Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > An Answer to Twenty-Eight Queries sent out by Francis Harris
Art not thou ashamed to call us the grand proposers of queries, and thyself hath put forth a whole book of queries made up of slanders and false accusations which thou says, if rightly considered, may be a stop to prevent falling into the snares of the Quakers; and if soberly answered will occasion a discovery of truth; I say, in the answer of it will be discovered many of thy lies, by the truth (though they be too many all to mention) and thyself in the snare of Satan, which rightly weighed with thy work thou art found in may serve not only to prevent others for joining with thee but also to awaken those who are asleep in thy security, for no liar hath the truth in him, nor no envious person hath eternal life abiding in him; so with that light of Christ in thy conscience which thou opposest thou mayest read thy work and thy condemnation. In thy word to the reader thou says that Satan in these latter years hath bestirred himself to destroy the gospel and <238> the essence of Christianity. I say, what gospel is that thou means of, which in this latter years hath been a destroying, dost thou mean the papists or the bishops or some branches sprung from those roots? No other gospel is in danger of destroying with the light of Christ and his infallible Spirit that thou so much opposes and scorns, with which the work of Christ is now carried out against all such plants which are not of his planting, them to pluck up for the fire: nay, be ashamed of your professions who have got the finest colors to cover you withal; the Turks and heathen exceed you in justice, mercy, meekness, and righteousness; this nation exceeding for wickedness, and the finest forms, the greatest hypocrisy: shall you do all this wickedness and be delivered in the day of the Lord's judgments by crying the gospel, the sabbath, the sacraments, the churches, the Scriptures, &c.? When there is not a verse in the Scripture wherein you may not read your condemnation: shall you be hid by saying you are sinners but harden your hearts and increase in it? Such an adulterous and stiffnecked generation was never in the world before you, with whom neither judgments nor mercies hath prevailed; and now at his appearance are you gathered against him from all quarters of the nations, armed with weapons like your master for whom you fight, some with lies and slanders, backbiting, and false accusing, laying to our charge (in whom he is) things we never knew and accusing us with things to come which we never intended; and these are the head of the serpent which makes way for gathering all the body and tail, some with clubs and stones, stocks and prisons, some beating in the synagogues and haling before rulers, some plotting in secret, hatching the cockatrice eggs which yet you have not power to bring forth; and so all is at work, Gog and Magog against the Lamb and his despised ones where he is; the prisons are fulfilled throughout the nation, and the devil is come down in great rage, and the nations are mad, yet can you not believe that this is the work of the devil thus to make havoc, though none of God was ever found in it, but his time is short, and to judgment he must come, head and tail, root and branch; the day is at hand: here is the faith and the patience of the saints; he that hath an ear can only hear, and he that hath an eye can see, but the world is as blind and deaf as ever.
The occasion of thy queries thou says is the increase of the Quakers in Gloucestershire; and thou says in a rude manner thou <239> did compose them, which some persuaded thee to correct, &c. I say they are rightly called rude, and so they will appear in time, and thy ignorance also who thinks to stop the work of the Lord with these queries; but if thou had taken counsel so to have corrected them as to have taken out all thy lies, thou had marred the foundation of thy queries, and with the light of Christ in thy conscience thou might have answered thyself, covered thy shame, and not have brought forth such a shameful birth as this into the world: the first copy of them thou says thou disowned; I say if ever thou own truth thou wilt disown the second also. But thou seems to put the fault why thou printed them upon the Quakers, who thou says threatened to publish the copy in thy name, and thou says some favorites of ours persuaded thee not to publish anything against us, saying we would cast dirt and filth in thy face and set out thy miscarriages in a multiplying glass, alleging to thee the counsel of Gamaliel, &c.
I say: thy speech bewrays thee; was this our friend which gave this false testimony against us? He was a friend to thee, if thou couldest have seen it and have taken his counsel after Gamaliel; but he hath not spoken truth of us, for I am so far from multiplying thy miscarriages, that a third part of thy lies I have not mentioned. And the Quakers had done thee no wrong, had they published in thy name what thou wrote, yet I judge the least of the Quakers might have been much better employed than to fill people's ears with such lying vanities, which are most fit to rot had not thou brought them first to light. And thou speaks as of some fears of some reports that are out against thee, concerning thy conversation, as though the Quakers should publish them; to which, I say, if thy conscience accuse thee, and being enlightened with the light of Christ, own the light and turn to it, and repent of thy sin and love the light which shows it, therein should I rejoice, more than in publishing of it; thou tells of a list & catalogue of as vile wretches who are lately turned Quakers as any the country doth afford, and this thou says to deter people from following us. I say that's my joy on their behalf (though troubled for you) to see the Scripture fulfilled and fulfilling; they come from far and sit down in the kingdom, but the children of the kingdom cast out, yea publicans and harlots take the kingdom before you.1 Good is the word of the <240> Lord which is now fulfilling, but woe unto you whom it is fulfilled upon; and thou says in thy queries the reader may see not only the face but the whole body of the Quakers' tenets: I say they may see a body of thy lies, wherewithal thou art arming thyself against the Lord; but the body of the Quakers are out of the sight of hell and death and all the dark fallible spirits that are in covenant therewith.
And thou sayest, our antiscriptural inventions will of themselves shortly fall to the ground like as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs when 'tis shaken of a mighty wind. I say, inventions are thine who hath not the light and Spirit in thee, but for our fall, that is the false prophet that speaks in thee, and so it shall be seen, every day more and more, the might of the wind of the liar cannot shake our foundation.
Yet thy queries I shall answer, so much of them as have any truth in them, and some of thy lies I shall return thee again which may seem to slander the truth most, and for the rest let them alone as not worth mentioning, nor troubling the ears of people with them, and so in plainness, as followeth.
In thy first query thou asks the way of God's discovery to the sons of men, and whether we come from God, or we speak of ourselves, and the light of conscience by which we walk, whether our dispensation be from Mount Sinai, or Zion, &c.
Ans. Our dispensation is of the Spirit of light, whereby we are led, and Mount Sinai we know, and the law received from God's own mouth, where the beast cannot touch, and from the wilderness of sin are we journeyed, and some journeying, and the wilderness of Judea we know, and that righteousness fulfilled, where the generation of vipers is rejected, scribes and Pharisees; and to Mount Zion we are come, & many is coming with joy & songs of deliverance, and sorrows, tears, and sighing flies away, with the wild asses who snuffs up the wind and never came to the yoke, kicks and scoffs at, when they see others brought to tears and sorrow, and so in vain minds talks of wiping tears away where none is, and talks of Zion; who have the words but are still in Egypt, and in the state of Jannes and Jambres, withstanding Israel's seed in the imitations, but knows not Israel's light but scoff <241> at it, and to all such it is a cloud and darkness, which is light by night to such as believe and are in their journey towards Zion, and with that light are we separated, and our enemies condemned in darkness, and shall not come nigh us though they pursue, and through this are we delivered from bondage and that which tendeth to bondage; and so through the law we are made free from the law and do not void the law; God forbid.2
And whereas thou asks whether this be not done away, I say thou might first know it fulfilled; there shall not a jot of the law pass till all be fulfilled, go learn what that means (Matt. 5:17-48), and the saints waited to have the righteousness of the law fulfilled in them, which vain minds cast behind their backs (Rom. 8:4); and that law we see fulfilled and fulfilling, which is spiritual, just, and good;3 and herein our teaching and the effects thereof are one with that which the gospel did and doth produce.
And thus the sum of thy first and second queries are answered, except such lies as these, that we press upon people nothing but horror and amazement, and that we do profess to lie under them a long time, seek to affright others into them, that we stumble at the noonday, that there is no gospel light in us, &c., which all being but lies heaped together, thou may take them back not worth answering. And for thy mischievous words against us in that thou calls roaring, I say thou may read thy generation and thy work (Ps. 38): while David roared, such as thou imagined mischief, and his enemies was lively and strong and multiplied against him.
Qu. 3. In this query thou asks if that religion be of God which for the outward part consists in little else but "thou" and "thee," and railing against priest and tithes, hirelings and gross sins, &c.
Ans. That our religion consists of any outward thing or deportment is false. But are not all these things thou carps at the practices of the saints? Did not they declare against the priests, hirelings & tithes, which thou calls railing in us? Or did they ever use any other language but thee or thou to a particular, whoever it was, God or man?
Thou shameless man! how dost thou discover thy envious spirit against the practice of Christ and his people? Canst thou find nothing in us to envy against but Scripture practice? Be ashamed <242> of thy doctrine, who art come forth into the world to plead against the saints, to hold up hirelings, priests, & tithes, which Christ & the apostles cried down,4 & to plead for flattering titles5 against the language of Scripture, and against the true language of the nation, brought forth only to honor the devil's pride, who is so exalted in men that he would have a better language than God, and all good men have given and taken freely in all ages, for God is one in all his, but the devil is legions; and this thy work shows thy master, and yet in this his work thou would have the name of Christ to cover thee with: but the light which thou hates is come, and thou art found out by thy works; thy words cannot hide thee, who is bending thy wits to lead out of the saints' practice into country customs, and says, would not Christ and the penmen of Scriptures have used it, and suited with the place where they had come? I say Christ and the penmen of Scripture were in place where the devil reigned (as we are), but they was redeemed from conformity to him and his, from customs of the world, nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, for which they was hated and evil spoken of by the devil's instruments, who are in his kingdom and custom, and by such are we hated and slandered now, for the same practices and language: and have not the penmen of the Scripture showed what they would do in their writings, which thou would alter, to make way for proud Haman and his devouring nature, and would accuse us for railing accusations because we withstand thee. And thou asks if we do not abuse that scripture, Luke 10:4. I say it is the devil that abuses Scripture in leading vain minds to talk of it who do not walk in it, but would accuse them that do, whom Christ hath sent forth and fitted for that purpose by his Spirit and power, and such knows what to salute, and to whom they bid Godspeed, and will follow no man's traditions.
Qu. 4. In this thou queries, In what the language of the Spirit consists in, and Whether any mortal creature now may be said to speak the pure language of the Spirit, &c.
Ans. The language of the Spirit consists in that which the Spirit speaks or moves the creature to speak; and such is the pure language of the Spirit though spoken through a mortal creature; and where the fallen wisdom is silent and self dead there it is <243> spoken forth without mixture, but while the firstborn lives, where the light is denied, this is not known, who are not redeemed from nations and their customs. And whereas thou askest what Christ meant when he said, Simon behold Satan hath a desire to sift you: I say, he meant as he spoke, that Satan had a desire to sift the disciples, and so he hath at this day, which the prayer of the Spirit of Christ prevails against, and no man can speak the language of the Spirit in flattering titles, neither doth the Spirit frame any such speech. And they that have this Spirit have power to speak the pure language without arrogating to themselves; and thou that speaks evil of this language art the blasphemer thou speaks on,6 who says this is contrary to the divine motions which is but contrary to thy national customs and the devil's pride, who withstands man's redemption out of the fall, where all the flattering titles, respect of persons,7 vain customs and worships is; which the faith of Christ denies, which brings out of the fall.
Qu. 5. This query is made up of lies; and do thou and all thy generation prove wherein we refuse to give that reverence to magistrates which Christ and the apostles did both in doing and suffering; till then stop thy mouth, thou slanderer, who art opening thy mouth in blasphemy and lying, who saith it is our plea that our magistrates are not Christian magistrates, and that the high priest under the law had nothing to do by the law of Moses to sit as judge, and divers such lies not worth mentioning.
Qu. 6. The sum of this query is to deny the infallible Spirit in the saints to be the same now that it was in the penmen of the Scripture, and to deny it for the trying of all spirits, and thou would set up the letter in its stead, for a rule to try spirits and doctrines. And when thou hast done thou confesses the Scripture to be but a dead letter, and so death in thee, being thy rule with the dead letter, thou would try the Spirit of the living God.
Ans. But to the query this I say: the infallible Spirit by which the Scriptures were given forth is the sole trier of spirits and doctrines, neither hath it need of any addition where it is, nor can thou who denies this Spirit, nor thy forefathers, the Jews, ever could know Christ, nor the voices of the Scriptures though you read them every day; and so are fulfilling them, bringing the letter to oppose <244> Christ; as they did so dost thou (Acts 13:27), and so denies the end of the Scriptures which is to set up the Spirit of God for judge, and not themselves, and this is the right use of the Scriptures, when the man of God reads them, which the man of sin turns them to uphold sin and wrests them to the destruction of the creature where he reads them: neither do we throw them aside according to thy slander, and thou that denies the infallible Spirit art in the delusion of Satan thou speaks on, and horrid opinions and changeable religions, and would keep people from closing with the Spirit, leading them from the living to the dead and denying the light in thee, goes not to the law of the new covenant nor testimony of Jesus which is sealed up among the disciples,8 but to the letter, which all the world hath the letter that will read it, or buy it. And whereas thou asks what Peter means when he calls the Scriptures a sure word of prophecy: I say that is but thy dark imaginations, who knows not Peter's voice; for the letter was not a surer word than the voice from God's own mouth, which they heard from heaven. The Spirit of prophecy thou knows not, who denies infallibility, and so (as it's said) thy faith lies in what others hath written.
Qu. 7. Thou asks whether that can be the way of God which hath nothing to warrant it but the bare words and affirmations of men, which they call infallible, and whether this be a sufficient ground to satisfy others.
Ans. That Spirit of God which is infallible is the sufficient ground, and to preach, that is the way of God, neither had this ever any testimony but what is of itself, for the world's wisdom and carnal natural man can neither receive it nor bear testimony of it; only such who believe it bear its testimony, and to such the light and life breaks forth, but to the unbelievers who cannot submit to it, even the same that was from the beginning, and such as say we will not have this man to rule over us,9 such abide in darkness and perish forever, because they believe not in the light and submit unto it, for this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness;10 and here thou hast read thine own condition without faith and without wisdom.
Qu. 8. Thou asks whether our way be of God because it is altogether new, and such as wherein God never yet appeared unto <245> the sons of men, nor doth the Scripture hold out any such manifestation of God as we teach; and then sayest, thou shalt undertake to discover us in most of our tenets, &c.
Ans. The way of God was ever new to the old man, but for thy saying God did never appear in this way, nor the Scripture hold it out, those are but thy lies: it had been most like for thee (if thou had aimed at honesty) to have disproved our way or our tenets (according to thine understanding) before thou had proceeded to slander, but the former of these is more ready with thy fallible spirit than the latter, and ever was with the accuser of the brethren; and thou proceeds to limit God, and sayest thou art assured that this is the last in which God will ever appear unto the sons of men. I say thou art in the way that that generation ever was in, putting God afar off, who would never own his appearance present; yet this generation of you exceeds all your forefathers herein, who would wholly exclude him never to appear more unto the sons of men, as some of your rabbis have lately said that God hath spoken his last, and so that you being spiritually deaf and blind do conclude that God is dead like yourselves, and as you know him so you worship him, literal knowledge, literal worship, for who knows not in Spirit cannot worship in Spirit, and with such as have God within, so is his worship, which stands not in outward meats and drinks nor carnal things, not in oldness of the letter but in newness of the Spirit.
Qu. 9. In this query thou asks if we do not delude people in affirming that there is a pure light of Christ in every man and woman by nature, according to which if they walk they shall avoid sin and be saved; if they refuse to hearken to it they shall perish, &c.
Ans. The Ethiopian cannot change his skin, nor thou speak truth without lying: did thou ever hear us say men and women have this light by nature? We know this light we speak of to be spiritual, and the light of Christ wherewith he enlightens everyone that comes into the world,11 and that it is pure, and that whosoever believes and follows it shall not abide in darkness12 but shall have eternal life, and he that believes it not is damned;13 and whoever draws people from this spiritual light to observe any traditions without this light, though by God they have been <246> formerly commanded, are the seducers; nay the apostle calls it witchcraft,14 and thou that says the Scriptures tells you the contrary belies the Scriptures; for Christ says the kingdom of God is within even the Pharisees,15 who though they were as blind as thou and could not believe it, yet was not they so impudent as to deny it in plain words as thou dost: how blind are you in this age more than ever any was before you. The Jews who in the old covenant denied Christ shall in the day of judgment arise against you, who profess the new covenant in Spirit and yet deny the light of Christ within, to lead to God out of the world; art thou a spiritual man who has thy law and light and word and Christ to seek without? Is the kingdom of God within, and is he not in his kingdom?16 Art not thou he whom the God of this world hath blinded the eye of the mind, and so the gospel is hid and thou liest groping in the dark, lo here, lo there, who art gone out into the world, to deceive being deceived, given up to believe lies and tell lies, who would make people believe it was Adam's sin to look to the light within, whose sin was to look out to the counsel of others who had lost their guide in Spirit and art now teaching people to wait for a power of Christ without them, and not Christ within: so the reprobate is turned teacher.17
Qu. 10. And this is a full answer to thy tenth query; only see thy own confusion and confession, first in denying John's words (John 1:9), that this light is not in the heart of every man, and then says, till this light shine in the soul it remains in the dark hearts of men, and brings John 1:5 to prove it. Oh that ever men should be so sottish to appear in the world in print in such confusions first to deny the light within, and then to prove it remains in the dark heart till it shine forth, and brings Hos. 6:3, Eph. 5:8, 2 Cor. 4:6 to prove thy own confusions.
Qu. 11-12. In this query thou goes on adding thy lies, saying that we say this light is in men and women by nature, and as that we put the light of nature in the room of Christ, when it's thy work all along to put the light of nature in his room, and thou asks if people may not by the light of nature do the things contained in the law, &c.
Ans. I say, no other light nor nature but the divine light and <247> nature can do the things contained in the law; and who follow that light have a law unto themselves within themselves, written in their hearts,18 by which law of the Spirit they are made free from the law of sin and death, their conscience bearing them witness19 & excusing or accusing, according as God shall judge the world by the gospels; and this is not fallen nature, neither do we attribute it thereunto, but to the divine nature and power which all that believe in the light come to be partakers of,20 though they never partake of the letter: for where this Spirit is known and followed the light that is in them is not darkness, that's their condition where the talent is hid. Neither doth the Scripture speak of any light but the light of Christ; all else is darkness, though darkness may imagine it to be light as the blind generation ever did who put light for darkness and darkness for light, who walk not according to the testimony of the light in their conscience, neither thou nor the priests, but according to your own wills, lusts, and imaginations, and by them are guided, and thus sets up your posts by God's posts, your foolish hearts being darkened, and so become vain in your imaginations who did not like to retain God in their knowledge because that which may be known of God is manifest in them,21 so become filled with all unrighteousness, and these are the idolaters thou speaks on, which are not under the gospel (as thou says they are) but under their imaginations, and so set up a natural light to walk by instead of the light of Christ, which is gross darkness to the things of God, and here thou mayest read thyself and thy 12th query also answered.
Qu. 13. In this query, having repeated thy former lies with an addition, thou asks if our crying out against some gross sins, railing against priests, tithes, hirelings and the like, be not Satan in us, &c.
Ans. Railing is thine own and lying also; but denying the hirelings and the priest that took tithes (with their tithes) is the work of Christ and his apostles,22 which all his ever owned; and that's Satan in thee which opposes it, and thou art his minister who art pleading for the hirelings and his tithes contrary to Christ and so would overthrow the foundation of the gospel and gospel ordinances, who calls the hirelings the servants of the Lord and says they dwell in heaven, who are serving their bellies with earthly things, denying <248> the light of Christ and his practice and the practice of all his. And whereas thou sayest, under a pretense of crying down priests and hirelings we cry down all the apostolical institutions of Christ, I say tithes and hirelings under the gospel are not of Christ's instituting, nor his apostles', but by the pope was they instituted; and thou and all that takes part with him and his institutions cannot keep them from being scattered, neither are any of them the Lord's people who are so gathered, but now the shepherd is come to save the sheep, the wild beasts must fly every one to their harbor from whence they came, and you that are come out from the stock of the priests, who came out from the root of the pope, stand up together that you may be broken, root and offspring.
Qu. 14. Thou asks whether our self-abasing, quakings, tremblings, roaring, crying, going in sackcloth and haircloth,23 sitting in ashes, living apart from our wives, silent gestures till the power move (with some other lies thou adds) be any other than a voluntary humility, &c.
Ans. Herein thou hast showed how little thou knows of the saints' conditions, or being acted contrary to thine own will: is there any of these aforementioned, but the saints have been brought through them, contrary to their own wills, and have declared them in Scripture,24 which thou enemy to their Spirit which acted them thus, calls antic gestures, and voluntary humility, canst thou judge it in us and not in them? Would not thy fallible spirit have said as much, to have seen them so acted before the Scripture declared it, who dare thus blaspheme that Spirit, now when the Scriptures hath witnessed it, and yet saith the Scriptures is the judge of all spirits; so with the Scriptures thy spirit is judged to be the spirit of the devil, who opposes and reproaches the actings of the Spirit of God in the saints: lying and saying that they are acted by the light of nature. But what else canst thou judge, with thy fallible spirit, of the things of God or the saints' liberty, or what there is in it?
Qu. 15. In this query thou asks whether the nature of the covenant of grace be not one of the most needful truths that a people can be taught, and thou sayest in all our speakings and writings we seldom or never touch upon it, nor of God's free actings in it, &c.
Ans. With thy blind fallible spirit thou art here judging again <249> thou knows not what, who hath neither read all our writings nor been at all our meetings, so with thy false judgment condemns thyself to be one of those that speaks evil of that thou knows not. Art not thou ashamed to accuse us for not declaring the nature of the covenant of grace, and thou thyself denying the light within, which is the light of the covenant, is not that the thing for which thou art become our enemy because we declare the light and covenant to be within, and God's free actings therein; whilst thy envy leads thee, thinking to reproach us, how dost thou cover thyself with thine own shame, like the troubled sea casting up mire and dirt? Is not the new covenant, its nature and promise, within?25 which thou art preaching without & reproachest the infallible Spirit within, and thou says the new covenant attributes the whole operation only to God. Thou blind sot, canst thou attribute the work in man to God, who denies the infallible Spirit in man? Doth the Spirit of God work where it is not, or thou denies his Spirit to be infallible where it is: so thou that denies the infallible Spirit must attribute either to the natural light, or the spirit of the devils, for there is nothing of God but what is infallible, for so is his Spirit, & so is his covenant, which are within all that know it, but thou art without, and so without God in the world, heaping up thy lies, saying that we drive people into quaking, and glories in it, and attributes that to the light of nature which is the proper work of Christ, and thus thou heaps up thy lies together.
Qu. 16. This query being wholly made up of lies, not being worth repeating after thee, I return them to thee again being thy own condition; but Christ's meekness we own, and self we deny, self-righteousness, and self-actings, thou art there, who hast not the infallible Spirit to act thee, so thou hast naught to act thee but thyself or the devil.
Qu. 17. Thou asks if it be not the policy of Satan (now that so much gospel light is discovered that he cannot out as act unclean spirits, nor in popish antichristian forms, superstitious inventions as formerly) to pretend in his future actings to be for Christ; that thereby he may some way or other blemish his primitive administrations, &c.
Ans. Here in thy confusion thou asks thou knows not what. <250> The gospel light is within, and so was in the apostles' time (2 Cor. 4; Luke 17:20), but thou that hast no light in thee, nor the infallible Spirit, art in the policy of Satan, and with thy unclean spirit acting against the light of Christ with thy lies and slanders, and the primitive administrations thou knowest not but as thou hast received by tradition from the letter, and so thy administration is literal, but the saints' was and is spiritual in the light and not in the letter (2 Cor. 3). And whereas thou tells of sifting us, I say what hast thou to sift us with, who denies the light of Christ in thee and the infallible Spirit? Hast thou any other but the spirit of Satan, whose desire is ever to be sifting the saints, but thy spirit must not prevail against the children of light. Thou art without with thy sin amongst the chaff; but the wheat is within.
Qu. 18. Whether it be safe for Christians to forsake and let go those gospel dispensations of the Spirit of truth, in which God hath sweetly and blessedly appeared unto their souls, and wherein they have had blessed experiences of God, &c.
Ans. I say what hast thou or any else who deny the light of Christ and the infallible Spirit to let go, that is worth keeping? Art thou afraid of losing the spirit of delusions? For the Spirit of truth thou hast not, for that is infallible; and that which hath appeared to thy soul, who hath no light in thee, nor the Spirit of God, is but the spirit of delusion or something in thy imaginations, who art a child of darkness; and therein is all thy experience which thou art so afraid to lose. And whereas thou would make people believe that the dispensation of the light and infallible Spirit hath no promise from God, and that they that do so refuse him that speaks from heaven: I say herein thou manifest what thou knows of any promise from God or voice from heaven, who denies it to be in the light or infallible Spirit,26 without which there is no promise nor word but what is stolen from others or out of a book, and had thou had no book thou had no voice nor promise, who hast no light, nor that Spirit by which alone the love of God is sealed to all that hath it.
Qu. 19. Whether this power we have received, and press people to wait for, be from God, from Satan, or from the Spirit of bondage, and thou asks if the power of God, when it hath <251> come, hath put his people into such strange fits of trembling and quaking as if their joints were fallen in pieces, &c.
Ans. That power we have received and press people to wait for is the power of God, which thou knows not, nor its effects, who calls them strange fits. When Daniel heard the word of the Lord he stood trembling. And when Moses heard the word of the Lord, he exceedingly feared and quaked. And David his bones were out of joint;27 this thou calls strange fits who never knew the word of the Lord; who hath eyes and sees not, ears and hears not, and so art out of the fear of God, one of those thou mayest read on (Jer. 5:21-22 and Isa. 66:5), who art venting out thy malice against such as fear the Lord and tremble at his presence. But to trembling thou shalt come, when thou shall see his face whom thou now art reproaching; then shalt thou know Belshazzar's condition, which now with thy vain mind thou art talking of. And whereas thou tells of liberty where the Spirit of the Lord is, then there is none in thee who denies the infallible Spirit in thee, but thy liberty is in thy beastly, sensual imaginations; and in thy natural condition thou art, who art not born of that Spirit. And it is thou that is in Satan's work, to drive people from Christ who denies his light and Spirit, and naught else hast thou received but a spirit of bondage, who hath not the Spirit of the Father in thee, and so art bound in the chains of darkness and would keep others with thee; and thy consolation and safety is but with carnal things, who hath not in thee the infallible Spirit; but our consolation is in the Spirit of God which we have in us, received of him, in his light.
Qu. 20. And whereas thou queries whether that which we call perfection be not rather imperfection, &c.
Ans. No, it is that which shows thy imperfection and Pharisaical boastings, it is that which leads us from sin and to the remission, and the love of God which thinks no evil. And from the righteous man's state which falls seven times a day (which thou tells on) to Christ which doth not fall, and from that state that doth offend, and from self-sufficiency to the sufficiency of Christ which tells people, see they have sinned and stand in need of a Savior, who saves them from their sin, whose blood cleanseth from all sin, and there is the time of seeing sin, and have sinned, and confession <252> and forsaking sin, and the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin; and perfection is not attained in thy life thou lives in, for it's the man of God that's perfect, and he knows Paul's words who serves God in newness of life, and not in oldness of letter; and when thou comes to Paul's life thou shalt know Paul's state, which we see and know, who said, As many of us as be perfect, be thus minded, and he was one of that "us" who wished their perfection. And we deny thy spirit which keeps thee always in the warfare, but we witness the Spirit of the apostles, which is to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus, and this is the Spirit the Quakers witness.
Qu. 21. Thou queries if it be safe for Christians to be every year changing their religion, &c.
Ans. Thou that hast not the Spirit that was in the apostles, thou hast the spirit of the world, where the changing religions is, and that spirit grows not, nor with it thou grows not up in grace, which the Spirit that was in the apostles did; and who are in it doth, and so the Ranters, Levellers, and changing religions thou tells on are of thy spirit, whose house is not upon the rock: so, now the wind blows, so many of them tumbles down, and the rest of the lies return into thy own bosom, who art one of the tempest (thou tells on), carried about with wind and words of men, and so not steadfast, but with the Spirit that is steadfast are discovered, which tendeth into Christ, where we have an interest in God, who is a consuming fire, who is bringing all thy actings to light; and thou asks what settlement people can gather to themselves; I say such a settlement as thou art in, which is but vain notions, which now doth oppose the gospel and the glorious light of it, but with it thou art condemned, which leads to the rock, where the love of the truth is received, and now thou art left in thy confusion, having not the power, art turned away from, and this thou calls changing, like the pope and all sects who calls it heresy to come out from their traditions, so dost thou, and your argument is one, and whereas thou tells of a wandering spirit, I say stop thy mouth for shame: what spirit else hast thou, who denies the light of Christ and the infallible Spirit. Have not all cause who loves the Spirit of truth, or their own souls, to shun thee and thy vain notions, which are not from the Spirit of God that was in the saints?
Qu. 22. Thou asks whether they are carried on by the power of God in their fastings and abstinence from meat, when they are not fatter and fairer than they was before, &c.
<253> Ans. Canst thou judge what power David was carried on by, whose knees was weak through fasting, and his flesh failed of fatness; whereby he became a reproach to such as thee who looked on him?28 Or did the three children fast which thou talks on that they was fairer? Be ashamed of thy proof and thy experience: thou declarest of the saints' conditions; thou art more like one of those whose hearts were fat as grease,29 and whose eyes stood out with fatness, who speaks wickedly and loftily, one of the ungodly who prospers in this world, who increases in riches, which David spoke of (Ps. 73); and such was ever scoffers at the saints' fastings; that in thy conscience shall witness it.
Qu. 23. Thou asks if we under a pretense of crying up new light we do not bring people back to the same frame of spirit under which they were when they first made a profession of godliness, as crying out against pride and other gross sins, &c.
Ans. The light of Christ is new to thee who art the old man and the child of darkness, though it be the same that was from the beginning, which we cry out against pride and all gross sins, which thou who art gross in thy spiritual pride art an enemy to, and carping against; and after confesses that they are good in themselves, and needful to be known, so an enemy thou art to that which is good, and an opposer of that which is needful to be known: out of thine own mouth be thou judged, and whereas thou talks of progress in godliness, I say godliness thou art an enemy to; and thy progress is in opposition to it, denying the light of Christ and his infallible Spirit, and so with the spirit of antichrist art thou pleading for priests and hirelings, such as are of thine own spirit, which the Spirit of Christ bears witness against.
Qu. 24. Thou askest whether we do believe that the Scriptures that speaks of quaking and trembling are to be understood of the quaking and trembling of the joints, limbs and members of the fleshly body of the creature, and whether there may not be this trembling in a person unwrought upon by the power of God.
Ans. The Scriptures are true what they speak, but they could never be understood by thy fallible spirit, which is contrary to that which gave them forth, which is infallible, & so to thee they are a parable, who art in that generation that would wrest them to <254> thy own destruction,30 and the destruction of others, which were given forth to be fulfilled, and not to be wrested, to the understanding of the carnal spirit. And this trembling spoken on in the Scripture is not without the power of God, yet there may be a work upon the soul without this trembling of the body: but who art thou that would limit him which knows neither of these who without the light of Christ and the infallible Spirit in thee, art judging in thy dark mind how God looks upon man, falsely accusing us for putting literal senses upon the scriptures which is thine own work, who art sensual, having not the Spirit, thy sense must be literal and carnal, and devilish.
Qu. 25. In this query thou askest if our main drift be not to bring men that are begun in the Spirit to look after perfection from the flesh; and thou says there is little or nothing in our teaching or writing that a soul spiritualized can close with, but rather such things as do eclipse and darken the Spirit's teaching, &c.
Ans. What spirit is it that thou art begun in who denies the infallible Spirit to be in thee? Is not that the spirit of Satan which is fallible? and our main drift is to bring people from that spirit by the light of Christ, to him that is infallible which thou opposest, so let all judge who knows anything of light and of the Spirit, be witnesses against thee, whether it be not by exhorting people to mind the light of Christ and the moving of the Spirit of God within them that darkens the Spirit's teaching, or thou who denies the light of Christ and the infallible Spirit, to set up a visible teacher in its stead. And whereas thou askest what brought the Galatians who had begun in the Spirit back to look after perfection in the flesh.31 I say it was such as thou who bewitched them and led them back from the teachings of the Spirit unto the letter and carnal ordinances and rudiments, which is thy work now, and so have been with thy query and thy practice, and thy lies, who says we seek to captivate the Lord's people, to bring them from liberty to bondage, to bring them to tremblings and fears,32 which are no ways consistent with the gospel ministration, that nothing from us is heard suitable to the teachings of the Spirit, that we seldom or never speak of such truths: of the Spirit's teaching, and convictions; of Christ formed in the saints; of Christ in us the hope of <255> glory; of our being complete in him; of communion with the Father through him; of prayer in the Spirit; of God's revealing his mind to his people by the Spirit. And thou says we have a design yet unknown, and that we are carried out by another Spirit than the Spirit of the New Testament. Which are so many lying slanders heaped against us in one query, which I send thee back into the pit from whence they came till thou prove them against us: herein thy spirit is seen by his fruits not to be infallible, but art making a refuge of lies to save thy image from the sword.
Qu. 26. And in thy next query thou add divers more lies under the pretense of a doubtful question, whether we do not at last come to deny the resurrection, to deny the Scriptures and their authority, to deny God, to deny Christ and the Spirit and all (and yet thou says thou sees but our outsides, though thou thus judge what we will do), and that our teachers are but imitators, that our union is not so great as people imagine, that we have branched ourselves into several sorts, as walking, singing, creeping naked, and virgin-Quakers, and in time will break out into as many sorts of orders as there are of friars; and thou says Satan must discover himself though he lose all. I say whosoever knows Satan's works in the least measure of light may see him sufficiently discovered in these two queries, and a great deal of his treasure thou hast brought forth—about twenty lies all laid at stake, and all in vain and like to be lost and swept away, and the snake in the grass which thou tells on, which lay hid, thou hast brought into the highway, but to no purpose but that his head might be bruised.
Qu. 27. In this query thou askest if it be not the great work of Christians to expect the coming of Christ, their glorious bridegroom, to marry them to himself, &c.
Ans. I say, Christ's coming will be a black day to thee and all the generation of liars and slanderers: he comes to glorify none such, nor marry them to him; thou art married to the devil and brings forth of his brood abundantly: therefore depart from iniquity, till then cease to take Christ into thy polluted lips, who still goes on bringing forth thy venom to cast upon us as though we persuaded the saints that the bridegroom is gone and will not return, and that we in effect deprive God's people of all society with their bridegroom, and that we evidently declare that we are ignorant of his glorious approaching: therein thou evidently declares that when the Ethiopian can change his skin then thou wilt <256> leave false accusing and slandering.
And thou tells of the children of the bridechamber, cannot mourn while the bridegroom is with them, and of putting people into a watching frame of spirit. I say, what bridegroom knows thou with thee, who deny the light of Christ and the infallible Spirit in thee? And what spirit wilt thou watch withal; the lying spirit never knew him nor must not enter with him, but is shut out with the sorcerers and whoremongers.
Qu. 28. In this thou askest whether our tenets shall not decay and fall, as Satan is discovered in his mysterious actings, &c.
Ans. I answer no, as Satan is discovered with his lies and filthiness, so shall the light of Christ and the infallible Spirit be advanced, which discovers all inventions new and old, and all Satan's mysterious actings, whereby you cannot long continue in your forms and changeable ways, invented lies and slanders, covered over with a profession whereby the nation is deceived, which deceivers with him are for the bottomless pit. But our safety and the safety of all Christians is to dwell in the light of Christ and his Spirit, and so to withdraw from all disorderly walkers, hypocrites, liars and slanderers, who have not the Spirit, are out of the light, enemies to purity, who are under the power of the man of sin, fighting against God, reproaching his Spirit, denying his light under a pretense of exhorting the Lord's people which is thy work, exhorting them to return to their former works.
I say what works would thou have them to return to, who are yet in the world and never was out of it; they make a bad return who ever knew anything of God and return to thee and thy practice, who art opposing the light, reproaching the Spirit, pleading for tithes and hirelings, priests, heaping up lies and slanders too many to be numbered, for all which thou shalt answer, as that in thy conscience shall witness against thee herein if thou it mind though the truth thou canst not touch, for as the liar and envious one is discovered, so our tenets, which are in the truth, the light and Spirit, which cannot lie, shall prosper. So behold thy queries, & when thou writes again, learn to write truth, and prove thy slander before thou spread it; and mind that which leads thee to do as thou would be done unto, and thou wilt see the liar's mouth stopped, the slanderer and false accuser.
And now I shall send thee back the sum of thy queries and of <257> that which thou opposest in these few words to which thou mayest return an answer when thou hast learned to speak truth. First, whether is not the ministration of law and gospel both by one Spirit, and both for one end, to wit, to hold forth Christ? And whether the ministration engraven in stone be done away in the matter of it, or in the letter of it, or both, or can it pass away as to any particular man or woman till it be fulfilled? And whether is the law of the Spirit of life, and the covenant of grace, within or without, or where is it to be known by them that seek it? whether woe to the wicked be not a gospel ministration, & is there any entrance into the kingdom but through the woes and tribulation? whether thee and thou, declaring against tithes and hirelings, was not the practice of Christ and the apostles, and is not that the spirit of Satan that was and is offended at their practice now, and then? and is their language and practice an affront to magistrates now, more than then? whether Christ in Spirit, or the letter, be the rule of Christians and guide in all things? And can anything be sufficient for a ground of faith but that Spirit which is infallible? is the way of God new or old to the world? doth Christ enlighten every man that comes into the world, or no? If not, who is it that is not enlightened, and what shall be his condemnation, or his guide? And was that light John came to witness (John 1:9) a natural light, or the light of Christ? And was John an idolater in preaching that light, that through him all might believe in it? Whether the saints did quake and tremble as the Scripture speaks, or some other thing? Whether any who have not the infallible Spirit can judge of anything of God aright? Or hath any such any dispensation of the Spirit of truth? Is perfection a thing to be believed and preached in the gospel, yea or no? Must not all religions whatsoever change (or do worse) who have not an infallible Spirit and foundation? Is fasting a sin under the gospel, if God so command? Is the light of Christ legal bondage, or doth it lead from the Spirit to be made perfect in the flesh, or doth any other thing discover the mysterious actings of Satan but the infallible Spirit in the light of Christ?
Here being the sum of thy queries, give thy answer in truth and plainness thereto, and thou may discover thy foundation more plain to the simple that yet see thee not; but who are in the light needs no farther discovery than what already is.
1. Matt. 21:31-32; 8:11.
2. Gal. 2:19; Rom. 3:31.
3. Rom. 7:12,14.
4. John 10:13.
5. Job 32:21-22.
6. Mark 3:29-30.
7. James 2.
8. Isa. 8:16.
9. Luke 19:14.
10. John 3.
11. John 1:9.
12. John 8:12.
13. John 3:18.
14. Gal. 3.
15. Luke 17:20-21.
16. Luke 17:21.
17. 2 Cor. 13:5.
18. Rom. 8:1.
19. 2 Cor. 1:12.
20. 2 Pet. 1:3-4.
21. Rom. 1:19.
22. Heb. 7.
23. Neh. 9:1.
24. Ps. 32; Ps. 22; Luke 10:13; 4:1-26; Isa. 22:12-13.
25. Jer. 31:31-33; Heb. 8:8-10.
26. Ezek. 11:19; John 8:12; Rom. 8:9-14; Isa. 49:6.
27. Dan. 10:11; Heb. 12:21; Ps. 22:14.
28. Ps. 109:24-25.
29. Ps. 119:70; Ps. 17:10.
30. 2 Pet. 3:16.
31. Neh. 9:1.
32. Ps. 32; 22; Luke 10:13; 4:1-26; Isa. 22:12-13.
a. Thomason date: October 1, 1655.