Quaker Heritage Press >Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > Sin Kept Out of the Kingdom


Sin Kept Out of the Kingdoma

     All professors and people consider where you are and from whence you are fallen, you that plead for sin and say none can be set free from sin while they are in the world; you plead for a hold for Satan in you while you are here, and where will you have him cast out, or what fellowship can you have with God so long as the serpent is head in you?1 You are separated from God and knows him not; for what communion hath light with darkness?2 God is light, and he that dwells in God dwells in light, and in him is no darkness at all; but while you live in sin you are in darkness, and the god of this world hath blinded your eyes that you cannot see it.3 You are led captive at his will to serve him, and you are willing to be so, and you do not believe that ever you shall be otherwise. You are servants to sin, and you take pleasure in it; you are in the flesh and sin, and have made a covenant with hell and darkness and death. You are resolved to serve and please the flesh while you live, and you will repent at your death; you have forgot that your times are in the hand of the Lord, and that this is the day of grace and repentance,4 which you turn into lasciviousness and wantonness. You make it plainly appear you have your lustful pleasures, wantonness and filthiness, and love them more than God. You that love the world and the things of the world, the love of the Father is not in you;5 for whom you love, him will you follow. Christ saith, "If you love me, keep my commands," and those that follow him, he leads them out of all the ways of sin into the ways of purity and holiness; and so he is the way to the Father.6 "For without holiness none can ever see God,7 for he is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, neither can any unclean thing come in his sight." But while you are following the prince of the air, which ruleth in the children of disobedience,8 bringing forth fruits of <167> sin and unrighteousness, having your conversation in the earth and earthly things, following your corrupt wills and pleasures, and yet you will profess you love God, and own him in words, and the devil in practice. Oh horrible hypocrisy! shall not the righteous God find you out and reward you according to your works;9 you cannot deceive him. You deceive yourselves who think to be heirs of two kingdoms; you will have the pleasures of sin here, and you say you hope to be heirs of the kingdom of heaven too; but the hope of the hypocrite shall perish. Remember thy father Dives, in whose steps thou walkest, and the same way leads to the same end. The Lord saith that "the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all that forgets God."10 But the deceit in thee says that thou mayst live in sin while thou art here and have thy thoughts in the world, and yet thou shalt enter into the kingdom of heaven too. Now who must be the liar, whether God or thou, O vain man? Was it not sin that separated God and man at the first, and thinkest thou to be reconciled again so long as sin stands in thee? Man was not created in sin, but pure and holy, in the image of God;11 and while he stood here he had communion with God and had the pure wisdom of God by which he was able to see into the wonders of God and to give names unto all creatures.12 But so soon as he had committed sin he was stripped of all this and became naked, and was thrust out of paradise, and was cursed from the Lord; yea the ground was cursed for his sake;13 and all this because of sin which thou thinkest so light of. For odious is sin in the pure eyes of the holy God, and didst thou but know thy condition as thou liest in sin, in thy first birth a child of wrath, and one to whom all the curses in the Book of God are due, thou wouldst tremble at sin and not plead for it, wherein thou plainly showest thyself to be the servant of the devil. And when thou thus abusest the goodness of God, that having left the failings of others upon record as warnings to all that come after not to do the like,14 and these thou makest use of to encourage thee in thy sin and filthiness; and <168> because God is merciful to pardon sinners at what time soever they repent, therefore thou art encouraged to live in sin the longer, unrepented of. Now all that have eyes in their heads may plainly see whose child thou art: for the apostle saith, "Know ye not that the longsuffering of God, and forbearing, leads to repentance";15 it doth so to the children of God; but that scripture is fulfilled in thee which saith, "Because judgment is not speedily executed on the wicked, therefore his heart is set in him to do wickedness."16 And thus thou makest the mercy of God a cloak for thy unrighteous actions, and yet thou wilt talk of a redemer and of faith in Christ; but O friend where is thy redeemer witnessed while thou art yet in thy sins? What art thou redeemed from? or what art thou redeemed to? Those that are redeemed are set free from the servitude of sin,17 but thou servest sin so long as thou obeyest the motions of it; then where is thy freedom? Canst thou witness Christ died for thee, and thy sins still alive? How wilt thou witness his death in thee, or thyself dead with him? The saints that were dead with Christ were dead to sin; and (saith Paul), "How can you that are dead to sin live any longer therein?"18 and saith also, "Those that are dead with Christ are free from sin and are become servants of righteousness"; again he saith, "Now being made free from sin, and become servants of God, ye have your fruits unto holiness, and the end thereof eternal life."19 But while thou livest in sin thy fruits are unholy, and the end thereof is death; and then where is thy redemption? They who are redeemed by Christ are redeemed from earth and earthly things, unto God again, from whence they had fallen, out of every tongue, kindred, people and nation, and are made unto God kings and priests, to reign above sin on the earth,20 and are made conformable to his image again, which was lost by sin. But what conformity is there in thee while thou art in sin? Thou art not like him, but like the devil; for every sin is the image of the devil, who sinned from the beginning. And while thou committest sin, thou holdest forth the <169> image of the devil in thee, who is thy father: and Christ told the scribes and Pharisees, who professed to be the children of God but lived in sin, that they were of their father the devil,21 for his works they would do. For every sin is the work of the devil, and (saith John) "He that commits sin is of the devil," and saith, "For this purpose was the Son of God manifested: to destroy the works of the devil."22 Whosoever can witness Christ manifested in them can witness sin destroyed; but if thou say thou canst witness Christ manifest in thee, and yet commit sin, thou art a liar: for the Scripture saith, "whosoever abideth in him sinneth not; whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him, and whosoever saith he knows him and keepeth not his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him."23 And saith the Holy Ghost, "whosoever is born of God sinneth not, but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and the wicked one toucheth him not"; and saith again that "whosoever is born of God sinneth not, for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God"; and saith plainly, "In this are the children of God manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother."24 God in all ages hath known his by their obedience;25 but thou sayest thou mayest live in disobedience and yet be counted one of his too. But where is thy mark by which thou art known from the world? Those that are God's are marked and known from the world,26 but thou art in love with the world and canst conform with them in all their ways, words, works, and worships, and yet would be counted one of God's too.27 O thou deceiver, thou deceivest but thyself and men that are like thee; for thou canst not deceive the Lord. Take heed, repent, halt no longer between God and the world.28 If thou wouldst own God thou must disown the world, and the world will disown thee: thou canst not have both.

Written by James Nayler, late prisoner
in Appleby Castle, by the dark world called a Quaker


1. 1 John 1:3.

2. 2 Cor. 6:14.

3. 2 Cor. 4:4.

4. Heb. 3:7-8.

5. 1 John 2:15-16.

6. John 14:6.

7. Heb. 12:14.

8. Eph. 2:2.

9. Matt. 16:27.

10. Ps. 9:17.

11. Gen. 1:27.

12. Gen. 2:19.

13. Gen. 3:24; 3:17.

14. 1 Cor. 10:6-11.

15. Rom. 2:4.

16. Eccl. 8:11.

17. John 8:34-36.

18. Rom. 6:2.

19. Rom. 6:22-23.

20. Rev. 5:9-10.

21. John 8:44.

22. 1 John 3:8.

23. 1 John 2:4.

24. 1 John 3:9-10.

25. Gen. 18:19.

26. Rev. 7:3.

27. Jas. 4:4.

28. Rev. 3:16.

Editor's Note

a. This tract is undated but was probably written in 1653, Nayler having been released from Appleby jail in April of that year (see signature below, p. 169).