Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > Letters (in vol. 2)
Dear brother, my heart is much with thee. Thou art still more near me. I am much refreshed when I hear from thee; the Lord keep thee out of the hand of them who wait for blood. My spirit have been much troubled these two days, yet I am kept subject to his will whose I am, & in his work I desire to be found. Oh my heart, cease not to pray for me that all that would join with the enemy may be kept under & subject, that whatever come I may be found in his will. I stand only by faith. Nothing appears but troubles & plots & inventing mischief against me, amongst my enemies in these parts; false witness increase daily, but I am made to look beyond all man, & thus I find comfort; blessed be the Lord who is my keeper, forever. I have sent thee a paper that I was moved to write, & I desire when it is copied over that it may be sent into Furness, & that my dear love may be remembered to Judge Fell & his wife & all that love the Lord there; & the mighty God keep all his in all the troubles that may befall them, for all must be tried. Farewell dear brother, my love to all with thee where thou art. Francis desired to be remembered to thee; let us hear from thee.
Dear sister, my love in the Lord Jesus Christ unto thee & thy whole family, with the rest of our dear friends in the Lord in those parts; grace, mercy and truth be multiplied, & that you may all be kept pure unto the Lord, out of all the pollutions of the world, who hath called you out of death unto life; & the life is in his Son, hid from all the world's wisdom & the world's wise men, but revealed unto babes & fools, where the death hath past over the first, & the second man is raised up, who is the image of his Father, forever blessed, which consists in righteousness, purity & holiness in spirit, a hidden mystery to the whole world as they stand in the fall, & the object of the serpent's rage & malice, & hath been in all ages. But dear friends, all stand fast in the power of the Lord & a cross to your own earthly wills; fear not, for greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world; we have with us a king of kings, who is risen to rule in <569> righteousness; he is coming to disquiet the inhabitants of the earth & to take the kingdom, who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron. But woe to all that oppose him, for he will overturn, overturn, overturn, till it come into his hands whose right it is; but of his kingdom there shall be no end, upon the throne of David forever: & in peace & righteousness shall it be established, & it shall be far from oppression; the governors shall be peace & the exacters righteousness, & peace shall be upon Zion; yea, they shall prosper that love him. Dear sister, here is much plotting against us; the priest have many meetings, & great consulting here is; they have their agents abroad to seek out witnesses against me, but when they meet their witness agrees not; they boast much what they will do, but the offense is yet to create; what it will be when it is brought forth, I know not. They have raised many filthy slander upon me, but one of them witnesseth against another, & they are divided, but I am at peace through my God who hath much appeared to me since I came into this place & hath assured me that he will not leave me, neither shall any prevail against me to do me hurt. I stand here for a witness against all there unequal proceedings of the priests & rude multitude, & violence done by command of him who should have preserved peace, haling me out of my friends' house by the throat where I was set in peace, without any warrant, under a pretense of disputing with a priest; & when they had done, not finding that advantage in words they expected & that the priest did promise them before they came, then the priest turned away & left me, & with much trouble & threatening I got into the house again, out of which they haled me again, & made me run after the justice to an alehouse, & then he told me if I would not put off my hat he would commit me. I told him I did it not in contempt to authority, for I did & would be subject to it, but for respecting persons, it was forbidden in the Scripture, & I could not do it; he said I should suffer it. Friend, said I, thou may do thy pleasure, I am subject; then he said I had broken the law in thouing him, for saith he, "my commission runs 'ye'"; & upon that I was committed, not knowing any other fault, & caused a warrant to that purpose, but afterwards he made another against the man of the house where I was, to lay in bond, never either to entertain me or any other that ever didst follow any of us, or else he was to be committed. That night they haled Francis Howgill into the priest's house at Kirkby Stephen to answer to words spoken against the priests, & upon the discourse he & the priest had he said he had seen a great deal of tyranny & persecution in that day's works, whereupon the justice said, "Bear witness; he saith the <570> law is persecution & tyranny"; & they being of his mind said yea to it, & this is much aggravated, quite contrary to his intent, but we are made to give ourselves & the whole business into the hand of our Father, who will discover all deceits & bring the plots of the wicked on their own heads but will deliver the innocent & harmless from him that is too strong for him; for by his power alone we stand, to him be all praise forever. Dear friends, all be faithful; stand fast, be not troubled or moved; rejoice with us, praise, praise our God forever, sing & rejoice the day of the Lord's right hand; he is making his name known, the day is at hand, that an interest in Christ is worth more than all the world. Rejoice litle flock, be of good cheer; fear the Lord, not man; for the day is at hand that men shall cast away their idols of gold & silver to the moles & to the bats, to hide themselves from him that sits on the throne & from the Lamb.
Dear sister, remember my dear love to thy husband; it is much joy to me to hear of his growing up to the knowledge of Christ whom to know is life eternal, & I am persuaded God will keep him & manifest more & more of his own light to him, whereby he shall see the emptiness of all below Christ Jesus, & the deceits of men who seek themselves by flattering, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage, & are not kept in the truth but into the world & earthly things, who take fame to be godliness, who live to the flesh, who cannot long be hid, for the pure light of Christ as it ariseth will unveil them; & the Lord Jesus keep him & thee & all yours in his power & love, faithful for ever. Amen
Dear sister I have sent some papers which I was moved to send abroad in these parts; the people are very brutish, kept under a woeful drunken sottish priesthood, but some begin to discern them.
My dear brother, my heart, I have received thy letter. I rejoice to hear of the increase of truth where thou hast been, amongst my dear ones. Blessed be our God forever, who makes glad the hearts of his, whom the world would make sad, & what the enemy intends for evil he orders for good. I have seen him tender over me since I came hither; he is the lifter up of my head & hath taken me out of the fear of man; rejoice with me, my dear friends; sing praises to our God forever. Here is great plottings against me to effect their cruel ends; they have sent abroad into the places where I have been to gather up <571> any that will witness aught against me, & he that did imprison me I hear hath been very urgent with other justices to join with him, that he may effect his ends. I hear they have sent to Newcastle, to have me sent for thither; the priests are very active in the business, but God hath given me assurance, and I am kept in much peace. We are in the midst of Sodom for envy & wickedness. Dear brother cease not to pray for me, that I may be kept serviceable to my Father till death. Remember my dear love to all friends, & mind them to keep low before the Lord, & if thou see Richard Hubberthorne mind him to be faithful to the Lord in what is committed to him, that he may be serviceable amongst those. My dear ones in the Lord, that words get not up & so presumption get afoot & so lead out from the simplicity.
Remember my dear love to my sister, to her little ones & all of her family; & dear friend be faithful, & mind him who keeps thee & renews his love to thee afresh. Thou art dear to me, & all thy family; the mighty God keep you all pure to himself forever. My brother, let me hear from thee. I am refreshed by thy letter. One that guarded us to prison told us of two great meetings of friends betwixt Wakefield & Leeds last First day save one, & that our friends at York was released, as he heard at Leeds. William Dewsbury was there where they meet; the Lord is doing his work, who is blessed forever. Amen.
My dear brother, thou art in my heart. I am often with thee. I am much refreshed when I hear from thee. Blessed be our Father who hath prepared a place of rest for thee in this day of the power of darkness, & thou art kept from their wills who look to devour, & shall be kept to his own work & the comfort of weak ones, for it is he that orders all his & appoints everyone their portion. And I see a hair cannot fall from our heads without his will, and he is tender over his, and he calls his to nothing but what is joy to them to suffer. Dear brother, I am here in peace and joy within, and at rest though in the midst of the fire. The devil rages exceedingly on every side, & he is counted most happy that can show most envy & raise foulest scandals against me; they have got two witnesses to swear against me that I should say something since I came hither, & the information is taken by 2 justices as I hear, & Higginson the priest & others was there; they boast much of it, but I know not what it is, but some say it is that I did say to a man over the water that they believed in a dead <572> Christ, & some say it is worse. I was moved to speak to a man over the water, but not any fresh word; they see me, as I perceive since, to see if they could get anything against me, but not finding anything justly to accuse they have amongst them invented that; they are some way allied to Burton, other one or both, & there scarcely comes any in to see us but they raise one thing or other upon us. The coming over of my wife was very serviceable & hath stopped many mouths & half convinced them of many lies they had raised & was believed in that country. And I myself had great refreshment by her coming, for she came & returned with much freedom & great joy, beyond what I in reason could expect, but I see she was sent of my Father & fitted by him not to be in the least a hinderer, but a furtherer of his work, blessed be our God forevermore.
And dear sister, I am made to see thy care and love to us, & suffering with us in our bonds. I am one with thee, & thou shalt not lose thy reward; be not troubled but rejoice with us, for it is my joy to do or suffer the will of my Father; for therefore came I into the world. We want nothing, but are full & more; we are cared for. I see a little being blessed serves, I see myself set here, a sign to a people wholly given over to fulfill the lusts of the flesh in all things beyond measure. I was made after the sessions to refuse their diet, & since to live upon bread & water, which cannot be believed by them, not that it is any bondage to me, within or without, for it is my liberty and freedom whereby the Lord hath set me above all other created things. Oh dear friends rejoice with me, for I see that to be taken out of all created things is perfect freedom, but no freedom till then. Oh that you did partake of my joy herein! I see that none need to forecast for anything that love the Lord & obey him, for he fits the creature for that condition he calls them to, and all is to harken to his call & obey it, which all dear friends, be careful to God, without which you can have no peace. My dear love to all thy little ones and the rest of the family, & all my dear hearts mind only the Lord, & so here you are brought to know his voice from the devil's, & to obey it. Consult not, but give up freely the stubborn & headstrong & rebellious, even to death without pity, let him be rewarded double; they have been, & are still your enemies, & breaks your peace; let them be accursed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Wait to see the kingdom of David set up, the enemies slain that would not he should reign, & for those that remain, let them become hewers of wood & drawers of water forever; for a Canaanite must not come into the house of the Lord. Lie no longer groaning under bondage, but <573> give hear to the voices that calls you forth, & come away, look not back, to take any of that stuff with you; strip you of all, get your backs upon it & your faces towards Zion, & never look back at it more, but keep your eye forward; & then sing, rejoice & triumph; & but look back & then mourn. Dear hearts, you make your own troubles by being unwilling & disobedient to that which would lead you. I see there is no way but to go hand in hand with him in all things, running after him without fear or considering, leaving the whole work only to him. If he seem to smile, follow him in fear & love; and if he seem to frown, follow him and fall into his will, and you shall see he is yours still, for he will prove his own that he may scatter his enemies. Hide yourselves with him for a little season, and the day of joy is at hand. I see he is the lifter up of my head & have assurance from him that I shall not fall, wherefore I live above all my enemies, kept by a power the world knows not, yea, and shall be kept. Praises, praises to our God forevermore. Rejoice with me, my own; my dear brother Francis is well, hath been in a fast about 8 or 10 days; God is doing him good & raising up his own to praise & serve him; he desires to be remembered to you all friends. The woman of the house where we are is very tender, & a pure love is in her to the truth, & she is made to suffer much, with great patience, from the tyrant, & the rest of the town, but she is made willing to bear all & still own the truth, there is much inquiring if she do anything for us, but I am made to stand clear from all & keep out the accuser.
There is some good thing propounding by the army, arising from a true sense; I should have sent you some of the heads, but it may be you will have them at large some other way.
We are much threatened with the low prison & irons, but what God wills, the tyrant is much tormented with us, that we do not bow nor conform to his beastly practice, & his mad ****5 much ***** the house because I am made to speak to them, whereat he is much enraged, but Zion must be a burdensome stone. Farewell my dear hearts, cease not to pray that we may be kept faithful, in his power, who is blessed forevermore.
Dear brother, I have got this written out & examined but I would have it read to thee again lest there should be some mistakes, being <574> done in haste. The first query & what else is wanting must be added to it in its place, for we had them not. I am going on my journey towards Strickland. My dear love to thee & my dear sister with thee & the rest of the family. Dear brother, let me hear from thee, & pray for me that I may be kept in the power of the Almighty, serviceable in his will who is my strength, blessed forever.
Dear brother, I see much service both at our meetings at Pollerstank & also here at Mallerstang. Many people was at this meeting from divers places, and some came very far; the fire is much kindled in these parts, & some 12 lewd fellows was gathered & brought a priest with them to John Scaifes; but I was moved away by a great power that morning, not knowing of them, & they abide in great rage as I hear since. I am going down the dales & towards Bishoprick. There is come by providence to me 6 sheets of the priests reply, at Newcastle; & I am moved to write some things in answer. If any with thee be moved to answer it, let me know, & I shall forbear to put that forth which I write. My dear love to thee & my dear sister, & to the beloved of my Father in the family, which are in my heart. Cease not to pray for me that I may be kept in my Father's work faithful, & let me hear from you as you are moved. My sister, my heart is often with thee since I see thee, & the Lord make thee to wait on his will, as he hath set thee for a mother to many, & thou hast a reward which thou shalt receive. Remember me to the Judge at his return, & the Lord God bless you all. My dear brother, let me hear from thee as often as may be. Farewell.
Dear brother, my love in the Lord Jesus Christ to thee. I see it is good walking & hunting in the counsel of the Lord & in obedience to his will; there is peace, & he commands nothing in vain. I was at that meeting at Widow Cock's after I parted with thee, & I see much service in it; the two men that came out of Wales was there, & they was very high; & I see them, but while I was speaking the one of them was convinced of his deceit & was shaken & much broken into tears, <575> & tenderness did gloriously appear; & I see his heart was with the truth, but the other was thick & dull & got high in conceit; & after the people was gone, he began to glory in his wisdom & excellency of speech & wisdom, & to witness Christ his teacher & light & in him, but I was mind to ask him how he came thither not having on a wedding garment; & he was speechless, & silent all the night & the next day while I was there, only when I was gone forth he did mutter to Thomas Rawlinson against the judgment which had taken hold on him; but before I came away I see him convinced, but little hopes to abide, only he hath something that will set him on to fight against the priests & formal professors. I was at Grayrigg the First day after, & there was a great meeting, from many places; on 7th9 day after there was a great meeting at Colonel Benson's, many people, & I see it much in the service; on Wednesday I went to a meeting at Murthwaite & stayed there all night & had a meeting there on 5th10 day, & many came in, & I see much love begot; on 6th day11 I went to a meeting at Wath in Ravenstonedale, & many came there & great desires to hear, & divers old professors was there who came to all the three meetings, but no opposition; for I see they was clearly convinced & stayed in silence a great while after the meeting was broken up, & showed much love at their parting; & many desires was that I would come to their houses, but I am made to go on in the work, & I am made free to wander any way the Lord shall move me so that I may do his will, for there is my peace. The next First day I was at Shap, and a great meeting there was, and much power of the Lord was seen, many in the power wrought on, & much tenderness, & many convinced & broken into tears, that was very high before. There was an officer or soldier that came with the surrey or from London, he came to me the night before and was exceeding high in knowledge, but being silenced, he came to our meeting & was struck down, and that raised up in him that made him to cleave to us in love, and blessed God amongst the people that ever he had seen this day. I have sent thee here a copy of a letter that Justice Pearson sent to Colonel Benson & also a copy of a letter that I have sent to Justice Pearson. I find not anything yet but that I shall go towards Barnard Castle, & it may be I shall go on to *** house, but it may be I shall stay awhile about Shap & Sleagill as the Lord shall move. Col. Benson told me that he thought he should go to Justice Pearson's house shortly & that I should hear from him <576> how all was. It is my desire to see my way & be obedient. Let me hear from thee as soon as thou canst conveniently, & how all is with thee, & my dear friends with thee, to all whom I desire to be remembered, with whom I have more communion & fellowship than when I was present in the flesh, for they are near me in my heart without respect of persons, & that which before did draw me out from them in the flesh doth now draw me to abide with them in spirit. Oh how dear is the love of the Lord where it is manifest; dear friends, let nothing take your affections short of it, but grow up to live & abide in his love forever, where there is no separation. Farewell all dear friends, & the Lord God Almighty keep you and bring you into his everlasting kingdom, to whom be all glory & honor forevermore.
Dear brother I see many got up into words & vain janglings, which leads them out of their conditions. If thou be moved to write anything to friends on this side the sands in Westmorland, thou mayest put them in mind of it, for I see a necessity that they be warned of it. Some have lost themselves abroad by it; for minding words neglects the power by which they should grow, & while they think they grow up the simplicity is betrayed.
I shall be at a meeting this Monday at Sleagill. Dear heart, pray for me that I may be kept in the power of the Lord & humble before him, that all may be his praise alone to whom it is due; here is great wondering at the work of God & great rage in the priest & some others.
My dear brother, I was moved to go over Stainmore, & I see much of the work of God in it. At Barnard Castle there was a great meeting of people & great desires to hear, but not a word of opposition did I hear. I came after through the town & spoke to people in the streets, which was very silent. This First day was a meeting at Justice Pearson's house, & divers came who was high in wisdom, but the power of my Father keeps all under, who is blessed forever. I believe it will cause a shatter in people's minds in these parts; some tender hearts there was that I could own.
Dear brother, I much desire to see thee but dare not make my way till my Father please, for my desires are stayed in his will. If thou go away let me hear from thee as often as thou canst, for I am <577> refreshed to hear from thee. My dear love to my sister Fell & all friends with thee. I am returned back to those people about Grayrigg & Newby, & as my Father wills, for further. Farewell dear brother,
After the meetings came 3 from about Durham, one John Smith who had known thee, & I see how he had lost his condition, & did lay him open, & the witness did arise in him to own it; & he desires much to have me to come to his house, & I believe will be brought to wait to be recovered; he hath his love remembered to thee.
My father, My father, the glory of Israel, my heart is ravished with thy love above what can be declared, let me live in thy bosom, as a seal set upon thy heart forever. My life hath been given up in this place, within this month I have suffer much; since I heard of thee my heart is filled with love. Pray for me my dear; they are for blood in this place, but the living truth spreads abundantly, praises forevermore.
My dear brother, how dear thou art to me words cannot now declare. I was with thee & had thy weapon in my hand which thou didst receive of thy Father & my Father, & see nothing can stand before it; great thunderings here hath been, & all the earth is moved at the presence of the Lord in these parts. Here are many great meetings & strong desires begot in many, & divers are brought into a powerful working and a discerning of their growing out of words into the power of light, & are brought to be faithful in the watch. The wisdom of many great ones are much confounded at the workings of God which they see & hear; much rage is stirred up in others, but want power to act it. I see the Lord God Almighty arising to torment the workers of evil; the report of it is a torment; who is able to stand before him? Now doth the deceit bestir itself, and great meetings of the priests and others to consult how to destroy, <578> but all in vain. Glory to God on high & peace upon Zion; & they shall prosper that love her.
Dear brother, cease not to pray for me, the work is great, & many temptations, & a burden there is upon me; & I am brought much into silence within myself. And a willingness there is to be nothing, that all may be closed up in the will of my Father, & I see it good it should be so. As for my removing, I know nothing of it as yet; Thomas Taylor & 2 more out of Wensleydale was with me & was desirous that I would have gone with them, but I must wait the will of God. I have received thy letter & was glad to see the love of my Father; all is good who stands in his will. My love to my sister & her children & the family in the Lord Jesus, who are dear to me in love, & to all friends with thee. As thou art moved let me hear from thee my dear brother. I am at present at Capt. Morland's at Newby Stones, but thou may send to William Ayrey at Shap; we had a meeting this Wednesday & many at it, & much of God's fear which hath more set on fire the enemy, but the work goes on; praises to our God forever. Amen.
My dear love is with thee my dear sister, & in one life we are eternally, where is our unity; & we cannot be separated. There is desires in me to see thy face, in my Father's time, & the rest of my Father's lambs with thee; but the work of my Father is great here away, & this is the time of his visitation of these people, & great desires is begot in people after truth. Therefore my dear one rest in the will & time of God, which is present peace. And as touching my dear brother, give up to his will; he is in great service in these parts where he is; & to my Father's work let all be submit. My dear love to thy husband & all my dear ones with thee. I much desire to hear from thee, how it is with you all & with thy husband, for whom my desires to my Father is still enlarged, that that which is awakened in him may come to reign, to guide the way to peace. The Lord God Almighty bless you all, Amen.
Thy brother in the everlasting, J.N.
Thou art written upon my heart; we are present in one, blessed forever.<579>
Thou blessed of my Father, in the love of Jesus I salute thee and the rest of my Father's children. Dearly beloved, and begotten of the immortal seed, peace be with you. Amen.
That which I have received of my Father, for you and the rest that aways, I have here enclosed; let it be communicated to them when you meet to break the bread of life.
Thy dear brother: J.N.
Burton Abbey, the 4th day
of the First month
Dear brother, the work of the Lord is great in these parts; there was a meeting in Swaledale as I came, & a great people came to it, & a mighty power was seen which did amaze some & tender the hearts of many; & great meetings there was, & at Barnard Castle an exceeding great meeting, & all silent & much convinced, so that the enemy cries out that the major part of the town is Quakers. We had a meeting since I came to Justice Pearson's at a place called Heighington, & we have appointed a general meeting here on Easter Tuesday, so called; if thou were free to come over it might be very serviceable to the whole, though thou stayed but a little while. It is much desired, but the will of God be done. It may be after that meeting I shall pass on to the people about Tynwater. Dear brother, let me hear from thee if I may not see thee then, & cease not to pray the Father for me that I may be found in his will & not my own. My dear love to all friends at Poolbank & others with thee, & so farewell my dear heart.
My dear brother, my love is to thee in that which is of the Almighty. I desire that I may be remembered to thy Father in thy prayers, that I may be every way fitted for his work & will. Great is the work of the Lord in these parts, in a large compass, & he is gathering mightily; but who is sufficient for these things? I see myself nothing, but his power is manifested in weakness to the gathering that which is scattered: we have had many great meetings & much convincement upon people's minds, throughout this county. I <580> had one great meeting in Northumberland, & many convinced; we meet at the house of one of the Baptists, who is made to deny all that church as they call it, & 2 more came in after all was done & stood up for their form, but it was of God that their deceit should be laid open, & all the people more convinced by it, & they was silenced. If some was sent into that county, I see much service in it. I am going towards the east, to the seawards. I desire John Audland might come over hither, for here is sundry meetings & far distant, & they are not yet established. Let me hear from thee. My dear love to Margaret Fell & all in the Lord in that family, and to the Judge if he be at home, & love of God be amongst them all, & his fear. My dear love to Robert Widders if thou see him, & to all friends. Divers of the Baptists that were great amongst them are made to declare against them, & here is much rage & confusion with them & the priests; the people are generally high in knowledge, but the power of God is above all, who is blessed forever.
My love in the Lord salutes thee, my dear sister, & all the rest of the household of God in thy house; God Almighty bless you all & make you to abound in love to himself & towards one another in the truth of God, all waiting in pure mind that the will of God may be done in you & by you to his praise alone, which is that worship he looks for; & such worshippers is he gathering to himself everywhere, & by his mighty power is he scattering all whose ways & worships stand in their own wills; & the wise ones are confounded, & Babel's high walls are terribly shaken, & many are brought forth into the plainness; other in great fears cry out that all is gone & are brought to a stand & knows not what way to take; others are in great rage & are much tormented. The priests in these parts are exceeding mad & cruel; they have had great meetings to plot what to do, but everything is ordered to their torment, one of them hath a son & daughters convinced of the truth & he sent & got 12 more priests to come to turn them, but they stand steadfast, & the young man was made very bold. One priest struck off his hat, another bade send him to house of correction, another bade slit his skin from his back to his feet, others bade bind him & whip him, & all went away in great rage; [but since a temptation hath befallen the young man, which hath <581> set them all on fire: about midnight he heard a voice, which said, Up, get thee hence; and he did arise and went forth, but the mind not waiting to be guided, but running before, he lost his guide, and so returned home again, and the tempter got in and tempted him strongly to destroy himself, bidding him cast himself into the fire, persuading him he should not burn, but at length he grew so high that he prevailed with him to put his hand into a kettle full of boiling liquor that was on the fire, and they report that he held it in a quarter of an hour; this was ******* ** * **** town & a wicked ****,]20 & the next day I had appointed a meeting at that town, & the priest told the people that if I came to it he would declare me a devil before them all, & so had greatly incensed the whole town; & coming to the meeting the people thronged together so fast that the house would not contain half of them, & going out upon the green I see the wicked intents of many who had furnished themselves for to circle it, but I was moved to speak plainly to them; whereupon some of them began to harken & was silent; many convinced, & some few, missing their purpose, went away in rage, but the priest came not, for did my Father order my safety; & many more came to hear than otherwise, but the priests are exceeding in rage; they have sent 2 priests to London to do what they can against us, great persecution is intended, pray to the Father that I may stand in his will; here are friends here stirred up to go cry against them in their steeplehouses & that much adds to the fire, that their prime hearers should now deny them openly. Our dear friend Anthony hath been with me along towards the sea coast where we had great meetings almost every day; the people in these parts are high in notion, but many are brought to own the truth, & the highest, if they but come to meetings, are silent. The work is great, & many desires begot, & people flock in apace to our God forever. We came near to Cleveland; much was I desired to go over thither & into divers parts also, but the compass is great where there are people would meet in every place had they but any to watch over them. I had hopes that John Audland or some friends would have come; I see not such fruit in any place, but the will of God be done. I desire that friends would deny themselves & come forth while the day is, for the powers of darkness must have its **** ****** ******* is returned back, & Edward & Christopher is gone to <582> Berwick, & none is **** but myself. I should be glad to see Francis Howgill or John Audland here, or Thomas Goodaire if George was free to send for him; he might be serviceable to meet with them & would keep them together till they were established.
Remember me to thy husband if he be at home, & God Almighty keep him ******* trial is coming upon the great ones of the earth. All watch against the enemy ****** God of power keep you upright to himself. Farewell.
Dear brother George, my dear love to thee; my care is much for those whom God hath called ******* for there is much deadness got in amongst them. If thou hast freedom to go once amongst them it would much rejoice me, & I believe much raise up them. I am burdened for them until I hear that thou hast been with them, or that I return, which I see no way for as yet. My dear brother forget me not, but ask for me of thy Father & my Father that I may stand in his will, to his praise alone.
The young man is recovered out of the temptation & his hand recovers very fast, which is praises to our God & a mighty wonder.
O you rulers of this nation by whom we have been called to stand up against all opression, and you have told us that it was liberty of conscience you stood for, & for liberty of conscience did we join with you valuing that before king, bishops, estates, lives or outward liberties, still hoping that the end would produce liberty of conscience, which was our aim in all our hardships that when those who withstood the kingdom of Christ in the conscience were removed then we should have set down in peace without fear, having liberty to profess Christ alone, to be king in conscience, and submitting alone to his pure law going forth of Zion, denying all laws that are contrary to that of Christ in the conscience, and so keeping the conscience pure in the faith and obedience to Christ alone, whom we own for king and lawgiver; & to obtain this we counted nothing too dear, but put our lives in our hands, under some of you who have now power in your hands, to perform what was promised & what we fully looked for, all enemies being taken out of the way, till which time we waited in hope, not questioning the end of our hopes <583> in due time which are liberty of conscience, which we boasted of against king, bishops, priests, and all that withstood it. And while we did but talk of it we were not counted offenders by you. But behold now that Jesus Christ hath called us by himself, & let us see what his will & law is to which we must submit in conscience, if we will own him to be king, and deny to hold up any longer what antichrist hath set up without him & contrary to him, & this we are brought to obey, that so we may keep the conscience pure to Christ alone, and to wait for all laws, as touching the conscience, from him; & this not in words but in practice, & we looked for liberty herein; but now they tell us of another law, which is contrary to the law of Christ in the conscience, which will not give liberty of a pure conscience, and by this law we suffer bonds, reproaches, & the spoiling of our goods, so that we are forced to deny all our outward liberties & estates if we will keep the conscience pure, and at liberty, out of bondage to such laws as are not according to the law in the conscience by which the saints have always been guided, as is plain in Scripture. As we have not liberty in conscience by the law of Christ to maintain with tithes, or money, such as call themselves ministers but are not sent of God, but run unsent, which say "hear the word of the Lord" but never heard his voice, neither can we hear them, and this is against that in our conscience. Also we are sued at the law for money to uphold the idols' temple, wherein God dwells not, nor was they builded by his commands, but for idolatry; and this we cannot worship in nor maintain with liberty of conscience. Also we are sued at the law for clerk wages, when Christ left no such officers in his Church as a clerk to say "amen" or lead people to sing David's experiences *** prophecies, etc., in meter, & this is contrary to the Scripture and liberty of conscience. Also we are imprisoned and fined because we cannot swear, which Christ hath forbidden, & his apostles, and this is contrary to Scripture and a pure conscience. Also we are imprisoned & counted for wanderers because we have left all to follow Christ in his commands & so are become strangers in the earth, & this is contrary to the law of God which saith you shall not oppress the stranger, & the apostle saith forget not to entertain strangers; & this we suffer by your law, contrary to the law of God; & if you had lived in the old days by this law you might have imprisoned Christ, his apostles & all that followed him, who had forsaken their dwelling places and were pilgrims & strangers; & how we suffer for obeying Christ & keeping pure conscience. We are also imprisoned & suffer as offenders for <584> declaring the message of Christ in the markets & synagogues and idols' temples which was the practice of the apostles, & this is contrary to the Scripture & liberty of conscience. Also we suffer as breakers of the law for using that liberty which the apostles set down for order in the church of Christ, that if anything was revealed to one that sat by he should have liberty to speak, and the first should hold his peace, & for so doing we suffer by the law, & this is contrary to the Scripture & liberty of the conscience. Also we are imprisoned & fined because we cannot put off the hat and bow to proud men, which the Lord hath forbidden us to bow to any but him alone & is contrary to the faith of Christ which respects no man's person & the liberty of conscience. Also we suffer as offenders because we cannot give flattering titles to men but are brought to plainness of speech, without respect of persons, thouing every particular of the rich as well as the poor, which is the language of the Scripture always used by the saints, and for which they were never counted offenders among the heathen, and this is contrary to the Scripture & liberty of conscience. And thus while we talked of liberty of conscience but lived in the liberty of the flesh, & in pride and conformity to the world, we were not counted offenders by you: but now that we deny the world's ways, worships, fashions, and customs, & come to be guided by that Spirit of Christ by which they were guided who gave forth the Scriptures, and to walk in that way wherein they walked, keeping the conscience pure, now we are become a prey to the will of men. And as before we suffered the spoiling of our goods by the enemy while we fought in hopes of liberty of conscience, & did but talk of it, now we suffer the spoiling of our goods by those who some of them pretended to be our friends, & some who then were open enemies, now when we come to practice a pure conscience. And now all you that take liberty of conscience procured by the sword, blush & be ashamed, when as we are counted offenders for that liberty of conscience, amongst you that call yourselves Christians, for such things as the heathens themselves in Christ and the apostles passed by as no offenses.
And now you that call those small and frivolous things knows not the law of a pure conscience. For where the conscience is kept pure it counts nothing little that Christ commands or forbids, nor dare it dispute its obedience because wisdom says it's little, & here be your witnesses against yourselves, who calls that little for which you inflict such heavy punishments & long imprisonments and large fines; and for those little things are we looked upon as not worthy to live in the <585> nation, and in those things you call little do we appear to be transformed into the kingdom of Christ and out of the kingdoms of the world, & therefore do the world hate us. And now your rulers that account us worthy to suffer, what is our offense, & what is it we do offend in you? is it not your pride? because we know not to give flattering titles to any or count the proud happy, or set up them that work wickedness, for the God of truth we witness come to his habitation, & all deceit is judged and condemned in us, and truth and plainness hath taken the kingdom, & by the God of truth are we carried forth to declare truth; & we may not daub with untempered mortar nor flatter any for their riches. The earth is the Lord's & the fullness thereof. Nor may we despise the poor, for the God of light is risen, & we have fellowship in him, and in his light we see light & discover darkness, and we may no longer put darkness for light nor tell people they shall have peace in their wicked ways and so put death for life; for in so doing we should deny the truth by which we are made free from the deceit within & without, and to declare against it without respect of persons or places, against pride & oppression, where it is, in the rich as well as the poor, against swearing, lying and deceitful dealing, where it is, in markets, open streets, or wherever we find it, against the idolatrous worships and worshippers, where it is, in the idols' temple, and this we witness, the kingdom of Christ in us, who hath conformed us to himself and his saints, in our measures, & to walk in the saints' way, who discovered hypocrites, foxes, vipers and serpents, children of the devil, painted sepulchers, whited walls & that among kings, rulers, scribes and Pharisees, and the strictest of professors, and openly declared against them, for which they denied his kingdom & would not have this man to rule over them, but sought how to ensnare him & get false witness against him, and put him to death for a blasphemer and deceiver.
And now you rulers and people of England, it is the same Christ in us who is the same king today, yesterday, and forever, who declares in us against the same sins and is despised and refused by the same generation of builders, and whom the same powers of the earth deny and will not have him to rule over you in your consciences, nor would give liberty of conscience to others to obey him, and here is your condition, you that oppose that in the conscience, the throne of Christ whether you will hear or forbear.
O that you would a while cease from your own wills & look into what God hath done and is doing, search the Scriptures & see if ever any stood safe who withstood the kingdom of Christ in a pure <586> conscience. Nay, that you would but mind what your eyes have seen, and you have been instruments in the hands of God to do in your days. How many hath he cut out of the land who withstood that in the conscience, even such as before whom you then seemed little in your own eyes, yet this was your boast: that you stood for the kingdom of God against all oppression, and for liberty of conscience; and this was your hope, that though you was little yet they that stood against the kingdom of Christ in the conscience could not prosper, & according to your hope so did the Lord cut them off and make way for you to come to have power, who pretended liberty of conscience, of whom it may be said, never any boasted so much of liberty of conscience; but will you see what is done in your time? was ever the prisons so filled in the time of king & bishops as now in these north parts, and nothing can be truly laid to their charge contrary to Scripture or a pure conscience. And though we declare unto you that nothing puts us upon these things but obedience to Christ in the conscience, and the practice of such as kept a pure conscience in the Scriptures do witness with us in the same thing, yet are we not believed therein, but such are set to judge us as are ignorant of Scripture and are not guided by that Spirit that gave them forth but lives in plain opposition to it, in drinking, swearing, lying, and filthy communication, scorning such as make conscience of joining with them in these things. And what encouragement a pure conscience can have from these men, any may judge, and how long some have lain in prison, and what great fines have been laid upon them by such as these, only for avoiding such things as could not stand with a tender conscience, you are not ignorant; and yet it is not laid to heart. Oh what will you do in the evil day when the Lord comes to inquire after the suffering of his people? Is God grown careless of his dear ones who rather die than defile the conscience, and will he not visit for these oppressions, and was ever a pure conscience more oppressed than at this day, and will not the Lord require it at your hands, who have so much talked of it, and yet the cries of the oppressed are increased before him now, more than ever, who are imprisoned for conscience sake, contrary to Scripture & the law of God, & are used worse than the heathen used the saints, shutting them up in dark holes and suffering their brethren or friends to visit them. And now you who say it is liberty of conscience, when people may meet and not be molested, but deny to give liberty to any to go into markets and synagogues to declare the message of Christ which he sends them about, you are ignorant of <587> the call of Christ and the necessity that is laid upon such as he calls, and the woe that is to them that go not at his command, which none that stand in their own wills or have their times in their own hands knows anything of, for if they did they would not oppose it; but this is the cross of Christ which to the Jews is a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness. And are you not blind that cannot see that it is something contrary to the will of man, that causes them to forsake all and go amongst brutes to declare the mind of Christ when they know beforehand that the best they can expect from the world is hatred, mocking, stoning, stocking, whipping, and imprisoning; yea death if God did not prevent it. And such hath been the portion of all that Christ hath sent into the world to declare his judgments to come upon sinners, that they might repent and be saved, and it is the same at this day; and you that would deny Christ this liberty, for shame never talk of the kingdom of Christ nor liberty of conscience, nor profess the Scriptures, for they all witness against you: and what a kingdom is this you allow Christ when he must do nothing in his saints but what is approved on by your carnal court and corrupt lawyers, which in all ages have counted truth for blasphemy, by judging of spiritual things with a carnal eye, and from whose wisdom the spiritual things of God are hid; wherefore this is that which the Lord looks for at your hands, that you will take off all your laws that you inflict upon them that obey Christ in a pure conscience, that so the conscience may be at liberty to hearken to Christ & obey him, and lay them upon the workers of iniquity, who live in the lusts of the flesh and defile the conscience, and deliver the oppressed from the hands of such as seek to make them offenders for a word, that so they that depart from iniquity and keep the conscience pure may no longer be a prey to the wicked, that you may judge for God between him that fears him and him that fears him not, & woe unto you if you do it not.
This was enjoined of the Lord to lay before you. And the command was to direct it to thee in particular for that end. And the Lord God Almighty keep you all that you may not harden yourselves against the Kingdom of Christ in his people who is risen to break the powers of all that oppose him.
A servant of the Lord & a lover of your souls
written from the County of Durham
Instance if thou canst out of the Scriptures of any that entered in at the door that ever sued any at the law for tithes or wages. If thou <588> canst not prove it by the Scripture thou art antichrist that doth not abide in the doctrine of Christ, & no minister of Christ but one of Baal's priests. Christ saith to his ministers, freely you have received, freely give. And if you be a minister of Christ & come to my house & freely minister to me spiritual things, I will minister to thee carnal things: such as I have I will set before you, & you shalt freely eat; but to give my hay, corn, wool, lambs, pigs, geese, eggs & such things to carry to thy house, Christ gave no such command to give any such things to his disciples, neither did they go into the world to seek a great benefice, but preached the gospel freely & did not make it charitable; nor did they run to the earthly powers to help them to take people's goods by force to carry to their houses. Show me one example in all the Scriptures that ever any minister of Christ did engage any magistrate in such oppression, & then take it & follow thy example; otherwise thou shows thyself openly to walk contrary to all the men of God, both under law & gospel, & art in the way of Balaam for gifts & rewards.
My dear brother, my life, my joy, my love is more & more in thee.
Forget me not, my beloved one; this last day I was at Robert Boocock's, & there was a great meeting of people; this day I am to be at a meeting at Thornton, the 5th day at a general meeting at Scalehouse, & the next first day at Brighouse, if the Lord will, & if in the meantime I hear not from thee, I have some movings the next first day after to be about Pontefract, if I hear not from thee to the contrary as thou movest. Remember my dear love to Thomas Stacey, Alexander & all friends with thee. Miles Halhead & James Lancaster is gone home, but I sent the note after them. James Lancaster was in much weakness & darkness.
My dear, let me know where thou art after the next First day, that I may come unto thee, for I wait to see thy face. We have had divers meetings in these parts, at Chesterfield, at Pinxton, at Stainby, at Skegby, at Timberland, at Normanton, & the next first day it is to be at Mansfield; there is much coldness in these parts, <589> but they begin to be sensible of it, & some are awakened, my dear love to thee & all those with thee.
the 7th day of the 9th month
My dear love in the life of God thou art; let me be as a seal in thy heart when thou art remembering thy dear ones in the presence of thy Father & my Father, my love, my dear one, above what can be spoken. That night I came to Nottingham I sent for Rice Jones, & he came, & John Reckless with him; we was a great while together. He was kept under & composed; much confusion did appear in him, & to the things of God he is exceeding dark above what I could have thought of him; many confused words came forth, as swearing "marry," & then said it was not a good word, & he would not have said it had he known it would have offended me, but excused it as no sin to himself. And said Joseph did not sin in swearing by the life of Pharaoh, because it was before the law was given out, yet Cain sinned before the law; & I asked him how these could agree, how Cain had a law but Joseph had not, That the Spirit teach all one thing, & yet gives liberty to some to conform to the world to get a livelihood; that when Jacob wrestled with God, God blessed him & bade him send a present to Esau & call him Lord, but being disproved in that, I told him if he was honest he would not be pleased for a lie, & he confessed it was a mistake, that a Christian may swear to end controversies amongst heathen, else they will not believe them. And being judged that the living principle, was buried in him under the subtlety, & it would be terrible when once it was wakened, he was confounded in himself. And ere he was aware these words came forth, that if the living principle was awakened in him, as ever it was. And after a while said the same words again; then I asked him what that living principle was in him that was not awakened as ever it was, but he was much confounded & could not cover it; much such confusion appeared which by the people there was plainly seen. And being convinced of his confusion he wished that we might take heed what we reported of it abroad. The people here is much in love with truth & begin to flock after it; a clear convincement is amongst them, but those about Darby are lost, they know not where. I sent for them at Clawson & Broughton, but they are not yet come. Thomas Killam is sent to Clawson this day to a <590> meeting, & I stay at Thomas Doubleday's, lest they should come & I be gone.
My dear love to all Friends
Friend, thou sayest that which at first called thee out of the world's vain customs and worships was a net; and thou bids me leave my nets and follow thee.
I say, truth it is that the net of the kingdom hath been cast into the sea, and many have been caught by it, and upon trial some are found fit for the master's use, and some are cast back into the sea again. But should I leave that which called me out of the world and separates me daily from its vain customs and crucifies me thereto, to follow thee therein, I should be unfaithful to the Spirit of Christ, deny my calling, and make his cross (to me) of none effect; and in joining to that again which he hath freed me from I should deny my redemption and purchased possession and fall to that again which I had vomited up: which latter evil the Lord hath showed me to be more loathsome than the first in his sight.
And whereas thou sayest the new creature cannot be defiled: then are all the saints' exhortations to perseverance of none effect and needless? and he that stands need not take heed lest he fall?
Was not David, of whose seed Christ came, a new creature and anointed after God's own heart? and was not David defiled with sinning against God? O friend, take heed of such conceits, for it is the voice of presumption, above the fear of God which should keep the heart clean; and there the vessel is defiled already; but the true child is preserved by daily fear and obedience, keeping on the armor of light; and by the power of the cross is the spirit of the world daily kept out, never more to be received nor bowed to, however it be transformed; and here is faith to him that hath understanding.
And though it be true that he that abides in Christ sins not; so it is as true that he that goes forth again into the world is sure to be defiled; and saith Christ, if a man abide not in me he is cast forth. Read and understand with that which is meek and tender; what spirit thou pleasest, him thou servest.
And friend, thou should not have condemned that which at first called thee toward a kingdom which is not of this world.<591>
Friends & brethren about Scalehouse & thereaway, in sadness of heart am I moved to write to you all, who above many have been my care, & not only mine but also the care of other the dear servants of God who have come amongst you & have seen your divisions, occasioned through an exalted spirit, that you have suffered to live in & amongst you, which divers times hath assayed to break & rend you asunder, taking the advantage to act & speak where unbroken wills have been; but the love & power of the Lord hath stood against him & kept him out, that openly he could not prevail. And this you have not taken notice of so as to search yourselves & return to the Lord & his light, therewith to pass judgment upon that evil spirit in yourselves & others without partiality, but have been ready to make party out of the life of God, in words & imaginations, whereby the spirit of life hath been veiled in you & burdened in others, though few of you even yet have laid it to heart: therefore hath Satan kept his seat amongst you who with the light hath often been resisted, so that there was no hope for him openly who now hath prevailed in darkness to such a height of wickedness amongst you as ever yet he could in this generation of the people of God, neither is this laid to heart amongst you, but many of you are puffed up with the world, whispering & slightly talking of the thing, not knowing that the pollution is spreading amongst you & the devil is making havoc in the darkness who when he hath further seated himself amongst you will manifest his power in several other things as he sees his advantage by your several inclinations. Therefore I warn you all that in the spirit of light & power of the Lord Jesus Christ you stand up clear out of darkness & that you every one in the particular search yourselves & also the whole body, that with the spirit & power of the Lord Jesus that wicked one may be cast out from amongst you & that you henceforth presume not to eat & drink with him but clear yourselves in the presence of the Lord & all his holy ones lest you ease your own damnation & the wrath of the pure God (who cannot endure that unclean one in his presence) break out upon you & he cut you off from himself & all the children of light who have not set up his light (alone) to judge amongst you for himself but have covered the wicked one among you; so with the light let the deeds of darkness be judged, condemned & cast out, that in the light you may be owned amongst the children of light, being seen not to <592> feed with the unclean beastly nature which to the seed of God is abominable.
To the town of Bradford, priests, officers & people, that with the light of Christ wherewith he hath enlightened everyone that cometh into the world you may see your wickedness.
Alexander Robinson, John Leake, & Jonas Waterhouse, who profess yourselves to be ministers of Christ: behold your ministry & the fruits of it, which is Christ's rule to know you by: for in your town, where the people of God did meet to wait upon the Lord for his salvation now in these troublesome times—in your town we was stoned wicked & beaten & shamefully d**treated by your hearers who, some of them like fed horses in their beastly lusts, shamelessly in the midst of your town Sodomlike abused the women, men's wives, offering uncivil carriage by force with others of our friends reproving was threatened to be hewed to pieces & in our meeting place beaten & threatened, not one of us resisting, & all this not satisfying your envy by your means under the pretense of law was we haled out of the house even while we was at prayer, beaten & our blood shed by drunken men, & violently haled to the stocks, & there commanded to stand till order came from you what should be done with us, & when your time was, seeing the stocks would not hold us all, we was commanded to be put prisoners into a house & there kept with much rude carriage, beating & threatening; & when we in meekness desired to know by what law you did it, it was answered it was your wills, & you would do it. And when your wills was, your town's priests came accompanied with a Cavalier priest who had been plotting together, & in great rage persuaded the constable that by the law he should set us in the stocks, & said we had disquieted you & called the people from their work, when they was called from their work to execute your cruel design upon us who did neither provoke them nor you otherwise than by waiting to seek the Lord & do his will, & when you priests had done your utmost against us, you fled and left us & your town's officers also, & when we could find none that would own what you had done, nor our unjust imprisonment I desired Major Greathead to know of some officers what we might do; but before he could return the design was that the man of the house & his wife should beat us <593> out, which was done & much violence used both by men and women women. And now see with that of God in your consciences (which condemneth all such practices) what sort of ministers you are & what fruits you minister forth such as none of Christ's flock was ever found in, & with the Scriptures you are tried & found to be of that generation chief priests who ever stirred up the rude people (of their own washing) who knew not God, against the innocent, & see if you exercised a good conscience to God or man herein or done as you would be done by, or been submit to the law of the nation, but in your own wills have acted against it, imprisoning the people of God & commonwealth's friends who in wisdom would not resist you, that they might prevent further evil; & let all now see how you regard the last Proclamation or the power that set it forth, which promises both liberty & protection to the peaceable meetings of the saints according to a pure conscience & the exercise thereof, & when you priests was justly taxed with your plots & prayers against the army & your false prophecies of the ruin of it, & that God would curse it, which we have heard both in England & Scotland for divers years. Then thou Jonas Waterhouse said, it was the Quakers that were the plotters, wherein thou art a false accuser of the innocent, as thy own mouth shall judge thee, & no friend to present government. For if thou know us to be plotters & do not bring it to light thou betrays the government & art guilty of blood, & if thou know no such thing I appeal to justice if thou be not a false actor in the height even by thy lies to deprive the saints of liberty & life if thou could. And it's no wonder that this spirit in you should deny unity with God, as all you three priests did, which hath thus prevailed in you against the unity of the faith & love of God. But unity with God in measure we witness, which you say is blasphemy, who are of a contrary spirit. Also you said that that spirit that was in Paul after conversion & is in the saints is a created spirit, going about to persuade the people that the Spirit of God which was not created could not be in his people, which, I witnessing, you called blasphemy before the people to set them in rage against me. You said also that we ought to follow a fool in his folly. But the ministers of Christ saith: follow Christ & *** as we follow Christ, & when I reproved you for it, you belied Solomon, saying, he said so; here showing either that you are ignorant of the letter or gross abusers of it. And when I was moved to reprove thee, Alexander Robinson, for thy uncivil loud laughters & wanton carriage, being a bad example to a wild people, making them light through thy lightness, thou said the wicked was but to be laughed at. But that's the devil that laughs <594> at wickedness, which the saints mourns for, & such unsavory expression shows thy unsavory spirit from whence they come; & for such words & practices as these let shame cover your faces, & for the fruits of such ministry hath the displeasure of the almighty pure God been upon rulers, priests & people, which is not yet ended though the same wickedness be acted still. Nay, you exceed the bishops in this thing who ever had some show of authority to imprison & shed blood by, which they would bring the people of God before. But you have none but your own wills, & though we have none amongst you that will take notice of this your unjust dealings, yet know that those expressions & violence are laid up with the Just One to whom alone we look; & our cause he shall plead & doth clear our innocency who is our peace in the floods of ungodliness that would flow over our head, who is blessed forever. And now behold your practice & the practice of your people aforementioned with much more suchlike unchristian carriage—swearing, cursing & evil speaking—acted then in your town; & let the wise judge if such a people stand in need of deceiving or can be deceived worse than they are, or have aught to be deceived on but their wickedness. Seeing you accuse us for deceiving them. Nay they are deceived by you; their leaders cause them to err, etc., & their blood is upon you forever who own such begettings under the name of believers. Be ashamed of your fruits; what you have sown is now reaped before the sun, & you are ripe for the sickle of the Lamb's wrath & for the fire. Is such fruits find such a church in Scripture or such a ministry hired or maintained by such a people, or walking in such a way? You call yourselves ministers. Else stop your mouths for shame; your fruits hath made you manifest. And thou, young man, whom they called constable, who came into our meeting & without the fear of God violently haled us out when we was at prayer & down to the stocks & in thy company, some of our blood was shed by men that was drunk with strong drink, & another drunken man came in scorn, offering strong drink to wash the blood off. Three there was so drunk could scarce speak to be understood nor go upright, & these was not counted offenders by thee nor their teachers, though it was in open street in the midst of your town, but served to make others' sport; & this wickedness is but laughed at as your teachers saith it should be. And thus you follow fools in their folly as you are taught, like priests like people. And at thy command was we kept prisoners, for other officer I know none present, though it was by the priest's order. Now with the light in thy conscience which leads to justice see if thou was executing the law <595> either of God or man when thou put the innocent in prison that were beaten & did not resist, but set drunkards, fighters & bloodshedders free. Was thou then executing the law upon offenders according to thy oath? to that of God in thy conscience I appeal, which one day will appear against thee as a thousand witnesses before him whom thou was then persecuting, though now thou have closed thy eye & stopped thy ear against thy soul's good, yea & body also. For if thou wert not blind, thou might know that imprisonment is not for the innocent but for fighters, quarrellers, & drunkards. And a law there is for recompense for everybody's false imprisonment, which if any stand upon revenge would fall sadly upon thee, who imprisoned so many only for that which the present power allows, & that the priest knew, which made him refuse to secure thee if evil should come upon thee for it; & thus they deal with thee as they ever did with those in authority, lead them into evil for their own ends, but never suffer it if they can escape. And thus if thou will thou may see what thou hast done against the law of the nation contrary to thy trust, & as thou draws nearer to judgment thou shalt see what thou hast done against Christ contrary to his light in thy conscience.
This I am moved to write to you all, not that I look for any recompense from you; God is my judge & shall plead my cause, but that if there be any amongst you that have not wholly blinded the eye & hardened his heart both against God & man, such may see your rage, the fruits of your ministry & turn to the Lord by him to be guided & by his light which leads out of that wicked, bloody generation.
Written from your soul's friend, who in love thereto to your town came, who to the world is known by the name of
Thou calls thyself a minister of Christ & takes a text calls it the word & divides it. But what a ministration is this of thine, & what word is this thou ministers forth, & after what manner dost thou minister: will either law or gospel prove thy practice? Is Christ divided (because thou says hear the word & thou divides it), or is it only the letter thou ministers forth to thy hearers & divides that, which if it be then prove thy practice; the letter is ministered forth already, & they that ministered it forth, it was in Spirit, & they bore <596> witness to it by sufferings, which the letter testifies of, & this they did not divide into points, particulars, reason, objections, uses, to make a set discourse of an hour or two, singing Davids words in meter before & after as thou dost. And if it be Christ thou preaches, then it is by revelation in Spirit, & then why dost thou always take a text of Scripture, of other mens words, gifts, or measures, which was not the ministry of law nor gospel, seeing thou would have us to account thee a minister of Christ. It greatly concerns that thou plainly make out what kind of ministry thine is, & when this kind began, & by what call & power it stands, it being, we find, not this form practiced in Scripture; till then we may not call it Christ's ministry, which is not as the saints practiced, nor confirmed to us with any power but clubs, stocks, & prisons, still calling to the earthly powers to uphold it with bloody persecution. We have not so learned Christ, nor have his word confirmed to us with such signs & miracles. Thou said also that pride & coveteousness are great sins & God hates them & those that live in them, & the Lord will not hear their prayers; now how dare thou pray & call others to pray with thee, seeing thou art willfully guilty of these sins, even in the highest kind of pride with the Pharisees, being called of men Master, which Christ forbids to all his ministers. And for thy covetousness, it cannot be hid; out of thy own mouth be thou judged, that thy prayers are an abomination & thou causes others to partake with thee in that abominable sacrifice, whose hands are full of bloody persecution as ever the Jews was, & when thou hast said the sacrifice of the wicked is abomination, & God hates sin & them that lives in it, then thou said a wicked man may do good, & God doth accept of it, also thou said David walked before the Lord with a perfect heart, & no saint without holiness, & that God cleanseth his people & giveth his people new hearts; & when thou was asked if thou did own perfection thou said thou had not taught it nor did own it; what confused stuff is this; is not holiness & the gift of God perfection to all that receive it & abide in it? & is not he perfect whom God hath cleansed if he so abide & sin no more? What will thy building be whose foundation lies thus in Babel? All that knows God's building & his gift cannot but deny thee & thy language who says and denies this doctrine is out of Christ which is not yea & Amen. Thou also speaks of the false prophets prophesying falsely, & the priests bearing rule by their means, & what will ye do in the end thereof? Oh how is thy eyes abroad, where canst thou hide thyself, whilst thou art speaking <597> these words. All that are not blind see thee in the very same steps, nothing differs; but theirs is past, & thine present, not yet come to the end thereof. Towards thy conclusion thou said thou would but speak one word more, but proceeded to above a hundred; but had thou not lost thy Guide & so been blind, thou would have been convinced of a less eye than this to have been a sin, & without holiness, & thyself no saint by thy own confession, nor any good example to thy hearers; but maybe thou will say this is a small thing to be carped at, but he that walked with a perfect heart (whom thou tells on) would not keep such a one in his house; & if the liar be of the devil & have not the truth in him nor knows God, then it is no small sin, though priests & people be so hardened in it, yet the sin is no less than ever it was, though the serpent be blind; & now do not say this is breaking the peace, but prove thy practice with plain Scripture or render a reason with meekness why we must call that the ministry of Christ which stands out of the practice of Christ & all his ministers till then we can do no less than call that antichrist which is out of the doctrine of Christ and all his ministers. Thou said the letter is the word & gospel, but the letter saith God is the word, & Christ is said to be called the word of God, which was in the beginning, & this the letter declares of; & this we know, & bear witness that the letter is true which declares of the word that came to the prophets & apostles, which none of them says the letter is the word, & did thou know the word which is eternal & invisible, thou durst not give that name & power to the letter which belongs to God; the word is eternal, a fire & a hammer: breaks down & builds up, creates & gives life, which the letter doth not, but itself saith it killeth, & they that were ministers of the Spirit witnessed the Spirit & ministered it forth, but they that have not the Spirit minister forth such as they have, calling the letter the word, which the ministers of the New Testament never did. And now let those that are wise judge, who are the able ministers according to Scriptures, and according as every man sows so shall he reap, whether spiritual or carnal, & this is witnessed through the nation: much talk from the letter, but little fruits from the Spirit. In the letter you have the form, but no life & power without the Spirit, but it may be said of them who have neither the true form, nor power. And here thou mayest read thyself.
This was sent to E.B., priest in York, in the 2d month 1655<598>
In thy paper thou sayest if I have a mind to write to thee thou wilt tell me when I shall do it. And that is when the second death hath done more in me than the first, & in another way. And if that comes not to pass in me, thou wilt not hear me write or speak. To which I say I witness him that was dead but is alive & lives forevermore. And had thou had a part in this resurrection, the second death could have had no power & with that of the first resurrection which lives forever do I judge thee who art under the power of the second death to have crucified the Lord of life afresh. For he that died once unto sin hath the power over death, that he may live forever. And life everlasting we witness through the first death which thou knows not with thy 2 deaths & several ways who will not hear unless death speak; yet thou that art twice dead would be a judge ****** of others when death speaks in thy self: and first thou begins to accuse me for knave or fool because I left a copy of a letter (sent to thee) with my friend. I say, I sent the letter & a true copy I desired my friend to keep as a witness to the truth, & this is plainness not knavery: And I see it wisdom & not foolery so to do when I deal with lying spirits. But is not this much worse for thee to write as though it was to me, but have it kept amongst thy companions, not delivered at all to me till the thing be found in the hands of others & brought to me by other hands: had not thine eyes been abroad thou might have seen the hypocrite spying motes. And with that light vain spirit that the second time (7-fold more subtle) hath possessed thee thou utters many vain words, saying that because I dwell in the light, therefore I need neither reason nor honesty. And tells of too much light blinding, & a possibility to deceive if it were possible, and imperfection exceeding perfection. And yet confesses me a son of God & disciple of Christ. And so goes on glorying in thy confusion & with thy wild notions & borrowed light would judge what a disciple I am. But if thou read the Epistle of Jude thou mayest read thyself what a disciple thou art, who art twice dead, plucked up by the roots. And thou would be telling also what I will be, & that is a faller away, as thou art. But this is but the devil who hath deceived thee & led thee again into death, and now makes thee believe all must come into the pit to thee. And thus the <599> dead would judge the living. And with thy borrowed starlight thou art judging of the fullness of Christ, & that the sophister is not able to hold out with such a one, when the sophister hath compassed thee into the second death. And this is thy holding out against him who art now become one with him. And death in thee would be judging freeborn sons, that they act the parts both of fools & knaves. Thou blind sot, what are they born of or free from who are both fools & knaves? But this is all the freedom thou knows in that birth thou art in, twice dead, & the son art the image of the father & pleads for his works. But who is born of God is his image, not fools & knaves, though by the serpent so accounted. And thou tells of a man that was casting devils out which was not to be forbidden. And with this thou would hide thy own head who art keeping devils in, pleading for their works, as capping & kneeing & knavery, etc., which none ever pleaded for but the devil. And thou would make people believe that to forbear capping & kneeing is worse than idolatry & a greater deceit than all the fools & knaves in the country can act, do what they can. O thou blasphemous beast, how hath the devil seated himself in thee that thou art not afraid to stand up for him & his work against God & Christ. And all the saints who ever hath denied respect of persons & worshipping the creature, & being tempted to it have resisted it unto blood, which thou condemns for the worst kind of idolatry. Thus hast thou at once condemned all the generation of the godly because they will not bow to the devil's pride where he is exalted, the thing which God hath in all ages forbidden, but never commanded to bow or worship any creature whatsoever; & this thou slanders to steal men's hearts from God & leave them neither God nor Scripture. And thus being fallen into the devil's work thyself thou tells me that it's not my assurance nor living well, praying, etc., that can keep me free. Thou fallen beast, thou knows not my life & assurance who is my keeper, but art fallen from him into the second death & now blasphemes him, saying that his life (which is assurance to all which know him) is not able to keep those who abide in it. This is death that speaks in thee. Israel's life and keeper thou knows not; the fame is all thou knows of him, who says God will assuredly withdraw. Thou liar, doth God ever withdraw out of his covenant or them that abides in it? Then where is his faithfulness? and how is his covenant everlasting, which witness against thee that it's thou that hath turned thy back on his covenant which should have kept thee (and like thy father), now would charge God with the fault and his life & assurance with insufficiency. Stop <600> thy mouth, thou liar, thou can deceive none but who knows not the life of Christ. And his keeping his prayers & assurance which is my well living which thou sayest cannot keep me. But would lead me (as thou dost some who knows no better guide) into capping & kneeing & a second death, there to be kept from falling, where none can fall further till they fall into hell. And sayest thou, divine revelations cannot privilege any; I say divine revelations is the knowledge of God, which is life eternal, which thou says cannot privilege any. So much knows thou of divine revelations, but art in the air, speaking evil of that thou knows not. Thou busy blind body, doth any live well but who lives in Christ, yet sayest thou living well cannot keep from cursing, swearing & denying Christ. Are not all blind that follows such a teacher who knows not the life of God in thee that keeps out of death? Therefore would bring an evil report upon our well living. But thy falling away makes not the life of God any less able to keep all that abide in it. And thou saying my witnessing saints' unity shows nothing but my ignorance. And thou sets up the contention of Paul & Barnabas to disprove unity, wherein thou shows thy unity to be with the father of contention, & art preaching it up against the saints' unity which thou call ignorance. With what face canst thou profess Christ & deny unity? Is there any in him further than they are in unity, or is contention in him? How doth death utter its voice in thee without shame; sayest thou, Peter went not the right way to the truth of the gospel, yet was not this in the time of ignorance? But when the Holy Ghost was fully given, thou minister of the devil who art pleading for his work, is it not sin with thee to go contrary to the truth of the gospel? and doth the Holy Ghost (being given) make it less error? doth the Holy Ghost lead to or justify a way contrary to truth of gospel. Further, thou says, this was not in the times of their ignorance; I say, is the sin less because it's known? Thou wicked one, what cunning ways hath the serpent devised in thee to keep his work aff***. It was his use to plead ignorance in them upon whom death hath once passed. But thou who art twice dead are so brazened, thou art not afraid to preach up sin against knowledge. And when thou hast done what thou canst to encourage in these works, saying they are sheep though of another fold, etc., lest all that thou hast said should fail of thy end, thou pleads liberty of conscience herein, saying, as thou would have liberty of conscience thyself, allow others the liberty of their conscience also, and leave them to their own master to stand or fall. I say how art thou afraid I should cry down thy father's kingdom of <601> contention, capping, kneeing & ways contrary to the truth of the gospel. That rather than these should go down thou would persuade me for conscience sake to forbear & let them alone. Thou full of all subtlety, what a conscience hast thou that pleads for liberty in sin, & more ways & folds of Christ's sheep than one, how hath he furnished thee for his work. This is that which the second death hath wrought in thee more than the first, which none of the children of life ever pleaded for; but thou faithfully stands for thy master to whom thou art fallen.
This was written near the 17th of Third Month 1655.
My dear sister my heart is much with thee, & in thy care over my Father's flock I do rejoice, & am with thee in the Lamb's kingdom over all, to comprehend, bind & bring to judgment whatever shall arise to devour. I am now at this great & wicked place where abomination is set up & spread over, I have been here two first days, great is the work & the rage increaseth, but not one to appease it, yet we are safe, at present, these a first days I was at the great place. where is multitude of people. & many that have desires to hear. but the devil is so exceeding mad that he cries out in open clamors & being confounded is still more mad; & the latter day I see intents to blood, but in the power of the Lord, when I had done speaking, I passed by through the midst while they was in the tumult, & left them in strife amongst themselves, in the afternoon I went to 2 places, one a gathered people, another a meeting at a friend's house, where there was hundreds of vain people continued all the while throwing great stones in at the window, & broke all the window and many stones rained in amongst us, yet people kept in peace within I see the work of wickedness is set on foot and not restrained, yet God is our keeper forever. Cease not to pray for us, that all may be kept this day I go to George at Reading, but think little of staying, my life is in the Father's will, my dear love is with thy family, & all friends, the life of God be amongst you all.
For the matter of C.A. I suppose my dear brethren Edward or Francis will let thee know, & other things here also. It is sadly fallen up us here away but the Lord will remove it from the innocent.<602>
Friends and brethren, to whom the eternal covenant of the Father's love hath been tendered, and his light you have received, in it wait to have your minds stayed and your hearts opened towards God, who hath given you the light, that therewith you may all see the work of your redemption begun, and the Spirit working, and its power, and you joined to it in the faith and obedience whereby your souls may be purified and your bodies washed from the dead works, that the water of life and the blood of the covenant you may come to be sensible of, and the effect of it, and that which is born thereof (contrary to your carnal wills) in the hidden understanding; for out of the sight of the world, and in the faith of this, life is seen and felt, its joy and power that carries the creatures above the visibles, that with the invisible being you may have fellowship in the church of saints, which is in God the ground of all truth and true worship and acceptance, that to the fountain you may all come, to that bread which is one, that none of you have his food to seek abroad; but to the rest of the Lord you may all come, unto the everlasting sabbath, every one to see your mansion; and this know every particular, thou art not called to seek thy food abroad and from others, as the heathen and the prodigals do, who are out from my Father's house, who are always wanting and murmuring and complaining, but to partake of his fullness from his mouth who is the feeder and fullness of all things, whose honor is that he be only waited on, and who delights in filling the hungry souls with good things; and for this end hath he sent out his servants to cry and call to all, to come to him who hath made ready in abundance, even everlasting riches; so all mind that to him alone you seek, and upon him you all wait, that you all may have power over your wills and that contrary spirit which leads out from God, upon which the curse and want is; for this I say, you shall receive in this his day according to the works done in the body, and as the working of the spirit that worketh in you, whether of obedience or disobedience, as that spirit is whom you obey, so is your reward: so shall all flesh be made to justify God, who worketh of his own will, and in the obedience to his own Spirit, in all who believe and wait upon him in light and peace: but hardness of heart and blindness of mind happens to all whose eyes are abroad, out from the covenant of his promise, and so shall everyone receive at his hand, who is no respecter of persons. So all wait, with your loins girt <603> and your lights burning, that at his coming you may all be found in his work, every one according as he hath called you, that with the light you may all know what it is that commends you to God and justifies you in his sight, from that which justifies self in your thoughts, but with the light is condemned in God's sight; that so you may not run in vain but obtain that which will stand at that day; that you may every one in particular know that which cannot be deceived nor overcome, that in the hour of temptation you may rejoice, and through the tribulation you may enter into the kingdom, and so nothing be able to move you in the way or lead you aside; but as you go along you may learn Christ in his sufferings and watchings and fastings and temptations and steadfastness and patience, in faithfulness and obedience; that as you have received Christ you may be able to walk in him and his power, above all that is behind you, and so come to know your strength and where it is: and so all come to make proof of Christ and his power and wisdom in the light, to see him working in you the will and the power, in the male and in the female, who exerciseth your hearts in innocency towards God and one towards another and all men. And this you shall all find, that as you abide in your measures so you grow herein, and so come to feed on the life, when others, whose minds are abroad, feed upon the wind; which if hereto you take heed, no leanness of soul there shall be, nor darkness of mind; but the least shall be as David when Jesse's root you come to feed on.
Dear friends, my desires and prayers to God for you are that you may abound in his knowledge, which is life indeed, and that you may not always be learning, complaining and wanting; but that with the rest of the saints you may be able to declare his power in its life and working, to the redemption, freedom and fulness thereof, above all created things. So be diligent now the day is come, that none of you be found idle, nor a sluggard, nor vain and light, nor busybodies in things without, nor wandering from your habitations, nor prodigal proud boasters; but in the work of God you may all be found diligent, lest the bonds of iniquity prevail against you and draw you back again into the world, out of which your hearts have been turned, and so the candle be put out and the Spirit quenched, and so you be left in his power whose work it is to blind the eye, stop the ear, sear the conscience, and your latter end be worse than your beginning: wherefore, in tenderness unto you all I warn you before you be overtaken; and the mighty God of power preserve you all watchful and diligent in your measures, to his praise who hath called you.
My sister dearly loved in the Lord, who fills his house with love in his dwelling place; when I see thee I rejoice when I behold thy beauty. Dwell amongst the springs, my dearly beloved one, that the flock of God thou may keep and feed; the dew of heaven be upon thee. Great is the day of the Lord in this place; his name is become very lovely to some, very terrible to others; mightily doth it spread; subtlety is ashamed & plots as deep as hell is confounded; yet the Son dwells safely, & his kingdom he enlargeth daily, and many are brought from far to serve him; others stand afar off and speak well of him, so that his name sounds throughout, & the serpents are crept into their holes to hide themselves, the heads of many being bruised, & the wrath of God is revealed from which is no hiding; in judgment & righteousness he makes war, who is blessed forevermore. Yesterday I had a meeting at a house called Lady Darcy's; many was there from the court, some called lords (as it is said), divers ladies, divers officers of the army, some of the highest priests in the city, how many I know not; for they got behind a ceiling and came not out till I was gone; though there was some Baptists asked a question or two after I had done, tending to plead for sin, & were silenced; yet not one priest would speak a word nor stand up for their kingdom. I was moved to call to any that had anything to oppose, to speak to the face; but none would answer. 2 or 3 of Henry Vane's brethren was there all the while, and he himself, kept behind, came after all was ended: he is very loving to Friends but drunk with imaginations; there is a band of them sunk therein, & do harm to some amongst them which else would be very tender; divers are brought to tears when they hear the truth, yet they heal them again; pray that the innocent may be set free out of the pit.
My dear love to thy husband, & all thy family in the everlasting love, the God of blessing bless you with his increase; there is that springing in thy husband which is dearly beloved, & he is near *** me. In tender love my heart breathes to God for him, that he may take heed to his spirit & not offend the pure, nor sin against his life. Peace be with you all.
London, 3rd day, 9th month
G. F. hath not been here a long time. A.P. is newly come up. G. Benson is a faithful man and of much service amongst the judges and lawyers; he stands above their deceit, and prospers. Great is our God, blessed forevermore.
1. From Sw. Mss. 3.69. GN date November 1652.
2. From Sw. Mss. 1.85. Transcribed by Diana Morrison-Smith. GN date: Appleby, November 1652.
3. From Sw. Mss. 3.65. GN date: Appleby, November 1652.
4. From Sw.Mss. 3.66. GN date: Appleby, February 1652/53.
5. Asterisks (*) indicate places where we could not read the manuscript, either because the paper was torn or because the writing was illegible.
6. From Sw.Mss 3.64. GN date: 7 July 1653.
7. Sw.Mss. 3.62. GN date: Mallerstang, 27 July 1653.
8. Sw.Mss. 3.60. GN date: Shap, 31 July 1653.
9. Something is crossed out here, but it doesn't look like Saturday.
10. crossed out: Thursday.
11. crossed out: Friday.
12. Sw.Mss. 3.61. GN date: Shap, 10 August 1653.
13. Sw.Mss. 3.63. The authorship of this letter has been disputed; but it is this editor's opinion and that of Diana Morrison-Smith that the handwriting is Nayler's. The signature has been crossed out but is consistent with Nayler's usual initials. Although it was uncharacteristic of Nayler to call Fox his father, a 1656 letter from Margaret Fell to Nayler suggests that he did so on at least one other occasion (see Braithwaite, Beginnings of Quakerism, pp. 249-250).
14. Sw.Mss. 3.59. GN date: Newby, c. 12 Aug. 1653.
15. Sw.Mss. 3.5. GN date: ? 1653. Transcribed by Diana Morrison-Smith and Licia Kuenning.
16. Sw.Mss. 3.4.
17. Sw.Mss. 3.70. GN date: Rampshaw Hall, end of March 1654.
18. Sw. Mss. 3.71. GN date: Co. Durham, Mid-April 1654.
19. Sw. Mss. 3.192. GN date: Co. Durham, mid-April 1654. Transcribed by Diana Morrison-Smith and Larry & Licia Kuenning.
20. The text between the square brackets is crossed out in the manuscript. We think it unlikely that it the crossing out was done by Nayler.
21. MS Port 36.11. GN date: Co. Durham, mid-April 1654. Transcribed by Diana Morrison-Smith.
22. Sw.Mss. 3.73. GN date: Yorkshire. Jul.-Aug. 1654.
23. Sw.Mss. 3.74. GN date: Derbyshire, 7 Nov. 1654.
24. Sw.Mss. 3.75. GN date: ? Nov. 1654.
25. First published by Whitehead. GN date: "? 1654-5."
26. Caton mss. ii.39. GN date: 1654-55. Transcribed by Diana Morrison-Smith.
27. Caton Mss ii.35. GN date: ?1654-55. Transcribed by Diana Morrison-Smith.
28. MS Box C, no. 3. Transcribed by Diana Morrison-Smith.
29. Caton mss vol 2:4. Transcribed by Diana Morrison-Smith.
30. Sw. Mss. 3.81. GN date: London, July 1655.
31. First published by Whitehead. GN date: 20 August, 1655.
32. Sw. Mss. 3.80. GN date: London, 3 November, 1655.