Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > The Railer Rebuked
The fruitful generation we own and witness, and so we profess and practice as that generation ever did who in all ages have ever borne witness against the world's unrighteous ways, false faiths, and formal worships, which hirelings and false prophets <99> have set up in their imaginations from the letter. And that faith we know and the fruits of it, which ever were found enemies and false accusers of those who were led by that Spirit which is before the letter was, by which the letter was brought into the world, which the prince of this world hath ever made use on to withstand such as brought forth the life of the Scriptures into the world. And that under the name of some zealous profession called themselves Jews, children of Abraham, the temple, circumcision and suchlike, even as you now who profess faith and baptism calling yourselves Christians, but are found in direct opposition (as thou sayest) unto this generation of sufferers and messengers of God, slandering, nicknaming them, but calling themselves Christians; and there the serpent would hide his head; but out of your holes you must come, by your fruits to be tried what sort of Christians you are; for they were no Christians who upheld the hirelings and pleaded for them as thou dost, nor they who called them Masters; they were no Christians who worshipped in the idols' temple, who beat in the synagogues and haled before rulers, and imprisoned such as came to witness against the hirelings and their idol worship. They were no Christians that sued people for tithes or wages and bare rule by their means, nor the people that love to have it so and called such faithful laborers as thou dost. They were no Christians who by petitions or otherwise stirred up the powers of the earth against the innocent to persecute and kill the persons for reproving their wickedness or who laid snares for such as reproved sin in the gates; these were the wolves and are the wolves Christ speaks on, who are out of the light of Christ: and that is the spirit of antichrist in thee that pleads for such and calls them helps and means to guide in all the ways of God, who are found in the steps of the Pharisees and false prophets, withstanding the ways of God, in the devices of men, and by their fruits they are known; and who calls these sheep are blind, though with the name of Christians they be clothed; and these are they with which thou art seriously engaged (as thou sayest) to deny all who speak against them, and here thou art engaged against Christ, and the seared conscience thou speakest on appears in upholding such as the Scripture condemns, which thou callest faithful laborers, and beliest Christ saying he hath thrust them forth, who hath ever denied such, and those that <100> uphold them; but they have thrust themselves in, and run unsent for gifts and rewards. And thou deniest the life of Christ, therefore must needs bring forth the life of the devil and plead for it in others, slandering and lying upon us and the Spirit of God, saying it teacheth you not to own any perfection in Christ as properly yours; and here I charge thee before the Lord whom thou hast denied to stop thy mouth forever meddling to judge of the people of Christ, his righteousness or perfection, who hast no propriety in it, but hast denied him before all men to be properly thine; for who hath him hath his perfection, whom we witness to be freely given to us of our Father, and him we have received, and he is properly ours, with all his perfection and power. In him we have power to do the will of God, and through him that strengthens us can do all things that God requires of us, which thou deniest also; and herein we justify God and his gift to be perfect, and the power of God in Christ his will to do and his law to fulfill in us, and this is the righteous covenant God hath given which we witness; and if any abide not in the will of God and this power, but go into condemnation, let God be clear of his blood forever who is departed out of the way of God and his power, which is perfect freedom to all that abide in it. But this the babes know, and not the wolves; and the purity of Christ we own (which thou deniest) and that hope that leads thee to it is the hope of the hypocrite and shall perish; and all that have Christ have the true light and word within them and need go no more out to seek it in Babel, though thou wouldst imply the contrary; and this the apostles ministered out, which was within in them; and this word and light we witness in us, which cannot be contained, nor darkness comprehend it. And thou talks of the Spirit teaching you that Christ your righteousness was sacrificed for you, and in another place thou sayest the Spirit teached you to deny his perfection to be yours. But what spirit is this which owns his righteousness and denies his perfection? is not his righteousness perfection? This is the lying spirit thou chargest us with, which thou listens to, which rules in thy deluded heart; and manifest is thy confusion to all who know Christ and his perfection. And thou sayest you have no intent to establish your own righteousness, but what else canst thou establish who hast not that righteousness thine which is perfect; that is thine own which is <101> not perfect, for the least measure of the righteousness of Christ is perfect. Thou sayest the Spirit of God teacheth you to honor all men; and here thou art seen in thy own will and personal admiration, honoring thou knowest not what with the proud clothing and the gold ring, men in their greatness and pride, and this is not in the Lord but in the earth. And thou beliest the Spirit of God if thou do say it teacheth this honor, and condemns the practice of the saints, yea Christ himself, who could not honor Herod here, but called him a fox though he was a king; and by the Spirit of Jesus that honor is judged to be for the dust, and that which here thou honorest, for condemnation. But that which is honored by the Spirit of God is that power which is of God, in whomever he hath placed it without respect of persons, that sword that cuts down sin, and executeth the law of God upon offenders without respect of persons; they that resist this power receive to themselves damnation, which that in every conscience doth witness, and there is honor to whom honor is due. But no place for pride, nor the prince of pride to be worshiped, who therefore rages and says (in them where he is exalted) that we would destroy magistracy, but is a liar and hath so been proved in all ages, for that Spirit which denies to honor men in their pride preserves magistracy, even from such as will bow and flatter to the face but would destroy in secret, and that seed was manifest in Mordecai, who saved the king's life and yet would not obey his commands to bow to Haman's pride, also in Christ and many of the dear servants of God who never went about to destroy magistracy but preserved it, who saith give Caesar his due, and God his due, and yet was accused to be an enemy to Caesar by those who were enemies both to Caesar and God and yet had a large profession as thou hast who art found in the same accusation; and so the devil hath been in all ages, who cannot have that seed to bow to him, in proud man in which he is exalted above all that is called God; for that seed is taught of God what to honor, and to honor that which God honors, and this is no spirit of delusion, incivility, or like brute beasts as thou callest it, for that is the beast which worships the beast and his image, where it is; and thou art the false prophet that pleads for it, and this we judge not before the time (as thou accusest us), for the Son of God is come <102> to whom all judgment belongs, and hast given us an understanding in all these things, and the spirit of judgment is poured out, and the prince of this world is judged and condemned, and the dragon, and the hireling, and the deceiver, and the proud, and the carnal (thou speakest on) which thou would have spared under a pretense of charity; and says, the Spirit of God teacheth so, which the Spirit of God hath ever condemned such; but this is the spirit of the devil who under pretense of charity would keep his own works from judgment—the proud, the carnal, the hireling, and the deceiver, and demonstrated this is though the blind cannot see it. And thy charity I deny, who loves these things & would hold them up. And he that is risen to overturn these, his work shall praise him in the gate, & flatterers shall run to the mountains to cover them; and thou says I belie your doctrine because I deny that faith which cannot believe salvation from sin to the uttermost, or that says they have Christ and have not power. To which I answer, they that say none can be free from committing sin while they live (as your teachers do) hold forth that faith which I deny. And for Christ having empowered any to do the will of God, thou thyself opposes in this paper: and here I have not belied your doctrine, but the lie is thy own, though thou say the Spirit teacheth to speak truth in love and meekness; and this doctrine is quite contrary to the word and promise of God, who said he should save his people from their sins and present holy without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, and this we know and are one with him; but thou who hast not propriety in his perfection art ignorant of it, and therefore thinks us to be so too. And thou chargest us for denying that faith to be in Christ, whose righteousness is not perfect, because the righteousness of Christ is perfect. To which I affirm that because the righteousness of Christ is perfect, therefore that faith I deny to be in Christ which lays hold upon an imperfect righteousness. And thou sayest the righteousness of Christ is not properly ours, but only through faith, and here thou denies faith to be proper, or the gift of God by faith received to be properly ours, & then God hath given an improper thing, which is not theirs, for believers to be saved by; and this is thy doctrine and conjured stuff from the letter, imagined by a spirit of direct opposition (as thou sayest) thou hast against us; and rather than thou wilt be silent thou wilt speak <103> thou knowest not what. And thou takest offense that we should witness the life of Christ, or that he that hath this hope purifieth himself as he is pure, and when thou hast done thou saith thou endeavorest to purify thyself even as he is pure; and here thou discoverest thy wolfish inside (thou tells on), who accuse us for witnessing the Scripture in that which thou thyself endeavors after. And divers other things thy mischievous mind murmurs at, and in thy paper wouldst cast a mist before the truth, but dare not deny them; and here thy whited devil is seen and bound. And thou sayest thou hast learned not to account thyself already perfect: I answer, what perfection canst thou have who deniest the perfection of Christ to be thine (unless thou be perfect in iniquity), and the least child of light shall thee judge, who art setting the old covenant above the new, to be judge and trier of it, which old the apostle denies to establish this new; for the old covenant made nothing perfect, and there thou art who denies the perfection of the new to be thine; and here thy spirit is tried with that which is before the old covenant was, to be that delusion of Satan thou tellest on, who would try the covenant of life with that which can give no life, and by such a trial did the Jews put Christ to death for a blasphemer, by the letter of their law, who was the life of the law, which life is the end of all laws without; yet herein is not laws without denied, but fulfilled in Christ, for whom they were written. And thou sayest thou owns that faith which purifies the heart and produceth holiness within and without, and yet thou deniest the perfection of Christ to be thine, or to be empowered by him to do the will of God; and this purity and holiness which is not thine in Christ, and in his power, I deny, and the ground of it I judge with that which is perfect; that this thy holiness is the filthy rags. And thou talkest of many things without thee, as a law without, a light without, a word without, and many such words thou utterest, but with that eye which is single, which is before the visible was, art thou seen & comprehended, and thy faith that stands in visible things which shall perish, for what is seen is temporal, but so is not the law, and light, and word which endureth forever, though thou wouldst prove the letter to be the word, which was never given forth to be called by the name of God or Christ (who are called the word) nor to withstand <104> the appearance of God or his word, as you would use them, as some of your rabbis have lately affirmed that God hath spoken his last; for the Scriptures, say they, is his last will, and no more revelations since the book of Revelations was written, and thus idolizes a visible thing and gives it the name of God, and sets it in his place, and says there is no other way to know God, all which the letter denies and declares God to be the word, and exhorts to hear his voice and know it, and saith there is not nor can be any knowledge of God but by revelation from Jesus Christ, which is before the letter was, which the letter declares; but this is the spirit of Satan that would stop the mouth of God never to speak more, nor that any should wait for it, but he that hath heard the voice of the living God doth bear witness in his presence against that spirit to be a lying spirit, and an enemy to Abraham's seed and his faith, who stands opposing between God and the creatures, to make people believe that they shall not have the same fellowship with God as the saints have ever had, but would set up the letter in his stead, spoken forth by them who heard his voice, and declared for that end his word to wait for, and his teachings to witness by him to be guided in all things, which such as thou would deny to set up the hirelings who never heard his voice but were ever denied by them who had the word, as the letter declares, and proves all you liars who puts the Lord far from you in these latter days, which saith, in the latter days he will pour out his Spirit more abundantly, and that the knowledge of God shall cover the earth, which is witnessed by hundreds who from the mouths of the wolves and liars are set free, which whilst we were under them we could not believe; and we know whom we worship and his power, and all the liars in the world cannot make us deny him nor his work in us, who is blessed forever. And thy doubtful queries are answered, and with the Spirit we are taught this faith to hold forth, and with meekness they are showed, and in that wisdom that is foolishness to the world and ever was, and his virtues who hath called us out of darkness into light, and this faith worketh by love to all the creatures of God, and by it we are constrained to call all to this love, for which we suffer in your streets, markets, and synagogues, in a spirit of meekness, and this we have learned of him, which is more than thou knowest (as thou sayest), for if thou knew thou <105> would not have a hand, in which thou art deeply engaged as thou says. And it is utterly in vain to write or speak against this faith, for therein thou shows but thy folly, and what generation thou art of, who calls this perverted which the saints practiced, and thou that doubts art damned in thy own conscience, and being deluded to believe lies, thou art rejected and steadfastly resisted in the faith, who art under the power of Satan, bringing forth his works, who saith we in works deny God, and that we know not what the resurrection of the dead means, and then says thou wilt not absolutely determine nor judge of us; and here thou hast told three lies together, and it's easy to determine who is that vassal thou speaks on, led captive at his will. And the word of God we have, and his law written in our hearts, which condemns all such practices. And the fruits of love such could never discern, nor the end of the commandment, but under pretense of charity would be flattered in their sins. And we know Christ to be in us without thy comparisons, and by his Spirit are we led, which if thou was so thou durst not lie and slander as thou dost, nor have wrested my words in printing them false in thy paper, saying I deny all those laws without, as though I denied the laws of the nation, when my words is, I deny all whose law is without and moral, intending your popish notions with which you set up the letter to oppose the new covenant; yet herein do I deny no laws in books which are according to this covenant, but own them in their place, but not to try the law of life which is in Christ, by (as thou wouldst make it). And here thy crooked ways are seen, subtle lying, slandering, and perverting my words; and the whited devil thou tells on is discovered in thyself, not in the Quakers as thou scornfully callest us, and thou hast the seared conscience thou tells on, else ashamed thou would be, and to thee I have written, and all thy generation, but not for your help, but to help thee to see thy folly which to that of God in thy conscience, if thou be obedient, it will stop thy mouth and let thee see thy envy and a busy mind, speaking evil of that thou knows not, that thou may appear to be somebody, but thy work is seen and thy reward also. And now seeing these things thou chiefly opposest, yet dare not plainly deny them, I shall return the sum of them by way of query, to which in plainness that thou answer the Yea or <106> the Nay, that thy mist may be cleared, is the demand of him who is called James Nayler.
First, Whether that faith which lays hold of an imperfect righteousness be faith in Christ, or self-righteousness?
Whether God can own an imperfect righteousness for salvation, or is any perfect but that of Christ?
Whether God have given Christ with his righteousness and perfection freely to all that receive him?
Whether Christ so given, and by faith received, be properly ours with all he hath, in the measure so received?
Whether anyone can be born of God and not have the life of Christ in him, and abiding in him? whether he commit sin or no?
Whether the law of the new covenant be written in the heart? And whether the apostle denied the old to establish the new? and whether of them is the believer's rule and freedom?
Whether the hope of Christ purifies the heart, and is not that the hope of the hypocrite that hopes to be saved but lives in sin and worldly pleasures? and whether that be the life of Christ, yea or nay?
Whether everyone that hath received Christ hath received power to resist the devil and to do the wills of God in his measure, and if such commit sin, whether it be want of power, or denying the power, seeing the greater is in us than in the world?
Whether they that are called of men masters, love greeting in markets, chief place in assemblies, sue for tithes or set wages, bear rule by their means, imprison the innocent, be those laborers Christ hath thrust out into his vineyard? Or do these fruits prove them so, seeing Christ saith by their fruits you shall know them?
Whether the end of Christ's coming be to redeem his people from their sins in this life, or are they believers that deny it?
Whether the Spirit of God teacheth to call Christ ours, and his righteousness ours, but to deny his perfection to be ours?
Whether the letter be that word and light of John, Christ, and the apostles bear witness on, yea or nay?
Whether plain dealing be pure love, seeing thou pretendest charity to spare the wicked?
a. Thomason date: March 12, 1654/55.