, and see thyself mistaken; but if she or thou intend a kingdom which is not the kingdom of God I shall not contend with you about it; so in thy next thou may send whether thou intend the kingdom of God or some other kingdom imagined which the Scripture speaks not of. And thou heaps many of the saints' words together whose conditions thou never learnedst of God: and thou tells of a mortification, and anger, &c., but deal plainly, and tell us, is anger, or any unmortified thing in the kingdom of God? Also take in her condition, which thou hast missed in thy answer, and tell us whether any self be in the kingdom, or any who have their own deceivings within them, or that have the yoke of sinful covenant within them. Hast thou not a cover for these things as well as the other? Let it be seen what a kingdom it is thou bearest witness to, whether thy rest be in the polluted or where no pollution cometh. Another thing is, because I set down the word "wonder" for "more wonder," and suchlike words thou art carping at; and because I omitted, one thou knowest not, <301> I say a lie is better omitted than set down. But if it be such a fault to miss a word or a syllable when thou has the substance, then first judge thyself, who in printing her letter hath missed both in words and sense, as I can show her hand against thee herein, were it worth contending about. Thou tells of searching the Scriptures Berean-like; I say the Bereans did not search the Scriptures to oppose the light, nor to deny that Spirit that reveals things to come; but those who search the Scriptures to that end must needs be left blind as they are found blind. And for thy unbelief in that Spirit that giveth knowledge without outward appearance, I say thou might have spared to have written to me of it, for I knew it before of thee and all that oppose the light; thou must own the light that leads out of the world and thy own imaginations before thou know the Spirit of revelation or believe in it; yet all thou knows without it is but as thou knows naturally or brute beasts, and in that knowledge is unbelief, opposition and death which with the spirit of judgment is rebuked, and shut out from Jerusalem, and rejoiceth in the flesh, and speaks evil of the Spirit of light, that leads to mercy and is the light of Jerusalem, which hath no other light but it which all the world is at enmity with. Thou says at our last conference I moved thee to write, so thou hast prepared these ensuing queries; I say, deceit speaks. I moved thee to answer what was then in hand, not to query, which first thou might have done, and then queried. But the latter is of more advantage to the tempter, and hath been in all ages; yet thy queries I shall answer.
1. To thy first I say yea, and that light is that which convinceth the world of sin, and manifests thine deeds of darkness.
2. To thy second I say, the light and life are one, and being brought into the world by the life, so soon as the creature is capable to be tempted to sin, from the life the light ariseth a witness against sin, if it be but minded; but not being taken heed to, but disobeyed, the eye is blinded by the god of this world, and through the continuance of sin is the conscience seared and the heart hardened against the light, till they know no gospel but the letter; receive it if thou canst.
3. To thy third I say, that light is sufficient to all that believe and follow it; but to the unbelieving and disobedient a rock of offense, and stone of stumbling, even to the builder, for they that rebel against the light knows not the ways of it; yet is the light sufficient though they turn it into their condemnation; but had thou known him whose appearance is with great power, and whose glory enlightens the earth, which thou art talking of, thou had not asked this question.
4. To thy fourth, I say that which groans for deliverance is the seed of God, and to them who so groan is the grace to, and that grace being believed and followed, the seed is raised; but who turn this grace <302> into lasciviousness and live in their own wills are kept in death, and such knows not the seed of God and therefore persecute it; and thou that tells of this seed's groaning under the earth for deliverance, and then asks if it be in anyone before they be born again, manifest thy confusion and ignorance of the new birth.
5. To thy fifth, I say that perfection is Christ Jesus, and his life made manifest in mortal flesh, and self denied, dead and buried, and there is no sin. But thou that tells of going on to perfection, and knows not what it is, art going thou knowest not whither, and stumbles at the light which should guide thee.
6. To thy last, that spirit is that which in fallen man lusteth after the works of the devil and worldly things; but receiving the light of Christ and by it being guided, it comes to be redeemed from those lusts and joined to God, and receives his witness, and follows and serves him, which before served Satan and the world.
Thus having answered thine in as much plainness as I can to the understanding of the weakest of the children of light, I return these again to thee, desiring the like from thee in as much plainness.
1. Is the living word of God received or known in this life any other way but in Spirit within, or is it visible or invisible, or can any have the word of God who hath it not in Spirit? is the covenant of God and his kingdom within or without?
2. Can there be any redemption for the creature without Christ in them? and is not he the only light and way to the Father in the creatures? or can any come to God any other way but by his light? Was it sufficient before the letter? And what is the thing that must be added to it now to make it sufficient? seeing its sufficiency is now questioned, which never was before by any that professed him come in the flesh?
3. Whether any who read the letter without this light of Christ in them can find out the mystery of it or the way to the Father? or do not all who have not learned first of that Spirit wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction? or can any speak or walk according to the word, who have not the light in them?
4. Whether the prophets, the Christ, or the apostles, did ever preach any other light but the saving light of Christ, which is the true light, which being believed and followed will lead out of darkness to the Father of light? and was that light which John calls the true light, the light of Christ? and who they are that have not this light tendered to them? and what is their condemnation? or is any light of Christ declared of in the letter not sufficient?
5. Doth not the man of sin sit in the temple of God within people till he be cast out? and must not the light of Christ reveal him within <303> where he sit? or can the letter without reveal him within, without the light? or cannot the light of Christ within reveal him, and the Spirit of light cast him out, without the Scriptures?
6. What is the inward man, and what is the outward man spoken of in the Scripture? and how doth the inward man renew, though the outward man perish? and what is the several food of each man, and where it is to be found? what is their several fruits, and from what do they arise? and can any redeemed one bring forth the same fruits that was before the fall, or fruits better, or fruits not so good? and from what different ground shall they now arise in redeemed ones? and whether the second Adam can recover to man in this world what was lost here in the first. These being plainly answered, people may know whether they be in the first Adam or in the second.
Friend, he that is born of God, in plainness and simplicity of his heart, utters the things which he hath heard and learned of him and can truly and honestly witness that as he believeth so he speaketh, viz., plainly, without warping or prevaricating, not departing from the truth by any covers or glosses, but speaks out of a sincere heart, as before him whose eyes behold the secretest thought. At the reading of thy paper in answer to mine of the 25th of the last month, I was grieved (yea and I am so) to see such an appearance of a departing from the simplicity which was held forth to thee therein, easily discernible by any ingenious person. And it is to me out of doubt that whosoever reads thy late paper and compares it with what it refers to, will easily discern more than I am willing to say touching it, however I am willing to point thee to some things among many and to advise thy further perusal thereof.
I pass by thy personal reflections (are they not written in a book?), I mean all thy hard words and speeches.
Dost thou deal sincerely and plainly touching the person on whom thou wouldst father a lie? not distinguishing between the words "I am" and "I was," is there not difference enough here? May not that be my case this day, or in present, which was not so erstwhile, wilt thou see a case (Psalm 73)? When I thought to know this it was too painful for me, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood, &c., was not enough said to have sufficed an honest heart and to have set him to rights in a matter so clear? but I refer thee to what is said and leave thee. Thou art very crooked in thy reply about visitors; for it's evident the publisher spake of persons to have been the visitors, whom he calls such as were distinguished by the name of the Northern people, which cannot be truly <304> affirmed of papers or letters, saving thy quibble about the distinction between papers and letters. I disown the distinction, I mean honestly and plainly: thou art seen in thy confounding the letters, making one speak for another; it's plain where thou sayest it's said kingdom of God, the letters speak not so but says kingdom of grace: it's obvious to everyone's view that reads them. Though thou sayest thou readest but of two kingdoms in Scripture, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, thou mayest read of a kingdom of heaven, a kingdom of priests, besides that of the Father and of the Son, but lest thou shouldst say these are comprehended in the first, I insist not on them. But what may that be where it is said (Matt. 8:12) but the children shall be cast out into utter darkness (the children of the kingdom); if these be the children of the kingdom of God, that sounds something harsh; if of Satan are they not in utter darkness already? Let it be considered what kingdom this must be. Thou sayest I heap up many of the saints' words, whose condition I never learned of God; I say to that but this, let God be true though man be a lie; hadst thou looked into that heap thou talkest on thou wouldst have seen what is there witnessed and have found thyself reproved by plain evidence of Scripture and mayest do so still if thou hast leisure to look back, whatever thou judgest of me; thou biddest me deal plainly and tell us, is anger or any unmortified thing in the kingdom of God? I answer, no; for the kingdom of God consists in righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit; yet nevertheless, the subjects of this kingdom are admonished to put off anger and to put on bowels of mercy, as the elect of God, as is witnessed in that heap thou speakest of, which mentions the saints' conditions: Col. 1:13-14 compared with Col. 3:5,8,12; and this is the kingdom I witness, giving thanks to the Father, who hath delivered me from the power of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son, which to me is grace for present, and will be glory in due time, when this vile body or body of vileness shall be changed and made like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself. As for that passage where 'tis said, "I know myself," &c., where thou art nibbling at the word "self," what wouldst thou have had? should it have been said, I know another to be in the kingdom? If not another, it must be myself, for there lies the opposition. Is the word "self" an unsound or unsavory word, or may it not be used in a good sense? If that be the thing, consult the Scriptures and try if it be so. Luke 24:39: "It is I myself"; John 10:18: "I lay it down of myself"; John 17:19: "for their sakes I sanctify myself; Acts 24:10,16; Matt. 19:19: "thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself; Mark 1:44; John 20:14,16: "She turned herself back," &c., 2 Cor. 13:5: "prove your own selves."
Touching the word "wonder," instead of "more wonder," or thy <305> omission of those words "one thou knewest not," thou hast very weakly or willfully mistaken in making the emphasis to lie there, for those passages were recited amongst others to show how unfairly thou hadst done when thou sayest "it is said," or "she says," when it appears it was not so said; but thou very well knowest that the force and emphasis of my words lay between thy "writing" to one thou knowest not, and "laying an heavy charge" on one thou never knewest, giving thee an instance in God's dealing with Sodom, which thou canst not forget. But to mend the matter, thou hast not yet showed which of the prophets or apostles thou wouldst be likened unto for doing the like.
Hast thou not found a cover for that other omission of thine (to wit the redemption of the body) by which thou variedst both words and sense, cannot that be excused? or dost thou hope it will be forgotten?
Though thou concludest me under the like guilt with thyself, yet I assure thee in the words of truth and soberness, I know not of one word wherein I have varied from the copy which was sent me; if thou wilt show it, I shall acknowledge it.
Touching the queries thou hast done friendly in that thou hast answered them, but it's not satisfactory to me forasmuch as they come without proof for confirmation by the Scripture, contrary to what was desired.
1. To the first thou sayest yea, but provest it not, and instead of saying what it is, thou sayest what it does, and dost miss there also; for it is the Spirit, the Comforter that doth convince the world of sin (John 16:8), viz. of unbelief, but all men have not the Spirit (Rom. 8:9), nor are they so convinced viz. of unbelief.
2. To the second it's said the life and light are one, this should have been proved to be so in the subject (man), for it's not denied to be so in God. That life was the light of men (John 1:4).
3. To the third, that light is sufficient to all that believe and follow it, but to the unbelieving and disobedient a rock of offense and a stone of stumbling even to the builders, &c.
Thou hast here departed from the question (which inquires whether the light wherewith every man is enlightened be sufficient (as it is in man) to lead him to the discovery of Christ, without any other means of discovery, and thou for answer sayest, as above is said. Now it is evident that what is so said by thee touching the sufficiency and efficacy of the light is spoken of Christ the light, that precious living stone, who is precious to all that believe but is a rock of offense and a stone of stumbling to the unbelieving and disobedient, as it is witnessed (1 Pet. 2:4-8); this light (the Lord Jesus) is certainly sufficient to lead every one believing on him into the light of life, according to John 8:12.
If therefore by the light in every man thou dost intend Christ, the Rock, the chief cornerstone, the precious living stone as he is called <306> (1 Pet. 2:4), let it not be any longer hid under the name and cover of the light of Christ, as if something were intended which were not Christ, but of or from him which would lead to him, but let it be plainly said that Christ the light is in every man (for so much is inferred in thy answer to this third query, or else no answer at all is given to it), and let but the Scripture witness and prove the same, and there shall be an end forever of all controversy between thee and me touching the sufficiency of that light (Christ), for I am only trying how far the candle in man must veil its luster, when this glorious Sun, viz. Christ the light appears.
4. To the fourth, thou speakest words but makest not any answer to the query, not showing whether the seed that's said to be in prison, and to groan, be a talent of grace in everyone that's born into the world, as aforesaid by natural generation, viz., "then when they are so born," or whether it be in anyone before they be regenerate and born again, and what that seed is? but instead of answering directly thou reflects upon my confusion and ignorance, which is a very easy way of answering but edifies not, but I will leave it with thee, heartily wishing thou hadst been more plain and free herein (sparing thy censure).
5. To the fifth, it's said perfection is Christ Jesus, and his life made manifest in mortal flesh, yet thou mayest read where he who witnesseth that Christ lived in him (Gal. 2:20) and had the life of Jesus Christ manifested in his mortal flesh (2 Cor. 4:10-11) yet counted not himself to have apprehended nor to have attained to perfection (Phil. 3:12-13), therefore thou art not full nor plain in this answer, besides the omission of the last clause of the Query, or couching it in obscurity in those words, viz., "and self-denied, dead, and buried, and there is no sin," but this signifies not to me anything by way of answer. It's hard for thee to conclude this query (as the foregoing) without another censure, but I will not write after thy copy herein.
6. To the last, thou showest (as in the first) what it doth in fallen man, as also in man renewed, when redeemed and joined to God, but sayest not at all what it is, either in the one or in the other, nor how it is distinguished from the Spirit of God, called the Spirit itself, bearing witness with our Spirit, which were the terms in the last query, to which thou seemest to make answer, but speakest not to the thing in hand.
Thus I have considered the several things proposed in answer, and as I believe, so have I spoken, concluding the answers to be neither plain nor pertinent, and altogether without confirmation or proof by any text of Scripture as was desired, and therefore to me no way satisfactory.
Touching the queries sent from thee, to which thou desirest answer in plainness, I would say at present a few words.
1. It seems to me unreasonable to be put upon answering to a new <307> stock of queries while the former are depending and no account given how far the answers are allowed or disallowed, which by this thou wilt be informed.
2. If the former were more fully answered, which I expect, yet the fruitlessness of this new undertaking is so apparent that it much discourageth me in the thought of it; forasmuch as the glory of God doth not appear to me to be propounded, as the end of the inquirer, not asking as one unsatisfied or desiring information, for that hath been disavowed by him already both in word and writing, in great measure, and therefore in that respect ought rather to have been put as certain positions than propounded as queries by him.
Further, the inquirer hath already passed a sentence upon me, concluding my insufficiency toward such an undertaking: implied in those many and repeated censures of blindness and confusion, knowing naturally as a brute beast, with suchlike. What issue then can be expected whatever should be said in answer by such a one that is so forejudged; therefore they appear to me, as they are stated between thee and me, to be fitted for matter of strife and debate, and contention, rather than matter of edifying. And that I am sure is not for the honor of God to be so exercised; therefore if thou dost intend true, honest edifying, turn thy queries into so many positions, let them be asserted and proved, and leave the issue to him that teacheth to profit.
3. Nevertheless, if thou shalt review thy answers, comparing them with the queries whereunto they have reference, rectifying that wherein they are defective, and confirming what thou hast or shalt say by testimony of Scripture, I doubt not but my God will make it of use to me, notwithstanding all thy hard words, and give me freedom to entertain these thy 6 or rather 26 queries, for so they appear to me, every one containing many in it, and to give such answer thereunto as he shall please to enable me; or if thou shalt refuse to proceed as aforesaid, yet in process of time thou mayest meet with what is equivalent to what's propounded, though not in thy figure nor form, touching which thou mayest have occasion to manifest thy witness.
4th of the 6th month, 1655
Friend, thou says my answer is not satisfactory to thee; I say my answer is as plain as I can speak the truth to the simplicity; yea, the least that believe in the light shall confess plainness in them; but there is a nature that will never be satisfied with less than an advantage to blaspheme the truth; how often these was resisted by Christ in plainness thou mayest read, yet never could rest till they forced their ends from him, and then they said they need no more, though all they had then catched <308> was their own ruin, and their posterity, by seeking to ensnare him whose life was such as to lay down life for them, and the same love in what measure soever it is finds the same entertainment with such as abide in that unbelieving nature which is for death, and that I am not sent to feed which is for famine and fire. It satisfies me that I faithfully bear testimony to the faithful and true witness, which the Father in his eternal love hath sent into the world, which both thou and all that oppose it shall be made to confess of salvation is in it, even the light; and though he hath sent me with a message everywhere spoken against, yet I know I am accepted with him, and at that day I and my testimony shall be owned, though now I am a sign and a wonder to be spoken against; and as one at strife with the whole earth, yet in peace with him alone, and with as many as lay down their crowns at his feet.
There is not anything in thy letters lies upon me wherein I have not dealt plainly with thee in before the Lord, not covering but laying open to the simplicity, only one thing thou hast twice demanded of me, to show thee which of the prophets or apostles I am like in sending the Lord's message to one whose face I never see in the flesh. I said before what might have satisfied one who pretends to know Scripture, but seeing it's a particular proof thou seekest, I shall (of many) instance of either one which thou mayest see in Jeremiah 27 and Col. 2:1 with 4:16 this is what God did; but if thou wilt now undertake to limit him, thou shalt know that his own remains forever.
Instead of answering of my queries thou sayest it seems unreasonable to be put upon answering new, while the former are depending. I say if the dependency hang in this, till thou say thou be satisfied, then thou hast all in thy own will; then an end till thou will or not will; but reason says thus in me, seeing I have been put upon answering all along both by word and writing, and could never refuse to answer in the plainest way I could, though not accepted; yet that thou should once (amongst many) return an answer in thy way, which if it be more plain than mine the simple may more profit thereby, but if thine prove as dark, then why should thou condemn me therein unless thou will wholly be judge both for me and thyself, so let them come forth, and let the simple judge.
Also thy reason speaks not clear to me in this, that thou questions the fruitlessness of my queries, and that the glory of God doth not appear to thee to be the end of them; I say if thy eye had been single thou should first have questioned thy own, and by searching that with the impartial light thou might have learned, if thou would, to have suffered me to have shared a little with thee in thy charity, seeing there is not one reason thou allegest against me but they may fit thyself being rightly applied.
Friend, if I had only said thy answer was not satisfactory and had not showed thee wherein, I had said therein that which signifies nothing, or were not my spirit free, that what hath been spoken in secret might be published upon the housetop; I mean, that what hath been transacted privately and personally between thee and me, in relation thereunto, might be publicly manifested before not only the least but many or all the children of the light, that they might impartially give evidence to the plainness or obscurity which will appear to be in the same. I say, were it not thus with me I should have as little satisfaction in myself as I have declared to have had in these answers of thine. And to give the assurance that it's not in my heart to ensnare thee or force my ends from thee or seek any advantage to blaspheme the truth, as they who resisted Christ (all which are hints of great reflection) I am upon this score resolved in the power of the Lord not to be easily drawn to this kind of personal intercourse any further; only for the present let me say I am far from desiring that thou shouldst feed what's appointed for famishing, so that that which is for fire or death should scape it; let it be far from me, let that which is for burning be burnt, for famishing be famished, for death let it not live; but all this in the power of the Lord and by the fire of his kindling, whose fire shall surely try the work of what sort it is, not man's day but God's must silence and satisfy.
Thou sayest there is not anything in my letters lies upon thee, wherein thou hast not dealt plainly with me in, before the Lord, &c., only one thing which I have twice demanded of thee, to which of the apostles or prophets thou were like, &c.
|I remember not in what terms this demand was made by me in either of my letters, neither will the letters themselves show any such demand of mine. But is there only one thing demanded of thee? Is there not another beside that one thing, as much and as oft demanded as the former? I spare to repeat it a third time; it's visible to every eye that peruseth the papers, that there hath been no plainness manifested therein, nor the thing itself so much as taken notice of, though thou hast been twice reminded thereof.||Reader, it is this passage, viz., The redemption of my body.|
And as for that one thing touching which thou givest particular proof, after twice minding thee thereof, though not demanding it of thee, when I consider what thou art to prove and compare it with the proofs, I find not that said which thou produces them to bear witness unto.
The words under consideration are these, viz., "I therefore do the more wonder how thou durst adventure upon one thou knowest not, to <310> lay such an heavy charge as thou hast done on me, whose face thou never sawest; if now thou hast thus written by revelation (to me) or by information from others, consider from whence it cometh; I say consider whether either the apostles or prophets thou art like herein."
For proof of this thy practice, viz., of laying a heavy charge on one thou never knewest nor sawest, and that by writing, thou producest an example of each—one prophet, Jeremiah 27, and one apostle, Col. 2:1 compared with 4:16—upon the perusal of which examples it's very apparent, not to me only, but to any person that is impartial, that these examples are not parallel to the case in hand; for Jeremiah though he by the command of the Lord did deliver a message touching the purpose of God in subjecting the nations to the yoke of the king of Babylon, yet this message is delivered by word of mouth to the messengers which came from those kings to Jerusalem (v. 4); there is not a word of any writing, much less of laying any charge of sin upon them, and touching that of Col. 2:1, he that reads shall find much of consolation, exhortation, and confirmation; but the thing in question, namely, laying an heavy charge on them he never knew nor saw in the flesh, this is not found in the place aforesaid; nay, the contrary was his practice; 1 Cor. 11:18,22: "I hear that there be divisions amongst you, and I partly believe it, what shall I say to you, shall I praise you in this, I praise you not."
"For we hear there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies" (2 Thess. 3:11-12), together with that in the 1 Cor. 5:1, "it is commonly reported," and 1 Cor. 1:11, "for it hath been declared to me of you my brethren, by them of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you," thus he reproves and lays his charge upon persons of whom he had certain knowledge, either by sight or information, nor may that passage of God's dealing with Sodom be omitted (Gen. 18:21), of which there hath been a remembrance before; so that though there may be a writing to persons under a general consideration, yea though they be such whose faces we have not seen in the flesh, yet when we lay a charge of sin upon persons, they ought to be known under the considerations abovementioned, by personal knowledge, or true information as in the example before.
Touching the answering the queries sent me, I abide in the same mind still, touching the fruitlessness thereof, in all appearance as to me. For to strike off a person's legs and then bid him go is not fair; to conclude a person blind and then to try how he can see, is the same; this is the case between thee and me, as in my last I hinted; this is the whole of what I have to say to this matter, and the last that I intend to trouble thee with here about, the dear and tender Lord bring every hidden thing to light, that whatsoever is dark and lies covered under veils, either not being <311> truly or fully understood, may be unveiled and unmasked, that the simplicity of the truth may nakedly appear to be, as it indeed is in Jesus. So prayeth thy friend, and he that tenders thy soul.
The 12th of the 6th month, 1655
Friend, is this the end of thy long profession and all thy knowledge of the living God and his unsearchable ways: that it's become a strange thing to thee, and not to be believed, that he should send out his message in word or writing, without personal knowledge or information of men? Is this the living God who fills heaven and earth with his presence, whom thou would limit in his sons and daughters? Or wilt thou instruct him, or teach him a way to send his will to his creatures? Or else thou wilt question it: hast thou learned this of him? let that in thy conscience judge, which will show thee that thou art up in the comprehending nature, to which the ways of God be as much hid now as ever. And the earth thou art without faith, now at his coming, who canst not believe in the light of the world unless thou canst comprehend it, which darkness never could, who art preaching thy unbelief, who art an unbeliever yet art set up for a teacher, but out of the light wherein the faith is received, which believes in the invisible teacher.
Friend, thy crown thou must lay down at his feet who is the light of the world, who hath a witness in thee for himself, which is love to thy soul, if thou canst receive it; and of thy blood I am clear at that day.
In lieu of a reply to the foregoing paper I desire the reader that is not pre-engaged (or partial) to compare it with what went before and try whether there be any such thing said as might circumscribe or limit the most high and holy God in his message to personal knowledge or information of men (for are not all things naked and bare before him, and who may say to God what dost thou?) but to show by precedent what hath been done by and towards the sons of men and to evidence how unparallel the examples produced were to the thing in question, and for which they were produced; viz., the laying an heavy charge on a person unknown or unseen (by a man), such a one as subscribes himself J.N.; this was the case in debate, and to this were the examples produced, or nothing; touching the residue of what is contained therein, I submit it (with what hath been hitherto said) to him who better knows what is in man than man.
The seventeenth of the sixth month, 1655
1. Rev. 14:6.
2. Rev. 18:1.
3. Gen. 18:21.
4. Prov. 25:14.
a. John Jackson.