Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > A Message from the Spirit of Truth
You lovers and followers of the light, to you is this message sent, in it abide, that the glory of the only begotten of the Father you may behold, and be changed from glory to glory. Fill not your heads, but feel the life of what in this following paper is declared. For though the thief, the boaster, the proud and exalted ones have, or may cover themselves with like words; yet this birth never was, is, or shall be brought forth but by the espoused virgin, pure, chaste, and spotless, true and abiding innocency, far distant from all feigned purity, which many being puffed up in their vain minds have, or may intrude into things they know not, and so deceive the simple by a voluntary humility, and worshiping of angels; these hold not fast the head which gives the life to every member: he that is without beginning of days, or end of life, by whom and for whom all things were made: to him shall every knee bow, who filleth all in all, of whose fullness he hatha received, grace for grace, who in these following lines salutes the whole elect of God everywhere, plentifully giving forth of the great mystery of godliness, hidden from ages and generations, now made manifest to the meek and upright in heart, who in the unfeigned love abide which endures forever.
Dear friends, brethren and sisters, of the seed of Abraham, partakers with him in the holy call, and who in his faith wait for that glory and inheritance immortal, which every one of you shall receive at the appearance of the great God, and his Son <51> Jesus Christ, to you all be peace, truth, and love increased, wherein you may be established to the end of your calling.
That which is set before me in the Spirit of truth, and for which my soul travails and breathes after in the whole creation (but especially in you who are already called thereunto) I am moved to impart unto you, thereby to stir you up earnestly to press on towards the appearance of that to which you are called in one, which is no other than what hath been holden forth from the beginning, even the only begotten of the Father, filled with grace and truth, for the obtaining whereof you that are faithful have denied the delights of this present world and do daily undergo the enmity thereof. Of whose appearance many of you have received a certain hope which cannot be shaken, and a measure of him some are come to in the same Spirit, who have seen, felt, and handled of his appearance, and have received of his fullness, wherein alone you excel and are able to hold forth that life in the power of obedience, meekness and fear, which no form nor knowledge without is able to bear or bring forth, which is that alone wherein I rejoice in you, and not only so, but find cause in heart to magnify that goodness and glorious power of God, already manifested in you and through you to the world, whose praises will daily increase as his virtues appear in you, which that you and all the number of called ones may increase in, and grow to the age,c stature and full appearance of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, is the full desire of my soul, and that which will give us an assured joy and perfect peace in one, when knowledge will vanish, and that which is in part shall be done away.
Wherefore you that have received the Spirit of prophecy, and that light out of darkness, which lets you see what manner of one the Son of God must be at his appearing in Spirit and power, holiness and great glory, I beseech you that none of you sit down at rest in this fight, nor be you puffed up therewith, as though you had already attained, lest thereby the enemy prevail to exalt you above what is meet, and so others, less in wisdom, who are more lowly in spirit step in before you, and obtain that crown and glory to which you were called, and so while you feed on the knowledge you lose the life, but that every one wait in the light to feel <52> the power and life of the Son of God manifest in your bodies, giving you victory over your own spirits, and raising you up out of death into the life of the prophecies, that you may all know the true worship in Spirit, and what you bow unto, that henceforth you may be servants of righteousness, begotten and not made,d which only hath food able to satisfy your thirsting souls, that you may all feel the only begotten of God in virtue and power, working mightily the work of the Father, and destroying the work of the devil in every particular, for hereunto were you first called, that you should inherit eternal life and power, the true riches of grace in righteousness, and to receive a kingdom that cannot be moved, but that is able to keep you against all assaults of the enemy, which riches is God's only begotten, in whom is received of the perfect fullness of God, which is only able to satisfy all fears, and supply all wants, in all who attain to his appearance.
And further, I beseech you that you satisfy not yourselves only with a feeling of this working in you, but that you diligently attend an entrance thereinto, that you may put him on whom the Father begetteth and formeth in you, that your souls may be bathed and anointed therein. And not only so, but that you bring him forth before all men, even him the only begotten Son of God in meekness, longsuffering, in patience, in righteousness, in godly holiness, and all his virtues; the living image of him by whom he is begotten: that it may appear to all men whose you are and who possesseth the vessel, and what he is that appears therein; that it may be seen and confessed that God is in you of a truth, revealed in his only begotten; for this is he, to whom at his appearance every tongue shall confess, and every heart be struck with fear; though the form of his beauty and visage of his glory hath (amongst false births and feigned professions) been more marred than any man's, who instead of bringing forth into the world the only begotten of God, to convince and condemn the world of all ungodliness, and save them from it, have brought forth the conceivings of their own brains, and the child born to them is no savior, but their birth hath left them in the world, and one with <53> it, who are now turning the words of Christ against his works, and their power to withstand his appearance in others, who is the same which was, and is, and is to come to all generations.
So that instead of holding forth that spiritual power of perfect redemption from above, to save his people from their sins and set them at liberty from the bondage of corruption, to serve God in the new man, the Son of righteousness, of peace, and holiness, God's image, there appears the son of wickedness, in every form, at liberty and pleaded for, the image and power of all unrighteousness and ungodliness, preached and set up: so that the very faith and hope of God's appearance in their generation is destroyed. So these not waiting in faith, single in the begettings of God from above, to see in patience that formed, born and brought forth, but mixing with their reasonings and wisdom from below have not attained his appearance, but have turned the truth of God into a lie, his glory into shame; wherefore God hath given them up to believe their own conceivings. And you hath he called into that glorious hope and powerful faith, wherein you now stand; and them he hath left to be heirs of the corruptions of this world, which they have minded more than himself; where now many of them are the great opposers of his appearance, who were once called to bear a measure of his testimony in spiritual life and power.
And now, dear friends, the called of God you are, unto the day of his coming, whose light hath shined out of darkness giving you a knowledge in this great mystery and hope, and a power you have received from above, whereby you are come nearer the day than those before you, and many have denied the world and their inheritance, that you might stand single in hope thereof. Now the day is yours if you be watchful and faithful thereto, that you mix not with the earthly seed nor bring forth a false birth, but that your hearts be single and open to receive him from above, the heavenly seed in the will of God, and not of yourselves; the Son of righteousness, the Father's glory, who hath the living image and power of God, to make all sons and daughters of the most high, conformable to himself, and heirs with him of the same kingdom, glory and power; even as many of you as so receive him as to put him on as he is, and so walk in him as the begotten of God, children of the most holy, whom he hath counted worthy of so high a calling as to receive his name, power and <54> glory, and to bear testimony what he is before all men, and to hold forth the power that you have in his name and image, above all names and forms, in heaven or in earth; and this with all diligence, meekness, and fear, lest Satan deceive you of that simplicity that is in him, and so you come short of his glory and others be called. Now quit yourselves as the beloved of God, cast off every weight which would hinder your attaining him, that in the light is set before you; crucify every affection after the earthly, and put away all the cares and pleasures that would choke this seed, and whatever would mix in your minds or plead for a place in your hearts, let it be to you as an accursed thing, that the blessing of Abraham may come upon you, and through you to manifest to all the world, and that the holy name of Christ may be glorified in you, which hath long been polluted through such as have professed it in a contrary nature.
For this is he to whose appearance in the world every tongue shall be made to confess, and the angels of God shall worship him, for he is the glory of God and power of righteousness in heaven and in earth, God's love and good will amongst men; and in him is the Father revealed whom no eye hath seen. You that have received him and hold him forth are the light of the world; let him shine to the glory of your Father. It's you that hold forth the foundation of faith; he being lifted up will draw all men to him: hold him forth clearly, as you receive him from above, and there is that in every conscience that will answer to his appearance, for God hath not left him without witness. So that he that believes not is condemned already in himself, because he believes not in that only begotten of God, whom the Father hath sent into the world. If he do not that work in you, which none other can do, then how should any believe or confess that it is he? But at his appearance his works shall declare him and leave all without excuse.
His righteousness, his meekness, his patient sufferings, his lowly mindedness, his faith and obedience to the Father, his love and tender compassion towards all men, being richly furnished with all manner of godliness, shall declare him whose image he bears, and whose Son he is, and from whence he comes, for the earth hath not those fruits, power and glory. Thus shall he be glorified in his saints and admired in all them that believe and receive his testimony; and in this birth you shall not only save <55> yourselves but hold forth salvation to all that hear thereof.
Wherefore as you profess that holy calling above others, so in fear of God take heed what you bring forth; be sober and watch diligently in that which is from above, lest the enemy prevail to mix somewhat of your own to hold forth in his name, that hath not the nature, power, nor purity of the Son of God, and that being above spoil you of his appearance and mar the true image, which you will find the envious one seeks to devour upon all occasions, that alone having power over the head of the serpent; wherefore see that you be covered with him alone, as he is from heaven.
But above all things, I beseech you put him on as he is the Son of God's love, and so hold him forth towards all men but especially towards the brethren, so much the more as this being that which the enemy hath cast long upon the children of light (to wit) want of love, taking his advantage while the way hath been preparing thereto, and the Spirit of judgment and burning hath passed on the old building; a time of sorrow and pulling down, dressing the house where love should dwell. So that though the root of the matter was in it, yet could not in that time spring forth towards others, nor indeed be fully shed abroad in the heart, while that is there which God hates, which love many have now received, and it is full time to bring forth him so begotten in you, lest any selfishness appear in his stead, and so prevent you of that which is most excellent. But that you all may put him on, as he is manifest from the Father's bosom, and that you be clothed therewith, from heaven, so plentifully that you may have to cast over a brother's nakedness a garment of the same love, who came from above to lay down his life for his enemies, and of the same power, who can forgive sins and offenses above seven times a day, beholding each others with that good eye which waits for the soul and not for the sin, which covers and overcomes the evil with the good, that with him you may be perfect in love, judging and receiving one another in the increase of God, and not in that which is for destruction, giving more abundant honor to him that lacketh, that in the body be no schism, nor defile one another, nor keep alive a brother's iniquity, nor blot out the name and appearing of the holy seed in the least; but keep the Lord in your eye, and the evils shall die and vanish away from amongst you, and the appearance shall be the <56> Lord's, and to him shall the gathering of the nations be; hungry souls shall see and be satisfied with his likeness, and all that behold his beauty shall confess unto him, and in him shall the upright heart delight, for at his coming shall he establish the throne of righteousness, and measure every appearance, and correct every false judgment, and that which ensnares the simple will he cast out, for by the power of his appearance shall everything be tried, and peace proclaimed in the name of righteousness alone, for that which is not like him will not be able to stand before his appearance. But we know that when he appears we shall be like him; he that hath this hope purifies himself even as he is pure, that he may be seen in him at his coming.
Now, dear friends, is your sound gone to the ends of the earth, and God hath made you famous amongst your enemies, in that you have begun to confess his name and nature, and that he is in you whom many are looking for here and there, and now the eyes of people and nations are upon you to see your end, and now your glory is in putting him on, and covering you with him, a Lamb without blemish, before God and man, that in him you may obtain good report, unreprovable and holy, so shall you stop the way of the destroyer and put an end to all false conceptions, and revive the hope of Israel. Let his innocency be your armor, and put your trust in his truth for your salvation. The time is full come for you to declare what he is to you, with boldness with a confession beyond words: for this appearance of him in love is that which shall judge all likenesses and try all spirits, actions, judgments and appearances, and by this shall you all be measured, what spirits you are of, and all spirits in the world, for he shall bring every hidden, formed, feigned thing to light, at his coming, and whatever hath not this love in it is not his, nor begotten of God, but he that hath this love is begotten of God, and hath him, the Father and the Son, the end of the law and the prophets, the substance and life of all knowledge, faith and works; the root and ground of every good gift; for herein are we made perfect in love, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because we have put him on, and dwell in him, who is love; and as he is, so are we in this world. But he that loveth not is not made perfect in faith, in knowledge, in judgment, having not learned Christ herein, therefore by this he must be judged himself. So blessed <57> is he that judges nothing before the time, who condemns not himself, wherein he judges another; all judgment being committed to him that can lay down his life for his enemies. Therefore happy are you if you have him on first, for when he appears his judgment is true, and shall stand, when all that hath come before him shall pass away; for him alone hath the Father sealed.
So dearly beloved ones, my soul breathes towards you herein, that in all your several gifts and administrations, this Son of God be your eye and end, the beauty and glory of the Father, that the hope thereof to attain may stay you in all trials and temptations, knowing that in him alone is your lasting peace, and that which doth now befall you in all your afflictions is to shake all other appearances, that way may be made for him alone, whose image and life none can judge nor condemn. And the day is come, that happy is that man who hath nothing else to glory in, & this know that the appearance of God in his own begotten is your glory; and if any man boast himself and not herein, when he is weighed therewith he will be found wanting; the sound thereof will not save him.
As the same Spirit from whence this comes moves in
anyone, so let them send it abroad amongst
the called of God, to be read and known.
Wherefore all that love his appearance and seek the face of redemption love that which prepares his way to his appearance in his temple; that which breaks down the will of man and as a fire goes before him; which is that baptism with which all that will receive him must be baptized into death. So when sorrow, anguish, and tribulation comes upon you, rejoice and fly not. This comes to destroy nothing but destruction, and to kill that which keeps you from eternal life, and to prepare a way for your peace, and a place for everlasting righteousness to dwell in you. For truly, friends, in the threshing floor must the altar be set up, and where God answers by fire, there must his house be built; and as many as look to the end of this may not despise correction, nor faint under the hand of reproof.
That is good which brings down into the depth, where the wonders of God are learned, for he that will labor in God's vineyard must know every seed, and its root; what feeds it, and what famisheth it; and the ground of every weed, and cause of every curse. This many may see, when it's come to a tree, brancheth and brings forth fruit; but then it's strong and powerful, and not easily plucked up, seldom got down without fire and much sorrow, therefore blessed is that eye that's lowly and diligent, which sees every several appearance, that he may slay the seed of wickedness ere it bud, and not suffer the enmity to take root: for he that suffers divers seeds shall have sorrow therein; and he that sows amongst thorns and briars must reap trouble; and where this kind is suffered to grow there is torment to themselves, and trouble to others; for how should the thistle change its nature?
So all that desire peace, prepare a place that the seed thereof may grow alone, and the sun thereof may arise and shine clearly, that nothing may grieve his holy Spirit, for Jacob must dwell alone, and not be numbered among the rest of the nations, neither hath the Lamb fellowship with the beasts of the field.
Now as you have seen the image of the earthly, and felt his power, and inclination to earthly things, captivating your minds downward to things below: even so must you bear the image of the heavenly, if he reign that comes from above. Till then think not you are perfect, nor have attained to the resurrection of the dead. For this I know of him in whom your life is hid, that as he <59> ariseth he shall as strongly lead your minds into the heavenly as ever you were captivated with the earthly. So he that can read the figure, rejoice in hope concerning him that is to come; yet let none glory in the sight of this knowledge, but press into the life thereof, that God may be seen and glorified in you. For as he that hath gone much out with his mind, and hath drunk in abundance of the earthly, is become the most subtle, selfish, and hard, and filled with all unrighteousness, till he become incurable: even so he that returns in and drinks abundantly of the heavenly doth become simple, innocent and harmless, separate from all ungodliness, till he become incorruptible and receive power to attain the Son of God, whose image declares the Father, from whence he is: for he that hath seen the Son hath seen the Father, and he that hath the Son hath the Father also. So dear friends, behold the end of your calling and glory of your profession, your life in this world and eternal inheritance, for the which to attain we endure all things, for which sufferings and patience we have a cloud of witnesses.
So we follow not fables and fancies (as some suppose) but every one as he is proved herein is able to set to his seal, even to the day of the Lord, with them that are gone before, whose spirits herein are perfected.
Wherefore dearly beloved of God, for his name sake I beseech you, be zealous for his appearance, and with meekness and fear instruct the ignorant who oppose themselves; comfort the weak; in all things leading with a life that cannot be blamed, knowing how manifold your labor of love is doubled in everlasting glory, as he comes to be made manifest to the world. And the Lord God of power strengthen all your hands, by the appearance of his love; that by the shedding of it abroad in your hearts you may be madee able to overcome the world, and willing to give your neck to the yoke of Christ and to bear the burdens of the weak, till the brotherhood arise and the body of Christ be perfected in one, that none of you suffer an evil eye or ear, which delights to behold the weakness of others; but that your whole delight be to wait for the appearance of God in all, and to behold his face in them, rather than their failings. And as this arises in every particular it shall be a sure token to you for good, and that you are passed from the <60> love of evil unto the love of God the Father and the Son. And what you delight in shall be your inheritance. And as you grow herein, so shall he whom you love to see delight to make his appearance amongst you and to walk in you; and you shall not seek his face in vain, but with his likeness shall be satisfied, and shall praise the beauty of his appearance.
Thus in honor preferring one another, you shall know that
the power of love is a ministration of life to that which is to be beloved.
Who will be on the Lord's part, now in this day of darkness when iniquity is growing to the full and the man-child is to be born above it? and who will give up the vessel to bear his name against the enmity that is now arising? And who will be glorified with the Lamb? Blessed and happy is he that is found worthy to follow him out of the world, bearing his reproach. To as many as receive him he gives power to become the sons of God.
But he that will bear his name must receive his nature, and himself also so walk even as he walked; his name is power over sin and the world. So the servants of sin and the world cannot bear it; he that bears his name must bear it in his life and power lest he blaspheme. Of flesh and blood it is not born, nor by the will of man is it manifest, it's he that's born again who hath his witness in himself that must bear his name before the world for a witness against them, who hath that life in him which testifies against the deeds thereof; but who bows thereto betrays him and proves false in his testimony.
Moses in his house made all things in likeness of the pattern, so it became a tabernacle of witness to all the nations (of the true God therein) and against all their false gods and false worships, and herein was he faithful to him that called him, and to all that beheld the pattern he preached God's presence, dwelling in the tabernacle made with hands. How much more must he that bears the name of Christ follow the pattern and suit his example, holding forth a tabernacle of witness and preaching the presence of the true God therein, and against all the world, their false births, false ways and worships, herein proving faithful to him that hath called thereto, and to all that beholds,f holding forth that holiness <61> is his habitation here on earth as it is in heaven, bearing a lively testimony thereof, by the tabernacle of witness, conformable to the heavenly example in all things. And to this end Christ descended, walked, and suffered on earth, leaving an example to all that follow his steps, wherein as in a lively oracle God is found, in all that's builded after his image, and seek in his name and nature for the immortality that dwelleth therein. Now God was not to be found in the tabernacle of Moloch (though sought never so earnestly) but in the tabernacle of witness, built according to the pattern; neither is he now to be found in the image of the world: nor is his name borne in that nature though professed never so zealously. Therefore let everyone that nameth the name of the Lord depart from iniquity; the seed of evildoers bears not the testimony of Christ but against him.
Did they blaspheme who said they were Jews and were not? how much more do they who profess the name of Christ and are out of the vine, in a contrary nature?
Wherefore all who aim to hold forth in life to his appearance, and to attain his coming in purity and glory, must be diligent in the heavenly light, ever minding the way and moving of the Holy Spirit, him that is from above, that his form you may see, who hath the heavenly image and the holy power; that so beholding him with open face as in a glass you may be changed into the same image and formed thereafter, from glory to glory, by the powerful working of the same Spirit; until the tabernacle be built conformable to the heavenly example and holy pattern, in body and Spirit, that as he is, so may you be in this world, that God may appear in his temple: that as the image of the earthly appears in the world, so the image of the heavenly you may bear, a witness against them. And by drinking in the communion of that holy Spirit, and power from above, you may become as able, zealous and willing to hold forth the heavenly in holiness, meekness, purity, patience, love, longsuffering, faith and obedience to God, and all the fruits of the Spirit, as the sons of the world are to hold forth the earthly, in lusts and pleasures, strife and envy, cruelty and oppression, and all manner the works of the flesh, that you may as truly and really give up your bodies, minds and strength to suffer with Christ, that he may be manifest and magnified therein, in your mortal bodies; as others who are without <62> God in the world do give themselves to act according to the principles and power of the god of this world, his unrighteous ways, worships and fashions, and all his cursed courses, and the whole body of sin, and mystery of iniquity born in them.
And where the tabernacle is thus edified and the temple thus cleansed, there is a vessel of honor, fit for the master's use, that being filled with the Holy Ghost God may dwell on the earth and take up his rest therein, his tabernacle being with men, the appearance of the blessed day, so many souls hunger for, and Abraham's seed longs to see, which the god of this world strongly opposes, in all whose minds he hath blinded, and whose spirit he possesseth in disobedience to the heavenly light, for which the wrath of God remains upon that generation, till this day and forever.
Wherefore all you who wait for the kingdom of God, and love his appearance, whose coming again is without sin, abide within and wait in that temple where the witness ariseth against the world, that in faith and patience you may be counted worthy to receive that witness, that it may arise and cover you, and that in bearing it you may come out of the world, being conformable to him who suffered without the gates: bear his reproach, and you bear his name; touch not the unclean thing, and he will receive you for himself, in you to appear and be glorified, liftg up against the powers of darkness. You that have received the earnest of this Spirit, hath he not said, I will dwell in you and walk in you? Wherefore come out from among them and be you separate. This is the joy that is set before you, to wit, his appearance, and that glory, for the attaining whereof we endure the present sufferings and reproach, not to be compared therewith, for glory, immortality, eternal life.
Oh friends, who shall be found worthy at his coming, and in whom may he appear and not consume them? for our God is a consuming fire; even in his holy temple is he known, and with clean hands will he take up his rest, and in the pure heart shall he be seen; else who may dwell with everlasting burnings? and who may abide that baptism wherein everyone shall be salted with fire at his coming?
a. Whitehead changes "he hath" to "we have."
b. Rebecca Travers.
c. Whitehead omits "age."
d. Whitehead changes "made" to "feigned" (but only on the Errata page). "Begotten and not made" is a rarity in early Quaker writings: a quotation from the Nicene Creed.
e. Whitehead omits "made."
f. Whitehead changes "beholds" to "behold him."
g. Whitehead changes "lift" to "rise."