Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > To All the World's Professors
The word of God is not known to the world nor worldly wisdom; he that hath the word hath life, he that knows the word knows God, and here's life manifest, and the word hath quickened him and raised him out of death and dead works; he that hath but the letter heareth the sound but knows not where or whatb it is; and as he received it in the air he declares it, and death speaks light words without power, and dead works and lightness is brought forth, and the power of death reigns, and the life of that is but an imitation and not the life itself; the chaff (but not the grains) tossed in the wind, and the prince of the air is fedc and ruleth, and here vanity is exalted, the light mind is fed with airy notions,d would be wise, but the colte is at liberty, not subject to the yoke, but kicks against the pure, and the obedience is not, and the cross is despised; but the nature who feeds here, whose end is for destruction and for the fire, for thef nature knows not the living word, but the letter, and is without God in the world; but he who hath the word hath God and is come into the covenant by which all things stand; for he is come intog the beginning, out of the fall, to the first fruits, and witnesseth the word spiritual, invisible, powerful, pure, and sharp, a divider and discerner; by it he is sanctified and made clean, by it he is established and unmovableh and is fed daily; it is his life,i his joy and delight; and the word is not to fetchj from above, nor from below; neither is it to seek it in a chapter, or a steeplehouse withoutk, but it is nigh in <71> the heart and in the mouth, by which wordl he is kept at all seasons. It is his counselor, & he inquires at it, as at an oracle, and thereby he is brought to live the life of godliness, and from which is spoken words of life and power to others, and he speaks not his own words, nor brings forth his own works; but hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his, and is entered into his rest, and is come into the eternal sabbath, and is comprehended into the Word which is Christ, and is no more his own; for now Christ speaks in him, acts in him, and works in him the will and the deed; now Christ and he is one, married to him, and Christ is his head and husband; and now the head speaks, prayeth, and praiseth, and prophesies, and is uncovered; and here is the church of the firstborn, the pillar and ground of truth, where the woman must be covered and kept silent, and is not to speak in the church, is not to usurp authority, but is to be in subjection; and if she would know anything, let her ask of her husband at home, and he is to her a covering of the eyes forever.
Now all you priests and people that talk of these things without you from the letter, this is a parable to you, and you read the outside in the letter, and from that you imagine, and so set up a form or likeness or image of those things; and here you worship, and for this you contend and would compel all to worship your image you have set up, and you go about to persecute and destroy all that will not worship and bow downm to it with you; but it is the form you have but not the substance, and you put the dead letter for the living word, and yourn meanings of it, arising from the brains and first wisdomo and natural learning. Thus you declare and call it prophesying, and put off your hats, which is carnal, but the head you know not; and it is the woman that speaks, and the head is covered, and so you dishonor your head and honor yourselves; neither are you subject to your head, but your own will rules in you, and you live in the pleasures of the world and are become wanton, and have set your eyes upon many lovers, and you are adulterated from your husband nor live not with him, nor is he a covering to you, neither can you witness him in you, nor you in him; nor the <72> pure seed of God is notp brought forth in you, but the seed that is accursed; neither is the pure language brought forth in you, but as to God you are smitten with barrenness and brings forth nothing but words, winds, shows and shadows, imitations, inventions, imaginations andq conceptions, and you never look to bring forth better fruit, neverr come to holiness and perfection and your first fruits, and that estate wherein you were created; and you will not know you are departed from your first fruitfulness, and have lost him in whom your life stands,s and in whom your fruits ist found, and are become widows and desolate as to your first husband, and have been running after other lovers, and worshippingu under every green tree, and the holy fleshv is departed from you, and you are doting upon the Egyptian and the Assyrian for wisdom and strength, whose flesh is as the flesh of horses, and have been as fed horses, living in the lust of the flesh, as it is at this day.
Now all people stand still a while and see from whence you are fallen,w and the cause of all your unfruitfulness, and return to your first husband from whence you are fallen,x that you may bring forth your first fruits; for till then all you do is abomination to the Lord, and he cannot accept it: for what you bring forth is the seed of the adulterer and of the whore, a generation of evildoers. And yet you make a profession in outside,y as to righteousness and holiness, but the power isz to act righteousness, you have not but in your actions brought forth but the image of the devil: for all sin bears his image, and he is the father of it. Let no man deceive you through fair words; he that sins is of the devil and is doing his work; and upon this image, where it is, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven in flames of fire. Here is your portion, you workers of iniquity.
a. This paper by Nayler appears in two pamphlets: (1) A Word from the Lord unto all the Faithless Generation, by George Fox and James Nayler (1654; see note p. 78 below); (2) A Word from the Lord to all the World, and all Professors in the World (Calvert, 1654; Thomason date 25 Aug. 1654), also by Fox & Nayler. The latter will be referred to in notes below by its Wing catalog number, F1992.
b. F1992 changes "where or what" to "what nor whence."
c. F1992 changes "fed" to "head."
d. Whitehead inserts "who."
e. W. changes "colt" to "wild nature."
f. Whitehead changes "the" to "that."
g. Whitehead changes "into" to "to that which was in."
h. F1992 inserts "by it he grows."
i. F1992 inserts "his light."
j. Whitehead changes "fetch" to "be fetched."
k. W. omits "without."
l. W. omits "word."
m. F1992 changes "worship and bow down" to "bow."
n. F1992 inserts "own."
o. Whitehead changes "first wisdom" to "wisdom from below."
p. W. changes "the pure seed of God is not" to "is the pure seed of God."
q. F1992 inserts "false."
r. Whitehead changes "never" to "neither."
s. W. changes "stands" to "stood."
t. Whitehead changes "is" to "were."
u. F1992 changes "worshipping" to "have committed adultery."
v. Whitehead changes "flesh" to "faith."
w. F1992 changes "from whence you are fallen" to "where you are."
x. F1992 changes "return to your first husband from whence you are fallen" to "Look back from whence you are fallen, and return to your first husband."
y. F1992 changes "in outside" to "and outside appearance."
z. F1992 omits "is."