Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > Wickedness Weighed
In thy epistle thou boasts much of thy work, and that thou hast done that which never was done before; and though there be but little, yet it hath much in it; and that the public owning of it would much tend to the honor and advantage of him to whom thou writes <404> it, &c. And in thy chief heads thou makes a show as though thou would prove some great thing against the Quakers, but especially against James Nayler. To which I say thou hast made sure thy work shall not wholly go without commendation, in that thou hast given it thyself; yet is thy work as little worthy as thy commendation is great; and so it will appear in the eye which sees what worth is; yet hath it as much of malice as the wisest. And what honor it will be, publicly or privately, to own what hath been done already against a despised, scorned, helpless people, and in that manner it hath been done, some see already; and now it is come to your doors, and you must act your part, for through all, from the least authority in the nation to you it is come; and what your honor will be when you have done your work, it will be seen. And above all, for you, there is a lamentation, though you see it not, and you will see, in the end, this is not the way to honor, against whom you are joining, yet will some of you not be warned.
In thy last, thou said, the Spirit of God taught thee to let other men praise thee, and not thy own mouth; strangers, and not thy own lips: but thou hast forgot that teaching, or rather never knew it, in that thou hast made a great boast of what thou hast proved against J.N., but hast proved naught but against thyself.
In thy book there is 4 things thou art seen in, which thou would stand for, and prove if thou couldst.
First, that the letter is the word.
Second, against the light of Christ being sufficient.
Third, a large maintenance for those thou calls ministers.
Fourth, creature-worships, and national customs thou would bind us to.
As to this, thou says there is some errors held forth by me, in answer to Baxter and some others, that have publicly opposed that black spirit in the deluded Quakers; to wit, I alleged that Scripture (Rom. 10:8), "The word is nigh thee, in thy heart, and in thy mouth." And that I say that this word of faith the apostle preached, was in people's hearts. All which, sayest thou, in some sense is true. And further thou says, I say that such was not ministers of the letter, but of the Spirit. The which thou sayest, in some sense, must needs be true; for it is in the Scripture. <405> So out of thy own mouth be thou condemned, who calls it an error, and a black deluded spirit, for me to allege a scripture which thou thyself art forced to confess must needs be true, for it is in the Scripture. So the black deluded spirit is at home, and the error also; and was not thy eye abroad, thou might see it. And thus thou begins thy work thou so highly hast commended, such as never was before; and so thou may say of it, indeed.
Then sayest thou, "He saith further, None did ever say the letter was the word." And this, thou says, thou utterly denies; and from thence thou runs a chase, and tells me that I am much mistaken, or obstinately wicked, to draw such an inference; but brings not one Scripture that saith the letter is the word, so that the mistake is thy own, who hast forgot the Scripture. Or rather, the obstinate wickedness, in denying a truth thou canst not disprove. So when thou writes again, let us have that scripture that saith "the letter is the word"; till then, let wickedness be to the wicked.
In thy next, thou sets thyself instead of Christ, and says, why should not thou, while thou art in the world, endeavor to destroy the works of the devil? and to prove thyself, thou says, see 1 John 3:8. O thou exalted wretch! because it's there said of Christ that he must destroy the works of the devil: art thou he that must destroy them? Or can any do that work but he? How art thou swelled in thy wickedness, who dare take the office of Christ, and attribute it to thyself?
Thou tells that in my answer to Baxter, I say the apostles did never say the letter was the word; I say, yea, I did so; and the same I say in answer to thee.
Another offense is, that I inquire, "If the word of God can be changed?" etc.
Thy answer is that James Nayler may wrest the Scriptures: in which (couldst thou see) thou hast denied the Scriptures to be the word; for though the writings may be changed and wrested, the word endures forever, and all the power of hell cannot wrest it out of its place or meaning (1 Pet. 1:23-25; Isa. 40:8).
Another charge is, that I ask, "Whether the word be visible or invisible?"
Thy answer is, "The word is here invisible in Spirit." So by thy own confession, the letter is not it, for that is not invisible: <406> and this is thy work of so much worth, in which thou confounds thyself in what thou would disprove the truth.
Another charge is, that I inquire, "Is there any word but one; and whether was that word before the letter?"
Thy answer is, the essential word is but one, who shall remain when the Quakers hath burnt all their Bibles. So by thy own confession, the Bible is not it; for the word remains if all the Bibles were burnt. And when thou hast confessed all this so often over, thou says, it's blasphemy in us to deny it. So thou may confess, and say it over again and again, but if we say it it is blasphemy. If thou have this privilege, and we have not; and thou be judge also, both of us and thyself, it's not like but we must be offenders, and thou clear in thy own eyes.
Then thou goes to prove that there is many words of God, and what God hath spoken is his word, and what Christ hath spoken is the word of God, and that the Scriptures given by inspiration of God are words of God, and that every word of God is pure. All which are things never by James Nayler denied. Yet I say, the word is but one, which is the word whether it be spoken or not spoken. And this I say further, that a man may have all the letter, either in his hand, or in his brain, and yet have not the word, and so the Jews had (John 5:39). Yet had they not the word, nor could they hear it (John 8:37,43; John 5:38). So that which may be had, and not have the word, is not the word: but one may have the letter of Scripture, and not have the word, as is clearly proved.
And thou charges me with saying to Thomas Moore, that "the letter without the Spirit is dead," and so I say to thee also.
Says thou, "The words that Christ hath spoken, they are Spirit and they are life." I say, so they are, to them who can hear them, but many cannot hear them, and yet can talk much of Scripture, and read it (John 8:43). Some that heard his speech could not hear his word. What life was they to them? Or what life are they to such as are unstable, and so wrest all scriptures to their destruction (2 Pet. 3:16)? What are they to such as read them but know not their voices that spoke them? and that there are such, read Acts 13:27. So that which may be had, and not have eternal life, is not eternal life; but many have the Bible & can both read <407> and preach it in their own sense, yet have not eternal life; but on the contrary, none can have the word but have eternal life, nor can any hear it, but it quickens, if by faith it be received: but many hear the letter and believe it (as who doth not?) but are still dead in trespasses and sins. So, see thy ignorance of the word, and of the letter also; yea, in this, that thou would say the letter gives life, thou denies the letter itself, and it denies thee therein, which saith the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Cor. 3:6).
And whereas thou brings such scriptures as these to shelter thy deceit (Rom. 7, "The law is spiritual"; Prov. 3:1, "Let thy heart keep my commandments"), I say, was thou not besotted in thy imaginations, thou would never bring these scriptures to oppose the new covenant and the law in the heart, which saith, the law is spiritual, and exhorts to let the heart keep the commands. Must the heart keep that which is not in it; or is that which is spiritual not within? shame with thy blindness, and persist not in it.
And whereas thou brings many scriptures which declares of the power of the word of the law, and of the Scriptures (as though I denied it), in all which thou dost but contend against thyself, and a false report of thy own thou fights with: for I own the power that is in the law and word, and Scriptures, in everyone whom it is spiritually. Nor do I deny the Scriptures and the power that is in them, when the Spirit of God leads and opens: but that God is bound to the letter of the Scripture as a means, or that any can come to know the life by reading the letter, without the Spirit to guide therein, that is the thing I deny; and till thou disprove that thou says nothing to the purpose; and all the scriptures thou brings turns against thee, and for the truth. Witness that 2 Tim. 3:16: "All Scriptures are given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfected," &c. I say, to whom they are given by inspiration they are so: but what is this to the devil and false prophets, who steal them and have them not given by inspiration? Are they so to them who live and use them in unrighteousness? Is that the man of God? Or are they profitable as he uses them? Was the devil inspired of God when he stole Scripture-words to tempt the Son of God to sin? Or are his instruments now inspired by God, who steal words out of Scripture to <408> plead for pride and vainglory, and creature-worships, and an idol ministry, contrary to Scripture, set up in will and inventions of men, as thou dost in this thy book? Such receive not the Scriptures by inspiration from God, but in the fallen wisdom, and so are inspired by the devil and not by God; and so instead of perfecting the man of God in righteousness, the devil and the man of sin strengthens himself in wickedness, and denies perfection; and these have not the word of God, nor the Scripture that is spiritual, though they have the carnal letter; and so might I show thy blindness in all other thy scriptures thou quotes, were it needful, as instance that 2 Pet. 1:19: "We have a more sure word of prophecy, to which you do well to take heed, as to a light that shines in a dark place, till the day dawn and the day-star arise in your heart." And this you would have to be the letter of the old prophets which shines in a dark place. And so by thy doctrine the letter of the Old Testament (and in a dark place too) is a surer word than what Peter heard God himself speak, and were eye-witnesses of his majesty; and this is all thou knows of the Spirit of prophecy, the testimony of Jesus, or the Scriptures that declare of it.
Also instance that other scripture, 2 Pet. 3:16, which might have stopped thy mouth for ever pleading the letter to be the word without the Spirit, which says that they who are unlearned and unstable wrest both Paul's writing and also the other scriptures to their own destruction. And this thou brings to prove that the letter is the word and way to God, without the Spirit first learning and stablishing, which Peter says, "To such is the way to destroy themselves"; whereof I forewarning them and bidding, first mind the light of Christ and his Spirit to lead into the truth, of thee I am hated, and all the devil's instruments, who says, "I may as well exhort them to look to the devil himself for teaching or leading, as to the light and Spirit within." For the devil had much rather keep people doing in the letter, that with the fallen wisdom they might wrest them, than to be led into the truth that the Scriptures declares of, by the Spirit of truth, which leads into all truth, without which no truth is known (John 16:13). Thus all scriptures thou can bring do but fall on the serpent's head, who is out of the truth; for the letter was given out by the spirit, to testify of the Spirit and light of Christ, and so will not prove <409> against it, but for it, though the prince of darkness would fain wrest them thereto.
Another proof thou brings, Num. 12:6-8. "Hear now my words. If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision and will speak unto him in a dream; but, with Moses, mouth to mouth, apparently." In which thou hast proved clearly that they are no prophets who have no word but the letter, who have not the Lord speaking to them in vision, &c. And thus thou proves the letter the word; for all those few proofs thou brings fall upon thy own head, and make quite against thee; and this is it that thou boasts on, saying, "It hath much in it, and that is a heap of confusion fit for the fire."
And some scriptures thou brings, which names the word, and from them thou would have me believe, that because several of the saints had the word, therefore there is so many words, and this was not all one word: yet canst thou not find one proof that saith the letter is the word, as thou said thou would; so that were there as many several words as thou hath named (as there is but one), yet the letter is none of them, by thy proof.
Further thou says, "What God spake, was his word." I say, so they was, and yet the word but one. And so thyself confesseth (couldst thou see what thou speaks), in that thou says, "The word is in the singular number, and Christ's words are the words of the word of God"; yet the word of God but one from whence these words come, and all other things that God hath made: Jer. 1:1-2, "The words of Jeremiah, to whom the word of the Lord came." And thou tells of a famine of hearing the words of the Lord: but if the letter of the Bible be it, we have no famine of that; yet of the words of God there is a famine, and greatest among such as trade with the letter.
And thou says, had it been proper to have said, that Christ increased? (and other such confused stuff thou utters). I say, not in thee who increaseth in mischief, and another spirit, who knows not the plant of God's renown how it grows, nor what the increase of God is; but we know what it is to grow in Christ, and Christ in us, and his increase is now the devil's rage. And when thou hast done, thou says, they grew up into a greater degree of spiritual life: and such mangled stuff proceeds out of the child of darkness, <410> as though that spiritual life was not the increase of Christ.
Thy second thing is to deny the light of Christ to be sufficient, and lest any should not understand that it is the light of Christ thou aims at, and so thou miss of thy purpose, thou first confesses that it is true that Christ is the true light, that lighteth everyone that cometh into the world, and proves it (John 1:9); and to prove this light insufficient thou says, he did not comprehend all that light that dwelt in him bodily: nay, says thou, after he was ascended, and sat down on the majesty on high, he had it but at the second hand.
To which I say, should that be granted, that Christ did not comprehend that light that dwelt in him bodily, doth that at all prove the light less sufficient, or on the contrary doth it not prove it more sufficient? Or was he therefore to leave it to go to the letter? Or had he anything that could reveal the will of God to him but that light? And the same I say of his disciples and followers. And for the second hand thou says Christ hath it at since his ascension: what is it? dost thou intend such a hand as thou art pleading for in thy book, to whom thou would persuade us to give all our estates, and life to boot, if they should say they need or will have it: and if thou intend not them, when thou writes again let it be cleared who it is thou imagines to be the first hand, seeing thou says he received it of God and yet had it but at the second hand; sure there must be a first, before there be a second; but who that first hand is, thou names not, but that God is the second (thou intends) is plain, in that thou says he received it of God, yet but at the second hand; and John had it but at the third hand. But is not this strange doctrine of thine, who says John had it but at the third hand, who had it from the alpha and omega, the Almighty? is that the third hand with thee? What two is it that is before the alpha and omega the Almighty? or did he not speak true, who said he was so (Rev. 1:8)?
Thou said in thy epistle, one thing thou dare say, through the grace of God: here are divers arguments and doctrines which have never yet (that thou knows of) been published before; I say it seems so, and that this is one and the same I say too, that I never knew this published before, yet I dare not say it is through the grace of God, nor will the public owning of this (and much <411> more the like) and encouragement thereof tend to the glory of God and good of his people, nor to the honor and advantage of him, to whom thou dedicates it, as thou says it will.
Is this thy examining and refuting the quaking principles and erroneous tenets of James Nayler? Had it not been more wisdom to have examined thine own with the light of Christ, which thou art opposing, that thy mouth might have been stopped, and not have brought forth this shameful birth into the world? Was there ever such a sottish piece of confusion and error bundled up together? How are you become drunk with envy and have covered your souls over with vomit, so that anything may pass amongst ye for truth, so it be but against the Quakers? Thine eye was so much abroad to discover errors in James Nayler, till thou couldst not see thine own; but it is that the mother of confusion may be revealed, with the cup full of her abominations and error of which thou hast drunk deeply.
And thou goes on in thy method of this new doctrine and argument against the light; and thou says, John had it but at the third hand, though he had Christ the light resident in him. And the churches of Asia had it but at the fourth and fifth hand: and then thou murmurs at our doctrine and says it's absurd and wicked, and tends directly contrary to the use of means, so it's seen what means thou would establish to be sufficient, though the light of Christ thou denies.
But this I say to thee, though I do not own the churches had their light and means from the fourth or fifth hand, yet this I know, that what is thy means, thou art pleading for, is come through so many several hands, till it have lost both life and power, yea and true form also, so that no way is left for such as love their souls to come out of darkness, but to come to the first hand again, who gives the light freely and doth write his word in the heart of all that will mind it, with his own hand, which is not the fifth nor fiftieth hand, at whose hand Christ is, and by him he doth it without any betwixt or before, and to set up the letter and your teaching in its stead.
Another argument thou brings against the light is because Paul was not informed thereby, but did many things against the name of Jesus; and thou says, the reason was not because he did <412> not know the Scriptures, or search them, but because he did not understand them aright, but according to the false glosses of the Pharisees. I say, what confusion is this? Could he know the Scriptures and not understand them? But this is plain out of thine own mouth, that having the Scriptures and searching them cannot guide out of the false glosses of the Pharisees, without the Spirit of Christ and his light to lead therein, as thou hast rightly instanced in all: therefore we preach the Spirit of Christ first, which leads into all truth, to lead into the truth of the Scriptures, out of the false glosses of the Pharisees now, the thing for which thou and they are offended at us.
And whereas thou would slander our directing to the light within, as tending to undervalue the Scriptures, and to keep the prince of the air still to continue in the children of disobedience, and not to be cast out: I say, that is but thy slander; for herein we establish the Scripture, the whole end whereof is to testify to the light of Christ, as being only sufficient to reveal the prince of darkness, where he rules in the creature, and by his appearance in the creature to cast him out (2 Thess. 2), and this is the only cause that the prince of the air is so much enraged at the appearance of Christ and his light within, knowing that no other thing can reveal him or cast him out, as is well seen in this nation, who have long had the letter, and thy means thou would set up above the light of Christ, yet children of disobedience, as thou art made to confess in thy book, though under a feigned humility. And thou says thou art ignorant whether God hears thy prayers or grants thy requests, yea or no? I say, how shouldst thou be any other, who loves thy iniquities and are pleading for them (Ps. 66:18): pride, imperfection, and false worships, and against the light of Christ? wherein it's seen, thou art he that thou tells on, who turns the Scripture as a nose of wax, to plead for such things as the Scripture condemns, and against the light of Christ, which the Scriptures bear witness to; and thy slanderous lying tongue says it's manifest, I utterly denied the manhood of Christ who died for us; and when thou hast done, thou says, I dare not own it expressly: so thou hast proved thyself a liar, in slandering me with that which I own not, and yet says it's manifest: but wherein it is manifest thou canst not prove.
<413> And thou falls to question James Nayler, as thou says, and first thou asks where the Scripture directs to give heed to that light within, and to desert all teachings of men. I answer, read Luke 11:35-36, and thou may see the counsel of the only teacher, and all that own him herein must utterly desert all that teaches the contrary.
2. Thou asks, where doth the Scripture tell that he that is the light of the world, and lighteth everyone that cometh into the world, doth enlighten all sufficiently so as to guide them infallibly. I say, read John 8:12, and there thou may read that he that is the light of the world, his light is sufficient to all that mind and follow it; but those that rebel against it knows not the ways thereof (Job 24:13), where thou mayest read thyself in that chapter; and thou says, Then what need the teaching of James Nayler, if this light within be sufficient? I say, as a means to turn people to this light I am; which the devil uses all means he can to turn them from, as all his are now at work herein.
And thou says, There are some that are a people of no understanding: therefore he that made them will have no mercy on them. I say, thou art he, who art reasoning against the light of Christ to be sufficient, and yet thou says, Is not the manifestation of the Spirit given to every man to profit withal? Hast not thou lost thy understanding herein, yet hath got the serpent's subtlety to thrust in thy words to abuse the Scriptures?
And thou says, Satan is willing to clothe us with good works and doctrines, and thou says, his ministers are transformed into ministers of righteousness, and thou says thou cannot but rejoice to see him play that card. I say, cease thy babbling, and see thy confusion: is he Satan with thee who clothes with good works and doctrines, and whose ministers are ministers of righteousness? Satan is not so divided against himself, nor his ministers against their own kingdom (though as to righteousness they pretend), but a righteous life, good words and good doctrines, he that brings these forth was ever counted a devil with thy generation.
And thou would compare us to the papists, who keep people from the letter in their mother tongue, to keep in blindness. I say the devil did so, as long as he could, who now would keep in the letter, but from the Spirit of which the letter declares, <414> without which there is naught but darkness, neither can be; and this is his last design now at Christ's appearance: so take thy slander back and apply thy comparison at home, and come out of the relics of the popish worships you live in; for which we deny you and the papists also.
And thou says, where the Scriptures are known and counted for the word of God, the devil's kingdom must down in the heart. And before thou said, the cause why Paul was a persecutor, was not because he knew not the Scriptures. And such contradictions comes out of the old bottle; but this I say to thee & the rest of the world, you have long counted the Scriptures to be the word of God, but the kingdom of the devil is standing still in the heart (as I need not go far to prove), and so must be, till there be account of the word that is nearer than the letter: so thy practice and the rest of you disproves thy doctrine herein.
And thou calls it a gross directory to advise to take heed to a light within, and says, I might as well bid them follow the devil. I say, thou shalt one day know thou hast blasphemed against the Spirit and gift of God herein. Was that a gross directory of Christ (Luke 11:35 & 17:21), or might he as well have said, Follow the devil? Thou that dare speak thus of his doctrine, how should thou approve of the same in me?
And thou asks, In what part of Scripture is the gospel called the letter, or the preaching of faith, the preaching of the letter; answer if you can. I say, thou should ask thyself this question, who would make the letter the gospel, and the preaching of faith literal, which I say are both spiritual, and spiritually preached; and I ask thee again, where did ever I call the gospel letter, or the preaching of faith letter? and so take thy challenge back again.
And whereas thou art pleading for reverent gestures to worship God in, as well as in spirit: I say, in at that door came your altars, your bowings, your surplices, and conformities, wherein the teachers of this nation was leading back to Rome, the mother of all these witchcrafts, had not God stopped the way by his hand; and now have you got a little peace, and thither are you turning again, even in bloody persecuting against all who witness against you; who testifies against these false ways and gestures, set up by the man of sin, cannot escape the hand of his ministers, who ever <415> had their power from the earthly powers, to effect it, who have more prevailed with many in these three last years, to such a number of sufferings, and for such things as threescore years last past cannot number nor parallel; and thy dedicated thing here is making way for a further growth therein, though some whom you count enemies have more trouble of heart, to see you hasting on that way to destruction, than for the sufferings of themselves, who sees the end of your decencies and reverent gestures, your congees and false formal creature-worships; and what must come upon the relics of Babel, and her upholders. Will not the gestures of the saints serve your worship? That which looks so much out neglects that within; so you plead against the Spirit.
And it being that our practice is the thing that most is in thy way, to make an objection to remove it, or if thou can, to cast a mist before it,
Sayest thou, but it will be said, without all doubt, there is something in these men, more than ordinary; and more than before; and then thou reckons up our boldness and zeal, and self-denial, which thou says is evident in us (yet in other places slanders us with pride), and our coming to the light, that our deeds may be manifest, that they are wrought in God, our pleading for so many good things, and sharply reproving so many evil things, and much the like, that thou may strike at all goodness at once. And then thou says, it can be no other but a deluding spirit. I say, stop thy mouth, who art deluded already: thou neither knows it nor where we had it, only the fruits of it are much in the devil's way, therefore doth thou cast this venom upon them; yet this know, that what thou hast confessed, that this Spirit brings forth, shall remain as a witness against thee, thy spirit and teachers, who brings forth the contrary.
And thou tells how Satan makes witches; and thou says, before he grant them a familiar spirit, he ever engageth them under a degree of blasphemy, as to speak evil of God or Christ, and of his Holy Spirit. So look into thy work in thy book, who art casting this venom and blasphemy upon the fruits of the Spirit of God and the light of Christ, and thou may make application nearer hand.
And thou art warning of such as tell, "Lo here is Christ," or "lo there." I say, thou art he, who art leading forth from the <416> kingdom of God within, and from the light and Spirit of Christ within, which leads into that kingdom which is within (Luke 17:20-21). And whereas thou would thrust us in amongst the Ranters, I say, they are thy brethren, all of one kingdom, in the flesh and the lusts of it, with the pleading for pride and heathenish vain customs, whereby the devil upholds his custom; and the fruits of the Spirit where they are brought forth, is in the way of their pride and pleasures as it is in thine, and who looks upon your lives shall find little difference, only in profession, but both in the world's customs, and pleading for them.
Thus having made way by denying the light of Christ to be sufficient, and reviling the works of righteousness, and teachings of the Spirit, and spiritual light, and made it as odious for any to follow as the devil himself—then thou begins to set up thy ministry, and their maintenance.
Thy third thing is for thy maintenance, and for thy ministry.
And that thou may get something to underprop or make a show for this religious work thou art about; and that thou may seem to be a very charitable man, as Judas did, thou puts in the poor with them. But seeing there is as much difference betwixt them and the poor, as between masters and beggars, and seeing the Spirit saith that "he that oppresses the poor, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want," I shall therefore set the poor by themselves; concerning whom, I say, be as liberal to them as thou wilt, little need there is at this day to dehort from charity to such. I shall also set the ministers by themselves; and if they be found ministers of Christ, far be it from me to hold from them that maintenance which Christ ever allowed his ministers, who never sent them to ask anything of the world, much less to take it by force.
Now the things thou would lay upon us, as to these ministers, thou would lay them upon us as duties towards God; and says, "They are God's receivers"; and under many great penalties thou holds it forth, as the loss of their estates, the favor of God, and salvation, &c.
And thou sayest, many professors of great estates have gone to decay upon this account—to which I say that is yet to prove. But one thing is evident, that many who have had great estates <417> have them wholly swept away by force by these ministers, these two years last past. And thou says, for their maintenance, thou wilt not set a stint under the gospel, whether a tenth, or ninth, or all; for then thou shall make bolder than the apostle did. But thou shalt gather some resolves; and first thou resolves that it must be no less than a tenth: for this, thou says, will not be well accepted; and thou says without all controversy, in such cases as abovesaid, to give more than a tenth; yea, if need require, to sell all. And this thou presses over again, without all controversy, and that it must be so, as Christ hath loved us. But, sayest thou, if it will engage us to lay down our lives, then much more our estates; not only some, but all. And thy next resolve is that there needs no stinting, but we ought to part with all, and our lives, to boot. And thou says, God hath not stinted us to any lesser part than all as sufficient; no stint at all, under all that we have. So now thou hast set a stint, though before thou denied it.
Further, thou persuades us, to speak evil of these ministers is to speak evil of Christ and God, and that it is blasphemy so to do, &c.
I say, therefore, seeing these things are so great which are challenged for them, so far exceeding all that ministers of Christ challenged; and seeing it is demanded under such a penalty, as in pain of salvation.
And seeing Christ saith, "Many shall come in his name, and in sheep's clothing, and yet be but ravening wolves"; and seeing he hath left us the way to know them by, which is "by their fruits"; and seeing he saith, "the hireling is not the shepherd," etc., I say: it highly concerns us to take Christ's rule and try them by their fruits, lest we maintain antichrist instead of Christ, all the sheep of Christ being forbidden to hear him, much more to maintain him. And seeing there is no surer way visible than to bring them to be tried by the practice of Christ's ministers in Scripture, and the fruits they brought forth therein recorded; which, in reason thou shouldst not deny, seeing thou hast so highly set it up, as the trier of all spirits, teachers and their doctrines.
And first: are they such as are disciples of Christ, who have left all their outward estates and habitations to follow him, who hath nowhere to lay his head? wandering to and fro, in hunger <418> and nakedness, having no certain dwelling place, in all things approving themselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in affliction, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings, &c. Are they such as preach the gospel from house to house freely? Their reward being, that they make it without charge (2 Cor. 6). Are they such whose manner is to go into synagogues and schools, to dispute against their idols, temples, and false worships, wherein God dwells not? (Acts 17). Are they such as preach in streets and markets, and in the midst of cities, wherein idolatry is? as in the 16th, 17th, and 18th verses, &c. Are they such as reprove sin in the gate, or wherever they see it committed, for whom snares was ever laid? Are they such as are servants for the Lord's sake, who seek not their own things but the things of Christ, and much more the like, which all the ministers of Christ was ever found in? Then we shall freely leave them to reap the carnals, where they have sown the spirituals; freely to receive, where they are first freely given, without force or violence; which all such ever denied. Nor have they any toleration, command, or example, from Christ Jesus, to lay up anything beforehand of what they thus receive, such always knowing they are to have a daily supply from him in whose work they daily are.
But on the contrary, if these thou art pleading for be found in such a way and worship as these ministers of Christ did ever bear witness against—that is to say, if they be such who are out of the doctrine of Christ, who are called of men masters, who bear rule by their means, seek for their gain from their quarter, teach for the fleece, and so become hirelings, preaching for hire and prophesying for money: if they be such as are found worshipping in their high places and idol-temples, there keeping people in such a worship as the Scriptures will not warrant any particular thereof to be according to the manner wherein the ministers of Christ worshipped, both as to preaching, praying, singing, baptizing, &c., and then stirring up the people, as the idol-shepherds ever did, and as Christ said they should do, to beat in the synagogues, and hale before rulers, such as the Lord sends to bear witness against that worship and their teachers, who are out of his doctrine, shedding the blood, and stirring up the powers of <419> the earth to imprison, whip and torture such, who the Lord sends, as that generation ever did.
If they be found such as live in pride and idleness, who have parsonages and great houses to live in, exalted in the world's glory, rending and suing their hearers, casting them in prison, and spoiling the goods of such as receive no benefit by them in lieu thereof; and much suchlike unchristian, yea unhumane carriage: I say, where these fruits are found, none that knows Christ, or will take his rule, can own these for his ministers, by their fruits, nor maintain them under that name. Nor will one of those scriptures thou hast quoted prove a maintenance for such a ministry. Nor may any who owns the true shepherd uphold such who are enemies to him, under a pretense of relieving the poor. Neither is it any blasphemy, as thou calls it, against God or Christ, to speak against them and their whole worship, every particular of it, which is not according to Scripture: but the blasphemy against God and Christ is to uphold such, and say they are his ministers.
And this I say further that though the pope uses the Scriptures to maintain his ministry, & the bishops to maintain their ministry, and so all others, sects and opinions; and for that end wrest them to fit their several worships, ministers, and maintenance: yet as the Spirit of God hath given them forth will they fit none but the ministers of Christ. And that ministry, which of itself is not conformed to the Scriptures and the practice of the ministers of Christ therein declared without wresting one jot of the Scripture, that ministry with the Scripture is denied; which Scripture owns the ministry of Christ; so take not the apostles' words to plead against what the apostles practiced, for that will not serve the turn, nor uphold the ministry. So clubs, stones, prisons and whips are looked upon as better weapons than the Scriptures, to uphold a ministry contrary to the Scriptures. So all thy arguments and scriptures are at an end, thy penalties and threatenings, till thou first prove the ministry thou pleads for to be the ministers of Christ, by their fruits.
And if there be such as appear to be ministers of Christ by their fruits, yet to such I do utterly deny any ground, command, or example for either tithes or set-benefits, or commanding anything at all from the world; yea, or from their own hearers, but <420> what God shall move their hearts to freely: also, all complaints, as to magistrates, murmurings, and repinings, in that behalf, is forbidden: but that all such may receive their wages from him who hath sent them to labor and hath said he will give them that which is meet, wages which the false prophets was never content with.
And whereas thou tells of laying all down at the apostles' feet, I say, let the ministers make use of that scripture when their ministry brings forth that effect. Till then, let them cease taking men's goods by force; for that consequence will not follow that scripture. Nor will it follow that the enemies of the word must take men's goods by force, to whom they communicate naught, because the apostle exhorted to communicate to those that taught in the word, in all good things. And whereas thou says the Lord assigned over his own portion to his ministers, I say, his portion, those thou pleads for will not have, which was in this world mockings, stonings, scourgings, wandering, fasting as a stranger in the world, nowhere whereon to lay his head, as a sign everywhere to be spoken against: this portion he may assign to whom he will, for them or thee, or any share you will have of it; such as he hath assigned this portion to, are not pleading for their bellies. And thou tells much of Christ's words, and Christ's love, as to press for hire. I say, he that will own Christ's words must say the hireling is not the shepherd; and all that will own his love must not uphold his enemies.
And thou tells much of Christ's ministers, and Christ's ordinances, if calling them so will prove it. But when thou writes again, first prove them so, and then call them so. Till then, call not the Quakers liars for telling them the truth; for I tell thee again (though thou say it is a high degree of blasphemy to speak in the least against them) that they that are found in these things before-mentioned are no ministers of Christ, nor is it any greater sin to call such wolves than it is to follow Christ and his example, who saith, "By their fruits you shall know them." But thou says, we ought not to judge according to appearance; and yet afterward saith, "We shall doubtless know them by their fruits," for so Christ hath promised. And thus Babylon's children are dashing one against another.
And thou says, though we do not know whether they be right <421> or no, yet let us communicate freely and liberally to them, seeing they are the best we have—so by that rule, none shall be excluded.
And to stir up thereto, thou sayest, Christ hath promised not only to give you ten in the hundred, but a hundred for ten, for what you so give to them. Which doubtless couldst thou beget that faith in their hearers, and that they might have it in such things as they love, it's like the work would be soon set upon. But it's like they will look for better security than thou can give them from those words, for the performance of such a work; for those words make no promise for upholding false worships.
Another argument thou uses, saying, we ought to account them as spiritual fathers. I say if any so do, whom they have not spiritually begotten, such account of a lie, and thou teaches them to it.
Further thou sayest, we are engaged to make them savory meats, for how can we expect any such cordial soul-blessings from such as we make not any savory meats for, such as their soul loveth; how shall they bless us in faith, or how can they believe that God will make their blessings efficacious, and blessings indeed, &c. I say, two things thou hast laid open in this argument, which are truths, I dare not deny: first, what the savory meats are their soul loveth, to wit, not only a tenth, but all that we have, the stint which before thou hast mentioned, yea our lives also, if they require them.
Secondly, thou hast showed the ground of their faith, without which they cannot believe that their prayers will be heard. A third thing may be added (to wit), the ground of their blessing, which is their savory meat their soul longs after; all which is plainly seen in their practice, where this is not put into their mouths, which their souls loveth; and in thy next work thou says the love of money is the root of all evil, therefore how shall any man expect any good branches that sprouts from it? So their savory meats thou art pleading for, the ground of their blessings and their faith is the root of all evil; for thou says their souls loves it, as their savory meat, which is the root of all evil, which cannot by me be denied, seeing the branches and sprouts that come from it are so suitable. And thou further says, we ought to hate covetousness wherever we see it; and where we see it reign in any man we ought to abhor such a man as odious and <422> abominable, yea as base and ignoble persons, not worthy of any Christian fellowship nor communion: to which I say, some of this I own and practice, though other some I dare not, as to abhor any man's person, that I may not; but in respect of their covetousness, whose soul loveth other men's money as their savory meats, from such I have withdrawn from Christian fellowship or communion; so cease thou to murmur at our putting in practice thine own doctrine.
Then thou turns again to the old stuff, opposing that at which thy envy is most, to wit, the light of Christ; and thou says the Spirit of God teacheth you that there are more lights than one, though all from that eternal light. And thou reckons up the light of Christ, and of his disciples, and of John, and thou adds to them the light of Satan. To which I say, the light of Christ, his disciples, and John was but one light, and so in all the saints, from the beginning of the world, and all from one Spirit, though in several measures: yet all the light of Christ; but for thy light of Satan, that is seen to be spiritual darkness as to the things of God, whence it is, that such mud and confusion there is, in whom he is transformed.
As thou who slanders us to father blasphemy on the Spirit of God, because we preach a light and Spirit within: the thing which Christ and all his ministers ever preached, and who denied the blind guides, who had not light in them, and which is the end of the Scriptures, to testify to the light and Spirit of Christ within: did Christ father blasphemy on the Spirit when he said, "Take heed that the light that is in you be not darkness," & said, "the Spirit of truth shall lead into all truth"? And all the apostles preached the spiritual light, which thou calls blasphemy but are found the blasphemer thyself: be ashamed thou blind guide, who hast not the light and Spirit in thee, and yet in thy busy mind would be a teacher, without light, stop thy mouth, we have too long been led with such blind guides and antichrists, who deny Christ and his light in Spirit.
And thou says, it is fully proved in this little treatise, and the contents thereof, that we are acted by a lying and malicious spirit, to speak evil of the things we know not, to which I say, if the liar may be judged by his fruits, he will be found nearer hand <423> than the Quakers, and lest thou should say I slander thee falsely, and tells thee not for what, I shall send thee some of thy lies back, which thou hast cast upon us in thy book, which if thou canst prove them thou mayest clear thyself; otherwise stop thy mouth for calling liar, or slandering the Quakers therewith; those I shall mention are as followeth:
Thou says, our spirit teaches us to pull down men's faith and hope they have in God.
That we give no honor or worship either to God or man.
That we have no knowledge of God at all, but a wicked, lying, malicious spirit that is an enemy to all goodness.
That our wicked lying spirit teaches us to speak evil of all men that embrace not our lying doctrines and ways.
That the elect may be so far led away with the error of the wicked, as to fall from their own steadfastness.
That the case is just with us deluded Quakers, as it is with witches.
That we bitterly revile and reproach all the saints and servants of God, almost over all the world.
That our pleading for so many good things, and sharply reproving of evil, and our coming to the light with the deeds, can be no other but from a deluding spirit.
That our directing to observe the light in the conscience is nothing else but to advise them to obey Satan.
That we direct people to eye and observe that lying spirit that is in them.
That Nayler's doctrine is quite contrary, that any that lack wisdom should ask it of God.
That James Nayler himself hath prophesied the destruction of all the generation of them, whoever they be, that will not believe his lies.
That Satan hath got a commission to be a lying spirit in my mouth.
That James Nayler is sent with strong delusions, to come to that they might believe a lie.
That I would needs be accounted some great prophet, and to have some extraordinary revelation, that no man else had known before, and yet teacheth nothing except lies, &c.
<424> That James Nayler utterly denieth the manhood of Christ.
That I blame men for praising and singing of psalms in spirit unto God, as the apostles did.
That I often produce the nonproficiency of the people as a ground of disparagement to the word itself.
That James Nayler accounteth himself the highest, and all below him, or nothing like Christians.
That I reproach and disparage those that take heed to the sure word of prophecy.
That how the word was made flesh, James Nayler understands not.
That James Nayler's directory is quite contrary to the directory of Scripture.
That J. Nayler requireth Scripture grounds for what he asserteth, which he never yet gave.
That we have no faith in God, but in a lying spirit within us.
That we would make the blood of Christ of none effect.
That our spirit teacheth us not to put off our hats when we pray.
Many more suchlike might be gathered, out of this thou calls thy little treatise, which thou says hath much in it; such stuff as this indeed it hath much of. A heap of confusion fit for the fire: is this a vessel of honor that all these lies comes out of? O shame with thy profession, that brings forth such fruits! It's no wonder thou side with Tho. Moore; thou may be one of his children by thy language, yet do not as he did, who because I mentioned some part of his lies concluded I owned the rest: so, many more untruths there is in thy book, not worth naming nor answering, yet this I say: blush for shame, vain man, thy religion is in vain, whose tongue is without bridle, and so the enemy gets his work done. Is this the charity and courtesy thou art pleading for? If this be the fruit of your manners, it's time for all that love their souls to seek for better, and leave the courtesy and ministry also, that leads not to do as they would be done by, which if thou have learned, let thy fruits judge.
Lastly, And thou goes on to plead for a deal more of thy master's stuff, wherewithal he holds up his kingdom of pride and partiality, and suchlike stuff, as none ever pleaded for but the <425> devil and his ministers, who is afraid that his kingdom should go down. And thou says, Satan tells us that it is our duty to observe the language held forth in Scripture, and the example of Christ and his apostles, and upon pain of damnation not to vary from it; and this thou brings to plead against speaking the word "thou" to a particular: to which I say, hast thou been all along crying up the Scriptures in thy book for the rule, and is now the language of it, and the examples of Christ and his apostles therein, now become a persuasion of Satan with thee? Hast thou not here showed thyself what brood thou art on, who prefers the devil's pride and the world's fashions before the example of Christ and his apostles, and would render it as a persuasion of Satan for us to follow it: art not thou he the apostle speaks on (1 Tim. 6:3-4), who consents not to the wholesome words of our Lord Christ Jesus, but teachest otherwise; puffed up in thy proud mind, who would be a teacher, but knowing not the way of Christ in thyself, teacheth ways of error contrary to the wholesome words of Christ Jesus and renders it as a persuasion of Satan to follow them? Stop thy mouth for shame.
Another argument thou uses to persuade to use "you" to a particular is because some have the Spirit of God in them, and so are not alone, and some are one with the devil, as Christ was with God, therefore the word "you" is a proper language to be spoken to any.
To which I say, though thou be found one in the devil's work, and the saints one in the work of God, yet have we a better teacher and example to follow than thy blind precepts, though with thee it be counted a persuasion of Satan, even him who knew every particular, whether they was one in God or one in the devil. And whereas thou asks for a scripture that commands it, I shall give thee two—1 Tim. 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13—which both commands to observe the form of sound and wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ; but such as thou prefers the words of pride before the words of Christ.
Further thou pleads for bowing unto men and putting off the hat, and says the Spirit of God teacheth it, wherein thou belies the Spirit of God; for the Spirit of God forbids it, and all that are in the faith of Christ are warned of it (James 2), even that which <426> sets up pride and respects persons. And Christ himself saith, "How can you believe that receive honor one of another?" (John 5:44), and if they could not believe that received honor, how much less can you believe that seek it, and grudge if you have it not, which none of the children of God ever sought for in the Scripture; but such as Haman; and Saul, when the devil was entered into him, said, "Honor me before the people"; so thy work herein owns its master, which Christ denies, who saith, I seek not the honor of men; nor any of his ever did: so you that seek it have your reward, but not among the lambs of Christ, whose praise is of God and not of men.
And not having any Scripture to plead for these things, thou wouldst plead for them under the pretense of love, and being courteous and tender hearted; I say, silence deceit. You have set up those things till you have lost all love, except what is selfish; and your tender-heartedness is such that if any cannot serve your wills herein, to honor your pride contrary to God's commands and the saints' practice, you can cast your brethren into prison and count them not worthy to breathe in the air: this is the tender heartedness, which was otherwise with some of you when you withstood them who sought for these things. A lamentation there is for you, who are so far run into the world's pride and fashions that the demeanor of Christ and his saints is become a reproach and misbehavior, and not manners and courtesy to give you content.
Vain men! with shame sit down in the dust and know what you are and what it is in you that is thus exalted, who hath so far forgot the Lord that you exceed the heathen in these things: which of the saints of God was ever cast in prison since Christ's time for not worshipping and putting off their hats, though both Christ and they denied respect of persons? Did ever Nebuchadnezzar, for all his rage, find fault with the 3 children for having their hats on, or did ever any that professed the name of Christ put forth a book to plead for such things? Oh shame, shame, that ever you should thus uncover your nakedness before all the world, who call yourselves Christians! doth not this more dishonor you, both in the sight of God and all good men, and give them occasion to see that it is not the honorable spirit that is pleading, even true humility, which only deserves honor, yet never sought it from <427> men, and to such alone the Lord gives honor, who seeks not their own but the honor of God; but you that seek it and call yourselves Christians, it will fly from you, that the Scripture may be fulfilled: he that will be greatest, let him be servant of all, which did you not count yourselves Christians, I should not have alleged the Scripture against you herein, and the commands of Christ, which if we obey we must not honor the proud nor respect his person. But where is the meek spirit, him we must honor, but the proud he beholds afar off: and so we see you in the same light, far distant from the spirit of meekness, which is the truly honorable, and so are seeking for that honor which God is laying in the dust.
Much more suchlike stuff there is in thy book, neither worth reading nor answering, which rises out of the corruption of thy own heart, and thy busy mind. Ishmael-like, whose hand is against every man, like him whose eyes is abroad, but canst not see thine own folly, but art boasting of it. Them that had but one light & one word never pleaded for such things, but you have found out so many words in your inventions, and so many lights, and all without you, that you are become heart-blind, so that you cannot see yourselves pleading for such things to uphold the world's glory, as Christ and his apostles preached down—neither can you find any that was in the faith of Christ ever lived in them, since he led the example out; yet are you run into such spiritual blindness, pride and exaltation, that none looks back to consider yourselves to live in such things, and plead for them, as none of the children of light ever did. So see thy work, and look for thy reward suitable; for in vain do you plead for your fading glory; the hand of the Lord is gone out against it, the children of light sees it, who out of Babylon are called, and sees her stateliness to be the filthiness, and whom the Lord hath received may no more touch the unclean thing. So lament over her, you her children and merchants, whose trades is in such stuff as thou art pleading for; for your savory means must be taken from your mouths, and your glory brought to the dust; for he is risen who will recover his worship to himself, and your pride will he famish, with all the rest of the gods of the heathen; but the Lord God and the Lamb will we worship alone forever.
a. Thomason date: 13 March 1655/56.