Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Adventures of John Toldervy > The Foot out of the Snare
UPon a Presumption that thou art One, whose Minde is (in some measure) fitted for Information; and not of those, who are Resolved into Self, and Hardened against any Discovery which might effect to the enlightning of their Understanding, where their own Weakness, Fancy, and Imagination, hath formed it self in them: (which depraved Condition I sadly witnessed sometime to have been mine own.) At which time, though any Person whatsoever (yea, were it possible to have been an Angel from Heaven that should have attempted me with any Information, contrary to my Espoused and Indulged Fancy and Imagination, I should have concluded such a Messenger and Message, unresistably Accursed: And (through the depravedness of my Understanding) adjudged it to have been the Spirit of God in me which had so concluded. If this Discourse should come into the hands of any such Person or Persons (as such there are too many) I expect but little Fruit upon their accompt; but they are by me pitied, forasmuch as their Bondage and Captivity is Great, and much to be lamented, though the God of Truth can restore a sound Minde, and a cleer Understanding unto such who by their own Righteousness, under a seeming appearance of Self-Denial, have made themselves Servants to other gods. And when this power of God is made known, that they might be Guided in one Worship of one God living in them indeed, they shall admire and magnifie that gracious Arm by which they were made Free, as I do this day; and then this Discourse will not be unsutable, or unpleasing unto them. In the mean time, to such, whose Minds are Free and not Entangled; I would give an Accompt briefly of the Matter, but chiefly the Occasion of this ensuing Discourse, together with my Intent and Scope therein: though the subject Matter doth relate principally to the Persons, who go under the Name of Quakers, (as being so distinguished amongst men) and of the Effects which were wrought in, and by me, through the Guidance and Teachings of a Seducing Spirit in me, under a pretence of Light, yet is not my Scope to traduce the Persons, or to incense the Powers or Authorities, Ministers, or People, against them: For I know many, of whom they are not known, have abused the Truth, by seeking to Defend themselves in that deceipt which that Spirit (that is of God in them) hath witnessed against; by which the generality of men, are (through their misguided Spirits) already beyond measure bitterly incensed against them.
Touching the Occasion: It is not unknown to many; yea, I say, to many in and about this City of London, That I was in an eminent way, as a first Fruits of those who gave up themselves to those Wayes and Teachings, wherein I profited not a little: nor went I on with a slow pace: But I confess, such was the fire of zeal which burned within me, that by it I was over-powered and hastily Acted forth without Knowledge: (I mean, such Knowledge as was according to God) but such as my Teachers held forth in some measure I abounded in, (as the Discourse it self will witness) but the tendency thereof in the General was to Folly and Madness; as I by sad Experience witness in my measure: But God, who is rich in Mercy, through his great Love wherewith he hath loved me, hath magnified the same in opening mine eyes, and turned me from the Darkness, wherewith I was bewildered, and benighted; even to Astonishment and Admiration: Having opened my Mouth, and put a new Song into it of Praises to his Name, in despight of all those cruel denounciations of Woe, and Plagues, which have been pronounced against me (even to Eternity) since my departure and Separation from them, by some of those who could once have put me into their Bosomes, whom I, nevertheless, patiently bear with in Love, having better Perswasions towards them.
It having therefore pleased the Father to Rescue and Deliver my Soul out of this deep Pit, and raised me up, and set me as a living Monument of his Praise, beyond expectation: I durst not shut up in Silence the marvelous Wiles, and deep Deceipts, and Devices, which the Enemy had upon me, through which I have been carried, and from whence through Mercy Redeemed, that I might tell to others how bountifully God hath dealt with me, remembring me in my low Estate; for his Mercy endureth for ever.
1. To which end therefore, that I might make known my Duty of Praise and Thanks to God, for the Riches of his Love towards me; as also, to express my tenderness towards my Brethren, my Companions in the Bond of Love, who are environed in the same Circle and Maze, kept in Bondage by their own misguided Spirits, subjected to Laws and Ordinances, Ceremonies and Traditions of their own Inventing; to which they are nevertheless in so great Subjection, as amounts to Eternal Death, and Wrath, and Firy Indignation upon the Breach thereof: Of which may be said, Who hath required these things at your hands?
May not this be a word in season to some, by which they might be perswaded at least to Debate the Matter with their own Souls, and to Consider where they are, and who requires these things wherein they are so preposterously Zealous; denying themselves their Just and Lawful Liberty, out of a slavish Fear: but there is such a Resolvedness, that I can scarce conceive that this might be successful to many, yet the power of Truth can overturn all things which exalteth it self under a shadow of Good, as being maintained by a Lye.
2. That the Example of my Zeal, and Forwardness of Mind without serious Consideration and Examination, taking all for Truth, affecting those Notional Apprehensions, which (in that Way) I was then perswaded with: (By which true Judgment became lost in me.) That I may in this be as a Sea-mark, whose poor Vessel was well nigh Split upon those Rocks; and am now become as one to give warning that none do, (through the hastiness of their own Minds) in their own Wills, under a pretence of God's Will, dishonour the Truth, by giving heed to such Seducings and Temptations: ascribing that to God, and calling it His, when indeed it is the Effects of their own Fancy, through their own Weakness, and their own Imagination.
3. That there may be a true and impartial Information held forth to every one to whose
Hands this Discourse shall come, of the true Rise, and Progress, of my Entrance into, and Separation from
the People called Quakers, in order to the silencing of those false Aspersions which have
been cast, not onely upon me, but also upon the aforenamed People themselves, by reason of me:
And which is more especially, upon the Truth it Self, which through misrepresentation, and
misunderstanding of things, hath much suffered. These things Considered, I hope it will be
understood by all sober-minded Persons, that I am in this Work, upon a great Duty, which I may
not be at rest, till it be effected: and the rather, because herein, the Temptations and Wiles of
Satan are Discovered, and in measure detected; which many being ignorant of, could not Believe,
or Avoid: And although I must, and do expect, That there will be sent forth Floods after me, even
to the very drowning of me, (if possible) by Reproaches, Calumnies, Aspersions, and whatever
may be to render me, or make me Odious, (as divers have appeared in such-like very active
towards me already,) but those who profess the highest Truth, even the Perfection, and abounds
therein, dares not, nay they cannot appear in the Language of the Beast, of the Serpent, of the
Deceiver: yet however things be, I shall abide where I am; therefore I count not any thing which I
may suffer valuable, in comparison of that Peace I have in bearing this Witness, which is not
anothers, but fulfilled in, and on my Person. So that I may truely say, (as in another Case)
What I have heard with mine Ears, and seen with mine Eyes, and felt with my poor tormented
Body and Spirit; That I have testified, and do testifie, and my Witness therein is true.
1. That thou consider what thou Readest, and understand things as they are: Also, be serious in thy Observation, and be not light in Mind, nor easily tickled with toyish Laughter at such Vanities as thou mayest perceive to have attended me: But Watch and Pray, That thou also mayest not be led into Temptation. For I assure thee, That in the hour of my Temptation, I judged those Madnesses and Follies, great and serious things, though now (through Mercy) I look upon them with another Eye.
2. Despise not the Scriptures, wherein the Minde of God is so preciously and plentiously Recorded; neither doat too much upon them, for therein the Deceiver will work in thee Subtilly, to the drowning of thy Understanding, by forming in thee Imaginations and comprehensions of things which are not, (I mean things which are not in the Counsel of God) by which the Unbelieving and Disobedient Minde will be kept nourished in thee; therefore be not wise above what is written either in the Scriptures or in thy Self, lest the Light of Israel become a Rock of Offence, and a Stone of Stumbling unto thee; for both which were my Errors, by which I deeply suffered.
3. Watch unto Prayer, and be staied in what is thy Obedience, that so thy Understanding might be opened, and thou mayest be able to distinguish between things that differ: as saith the Scripture, Try the Spirits whether they are of God, for there are, that have a great seeming-sameness (at least, a great similitude and likeness of God) as when thou shalt be inwardly moved to Speak or Act, See that thou impute not that to God which is thine own, nor ascribe not that to thy Self which is His; and by how much the more Difficult it is for thee to Distinguish thy own Spirit in its Operations and Effects, from the Operations and Effects of the true and faithful Spirit of the Lord; be so much the more Humble and Lowly, and filled with Moderation, both towards thy Self, and others; until thou art Restored to a cleerer Sight.
4. Be not rash in Judging nor Censuring; an Evil whereunto I my self was most inveterately addicted, and is the universal Distemper of these times; for unsavoury Expressions being out of Charity, especially where it comes short of Knowledge, stands not in the Counsel of God, though many glory therein; but they Acting from themselves, and so their work being their own, true Judgement will rest upon them: the Wisdom which is from above, being pure and peaceable, and full of gentleness; yea, even to the Froward (otherwise, I say, otherwise what had become of me, and others, this day?) but the Word of Truth will Rebuke in his day, when the Eye shall see as it is seen, beholding things as they are, and not as Fancied or Imagined to be.
5. If thy Heart be set Free, pray for the Author, that he may be kept by the power of God in Obedience to that Faith which is Salvation, who referring thee to the Discourse as it follows, bids thee Farewel.
WE whose Names are hereunto Subscribed, being Certified of the Contents & Circumstances of the Discourse ensuing; and some of us having Perused a Part, and others the Whole of it, are fully satisfied of the Truth of Things Reported in it; and do Recommend it as a Piece worthy to be Read and taken into Consideration by all serious Christians, as a sad and very remarkable Providence of God to be Observed of all those who take pleasure either in the Knowledge of the gracious Works of God, or in the Discovery of the Wiles and Subtilties of the Devil; And as a seasonable Warning-piece unto all others, that they be not taken in the like Snare: And if taken, that they may recover themselves out.
I J.T. having for divers years been full of zeal after the things of God, by which zeal I was led forth with exceeding love after the knowledge of Christ: to which end, I sought after those Wayes and Means which I was perswaded to be most useful for the satisfying my Judgement, and clearing of my Conscience, as Duties enjoyned, in order to my upright and close walking with God, and blameless life and conversation amongst men: To the same end, I was led forth, with much fervencie of spirit, after the Teachings of those whom I judged to be most enlightned with that Spirit which was of God, and that were esteemed of the primest Professors, to be very knowing and understanding of what the truth, (or substance and life) was. To which end, I laboured, were it possible, (in that way,) to apprehend what was pure, out of divers Opinions; that so one knowledge, one minde, witnessed by one Truth (my Understanding being well informed) might act me to live in unity with God, by a holy and innocent life.
But after a time, in regard of much unstableness I saw in divers Teachers by the diversity of their Opinions, and also much Confusion in many Societies who made a profession to be gathered together by one Spirit pure of God, into one pure minde, and so at unity with one pure God; it occasioned much trouble and disquietnesse in me. Whereupon, considering seriously with my self, I sought diligently what the cause should be of all this division, by which men professing the Truth were thus distracted in their own minds.
Upon which, there was cleared to my understanding, Truth being but one, the ministration of righteousnesse which proceedeth from this Truth, must necessarily be the same; therefore, that which occasioned this Division, was the wisdom of the flesh, which continually was, and still is, at enmity with Truth; God being not the author of confusion, but of peace.
After this, I found a little pleasure in hearing of Ministers, because of the pleasantnesse of their discourse, by the excellency of their beautified language; but nothing sufficient to edifie or learn me with knowledge: for in hearing I could not understand, in seeing I could not perceive, that any thing I ever saw or heard did proceed from a right understanding of the minde of God, there being so many mixtures by what I apprehended in everything spoken forth by all.
Whereupon, was I perswaded to see what might be learned from others who were out of the way of these professions: by whose Doctrine (together with what I apprehended of my self) by the operation of a spirit infused into me, after a short time, there was made clear to my understanding what follows. But first, I shall declare the manner of my entrance into this belief.
Being thus perswaded, I began to be very inquisitive after some other people, that might accord with, and be instruments of good to me, whose life & conversation might be one with their doctrine; both which being of God, might certainly confirm their unity with God.
So in a short time I became affected with those people called by the name of Seekers: but afterwards hearing at a private house of two of those called by the name of Quakers; and much observing their discourse, little was spoken, but all tending to the destruction of every the least sin. So by the sincerity of their discourse, with the sobriety of their appearance, I was taken somewhat affected with them: upon which, I was perswaded to make a further enquiry after that Sect; though to my wisdom, notwithstanding what was spoke was against all sin, yet there was nothing declared of the mystery of the Gospel of Christ. But upon a further enquiry in the observation of them, I saw their order, their manner of teaching, and duties; and found, as was declar'd by them, as far as I perceiv'd, that all spake the same things; their Ministry was one, all in one Order, united compleat in one Minde, whereby they were acted as one in their duties: whereupon, I concluded, that surely those people were of God, sent forth as witnesses for himself, against all others, who took the name of God in their mouthes, and declared themselves to be the Ministers of Christ, though they were made Ministers of man, and sent forth by man, whose Doctrine stood in the will of Man; and not understanding what the Word of life was, therefore uncapable of edifying the people; being Ministers of the Letter, and not of the Spirit. Now since it was written, that the people of God should be of one soul and one minde; God also being one, and his Name one; and these people declaring to be the same, who did live much witnessed by their humility, one pure life, also moved to speak and act onely from a true and faithful being of God manifested in them, by which they appeared to be as Lights in the world, and all others, who were in a subjection unto divers Forms, in many things taking liberty to themselves, their lives appeared to be judges of them, as well as their outward declaration: yet in regard of much strangness that I apprehended in their way, also the extraordinary bold confidence they had in their judging, which gave no liberty for the justification of any besides themselves; I could not finde a sufficient satisfaction to comply with them,
A short time following, being at a private *Meeting, where after some time spent by two or three, who were making enquiry what should be the meaning of the Spirit of God in two Scriptures, which seemingly did appear to contradict each other; there comes into the Meeting divers strange men; & in the midst their discourse upon those Scriptures, there stood up a man of these strangers; and silencing of them, he began with an exceeding bold courage to speak, crying a loud, in these words, or to this effect, Praises, praises be to the Lord God for ever, who hath hid these things from the wise & prudent, & hath revealed them unto babes: giving them to know, that the dark clouds were veiled over the Sun, and with this darkness did they go about to comprehend the light; but the light did see the darkness, & the darkness comprehended it not. So repeating over those Scriptures, he affirmed with confidence, that they meant that they spake; and made those plain to the understanding of many; affirming, that those who never came to live obedient to the Life which was of God in them, should never come to see what was meant by the holy Spirit, which moved those who lived the life of God to speak them forth: the words of the Wise were dark to such, who, by their disobedience, had lost their right. So Man having now lost his guide, being blind, he seeks after Knowledge, by the teachings of that minde which is darkened; and so feeds upon that tree forbidden, of the knowledge of Good and Evil, not discerning: and beginning in Genesis, he passed thorow the whole scope of the Scriptures, declaring what was meant by them; and all things being turned by him into Allegories, typifying or figuring forth what was to be fulfilled in man, before he came to be born of the Spirit, the second birth, without which there was no entrance into the Kingdom of God, (heaven) which was in man, according to that Scripture, I will dwell in them, and walk in them: they shall be my people, and I will be their God. And so declaring what was meant by the first Adam, what by the second Adam; what the Fall was, what the cause of the Fall; what reigned after the Fall, what by Redemption out of this fallen estate; the way of this Redemption; the effects produced in the way; the Instruments by whom this Redemption was to be wrought; how it was to be done, and where, which was in the man, &c. Also, that the Scripture was not the Word of God, but it was what was spoken from the Word: by the Word was meant Life; and the Scriptures were a Declaration from this Word of Life: the Word was the substance from whence it was spoken; and this substance, the Word of Life, was the measure of God manifested in man, the gift of the Holy Spirit manifested in flesh, made known in all, that thereby they might be guided to profit in that obedience required of God; also, by which all the disorder in the Creation of man, made by the flouds poured forth in man in that time of God's displeasure, occasioned by his fall from God into the Lust, was to be put into the same order they were at the first, which was good. by which Word, the mountains were to be leveled, all hills were to be cast down, and the valleys were to be exalted; crooked places were to be made strait, and rough wayes to be made smooth: every thing was to stand in awe before him; the lofty minde was to be pulled down, and all high thoughts and imaginations were to be burned up: and these things being not done by the Word in you, the pure Witnesses of God lie slain in your streets, the house of darkness, the house of bondage, those Cities which spiritually have a relation to Sodom and Egypt: and I was sent by God to declare against that in you, by which you are blinded, and so the Witnesses kept slain: expressing with a firm confidence, that searching of the Scripture was not the way to finde out the knowledge of Christ; but the turning the minde to within, there to be taught by the measure of God, the Law written in the heart: and so standing in obedience to it, in time death being passed over all that sinned, Christ would be brought forth; which sin reigned from Adam till Moses, even over all that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression; Adam the earthly nature in man, which prevailed with him to be earthly minded, to love the Mammon of unrighteousness: which death reigned over the whole man, till Moses the servant of God, which gave the Law to the children of Israel, the seed of the Faithfull; by which they were to be guided to the Angel of the Covenant, Christ, and so witness the perfection, which to know, saith God, is life; which life was manifested in him, and he saw it the onely Begotten of God: and from what he had seen, felt, heard, and understood in himself, that we also might have fellowship, did he declare these things: concluding with a strict Charge, in the Name of the living God, that we turn to him, the Rock whence we were hewn, as we respected our eternal peace: bearing record, that he, the God of life, stood waiting ready to receive all that turn to him, and having your faces Sion-ward, go on bearing your Crosses joyfully; for his reward is with him, and his work before him.
|* Of those called Seekers.|
So after about an hours discourse in things of this nature, all spoken with a firm confidence, mighty powerfully declared, with so much seriousnesse that possible could be, supposed to be far beyond whatever I saw by any man; and using those words, Thee and Thou; barren of any Complement, or whatever might be taken in them to please man, they departed.
Now upon the consideration of divers things, also the strong Ingagement laid upon us, as we tendered our eternal happiness, together with that bold undaunted confidence he had in the Truth of what was spoken: all my former Knowledge, my former Belief, my former Hope, (being struck with a great Fear) was immediately dashed in pieces, they being taken to the earthen Vessels, made by the Wisdom which was begotten of the *earthly Man; and then coming to understand that they were of those people called by the name of Quakers, together with what formerly I knew of them, I became strongly affected with them: divers also of the same Meeting at the same time, being possessed with the like perswasions.
|* Self for the justifying of Self.|
Whereupon, much love acted me to follow them very zealously; but in order to a more perfect clearing of my understanding, I remained a time before I complied with them, or made my self known to any one of them: in which time, meeting with one whom I formerly knew to be a very serious true-hearted Man, who was converted to their Belief, and also subjected to their Obedience, who gave me to understand, that they were sent forth to preach the Gospel by the same Christ that the Apostles were; and, that the Person, that Son of God which died at Jerusalem, was not the Redeemer of Man from Sin; but the Redeemer was in every particular Man, that Light by which he was given to see Sin, and enabled by it, if obeyed, to be redeemed from Sin: which Christ had redeemed them perfect, and now lived in them Lord of all things, by which they were made the Sons of God; and so what was manifested unto them by that substance, from that substance were they moved to speak, which was the same Holy Ghost, by which the Apostles were endued, sent forth, & enabled to preach the Gospel: and declaring of them much to admiration, how that sometimes in the night they were immediately commanded by the eternal Spirit to go forth and preach the Gospel, also by the like command, some of them were limited to fast from Food (as I remember) about twenty or more dayes together* ; which was intended to make them willing and pliable to the will of God in the travel of their Spirit, before they came to the Land of Canaan, the rest of the new created Being or Work of God in them. So he gave me to understand the next day of their meeting, and the place where, with earnest invitation to be there.
|* And afterwards I knew some who fasted 30 or 40 days.|
Now that I might have the Counsel of God in what I did, as touching my uniting with them, when I came home I went to Prayers; and being mightily carried forth in that Duty, very often before the time of their meeting, I looked upon it as a sign which did make manifest the good pleasure of God in my closing with them: so at that meeting, three of the chiefest of them being Speakers, whose matter and manner of preaching was more taking unto me then all the former, but especially the powerful operation of their Prayer, all which effectully wrought upon me: whereupon, my minde being established, I was moved to make a confession of my self, concluding, with the owning of them in the presence of all the people: upon which, I became subject to the teachings of a Spirit in my self, (the which being believed to be the Christ of God, the Redeemer from sin) I was fully perswaded that if denying any thing in the least that it required, I could not be redeemed; and since that the Truth was made manifest, if disobeyed no remedy, I should be eternally damned.
Wherefore as I respected my Salvation, this Redeemer was to work me, and to dispose of me according to his will; & whatever I willed, was not to be done, but to be crossed by my being subject to this Redemer: Upon which there arose a great Controversie in my Spirit, of what stood in the will of man, and what did not: said one Spirit, This is the will, in when it was not: on the contrary said another Spirit, (as to the same thing) this is not in the will: and so through fear I should always yield a subjection unto that Spirit by which I was limited and brought under bondage to do many things in my will against my will whereupon I became a destroyer of the will of God, as touching that Liberty which was allowed me in the use of my Members either to speak or to act; also in the use of those Creatures made for the service of Man; and so as those former weaknesses which reigned in me through the darkness of my understanding, came to be destroyed, my undeerstanding, being not then well enlightned, greater weaknesse (as to the not enjoyment of my self) did arise; also as one imaginary being in me came to be overthrown, here was begotten the like Being in another shape, and by it was I wrought to believe many things, (by me undeniable) and also led forth, and acted from one thing unto another, according to what followeth:
So believing that what was manifested of God in man, was the Light of Life which was one with himself, as it is written, I and my Father are one: by which was given unto Man a savory discerning of what was Good and what was Evill, what was darknesse, which darknesse was to be expelled by this light, there remained therefore nothing for the Man to do, but to stand in the Will of that which was pure in him, and so by it he became a Judge of what impurity or the Law of Sin would act him in; which sin, the occasion of Death, was to be swallowed up in victory, that so only the light of life which is innocent, might live; there being nothing in Man for Death: even as a King, over-ruling all in subjection unto himself,
Whereupon was concluded, that Man was the Cause of all this distraction and confusion in himself, and so abstracted from this confusion, was that being which made an appearance of holinesse in the minds of all professed religious People, subjected under divers Forms, Ordinances, and Ceremonies, which is a vapour it self, and must die; as the Ordinances were shaddows and are ceased: but Man having lost the kernel, the substance which giveth nourishment and satisfies, he feedeth upon the dry husk, and being not refreshed with the true Bread and Water of Life, he remaineth alwaies seeking, and never comes to know what is true; alwaies feeding, and never satisfied until he comes to understand where the Bread of Life is to be found, which is in himself, according as it is written, I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one: and so eternal life living in us, there needs no more thirst, there needs no more hunger after Knowledge: this is eternal life to know God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.
But since there is much Mysterie recorded in Scripture, it is concluded that the knowledge of those Mysteries is to know the Will of Christ, and so the way to salvation; yea it is believed, that the knowledge of the Scriptures is, to know God and Christ: though it is spoken concerning Christ, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; And again it is written, the Word is nigh you, in the mouth, and in the heart; so that the Way the Truth, and the Life is in us: that which giveth Salvation. But saith * Judas, How is it that thou wilt manifest thy self unto us, and not unto the World?
|* Judas's love being removed from Christ by the seducements of the Deceiver, his understanding became lost, and so his minde was driven out from God into the Earth.|
But this Conclusion also, proceeds from the evil one transformed in Man, he being scattered, very confused, and darkned in his understanding, covered as with a vail: and so Satan, as an Angel of Light, moveth and leadeth forth to divers Duties, which are his own, for the upholding of his Reign in Man. Also feeds Man with Wisdom and variety of pleasant Language, called Gifts, in performances for the upholding of his Duties: by which sin being shaded over he is justified; many being called failings; but perfection is not to be attained in his life, but in another life (hereafter:) though it is written, Except Christ be in you, ye are Reprobates; having rent the garments of righteousness, ye are acursed, being hipped up above the Truth, and trampling the Blood of the Covenant, the life of the Innocent in the dust: so that if the Author and Finisher of our Faith be living in us, there is perfection; but if not, perfection is not, faithfulness being ceased.
Now the World was understood to be the Garden of Eden, in which Man was placed at the first, and still is; and the Trees of this Garden all living beings, proceeding out of the Earth, living in and upon the Earth; all which having their being of God, the life of all things, by somwhat of himself, that proceedeth forth of the Earth, God the Life, who created all from the Life, from whence is received the increase of all.
It was also understood that Paradise was in Man, where his delight should be, where his minde should be stayed at unity with God, who made choice to take up his Habitation and abode there himself, with his increase, the Family of Love, and beloved Ones, who were to be kept, nourished, and refreshed by Man's living obedient unto the will of God in the same simplicity of Love, and so at unity with this Family of Love, the seed of Israel.
Then was this understood to be the state in which all men were created, and is now also the cause of his fall.
All men were made of nothing and still are; as one Generation passeth away, another Generation succeedeth, by God the Author of all: and so as one increase by him was brought to their end, another increase was produced forth of himself, according as it is written, I kill and I make alive.
Therefore in the first Creation of Men, they were made pure and holy without sin, in the likeness of that God, who was their Maker, perfect; for where no sin was there was perfection.
But Man, when he came into a growth in the World, he saw the excellency of that Provision (of that Fruit) prepared of God to be a nourishment (or refreshment) for him; he began of himself, by hearkning to the weaker (being in him the fleshly minde) to be discontented with that allowance which was sufficient for his use, and please the Creature himself, rather than God that made him, and by whom he lived; which Nature, respected himself beyond that pure Nature which is of God, given in to him, by which the Creation of God was to be preserved in its order, according as it is written, in the Church of God, The head of the woman is the man, the head of the man is Christ, the head of Christ is God: Which Church is the man, as it is written, Ye are the temples of the living God. Now the woman being the silliest and weakest part, also that which desireth most to be dallying with such things in which it might take delight, lest she should defile her self, and dishonour her head the man, by alluring of him to commit Fornication with her; she is to be kept in subjection by him, as he is taught by the Word; Which Word Christ, the Light of life is given to declare what the will of God is; but man having given way to the weaker being, she is become the Head and Ruler of all: it was pleasant, and she desired, and that caused the Man to taste; for he willed, and that caused the Sun to be darkned; his light, which was given to discover the wil of God, to be clouded by the begotten will of man, yielding subjection to weakness. Now the Sun being darkned, could not answer the end for which it was given: so the will of God became lost by, and unknown to man; he having created to himself an Image, falls down and worships it, by a continuall slavery to the things of this world, serving divers Gods and divers Lord, by which he hath brought himself under the curse of God, having slain the witnesses that were given in him from God. Wherefore, at the Resurrection the Book of Conscience should be opened, out of which the witnesses should be raised to life, and so man by whom they wer slain, should by them receive condemnation; but such who bear testimony of the first Resurrection, which is man being subjected unto that which shewed him any sin, the true and faithfull witnesses would be raised to life, by which he might see the least sin; and they ruling in him here, should be the justifier of him hereafter, the second death having no power.
Again, it was further understood, that man, in his own will, by his own wisdom, his minde being driven out into the Earth forth of Paradise into slavery, by the flaming Swords of those Spirits sent from God, seeking after Knowledge begets in himself Children of Fornication, from whence proceedeth divers Languages; Babylon being built up in him, by which confusion he is acted to do those Services required by the Whorish Woman, that well-favoured and beautified Harlot, Whose Ornaments appeared glorious, and bespangled with those jewels that had the greatest Glister, whose brightness was transcendent for Purity, by which they appeared excellent to all the spectators: All which being but as a gilded Picture without substance; even as Wind, carrying the minds of men to and fro by their airy imagination; giving them to believe that it is the Spirit of God, though abstracted from the diversity of Languages, proceeding from those Beings, or Children of Fornication begotten in him by himself, through the Allurements, of the Whorish woman. So man being thus darkned in his understanding, what is fancied (or supposed) to be true by that which desireth knowledge in him, because he hath lost his savory discerning, he buildeth upon it as confident, and so the weakness in him, and his own imagination, is judged by him to be the Spirit of God.
Now man being exalted into such a high degree by the pride of his own heart, and not resting contented in that place which he was Created in by God, he thereby brought Condemnation upon himself; and this was done by every particular man, being acted by, and made subject to those things which he was made by right of Creation, Lord of.
Here man being led forth in a subjection to vanity, his Food is a vapour or dust not able to keep life, therefore no remedy; having corrupted himself, with an incurable Disease, he must die, he must die: except by a subjection to the teachings of that Law written in the Heart, Christ be raised from the dead, there to live and reign in Righteousness and true Judgement, as at the beginning; and so having purchased an everlasting inheritance through a perfect Obedience, there is no death of that possession.
I Shall now declare divers of those effects, which this Change wrought in, and upon me: At my first entrance into this way, before I came to a right understanding of what was true.
Said they, Having owned the Truth, ye need not that Man teach you any more: if you never see our faces again, there is that in you by which you may be taught. Which was taken to be the Life, the holy Seed of God raised out of Death by that which was spoken from the Life in them.
So immediately in the Observation of them, though confidently supposed it was by a Command from the Life in me, I became subjected to divers Ceremonies: As, not to Master any man: Not to pull off the Hat to any man: Not to speak the word You, but instead thereof thee and Thou. Not to use any complements or Greetings to any; believing, That Bowing to a man was a Worshipping of him: Not to direct my minde in Drinking to any, as familiarly is used amongst Friends, &c. Also, by the same perswasion was I wrought upon to pull off those Points I wore at my Knees, my Bandstrings, Hatband, Buttons that I Judged were unnecessary on my Coat; some of which I brake to pieces, and threw away; others I made a speedy disposal of, with many other things; burned divers Books that were Divinity, judging that they were what was spoken from the teachings of the Devil in those that write them; some made away; others brake pieces and threw away. Having a business in my Charge the Redeeming part of an Estate for my Mother, lately lost by the death of my Father, which thing was very fairly proceeded in, and possible in a short time to have been effected; amongst other of those seduced perswasions, which subtilly under a pretence of self-denial, accomplished its ends upon me, I was engaged & effectually prevailed upon, utterly to withdraw from this business; by which now my Mother & many little ones, lieth much under the sufferings of my deserted disobedience: but the workings of this power was so predominant upon my Spirit, that I refused the least acknowledgement, much less performance of duty to any. Now
In my former prosecuting of this businesss, having disposed of what Monyes I was provided with, for the charges of my proceedings, and being necessarily enforced, I adventured (though unwarrantably) for my present supply, without consent, to take the sum of 40 s. about me, in case I should have had occasion to make use there of when I received any return from my Relations, being far distant from London.
But a short instant following, being perswaded in this way, as I was restrained from proceeding in this business, so also I was engaged to make known what I had done; otherwise than I intended (which was privily to restore it as I had taken it forth) which I did; restoring the same which I had received, not having made any use thereof.
Now amongst other things which this change of minde wrought in and upon me, and by which first I became famous in the general discourse of men, especially amongst those of whom I was known, this business was a chief; by which, through the not understanding of the thing, divers conclusions hve been conceived, otherwise than the Truth; by which, many abusive reproaches have been unjustly cast upon me: but what I speak, cannot in the least be gain-said, known unto those whom it did concern.
A short time after my compliaince with that Spirit which entred in me by the observation of their practice declared to be from the teachings of the Spirit, Christ in them; My Master having been at the Wells, came home; so out of that respect I had to what was good in him, and also that love I bare towards his eternal rest with God, I was moved to go to him presently, and inform him of my Restoration from the depth of those delusions, which I was serviceable in, by the ministry of those Teachers, who were blinded in their understanding, not knowing the mystery of godliness: upon which, I really supposed that he would have been prevailed upon by me to frequent our Meetings, that if may be the same Ministry spoken from the Life, by which the Life was raised in me, might effect the same end in him, unto his Salvation; so coming to him, I reach'd a Stool, took him by the Arm or Cloak, and bade him Sit down William Web; not bowing, not pulling off the hat, not Master for then I denied that title to him, though related to him a Servant, as afterwards I denied all relations, from the words of one, He that liveth in the Light will see no difference: after which, I spake these words, How does thy body do? for, as may be observed, we made a separation between the Body and the Spirit. Now the observation of my carriage, with the strangness of that expression Body, moved him to speak these words: John, what is the matter? where is the Servant's Obedience? where is the Masters honour? The answer (as I remember) was thus 'My Master was the faithful Spirit in me.' So I gave him to understand, 'That I had heard the Ministers of the everlasting Gospel, by whom I was converted to the faithful obedience, by which I should finde Life; desiring of him (as he respected his eternal happiness) to come amongst us, that so, what is true might be made manifest to, and in him: For (said I) from the Lord do I declare, that all the Ministers of these times (or that were not of us) are the Ministers of the Devil; and in particular, Feak that Minister, whom he heard, was of the Devil, whose Ministery was Death.' So being stopped, by much dislike in him of what was spoken, I was dismissed by him at that time.
A while after this, when he and his Company were at Dinner, I was moved by that Spirit in me, to go and Dine with them: now because it was against my will, I concluded that this moving was indeed from the Lord; which service was intended by the Lord, to make known unto him, that he willed there should be no difference between Man and Man: So I went into the Room where he was, took me a Stool, and sate down at the Head of the Table; which being done, I applied my Minde to my business. Then was asked me some Questions forth of the Scripture concerning the Duty of the Servant, which was Answered in the justifying of my Self, as to that Deed: giving him to know, That I was the Servant of the living God, & he was not; therefore I had more right unto the Creatures than he had: So having finished my work, I departed.
Now I was, with exceeding love, out of respect unto my eternal Salvation, formerly fixed with a resolution to be taught by the Light in me, and so never to sin any more; upon which I became very punctual in every word and every Deed: Also, having received a strict Charge, with the rest, That nothing should be spoken or acted, but what might be eternally witnessed; whereupon, when any Customers come to deal with me, I durst not ask them, What they wanted? believing that those Words could not be eternally witnessed; for they knew what they came for: then when that was required which they came for, I durst not make in the price of it but one word; and if by them tempted to more, because of what was expected of advantage to themselves by a cheaper Rate, I should be provoked to look sternly, with wrath and envie, out of the extream hatred I bare towards that Spirit which moved them to speak more then was needful: and so by this, and that Spirit by which I was limited to those words, Thee, and Thou, and not pulling off my Hat, without any civil respect in my Carriage, I was made unfit for that Service, by which was intended a way for my livelihood. Also, divers of those Commodities we dealt in, having honourable Names, and other having such Names which I judged were not meet; I was commanded and enjoyned by this Spirit in me, to give unto them fresh Names, believing that those Names did proceed from the invention of Man, and they stood in the Fall, as did every thing that was invented and made by Man, and so used by Man, that was not absolute necessary: Also, it was believed that all those things before spoken of which I was limited from, stood in the will of Man, and they came in the Fall.
I was farther perswaded not to eate any thing that I loved, believing, that what did set a Difference of any Creature, stood in the Will; for he looked upon all things, and behold it was good; therefore it was of Man that gave a respect to any thing above other; so by degrees at the last, I was wrought upon to eat nothing but Crums, picking of Bones, when finished by others; with such Food that was destructive to my health, it being contrary to pure nature: Also, I was limited from eating of the Creature what was needful to the satisfying of Nature, so that I was made extream poor, & so changed, as though I were not the same man; fasting some weeks from eating little more than Nature would have required to eat in one day. Going a long Cheap-side, I saw Cabbage-stocks, with broken leaves of Colworts, which were thrown away by the Market-women: at which sight I was enjoyned by a command of this Spirit in me, to gather them all up, and carry them home; which being done, I was commanded in the like nature, to dress them, and the next food I did eat, to eat them.
The strangness of this alteration being so great, divers Friends came to see me, intending by discourse, to work me into a consideration of my condition, by a better informing of my understanding; but Reason being destroyed, nothing took place in me, but I judged them to be in the dark; and, that what was spoken from them was flesh, their mindes and unerstandings being alienated from the Commonwealth of Israel: my Master also, with his Partner, and others of the Family, when discoursing with me, all what was spoken by them was judged to be from the evil one in them, whose I believed they were.
'Now (said they) coming to live the life of the Scriptures, you will finde the meaning of them, they being fulfilled by you, to be opened to your understanding by the life in you, and so they will be found another thing then what formerly they were;' but at this time, not having received that knowledge that I was to wait for, the birth, such a time, out of my own wisdom, my own knowledge and imagination, going to read the Scriptures, I found such a strange alteration in many things, contrary to what formerly I did believe, that I was taken affected with it: upon which I was perswaded to read over the whole Scriptures; and in reading, that which desireth knowledge in me, prevailed upon me to search out the meaning of divers things; which seeking destroyed my former understanding, & gave me to believe another meaning: then did I really conclude, That I was taught by the word in me, the same word which the holy men of God, that spake forth the Scriptures had living in them, by which they were enabled to speak them forth; upon which I was injoyned by a stronger phansie, supposed to be the Spirit of Christ, to spend all my time, that possible I could gain, night and day, to learn knowledge by the teaching of the Holy Ghost in me: by which in a short time I did really believe, that there was not any thing expressed, but I had the perfect knowledge of: in the end, words and letter did signifie to my apprehension divers meanings. Thus fancy and imagination acting together, I was besotted, and made perfect drunk in my understanding, by the airy Spirit gotten in from without, by which I became like unto a distracted man.
Having this perswasion in my self, that all knowledge contained in the Scriptures was revealed unto me, I was really possessed with a confident belief, that Christ Jesus that died at Jerusalem was a figure of me, and that I was the true Christ, that Angel spoken of in the Revelation, which was to flie through the midst of Heaven, declaring the everlasting Gospel to all Kindreds, Nations, Tongues, and people.
There was also revealed unto me by the teachings of that Spirit in me, which gave me the knowledge of the Scriptures, that the dissolution of all things would be at the end of sixty three yeers; in which time, by my Ministery and the rest of our Teachers, the Jews were to be called, with the Gentiles, who had lost the knowledge of the Gospel immediately after the Apostles dayes, from which time until now, that God raised his Spirit to Life in those of us, both Jews and Gentiles have lain in blindness, serving the God of the World, the Prince of darkness, and without the knowledge of the true God in the world. Wherefore all, both Ministers and people, that were since a short time after the Apostles dayes, they having bowed down to the Gods of the Earth, and so worshipped the Gods of the Heathen; the God of Gods, who is the Lord of all, had condemned them, and their gods eternally: Wherefore now the Candle of the wicked was to be put out, by the everlasting Gospel, spoken from the eternal Life in us; by which those that were elected to Salvation, should have the Life raised in them, whose brightness, as it was revealed, should swallow up all that was for Condemnation; so the eternal Life living in them, there was Salvation.
It was also believed, That I should live to the End, and then Christ, which died at Jerusalem, was to meet me in the Mount of God, which was in a multitude of bright Clouds, where I was immediately to be transformed into a Celestial Body, all Spirit; where that Christ and I should sit Judges of all that ever had a Being in the World.
Wherefore now, it being so, that I was to be the Minister in the hand of God, for the converting of those who were Elected to Salvation, to the true knowledge, by which eternal life was to be found; my minde was informed, that though I had the perfect knowledge of the Scripture, it was not sufficient for this work: And, also I was perswaded, There was a greater Revelation to be manifest in me, than there was in Christ, or the Apostles.
Where upon I was enjoyned, that I should spend all the time that possibly I could, in waiting for Revelations from Heaven: which I did, according to the teachings of this Spirit in me; hearkening diligently, with my minde fixed upwards towards Heaven, in expectation to hear some voyce from thence: Whereupon, the first time I really supposed I heard many excellent voyces, which made an exceeding sweet, and pleasant Melody: Upon which I believed they were Spirits sent from God, to make known unto me, the greatness of that joy there was in Heaven because of me; by which appearance, being over-ravished, I was firmly resolved to be pliable to that Spirit which moved me in this way of waiting.
So a short time following, there appeared to me two Spirits in the likeness of a Man's shade; Which apparitions were believed to be Angels sent from God to minister unto me: from whom did proceed, to my acceptation, at that time, excellent things concerning God, and Christ that died at Jerusalem, also concerning the Angels, and the excellency of that place called Heaven.
Following this, there came many such-like Spirits that were all taken to be Angels; at which sight, there was a voice spake in me, which gave greetings to those apparitions; upon which, there was answered by them, 'That within twenty five dayes, perfection should be established in me, and so I should be made perfect, entire, wanting nothing, the whole work of God having been made manifest; then should I suffer the likeness of that Death and Resurrection, which was real by him that died at Jerusalem; after which, I should be sent forth to preach the Gospel; and then Michael the Archangel should be living in me, by whom I should be carried to and fro, thoughout the World, and enabled to preach the Gospel.'
After this time, for this twenty five dayes, when the Spirit in me willed me to go private, which was sometimes in the day, and almost all these twenty five nights, I durst not deny the movings, as I respected my salvation; yea, I do verily believe I did not rest one night with another, above one hour in a night, all the time of these twenty five daies; most of which time, I had the company of these apparitions, according as I was moved to desire them by that Spirit which was in me: for when I was moved by that Spirit to desire them, they would come: and when that mov'd me to require their departure, they would depart: and constantly when they came, they brought with them excellent Musicks, which alwayes kept over my head, and followed me according as I moved: the apparitions making merry amongst themselves, dancing, leaping and flying about the room, according to the musicks of those Spirits which continually plaid over my head.
I shall now declare some things that were acted by my orderly subjection to the teachings of this Spirit in me, and those apparitions in the time of these twenty five dayes.
There was not a day or night, but many strange actions were performed; but I shall speak of some few, by which may be judged what the rest were.
The second or third night I was commanded by that Being in me, to stay up all night: so about mid-night, five of these apparitions, with those Spirits which made such pleasant melody came, as I was waiting for revelations: one of which Spirits (as they were flying about the room) came and overshadowed my face, as through a vail, and spake to me, telling me in my ear, 'That three of the seven plagues had been poured forth upon me; and because of my diligent obedience in all things required by the Spirit in me, two were not, & the other two were yet to come; and, that after my resurrecton from the dead, I shoul make choice of twelve that were chiefest Speakers amongst us, to be my Apostles: so parting from me, they went all to dancing. About an hour after, as I was standing before the fire, I heard something that made a noise: upon which I heard a voice speak in me, saying, Babylon is fallen, Babylon is fallen; which was significant to my understanding, that all in me which formerly reignd, was thrown down, being dashed in pieces by the coming of Christ; and turning round, I saw that the fire being much burned, fell down: then being weary of standing, (having not sate that night) I went to sit down; and going to sit, I was commanded by one of these Spirits that I should stand, for God was then present in the room. Whereupon, after about an hours standing, looking for a revelation, I was overshadowed as before, like as with a vail, and commanded from a voice immediately to pull off my shooes off my Feet, for the place where I stood was holy ground: and as God appeared to Moses in the Bush, so God appeared now unto me in this revelation, giving me to understand, That the appearance of God unto Moses was a figure of this appearance unto me. Whereupon I pulled off my shooes; and being struck with an exceeding fear, much trembling, I pulled off my hat also, and laid it down: at which time, I was sensible of very much cold, it being an exceeding cold night: So immediately there came an extream warmth all over the room, and thence it seised upon my Feet, and with a tingling heat it raised it self upwards, till over my Legs, and there rested a little time, infusing a heat into my legs; then did it arise by degrees, little and little, untill at last my whole Body was encompassed with warmth, as though a great heat had been infused in me by a violent compulsion. All which time, I trembled exceedingly, but durst not move from that place I stood in. Also the tunes of the Spirits were changed into a great singing or hissing, much like to the noise of thousands of Bees; and the apparitions danced: so a voice spake, calling me by my name, telling me, 'That I was John the beloved of himself, as John was the beloved of Christ; and he, that John, was a figure of me.' So after some time spent, I could not contain, but speak of my own accord these words, Ye are the Angles of the living God: concluding with the owning of what was by them revealed. But in the speaking of these Words, I stammered, out of fear: upon which, there flew one of these Apparitions by me, and told me, That I had Blasphemed. What the cause was, I could not tell; but I supposed it to be, because I spake these words in my own will, before I had a true moving from that Being in me: for I believed, that in dooing of any deed, or speaking of any word that stood in my own will, I did Blaspheme; judging, That what spake, moved, or acted in man, that had not a patient working, with a joynt concurrence of the whole man, was wrought in the will, and so imperfect, a blast which perisheth in its act, and so eternally not to be witnessed; by which the whole man is defiled. Upon which, all the Spirits and the pleasant noise vanished away, and were not; also, the warmth infused in me, and encompassed about me, was taken away in the same nature as it came. Then was I struck with a great fear, not knowing what this meant: upon which, as my manner was, when committing of any offence, as I was moved by the Spirit in me, I lay down upon the ground, with my face close to the floor, which was believed to be the greatest humility I could express: and after a short time of my wallowing and tumbling upon the ground, I was moved by that Spirit in me to lie still on my belly with my face flat on the ground; which being done, immediately came the like warmth on the floor under me, as before; and from thence arose a great steam, which encompassed me over, and then seised upon me as before, infusing a heat through my whole Body: then was I by that Spirit in me moved to rise up; but supposing it was not a true motion, I did not obey; upon which, came all those apparitions wch were without, and with them those Spirits wch made such excellent melody. Then did that power in me move me to stand up as before; upon which I fell a weeping; and much love wrought upon me, to remain longer in that place of Humility; judging my self as unworthy of that Union and Love with God, which before I was a partaker of: then came one of those Apparitions to me, who gave me to understand, that all what I was, having been offered as a Pledge, according to the Will of the Pure in me, had wrought in God that affection which formerly he had towards me, upon which I was raised upon my Feet by the power of that Spirit in me; my Hands, my Feet, and body, moved, and acted in their Order, without the least motion or consent of motion by me: then was I highly elevated in my Spirit, and commanded by a voice in me, to Dance with those Apparitions; which I did the remaining part of that night; and by the power of that Spirit in me, yielding my subjection, was I tossed to and fro, and mounted up and down in the observation of those Spirits by whom I was accompanied, as though I had been a Spirit my self.
It may be observed, That about this time it was so with me, That what I looked upon, I should be searching after knowledge, in relation to it; making enquiry, the cause of its Being, the way by which it came to have a Being, &c. For, I was perswaded, That the knowledge of all things was to be Discovered and made known to me: so that a while after, my prying so much after Knowledge, did infuse so much Spirit in me, that I could not look upon any thing, but I was tormented in my Spirit at the sight thereof; and many times had such burnings in my Body, as may be likened to the heat of live Coals, by which, for many nights, I could not have the least rest.
Having refrained from Food about a day and a half, I was moved, though limited by the Spirit in me for a longer time, to go and eat: So having made a search for the like Food that usually I did eat, and finding none, but in the stead thereof a great Roast of Beef; I was at a loss; upon which there arose a great Contest in my Spirit what I should do; said that Spirit which respected me for the satisfying of Nature, Eate of the Beef: said the other Spirit by which I was limited, No; I am the Lord: said the former, Nay but eate; since there is no other, there is a sufficient justification: Whereupon the Case being well examined, after a time Judgement was determined upon that Spirit by which I was limited: So I did take and eat while satisfied, with much moderation: All which time being much disquieted, and strongly moved to give over.
This Deed being now finished, I went in the Hall, where, after two or three hours, I sate down, and casting my Eyes upwards, I ws taken with a strong Fancy that I saw Heaven open, from whence proceeded a great blast of Fire somwhat like unto Lightning: at which sight (being really perswaded it was a discovery of those Plagues which were to be poured forth upon me, because of the former Disobedience) I was struck down by that power in me, as though a dead thing had fallen; upon which, immediately there was an extream burning within me, like unto the heat of a fiery hot Furnace, which remained a little more than about half a quarter of an hour. About three hours following this, there was a private Meeting of our People, whither I was moved to go, though much contrary to my Will; but being in a great fear, I durst not deny, but went: so after I had been there about half an hour, I was moved, by the power of that Spirit in me, to shake; which manner of shaking I had long waited for; believing they wee Effects, in order to the rooting out and perfect destroying of that Being in me, which was of the Devil: So it being observed, that I was moved to shake, the Command was, Give way: which signified, that I should not limit the Work of the Lord in me upon that which was for Condemnation: so I gave way; upon which, the strength of that Spirit by which I was moved to shake, grew, so that what strength I had in me of my self, was not in the least sufficient to subdue the workings of the other Spirit in, and upon me, whose power wrought so in me; being spread like unto an infused substance into all Parts and Joynts of my Body, that my whole Man was so shaken, torn, and rent, that had I not by a great strength been enabled, I could not have contained: Also, it did work in me, as though I had taken a strong Purge, by which I was clensed exceedingly, in working forth of me an extream Foam: So having fulfilled its Will, it ceased of it self. Now as the Air is rent by the fierceness of the Spirit, by which is caused a hideous and ratling noise, called, Thunder; and so the whole Heavens become clensed of all filthy vapours, or corrupted substance, naturally destructive to all Beings: so it was believed, that the corrupted Spirit in me, was rent and torn by that Spirit which is my Life, by which the Heavens in me, was clensed. Then was I possessed with these perswasions, That this was one of these two Plagues which was to be poured forth upon me; and that the occasion of this Plague, was, because of the denial of my Lord and Master, in the presence of the jewish Spirits in me, out of respect to my own Liberty, the satisfying of Nature with that Food which was disallowed.
After this, (as I remember) the following night, I was Commanded to stay up all that night, and wait for Revelations: but having refrained from sleep divers nights before, I could not wait according to the requirings of the Spirit, because of extream drouziness: whereupon, I made intercession to those Apparitions, to take rest for that night: so upon Promise of attending there the next night, I had liberty; but going up stairs, a voyce spake in me, and willed me to go down: but then I supposed it to be from one of the Spirits which I left behind me in the Room: so out of great fear, I was enjoyned to stay up all that night, and durst not sleep, but wait for Revelations: and having waited a short time, I could not possibly refrain longer from rest: then was I perswaded to go against the Will of the Spirit in me: but in going, it spake again, and Commanded me to go in the Shop; which I did: and having waited there about half an hour, wrestling strongly against sleep, I moved (of my self) to go up again into the Chamber; but going up stairs, another voyce spake behind me, and Commanded me to return back again: then was I Commanded by that in me, to lie down and humble my self, for I had Blasphemed: which I did; wallowing, and tumbling upon the ground: Then heard I another voyce, saying, Nicodemus is in thee, the betrayer of Christ in the night: Then sorrow struck me to the very heart, and I was extreamly troubled: so after I had layen about an hours time upon the ground, I was moved by that Being in me to rise; but as I was rising, I was Commanded to lie down again: Anon after, I was moved to rise, as before; but when rising, I was Commanded to lie still: and so by contradictions of this Spirit in me, was I thus acted divers times: in the end, it was pleased to raise me on my Feet, it self moving and guiding of by Body by its own power, like as before: So this night being spent, I was in the morning commanded to light a Fire with dead Coals and Sticks, (that a Miracle might be made known to be wrought by me;) being really perswaded, that like as Fire did proceed from the Lord upon the Altar, in the sight of Moses, Aaron, and the children of Israel: So from the Lord, in me, should there proceed that Vertue which should infuse a head into those Coals and Sticks, by which a Fire should be kindled; now being confident I should effect the work: yea, had I been Master of the whole world, I should have ventured all, with a value of no worth, upon the performance of this Deed: having laid all things in their order, as directed by that Spirit which moved me to the work, I was moved to blow with my mouth; but in short, blow I did, try one way, then another way, and blowed as strong that possibly I could; expecting still, that from my Life, the Lord, there should heat proceed with my breath, to the lightning of the fire: but in the end, not being able to effect the thing, I was extreamly troubled, that I the Christ of God should fail in the performance of the first miracle, since so many miracles were wrought by him that was a figure of me. Then went I private into the Cellar, and there hearkned to within my self for a command from the Spirit in me, to desire the apparitions: which being given, they were desired, and so came. Then was made known unto them how imperfect my performance was in that Service required of me. Upon which was answered, That I was not yet perfect: but however, it was the purpose of God, that I should be serviceable in the healing of the Lame, the Sick, the Blinde, &c. Souls, as Christ did Heal the imperfect parts of the visible Body; and that all the visible Miracles wrought by him, did signifie what was to be effected miraculous in the invisible part of every man that should be saved by my Doctrine: and so they departed.
Seldom a night after this, for about a week, but I staid up most part of all the night, and divers strange things effected by me, or those apparitions, every night: so that having destroyed the course of nature so much, in not taking of rest, that for a time following, when I came to have liberty to rest, I could not, though never so desired. Once, when striving, strugling, mounting, flinging and throwing in a contest against sleep, I was immediately taken by the power of that Spirit in me, and cast up against the wall; and when setled upright, and closed to the wall, there was infused in me such a fresh supply of life, like unto a mighty startle, that all drowziness was destroyed, and I was as fresh as could be.
The day following this night, was the first day of the week: so betimes in the morning, I was moved to go to the place of our Meeting, and there wait until the time of meeting; and, as it was usual, not purposing to come home till the evening; and also, much necessitated, I was moved to eat before I went; so having cut a piece of Bread, about a fourth part of a peny-loaf, I began to eat: but when having eaten about half, I was commanded to eat no more, but lay the rest by till the next day: so it being undeniable by me, I did obey; and it was my food the following day. Then did I make to the Meeting, where I spent my time while the people were gathered together: in which time, as I was walking in the Garden, a Fly flew in my face; which thing being observed, I was moved to examine, what it should mean; so by the counsel of this Spirit in me, I was confidently perswaded that it was a Messenger from God, the Life in him being believed to be of God, and from that life he was moved to flie in my face; by which was meant a giving me to understand something that was required of me by God. From that time was I guided by Flyes in many things; being very certain, that they were moved by God in them, to make known what was his will to me.
Then when the Company came, I was commanded to shew a humility in me beyond any of theirs, as Christ did shew a humility in him beyond any of his Apostles. Whereupon I was commanded to pull off my Band, and then was I moved to make known unto the people the order that God required in the Creation, which was to gather up the small sticks that were scattered in the Garden, and lay them by themselves; and the dry leaves that were under the Trees, by themselves; and the small stones that were scattered in the Walks, by themselves; and the pieces of Brick, (as I remember) if not, some such-like, by themselves.
Now, in the time of this service, I gave over sometimes by the perswasion of divers Friends; but when given over, I should be commanded, by the first Fly that I saw, to the service again. Afterwards, being observed by one who was a Chief of us, he came to me, and took me by the hand, perswading me to give over, and go along with him, that hear what was spoken by him that was speaking to the people; so I gave over. Then when the time of our being there was ended, it was also required by him, that I should go with him where he intended to spend his time till the Afternoon; which I did: but in the way as we were going, I was mov'd to gather up stones as before; and as I was gathering, I saw two white round stones lie one by the other, at which sight I was possessed with a confident belief, by the information of this Spirit in me, that those stones came from Heaven, and it was given unto me to finde them: then was my minde informed by that in me, that the one signified Esau, and the other Jacob; so I was moved to throw the greatest of them away, and onely preserve the lesser: it was also given me to understand, that this lesser did not onely signified Jacob, but the white Stone spoken of in the Revelations, which was sent as a token from Christ in Heaven to me; and so long as I kept that stone I had unity with God; but if lost, I should be dis-united. So when we came to that place we intended to go, which was a Garden-house, we sate down in the Garden: but after a time, I was moved to do the former work again, where I gathered up stones and coles, sticks and broken corkes, or what I saw scattered on the ground. So by and by comes into the Garden one whom I much loved, that was of us; and looking him in the face, I was confident in my self, I saw death in him: upon which, as I remember, I told him that he was accursed from God, seeing of him much changed; I was really perswaded by this Spirit in me, that he had slain the Witness, and there was no remedy he must die eternally; the plagues of God would be poured forth upon him in this life, and in the life to come.
A short time after this, as I was at rest, about mid-night, in a slumber between sleep and wake, I saw a vision of Spirits in the room, by which I was startled exceedingly, and sate up, being strongly moved to rise; but being much drowsie, and desirous of more sleep, I lay down again, and fell asleep presently, and then into a dream, that the Chamber-floor sunk under me, and that I was loosed down upon those boards that sunk under me, through the boards of every Chamber, till I came into the Cellar, which is five stories high: upon which I waked, and sate still a little instant; then was I taken with a strange fancy, that the bed was sinking under me; upon which I moved my body, and in moving I was possessed with a fierce command by the Being in me, to rise, and make all the speed that possible I could into the Kitchin; which being done, I was guided by the power of that in me, to turn round; and in turning round, I saw a light playing upon the wall, at which sight I was moved to stand still, and look stedfastly upon it, so, as I stood looking upon it, it ceased: then was I possessed with a great fear, not knowing what that signified; (but since I conceived, the occasion was the brightness of the fire) and in the time of this fear, going to sit down, I was moved to stand: immediately upon which, I was taken with the sight of Linens that lay a soaking in water, intended by the Maids as a preparative in order to the cleansing of them; so I was moved to look as stedfast upon them that possible I could: upon which, there came a speedy command from this Being in me, that I should lay them in a better order than they were, with this information, that God is the God of order; and remembring, that Christ denied not the least service willed of his Father, I was the more speedier subjected to the boedience of this moving; so the readiness of my Will to that Service required, was accepted of, as though the Deed had been effected, and I was set free: immediate upon which, I was guided to look stedfast upon another Object, which was not in that Order as I judged it should have been: then the like command as before, injoyned me that I should effect that service which related to the Order of those things, though far more different from that business properly doth respect a man, than the former: but in regard of my speedy condescention to the business, I was freed from the performance, as before: then was I moved to sit down, and look stedfastly in the blaze of the Candle, in expectation to be directed in some service, by the moving of the blaze to and fro, or by the sparkles that proceeded forth of it; so the blaze of the Candle moved to and fro, and the sparks were many: but not being able to apprehend what the meaning of the Life should be, by which it was moved to and fro, and occasioned to sparkle, I was tormented in my self, and stamped, and flew up and down the Room like a mad man. By and by, when a little quieted, I came to the Fire-side, and was moved to look in the Fire, in expectation to receive some directions to service by the lame or sparks of the fire: so after a time being tired by looking in the fire, I cast my eyes upwards, and seeing somthing swim upon a great Kettle of Water over the Fire, I was taken at the sight thereof, to see what it was; & as I stood looking upon the water, I was possessed with a command from that Spirit in me, upon the account of Salvation, that I should put my right hand in the Pan of hot water; (giving me to know, that the Heat thereof should not seise upon me:) but (through fear) standing a little instant before I performed the command, (as in the twinkling of an eye) I cast my sight off the water, and seeing somthing, (as I conceived) falling towards the ground, I looked back again to see what it was, and found it to be a black thing like unto a great Fly, (which then I took to be a Fly,) whereupon I was taken from the former Service, and Commanded by that in me, to look as fierce as possible I could upon that Fly; then was I enjoyned, by the same being in me, to hold my right Leg to the Fire, and observe strictly the direction of that Fly, to the burning of it: so the Fly moved from the same place it was, and stood upon the Harth, above a quarter of a yard off the Fire: Now this perswasion being firmly wrought in me, That did I not Obey this Command, I should be eternally damned; I went speedily close to the Fire, and there held my Right Leg, with both my Hands, the same Distance off the Fire, as it stood: so the Fly began its work, thus, moving somtimes neerer the Fire, sometimes farther off; somtimes turning the one side, somtimes the other; sometimes round, and so to the same place again, &c. So, by the strength of that Command in me, was I made plyable to guide my Leg, in the imitation of every moving by the Fly: And having spent bout a third part of an hour in this Service; all which time very sensible of the heat the proceeded from the Fire burning in my Leg, in turning round by the direction of the Fly, I lost the sight of him; and then I was freed to go from the Fire. Afterward it was made known unto me, by that in me, That this was the other of the two Plagues. Then going to see what work was made by the Fire in my Leg, I was taken with a strong perswasion, that the same Spirit in me, by whom I was moved to burn it, would, by the power of himself, heal it; so that for several dayes I durst not make it known to any man, though it was burned from the Knee to the Foot; and then was the time come of my Perfection, as was made known to me by the Apparitions: so about noon of the same day, being about my imployment, I was moved to give over; but not obeying the motion, present, there came divers Flyes and rested upon that Business I had in hand; by which I was perswaded, I had offended in not readily Obeying: so having left my employment, I was moved, by the power of that in me, to Wrastle and War with my self three times, which I did, like a mad distracted man: and when it was done, it was given me to understand, that this was a preparation against my Suffering; and it had a respect to that Agony which Christ was in before his Death. Then was I moved to stand still; and having stood a little instant, I was directed by this Spirit, To look about me: and as I was looking, I saw a Needle stuck in my Sleeve; which Needle I was moved to take in my Hand, and thrust goth Ends through my two Thumbs, which I did with what speed possibly I could: first, the one End to the Bone of the one Thumb; and afterwards, the other End to the Bone of the other Thumb: and there being no passage through the Bones, the Needle was bent in the closing of my Thumbs together: Then was I commanded speedily, that I should stand upon a Box, by the Wall, about half a yard off the Ground; which being done, I was directed to turn my Back to the Wall, and spread my Hands one upon the other, with the Needle remaining in my Thumbs, so wide that I could, and so lift my Arms over my Head, and then to strain my Arms and Body as high as possible I could, with the Backs of my Hands joyned to the Wall: All which being done, I was to liken a Death upon the Cross: so I gave way to a Drouziness (as though I was a dying) and by and by I fell down upon the Ground, as though dead: But, before I lay as in the Grave, I was moved to spread over me Shavings of white Paper that lay by on the Floor; (by which was meant the Covering of me with white Sheets:) then to tye a Handkerchief about my Head: so in regard of my speed, (and not heeding, but making as though I were dead,) in the tying of my Handkerchief, I tore much of my Hair off: This being done, I lay upon my Back minding nothing, (like as in a sleep:) and having lain there about three quarters of an hour, in imitation of three dayes, (the time of Christs being in the Grave) I was immediately, by the power of that Spirit in me, raised on my Feet, and Commanded, with all the speed that possibly I could, to make to that place, where the Ministers, that were of us, with divers more, were; and gave them knowledge of what was done: and then to make choice of some of them to be my Apostles; and so speedily to go abroad into all the world and Preach the Gospel. So I took my Cloak, and ran forth, in expectation to flie by the power of Michael the Archangel, which was believed to be then in me, (according as before was promised:) but being then disappointed of Ability to flie, I was much troubled: upon which, there came a special command, that I should pull off my Shoes; which I did instantly: (and turning my Cloak under my Arm, I threw my Shoes in my Cloak) and so made away with all the might I could: (and verily, I am perswaded, were I now to run for a Kingdom, I could not make two thirds of that speed I did then.) Now the House being in Moor-fields, and the path-way to the House being of a little compass, I was caused to leap over the Railes, and also run over much Linen that lay Whiting upon the Grass, because of the fierceness of my speed. So,
When I came to the place, I gave them to understand, That Christ (meaning my self) was Risen from the Dead, &c. shewing the Holes that were made in my thumbs with the Needle: upon which, I was looked upon with a strange hasty look; and charged to be silent, for I was in Darkness; the Witnesses of God were slain in me. So there being many there, and all of them judging me with one Consent, I was silenced: Upon which, they spake lovingly to me; and bad me sit down; and put on my Shoes: which being done, I made known unto them, that my Leg was burned, and the way by which it came to be burned; then was there care taken by them for the healing of my leg: but in regard it had been kept unknown before, it was much corrupted, and (as I remember) about a quarter of a year before it was cured; much of which time I was constrained to keep my Bed; and so, not having the Liberty of my Body, my Spirit was kept the stiller, and the means of my Recovery out of that sad Condition which I was in, was the more effectual.
Now being incensed by what was spoken from them, and the strangeness of their Spirits towards what moved in me to speak or act, that I was in darkness, the light by which I was enlightned, being put out, so that I had not a savory discerning of what was good, and what was evil; and also, when seriously considering of divers actions, which I was subjected to by the teachings of this Spirit, that they were destructive to my being, was the more concerned in what was given me to understand by them.
Then was I in a sad condition, not knowing what I should do, that I might be redeemed from this body of sin, and death.
So I was directed by them to wait a time, and keep in my minde, not giving heed unto any thing but what had a respect unto my necessary imployment: which I endeavoured to do, but could not for a time, being so full of this Spirit, by which I was tormented day and night, through the strength of imagination upon things without me, and also by the power of it self in me, and many times with extream fiery burnings in my Spirit.
So in labouring to keep in my minde, this Spirit in me came to be silenced in his motions, and weakned of his strength; by which his union with those Spirits without me, was separated: and so I was freed from their Company; being resisted, they flew away.
Now for a time this body of sin remained living in me, by which I was tormented as before spoken; and then, being not fed with my service, the strength of that Substance, which is my Life, having rasied a war against him, utterly destroyed, burned up, and consumed his whole Beings, (as is declared following.)
About two months after, it was given me to understand, that I was in a delusion: as I was going along the street, I met one that was of us, who told me, That he had received a Letter forth of the Country from a Friend that was a Teacher: so he asked me the Question, Whether he were best to open it in the next meeting, (which was on a private day) or forbear until the first day; so it was answered in the close of our discourse, Do as thou wilt. But when parted, there was a voice spake in me, saying, Do as thou art moved; which strongly tempted me to go back again, and unspeak that word Wilt, and place in the stead thereof Moved, being perswaded that I had offended in speaking that word, because the will of man was to be destroyed.
The next day being called to Dinner, I refused, in regard I had eat something that day before: whereupon there arose in me an exceeding joy, which I was not able to subdue; the cause was conceived, because of my obedience to the Pure in me, The same day in the Afternoon, going to a Meeting, I was moved to eat two small Apples that I had about mee; but first I waited a time, that a patient, gentle, and pure Spirit might guide me in the eating of them: then, when going to eat them, I was perswaded, that two was too much at once, believing, that that Spirit which moved me to eat so much, was a Devourer of the Creation: so I resolved to eat but one, and retain the other to dispose of to a Friend at the Meeting: upon which there arose the like joy in me as before; then did I conclude, that surely the Lord was well pleased with me, because of the tenderness that I had towards the Pure in me: for in regard of the desperate case I was in, I was tender of every thing that I spake or acted.
So the following day about the evening, immediately there sprang forth of me thoughts, so fast as one could follow the other, without the least moving by me to think any thing, (then began the destruction of the body of sin) and so those thoughts remained, flying abroad in the Air every moment, so fast as could be, while about two or three dayes: and then immediately as before, concerning Thoughts, there arose a speaking in my minde, so fast, as one word could be expressed after another: so those Thoughts and Speaking in my minde continued every moment of time (as I remember) about two months; and all along as time went away, that Being which thought and spake sink'd deeper in my minde, till in the end they were swallowed up in victory: but from that time of a about two months, they began to cease a little, about one or two hours at divers times in a day, and so as time came on, they ceased by degrees, while at least I could have remained an hour or two together without any thing in my Minde, or the least Thought; and in the end, sometimes a whole day, with very few Thoughts, or any thing in my Minde: then came I to witness a Redeemer from that body of sin that lived in me.
Now in the whole time of this speaking in my Minde, and flying abroad of my Thoughts, I laboured according to the teaching of my own Spirit, to keep in my Minde, for the destroying of these Thoughts and Speaking; so by the power of that which was low in the Mind, the Meek & the Humble, like as a Lamb and a Lion, gentle and strong, was the strength of this sin subdued; and by that Light which saw it, was there a fire kindled, by which it was destroyed and burned up, and the ashes blown away like chaff before the winde.
In all this time of the war, every Member were Enemies against me, whatever my Minde was taken with, either in seeing, in hearing, in smelling, in tasting, in feeling, what was minded by any of my Sences, this evil One in me, would be raising of Thoughts in things of the like Nature.
So almost a years time having been spent amongst these people, with exceeding zeal in their way, acted forth from such a Love that may not be expressed, and very strict in the performance of every of these Ceremonies before spoken, when being, through rich Grace & abundant Mercy, in some measure restored unto the like enjoyment I had, before I knew any thing of them, through a great providence, the Lord was pleased to enlighten my Understanding, by the manifestation of what was according to himself in me, compared with what was given forth from himself, recorded in his Scripture, (the manner of which is declared following) so that weakness which ruled and reigned in me, and by which I was subjected to the performance of those Ceremonial Practises, being made known by the Truth which abides for ever, I was freed from the former Obedience, by which as a slave I was kept in bondage, through much deceit, covered with a voluntary Humility, worshipping therein I knew not what. Whereupon, there was occasioned a bitter envy in them against me; so that with greatest violence they tok to themselves that power of judging me to be a Judas, a Betrayer of the innocent; and that wherein I was separated from them, therein was I joyned unto an Harlot, which Harlot they denied: giving me to know, That the Plagues of God would continually follow me: which Condemnation I must own; for I was turned out to among the wilde Beasts, in the broad way, which way did lead unto eternal Death.
These, and many such-like terrible judging Expressions, were made known unto me, by a noise from a Chief of them: but forasmuch as the same Nature lived in me for a time, by which I was not onely acted to judge all men that were not of us, to be reprobated from the knowledge of the Truth, and so accursed from God, with what judgment followeth those who are in such a condition; but I abhorred the very sight of Men: so that I knew the ground in him from whence this judging of me did arise. Wherefore I was minded to let pass what was spoken, judging better things of him, and that through the weakness of his Understanding, out of a simplicity of Love to the Truth, and good intents towards me, was he thus moved to speak of me.
Now all this time of my being amongst this people, I durst not declare any thing of my minde unto any, but those of us, or hearken unto any thing spoken by any, which bear Testimony against any thing practised by us: so that I came not to see what might be offered from any, as an Objection against those Ceremonies looked upon as substantials in performances.
But afterwards, seeing a Friend at the Meeting (which was of us) whom I had not seen for a time; whose understanding was enlightned touching many things which formerly he was subjected unto, though not known unto me: So after some passages between us, he began to speak somthing concerning those words, Thee and Thou: intending to bring me to understand, what that was in me, by which I was guided to the performance of them: and being wary lest I should apprehend in him a dislike, touching the using of them, and so occasion a disturbance in me; he brought his Discourse so about, that it was required I should give an Information of what was manifested in me, touching the Evil that lay in the not performance of them, though not by way of Question: So having examined with my self, I gave him Answer, That the word You, did respect more than One; But the words, Thee and Thou, were the true English words; so that that minde by which the words were removed out of their places, was the pride in Man, which Nature stood in the Fall; and therefore it was not to be fed: but as though in a pretence of holding a contrary Argument, He Discoursed with me for the word You, and not the words Thee and Thou; especially in some cases. One ground of his Argument was, Give no offence to Jew or Gentile, nor the Church of God, all which kept the Peace, to those that could bear them, the words Thee and Thou; but to those that could not, the word You. So after some time of Discourse upon these words, he spake in the same kind, as though by contraries, concerning taking off the Hat, and civil Respect between man and man, with the rest of those things refused by us: but there being not a sufficiency in me to Answer what was spoken by him; I told him, That I was Convinced in my self, and so I was moved from the Lord in what I did, but could not make out to his understanding what was my Convincement. Then he gave me to understand, 'That he did not witness a Command for the using of those Ceremonies, though formerly in his own Will, out of imitation, they were practised by him: but when he witnessed a Command, then he should Obey.'
Now being disquieted, in regard of his perfect Separation from the Unity of Spirit, which formerly he owned with us, we parted at variance: but after his departure, being dissetled as touching them, by what was spoken from him, I went privately, and examined with my self, how I came to take them up, and what it was that upheld their reign in me: so finding that my will was the first cause, I went to divers that were of us, and contrary to my mind, I held an Argument, as though I owned those things, which formerly with them I denied, that I might learn from them what Reason or Ground they could declare, to the destroying of my pretended Judgement: so after examining the Scriptures, & much discourse, I found not only some inclination of their Belief in respect of them, but a real convincement in my self. And so after a short time, through the Mercy of God, I came to see, not onely a death of that extraordinary, imaginary, and devilish Spirit, by which I was so extreamly decluded; but also the weakness of that in me, which through a Cloak of Righteousness debarred me of my living and conversing with me, as I had done formerly in the way of my livelihood: and now I affirm, from the Truth of God, manifested in me, that through a slavish Fear, that I was in bondage unto, I was, as others are, kept in those Delusions; and that there is no more sin, in the not using of these Ceremonies, than in the using of them; provided, that wisdom guides.
Uch time hath bin spent seriously in the Examination of every particular herein declared; but the strangeness thereof might occasion many serious Minds to question the Truth of it: but solemnly affirm, in the presence of the Eternal God, before whom all things are manifest, that with a clear Understanding in the sence of my Distress, while under those Temptations and powers of Deceit, I have endeavoured to make known the Truth in sincerity of Minde. And the God of Truth beareth me witness, That (to my knowledge) I lye not in any thing spoken: also, much of this might be justified by many Eye-Witnesses. True, it is matter of Admiration, and also, greatly might it be admired, that the goodness of God should so far exceed the depths of Satan, and the powers of Darkness, as that the deceitful workings of this evil One should be made manifest, and that by the discovery of his Grace, through his abundant Love, which alwayes rejoyceth in Mercy, after so great an Apostacie from himself, he should restore his own Heritage to the place of their abode, and settle the Understanding, the Minde, and Affections of his lost Creature, upon the Foundation-Rock, which will abide when all things else must perish. Praises to his Name for ever; and all whose Mindes are united to the upright and faithful Obedience, and staid therein, let them say with me, Amen.
Now since the Lord hath appeared so mightily towards me, in restoring from the Death, and in raising out from the Grace, the Light of himself, by which my Understanding is better established than before; it may be judged acceptable, and desirous, to know what the Foundation of my Faith is now.
I say, The Scriptures they do discover the Minde and Will of God, and they are profitable to the edifying of all, under what estate or condition soever: but the Will of God is in part made manifest in all, not only by which hath been learned from that Discovery of Truth in the Scriptures, but where the Scriptures is not.
And by this invisible Law written in the Hearts of all Men, are Men convinced of every secret Temptation, which lusteth in them to evil (if giving heed unto it:) and as this Law-giver in us, is spiritual, so that Ministration of Righteousness in us, is spiritual; and that Obedience which it requireth, is in Spirit and in Truth; by which those that give heed unto it, are, and may be guided, out of all the Works of the Flesh, above the Law, into a possession of that Covenant which giveth Life, and so witness a new Birth, born of the Spirit: (without which, there is no entrance into the Kingdom, as saith the Scripture, 'Except a man be born again, of Water and of the Spirit, he cannot see the Kingdom of God)' and then will those Covenants be made manifest, and fulfilled, which saith, Unto such who fear my Name, shall the son of righteousness arise with healing in his wings: and he shall turn the heart of the children to their fathers, and the heart of the fathers to their children: And ye shall be all taught of God from the greatest unto the least; so that you need not say one to another, Know the Lord. And I will write my law in their hearts, and place my fear in their inward parts, that they shall not depart from me, &c.
Now where the righteousness of the Law is fulfilled, there is God made manifest; and so far as that Obedience which it requireth, rules in man, so far have they Unity with God.
But yet, I do not say, That the Scriptures are in the least to be disesteemed, but great is the advantage of these who have them to assist in the wayes of God, which guide to God.
For much was the profit of the Jews before the Gentiles, in that the Oracles of God were committed unto them, the Law & the Prophets being made known to and amongst them, which the Gentiles had not: but now far greater is the benefit, or if disobeyed the just Condemnation of those, who have the Scriptures more plain to the edifying of them, in the Way, in the Truth, in the Life, which is of Christ, and leads to himself, than ever the Jews had before Christ was manifested in the world.
But surely greater deceit was never made manifest, than is now; the unclean thing having bewitched and darkned the Understandings of Men so mightily. True, it hath been his business alwayes to remove the Obedience required by God of Man, and so disquiet their peaceable enjoyment, that he might ingraft a rebellious Nature, in upon that Tree which God hath made, on purpose to bring forth the Fruits of himself to make known his name in: but now the subtilty of his workings are far more admired by them in whom he hath taken place, than ever before: for when before the will of God was so plainly discovered in the Scriptures, to the view of the world, as it hath been since Christ and the Apostles dayes, much of that hold for his deceit which he hath now, was not.
Those who lived by the Faith of the Son of God, whose Habitation was with Christ in God, who were exalted in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, who witnessed Revelations, in whom was established the Life of Righteousness, that new Name, Immortality, which abideth for ever: those, I say, speaking forth mysteries which men by wisdom cannot know, though not mysteries to the simple, who lived or doth live in the wisdom of God: but men in their own wisdom, even sensual men, who have not the Spirit, going about to comprehend those things which they enjoy not, they drowne their understanding, and darken their sight; and so the eyes of their Mindes being blinded, they of themselves wrest the Scriptures to their own condemnation.
But to my understanding, (and great is my mistake, if the Spirit of God doth not bear me witness herein) where the minde is staid in that Truth which is manifest plainly in and unto al men, and be guided thereby in faithfulness, and respecting nothing before that Obedience which is required by it, surely therein God will be glorified, for his Grace hath appeared to all men, and he requireth no more than what he hath given, onely Grace for Grace; and he that abides herein, needs not desire to dive beyond himself, thinking thereby to apprehend that knowledge which is acceptable, though in the sight of God accursed; but in time he will witness a Comforter which will lead him out of the Spirit of this world, into the beginning, where all Truth is made manifest: and when injoying the same Spirit, and living in the same Life, which the upright and true Servants of the Lord hath done, then will those mysteries of God which are hid from the fleshly wisdom, be made known, Life and Immortality being raised to Light, and so being staid in a sound minde, the glory of the Lord will be seen to the pace of his: and surely if the Lord please to reprove, convince, and correct the wandrings of such as are gone astray from him, and have exalted themselves upon the Mountains, (being lifted up above all what is called God) and guide them to wait thus upon himself, there needs no fear, but the flessing which he hath reserved for his Chosen, even the eternal rest with himself, shall be their reward.
Whereas it hath been spoken, That I was not right principled in the way of the Quakers, (so called) and that I had not a clear understanding of what their Ministery held forth: I say, deceit speaks in those who thus report of me: for before I was perswaded to comply with them, I had a right Knowledge of their Belief and Practise; but the occasion by which I became to be lost in my Understanding, and so distracted and confused in Mind, may be observed in divers particulars before spoken: yet for the Truth sake I shall discover the thing more plainer.
But first I shall speak a little of what condition I was in before I came amongst them.
Having been very zealously affected in divers wayes before, there was begotten in me much fleshly wisdom, in wch my hope did much rest, (believing it was the mystery and wisdom of the holy Spirit revealed unto me) by which I was perswaded, that the true worship of God, was a true endeavouring to live up to that Obedience wch the outward Law required, & wherein I failed of what this Law required, (that Doctrine I was learned in continually laboured to perswade me, that) Christ which died at Jerusalem had perfected for me; and so I was not under the Covenant of Works, but under the Covenant of Grace.
Yet nevertheless, all this time I could not enjoy a true peace, but was greatly dissatisfied with my Condition; sometimes being perswaded that I was out of the Faith, a Reprobate, a Cast-away, being out of the Election; and other times, when covered over with deceit, I should glory in my condition.
Now, when being fully perswaded, by what I learned from these People, (before named) that the Truth indeed was to be found in us, which Truth was made known by the Light in us; which Light, as it was spiritual, (if following it) it would guide out of all the works of the flesh, to the worshipping of God in Spirit and in Truth; I was then to begin a new Religion, and to lose all that ever I learned before, all that Wisdom, that Knowledge, Faith, hope, love, Zeal, &c which before I hoped in, and so to wait out of my own Thoughts and Imagination, as in Obedience to the Ministration of Condemnation, (which was to pass upon all that which was of flesh) by which the Spirit was to be renewed; and as Death passed upon the one, Life was to be restored unto the other, until a new Birth was brought forth, from which would proceed the Ministration of Righteousness unto Holiness, the end of which, (as saith the Scriptures) is eternal Life.
My Understanding being now thus opened, I was possessed with much Joy in the sense of that Love I had received, and was in hopes to enjoy; and on the other side, I was incensed with much Fear, lest I should be careless, and so lose my way in the Wilderness, before I came to the Land of Canaan; and also, lest I should die before I witnessed the first Resurrection.
Whereupon, I was resolved to give all diligence that my Calling and Election might be made sure; but being naturally of a very hasty forward Minde, and my Resolution in part, being a Covenant of my own, there was speedily begotten in me an extream fiery Zeal, so that (in the general) I was hastily carried forth before the true Light, by which in a short time I became lost in my Understanding; and then, being to seek in the wilderness, the Disputer was raised to Life, and so exalted it self mightily, pleading the cause of his people: upon wch, there was proclaimed a desperate War; in wch division the Enemy which was for Condemnation, (having darkned the Light of the Sun) formed it self in the shape of a true Light: and so deceit having gotten the power to bear rule in Israel, my mind was led forth out of the true Obedience, (as is before related) by which the simple became exceedingly deceived; but when, after it had finished his course, and I was restored to a right Understanding, it is known that no weapon formed against the Just did prosper, but my Life was as a clear Light, in the sight of those amongst whom I was known, being guided in that Obedience, which was professed by those people amongst whom was.
This may reprove the Gainsayer; for my witness therein is true.
Such who may be dissatisfied with any thing contained herein, might judge of me, otherwise then they ought, because of those hands by whom what I have written is countenanced: I therefore declare, that before any of them had the least knowledge of my purpose, I had writ of my self, (being perswaded it concerned me as a Duty, chiefly for those Reasons before spoken) but when after some considerable time that this discourse was wholly perfected, I was perswaded in what I have done, that so such serious mindes as might question the Truth of any thing contained in it, might the better receive a satisfaction.
Since my separation from these people, there hath been dispersed abroad concerning me divers scandalous and false abusing reports, by which, where it hath taken place, I am presented as a lewd person, changed from whatever it is known I have been: but unto the Truth am I made manifest; by which Truth in me, and in all those that thus have spoken and do speak against me, am I justified: which Truth is, and will be the Condemnation of what is believed or spoken touching me untruly. True, since it pleased the Father to make known the excellency of his power in the raising out of nothing this body, that the Image of himself, amongst other of his works, might therein appear compleat, both in Body and in Spirit, to the glory of himself, and to the praise of his Name: I say, since the beginning of this Creation of God, a disobedient Mind hath appeared in me, against that Will, & that Grace, which God hath, as his Law, made known in, and to me; and I have amongst others many times rejected the offers of Grace by the presumptuous resolvedness of my own peremptory will: so that I cannot justifie my self, yet am I bold wherein I am made free in the sight of God, being witnessed by the Spirit of Truth. False reports and good reports must pass, but my Witness liveth for ever. I know, and have heard of many which were of them that were convinced in themselves of much delusion they lay under; and so their Understandings being enlightned, they were reformed in their Judgements; but not one of these have I known or heard, that have not received from them the like Judgement, and scandalous untrue reports, that have been given forth concerning me. Wherefore, by right according to their Law, though false, I must come under the same Condemnation with them. But herein is my Peace, the Word of Truth bearing me witness against all deceitful Lyes.
THis Author hath published another book, called The Snare broken: or, Light discovering Darkness; being an Answer to James Nayler's book intituled The foot yet in the Snare: wherein his treachery and backsliding from the true Faith is brought to light, and his untrodden paths discovered.
A faithful Discovery of the Quakers, of their Doctrines and Ways: by J.
Kellet, J. Pomry, and P. Glisson, Ministers at Beverley.
The Quakers confuted: by S. Eaton.
The Quakers unveil'd; being an answer to James Nayler: by E. Bradshaw.
Arrows against Babylon: wherein something in relation to apparel, with some Queries to the Quakers, &c. by J. Pendarves.