Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > Letters of James Nayler (in vol. 3)


Letters of James Nayler (in vol. 3)


     Dear friends and brethren, whose hearts are touched with the love of God and have been awakened out of the carelessness of the flesh: in that which hath called you abide, with your minds single thereto, that the plant of God you may see springing above the earth, wherein you may receive, as from a lively oracle, counsel, wisdom and strength, every particular; and the springs of life open, whereat to drink as you pass out of the world; and the clear water of washing you may know, that so an entrance may be ministered abundantly to your souls, that to the dominion you may come, and know what it is to rule well, everyone in his own house; that none of you seek to know as the world doth, that to your knowledge may be added what ariseth from the life; so you shall never wither, but shall flourish through obedience. Take heed to your spirits, that the earth get not above, and the mind be defiled, for then you lose your authority, and darkness and death will prevail in you above the pure; and so having left the life, that mind hath not whereon to feed but what is behind, as a pasture over eaten, so doth leanness overtake the soul, and poverty as an armed man: and this from the Lord shall be the portion of such as mind earthly things. So in the name and power of the Lord Jesus Christ, I warn you all to take heed to yourselves, and that you stir up that which is pure, which you have received of God, that you may keep out of the cursed thing that is contemptible, that no ill savor be sent out to trouble the minds of God's flock, whom he hath called to purity and peace, that as the Lord hath been pleased to call you, as a first fruit, and hath set up his standard amongst you, and your sound is gone out throughout the nations, and from thence hath he sent out his messengers to them that are afar off; so that your growth may appear, and the glory of the Lord may be your reward, and none may step in before you and take your crown. So keep your garments unspotted in the presence of God, and before all his saints; live in peace, and love to bear one another's burden, and let none please himself; and the mighty God of power preserve you spotless in your measures, to his everlasting praise. Amen.

     Written from London, to the churches of Christ in the north, by him whose heart is enlarged towards you in the Lord.

J. N.



     Friends and brethren, in the fear of the Lord, stand armed against all deceit and division, and come down and feel after the Spirit of the Lamb, to be united in that which changeth not after the visibles, where the knowledge is outward, for there is the ground of sects, and seat of exaltation, which respecteth the person who is known in the outward sound, and the same puffs up for one, and against another, and there is the simple despised, and the Lamb trodden upon, and innocency suffers, and that which should cover you being despised and slighted, the schism enters, the judgment of the Lamb being lost, and the still waters refused: wherefore everyone mind to keep low in the innocent principle, that in the humble spirit you may all worship, and bow before him who is despised and forgotten, when you are above in the extremes. So with meekness receive the voice of the Spirit, as being ingrafted thereby; and that which doth not is seen in the Lamb's light to be above, and not in the rest where righteousness and peace kisseth each other. So dear friends, feel that Spirit which is quick in hearing, peaceable in receiving, and willing in obeying, for that is the Spirit beloved of God, and all being joined thereto, the chords of God's love so unite as not to be broken; and there shall no disobedient spirit hide its head in a formed power: so all mind that which suffers, and doth not resist nor seek itself, for that shall forever reign; when the sanctuary is cleansed obedience shall be your life, meekness and innocency your rest; the dew shall fall for your growth, butter and honey shall you all eat at the table of the Lamb, that you may grow wise in knowledge, and your savor may be sweet among the flock of the valleys, amongst whom you are beloved for the Father's sake. So every one look to that which is low, and exalt that which is easily trodden on; so shall you make up the breaches and find even paths to walk in, the Spirit of peace shall rest upon you, your walls shall be salvation, and your gates praise.


     Dearly beloved, and children of the living God of life, and servants of the Most High, and all who love the Light and appearance of the Lord Jesus, that which is rejected of men, and the world cannot receive, but to you is become precious and beloved; in which <749> appearance you see the way of death and of life, the will of God and the will of man, and the effects thereof, by which you are led to count it great riches to deny yourselves and suffer the will of him that hath showed this mercy, whereby you are turned from the world's ways, and have owned this Light of Christ to be your guide out of darkness, and many of you have obtained mercy, to be faithful thereto, and have obtained a good report through reproach with your brethren of the same household, that have gone before in the like faith, and are found worthy to suffer with joy, what you are called to in your several measures and places: so in that which you have received all abide, even as he hath called you with the holy calling, that you may feel his arm, and know his power, and in that principle it worketh, and how far his covenant reacheth, which he hath willed for salvation, that therein you may be kept safe and clean, and that you may be found a willing people, hearkening and diligent to answer his call, and obey in the Light wherein you have believed, that the righteousness of faith you may all come to inherit, wherewith all your nakedness shall be covered, with his skirts who hath loved you, and therein will love you more, and rejoice to make you glorious therein, even the praise of the whole earth, for his righteous name's sake, wherewith he will cover you, and in which he will keep you out of the expectation of ungodly men, who lie in wait for your slipping. So all be faithful herein, which is your beauty and comeliness, and wherein indeed God hath made you lovely to behold in your several measures of himself: and truly in this my heart exceedingly rejoiceth in you, to see that God is preparing you for himself, as with you to provoke the nations to life; yea, verily, my soul is bound up with you, and my love I leave with you, in the bowels of the Lord Jesus, that therein you may all live in one.

     And my prayer to the throne of glory is for you, that you may all be kept without blemish, every one having salt in yourselves, that your savor may be sweet through the world, and that you be not blemished through carelessness and coldness, and so death get in amongst you, and sow divisions and rents through want of improving the life of love. Wherefore be steadfast in the faith, every particular, and arm yourselves in the light against the whole world, and the power thereof; yea, even that of it which lies in any of your bosoms, and against that which would enter again, make no covenant therewith, no, not for an hour; but the covenant of Light and life dwell in, and you shall never be driven to the earthly gods for help, nor beg your bread from any other than he who hath called you, and given <750> you an eye to wait upon him, that he might fill you with his riches.

     So all take heed you close with nothing hastily, but first ask counsel in the Light, and there stay and wait for an answer; but measure not him a time or way in your own thoughts, for then you tempt him, and you cannot hear his voice, and the enemy thereby will seek to harden your hearts.

     Meet often together in the Spirit and power of the Lord Jesus Christ, and therein mind to be gathered into the fountain of love and knowledge, that therein you may love one another, and from thence send forth love to all the creation, which now in love he is visiting. And herein shall you be blessed, and become like your Father, heavenly in mind, and soul, and spirit. And having found him thus in spirit and power, dwell together with him therein, that I may read you in one, who is blessed forever.



     Friends, he that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love, and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is love made perfect, who are as he is in this world; here is boldness in judgment; there is no fear in this love, no torment in judgment. But if any man love the world, or the things that are in the world, the love of the Father is not in him, but the love of the world, which judgment torments; for all that is in the world, the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, is not of the Father. These are in the world, and lie in wickedness, which cannot stand in judgment, who have fear in judgment, who are tormented in judgment, whose life is in the world, in the lust, in the pleasure, in the pride, in the excess, in the ease and in the world's nature: these are not of God, whose love to these things is greater in them than the Spirit which calls them out of the world; such cannot endure judgment, cannot stand in it without torment, fear arises, torment arises within, which makes them fly judgment, and cry out against it; which God loves, which the sons of God love, who are redeemed therewith, who have denied the spirit of the world, which is to be tormented, and have received the spirit of adoption, through the spirit of judgment, and the spirit of burning, and are purified, and sanctified, and baptized into christ Jesus, and have put off the world in great tribulation: such love judgment and are able to stand therein, and to dwell with everlasting burning, that which condemns the wicked, the world <751> and the spirit thereof; such love, who love God, who love his appearance in Jesus Christ, who is a consuming fire, which is love everlasting to his own seed, not of the world, nor the lust thereof; but that which strikes at the world's life, vanity and glory, which cannot stand his appearance, whose day burns as an oven, before whom the world's glory and the fashion of it passeth away, that he may bring forth his sons and daughters in another image and life which the world loves not, but hath torment in judgment, but the redeemed rejoice therein.

     And who is it now that cries, away with judgment, and who hath turned it into wormwood? Such as have their life in the world, whose delight is in that which will be burned, who are for condemnation, who are disobedient to him that calleth them out of the world, who deny the Light of the world, sent to convince the world of all sin, and lead into all truth; such cannot stand in judgment; what boldness can such have therein, who are condemned already, for unbelief in the Light and disobedience thereto, fear and torment must needs arise and drive them away, and as chaff must they be, that the Scripture may be fulfilled.

     And these cry out for love, who cannot stand in judgment, who stand in the enmity; who love the things of the world, are in the enmity against God, and whose life is therein, what have you to do with love? You must first deny the enmity, and give up that life that stands therein, through obedience to the Light, which is God's love to the world, that through the cross of Christ, and by the spirit of judgment and baptism of fire, all the bonds of iniquity which keep you in the world, in the enmity and out of God, may be broken, and you brought out free, born of that Spirit which the world hates and condemns, which condemns the world. And so through death of that life which holds you in the world, in the enmity, under the law, under the wrath, you may come to enjoy God, who is love, whom without holiness none can see to their comfort.

     God's love stands not in man's will, nor can any who stand in the will of man either give or receive it, only to those who have no other lovers in the world, he gives himself: who so loves Christ's life as to hate their own, whose hearts can join to nothing but what is of God. And this is that true chastity and true charity, which all must learn with the loss of the world's gain, ere God be enjoyed as a husband. And who hath obtained this treasure in his vessel must possess it in holiness, or lose it; he cannot let the harlot in and be undefiled, nor give it out to the nature which he hath denied to obtain it, and not betray it and lose it, which is only retained in holiness <752> alone. So he that dwells in the Light calls to all in love: come unto me, saith Christ, and drink and eat freely: this is love, but do all hear? Do all obey? Do all come? Do all inherit? Do all own correction? Are all of God? Do not many cast off judgments and despise reproof? will not bear the rod and yet would have the love? Whom I love, I rebuke, saith the Spirit, and chasten every son that I receive. This is God's way; so you who reject it, reject love, and not it you.

     Ah! silly people, how are you deceived! Doth he that sees you fast in the world and in the curse, where you have not power to do well, as yourselves confess, but to do evil, and comes and cries peace to you there, and sits down with you in that form or fellowship, doth he bring you love, or hath he that love that is of God in him, who flatters you here? And doth he who hath the sword of judgment, and faithfully uses it to part you and the world in which the enmity stands against God, to bring you out into sons' freedom, doth he hate you, or is he your enemy? Is not this to put enmity for love, and love for enmity, as it is at this day with all that love the things of the world, and are kept captive therein, when truth comes to pass upon them where you are?

     And you say you are come to the Son and to freedom, &c., and you are all in love, as you say: but when judgment from God is sent amongst you, and falls upon that which is of the world where it finds you, then a fire kindles amongst you, and you have torment, and your love leaves you; which shows your love is not of God, which loves judgment, where mercy rejoiceth, whose love hath not torment nor fear.

     Now the day tries your sonship, your freedom and your love; for judgment I am come into the world, saith the Son, and are you come to him and cannot stand therein? Are you freeborn who are in that nature whereon the fires kindle? Is your love that which bears all things, who are tormented in judgment, and driven into heaps of confusion and fear, speaking you know not what? Is this the voice of sons, which cries, away with judgment? Is this to receive correction? Is this the son's freedom, or of his nature? Nay, this is to kick against that which pricks you, wherein you plainly show you have not learned your sonship of the Father, after Christ Jesus, nor known him formed in you, who bears the chastisement of peace, but have got your knowledge another way, than in learning of Christ, and your love is not obtained through the fire, with the loss of all that is to be consumed, which God hates, nor are you born of that Spirit of Christ, to whom all judgment is committed in heaven and <753> earth, nor do you know the key of David.

     Now honestly search your house with the candle which God hath lighted, and when you find the truth in your inward parts, then shall you say there is no love but in it; and that the world's love stands in that which God hates, and is a lie, and pierceth the soul of all that serve it, or let it into their bosom. And for this we may not join in your love, though we love you, in that which is beloved of the Father, wherein alone we can have boldness in the day of judgment, and in that life alone in which love is made perfect, which none can inherit further than they become as he is in this world, walking as he walked, dwelling in God who is love without end.


     The child is born who is not of this world, and many are called to bear his testimony against the world, who are no more of this world, nor the spirit thereof will they receive, nor be in bondage thereto, who have received the spirit of freedom, even of the Father and the Son, in which they are begotten out of the world, and the love thereof.

     Now what are you about to do, who have been called, and once enlightened to see the vanities of the world, and the evils of its customs and fashions, ways and worships, and have been touched with judgment for your conforming thereto, and now are turning back to settle and build therein, and there to take up your rest, seeking to get a peace to yourselves in that which judgment hath once entered upon you, shall this your building stand? Shall not your peace be broken? Ask your own hearts if they condemn you not herein, and of unfaithfulness to his faithful witness in you; I know God hath not left himself without a witness in you for judgment, which sometimes doth arise, and cause fear in you, and lets you plainly see you take not counsel of his Spirit, but of your pleasures and profits in the world, and by them are you led, and not by that Spirit which calls you to bear his testimony against them.

     And do you see this deceitful dealing in your own spirits towards Christ, and that your hearts are not upright in his testimony against the evil of this world? And will you cover all this deceit with conceits, words and notions, and seek to build you a place of peace above all this? Will you thus heal your hurt deceitfully and know it? And shall this stand before God? Shall not judgment arise in due time, and your hurt appear again? Is not this worse than all your former sins of ignorance, which you now add knowingly? Ask your own hearts if they <754> fear not the end of this dealing towards God and your own souls.

     You are seeking rest, but not in the sabbath of God, but in the world; you deny the first day's work, to wit, that which separates light from darkness. So you are far from the sabbath of pure rest, so your rest shall spew you out: it's unclean, and your building shall fall upon your own heads. The foundation is polluted and mixed with the world; your garment shall rot; it's defiled with the flesh, and all your notions and conceits as hay and stubble and chaff shall burn in the day when he shall arise to judgment, whom you now betray for the world, and to get yourselves ease and pleasure, your ease shall slay you, and your pleasure pass away with bitterness of soul, when your own work shall set you on fire, and all your airy notions and high words, and all your knowledge you have got in that disobedient nature shall become fuel, and all your fears shall fall upon you to the utmost, because you have willfully made a path for yourselves to err and sought to hide your way from the Light, thereby to stop judgment in your hearts, and that equity should not enter, who have denied him that called you and have withholden your body from him that made it, lest he should have purged you, and have drawn away your shoulder from his burden, lest you should have borne his testimony against the world's lusts and your own, who have cast off his yoke and proclaimed liberty to yourselves in that which grieves the Holy Spirit.

     Therefore, as you are joined with the world against the judgment of the just, who comes to restore all things, so with the world will be your portion when the just comes to judge the world; and when all comes to be restored in the covenant, you who have not kept covenant will be cast out. Then shall you know what whoever denies the Light is a child of darkness, notwithstanding now your conceits cover you.

     Against whom do you strengthen yourselves, when you say, we shall have peace, notwithstanding the witness in our conscience speak not peace? And when you call that the spirit of bondage, that would have you free from the evil of the world and service of sin, do not you speak this against the Lord and your life? Do not you herein rise up against the just and innocent, and to stop the mouth of him that is faithful, that the wicked may escape unreproved and live? Have you anything else that will show you your hearts' deceits? And is he become your enemy because he will not flatter you therein? Doth not he speak peace freely to the obedient, though he never prophesies good of the world in its corrupted ways? Shall you prosper who seek deep to hide your sin from his reproof? and will you be found <755> children of the day, who seek to hide your ways from the Light?

     Whose image do you bear, who are like the world, except in opinion or notion? And who can so far conform unto it as to procure its love, and escape the cross which should crucify it to you? Are you like Christ, because you profess him, when you crucify every appearance of him to yourselves afresh? Will you boast in the saints' lines to make you a cover, whilst that lies crucified in you which should lead to their lives? Will not you be found the sepulchers that appear well without, but death and dry bones within? The babe slain, that is not of this world, and his life buried in the earthly minds, and the grave garnished with his words? Shall he who steals his neighbor's ass be condemned fourfold; and shall he that slays the innocent and steals his garment go free?

     The holy men of God travailed in sorrow to bring forth what God begot in them, and not their own conceiving; and when they brought it forth it was contrary to the world, and could not bow to it, nor join with its ways, but held forth another image. So their covering was with the Spirit of God, and with the reproach of the world. And in obedience to that Spirit they spoke as it moved, in which words you take liberty, and resist the Holy Spirit, and call their lives bondage. Now ask your own consciences if you be not they who glory in words without the life, in appearance but not in heart; but this is seen amongst you, that the blood of the slain cries so loud that few dare look within his own house: so you make ado without, to stop it for a time, but by what is done within must you be judged in the end.

     Are you the restorers of the pure paths for the simple to walk in, as in the beginning, ere the god of this world caused error by his inventions? Or are you the makers up of the breach, wherewith he hath broken in upon our forefathers, in the days of darkness, error and superstition? When will your practice preach redemption from all those vanities, and your lives declare a liberty from his bondage of corruption, and to things that perish with using? Doth not the creation groan because of pride, and the oppression that is used to uphold it, in its becking and bowing, and false worships and customs? And are not men and women wholly in bondage to things that God never set up, nor commanded, because they please the spirit of this world, with whom you are turning back to worship, and call it your liberty. So your liberty is in that which lies in corruption, and your glory in that which is unrestored, the end whereof is death; but the sons of God are they that are led by the Spirit of God, whose glory is his likeness, and their substance is eternal life.



     Dear friends and brethren, in the uprightness of your hearts walk before the Lord every one in his measure of life, with the eye single to him who hath called you out of darkness into his presence who dwells in the light. So before his face see you all walk, with the heart fixed perfectly for him and his truth you have received, witnesses therein, against all the world's deceits of man's heart within and without, that innocency and meekness may preserve you in all your ways in the world, and in the eternal unity amongst yourselves meet often together, and suffer a word of exhortation one from another in the spirit of meekness. Love one another unfeignedly, and know one another in that which is pure, that therewith you may be gathered out of the world, up to God, from whom the gift comes, that every day you may grow nearer to him who is your head, that, with the living, as you behold him, you may keep death out from passing over you: so shall you be kept sweet and cool, and your pastures fresh and green, feeding in one, that you all may grow strong in one, and there receive power for the obedience of the faith you have received: and the mighty God of power preserve you all lambs in love, and unspotted in the world, till his appearing for whom you wait, your salvation, but the world's condemnation; for whose sake you now suffer, and are not ashamed, the Lord, blessed forevermore.

J. N.


     Dearly beloved in whom my soul is refreshed & nourished in thy bosom is life, my heart is much with thee thou faithful one over the flock of God. They that love thee are beloved of the father, who with thee art doing great things at this day. Dear brother, here is great work here in this place, & the rage is greater than ever, but the power less, & now works much in secret amongst the separated people with lies people with lies & slanders but bring naught forth for God is against them & they fall into shame even the pit they have digged deep for another, they have long been in a boast amongst themselves of 2 disputes with me, one with a sort of baptists who look upon themselves wiser than those I was with at Glasshouse, & the other with Lieutenant Colonel Fenton, in which I have said little, their boast grew so high that they sent me a challenge to meet them at one of their halls at such an hour, so I kept it close till the day, & at the time appointed I took 2 or 3 friends with me & went to the hall, & stayed there 2 <757> hours after the time, in which time many people came to hear, but they came not, so I went away silent, above their heads which got abroad & they was ashamed so as they was forced to do something for their credit so they met & consulted to give it abroad of another day, but writ not to me as before, for deceit would have had me not to have come, yet one friend told me of it, so I was hid from all people till that morning, whether I would go or no none knew, so at the time I went with some few friends & they came & when they see me was confounded in themselves before I spoke a word, so I demanded for what end they had made those 2 challenges & said I was there to make answer, so the thing they had devised was that I must prove my call by a miracle there, or else by some book that was as in fallible as the Scriptures, else they would not dispute with me any further. I told them the fruits would best manifest them & me, so let us try our faith & fruits, & that which is contrary to Scripture faith & practice should be found false, so the people said I said well, but they said they would not dispute their faith at that time, for I had told them before the people that I denied their faith to be the faith of Christ & would prove it by Scripture (for this sort hold that faith is not the gift of God), but they said they would not put it upon trial unless I would deny my call to be from God, for if I was immediately called from God, I would overturn the Scriptures & their faith also, but from my call they durst not remove into any other thing, so I told the people they had need to take heed how they followed such as durst not try their faith with the Scriptures, & some other words passed from E.B., John Bolton & Gerrard Roberts as to witness my ministry which was very serviceable, for they was spoken in much power, so much tormented they broke up. The other dispute I scarce believe will go any further.

     Many are now gathering in of late a fresh seed is appearing, there is a meeting in the Strand on the first days, & great tumults sometimes, which God make of service to call people in to our meetings, they have broke the windows as in Tower Street, many about Whitehall are much ashamed of it, & Justice Blake sent out warrants to the constables to prevent it, and came himself, & much desired the names of any of them that did harm, one wicked woman who beat divers friends, they took away, but the man of the house said he freed her for what she had done to him, yet I hear she is under bail, she is a very wicked woman, but now quiet, 3 meeting a week is in the Strand which are very serviceable, the man at Millbank is removed & no meeting is at his house, he comes little at any meetings at all, some <758> say they would have a meeting where they now are, but it is not a fit place others say, but I see danger of the man being lost, as thou art moved to write to him. At Kingston & Theobalds are constant meetings set up, & some sent to them every first day, they are hopeful meetings both, especially that at Theobalds. The Lord is doing us good daily, glory to him forevermore. Let me hear from thee as often as thou carest. Touching Lincoln I shall send the word by this bearer, if thou may write as thou art moved. My dear love to Capt. Pail & W.S. & what friends are with thee.

J. N.


     All friends about Lincoln, in your several measures wait, that by the everlasting unmovable truth of God you may be taught and guided, as it is in Christ Jesus; that by the spirit of the Lamb you may walk, and have your conversation ordered unreprovable before all men, that the truth of God be not blamed amongst the wicked through your means, and so the displeasure of God rest upon you: wherefore all take heed to that pure innocent spirit by which you are called; that with it you may be kept clear out of all forwardness in the will and eagerness of spirit, by which the enemy takes occasion to present his false doctrine, to pervert your minds from the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus, and so to exalt the selfish mind into the imaginations, thereby the set up the admiring of persons and things outward in the visible eye, whereby the mind is drawn away from the invisible power; and so the seed suffers by your minds being captivated from the simplicity, and being got into the thoughts, and exalted against the knowledge of Christ; so is the creature misled and betrayed, which would not otherwise be overcome of the enemy: so all keep low to him who is not of this world, whose kingdom and glory stands not in visibles, nor changeable things, but in righteousness, peace and joy in that holy Spirit which you have received, that in due time you may all come therein to be sealed, even with the same Spirit of promise.

     And all take heed that you be not shaken in your minds at the appearance of Satan's wiles and temptations, who must be revealed (at the brightness of the Lamb's appearance) whose coming is with many signs and lying wonders, thereby to take away all who are not stayed in that Spirit that cannot be shaken, nor taken with his baits and wonders, but are only taken and affected with righteousness, meeknessand <759> and innocency; such as are there stayed, and love those things, shall not be moved: but the adulterous generation, whose minds are out of the covenant, cannot stand. So to the measure of the Spirit of God all take heed, that you may have the feeling of the just principle to stay your minds in this hour of temptation, and having done all, to stand; gird up your loins and have your lamps burning: and the mighty God of power preserve you all to himself out of all deceit.


London, 8th day, 3d month, 1655


4th month first day

     Dearly beloved, This day I have received a letter from thee, & verily it is joy to me when I hear thy voice, there is unity beyond expression, bound up with that which cannot be broken, my heart flows out with love to thee my sister, the choicest of my Father's daughters thou art to me, praised be him who honored thee, let wisdom & innocency preserve thee forevermore. As for E.B. book the thing is dead here as if it had not been we hear not of it, their greatest strength here is lies fetched out of the bottomless pit such the like hath not been heard, raised by the Anabaptists & Independents & spread over this city, to see if they can by any means keep the rest of their people to them, but the Lord doth avenge my cause, & hath made a greater breach upon them since, & many are come off which before was not, truly sister it's wonderful to see how God turns all against them whatever they do, they are about to print their lies against me, but the Lord is my portion & I know they shall not prevail, they are much ceased as to banishing & I have not felt that a long time, but lies through all the churches to the high in place they do invent. All is against me yet I am not moved, pray to the Father if they may not see their will against the truth, for they strike at the whole life, our dear bro. C.H. hath writ to me to go to Yorkshire & have a meeting, & I see not but I shall go with speed & back again, for I am not free of this place, I see God will do a great work yet here, & truly here is a gallant people, & daily large increase, on every hand, we have our reward daily praises forevermore, my dear love is with you all, & our dear bro. E.B. salutes you in the Lord, the mighty God of power you all preserve,

J. N.



     Dearly beloved in the Father and in the Son, in whom my soul is knit in everlasting bonds of love, the streams whereof run forth towards you in fervent prayer to my Father, and your Father; that you may be all kept in that light and life by which you are called, and which you have received from above; that with it your minds may be all stayed in your measures, from closing with that out of which your minds hath been called, and that you may not be shaken in your faith and steadfastness by any temptation that is, or shall be suffered to appear unto you for your trial; but that you may all endure the trial in the patience, faith and long-suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ, who for that end have received a measure of him, that you may thereto give up to be guided in all assaults, and led through the greatest darkness, and that none of you make any likeness in your thoughts, to follow them, seeming like to make wise, or good for food, which is all done in that nature which is impatient, and stands not in the counsel of God; but that you all stand in that which is not of flesh, armed against self, and its seeking, which leads out from the suffering, and betrays the just in the battle by taking flight to save its life, and so loses the life, whom the vengeance of God will pursue to eternal destruction, that he may avenge his seed upon the head of the deceitful worker, and treacherous dealer gone out from the life of God. Wherefore all friends take heed to your spirits, and keep your dominion in the life of Christ; and therein feel your authority over all that would shake off the yoke, and cannot joy in the cross: hearken not to unprofitable things, neither lend an ear to the wicked; stand you still armed in the covenant of promise, till the mystery of iniquity be revealed against the workers thereof; for this must be perfected for your entrance, that you may be proved in all things, that your possession may be of faith alone; and being found steadfast in your trials, you shall not only save yourselves, but as eyes to the blind shall you be before your enemies, and your good savor shall go forth to the nations, and many people shall call you the blessed of the Lord, and from far shall the desire of the nations come, and you shall be as when the sun riseth upon the earth, as fruitfulness in the wilderness, and as the breaking forth of the barren womb, so shall you be to them that are yet afar off, and to them that are near, rejoicing.—Surely I see the eyes of the beloved ones in the nation turned towards you, and your fame is spreading as <761> a child of beauty, and hopeful is your appearance to such as have seen and heard of you, even so, Amen. Let their expectation be double fruit on your behalf, and your reward in your bosom.


Wakefield the 9th day of the 4th month.


     There was a meeting the first day at Yarm, many people & much silence amongst them: And Barbara Libens & many of the Ranters was there, & showed much lightness & vanity, by which Friends in the truth was much confirmed in their standing, divers of them would have opposed, but durst not, for the power of truth kept them under.

     The next first day a great meeting of people at Aton where came one H. We. a priest of the Baptists, & brought with him one Justice Marwood (so called) & many rude people, the priest waited till I had done speaking, and then begun in many things, to own what had been said, & denied all hirelings, & owned perfection & other truths in notion, to get into the people's affections, that he might more secretly accuse, for which end he brought the priests of Newcastle's book & began to hold out justification without, & said he was justified & yet the body of sin dwelt in him, against which the people did witness with a loud voice, which did much trouble the priest. And being confused he uttered lies, & being proved a liar before the people, he confessed it, desired that it might not hinder the people's good opinion of what he had formerly spoken, & being told that the liar was not justified, but was without the holy city, & must have his portion with unbelievers, he went away, & the Justice (so called); but the rude people that came with them begun to be unruly, but they came not to their purpose; that night we went to John Ratcliff, where divers people came in the next day which had much desires to the truth. The next day we came to Liverton, and divers friends came in: and the next day we had a meeting at Roxby near Staithes, the people was very tender, but not them of the Staithes, for they are got into the vanity; John Ratcliff the elder came to that meeting, & after the meeting I was moved to speak to him in particular, & showed him his vain conceits, but he could receive nothing but is got up into liberty & saith he is past the bondage; from thence we came to Egton Bridge to one Burdett's house, & the 5th day we had a meeting at Christopher Halliday's house & stayed there, & the next day Friends came in also. <762> The next first day we had a meeting at Pickering, & exceeding many people, & all silent until the end of the meeting, then some few foolish sots begun to speak they knew not what, but the rest were ashamed of them. The next day I was moved to go to Justice Robinson, who was very loving, & I had time with him to declare my whole message, & he received it in much love; and the third day we had a meeting at Bulmer, some 8 or 9 miles of York, & there came some soldiers & seemed to be much convinced, & that night we came to Malton, & many Friends came in, but much deadness is got amongst them, the next day we came to Setterington, to William Pearson's house; & the fifth day we had a meeting at Killam in the woods, & a great meeting it was, & most present Friends that was convinced & was very tender & a growth there is amongst them; that night we came to Robt. Barwick's house, & many came in thither. And next day I went to speak to Justice Hothern (so called), & to Anlaby's but Anlaby was not at home, so I wrote to him & came away. The next first day we had a meeting at Oustwicke, a great meeting, but much weight of earth was amongst that people yet much hopes of quickening; the second day a meeting at Essington in the east end of Holderness, a great town without a priest, & there came many, & was much tendered & all silent & I believe many convinced; Colonel Overton's wife & son & chaplain was there. The fifth day a meeting at Drypole, without Hull walls, where was many people & some soldiers, being very attentive, until our time was well nigh spent; then stood up a light vain spirit in one of the Baptists, a teacher of theirs, & begun to make an oration (as though he had been somebody) but being proved a liar in all he said, & those of his own company cried out against him, & with shame he departed, which was of much service to the people, for they did much rejoice to see his pride trodden upon: (herein the love & power of God did much appear). The first day after a meeting was at Captain Bradford's house, & many people was there, & much of the love of God amongst us, which made our meeting profitable; there is a tender people amongst them; from there we came to Balby & so on to Skegby to Oliver Hooton's on the fifth day there was a meeting, but many of them sit in darkness not minding that which should guide them out: from thence to Swanington & on the first day there came some friends & people to Edward Mugleston's house, being silent & some of them truly convinced & there came some Ranters, but their filthy hearts was plainly manifest to the view of all the people, & the terror of the Lord was upon them all the while they was amongst us not being long, so that they fled away; the one was called Jonas Brown & the other called John Flower.

Editor's Notes

a. First published by Whitehead. GN date: "1654-56."

b. First published by Whitehead. GN date: 1655-6.

c. First published by Whitehead. GN date: 1655-6.

d. First published by Whitehead. GN date: 1655-6.

e. First published by Whitehead. GN date: 1655-6.

f. First published by Whitehead. GN date: 1 April 1656

g. Sw.Mss. 3.76. GN date: London, Apr-May 1656. Transcr. by L. Kuenning

h. First published by Whitehead. GN date: 8 May 1656. Nuttall writes, "In Works this Letter is dated 1655; in preferring 1656 I follow B.Q. [Braithwaite, Beginnings of Quakerism], p. 244, n.2."

i. Sw.Mss. 3.82. GN date: London, 1 June 1656. Transcribed by Licia Kuenning.

j. First published by Whitehead. GN date: Wakefield, 9 June 1656. Nuttall writes, "In Works this Letter is dated 1655; in preferring 1656 I follow B.Q. [Braithwaite, Beginnings of Quakerism], p. 244, n.2."

k. Sw.Mss. 3.6. This account, which more properly belonged in Vol. 1 as written in 1654, is not a letter, but since it is by Nayler I added it here after learning of its existence. The manuscript was transcribed by Diana Morrison-Smith.