Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > The Foot out of the Snare
Upon a presumption that thou art one whose mind is (in some measure) fitted for information; and not of those who are resolved into self and hardened against any discovery which might effect to the enlightening of their understanding, where their own weakness, fancy, and imagination hath formed itself in them (which depraved condition I sadly <260> witnessed sometime to have been mine own). At which time, though any person whatsoever (yea, were it possible to have been an angel from heaven) that should have attempted me with any information contrary to my espoused and indulged fancy and imagination I should have concluded such a messenger and message, unresistibly accursed, and (through the depravedness of my understanding) adjudged it to have been the Spirit of God in me which had so concluded. If this discourse should come into the hands of any such person or persons (as such there are too many) I expect but little fruit upon their account; but they are by me pitied, forasmuch as their bondage and captivity is great and much to be lamented, though the God of truth can restore a sound mind and a clear understanding unto such who by their own righteousness, under a seeming appearance of self-denial, have made themselves servants to other gods. And when this power of God is made known, that they might be guided in one worship of one God living in them indeed, they shall admire and magnify that gracious arm by which they were made free, as I do this day; and then this discourse will not be unsuitable or unpleasing unto them. In the meantime, to such whose minds are free and not entangled, I would give an account briefly of the matter, but chiefly the occasion of this ensuing discourse, together with my intent and scope therein: though the subject matter doth relate principally to the persons who go under the name of Quakers (as being so distinguished amongst men) and of the effects which were wrought in and by me through the guidance and teachings of a seducing spirit in me under a pretence of light, yet is not my scope to traduce the persons or to incense the powers or authorities, ministers, or people, against them. For I know many of whom they are not known have abused the truth by seeking to defend themselves in that deceit which that Spirit (that is of God in them) hath witnessed against; by which the generality of men are (through their misguided spirits) already beyond measure bitterly incensed against them.
Touching the occasion: It is not unknown to many—yea, I say, to many in and about this city of London—that I was in an eminent way, as a first fruits of those who gave up themselves to those ways and teachings, wherein I profited not a little; nor went I on with a slow pace; but I confess, such was the fire of zeal which burned within me that by it I was overpowered and hastily acted forth without knowledge (I mean, such knowledge as was according to God); but such as my teachers held forth in some measure I abounded in (as the discourse itself will witness); but the tendency thereof in the general was to folly and madness, as I by sad experience witness in my measure. But God, who is rich in mercy, through his great love wherewith he hath loved me, hath magnified the same in opening mine eyes, and turned me from <261> the darkness wherewith I was bewildered and benighted; even to astonishment and admiration: having opened my mouth, and put a new song into it of praises to his name, in despite of all those cruel denunciations of woe and plagues which have been pronounced against me (even to eternity) since my departure and separation from them, by some of those who could once have put me into their bosoms, whom I nevertheless patiently bear with in love, having better persuasions towards them.
It having therefore pleased the Father to rescue and deliver my soul out of this deep pit, and raised me up, and set me as a living monument of his praise, beyond expectation: I durst not shut up in silence the marvelous wiles, and deep deceits and devices, which the enemy had upon me, through which I have been carried, and from whence through mercy redeemed, that I might tell to others how bountifully God hath dealt with me, remembering me in my low estate; for his mercy endureth forever.
1. To which end, therefore, that I might make known my duty of praise and thanks to God for the riches of his love towards me; as also to express my tenderness towards my brethren, my companions in the bond of love, who are environed in the same circle and maze, kept in bondage by their own misguided spirits, subjected to laws and ordinances, ceremonies and traditions of their own inventing; to which they are nevertheless in so great subjection as amounts to eternal death and wrath and fiery indignation upon the breach thereof: Of which may be said, "Who hath required these things at your hands?"
May not this be a word in season to some, by which they might be persuaded at least to debate the matter with their own souls, and to consider where they are, and who requires these things wherein they are so preposterously zealous, denying themselves their just and lawful liberty out of a slavish fear; but there is such a resolvedness, that I can scarce conceive that this might be successful to many, yet the power of truth can overturn all things which exalteth itself under a shadow of good, as being maintained by a lie.
2. That the example of my zeal and forwardness of mind, without serious consideration and examination, taking all for truth, affecting those notional apprehensions which (in that way) I was then persuaded with (by which true judgment became lost in me), that I may in this be as a seamark, whose poor vessel was well nigh split upon those rocks; and am now become as one to give warning that none do (through the hastiness of their own minds) in their own wills, under a pretense of God's will, dishonor the truth by giving heed to such seducings and temptations, ascribing that to God and calling it his, when indeed it is the effects of their own fancy, through their own weakness and their own imagination.
3. That there may be a true and impartial information held forth to <262> everyone to whose hands this discourse shall come, of the true rise and progress of my entrance into, and separation from the people called Quakers, in order to the silencing of those false aspersions which have been cast, not only upon me, but also upon the aforenamed people themselves, by reason of me: and which is more especially, upon the truth itself, which through misrepresentation and misunderstanding of things hath much suffered. These things considered, I hope it will be understood by all sober-minded persons, that I am in this work upon a great duty, which I may not be at rest till it be effected: and the rather, because herein, the temptations and wiles of Satan are discovered, and in measure detected; which many being ignorant of, could not believe or avoid. And although I must and do expect that there will be sent forth floods after me, even to the very drowning of me (if possible), by reproaches, calumnies, aspersions, and whatever may be to render me or make me odious (as divers have appeared in suchlike very active towards me already), but those who profess the highest truth, even the perfection, and abounds therein, dares not, nay they cannot appear in the language of the beast, of the serpent, of the deceiver: yet however things be, I shall abide where I am; therefore I count not anything which I may suffer valuable, in comparison of that peace I have in bearing this witness, which is not another's, but fulfilled in and on my person. So that I may truly say (as in another case), What I have heard with mine ears and seen with mine eyes, and felt with my poor tormented body and spirit; that I have testified, and do testify, and my witness therein is true.
1. That thou consider what thou readest and understand things as they are. Also, be serious in thy observation, and be not light in mind nor easily tickled with toyish laughter at such vanities as thou mayest perceive to have attended me; but watch and pray that thou also mayest not be led into temptation. For I assure thee that in the hour of my temptation I judged those madnesses and follies great and serious things, though now (through mercy) I look upon them with another eye.
2. Despise not the Scriptures, wherein the mind of God is so preciously and plenteously recorded; neither dote too much upon them, for therein the deceiver will work in thee subtly, to the drowning of thy understanding, by forming in thee imaginations and comprehensions of things which are not (I mean things which are not in the counsel of God), by which the unbelieving and disobedient mind will be kept nourished in thee; therefore be not wise above what is written either in the Scriptures or in thyself, lest the Light of Israel become a rock of <263> offence and a stone of stumbling unto thee; for both which were my errors, by which I deeply suffered.
3. Watch unto prayer, and be stayed in what is thy obedience, that so thy understanding might be opened, and thou mayest be able to distinguish between things that differ, as saith the Scripture: Try the spirits whether they are of God, for there are, that have a great seeming-sameness (at least, a great similitude and likeness of God) as when thou shalt be inwardly moved to speak or act; see that thou impute not that to God which is thine own, nor ascribe not that to thyself which is His; and by how much the more difficult it is for thee to distinguish thy own spirit in its operations and effects, from the operations and effects of the true and faithful Spirit of the Lord; be so much the more humble and lowly and filled with moderation, both towards thyself and others; until thou art restored to a clearer sight.
4. Be not rash in judging nor censuring—an evil whereunto I myself was most inveterately addicted, and is the universal distemper of these times; for unsavory expressions being out of charity, especially where it comes short of knowledge, stands not in the counsel of God, though many glory therein; but they acting from themselves, and so their work being their own, true judgment will rest upon them: the wisdom which is from above, being pure and peaceable and full of gentleness; yea, even to the froward (otherwise, I say, otherwise what had become of me, and others, this day?) but the word of truth will rebuke in his day, when the eye shall see as it is seen, beholding things as they are, and not as fancied or imagined to be.
5. If thy heart be set free, pray for the author, that he may be kept by the power of God in obedience to that faith which is salvation, who referring thee to the discourse as it follows, bids thee farewell.
We whose names are hereunto subscribed, being certified of the contents & circumstances of the discourse ensuing; and some of us having perused a part, and others the whole of it, are fully satisfied of the truth of things reported in it; and do recommend it as a piece worthy to be read and taken into consideration by all serious Christians, as a sad and very remarkable providence of God to be observed of all those who take pleasure either in the knowledge of the gracious works of God, or in the discovery of the wiles and subtleties of the devil; and as a seasonable warning-piece unto all others, that they be not taken in the like snare: and if taken, that they may recover themselves out.
Thomas Brooks, Thomas Jacombe, George Cokayne, Will. Adderly
John Goodwin, John Tombes, Will. Jenkyn, Matth. Poole
I, J.T., having for divers years been full of zeal after the things of God, by which zeal I was led forth with exceeding love after the knowledge of Christ: to which end I sought after those ways and means which I was persuaded to be most useful for the satisfying my judgment and clearing of my conscience, as duties enjoined, in order to my upright and close walking with God, and blameless life and conversation amongst men: To the same end, I was led forth, with much fervency of spirit, after the teachings of those whom I judged to be most enlightened with that Spirit which was of God, and that were esteemed of the primest professors, to be very knowing and understanding of what the truth, (or substance and life) was. To which end I labored, were it possible (in that way), to apprehend what was pure, out of divers opinions; that so one knowledge, one mind, witnessed by one truth (my understanding being well informed), might act me to live in unity with God by a holy and innocent life.
But after a time, in regard of much unstableness I saw [p.2] in divers teachers by the diversity of their opinions, and also much confusion in many societies who made a profession to be gathered together by one Spirit pure of God, into one pure mind, and so at unity with one pure God; it occasioned much trouble and disquietness in me. Whereupon, considering seriously with myself, I sought diligently what the cause should be of all this division by which men professing the truth were thus distracted in their own minds.
Upon which there was cleared to my understanding, truth being but one, the ministration of righteousness which proceedeth from this truth must necessarily be the same; therefore, that which occasioned this division was the wisdom of the flesh, which continually was, and still is, at enmity with truth; God being not the author of confusion but of peace.
After this I found a little pleasure in hearing of ministers, because of the pleasantness of their discourse, by the excellency of their beautified language; but nothing sufficient to edify or learn me with knowledge: for in hearing I could not understand, in seeing I could not perceive, that anything I ever saw or heard did proceed from a right understanding of the mind of God, there being so many mixtures by what I apprehended in everything spoken forth by all.
Whereupon was I persuaded to see what might be learned from others who were out of the way of these professions, by whose doctrine (together with what I apprehended of myself) by the operation of a spirit infused into me, after a short time, there was made clear to my understanding what follows. But first, I shall declare the manner of my entrance into this belief.
<265> Being thus persuaded, I began to be very inquisitive after some other people, that might accord with, and be [p.3] instruments of good to me, whose life & conversation might be one with their doctrine; both which being of God, might certainly confirm their unity with God.
So in a short time I became affected with those people called by the name of Seekers; but afterwards hearing at a private house two of those called by the name of Quakers, and much observing their discourse, little was spoken, but all tending to the destruction of every the least sin. So by the sincerity of their discourse, with the sobriety of their appearance, I was taken somewhat affected with them; upon which I was persuaded to make a further inquiry after that sect; though to my wisdom, notwithstanding what was spoke was against all sin, yet there was nothing declared of the mystery of the gospel of Christ. But upon a further inquiry in the observation of them, I saw their order, their manner of teaching and duties; and found, as was declared by them, as far as I perceived, that all spake the same things; their ministry was one, all in one order, united complete in one mind, whereby they were acted as one in their duties: whereupon I concluded that surely those people were of God, sent forth as witnesses for himself against all others who took the name of God in their mouths and declared themselves to be the ministers of Christ, though they were made ministers of man and sent forth by man, whose doctrine stood in the will of man; and not understanding what the word of life was, therefore incapable of edifying the people; being ministers of the letter and not of the Spirit. Now since it was written that the people of God should be of one soul and one mind; God also being one and his name one; and these people declaring to be the same, who did live much witnessed by their humility, one pure life, also moved to speak and act only from a true and faithful being of God manifested in them, by which they appeared [p.4] to be as lights in the world, and all others, who were in a subjection unto divers forms, in many things taking liberty to themselves, their lives appeared to be judges of them, as well as their outward declaration: yet in regard of much strangeness that I apprehended in their way, also the extraordinary bold confidence they had in their judging, which gave no liberty for the justification of any besides themselves; I could not find a sufficient satisfaction to comply with them.
A short time following, being at a private meeting,1 where after some time spent by two or three, who were making inquiry what should be the meaning of the Spirit of God in two scriptures which seemingly did appear to contradict each other; there comes into the meeting divers <266> strange men; & in the midst their discourse upon those Scriptures, there stood up a man of these strangers; and silencing of them, he began with an exceeding bold courage to speak, crying aloud, in these words, or to this effect, "Praises, praises be to the Lord God forever, who hath hid these things from the wise & prudent, & hath revealed them unto babes": giving them to know that the dark clouds were veiled over the Sun, and with this darkness did they go about to comprehend the light; but the light did see the darkness, & the darkness comprehended it not. So repeating over those scriptures, he affirmed with confidence that they meant that they spake; and made those plain to the understanding of many; affirming, that those who never came to live obedient to the life which was of God in them should never come to see what was meant by the Holy Spirit, which moved those who lived the life of God to speak them forth: the words of the wise were dark to such who, by their disobedience, had lost their right. So man having now lost his guide, being blind, he seeks after knowledge by the [p.5] teachings of that mind which is darkened; and so feeds upon that tree forbidden, of the knowledge of good and evil, not discerning: and beginning in Genesis, he passed through the whole scope of the Scriptures, declaring what was meant by them; and all things being turned by him into allegories, typifying or figuring forth what was to be fulfilled in man before he came to be born of the Spirit, the second birth, without which there was no entrance into the kingdom of God (heaven), which was in man, according to that scripture, "I will dwell in them, and walk in them: they shall be my people, and I will be their God." And so declaring what was meant by the first Adam, what by the second Adam; what the Fall was, what the cause of the Fall; what reigned after the Fall, what by redemption out of this fallen estate; the way of this redemption; the effects produced in the way; the instruments by whom this redemption was to be wrought; how it was to be done, and where, which was in the man, &c. Also, that the Scripture was not the word of God, but it was what was spoken from the word: by the word was meant life; and the Scriptures were a declaration from this word of life: the word was the substance from whence it was spoken; and this substance, the word of life, was the measure of God manifested in man, the gift of the Holy Spirit manifested in flesh, made known in all, that thereby they might be guided to profit in that obedience required of God; also, by which all the disorder in the creation of man, made by the floods poured forth in man in that time of God's displeasure, occasioned by his fall from God into the lust, was to be put into the same order they were at the first, which was good, by which word the mountains were to be leveled, all hills were to be cast down, and the valleys were to be [p.6] exalted; crooked places were to be made straight, and rough <267> ways to be made smooth; everything was to stand in awe before him; the lofty mind was to be pulled down, and all high thoughts and imaginations were to be burned up: and these things being not done by the word in you, the pure witnesses of God lie slain in your streets, the house of darkness, the house of bondage, those cities which spiritually have a relation to Sodom and Egypt: and I was sent by God to declare against that in you, by which you are blinded, and so the witnesses kept slain: expressing with a firm confidence, that searching of the Scripture was not the way to find out the knowledge of Christ; but the turning the mind to within, there to be taught by the measure of God, the law written in the heart: and so standing in obedience to it, in time death being passed over all that sinned, Christ would be brought forth; which sin reigned from Adam till Moses, even over all that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression; Adam the earthly nature in man, which prevailed with him to be earthly minded, to love the Mammon of unrighteousness: which death reigned over the whole man, till Moses the servant of God, which gave the Law to the children of Israel, the seed of the faithful; by which they were to be guided to the angel of the covenant, Christ, and so witness the perfection, which to know, saith God, is life; which life was manifested in him, and he saw it the only begotten of God: and from what he had seen, felt, heard, and understood in himself, that we also might have fellowship, did he declare these things: concluding with a strict charge, in the name of the living God, that we turn to him, the rock whence we were hewn, as we respected our eternal peace: bearing record that he, the God of life, stood waiting ready to receive all that turn to him, and having [p.7] your faces Zionward, go on bearing your crosses joyfully; for his reward is with him, and his work before him.
So after about an hour's discourse in things of this nature, all spoken with a firm confidence, mighty powerfully declared, with so much seriousness that possible could be, supposed to be far beyond whatever I saw by any man; and using those words, "thee" and "thou," barren of any compliment, or whatever might be taken in them to please man, they departed.
Now upon the consideration of divers things, also the strong engagement laid upon us, as we tendered our eternal happiness, together with that bold undaunted confidence he had in the truth of what was spoken, all my former knowledge, my former belief, my former hope (being struck with a great fear) was immediately dashed in pieces, they being taken to the earthen vessels made by the wisdom which was begotten of the earthly man;2 and then coming to understand that they were of those <268> people called by the name of Quakers, together with what formerly I knew of them, I became strongly affected with them, divers also of the same meeting at the same time being possessed with the like persuasions.
Whereupon, much love acted me to follow them very zealously; but in order to a more perfect clearing of my understanding, I remained a time before I complied with them, or made myself known to any one of them: in which time, meeting with one whom I formerly knew to be a very serious true-hearted man, who was converted to their belief, and also subjected to their obedience, who gave me to understand, that they were sent forth to preach the gospel by the same Christ that the apostles were; and that the person, that Son of God which died at Jerusalem, was not the redeemer of man from sin; [p.8] but the redeemer was in every particular man, that light by which he was given to see sin, and enabled by it, if obeyed, to be redeemed from sin: which Christ had redeemed them perfect and now lived in them Lord of all things, by which they were made the sons of God; and so what was manifested unto them by that substance, from that substance were they moved to speak, which was the same Holy Ghost by which the apostles were endued, sent forth, & enabled to preach the gospel: and declaring of them much to admiration, how that sometimes in the night they were immediately commanded by the eternal Spirit to go forth and preach the gospel, also by the like command, some of them were limited to fast from food (as I remember) about twenty or more days together;3 which was intended to make them willing and pliable to the will of God in the travel of their Spirit, before they came to the land of Canaan, the rest of the new created being or work of God in them. So he gave me to understand the next day of their meeting, and the place where, with earnest invitation to be there.
Now that I might have the counsel of God in what I did, as touching my uniting with them, when I came home I went to prayers; and being mightily carried forth in that duty, very often before the time of their meeting, I looked upon it as a sign which did make manifest the good pleasure of God in my closing with them: so at that meeting, three of the chiefest of them being speakers, whose matter and manner of preaching was more taking unto me than all the former, but especially the powerful operation of their prayer, all which effectually wrought upon me: whereupon, my mind being established, I was moved to make a confession of myself, concluding with the owning of them in the presence of [p.9] all the people: upon which, I became subject to the <269> teachings of a Spirit in myself (the which being believed to be the Christ of God, the redeemer from sin), I was fully persuaded that if denying anything in the least that it required, I could not be redeemed; and since that the truth was made manifest, if disobeyed no remedy, I should be eternally damned.
Wherefore, as I respected my salvation, this redeemer was to work me and to dispose of me according to his will; & whatever I willed was not to be done, but to be crossed by my being subject to this redeemer: upon which there arose a great controversy in my spirit, of what stood in the will of man and what did not: said one spirit, This is the will, in when it was not: on the contrary said another spirit (as to the same thing), this is not in the will: and so through fear I should always yield a subjection unto that spirit by which I was limited and brought under bondage to do many things in my will against my will whereupon I became a destroyer of the will of God, as touching that liberty which was allowed me in the use of my members either to speak or to act; also in the use of those creatures made for the service of man; and so as those former weaknesses which reigned in me through the darkness of my understanding came to be destroyed, my understanding, being not then well enlightened, greater weakness (as to the not enjoyment of myself) did arise; also as one imaginary being in me came to be overthrown, here was begotten the like being in another shape, and by it was I wrought to believe many things (by me undeniable), and also led forth and acted from one thing unto another, according to what followeth:
So believing that what was manifested of God in man, was the light of life which was one with himself, as it is [p.10] written, "I and my Father are one": by which was given unto man a savory discerning of what was good and what was evil, what was darkness, which darkness was to be expelled by this light, there remained therefore nothing for the man to do but to stand in the will of that which was pure in him, and so by it he became a judge of what impurity or the law of sin would act him in; which sin, the occasion of death, was to be swallowed up in victory, that so only the light of life, which is innocent, might live; there being nothing in man for death: even as a king, over-ruling all in subjection unto himself.
Whereupon was concluded, that man was the cause of all this distraction and confusion in himself, and so abstracted from this confusion was that being which made an appearance of holiness in the minds of all professed religious people, subjected under divers forms, ordinances, and ceremonies, which is a vapor itself and must die; as the ordinances were shadows and are ceased: but man having lost the kernel, the substance which giveth nourishment and satisfies, he feedeth <270> upon the dry husk, and being not refreshed with the true bread and water of life, he remaineth always seeking and never comes to know what is true; always feeding and never satisfied until he comes to understand where the bread of life is to be found, which is in himself, according as it is written, "I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one": and so eternal life living in us, there needs no more thirst, there needs no more hunger after knowledge: "this is eternal life to know God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent."
But since there is much mystery recorded in Scripture, it is concluded that the knowledge of those mysteries is to know the will of Christ, and so the way to salvation; [p.11] yea it is believed that the knowledge of the Scriptures is, to know God and Christ, though it is spoken concerning Christ, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"; and again it is written, "the Word is nigh you, in the mouth, and in the heart"; so that the way, the truth, and the life is in us: that which giveth salvation. But saith Judas,4 "How is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?"
But this conclusion also proceeds from the evil one transformed in man, he being scattered, very confused, and darkened in his understanding, covered as with a veil: and so Satan, as an angel of light, moveth and leadeth forth to divers duties, which are his own, for the upholding of his reign in man. Also feeds man with wisdom and variety of pleasant language, called gifts, in performances for the upholding of his duties: by which sin being shaded over he is justified; many being called failings; but perfection is not to be attained in his life, but in another life (hereafter): though it is written, "Except Christ be in you, ye are reprobates"; having rent the garments of righteousness, ye are accursed, being hipped up above the truth, and trampling the blood of the covenant, the life of the innocent in the dust: so that if the author and finisher of our faith be living in us, there is perfection; but if not, perfection is not, faithfulness being ceased.
Now the world was understood to be the Garden of Eden, in which man was placed at the first and still is; and the trees of this garden all living beings, proceeding out of the earth, living in and upon the earth; all which having their being of God, the life of all things, by somewhat of himself that proceedeth forth of the earth, [p.12] God the life, who created all the life, from whence is received the increase of all.
<271> It was also understood that paradise was in man, where his delight should be, where his mind should be stayed at unity with God, who made choice to take up his habitation and abode there himself, with his increase, the family of love, and beloved ones, who were to be kept, nourished, and refreshed by man's living obedient unto the will of God in the same simplicity of love, and so at unity with this family of love, the seed of Israel.
Then was this understood to be the state in which all men were created, and is now also the cause of his fall.
All men were made of nothing and still are; as one generation passeth away, another generation succeedeth, by God the author of all: and so as one increase by him was brought to their end, another increase was produced forth of himself, according as it is written, "I kill and I make alive."
Therefore in the first creation of men, they were made pure and holy without sin, in the likeness of that God who was their Maker, perfect; for where no sin was there was perfection.
But man, when he came into a growth in the world, he saw the excellency of that provision (of that fruit) prepared of God to be a nourishment (or refreshment) for him; he began of himself, by hearkening to the weaker (being in him the fleshly mind) to be discontented with that allowance which was sufficient for his use, and please the creature himself, rather than God that made him and by whom he lived; which nature respected himself beyond that pure nature which is of God, given in to him, by which the creation of God was to be preserved in its order, according as it is written, in the church of God, "The head of the woman is the man, the head of the man is Christ, the [p.13] head of Christ is God": which church is the man, as it is written, "Ye are the temples of the living God." Now the woman being the silliest and weakest part, also that which desireth most to be dallying with such things in which it might take delight, lest she should defile herself and dishonor her head the man, by alluring of him to commit fornication with her; she is to be kept in subjection by him, as he is taught by the word; which word Christ, the light of life, is given to declare what the will of God is; but man having given way to the weaker being, she is become the head and ruler of all: it was pleasant, and she desired, and that caused the man to taste; for he willed, and that caused the sun to be darkened; his light, which was given to discover the will of God, to be clouded by the begotten will of man, yielding subjection to weakness. Now the sun being darkened could not answer the end for which it was given: so the will of God became lost by, and unknown to man; he having created to himself an image, falls down and worships it, by <272> a continual slavery to the things of this world, serving divers gods and divers lord, by which he hath brought himself under the curse of God, having slain the witnesses that were given in him from God. Wherefore, at the resurrection the book of conscience should be opened, out of which the witnesses should be raised to life, and so man by whom they were slain should by them receive condemnation; but such who bear testimony of the first resurrection, which is man being subjected unto that which showed him any sin, the true and faithful witnesses would be raised to life by which he might see the least sin; and they ruling in him here should be the justifier of him hereafter, the second death having no power.
Again, it was further understood, that man, in his own will, by his own wisdom, his mind being driven out into [p.14] the earth forth of paradise into slavery, by the flaming swords of those spirits sent from God, seeking after knowledge begets in himself children of fornication, from whence proceedeth divers languages; Babylon being built up in him, by which confusion he is acted to do those services required by the whorish woman, that well-favored and beautified harlot, whose ornaments appeared glorious and bespangled with those jewels that had the greatest glister, whose brightness was transcendent for purity, by which they appeared excellent to all the spectators: all which being but as a gilded picture without substance; even as wind, carrying the minds of men to and fro by their airy imagination; giving them to believe that it is the Spirit of God, though abstracted from the diversity of languages, proceeding from those beings, or children of fornication begotten in him by himself, through the allurements of the whorish woman. So man being thus darkened in his understanding, what is fancied (or supposed) to be true by that which desireth knowledge in him, because he hath lost his savory discerning, he buildeth upon it as confident, and so the weakness in him, and his own imagination, is judged by him to be the Spirit of God.
Now man being exalted into such a high degree by the pride of his own heart, and not resting contented in that place which he was created in by God, he thereby brought condemnation upon himself; and this was done by every particular man, being acted by and made subject to those things which he was made by right of creation, lord of.
Here man being led forth in a subjection to vanity, his food is a vapor or dust not able to keep life, therefore no remedy; having corrupted himself with an incurable disease, he must die, he must die: except by a subjection [p.15] to the teachings of that law written in the heart, Christ be raised from the dead, there to live and reign in righteousness and true judgment, as at the beginning; and so having <273> purchased an everlasting inheritance through a perfect obedience, there is no death of that possession.
I shall now declare divers of those effects, which this change wrought in and upon me at my first entrance into this way, before I came to a right understanding of what was true.
Said they, Having owned the truth, ye need not that man teach you any more: if you never see our faces again, there is that in you by which you may be taught. Which was taken to be the life, the holy seed of God raised out of death by that which was spoken from the life in them.
So immediately in the observation of them, though confidently supposed it was by a command from the life in me, I became subjected to divers ceremonies, as: not to "Master" any man; not to pull off the hat to any man; not to speak the word "you," but instead thereof "thee" and "thou." Not to use any compliments or greetings to any; believing that bowing to a man was a worshipping of him; not to direct my mind in drinking to any, as familiarly is used amongst friends, &c. Also, by the same persuasion was I wrought upon to pull off those points I wore at my knees, my bandstrings, hatband, buttons that I judged were unnecessary on my coat; some of which I brake to pieces and threw away; others I made a speedy disposal of, with many other things; burned divers books that were divinity, judging that they were what was spoken from the teachings of the devil in those that write them; some made away; others brake pieces and threw away. Having a business in my charge [p.16] the redeeming part of an estate for my mother, lately lost by the death of my father, which thing was very fairly proceeded in, and possible in a short time to have been effected; amongst other of those seduced persuasions, which subtly under a pretence of self-denial accomplished its ends upon me, I was engaged & effectually prevailed upon, utterly to withdraw from this business; by which now my mother & many little ones lieth much under the sufferings of my deserted disobedience: but the workings of this power was so predominant upon my Spirit that I refused the least acknowledgement, much less performance of duty to any. Now
In my former prosecuting of this business, having disposed of what monies I was provided with for the charges of my proceedings, and being necessarily enforced, I adventured (though unwarrantably) for my present supply, without consent, to take the sum of 40s. about me, in case I should have had occasion to make use thereof when I received any return from my relations, being far distant from London.
But a short instant following, being persuaded in this way, as I was <274> restrained from proceeding in this business, so also I was engaged to make known what I had done, otherwise than I intended (which was privily to restore it as I had taken it forth) which I did; restoring the same which I had received, not having made any use thereof.
Now amongst other things which this change of mind wrought in and upon me, and by which first I became famous in the general discourse of men, especially amongst those of whom I was known, this business was a chief; by which, through the not understanding of the thing, divers conclusions have been conceived, otherwise than the truth; by which many abusive reproaches have been unjustly cast upon me: but what I speak cannot [p.17] in the least be gainsaid, known unto those whom it did concern.
A short time after my compliance with that spirit which entered in me by the observation of their practice declared to be from the teachings of the Spirit, Christ in them; my master having been at the wells came home; so out of that respect I had to what was good in him, and also that love I bare towards his eternal rest with God, I was moved to go to him presently and inform him of my restoration from the depth of those delusions which I was serviceable in, by the ministry of those teachers who were blinded in their understanding, not knowing the mystery of godliness: upon which, I really supposed that he would have been prevailed upon by me to frequent our meetings, that if may be the same ministry spoken from the life, by which the life was raised in me, might effect the same end in him, unto his salvation; so coming to him I reached a stool, took him by the arm or cloak, and bade him, "Sit down, William Webb"; not bowing, not pulling off the hat, not "Master," for then I denied that title to him, though related to him a servant, as afterwards I denied all relations, from the words of one, he that liveth in the light will see no difference: after which I spake these words, "How does thy body do?" for, as may be observed, we made a separation between the body and the spirit. Now the observation of my carriage, with the strangeness of that expression "body," moved him to speak these words: "John, what is the matter? where is the servant's obedience? where is the master's honor?" The answer (as I remember) was thus, "My master was the faithful Spirit in me." So I gave him to understand "that I had heard the ministers of the everlasting gospel, by whom I was converted to the faithful obedience, by which I should find life; desiring of him (as he respected his eternal happiness) to [p.18] come amongst us, that so, what is true might be made manifest to, and in him. For (said I) from the Lord do I declare, that all the ministers of these times (or that were not of us) are the ministers of the devil; and in particular, Feak, that minister whom he heard, was of the devil, <275> whose ministry was death." So being stopped, by much dislike in him of what was spoken, I was dismissed by him at that time.
A while after this, when he and his company were at dinner, I was moved by that spirit in me to go and dine with them: now because it was against my will, I concluded that this moving was indeed from the Lord; which service was intended by the Lord to make known unto him that he willed there should be no difference between man and man. So I went into the room where he was, took me a stool, and sat down at the head of the table; which being done, I applied my mind to my business. Then was asked me some questions forth of the Scripture concerning the duty of the servant, which was answered in the justifying of myself, as to that deed: giving him to know that I was the servant of the living God, & he was not; therefore I had more right unto the creatures than he had. So having finished my work, I departed.
Now I was, with exceeding love, out of respect unto my eternal salvation, formerly fixed with a resolution to be taught by the light in me, and so never to sin any more; upon which I became very punctual in every word and every deed. Also, having received a strict charge, with the rest, that nothing should be spoken or acted but what might be eternally witnessed; whereupon, when any customers come to deal with me, I durst not ask them what they wanted? believing that those words could not be eternally witnessed; for they knew what they came [p.19] for: then when that was required which they came for, I durst not make in the price of it but one word; and if by them tempted to more, because of what was expected of advantage to themselves by a cheaper rate, I should be provoked to look sternly, with wrath and envy, out of the extreme hatred I bare towards that spirit which moved them to speak more than was needful: and so by this, and that spirit by which I was limited to those words, "thee" and "thou," and not pulling off my hat, without any civil respect in my carriage, I was made unfit for that service by which was intended a way for my livelihood. Also, divers of those commodities we dealt in, having honorable names, and other having such names which I judged were not meet; I was commanded and enjoined by this spirit in me to give unto them fresh names, believing that those names did proceed from the invention of man, and they stood in the Fall, as did everything that was invented and made by man, and so used by man, that was not absolute necessary. Also, it was believed that all those things before spoken of which I was limited from, stood in the will of man, and they came in the Fall.
I was farther persuaded not to eat anything that I loved, believing that what did set a difference of any creature stood in the will; for he looked upon all things, and behold it was good; therefore it was of man <276> that gave a respect to anything above other; so by degrees at the last I was wrought upon to eat nothing but crumbs, picking of bones, when finished by others; with such food that was destructive to my health, it being contrary to pure nature. Also, I was limited from eating of the creature what was needful to the satisfying of nature, so that I was made extreme poor, & so changed, as though I were not the same man; fasting some weeks from eating little more than nature would have required to eat in [p.20] one day. Going along Cheapside, I saw cabbage stocks, with broken leaves of colworts, which were thrown away by the market women: at which sight I was enjoined by a command of this spirit in me, to gather them all up and carry them home; which being done, I was commanded in the like nature, to dress them, and the next food I did eat, to eat them.
The strangeness of this alteration being so great, divers friends came to see me, intending by discourse to work me into a consideration of my condition, by a better informing of my understanding; but reason being destroyed, nothing took place in me, but I judged them to be in the dark; and that what was spoken from them was flesh, their minds and understandings being alienated from the commonwealth of Israel; my master also, with his partner and others of the family, when discoursing with me, all what was spoken by them was judged to be from the evil one in them, whose I believed they were.
"Now," said they, "coming to live the life of the Scriptures, you will find the meaning of them, they being fulfilled by you, to be opened to your understanding by the life in you, and so they will be found another thing than what formerly they were"; but at this time, not having received that knowledge that I was to wait for, the birth, such a time, out of my own wisdom, my own knowledge and imagination, going to read the Scriptures, I found such a strange alteration in many things, contrary to what formerly I did believe, that I was taken affected with it: upon which I was persuaded to read over the whole Scriptures; and in reading, that which desireth knowledge in me prevailed upon me to search out the meaning of divers things; which seeking destroyed my former understanding & gave me to believe another meaning; then did I really conclude, that I was taught by the word in me, [p.21] the same word which the holy men of God that spake forth the Scriptures had living in them, by which they were enabled to speak them forth; upon which I was enjoined by a stronger fancy, supposed to be the Spirit of Christ, to spend all my time, that possible I could gain, night and day, to learn knowledge by the teaching of the Holy Ghost in me: by which in a short time I did really believe that there was not anything expressed, but I had the perfect knowledge of: in the <277> end, words and letter did signify to my apprehension divers meanings. Thus fancy and imagination acting together, I was besotted and made perfect drunk in my understanding, by the airy spirit gotten in from without, by which I became like unto a distracted man.
Having this persuasion in myself, that all knowledge contained in the Scriptures was revealed unto me, I was really possessed with a confident belief that Christ Jesus that died at Jerusalem was a figure of me, and that I was the true Christ, that angel spoken of in the Revelation, which was to fly through the midst of heaven declaring the everlasting gospel to all kindreds, nations, tongues, and people.
There was also revealed unto me by the teachings of that spirit in me, which gave me the knowledge of the Scriptures, that the dissolution of all things would be at the end of sixty-three years; in which time, by my ministry and the rest of our teachers, the Jews were to be called, with the Gentiles, who had lost the knowledge of the gospel immediately after the apostles' days, from which time until now, that God raised his Spirit to life in those of us, both Jews and Gentiles have lain in blindness, serving the god of the world, the prince of darkness, and without the knowledge of the true God in the world. Wherefore all, both ministers and people, that [p.22] were since a short time after the apostles days, they having bowed down to the gods of the earth, and so worshipped the gods of the heathen; the God of gods, who is the Lord of all, had condemned them and their gods eternally. Wherefore now the candle of the wicked was to be put out by the everlasting gospel, spoken from the eternal life in us; by which those that were elected to salvation should have the life raised in them, whose brightness, as it was revealed, should swallow up all that was for condemnation; so the eternal life living in them, there was salvation.
It was also believed that I should live to the end, and then Christ which died at Jerusalem was to meet me in the mount of God, which was in a multitude of bright clouds, where I was immediately to be transformed into a celestial body, all spirit; where that Christ and I should sit judges of all that ever had a being in the world.
Wherefore now, it being so that I was to be the minister in the hand of God for the converting of those who were elected to salvation, to the true knowledge by which eternal life was to be found, my mind was informed that though I had the perfect knowledge of the Scripture it was not sufficient for this work. And also I was persuaded there was a greater revelation to be manifest in me than there was in Christ or the apostles.
Whereupon I was enjoined that I should spend all the time that possibly I could, in waiting for revelations from heaven: which I did, according to the teachings of this spirit in me; hearkening diligently, with <278> my mind fixed upwards towards heaven, in expectation to hear some voice from thence. Whereupon, the first time I really supposed I heard many excellent voices, which made an exceeding sweet and pleasant melody: upon which I [p.23] believed they were spirits sent from God to make known unto me the greatness of that joy there was in heaven because of me; by which appearance, being over-ravished, I was firmly resolved to be pliable to that spirit which moved me in this way of waiting.
So a short time following, there appeared to me two spirits in the likeness of a man's shade, which apparitions were believed to be angels sent from God to minister unto me: from whom did proceed, to my acceptation at that time, excellent things concerning God, and Christ that died at Jerusalem, also concerning the angels, and the excellency of that place called heaven.
Following this, there came many suchlike spirits that were all taken to be angels, at which sight there was a voice spake in me which gave greetings to those apparitions; upon which, there was answered by them, "that within twenty-five days perfection should be established in me, and so I should be made perfect, entire, wanting nothing, the whole work of God having been made manifest; then should I suffer the likeness of that death and resurrection which was real by him that died at Jerusalem; after which, I should be sent forth to preach the gospel; and then Michael the archangel should be living in me, by whom I should be carried to and fro, throughout the world, and enabled to preach the gospel."
After this time, for this twenty-five days, when the spirit in me willed me to go private, which was sometimes in the day, and almost all these twenty-five nights, I durst not deny the movings, as I respected my salvation; yea, I do verily believe I did not rest one night with another, above one hour in a night, all the time of these twenty-five days; most of which time I had the company of these apparitions, according as I was moved to desire them by that spirit [p.24] which was in me: for when I was moved by that spirit to desire them, they would come: and when that moved me to require their departure, they would depart: and constantly when they came they brought with them excellent musics, which always kept over my head and followed me according as I moved: the apparitions making merry amongst themselves, dancing, leaping and flying about the room, according to the musics of those spirits which continually played over my head.
I shall now declare some things that were acted by my orderly subjection to the teachings of this spirit in me, and those apparitions in the time of these twenty-five days.
There was not a day or night but many strange actions were <279> performed; but I shall speak of some few by which may be judged what the rest were.
The second or third night I was commanded by that being in me to stay up all night: so about midnight, five of these apparitions, with those spirits which made such pleasant melody, came, as I was waiting for revelations: one of which spirits (as they were flying about the room) came and overshadowed my face, as through a veil, and spake to me, telling me in my ear, "That three of the seven plagues had been poured forth upon me; and because of my diligent obedience in all things required by the spirit in me, two were not, & the other two were yet to come; and that after my resurrection from the dead I should make choice of twelve that were chiefest speakers amongst us, to be my apostles: so parting from me, they went all to dancing. About an hour after, as I was standing before the fire, I heard something that made a noise: upon which I heard a voice speak in me, saying, "Babylon is fallen, Babylon is fallen"; which was significant to my understanding, that all in me which formerly reigned, was thrown [p.25] down, being dashed in pieces by the coming of Christ; and turning round, I saw that the fire being much burned, fell down: then being weary of standing (having not sat that night), I went to sit down; and going to sit, I was commanded by one of these spirits that I should stand, for God was then present in the room. Whereupon, after about an hour's standing, looking for a revelation, I was overshadowed as before, like as with a veil, and commanded from a voice immediately to pull off my shoes off my feet, for the place where I stood was holy ground: and as God appeared to Moses in the bush, so God appeared now unto me in this revelation, giving me to understand that the appearance of God unto Moses was a figure of this appearance unto me. Whereupon I pulled off my shoes; and being struck with an exceeding fear, much trembling, I pulled off my hat also, and laid it down: at which time, I was sensible of very much cold, it being an exceeding cold night. So immediately there came an extreme warmth all over the room, and thence it seized upon my feet, and with a tingling heat it raised itself upwards, till over my legs, and there rested a little time, infusing a heat into my legs; then did it arise by degrees, little and little, until at last my whole body was encompassed with warmth, as though a great heat had been infused in me by a violent compulsion. All which time, I trembled exceedingly, but durst not move from that place I stood in. Also the tunes of the spirits were changed into a great singing or hissing, much like to the noise of thousands of bees; and the apparitions danced: so a voice spake, calling me by my name, telling me that I was John the beloved of himself, as John was the beloved of Christ; and he, that John, was a <280> figure of me. So after some time spent, I could not contain, but speak of my own accord these words, "Ye are the angels of the living God": concluding [p.26] with the owning of what was by them revealed. But in the speaking of these words I stammered, out of fear: upon which there flew one of these apparitions by me, and told me, "that I had blasphemed." What the cause was, I could not tell; but I supposed it to be because I spake these words in my own will, before I had a true moving from that being in me: for I believed that in doing of any deed, or speaking of any word that stood in my own will, I did blaspheme; judging that what spake, moved, or acted in man, that had not a patient working, with a joint concurrence of the whole man, was wrought in the will, and so imperfect, a blast which perisheth in its act, and so eternally not to be witnessed; by which the whole man is defiled. Upon which, all the spirits and the pleasant noise vanished away, and were not; also, the warmth infused in me and encompassed about me was taken away in the same nature as it came. Then was I struck with a great fear, not knowing what this meant: upon which, as my manner was, when committing of any offense, as I was moved by the spirit in me, I lay down upon the ground with my face close to the floor, which was believed to be the greatest humility I could express; and after a short time of my wallowing and tumbling upon the ground, I was moved by that spirit in me to lie still on my belly with my face flat on the ground; which being done, immediately came the like warmth on the floor under me, as before; and from thence arose a great steam, which encompassed me over, and then seized upon me as before, infusing a heat through my whole body; then was I by that spirit in me moved to rise up; but supposing it was not a true motion, I did not obey; upon which came all those apparitions which were without, and with them those spirits which made such excellent melody. Then did that power in me move me to stand up as before; [p.27] upon which I fell a-weeping; and much love wrought upon me, to remain longer in that place of humility; judging myself as unworthy of that union and love with God, which before I was a partaker of: then came one of those apparitions to me, who gave me to understand that all what I was, having been offered as a pledge according to the will of the Pure in me, had wrought in God that affection which formerly he had towards me, upon which I was raised upon my feet by the power of that spirit in me; my hands, my feet, and body, moved and acted in their order, without the least motion or consent of motion by me: then was I highly elevated in my spirit, and commanded by a voice in me, to dance with those apparitions; which I did the remaining part of that night; and by the power of that spirit in me, yielding my subjection, was I tossed to and fro and <281> mounted up and down in the observation of those spirits by whom I was accompanied, as though I had been a spirit myself.
It may be observed that about this time it was so with me, that what I looked upon, I should be searching after knowledge, in relation to it; making enquiry, the cause of its being, the way by which it came to have a being, &c. For I was persuaded that the knowledge of all things was to be discovered and made known to me: so that a while after, my prying so much after knowledge did infuse so much spirit in me that I could not look upon anything, but I was tormented in my spirit at the sight thereof; and many times had such burnings in my body as may be likened to the heat of live coals, by which, for many nights, I could not have the least rest.
Having refrained from food about a day and a half, I was moved, though limited by the spirit in me for a longer time, to go and eat. So having made a search for the like food that usually I did eat, and finding none, but in the stead thereof a great roast of beef, I was at a loss; [p.28] upon which there arose a great contest in my spirit what I should do; said that spirit which respected me for the satisfying of nature, Eat of the beef: said the other spirit by which I was limited, No; I am the Lord. Said the former, Nay but eat; since there is no other, there is a sufficient justification: whereupon the case being well examined, after a time judgment was determined upon that spirit by which I was limited. So I did take and eat while satisfied, with much moderation: all which time being much disquieted and strongly moved to give over.
This deed being now finished, I went in the hall, where, after two or three hours, I sat down, and casting my eyes upwards, I was taken with a strong fancy that I saw heaven open, from whence proceeded a great blast of fire somewhat like unto lightning: at which sight (being really persuaded it was a discovery of those plagues which were to be poured forth upon me because of the former disobedience) I was struck down by that power in me, as though a dead thing had fallen; upon which immediately there was an extreme burning within me, like unto the heat of a fiery hot furnace, which remained a little more than about half a quarter of an hour. About three hours following this, there was a private meeting of our people, whither I was moved to go, though much contrary to my will; but being in a great fear, I durst not deny, but went: so after I had been there about half an hour, I was moved by the power of that spirit in me, to shake; which manner of shaking I had long waited for; believing they were effects, in order to the rooting out and perfect destroying of that being in me which was of the devil. So it being observed that I was moved to shake, the command was, Give way: which signified, that I should not limit the work of the Lord in <282> me upon that which was for condemnation: so I gave way; upon [p.29] which, the strength of that spirit by which I was moved to shake, grew, so that what strength I had in me of myself was not in the least sufficient to subdue the workings of the other spirit in and upon me, whose power wrought so in me; being spread like unto an infused substance into all parts and joints of my body, that my whole man was so shaken, torn, and rent, that had I not by a great strength been enabled, I could not have contained. Also, it did work in me as though I had taken a strong purge, by which I was cleansed exceedingly, in working forth of me an extreme foam: so having fulfilled its will, it ceased of itself. Now as the air is rent by the fierceness of the spirit, by which is caused a hideous and rattling noise called thunder; and so the whole heavens become cleansed of all filthy vapors or corrupted substance, naturally destructive to all beings: so it was believed that the corrupted spirit in me was rent and torn by that Spirit which is my life, by which the heavens in me was cleansed. Then was I possessed with these persuasions: that this was one of these two plagues which was to be poured forth upon me; and that the occasion of this plague was because of the denial of my Lord and Master, in the presence of the Jewish spirits in me, out of respect to my own liberty, the satisfying of nature with that food which was disallowed.
After this (as I remember), the following night, I was commanded to stay up all that night and wait for revelations: but having refrained from sleep divers nights before, I could not wait according to the requirings of the spirit, because of extreme drowsiness: whereupon, I made intercession to those apparitions, to take rest for that night: so upon promise of attending there the next night, I had liberty; but going upstairs, a voice spake in me and willed me to go down: but then I supposed it to be from one of the spirits which I left behind me in the [p.30] room: so out of great fear I was enjoined to stay up all that night and durst not sleep, but wait for revelations: and having waited a short time, I could not possibly refrain longer from rest: then was I persuaded to go against the will of the spirit in me: but in going, it spake again and commanded me to go in the shop; which I did: and having waited there about half an hour, wrestling strongly against sleep, I moved (of myself) to go up again into the chamber; but going upstairs, another voice spake behind me and commanded me to return back again: then was I commanded by that in me, to lie down and humble myself, for I had blasphemed: which I did; wallowing, and tumbling upon the ground. Then heard I another voice, saying, Nicodemus is in thee, the betrayer of Christ in the night. Then sorrow struck me to the very heart, and I was extremely troubled: so after I had lain about an hour's time upon <283> the ground I was moved by that being in me to rise; but as I was rising I was commanded to lie down again. Anon after, I was moved to rise, as before; but when rising, I was commanded to lie still: and so by contradictions of this spirit in me was I thus acted divers times: in the end, it was pleased to raise me on my feet, itself moving and guiding of my body by its own power, like as before. So this night being spent, I was in the morning commanded to light a fire with dead coals and sticks (that a miracle might be made known to be wrought by me); being really persuaded, that like as fire did proceed from the Lord upon the altar in the sight of Moses, Aaron, and the children of Israel, so from the Lord, in me, should there proceed that virtue which should infuse a heat into those coals and sticks, by which a fire should be kindled; now being confident I should effect the work: yea, had I been master of the whole world, I should have ventured all, with a value of no worth, upon the performance of this deed: having laid all things in [p.31] their order, as directed by that spirit which moved me to the work, I was moved to blow with my mouth; but in short, blow I did, try one way, then another way, and blowed as strong that possibly I could; expecting still that from my life, the Lord, there should heat proceed with my breath to the lightning of the fire: but in the end, not being able to effect the thing, I was extremely troubled that I, the Christ of God, should fail in the performance of the first miracle, since so many miracles were wrought by him that was a figure of me. Then went I private into the cellar and there hearkened to within myself for a command from the spirit in me, to desire the apparitions: which being given, they were desired, and so came. Then was made known unto them how imperfect my performance was in that service required of me. Upon which was answered, that I was not yet perfect: but however, it was the purpose of God that I should be serviceable in the healing of the lame, the sick, the blind, &c. souls, as Christ did heal the imperfect parts of the visible body; and that all the visible miracles wrought by him did signify what was to be effected miraculous in the invisible part of every man that should be saved by my doctrine: and so they departed.
Seldom a night after this, for about a week, but I stayed up most part of all the night, and divers strange things effected by me, or those apparitions, every night: so that having destroyed the course of nature so much, in not taking of rest, that for a time following, when I came to have liberty to rest, I could not, though never so desired. Once, when striving, struggling, mounting, flinging and throwing in a contest against sleep, I was immediately taken by the power of that spirit in me and cast up against the wall; and when settled upright and closed to the wall there was infused in me such a fresh supply of life, like unto a mighty startle, <284> that all drowsiness was destroyed, and I was as fresh as could be.
[p.32] The day following this night, was the first day of the week: so betimes in the morning I was moved to go to the place of our meeting, and there wait until the time of meeting; and, as it was usual, not purposing to come home till the evening; and also, much necessitated, I was moved to eat before I went; so having cut a piece of bread, about a fourth part of a penny-loaf, I began to eat; but when having eaten about half I was commanded to eat no more, but lay the rest by till the next day; so it being undeniable by me, I did obey; and it was my food the following day. Then did I make to the meeting, where I spent my time while the people were gathered together, in which time, as I was walking in the garden, a fly flew in my face; which thing being observed I was moved to examine, what it should mean; so by the counsel of this spirit in me, I was confidently persuaded that it was a messenger from God, the life in him being believed to be of God, and from that life he was moved to fly in my face; by which was meant a giving me to understand something that was required of me by God. From that time was I guided by flies in many things; being very certain that they were moved by God in them, to make known what was his will to me.
Then when the company came, I was commanded to show a humility in me beyond any of theirs, as Christ did show a humility in him beyond any of his apostles. Whereupon I was commanded to pull off my band, and then was I moved to make known unto the people the order that God required in the creation, which was to gather up the small sticks that were scattered in the garden, and lay them by themselves; and the dry leaves that were under the trees, by themselves; and the small stones that were scattered in the walks, by themselves; and the pieces of brick (as I remember), if not, some suchlike, by themselves.
[p.33] Now, in the time of this service, I gave over sometimes by the persuasion of divers Friends; but when given over, I should be commanded by the first fly that I saw to the service again. Afterwards, being observed by one who was a chief of us, he came to me and took me by the hand, persuading me to give over and go along with him, and hear what was spoken by him that was speaking to the people; so I gave over. Then when the time of our being there was ended, it was also required by him that I should go with him where he intended to spend his time till the afternoon; which I did: but in the way as we were going I was moved to gather up stones as before; and as I was gathering, I saw two white round stones lie one by the other, at which sight I was possessed with a confident belief, by the information of this spirit in me, that those stones came from heaven, and it was given unto me to find them: then was my mind informed by that in me, that the one signified <285> Esau and the other Jacob; so I was moved to throw the greatest of them away and only preserve the lesser: it was also given me to understand that this lesser did not only signify Jacob, but the white stone spoken of in the Revelations, which was sent as a token from Christ in heaven to me; and so long as I kept that stone I had unity with God; but if lost, I should be disunited. So when we came to that place we intended to go, which was a garden-house, we sat down in the garden; but after a time I was moved to do the former work again, where I gathered up stones and coals, sticks and broken corks, or what I saw scattered on the ground. So by and by comes into the garden one whom I much loved, that was of us; and looking him in the face, I was confident in myself I saw death in him; upon which, as I remember, I told him that he was accursed from God, seeing of him much changed; I was really persuaded by this spirit in me, that he had slain the witness, [p.34] and there was no remedy; he must die eternally; the plagues of God would be poured forth upon him in this life and in the life to come.
A short time after this, as I was at rest, about midnight, in a slumber between sleep and wake, I saw a vision of spirits in the room, by which I was startled exceedingly, and sat up, being strongly moved to rise; but being much drowsy and desirous of more sleep, I lay down again and fell asleep presently, and then into a dream, that the chamber floor sunk under me, and that I was loosed down upon those boards that sunk under me, through the boards of every chamber, till I came into the cellar, which is five stories high: upon which I waked, and sat still a little instant; then was I taken with a strange fancy that the bed was sinking under me; upon which I moved my body, and in moving I was possessed with a fierce command by the being in me, to rise and make all the speed that possible I could into the kitchen; which being done, I was guided by the power of that in me to turn round; and in turning round, I saw a light playing upon the wall, at which sight I was moved to stand still and look steadfastly upon it, so, as I stood looking upon it, it ceased; then was I possessed with a great fear, not knowing what that signified (but since I conceived the occasion was the brightness of the fire); and in the time of this fear, going to sit down, I was moved to stand: immediately upon which I was taken with the sight of linens that lay a-soaking in water, intended by the maids as a preparative in order to the cleansing of them; so I was moved to look as steadfast upon them that possible I could: upon which, there came a speedy command from this being in me that I should lay them in a better order than they were, with this information, that God is the God of order; and remembering that Christ denied not the least service willed of his Father I was the more speedier subjected to the [p.35] obedience of this moving; so the <286> readiness of my will to that service required was accepted of, as though the deed had been effected, and I was set free: immediate upon which I was guided to look steadfast upon another object, which was not in that order as I judged it should have been: then the like command as before enjoined me that I should effect that service which related to the order of those things, though far more different from that business properly doth respect a man, than the former: but in regard of my speedy condescension to the business, I was freed from the performance, as before; then was I moved to sit down and look steadfastly in the blaze of the candle, in expectation to be directed in some service by the moving of the blaze to and fro, or by the sparkles that proceeded forth of it; so the blaze of the candle moved to and fro, and the sparks were many: but being not able to apprehend what the meaning of the life should be, by which it was moved to and fro and occasioned to sparkle, I was tormented in myself, and stamped, and flew up and down the room like a madman. By and by, when a little quieted, I came to the fireside and was moved to look in the fire, in expectation to receive some directions to service by the flame or sparks of the fire: so after a time being tired by looking in the fire, I cast my eyes upwards, and seeing something swim upon a great kettle of water over the fire, I was taken at the sight thereof, to see what it was; & as I stood looking upon the water, I was possessed with a command from that spirit in me, upon the account of salvation, that I should put my right hand in the pan of hot water (giving me to know, that the heat thereof should not seize upon me): but (through fear) standing a little instant before I performed the command (as in the twinkling of an eye), I cast my sight off the water, and seeing something (as I conceived), falling towards the ground, I looked back again to see what it was, and found it to be a black thing like unto a [p.36] great fly (which then I took to be a fly), whereupon I was taken from the former service, and commanded by that in me to look as fierce as possible I could upon that fly; then was I enjoined, by the same being in me, to hold my right leg to the fire, and observe strictly the direction of that fly, to the burning of it: so the fly moved from the same place it was, and stood upon the hearth, above a quarter of a yard off the fire. Now this persuasion being firmly wrought in me, that did I not obey this command, I should be eternally damned; I went speedily close to the fire and there held my right leg, with both my hands, the same distance off the fire, as it stood: so the fly began its work, thus, moving sometimes nearer the fire, sometimes farther off; sometimes turning the one side, sometimes the other; sometimes round, and so to the same place again, &c. So, by the strength of that command in me was I made pliable to guide my leg in the imitation of every moving by <287> the fly. And having spent about a third part of an hour in this service, all which time very sensible of the heat that proceeded from the fire burning in my leg, in turning round by the direction of the fly I lost the sight of him; and then I was freed to go from the fire. Afterward it was made known unto me, by that in me, that this was the other of the two plagues. Then going to see what work was made by the fire in my leg, I was taken with a strong persuasion that the same spirit in me, by whom I was moved to burn it, would, by the power of himself, heal it; so that for several days I durst not make it known to any man, though it was burned from the knee to the foot; and then was the time come of my perfection, as was made known to me by the apparitions: so about noon of the same day, being about my employment, I was moved to give over; but not obeying the motion present, there came divers flies and rested upon that business I had in hand; by which I was [p.37] persuaded I had offended in not readily obeying; so having left my employment I was moved by the power of that in me, to wrestle and war with myself three times, which I did, like a mad distracted man; and when it was done it was given me to understand that this was a preparation against my suffering; and it had a respect to that agony which Christ was in before his death. Then was I moved to stand still; and having stood a little instant, I was directed by this spirit to look about me; and as I was looking I saw a needle stuck in my sleeve; which needle I was moved to take in my hand and thrust both ends through my two thumbs, which I did with what speed possibly I could: first, the one end to the bone of the one thumb; and afterwards, the other end to the bone of the other thumb; and there being no passage for the needle through the bones, the needle was bent in the closing of my thumbs together. Then was I commanded speedily that I should stand upon a box by the wall, about half a yard off the ground; which being done, I was directed to turn my back to the wall and spread my hands one upon the other, with the needle remaining in my thumbs, so wide that I could, and so lift my arms over my head, and then to strain my arms and body as high as possible I could, with the backs of my hands joined to the wall. All which being done I was to liken a death upon the cross: so I gave way to a drowsiness (as though I was a-dying), and by and by I fell down upon the ground as though dead. But before I lay as in the grave, I was moved to spread over me shavings of white paper that lay by on the floor (by which was meant the covering of me with white sheets), then to tie a handkerchief about my head; so in regard of my speed (and not heeding, but making as though I were dead), in the tying of my handkerchief, I tore much of my hair off. This being done, I lay upon my back minding nothing [p.38] (like as in a sleep); and having lain there <288> about three quarters of an hour, in imitation of three days (the time of Christ's being in the grave); I was immediately, by the power of that spirit in me, raised on my feet and commanded, with all the speed that possibly I could, to make to that place where the ministers that were of us, with divers more, were; and gave them knowledge of what was done; and then to make choice of some of them to be my apostles; and so speedily to go abroad into all the world and preach the gospel. So I took my cloak and ran forth, in expectation to fly by the power of Michael the archangel, which was believed to be then in me (according as before was promised): but being then disappointed of ability to fly, I was much troubled: upon which there came a special command, that I should pull off my shoes, which I did instantly (and turning my cloak under my arm, I threw my shoes in my cloak), and so made away with all the might I could (and verily, I am persuaded, were I now to run for a kingdom, I could not make two thirds of that speed I did then). Now the house being in moor-fields, and the pathway to the house being of a little compass, I was caused to leap over the rails and also run over much linen that lay whiting upon the grass, because of the fierceness of my speed. So,
When I came to the place, I gave them to understand that Christ (meaning myself) was risen from the dead, &c. showing the holes that were made in my thumbs with the needle; upon which I was looked upon with a strange hasty look and charged to be silent, for I was in darkness; the witnesses of God were slain in me. So there being many there, and all of them judging me with one consent, I was silenced. Upon which, they spake lovingly to me; and bade me sit down and put on my shoes, which being done, I made known unto them that my leg was burned, and the way by which [p.39] it came to be burned; then was there care taken by them for the healing of my leg; but in regard it had been kept unknown before, it was much corrupted, and (as I remember) about a quarter of a year before it was cured; much of which time I was constrained to keep my bed; and so, not having the liberty of my body, my spirit was kept the stiller, and the means of my recovery out of that sad condition which I was in, was the more effectual.
Now being incensed by what was spoken from them, and the strangeness of their spirits towards what moved in me to speak or act, that I was in darkness, the light by which I was enlightened being put out, so that I had not a savory discerning of what was good and what was evil; and also, when seriously considering of divers actions which I was subjected to by the teachings of this spirit, that they were destructive to my being, was the more concerned in what was given me to understand by them.
<289> Then was I in a sad condition, not knowing what I should do, that I might be redeemed from this body of sin and death.
So I was directed by them to wait a time, and keep in my mind, not giving heed unto anything but what had a respect unto my necessary employment: which I endeavored to do but could not for a time, being so full of this spirit by which I was tormented day and night, through the strength of imagination upon things without me, and also by the power of itself in me, and many times with extreme fiery burnings in my Spirit.
So in laboring to keep in my mind, this spirit in me came to be silenced in his motions and weakened of his strength, by which his union with those spirits without me was separated; and so I was freed from their company; being resisted, they flew away.
[p.40] Now for a time this body of sin remained living in me, by which I was tormented as before spoken; and then, being not fed with my service, the strength of that substance, which is my life, having raised a war against him, utterly destroyed, burned up, and consumed his whole beings (as is declared following).
About two months after, it was given me to understand that I was in a delusion: as I was going along the street I met one that was of us, who told me that he "had received a letter forth of the country from a Friend that was a teacher": so he asked me the question, "Whether he were best to open it in the next meeting (which was on a private day), or forbear until the first day"; so it was answered in the close of our discourse, "Do as thou wilt." But when parted, there was a voice spake in me, saying, "Do as thou art moved"; which strongly tempted me to go back again and unspeak that word "wilt," and place in the stead thereof "moved," being persuaded that I had offended in speaking that word, because the will of man was to be destroyed.
The next day being called to dinner, I refused, in regard I had eat something that day before: whereupon there arose in me an exceeding joy, which I was not able to subdue; the cause was conceived, because of my obedience to the Pure in me. The same day in the afternoon, going to a meeting, I was moved to eat two small apples that I had about me; but first I waited a time, that a patient, gentle, and pure spirit might guide me in the eating of them: then, when going to eat them, I was persuaded that two was too much at once, believing, that that spirit which moved me to eat so much was a devourer of the creation; so I resolved to eat but one and retain the other to dispose of to a Friend at the meeting; upon which there arose the like joy in me as before; then did I conclude that surely the Lord was well pleased with me because of the tenderness that I had towards the Pure [p.41] in me: for in regard of the desperate <290> case I was in, I was tender of everything that I spake or acted.
So the following day about the evening, immediately there sprang forth of me thoughts, so fast as one could follow the other, without the least moving by me to think anything (then began the destruction of the body of sin), and so those thoughts remained, flying abroad in the air every moment so fast as could be, while about two or three days; and then immediately as before, concerning thoughts, there arose a speaking in my mind, so fast as one word could be expressed after another: so those thoughts and speaking in my mind continued every moment of time (as I remember) about two months; and all along as time went away, that being which thought and spake sank deeper in my mind, till in the end they were swallowed up in victory: but from that time of about two months they began to cease a little, about one or two hours at divers times in a day, and so as time came on they ceased by degrees, while at last I could have remained an hour or two together without anything in my mind, or the least thought; and in the end, sometimes a whole day, with very few thoughts, or anything in my mind: then came I to witness a redeemer from that body of sin that lived in me.
Now in the whole time of this speaking in my mind, and flying abroad of my thoughts, I labored according to the teaching of my own spirit to keep in my mind, for the destroying of these thoughts and speaking; so by the power of that which was low in the mind, the meek & the humble, like as a lamb and a lion, gentle and strong, was the strength of this sin subdued; and by that light which saw it was there a fire kindled, by which it was destroyed and burned up, and the ashes blown away like chaff before the wind.
In all this time of the war, every member were [p.42] enemies against me, whatever my mind was taken with, either in seeing, in hearing, in smelling, in tasting, in feeling, what was minded by any of my senses, this evil one in me would be raising of thoughts in things of the like nature.
So almost a year's time having been spent amongst these people, with exceeding zeal in their way, acted forth from such a love that may not be expressed and very strict in the performance of every of these ceremonies before spoken, when being, through rich grace & abundant mercy, in some measure restored unto the like enjoyment I had before I knew anything of them, through a great providence the Lord was pleased to enlighten my understanding, by the manifestation of what was according to himself in me, compared with what was given forth from himself, recorded in his Scripture (the manner of which is declared following), so that weakness which ruled and reigned in me and by which I was subjected to the performance of those ceremonial practices being made known <291> by the truth which abides forever, I was freed from the former obedience by which as a slave I was kept in bondage, through much deceit covered with a voluntary humility, worshipping therein I knew not what. Whereupon there was occasioned a bitter envy in them against me; so that with greatest violence they took to themselves that power of judging me to be a Judas, a betrayer of the innocent; and that wherein I was separated from them, therein was I joined unto an harlot, which harlot they denied: giving me to know that the plagues of God would continually follow me: which condemnation I must own; for I was turned out to among the wild beasts, in the broad way, which way did lead unto eternal death.
These and many suchlike terrible judging expressions were made known unto me by a noise from a chief of them; but forasmuch as the same nature lived in me for [p.43] a time, by which I was not only acted to judge all men that were not of us to be reprobated from the knowledge of the truth, and so accursed from God, with what judgment followeth those who are in such a condition; but I abhorred the very sight of men: so that I knew the ground in him from whence this judging of me did arise. Wherefore I was minded to let pass what was spoken, judging better things of him, and that through the weakness of his understanding, out of a simplicity of love to the truth, and good intents towards me, was he thus moved to speak of me.
Now all this time of my being amongst this people, I durst not declare anything of my mind unto any, but those of us, or hearken unto anything spoken by any, which bear testimony against anything practiced by us: so that I came not to see what might be offered from any as an objection against those ceremonies looked upon as substantials in performances.
But afterwards, seeing a friend at the meeting (which was of us) whom I had not seen for a time, whose understanding was enlightened touching many things which formerly he was subjected unto, though not known unto me, so after some passages between us he began to speak something concerning those words "thee" and "thou," intending to bring me to understand what that was in me, by which I was guided to the performance of them; and being wary lest I should apprehend in him a dislike touching the using of them, and so occasion a disturbance in me, he brought his discourse so about that it was required I should give an information of what was manifested in me, touching the evil that lay in the not performance of them, though not by way of question. So having examined with myself, I gave him answer, that the word "you" did respect more than one; but the words "thee" and "thou" were the true English words; so that that mind by which [p.44] the words were removed out of their places was the pride in man, which nature stood in <292> the Fall; and therefore it was not to be fed; but as though in a pretense of holding a contrary argument, he discoursed with me for the word "you," and not the words "thee" and "thou," especially in some cases. One ground of his argument was, "Give no offence to Jew or Gentile, nor the church of God, all which kept the peace, to those that could bear them, the words 'thee' and 'thou'; but to those that could not, the word 'you.'" So after some time of discourse upon these words, he spake in the same kind, as though by contraries, concerning taking off the hat, and civil respect between man and man, with the rest of those things refused by us; but there being not a sufficiency in me to answer what was spoken by him, I told him that I was convinced in myself, and so I was moved from the Lord in what I did, but could not make out to his understanding what was my convincement. Then he gave me to understand, "that he did not witness a command for the using of those ceremonies, though formerly in his own will, out of imitation, they were practiced by him; but when he witnessed a command, then he should obey."
Now being disquieted, in regard of his perfect separation from the unity of spirit, which formerly he owned with us, we parted at variance: but after his departure, being dissettled as touching them, by what was spoken from him, I went privately, and examined with myself, how I came to take them up, and what it was that upheld their reign in me; so finding that my will was the first cause, I went to divers that were of us, and contrary to my mind I held an argument as though I owned those things, which formerly with them I denied, that I might learn from them what reason or ground they could declare to the destroying of my pretended judgment; so after examining the Scriptures & much discourse, I found not only some inclination of their belief in respect of them, but [p.45] a real convincement in myself. And so after a short time, through the mercy of God, I came to see not only a death of that extraordinary, imaginary, and devilish spirit by which I was so extremely deluded, but also the weakness of that in me which through a cloak of righteousness debarred me of my living and conversing with men, as I had done formerly in the way of my livelihood, and now I affirm, from the truth of God manifested in me, that through a slavish fear that I was in bondage unto I was, as others are, kept in those delusions, and that there is no more sin in the not using of these ceremonies than in the using of them, provided that wisdom guides.
Much time hath been spent seriously in the examination of every particular herein declared; but the strangeness thereof might occasion many serious minds to question the truth of it: but solemnly affirm, in the presence of the eternal God before whom all things are manifest, that <293> with a clear understanding in the sense of my distress, while under those temptations and powers of deceit, I have endeavored to make known the truth in sincerity of mind. And the God of truth beareth me witness that (to my knowledge) I lie not in anything spoken: also, much of this might be justified by many eye-witnesses. True, it is matter of admiration, and also, greatly might it be admired that the goodness of God should so far exceed the depths of Satan and the powers of darkness, as that the deceitful workings of this evil one should be made manifest, and that by the discovery of his grace, through his abundant love, which always rejoiceth in mercy, after so great an apostasy from himself, he should restore his own heritage to the place of their abode, and settle the understanding, the mind, and affections of his lost creature upon the [p.46] foundation-rock, which will abide when all things else must perish. Praises to his name forever; and all whose minds are united to the upright and faithful obedience, and stayed therein, let them say with me, Amen.
Now since the Lord hath appeared so mightily towards me, in restoring from the death, and in raising out from the grave, the light of himself, by which my understanding is better established than before; it may be judged acceptable and desirous to know what the foundation of my faith is now.
I say, the Scriptures they do discover the mind and will of God, and they are profitable to the edifying of all, under what estate or condition soever; but the will of God is in part made manifest in all, not only by which hath been learned from that discovery of truth in the Scriptures, but where the Scriptures is not.
And by this invisible law written in the hearts of all men are men convinced of every secret temptation which lusteth in them to evil (if giving heed unto it); and as this lawgiver in us is spiritual, so that ministration of righteousness in us is spiritual; and that obedience which it requireth is in Spirit and in truth; by which those that give heed unto it are and may be guided out of all the works of the flesh, above the law, into a possession of that covenant which giveth life, and so witness a new birth, born of the Spirit (without which there is no entrance into the kingdom, as saith the Scripture, "Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit he cannot see the kingdom of God"): and then will those covenants be made manifest and fulfilled, which saith, "Unto such who fear my name shall the son of righteousness arise with healing in his wings: and he shall turn the heart of the children to their fathers, and the heart of the fathers to their children: and ye shall be all taught of God from the greatest unto the least; so that you need not say one to another, "Know the [p.47] Lord." And I will write my law in their hearts and place my fear in their inward parts, that they shall not depart from me," &c.
<294> Now where the righteousness of the law is fulfilled, there is God made manifest; and so far as that obedience which it requireth rules in man, so far have they unity with God.
But yet I do not say that the Scriptures are in the least to be disesteemed, but great is the advantage of these who have them to assist in the ways of God, which guide to God.
For much was the profit of the Jews before the Gentiles, in that the oracles of God were committed unto them, the law & the prophets being made known to and amongst them, which the Gentiles had not: but now far greater is the benefit, or if disobeyed the just condemnation of those who have the Scriptures more plain to the edifying of them, in the way, in the truth, in the life, which is of Christ and leads to himself, than ever the Jews had before Christ was manifested in the world.
But surely greater deceit was never made manifest than is now; the unclean thing having bewitched and darkened the understandings of men so mightily. True, it hath been his business always to remove the obedience required by God of man, and so disquiet their peaceable enjoyment, that he might ingraft a rebellious nature in upon that tree which God hath made, on purpose to bring forth the fruits of himself to make known his name in; but now the subtlety of his workings are far more admired by them in whom he hath taken place, than ever before: for when before the will of God was so plainly discovered in the Scriptures, to the view of the world, as it hath been since Christ and the apostles' days, much of that hold for his deceit which he hath now, was not.
Those who lived by the faith of the Son of God, [p.48] whose habitation was with Christ in God, who were exalted in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, who witnessed revelations, in whom was established the life of righteousness, that new name, immortality, which abideth forever: those, I say, speaking forth mysteries which men by wisdom cannot know, though not mysteries to the simple, who lived or doth live in the wisdom of God: but men in their own wisdom, even sensual men, who have not the Spirit, going about to comprehend those things which they enjoy not, they drown their understanding and darken their sight; and so the eyes of their minds being blinded, they of themselves wrest the Scriptures to their own condemnation.
But to my understanding (and great is my mistake, if the Spirit of God doth not bear me witness herein), where the mind is stayed in that truth which is manifest plainly in and unto all men, and be guided thereby in faithfulness, and respecting nothing before that obedience which is required by it, surely therein God will be glorified, for his grace hath appeared to all men, and he requireth no more than what he hath given, only grace for grace; and he that abides herein needs not desire to dive <295> beyond himself, thinking thereby to apprehend that knowledge which is acceptable, though in the sight of God accursed; but in time he will witness a Comforter which will lead him out of the spirit of this world, into the beginning, where all truth is made manifest; and when enjoying the same Spirit, and living in the same life, which the upright and true servants of the Lord hath done, then will those mysteries of God which are hid from the fleshly wisdom be made known, life and immortality being raised to light, and so being stayed in a sound mind, the glory of the Lord will be seen to the peace of his; and surely if the Lord please to reprove, convince, and correct the wanderings of such as are gone astray from him and have exalted themselves [p.49] upon the mountains (being lifted up above all what is called God), and guide them to wait thus upon himself, there needs no fear, but the blessing which he hath reserved for his chosen, even the eternal rest with himself, shall be their reward.
Whereas it hath been spoken, that I was not right principled in the way of the Quakers (so called), and that I had not a clear understanding of what their ministry held forth: I say, deceit speaks in those who thus report of me; for before I was persuaded to comply with them I had a right knowledge of their belief and practice; but the occasion by which I became to be lost in my understanding, and so distracted and confused in mind, may be observed in divers particulars before spoken; yet for the truth sake I shall discover the thing more plainer.
But first I shall speak a little of what condition I was in before I came amongst them.
Having been very zealously affected in divers ways before, there was begotten in me much fleshly wisdom, in which my hope did much rest (believing it was the mystery and wisdom of the Holy Spirit revealed unto me), by which I was persuaded that the true worship of God was a true endeavoring to live up to that obedience which the outward law required, & wherein I failed of what this law required (that doctrine I was learned in continually labored to persuade me, that), Christ which died at Jerusalem had perfected for me; and so I was not under the covenant of works but under the covenant of grace.
Yet nevertheless, all this time I could not enjoy a true peace, but was greatly dissatisfied with my condition; sometimes being persuaded that I was out of the faith, a reprobate, a castaway, being out of the election; and other times, when covered over with deceit, I should glory in my condition.
Now, when being fully persuaded by what I learned [p.50] from these people (before named) that the truth indeed was to be found in us, which truth was made known by the light in us; which light, as it was spiritual (if following it), it would guide out of all the works of the flesh to the <296> worshipping of God in spirit and in truth; I was then to begin a new religion and to lose all that ever I learned before, all that wisdom, that knowledge, faith, hope, love, zeal, &c. which before I hoped in, and so to wait out of my own thoughts and imagination, as in obedience to the ministration of condemnation (which was to pass upon all that which was of flesh) by which the spirit was to be renewed; and as death passed upon the one, life was to be restored unto the other, until a new birth was brought forth from which would proceed the ministration of righteousness unto holiness, the end of which (as saith the Scriptures) is eternal life.
My understanding being now thus opened, I was possessed with much joy in the sense of that love I had received and was in hopes to enjoy; and on the other side I was incensed with much fear, lest I should be careless and so lose my way in the wilderness, before I came to the land of Canaan; and also, lest I should die before I witnessed the first resurrection.
Whereupon I was resolved to give all diligence that my calling and election might be made sure; but being naturally of a very hasty forward mind, and my resolution in part being a covenant of my own, there was speedily begotten in me an extreme fiery zeal, so that (in the general) I was hastily carried forth before the true light, by which in a short time I became lost in my understanding; and then, being to seek in the wilderness, the disputer was raised to life and so exalted itself mightily, pleading the cause of his people; upon which there was proclaimed a desperate war, in which division the enemy which was for condemnation (having darkened the light of the [p.51] sun) formed itself in the shape of a true light; and so deceit having gotten the power to bear rule in Israel, my mind was led forth out of the true obedience (as is before related), by which the simple became exceedingly deceived; but when, after it had finished his course and I was restored to a right understanding, it is known that no weapon formed against the just did prosper, but my life was as a clear light in the sight of those amongst whom I was known, being guided in that obedience which was professed by those people amongst whom was.
This may reprove the gainsayer; for my witness therein is true.
Such who may be dissatisfied with anything contained herein, might judge of me otherwise than they ought, because of those hands by whom what I have written is countenanced: I therefore declare that before any of them had the least knowledge of my purpose, I had writ of myself (being persuaded it concerned me as a duty, chiefly for those reasons before spoken), but when after some considerable time that this discourse was wholly perfected, I was persuaded in what I have done, that so such serious minds as might question the truth of anything <297> contained in it might the better receive a satisfaction.
Since my separation from these people, there hath been dispersed abroad concerning me divers scandalous and false abusing reports, by which, where it hath taken place, I am presented as a lewd person, changed from whatever it is known I have been; but unto the truth am I made manifest, by which truth in me, and in all those that thus have spoken and do speak against me, am I justified; which truth is and will be the condemnation of what is believed or spoken touching me untruly. True, since it pleased the Father to make known the excellency of his power in the raising out of nothing this body, that the image of himself, amongst other of his works, might [p.52] therein appear complete, both in body and in spirit, to the glory of himself and to the praise of his name: I say, since the beginning of this creation of God, a disobedient mind hath appeared in me against that will & that grace which God hath, as his law, made known in and to me; and I have amongst others many times rejected the offers of grace by the presumptuous resolvedness of my own peremptory will: so that I cannot justify myself; yet am I bold wherein I am made free in the sight of God, being witnessed by the Spirit of truth. False reports and good reports must pass, but my witness liveth forever. I know and have heard of many which were of them that were convinced in themselves of much delusion they lay under; and so their understandings being enlightened they were reformed in their judgments; but not one of these have I known or heard that have not received from them the like judgment and scandalous untrue reports that have been given forth concerning me. Wherefore, by right according to their law, though false, I must come under the same condemnation with them. But herein is my peace, the word of truth bearing me witness against all deceitful lies.
This author hath published another book, called The Snare Broken: or, Light discovering Darkness; being an answer to James Nayler's book entitled The Foot Yet in the Snare, wherein his treachery and backsliding from the true faith is brought to light, and his untrodden paths discovered.
A faithful Discovery of the Quakers, of their Doctrines and Ways, by J. Kellet, J. Pomry, and P. Glisson, Ministers at Beverley
The Quakers Confuted, by S. Eaton
The Quakers Unveiled, being an answer to James Nayler, by E. Bradshaw
Arrows against Babylon, wherein is something in relation to apparel, with some Queries to the Quakers, &c. by J. Pendarves
1. Of those called Seekers.
2. Self for the justifying of self.
3. And afterwards I knew some who fasted 30 or 40 days.
4. Judas's love being removed from Christ by the seducements of the deceiver, his understanding became lost, and so his mind was driven out from God into the earth.
a. Thomason date: 24 Dec. 1655.