Truth Cleared from Scandals
James Nayler (c. 1617-1660)
Having heard of divers untruths cast upon me by some of the priests in their high places, though I stand only to the Lord in respect of myself; yet lest any that love the truth should be led on to speak evil of the things they know not, I shall lay open the truth as it is in me revealed, touching those things whereof I have been falsely accused.
1. Concerning Jesus Christ, who is the eternal word of God, by whom all things were made and are upholden, which was before all time but manifested in time for the recovery of lost man; which word became flesh and dwelt amongst the saints, who is the same yesterday, and today, and forever; who did and doth dwell in the saints; who suffered, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, and is set at the right hand of God to whom all power is given in heaven and in earth; who filleth all places; is the light of the world, but known to none but those who receive and follow him; and those he leads up to God, out of all the ways, works, and worships of the world, by his pure light in them, whereby he reveals the man of sin and by his power casts him out and so prepares the bodies of the saints a fit temple for the pure God to dwell in, with whom dwells no unclean thing; and thus he reconciles God and man, and the image of God, which in purity and holiness is renewed; and the image of Satan, which is all sin and uncleanness, is defaced; and none can witness redemption further than Christ is thus revealed in them to set them free from sin; which Christ I witness to be revealed in me in measure.
2. Concerning the Scriptures, that they are a true declaration of that word which was in them that gave or spoke them forth, and are of no private interpretation; but were given forth to be read and fulfilled in the saints as they were given forth by the Holy Ghost, without adding or diminishing, and was not given forth for men to make a trade upon to get money by; but as they are, they are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work: but they who trade in the letter and are ignorant of the mystery deny all perfection; and none can rightly understand the Scriptures but they who read them with the same Spirit that gave them forth. "For the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are spiritually discerned."
3. Concerning Baptism, the true baptism is that of the Spirit, with the Holy Ghost and with fire, baptized by one Spirit into one body; not the washing away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God; by the resurrection of Jesus Christ; without which no other baptism can save us, they being but figures or shadows, but this baptism of Christ is the substance, whereby we are baptized into his death; and those who are baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
4. Concerning the Lord's supper: the true supper of the Lord is the spiritual eating and drinking of the flesh & blood of Christ, which the spiritual man only eateth, and is thereby flourished up unto eternal life; without which eating there can be no life in the creature, profess what you will; and all who eat of this bread and drink of this cup have real communion with Christ the head, and also one with another as members, and are all of one heart and one mind, a complete body in Christ. Now the world, who take only the outward signs and are not brought into a discerning of the Lord's body, eat and drink damnation to themselves, and so become guilty of the body and blood of Christ; and calls this a communion, but lives in envy, strife, and debate, fighting and going to law one with another for earthly things.
5. Concerning the Resurrection, That all shall arise to give account and receive at the last day according to their works done in the flesh, whether good or evil; these bodies that are dust shall turn to dust, but God shall give a body as pleaseth him; that which is sown in corruption shall be raised in incorruption; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body! And as we have borne the image of the earthly, so we shall bear the image of the heavenly. But flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption, for we shall all be changed. But they who cannot witness the first resurrection within themselves know nothing of the second but by hearsay. And therefore say some of your teachers that Christ is in heaven with a carnal body; now that Christ, who is the first fruits, shall be there with a carnal body, and the saints with a spiritual body, is not proportionable.
6. Concerning Magistracy, that it is an ordinance of God, ordained for the punishment of evildoers, and an encouragement of them that do well. Where justice and righteousness is the head and ruleth without partiality, that land is kept in peace; and those who judge for the Lord, I honor as my own life; not with a flattering honor of putting off the hat and bowing the knee, which is the honor of the world, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage, for self-ends; but from my heart, for conscience sake, as to the power which is of God, and not to men's persons. For the Scriptures saith, "He that respects persons commits sin." And the apostle commands the saints "not to have the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory, with respect of persons"; and saith, "such are partial in themselves and become judges of evil thoughts." And saith Paul, "Let every soul be subject to the higher powers: for," saith he, "there is no power but of God: the powers that be, are of God," not of man, and "whosoever resisteth, resisteth the ordinance of God"; and therefore "subject for conscience sake." And therefore, though the prophets and saints were often sent to pronounce judgment against unjust men, who had the power committed to them, and did not judge for God but for self ends; yet they never attempted to raise any violence against them, but used all means to persuade them "to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God," that they might be established and the wrath of God turned away from them; for those that be of God cannot rejoice in the destruction of any, but would have all to turn to God and find mercy.
7. Concerning Ministry, the true ministry of Jesus Christ hath always been and are still such as came not by the will of man, but by the will of God; neither are they fitted for that work by anything of man, but by God alone; for the true ministry is the gift of Jesus Christ given for the perfecting of the saints and need no addition of human helps and learning, but as the work is spiritual and of the Lord, so they are spiritually fitted only by the Lord. And therefore he chose herdsmen, fishermen and plowmen and suchlike: and as he gave them an immediate call without the leave of man, so he fitted them immediately without the help of man; and as they received the gift freely, so they were to give freely. And whenever they found any of the false ministry, that taught for hire, they cried out against them, and pronounced woe against them, and showed them that they lay in iniquity because they thought that the gift of God could be bought and sold for money. And Christ calls them hirelings and saith, "they care not for the sheep." And Micah cries out against the priests that taught for hire and saith, "They build up Zion with blood and Jerusalem with iniquity." And Jeremy cries out against the priests in his days, that bare rule by their means, and calls it an horrible thing, and saith that from the least of them to the greatest they are all given to covetousness. Isaiah cries out of such in his days, and calls them "greedy dogs that can never have enough"; and saith he, "they all look for their gain from their quarter." And Peter saith of such in his days that they through covetousness make merchandise of the people, who "have hearts exercised with covetous practices, who have forsaken the right way, and have followed the way of Balaam, who loved the wages of unrighteousness." And Jude cries, "woe unto them, for they go on in the ways of Cain and run greedily after the error of Balaam for reward." But those that were sent but by Christ counted it their reward to make the gospel without charge; neither ever had any set means, but went about, having no certain dwelling place; never was masters, but servants to all for Christ's sake. Never went to law for tithes or any other earthly thing, but suffered persecution; and as always he that was after the flesh persecuted him that was after the spirit; even so it is now. All people, try your priests by the Scriptures and never think to hear the word of the Lord from their mouths, who walk contrary to the Scriptures; for such was never sent of God. For had they been sent of God, they would abide in his doctrine. And John saith, "such hath not God; but he that abide in the doctrine of Christ hath both the Father and the Son." And if there come any to you and bring not this doctrine, you are forbidden to "receive them into your houses or bid them Godspeed," for if you do, "you are partakers of their evil deeds. And unto the wicked, saith God, "What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant into thy mouth, seeing thou hatest to be reformed?"