Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > An Answer to The Perfect Pharisee
Friend, There was a book lately set forth by five of the chief priests of the north, residing at Newcastle, who are all strangers to that sort of people called Quakers, except one; so thou may the rather perceive, what they have written, is gathered by reports: which book they caused to be dispersed and scattered abroad with much diligence. Thou wilt not in this answer find <366> any contention in the words of man's wisdom with what they call their confutation, but in plainness and simplicity, what is truth is owned; what is false is denied; and so much given forth to every thing as may discover to him that hath the single eye opened by what spirit these men are severally acted. Read with understanding, and mind not the multitude of words, lest thou be deceived; truth needs no covers.
Now that the Lord Jesus Christ is appearing in his saints to discover the man of sin with all his deceits and deceivable workings, as is foretold in the Scriptures; now all the powers of darkness are gathering together against him, Gog and Magog, whose number is as the sand of the sea for multitude; but it is that the Scripture of truth may be fulfilled, according to the prophets, concerning these heathen who know nothing of God and Christ, and their raging imaginations against the kingdom of the holy one. And as it was at his appearance upon earth formerly, Herod and all Jerusalem was moved; neither could that spirit of envy that was in them ever be at rest till they had accomplished their end, that was, to take away his life. And as then the chief priests, Herod, and Pilate, who never loved one another nor could agree in any other thing; yet in this they were all agreed, to take part against the Lamb. And it is the same at this day with the same seed, as plainly appears with these five, with many more, who formerly could scarce agree in anything, no not in that which they call the worship of God, but have been at jars and disputes among themselves, one contending for one way, another for another; yet now in this they are all one, and their consultations against the simple one where he is manifest, inventing lies and seeking for false witness against them in whom he is, as will appear in this their book; and rendering them and what they do in obedience to God, under the name of "monkish holiness," "friars," "Pharisees," or anything that in their subtlety they conceive will make them most odious to people who know not their conversation; and lest any who see their conversation should be convinced by their walking in obedience to Christ, they are not afraid to speak evil of their forsaking the world, the <367> pride and lusts of it, the great commands of Christ, and without which none can come unto him; and these they call "sinful neglect of their families," "trivial observations," and belies the apostle, saying that he calls them, "the rudiments of the world," as though the apostle was set to disannul the commands of Christ, who saith, "He that will be my disciple must forsake the world and what is dear in it: yea to wife and children, house and land, for none can serve God and Mammon": and what those whom they would reproach do in obedience to Christ and his commands they call shows and will-worships or anything they can devise to make them odious; but all who are guided by the Spirit of light may plainly see by what spirit these men are acted, who bend all their subtlety that they make strike at the kingdom of Christ in his own whereby he brings forth obedience in them to his commands, and whereby they are brought to follow him who was not of this world nor did live in the delights of it, nor had whereon to lay his head; but were hated and belied and persecuted by those priests and people that lived in pride and fullness, and the belly-gods of this world, as these who follow him are by the same generation at this day: but as then, he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now; but it is that the Scriptures may be fulfilled and the power of the Almighty seen in carrying on his poor despised little flocks against all the rage of the heathen that know him not, nor his power; and hereby will he get himself a name; and herein do we rejoice, yea, and shall rejoice forever.
For that you call the first position, that is, that George Fox should say, "He was equal with God," I answer, that he did say that George Fox was equal with God is false; for I was in the hearing before four justices of the peace when he was asked "Whether he spake this of George Fox as he was a creature?" To which he answered, "I deny George Fox, he is dust, and must to dust; but I and my Father are one; and he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit, and so the Scripture saith; but they that are in the flesh cannot witness it." At which the justices were satisfied that he spake of the Spirit of Christ in him, and thereupon they did acquit him. It is true that Marshall did swear at Appleby, and the other; but when he came to speak of George <368> Fox being equal with God; one of the justices being there upon the bench who was present at Lancaster when George Fox spake the words, did openly witness against Marshall's false oath in the hearing of the open court.
To your second untruth, that James Nayler should say, "That he was as holy, just, and good as God," I answer, that holiness, justness and goodness that I witness is no other but the holiness, justness, and goodness of God himself in the face of Jesus Christ; for all my own holiness, justness, and goodness I do deny; but that ever I did say that I was as holy, just, and good as God is an untruth, and was never spoken by me, nor ever did it enter into my thoughts, but is a lie raised up by the father of lies the devil, and vented by his servants to make the truth odious. And the Lord God of truth, before whom I stand, judge between me and you in this thing; for you are of that generation who say, "Come, let us devise devices against him; come, let us smite him with the tongue; report, say they, and we will report it":1 but the Lord will deliver his truth out of your hands. And for William Baldwinson, whom you father this untruth on, I never had any private discourse with him, nor ever was I in company where he was but once in Underbarrow, where was the house full of people that I had never seen before; and if he should affirm any such thing, they of his own town shall all witness against him; but I stand to the witness of God. Nor, as it falls on myself, should I have mentioned it; but as it falls on the truth and may offend some weak ones, who is more to me than all outward reputation in the world.
To your third, "That George Fox did affirm that he was the judge of the world; and that one wrote from Carlisle that called George Fox the Son of God," I answer, you here show yourselves to be ignorant of Christ spiritually borne up in you, who is the judge of the world in whom he is, which the saints did witness, as it is plain in the Scriptures, "Know you not that saints shall judge the world? yea, angels; and the spiritual man judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man."2 Now you that <369> have not this infallible Spirit to judge with have nothing to do to judge of the things of God, but are carnal and natural, and judge with evil thoughts, and call evil good and good evil; for the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God, and what you know naturally as brute beasts, therein you corrupt yourselves; and you that are offended that one shall witness the Son of God show that you are ignorant of the new birth, which whosoever witnesses is the Son of God: yea, you are ignorant of the Scriptures, which saith, "Behold with what manner of love the Father loved us, that we should be called the Sons of God";3 and we are Sons already, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be. Now blush for shame that you should be ministers of the letter and are ignorant of it, and would slander them that own it.
Now for your confused confutation of the lies you have raised against us, I shall say nothing to them.
For that you call your second position, "That there is no distinction of persons in the godhead." This you say George Fox lays down in Saul's Errand to Damascus, pag. 12. Now all may take notice if these men regard what they speak or write, so that they can but make the truth odious to others, when they are not ashamed to print so plain an untruth, that is so evident that all that ever read that page in Saul's Errand may witness against them that the words they have set down are not there, but they have gathered them up in their inventions wherewith they imagine lies against the innocent, and to cast upon the truth; neither have they any proof for what they here accuse of.
For your third position, "that the soul is a part of the divine essence." And this you say one of you had from Colonel Benson and Captain Ward. What the soul is, you know not who live in the fall and are vain contenders and pleaders for sin, which keeps the soul at a distance from God; and while you are servants of sin your souls are in death; but the first man Adam was a living soul; the second a quickening Spirit: and he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit. And this we witness, and all witness it who are come up out of the fall: but you who live in <370> disobedience, acting those things which Christ forbade, knows nothing of the living soul; for you watch not for the good of souls, for you seek for your gain from your quarter and takes people's money for that which is not bread, and all who follow are unsatisfied: but all you who hearken diligently to the voice of the Lord, their souls do live and follow the Lord, and are united to him, and he that is not is against him.
For your fourth position, "That Christ is in every man, and in the reprobate he is held under corruption"; and this you say one of you received from James Nayler in conference with him, "wherein he extended the indwelling of Christ to Indians that never heard the gospel." I answer, When will you cease to add your lies to slander withal? That which I held forth was that Christ was the light of the world and lighteneth every one that cometh into the world, which William Cole denied; I bade him put out one amongst all that great multitude that durst deny it. He said, those were Christians and had heard the gospel, but Indians had not that light. I told him, he went far for a proof, but if an Indian were there he would witness against him. But O thou full of all subtlety, did I say "that Christ in the reprobates is held under corruption"? let all that was there be witness against thee. Now that Christ enlightens every one that comes into the world is plain Scripture; and if Christ be not in the most vile in the world, there to see the heart, thoughts, and intents, how shall he judge everyone according to their thoughts, that come not forth into actions, as well as according to what they do? must he then proceed as carnal judges do, either by proof or confession, and no further? and must not he judge Indians as well as others? and who shall tell him what is in their hearts and thoughts? Here you show yourselves ignorant of that Christ who is spiritual and judgeth not after the outward appearance but is all, and in all; and are of the judgment of some others of you, who say that Christ is in heaven with a carnal body; but here is your folly manifest to all the children of light.
And whereas you accuse John Audland for writing to Edward Briggs and telling him, "That he who once had been enlightened and departed out of it did crucify Jesus Christ within him," I answer, read Hebrews 6:4-6, and see if the apostle speak not the <371> same words, saying, "That such crucify the Lord of life afresh and put him to open shame." And that it is such a heinous thing to you (who knows not Christ in you) for any to say that Christ is in them: was it not Jesus of Nazareth that Paul persecuted, when he haled the saints to prison (Acts 9:4-5), and was not Christ, in the saints, the hope of glory, and all this after his ascension? But you who cannot witness his second appearing without sin unto salvation are ignorant of this and therefore persecute him where he is.
For your fifth position, "That Christ in the flesh, with all he did and suffered therein, was but a figure, and nothing but an example"; and this you say is expressly found in their book called Saul's Errand to Damascus (pag. 8). I answer, we do own and confess that Jesus Christ in the flesh is a figure or example to us to follow, till we come up to his fullness and measure, as the saints in Scripture do witness.4 But O deceitful spirits, is this to say that all that Christ did and suffered in the flesh was but a figure, and nothing but an example? or is the words expressly found in Saul's Errand, as you say they are? let that book be witness against you and your lying slanders herein to all that read it. And you say that this was written in a letter which Nayler wrote to one in Lancaster, viz., "That he that expects to be saved by him that died at Jerusalem should be deceived"; which is a most filthy untruth: and I challenge all the generation of slanderers to produce any such letter under my hand or any such thing from my mouth; for I own no other Christ but that which suffered at Jerusalem, and by him I am saved from my sins; but had I not known him in me, my redeemer and hope of glory, I had not known him at Jerusalem, nor should I have had any more benefit by him than covetous proud liars, slanderers, enviers, and suchlike, who shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven though they talk of what he did at Jerusalem; and yet live in their sins and filthiness. And all that have eyes may see how you invent your lies and cast them upon us; and then, in that you call your confutations, add your own imaginations to them to <372> make us odious to all. As because we say that Christ is our example,5 therefore the Virgin Mary must be in us, and Joseph in us, and John Baptist, and the eleven apostles, Judas, Herod, and Pilate in us, and much suchlike stuff which I shall not now mention, but leave it to any where there is an honest principle of light to judge by what spirit these men are acted, and how groundless these slanders are they cast upon us.
For your sixth position, "that men are not justified by the righteousness of Christ which he in his own person did fulfill without us," I answer, what righteousness Christ hath performed without me was not my justification, neither was I saved by it, but was still in my sins and a servant to sin, until Christ appeared in me, who is my life, and by faith in him gave me victory over my sins and led captivity captive in me, and brought forth judgment into victory in me, and appeared in me my righteousness, sanctification, justification, and redemption, and so in me the hope of glory; till which time all my prayers, tears, and profession could not produce an everlasting peace, but still was overpowered by the powers of sin, though I could talk of faith and redemption, yet I had not the witness within myself which witness is Christ Jesus. And you that talk of a faith, and what Christ did at Jerusalem, and cannot witness the same Christ in you to redeem you, but are still in your sins, led captive by your lusts into pride and covetousness, envy, lying, backbiting, and suchlike filthiness: why hath not drunkards, swearers, and suchlike, as are captivated by those sins, as much right to what Christ suffered at Jerusalem as you, seeing they will say they believe in him, that he died for them as well as you, though both live in your sins and so count the blood of Christ an unholy thing?
For your seventh position, "that men are justified by that righteousness which Christ within us enables us to perform, or (which is in effect, and some of them have expressed, by inherent righteousness)" and you say it is "affirmed by James Nayler in a book, wherein it is said this light within you will let you see your sins, bring to repentance and tenderness of heart, bring you <373> to fear God and so lead up to justification and peace." I answer, How the holding forth that the light of Christ leads up to these things (which the Scriptures do witness)6 doth hold forth an inherent righteousness, let any wise man judge; but by wresting truth to slander you would deceive the simple. And you say, Nayler saith, "We are not reconciled to God till we be perfectly holy and able to stand so in our own power" (pag. 25). I answer, that no unperfect thing can be reconciled to God is plain in Scripture, but that I said or writ that man must be able to stand in his own power is an horrid lie, as the book shall witness against you wherein is printed quite contrary; and lest any should not have the book and so believe this false slander, I shall set down the words as they are printed (pag. 25), the words of the query are these: "Whether God created man and woman perfect, without sin, and able in his own power to have stood, if they had not forsaken his power, and consented to the wisdom of the serpent, yea, or no?"b Now what truth is in these men, who notwithstanding the word be twice over repeated, to "stand in God's power"; yet they are not ashamed to wrest it to their own power: but what is in their hearts may appear to all men by this, as in the rest of the untruths in their book, which are not a few. And to your position "of being justified by any of our own workings," we deny; for it is he that worketh in us to will and to do of his good pleasure; and herein we deny self-works, and self- will and stand in the will and workings of another, blessed for ever.
For your eighth position, "That God and man cannot be wholly reconciled till he be brought into the state of the first Adam and able in his own power to stand perfect." And for proof of this you refer the reader to a book of Nayler's (pag. 26). And you say, "that their own eyes may satisfy them there." I answer, That the reader may be satisfied in the truth of what you say, I shall set down the plain words in pag. 26, and the words of the query are these, "Whether God and man be wholly <374> reconciled, till man be brought into that estate again, yea, or no?"c Now that God and man is not reconciled till he be redeemed, is plain in Scripture; but that here is anything in these words spoken by me, "of man being able in his own power to stand," let the reader judge, who may plainly see how you add to my words your own inventions to slander withal, which are neither spoken nor thought by me; for I spoke of Adam being able to have stood in God's power if he had not forsaken his power and consented to the wisdom of the serpent, which you wrest "to his own power"; but wickedness shall be on the head of the wicked. And you that say that Adam in the state of innocency was under the covenant of works make it appear to all that know Adam's state, that you never knew it; for the law, wherein is the covenant of works, was added after, because of the transgression; but being ignorant of the Spirit by which these things are known, you imagine of them in your carnal wisdom and as your books lead you; but Adam's innocent estate you knew not.
For your ninth position, "that no man that commits sin, or that is not perfectly holy, can ever enter into the kingdom of heaven, unless there be a purgatory." And you say, James Nayler in his book before quoted (pag. 26) "puts it by way of query." I answer, in pag. 26 there is not a word to that purpose as you have set down, but seeing you are mistaken in this as in many more things, I shall help your mistake, for the better informing of the reader: in pag. 25 (which you intend) the words of the query are these, "Whether any unperfect and unclean one that lives in sin shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, yea or no? And if not, how shall one dying in sin? and where shall he be made perfect and clean, seeing the tree must lie as it falls? and whether you own a purgatory, yea or no?" d Now I shall appeal to anyone that is guided by a principle of truth, whether you have not wrested my words quite to another sense? as though I said, no man that hath sinned can ever enter into the kingdom; and as though I owned a purgatory: but you are so used to wrest the Scriptures (being unlearned) and so used to turn the truth into a lie by your serpent's wisdom, that you cannot cease from it; <375> and were it not that what is printed that cannot be altered did witness against you, it would not be believed that such as you profess yourselves to be should so wholly give yourselves to serve the father of lies: but blessed be God, who is laying open your deceit whereby you have destroyed souls, and in the pit you have digged you shall be taken, but the simple shall escape your snares. You say, The blood of Christ is your purgatory, which cleanseth the soul from all sins, yet as to personal actings very guilty; and to prove it you quote 1 John 1:7; but doth that text say any are cleansed from sin while they personally act sin? or the quite contrary; who saith, "If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another; and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." Now he that walks in the light doth not commit sin, for sin is darkness; but you that talk of being cleansed by the blood of Christ, and yet live in sin, counts the blood of Christ an unholy thing; but you must plead for your father's kingdom, and you are faithful to him, as appears in all this your book.
For your tenth position, "No real saint but he that is perfect, and perfectly holy in this life, and doth not sin." And you say, "it is Nayler's design in his book to prove this" (pag. 21-22). I answer, it seems there can be no greater offense with you than to cry down sin and to grow up to perfection, though it is the very end for which Christ is manifest, viz., to destroy the works of the devil, and to present the saints perfect to the Father, as is plain in Scripture.7 And here you show what kingdom you are of, who plead so much against the end of Christ's coming. And in your 11 page you quote Gal. 3:10 and saith, there the apostle clearly holds forth a universal impossibility to fulfill the righteousness of the law, when Christ saith, "Not one jot shall fall till all be fulfilled." And the same apostle saith (Rom. 8:3-4), that God sent his own Son, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit: and here you belie the apostle and deny the end of Christ's coming, and plead for continuing in sin and imperfection, <376> as is plain in this you call your confutation wherein you wrest and twine the Scriptures to plead for the devil's kingdom, and putting cleansing from sin and perfection afar off, till after death in another world, and all to make the commands of God and endeavors of the saints, and coming of Christ, of no effect here, but all must serve sin here: and you set it down as a strange thing that Richard Farnworth should say that no unclean thing can enter into the kingdom of heaven, though it be plain Scripture; but you must appear, for now God is separating the precious from the vile, the day is come.
For your eleventh position, "that every man in the world hath a light within him sufficient to guide him to salvation, without the help of any outward light or discovery." I answer, that Jesus Christ is the only light, and there is none besides him to guide to salvation, and that he is the light of the whole world and was given of the Father for that end, is plain in the whole Scriptures: the prophets prophesied of him that he should be given for a light, even to the Gentiles.8 John Baptist bears witness that he was not that light but came to bear witness to it; and that was the true light that lighteneth everyone that cometh into the world (John 1:8-9). Christ saith of himself, I am the light of the world, he that follows me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life (John 8:12). Again, This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil (John 3:19). Now this light shines in darkness, but the darkness comprehends it not; and here are you who calls this light a natural light and denies the words of Christ and the prophets, and would make them liars like you, and all the world shall witness against you that they have a light that lets them see when they sin, which if they did mind and obey would lead out of sin to Christ; and all who have obeyed it shall witness it, and this light of Christ is perfect in its measure as it ariseth and needs no outward light or discovery. And this is the cause why this light is so hated of the devil and them that love their sins, because the devil can have no hold <377> in any corner of the heart, but this will discover him; and no sin can be committed, but it checks for it, till the candlestick be removed by often sinning against it, for the light of the wicked shall be put out; and this is that light which testifies of Jesus, and the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophesy, and it is that more sure word of prophesy and light that shines in a dark place and leads to the day-star spoken of in 2 Peter 1:19, to which he exhorts all to take heed, though ye children of darkness cannot comprehend it and therefore deny it and tells people that we mean of the principles left in man since the fall, and that we deny the fountain of living waters, and go not to Jesus for light; and so by giving your false meanings upon our writings, as you do upon the Scriptures, you cast lies upon the truth, and calls this light of Christ a natural light; and here you deny the fountain of light and would put it out, that you might live in your deeds of darkness undiscovered, as doth appear by all your twining and cunning winding and lying in that which you call confutation; but who are guided by the true light may easily judge of your confused stuff, which I forbear, as not worth naming.
For your twelfth position, "that there is no need of any outward teaching by reading or hearing the Scriptures opened and applied," I answer, The promise of the new covenant is that all the children of the Lord shall be taught of the Lord; and they shall not need that any teach his neighbor, saying, Know the Lord, for all shall know him by his own teaching, from the greatest to the least of them:9 And for this end is Christ the light of the world, the shepherd and bishop of souls; and when he came he denied all the hireling teachers, and said, they have naught to do with the sheep, for his sheep hear his voice and will not follow the voice of a stranger; and he who knows this teacher knows him to be a sufficient teacher alone; for who teaches like him who gives to every one seasonable food? That John Audland said No need of outward teaching, is false; the word was, He needed no man to teach him, the Lord was his teacher. But you who know not this teacher apply the Scriptures to all <378> hand over head, and give the promises that is to the seed of God, which seed is but one and is pure, and these promises you give to them who are in the first birth still in their sins and so daub with untempered mortar and sews pillows under every armhole, so that none turns from their sins, for you preach them up all believers, except some that refuse to give you hire, and them you prepare war against. And whereas you allege the teaching of the apostles; it is true, they in whom Christ was risen, the light, and life, and teacher, they went out and preached the resurrection to others, to gather all to this teacher, and told them that Christ was their light and life, and exhorted them to wait for his appearance in them, and that as he appeared their life should appear with him; and when they had directed them where to wait for teaching, and gathered them out of the teachings of the hirelings, they left them and went on to call more out of the world to this teacher, and appointed the strong who were come to the teachings of Christ to take the oversight of the weak, lest there should be a turning through the deceit of the false teachers and hirelings, before they came to see the teachings of Christ and his appearing; and such was not to keep a-talking to them for filthy lucre, but to watch over them of a ready mind; neither did they take a verse of another man's condition and say to them, Hear the word of the Lord, when the Lord had not spoken it to them, but what was moved to be written to them by the Holy Ghost was read to them without adding or diminishing; and the same Spirit hath the same workings now, where it is in its measure, which brings all things to our remembrance according to his mighty working in us. And whereas you say that George Fox pretended to "have all from within; yet his juggling was discovered, a concordance being sent to him to help his memory," I answer: What the Spirit did teach the saints it doth teach them the same now within; but the Scripture was not put in chapter and verse by the Spirit, but the hireling priests have done it to trade withal; and though for his own teachings within he need no outward help, yet having to do with quoting verses, which was not by the Spirit but in the invention, he might use a concordance, not at all to add to himself, but to quote Scriptures to convince others. And Scripture was used by Christ and his apostles to convince gainsayers, though <379> they needed not use them in regard of themselves but had the same Spirit that gave them forth, and was taught by it and not by the letter. And whereas you tell of your ministry having undeniable seals of your ministration in the witness of Christ thereto, begetting many souls to conversion. I answer, the witness of Christ is against you and your ministry, who came to set free from sin; but you say men must commit sin while they live, and be set free when they are dead. Christ saith, he that commits sin is the servant of sin, and such are you and your converts.
For your thirteenth position, "That the Scriptures are not the word of God but a declaration of the conditions of them that spake them forth," I answer, The Scripture saith, Christ is the word by whom all things were made was before all time, which word became flesh and dwelt in the saints. Now if the Scriptures be the word which had their beginning since all were made, and did not become flesh, then there is two words of God. Now prove that in Scripture, or that the letter is called the word in plain words, and the apostle calls what he wrote a declaration (1 John 1:1-3): "The things that we have heard and seen declare we unto you." Now who denies the Scriptures, whether we that speak the plain words as they are, or you that deny them and would have us to believe your meanings and wrestings of them, when you have no plain Scripture for what you say? And whereas you say, it cannot be understood to be the word Christ that came to the prophets, Samuel, Jeremy, &c., where it seems your understanding is not that with the apostle, who said, "it was the Spirit of Christ that was in them" (1 Pet. 1:11), but all your wrestings will not cover your folly. And you say, what Christ and his apostles preached, spoke or wrote was not "Christ, the Father, or Spirit"; when as the Scripture saith that "holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Pet. 1:21). And you say, to say Christ is the word is to destroy the foundation of faith, to make the Scriptures lose their authority, and divers suchlike false conclusions. I answer, To build all upon him in whom all is fulfilled is to establish faith and Scripture and all where it must stand as on the foundation; for Christ is the authority of all Scriptures, and not the letter, and in him they are all profitable, and not else.
<380> For your fourteenth position, "that the spirits are not to be tried by the Scripture," I answer, The infallible Spirit which is the original of all Scriptures is the trial of all spirits, and that spiritual man judgeth all things, and by that Spirit the saints was to judge of all spirits and gave those up to Satan that was for that end, as is plain (1 Cor. 5:4). And by this Spirit was the spirits tried before the letter was; and all that are guided by the Spirit of God are the sons of God and are one, and in one mind, and have one rule and one faith; but you who have no guide but the letter, how many minds, how many forms, how many gods do you worship? and all pretend Scripture, one wresting it one way; another, another way. But what true trial of spirits can you have here? For you five, though one spirit act you all against the truth, yet you have your several ways, forms, worships, and spirits, and all pretend Scriptures: but who hath that true Spirit of judgment is able to try you all and sees you all without: and whereas you quote that place, "To the law and to the testimony," it is true, the law of the new covenant is written in the heart by God; and the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy; and if any be not guided by, and speak according to these it is because they have not the light in them, but without them; and here you are whose light is without you, and therefore it is that you speak contrary to them who speak from the true light in them, even the witness in themselves. Now all your false conclusions (as, that to be guided by the Spirit is to draw the soul from the judgment of God) and you citing John Gilpin against the truth; it is no more than if the chief priests should have cited Judas to have confuted Christ and the rest of the eleven apostles, which truth they owned and suffered for though he denied it and consulted with the priests to betray it, as John Gilpin hath done now, who shall receive his reward, and you priests also.
For your fifteenth position, "That there ought to be no sense, meaning, or exposition given, or studying of the scriptures," I answer, What hath been said before may suffice as to this, only the Spirit gave out the Scriptures, either perfect or not perfect. If perfect, then let them alone as they are, and do not darken them by your invented wisdom, that they may be read and fulfilled in the saints; for that is the end for which they were given <381> forth, not to trade with for tithes and money; and here the practice of all the saints shall witness against you, for they were spoken by the holy men of God as they were moved by the Holy Ghost; and they were written to such as were come out of the world's pride, envy, and covetousness. Now you that live in those sins and filthy lusts, and are of the world, have nothing in them but your judgments that is to be accomplished upon you from the wrath of the Almighty: and you that wrest them to plead for sin are rased out of them, for they were given to warn off sin: and you that have not that infallible Spirit that gave them forth, what will you judge, and open, and expound them with? for the serpent's wisdom is shut out of them and can do naught but twine and wrest them to their own destruction and keeping poor souls that believe you in sin and the fall, who cannot witness their redemption and freedom from sin but are fed with words and profession without life and power, or hopes ever to have power while they live. And though you allege divers which you say expounded, yet not one of them will warrant your way of trading nor your covetous practices.
For your sixteenth position, "They cry down baptism with water and the Lord's Supper as being but types and shadows, ceasing upon the appearance of Christ within them." I answer, You yourselves do not say that they are the spiritual substance; but as for your baptizing infants it is a mere invention and hath no ground in Scripture, and we deny it: but if anyone out of a tender conscience do observe it, as seeking to fulfill any command, as he conceives, I shall not judge him that is weak; only, if such a one rest there and come not to the baptism of Christ, which is with fire and the Spirit, water baptism will not profit him; and he that once tastes of the substance will not go back to the shadow. And Paul knew what he spoke when he thanked God that he had baptized no more, for Christ (saith he) sent me not to baptize but to preach. And for the outward signs of the Supper, "Do this in remembrance of me till I come"; but when he was come, then the bread which they did break was the body of Christ, they being many were one bread, which whoever comes to witness in Spirit will both see and say that your bread and wine is carnal and not spiritual; and your way of giving it <382> without ground and life, who are not one bread nor of one heart and soul, as all are who break this bread of life: but they who rest in the types come short of the substance, as is plain in your divisions and contentions. Circumcision was a true command of God; but who once witnessed the circumcision within of the heart denied that without; and then they who was ignorant of that was within stood in the figure and persecuted him who had the substance: and so it is now.
For your seventeenth position, "That there is no mediate call to the ministry," I answer, Where in Scripture will you prove a call to the ministry by man, magistrates, towns, or parishes, or from one people to another, there to rest and live in pride and idleness, and the people to maintain you by their labors, and you to live idle and to be a master over them? but those who were sent to preach the gospel denies that they were made ministers by the will of man, and had no certain dwelling place but went up and down in the world preaching the word, and disputing in the synagogues with them that held up the idol worship, though they suffered for it wherever they came. And when they had gathered churches out of the world they did not bid them hire a man to talk to them for money, but ordained them elders of themselves, which were to take care of the weak freely and not to run from place to place for money, as you priests do; and these were ordained not by man but by such as did it by the direction of the Spirit of God; for they who ordained them had the gift of the Spirit which they received of them; and this ordination was not by man nor by the churches but by the power of God and his Spirit, in whom it was, and they had the gift of the Holy Ghost from their hands. Now what is this to your parsonage or parish callings: for shame take not this for a shelter for your covetous practice, and being set in great livings by club law, or the power of the magistrate; for this practice of the saints condemns you and your callings, and whole practice. Nor is here any ground at all for your bargaining with the people or any set maintenance, or to sue your hearers at law for carnal things, or take their goods by violence; for shame, take not the Scriptures which witness against your oppression and pride and covetousness, nor the practice of the holy men of God, to prove your filthy practice, <383> who hated the least appearance of such things and could not endure that covetousness should be so much as named amongst them: for shame cease to pervert the truth by your corrupt minds, and turning it into a lie for your self-ends. Repent, the plagues of God are upon such practice, and cease to deceive souls for gain; the Lord is arisen to lay you open and is coming with ten thousand of his saints to be avenged of you. Therefore take heed betime and cease your envy against the truth.
And now to those things you call our Principles:
To that you call the first principle, viz., "Not to salute any," I answer, you falsely accuse us in this as in other things, for the salutations of the saints we own and practice. It is your heathenish customs you use by the way, in taking the holy name of God into your mouths in vain, which God hath forbidden: and this we deny and witness against, that all might fear to pollute the dreadful and glorious name of God. And now, let all that fear the name of God judge by what spirit you are guided who are not ashamed to preach and print against us for this. Nay, you are not ashamed to wrest the words of Christ, to contradict his own commands and the commands of God, as in Matt. 5:47, where he is exhorted to love, without respect of persons, saying, "if you love them that love you, that is no more but as the publicans and the heathen," and likewise in the salutation, "If ye salute your brethren only," that is, as the publican and heathen practice: but here is no express command for salutation by the way, but a warning of the partiality of the heathenish practice, as it is now practiced with you, who will salute those you love and are rich in the world, and to them you will bow and do worship; but for the poor and such as you hate these you pass by; and herein you show yourselves to be in the same nature with the heathen, whose partiality Christ reproves and whose practices we deny. And whereas you allege those whom Christ sent forth, who were to salute the house into which they entered: What is this to your highway salutation? for they were to enquire what house was worthy before they entered or saluted: and they that had the Son of peace in them were to speak peace to that house; but if the Son of peace was not there, their peace was to return to them <384> again. Now neither this, nor the apostles commanding the saints to salute one another, doth warrant your heathenish highway customs and taking the name of God in vain. And whereas you say, If we observe the command of not saluting by the way then we should also forbear to wear shoes; I answer, What we do is not from the command that was to others, nor herein do we walk by tradition, but from command of the same power by which we are sent forth; and if we were commanded to forbear wearing shoes, as well as we are commanded to deny your heathenish customs and covetous practices in not taking care for food and raiment, we should be made willing to obey, as some have done who have been commanded to go barefoot, and some who have been commanded to go naked (which you who know no particular commands from God, but walk by tradition in your own wills, doing what you like and leaving what you will undone) do scorn and reproach as evil; and whereas you say that Christ commanded the contrary to his twelve disciples, it is false; because he commanded to salute the house that was worthy, this was not to command them to salute by the way, neither doth the practice of the saints in saluting one another contradict this command of Christ; neither are the saints to conform to the practice or fashion of any country but to the commands of Christ, which leads out of all the customs in the world. And whereas you say, There being a clear command to salute all; we deny it, it is false; for where Christ saith "If ye salute as the heathens do," it is no command to salute all, but a warning to them of their partiality.
To that you call our second principle, viz., "Not giving any outward token of reverence to magistrates, parents, masters, or any other." I answer, Herein you falsely accuse us, as because we deny to bow down and worship any creature, which God hath forbidden; is this to deny any token of reverence? for obedience to their just commands is their greatest reverence; and this we own and practice for conscience sake, both to magistrates, parents, and masters, and herein we deny your slander as false. And whereas you go about to prove it by the practice of others, in their bowing down to the creature, and thereby to break the commands of God, which saith, "Ye shall not bow down and worship." And whereas you allege Joseph's brethren bowing <385> down to him, Abraham, Abigail, David, and the like, their practice is no rule for us to break the command of God, though they were good men, no more than the practice of Joseph, which swore by the life of Pharaoh, is a warrant to us to swear, though he was a good man; or the practice of David in feigning himself mad, before Akish the king of the Philistines, should be made a warrant for us to feign ourselves mad to avoid your persecution. Nor Jacob bowing before Esau, for the Scripture saith, "A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain and a corrupt spring" (Prov. 25:26). And whereas you charge us that we say, "We honor the power and not the persons,"10 I answer, God is no respecter of persons, and you that would take the honor from the power which is of God and would give it to men's persons, would rob God of his honor and are enemies to the faith of Christ, who respects no man's person but saith, How can you believe that seek honor one of another? and would charge this to let in treason or disobedience to authority. I answer, Where did ever any who did reverence the power which was of God do any violence to the person of any into whose hands God had committed it, though they have been sent by the Lord faithfully to declare against the unjust practices of such governors who have used their power contrary to the end for which God committed it into their hands; but this you cast upon us to make us odious to the powers of the earth, that they may take part with you in persecuting of us; but we stand in the power of the Lord, who will clear our innocency and distinguish between them who honor and obey his power in the truth, and them that have men's persons in admiration because of advantage, for self-ends; for such admire the persons of men no longer than they serve for their own ends, as it is apparent at this day.
To that you call the third principle, viz., "That no man must <386> have the title of Master." I answer, Here, as in other things, you would bring the practice of men in the Old Testament to disannul the express commands of Christ in the New, and so would set the old covenant against the new, and would bring Scriptures against Christ; and here you show yourself to be of the serpent's brood, who have always wrested the words of God against himself, and to make void his commands; and let all who fear the Lord judge if you be worthy to be called the ministers of Christ who are not afraid to contend against his express commands because it strikes at your pride, and would make people believe that pride in you is not as much hated by Christ as it was in the Pharisees, when you are found in the same generation, in the same pride, and affecting to yourselves the same titles which they that are guided by the same Spirit of Christ see and witness against in whomsoever it is now, as was then.
Now for the fourth particular, which you call charges against yourselves, and are so against all that are found in them, viz., First, that they love the high places of the synagogues. 2. That they wear long robes. 3. That they stand praying in the synagogues. 4. That they preach for hire. To which I may add a great sort more, which are the marks which Christ and his apostles did give whereby to know the false teachers then, and cried woe against them, warning all to take heed of them, in which practices whosoever are found now are witnessed against by the same Spirit as was then; as to lay heavy burdens upon the people; to say, and not to do; to be proud and covetous, heady, high-minded, despisers of them that are good, false accusers, speaking evil of the things they know not, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof; having hearts exercised with covetous practices, that cannot cease from sin, that through covetousness make merchandise of the people, who run greedily after the ways of Balaam, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; and in the way of Cain, in envy; who pretend to be sheep, but raven and devour like wolves. Now, saith Christ and his apostles, such shall come, but by their fruits ye shall know them; and they that then were guided by the eternal Spirit of God did know them, judge of them, and warn of them by these fruits; and though you now, in whom these fruits are found, would cast <387> them upon your forefathers, the scribes and Pharisees, thereby keeping people looking at that sin in them, but hiding and covering it in yourselves; yet they that are guided by the same eternal Spirit now see you to be in the same generation, to bring forth the same fruits, and do judge you and warn of you now, as they did then; and it is no new thing for the deceit to cry out of their forefathers for the same sins wherein they are found themselves, as the scribes and Pharisees builded the sepulchres of the prophets and cried out of their fathers for killing them, but being blind could not see themselves worse than their forefathers, who were consulting to slay the heir; so ye make a trade of crying out of the pride of the Pharisees, and their being called masters, and their loving greeting in the markets and the highest places, and being hirelings, and persecuting Christ and the saints, raising lies and seeking false witness against him, stirring up the rulers and the rude people, thereby to take away his life, because he witnessed against their ungodly practices; and thus you make a trade of crying out against them but are found in the very same things by those who are guided by the same Spirit; yet being blind you will not own them in yourselves; but Christ hath left no other rule without as to know such, but by their fruits. Therefore let all who profess the name of Christ so judge, that where these fruits are found not to cast them upon others in the generations past, but to avoid them now. And, saith the apostle, from such turn away: And it is in vain for you by your subtlety to wrest and twine the Scriptures to clear yourselves of these things when ye are found in them by the Lord and all who are guided by his Spirit; and in pleading for your hire, ye say you freely cast yourselves upon the gospel maintenance; herein we witness against you: where in the gospel had ever any a set maintenance, tithe, or augmentation, or by any agreement from the people, or by any power of the magistracy, or by any suits at the law, or any other challenge, but freely? but ye that go upon any of these accounts or any other account; but freely do not cast yourselves upon the gospel maintenance; neither do all these Scriptures you allege, or the practice of the apostles, make anything to warrant your way of maintenance but do witness against you; as is plain to whomsoever doth look with a single eye into the apostles' <388> practices and into yours. And whereas ye say we charge you with stealing the word from your neighbors, and this you would evade by Christ and the apostles quoting the Scriptures, which we do not deny: but which of all the true prophets, Christ, or his apostles did take the words that were spoken to another and add to them their own inventions and brain study, and come amongst people and say, Hear the word of the Lord, when the Lord had not spoken to them? but the false prophets did so; and, saith the Lord, "I am against them that steal my word from their neighbors, and say, the Lord saith, when I have not spoken to them"; and ye doing the same things are discovered by the same Spirit. And whereas ye plead against our using the Scripture phrase, in thouing every particular we speak to, and pleading against us the customs of the nation, here ye show yourselves to be guided by a contrary spirit to Christ, who leads his out of all the customs of the world and the nations, and thereby they are known not to be of the world; and ye who are ministers of the letter, and dispute against the language of it, which none of God's ever denied or disputed against; out of your enmity to the truth ye plead against what ye profess and are ministers of, and all this ye do to maintain the confused language, which all they who are redeemed out of the fall, are restored to a pure language.
Now as touching your consideration of our practices: and first concerning "quaking and trembling," to which ye add, "grovelling upon the ground and foaming at the mouth," which are lies and slanders of your own inventing: but for "quaking and trembling" we own it as that which the Lord hath said shall come upon all flesh and which the saints have witnessed through the Scripture; and if we should deny them we should deny the holy men of God, as Moses, Isaac, David, Habakkuk, Daniel, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Paul, and many other of the dear servants of God, and show ourselves to be strangers to that condition by which they came to know the Lord, as ye do who revile and reproach it. And whereas you tell of three sorts of trembling in the Scripture, but know them not within yourselves, ye are not to be regarded nor what ye speak by hearsay, who are scorners of their conditions which ye read in Scripture; neither do ye know from what they proceed, but judge of them in your own imagination, and in this, as in other <389> things, contend against what is witnessed in Scripture, gathering up all the lies, slanders, and weakness of any to cast upon the truth and the saints' condition. And whereas ye say we call these quakings our great perfection; that is false and a lying slander, like the rest; our perfection stands not in any outward things but in the good and perfect gift which we receive in Jesus Christ.
Now of our second practice, which ye call "railing." I answer, if they speak of ye the things that are true and in which you live, will ye call the truth "railing," though it come in an unwelcome language to the disobedient natures? Was it railing in Christ to call them "the children of the devil, who brought forth the works of the devil"; or to call them "serpents, and vipers," who sought by their subtlety to devour the simple? Or to call Herod a "fox," who was a king; or for the apostles and saints to call them "dogs, and swine," who loved their sins and filthiness and could not be kept from returning into it again? For they who did stand in the light of the Spirit of God did discover the contrary spirit, which did act several ways in the men of the world, and some they saw to be dogs, some wolves, some briars and thorns, some high mountains, some fat bulls which did compass the innocent about to devour them, some witches, who bewitched the saints from the guiding of the Spirit to carnal things. Now, will you call these "railers," because they speak the truth upon the several actings of the spirit of the devil where it was? But they were the servants of the Lord, and were meek, and gentle, and patient towards all men: even so these servants of the Lord now, if they speak the truth as things are found in ye, revealed unto them by the same Spirit, are no railers, but are meek, gentle, and patient; notwithstanding they must do the message of the Lord faithfully.
Now to the third practice, "They pretending upon all occasions to be sent by commission from God, as we shall instance in some cases following more particularly." I answer, the messages that God have always set his servants on have been strange to the world, neither could the world, who knew not the voice of the Lord, ever own them, but have been counted madmen, mad fellows, fools, drunken with new wine, and suchlike. Yet I shall not here justify everyone who saith he is sent of the Lord, for many <390> lying spirits are gone out into the world; but woe unto him that runneth and is not sent, and belieth the Lord, when he hath not spoken unto him: but as for your particular charges against particular persons I shall say little, as not knowing the things in particular; but finding your book stuffed with lies and untruths gives me cause to believe that many of these are like the rest. Only, this is plain Scripture, that the messages of the Lord which he sends his people on are foolishness to the wisdom of the world, and so they are to ye; and though ye would appoint them their place and manner and time, yet it is neither in your wills nor theirs, but in the will of God which if any out of fear or favor do not obey, they shall suffer for it. And whereas ye declare of coming of some of us to Newcastle, this I11 witness to be true, as in the presence of God, that our call was from God, and our commission was from him, and therefore did suffer persecution by you and by the magistrates; but as for our declaring our message before the magistrates, my brother and sister were interrupted by some of you in their declaring. But that they who were before the magistrates were invited to go to any of your houses to speak is false; and here W.C. is a false witness. And whereas ye accuse us "for casting off the word of God," I answer, it is false, for the word of God we own and obey, for which we are scorned and suffers reproach by ye. For your accusing George Fox for cursing Master Fetherston, as ye call him, I myself was in presence when Fetherston confessed that the words which George Fox spoke was Scripture. And for your slander ye cast upon Christopher Atkinson and a woman, for their familiarity, and to make a ground for your slander, yet say "(to say no more)" but why, to say no more? If ye know more why do you not speak the truth, but slander in secret? And here you false accuser, thou and thy witness shall both be taken alive and cast into the pit, who hath deceived the people by thy false lies and slanders; thou charges me12 with my immodest familiarity with a woman of my way, and to color thy deceit thou sayst "(to say no more)." Thou false accuser of the saints of God, I challenge thee and companion to prove what you have spoken against me, and not only so but <391> against all the church of God, who doth suffer by you who live in pride, Dives-like. And as for thee, W.C., thou art made known to be of that generation which put the saints to death; but the Lord shall plead with thee and give thee thy portion in utter darkness forever. As for Walker, your witness herein, whom ye call a godly minister, he said in the hearing of many people that it was no murder in him to murder Christopher Atkinson and the rest of the prisoners at Kendal, being near twenty; now, how this man's testimony may be trusted, or that he would keep anything back that might add to the slander, any honest man may judge; for the murderer and the liar are one, and he that makes no conscience of the one makes none of the other. But here, as in the rest of your book, ye take up things from such hands and add to them your own inventions to make us vile in the sight of the people. And for any going naked or being otherwise made signs and wonders to ye, which ye charge as a great thing against us, ye being ignorant of the power of God by which these men are acted, any wise man may know these do it not according to their own wills but in obedience unto God, which commands some have denied to obey, for which the heavy judgments of God have been laid upon them from which they could not be freed till they were made obedient, as is well known in Kendal. And now to your reasons why you call us "Pharisees," "monks" and "friars," or anything to render us most odious to all people, which is no strange thing for us to receive from that seed from whence it comes, neither doth it trouble us, that the Scripture be fulfilled, which saith, "As they have done unto me, so will they do unto you"; neither is the servant greater than his Lord; therefore do we rejoice therein, as a sure testimony that God hath called us from among you, and we are not of you, neither can you love us, therefore we look for no other at your hands; and though as concerning ourselves we should be silent, yet for the truth's sake, I shall speak a few words to lay open your own false slanders in some of the particulars wherein ye compare us to "Pharisees," "monks" and "friars." And first ye say, "The Pharisees did separate themselves from the rest of the people upon a conceit of their own holiness." I answer, Self we deny, and all that separates themselves by the power of self, for there ye are; but we are separated by the light of <392> Christ, whereby we are called out of the world and set free from all conceits of our own holiness; and it is no other holiness we own but the holiness of God, witnessing against all unholy practices of the world; neither do we own any to be saints who walk in unholiness; and here we have the practice of all the saints in Scripture to witness for us, who were separated by the same light out of all the unholy practices of the world, who were made the righteousness of God in Christ and denied themselves and self-righteousness: therefore your false accusation we deny.
2. For your accusing us to be Pharisees "for standing in our own knowledge, and saying, These are accursed who know not the law," I answer; This is your own, who stand so much in your own knowledge that would have all to come to ye to be taught; but our own knowledge we deny and wait only for the knowledge of God revealed to us in Jesus Christ. And for calling "devils and madmen," which ye cast upon us, that is your own language. And whereas ye say "we judge the lawful use of meats and drinks," that is false; we speak against your gluttony and drunkenness, and excess, which all the holy men of God have spoken against.
3. Whereas ye accuse us, "For shutting up the kingdom of heaven against men" (Matt. 23:13), I answer, Those whom Christ speaks on there were such as were hypocrites, which said and did not, which preached to others that which they did not practice themselves: and here let all judge if this be not your own which ye would cast upon us.
4. Ye charge us, "With compassing sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made he is twofold more the child of hell than he was." I answer, our endeavors is to call people out of their sins, not in shows but in reality, as many will witness with us; but your pleading is to persuade people that they must never overcome their sins. Now who makes proselytes the children of hell but they that keep them in the works of the devil; and they that preach such doctrine are they that poison the hearts: but to turn from sin unto God is to purify and not to poison.
5. You charge us "with tithing mint and anise but neglecting the weightier matters of the law." And ye say, "We lay all the weight upon trivial observances of hats, thou, clothes, &c., but <393> do wholly neglect the mysteries of faith, righteousness of Christ, and ordinances of the gospel." I answer, for tithing, that is your own, and ye contend for it, neither dare we call anything trivial that the Lord requires of us, though we lay not the weight upon these things. And for the neglecting the mystery of faith and the righteousness of Christ, that is false, for the mystery of faith is held in a pure conscience, and that we own and press everyone to practice. And the righteousness of Christ we own, and the ordinances of the gospel which is Christ we own; only your invention and tradition, which was never ordained by Christ, we deny.
6. Ye charge us "with making clean the outside of the cup, being whited sepulchres, outwardly appearing beautiful to men but within full of hypocrisy and iniquity." I answer, Now whether this belong to us, who witness our light and righteousness within, which is the righteousness of Christ in Spirit; or to ye, who have your light and righteousness without, in your forms, but within are full of pride, covetousness, lying, slandering, and such like filthy practices, which we deny; now whom this charge will fall upon let the truth judge. And whereas ye say, "We do our works to be seen of men," because the Lord sends some of us into your idols' temples, streets, markets; I answer, was it not the practice of the apostles to go into the synagogues and marketplaces, where the people was, to declare their message they had from the Lord, and yet they did it not to be seen of men. And whereas ye say, "We pray not at all but are the heathen that knows not God and the family that calls not on his name"; I answer, Those who know our practice shall witness against your false accusation: and for being heathen, that is your own, who exercise authority over your own hearers and plead for your heathenish customs, whereby it appears ye know not God. And whereas ye charge us with "crying up our own holiness and ourselves as extraordinary prophets, rabbis, and doctors"; I answer, it is false, for it is Christ's holiness we own, and Christ the everlasting prophet and priest we own, whereby we deny ye who go under the name of rabbis and doctors. And whereas ye charge us "with neglect of apparel, fasting, and separating from the world"; I answer, What apparel do we neglect? saving the pride and vanity which you live in and we are made <394> to witness against, for which you hate us. And for fasting and separating from the world, for shame do not profess yourselves to be Christians while you cast the commands of Christ and practice of the saints upon us in scorn and derision. Did not Christ command to forsake the world? and was not the apostle in fasting often? but you show yourselves not to be guided by that Spirit, but envy them who are. And ye that scorn visions and revelations are ignorant of that by which the saints came to know God, for no man knows God but by revelation. Whereas you charge us "with laying the weight of our justification upon outward observances"; I answer, It is false, for the weight of our justification is laid upon Christ in us the hope of glory. Whereas ye say, "Ye have not been injurious to us in calling us papists, monks and friars"; I answer, The injury will be to yourselves, for we rest in patience while we see the Scripture fulfilled, which saith, "They shall cast out your names as evil and shall speak all manner of evil of ye falsely, for my name's sake"; which we bear with patience, as owning it to be our portion from that generation. And now let every honest heart who reads these two books and knoweth our practice, and seeth the multitude of lies and slanders cast upon us, judge whether ye have done this from an honest principle and the establishing of the faith, or with an intent to slander us and make the truth odious because we have been brought forth as witnesses against your unrighteous practices: and we leave it unto the righteous Judge, who is the searcher of all hearts, to clear the innocent in his own time and will and to find out the guilty and discover him, that simple souls may be no longer deceived through false glosses and the subtlety of crafty men of corrupt minds, for their own ends, which we know is the work of the Lord that he is about, and therefore with patience we wait his time, into whose hands and keeping we commit ourselves, and all the faithful of the Lord, who is a sure refuge to the truth. To whom be all glory and holy praises from all that know him, for evermore, Amen.
And now a word to ye five who have subscribed this book, that ye may see by what spirit ye are carried on to utter so many untruths and false reports, taken up by hearsay, without any ground at all; and divers things out of books, which you cannot <395> be ignorant how ye have on purpose wrested to slander withal, that if there be any principle of honesty in any of you, ye may repent before the Lord, and that it may not be laid to your charge at the great day, when all hearts shall be laid open. But in the meantime, this I know, that what ye have intended against the truth, and to keep off the simple from owning of it, shall by the wisdom of God so lay open your deceit and envy that it shall advance the truth in the sight of every simple heart; which if the truth may be exalted and my Father thereby honored, it is nothing to me how vile I seem before men; and therefore in peace I rest, giving myself to the will of God, and what I have written to be judged by all the children of the light, which is not my own, but his from whom I have received it, who will defend it against all the wild beasts of the world, and whom he will shall profit by it. And so I rest a servant of the truth, known to the world by the name:
All people take warning, now while you have time prize it, for the mighty day of the Lord is coming. Woe unto you that are proud and high-minded, you will be as stubble before the fire; howl woe and misery, your downfall day is coming, weep and howl ye mighty men, ye lofty ones, ye rebellious ones, the sword of the Lord is drawn, it is furbished and made fit for the slaughter, the loftiness of man shall be brought low: cast off your hoods and your rings, your silks and your proud attire; gird you with sackcloth, prepare to meet the Lord. The trumpet of the Lord is sounded, his sword shall be made fat with slaughter, and there shall be no peace to the wicked; the beast and the false prophet shall be cast into the lake of fire: great Babylon is come into remembrance before the Lord, strong is the Lord that judgeth her, she must have double for all her sins, she must drink of the cup of fury and indignation from the hand of the Lord, for <396> she hath made all nations drunk with the wine of her fornication, even all the kings and great men of the earth is drunk with the cup of whoredom; mystery Babylon, the mother of harlots, hath deceived the nations, and she must be cast upon the bed of torment; howl ye merchants of Babylon, who through covetousness makes merchandise of souls; howl ye proud priests of Newcastle who set your nests on high and takes part with the dragon in the war against the Lamb, and deceives the simple by your subtleties; the Lord is coming to lay you open and to gather his sheep from your mouths, and you shall be taken with the whore with whom you have committed fornication and shall be partakers of her plagues, for the wrath of the Lord is kindled against you and your destruction is at hand, the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it; therefore, come out from among them, my people, and be ye separated, and I will receive you, saith the Lord; for now am I risen to redeem Zion with judgment and to render vengeance upon her oppressors. Hear the word of the Lord, ye inhabitants of the land. O how is the land full of swearers and liars, drunkards and railers, scoffers and scorners? O how full is the streets of profane persons, Esau-like? How full is the streets of proud ones, who exalts themselves above all that is called god. Tremble, tremble ye lofty ones, who takes that to yourselves which belongs to God; for he hath said, "You shall not bow down nor worship any creature." And you who pretend justice, who should judge without respect of persons, you are found transgressors of the pure law of God, which respects no man's person: and the Lord is against you who are transgressors of his pure law, for he that respects persons commits sin, and the Lord will in no wise acquit the wicked; and the Lord is against you, who instead of executing justice upon them who live in wickedness, which your streets abound with, you draw your sword to punish them and to prison them who are sent of the Lord to cry against these abominations; you choose Barabbas and crucify Jesus; you prison the saints of the most high God for speaking the word of the Lord, which you shall eternally witness whether you will hear or forbear, the word of the Lord shall stand and must not return in vain. Weep and howl for the misery that is coming upon you, the whirlwind of the Lord is gone forth, and it will <397> fall heavy upon the head of the wicked. Ah woe is me, my heart within me is broken, to see the profaneness of priests and people. "Ah," saith the Lord, "I will ease me of mine adversaries and avenge me of mine enemies." Oh return, return, this is the day of your visitation; confess and forsake your sins that you may find mercy, for if you go on in the broad way it leads to destruction, and there are all the proud priests acting in the generation which ever persecuted the righteous seed; we are a cloud of witnesses which was persecuted of your generation; Jeremiah was put in the stocks and in the dungeon for speaking the word of the Lord. Daniel was cast into the lions' den, because he would not bow to the image which the king had set up. Mordecai was hated, and all the seed of the Jews, because he would not bow to proud Haman. The apostles was put in the stocks and in the common prison for speaking in the name of Jesus: they were haled out of the synagogues and carried before rulers for bearing witness to the substance. Stephen was stoned to death by an uncircumcised and stiffnecked people. All the holy men of God, of whom the world was not worthy, some of them were stoned, some sawn asunder, others put to cruel death; and the saints had trials of cruel mockings and scourgings; yea, of bonds and imprisonments; and he who was the heir and substance of law and prophets, blessed forever, he was called a blasphemer and mocked, and put to death by the high priests, scribes and elders of the people; and if those who was chosen out of the world was persecuted and hated because they were not of the world: these are our cloud of witnesses, glory to our God forevermore, who hath counted us worthy to suffer for his name, the reproach for Christ is greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; praises, praises to our God forevermore: weep and howl ye persecutors, ye liars, ye slanderers, for upon your generation shall all the righteous bloodshed be required, your cloud of witnesses was persecutors, and you fill up the measure of your fathers' iniquity. Proud Haman sought to slay Mordecai because he did not bow to him, according to the king's commandment, for he had received the law from God, which seed will not bow to the devil; the chief priests, who were called of men Master, and had the chiefest place in the assemblies and stood praying, and went <398> in long robes, these called Christ a blasphemer; the chief priests sought false witness against Christ in which generation are these five proud priests, who are found false witnesses, calling truth error; woe unto them: as they have been witnesses together against the Lord in their words and writings so shall they be partakers together of the cup of fury from the hand of the Lord; for they act as their forefathers did, the chief priests gave large money to the soldiers to belie Christ, that they might say his disciples stole him away; the chief priests gave money to Judas to betray Christ, and confessed it was the price of blood. The chief priests sought to kill Lazarus, whom Christ had raised from the dead, because many through him did believe. The chief priests took counsel against Christ how they might take him by subtlety and kill him. The chief priests put the apostles in the common prison. The priest Amaziah bade the prophet Amos depart and prophesy no more at the king's chapel, nor the king's court, and told the king the prophet of the Lord had conspired against him and that the land was not able to bear all his words (Amos 7). The chief priests was the greatest enemies to Jesus Christ; and Herod and Pilate were made friends at his death. These are our cloud of witnesses, and ye are the same now, priest and people, where Christ is made manifest; for the same Christ is persecuted now as was then, by them who have the letter and the form, as they had then. Where did you ever read that Christ or the saints persecuted or prisoned any; but you fill up the measure of your fathers' iniquity, and be you witnesses against yourselves that you are in the cursed generation which Christ cried woe unto. How can ye escape the damnation of hell? The Lord our God is coming in power to render vengeance upon your heads; ye blind guides and proud hypocrites, ye persecutors of the righteous seed, your fruits make you manifest to be the seed of evildoers; the Lord is coming to gather his people from your mouths and to render vengeance upon you and all that uphold you. Rejoice ye righteous ones, for Zion's deliverance is at hand, praises to our God forevermore. Written from the Spirit of the Lord, by a servant of the Lord whom the world calls a Quaker, whose name in the flesh is
1. Jer. 18:18; 20:10.
2. 1 Cor. 6:2-3.
3. 1 John 3:1-2.
4. John 13:15; 1 Cor. 11:1.
5. John 13:15.
6. John 8:12.
7. 1 John 3:8; Col. 1:28.
8. Isa. 42:6.
9. Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:10-11.
10. Is it not strange these priests in the 34 pag. of their book shall say, What is the power without the persons? Government without governors, but a mere fancy? and revile honoring the power, without respecting the persons. When in this nation all obey and act by a power in the name of the keepers of the liberties of England, &c., when there is no such persons. Is the government of this nation but a fancy? And is it not high treason to subvert them?
a. Thomason date: 9 May, 1654.
b. See p. 195 above.
c. See p. 195 above.
d. See p. 195 above.