Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > The Secret Shooting of the Wicked Reproved


The Secret Shooting of the Wicked

Or, A Word to the Nameless Publisherb
of that he calls
Strength in Weakness, Or the Burning Bush

     Now is the living God visiting his people and gathering his seed out of Babylon and Egypt, and hath called out his servants and sent them to these strange kings with his message, to bring out to light that which hath been kept in prison, whereat Pharaoh is exceedingly troubled, and the King of Babylon's posts meet one another with this cry: Our kingdom is taken at one end, the sea rages, and all that have treasures in ships are gathered to stand up for their God and their king, to keep in bondage. But from him that sits upon the seat of iniquity, to the magicians that use the enchantments to deceive withal, yea, and upon all that believe them shall the hand of the Lord be, to make Babylon desolate and to dash her children against the stones which lie in the streets thereof, which all the builders refuse. This is the Lord's doing, and woe to him that doth resist him, who hath sent his word to strange nations and to people of dark understandings, whether they will hear or forbear.

     And thou amongst the rest, who calls thyself the publisher of what I writ to James Noel's wife but conceals thy <285> name, as one ashamed of his vision, saying (in thy practice) "Smite him secretly," as the backbiters and whisperers of old ever did, stirring up prejudice in the minds of people and making them evil affected against the truth, so dost thou against the movings and messages of the living God in his servants, rendering them under the names of sore temptations, terrible adversaries, bitter assaults of the enemy, and suchlike corrupt words thou uses to inform the reader withal, before he read the letters: and when thou hast cast out thy venom against the truth of the Lord then thou covers thyself with feigned words, saying, I leave it to the most wise and holy God to direct the wise in heart to consider them: O thou full of all subtlety, was not God able to direct the wise without thy forestalling slanderous opinions? How hast thou helped God or any wise man herein? Hadst thou printed them both and been silent then thou hadst left it to God indeed, and I should have been silent also; hast thou dealt moderately herein or as thou would be done unto? Shall not the least of wise men judge thee and thy spirit? Nay, hast thou not helped on the devil's kingdom with lies, as I shall bring no other witness against thee herein but her whom thou so highly commends; for, says thou, her temptations, afflictions, and conflict was repeated and renewed so often as opportunity was given by her new visitors (which visitors are these letters which thou hast published), but, saith she, I am no way troubled at such continued charges. Now how must this be divided betwixt you, seeing the one at least must be the liar, both in this and divers other things I might instance; but I delight not to rake into such filth, only I shall let thee see in a few words what a body of confusion is in this daughter thou art boasting of; which shame might have been hid had it not been for your glorying against the truth; and though to me both thou and she is known without words, yet before others who yet judge things according to the outward appearance I shall take but a word or two out of her own mouth whereby her foundation might be discovered to the least of those who know the kingdom.

     She says she knows herself assuredly to be in the kingdom of God yet still kept groaning for adoption. I say, the kingdom of God consists not in groaning for adoption but in righteousness, <286> peace, and joy in that which is holy, and none are there but sons who are adopted; no farther in the kingdom than newborn and self-denied, though she say herself is in the kingdom, which never came so far as a disciple where self is standing, much less not into the kingdom. Further, she confesses her own deceivings yet within her unjudged, which are yet to try; and the yoke of sinful covenant in her yet unbroken, all which and much more may be taken from her own pen without wronging her, as her letters (by thee) published may witness; yet with all this she says she knows herself to be in the kingdom of God, when it is no other but exalted into the chambers of your own imaginary: for all who knows the kingdom of God can witness against you that no such unclean stuff comes there, no self nor self-deceivings, no sin nor sinful covenant comes there; all this is in the kingdom of Satan and not of God, never was nor ever shall be; blessed be God who hath condemned out all that filth and confusion, and all that lives in it, that he may keep his kingdom pure, therefore do the virgins love him. And had she known the kingdom of God in her she had never wondered how I durst adventure to write to one whose face I had not seen as she doth in her paper; and (says she) consider whether ever the apostles or prophets thou art like herein. I say, did not God command his servants to write his message to strange lands and strange persons? And did he first send them to look upon their faces to know what to write to them, or doth that add to his word? Oh shame with your blindness herein; is God become as blind as you, who cannot judge but by carnal appearance, and will you limit him to yourselves? that eye never saw? Prophets nor prophecies, Christ nor apostles; but this is all you know of God or his word, his judgments and kingdom, who are blind and deaf as to the invisible: and so the visible and carnal judges, judging God to be like yourselves, imagines self to be in the kingdom; but the blind and deaf comes not there in that state. Had God no other servants but such as you it might be long ere the obedience of Christ and his sufferings should be manifest in flesh for the gathering his seed into the light, as ever he did send them to strange people who declared his word to them whose faces they had not seen, to open their blind eyes and so bring them out of darkness into the light to be seen, which to her is a wonder.

<287>     And this is thy daughter thou boasts on and calls her a daughter of Abraham, who is a daughter of disobedience, strengthening herself against the word of the Lord because the instrument had not seen her face, resisting in her own will the tender of eternal love, and this thou calls "strength in weakness," which is obstinate wickedness, and that both she and thou must know when you have finished your measure; and of her blood I am clear forever. And this is the bush thou boasts of which is not consumed though fire be in it. I say, there is a time when the fire is in the bush, and the bush unconsumed; then is the seed of God in Egypt under Pharaoh and the magicians, and in that state death reigns from Adam till Moses. Also there is a time when the light of Israel doth burn up the bush and devour the briars and thorns in one day, then is that God known who is a consuming fire to all that chokes his seed: go learn what this means, then shalt thou see whereof thou art glorying; and under that glory a fire shall be kindled. Who would set briars and thorns against me in battle, I will go through them and burn them together.

     Thy murmuring against the northern people is come before the Lord; thus saith the Lord: I have raised one from the north, from the rising of the sun is he come upon you as upon mortar and clay; who declares from the beginning knows him, and who is before time can say that he is righteous, but thou canst not hear him nor declare him, who consumes the bushes and makes plain before him that he may plant in the wilderness and make it a land of springs for the poor and needy to drink at, where shall come no more fear of briars and thorns, but the little ones shall feed safely; this death knows not, only the fame you have got. Woe to you brambles and bushes who tears the lambs on every side; Joseph's bough you know not, nor its fruit (though you have got it to talk of); you are the fruit of the cursed ground, your end is at hand: yet a lamentation there is (that doth not change) for the seed's sake.

By a lover of your souls,
James Nayler

Editor's Notes

a. Thomason date: July 20, 1655.

b. John Jackson. This and the following two papers represent controversy about Nayler's correspondence with Mary Noel. According to Geoffrey Nuttall, Jackson and the Noels were Seekers. He writes, "For John Jackson, see Reliquiae Baxterianae, 1696, ed. M. Sylvester, App. IV, p. 93; J. van den Berg, 'Quaker and Chiliast: the "contrary thoughts" of William Ames and Petrus Serrarius,' in Reformation, Conformity and Dissent, ed. R. B. Knox, 1977, p. 197. James Noel was the publisher of Jackson's Serious word to a sober people, 1651; Mary Noel was his wife; the names of B(rother) and S(ister) Nowell follow those of B(rother) and S(ister) Jackson in a list of members of Henry Jessey's church: Bapt. Hist. Soc. Trans. i (1908-9), 244." LJN, p. 55.