Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > Satan Enthroned in his Chair of Pestilence
Upon Friday of October, 1656, one James Nayler came riding through a village called Bedminster (a mile from the city of Bristol), a young man with his hat off leading Nayler's horse, and one man before with his hat on, through the dirty cartway. And two men riding, with each a woman behind him, on two other horses, and one woman walking on the causeway, whereupon one George Witherley spake to them, to come in the dry upon the causeway, telling them God required no such thing at their hands. But they made no answer, but sung and kept their way, and the said Witherley believes the two men were knee deep in dirt, it being very rainy and foul weather; and in that posture they came to the almshouse within the liberties (but in the suburbs) of Bristol, and then one of the women alighted, and she and the other woman went, one on the one side of James Nayler's horse, and the other on the other side. The man still leading the horse uncovered, and sung as they came along, and so came to Bristol. The said Witherley coming along with them. But he saith he knoweth not what they sung, but they made a humming noise.
This information was given in upon oath by the said Witherley before the Mayor and some other justices of the said city.
Now for their posture into and through a great part of the city, we have a like testimony upon oath from a citizen of good repute and credit, and attested by many other substantial citizens, &c. That the said Nayler rode on horseback in at a gate called Ratclif-gate, with one bare before him, whose name is Timothy Wedlock of the County of Devon: two women leading the said Nayler's horse, with the reins in their hands; one of each side, Martha Simmonds wife of Thomas Simmonds of London, stationer, and sister to Giles Calvert, and Hannah Stranger the wife of John Stranger of London, comb-maker, who came singing, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Israel." And in this posture he rode to the high cross of Bristol, and from thence to the White Hart in Broadstreet, being the house1 of Dennis Holister and Henry Row (both eminent Quakers). The magistrates being hereof informed, sent for Nayler and his crew. But such was their singing, "Hosanna," and "holy, holy" etc., and the great concourse of people, that their examination that night was not much—but were all seven of them committed to Newgate.
Now for your further information, you must know that Nayler and some other of them had been not long before released out of Exeter Jail (by what means I think not convenient to relate) and were (as they say) <559> intended for London; but must it seems come this way to play their pranks with us, as well as in other places as they passed through. For at Wells and Glastonbury, his complices strewed their garments in the way as this imposter Nayler rode along, as will appear afterward. But to proceed: the magistrates of this city, upon their first appearance before them, commanded them to be searched and found divers letters and other papers about him the said Nayler and his companions; which letters because they were the ground of their following examination (little else if anything being to be had from them otherwise), I shall give in unto you at least so many of them, and so much of them, as were and was pertinent to their discovery. The rest (being stuffed with such abused scriptures and canting language as is usual with them, and the readers I think, are too much acquainted with) I was not willing to insert, because I would not have this narrative to swell to too big a bulk.
And first, you shall have a letter written to Nayler by one Jane Woodcock, who Nayler affirmed to be a wife but did not name her husband, which letter Nayler acknowledgeth he received from her, when he was in Exeter prison.
The Letter thus:
O thou beloved of the Lord, the prophet2 of the most high God, whom the Lord brought to this great city,3 for to judge and try the cause of his Israel, faithful and just hast thou carried thyself in it, for thou becomest weak to the weak, and tender to the broken hearted; when we had troubled thee in bringing our causes before thee in the daytime, thou didst not think much to spend nights in the Lord's service, in writing forth the cause of the innocent, to the leading of poor souls out of darkness into his marvelous light. At other times clearing the innocent against the opposition of adversaries. Amongst us all hast thou showed forth thyself a faithful laborer in the vineyard of the Lord. Often hast thou called to us, inquiring of us who hath hired us, warning us to be careful to be with him in the work, which for my own part was a stranger to, before I saw thee, and could not read the letter without thee. And so goes on, magnifying and speaking high words of him.
The next is a Letter to him, from one Richard
Fairman, which is as followeth:
Brother, in the life which is immortal dearly beloved; who art counted worthy to be made partaker of the everlasting riches, I am filled with joy and rejoicing when I behold thee in the eternal unity, <560> where I do embrace thee in the everlasting arms of love. O thou dear and precious servant of the Lord, how doth my soul love. I am overcome with that love that is as strong as death. O my soul is melting within me, when I beheld thy beauty and innocency, dear and precious son of Zion, whose mother is a virgin,4 and whose birth is immortal. My soul is joined to thee forever, in a covenant which cannot be forgotten. Dear brother, I have been of late under great trial, &c. In the dear humility I rest,
Dorcester Jail the 28th of the 6th month
thy dear Brother
The third thus:
Which Martha Simmonds conceived to be from one
Ruth Hill, at Paul's stump
The word of the Lord came unto me concerning thee saying, I will make him as a hedge in the way of the adulterer, and as a bar of iron on the neck of them that run swiftly, And all the wise men shall seek for him,4 and when they have found him, they shall open their ears and shall give unto him of their gold, frankincense and myrrh.5 But he shall not receive of them; for they are not they that shall abide with him, for I have given unto him the poor and simple, and such as are upright in heart. Of them shall he take freely, for they are his own forever; for I will utterly confound the wisdom of the wise, and bring to an end the consultations of the prudent, and they shall know that as I was the beginning, I will be the finisher of mine own work.
The next I shall present you with is a letter written by Hannah Stranger, who was one of them that led his horse and sung unto him; which letter was sent by her to him,6 being at Exeter.
In the pure fear and power of God my soul salutes thee, thou everlasting Son of righteousness and Prince of Peace. O how my soul travaileth to see thy day, which Abraham did and was glad, and so shall all that are of faithful Abraham. O suffer me to speak what the Lord hath moved:7 There is one temptation near the like unto the first, and is like the wisdom of God; but it is not, and therefore must be destroyed. Oh it defileth and hurteth the innocent; I beseech thee wait my soul travaileth to see a pure image8 brought forth, and the enemy strives to destroy it, <561> that he may keep me always sorrowing and ever seeking, and never satisfied nor never rejoicing. But he in whom I have believed will shortly tread Satan under feet; and then shalt thou and thine return to Zion with everlasting rejoicing and praises. But till then, better is the house of mourning than rejoicing, for he that was made a perfect9 example, when he had fasted the appointed time of his Father, was tempted to eat and to show a miracle, to prove himself to be the Son of God. But man lives not by bread said he, and now no more by that wisdom shall he live, on which he hath long fed, as on bread,10 and as his food hath been, so must his fast be, and then at the end temptation, to as low a thing as a stone, that if it were possible, the humility and the miracles would deceive the elected innocent and righteous branch of holiness; but be his wills never so many, the time cometh he shall leave thee; for he is faithful who hath promised "he will not leave the throne of David without a man to sit thereon,11 which shall judge the poor with righteousness and the world with equity." This shall shortly come to pass, and then shall the vision speak and not lie. O let innocency be thy beloved and righteousness thy spouse, that thy father's lambs may rejoice in thy pure and clear unspotted image of holiness and purity;12 which my soul believeth I shall see, and so in the faith rest. I am in patience, wait and the power will preserve from subtlety though under never so zealous a pretense of innocent wisdom it be, yet shall the Lord "not suffer his holy one to see corruption, nor his soul to lie in hell, but will cause the mountain to melt at his presence, and the little hills to bring him peace." Oh I am ready to fear as a servant, and obey as a child. If I have spoken words too high,13 love hath constrained me, which is as strong as death, and with the same Spirit cover them as they are spoken with, and then shall the Spirit of David be witnessed, who refused not words though from his servant's mouth if they were in the fear. I am his servant, and he my Master, whom I love and fear, and I trust shall do unto the end.
London, the 16th day of the 7th Month
Then ye have another letter from the same as followeth:
<562> Oh thou fairest of ten thousand, thou only begotten son of God,14 how my heart panteth after thee; O stay me with flagons and comfort me with wine. My well-beloved thou art like a roe or young hart upon the mountains of spices, where thy beloved spouse15 hath long been calling thee to come away. But hath been but lately heard of thee, now it lies something upon me, that thou mind to see her, for the Spirit and power of God is with her. And there is given to her much of excellent and innocent wisdom arisen and arising in her, which will make all the honest hearted to praise the Lord alone, and no more set up self. And therefore let not my lord and master have any jealousy again of her, for she is highly beloved of the Lord, and that shall all see, who come to know the Lord. And now he doth bless them that bless his, and curse them that curse his. For this hath the Lord showed me, that her portion is exceeding large in the Lord, and as her sorrow hath been much, so shall her joy be much more, which rejoiceth my heart to see her walk so valiantly and faithfully in the work of the Lord, in this time of so great trial, as hath been laid upon her especially.16 And I am,
Remember my dear love to thy Master. Hannah Stranger.
Thy name is no more to be called
James but Jesus, John Stranger
This John Stranger is husband to this Hannah Stranger, and this was added as a postscript by him to his wife's letter, as is acknowledged:
"Remember my love to those friends with
The 17th of the 8th Month
Superscribed: This to the hands of James Nayler
Now this Hannah Stranger came from London with her husband, as also Martha Simmonds and her husband, to bring down the order for the release of Nayler and his companions out of Exeter, Simmonds parting from them at Exeter and returning immediately to London, leaving his wife with them at Exeter, from whom she received a letter here in Bristol, as we shall see afterwards.
And hear a little farther to what was writ before in the margin, that by James Nayler's spouse whom Hannah in her letter so strongly pleads for, and whom she so highly and transcendently magnifies, is <563> meant no other than her companion Martha Simmonds, is plain by Nayler's own answer: for being asked whether Martha Simmonds were the person intended by the name of a spouse of whom he was desired not to be jealous, answered he never had any jealousy of her, but would say no more, which had she not been so accounted by him, no doubt he would have denied. And Nayler (as before) being demanded what she was charged with, answered, she was charged to be a witch, a sorcerer, and a whore: but he said it was not true. And indeed it was not safe for him to acknowledge. And whereas Nayler had received a letter from one Elizabeth Smith while he was in Exeter Jail, by which letter he was advised by the said Smith to deny, cast off "that wicked spirit" far from him; he the said Nayler in zeal to his spouse had struck out those words out of the letter as he said with his own hands, because he said, "those words ought not to be there." I the longer insist upon this, because this Martha Simmonds we find much blamed and cried out upon (as one that hath spoiled their game) by George Fox that eminent Quaker in a letter of his directed to Nayler, which letter was wholly written by the hands of George Bishop (that precious St.) but subscribed G.F. which is as followeth.
Thou must bear thine own burden, and thy company with thee,17 whose iniquity doth increase, and by thee not cried against, thou hast satisfied the world, yea, their desires which they look for. And thou and thy disciples and the world are joined against the truth. It is manifest through your wilfulness and stubbornness. And this is the word of the Lord God to thee. Martha Simmonds, which is called your Mother, she bade me bow down and said I was Lord and King. And then "my heart was rotten." And she said, she "denied that that was head in me." And one of them,18 she had Francis Howgill's mouth,c and silenced him, and turned my word into a lie, and into a temptation, and she came singing in my face inventing words. And Hannah boasted and said, "If they were devils make them tremble." And she boasted <564> what she would do, and cry against. Many did not expect that thou wouldst have been an encourager of such as do cry against the power and life of truth, and have trained up a company against it; and what is that which doth fulfill the world's prophecy and their desires; therefore consider and search thyself, if this be innocency. The light of God in ye all, I am.c But this I judge.
For James Nayler this
Now here you see this Martha Simmonds is much complained of by Fox, as one that disturbs the scene and spoils the play. I shall make more use of it afterwards; and as this Martha is thus charged by Fox, so also by others, as will appear afterwards by the deposition of one Thomas Perkins, a prisoner for debt in Newgate in Bristol, where the said Martha was charged to her face by another beast (as bad as herself) to be a witch, and that she had Nayler in bondage, &c.
And truth is, it is not altogether groundless to conceive so of her, as will appear when you have the story of her prevailings upon Nayler at the first, according to her own confession, which is thus:
She being demanded by the magistrates, why she was accounted a witch? made this answer.19
"Being among the people called Quakers in London, I was moved to declare to the world, and often they would judge me exceedingly, that I was too forward to run before I was sent, and that nevertheless I loved them well, as being men of pure life, but I was moved by the power, I could not stay though they sometimes denied me, yet I was forced to go, and my word did prosper;20 and the last service I was in was Ware and Hartford, and there I was faithful, and then I came to London to them, and then we were all one, and when I came I did not know what I should do further; and then I was moved of the Lord to go to James Nayler and tell him I wanted justice, and he being harsh to me, at length these words came to me to speak to him, which I did, and struck him down: 'How are the mighty men fallen; I came to Jerusalem and behold a cry, and behold an oppression,' which pierced and struck him down with tears from that day; and he lay from that day in exceeding sorrow for about three days, and all that while the power arose in me, which I did not expect, seeing I knew he was in that condition. But after three days he came to me and confessed I had been clear in service to the Lord, and that he had wronged me, and should have done justice, but did not do it. And then he lay at my house three days, and <565> then they all having a single eye looking on him as being a man upon whom the life was borne up, they seeing him so changed from that reigning power that was in him, that had overcome all the priests that came to him and others—then they all concluded that I had bewitched him,21 when alas I was as innocent as a child, and they (because he could not go amongst them) all set upon me, that I had bewitched him. So they came and plucked him away from me. I thought they had not had such a spirit in them,22 but I suffered in all, and he went away and came to Bristol, where he was in the same manner in their meeting and did not speak, and after the meeting they plucked me and held me, and I sang; and after the meeting was ended they plucked him in, and they all followed him, and so came into a house by the orchard, which was about twelve weeks since, and there was then amongst them Captain Bease, Howgill, Burrough, and Captain Bishop and others, and they plucked me and the rest exceedingly & used us very sorely, in so much that J. Nayler did sweat exceedingly, and we were in danger of our lives; & they threw me down the stairs;d and when they had their wills on him, they let me and him come to the White Hart, and there also they came and used us sorely. And then James Nayler went towards Exeter, and I towards London." Then she was asked whether at Bristol she had not been charged with incontinency, and she replieth, she bid them make it appear, and she said they did not mean carnally, a carnal harlot, but a spiritual, whoring from the truth, they have accused her for being a witch, and for going a whoring from the Lord and his ways, but let her accusers appear she hath gone over all Israel, and now she appeareth to the magistrates here, that can bring her accusers face to face, and being asked why she would have George Fox bow down, she saith, he having a lordly spirit, she would have him bow down, and she saith not long since she was sent of the Lord, to watch with General Desborough's wife, in whom there is a measure of God.
By this relation of her own, you may easily discern of what an active spirit this Martha is. And although I did intend not to mention it (namely the means of Nayler and his companions' deliverance out of <566> prison), yet now forasmuch as I conceive it may be useful, not only to others but to those honorable persons who procured the enlargement of these wretched blasphemers, as a caution for the future, not so easily to receive into their houses and give entertainment unto such serpents; I shall lay before you the diligence of this housewife.
The wife of Major General Desborough being sick (who is since dead), this busy companion, Martha Simmonds, puts herself upon the service to attend and watch with her, for she confessed she was not sent for thither. But she said, she was moved or sent of the Lord to it (as 'tis the garb of these bold deceivers to entitle the Lord and the Spirit to all their wicked practices and suggestions), and there (it seems) by her diligence and subtlety she so far insinuated, as that she procured the enlargement of Nayler and his company.
This I the rather mention, that those who have power in their hands may see how easily and mischievously they may become instrumental to wicked, ungodly, and unchristian practices; for clear I am; neither his Highness nor the Major General would so easily have yielded to their enlargement or any way tolerated such bold blasphemers, could they have foreseen the issue.
But I proceed in our narrative. This notable piece Martha Simmonds being (as before) so charged, sends a letter to her beloved James (or Jesus) pleading her innocency. True it is, Nayler upon his examination said it was a copy of a letter from Martha Simmonds to one William Dewsbury;e but as I shall show afterwards, Nayler can lie and juggle, and the very contents and language will easily declare to whom it was written, namely to Nayler himself. And it being found upon him,
The letter thus:
Oh let me forevermore be tried by the hands of Jesus. But should it enter into the heart of my lord,23 concerning his servant of being guilty in this matter; would my life could go forever for Israel, for it is not I that troubleth it, neither am I guilty in this matter. Oh that I were before thee a little, that thou mayest try me,24 for I know thou canst discern simplicity. But the time is not yet come, though not far off. But keep thy temple clear, where the beauty of holiness is, and let no thought nor <567> jealousy enter to cause thee to stumble innocency, for I see the Lord is arising as one coming up from the winepress of his Father's wrath, and he catcheth at the refuge of lies and clears all before him, like a refiner's fire, then shall all behold innocency.
And now here follows a blasphemous letter sent by Tho. Simmonds the husband of this Martha. Now this letter was sent by Thomas Simmonds to Exeter Jail, probably as Nayler's call to come out of prison.
Thou King of Israel and Son of the most high: arise, arise in thy mighty power. Show thyself a lion to thy enemies, a lamb to the innocent; make haste and come away in the beauty of holiness, because of the sweet odor of thy ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee, and they wait to see thy day,25 and the innocent doth cry come away.
From a glimmering of the day.
And now here I shall (I suppose fitly) give you in the answers of these wretches to some questions proposed to them before the magistrates at their examinations, whereby you may see how these blasphemous expressions are owned by them.
And first James Nayler of Wakefield in the County of York being asked what his name was, answered that his name given him by the world was James Nayler. Quest. How he lived? Ans. Without care as the lilies, and that he was maintained by his Father. Quest. Who is your Father? Ans. Him whom you call God. Q. What was your business to Bristol? A. I came as I was guided by my Father in my way to London. Being asked upon the substance of that letter that calls him a prophet, he answered he was a prophet of the most high God. And being demanded why the title is given him of being a Judge to try the cause of Israel, he would not make answer.26 As to the letter from Hannah Stranger wherein he is stiled "the only begotten Son of God," he saith he received it from her when he was in Exeter Jail. Quest. Are you the only begotten Son of God? Ans. I am the Son of God, and the Son of God is but one. Quest. Is your name Jesus? How long have you been termed so? Is there any other Jesus? To neither of these would he answer, neither affirming or denying. Quest. Are you the everlasting Son of God, and King of Righteousness? <568> Ans. I am the Son of God,27 and the everlasting righteousness is wrought in me. And if you knew the Father you would know me also. Quest. Are any of the expressions in the said letter blasphemy? Ans. That which is received of the Lord is truth. Being asked whose letter that was signed T.S. (which is the last I have before given you a copy of) he saith Thomas Simmonds sent it to him to Exeter Jail. Quest. Are you the King of Israel? A. I have no kingdom in this world, but I reign in the Father.28 Quest. Are you the Lamb of God in whom the hope of Israel stands? Ans. If I were not his lamb I should not be sought to be devoured.29 Quest. Are any of those expressions (as spoken to you) blasphemy? A. Who made you a judge over them? Q. Why came you into the city in such an unusual manner—two women leading your horse, and singing "holy, holy" &c. with one bare before you?30 A. It was for the praises of my Father, and I may not refuse anything that is moved of the Lord; and that their Father commanded them to do. Q. Dost thou think the Father commanded them? A. Yea.31 Q. Whom did they mean by "holy, holy," &c.? A. They are of age to answer for themselves. Q. When you rid through Glastonbury and Wells, did not some spread their clothes on the ground before you? A. I believe they did. Q. Have you called Martha Simmonds "mother," as in George Fox's letter? A. George Fox did lie; she was neither called mother by him nor any with him. Q. Are those things that George Bishop hath writ in that letter (for that letter of Fox's was as before writ with George Bishop's hand), are they truth or are they a lie? A. Yea, they are a lie. Q. Have you a wife? A. There is a woman whom the world calleth my wife, and there are children that were mine according to the flesh. Q. Those books you have written and published do you own them still, and are they truth? A. Yea.
The Examination of Martha Simmonds, the wife of
Thomas Simmonds of London, Stationer
Question: Why did you sing before James Nayler "holy, holy," &c., when he rode into Bristol, and led his horse? Answer: I know not James Nayler. Q. Do you know there was such a one? A. He was but now is passed to a more pure estate,32 and the power of the Lord carried me to sing and lead his horse. Q. Hannah Stranger in her letter calls him the fairest of ten thousand, the hope of Israel, the only begotten Son of God: is James Nayler so? A. For James Nayler he is buried in me, and have promised to come the second time. Q. Do you believe it was well to call and stile him so as in the letter? A. I cannot judge them. Q. <569> Why did you lead his horse and fall on your knees before him? A. In obedience to the power on high. Q. Why did you fall down and worship him? A. I ought to do it.33 Q. Is James Nayler the everlasting Son of Righteousness? A. He is the Son of Righteousness; and the new man wrought up in him is the everlasting Son of Righteousness. And when the new life shall be born in James Nayler, then he will be Jesus. But for the fulness of it she doth not know it's yet borne up. Q. You say James Nayler is buried? What do you call him? A. I call him Lord. Q. Why Lord? A. He is Lord of Righteousness and prince of peace. Q. Why King of Israel? in what sense? A. He is anointed King of Israel. Q. By whom? A. By a prophet. Q. By what prophet? A. Let that alone, I will not answer it. Being asked whether she spread her clothes, &c., she acknowledged she did. Quest. Doth that Spirit of Jesus in Nayler enable him to be a Jesus to another? A. I say there is a seed born in him which I shall honor above all men. Q. Your husband calls him King of Israel; is he so? A. Then you have a double testimony.
The Examination of Hannah Stranger
Question: Why did you come singing before him, viz., James Nayler? A. I cannot be silent if the Lord move me to it. Q. You sung to James Nayler? A. If I have transgressed any law let me suffer. But if it be for conscience, &c. Q. Did you write that letter, and spread your garments at Wells, &c., to honor him? A. I own it, and intended it to him, and will maintain it with my blood. Q. Is he the prince of peace? A. I own him so. Q. Do you call him James Nayler or Jesus? A. I have said what his new name is. Q. Is it not blasphemy to call him so, or prince of peace? A. If you have any law against me, &c.
The Examination of Thomas Stranger
of London, Comb-maker
Question: Did your wife write this letter to James Nayler? Answer: Yea, and I do own it. Q. Did you write the postscript: "Thy name shall be no more James but Jesus?" A. Yea, I do own it. Q. Hast thou no other Jesus? He would not answer. Many other questions were put to him, but no answer. Only, "If I have broken any law," &c.
The Examination of Timothy Wedlock in the
County of Devon, who came in bare before him
Question: Is James Nayler the only Son of God? A. I own him to be the Son of God. Q. Why did you and the women sing before him <570> "holy, holy, Lord God of Israel"? A. I own the songs of Zion.34 Q. You will not put off your hat to a magistrate, and yet you came bare in a hard rain through the town before him.35 A. I must do it if God command me: I did it as I was moved by the Spirit. Q. What are you in your judgment for religion? A. I deny all judgments and opinions. Q. Why did you thus honor him in towns, and not elsewhere? A. We did it as we were moved of the Lord, in commons as well as in towns. Q. What made you kneel down before him? A. Truth doth.
There was not much in examination of Samuel Cater of the Isle of Ely, and therefore I shall pass it over.
And now lastly you have the examination of Dorcas Erbury,36 daughter of that William Erbury, once a minister, who was a forerunner and preparer of the way of these deceivers.
Quest. Where she lived? A. With Margaret Thomas of Bristol. Q. Why did you sing "holy, holy," &c., before James Nayler, when he rode in. A. I did not sing then; but they that did were called to it by the Lord. Q. They called him that rode on the horse, "the holy one of Israel." Is he so? A. Yea, he is so; and I will seal it with my blood. Q. And is he the only begotted Son of God? A. He is the only begotten Son of God. Q. Why did you so honor him as to pull off his stockings and put your clothes under his feet? A. Because that he is the holy Lord of Israel and is worthy of it. Q. Do you know no other Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, but him? A. He hath declared him to be the Son, and I know no other Savior but him. Q. Jesus Christ was crucified upon the cross, and how is this he? A. He is manifested in him. Q. Do you believe in James Nayler? A. Yea, I do believe in him which thou callest so. Q. Is he the only begotten Son of God? A. Yea, he is the only begotten Son of God. Q. What name do you give him? A. The Son of God. Q. What do you usually call him? A. I am commanded to call him Lord and Master, and I am to serve him. Q. Who commanded you to call him so? A. The Spirit of the Lord within me doth command me. Q. Jesus Christ is dead, Nayler is alive? A. He hath laid down his carnal body. Q. What body is this he hath? A. That body which he hath is by the power of the Lord. Do not the Scriptures say, I will change the natural body, and it shall be a spiritual body? Q. He hath flesh and bones, which a spirit hath not. <571> A. He hath new flesh and new bones. Q. Did he raise any from the dead? Christ hath. A. Yea, he raised me from the dead. Q. How so? A. I was dead two days, and he laid his hands upon my head and said, "Dorcas arise." And from that day to this, I am alive. Q. Where was this done? A. In Exeter Jail. Q. Who was witness to this? A. My mother did bear witness of it, she standing by. Q. If he hath such power, why doth he not open the prison doors and come forth? A. When the work of the Lord is done in the prison, the doors shall open before him. Q. Jesus Christ had apostles and disciples, hath he any? A. Yea. Q. Where are they? A. Some are with him, and some abroad. Q. Jesus Christ doth sit at the right hand of God, and shall judge the world? A. Nayler shall sit at the right hand of the Father, and shall judge the world.
By all this you see how far these miserable people are bewitched and deluded, as to give and ascribe those titles and appellations that are due only to Jesus Christ, to a mere man. I shall not need to aggravate the crime; every understanding and Christian ear will abhor to hear it and tremble at such blasphemies. I shall not therefore unnecessarily enlarge. And shall now give you the judgment and sharp reproof of Thomas Simmonds himself, who (as I told you before) having brought down the warrant for their enlargement, left them there at Exeter and went his direct way homewards to London. He, it seems, having heard of their pageantry in their way to and in Bristol, and of their success there, writes to his wife in Bristol Jail this following letter:
Had you stood in the wisdom and counsel of the Lord and there waited single to have been guided by him alone, then the Lord had brought you safe to this city,37 where he would have manifested his mighty power amongst us. Now this it was, and I know it so with you, you being all joined in love, when you wait on the Lord, there is a great power amongst you, and then when anything arises in any particular as to speak or act, which many times arises from the earthly dark principle,38 to this you all join although you see it not, neither the life of God which is in you answers to it. And hence comes all your cumber and trumpery without; which my soul was grieved to see it, abundance more hath been acted amongst you since I came away, which the Lord delivered me from; whose presence I now feel, and he was with me in my journey & brought me in peace to this place, and warned me in the night at Exeter not to return by Bristol, but to go the straight way to London; & M.S.39 as I was upon the way, I saw thee in the light, going before on the left hand, <572> which was towards Bristol,40 and my love was to thee, none else did I see, which made me think thou wast coming along towards London; surely thou wast the chief leader in that action. If there was such a glory amongst you, why were you not silent, and have let the people cry "hosanna"? Oh how is dark night come upon the prophets, and those who once were honorable and glorious are now fallen,41 because they were in prosperity and the Lord honored them, they forgot the Lord; therefore hath he darkened their understanding and given them up to believe lies42 and to do things that are not convenient; yea, I see one who was the greatest is now a more brutish contender than any man;43 and yet the friends are so blinded they do not see it. Oh arise, arise, Lord God of life and power, bring up thy people out of the dust, that shall wholly give the glory unto thee, and famish the gods of the heathens, that every one may worship towards his own place.
Dear heart my love is to thee, and to J.N. and to J.S. and H.S., but this I could not but write to warn you that you stand single to the Lord and not believe every spirit.44 Your work is soon come to an end; part of the army that fell at Burford45 was your figure.
First of the 9th month.
Desborough's wife is dead.
John is well and remembereth his love to you. I delivered the two pieces in the Strand.
Thus you see here, this Martha Simmonds is a considerable person. For her husband (who 'tis like knoweth her) tells her she was the chief leader in this action, and gives them a handsome frumpf for their foolery to do that work, which they should not have done themselves, but left it unto others. Here is much matter for observation from this letter, to evince the folly and madness of these pretenders. But I have an eye to that which remains, being loath to be tedious.
And now I shall give you one instance more, that this James Nayler (notwithstanding their adorations of him & making him their Jesus) he will deny the truth, lie, and collogue.g And this from the information of Thomas Price, one of the sheriff's yeomen of this city, given in before the magistrates the 11th day of November, 1656, which is as followeth: <573> Thomas Price, one of the sheriff's yeoman of the said city, informeth:
That on Saturday was seventh night last he being in Newgate had a desire to see James Nayler, and accordingly went to him and discoursing with him asked him if at any time Martha Simmonds had bewitched or moved him to any extraordinary passion or trance, and he answered him nay. Then the informant asked him if he were never in a trance in London, for three days together upon the coming of Martha Simmonds unto him, and his answer was nay; whereupon the informant told him that Martha Simmonds had confessed to the Mayor and Aldermen of Bristol (who questioned her for a witch) that she once came to him the said James Nayler, in London, crying for justice; he fell into a trance or was struck down for three days; whereupon the same James Nayler replied with a stern look, "Did she tell this?" to which the informant told him that she had; and therefore he had told an untruth.
And how these people adore, worship and do reverence to this their new Jesus (James Nayler) I shall discover to you from two informations taken upon oath before the magistrates; all which are registered.
And first, you have the information of Thomas Perkins, prisoner for debt in Newgate, as followeth, the 11th of November, 1656:
That about Thursday last in the evening, Dorcas Erbury being in the chamber with James Nayler, and departing from him to her lodging, she fell down upon the ground at the feet of the said James, and kissed his two feet, and then the said James took her by the hand and raised her up again and so departed.46 And the informant saith that the same evening there came into the said room a woman of this city named Alice Brock, and as soon as she came near the said James, she fell on her knees before him, and the said James put his two hands on her head and said to her "stand fast, there is that that is pure." And then she arose and said it was given to her to come to him for a covering, and he told her thou art covered; and then she told him that she had seed by another man who had left her, but now she loved another man who had a wife, whose wife was envious against her; but she loved her as well as him, and then she asked the said James Nayler whether he had any seed, and he replied yea, my seed is pure. And then came into the same room Martha Simmonds and sat down, and fixed her eye on the said Alice, who presently looked upon her, and told the said Martha that she was a witch, and she knew her malice, and further told the said Martha, that <574> she had him (meaning James Nayler) in bondage, and she was come to redeem him. Thou shalt have him no longer, and I shall redeem him, and then she pointed to Dorcas Erbury and said I am come to redeem thee, and thou shalt come with me.
And the other is the information of Thomas Cole, under keeper of Newgate, taken as the former the 11th of November 1656:
"That whilst James Nayler, Martha Simmonds, Hannah Stranger and others were in Newgate (to wit) upon the 25th of October last or thereabouts, the said James Nayler being together in a room in the said prison, and the informant calling them away to bed, at their departure they behaved themselves as followeth (viz.): the said Martha Simmonds and Hannah one after another kneeled down on both their knees to the said James, and laid their heads on James his knees, and he laid his hands on their heads, and making a groaning noise within himself, but the words he understood not, and then before they rose he clapped his hands on cross a little remote over their heads, and then they rose, and he spreading his hands they one after another departed."
The practice is so grossly idolatrous and suspicious of witchcraft that I shall not need to animadvert upon it.
And now to see the diligence of these imposters and deceivers, the more to facilitate their delusions and to gain upon simple people, who are taken with any foppery that comes in a way new, unusual, and extraordinary; they (these women) carried with them (and which was found about one of them) a description of our Lord Jesus Christ in respect of his person and outward feature, as it was sent to the Roman Senate by Publius Lentulus, president in Judea, under Tiberius Caesar the Roman Emperor.
Which inscription is as followeth:
In the days of Tiberius Caesar the Emperor, as the governors of sundry provinces under the senate and people of Rome, used to advertise the senate of such news as chanced in divers countries. Publius Lentulus being at that time President in Judea, wrote an epistle to the senate of Rome, the words whereof were these:
"There appeared in these our days a man of great virtue named Jesus Christ, who is yet living amongst us, and of the Gentiles is accepted for a prophet of truth; but his own disciples call him the Son of God. He raiseth the dead, and cureth all manner of diseases. A man of stature somewhat tall, and comely, with a very reverend countenance, such as the beholders may both love and fear; his hair of the color of a filbert full ripe, and plain almost down to his ears, from the ears downwards <575> somewhat curled and more orient of color, waving about his shoulders; in the midst of his head goeth a seam or partition of his hair, after the manner of the Nazarites; his forehead very plain and smooth; his face without spot or wrinkle, beautified with a comely red; his nose and mouth so formed as nothing can be reprehended; his beard somewhat thick, agreeable in color to the hair of his head, not of any great length, but forked in the midst; of an innocent and mature look; his eyes gray, clear, and quick; in repoving he is terrible, in admonishing courteous and fair spoken, pleasant in speech, mixed with gravity; it cannot be remembered that any have seen him laugh, but many have seen him weep; in proportion of body well shaped and straight; his hands and arms right delectable to behold; in speaking very temperate, modest, and wise; a man for his singular beauty surpassing the children of men."
But what use (you will say) could they make of this? Why, now see to what heights of villany, vanity and deceit men (left of God) may run into. This wretch James Nayler being somewhat fitted for it by bodily shape, color of his hair, and some other advantages of nature, endeavors artificially to compose and dispose himself, as much (as he may) to this description, parting the hair of his head, cutting his beard forked, assuming an affected gravity, and other the like, as is there expressed. And this no doubt they make use of amongst simple clowns and silly women, who are easily drawn to believe any story that is seriously told them, as if he were the person there described.
And now (not to insist upon any particular) upon the whole matter, Doth it not appear that these Quakers are most horrid and abominable blasphemers, derogating from (and arrogating to themselves) the honor of our Lord Jesus Christ, God blessed forever? We of the Reformed churches have departed from Rome and her communion because she hath departed from the true faith and doctrine; and for nothing more than in making others sharers and copartners with our Lord Jesus in the work of redemption and salvation. But behold here a generation far more impious and blasphemous, who divide the kingdom with him—nay, rend it from him. I need not recount their bold and daring expressions: but let me mind you of one passage in one of the letters of that notable stickler Hannah Stranger; it's the letter dated the 16th day of the seventh month; wherein speaking of Jesus Christ, she expresses him no other than thus: "He that was made a perfect example." Now this expression is not (in the intention of it) obvious to every reader, but it carries in it the very soul of Socinianism, Quakerism (as I may so call it), for the Quakers' doctrines are a mixture and medley of Popery, Socinianism, Arianism, Arminianism, Anabaptism, and all that is naught. It is a <576> doctrine of the Socinians that our Lord Christ did not by his death & blood shed satisfy for our sins, and so purchase redemption for us; but that he was a "perfect pattern and example" to us of righteousness, holiness, obedience, and suffering. To be justified by another's righteousness is with them irrational, and therefore rejected and denied. And one egg is not more like another, than the doctrines of the Quakers and Socinians, as well in this as in other particulars. The pure image of Christ must be brought forth in us, we must be perfect and free from all sin, and then we are justified, and then we are righteous, and not till then. And if this be the doctrine that the churches of Christ truly reformed have received, I'll renounce my share in Christianity. And yet that this is the doctrine of the Quakers is so manifest that he who is but in any measure (with understanding) conversant in their writing cannot but acknowledge it; and I suppose none of them deny it. And if thus they bear the greatest burden in the work of their own redemption and salvation, no marvel if they themselves have the greatest share of the honor of being their own Jesus. And if the thing belong to them, much more the name; and then these people have done well, and not blasphemed. All that they have said belongs not to James Nayler only, but to every justified person; everyone is Jesus.
But some will be ready to jog me by the elbow, and say, why do you upon this occasion charge these things upon the Quakers? They have renounced, denied, James Nayler and his companions; yea, so it seems by George Fox, alias Bishop's letter: "James thou must bear thine own burden, thou and thy company, and it is manifest thou and thy disciples are joined with the world against the truth. And your iniquity doth increase." Aye, and "this is the word of the Lord to thee"; so that George Fox cannot revoke it; yea, and James doth nourish and train up a company against the truth. Read the letter. Yea, most of the wisest and subtlest Quakers in the town do rail against them. Why, how now James, alias Jesus, what is become of thy infallible Spirit, whereby your giving out of books and papers and speakings were from the "immediate eternal Spirit," as they use to say, whereby they were as true as Scriptures? What assurance can you give your disciples now that you have not cheated them all this while? George Fox (as true a prophet as thyself) hath a word from the Lord, that thou art a wicked wretch, and trainest up a company of wretches against the truth. It seems that all who have spoken so highly of your excellent majesty are liars, and thy spouse Martha is a very baggage, and Hannah Stranger is a deceitful trull. O cease your singing, and weep and howl, you cheating blasphemers, for there is never a Jesus among you. Oh James, thou must no longer sit as Judge upon the <577> bench to judge and try the cause of Israel. Come down, thou Lucifer, thou son of the morning, thou who hast been from the beginning, ever since the mystery of this iniquity of Quakers began to work, and has labored to promote it,47 as much as any of them all, come down and stand at the bar, hold up thy hand; thou must be tried. Yea, thou art already tried and weighed, and are found too light, George Fox and George Bishop who have the eternal immediate and infallible Spirit, have borne testimony against you; yea, they both; and John Audland and Captain Beal, and Howgill and Burrough, did at James-tide last, when at the end of one of your meetings at Bristol they called and pulled you and Martha Simmonds into a house, and there beat and sorely used you, to the endangering of your lives, as Martha said upon her examination before our magistrates: and this testimony they bear still against you. For George says in his letter you are willful and stubborn; and for my part I know nothing to hinder your execution. And I hope the Parliament will give order for it. Only this one refuge remains: that you do (and that with speed) get you some apostatized black-coat (and such there are, though but a few) to plead your Christlike innocency against the cry of your high priests; for surely they will come in against you too. And among the rest I have this testimony against thee James (clear it as thou canst). Since James-tide last, a gentleman of this city (who owes you no ill will) was at the Bull and Mouth (your great meeting place) where you use to stand upon your infallible tripod, to speak hypocritical lies in the name of the Lord, and there came in two men with papers in their hands and many following them, and asked for thee James Nayler; who not appearing, they told thy disciples (there met together) where thou hadst a bastard or a wench with child; and asked them whether they would own thee? It is true one of the company stood up in thy behalf, and commanded all flesh to be silent. And fell to recriminate those men. And so they fell to railing and reproaching (as you ofttimes do) so far, as that the gentlewoman my witness was afraid they would fall to fighting. And so for fear of her life she left them and came away, and hath not since borne such affection to your way as heretofore. But James, this quarrelling doth not answer the matter, nor clear your innocency, nor avoid the sentence given out against you by George Fox, and therefore away with him. But stay, may not George Fox and George Bishop be liars? For if we can take that off (which comes from the Lord) we <578> will deny this, and there is an end; let us consider a little and weigh things. And as I remember James in his examination (before set down) says that George Fox did lie in charging him as he doth in that letter, and that what George Bishop had writ was a lie; and truly if those high testimonies of those infallible saints (before expressed) be true, James is as good, yea a better than either of the Georges, Fox or Bishop; and I could have brought other testimonies for him. Among others, Judge Fell's wife (and such discerning folks cannot easily be mistaken) who in a letter to James, written from Swarthmoor the eighteenth day of the sixth month, subscribes herself his "sister in the eternals never to be forgotten." It's true in that letter she tells him that she hath heard something which hath made her heart to ache, and she would hear from him in particular, and then she saith she should be more satisfied. It may be she had heard of that bastard. However, she subscribes herself as aforesaid, and he her dear brother, and her dear love and life is to him, and her soul and bowels reacheth unto him, her dearly beloved in the eternal life and unity of the Spirit, where no unclean can enter, nor he that maketh abomination, or maketh a lie. So that James is right, and for aught appears, George Fox and George Bishop may be liars too; yea, and although John Audland did (so please the company) join in abusing him at the house as before, yet since that a pretty while, he is his dear brother, and his soul loves him dearly. And he gives him an account from Bristol how their cause prospered at London, as appears by this following letter, which being found about James among the rest, he upon his examination confessed was from John Audland, which is thus:
My dear brother, my soul loves thee, and dearly do I salute thee dear heart. I was lately at London and stayed there about a week, and friends there are quiet and in good order as for anything that I saw, and the work of God goes on; and hereaways friends are well; and the truth spreads and prospers. My love is endeared unto thee.
Thy dear brother, J. A.
Bristol the 15th of the 7th month
Something it was that Martha Simmonds, upon her examination said, that when they were abused (as before) that John Audland was more gentle than the rest. It was but a packed business; and I doubt not we shall find that George Fox and James Nayler can shake hands, for all this pretended difference, and both close to cozen their deluded proselytes. And it may be that the two baggages, Martha and Hannah, have bewitched James, and the Spirit left him because he would not be ruled by the Georges: for I can tell you one of them (if not both) can <579> pack a business. And (if need be) can procure witness to swear to the purpose (if we could now allow of swearing truly, as heretofore of swearing falsely). And therefore James must repent of his stubbornness; and the next scene that the Jesuits have plotted must be brought upon the stage, and take place for a while, till the next be seasonable.
But in the meantime, there is a better testimony for James than ever we heard of: for George, yea, and Martha Simmonds, who as before hath an excellent spirit and power, and who struck down James for three days and made him silent ever since,48 and stopped Howgill's mouth; she says that George Fox's heart was rotten, and she denied that that was head in him;49 and that George's words was a lie, as in his own letter before. And James as well as George is voted by a whole dozen of Quaking proselytes to be Christ's anointed, and a saint, and the holy seed, a messenger and minister of the everlasting gospel of God: who though he be in the world, is not of the world; and whose testimony is true against the world; and whose ministry is spiritual and eternal, witnessed by those twelve, who are one with him according to their measures, in that which lives and changes not. All this ye have (and more) in their railing epistles to the magistrates of this city, at the end of Audland's book called The Innocent Delivered out of the Snare, being written in answer to my book, called The Great Mysteries of Godliness and Ungodliness. So that James was very good, and unchangeably so. I must conclude therefore (for I know not which is the better); one is as good as another, and both stark naught; a pack of cozening impostors. But pray forbear, will some say, are they knaves because they fall out, and differ, and disagree? what are you priests then? Do not ye do so, both in doctrine and practice? Are you knaves and seducers then? I answer, No: for he inter aliis is a knave, an impostor, and deceiver, who pretends to speak and act in all he doth from an immediate, unerring and infallible Spirit; and that affirms that what he says is as true and certain as Scripture; when 'tis neither so, nor so. Now this we do not: we pretend no other than (according to practice) to speak from the Scriptures; and while we speak according to that, we are sure we speak according to the Spirit, whose dictates they are. And we wait and pray for ourselves & our people, that what the Spirit hath written in the Scripture, he should write in our hearts; that we might find the truth sealed & confirmed in us by our conformity unto it. And blessed be our gracious Father in our Lord Jesus, <580> many of us have the witness in ourselves, and in our hearers (by the means of this ministration) that we are passed from death to life. And in this, we trust in him who hath wrought this in us; none shall make our boasting void. And therefore we deceive not the people by pretending to stretch beyond our line and measure: we confess we may be deceived and may err; and therefore bid our hearers try and examine what we say by the Scriptures. And if we speak not according to that rule, let them reject our sayings: we do not lyingly and hypocritically pretend to an infallibility, as you do, when 'tis manifest to all the world that you who pretend to it are not so. For one of you (even in this very business) must be a liar; either James Nayler and his crew, or George Fox and his; or else you are both notorious cheaters.
And now to gather up the sum of this narrative, and to lay it briefly before you, and so to come to some conclusion: you have here (de facto) plain and horrid blasphemy, in attributing those things and titles to a poor mortal wretch, which belong only to the blessed God and our dear Redeemer. And also pure idolatry, in giving religious worship (for it is not upon a civil account they do it) and adoration to the same. And these things expressly avowed and owned by his followers, and not denied, but approved and accepted of by himself. You see further that Nayler is disclaimed and condemned by Fox and other Quakers here, as they have done expressly in denying him and railing upon him, both to his face and behind his back. And eminent George Bishop being (as before) the amanuensis, scribe, or penman (if not the inditer) of the letter of disclaimer. Here then, you have the two chief heads and prime and principal ringleaders of the blasphemous crew of Quakers at opposition (and that in no small matter), one against another; and each of them have their party and followers. Now this quarrel and opposition is either real and in good earnest, or it is packed and feigned; if the latter, then this follows: they are all of them, one and other, a company of cheats and hypocritical deceivers; and then let their deluded followers take notice of it. And that it may be a cheat and feigned quarrel, I shall give you my apprehensions and grounds. Time will discover whether I am mistaken, yea or no.
What's the quarrel? Why is George so angry as that he must now disown his first, his old and chief companion? why great reason: James Nayler takes upon him to be Christ, to be Jesus. Why, is this such a crime? Is not this (as before) the natural and genuine issue of their opinions and principles? But further, did not George Fox himself affirm in his book called Saul's Errand to Damascus (page 8, line 9 & 10), that "He that hath the same Spirit that raised up Jesus Christ from the dead <581> is equal with God?"50 and did not he avow himself to be the Christ? yea, the Way, the Truth, and the Life? Witness Geo. Bicket, Isaac Bourn. And at an assizes at Lancaster, did not one Mr. Sawrey, a Justice of Peace in that county, and an honest gentleman, tell Judge Puleston in the open court that he could produce many would witness that Fox had affirmed himself to be the Christ? The same also he said in the hearing of an honest minister, who will be ready to testify it when called to it. And hath not Fox professed himself to be the "judge of the world"? as George Bicket, Adam Sands, N. Atkinson witness; yea, the "eternal judge of the world," as George Bicket witnesseth. These things are published by one of their own countrymen, among whom he lived, and where the witnesses are known. And now what hath James Nayler done, more than Fox?
Only this: Nayler's disciples openly ascribe and tender to him, and he accepts of, that divine honor, worship and reverence which they conceive is due unto him; but Fox's disciples think not yet fit to tender, because the world (as they think) is not yet fit to bear it. And as for Nayler, he doth not recede from his old principles, for (as appears in his examination) he saith, "He still owns those books he hath written," and that they are truth. So that they are still the same, and one as bad as the other in judgment, and therefore their opposition is but feigned, and Fox is not really displeased with Nayler; or if he be, it may be he and his are offended that James should manifest himself to the world, to be Jesus, before him. But then thirdly, I conceive their disagreement may be but in outward semblance, for this reason: there is a rule, dignoscitur ex sociis—When a man is a stranger, and is not known what a kind of man he is, in respect of his qualities and manners, he may be known (and that much) by his companions. Now then, if we may judge of George Fox (whom we do not so well know here) by his companions and their practices (even in this matter) we may well conceive their quarrel against James is not real but feigned; for although our Quakers here did seem publicly to disclaim him and his, by speaking and railing against them, yet secretly many of them owned them and cherished them, in sending in supplies unto them in the prison, although necessaries were not (otherwise) wanting to them. Better than such blasphemous wretches did deserve, and which necessaries Fox himself stubbornly refused, as a convenient room and bedding. But when some of their own persuasion brought them to him (as did James Wathen, a quaking <582> apothecary and his wife) he did accept them, and not only in this, but otherwise also, did they show their love and affections towards them. We readily confess and acknowledge that to succor and relieve strangers, and to visit those that are sick or in prison, are duties that our rule (the Scriptures) do enjoin us. But in this case, when they are not imprisoned for righteousness sake, and for the cause of Christ, but for horrid blasphemy against him, and for such crimes for which they seemed to disclaim and abhor them, and when they were not distressed and destitute, then to follow them with unnecessary courtesies is, I conceive, in the judgment of all unbiased men, an argument and discovery of too much liking and approving both of their cause and persons.
But it may be answered, all are not of a mind; and those who did thus are not those who did disown them.
Well, be it so: but then observe, they are not all led by one, and that an unerring and undeceiving Spirit: they are no more one than the poor priests and their followers are; and yet I must observe this to you, that this Wathen and his wife are no small fools amongst them. But now behold the imposture and the impostor: George Bishop, him whom they call captain Bishop, he that was formerly of Whitehall, he that was the great agent in breaking and tearing the Lord Craven's estate in pieces, whom that poor wretch Faulconer, who died in prison upon conviction (in the Upper-Bench at Westminster) of perjury in that very case of the Lord Craven—I say, him whom this Faulconer upon his deathbed did lay the blame upon (though no doubt unjustly, as George will say, for who will acknowledge such a horrid thing, unless truly converted?). This George Bishop being a most reverend Quaker, and hugely zealous in the cause, having penned a fiery flying roll, full of railing against the magistrates and ministers of this city, which is a clear argument of his repentance for his former iniquities and good services for the state, for which he deserves to be sainted, nay, made a martyr, by some undeserved death. This Saint George, who upon the first coming of Nayler and his company (as aforesaid) in that blaspheming manner, did (to those who had occasion to discourse with him about it) disavow and disclaim them, and professed they had so done long before, even at James-tide (as you had it formerly), and which is testified by his and his fellow Fox's letter (before specified), wherein they sufficiently charge him, the said Nayler, as a naughty fellow. Yet see, this very George (even honest George Bishop) writ up a letter to some in the Parliament, in the behalf of blaspheming James Nayler, and his party.
Good man! in his zeal and affection to these unerring saints, he was afraid the Parliament would oppress them, if he had not interceded for them. And indeed, he is not worthy to be esteemed a saint, who <583> will not stand by and own his brethren in an hour of necessity, to stop the odium and disgust and clamor of the people here, which was like to rise high upon the first appearing of their blasphemous and idolatrous practices; and which might justly have rendered their whole cause and party abhorred. It was but Christian policy in face to decry them, although in truth (as appears) their hearts were with them.
So that upon consideration of these collusions, I do conceive, we may conclude (without any sensible error) that their quarrel and opposition is not real, nor are Fox and his party indeed offended with James Nayler and his; but that it is packed and feigned: for I told you before (when I expected not this last information) the Georges knew how to shuffle a business; and if this be so, I then leave it to everyone (even their own deluded proselytes) to judge of them. Nay, but it is not feigned. And yea, we are truly angry and offended with them: for if we were not so, why should so many of us together (yea, and some of us doughty captains) so valiantly assault them and beat them, to the endangering of their lives, and throwing good Martha Simmonds (that precious creature) down the stairs, as we did at James-tide last, after our meeting as aforesaid? And why else should we (the two Georges) write such a dreadful letter of disclaimer to him? nor would our chiefest and our most sober and discreet Quakers go to visit them in prison. Yea, we are in good earnest, we are really divided; and we do disclaim and disown them.
Well, be it so. But then are not all your high flying pretenses (like the work of the masons, and bricklayers, and suchlike trades, your fellow workmen of old) become a Babel, a bauble, confusion? God was one, and Christ was one, and the Spirit was one, and truth was one, and we all were one, say you. True, the priests did differ and disagree, and were divided both in their judgments and practice. But we all spake, and writ, and did, from that one unerring, infallible and undeceiving Spirit. Is not this your constant language, and bold confident boastings? Why then, what's the matter now? How went the Spirit from James Nayler? and when was it? and how shall we know whether it be gone or no? and how shall we know whether ever he had it? or whether George Fox hath it, or ever had it? James his party (you see) plead highly for him: we never heard so much spoken or written of or for George Fox. And whom now shall we believe? Tell us, wherein is Nayler behind Fox? or wherein is he inferior?
Alas, poor quaking proselytes! how have you been deluded and deceived by a pack of quaking lying mountebanks, who pretended to talk to you from the immediate Spirit (as they phrase it) whereby they were all one; and now you see 'tis no such matter? Nor can you well tell which <584> of these (your two chief apostles and prophets) to believe and follow after. What can you or George Fox (with any color of reason) say to these things? Yea, we have this to say (viz.): James Nayler is bewitched; for so 'tis given out; and it may be so. And truly (I write it in sincerity) I am strongly inclined to believe it. For were he not bewitched (as also his attendants) it were impossible for them to be such sottish blasphemers as they have showed themselves in these actions, which can proceed from no other spirit than Satan. But then how doth this mend your matter? Will any people in the world, that are not infatuated and judicially given up by God to believe lies, follow such for their guides and teachers (especially as infallible ones) over whom the devil may have so much power? and who can tell whether the devil hath not beguiled him all along ever since his first engagement? Though he would not bring him to his heights at first, as he did not our Savior to the high mountain till his last assault, there to tempt him with vainglory. But our Lord Jesus, though he were tempted by the devil, yet he could not be overcome by him because he had nothing in him. But it is not so with Nayler. And if Nayler be bewitched, how shall we be sure that Fox is not bewitched likewise, or rather, that Fox himself is not a witch? I'll tell you what I find written concerning him, in that book before alleged (viz.), The Irreligion of the Northern Quakers, where the author giving divers reasons why their quakings should be diabolical raptures proceeding immediately from the power of Satan: in the 18th-19th page gives this as his last, and as an argument demonstrative, in these words: "George Fox the ringleader of this sect (saith he) hath been, and is vehemently suspected to be a sorcerer." And then goes on: the presumptions of his wickedness in this kind are not weak. Some persons of good quality that came out of Nottinghamshire to Kendal told them of note in that town what pranks this Fox had played, and what disturbance he had caused in that county before he came into these more northern parts. And withal, he credibly reported to them a strange story of the devil's discovering this Fox to be one of his vassals and agents, while he was there in a certain house, together with many of his disciples speaking to them. This accident, he said, caused many of his followers to desert both him and his wicked way. And principally procured this Fox's apprehension and imprisonment in Nottingham Castle, till he ran away, and his keeper with him.
And then he goes on to show how he doth bewitch people, by staring them in the face, taking them by the hand, &c. And some strange effects that followed. So that if Nayler be under the devil's power, Fox is not much behind him. Both are bold blasphemers.
And thus have I finished my narrative.
1. An inn whereof they are landlords.
2. Not a prophet but the prophet, &c. Note.
3. She means London.
5. Which honor was done to Christ alone.
6. Horrid blasphemy to be spoken to any mortal creature, Note.
7. These blasphemous wretches entitle the Lord his Spirit to their Satanical motions.
8. This pure image is the Quakers' Jesus and Christ. Note.
9. They make no more of that Christ (as they slightly call him) that died at Jerusalem.
11. No doubt she means Nayler, according to the expressions in Jane Woodcock's letter before.
12. This makes him Jesus in the Quakers' sense and language. Reader, do thyself so much favor as to have recourse to Martha Simmonds' examination, thus marked *. Blasphemous wretch thus to wrest and misapply.
13. Yea, blasphemous. The Lord rebuke thee if the Parliament do not.
14. Oh fearful blasphemer. What, the only begotten Son of God? Who can hear this without abhorrence?
15. Which is Martha Simmonds whom this trull endeavors to vindicate and magnify, as after in this letter, it's also she herself; viz., Martha Simmonds labors to clear herself to him, as in her own letter. And Nayler confesses she was charged to be a witch and a whore.
16. What this is will in part appear in Martha Simmonds' confession afterwards.
17. Why, how now George? Remember to whom you write, 'tis James thy fellow Quaker, as eminent as thyself. One led by the unerring spirit, what will your scholars say, when the masters thus revile each other, how are you infallible, &c., how led by the Spirit of unity? Let not the priests know this.
18. That is Hannah Stranger.
19. This is one part of her examination; more follows after.
20. It's like she seduced some.
21. She now overcame him, who had overcome all that came to him.
22. I supposed your excellent spirit could have seen it before, at least that your James, Jesus, could have discerned their spirit. The true Jesus could.
23. In her examination she says she calls him lord, and that she ought to worship him.
24. So that he is that Jesus by whose hand she would be tried. As in the beginning of the letter.
25. When the fulness of the new life shall be born in him, & then he shall be Jesus. As in Martha Simmonds' examination, p. 19.
26. We may guess at his inferences, but his logic is too weak.
27. Blasphemously applied.
28. Again blasphemously applied.
29. Note this impostor.
31. Here you see he owns these blasphemies.
32. The image is borne up.
33. So that he is worshipped by them. As after.
34. So that they so sung is not denied by him.
35. It was exceeding wet weather, and the spouts on the bridge (which is a narrow place) poured on his bare head so that it ran out at his knees.
36. Her answers are so full of blasphemy I shall not note any particular.
38. I thought the Quakers had laid that aside.
39. Martha Simmonds.
40. Witches walk abroad sometimes.
41. James Nayler.
42. Is it possible, can you Quakers be so deceived? Where is your infallible Spirit?
43. O James, where is thine excellency become? I am sorry I named thee Jesus.
44. What confusion is here? I thought they could not have been so misled.
45. I suppose she meant the Levellers.
46. Let the readers judge and weigh these actions.
47. Witness his many writings and indefatigable travels like the scribes and Pharisees, who compass sea and land to make proselytes, though they make them the children of the devil (Matt. 23:15).
48. For Nayler doth not prophesy (as they call it) now.
49. That spirit & power which rules in Fox, is denied by this eminent she-Quaker.
50. See Irreligion of the Northern Quakers, page 2 at the end, and page 3.
a. Thomason date: October 24, 1656.
b. Ralph Farmer, Bristol clergyman outspoken against Quakerism since 1654, is clearly a hostile witness—but his account is probably the most widely published narrative of Nayler's famous demonstration at Bristol, as well as the only source for some significant letters seized from the person of Nayler after his arrest. He was with the magistrates at Nayler's examination there. A similar account was written by another of those present, John Deacon (also hostile to Nayler). George Bishop also described the incident in a letter to Margaret Fell (see p. 549 above) and later wrote a Quaker reply to Farmer.
c. There are errors in Farmer's transcription here and in the last line of Fox's letter. See p. 541 above for a more accurate text.
d. George Bishop denies that these events took place, saying even that there were no stairs at the place Martha Simmonds claims to have been thrown down them ("The Throne of Truth Exalted," London, 1657, p. 29).
e. From the content of the letter, this might be a reply to Dewsbury's undated letter to Simmonds (see p. 532 above), or his could be a reply to hers.
f. frump = a sneer, taunt.
g. collogue = to deal deceitfully, feign agreement.