Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > Milk for Babes and Meat for Strong Men
This being an invitation of love and life (learned counsel indeed) from him that hath been tried in the deeps, a follower of the Lamb in many tribulations, wherever he went, who was baptized into his death by the Holy Ghost and by fire, made like unto him through sufferings, who is the captain of our salvation, clothed upon with his virtues and graces, thoroughly furnished unto every good and perfect work: For he had the mind of God, <136> and the secrets of the Almighty did abide upon his tabernacle; and he prophesied of this day which is now come, and what shall be hereafter, which is not convenient to be uttered; but the day will declare and make all things manifest. For he that doth business in great waters seeth the wonders of the Lord and declareth of the working of his mighty power, who wrought mightily in him; he brake the bonds and cut the cords asunder, and led him by the hand of his power through the fire and the water, and set his feet in a plain path, and brought him forth in the midst of his enemies, and stood at his right hand that he could not be moved; yea before the faces of them that had persecuted his righteous soul, and had said his God had forsaken him, and cast him off forever; but the Lord did never leave him or forsake him, although Satan had power to winnow him as wheat; yet his precious life was hid with God, and the evil one could not touch it; and the trial came not upon him for his own sins only, nor the sins of others; but it was to try some, that all flesh may be silent, and that none should glory in his presence, who setteth up and casteth down, who kills and makes alive, according to the good pleasure of his own will; and who shall say, Why dost thou thus? For the potter hath power over the clay, to make a vessel of honor, or of dishonor: For I am God all-sufficient, and man as the dust of the balance, and as the drop of the bucket; and let all men know that the Most High ruleth in the heavens, and doth whatsoever he will in the earth; for the Lord alone does all. Therefore let none glory in his own wisdom or strength; for all flesh is as grass, and the glory of it as the flower of the field, which soon fadeth away and cometh to an end; therefore let him that stands fear always, lest he fall into temptation; for none can stand in the day of trial, nor dwell with everlasting burnings, but he that lives and walks in the Spirit, and puts no confidence in the flesh [Mark this]. He was set as a sign for the rise and fall of many, that the secrets of many hearts might be made manifest, and for to prove that generation that then had power in their hands but improved it not, but went on in the counsel of their own corrupt hearts to persecute the innocent; but the Lord God who hath pleaded the cause of the needy, a helper of him who had no helper in the earth; I say, the <137> Lord God hath pleaded with that generation of men which now are passed away, and their very memorial is become an evil savor; for they showed no mercy. Therefore in the day of their distress they could find no mercy, but the merciful God, whose mercies are above and over all his works, he did remember his captive, and did not leave his soul in the grave, but did deliver his lamb from the devouring wolves, and stopped the mouths of the lions which greedily roared, and gave him his life for a prey, that he might magnify and exalt his unexpressible abundant loving-kindness, and unutterable love of the Lord to him, that all that fear the Lord might trust in the God of his salvation, who saved him to the utmost; this is the God of the living. O let all the holy saints that know the breath of life praise him that liveth forever; for all dominion, honor and glory is his, and unto him let it be ascribed forever and ever.
But he hath finished the work his Father gave him to do and hath run the race that was set before him, and is come to the end of all things; the ancient of days, the judge of all; although the outward tabernacle be gone to its place, yet he lives and shall never die; and the resurrection of his most holy life is risen and shall arise in many; a name he hath among the living which can never be blotted out, and the blessing of the Lord is upon the seed that hath been raised by his preaching of the word of reconciliation and peace, and his offspring shall declare his generation forever; for the seed is still multiplying, his children's children are ready to bring forth, still raising up seed to the elder brother, the true husband in the resurrection; but now none can add to him or take from him, for immortal is his crown, and endless is his glory; and in all that was done unto him the Lord never smote him, as he hath and will smite them that smote him; for he hath broken them with a great breach, and so shall it be with all Zion's enemies; for her king is in the midst of her, the Lord of Hosts is his name, who will smite the host of the Egyptians; and fear, horror and trembling shall take hold on Israel's enemies, and he will smite the earth with a curse for his elect's sake, and he will plague hard-hearted Pharaoh, that will not let the seed go free to serve the Lord in the Spirit and the truth, and with Amalek (which will not let Israel pass through his land) will he make war <138> forever, and in the destruction of his enemies will he get himself a name, and his name shall be dreadful to all them that know him not; but all that know his name they put their trust in it, and unto them it is a strong tower of defense, and into the ark of his strength will he gather all the righteous souls, whilst he ease and avenge himself of his enemies; and forever blessed are all they that hold out unto the end and keep the word of his patience; they shall be hid in the hollow of his hand, kept safe in his pavilion, and a defense will he make about his people, and Zion shall be the praise of the whole earth, a beautiful city, compact, compassed about with salvation for walls and bulwarks, and the mountain of his holiness shall be on the top of all mountains, and no destroyers shall be found in it; the pure in heart shall see it.
To you tender hearted ones, who have felt the call of the Father's love, who now see more desirableness and beauty in innocency and meekness than in all the mountains of prey, or self-conceited exaltations arising from the airy knowledge, my soul is with you herein. And in that which hath given you the sight of this excellency, wait low, and diligently hearken thereto, until the thing itself spring up, which naturally hath this riches in it which cometh from above, and yet is felt far below all fleshly affections, high thoughts, and hasty desires, and with4 these is veiled and hid from you, so that you cannot come to the life and spring of it, but as you deny these and put them off, by sinking down through them, all these earthly foundations and ends, to rise up. For under all these your Beloved suffers, while these are above in your minds; and through the fall of all these must he arise, and over all these take the kingdom, ere you come to have a quiet dwelling-place in him, and he in you. So under all these must you pass, and into the likeness of his death you must come and be planted therein, that the fellowship of his sufferings you may feel, and partake of his meekness and patience therein, who <139> beareth all things; and your faithfulness with him therein must be thoroughly proved, in which faith and patience you shall learn him whom you love: his reproach without, his temptations within, even such trials which cannot be declared to another shall you learn in him, with his love, obedience, patience, meekness and longsuffering under all; and how through all these he ariseth, in which resurrection he chaineth his enemies and takes them captive, whose captives you are;5 and thus shall you have fellowship in his resurrection, wherein you shall attain to the resurrection of the dead and the inheritance of eternal life.
But dear children who seek this to attain, think it not strange when for the attaining hereof you come to be rejected of all, denied, condemned, contradicted, and tempted with all manner of spirits and evils, assaults within and without, with fears and dread, in weakness, watchings and fastings, with tears of sorrow night and day, to be led into the wilderness & there tempted, tried in the night with great temptations, and see no way out, led on a way you know not, a way of wrath and terror, and passing by the gates of hell, and none to pity you nor take your part; chastened alone that you may be proved to the uttermost. And when this you come into, then faint not, nor look back, but lift up your head through all, and know that now he deals with you as with sons and daughters of his love. Take heed you murmur not, nor measure him with yourselves, nor repine at the rod; cast not your evil eye upon the instruments, who or whatever they be, for that will beget wrath in your minds, and then you will lose the life you aim at and suffer in vain; but in the greatest floods keep your eye to your beloved beauty,6 retain patience and meekness in longsuffering, with faith. Let these be ever in your heart as the end of all, and still believe that all that befalls you is but to waste that which would hinder you from being joined into the thing you so highly prize. So in all things keep with him, let his joy be strength unto you in all, and the appearance of his beauty will refresh you in the new, as the old doth waste, and with him make war against the enmity, and let his love quench all wrath that would arise; let him be your shield of faith; and whatever <140> you are led into while you retain him single in your minds, it shall be profitable to the end expected; but without him you can do nothing. So if you pray to the Father, let it be with7 him. In all your wrestlings, his meekness, patience and longsuffering, with8 faith, prevails much with God. If you resist the tempter, let it be with him; it's his good that only hath power to overcome the evil; and here is your strength in all, if you hold him steadfast in your minds; in the fire and in the floods he will be with you and be your power and peace and make your way through all.
Though at some times the clouds may be so thick, and the powers of darkness so strong in your eye that you see him not, yet love him, and believe, and you have him present; you shall feel his patience calling you down out of the storm, and his meekness moving you to follow him who hath gone the same way before in all his saints. This is your Beloved, who now goeth before you; hear him alone; then are you faithful, when you look for no other to be with you in all, nor to redeem you out of all but him whom you love. So that though the tempter should tender you relief some other way (for herewith he will prove you, if he see he cannot drive you from the meek and patient One by sufferings and threatening, then will he flatter and promise, to draw you from him), yet this is your faithfulness, that you abide till meekness and patience bring you out.
For whatever you own for your Redeemer out of trouble, that must be your Lord and master, and you its servant. Wherefore take heed you own nothing for a helper but what9 you look to inherit; so he that makes flesh his arm inherits the curse, and the earth cometh over him, and he must serve it. But stay you in the meekness of Christ, his peace and patience, and you enter10 the earnest of your inheritance in the day of your trouble; and when you come out, none shall be able to take it from you, nor any contrary nature shall be Lord in you, nor over you, but the same in which11 you have trusted shall rest upon you, and his glory shall cover you and become a life in you12 and your leader forever.<141>
And being faithful in this trial, you shall learn Christ and find out the wiles of Satan, and perfectly feel what he hath of his own in you to work upon, even by their present working in your minds. For that which thinks sufferings hard, and time long, that is not to be trusted; for it will work in the reasonings a distrust, and tempt to look out for freedom and ease by some visible help; or if it cannot prevail to hunt about for freedom, yet if any carnal way be opened, it will form a fair pretense as though it were of God, which is not of God; and this seeks to betray the just & faithful one from you;13 & would part you from your chaste waiting upon him whom you love, taking his advantage by your haste, weariness & weakness in the journey. But that which only minds to be obedient to God in suffering and acting, with faith and diligence, hearkening with all longsuffering, what meekness and patience saith,14 thinking it a greater thing to obtain counsel from that,15 than ease from another; believing that no other thing16 can give an expected end but that,15 to wit an inheritance in that you wait for; and therefore count nothing dear that you may win him, thinking no time long, nor any thing hard to endure, for the joy and beauty that is set before you. This will never deceive you of the redemption of truth; your love,17 and redeemer, and Lord is one, and you shall not be put to your sleighty18 shifts as they that go out from that Spirit are; for you shall feel and see your Redeemer in the midst of you, and with his body shall you rise and live, and you shall not be ransomed with silver or gold, from the hand of the oppressor, but by the precious blood of Christ, as a Lamb without spot; not with any corruptible thing, but his longsuffering, faith and patience, his love and meek Spirit shall set you out of all darkness, and above all fears; and your freedom will be perfect, and inheritance large, when all that would not stay upon him alone, are consumed in the fiery trials, which haste, ease and distrust will never bring to an end; till which you are not fit to be joined to him you love in everliving <142> obedience and everlasting praises, the portion of all who have waited on him, and have found him faithful in the end.
And having learned this mystery of godliness, and found the worth of it, you having found his way perfect and pure, and him faithful to such as walk therein, you may be able to direct the simple and unlearned in their desirable way to rest, and your words have in them a manifestation of life, and quickening power is with you, & this shall be your everlasting strength, that you are redeemed with that you so dearly loved.
And this you shall feel in the way, that the more diligently you wait upon him in all conditions you pass through, even so the more do you receive of19 him, by drinking in of that heavenly virtue that is in him, who is the meek and patient one; and by supping continually with him, and he with you, will you come so20 to be filled with him, that all haste and impatiency and distrust will be covered and overcome with21 him, and so your mortal be swallowed up of the immortal,22 till it23 become your whole life and being;24 and all your thoughts, words and actions have their rise and being therein; so that self be seen no more, nor that appear in which death and25 condemnation have any entrance or power. And this shall you find to be the house from above, and heavenly city, in which the holy spirits live and walk and have communion, as they come to be perfected; of which the Lamb is the light and salvation, into which none enter but who through his meekness and longsuffering are ransomed, and by faith therein redeemed.
Who being thus builded, see no more sorrow nor fear of falling, the foundation being everlasting, elect and precious, and every stone therein tried in the fire, and in faithfulness chosen for that end.
So with all diligence sink down to feel the election, not minding that which boasts in high words, before it be tried; but when it comes into the fire will not stand patient in the trial, but through that being given up to death, seek for that which lies under in the sufferings, which calls you down from every high thought. To him come down into the pit,26 who bears all things <143> without complaining, that with him you may suffer and with him you may obey, and in all things he may be with you, and you with him; this is the election, make him sure to yourselves in life and death, so shall you be changed with27 him; and though you go down into the lower parts of the earth in the carnal body,28 he shall raise you spiritual; though29 sown weak, yet30 raised in power; if you rise not but with him, as he raises you; if you cast not off the yoke nor fly the cross, nor heal your own wound, though your wound be mortal, yet the cure is immortal; though you go down in shame and reproach, yet raised in glory and covered with immortal honor and eternal life, with power and strength to fulfill the will of God and the answer of a good conscience, through this baptism and resurrection you shall attain, and so become one Spirit with him that dwells in the light, in death, in sufferings, in patience, in faith and in obedience, which otherwise no mortal man can approach to; there being that to be fulfilled which the light requires, which the first man born31 hath not in power, so by that law his life he must lose, which hath power over the transgressor as long as he lives, and joined to Christ cannot be till to that law he be dead; so the first which is earthly the law kills because of sin and want of obedience, but he that is born again is32 of the Spirit and33 lives because of righteousness and obedience, so the boaster is excluded, being concluded under sin that the mercy may arise in the meek principle over all, to fulfill all.
The light saith, Love thy neighbor as thyself; this the firstborn34 cannot do, so the boaster is excluded, and the law lays hold on that life, which wants this love, and the creature must give up that to death, that he may come to the meek Spirit for the power of that life and obedience that hath righteousness in it: and the creature drawing his mind and affections and faith from the first who hath words without power, and giving these to the second, the first falls, withers, and dies in that vessel, and as the <144> mind is diligent in the second, he rises in the faith, and35 raiseth the power of obedience in that vessel, and so as he rises through the law, he brings forth fruits above the law, against which there is no law; so he in whom the covenant is, and hath the power of obedience to righteousness, puts an end to the law. So he being denied, dead and buried, whose life arose through disobedience, who is the transgressor, and because of whom the law was added, that law becomes dead also; he that fulfills the law is he that gave it forth, and is the end thereof, in whom by faith you live, and inherit this righteousness, as you put him on through death who is this life. So being faithful in the light shall you learn him that kills and makes alive, that casts down and raises up, that condemns and justifies, and so shall know the way of death and the way of life, and who that is that is hardened by the law, and who fulfills it, and the life and end of both, and you will see the cause and end of all the tribulations, earthquakes and thunders, and several voices, clouds, smoke and darkness, and great temptations, and the trial of your faith herein will be as that of gold, and will bring to inherit the knowledge of God and eternal life, and power to judge the prince of the air, and over the mystery of iniquity, and to deny the God of this world with all his snares and traps wherein the unlearned professors are caught and held captive at his will, though some of them have a knowledge and form of the truth, taught from what others have thus learned, all which you shall judge and have power over, and all ministration under the Son shall with this be comprehended, whether angels or spirit.36 Even he that is faithful and diligent unto the end of this great tribulation shall be made white and have judgment committed to him, and the key of David's house, to bind and loose, and shall sit in the Lamb's throne of judgment and righteousness in heaven; and the grave nor hell shall have no more power, nor shall his old iniquities have any more power over him, the strength of sin being dead.
Wherefore brethren, in the light be faithful, when you come into this condition; take heed of unbelief, and haste not out of it, lest you tempt the Lord of your life and grieve his meek Spirit, <145> and provoke him to leave chastening, and so your spot remain, and you prove but bastards and not freeborn children of this kingdom, power and glory; and so in time your old iniquities overtake you again.
For whatever of the old man comes out of the fire unconsumed, dead and buried in this baptism, will be a continual canker seeking to eat, and an enemy daily waiting his opportunity upon all occasions to get up and overspread the pure plant of innocency, and so spoil you of your beloved, and so make void all your sufferings past, and bring in the old evils like a flood upon you, as it hath befallen many at this day; but be faithful to the end of all iniquity, the root as well as the branch; so shall your righteousness arise clear and unspotted, and your old sins shall therewith be buried and never arise again, neither to accuse nor reign; and this is your victory over death.
And this know (whatever others imagine, let none deceive you), that though sin37 (the evil seed) be sown when men sleep, and take root with pleasure, and spring up with ease and delight, yet the end thereof is bitterness and great tribulation; but the precious seed is sown with tears conceived in sorrow, & brought to light with sighing, nights of watching, days of mourning, and with much labor of spirit and travail of soul must you come to see your desire; for though the world have conceived a faith in the air, and so bringeth forth naught but several sorts of winds striving upon the earth, without foundation, and so builds nothing to perfection; yet with you it must not be so; for to you the light is sprung up which leads to the foundation of God; and you have received a faith that gives you a sight of the stone which the builders see not; and to you it is given not only to believe in him, but to suffer for his sake in the behalf of him; and so to run as to win him, so to strive as to obtain him, his name, his power, his nature; for this is that your soul groans for, to possess and inherit his power, his love, his meekness, his patience in all tribulations, his faith in all fears, and to have the power of all38 his grace and virtue living in you whereby you may be men of able spirits, rightly furnished to every good work and against all <146> evil, that in him you may overcome when you are tried, and be more than conquerors; and your work is to war against whatever would keep you from coming to this foundation and cornerstone. And it is not beating the air that will fight your battle, for it's against all these39 deceits you are to fight, and airy notions, and all spirits that would possess you with words and forms, without the power of righteousness, and whatever lies under the power of sin; the true light gives you to see the cursed deceit that lies in all this, and that these are the subtle paths of the destroyer; and nothing less than victory over sin and subtlety will satisfy your souls; so that it's only life and power that can give you peace, and therefore yours is work and not vain words, and that which strikes at the root of sin is your best weapon. So it is not flesh that profits you, it's the Spirit that must quicken through hardship, that which ease hath slain, ere you come to perfect peace.
For though the letter tell40 of a child that is heir of all things, and gives this inheritance to all in whom he is formed, whose name is wonderful in counsel and strength, yet is not this brought forth without hard labor and travail, and the pangs of death gone through; for when you come to the Lord for counsel and feel that there is two manner of seeds in the womb, then will you see that great work is to be done ere you come to rest. There is the strong man to be bound before the babe can reign; and strongly is he armed with all manner of wiles to save himself; and it's not words and thoughts that will cast out the mother & her son which must not inherit; and this must be done, or all is in vain. He that is born of flesh is in bondage to things here below; this cannot inherit immortality, for sin hath power in him, and die he must, that the Son of Righteousness may arise to life in you and bring your life to light with him, as he appears; and though the light be above the transgressor yet the Son is lowly that gives it.
So being faithful in the light which from the Son cometh, which condemneth all the lofty ways of the firstborn, you will be led into ways lowly, to cross your life in him;41 through watchings and fastings, and great tribulations must he be famished, <147> into which the Spirit will lead you, where42 there is nothing for the lust to live on, nor for that wisdom to walk in that loves itself, or seeks its ease and pleasure. Then be faithful to your guide, however he storm that is to be destroyed.
And with all diligence press into that which calls in the wandering mind, and give heed with watching and wrestling to get abiding therein, which as you are faithful therein it will be enlarged, till it become a habitation for your pure minds to dwell in, and take up its rest, which hath been tossed to and fro as in a wilderness; and by killing in the watch all that would draw you out, and sinking down into this meekness and steadfast lowliness, you will come to feel the plant of God that brings forth this meekness and holiness, and springs of living virtue; and there will you meet the Lord in his kingdom on earth, where he delights to walk as in a garden; for in these things he delights, and in such as delight therein, and there wait to feel his fellowship, and receive his counsel in purity and coolness, in which he will let you see whatever it be that would break his covenant with you, and whatever leadeth out from the eternal life, and will with his Spirit lead you out to war against it; in which spiritual war being faithful, you shall not fail of victory, till every cumbrance in your minds be cast out, and so heavenliness become a quiet habitation, that in the meek spirit you may feed upon the heavenly food, and not to have that ravenous earthly spirit to steal and devour it from the soul.
And as you get an entrance into this heavenly mansion, so diligently watch, and in the light stand armed against the thief, and keep out whatever43 would enter into your affections or desires, under what pretense soever, for if it enter into your affections it will steal away your minds from this pure innocent plant; and this is adultery, treachery and whoredom, which you must wrestle against in the power of his love.
And with willingness of mind to put off all the old idols out of your affections, whatever hath any place there; for by the entrance of that through lust hath the Son of Righteousness <148> suffered, and the innocent been slain; and until that be condemned and cast out which hath come over the just in your affections, the Son of Righteousness arises not into his kingdom, who must give you the entrance into this holy habitation, who must fulfill all righteousness before the entrance be made;44 which work you stop, whilst you retain the unrighteous, having a seat in your heart uncondemned and cast out; and hence it is that many seek to enter but are not able, the cursed thing not being cast out, which can have no place in God's kingdom, with which the just hath not communion, nor the temple of God with idols.
And this I say to you, which is a learned truth in this journey, that if you either retain your old lovers, or suffer anything now to enter your affections, or draw out your minds from this pure plant of righteousness and truth, you shall in no wise45 enter into the kingdom of heaven; for this is the way, and must make your entrance; therefore fight against whatever would draw you from it, and with violence break through it and take the kingdom; for only he that hath been faithful in the baptism of John,46 to fulfill all righteousness, shall receive power to press into the kingdom; and when you come here you will find violent powers to keep you out, which with the Lamb in war must be overcome violently; for the strong man having got a possession within, is not easily bound and cast out, for it is a spiritual wickedness, and in heavenly47 places, with which you are to wrestle; therefore a heavenly virtue contrary thereto, and of a greater power, must give you your victory.
So press into the heavenly Spirit with its power, to overcome the earthly spirit with its powers; strive earnestly in the meek spirit to obtain a measure of faith and patience larger than the temptation, and that will endure to the end of it, a meekness and love to cover all strife and wrath, a longsuffering to famish all haste and that which seeks its own ease; and so in all things with desire, drinking in of the heavenly virtue from above, whereby you may become strengthened with all might to stand all assaults of the enemy, within or without; and so in the cross come to put on every measure,48 Christ Jesus, the great power of God unto <149> salvation, and wellsprings of eternal life and glory, which is done by sinking down into the heavenly feeling, contrary to the will of the exalted life, whereby you will be overshadowed from above, from whence the savior is looked for, to overcome things below.
And as you come into the feeling of these virtues, hold them fast till he come who is the fullness, and with that you have, wrestle against whatever would draw out your minds from it; for with that of him must you make war against whatever is contrary thereto; and as you are faithful to abide therein, you will feel every high thing fall before you; for that which cleanseth the vessel of all corruptible49 things is your weapon; and that which springs up in a contrary nature50 is your life. The beholding whereof as it riseth, and keeping your eye constant in the faith and hope of attaining to his fullness, will make your work the work of love, your obedience delightful, and all your sufferings easy, and your loss of your former glory will in that eye appear great gain; and this is your acceptable service and that faith which works by love, which avails much with God, and being followed overcomes the world, and sets free from it in all things.
So with the light mind to be led down into that life that is not of this world; come to him that seeks not himself, who hath not his rest in things on earth, who is rejected of men, denied of his own kindred, and forsaken of all; and as you come to him you will come to be proved whether you can forgo all these for him alone, and that he may make his appearance in you and cover you with himself, his contempt and reproach, and his patient power to bear all; for it's he that can bear all things that shall never be moved; and he that thus overcomes shall know the white stone and that rock which breaks the nations but builds the house of God.
But in all your journey take heed of the adulterous mind, for it secretly devoureth the precious life. Wherefore take heed of that which looketh out; give not way to that eye not for a moment; for if you consent to it upon any pretense whatsoever you enter into a covenant therewith against the holy seed, to destroy the chaste mind; but whether it be rough or smooth, yet hold it as an enemy, and that which if it get in by consent must51 out by <150> suffering double to the delight it brings with it; but if as an enemy you withstand it by constant and patient resistings, it will fly and grow weaker upon every assault; and he that giveth you victory will grow more in your esteem and delight.
Wherefore think it not strange (so long as any of the old leaven is within, unpurged out) that the nearer you draw to God in the lowly suffering meekness, the deeper you sink into tribulation, and your sufferings increase upon your fleshly part, for that is the Son's way to perfection; and the wondrous works of the Father are learned in the deep; for by the hand of God upon you (being faithful in suffering to the end) shall you see the old foundation of the world, the root and offspring of all wickedness, how it came to be laid, and how the Lamb is52 slain, and what he is; and the foundation of God shall you see and feel, upon which the saints were raised up and built in the Spirit, and how all the chaff, hay and stubble comes to be cleansed off; for his fan is in his hand, and the words of his mouth are a consuming fire to that nature, who53 refineth the gold and quickeneth the soul, and divideth the clean from the unclean. And the nearer you draw to God, the nearer will he draw to you in righteousness and judgment and truth, to make an end of sin and bring in everlasting righteousness, and to establish you in his inheritance who appear in his temple through the refiner's fire and fuller's soap, the end of all sufferings, and entrance into everlasting joy, purity and peace, and weight of eternal glory, to which there is no other way but through affliction.
But as you come down to the foundation of God, watch with all fear and diligence, that nothing exalt you, or lift you up in mind, conceit, or comprehension, faster than with54 that foundation you are builded;55 for many temptations of haste will present themselves with fears and distrust, to get you from off the foundation of life; but if you keep lowly, steadfast and faithful thereto, with it you shall be raised out of the pit and set above the earth. And for that end is it laid within you, that in Spirit you may be built thereon, in order like the cornerstone, a new man, not the same that goes down, and none knoweth the way of his rising, but as he keepeth to the foundation and mindeth the head <151> of the corner, which as you diligently mind you shall know the sure foundations of the holy city, even from the word of the beginning of Christ, as you grow to his fullness, the foundations of repentance, of faith, of doctrines,56 of baptisms, of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
And as with the foundation of life and power you come to be edified, you will be led through57 the dominions of death, where you shall learn wherein it hath its power, and by what it reigns, and how it captivates the seed, and how its bonds are broken, and with what he is taken and chained who hath the power of death; and so come to see what binds and what looses, kills and makes alive; the life of the law, the life of the prophets, and the life of the apostles, as they passed before you, will you come to know, their inheritance therein to possess, and with them in Spirit have fellowship, as they passed the time of their pilgrimage here, that to the life of Christ you may come for the fulfilling of the word of God, which endureth from generation to generation. This being the end of all the travails of the souls of righteous men and women here below, which that they might attain the fulfilling thereof, and so return in peace to him from whence they came,58 clothed on with their heavenly house, for which prize they counted all things loss here below, casting off the earthly pleasures and killing every affection thereto, estranged therefrom in all their walking while they are here, knowing that the love to the earthly things is the enemy to their spiritual ascending, and that the earthly adulterous spirit daily hunts to devour the precious life and to keep the soul in things below; presenting daily its delights carnal, and opening the paths of the destroyer with pleasures to the carnal eye, which whosoever joins to cannot ascend into the heavenly inheritance, but with the dark world daily go downward, who are degenerated from the life of God and estranged from it even from the womb; so that they are never able to attain the knowledge of God, nor in truth and righteousness to call him Father, nor to say they came out from him nor ever to him can <152> return. This they being willingly ignorant of, that59 no man hath ascended up to heaven but he that came down from heaven,60 who is born not of the corruptible seed, nor begotten but by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever.
But with you it is not so (neither are you going that way)61 who feel the heavenly motion drawing your minds out of all earthly delights, the taste of the heavenly life overcoming the earthly in your affections, so that to the world you die daily, and you feel something quickened in you, that cannot feed on earthly pleasures, but hunger62 after righteousness, and see62 a beauty in holiness, and thirst62 daily after the heavenly virtue: so to that sink down into its likeness, which is yet in the bonds of death,63 and hunger with it, and suffer with it, and join to it in all its counsel, so that with it you may be raised; for that is it which is on the foundation of God; and coming to him as a living stone, you will be built on the same foundation, the same Spirit being your head, by whose resurrection64 all the veils will be done away—the veil of death, the veil of the law, the veil of the prophets, and the whole mystery of godliness will be unsealed, and the way to heaven opened by him, even the slain Lamb, who hath his power from the midst of the throne of God, even for you, if you join to him in his sufferings and ascendings, who maketh the way betwixt heaven and earth, and keepeth it open in all them who mind him, therewith to possess the vessel in holiness and fear towards God, so that nothing shall hinder your prayers from coming to the throne of God, nor the dew and blessing of heaven from falling upon the seed; and here is heaven opened, and the way of grace and salvation for the wayfaring man here on earth to walk in, in which if you wholly exercise your minds, you shall not err; nor shall anything be able to hinder you from receiving gifts from the Father, so long as nothing of a contrary nature stops his own from arising to him in praises, and you with it.
So let nothing cut off your communion with God in that measure you already have received; but let the breathings of your <153> souls and your hearts be continually open towards him, and therein you shall not only receive but become faithful improvers of what you have, by the blessing that is in the covenant that is with all that love him that dwells65 in the light; for where the conversation is in heaven, there the earth becomes fruitful.
Wherefore give all diligence, that nothing have66 your affections here below, or stop your heavenly mind from its constant ascending; for that67 is the spirit of bondage which hath got power, by letting some carnal thing in upon you, to press you down; which spirit waits upon you continually to ensnare68 the heavenly life, and get above it in your minds, and so as a weight beset you in your way, lest that which comes from heaven should have free passage through a clear vessel to heavenly seed, free from cares, cumbrances, and earthly pleasures, and from earth to the heavens; for it's he that comes from above which declareth to man his way and his wants, presents his prayers, and receives the answer; and by him alone doth God work all his works in you & for you, in heaven and in earth. Now if you join to another, and give your strength of heart and mind to his enemy, then the work of God ceases, the way being stopped; for the adulterer, the covetous, the idolater, the wanton, the sloth,69 or whatever of that nature you join to, your consent giveth him strength to stop the way of life. And this is your condemnation, witnessed with the light; and herein had death its power at the first, which can be no head, but where he is hearkened to, let in, or obeyed (but being resisted, flies), but being let in he seateth himself in the heavenly way70 with much policy and power, and is not easily got out, nor seen to be what he is; so when you feel your way darkened, or affections grow cold towards heaven, then take heed with all diligence in the pure light to search, for your enemy hath got some entrance, which by faithful and patient waiting in the light, you will come to see, and through the power of the cross to kill that life, and cast out that in which it was conceived, for that must not abide in the house with him that is heir of the heavenly inheritance, but is an enemy to his coming; for it is he that letteth till he be taken out of the <154> way, which while he is in the way dulls the affections and clogs the heavenly mind, that it cannot ascend. Wherefore that which you have received of the holy one, his unction, hold fast till he come, and with it stand armed against whatever would enter to lead out to any outward observations; but with all diligence observe that which you have of his in Spirit, which the adversary seeks so much to draw you forth from, lest you should increase your Lord's money, and herein you maintain your daily watch, and war with that you have of life and power, and not with that you have not; so are you faithful stewards, and are accepted in what you have, and not in what you have not; for the world is in darkness, and so wait for they know not what, and have no ground for their faith, nor power to prepare his way to his coming, further than words of others, or their own conceivings, but are not in him who is true; but you are in him who is true, who have his light received, and are in it to observe his appearance in all things, and the messenger of his covenant you know, who goeth before his face to prepare his way, turning your hearts from every evil way, and out of the paths of the destroyer, that you may be fruitful upon earth, that so he may receive you into himself when he cometh to smite the earth with a curse, which that which brings forth briars and thorns is nigh unto, whose seed is not of himself, his root and offspring at his coming, which71 is begot in the adulterous mind.
For the mind feeding from without upon any knowledge, form or observation (but what the life leads to in Spirit and power) is the ground of the mystery of iniquity, & the woman of witchcraft, which hunteth for the precious life of the holy child, seeking to draw your strength of affections from him after the harlot, that so he may fall & die daily in your hearts and affections, while the lust goes out to another, covered with some fair pretense, whereby the worldly spirit gathers strength daily, as you shall feel who are watchful and diligent in the spiritual war, so shall that truth appear to you; that as your love waxeth cold, so will iniquity abound with an unresistable power, whatever you know72 to the contrary which is not in the life. Or whatever you believe without that faith which works by love to the life of truth <155> more than to the knowledge of truth.73 So let your wrestling be into the power and life of God, and thereon feed, and your life shall endure forever, and your strength and virtue shall be daily renewed. But you read of some who had the form of knowledge and of the truth, but being out of the life of truth held the truth in unrighteousness; and such when they knew God did not glorify him as God in life. So he gave them up, who became vain in their imaginations, who retained not the life in the knowledge, turned the truth of God into a lie, so that knowledge could not keep them from being filled with unrighteousness, which stood not in the life and power of righteousness, and who received not that truth in that faith which loves to live the life of it.
Wherefore let your food be in the life of what you know, and in the power of obedience rejoice, and not in what you know but cannot live; for the life is the bread of your souls, which crucifies the flesh and confounds that which run before the cross. So let your labor and diligence be in that which presseth into the heavenly being, and seeketh a conformity to Christ in obedience of what you believe, and hearken in love to that, not in that mind which would save your own lives, nor feed you where you are; but in love to that which separateth you from self-life and changeth you into his life whom you wait for from above; so in receiving his commands in that which loves to be like him in life, your faith works by love, and his commands are joyous through love. That faith worketh obedience, quickness and willingness; it worketh out the old and worketh into the new; and so through the hope of that which you love, and obedience of faith, the entrance is made with the life into the holy kingdom, and the immortal glory is put on, which in the light is seen, and in the life obtained, as with the word of faith the separation is made, and the life that's mortal74 put off, whose life is without the veil and is for death, with that life who makes the entrance through his blood, and through his flesh; a living way, a way of life, a new way to all who are seeking the door in old ordinances and traditions and outward observations, feeding their minds with thinking or talking of what others did long since, or what may be done in <156> times to come, and so are in times, but out of that life which endures forever, and only hath the promise of the Father, and power to make the entrance to him, from whom all the world are driven, who are in the lust, and in that nature which loves itself and worketh iniquity; yet wearying themselves to find the door without the light of that life which is not of this world.
And as you mind only to feed on the plant of life, you will come to know the work of the Father in his vineyard, and who the faithful laborer is, and what must be his work; and the slothful servant, and what his work bringeth forth; and the cause why the field of the sluggard is overgrown with evil fruits, and why his vine bringeth not fruit to perfection. For you will find many plants besides the tree of life, all which seek to be fed and strengthened in the mind and affections, and many grown trees tall and strong, which have got fast rooting, spread and bring forth abundantly after their several kinds; and all these present themselves to the eye of the mind, to be fed from thence, which is as the feet, fetching food from far, without which they cannot live long, but must pine away and fall, as they die in the affections and as the mind is withdrawn from such objects as they are fed withal. So the work of him that is faithful is to number these to the axe, and to the fire, and not to suffer these any place in the mind, how strongly soever they tempt, and try every way to spread root to keep life; that so through the death of these the vine may grow alone in the clean affections and holy mind, and honest, chaste heart, which is the good ground, and where the pure plant will bring forth of itself in all, where it is not cumbered with that which is contrary to it; which contrary fruits all that mind the light may see, but the sluggard not being diligent to dig up the root as well as to condemn the fruit, therefore they are daily growing, and the good ground ever75 cumbered with them; and such ever76 know what they should do, but are never77 able to abide therein, their life being lost in the midst of this wilderness, and overgrown with wild plants.
But you being diligent in your watch, you will see that the cause of all your troubles and confusion (when you come to the <157> true labor indeed) is not for nothing; for you will find many plants of several kinds (for the world is in the heart of man,78 as he is driven79 from God). And every kind hath its several life, which lives have their several feedings, all which you may feel in the light, by their temptings to lead out your minds; and though they are of several motions and live upon several objects, yet the least of them being fed by consent in your mind will overrun the vine, and in time bury it, by growing up in your affections. Wherefore all must80 down, that truth alone may rise in your affections, and the word of life have place in your hearts, who is purer than to dwell in the adulterous mind, and whose eye cannot behold iniquity, who hath no communion with darkness, nor fellowship where any idol stands in the temple.
So this is your faith in your labor, even that which overcomes the world and suffereth nothing thereof to take place in your minds, but with the Spirit of life to watch and wrestle against every lust, and kill every affection that would go out for food; for whatever goes out betrays the innocent; and every pleasure of the flesh as a canker doth eat out the life of the holy and just one; but by faith the just lives, and in faithfulness doth he judge and make war against all his enemies, in every one who are exercised therewith.
And in this work, mind what you follow: follow nothing rashly, but prove all things with the fire; and that which will not endure the temptation, and bear the cross, is the adulterer,81 who will look out every way for ease; and the serpent will present many likely ways to her under fair pretenses, which she that would live at ease will hastily hearken to; and if you hearken to her you will betray the work of life, which is bringing forth in hard travail and labor, which is slain in the birth, where ease and sloth is consented to; and with living at ease and pleasure hath the life been slain from the beginning of the world, and hath been kept under by her sorceries, who fares deliciously upon earth; and by consenting to her pleasures hath the election been lost, and covered with the seed of wickedness which God hates, which wars after the flesh and lusts after the flesh, to strengthen <158> itself above the holy spiritual seed; but minding to make that sure to you which calls in your mind, and being obedient thereto, it will lead down by the power of the cross, through that which is above, to the feeling of the election; and a separation being made betwixt that which God chooseth in this82 working-power, and what he condemneth, you will come thereby to know to what to join, and from what to withdraw, that you may be workers together with him, and not against him, which the subtle one will lead you to do, till with the light the separation be made; and so joining to it in faith and obedience, the election will arise, and by diligence thereto it will be made sure.
And once feeling the innocent to move under the oppressor, give yourselves no rest until the strong man bow; for with great plagues upon that nature, and with a strong hand against that will must the seed of promise be redeemed from under his power, which like Pharaoh, if he get but rest, will not let Israel go from under his power; and if you keep with the Spirit and hearken low, it will let you see what must be the plagues you must pour upon him till he be brought down, that a little child may lead him and reign over him; and he that was oppressed by the beast may ride upon him. And as that nature got head and strength by having its lusts fulfilled, so it must be subdued by having its lusts famished, which if you be not faithful to the seed of God herein, you sell your birthright and betray your own redemption and are found deceitful workers against God and your own souls.
Wherefore run not with that which is in haste, but lie down in that which is meek, lowly and patient, that which is willing to wait the Father's time, and seeks to obtain by the obedience of faith, and not in the will that would have in its own hand. For a nature there is which runs out for help, and raveneth abroad to be satisfied, which God will famish. And this will seek to lead the mind, if it be followed, and will hunt about and murmur if it be not satisfied. This goeth about the city, but entereth not; and this must suffer hunger and feel the Lamb's wrath, and plagues upon the head thereof, what way soever it turns, till it bow and come under, which it will not till it be pined with famine and wearied upon the mountains of prey; then shall the lion lie down with the lamb, and <159> the little child lead to rest, and no ravenous beast shall take his feeding from him. But in this work take heed you be not betrayed with that spirit, for it is very subtle, to run to the one hand or the other, either into the eagerness and haste, which is its first way after convincement; or else when it gets not its ends there, then into sloth and idle carelessness, and both these keep it alive in strength above the seed; but a straight way there is betwixt these, in which the seed ariseth, which is a diligent, watchful, patient meekness, feeling the godly principle moving, and following it in faith and obedience in all things without haste or ends, further than what is opened in the life of obedience, constantly diligent, lest anything slip out of the mind which is freely given, either for practice or teaching; for only the diligent mind holdeth the true living treasure, but the slothful and disobedient are leaking vessels.
So as wise in the light, prove your freedom from that nature which is high and fierce and hasty, or any way above the meekness, for therein stands your perfect redemption to know that, that you are not servants to that nature; for it's the same that hasteth into the greediness after worldly things, and fears and distrusts if it hath not in its sight and possession what it lusts after; which being convinced of an inheritance in heaven would have that also in all haste by sight, but not through faith, patience and obedience; which if it may not obtain into its own sight, and in its own way and time, it will be ready to faint and distrust, and this will never strip himself of all in hopes of an inheritance it hath not seen; so this is in bondage and not to be heir; but the just live by faith, whose birth is free from this world, & your redemption from83 the other into the leadings of this, which will bring to the inheritance of the purchased possession.
Wherefore prove your freedom in all things, that you may not glory in vain, but in the liberty of sons. Do not say, "All things are lawful, all things are pure," etc., and so sit down and say you are redeemed and have right to all; but first pass through all things, one after another, as the light leadeth you, and with a true measure see if you be from under the power of any. When you have proved this throughout all things, and found your freedom, then may you say, "All things are lawful," and know what <160> is expedient, and what edifies yourselves and others, and the rest to reign over, without bondage thereto. And this is the liberty of the sons of the new creation, born again, not in bondage; whose liberty is glorious above all created84 things; and these are the pure, to whom all things are pure, who have proved all things with that which is pure, and hold fast only that which is good, and the rest are free from.
And this ever mind: that whatever freedom you obtain through the sufferings and patience of Christ in Spirit, you part not with it to please the flesh, but hold it as your everlasting possession purchased for you, not with corruptible things; so that which is dearly purchased, let not lightly go; but remember Israel, who was redeemed out of Egypt with much hardships and many signs and sufferings, but soon in haste got up that which said, "Let us return back again"; and this grieved God above all. And this you will find ready to rise upon every further hardship and want, as it was with them. Wherefore stand fast in that which you have proved to be liberty indeed, and by no means look back nor hearken85 to that which is behind, to let it overtake you again. Remember Lot's wife, and the wrath of God will ever be upon that mind which looks back into old things, which are judged in the light, and led out of with the life. Wherefore stand single in your minds to follow nothing new or old, but what the Holy Spirit leads into; for the work is a work you know not, nor the way you know not, but as it is learned in the obedience by which the soul is purified and cleared by purging out the old earthly leaven which hath darkened the temple of God, and God's work is not seen in that nature.
Wherefore give all diligence to the Spirit's motion and leadings, what it moves against, and what it leads to; for now will God make all things new: a new creation, new heavens, and new earth, and new heart and mind, and a new law, a new man to walk therein with his Maker with cheerfulness, as the old bonds are broken by the Spirit's leading, and to serve in newness of Spirit. And as you mind the pure leadings of the Spirit, and willingly follow and obey, you will come to know your creator in the days of your youth, and how he makes86 the worlds by the <161> word of his holiness; and how he is your Father, and in what; and how he begets you again into the heavenly delights, who was gone out from him, and drove into the earth with your hearts and affections, and so those will lead out still further from God if you look into them, but can never come into God again, but must die and be changed by the Spirit; and the new creature is accepted into87 God, the new heart and mind and spirit, which is renewed after God, by following of his Spirit who createth him.
And this work will be darkened to your understanding if your minds come not clear out of the old, into the new. For wrath will arise, and confusion will be to that mind which is double, where the eye is not single, kept forward in the belief of the Spirit only, but looks back into the loss, and to that which is dying and condemned; there is the smoke, and darkness, and torment, and temptations, being enticed back into the old; but if the eye be single the whole body is full of light, and the faith ariseth to endure to the end of the world, and to look to the beginning and finishing of the new work of regeneration. And standing single to God herein, though the world pass away with thundering, earthquakes, and a mighty noise, yet shall ye not fear nor faint, abiding in the meek, patient, and suffering spirit, and the leadings of that which endureth all things to win Christ. And coming out of Babel, you shall not fall with her, nor be darkened with the smoke of her torments, as all that abide in her must, and of her plagues must partake; but the pure mind rejoiceth over her in midst of all.
It is in my heart to praise thee, O my God; let me never forget thee what thou hast been to me in the night by thy presence, in the day of trial when I was beset in darkness, when I was cast out as a wandering bird, and when I was assaulted with strong temptations, then thy presence in secret did preserve me, and in a low estate I felt thee near me. When the floods sought to sweep me away, thou settest a compass for them how far they should pass over; when my way was through the sea, and when I passed under the mountains, there wert thou present with me, when the weight of the hills was upon me thou upheldst me, else had I sunk under the earth; when I was as one altogether helpless, when tribulation and anguish was upon me day and night, and the earth without foundation; when I went on the way of wrath and passed by the gates of hell; when all comforts stood afar off, and he that is mine enemy had dominion; when I was cast into the pit and was as one appointed to death; when I was between the millstones, and as one crushed with the weight of his adversary: as a father thou wert with me, and the rock of thy presence, when the mouth of lions roared against me, and fear took hold on my soul in the pit, then I called upon thee in the night, and my cries were strong before thee daily; thou answeredst me from thy habitation and delivered from thy dwelling place, saying, I will set thee above all thy fears, <163> and lift up thy feet above the head of oppression. I believed and was strengthened, and thy word was salvation. Thou didst fight on my part when I wrestled with death, and when darkness would have shut me up, then the light shone about me, and thy banner was over my head; when my work was in the furnace, and as I passed through89 the fiery spirits, thy faith stayed me, else through fear I had fallen; I saw thee and believed, so the enemy could not prevail. When I looked back into thy work I was astonished, and see no end of thy praises. Glory, glory to thee, saith my soul, and let my heart be ever filled with thanksgiving; whilst thy works remain they shall show forth thy power; then didst thou lay the foundation of the earth, and leddest me under the waters, and in the deeps didst thou show me wonders, and the forming of the world by thy hand. Thou ledst me in safety, till thou showed me the pillars of the earth; then did the heavens shower down, they were covered with darkness, and the powers thereof were shaken, and thy glory descended; thou filledst the lower parts of the earth with gladness, and the90 valley was opened; thy showers descended abundantly, so the earth was filled with virtues.91 Thou madest thy plant to spring, and the thirsty soul became as a watered garden; then didst thou lift me out of the pit and set me forth in the sight of mine enemy;92 thou proclaimedst liberty to the captive and called my acquaintance near me, they to whom I have been a wonder;93 and in thy love I obtained favor in those who had forsaken me; then did gladness swallow up sorrow, and I forsook all my troubles. And94 how good is it that man be proved in the night, that he may know his safety,95 that every mouth may become silent in thy hand, until thou make man known to himself, and have slain the boaster and showed him the vanity that vexeth thy soul.96
Dear Friends, dwell in the pure power of God, and in the undefiled life walk towards one another, and feel one another in harmless hearts, and in the bowels of our Lord Jesus Christ judge all straitness in yourselves, rather than one another. How good a thing is unity of spirit and mind! and how precious is that <164> soul that seeks peace with self-denial! God is near you, who seeth all your works; and evil thoughts slay the Lord of peace and grieves God exceedingly.97 But that is the child of his love, and son of his bosom, that seeks not himself but can lay down his life for another; O feel that Spirit and life, my dear friends, and wait for his appearance, who is that life in whom he comes with power; thy peace shall be as a river that is clear and broad, which shall not be dried up; but thou shalt drink into eternal rest, and quietness shall fill thy dwelling, and the God of peace and holiness will delight in thee, and in the end thy fruit shall break out, and thou shalt not long be hid, but thy God in whom thou delightest shall cover thee with his glory and make thee to shine in his light; and the Lamb shall speak out of his temple and shall be confessed to; but the self-ended spirit will wither, and that which lifts up itself will fall to nothing; and backbiters and whisperers, and they which carry tales to make debate will God thrust away far from him, and the meek shall enjoy his inheritance alone, who hath sought his praise from God and not from men. Therefore take heed to your spirits in God's fear, and keep the unity and covenant of God, and grieve not God's Spirit nor provoke any to wrath. And again I warn you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ, speak not evil, nor think evil of brother or sister; for if you do you cannot be guiltless before God, nor stand before the enemy in the time of trial; for evil thoughts will eat out your peace and precious life, and devour your strength with God,98 and make way for many evils to enter and prevail upon you. Even the Lord God of eternal power preserve you all, who hath called you and given you a name amongst the living; for in him is my hope and confidence concerning you all, for the adversary is near you; but to him that is true and faithful I commit you all, whom many of you have known from the beginning; and as you dwell and walk in his power of life and holiness, love and peace, God will keep you from all evil, bear you, and lead you into growth and improvement of what he hath committed to you, and in faith and peace you will be kept from running to the hills <165> to save you, or for making a refuge of a lie; but with the everlasting truth will you all be girded and armed with the word of life against all wickedness of flesh and spirit, within and without. And God eternal kill the world in99 you all, and thoroughly crucify you to it in every affection and out-leading power,100 so that you may all witness him come who is the end of the world, and eternal life; and in him walk in the singleness of your minds as freeborn children, redeemed into perfect liberty with him. And dear Friends, meet often together, and so build up yourselves above visibles, that you may enter into peace and life everlasting. The day of God hastes on apace, which will try every man's spirit and every man's work, of what nature it is, and none will be saved but who are of God; and such he receives into101 himself who is builded up to him in that which is from above. But the wandering and unstable spirit he will shut out and punish with perdition from his presence evermore.
Wherefore dearly beloved in my soul, above what I can write, this I lay upon every one of you in particular, and warn you that you prove and examine yourselves herein, what spirit you are of, and what is your freedom herein; and note that spirit which steals your minds into earthly things and wandering thoughts, for that is not of God but is of this world, & works after the power of the prince of the air; and in this spirit all have fellowship with the world & are in the power which works against God and the Lamb; nor can any in that spirit serve God, nor have fellowship with him in the light; for it is carnal and devilish, and shut out from God the Father of light, and so becomes a vagabond, wandering, chaffy spirit, not capable of God's counsel nor service; nor can you have fellowship with the brethren in the light and power of truth, so long as this reigneth and is followed by you; and so this must be judged in every motion of it, that it may be subdued and put under foot, lest being once enlightened you become wandering stars from God's presence forever. So be you faithful to God who judgeth you, and gird up the loins of your minds, and wait for stable, heavenly spirits, that you may be born <166> thereof, and rule therein over yourselves, and so overcome the world, that you may walk at liberty in God and in Christ Jesus whom he hath sent; and herein is life eternal and rest to your souls, whatever befall you; and only blessed is he that enters thereinto; and it is the faithful that enters, and in faith and obedience is the covenant kept, which keeps quiet the mind, and in perfect peace in all conditions, the purchased possession of every redeemed soul through the blood of Jesus. So God cover you all with his Spirit, being buried into his102 death; and the Almighty arise among you and judge every evil root in its first motion, and give you the knowledge of himself in love, and build you up above all strife and enmity, and fill you with his grace, and season your hearts therewith, and make himself your delight, and bless you all and increase you, my dearly beloved ones, to whom bowels of dear love runneth, even unto the least of you all; in your innocent simple desires, I am one with you all, and with103 my God for you all, that not one of you that ever have tasted of the call or power of God may be lost or offended or driven away. God eternal build you up into his life and give you an inheritance in him that seeks the lost and brings back that which is gone astray. Dear Friends, read me here, and feel my bowels towards all that are tempted or fallen; and treasure up mercy against the day to come; even as ye look to be forgiven, so forgive one another unfeignedly, and keep yourselves separate from the world and every pollution. Oh fear not the world, neither covenant with man, nor say, a confederacy; but fear the living, powerful God of heaven and earth, who is a sanctuary to every clean and faithful heart; and to him I commit you all, who is over the world and worketh in you, to make you eternally as he is,104 that you may be his sons and daughters forever, to whom give thanks and praise forevermore, Amen.
You are often in my remembrance,
This epistle foregoing was given forth since
the former part of the book, about the fifth
day of the fifth Month, 1660.
1. Whitehead renders the title: "Milk for Babes and Meat for Strong Men Treated of, that a feast of fat things, and wine well refined on the lees, they may come to be made partakers of. Written by James Nayler, in the time of his confinement in prison, but not published till 1661."
2. Whitehead makes this paragraph the first paragraph of the text.
3. W. omits this preface by M.B. (Mary Booth, in Rosemary Moore's view).
4. Whitehead changes "with" to "by."
5. Whitehead changes "are" to "were."
6. Whitehead omits "beauty."
7. W. changes "with" to "by."
8. W. changes "with" to "in."
9. W. changes "what" to "him whom."
10. W. changes "you enter" to "receive."
11. W. changes "the same in which" to "he in whom."
12. W. changes "become a life in you" to "he shall become your life."
13. Whitehead changes "the just & faithful one from you" to "you from the just and faithful one."
14. Whitehead changes "what meekness and patience saith" to "meekness and patience, what he saith."
15. Whitehead changes "that" to "him."
16. Whitehead omits "thing."
17. W. changes "love" to "beloved."
18. W. changes "sleighty" to "slight."
19. Whitehead omits "of."
20. W. omits "so."
21. W. changes "with" to "by."
22. Whitehead omits "and so your mortal be swallowed up of the immortal."
23. Whitehead changes "it" to "he."
24. Whitehead omits "and being."
25. Whitehead changes "and" to "or."
26. W. changes "pit" to "low valley."
27. Whitehead changes "with" to "by."
28. Whitehead changes "the lower parts of the earth in the carnal body" to "a low estate with him."
29. W. inserts "you are."
30. W inserts "shall you be."
31. W. omits "born."
32. W. omits "is."
33. W. omits "and."
34. W. changes "first-born" to "first birth."
35. Whitehead inserts "Christ."
36. Whitehead changes "spirit" to "spirits."
37. W. changes "sin (the evil seed)" to "the evil seed."
38. W. omits "all."
39. W. omits "these."
40. W. changes "letter tell" to "Scriptures speak."
41. Whitehead changes "him" to "the first birth."
42. Whitehead changes "must he be famished, into which the Spirit will lead you, where" to "(into which the Spirit will lead you) whereby the false birth must be famished; for."
43. Whitehead inserts "of his."
44. Whitehead changes "entrance be made" to "full enjoyment be."
45. Whitehead inserts "in that state."
46. W. inserts "in order."
47. Whitehead changes "heavenly" to "high."
48. W. omits "every measure."
49. W. changes "corruptible" to "corrupt."
50. W. inserts "to the corrupt."
51. Whitehead inserts "be got."
52. Whitehead changes "is" to "was."
53. W. changes "who" to "which."
54. W. changes "faster than with" to "above."
55. Whitehead inserts "upon."
56. Whitehead changes "his fullness, the foundations of repentance, of faith, of doctrines" to "perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance, and of faith towards God, the doctrines."
57. Whitehead changes "through" to "out of."
58. Whitehead changes "from whence they came" to "that made them."
59. W. inserts "as."
60. W. inserts "so no more shall any man so ascend, but he."
61. Whitehead omits "(neither are you going that way)."
62. Whitehead makes these verbs singular ("hungers," "sees," "thirsts").
63. Whitehead changes "the bonds of death" to "suffering."
64. Whitehead changes "resurrection" to "arising."
65. W. changes "dwells" to "dwell."
66. W. changes "have" to "entangle."
67. Whitehead inserts "which would."
68. W. changes "ensnare" to "oppose."
69. Whitehead changes "sloth" to "slothful."
70. W. changes "way" to "place."
71. Whitehead changes "at his coming, which" to "but."
72. Whitehead changes "know" to "think."
73. Whitehead omits "more than to the knowledge of truth."
74. Whitehead changes "life that's mortal" to "first birth."
75. Whitehead changes "ever" to "is."
76. Whitehead omits "ever."
77. Whitehead changes "never" to "not."
78. W. inserts "and the heart in the earth."
79. Whitehead inserts "out."
80. Whitehead inserts "come."
81. W. changes "adulterer" to "adulteress."
82. W. changes "this" to "his."
83. W. changes "from" to "for."
84. W. changes "created" to "visible."
85. W. changes "hearken" to "hanker."
86. Whitehead changes "makes" to "made."
87. W. changes "into" to "of."
88. W. omits this psalm here but includes it after "To the Life of God in All" (hereinafter TLGA) (see pp. 267-269 below). In TLGA the long title is changed to "And in the Day when my God lift my feet out of the Pit was this given forth."
89. TLGA inserts here "the fire, by thee I was not consumed, though the flames ascended above my head. When I beheld the dreadful visions and was amongst."
90. TLGA inserts "springs of the."
91. TLGA: "virtue."
92. TLGA: "enemies."
93. TLGA inserts "looked upon me."
94. TLGA inserts "I said."
95. TLGA reads "folly" instead of "safety."
96. TLGA: "spirit" instead of "soul."
97. Whitehead changes "slay the Lord of peace and grieves God exceedingly" to "break your peace and grieve God's Holy Spirit."
98. Whitehead omits "with God."
99. Whitehead changes "kill the world in" to "crucify the world to."
100. Whitehead changes "out-leading power" to "outgoing of the mind."
101. Whitehead changes "into" to "unto."
102. Whitehead changes "buried into his" to "baptized into."
103. Whitehead changes "and with" to "beseeching."
104. Whitehead changes "as he is" to "happy."