Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > The True Ministers Living of the Gospel
Whither are you now run for a refuge and defense for your tithes and set maintenance? Doth all your old grounds fail you that formerly you have pleaded? Are you driven out of Scriptures <342> of Christ and his apostles, out of all the law of God there, and out of law of nations and countries, and would you now fly to Melchizedek for help? What, is there no scripture command that will own you in your yearly stipends, and are you afraid of men's laws failing you, and are you now fled from all your former pleas, and think you to find help from Melchizedek? Did you not formerly plead divine right, and told us by Scriptures you would prove it, and then being driven out of all commands or examples in Scriptures, then you pleaded the custom of the country, and national law, and by that in Oliver's time you took men's goods, and cast them into prison, and made havoc and spoil abundantly, and then many of you would not plead Scripture at all, but by custom and human law you would have it? and darec you no longer depend upon that, and darec you now think Melchizedek will stand you in stead, or own you in your work and trading, any more than the prophets and apostles? What, are ye of the order of Melchizedek now, who but a while ago must needs plead the order of Levi? and then when that order and your manners will not stand together, then you pleaded the order of the nations; and now thou J.B. in thy book would make people believe that you are after the order of Melchizedek, and that tithes was yours before they were given to Levi, and that he had them but for a time by a special command, till you came, and then you were to come up after the order of Melchizedek, and so you must now enjoy them forever, &c.
But now you must be tried in the light whether you be of that order or no, as well as you have been tried with the order of Levi. And if you be found of his order, then we will grant you to have right to his maintenance (if you will be but content with it), for we must needs think it meet that children should inherit the right of their father; so if you be Melchizedek's children, you will do his works, which was to relieve the weary soldier with his own bread and wine; so you may expect his reward, if they be free to give it you, as Abram was of his spoils. For we never read that it was the order of Melchizedek to raven about after outward things, nor sued people for hire, nor spoiled their estates, nor <343> cast them into prison, nor any way sought after gifts or rewards, nor do we read that he ever required or received any yearly tithes of any people or parish, either sheaves, beasts, swine, fowls or the like, which was to relieve their families, from any creature, but as he was the priest of the most high God, not called nor made of men, so he was maintained by him, and not by men, and he was like to him that called him, a bountiful man, ready to give, ready to bless, and to relieve others in their way, as appears in what he did to Abram and his army in the way; he met them with bread and wine, and gave them freely, and asked them nothing again, and so he received freely tithes of Abram's spoils, but never can any of you prove that he had the tithes of Abram's estate, stock or tillage, nor ever demanded or sued, or took by force any part of any man's goods upon any pretense whatsoever.
So here is Melchizedek's order; if you be of it and his children, then you will own it, and it will own you, and we shall own it also in you; and in this order we find him who was of that priesthood, Christ Jesus, a priest forever after his order, who to us is an example forever; and all that walk contrary we deny, who said, "it's more blessed to give than to receive," who was bountiful in feeding others, but for himself he had not where to lay his head, this was after the order of Melchizedek, and all his are after him forever, and therefore none of his ministers did ever require anything for themselves but what was free, not coveting any man's gold, money or apparel, nor ever in the least did mention tithes to themselves, or make any yearly bargain about carnal things whatsoever, but preached freely and received freely, or nothing. And this in Scriptures we find to be the order of Melchizedek, and the order of Christ and of his apostles, if you can receive it.
But on the contrary, when we see a sort of men who never heard God's voice, running and inquiring who can get the greatest yearly stipend, tithes or augmentation, and tearing people's bodies and estates if they get it not, according to the havoc that hath been made by the priests of this nation in these late years, this was never the order of Melchizedek, Christ, or his apostles, nor the order of Aaron neither, who had a law for tithes, but the order of Eli's sons, who was sons of Belial, who knew not the Lord, and therefore sent their servants to take it by force, as now <344> hath been done, to the spoiling of many families.
So you are found further from the order of Melchizedek, Christ, and his apostles, than from the order of Levi, as far as the priesthood and ministration of Christ exceeds in bounty and freeness the ministration of Moses, so far are you come short in your orders and manners, in this covetous practice after earthly things. And you are seen to be after the order of those that minded earthly things, which the apostles foretold of, who were coming up in their time, who served not the Lord Jesus Christ but their own bellies, and made merchandise of people in their times, through covetous practices, and this hath been the order and manners of you, as your practices hath proved it in these late years, to the ruining of many families; and so your manners hath declared your order and descent, none that ever was from above doing such things.
So it's in vain to seek to cover that with words which is so monstrously broken out into contrary actions; the sheep's clothing can no longer cover your various natures, and for this end hath God left you to yourselves, that your practices may exceed, and so make you manifest to the full, and thus hath he left you, that the more you seek to cover yourselves with deceitful words, the more you give occasion for people to mind your unanswerable lives, which are become so boundless in covetousness, pride, and oppression, that neither Christ, Melchizedek, nor Moses can own you therein, nor will answer what you do; so that when you have done what you can, you must be driven back to her that brought you forth, who rides upon the beast, for no other power will own you, nor bear you in your practices. O unreasonable men, what unreasonable work have you made in these late years in this nation? what begging and petitioning have you made to every several power, to enlarge your benefits? what thrusting out one another out of great livings to get in yourselves? And when you have got in, what havoc have you made of the people's estates, and still cried to the earthly powers for more maintenance? what suing and casting in prisons of poor people? how have you cursed the great ones that was over you, when they would not serve your turn? and stirred up wars against them, till all hath been as heaps by your means? How have you flattered such as would feed you while they had power? <345> and when they fell, then you have reviled them, and crept under the next, and flattered them also; and all for tithes and augmentations and the like, which thou callest the golden oil. And yet you would have us believe you are not covetous, nor preach for lucre; and you do deceive with your feigned words such as are not able to judge between your words and your practice, and so the blind lead the blind, and you hate the light that discovers you; and we can truly say that it is not because we have wronged or falsely slanderedd you that you thus hate us above all men, but for the light that is in us, and the truth that makes you manifest. And we have God's witness with us and in us, that we hate not your persons, but your ungodly practices, and so much the more are we made to testify against you, as you seek to cover yourselves with wresting the Scriptures, and taking the name of Christ's ministers upon you, but walk in such ways as none of his ever walked in. And in faithfulness to God and godly men, we cannot allow you neither Melchizedek, Christ, nor his apostles, nor any of their words to cover you, until you come into their lives, and leave your devouring covetous practices.
And couldst thou blush, thou hadst never had a face to have quoted such scriptures in this thy book, and laid them upon the false prophets and false teachers of old, whilst thyself is found in the very same steps; so that modesty cannot but admire how thou couldst pass through them, and not be wounded in thy conscience and made ashamed; what a forehead have you got?
Or that ever thou shouldst so much as mention one scripture of the apostles, or any ministers of Christ sincee the law, to prove tithes due to a minister of Christ under the gospel, a thing which none of them ever owned, or so much as mentioned, otherwise than as to deny them; what a reprobate sense is some men now given up to, or was ever truth so perverted, contrary to the life and practice thereof?
And as for Melchizedek, whom thou wouldst make thy refuge, he will not own you, nor serve your turn, who only received tithes of the spoil of what was taken by the sword, and that but once, and that not by command nor demand, but by a free gift, upon his feeding the soldiers first with bread and wine, freely; <346> how this will afford you an everlasting law, to demand the tenth of people's labors and estates, by which they should relieve their families, and not finding them free therein, to take it by violence, they are blind indeed who sees you not therein, your false ground, and false covers.
And whereas you teachers use your tongues for your great tithes and set maintenance, and the more to prevail upon doubtful minded people, you take the apostles' words, and by putting your meanings on them, make some people believe that when they spoke of living on the gospel, they meant tithes and augmentations, &c. We say alas deceived men, you cannot deceive us therewith, for we in plainness tell you, that the practice of the true prophets and apostles gives the true and open meanings of their teachings and writings, and to that must you come before their words can own you, or we allow you their words, as to have part or possession in them, for we know the true ministers of Christ preached not for their bellies, nor their masterships, nor sought themselves, nor ever named tithes as belonging to them in any case, nor was ever augmentation in the bargain to any people, as to their preaching and gospel, nor did they claim a great house to dwell in, but in all things labored to follow their Lord and master, who had no possession in the earth, for which they left what they had of their own, to be as he was, and preached freely as he did; and this testimony is given of them in the Scriptures of truth, that they wandered to and fro, in hunger, cold and nakedness, having no certain dwelling place; and this was their reward, namely to make the gospel without charge, that it might be as free to others as they had received it of God; and they never handled the word for gain, nor taught for filthy lucre, nor made merchandise with it, as "what will you give me," Judas-like; nor had they great houses to live in, and great tithe barns to lay up earthly treasure, nor any way exercised covetous practices, but had whole churches to which they had not been chargeable at all.
Now for men to take such men's words to cover their covetous, cruel and ravenous spoil and imprisonments, would be as the taking a sheep's skin to put on a wolf's back, and then say he is a sheep, which might deceive the sheep, but could not change the wolves' nature; wherefore we cannot see the holy men of <347> God so abused and be silent, as to have their words so wrested quite contrary to the life thereof, and their godly innocent lives so wronged, as to be presented as men of such manners and behavior. So let them alone, and their holy words and godly innocent lives; abuse them not by taking them into your mouths, so as to represent them to be men of your order or behavior.
And Melchizedek, and Christ, cause not their names to be evil thought on, by making people believe them to be fathers or authors of such spoil and bondage to poor people, or of the true gospel being so chargeable; this is charged upon you all, as you will answer him in his day, when he comes in all his holy ones whom wicked men have belied; and in the meantime be ashamed of your comparing yourselves with them, and confounded in your abuse of the holy Scriptures, and of holy men's lives, for the light is come from on high, and guile is found in your mouths and earthliness in your minds.
And you that call your carnal maintenance of tithes and augmentations the golden oil (as thou dost in thy book) are seen in the light of God to be wholly ignorant of the true anointing, which should give you sight in yourselves, and so cannot lead others out of the world. And it's no wonder that you so oppose the true light; your lamp must needs be darkness when earthly things is your oil, your gold must needs be dross, and your prize below the mark of election, and corruption carries the draught in your balance, whose golden oil is earthly things. You are seen to be the men who have in you the false measure and bag of deceitful weights: how is the holy one prized in you? how is the invisible disallowed? and how have you put the price upon carnal things, whose gold is become dross, and corruption counted gold—are you the lights of these days? Or can your eye lead to immortal treasure? Or shall you be the men who must reveal that which hath been hid from ages, at whose appearance they that find him count your gain loss, your gold dross, and your oil darkness, death, and a stink.
And know you earthly minded men, that the true light is risen on his children who is the Father of lights, though your eye be yet in the earth, and your minds carnal, calling good evil and evil good, putting light for darkness, and darkness for light, as earthly minds have ever done. And it's in vain for you to <348> deceive such with chaff and dross and corruption, by your calling it gold, or by wresting Scriptures to feed such with a lie, for in us the truth is become judge and lawgiver, and hath redeemed us from lying tongues; glory and praises to the truth everlasting! And we know that tithes was the maintenance of the Jews, Levites and priests, but never of the Christians, by any command or example of Christ our head, who gave his life that to abolish,f and many other yokes of bondage which the Jews' religion lay under. And having triumphed over them all, sent out his servants in his own Spirit to proclaim freedom freely, and they gathered subjects into his kingdom, whom he redeemed without price,g to serve him freely, and of him we are, and his glory we may not give to another spirit, nor receive another gospel that gender to the earth and to bondage.
And for this it is we suffer spoil to this day, and not for covetousness, nor in despite to men, nor in opposition to any law of men, but for his sake alone, whose precious blood hath us redeemed into a better covenant and kingdom; and woe to us if we give it up to please men or save ourselves. And so being faithful we please God, and therein we have peace, and he pleads our cause and lifts up our head through all, and is with us through good report and evil report, and we have glory and joy in his reproach, and triumph over the enmity that for his sake comes upon us from all sorts of earthly minds. And we are made to contend against many beastly spirits that seeks our destruction, yet may not we give up his right and our freedom, which with his precious life he once purchased for all his, of which inheritance we have a part through the light of his grace, by which he hath called us to freedom in him as our purchased possession, which the spirit of the world would drive us from, to serve the spirit of bondage. And so here is a reason of the hope of life that is in us, before all men.
And we know assuredly, that as long as our God shall suffer men to hate us, and reproach & spoil us for this, we being faithful shall not want the Lamb's power to withstand all your deceitful words & works of cruelty, & not be tainted with your enmity, nor give up the right of his kingdom, but in perfect peace be <349> kept therein, till righteousness arise to reign and judge for the meek of the earth, who are found faithful to his coming.
Priest. John Bewick the priest, in his first answer in the second page of his book, saith, "I truly affirm myself to be a minister of Jesus Christ, because he hath called me to his ministry and hath not only endowed me with gifts essential to the ministry, but further called me by a right ordination to it, according to the way of the Church of England, and all ancient catholic churches, and according to that only rule given from God for the ordering of men's conversations heavenward, which is the holy Scriptures, of which I say, and will maintain it against all opposers, that it is the only rule given by God for ordering all men's conversations in things appertaining to God, and which leads them towards heaven."
Reply. In these his assertions he hath plainly confounded himself, and showed that he was never called by Christ to the ministry, nor endowed with gifts for it, in counting the Scripture the only rule for ordering all men's conversation in things appertaining to God, and which leads them towards heaven; wherein he hath shut himself out of the Spirit's ordering and leading, and so he is not called by Christ to the ministry, for he hath set the Scriptures above the Spirit of Truth, seeing it was that Spirit which led the saints into all truth, and by which they were made ministers of Christ, and knew the things that were freely given unto them of God, who worshipped and served God, not in the oldness of the letter, but in the newness of Spirit (John 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:12; 2 Cor. 3:6; Rom. 7:6). Also this priest in affirming the Scriptures to be the only rule for ordering all men's conversations in things appertaining to God, he would shut out all such as cannot read nor profess the Scriptures, and all those Gentiles who had not the law or writing of it outwardly, from having their conversations ordered, in things appertaining to God (Acts 10:35), and so would limit God to an outward writing or letter, when he is not to be limited, for he distributeth of his grace unto all men, for the ruling <350> and ordering of their conversations, and even such Gentiles as had not the law outwardly, but by nature did those things contained in the law, they showed the work of the law written in their hearts (Rom. 2:14-15) and so were ordered in things appertaining to God, and in obeying that righteous law of God in them, which answered the law without, they were accepted. And as for the priests of England their call to their ministry, they cannot prove it by the Scriptures, nor produce an example for it, that ever any of Christ's ministers were educated to their ministry at colleges, that were set up by the papists, as the popish priests, and the priests of England were, since the apostles' days, at which colleges they are trained up in popish rudiments, and studying philosophy and vain deceit, contrary to the apostles' doctrine (Col. 2:8). And these teachers that are thus popishly educated have denied revelations and immediate inspirations to be in these days, by which the true ministers were ordained, and called to the work of the ministry (Matt.11:27; Gal. 1:12). So that they have shut themselves both out of the Spirit, out of the Scriptures, and out of the true church, which is the general (or catholic) assembly of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven (Heb. 12:23). Again, how plainly hath this said John Bewick the priest contradicted himself? for after that he hath affirmed the Scripture to be the only rule for ordering all men's conversations, in page 29, he seems to own Christ's effectual calling men to the knowledge and acknowledgment, that he is the leader and commander, and that thou must run to him. So that from this Christ must be the orderer of men's conversations, and their leader, and not the Scriptures, for they are not Christ, but do testify of him, and are to be fulfilled by Christ in the believers, and not made a trade of as the priests do. Again, how hath John Bewick confuted himself and his brethren, where in page 144 he saith, "The holy Scriptures are the principles or chief outward means by which men come to the knowledge of those principles or truths which are in the pure religion." To which I say, then away with their preaching, which they make such a great trade of, & away with their meanings & interpretations, which they add to the Scriptures, contrary to what the words of Scripture in many places do import, or signify, as some of the priests do confess, and yet the Scriptures must be the chief outward means for attaining knowledge, and ordering men's conversations, as they say. What <351> confusion and folly is this, one while for them to profess the Scriptures to be the only rule, and another while to set themselves with their meanings as judges over the Scriptures, and thus they bring upon themselves the curse spoken of in Rev. 22:18.
Pr. "And though the Lord in these our times doth not show visible immediate judgments, ordinarily on unfaithful payers of tithes, which are Christ's dues, and his ministers for his sake, yet it is most sure that without repentance such shall lie under God's eternal curse, who live and die in their thievery of robbing God's ministers in the least parcel of their livelihood appointed unto them from God"; and as a proof of this, the priest quotes Mal. 3:8-9, and in pages 23-24 he proceeds thus, viz.: "When I and other his ministers demand of men tithes, we demand not from them any price, no not one penny out of that which is theirs, &c., and if they either detain it from us, or defraud us of any part thereof, they rob not us, but God and Christ of their due rent and homage, and as God threatens a curse to rebellious, unthankful, sacrilegious God-robbers, so his curse (except they prevent it by a speedy amendment) will overtake them maybe in this world, &c., for the flying roll of his curse is out to consume the very houses of thieves, who steal from him and others. However, everlasting confusion in the world to come will be the portion of such who repent not of their robbing God of his portion."
Rep. You may see here how hardly this priest hath threatened them that shall detain tithes from them, and called them sacrilegious God-robbers, as if he would affright & terrify people to make them pay the priests tithes; but he hath spoken falsely and deceitfully, in saying that when they demand tithes they demand not any price of what is the people's, and he hath but showed his deceit and covetous self-ends, for the paying of tithes was under the law among the Jews, and not under the gospel among the Christians, and the robbing of God in tithes and offerings, spoken of in Mal. 3, which this priest grounds his hard threats and curses upon, was also in the time of the law, when the covenant and priesthood of Levi was in force (Mal. 2), and their robbing God was when the priests were grown covetous and deceitful, and had violated the covenant, which was a cause why the tithes were not brought by the people to the storehouse, for the relief of the fatherless, widows and strangers, according to the command of God in the law; so that <352> when they withheld the tithes from the storehouse, the fatherless, widows and strangers suffered want, and were oppressed (Mal. 3). But the priests were grown great, and waxen rich, and fat, as they are now (Jer. 5:28), so that upon this account the priests who take tithes are the God-robbers, who withhold them from the storehouse, and relieve not the poor out of them as the priests under the law did, for tithes under the law was the Lord's portion given to the priesthood of Levi for their service at the tabernacle, and for the relief of the orphans, widows & strangers (Deut. 14:29; Num. 18:21); now if the priests took this course to maintain the poor, out of the tithes, we should not have so many beggars crying in the streets (and begging and complaining at the steeplehouse doors, as in this London) and up and down the nation as we have, and yet the priests are rich and fat, but the apostle preached the end of that service of the tabernacle (which was the priests offering burnt offerings and sacrifices, for their own and the people's sins, which were but a shadow, for which service the tithes were given them), and an end of that priesthood that took the tithes, and a disannulling of the commandment by which the tithes were paid (Heb. 7 & 9 & 10); so that the priests have not an example from the apostles and true Christians for taking tithes, nor from any of the believing Gentiles among the Christians, for it was the Jews' practice under the law, and the papists practice since the apostles' days, and not the Christians' practice in the true church.
Pr. "The apostle tells us that as it was ordained by God, that they of old who waited on the altar should live of the altar, so God hath ordained that they who preach the gospel should even so live of the gospel, even so comprehends in it, that in the same manner, the maintenance of the preachers of the gospel should arise, which thou may know was by tithes and offerings, by lands and houses, for them and their family."
Rep. See how deceitfully this man deals with the truth, and with the ordinance of God, who would thrust it out of its place, and instead of living upon the gospel, which God had ordained for all gospel ministers, he would set up living upon tithes, which was an ordinance of God under the law, even so living of the gospel is an ordinance of God under the gospel, which ordinances are two, relating to the several states. But from what the priest hath here laid down, the ministers of the gospel must live <353> by tithes and offerings as the priests of old did, who waited at the altar, in which he hath plainly denied Christ the one offering to be come, who ended these many outward offerings which pertained to the altar, which could not make perfect, as Christ the one offering doth; again, living of the gospel was not living by tithes, nor forced maintenance, which the priests live of, neither are tithes the gospel, neither have we the apostles' nor Christ's ministers' example for living by tithes and forced maintenance, as the priests do, which is not a living of the gospel; for they who lived of the gospel lived as God ordained, and trusted him for their livelihood, and he made way for their being relieved freely without compulsion, so that "even so God hath ordained, that they that preach the gospel must live of it," comprehends in it, that they who lived of the altar, and they who lived of the gospel, lived as God ordained them, without compelling maintenance from people as the priests do, wherein they dare not trust God with fulfilling his own ordinance, but must have an outward law derived from the pope's laws, on their sides to compel tithes and maintenance from people; so that they are so far from living of the gospel that some of them have said as much, as that if they had not a law to force maintenance from people they might starve, and thus they discover themselves to be out of God's ordinance, and are none of his ministers, who make such an idol of tithes, and put such confidence in that their maintenance, that John Bewick hath called their maintenance the golden oil.
Pr. "Truly I am like one of those holy Levites and religious priests (in those times) who did only seek and look after their dues of tithe-fleeces and other tithes," &c., but in contradiction to this, he saith in page 109, "the order of priests, of Levi and Aaron, whose priesthood was typical, to continue but until Christ (unto whom the priesthood did properly appertain) came & had taken upon him the everlasting priesthood."
Rep. Now if this priest be like one of these Levites who received tithes under the law, then he is not a minister of Christ nor of the New Testament, seeing he hath acknowledged the priesthood of Levi and Aaron was typical, and but to continue until Christ; thus hath he confounded himself herein, and showed that he is in the spirit of Antichrist which denies Christ to be come in the flesh, and so would uphold a typical priesthood, which Christ <354> ended, for he is the end of types & shadows who blotted out the handwriting of ordinances and nailed it to his cross, and openly triumphed over them. Again, how sadly hath this said priest confuted himself in pleading for tithes from the practice of the Levitical priesthood (and as one of them) since that he hath confessed "that priesthood was typical, and but to continue until Christ," as also he hath confessed in p. 111, "That that command is disannulled that gave the Levites tithes," wherein he hath cast all his former doctrine for tithes in the dust; for since that command for tithes was disannulled by Christ, he cannot show that ever God set up another since instead of it, for his ministers to take tithes of the people. But again J. Bewick the priest hath contradicted himself, in p. 116, where he saith, "The Lord hath made a law which he never yet repealed, whereby it is evident that paying of tithes is a standing thing to be done after Abraham's time. The law is this, Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of the seed that the field bringeth forth year by year. So long then as there shall be in the world fields which yields increase, the owners of them are bound to pay yearly the tithe," &c.
Rep. What a Babylonish merchant is this! who thus often confounds himself; this law which he saith God never yet repealed, appertained to the Levitical priesthood, who were to relieve the fatherless, widows, and strangers, out of the tithes, and to offer the tenth of the tithe as a heave-offering unto the Lord (Num 18:26), and this priest hath acknowledged that priesthood to be typical, and the command to be disannulled that gave the Levites tithes; thus he overthrows himself, and his Babylonish stuff about his golden oil, without which his lamp or preaching (it seems) would be extinguished, but mark now where the strength of his proof lies for tithes, as followeth.
Pr. "Though that command be disannulled that gave the Levites tithes, yet the law of tithing is not disannulled which gave Melchizedek right of tithing," &c., and he saith, "tithes originally belonged to the priesthood of Christ typed in Melchizedek, who tithed Abraham by right or law original" (page 111).
Rep. Abraham's giving tithe to Melchizedek was his giving the tenth of all the spoil which Abraham had taken at the slaughter of the kings, and this was a free gift to Melchizedek, for Abraham gave it him when he returned from the slaughter, and Melchizedek <355> met him with bread and wine, which is no law, nor warrant at all for the priests forcing the tenth of men's labors and estates from them, which are no spoils taken in war, but that which many poor men do toil and labor hard all the year long for, many of whom have scarce sufficient to maintain their families withal, and yet must be defrauded of the tenths of their labors and increase, by a company of greedy teachers. Again, see how pitifully this priest is put to it to prove their practice of taking tithes, who cannot produce any law in force, by which Melchizedek received tithe of Abraham, and yet pleads for such a law being in force still for Christ's ministers, but cannot show it in the Scriptures, though he affirm the Scripture to be the only rule for ordering all men's conversations in things appertaining to God, and in pleading for a law to be still in force, by which Abraham gave tithe to Melchizedek, he might as well plead that wars and fightings must continue still, for it was only tithe of all the spoil that Abraham gave to Melchizedek, though this priest falsely saith it was all his substantial increase that Melchizedek tithed, and yet he owns that the priesthood of Christ was typed in Melchizedek, and thus he confounds himself in pleading for a type to continue, and herein denies Christ who is the substance and end of types. Again Abraham was a faithful man, and what he did was a free gift, which is no warrant for the priests compelling tithes, from such as they count covetous and rebellious people, as this said priest hath done, neither do we believe that these covetous priests of England are such priests and kings as Melchizedek was, that is, without father, without mother, without descent, without beginning of days or end of life, as he was; so that their pleading for tithes from Melchizedek's once receiving the tenth of the spoil taken in war (which also the papists have pleaded for the mass-priests taking tithes); this is no ground nor example for their tithing as they do, who tithe calves, pigs, geese, eggs, apples, hay, wool, lambs, flax, foals, plow-pennies, bees, gardens, &c., which this said priest would fain vindicate, but cannot prove this their practice from any example or doctrine of Christ's ministers in the Scriptures; and this priest's doctrine also tends to make all the ministers of Christ transgressors, seeing he pretends a law of God still in force for their taking tithes yearly, and yet Christ's ministers did not take tithes as the priests do, but preached freely, and endeavored to keep the gospel without charge. Again, how <356> are these priests confounded and divided among themselves about tithes, which are the main pillar of their trade, one sort of them to my knowledge do deny that they have any divine right to tithes, but only like a company of sturdy beggars claims them as a free gift of the magistrates, and by a law of the nation; insomuch that from that ground they compel them from people after that they have gone a-begging to the magistrates for them; others of the priests claim tithes by divine right, as John Bewick blindly hath done like the papists, and yet when we have demanded of some of the priests to show us that law which they claim them from, and which they say was a law to Abraham for giving Melchizedek the tenth, they could not show us any such law, nor prove that ever Abraham gave tithe in that manner as to Melchizedek any more than once, but some of them have said they must presuppose a law, and some of them have said that it was a law of nature, by which Abraham so gave the tithes, and thus they confound themselves, and both have shut themselves out of the Scripture, as being their rule, and out of the steps of all the true ministers of Christ mentioned in the Scripture.
Again J. Bewick the priest, in page 111, saith, "All tithes ought to be paid unto the Lord Jesus Christ, who is an everlasting priest after Melchizedek's order, he ever liveth to be a taker of tithes."
Rep. What silly stuff is this! if all tithes ought to be paid unto the Lord Jesus Christ, then not unto you covetous hireling priests, but in this hath J.B. spoken foolishly, for Christ is the heir of all things, and the nine parts and the tenths are all his, and J.B. in counting that the tithes are paid to Christ, when they are paid to these covetous priests, herein his blasphemy appears.
Pr. Abraham's example of doing it (to wit of giving tithe to Melchizedek) though we had no intimation how oft he did it, is binding to all (who are by profession the children of Abraham according to faith), so oft to do it as they have the same grounds for doing it which Abraham had once.
Rep. If Abraham's example of giving tithe to Melchizedek once be your ground for receiving tithe, but so often as you have the same grounds for it, then from this you are but once to receive tithes, and that from such as Abraham was, if they will give you them freely, and it must be the tenth of the spoil too, after the slaughter of so many kings as Abraham slew (Gen. 14), <357> but sure you'll be hard puzzled ere you come to that; but that you are not content to rely upon, but must be robbing the poor in the meantime, many of whom you have robbed of much more than the tenths, after that you have begged the magistrate's encouragement; thus you show yourselves to be the most sturdy beggars in all the nation.
Pr. "God reserved to himself the tithe which is his annual rent and holy tribute (p. 22). The Lord Christ hath appointed his ministers to receive this his rent of tithe."
Rep. A company of bad tenants and paymasters are you then, who take tithes to yourselves, and thereby maintain yourselves and wives and children in pride and fullness, and do not give God that you call his rent, as it was given in his service, when the fatherless, widows and strangers were maintained out of the tithes in the time of the first priesthood, when the law for tithes was in force, which Christ disannulled.
Pr. "God hath given tithes unto us his ministers, as an assured comfortable provision for us here on earth, that we may attend on his peculiar service without distraction."
Rep. From this then it appears the priests would fall into distraction if they had not tithes, wherein they are manifest to be out of the life of Christ and his ministers, who had learned in every condition to be content; but these priests are never content, but one sort or other of them always murmuring and complaining in their books, or otherwise for their bellies, or for tithes for that end, which were never given them of God, but by the compelling powers and laws set up in the apostasy, since the apostles' days.
Pr. "The apostles during that time could not in equity demand tithes from them who had made over to them the possession of what they had, from whence tithes arose, and were content themselves to receive their livelihood for the future from such distributions which the apostles allowed to every man, according as they had need."
Rep. Here's deceit and falsehood indeed, for how did tithes arise to the apostles from these possessions, whenas they were not only sold for the apostles' relief, but for the relief of such among these saints as stood in need, that none might want, and thus they disposed of their estates freely, and laid the price at the apostles' feet at that time without compulsion; and the apostles had no covetous end to themselves in it, neither was it the <358> apostles' work to be distributors of the price of the possessions as falsely this priest seems to intimate, but others were appointed to be overseers in that service (Acts 6), and the apostles gave themselves to prayer and preaching the word freely; also if the priests can persuade their followers to sell their possessions, and lay the price at their feet, who shall hinder them? but I suppose the most of their hearers are wiser than so, and have not so much confidence in their priests as to trust them so far with their estates, lest they should spend it all upon their pride and lust, their insatiable covetousness being so well known to the nation.
Pr. "Know also that it is not to be found in the whole New Testament that any apostle, or that any saint, or that the saint of saints, the Lord Jesus Christ, did speak one word against tithes, or forbid the paying tithes to them who were the ministers of God's service."
Rep. That's falsehood and deceit, for the apostle Paul witnessed the priesthood changed, that had the tithes, and the law also changed, & the commandment disannulled that gave them (Heb. 7), and it was Christ in him who was the end of these things that brought him to this testimony.
Pr. "But I have them not from the pope."
Rep. That's false again, for in their original and rise since the apostles' days they came from the pope, and the priests cannot prove their practice of taking tithes from any of the apostles or true ministers' practice; so let them go to their ancestor the pope, and see what grounds he can teach them for taking tithes and forced maintenance, for they have none from the Scriptures of the New Testament.
Pr. "The word 'master' sometimes signifies one who hath absolute power and authority over every man's faith, by whose directions everyone is to be guided and ordered in matters of faith and of spiritual obedience, thus Christ only is master, none ought to arrogate to themselves 'master' in this sense; we have no dominion over their faith, but are helpers of their joy."
Rep. This is a testimony against yourselves, who set yourselves as masters over men's faith, and would have dominion over it, in your compelling maintenance and tithes from such as do not hear you, and seeking to compel them to bow to your false worship, when it is against their faith to pay you tithes or uphold <359> your worship, and yet you make yourselves such masters over their faith, as you would force them by a law to pay you tithes against their faith, and thus your deceit, covetousness, and hypocrisy is plainly seen, who dare neither trust God, your gospel, nor your hearers with maintaining you, without a compelling law to compel them, so that you are not they that live of the gospel.
Pr. "The name 'master' signifies one who under Christ is a subordinate teacher and opener unto others the counsel of God revealed (such a one by reason of his office) is called a master in Israel, thus Christ himself acknowledged that Nicodemus was a master."
Rep. What fallacy, and a pitiful proof for the priests being called of men masters is here? this intimates then that Nicodemus was then a subordinate teacher and opener unto others the counsel of God, if upon this account Christ called him a master in Israel; but how false this is any wise man may see, for when Nicodemus knew not the new birth, Christ by way of reproof asks him a question, which was thus: "Art thou a master of Israel and knowest not these things?" (John 3:10). So that then he was even such a master as the priests are, who are in the unregenerate state, and love to be called of men masters, contrary to Christ's doctrine to his ministers (Matt. 23:10).
Pr. "The people in Jeremiah's time loved to hear the false prophets and corrupt priests, who taught them lies, and secured them in their sins; they loved to have it so."
Rep. Then they loved to hear such priests as you are, who teach people lies, as thou art here proved to do, as also these priests in Jeremiah's time were such as you are in their bearing rule by their means, as you do, which was a horrible filthy thing, which you are guilty of, and do rather exceed these priests in wickedness than otherwise, for they bare rule by their means among such as loved to have it so (Jer. 5:30-31), but you bear rule so among many that love not to have it so, who are weary of your deceit and covetousness, and burdened with you and it.
Pr. "We do not flatter and soothe people in their sins, as did these false prophets; we do not as the false prophets did seek to vex those who do not afford us entertainment and embracement (Micah 3:11)."
Rep. That's also false, for you flatter and soothe people in <360> their sins, crying peace, when they put into your mouths as the false priests did, and you preach for hire as they did, but they that put not into your mouths you prepare war against them, as the false priests did, and sue men at law for tithes, and spoil them of their goods, and by some of you priests have many been cast into prisons, where some have remained till death, as many can witness in this nation; so that if this J. Bewick were not altogether blind, and hardened in his impudency and falsehood, he would not have said that they do not seek to vex those who do not afford them entertainment and embracement, as he hath done, who, notwithstanding this his falsehood, according to his own words he hath made use of the law of the nation for recovering tithes, and he can demand them of such as he judges are of a perverse, covetous, sacrilegious spirit (p. 3); thus his deceit and contrary walking to the saints is plainly manifest.
Pr. "We preach not for tithes, and money accruing to us thence, but out of love to Christ Jesus our master, and out of conscience to discharge faithfully our calling and duty, and out of compassion to our people to save them from death."
Rep. In this hath he uttered his deceit and falsehood again, for if the priests preach not for tithes and money accruing to them, what means their making bargains with people for so much money or tithe by the year, and their wrangling with their parishioners, and suing men at law, and imprisoning so many for tithes as they have done, whom they neither preach to nor do any work for? and the generality of the priests will take but little care to save the flock from death, if they have not their bargain for so much by the year, made sure ere they settle in a parish. And as for the priests consuming themselves from morning to night, and many times in the night study, in tiring their spirits, which J. Bewick complains of, I know little reason he hath thus to complain, seeing that it is such a common thing with them to preach by an hourglass (or by the hour), so that they show themselves exceeding sottish, to be so tired with studying and compiling as much matter up in a whole week as may serve them telling an hour's time; and besides that, many of them can make one sermon serve them nigh a quarter of a year or above, what pitiful shallow men are they? And "as for the priests being in mourning of their souls in secret for the obstinacy of unruly, unteachable, ungodly, <361> unconscionable sinners, who (he saith) fraudulently withhold from them their dues and rights," I say if it be so that the priests mourn so much in secret, it is but like the mourning of the merchants of Babylon, when their expectation of their gain failed them, and the priests' mourning and complaining is chiefly for their bellies, as appears this priest is troubled, because that some withhold that from the priests which they call their dues, but certain it is that many in denying to pay them tithes do it neither obstinately nor fraudulently, as he supposes, but really for conscience sake towards God, and for Christ's sake, so that this obstinacy and fraud is among the priests and their hearers, and not among such; and many are daily coming to see the emptiness and deceit of the priests' ware, that they'll not buy it as they have done, so that they are like to mourn more than ever they have done yet, for their preaching will not be so vendible as it hath been.
Pr. "The Lord said, concerning the deluding prophets, that night shall be unto them that they shall not have a vision, that it shall be dark unto them."
Rep. It is just so with the priests now, for night is so far come upon them that they neither have a vision nor any revelation from God; for they have falsely told us that visions and revelations and immediate teachings are ceased, so that the answer of God they have not, and in the very nature of these priests they are, who were not to have a vision, and over whom the day was become dark, for the priests now do bite and devour as they did, and when men put into their mouths they cry peace, peace, but put not into their mouths, and they even prepare war against men, which was the false priests' and false prophets' practice (Micah 3:5-7).
Pr. "There are false prophets that pretend they have new lights, the only revelations of God; they rail on, and revile the preachers of the gospel, many of them speak evil of dignities, and in their speakings (as I have it told credibly from some) they speak not one word tending to mortify the seed of evil in the heart; much of their multiplied words is to bid their followers detain their tithes, and such teaching doth wonderfully please men, carnally and worldly minded, and so greedy are such teachers to drain to themselves maintenance that some of them by raking together sums of money from the benevolence of their fellows, have been suddenly enriched, and after a short while of continuing in <362> this course have become purchasers of something considerable."
Rep. In these things he hath showed his spirit of enmity, but as one that hath but reported something of hearsay, and he was afraid to speak plainly out to discover those he so charges, though we know his malice is chiefly against us, but these his aspersions do not at all touch us, for we are clear from them. And no new light nor revelation do we profess, but what is of God, borne witness unto in the Scriptures of truth, and by the saints who were in the light. And neither do we rail, nor revile the preachers of the gospel, nor speak evil of dignities, for that was their practice, who were murmurers and complainers, who had men's persons in admiration, because of advantage; and such are the priests and not we; and I know of none that speak not that which tends to mortify the seed of evil in the heart, except it be the priests, and such as they are, who plead for sin to continue in all men the term of their life, which tends to strengthen the evil seed. And how can bidding people detain their tithes wonderfully please men carnally and worldly minded, whenas in so doing men are liable to sustain much more loss in their goods, yea three, or five, or ten times more than the tithes are worth, as many of the priests have sued honest men at law for tithes, and unmercifully have taken from them goods ten or twenty times more than the tithes demanded were worth, as a book entitled, The Record of Sufferings for Tithes.
So that we know of no greedy teachers, that drain to themselves, and rake together such sums of money from their followers, that thereby they have been suddenly enriched, that in a short while they have been such purchasers as he tells of, except the priests, and such greedy teachers as they are, whom we deny; and if this said priest know of any teachers that are so enriched by the benevolence of their followers as he saith, then he may discover them, and also see that they are beyond the priests, for they dare not trust the benevolence of their people, but must have an outward power and law to compel contrary to the gospel way.
Pr. "Their regarding themselves (viz., the shepherds and wicked priests of Israel) is in this wise expressed by the prophet: ye eat the fat and ye clothe with the wool (Ezek. 34, &c.). The wicked sons of Eli would not burn the fat, but would have it with flesh to roast, and by violence took it (1 Sam. 2:13-16)."<363>
Rep. Then they were just like the priests and hireling shepherds in England, who eat the fat and clothe with the wool, and make a prey upon the people, and with cruelty and force do rule over people, as the false priests and shepherds in Israel did (Ezek. 34:4), and when people give not the priests what they demand, they take it away by violence, as the wicked sons of Eli did, who were sons of Belial, who knew not the Lord.
Pr. "From Ezek 22:27, it is very probable that the wicked priests were guilty in partaking with those ravenous murderers, that is, destroyed persons, &c."
Rep. And so it is as probable now, that many of the wicked priests in England are guilty in partaking with those murders and destroying of persons that have been in this nation, when they have often called to their hearers, "Curse ye Meroz," and stirred up their hearers to fight, as falsely they pretended for the gospel, to the causing of much blood to be shed, and they have first turned to one party, and then to another, for their bellies and preferments, and not only so, but also for their bellies they have imprisoned several of the servants of the Lord till death, of late years, whose blood will be revenged upon them, and those that joined with them in their cruelty one day.
Pr. "I have not at all used either force or cruelty towards any of my people."
Rep. In this he would make himself better than his brethren the priests, who have used both force and cruelty to many for tithes, and forced many men's goods from them, whom they do no work for, and have oppressed many poor men that have scarce had sufficient to maintain their families and poor children withal; and this said priest hath not cleared himself from that ungodliness, though deceitfully he hath gone about to do it. For hath he not used force when he made use of the law of the nation to recover that which he calls his due (as he saith) and that from such as he counts covetous and sacrilegious, contrary to the apostles' practice, who received relief as it was freely administered to their necessities, by such as were taught in the word and doctrine, without forcing or compulsion, and they eat no man's bread for naught (2 Thess. 3:8), which is contrary to the priests' practice, who take tithe corn and other things by force from them whom they do no work for, and who have no benefit by their teaching; but the Lord <364> has promised that such evil beasts (who rule with force and cruelty over people) shall cease out of the land (Ezek. 34:4,25).
Pr. "Though iniquity of the time should so far prevail as to obtain the abrogation of those very laws of this nation which empowers ministers to plead for, and to recover their rights, God who setteth us ministers on his work will care and provide for us, either by ordinary or extraordinary means."
Rep. What, do the laws of the nation empower the ministers to plead for and recover tithes now? when in other places this said priest hath pleaded for tithes as a right from Melchizedek's example, and now he is fled to the law of the nation to plead for tithes by, which was not the ministers of Christ's rule who preached freely, and kept the gospel without charge, so that the mass priests can bring as strong a proof for their receiving tithes as he hath done; and it does not appear that the priests would be willing to rely upon, or trust to the care of God to provide for them, if the magistrates did not provide for them by a law, and compulsion, seeing the priests do show such a bad testimony of their relying upon God when they dare not trust him, but must compel and force maintenance from people, as they do; and as for his pretending to trust to extraordinary means, we know that the priests have often denied such means, so that in this he does but contradict his brethren, and thus his confusion appears.
Pr. "They of whom the apostle speaks (Rom. 16:17), the steps which they took were these: 1) a hypocritical pretending that they served the Lord Jesus Christ; 2) a real intending to serve their own bellies, by causing divisions and offenses, for cramming with delicates their belly, and for pampering their flesh and its other lusts, &c."
Rep. And of these things these priests now are evidently guilty, who under a hypocritical pretense of serving the Lord Jesus Christ, do really intend to (and do) serve their own bellies and mind earthly things (Phil. 3:18-19), & do cause much division among people, by pleading, suing, wrangling for tithes, whereby they cause offenses contrary to the gospel, and cram with delicates their bellies, and pamper their flesh and its lusts, that they are waxen fat as the false priests were, in so much that it's hard for many of these fat priests to preach till the hourglass be run out.
Pr. "These wicked seekers, to pervert the believing Romans, <365> were addicted and were resolved to serve their lusts, in seeking to be from any sort or faction of people, provided for their flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof."
Rep. That is evidently the priests' practice, who can wrangle with and sue any sort of people in their parishes for tithes, and this priest is not clear of that, who can take tithes of such as he counts covetous, sacrilegious, and rebellious; and they have grossly made spoil and havoc of the goods of them called Quakers, whom they falsely account heretics and deceivers, so that according to their own account they care not from what sort of people they be provided for; thus all along this priest Bewick speaks against themselves and yet sees it not.
Pr. "Our words both in comfortings & threatenings do all of them in their very tendency seek to breed and keep among our people an holy union in heart and affections and in all holy conversation, &c. We serve not our bellies but the Lord Jesus Christ."
Rep. Here J. Bewick thou and thy brethren would feign yourselves just men, but we cannot believe thy bare words and justifying yourselves in words, except we had a better testimony from your conversations than we have; for how can it be that your words do tend to keep an holy union in the hearts of people, or that you serve not your bellies when you mind earthly things, which they that do, their God is their belly (Phil. 3:18-19). And you threaten people for your own ends and bellies, as thou hast done when thou hast threatened them with an eternal curse and everlasting confusion that deny you tithes in the 3rd and 24th pages of thy book; and this your pleading for tithes tends not to union but to division, for because thereof there is much division, and people's affections are much taken off from you.
Pr. "Our speech and preaching is not with enticing words of man's wisdom but in the demonstration of the Spirit."
Rep. That's false, for much of your learning hath been to get words of man's wisdom and inventions, which you use in preaching; and what spirit is it you demonstrate from, since you have not the same Spirit that was in the apostles and holy men of God, as several of you have said? But mark how in page 94 thou contradictest thyself, where thou tells of wearying your flesh with much studying & beating of your brains, so that it's evident you do not preach in the demonstration of the Spirit of truth, for your <366> studying and preaching depends more upon your own brain, & upon the flesh, than upon the Spirit, as those that speak a divination of their own brain & not from the mouth of the Lord.
Pr. "I can boldly and truly say I have taught my people nothing but the word of truth, which tends to conform their persons and lives to the holy will of God in all things."
Rep. Thou boasts of thyself mainly J.B. but what thou sayest is false, for thou art here reproved for several things in thy book which are not true, as many more of thy words are. Also how hath thy teaching been to conform persons and lives to the holy will of God in all things, when it is openly known that the most of you hireling priests contend and plead for sin, as if none might be free from sin & perfect, so long as they live, contrary to the true ministers' doctrine. And do not you then promise things unperformable against thy own words, when you exhort men to press on to perfection, and labor to be clean, and then tell them they cannot be clean nor perfect on this side the grave.
Pr. "I can truly say as the apostle did, I have coveted no man's silver nor gold nor apparel."
Rep. Thus thou often justifies thyself and compares thyself with the apostle, but we cannot believe thee, nor such as thou art; for the true apostle was never hired at a place for so much a year for preaching, nor pleaded for tithes nor sued men at law, nor set out so many great books for tithes as thou and other priests have done for your bellies, which is an exceeding shame for you if you were not very impudent.
Pr. "I challenge the whole world as Samuel did the Israelites, here I am, witness against me before the Lord, whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? So I can truly ask whose sheep or whose lamb or whose cow or whose calf, or whose horse have I taken? or whom have I defrauded or whom have I oppressed?" &c.
Rep. This priest Bewick would always be setting a fair face upon their dirty cause, and deceitfully herein would make himself more innocent than the rest of his brethren the priests, who many in this nation can witness against, for oppressing them & taking from them both oxen, sheep, lambs, cows, calves, horses, and for defrauding many of much more than the tithe came to; so that seeing these priests would so fain be numbered among the holy men of God, and compare themselves with them, as with Samuel <367> and others; therefore I challenge all the priests in England to come forth before all the people in their several parishes, and let them challenge them all, as Samuel did all Israel when he was old and gray headed, and let every one of the priests say as he did, "Behold here I am: witness against me before the Lord, whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind my eyes therewith? and I will restore it you"; and when the priests have given such a challenge, then let them see if the people can justify them as Israel justified Samuel's innocency from these things, when they said, "Thou hast not defrauded us nor oppressed us, neither hast thou taken aught of any man's hand" (1 Sam. 12:1-4). Now if the priests of this nation dare not give such a challenge to the people, let the people of this nation note that they are neither in the life nor practices of the holy men of God, and hard would it be for the priests to restore all the ungodly gain that they have taken from people by fraud and oppression, however in this they are tried.
Pr. "I and faithful ministers are not in the way of Cain's cruelty, &c. I and other faithful ministers are not in any of these particular courses in which Balaam walked" (pages 82-83).
Rep. We know that faithful ministers are not in the way of Cain nor Balaam, but among faithful ministers hast thou often hypocritically reckoned thyself; and you priests in this nation are neither clear from the way of Cain nor Balaam, while you are in their nature, in envy, and covetousness, envying and hating such as differ from you, and many of you have been the cause of some of God's people suffering in prisons till death of late years, whereby Cain's cruelty hath appeared in you, and this may be made appear hath been for your own ends and bellies; and in Balaam's way you evidently appear, coveting after the wages of unrighteousness, and having men's persons in admiration because of advantage, as they had whom Jude cried woe unto, who were in Cain's way and Balaam's way (see Jude's epistle).
Pr. "David did not cast his body (as I hear some Quakers do) into trembling fits, and quaking shaking postures."
Rep. They that have reported that the Quakers have cast their bodies into trembling fits, they have reported falsely, and are mockers and despisers of the work of God as thou J.B. art, <368> for it is the power of God which caused David and the true prophets and apostles to tremble, which have caused many of them whom God regards to tremble in this age; and they may be ashamed who sing David's words in meter, which do testify of David's flesh trembling, and of his quakings, and yet mock and reproach them who are come to witness trembling by the same power as David and the holy men did; and touching singing Psalms, note a few things which John Bewick hath laid down.
Pr. From Eph. 5:18-19 and Col. 3:16; Jas. 5:13 he saith, "The apostle in all these places points us to the book of Psalms, viz. the Psalms of David, Asaph, and other holy men of God."
Rep. In these things his ignorance, and perverting the minds of the simple appears, for in these scriptures there is no mention of the apostles pointing them to the book of Psalms, for the apostle directed the saints to the word of God in them, who were a people that were sanctified, and not a company of proud, covetous, earthly minded and wild people, such as the priests give David's prayers, prophecies, and complaints to, to sing in rhyme and meter in their assemblies; and it was the word of God in the saints that was the ground of their singing, and they sung, and prayed, and edified one another, as that word or Spirit of God in them led them, and not by the traditions of men without, as they who now sing such a Psalm or such a prayer or complaint of David, as a proud priest or a drunken clerk do give them in, which is a miserable dark way of worshipping, and nowhere owned in the Scriptures of truth. And as for the singing David's psalms, and the songs of the temple, they were used in the time of the law, and first covenant, when they used to praise God upon the outward instruments, as the harp and psaltery, and ten-stringed instruments, and organs, &c., as David in his psalms instructed, which outward instruments were but figures of an inward melody, which the saints in the new covenant enjoyed who worshipped God in the newness of the Spirit, & not in the oldness of the letter, and made melody in their hearts to the Lord (without these instruments), and in the Spirit of truth they felt a remaining joy and praising of God when the outward temple and the songs of it were ceased.
Pr. "The apostles recommending these psalms to be sung doth plainly intimate that they thought that these psalms did comprehend fit matter for every singer to meditate upon for his <369> edification, and also they approved of their use in meter with musical accents and cadencies."
Rep. This is but like the rest of his imagined stuff, and without any direct proof of Scripture, for neither he nor any of the priests have ever yet proved that the apostles ever recommended David's psalms and experiences in rhyme and meter to people as they do, but rather directed them to the Spirit of God in them to teach them; for since the apostles' days were David's psalms, prayers, prophecies, lamentations and complaints of his wastings, roarings and tremblings turned into meter by Thomas Sternhold and John Hopkins and others, and their invented musical accents and cadencies used in singing in the popish mass-houses here in England, which the priests have no example for from the holy men of God in Scripture; and in the priests' assemblies proud people in singing David's psalms say they are not puffed in mind, and scorners say they have no scornful eye (Ps. 131). And drunkards and gluttonous persons say they humble their souls with fasting (Ps. 35:13-14) and tell God they lament and go mourning all the day long, when they are at that very time singing and making themselves merry with these complaints of David. And they tell God that their flesh is wasted from off their bones (Ps. 102:4-5) when their eyes stand out with fatness; and that they are clothed with sackcloth (Ps. 69:11-12) when many of them are in their silks with their ribbons and silver and gold lace about them; and thus the people are caused to err, and to walk in darkness by their teachers.
Pr. "And in that the apostle saith, 'If any man be merry let him sing psalms,' it is evident that the world of men as well as the church of saints are enjoined by the outward melody of their voice to express the inward music of their glad hearts."
Rep. If the world of men (as well as the saints) be enjoined by singing psalms to express their inward gladness, as drunkards, swearers and the like, who are of the world, express their inward joy by singing psalms, and so the wicked who cannot rejoice in God must express their carnal and vain joy—Oh! what pitiful stuff is this the priest hath uttered, and what liberty hath he given to deceit and wickedness, hereby to transform itself into a pretense of godliness and of worshipping God; and seeing the apostle exhorted the saints to sing with grace, and said we will sing with the Spirit, this was not to the world who are out of the Spirit; <370> then what spirit must the wicked sing with, and from what in them must they praise God? seeing that the priests do not own that the wicked have any spiritual light or saving grace in them, and yet they cause such to sing as they count so void of grace, which the apostles writ not their epistles to. Surely their ignorance and want of understanding is easy to see herein. And James his saying "Is any among you afflicted? let him pray; is any merry? let him sing psalms" (Jas. 5:13); he did not speak this as to be fulfilled by the world but by the brethren, who could be merry in the truth. So if any among them was afflicted he might pray, if any was merry he might sing; so here was affliction to be known among them, before the mirth; so that in this the apostle did not encourage the wicked and profane to express their gladness in singing David's experiences in meter as the priests do.
Pr. And in thy 135th page thou says, "That it's by divine appointment, that as Christ's ministers are to be lights on a candlestick, pouring out the oil of their labors, in their lightsome informations of people; so Christ's anointed people are placed by his providence as olive trees, emptying the golden oil of maintenance for his ministers out of themselves."
Rep. In which assertion of thine these things are to be minded: 1) That the labors and informations of Christ's ministers are to be lightsome, or to inform people of the light; then all who labor to inform people against the light are by divine appointment not Christ's ministers, nor answering his end, and so have no right to his maintenance; 2) That seeing thou sayest, "it's the anointed people that are placed by his providence to maintain his ministers out of themselves," then are they that have not received that anointing free, and not within that divine providence; so out of thy own mouth are you judged, who sue and spoil and imprison such as you call heretics, carnal men and unbelievers, none at all escaping that come within your reach: this is not by divine appointment. And the last thing to be minded (which is more remarkable than ordinary) is thy confession to what you look upon to be your golden oil, namely your maintenance—which though it is a thing which by the Spirit of truth we knew without your confession, viz., what it was that anointed your wheels and made so many run unsent, and by the same Spirit of light and truth which showed it to us, have we been made to tell you of it, yet how oft have you <371> called us liars? and said we reproached you, and said both in words and writings that you did not preach for hire or maintenance, which very thing out of the people is now confessed to be your golden oil, of which they are to empty themselves into you, and this (sayest thou) is by divine appointment; and so they who do not freely empty themselves, you do it by force, as indeed some of you have done to purpose, so that little of this golden oil you have left in whole families, but have filled them with nakedness and hunger, having taken from them of that which should have fed and clothed them to the value of some sixty, some eighty, some an hundred £, some above; and it's not a few in these late years who have been thus emptied of your golden oil; behold your light and your candlestick, on which you are set before all men.
Pr. In thy 145th page thou affirms that "the very places where Christians meet to perform service to God are in holy Scriptures called churches."
Rep. And thou brings but one proof for it, which is 1 Cor. 11:22; and in that thou confounds thyself, and speaks truth and knows not; for says thou, "Thus the apostle speaking of the assembly of the Corinthian church, &c." To which I say, if he spoke of the assembly, then not the place, for the assembly is not the place—so thy tongue bewrays thee. And further, if thy words be true that every such place is a church, then is there many churches, being that there is many places both in private houses, fields, streets and mountains, and by the seashores, where Christians have met to perform service to God, and enjoy his holy ordinances. So out of thy own mouth be thou judged, who would bind people to your steeplehouses alone as churches, when there is innumerable more churches than they are, and according to thy own argument people may be at church and never come at steeplehouse; so thou art caught in thy own drag with which thou would pull other to thee; yet do we that are spiritual know that the true church is in God, and wherever people are gathered in Spirit and truth him to worship in Spirit and truth, there is God's church (without respect of places) and nowhere else. And so are the words of Christ and his apostles (John 4; Thess. 1:1). And neither in that place thou mentions, nor anywhere else, doth the apostles call any place without the people a church of God, but on the contrary saith, "God dwells not in temples made with hands, nor is he worshipped with <372> men's hands" (Acts 17:24-25 and 7:48). So thy assertion is turned back as false, and the truth receives not thy testimony. And whatever may be called a church or churches, in the apostles' times, your steeplehouses cannot be they, not one of them being then builded, nor long after, till popery came up. So it's by thy foundation thou must seek to stand, for the Scriptures knows thee not herein, nor will the Spirit bear thy carnal comprehensions, only thy false glosses may keep blind people in conscience of the idol, for which thou must account to God in his day; and that the apostle calls thy steeplehouse the church of God must needs be a lie, none of them being built nor known till many years after the apostles' decease, but many such shameless assertions thou hast in thy book, which reasonable men would blush to affirm.
Pr. As in page 117, thou affirms, "That though the worship and service is changed, which was in the time of the temple, and after at Jerusalem, yet the maintenance which they had is continued, and to be continued to the ministers of the gospel."
Rep. Which is a two-fold lie, for it discontinued all the time of the apostles, and all the time after till popery begun to arise, neither is it to continue, for the apostle expressly says, "The priesthood being changed, there is also made of necessity a change of the law" (Heb. 7:12). And if the same be continued to you, where is the heave shoulder and the wave breast, which was the priest's portion? Where is your meat-offerings made by fire, which the priests eat in the holy place, which was their due? And where is your goat of the sin-offering that you eat in the holy place, that you may bear the sins of the people? and many other things which would be too tedious to mention, which you not having, out of thy own thou art disproved, and the thing is discontinued which was their maintenance.
Pr. In thy 149th page thou confesses, "as thou never heard the voice of God, as did the prophets and apostles." Yet thou sayest, "Thou hast communicated that very voice which others heard"; I say, then hast not thou stolen it from another, as the false prophets did and false teachers of old, who used their tongues, said, "Thus saith the Lord," when they never heard his voice, nor saw his shape, nor had the word of God abiding in them? as thou may read (Jer. 23; John 5:37-38; John 8:37).
And thou sayest, "God hath ceased in these latter days to <373> speak any more, as he did of old by immediate voices and extraordinary ways, for he speaks now to his people by his Son which is God." I say this is Babel's voice; what, is God now become dumb, and speaks no more, and yet speaks by his Son, who is God, and yet not immediate, not extraordinary? what shifts is he put to, who setteth and stands in the way to oppose between God and his people? What, is not the Son of God immediate, and yet thou sayest he is God, and not extraordinary? But (sayest thou), "This is a spell or speech by which he now teaches." So thy God is dumb, and now speaks by a spell; here is thy God's definition. And now seeing it is so, why are you so offended, and calls us railers, when you are told that you know not the living God, nor his Spirit in you, nor did you ever hear his voice, nor he speak to you, but you run unsent, and God hath not spoken to you, nor have you his word abiding in you, to wit the word which liveth and abideth forever, which is not dumb nor changeable; but that word you have, you have it from your neighbors or take it out of books, or speak by a spell, as thy own words are.
And for that which is perfect thou clears thyself of it, and expressly says, "Thou believes the Scriptures speaks of that which is perfect, to which they only are come who are in heaven, but thereunto they who are on earth have not come," which is all one as to say either that Christ is not perfect, or else that none can come to him while on earth; and so all them who were come not only to Christ, but to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, who was then on earth, all them thou hast in print denied, and bears thy witness against them and their testimony (Heb. 12:22-23), and they are all with us against thee; and thou that's come to naught that's perfect, thy root must needs be rottenness, and naught that's perfect is to be expected from thee.
And concerning sin, thou affirms no man on earth can be freed from it, and thou brings Solomon's words to prove it, "there is not a just man on the earth that doth good and sinneth not"; (sayest thou) the meaning is he sinneth in doing good, to which it's answered if none can be free, then all must be servants as Christ hath said (John 8:34), and the servant of sin is free from righteousness; and if doing good be sin, then by the rule of contraries, doing evil must be righteousness: this doctrine makes for the author of sin and his kingdom, but against the kingdom of <374> Christ and his truth, and thereby thou art seen, thy workmanship, and who is thy master; and many such meanings you have, to keep sin up while people live, that they may die therein, which I say was never the work of God's righteous servants, from whom you are known by your works and doctrines, as in former days such have been, who was ministers of sin, and its upholders in the world as the false teachers ever was, such as could not cease from sin, and so we need not to go to pope to find the man of sin, as thou wouldst have us, in 149th page, for he is found nearer.
As for any revelations immediate at this day, thou sayest thou disownest them; for sayest thou, "Christ hath finally recorded the whole counsel of God," &c., which is all one as to disown any to know God at this day, seeing Christ hath expressly said that no man can know the Father but by revelation (Matt. 11:27). And if Christ have recorded his whole & final counsel in the letter, then it's to no purpose to wait on the Spirit for counsel; what stuff is here? Did ever minister of the Spirit and life teach such doctrine as this is? Dost thou not here with all thy power set thyself to keep people from the knowledge of Christ in them, and the teachings of his Spirit to make void, & so keep people in a reprobate state, as all are who know not Christ in them, and they that have not his Spirit are none of his (2 Cor. 13:5; Rom. 8:9). So finding thee in all these things, contrary to the doctrine of Christ & his apostles, I recommend to thee thy own words (p. 164), where thou defines antichrist, saying "He who is antichrist is one who transgresses the doctrine of Christ, and abides not in it, and he is also a deceiver and hath not God and Christ." So out of his doctrine thou art found, and God and Christ thou hast not, who never came to aught that's perfect, and so thyself must needs be that deceiver.
And whereas thou sayest in p. 161 "that we disown and deny the man Christ Jesus, and that we speak contemptuously of him, and of his body," &c., we say his witness in our consciences testifies against thy lies and slanders therein, & we have peace therein, and all that knows us shall testify with us, and against thee for a false accuser, and this must thou bear, and thy lies touch us not; and much like to this is thy slander in p. 162, where thou accuses us for denying the holy Scriptures, which is so knownly false we need not a further answer.
And much more confusion, falsehood, and absurdities there <375> are in thy book which we could lay open, but we pass them by as not worth mentioning, yet we know that they must at length be thy own burden. And now the day is so far risen which hath so much discovered you hireling priests, and your deceits, that we need write the less to you, for the eyes of many thousands are now open to see your shame and nakedness, and your folly and confusion appears more than ever, who have so long set up yourselves in your pride and covetousness, and are grown so fat and lofty that one is like to devour another.
And many of you that have professed yourselves to be of the reformed ministry are so afraid to lose your places, and be cast out by them called Episcopal ministers, that you in your hypocrisy are fain to conform to them in things which you have absolutely denied, as many of the Presbyterian priests so-called have turned to the Book of Common Prayer and other old ceremonies to please the Episcopal party and to save their places, and so in building up again that which they have thrown down, they openly make themselves transgressors, and yet when many of you have done what you can in bowing and cringing under that which you have openly preached against, you must be overcome and cast out one of another notwithstanding; so that it's apparent the hand of the Lord is against you, and a line of confusion is stretched over you.
Therefore let all people who love their souls deny you and come from among such barren mountains, and broken cisterns that can hold no water, as you are who have not strengthened the diseased, neither have you truly healed that which was sick, but with force & with cruelty have ye ruled over them. Therefore all people who desire after life to your souls, come to the light of Christ in you, that with it you may be led unto Christ the chief shepherd, who will feed his flock himself, and carry his lambs in his arms, and gently lead them that are with young. This is the good shepherd who lays down his life for his flock, and he is the door into the sheepfold, and everyone that comes in by him shall go in and out and find pasture.
From us who are witnesses against deceivers and their
unrighteous doctrines and ways, but friends to the
true ministers, and to all that love the way of truth,
G. W. & J. N.
a. By George Whitehead & James Nayler.
b. Whitehead reduces the title page to:
"A word of reproof to the ministers of the nation, whose kingdom is already shaken and divided against itself [preceding the distinction of the true ministers—from the false. Writ by G. W. and J. N. in reply to J. Bewick]
"Being a word to the said John Bewick, and the rest of his brethren the hireling priests, who are in his way."
c. An "Errata" list says to change one of these occurrences of "dare" to "do," but doesn't say which. Whitehead doesn't make the change.
d. W. changes "slandered" to "rendered."
e. W. changes "since" to "under."
f. W. changes "that to abolish" to "to abolish them and that priesthood."
g. Whitehead changes "price" to "money."
h. This part of the pamphlet is not included in Whitehead's collection.