Quaker Heritage Press >Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > All Vain Janglers


All Vain Janglers,

Imitators and Licentious Persons,
Shut out of the Scriptures who are Not
Guided by the Same Spirit that Gave them Forth

The Old Serpent's Voice, or Antichrist
Discovered Opposing Christ in his Kingdoma

By one who desires the redemption of souls out of Satan's wiles,


     Cease your vain janglings, you that take the Scriptures to contend with against the truth but live in your lusts; with a vain mind do you contend about the Scriptures and saints' conditions, but you have naught to do with them, you unholy ones; for holy men of God spoke them forth as they were moved by the Holy Ghost; and the kingdom of God consists not in words but in power. Now all you who talk of the Scriptures and saints' conditions but live not in them, you are shut out of the Scriptures and kingdom of God and are in the kingdomsc of the world, whose kingdom is in words, but not in life and power, who saith and doth not. You have long covered yourselves by talking of the Scriptures and professing other men's conditions; but now the truth is appeared, and your deceit is laid open, and your covers are too narrow, for words can no longer hide you, for the righteous Judge is risen to reward everyone after their works, and not after their words. And you workers of iniquity of all sorts, you are shut out of Scriptures and kingdom of God, you that live in your hearts' lusts and in your own wills; what have you in the Scriptures? for no prophecy of old ever came by the will of man, but they witness against all who are guided by their <273> own wills.d And you unholy ones, what have you in the Scriptures? they belong not to you, for they were holy men that spoke them forth. And you that are led by your carnal wisdom and reason, and not by the movings of the Holy Ghost, what have you in the Scriptures, for they were given forth by the movings of the Holy Ghost; and they condemn you and your ways, who are not guided by the same Spirit that gave them forth. And you who take them to plead for sin, and live in it, what have you to do in the Scriptures, who use them quite contrary to the end for which they were given forth? for they were given forth by holy men from the Holy Spirit, for holy ends, and they condemn you and your practice, and you are shut out of them who would use them to uphold the devil's kingdom and your own lusts. You envious scorners, backbiters, and false accusers, you are shut out of the Scriptures, and they condemn you. Swearers and liars, the Scriptures have shut you out, and by them you are condemned. You drunkards, gluttons, whoremongers, and unclean persons, what have you to do to talk of the Scriptures, which holy men gave forth, they witness against your filthy practices. You covetous and proud oppressors, you are rasede out of the Scriptures and saints' conditions and are found amongst the heathen. You fighters, quarrellers and violent persons, who live in strife and contention, suing one another for carnal things, you are condemned by the Scriptures and shut out of them. You wanton lustful ones who live to the flesh in your sports and pleasures, you are witnessed against by the Scriptures and have no right in them. And you hypocritical professors of all sorts and forms, who have got the saints' words and worshipsf in notion and form, but live not the life of saints, nor led by that Spirit that gave forth the Scriptures and by which the saints were guided and sanctified, you have naught to do with the Scriptures; they were not given out to imitate and jangle upon, but to be fulfilled: not to talk on and live in the world's ways, words and customs and fashions in your own wills, lusts and pleasures; for <274> they that spoke them forth were come out of the world and did witness against all the ways and worships of it; and they spoke notg other men's words from the letter, ash you do; nor did they imitatei other men's practice, but by the eternal spirit were they guided into the spiritual worship, and by that spirit did they speak forth the Scripture; not to the world or formal professors, butj to such as had denied the world, and had given themselves up to be guided by the holy Spirit in holy ways: and they spoke their own conditions, and their own measures, holding forth to others, what they had received of God, and not what others had received; and their kingdom stood not in words but in power. And here are you shut out of the Scriptures and their conditions, who say and do not, and your kingdom is in words, and not in life and power; you hypocrites, and formal imitators, who worship by what you imagine and conceive from other men's words, but have it not from the same Spirit that they had. You are shut out of the Scriptures, and they witness against you and your imagined ways and worships. You that preach and pray, and not by the movings of the Spirit of God, you are shut out of the Scriptures, and your invented words and long prayers are condemned by them to be heathenish; and all your ordinances, your singings and sacraments, which are not in the same Spirit, is condemned by the Scriptures; and whatever you do in your worshipsk to God, and not in the power and guiding of the same eternal Spirit, the Scriptures witness against you and your worship, and declares you to be led by al contrary spirit, which is not the same, and you are among the heathen who worship in vain, and receives no acceptance from God, for you receive for doctrines the commandments of men, & your fear towards God is taught by the precepts of men, & not by the Spirit, & what you have is by tradition; and here you are shut out of the Scriptures. Wherefore cease your tattling of other men's conditions <275> inm the scriptures, and see what right yourselves have in them; and mind to see what you are, and what the saints were, and apply your own conditions and promises to yourselves, and not other men's.n And cease your stealing, you thieves that have found out other ways to climb up, and not in at the door by which the saints have always entered, for all that come in at the door witness against you and your stoleno words and forms; and by that Spirit that leads in at the door are you discovered to be thieves, and judgment is coming against you, and you shall restore fourfold for all you have stolen and shall be brought to poverty for all your riches, and youp first shall be last of all.

     And you hirelings and parish masters who bear rule by your means over your hearers, what have you to do to talk of the Scriptures, as to declare the statutes of the Almighty, since you hate to be reformed or to come into their condition that gave them forth: you trade in the letter for gain but are not conformable to them that spoke it forth; it was not given forth by any that made a gain of it for carnal ends to get riches; no, they that gave it forth bare witness against your generation, to be hirelings, covetous, proud boasters, greedy dumb dogs, idol shepherds that could never have enough, belly-gods, such whose teachings never brought any to the knowledge of the truth. Ravening wolves in sheep's clothing, who had the form but not the power; now what have you to do with the Scriptures or saints' conditions,q to talk them over to people for money, you are shut out of the Scripturesr; cease your stealing that which was other men's, and take your own in the Scriptures, which are the woes and plagues pronounced against your generation by them who gave forth the Scripture, and sell that to your hearers, for the saints conditions you are strangers to, and you have no inheritance in them but are found without, amongst them who professed the letter but were enemies to that Spirit that gave it forth; and you are found doing the same works now, stirring up the powers of the earth against them in whom that Spirit is manifest; as did your fathers, so do you, and fill up their measure, that upon you may come the sufferings of all the holy men of God. And here you are shut out of the Scriptures and are ignorant of that Spirit that gave them forth and the ends for which they were written; and you take those promises that were given to holy men, and you apply them to such as live in theirs filthiness; and those Scriptures that were written to warn people from sin, you take and wrest to make people believe that they shall never be set free from sin while they live; and thus being ignorant of that Spirit that gave forth the Scriptures, you are led by a contrary spirit and so contradict the Holy Spirit; and God in wisdom hath hid the mystery of the Scripture from that spirit that acts in you, and hath shut it out and you with it. And hence it is that when you meddle with the Scriptures you are in such confusion and sets one scripture against another, and then twine and wrest and add to your own invented meanings to reconcile them again; but they who are guided by the same Spirit that gave them forth sees your folly, and that the Scriptures are at unity, and so are all that come into them to live the life of them in their measures, but you are without the life of them, and your kingdom stands in words and not in power and therefore is confused, and you lead into confusion all that follows you. Wherefore all you that fear the Lord, mind not words but the power, and believe not men because they run rambling up and down the Scriptures, but see what right they have in them, which is no more than they live the life of them; for while you follow these you are kept out of the kingdom of God, and feed upon words and wind; but the kingdom of God consists not in words, but in power and life.

J. N.

The Old Serpent's Voice; or, Antichrist Discovered,
Opposing Christ in his Kingdom

     I am the light of the world, saith Christ; he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life; that is <277> the true light which enlighteneth everyone that cometh into the world.1

     Saith antichrist, Christ is not the light of the world, nor doth he enlighten every one that cometh into the world, for that light which lighteth every one that cometh into the world is not the light of Christ but is a natural light, and is not sufficient to lead out of darkness into the light of life.

     Saith God, I give thee for a covenant to the people, for a light to the Gentiles, and to them that sit in darkness, that thou mayest be my salvation to the ends of the earth.2

     Saith antichrist, the Gentiles and they that sit in darkness have not the light of Christ given to them, nor doth this light reach for salvation to the ends of the earth, but only to such as have heard the gospel (which is the letter), and whom I have taught to understand the meaning of it by my study and learning.

     Saith John, he that commits sin is of the devil, and for this purpose was the son of God manifest, to destroy the works of the devil.3

     Saith antichrist, you may commit sin and be of God, for sin (which is the work of the devil) is not to be destroyed in this world, but in the world to come, for all must have their failings while they are here.

     Saith Paul, Christ gave himself for his church, that he might sanctify and cleanse it, and present it to himself a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, and that it should be holy without blemish.4

     Saith antichrist, that's blasphemyt for any to witness to such attainments in this world, that any should be holy, glorious, sanctified, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, for all must be subject to sin while they are here, and be made holy and glorious after death.

     Saith Paul, Christ hath by one offering forever perfected them that are sanctified, and that we may present every man <278> perfect in Christ Jesus; and for that end did Christ begift and send out his ministers for the perfecting the saints, and to bring them up to his measure and fullness.5

     Saith antichrist, Christ hath perfected none, nor ever shall any be made perfect while they live, for perfection cannot be attained to till after death in another world.

     Saith John, he that saith he abideth in Christ ought himself also to walk even as he walked; herein we may have boldness in the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world; and as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.6

     Saith antichrist, that's blasphemyu for any to witness that holiness that was in Christ in any measure;v for it's sufficient that he was holy in his own person before he ascended, and if you can but believe in that holiness and profess it, though you never come to possess it, yet it's sufficient to cover all your sins past, present, and to come; and it were high presumption for any to seek to be partakers of that holiness that was in Christ, or to be like him, for he was the son of God; and do you look to becomew sons of God, that were high presumption, for you must bear the image of the first Adam while you live in this world, and you must be conformable to the image of Christ in another world after death.

     Saith Christ, God is a spirit, and he will be worshipped in Spirit and in truth, for he seeks such to worship him.7 And you (that contend about places and forms) worship you know not what. And saith Paul, the word is nigh in the heart within, and God, whom you are to worship, is within;8 and Christ, the ordinance whom the Father ordained for the way to his worship, and of whom all the outward ordinances were types, is within, and is the substance of all ordinances.

<279>     Saith antichrist, you must come to the house of God to worship,x which is the church, for it's convenient and was builded for that purpose; and the letter is the word in the Bible, and not in the heart; and expounding and preaching this letter, by the help of learning, and sprinkling infants, and singing David's conditions in rhyme and meter, putting off your hats when you sing, these are the ordinances, and this is the worship, which is without, in forms and customs, and not that which is within in Spirit.

     Saith Paul, you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be comforted; and if anything be revealed to one that sits by, let the first hold his peace, for God is not the author of confusion but of peace; and the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets, as in all the churches of the saints.9

     Saith antichrist, that was the order in the primitive times, but that prophesying is now ceased, and none shall now prophesy but such as are men of learning and have been at the university, and have tongues, and study to fit them for that purpose, and have received orders either from the bishop, or are approved by some appointed by authority: and these shall be masters and bear rule in every parish, and none shall reprove or contradict what they say in public, nor speak anything till they have done (notwithstanding whatever be revealed to any that sit by), for we have a law, and by that law all that do shall be imprisoned and proceeded against as disturbers of the peace. And though it was the manner of Christ and his apostles to go into the templey and synagogues, disputing and alleging against them who held up outward forms of worship and idols' temples, and thereby gathered people out from them into the inward worship in Spirit;10 proving that to be the worship of God and denying all other worships, yet these times are not as those were; for now people are all baptized and believers and do profess Christ to be come, suffered and ascended, and what need any further? and we do not believe that any now have the same Spirit that Christ and his apostles had, nor the same commands; for they had an immediate <280> call from God, which none now have; and though they have never such a call, yet let them not trouble us in our devotion, but keep them with their own disciples; for we care for no such company; and we do not come at them, and therefore why should they trouble us and come to draw our hearers from us and from the manner of worship we and our fathers have lived in these many years; and they are ill suffered in the nation to sow division between the people and their ministers by telling of our tithes and set maintenance, and that we ought to preach freely as the apostles did; and thus they seek not only our undoing but our wives and children after we be dead.

     Saith God, I will make a new covenant with you, and you shall not teach one another, saying know the Lord; for all shall know me from the least to the greatest, for I will write my law in their hearts and put it in their inward parts, and they shall be all taught of God.11

     Saith antichrist, your law is the letter without and not in the heart, neither shall any know God or his will but by this rule without in the letter, of which I am a teacher, and by my meanings and expositions of it shall you come to know all that is to be known of God and his will in this world, for the immediate teachings of God are ceased, and never any heard the voice of God since the apostles, nor need any to look for it any more, for this teaching of mine is all the teachingz that ever shall be, and it is to continue to the end of the world; and all that deny it, or to be ordered by it, are heretics, and are not to be suffered to live in the world.

     Saith Christ, call no man master upon earth, neither be ye called master; for one is your master, even Christ, and you are all brethren; and if any man will be greatest among you let him be servant to all; for it is the heathen that exercise authority, but with you it shall not be so.12

     Saith antichrist, that was spoken concerning the pride of the <281> Pharisees; but you mayaa call me master, for I do not delight in it in pride, yet it is fit there should be distinctions of persons amongst men, for thereby are people governed; and it's the fashion of the country, and hereby you show your breeding and manners; and though God did forbid us to bow to or worship any but himself alone, or to have the faith of Christ in respect of persons for their pride or riches;13 yet this is not as theirs was, for this is but a civil respect in our bowing and worshipping, and it's but to differ them that are rich from the poor; and how can they bear rule without it? and it's decent and of a good report in the world, and the custom of the nation; and it's a reproach for any to deny it; and as for religion and obedience to God, it consists not in such trivial things as these are, that may be done or undone.

     Saith God, thou shalt not covet; and covetousness let it not be once named amongst you, as becometh saints, for it is idolatry; and let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have, for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.14

     Saith antichrist, thou must live by thy wits that God hath given thee, and this is not covetousness, but a provident care; and he that will not provide for his family is worse than an infidel; and if thou stand to wait upon God and dost not help thyself by thy wits, both thou and thine may be poor enough; therefore first lay up for thyself and children that you need not fear want, and then take thy rest, and thou mayest have time to serve God, and thy riches need not hinder thee, but further thee in his service.

     Saith Christ, no man knows the Father but the Son, and he to whom the son reveals him; and I thank thee, O Father, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes.15

     Saith antichrist, that was in the time of Christ and his apostles, and then none knew the Father nor the things of the kingdom of God but by revelation, but now all revelations are come to an end, and none need to look for them any more; for it is <282> now only they that have wisdom, prudence, and learning that know God and the things of his kingdom, as much as is to be known in these days. And all that would be wise or religious or would know any more than their neighbors must come to them to learn; for they have books and studies and the judgment of ancient fathers and philosophers, how they came to know the things of God; and these are more like to know God and his secrets than babes and fools.

     Saith Christ, the harvest is great, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the vineyard that he may send forth laborers into his vineyard.16

     Saith antichrist, that was in the primitive times when there was but few believed; & then there was no Christian magistrate to take care for propagating the gospel; & then they had their immediate call from God himself, & they heard his voice and left all and followed Christ, and had their commission from God, and needed none from men; but what a vain thing were it to lookbb for such a call now as is immediate: that were to look for a miracle; but there is a mediate call now by which all are called by commission from men; and such are called as are found fitted for that purpose and have learning, are able to answer school questions, and have logic and philosophy, and can dispute and resolve doubts and questions, and they to whom God hath given all the power now think it not fit to choose or suffer such as God and Christ did choose, as fishermen, herdsmen, and ploughmen and suchlike, who have not learning and the original tongues; for when God did choose such in old time he furnished them with his own Spirit instead of learning; but what a ridiculous thing would it be to look for such gifts now, when all are believers, & here are so many learned men in the nation to choose out of? & there is no need of such extraordinary calls or gifts in these times as was then; for when Christ ascended he gave gifts unto men and appointed officers, and left it to them to appoint others; and so one to ordaincc another to the end of the world: & he himself <283> is set down at the right hand of God in heaven and meddles not with it: and so the apostles made bishops, and the bishops became popes, and the popes made cardinals, and they inferior bishops, and those became lord bishops, and they made parsons, vicars, curates, and they are now become ministers, pastors, teachers; and so my ministers can derive their ordination by succession from the apostles; & what matter is it for the errors of the pope and bishops? that's not as they were ministers, but men.

     Saith Christ to his ministers, freely you have received, freely give; make no provision for your journey, neither take thought what to eat or drink or what to put on; for the life is more than food, and the body more than raiment; and your heavenly Father knows what ye stand in need of; and the workman is worthy of his meat.17

     Saith antichrist, it's true, they that received freely might well preach freely, but those free gifts are now ceased, and none come now to the ministry so easily, but are at great charge, they or their friends, in learning at schools and universities; and if they must when they have been at all that cost preach freely, then who will bring up any to be ministers? And now they come to the knowledge of the mystery of godliness by much study, and they must have abundance of books; and all this cannot be done with preaching freely; and besides, in those times of the apostles they must needs preach freely, for there was no believing magistrates to establish them in tithes or such benefits as is now; and if they would have had such things then, there was no law to get them by; but we have ours established by a law, and by the law of the nation do we demand them, and not from the apostles' example; and whoever denies to pay them denies the law and the magistrates and therefore deserves to suffer by the law; and though such suffer the spoiling of their goods, yea, the treble value of their tithes, yet they suffer as evildoers.

     Saith God, thou shalt not add anything to the words that I command thee, neither shalt thou diminish anything therefrom; for every word of the Lord is pure, & he that adds thereto shall <284> be reproved and found a liar; and he that adds to the words of this book, I will add to him all the plagues written therein; and he that takes aught therefrom, I will rase his name out of the book of life.18

     Saith antichrist, the Scriptures are a mystery and are given out darkly, and none can understand them as they are given out, for the Scripture is not to be taken as it speaks, but according to the meaning of it; which meanings are known to none but the learned, and is found out by comparing one Scripture with another; and by adding to them or taking from them they come to be reconciled and the meanings found out, which cannot be by any other means; and therefore they who are to expound the Scriptures must have the help of learning, books and studies; and by comparing the judgment of learned fathers one with another, the best expositions of Scripture are found out and owned, and all the rest refused. And this cannot be done but by adding or diminishing; for none can infallibly say what is truth, but everyone must declare it as he conceives and imagineth of it.

     Saith Christ, in the old time it was said, thou shalt not forswear, for in the old covenant swearing in truth was an ordinance of God, but I say, swear not at all; for what is more than yea and nay cometh of evil. And the apostle, who was come into the new covenant and did witness the oath of God fulfilled, said, above all things, my brethren, swear not any oath whatsoever, lest ye fall into temptation.19

     Saith antichrist, you may swear the truth, and you will be believed the better; and for petty oaths, it's not so great a sin, and what needs so much strictness? And if God should take vengeance for every oath, who should be saved? And what is become of all your forefathers, which were not so scrupulous? are they all damned? And what if you be commanded to swear by the powers of the world, will you disobey them because Christ forbids it? For though the apostle forbids the saints to swear at all, yet Paul saith, men verily swear by the greater, and an oath to them is an end of all strife. And thus antichrist brings <285> the practice of men who live in the world's customs to be binding to the saints; as though Paul, by bringing a comparison from the practice of men of the world, did contradict the commands of Christ and the rest of the apostles.

     And thus the serpent who deceived man at the first by contradicting what God had said to Adam doth still keep man in the fall by the same way; and this is that man of sin, the son of perdition, which opposeth God in what he saith, that thereby he may plead for sin. And thus he letteth and keeps from the obedience to God, yea, and will let till he be taken out of the way: but he is now revealed by the brightness of the appearance of Christ in his saints and can be hid no longer, and shall be destroyed by the sword of his mouth.20 Now consider this, priest and people that oppose the kingdom of Christ and plead for sin, some by preaching and printing, some by persecuting with clubs, stones and prisons, some by railing, lying and false accusing, some by mocking and scorning. And now you are discovered by the light of Christ in all who are guided by it to be those whom the God of this world hath blinded; and you know not what spirits you are of, neither can you see what it is that acts you thus in rage against the appearance of Christ in purity and moves you to stand up for the kingdom of sin against those whom Christ hath sent out to cry out against it, and to foretell the destruction of it and all that uphold it; wherefore repent and turn in your eye to that in your conscience which is the light of Christ, to let you see what you are doing and whom you stand for, that so you may be led no longer by that spirit of opposition, but may cast down your crowns at the feet of the Lamb, who is now arisen to take the kingdom, lest he take you away with his grievous stroke; for if he fall upon you, he will grind you to powder.dd Fear the Lord, ye heathen who call yourselves Christians but know not God and his power: repent while you have time, now you are discovered and warned.

J. N.


1. John 8:12; John 1:9.

2. Isa. 42:6-7; Acts 13:47.

3. 1 John 3:8.

4. Eph. 5:25-27.

5. Heb. 10:14; Col. 1:28; Eph. 4:11-13.

6. 1 John 2:6; 1 John 4:17; 1 Pet. 1:15.

7. John 4:21-23.

8. Rom. 10:6-8; 1 Cor. 3:17.

9. 1 Cor. 14:31-33.

10. Acts 17:2.

11. Heb. 8:10-11; John 6:45.

12. Matt. 23:8,10-11.

13. James 2:9-10.

14. Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5; Heb. 13:5.

15. Matt. 11:25,27.

16. Matt. 9:37-38.

17. Matt. 10:8-10; Luke 12:22-23,29-30.

18. Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:6; Rev. 22:18.

19. Matt. 5:33-37; James 5:12.

20. 2 Thess. 2:3.

Editor's Notes

a. W. entitles this tract:

"To all Vain Janglers, Imitators, and Licentious Persons, who are not
Guided by the same Spirit that gave forth the Scriptures:
The Old Serpent's Voice, or Antichrist Discovered,
opposing Christ in his Kingdom."

b. Thomason date: May 18, 1654.

c. Whitehead changes "kingdoms" to "kingdom."

d. Whitehead omits "what have you in the Scriptures? for no prophecy of old ever came by the will of man, but they witness against all who are guided by their own wills."

e. rased = erased. W. omits "rased."

f. W. changes "worships" to "worship."

g. Whitehead changes "spoke not" to "did not trade with."

h. Whitehead inserts "some of."

i. Whitehead changes "imitate" to "worship by imitation of."

j. Whitehead changes "not to the world or formal professors, but" to "to the world, to formal professors, and."

k. W. changes "worships" to "worship."

l. Whitehead changes "a" to "the."

m. Whitehead changes "in" to "out of."

n. Whitehead changes "apply your own conditions and promises to yourselves, and not other men's" to "apply your own conditions to yourselves, and not other men's, nor the promises that belong to others."

o. W. changes "stolen" to "stealing."

p. W. changes "you" to "your."

q. W. changes "Scriptures or saints' conditions" to "saints' conditions in the Scriptures."

r. W. changes "the Scriptures" to "them."

s. Whitehead omits "their."

t. Whitehead changes "blasphemy" to "error."

u. W. changes "blasphemy" to "error."

v. W. omits "in any measure."

w. Whitehead changes "become" to "be."

x. Whitehead omits "to worship."

y. W. changes "temple" to "temples."

z. Whitehead omits "the teaching."

aa. Whitehead omits "may."

bb. W. changes "look" to "think."

cc. W. changes "ordain" to "appoint."

dd. Whitehead changes "powder" to "pieces."