Quaker Heritage Press >Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > Spiritual Wickedness in Heavenly Places


Spiritual Wickedness in Heavenly Places,

Proclaiming Freedom to the Form, but Persecuting the Power: Or an Answer to a Book entitled, Freedom of Religious Worship: or, The Jubilee of Ordinances, set forth without a Namea

     A book being brought to my hand, entitled, Freedom of Religious Worship; or The Jubilee of Ordinances, no name I find at it; yet the spirit I know and from whence it hath its rise, who seems to have horns like a lamb but hath the mouth of a dragon, speaking great swelling words as though he would make fire come down from heaven in the sight of men, telling of great things that shall be: an appearance of Christ to come, he knows not when, but like the Jews is become an open persecutor of him where he is made manifest; yet would he cover over his poison under a pretense of not persecuting for conscience, yet by lies and slanders seeks to make him odious, because of the plainness of them in whom he is; and what they do in true obedience he calls pretenses. And out of a busy mind sits as judge upon many things he knows nothing of but what he knows naturally, having not the Spirit that was in the apostles (as he himself confesseth), and though he have not that Spirit which is infallible, yet judge he will, and by his judgment all shall escape who are of his mind or will own him for a leader. But if any do outstrip him in obedience to Christ, in things that are against his kingdom and beyond his wisdom and carnal reason, such shall be punished with whips, fines, and prisons; now though all the children of light may easily judge from whence this partial spirit is, yet lest his fair words should beguile the simple to take a wolf for a lamb, I shall for the truth's sake uncover his deceits in some few things, that by these, he who will see may judge of the rest. For he who is found with a lie in his mouth cannot be of the truth, and such are not to be believed in matters of faith.

     And thou begins thy book with telling "what great things God hath done for this nation, and how many houses of state and honor and palaces of delight Christ hath in it." I answer, the first is <287> true; great things hath God done for this nation which being forgotten shall rise up in judgment against it. But for the second, it is but thy swelling words, for in those thou calls his houses of state and honor and palaces of delight, they who see with the light of Christ sees everyone hunting after his own honor and state, worshipping and seeking worship one of another, and treading under foot humility, which is the honor of Christ. And Christ takes no delight to dwell in such palaces; and were thou not blind thou should see more cause herein to mourn than to boast. Thou tells of the work of Christ in this nation; thou compares it to a picture with a double face: on the one side with the face of a beautiful virgin, of the other side, the face of an ugly owl. But this is thy double eye, which shall never see into the work of Christ, who says it seems ugly; but this is thy confusion, who art blind: for who sees into his works witness them holy perfect. Thou says "godly men in all ages have put to their shoulders to uphold some piece of antichrist." I answer, That is thy work, who would punish with whips, fines, and prisons such as are sent to discover antichrist and to declare the word of the Lord in your synagogues, and calls it "disturbance"; and here thou would not hold up part but all antichrist's kingdom, who would not have any to discover him where he is. And thou who would give the title of godly to men while they are upholding antichrist would put a fair color on a wicked work; and here thou appears to be of the serpent, painting the outside, who would be counted God-like but acts for the kingdom of Satan. But such godly men shall have their reward according to their work. Thou tells of the scribes and Pharisees, who seemed to long after the coming of the Messias in the flesh of whom they were the greatest opposers, but cannot see thyself that Pharisee, who while thou art talking of his personal appearance in another age, thou knowest not when, art for whipping, fining, and imprisoning the bodies of them in whom Christ is made manifest in Spirit. And here thou art antichrist, who denies Christ at present to be come in the flesh and would put him afar off to another day, telling of "glorious days to come," but at present art an enemy to him and an open persecutor of him, and know not him who is the same Christ today, yesterday, and forever, to all who will receive him. Thou saith, "for a wicked man to impose <288> upon a godly man is tyrannical"; and yet thou would have some whipped, fined, and imprisoned for obeying the commands of Christ, which thou calls "disturbance"; and here thou art that wicked tyrant that would impose upon the righteous. Thou sayest, "all governments are alike lawful by God's word." I answer, God's word owns no government but that which is according to it, just and righteous; and though his saints may suffer under unrighteous governments, yet are not such governments lawful by God's word; but God hath sent and doth send his word by his servants to declare against such governments. And here thou beliest the word of God, which is pure and just, and condemns all that is unjust and unholy; and by the word shall all governors be judged, which word is but one and doth comply with no man's will, though such as thou may wrest the letter to your own destruction; yet the word stands a witness against you forever.

     And thou sayest, "some blasphemously question whether the Scripture be the word of God." I answer, the Scripture itself saith God is the word, and the word was in the beginning before the letter was; but it doth not say the letter is the word, which hath been and may be altered, which had a beginning and shall have an end; and this thou sayest, "is eternal"; and here all that knows anything of the word shall witness thee a liar. And I charge thee to prove, if thou canst, that any of the holy men of God, to whom the word came, had it from the letter, or out of a book; but they who were the false prophets, which God never spoke to, stole what was spoken to others their neighbors, and called that the word, as you do. But saith the Lord, I am against such; and such are false prophets now, and thieves, and knows not the word nor the door; and God is against you, and you shall not escape. Thou sayest, "The weapons of the gospel are wooings and beseechings," and yet thou would have some whipped, fined, and imprisoned; and here thou art Babylon, and it is not to be heeded what thou sayest. Thou sayest, "none but the Pope and Quakers pretend a spirit of infallibility such as was in the apostles," whenas the Scripture saith that all the gifts of the saints are by one and the same Spirit; and by one Spirit were they all baptized; and he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit. And here I charge thee in the presence of the Lord to be a seducer, <289> and antichrist, and led by a spirit of error, who hath not that infallible Spirit which was in the apostles; for whosoever hath not that Spirit is antichrist.

     And this is the cause why so many lies and confusions are found in thy mouth, because thou art not guided by that Spirit of truth which leads into all truth, which was in the apostles and in all the saints, but art led by thy own imaginations and serpent's wisdom, from whom the things of God are hid. And thou beast and false prophet, who hast not that Spirit which was in the apostles, by which the Scriptures were given forth, and by which the saints are guided; what hast thou to do to sit as judge of the saints or what they do in obedience to that Spirit thou knows not? or to interpret any Scriptures? for no Scripture is of any private interpretation. And thou that has not that Spirit hast a private spirit, and thy interpretations are private and for thy private ends; and against thy generation is the book sealed, and you see but the outside, and out of pride and a busy mind would guide others but are blind yourselves; and being told of it calls it railing, which is the truth in plainness, as one day you shall be forced to confess it against thyself as now thou confessest in thee much darkness; and yet thou wilt be judging the children of light. Thou sayest, "It is the mark of Christ's sheep to suffer persecution, not to persecute"; here be thou witness against thyself that thou art none of Christ's sheep, who talks of whipping, fining, and imprisoning any for obeying Christ, which thou calls "disturbance," and who would have them publicly whipped whom God hath commanded to go naked as signs to you who live in your pride and excess; and thou enemy of God, hadst thou lived in Isaiah's time, who was made a sign in the same kind, he should have had no better censure from thee, for obeying God, then these have. And thou sayest, "this follows their conceited perfection, the great idol of their profession; if they be but perfect as Adam they may go naked as Adam, and throw away their clothes as they do ordinances." And here thou showest what spirit acts in thee; which of them hast thou known to go naked upon that account, that is to say, perfection? or which of them have thrown away their clothes to go naked, but having done what they were commanded have put on their clothes again. Neither do they it of custom, or <290> by their own wills; and what ordinances of Christ have they thrown away? And here I charge thee before the Lord to be a liar and a false accuser of the brethren, till thou prove what thou hast said: and thou that calls perfection (that which God requires of all his) "an idol," here I charge thee to be a blasphemer and an enemy to the commands of God and a persecutor of them that obey him, and the hand of God thou shalt not escape, thou envious one, who talks of whipping the saints and yet for a cover would seem to write against persecution. O thou full of subtlety, thy covers cannot hide thee; which of the saints did ever talk of whipping their brethren, fining, and imprisoning them?

     And thou sayest, "to disturb any in the time of their worship, as the Quakers do, is justly punishable; never any of the apostles did practice it in the Jewish synagogues or heathenish temples." I answer, anyone being moved of the Lord to come into the assemblies in a peaceable way, to declare the word of the Lord and to gather souls out of your idolatrous forms into the worship in spirit; you that call this a "disturbance" are worse than the heathen, who heard the apostles and counted it no disturbance; and by this means were the churches of the saints gathered from among the heathen. And thou that sayest, "none of the apostles did ever practice this," plain Scripture shall witness thee a liar; for doth it not say plainly, "Paul, as his manner was, went into the Jewish synagogues three sabbath days, reasoning, opening and alleging the things of Christ" (Acts 17). And the apostles went into the temple and spake boldly, after they were threatened and charged to speak no more in that name, by such persecutors as thou art (Acts 15). And here thou art proved a liar before all people who reads the practice of the apostles, and matters not what thou says, true or false, so thou canst but make the practice of the saints odious and thereby keep up thy false worship, that none be suffered to lay it open from the Lord, but calls it a disturbance and breaking of the peace; who comes in peace to declare truth; but those who beat, stone, mock, and shamefully entreat such, and imprison them, while they move not a hand against any; these are counted no offenders by those of thy generation, but you punish the innocent and lets the guilty go free; and for this shall you be accountable before the Lord when he <291> comes to inquire after blood. And thou sayest, "a carnal ministry may convert souls"; whereas God saith, "I sent them not," and therefore they shall not profit the people. And here thou art one of them who holds up the false prophets, and a carnal ministry whom Christ never sent, and such did always hate and persecute the true ministers of God. And as thou pleads for a carnal ministry so thou holds up carnal ordinances; but who holds up the carnal knows not the spiritual worship; and thou who art born after the flesh persecutes him who is born after the Spirit, and the Scripture is fulfilled upon thee. Thou sayest, "the children of the world have more necessary qualifications to all governments than the children of light; and the Jews had a command from God to appoint godly magistrates, yet were their magistrates most hideous oppressors." I answer, here thou showest thy profaneness who prefers the wisdom of man in matters of government before the light of God; and it is plain to all that thou knows not the guiding of the light of God, nor the worth of it, but art contrary to God, the Scriptures, and all good men. For saith God, "They that take counsel, and not of me, shall not stand"; and all that ever governed well had their counsel from the Spirit of God, as appears in David, Solomon, and all the kings of Judea: and when they took counsel at anything else, then they fell. And the Scripture saith, "When the righteous are in authority, then the people rejoice; but when the wicked bear rule, the people mourn." And said David, "in thy light shall I see light; and I set thy law before my face, therefore I shall never be moved; and the law of God is perfect, teaching the simple." And whereas thou sayest, "The Jewish magistrates were most hideous oppressors," was that as they were godly men and children of the light? Thou blind sot, doth the light of God teach oppression? Art not thou ashamed to call the Scriptures "a standing rule" and yet holds out things quite contrary to it? Wherefore silence, thou child of darkness, who hast not that Spirit that was in the apostles, which Spirit gave forth the Scriptures, but by that Spirit and the Scripture art thou condemned and proved a liar. And thou saith, "You are not yet come to the first resurrection, to the new heaven and the new earth, wherein dwells righteousness." And here be thou witness against thyself and thy church, who are yet <292> in the fall and habitation of unrighteousness, a cage of unclean birds, where the old earth and heaven is yet standing. But the church of Christ is an habitation of holiness; and where he dwells there dwells righteousness, who witness the resurrection, and all things made new, and the old put off; and how fit, thou that art in death, and has not that Spirit of life and infallibility in judgment raised up in thee, to sit as judge over the living, let all who are alive judge; for the resurrection shall judge of the dead, but the dead cannot judge it; and here thou art shut out from all the churches of the living God, who are builded on living stones, but thou in death; and cannot witness the resurrection, and death speaks in thee, and the serpent; and the curse of God is upon thy head. Thou that art in death tells of great things that shall be from the letter, but being ignorant of the Spirit cannot see how great things are present to them who can receive it.

     And when thou hast done thou begins to revile the Quakers (the object of thy malice) and says, "They ignorantly and ridiculously affirm that the Scriptures are fulfilled in them." I answer, Is not Christ the end of all Scriptures? And where he is come and manifest, are they not fulfilled in whom he is, who is the end of law and gospel, whereof thou art ignorant who puts it off till the next age, as thy fathers have always done? But the children of light see him present now and hear his voice today; but thou who denies the light art hardened through thy pride and riches and cannot enter, neither would thou suffer others; and woe unto thee who would shut up the kingdom against this generation. For if thou should live in the next generation it would be still to come a generation further; and here thou art the blind Pharisee who looks still for a Christ to come, but reviles and persecutes them where he is made manifest. And in thy high excelling of the letter thou sayest "That one blessed notion of the gospel is more glorious and ravishing than ten thousand of revelations." Here thou appears to be ignorant of God and that way by which all the saints ever came to know him: for Christ saith, "None knows the Father but to whom the Son reveals him." And prove if thou canst that ever any came to know God by notion, or by any other way but by revelation. And thou sayest, "After the Book of Revelations let us look for no more revelations of that kind." <293> And here you would limit God, that none should ever hear his voice any more, but in the letter what he spoke to others. And I declare thee to be a liar and a notionist, by thy own confession, and knows nothing of God but what thou hast in notion. But I witness the voice of God and revelation, without which I had never known God but by hearsay, as thou dost. And thou worships thou knows not what, who knows not God but in notion; for God is a Spirit and is neither known nor worshipped in notion, but in Spirit; and here thou art shut out from the saints of God, who hath always made himself known to his in Spirit. But thy God is only known in notion, and if there had been no notion thou hadst had no God. But our God is known before the letter was. And in thy next page thou sayst, "It's the great project of Satan in these days to send out new emissaries, as waiters, notionists, quakers." And here be thou witness against thyself that thou art one of his emissaries and sent out by him, who are a notionist, whom all that wait on God (and those thou calls quakers) denies, and out of thine own mouth be thou judged that thou art of the devil, who art a notionist and a liar and a false accuser, as is proved in thy writing in sundry things. And thou who art a notionist & has not the Spirit which was in the apostles, sayst, "thou will take liberty to show some of our principles," and according to that spirit that acts in thee, so thou speaks and takes liberty to lie and slander. And thou sayst, "We slight the commands of Christ, as water baptism"; which is a lie, for the baptism of John we own, and the baptism of Christ we own, which thou knows not, who hath not that Spirit that was in the apostles. And thou sayst, "that water-baptism binds to all other commands of Christ"; and that is another lie, for the Spirit binds and unites to God and his commands, and not outward water; for thou hast had outward water and yet keeps not his commands, who art a liar and a slanderer, as is plainly proved, and hundreds who know us shall witness it against thee. Thou sayst, "We deny the Lord's supper": and that's a third lie, for the supper of the Lord we own, and the bread that came down from heaven. Thou sayst, "We deny church-fellowship and sabbaths": which we own the church of Christ, the church of the first-born, the pillar and ground of truth; and we have fellowship therein, which thou <294> knows not, who art not come to the first resurrection. And the everlasting sabbath we own, and are rested from our own works: and here thou hast added two lies more. Thou sayest, "We deny the flesh of Christ and the resurrection," which we own, which resurrection thou art not yet come to by thine own confession; and these make up the number of seven lies. And here thou art a perfect liar and slanderer and false accuser. And whereas thou says, "It was the main doctrine of the apostles that the same flesh of every man and woman shall arise"; here thou dealest with the apostle, as thou dost with us, where doth he say the same? But he saith, "thou fool, that which thou sowest is not the same that shall be, but God giveth it a body as pleaseth him; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body; and this I say brethren, but flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven, for we shall be changed" (1 Cor. 15). And here the Scripture witnesses that thou belies the apostle, as thou dost us. And thou scoffs at "immediate commands," which we own, and all the saints and holy men of God shall witness with us against thee: which of them had their commands from any other but from God, whose voice is immediate, and they did not walk by tradition or from the commands that had been given to others, sought out of the letter, as thou dost, but had their particular immediate commands, which they obeyed. And thou scoffs at "a Christ within, a Word within, a baptism within, a sabbath within"; and here thou showest thyself to be a reprobate, without, & carnal in all these things, & not to have the saints' Christ who was in them "the hope of glory"; but thy Christ is without thee, unborn or formed in thee, and thou looks not for him till the next generation. The saints' word was within them, in the heart and in the mouth, and this is the word of faith which the apostles preached. But thy word is without thee in a book which is read. The saints' baptism was by one Spirit into one body, not the washing away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience; but thine is without in carnal water. The saints were entered into the spiritual sabbath, Christ Jesus, but thine is without in observing of days in the type, and so denies Christ come in the flesh; and this is antichrist. And here thou art without in carnal rudiments, but the saints within in spiritual worship; and all who are spiritual <295> judges thee who art carnal; but thou canst not judge the spiritual man, but art without in the world among the heathen & in thy imaginations, who has not that Spirit to guide thee which was in the apostles. And thou art the beast which hast another spirit that was not in the apostles, but is contrary to it, and therefore thou makes war with the saints, and the false prophet that denies the immediate voice of God, and say, "thus saith the Lord," when the Lord never spoke to thee; and the beast and false prophet must into the lake, there is thy portion. Thou scoffs at "perfection, mortification, and freedom from sin in this life," which was the end of Christ's coming, and that which the saints pressed after and witnessed, and which God commands; and here thou shows thyself to be an enemy to God's commands, Christ's coming, and the saints' practice, and to be an upholder of the devil's kingdom who can not endure to hear of sin going down and mortification while men live but concludes all must live in sin and serve the devil while they live, and deny the devil, and serve God, when they are dead; for they cannot serve both at once, and this is thy judgment who hast not that Spirit that was in the apostles. Thou sayst, "we lay claim to five great points of popery: poverty, infallibility, unity, revelation, self-righteousness, or perfection." I answer: self-righteousness we deny, and witness the righteousness of Christ; but thou who calls poverty, infallibility, unity, revelation, and perfection points of popery shows what religion thou art of, who denies poverty, when the saints were many of them poor men and had no certain dwelling places. Lazarus a poor man, but thou art Dives (read thy figure) and counts it popery to be poor. The saints were guided by an infallible Spirit, but thou art led by the spirit of error, and yet out of a busy mind would be a judge over the infallible Spirit and calls it popery. The saints lived in unity, "were all of one heart and one mind and one soul"; and this thou calls popery. But thou art scoffing Ishmael, thy hand against every man, vilifying all but thyself, and art an enemy to the spirit of unity, and denies thy religion to stand in unity. And the saints had their revelations by which they knew God and his will. And Christ saith, "No man knows the Father but he to whom the Son reveals him"; and here thou art witnessed that thou knows not God, who denies revelation <296> and calls it popery, and hast thy knowledge by hearsay from others. The saints witnessed perfection, and pressed after it, and God witnesseth it, and Christ commanded it, which thou calls popery, and thou might as well say Christ taught popery.

     Thou says, "we care for believing no more than that which is immediately given in and revealed to us," and this thou calls "popish ignorance." I answer, we witness no other faith but what is the gift of God, and this is that faith the saints witness in Scriptures, and by this faith we have received of God do we deny thee and thy faith which thou hast fetched, in which thou never received of God, which is the world's faith; and by this faith thou never received from God art thou given up to believe lies and tell lies; "for every good and perfect gift cometh from above": but thy faith, which is from below, is earthly, no better than the faith of infidels, which is not received from God, and here let all take heed how they believe thee whose faith is not given to thee of God, and thy religion is discovered who believes that which thou never received from God; and that belief which is not received of God is of the devil. Thou tells of "trying the spirits and things that differ, according to that great canon of the apostles." But where doth the Scripture tell of the apostles' canon? But such antichrist's words are most suitable to that kingdom of antichrist, wherein thou art. And thou sayst, "try the spirits, that is, hold them up in the sunbeams of Scripture, the only touchstone of doctrine." But these are thy own words, which thou adds, by another spirit than that which was in the apostles, by which thou would exclude that Spirit; but thou who hast not that Spirit must cry up such as thou hast, the letter for the Spirit, which letter thou hast nothing to do withal, who hast not that Spirit which gave it forth; and therefore prefers the letter before the Spirit and calls it "the original of all truth," but knows not that truth which was before the letter was written, but art a liar, and calls the letter the written word, not knowing that word from which the letter was written, which word is spiritual and not carnal, the original of all things. And it is the Spirit that searcheth and trieth all things, and not the letter; and thou who hast not that Spirit that was in the apostles art telling how people "come to fall into great evils," and of "preservatives against evils"; but cannot see <297> thyself in the great evil and in the fall, who art not come to the resurrection nor the habitation of righteousness, who hast not the Spirit of God which is infallible, nor hast received that which thou believest from God. And thou who art not come to the first resurrection, death speaks in thee. And how canst thou teach others the way of life? Wherefore silence, thou that art in the grave, with thy carnal Christ, carnal Word, carnal faith, which has not received it of God; carnal baptism, carnal ordinances, and carnal spirit, which are all without thee: cease thy prattling, thou busybody, till thou come to witness him who is invisible, before all these carnal things were, and in whom they are all swallowed up, finished and ended. For thou who cannot witness Christ revealed in thee cannot preach him; and thou who cannot witness Christ come in the flesh, at present, art antichrist, and would be a master or teacher of others but knows not what thou speaks nor whereof thou affirms. And for "the marks that leads into the great evil" thou speaks of, they are in thyself, and (blind guide) thou cannot see them. And thou would be teaching ways to keep others out of evil, whenas thou art in the evil and in the fall and knows not the way out, nor the resurrection. Wherefore thou hypocrite, look to the beam in thine own eye first, for thou knows not what spirit thou art of, but hast the spirit of envy at the innocent, arising from a blind zeal, from which thou speaks evil of that thou knows not. And thou art set on fire of hell and art in the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. Wherefore repent and turn in thy mind to that which would lead thee to do as thou would be done by. And if thou mind it, it will still thy busy mind and bring thee into judgment for all thy hard speeches thou hast blasphemously spoken against the Spirit of God and his people, lest he take thee away in his wrath and judge thee according to the secret envy which is in thy heart against his despised ones; and then had thou better never a been born.

This is no railing, but plain dealing, and in love to thy soul,
as one day thou shalt be forced to confess against thyself.

A servant of the truth

James Nayler

Editor's Note

a. Thomason date: August 17, 1654.