Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > The Quakers' Whitest Devil Unveiled
THAT faith which we own and witness to is that "which worketh by love" and "is in Christ Jesus" our dear Lord and alone Savior, who is that "true light who lighteneth everyone that cometh into the world"; and in this light we believe and desire to follow, that we might be led out of all the ways, yea works and worships of "the darkness of this world"; and all the effects and fruits of this light we own and witness too, in the sight of God, by believing and acknowledging both by word and deed in love and meekness, and by means also of this faith and love which this essential light hath wrought in us by his word and Spirit. We are seriously engaged utterly to deny their ways and doctrines, who go about to exclude and disparage all helps and means and teachings of men, and of such especially whom "the Lord of the harvest hath thrust forth as faithful laborers into his harvest," for the leading into, and for the guiding in all the ways of God, and of Christ our Savior, whose voice we know and resolve to follow, and not such strange doctrines and devices of men, whom as Christ hath promised we can know by their fruits, that though they "come unto us"; and would only appear all "in sheep's clothing; yet inwardly they are ravening wolves," and "speak lies through hypocrisy, <95> having their consciences seared as with an hot iron," pretending to believe in Christ as their life and salvation, and to deny all them and their faith and ways who say they have faith, but their life is not the life of Christ, but they live in sin and worldly pleasures, and say they cannot be saved from their sins in this world, but in part—implying that they, for their parts, live the life of Christ in fullness of perfection here in this life, when it is evident to the contrary, and easily demonstrable that they are led away with a spirit of delusion to believe lies.
1. For first, the Spirit of God teacheth us to "honor all men." But their spirit of delusion teacheth and leadeth them not to honor or reverence any man at all, though in never so high or honorable a place or condition of life.
2. The Spirit of God teacheth us to be courteous and tender-hearted towards all men; but their Spirit teacheth and leadeth to be courteous and tender-hearted towards no man, but teacheth them mere incivility, like the brute beasts that are fed with sensuality as utterly void of rationality.
3. The Spirit of God teacheth us to "judge nothing before the time"; yea, even Christ himself biddeth us, "Judge not that we be not judged"; but their spirit teacheth them both to judge and condemn, and with a most austere countenance call men damned, and carnal, and hirelings, and deceivers, and proud, when they can demonstrate no such thing, but in the judgment of charity might judge the contrary, if they had that Spirit and faith which worketh by love.
4. The Spirit of God teacheth us to "let other men praise us, and not our own mouth, strangers, and not our own lips," and to "let our works praise us in the gates," like the virtuous woman. But their fruits teacheth them to praise themselves, as if they were perfect already, even as Christ himself, intimating, as if Christ already had empowered them to do the will of God.
5. The Spirit of God teacheth us to "speak the truth in love and meekness" and "not to trust in ourselves that we are righteous, and despise others," like the proud Pharisee, but their spirit teacheth them both to falsify and belie our doctrine and profession, intimating to the people by their false suggestions that we should teach such doctrine as are quite contradictions to the word of God; to wit, that Christ is not "able to save to the uttermost those that come unto God by him"; or that we should not account him "the great power of God to salvation of them that believe." All which we utterly deny to be our doctrine or faith.
6. But we have learned from that Spirit which teacheth us not to exalt ourselves, but to think soberly, and to speak modestly of ourselves in respect of our present attainments, as not accounting ourselves already perfect, nor to speak of ourselves above that which may be seen <96> in us, or heard of us: though yet for aught they know, we utterly "forget that which is behind, and press forward to that which is before, even the mark and the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, if possible that we might attain to the resurrection of the dead." A mark which they know not as yet what it meaneth, though they profess themselves perfect, and to have Christ within them, and that so many as have Christ have this power, and what have they not (by their own profession, if we can believe them) already within them. But I hope we may know the tree by its fruits, better than their own testimony.
7. The Spirit of God teacheth us not to own any perfection that is in Christ as properly ours, but acknowledge it his, though we have Christ in us. For though "the life we now live is by faith in the Son of God, who hath loved us and hath given himself for us; yet it is not we that live, but Christ that liveth in us."
But their spirit teacheth them to own every perfection that is in Christ as properly theirs, affirming that they that have Christ have power; and they that believe have power to do the will of God; and they deny all those that say they have faith in Christ, and yet their righteousness is not perfect, because the righteousness of Christ is perfect; which yet is not properly theirs, but only through faith, and that by imputation. And they also deny all those, and their faith and hope, who say they hope to be saved, and yet live in sin, making a profession; for, say they, he that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself even as he is pure: so that if he be not purified in perfection like Christ, they say, it is but the hope of the hypocrite, which shall perish. And they also deny all who say they have faith and Christ, and yet their word and light is without them; for he that hath Christ or faith hath this word and light which is Christ; as if a man could not have Christ by faith but he must of necessity have the fullness of Christ, the essential word and light wholly within them, whom the heavens of heavens are not able to contain, conceived as God, nor are all creatures able to comprehend. Again they affirm that he that hath that word of faith which the apostles preached, hath this word not in the letter, but in the Spirit, as if the apostle had only spoke of Christ the essential Word, and not inclusively of the spiritual ministration of the word of God, in his sacred name. And so again they deny all them whose law is without and moral, for they own that law which is spiritual within written in the heart, for that law, say they, is perfect and endures forever, and therefore they deny all those laws without and see them to be in the old covenant of works, which made nothing perfect; as if we ought not to own the law without us in tables or books as well as that within us, and the rather as a rule to try that within us by, whether our spirits be of God. A subtle delusive doctrine of Satan this must needs <97> be, to disparage the word and law of God, that men might only listen to his lying spirit or to their own corrupt and deluded hearts.
8. The Spirit of Truth teacheth us that "Christ our righteousness was sacrificed for us," and that his righteousness only may be called perfect and depended on for our justification, and not our own inherent righteousness; yet we also endeavor to "purify ourselves even as he is pure," and do press onwards towards perfection, though with no intent to establish our own righteousness, as their lying spirit would hint to the world.
9. The Spirit of God teacheth us also to own that faith which "purifieth the heart," and produceth holiness both within and without, and to own that word and light within, and that word and light without also, for Christ is within us, and without also, so is the law without us and within us also; yea, we also "worship the Father in Spirit and in truth," and utterly disclaim all false righteousness. But we have also a word without, and a church without, and a baptism without, praises and singing without, and a Christ without, and righteousness without as well as within, and so we ought.
But whether their spirit teach them to "hold forth the profession of their hope & faith" in these respects, as well externally as they profess to do it internally; whether they will "show forth out of a good conversation their works in meekness and wisdom," and whether they will "show forth the virtues of him whom," they say, "hath called them out of darkness into light," and whether they will "show their faith by their works," that we may believe them and judge the tree good because the fruit is good; and whether their faith will ever appear to be such "a faith as worketh by love," that so all their "things may be done in love and in the spirit of meekness," as if they had learned of himself to "be meek and lowly of heart," is more than some of those know, to whom those people write. And again whether it be not utterly in vain to write these things in answer unto them, considering we have cause to doubt that some of them are "perverted and sin, being damned of their own consciences"; and whether they be of those to whom "God hath sent strong delusions, that they might believe a lie, because they have not received the truth, in love, but have pleasure in unrighteousness"; and so being already rejected and delivered up to God, "under the power of Satan," whether they dare "resist him that he might fly from them," or whether they can "resist him steadfastly in the faith," or they are now already "led captive by him," as servants and vassals to do his will, is not easy to determine, nor will we absolutely determine nor judge of them as they do of others. But this we say: "They profess to know God, but in their works they deny him"; and they profess to have the word and the law of God written in their hearts, but as for fruits of love we cannot discern any that proceedeth from them. <98> Now "the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart and good conscience, and faith unfeigned," and love or "charity suffereth long, and is kind, it envieth not, it vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth, it beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. It never faileth." But if there be this charity in the heart, it will act accordingly, upon all occasions. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth will speak," and all the body will act. But if it be not, then they have not the law written in their hearts as they pretend. They may therefore compare their ways with these rules of charity, if they so please, and so may know themselves whether Christ be in them by his blessed Spirit, or they are led by a spirit which is not of God. For if Christ be in them, "he hath shed this love abroad in their hearts." And if the contrary, if this love be not there, it is another spirit than the Spirit of Christ and another law than the law of Christ that acteth them. And if their spirit within will not suffer them to parallel their case aright, if they please to write to us they shall have some further help. And in the meantime we leave them to their proper steersmen in these respects and spare our labor. So resolveth he who without any more compliments subscribeth his name.