Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > The Light of Christ
Matthew Caffin, who to show thyself amongst the body of opposition hath raked up a heap of filth out of thy own heart to cast on the children of light, adding lie to lie, so begins and so ends, for in thy beginning thou says even now are there many antichrists. And in the end of thy book thou sayest that antichrist will but be one single man. And as is the beginning and ending, so is the whole bulk a lump of lies, slanders and confusions as one would think the devil himself might blush at, as that the Quakers <429> saith, and cannot but say that Christ ascended not into heaven with that body which God raised from the dead and glorified. And that we say the body and blood of Christ is unprofitable; that we imagine Christ never died, that we say that the offering of Christ's body to be broken and his blood to be shed avails not, so as through faith therein to set free from sin. And that we deny the holy Scriptures. And much suchlike, which to write after thee might fill a volume; but seeing they are but slanders, most of them cast upon our persons, and that our practices do every day testify against them, so that none but who are willfully blind, but they may both hear and see contrary, and seeing we need look for no other but that all manner of evil must be spoken against us without cause by the liar who is that antichrist: for his name's sake who hath called us out of darkness, we shall therefore willingly receive it as great rules,b till the Lord our righteousness make Esau ashamed at his envies. There is only two things which as to the way of God may prejudice some who are simple, which I shall lay open thy deceits in, and for the rest leave it to discover its author, and by what spirit he is guided, which the least child of light may easily judge, being nothing but a heap of slanders, from the old root, severally spoken to in other places. Those two I shall mention is touching the light of Christ, and the word, which thou denies to set the letter in the stead; which two things being cleared the whole work falls to nothing but false accusations. The first is thy envy against the light of the world that lighteth every man that cometh into the world. And to undervalue this thou says that false and erroneous is that spirit that bids men give attendance to a light within as their only teacher. And that Christ did not commend people to a teacher within. And that men are not led into all truth by a light within them. And that to suppose that God in men is their teacher is an error, not knowing the Scriptures. And that it is not to be found in all the Scriptures that Christ or any of his did counsel ignorant people to wait upon a light within them, &c. And that to declare the light within is another report and another spirit than Christ and his ministers; and much the like thou inveighs against the light, showing thyself utterly blind, and a child of darkness. And yet sayest thou the gospel is hid, and <430> the creature lost, where the god of this world hath blinded the mind, and yet wilt thou have no light within. And sayest thou it concerns us to have our lights burning, yet denies the light within, but doth not tell people where their lights must burn without them, nor where their enlightened minds must be without them; and much such dark, muddy stuff comes out from the waters of Babylon, too much to gather up after thee, whereby thou seeks to darken and undervalue the light of the world, as not to be a teacher sufficient, that so antichrist might keep people in blindness, and so in their sins. Such a work as none was ever found in but the devil and his instruments, quite contrary to God's covenant, and the end of it, even the covenant of light in which God hath placed all his promises and power, yea where God himself dwells, even in the light of Christ, the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world, which was the message that the ministers of Christ was to declare, which antichrist's ministers oppose.
And that this light is the only leader and guide to all sorts of people, and in all estates, and that without believing and following this there is no salvation, but without it all are in darkness, I shall make it plain by the prophets, Christ, and his apostles, and their testimony of it against whom thou bears thy testimony, and the rest of the children of darkness, even against that light which is the anointing, which was typified by that pure oil of the tabernacle of which the law and the prophets prophesied, even the everlasting covenant of light, both to Jews and Gentiles—as saith the prophet (Isa. 42:6). And in the 49:6 God calls it a light to the gentiles, and for salvation to the ends of the earth. And this thou would limit only to such as thou calls believers, which indeed appears the greatest enemies to it. And in the 10th chapter 17, he saith, "This light shall burn up as a fire the briars and thorns in his day." Also Isa. 60:3,19,20. And through his whole prophecy he makes it the sum of his work to foretell the coming and beauty and power of this light, and all the rest of the prophets, which would be too large to mention.
And John Baptist, the greatest of the prophets, who came to see this light, he testifies of him what he is, and what he doth, that through him all might believe, whose whole testimony was of this light (John 1); he saith, "This is the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world," and calls him the <431> "word that was in the beginning, by whom all things was made"; and saith, "in him is life, and the life was the light of men," and that this "light shined in darkness, but the darkness comprehends it not." And this light thou denies and would limit to some persons, who act in darkness and cannot comprehend it, though it shine in darkness; wherefore saith the blind guide, this is another report and another spirit; such a thing is not to be found in all the Scriptures, but cannot see thy blind spirit, opposing the living Spirit of light and life in all the saints, both in Scriptures and to this day. And Simeon the prophet he testifies to this light, and saith, "He is prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of his people Israel; and calls it "God's salvation" (Luke 2:30-32). But saith the false prophet and antichrist, this is not sufficient alone, though it be Israel's glory and salvation, and the Gentiles' light.
And saith Christ of himself, "I am the light of the world. He that follows me shall not abide in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12). But saith antichrist, this light is not sufficient of itself. And saith Christ, "Take heed that the light that's in thee be not darkness. The light of the body is the eye, therefore when thine eye is single the whole body is full of light, but when thy eye is evil, thy whole body is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness." And this he spake to the people and the Pharisees (Luke 11). But, saith antichrist, it is not to be found in all the Scriptures that Christ or any of his did counsel ignorant people to take heed to a light within them; and saith the blasphemer, false and erroneous is that spirit that bids men attend to a light within. So the liar and the antichrist is now revealing, and there are many antichrists who thus oppose Christ his light and doctrine, who have the horns of blasphemy and dare blaspheme God in his temple, calling the Spirit of Christ false and erroneous—and saith that to suppose that God in men is their teacher is an error not knowing the scriptures; when the Scripture saith, "You shall all be taught of God" (John 6:45). "And know you not that ye are the temple of the living God, as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them," and the temple of God is holy, whose temple ye are, but sayest thou for to suppose God to teach thee is an error, and so art not afraid to blaspheme God in his temple. <432> And saith the Scripture, "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord (Isa. 54:13). "And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying 'know the Lord,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest" (Jer. 31:34; Heb. 8:11). But saith the children of darkness, where the son of perdition sits in the temple of God, this is error, who are strangers to this covenant of light, and without God in the world, who are of such the apostle tells on (Eph. 4), who because of the blindness of their hearts (through denying the light within) are alienated from the life of God, and so become past feeling, and so are given to sin and plead for it, though it be their destruction, for all that deny the light within are heart-blind, and so strangers to the life. And here are all you blind guides of all sorts, enemies to the light, stumbling at it which is the cornerstone, and so all that hate the light loves your evil deeds and so plead for them while you live, and so the words of Christ is fulfilled upon you (John 3:19-20).
And saith Christ, "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth in me should not abide in darkness," and he exhorts the Pharisees and unbelievers (who believed the Scriptures) to believe in the light of the world, which John calls "the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world"; and saith Christ, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life; but he that believeth not is condemned already, and this is the condemnation: that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light"; and this he spake of them that believed the letter, as you blind guides do now, but would not believe in the light of the world, as you do now who deny Christ to be the light of the world and would limit him only to be the light of believers—which believers, when searched, you are found to be enemies to the light. But saith they that believe: he is a light to lighten the Gentiles (Luke 2:32). And the people that sat in darkness saw a great light, and to them that sat in the region and shadow of death, light is sprung up (Matt. 4:16). But saith antichrist, he enlighteneth none but such as are enlightened already, that so he may keep all in darkness that are in darkness; but the children of light know that there is no other thing to enlighten them that sit in darkness, <433> whose minds the god of this world hath blinded, but the light of Christ; and till then the gospel is hid, and the veil is over the heart; and all other means, till the eye be open, is unprofitable; and it is his light alone which is that eye, and his Spirit alone that takes away that veil (2 Cor. 3:16-17). And that it is his Spirit alone that guides into all truth (John 16:13), even the same Spirit which reproves the world of sin (v.8). But saith antichrist, men are not led into all truth by a light within, so by thy doctrine the Spirit of truth must either not be within, or else darkness within, for sayest thou men are not led into all truth by a light within. But saith the Scriptures, "Ye have an unction from the holy one, and ye know all things, and this anointing abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you, but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things," and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him; but saith the liar, that spirit is false and erroneous that bids men give attendance to the light within as their only teacher, when the Spirit of God saith, ye need not any man to teach you, but as the same anointing that abideth in you teacheth you of all things, and no lie is in it, and commands them to abide therein. And this spirit thou calls false and erroneous, and so art found that blasphemer against the Spirit of God, and an open liar, who saith there is not such a Scripture as directs to a light within for the only teacher, and though in thy book thy sayest we must wrestle against the powers of darkness in this world, yet art thou found in the world joined with the prince of the world, to wrestle against the light of the world, even the spiritual light of Christ, which all the holy men of God did ever bear witness to, and preached to them that was in darkness, and witnessed it to be that by which they was enlightened, even the light within, which shined out of darkness in their hearts, which gave them the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus, which was their treasure in the earthen vessels, which they preached and not themselves, that the praise might be wholly of God, who had given them this light in Christ Jesus. Wherefore they renounce the hidden things of dishonesty, not handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of this truth commend themselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God, and not to the fleshly wisdom nor brain knowledge, but to the light in every man's conscience (2 Cor. 4), and they <434> exhorted them to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but to reprove them, and said all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light, and whatsoever doth make manifest is light; and this they preach for the light of Christ (Eph. 5:11,13-14), and doth also declare that the want of this light having their understandings darkened, and the blindness of their hearts is the cause why men are past feeling, and so given themselves over to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness (Eph. 4:18-19). But he saith the saints have not so learned Christ, if they have heard him and been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus, being renewed in the spirit of their minds, who sometimes were darkness but now are light in the Lord, and so walk as children of the light bringing forth fruits of the Spirit in all goodness, righteousness and truth: and this light was their message, which they declared to their hearers, as the way to the blood of cleansing. Saith John, "This is the message as we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all; if we say we have fellowship with him and walk in darkness we lie & do not the truth, but if we walk in the light as he is in the light we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:5-7). This light they preached to be the way out of the world, following Christ who led them therein, who saith, "I am the light of the world, no man cometh to the Father but by me"; this light they preached to be the way to cleansing by the blood of Jesus, and this light they preached to keep out of the occasion of stumbling, and said they that walk in darkness know not whither they go, because that darkness hath blinded their eyes (1 John 2:10-11). And this was the end of their ministry, which was the end of the covenant, and the end of Christ's coming, even to open the blind eyes and to bring them that sit in darkness out of the prison house (Isa. 42:7). And this was the end of the apostles' ministry, to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light and so from the power of Satan to God (Acts 26:18). And this eye was within them that was blind which they was to open, which the God of this world had blinded, which Christ calls the light of the body, and therefore saith, "Take heed that the light that's in thee be not darkness" (Luke 11:34-35). Which eye the blind guides who loveth the <435> world and their sin have closed, and their ears they have shut, whose hearts are waxen gross, so that they can neither see, hear, nor understand (Matt. 13:15). And in this state are all you blind guides, blind leaders of the blind, who can neither speak nor walk according to the law and testimony because ye know not the light in ye, nor can any but from that light within, and therefore in your blindness are opposing the light of the world, which the law and the prophets prophesied of, which had the testimony of Jesus which we witness to be the light of the world, who are come to the end of the law and the prophets, even the new covenant, where the law is written in the heart, and the spirit of prophecy received which is the testimony of Jesus, which we knew not till that eye was opened, and therefore went along with you in your blind worships and self-taken-on performances from the letter, which gave us no life, which life we witness now in the Spirit by faith in the light of Christ; and his commands in Spirit is life and power for obedience to the faith; in the light it is seen and accepted, in which light we see you and your labors which are without, not in the light and Spirit, and deny you and your sparks, your kindling, your literal teaching, and self-righteousness, and all your brick making, who are in the Egyptian darkness, enemies to the light of Israel and its seed. And you we see to be enemies to Zion's redemption, as you are enemies to the light of the world, both in yourselves and others.
And this I say further to thee and the rest of thy dark generation: that all your boast of religion and knowledge in the letter will not bring you to God, without the light of Christ, nor can anyone that is in ignorance come to know the way to life but by the light of the world, and until man be led thereby he cannot come out of his darkness; even with that light that reproves the world and manifest your evil deeds must he be led; though the beasts of the field, who know not what liberty the sons of God have in his garden, calls this a spirit of bondage, which is bondage to the beastly nature, but is freedom to the sons and seed of God, which the love of God is to who loves purity but hates iniquity.
And whereas thou and the rest of you would confine the light of Christ only to such who are enlightened already, I say who must enlighten the rest? Is there some other light to be preached before him? Is not he the author as well as the finisher? who are <436> enlightened indeed knows this that he is the light in the times of darkness, and there is none besides him, and that he giveth life to all who receive his light and follow it, but those that rebel against the light knows not the ways thereof, nor abides in the paths thereof (Job 24:13). There in that chapter thou mayest read thyself, and thy way and work. Is this the end of your talking of the Spirit, and is it now become an error to say it's sufficient to teach and guide out of darkness; and is it some carnal thing that must enlighten the mind and guide the heart of man, which is in darkness, such a doctrine as this was never preached by any of Christ's ministers, whose message was to preach Christ all-sufficient in all, to work the whole work in fallen man both to light and life, which if thy doctrine be not quite contrary let the work in thy book testify.
Thy second thing that thou wouldst prove is that the letter of the Scripture is the word of God, and so the rule and touchstone to judge spirits with, and that by which the world must be judged, and much suchlike that belongs to God and his Spirit alone in Christ Jesus, wouldst thou in opposition thereto ascribe to the letter, not knowing what the word rule and judge is; and this to prove thou adds a great heap of confusions and contradictions, but cannot find one Scripture that saith the letter is the word.
But thou instances that place, Mark 7:12-13, which hath relation to the 5th commandment, and with a deal of confidence thou affirms that Christ calls the letter the word in this place, because he saith they make the word of God of none effect by their traditions, so thou hast proved the letter of that commandment to be thy word, but in thy 24th page having forgot thy word thou overthrows it again and says the apostle calls that the letter of the law which killeth, and the ministration of death written and engraven in stones, by which no flesh shall be justified, of which letter the apostles was not ministers of.
So by thy proof thy word is that by which no flesh shall be justified, but is the letter that killeth, and ministration of death, of which words the apostles was not ministers, and in thy 39th page thou says it is done away, so thou hast lost thy word, and suchlike wild confused drunken stuff thou hast to prove the letter the word, wherein thou hast rightly proved thy word to be that which the apostles was no ministers of nor by it shall any be <437> justified, and this is thy main pillar which falls thus on thy own head; but where the light of Christ is denied, the blind must needs stumble, though at noonday; but they that have the word know that the word they made void by their traditions was what God had written in their hearts, of which the outward was a figure (Isa. 51:7; Ps. 119:11; Matt. 13:15).
Another proof thou brings (Acts 2:41), which saith they that gladly received Peter's word were baptized—in which thou hast proved the letter not to be the word, for they that Peter preached to had the letter before they received Peter's word, which word was Christ, of which the letter testifies.
Suchlike as these are all the rest of thy proofs, many gross lies mixed amongst them, not worth the while to gather or repeat after thee. As thou art not ashamed in thy 25th page to lie against the apostles' words, saying they were ministers of the letter, which the apostle plainly denies (2 Cor. 3:6). As indeed is the most of thy work in thy book to oppose plain Scripture, and contradict thyself. As for instance:
Saith Paul (Gal. 1), When it pleased the Father to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him, I went, &c.
Sayest thou (page 26), The apostles went forth testifying the Lord Jesus not come within them.
Saith Christ the Spirit of truth, When he is come he shall testify of me.
Sayest thou (page 33), Which Spirit the saints receiving did not declare him to be their only inheritance.
Saith Christ, The Spirit of truth shall guide you into all truth (John 16:13).
Sayest thou (page 15), Men are not led into all truth by a light within.
Saith Christ, Take heed that the light that is in thee be not darkness (Luke 11:35).
Sayest thou, False and erroneous is that spirit that bids men give attendance to a light within.
Saith Christ (John 5:25), The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, &c.
Sayest thou (page 45), Not come and now is.
Saith the apostle (2 Cor. 4:6), God who commanded light to shine out of darkness hath shined in our hearts to give the light <438> of the knowledge of the glory of God, &c. And speaks of some whom the God of this world had blinded their minds, lest the light of the glorious gospel should shine unto them.
Sayest thou (page 8, as to the same thing) not from a teacher within but from the apostles, who plainly affirm that they were to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, so putting the apostles instead of God, and belying them, says they affirm it, when the apostle saith, God gives it, and not they.
And thus thou shows thyself all along to be that man of sin, that old gainsayer, who opposeth thyself against the truth of the Scripture and yet would have the letter thereof to be the word which thou canst thus turn and wrest against the truth, but the word thou knows not which cannot be wrested, altered nor changed; nor canst thou prove the letter to be it, though many crooked ways thou takes to do it, but it's hard to take the letter to prove against the word, which doth testify of the word from whence it came.
But seeing thou canst not prove the letter to be the word, I shall prove that the letter is not the word, and the letter itself shall witness with me therein.
First, that which one may have and not have the word, is not the word, but one may have the letter and not have the word, so the letter is not it.
That one may have the letter and not have the word is plain (John 5:38-39).
The Jews had the Scriptures, and Christ bids them search them, and they thought to have eternal life in them, yet Christ tells them they had not the word.
So the letter cannot be the word which one may have and yet not have the word.
Whosoever hath the word hath life, but so hath not all who have the letter.
The word is without beginning or without ending, but so is not the letter.
That which can be changed by men is not the word, but the letter is and hath been changed by men (1 Pet. 1:25).
The word of the Lord came to such as had the letter, and some of them received it and some received it not, yet all had the letter and believed it. All that hear the word it quickens, but <439> many hear the letter but are still dead, in sin. And such they are who know not to distinguish between the word itself and the letter which is the declaration thereof, which letter the devil and wicked men get to plead against the word, and for their sins, which is the great use the letter is wrested to at this day. Let any of the servants of God reprove sin in the word of the Lord, and presently the serpent gets a scripture to plead for it, and so to give God the lie, which was his work before the letter was, to wit, to oppose the word, in open lying, but now hath got the letter to hide him, and can now come as boldly, with "it is written" (Luke 4:10) to uphold his sin and imperfection, as ever he did with his lie to Eve, to set up his kingdom of sin and imperfection at the first, which then he got in by subtlety without Scripture, but now by the letter would maintain it by force, and if any believe to attain that estate again, before he entered; with boldness from the letter he will prove him a heretic and find Scripture to murder him for it also, he having but power to do it, and this is the use the Scriptures are of when such give meanings of them and preach them whose eye he hath blinded and have not the word in them from which the Scriptures came, and without which none know them nor understand them. And thus the Jewish rabbis put Christ to death by the letter (John 19:7). And so doth he suffer to this day in whomever he is, by the world's teachers wresting the letter; therefore saith Peter, such wrest all Scriptures to their own destruction (2 Pet. 3:16).
And this is the ground of the devil's envy against the children of light at this day, because we exhort people to the Spirit of Christ, and to his light to enlighten their minds, that they may not read without understanding, and so wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction, which things we ourselves did while we was in our fallen wisdom, for while man is in darkness the best of God's gifts are perverted to a wrong end, but being enlightened from the word, the gift is seen and sanctified to its right end, without which it cannot, for God hath placed the blessing and right use of all his mercies in his Son, who is the light of the world, the word by which all was made and is upholden, therefore is he first to be preached, who is first and last, to enlighten people that sit in darkness, death, and delusion, which light being first received, all the gifts of God are yea and amen therein to his praise and the <440> creature's good, for without faith all is lost, and it is not faith in the gift, that saves, but faith in the giver; for many did believe in the Scripture, and thought to have eternal life therein, but could not believe in the light of the world, and so denied the giver, and the Scriptures could not save these, but in their thought thereof deceived themselves, who had not the word in them, and so stuck in the letter but would not come to the light of life, for it is he that hath the Son hath life, and not everyone that hath the letter, and such alone have the word of life, which such as stick in the letter knows not nor can hear (John 8:47).
Nay there was many that heard Christ speak, but did not nor could they hear the word (John 8:43). And this was much more than the letter, yet such blind and deaf creatures being blinded by the God of this world, they thought to have eternal life in the Scripture. Saith Christ (v. 47), "He that is of God heareth God's words; ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God"; yet did Christ speak the words of God, and they did hear him carnally (as carnal men do the letter) and could make him answer to his speech, but could not hear the words of God, as Christ plainly saith, and here thou mayest read thy blindness.
Also that place (Acts 17) which you think makes so much for you to prove the letter the word, it doth but fall on your own heads, as all other Scriptures do, for them of Berea was not called more noble than those of Thessalonica because they had the Scriptures read, for the Jews of Thessalonica had the Scriptures read every sabbath day, but this was their nobility in that they received the word gladly with all readiness of mind, and then searched the scriptures daily; first they received the word to enlighten, and then searched the Scriptures in the light: so this doth plainly prove that they had not the word before, though they had Scripture before, so that here you do but prove that the letter is not the word. Also this place clearly proves that one may have the Scriptures all their lives, and read them in way of worship constantly (for so did both these sorts of Jews) and yet neither know word nor Scriptures until they received the word of light; but when the word is received, or not received, that makes the difference of believers and unbelievers; the one owns, the other envies and persecute though both have the Scriptures; this Scripture proves this in the Jews, and your practice proves the same in you Gentiles, who call <441> yourselves Christians, who are found joining with the lewd people, as they did, and stirring up their minds to persecute through your lies, which otherwise might be silent; so your work is seen, and makes it manifest what word you know, as all thy lies and slanders in thy book may testify thee to be one of that envious brood, which is the most they serve for, for us they touch not, yet is thy reward no less, yet this all may note that the searching of the Scriptures without the word first received cannot find the way to faith, as this scripture doth plainly prove, for till the eye be opened with the light of the word of life, the Scriptures are a mystery to the carnal understanding, and all that man can do with them in that state is to wrest them to his own destruction (2 Pet. 3:16). And you who are judging of scriptures, and setting others so to do, without the light of Christ, are they who lead the blind and resist the Holy Spirit; as did your fathers so do you resist the Spirit with your imaginations from the letter. Be ashamed of your doctrine: hath the Spirit given out the letter to testify of the light of the world, and its sufficiency, and that there is no other way out of the world but Christ the light of the world, and that the light & the way are one? And do you pervert this against the light to prove it not sufficient?
Hath God given his word to his seed in every generation, and hath promised that it shall never depart out of the mouth of that seed forever (Isa. 59:21)? By which word all was made, and all his are to be guided and sanctified; and because the testimony of some few of those who had this word is in writing, to witness that Christ is this word, and that all are to wait for him. And will you take this letter, and pervert it against this word, to set it in its stead, to keep from this word, and call it the word which doth but declare of the word? now is the deceit of your high notion found out, who have pretended to much light and Spirit, that now the true light is come, and the gift of the Spirit is manifest for everyone to profit withal, you are found the greatest opposers, and set yourselves to make the people evil-affected against the light and Spirit's teachings, though no man can say that Jesus is Lord but by that Spirit which is given to everyone to profit withal (1 Cor. 12:3,7). And all your prayers and worships that are out of this light and before it are blind and abominable. And all you prove in this your opposing the light and word, is but yourselves <442> children of darkness and wholly ignorant of the Spirit's teaching, and the least child of light shall judge you herein, for the least that ever knew anything from God, either of judgment, teaching, or promise, or power, they know they have it in Spirit, and such know that what the saints declare of in the letter, which they received of God in Spirit, will not satisfy their longing souls, unless they can have it from God in Spirit also; so that your opposing the spiritual light and power doth but give occasion to all that have the least light of the Spirit and its teaching to see you heart-blind, and so joining with the god of this world to blind the minds of others also, and the least of the children of light can you not deceive with this, only you discover your Babel which you have builded without the light and Spirit, in your imaginations from the letter, without the light, the ground of all the false worships, sects, opinions, and divisions. The seat of the hypocrite, and court of conceits, in which you bless yourselves in darkness without God in the world, not having the Father and the Son in you, and so are out of the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9-10). And so are shut out of the habitation of the children of light. O blind men, how hath your wisdom perverted you, and the devil deceived you? Is this the doctrine of Christ, that his light is not sufficient to lead without something else joined with it? That the Spirit is false and erroneous that bids take heed to a light within (Luke 11:35)? And that Christ did not commend people to a light within? Is this the doctrine of Christ, that men are not led into all truth by a light within them (John 16:13; Rom. 8:14)? That to suppose that God in men is their teacher is an error (John 6:45; John 14:26: John 17:23)? That to declare the light within is another report and another Spirit? That it's an error to say that Christ is in the saints in their sufferings suffering with them (Acts 9:5; 2 Cor. 1:5; Col. 1:24)? That it's an error to say that is the true light, even the light of the world that lighteth every man that comes into the world, and that it alone is sufficient (John 1:9; John 8:12). And that the light of the world is the only way, which leads to all other things, but no other thing can lead to it but itself (John 14:6; John 8:12)? And much more suchlike doctrine, the man of sin is not afraid to preach openly, thereby to deny the light of Christ to be sufficient, lest that light should reveal him all against the doctrine of Christ. And that he may not be suspected to be the antichrist, <443> and man of sin, who is thus opposing Christ and pleading for sin, you would persuade us that the antichrist will be but one single person when he comes; that so while people are looking for him in a single person he may thus oppose the light and spiritual appearance of Christ in his thousands and ten thousands, who are gathered as the sand of the sea for multitude, to oppose the light and plead for sin. And to confound yourselves you say again that even now are there many antichrists, but cannot see yourselves to be they, who are arming yourselves thus against his light and appearance, and as one of his last shifts, to set the letter in his stead, which doth but declare of his appearance who is the light of the world, made manifest to enlighten them that sit in darkness, and destroy the works of the devil, in all that believe and follow him.
And where this light is received and followed, you are therewith comprehended, your work and the end of it, and in all that you do in thus opposing the light of the world, you are but breaking yourselves against the cornerstone, foolish women who are pulling down your own house with your own hands, for the more you resist the light the more it shines, and the more you rail against the light and Spirit, the more you are manifest to be out of the doctrine of Christ, who is that light and Spirit, and you do but give an opportunity to all that see your work, to see the innocency of that light you oppose, and to see you set against that which is the only thing testified of in the Scriptures, and so shall that in every tender conscience witness against you, and for that Spirit you resist. So behold your doctrine, and compare it with the apostles' and with Christ's, and the prophets', and let that of God in your conscience give righteous judgment upon you, if this of yours be the doctrine of Christ, had John said concerning Christ, "This is the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world"; but it is not sufficient without something else, had he been a forerunner of Christ, or of something else? Had Christ said I am the light of the world, believe in the light and follow it, but it is not sufficient without something else with it, for it is but a natural light; had not he then taught them a natural foundation instead of a spiritual, who said believe in the light, that you may be the children of light; had the apostles gone forth to preach Christ the light for everyone to believe in, & <444> said, this is our message we have received of God and declare unto you, that God is light, and whatsoever makes manifest is light, and all things that are made manifest are reproved by the light, but this light is not sufficient, had they then preached Christ all in all, a sole ground and author of faith; nay had they not been madmen that would have believed them, if they had thus preached as you do, a light and Spirit but not sufficient. Had the prophets preached a covenant of light for all to believe, and when they had done told them that it was not sufficient without the letter, had not they destroyed their faith in their generation before the letter was written; nay go through all the Scriptures and find any of the children of light in your doctrine if you can; till then for shame cease calling us "deceived and deceiving Quakers." Many of us have been too long deceived with such blind guides, enemies to the light, who have always resisted the Spirit, but the light hath appeared and is received, by which we see the deceivers, and no more by them can we be deceived; neither can antichrist cover himself in the letter, whose work is to devour the light and Spirit that gave it forth, it will not serve your turn whose end is contrary; that which was given forth to testify of the light of the world will never say it's not sufficient; and that which saith he is the author and finisher, you cannot make it say there must be something before him; and that which saith he is all in all will not limit him; and that which saith the Spirit giveth life the same saith the letter kills; so behold your work and be ashamed, such dead deceitful blind doctrine is suitable to such dead works you bring forth, and dark ways you walk in; the children of light sees you, whose faces are turned from you and are set out of the world, in which your religion stands conformable to it: and in vain doth Pharaoh pursue, or Amalek smite the hindmost; it is but that you may be drown'd in your envy, and with the floods of your own confusion, that thereby your names may be blotted out and become a curse before the Lord and his people, for all your envy and hard speeches you have spoken against the truth, slanders and false accusations you cast upon the servants thereof; though we have not desired this evil day to come upon you by persisting in your wickedness, the Lord he knoweth, and for the abominable lies thou hast cast upon us in thy book, we are content to bear them, <445> being no other thing than our portion in this world, yet that thou hast spoken them falsely, every day shall make them more manifest. And this I shall say unto them all, before all the world: if the Lord our righteousness, whose righteousness we serve in soul and spirit, do not clear us thereof by a godly conversation, then paper and ink will not; so to the Lord and into the hands of his power we refer ourselves therein.
And this I say as of the Scriptures, God is at liberty to speak to his people by them if he please, and where they are given by inspiration he doth so, and so is he at liberty to speak by any other created thing, as to Balaam by his ass, or by his own immediate voice; but of him I have learned to know his word, from that he speaks by, and not to limit him, though you have not. And this I say further, that men may read the Scriptures in the book without, all their time, and till the eye and ear be opened within, with the light of Christ, they cannot hear the words of God in the Scriptures, no nor from Christ himself were he in the flesh: his own words shall be my witness herein, John 8:47 and your practices prove it daily.
And now a word to thy brother, in the latter part of thy book, whose work is to clear the whore of Babylon from being the antichrist, and that the man of sin and the antichrist will but be a single person; such a work as none of the men of God ever undertook, but the children must plead for their mother. And yet in thy pleading for her, lest thou should injure the kingdom of the man of sin, the antichrist, thou first puts it out of question, that none needs to fear him come already; they may sleep quietly for that, and when he doth come he will be but a single man, so none that's now alive needs fear in the least that they are he, for sayest thou he will be but one man. Thus has thou cleared the world of the man of sin and the antichrist for the present, but cannot see thyself to be he who art pleading for his kingdom till doomsday (as people call it) in thy 76th page: and who art lying against the Holy Ghost, saying that antichrist will be but one man, and that he is not yet come, contradicting the Spirit of Christ, who saith, "even now there are many antichrists" (1 John 2:18). So thou art the antichrist who art the liar (1 John 2:22). And saith the Spirit, he is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son; so thy companion is one who saith, to suppose God in <446> men to teach them is an error (p. 17), thus he denies the Father to be his only teacher. And thou art another, who calls it an error to preach up the Spirit of Christ within for a teacher (p. 68), and calls it an evil spirit, and herein thou denies the Son; and many such antichrists there are in the world who both deny the Father and the Son, for he that denies the one denies both, and he is an antichrist that so doth; and no new thing it is to the children of light to see such who have received the spirit of the world in their hearts, to deny the Father and Son there to teach and lead, and these was the antichrists John saw who was gone out into the world, and so the Spirit of God and of the world could not both be confessed in one heart (1 John 4). But where the Spirit that was of God is, there Christ is confessed in heart, and God also, but who hath corrupted his ways saith in his heart, "There is no God" (Ps. 14:1). So try thy ways, and try thy words, who denies Christ within, and calls it teaching up the Spirit of Christ apart from his body, to preach Christ within, and says it's an evil spirit, to say Christ is in them; and thus the reprobate who knows not Christ in thee art become a teacher (2 Cor. 13:5). Hast thou not here showed thyself the antichrist indeed, who thus opposes Christ in his saints? Doth not he say, "Without me you can do nothing, abide in me and I in you, he that abideth in me and I in him the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without me you can do nothing?" (John 15:4-5). Doth not Christ say to the Father (touching the saints) "I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one" (John 17:23). Did Christ here preach up his Spirit apart from his body? Or was this an evil spirit, and a spirit of error as thou says it is in us? And did not all his ministers preach the same? Doth not Paul say, "when it pleased the Father to reveal his Son in me that I might preach him" (Gal. 1:16). "And Christ in you the hope of glory whom we preach" (Col. 1:27). "And know ye not that Christ is in you except you be reprobates" (2 Cor. 13:5). "My little children of whom I travail in birth again till Christ be formed in you" (Gal. 4:19). "And he that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life" (1 John 5:12). "And he that abideth in the doctrine of Christ hath both the Father and the Son." "If any come and bring not that doctrine, receive them not, nor bid them God-speed" (2 John 10:11). And was <447> this an evil spirit in all these, and many more too much to set down here? Or did they preach Christ apart from his body, as thou chargest us for the same testimony we bear now? Or were this good in them, and is it an error in us to witness the same? Oh how is the hidden things of Esau found out; are they not blind indeed who cannot see antichrist now revealing, and who he is that denies the Father and the Son, thy work and thy brothers in this book, and many such antichrists there are in the world, that deny Christ come in the flesh; and now the light reveals you, what spirits you are of. Is all your talking of Christ come to this, that if any confess him, it is called an evil Spirit and an error, and out of your synagogues must be cast? Was there ever such a blind generation, who have denied the light, the Spirit, the Father, and the Son, and now deny the letter also, that any should own what is in it declared, further than to talk on? Is it not time for all you that loves your souls to come out from amongst these blind men, who thus resist the Spirit, and thus blaspheme God in his temple, even in the bodies of his saints, calling him an evil spirit (1 Cor. 3:16-17). This blind doctrine may serve to keep yourselves in your imaginations, but amongst the children of light it can do no hurt; with the light are you comprehended, and all your dark airy spirits; the shepherd is in his flock, it's too late to tell us it's a delusion, neither can you hide antichrist nor the man of sin any longer; you are seen many antichrists who denies Christ, but who hath received the Christ the anointed, and have the unction in them knows all things, and neither you nor your mother can be hid, nor he that hath begot you, thus to plead against Christ in his throne. Blush and be ashamed you broods of Babel, and see your confusion and stop your mouths: dost not thou in thy 69th page, after thou have called it an evil spirit and an error to witness Christ within, and said it was to preach him apart from his body, &c., then sayest thou Christ doth dwell in their hearts by faith, but note (sayest thou) that faith is the substance of the thing hoped for, and so being by faith thou wouldst make people believe it's not really so, but some imagination or thought of a thing to come, and yet says, faith is the substance of the thing hoped for. Also, p. 78, where thou art pleading for the whore of Babylon not to be the antichrist, thy argument is that the whore of Babylon confesseth <448> Christ come in the flesh, so thou hast proved the whore of Babylon to be of God, for saith John expressly, "Every spirit that confesseth Christ is come in the flesh is of God" (1 John 4:2); so thou hast well proved for thy mother, if any be so blind as to believe thee; but where Christ is appeared her confession is seen to be like her children, who say he came 16 hundred years since, but if any confess him come now in them, she and her brood would murder them; but if all be of God who thus confess him, then who is not? for I never yet met with any that did not. This confession little hurts the man of sin or his kingdom in your hearts; one that confesseth the life of Christ made manifest in mortal flesh doth more trouble the devil's kingdom than all the whore's confession and his children ever since the mystery of iniquity came in; and therefore it is that this confession is death to her and her children, and the man of sin hath all his up against it where it is, and this is the cause why all this venom is cast upon us in your book, but the knowledge of Christ in our hearts bears all without trouble, yet such a body of confusion, death and darkness is amongst you since the light of Christ appeared, and you resisted it as the like hath not been seen since the world was, especially among you who once had some tenderness in you, what a work is this of yours after all your venom, to undertake to clear Babylon of the man of sin, and of the antichrist, nay to clear all the world of him, and says he is not risen, and says in your 37th page you think the fixed head of the Roman monarchy did hinder the coming of the man of sin in Paul's time, and something else hath hindered him since, for he is not risen yet by your doctrine, but being blinded by him cannot see that it's he in you that is now uttering all this confusion to hide himself in your hearts, & in others also, by denying Christ within, and setting you to look for the man of sin yet to come, which must be one man when he comes, but were you not blind indeed you might look in and see from whom it is that all this lying, slandering, and confusion, and wickedness comes that is sent out into the world; this comes not from God but from the devil and man of sin, which did you see, shame would stop your mouth from being so busy in that you know not on.
a. Thomason date: 22 Apr., 1656
b. A 17th-century hand has crossed out "rules" and written in "riches."