Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > Some have Wronged my Words


Having heard that some have wronged my wordsa which I spoke before the Committee of Parliament, concerning Jesus Christ and concerning the Old and New Testament, some have printed words which I spoke not; also some have printed a Paper, and calls it James Nayler's Recantation,b unknown to me.

To all which things I shall speak a few words, which may satisfy such as loves the truth, and that he who is out of the truth may proceed no further.

1. Concerning Jesus Christ

     The same Christ and no other, of which the Scriptures testifies, who is the light of the world, and redeemer of lost man from under the power of darkness, known of old by the name Immanuel, that eternal Spirit of truth is the same to whom I confess all power, glory, honor and worship in heaven and in earth. And whereinsoever this earthen vessel or anything therein hath been set up in the minds of any, to diminish the glory of that invisible power, or to draw anyone from the measure of the same Spirit in themselves, or to offend the least measure of that pure and tender Spirit in any of his people, all that I condemn and deny as a thing never intended by me; but is the work of the adversary, who seeks all occasion against the truth of God to devour, in whom it is begotten, who took his advantage in the time of my trial and sufferings, to stir up enmity and despite against the Spirit of truth, and with all his power sought to dishonor the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, for which I have denied all that I loved in this world, which name stands in the power and nature of that eternal Spirit, and to the power, the name is given, and not to James Nayler, as himself hath said (John 14:26), and in the eternal <67> seed is the Sonship, and the Lamb is he that bears all things.

And concerning his sufferings at Jerusalem

     I have believed them from a child according to the Scriptures, and I can truly say, I was never of any faith contrary, and much more I am confirmed therein daily, having found the effect and power of that suffering Spirit to be all my strength in all my tribulations, and in all my afflictions hec hath been afflicted, which whosoever abides in, seeks no revenge, their reward being present with them; which power and Spirit whosoever feels in the deep, cannot call Jesus accursed, nor undervalue his sufferings, neither can any say (in truth) that he is Lord but thereby.

And concerning the old & new Testament being the word

     The old is that which was dedicated with the blood of calves and goats, enjoined for its time, and disannulled for thed unprofitableness thereof, because it could not make perfect (Heb. 7:18-19; 9:18-20). But the word of God is not disannulled, unprofitable nor imperfect, but quick and powerful, livinge forever (Heb. 4:12).

     And the New Testament I own, which is in the blood of Christ (Luke 22:20), and the apostles saith God had made them able ministers of the new testament, not of the letter but of the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:6), and these were ministers of the word, who said they were not ministers of the letter, which word was in them and spiritual, and they knew his voice that liveth forever (Rom. 10:6-8).

     So the Scriptures I own which declares of these things, and the word I own which was before these things was written, but my life stands in that which quickeneth, liveth, and abideth forever, and he is the word which by the gospel is preached, and they that hath him can believe what is written of him (John 1; 1 Pet. 1:23-25; Rev. 19:13).

     And as touching the printing of that paper,f it was not done by me, nor with my knowledge in the least, nor do I yet at all know the man that hath done it, but out of the truth and against the truth he hath done it, and for evil towards me whoever it was; <68> the Lord God of my life, who hath kept me alive in all distress, turn it for good, and forgive the evil: and though he that hath done it hath not done it in truth, nor love to it, yet what of truth there is in the paper I shall own, as stands on truth's behalf; for thus it was, that after I was put into the hole at Bridewell, I heard of many wild actions done by a sort of people who pretend that they owned me, and these were earnestly stirred up at that day with much violence and many unseemly actions, to go into the meetings of the people of the Lord called Quakers, on purpose to hinder their peaceable meetings, and yet would take that holy and pure name of God and Christ frequently into their mouths, whereby the name of the Lord was much dishonored and his pure Spirit grieved; and much disorder they caused in many places of the nation, to the dishonor of Christ Jesus, for which I felt wrath from God; which when I understood that they had any strength through me, I used all means I could to declare against that evil spirit, which under the name of God and Christ was against God and Christ, his truth and people; and something I did give forth about a year and a half since in denial of these spirits which it seems to me, he that hath done this hath got a sight of, and hath added to it the thoughts of his own heart, and hath brought out this darkness, that people knows not what to make of it.

     Therefore so far as it testifies against those unclean ranting spirits, and all the actions wherein the holy name of God hath been dishonored and his Spirit grieved, so far I own it; but in that it is turned as though I denied the Lord Jesus Christ, and his truth which hath called me out of the world, or his people called Quakersg whom he hath called into light, in that I own it not; for in the patience and tribulation of Christ Jesus, and with those who have the power this day to testify therein, against all the evils of this present world, I am one in heart and soul to the utmost of my strength, till the coming of the Lord Jesus over all, and the throne of meekness and truth be set on top of all enmity and deceit, in which faith and power I live or die, suffer or rejoice, as God will, even so be it, without murmuring.

James Nayler  

[See QHP editor's comment on page 69 below.]


QHP Editor's comment:

     A small pamphlet appeared in 1659 with the title "James Nailor's Recantation," which seems likely to be what he is referring to in the above disclaimer, but it is not exactly as Nayler describes it. Perhaps, as his words "having heard" suggest, Nayler had not actually seen the document with that title but was merely told about it by friends who visited him in prison. It is a strange publication, for the title page gives the impression of an anti-Quaker tract, and yet the text inside is Nayler's own, taken almost verbatim from his epistle "To all the people of the Lord, everywhere gathered or scattered" (see pp. 63-65 above). I have compared that epistle with the so-called Recantation, line by line, and there are no more differences in the texts than might be found in any two legitimate editions of the same tract: no changes that affect the meaning, and nothing added. There is, of course, nothing against Quakerism or Quakers as such, in the text, to occasion Nayler's comment that "in that it is turned as though I denied the Lord Jesus Christ, and his truth which hath called me out of the world, or his people called Quakers whom he hath called into light, in that I own it not." On the other hand, the lurid title page could easily give a casual viewer the impression that Nayler had recanted some "damnable heresy," and one who looked no further might infer that the "damnable heresy" was Quakerism. Nayler, of course, did not write the title page.

     I have no more idea than Nayler did of who conceived this pamphlet. Edward Farnham published 15 other titles listed in the Wing Catalog between 1656 and 1660.

James Nailor's

Penned, and directed by Himself,
     to all the People of the LORD, Gathered and Scattered.
And may most fitly serve as an Antidote
     against the Infectious Poyson

Damnable Heresies,

Although couched under the most Specious
     Vails of Pretended Sanctity.

Printed for Edward Farnham and are to be sold
at his Shop in Popes-head-Alley, 1659

Editor's Notes

a. Publication data appearing at the end of the pamphlet: London, Printed for Thomas Simmonds at the Bull and Mouth near Aldersgate, 1659.

b. See p. 69 below for a discussion of what paper Nayler is referring to here.

c. W. changes "and in all my afflictions he" to "who in all our afflictions."

d. W. changes "and in all my afflictions he" to "who in all our afflictions."

e. Whitehead inserts "and abiding."

f. Whitehead inserts "(called J.N's Recantation)."

g. Whitehead omits "called Quakers."