Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > To all the People of the Lord
In the fear of God, and love to his truth and people do I declare, in the spirit of meekness, what hath long oppressed my soul concerning those unclean spirits gone out from the unity of the truth and light by which we have been called and gathered into one in Christ Jesus, the head over all his blessed forever, whose name hath been greatly dishonored through many wild actings, and his innocent Spirit grieved, and many simple souls deceived; many oppressed, and many offended against the truth, because of those spirits gone out from the truth, and now secretly, under a pretense, seeks daily to make it odious to all (for which work my soul hath been much troubled): who to this day raven about from place to place amongst the people of God, seeking to enter where they can, and so to strengthen themselves into parties, to trouble such as they cannot enter, seeking to spoil the peaceable pasture of the lambs, that they should not feed in peace, and for that end, hunt after the meetings of the people of God. All which practices and pretenses I deny in my soul, and that spirit that acts therein.
And the more it lies upon me from the Lord to warn the simple, innocent ones of his thereof openly, in that through me these spirits have got much head and entrance into the minds of some who were simple towards God's truth. And this the envious one hath done, in the night of my trial, and hour of darkness and temptation, taking advantage at my sufferings, in the day when my judgment was taken away, and I led captive under the power of darkness, which all along hath sought my life, had not the Father hid it, and with his hand upon me, stayed me in those great temptations; to whom alone I give the glory of my deliverance from that great destruction, as his promise was to me before I came into that trial; who hath now brought me up again, and hath given me to see those evil spirits, and that the work of the murderer and devourer is therein, against the life of God in his temple. Which, though they seek entrance under pretense of humility, promising some great things, and more holiness in that way, <64> to steal into simple minds; but being got in, exalts themselves above the seed of God, and tramples the meek spirit under foot, and so darkens the vessels, and being exalted in the openings of thea imaginations, leads the creature (as God) above that of God, and so against that of God he wars in others where God is above.
And this mystery of deep iniquity hath the Lord God in the Spirit of the Lamb revealed unto me, whose powerful working I have found working in me above the pure measure and unspotted life of God. And though in the simplicity of Christ Jesus I had given up my body all along, a free offering to the will of God in life or in death, for the seed's sake, yet ungathered in the world (as God knoweth I lie not); yet could I often feel that exalted one above, secretly tempting to envy against the people of God already gathered, pretending a greater thing to come another way; but this with the life of God was ever judged. Though often I was buffeted therewith, sometimes so strongly as to force words from me, above the meek and lowly principle: all which words were soon judged, with the sufferer which lay under, and with his life be they condemned forever.
And this lies upon me to declare openly, which God hath revealed to me, for the sake of the simple ones who may be deceived therewith, but would not, did they know his subtlety. And by this shall you all perceive that spirit, whatever it pretends, it will secretly withdraw your entire love from the flock of God already gathered, and cool your affections and zeal towards their present meetings, and if you judge it not there, it will grow on with an evil eye, to spy out their failings, and delight to hear of them and talk of them, with a hidden joy, whispering them to others, and adding thereunto, with a desire to see them broken and their nakedness laid open, if anything be amiss. And thus it hath wrought in a mystery of wickedness in some unjudged, until it be seated in the throne of open enmity and strife against the lambs of Christ; preferring the society of the profane before them, and taking part therewith against them, joining with any who seek to scatter them. And whatever pretense this spirit seeks to cover itself with, this I declare of it (having been kept by the good hand of God, to see it revealed in its ground and end) that it is the old <65> spirit of the Ranters, which now in a new way makes head against the light of Christ and life of his cross; which is the only thing that stands in its way, by condemning its filthiness in every conscience. And so they in whom this is entered, being exalted above the living witness in themselves, would devour it in others.
And this in the presence and fear of God I declare, without the least prejudice against the person of any man or woman, but in obedience to God and for the seed's sake, lest any more of the simple should be deceived, and that such as are deceived already might recover themselves out of Satan's snares; no selfish end have I in it, God knoweth. And long time hath my soul been in travail ere I could obtain power herein, so strongly hath he that letteth withstood my way.
Therefore in the bowels of tender love I warn you all to take heed how you ever come under that spirit under any pretense whatsoever; but let the fear of God and sound judgment in the spirit of meekness you all preserve above it. For wheresoever it enters by consent it is hardly got out again; and if it be it is not without much sorrow. And this I have found in the depth, which for your sakes I declare in plainness and truth as I have learned of the Lord, laboring with him without ceasing, that the rest of the people of God everywhere may be saved from this devourer who goeth daily about to deceive, and whosoever he takes he casts into the earth or into the sea, for wickedness is with him wheresoever he goeth.
Even the Lord God Almighty arm you all against his wiles, being warned thereof in his love, and the eternal power of holiness you all preserve clean to himself, who are dearer unto me than ever, and that in no other thing but in that innocent principle in which you are kept free from all the pollutions of the world, and fleshly liberty, and stand witnesses for God against it, before all men, and in no other thing have I fellowship with any, which is that I seek to set up above all.
And this was I moved to give forth, to go everywhere as a witness against that unclean spirit wherever it goes, feeling its work is to run to and fro to deceive; that all may be warned by what I have learned in sufferings, and they that will not may be left without excuse.
Written in Bridewell, about
the beginning of 1658.
a. Whitehead omits "openings of the."