Quaker Heritage Press >Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > Several Letters Written to the Saints


Several Letters

Written to the Saints of the Most High
To build them up in the Truth, as it is in JESUS

By { William Dewsbury
James Nayler
George Fox
John Whitehead

LUKE 10:2
The harvest is great, but the laborers are few; pray ye therefore the
Lord of the harvest that he would send forth laborers, &c.

LONDON, Printed in the Year 1654b

Dear Friends,

     I suffer with the imprisoned seed in you, to which I was sent to preach unto the everlasting gospel, to the opening of your blind eyes, that you might see your lost estates; how your immortal souls lie in the pit wherein there is no water, and to bring it forth that it might stand in the liberty of my Father's love in the free covenant of life in the Lord Jesus, which covenant is to the seed which is pure and holy, and enlightens your understandings, and lets you see every bypath and broad way, and cries behind you, "This is the way, walk in it," when you turn from the pure light which is in your consciences; and to the light in your consciences I speak, which shall eternally witness me; you have not been faithful, many of you, in walking with the Lord, since you heard the gospel of your salvation; I charge you in the presence of the Lord God Almighty and by his power, every one of you examine your consciences, which will witness with me, for I am with you, though absent in body, and see you with the invisible and eternal eye which nothing can be hid from in the measure which the Lord hath opened. I suffer amongst you for the immortal and eternal Seed that suffers in you; I charge you slight not the examination <263> of your hearts every one of you in particular; I see you who you are in whom the Seed suffers, in some under one deceit, and some in another; and to the all seeing eye, that light in your consciences, I direct you, which is the eye with which I see you; and every one of you dwell in the pure light which is in your consciences, and you will see yourselves and witness these lines, and from the mouth of the living God, before whom all is naked and bare, I charge you by the Lord, hasten every one of you to meet the Lord in speedily reforming your ways. Thou that art slothful, harken to the light in thy conscience, and it will waken thee; & thou that art flown up into the air to speak of that thou livest not in, harken to the light in thy conscience, and it will stop thy mouth and cause thee to lie low before the Lord; and thou that art exalted above thy brother, harken to the light in thy conscience, and it will pluck thee down and cause thee to serve him in love; and thou that art delighting in the earth more than in the Lord thy God, harken to the light in thy conscience, and it will bring thy earthly mind to judgment and rend thee from the earth. And thou that art a self-lover, and if thou have thyself and regard not thy brother, harken to the light in thy conscience, and it will bring thee to self-denial and to love thy brother, & to watch over him & suffer with him in all his sufferings. I charge you in the presence of the eternal and ever-living God, that every one be faithful according to the measure or light of the Lord hath given to profit withal in the exercises of your conscience towards God and men. Let the light guide you all in your ways, and it will purge away all the filth of the flesh; so will the old man be put off with his deeds, and the imprisoned seed will be set at liberty in you; and I shall not come to you any more with a rod, as I am constrained at this time through your foolishness, who have departed from the pure wisdom to look abroad in the counsel of your own hearts; for the rod is prepared for the back of a fool, but the wise man's eye is in his head, which eye is the light in your consciences, being guided by it, it will lead you to Christ, who is your head, the fountain of wisdom and knowledge. Now all of you that walk in him, I have union with every one of you, denying yourselves freely, and be faithful in your measures, that you may grow up together in the Lord Jesus: a peculiar people, a holy priesthood, to offer up your souls <264> and bodies a living sacrifice unto the Lord our God, to guide you by his power to his own praise and glory, who alone is worthy to be feared and obeyed of all his saints forever and ever. With bowels of love I salute you all in the Lord, into his power I commit you, and the Lord God Almighty enlighten your understandings and bless you and guide you in wisdom to watch over one another in love, that the God of love may be exalted in all of you.

December, 1653

This was the copy of a letter that
came from William Dewsbury

Dear Friends, I rejoice in you as you are entered into the love of the truth and have owned the voice that calls out of the darkness that is over all the earth, to set your faces towards Zion, the city of everlasting light. And now mind your way, and the light that is given to guide you in the way, to keep your eye to the light that it may lead you through all the visible things of the world, and as you pass through you may stand single in the mind unto God, not turning to the right or left hand, where lies the temptation, nor looking back, which lays you open to be assaulted afresh by those evils you had once escaped from; but keeping the eye towards the mark, pass on, leaving and forgetting what is behind, and treading and trampling under your feet what the enemy shall lay as stumbling blocks in your way, which your carnal eyes or ears or hearts would be closing with, for the temptation lies in the carnal things, and there is the bondage of the creature to things that are corrupt, from which bondage, from sin & corruption, the Lord is now appeared, that in the light he may redeem and lead out of it all that will own and follow him; and this light and redemption is in his Son, whom he is about to exalt, in which exaltation a strange and mighty work is to be brought to pass, whereat all that stand not in his counsel & fear, and to whom he shall not reveal his secrets, shall be offended, for all that is exalted shall be laid low and debased, the wisdom of the wise shall come to naught, and the understanding of the prudent ones shall be hid; riches and honors shall fall to dust from whence they came, and the worship of the world shall become filthiness, the gods of the heathens shall be famished with looking for worship but shall get none, and the strongest of them shall not <265> be able to deliver himself; for the Lord will bring down all heights and mountains into the valleys, for in the valley of Jehoshaphatc will plead with all flesh, which hath scattered the seed of the covenant. And now dear Friends, here is your peace and blessedness, that you silence all flesh and cease from your own wisdoms, & give over your imaginations about the things of God; come out of the love of the world, and arise out of all visible things, and prepare to meet the Lord; cast off all your idols that have had your hearts, & put the stumbling blocks offd of your iniquities from before your faces, and give up all that will not that he should reign over them, that his enemies may be your enemies, for in judgment and righteousness is he come out to be avenged upon the unrighteous seed. And now stand in the light, that a separation may be made in you, the precious from the vile, that a true savor may arise, that you may know your calling and election, what is called, and what you are to come out of, lest you stay in any of that to which the plagues is, for this is the cause of your suffering, not discerning in the pure wisdom what that antichrist or exalted spirit is that is got into the seat of God, and shows himself to be as God, whose kingdom stands in the wisdom, glory and riches of the world, whereat all that knows not the true God in Spirit ask counsel; therefore, dear friends, look not out into the visible things, for there he is ready to present to you false voices and visions, lying wonders, to lead out the vain mind into the liberty and boasting of high things, in words without power; but while such speak of liberty they are in bondage in mind to corrupt and fading things, and while these are head in the creature there is not redemption, bute the bonds of iniquity are unloosed, and the pure seed is oppressed, and the plagues must pass upon that nature. Therefore sink down into the sufferings and death, that you may find the door whereat to enter, for there is a vale of tears to pass through; you shall find your wellsprings in him, where you shall drink of the water of life and find refreshment and grow from strength to strength, till you come up to <266> Zion. Stand,f take heed of word, withoutg spoken from the comprehensions, for that feeds not the pure seed but feeds the wisdom which is above,h and the itching ears, and so the pure is covered with earth, and the fowls of the air is fed, and no fruit is brought forth to perfection. And take heed of that nature that would know more than God is willing to reveal; for you shall find that unwilling to obey what it knows, and take heed of that which desires to appear before men to be commended, for that seldom deserves praise of God. And let a godly conversation declare what is within, and know one another in spirit and not in word; and meet often together and wait upon God for his teaching alone in a cross to your own wills, for therein is the secrets of God revealed. Let love abound in you one towards another, without being partial. And I beseechi by the love of God that you halt not between God and the world, but as you profess that you are not of the world, so let your conversation be out of its fashions, customs and traditions and covetous practices; that it may appear you are marked out for the Lord's and that you are not ashamed to own that which differs, and so walk as not to cast an offense on the gospel, that you become not a scorn to fools, but let wisdom be justified of her children, and take heed of that which would be exalted above others, teaching and talking of things without life; and you that would be counted somebody, let such first learn to wash the feet of them they would be above, and he that would be greatest let him be servant to all; for it is the humble and not the high spirits that are taught of God, and such so walk as their lives and practices teach, and judge all vain, light, and heighty spirits, and mind how you grow out of the earth and you ownj that which isk the enmity, and until you be brought out of the love of all visible things and wholly enfolded into the love of God, you cannot witness redemption nor receive the true joy that ariseth in the manifestation of the love; for it is only he that is brought up out of the death to reign over it, whose heart is come out of the unrighteous mammon, who is entered into the kingdom of righteousness, joy <267> and peace; and as you arise out of the earthly bondage you shall witness the glorious liberty and so come to know your own measures, everyone in particular to improve it, and not to boast above it in another man's line; and so you will come to see by what power you stand in your warfare, how far you are conquerors, and who is your enemy at present, and so be able to give an account in yourselves of your faith and how you grow from faith to faith. And dear friends, watch over one another: exhort, reprove, admonish in pure love and meekness of spirit, lest you also be tempted, and all know that you are set as a city on a hill, as signs to this generation; therefore lift up your light to all the world, that all mouths may be stopped and hearts convinced; so that all that see you may see you to be children of light, and being judged by you may be ashamed of their deeds of darkness, for great is the work of the Lord, and blessed are they that are found faithful in it, in what is committed to them. Farewell, dear hearts, and the Lord God Almighty bless, prosper, and preserve you pure and clear unto his kingdom, Amen. My love in the Lord salutes you all, and if my Father please I shall be glad to see your faces in the flesh; but his will is my peace, who is blessed forevermore.

Written from Nuby in
the seventh month,
the last day

To all dear Brethren and Friends in Holderness, and in the east parts of Yorkshire, and a lover of your souls.


     The work of the Lord is great in those parts, and he carries it on with a high hand, hath got himself the victory.

     Praise the Lord with us all that know him, who is worthy, even him alone forever.

Dear Brethren and Sisters, you who are begotten again of the word of truth, my bowels of love in the Lord Jesus runneth forth to you all. And beware every one of you of lusting after the fleshpots of Egypt, earth and earthly things, or after the merchandise of Babylon, the enticing words of man's wisdom, from whence the Lord in his eternal love hath called you by revealing his Son in you, who is the living bread which came down from heaven. Dear brethren, forsake not this living mercy for outward things, though <268> never so seemingly glorious, for they all shall perish in the using, but "the word of the Lord endureth forever"; when it goeth forth it giveth understanding to the simple, and the soul of the needy is refreshed by it, therefore wait every one within yourselves to hear that joyful sound, and every one of you dwell in the obedience to what is made manifest, and so more shall be communicated. You must all give an account of your stewardship, oh therefore be faithful that you may do it with joy and not with grief, for it will gnaw you eternally if you trifle away this day of the Lord's love and mercy. Now there is balm in Gilead, and a physician in your souls, see therefore that your health be recovered by him, and that you neglect not so great salvation; for notwithstanding your vain imaginations and hard thoughts of the Lord, yet his arms of love are stretched out still, but how long you know not; therefore be not secure and careless but strive to enter in at the strait gate; yet many strive & are not able, because they would have their own wills and wisdoms kept alive, with the profits and vain delights of this world, which keepeth them captive in the broad way which leadeth to destruction. But my brethren, not as unbelieving or disobedient, put on strength in the power of the Lord who hath called you, and press on the strait gate, where the earthly will and wisdom is kept in death; "for the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." So will they who forsake their own will and reasoning and yield themselves up into the love and mercy of the Lord, minding to be guided by his pure counsel; though your strength seem weakness, yet there is nothing in heaven nor in hell, neither in the earth that is able to resist you, but as conquerors you must pass through death into life; therefore be strong in the Lord every one of you; give up, give up what you have and are into his will, let not carnal pleasures inlure you, nor carnal fears cause you to distrust, but run with patience that race which is set before you, for your reward is with you and your work before you; be not slothful but vigilant, for to that end hath he chosen you that you might manifest the riches of his love, and bring forth fruit to his praise; and faint not in your way, the time of refreshment cometh, cometh on apace, when the redeemed of the Lord shall walk in Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads, singing the songs of their deliverance, hallelujahs and <269> praises to him who sitteth on the throne and judgeth the earth in righteousness, and therefore fear and tremble you careless ones which have lost your first love; strengthen then that which remains, lest you walk in darkness. And you that halt between God and the world, that which you lust after and account so profitable and delightful shall depart from you, for this world passeth away, and all the comforts which it affordeth; and it will leave you naked and bare before him whose love you have rejected, and whose counsel you have despised. Oh therefore consider and lay it to heart: how will you be able to stand before him when he ariseth to plead with you in his fierce indignation. Now you have time prize it, and forsake that which is earthly, and choose that which is eternal; you cannot have both; be not sayers but doers, lest you cause the worthy name of our God to be blasphemed and so bring upon yourselves swift destruction.

     Dear children, you are called and chosen; my desire is that you may be kept steadfast unto the end, so I commit you all to the tender mercy of our God who never leaveth nor forsaketh those that trust in him.

Let this be read
when you are
met together.

Written from the Spirit of the Lord by
your brother in the truth of the gospel.


     I am now about to go into the moors, where I hear there is much hungering after the truth; when I shall return, I know nothing. Pray for me, that I may be kept faithful to declare the truth as it is revealed in me.

Scarborough, Octob. 6, 1653

In October, 1653

     To all my dear brethren, the flock of God scattered abroad and kept together in the power up to God; none be discouraged or disheartened at the enemies without, which is without God, but be bold all in the power of truth, triumphing over the world; hold your freedom, and keep and stand fast in it, that you may be armed with wisdom and furnished against your enemies, who are wiser in their generation than the children of light. But the wisdom of the Most High is spreading and making itself manifest into your hearts, by which you shall comprehend all the world's wisdom, <270> the world's worship and knowledge, and get them under your feet; waiting in that which is pure, it will lead you before the world was, before the false worship was, before the seducers were, before the antichrist was, and before the false temple was, and false prophet and hirelings, and here you will comprehend all the world and what is done in the world, therefore everyone keep your habitation, abide the trial and abide the day, and stand fast in your freedom so far as Christ hath made you free—free from man's will and commandments which embondageth, free from the fashions and lusts of the world, the fleshly will, which bondageth and burdens the pure; and to you that cannot witness this, wait and mind the pure, and then the burden will be easy, and wait for redemption and salvation to make it, and your strength is to stand still that you may receive refreshings, that you may know how to wait and how to walk to God, and before God, by the Spirit of God within you. So God Almighty be with you, and keep you up to himself under his own dominion, from under the dominion of Satan, that you may trample them all under your feet. And friends everywhere meet together, treading and trampling all the deceit under your feet, and watch over one another in that which is eternal, and see every one that your words be eternal life; examine and search which speaks to that which is in prison in others, which is eternal. And you that are led out to exhort or to reprove, do it with all diligence, taking all opportunities, reproving that which devours the creation and destroys the very human reason and the truth which doth preserve everything in its place; and all meet together everywhere, and in your meeting wait upon the Lord and take heed of a form of words, but mind the power, and know its which is eternal, which will keep you all in unity walking in the Spirit, and will let you see the Lord near you and amongst you. So God Almighty be with you and multiply you, and give you the dew of heaven, the heavenly dew, the living mercies which nourisheth the tender plants, which causeth them to grow, bud, and bring forth, and water you with his blessings. So the Lord God of power be with you all my dear hearts; I am with you in the Spirit and in the love of your God, your Father and my Father; the Lord God be alone prosper you, guide you, and protect you all into his kingdom of glory, you who are elected, called, chosen, and faithful, <271> who are the lambs. God Almighty bless you and keep you all, my dear hearts; the love of God is love past knowledge, which bears all things, endures all things, hopes all things, envieth not, thinketh no evil. And the bottom-stone is the love of God, the ground of your hearts, the bottom of your hearts, which casts out the love of the world and the emnity to God betwixt you and God; so it's true, "He that believes is born of God, and he that is born of God overcomes the world." So fare you all well, and God Almighty bless you, prosper you.


1653. This precept was written from the mouth of George Fox, as he spoke it forth, by a Friend of truth.

     And all you friends that wait in that which is pure itself, which cannot lie, which doth not change; wait upon God, God doth not change, and let all flesh be silent before the Lord that the life may speak in all; then the mouth of the Lord is known, and God is exalted and glorified with his own work which he brings forth, and meet together there and everywhere; and mind that which gathers you, and wait on that which is pure which gathers you out of the world's nature, disposition, conversation, churches, forms, and customs, which will knit your hearts together up to God. That which gathers you out of all this is the Spirit of the Lord, and to gather you up to him who is the Father of spirits, that you may be able to judge and discern, and confound all the deceit in the world, and grow up to be as kings, and nothing to reign but what is life eternal; and beware of speakings in the presence of the Lord, except your words be eternal life, the eternal Word of God, else it doth not profit nor build up nor edify. So God Almighty be with you all in your meetings, that you may see him to be your head, king, and Lord over all, to you all who are enlightened with the lights of the Spirit, that is the light which shows you sin and evil, and your evil deeds and actings, and the deceit and false-heartedness, which will teach you holiness walking in it, and bring you into unity, and it will draw your mind up into God, and in it you will see more light; but hating the light, there is your condemnation.


Editor's Notes

a. Nayler's part of this tract was also printed with his letter to Wakefield friends (p.313 below) as Two Epistles of James Nayler's (hereinafter Two Epistles).

b. Thomason date: March 17, 1653/54.

c. Two Epistles & W. insert "he."

d. Two Epistles & W. change "put the stumbling blocks off" to "put off the stumbling blocks."

e. Two Epistles, and Whitehead, read "for" instead of "but."

f. Two Epistles, and Whitehead, insert "fast."

g. Two Epistles and W. read "words without life" instead of "word, without."

h. W. changes "above" to "below."

i. Two Epistles & W. insert "you."

j. Two Epistles and W. change "you own" to "out of."

k. Two Epistles and W. insert "in."