by James Nayler (1658)
One of Naylor’s major tracts on the life we are called to, what our striving is to be, and how it is to be carried forward. The war against the Man of Sin is the root of outward justice and peace as well. The experience of the War inwardly is taken up and amplified in the selection “Not to Strive, but to Overcome by Suffering” (9th epistle). – Brian Drayton
The Lord God Almighty, to whom belongs all the kingdoms in heaven and earth, doth nothing therein but by his Son, the Lamb. By him he creates and governs, by him he saves and condemns, judges and justifies; makes peace, and makes war; and whatsoever he doth he is at his right hand in all places, who in him hath long suffered the burden of iniquity, and oppression of wickedness that hath abounded for many generations, till it be come to the full measure, as in the days of old.
And now his appearance in the Lamb (as ever it was when iniquity was full) is to make war with the god of this world, and to plead with his subjects concerning their revolt from him their creator, who ordered their beginning and gave them a being; and their breaking the order that was in the beginning, and giving up their obedience to the worldly spirit, and the invention thereof, till they become so far one with it, as that it had defiled their souls and bodies, blinded their eyes, stopped their ears, and so made the creature utterly unprofitable to God, and unfit for a temple for him to be worshipped in, or to hear the voice, or understand the mind of the eternal spirit… They are also become open enemies to every check and reproof of that Spirit which should lead them to God, and doth testify against their evil deeds, and are not afraid to speak against it as a thing not worth minding, nor able to lead them in the way of truth. Thus hath God lost the creature out of his call and service, and he is become one with the god of this world, to serve and obey him in ways that defy the Spirit of grace; and now use the creation against the creator. Now against this evil seed, and its whole work brought forth in that nature, doth the Lamb make war to take vengeance of his enemies.
The End of His War is: to judge this deceiver openly before all the creation showing that his ways, fashions, and customs are not what God ordered for man to live in, in the beginning; to bind him and to redeem…out of his captivity all who will believe in the Lamb and are weary of this service and bondage to his enemy, and who will but come forth and give their names and hearts to join with him and bear his image and testimony openly before all men;…and all that follow him to redeem them to God; and the rest who will not believe and follow him and bear his image, them to condemn with the destroyer into everlasting destruction; and to restore all things, and make all things new as they were in the beginning, that God alone may rule his own work.
The Manner of His War is: first, that he may be just who is to judge all men and spirits, he gives his light unto their hearts even of man and woman, whereby he lets all see (who will mind it) what he is displeased with, what is with him and what is against him, what he owns and what he disowns, that so all may know what is for destruction, to come out of it, lest they be destroyed with it; that so he may save and receive all that are not wilfully disobedient and hardened in the pleasures of this world against him, all who are willing to be set free, all that are in darkness and are willing to come to light. In a word, all that love righteousness more than the pleasures of sin, that he may not destroy them (nor fight against him and know it not) but that he may receive them to be one with him against that which hath misled and deceived them. And as many as turn at his reproof he doth receive and give them power in spirit and life to be as he is in their measure, (but all in watching), and wars against that which hath had them and now hath the rest of the creation in bondage, that he may restore all things to their former liberty.
What They Are to War Against: and that is, whatever is not of God, whatever the eye (which loves the world) lusts after, whatever the flesh takes delight in, and whatever stands in respect of persons…the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life, these are not of God; and whatever the god of the world hath begotten in men’s hearts to practise or to plead for, which God did not place there. All this the Lamb and his followers war against, which is at enmity with it both in themselves and wherever they see it. For in the work of God alone is his kingdom and all other works will he destroy. So their wars are not against creatures, they wrestle not with flesh and blood which God hath made, but with spiritual wickedness exalted in the hearts of men and women, where God alone should be,…by which they become enemies to God and their souls are destroyed. Indeed, their war is against the whole work and device of the god of this world, his laws, his customs, his fashions, his inventions, and all which are to add to or take from the work of God which was from the beginning. (This is all enmity against the Lamb and his followers, who are entered into the covenant which was in the beginning.) And therefore no wonder why they are hated by the god of this world, and his subjects, who come to spoil him of all…and to destroy the whole body of sin, the foundation and strength of his kingdom, and to take the government to himself that God may wholly rule in the heart of man, and man wholly live in the work of God.
What Their Weapons Are: as they war not against men’s persons, so their weapons are not carnal nor hurtful to any of the creation; for the Lamb comes not to destroy men’s lives nor the work of God, and therefore at his appearance in his subjects he puts spiritual weapons into their hearts and hands; their armour is the light, their sword the Spirit of the Father and the Son, their shield is faith and patience, their paths are prepared with the gospel of peace and good-will towards all the creation of God; their breastplate is righteousness and holiness to God, their minds are girded with godliness, and they are covered with salvation, and they are taught with truth.
And thus the lamb in them, and they in him, go out in judgement and righteousness to make war with his enemies, conquering and to conquer. Not as the prince of this world in his subjects, with whips and prisons, tortures and torments on the bodies of creatures, to kill and destroy men’s lives, who are deceived, and so become his enemies; but he goes forth in the power of the Spirit with the Word of Truth to pass judgement upon the head of the Serpent which doth deceive and bewitch the world…For with the spirit of judgement and with the spirit of burning will he plead with his enemies. And having kindled the fire and awakened the creature, and broken their peace and rest in sin, he waits in patience to prevail to recover the creature and stay the enmity by suffering all the rage and envy, and evil entreatings that the evil spirit that rules in the creature can cast upon him, and he receives it with meekness and pity to the creature, returning love for hatred, wrestling with God against the enmity with prayers and tears night and day, with fasting, mourning, and lamentation, in patience, in faithfulness, in truth, in love unfeigned, in long suffering, and in all the fruits of the spirit, that if by any means he may overcome evil with good, and by this his light in the eye of the creature that the eye may come to be opened, …that so the creature might see what it is he hates and what fruits he himself brings forth, that the creature may be convinced he is no deceiver, but hath with him the life and power of innocency and holiness, in whom he rules. And this preaching hath a power in it to open the eye of all that are not wilfully blind…
And thus he in his members many times wrestles and preaches to the spirits in prison, with much long suffering towards the world, a nation, or a particular person before he gives them up and numbers them for destruction; yea, sometimes until they rage against him and cruelty exercised upon his members be so great that there can be no remedy…
And These Fruits Are His Colours He Holds Forth To All the World, In Such as He Reigns In: as they come to obey him, he covers them with love, gentleness, faith, patience and purity, grace and virtue, temperance and self-denial, meekness and innocency all in white, that follow him, in whom he is, who walk themselves as he walked in all things conforming to God, with boldness and zeal owning the Lamb to be their leader, with him testifying against the world that the deeds thereof are evil; themselves the mean-while covered with his righteousness, against all the storms and tempests that they must be sure to meet withal; who bear that testimony which the Lamb hath ever borne, in whom he appeared to the convincing of the world: that he is the same that ever he was from the beginning; that all that will believe and love holiness may see where it is to be found, and come forth to him, and be saved; that the whole world become not as Sodom in the day of wrath, which ever comes upon a people or a nation after Christ hath appeared and been rejected thereof.
What His Kingdom Is: The power, the glory and compass of it is not comprehended with mortal understanding, which was before all beginnings and endures forever, who orders and limits all spirits in heaven and earth, who rules in the rulers of the earth and in all heavenly places, though many spirits know him not, till they have felt his reproof for their rebellion against him. His sufferings are free for love’s sake which is naturally in him to[wards] the creation, being his offspring. For which cause he becomes meek and lowly, that he may bear the infirmities of the creation, which doth in no way take from his power, who is equal with the father, but doth manifest his power tobe unlimited, in that he bears all things.
His dominion he hath among the heathen, and his hands are in the counsels of the kings of the earth, and there is no place where he is not, who descends below all depths and ascends far above all heavens that he may fill all things. But his kingdom in this world, in which he chiefly delights to walk and make himself known, is in the hearts of such as have believed in him, and owned his call out of the world, whose hearts he hath purified, and whose bodies he hath washed in obedience and made them fit for the Father to be worshipped in.
And such he rejoices and takes delight; and his kingdom in such is righteousness and peace, in love, in power and purity. He leads them by the gently movings of his Spirit out of all their own ways and wills…and guides them into the will of the father, by which they become more clean and holy.
Deeply he lets them know his covenant, and how far they may go and be false, he gives them his laws and his statutes, contrary in all things to the god of this world, that they may be known to be his before all his enemies. If they keep his counsel they are safe, but if they refuse he lets them know the correction of the Father, his presence is great joy to them of a willing mind, but with the froward he appears in frowardness; the kisses of his lips are life eternal, but who may abide his wrath? The secrets of the Father are with him, and he makes all his subjects wise. He makes them all of one heart, and with himself of the same mind. His government is wholly pure and no unclean thing can abide his judgments. As any come into his kingdom they are known, and their change is to be seen of all men. He keeps them low in mind, and a meek spirit doth he generate in them; and with his power he leads them forth against all the enmity of the evil one, and makes all conditions comfortable to them who abide in his kingdom.
Now these are the last times, and many false Christs there must appear and be made manifest by the true Christ, with their false prophets, false ways, and false worships, and false worshippers, which though they be at wars one with another, yet not the Lamb’s War. Now seeing he hath appeared whi is from everlasting and changes not, here is an everlasting trial for you all, all sorts of professors, whether you profess him in the letter or the light: come try whether Christ is in you. Measure your life and weigh your profession with that which cannot deceive you, which hath stood and will stand forever, for he is sealed of the father.
Now in truth to God and your own souls, prove your work in time lest you and it perish together. First, see if your Christ be the same that was from everlasting to everlasting, or is he changed according to the times: in life, in death, in peace and wars, in reigning, in suffering, in casting out and receiving in. And if you find the true Christ then prove your faithfulness to him in all things. Doth he whom you obey as your leader lead you out to war against the world and all the pride and glory, fashions and customs, love and pleasures, and whatever is not of God therein; and to give up your lives unto death rather than knowingly to yield your obedience thereto? Doth he justify any life now but what he justified in the prophets and apostles and saints of old? Doth he give his subjects liberty now to bow to the god of this world and his ways, in things that he hath denied in the saints of old, and for denying whereof many, both then and now, have suffered? Is he at peace in you while you are in the fleshly pleasures, or while you have fellowship with the unclean spirits that are in the world? Doth he not lead out of the world, and to strive against it in watchings, fastings, prayers, and strong cries to the Father, that you may be kept, and others delivered, from the bondage and pollutions of it? Is his kingdom the same in you? And doth he give out the same spiritual laws against all the laws and customs of the man of sin in you, as he hath done to his subjects in all ages? Doth he beget in your hearts a new nature contrary to the world’s nature in all things, motions, and delights like himself, whereby he works out the old nature that inclines to the world and can be at peace therein?
And now your peace is wholly in him, and that which crucifies the world to you, and you to it, is your joy and delight. Hath he called you out of this world to bear his name before the powers thereof, and put his testimony into your hearts, and the same weapons into your hands as were used by the saints of old against the powers of darkness, whereby you have power given to overcome evil with good? And many other fruits you may find which he ever brought forth in his chosen, whereby they were known to be in him and he in them, for which the world hates them. By all which you may clearly know, if he be the same in you today as he was yesterday in his people, and forever. For he changes not, nor conforms to the world, nor the will of any creature, but changes all his followers till they become in all things like himself; for they must bear his name and image before all men and spirits.
Now if you profess the same as was, and is, and is to come, the same for evermore, the same Christ, the same calling in you that was in all the people of God, then prove your faithfulness in answering and obeying. Who is it that sees what wars are begun? And to whom hath not the sound gone forth? The children of light have published the gospel of light throughout the world, and the Prince of Darkness hath shown his enmity against it. The Lamb hath appeared with his weapons as before mentioned, in much long suffering. The god of this world hath appeared to withstand him with his weapons, and hath prevailed unto blood with much eagerness, and the Lamb hath prevailed unto suffering with much meekness and patience, each of them in their subjects, in whom these contrary spirits act one against another; and now see what party you take, who hath hired you, and whose work you are in. Or are you idle, looking on? Or are you gone out with the beast of the field and regard nothing but your bellies and your pleasures? Doth it not greatly concern you to try your spiritual states, see all must come speedily to an account for their lives and service? Are you such as spend your time and strength in watching and praying to the Father of Spirits, for yourselves and the people of God, that they may be kept in the time of temptation and assaults of the Evil One, who seeks his advantage on the weak brethren; and for your enemies, that they may be delivered from under his power, who are captivated by him at his will to fulfill his lusts and envy, and satisfy his wrath upon the innocent?
And do you deny yourselves of your pleasures, profits, ease, and liberty, that you may hold forth a chaste conversation and conduct in the power and life of gentleness, meekness, faithfulness, and truth, exercising a conscience void of offense towards God, and all men, that thereby you may shine forth in righteousness, so as to convince your enemies whom you pray for; thus following him who laid down his life for his enemies? Is this your war and these your weapons? Is this your calling and are you faithful to him that hath called you hereto, so as you can by no means bow to the god of this world, nor his ways, though it were to save your lives or credit in the world, or estates, and yet can serve the meanest creature in God’s way, though to the loss of all?
I beseech you, be faithful to your own souls herein. Do you find nothing in you that calls or moves this way or reproves the contrary? If there be, are you not such as quench the spirit, and put out your own eye, and deny the Lamb’s call against your own lives? And if there be not, then are you not dead members cut off from Christ, and all your profession is but a lie, and without Christ you are in the world? O that you would prove your own selves, for there be many deceitful workers at this day of his appearance who do the work of the Lord negligently and deceitfully. Many do their own work instead of his, and many are called and for a while abide, but in the time of hardship prove deceitful, and return to serve in the world again and take pleasure therein. Others are called and convinced, but come half out of the world, even as far as they can do it without loss or shame, but keep their covenant therewith still, in what makes most for their gain, or earthly advantage or credit. Others have answered their call and been faithful in the covenant of the Lamb against the Prince of this world, so far as they have seen; but not minding the watch against the enemy, and not keeping low in the fear, and zealous in the light, have suffered the simplicity to be deceived, and are led back to the old beggarly rudiments of the world again, and take that for perfection and growth which once they vomited up. These expect great things in their work, but they are blinder than the rest and more to be pitied because of the simplicity that is deceived.
Many other grounds there be that bring not fruit to perfection, who are not faithful to him that hath called them therein; so that now the truth is, that many are called but few chosen faithful. Many are ashamed at the Lamb’s appearance, it is so low, and weak, and poor, and contemptible, and many are afraid seeing so great a power against him. Many be at work in their imaginations, to compass a kingdom, to get power over sin, and peace of conscience, but few will deny all, to be led by the Lamb in a way they know not, to bear his testimony and mark against the world, and suffer for it with him. Now deceit hath taught you to say, and maybe you think it also, God forbid but you should suffer with Christ till death; but come to the trial in deed and truth. Doth he not suffer under all the pride and pleasures of the flesh, by all manner of excess, by all manner of customs and fashions, not of God but of the world? Is not all against him that is not of him and the father? Is not the lust of the eye, and of the flesh, and pride of life, his oppressors? And do you that live in these things, and fashions, and plead for them, suffer with him by them, or war with him against them? Then would you be weary of them, and not practice nor plead for them against him; this you will find true in the end, you cannot suffer with him, and serve his enemies.
Can you live at ease, and in your pleasures and profits, and cover yourselves with worldly glory, while Christ Jesus is crucified in his temples with mockings, stockings, stonings, whipping, and all manner of evil intreatings; cast into holes, pits and dungeons, having none on earth to take his part, nor plead his righteous cause, nor once to take notice of his innocent sufferings? But who as will, may tread down his precious life in the open streets, without resisting; and this for no other thing, but for testifying against the deeds of the world, that they are evil. The pride and oppression, false ways and false worships, never set up by him but in the will of man, and so maintained against him, which he must judge with a contrary appearance, ere he come to his kingdom. Do you suffer with him herein, who have a heart consenting to these things, if not a hand deeply in them; secret or open, either in this cruelty acting or contriving, or in cursed and scornful speeches condemning them that bear witness, as a foolish ignorant people, and that they bring their sufferings upon themselves, by their own wills. So shoot your poisoned arrows one way or other against that Spirit which leads, and hath ever led such as do not resist and disobey him, into the same testimony, and so in secret you become worse than open persecutors. Or it may be some few become as far as Pilate, who washed his own hands, while others shed the innocent blood; and these are few indeed, who thus far will openly confess the just and innocent Lord before his accusers, in whatsoever vessel he is thus honored.
But will the best of these stand in judgment as sufferers with him? Or will he know you at his appearance, by this mark? Are these his steps you follow? Or is this his image, or power, or war, or weapons? Will this suffering bring you to reign with him, or he to you in your peace? Or will this cross crucify you to the world, and the world to you? Do you walk as he walked, or hath he left you such example to follow? Search the Scriptures, and read the life of them, and your own lives, with the light of Christ Jesus. Cease to blaspheme any longer in saying you are Christians, while in Christ you are not, but in a contrary spirit, and contrary life, and your fellowship is not with him in suffering, but with them in whom he suffers.
Were ever Christians at their ease and worldly delights while Christ hath not where to rest his head; thrust out of your meeting places, towns, and markets, and every assembly, if he doth but testify against the evil thereof? Are you asleep in the world, and doth it not awaken you to see or hear how sudden a return that bloody spirit hath made, lately in part cast out? And with what power he is now entering, like to exceed sevenfold what he hath this many generations, making daily havoc of the lambs? Is it a time for you to riot in, to satisfy your lusts, to eat and drink, and rise up to play?…How long shall it be ere the life of what you profess be seen in the face of your conversation, teachers and people? When will you teachers approve yourselves as the ministers of God and sufferers with Christ?… [Here Nayler quotes from 2 Corinthians 6:4-10, 1 Cor. 9:18, Jude 11.]
Now why will you not measure yourselves with this measure, seeing this only is sealed to all generations of God’s ministers…Nay, why are you so exceedingly blind, and wicked above measure, that if you be found in the contrary nature, life, and practice, and God send some to warn you thereof, and hold forth the lamb’s testimony against you, you presently suffer the evil one to get up in you and…not minding this to be obedience to God in them, and his love and faithfulness to your souls, seek to cast some of these [harsh treatments] upon them; and so your revenge turns to their double honour, and doubles a witness against yourselves, to your own condemnation….
Surely he that hath a living conscience may much admire how you get over these scriptures in your teaching of others, and not to wound yourselves, or pierce your hearts with fear, and your faces with blushing, who are found so absolute in contradiction thereto, in conversation, and unlike in your lives, in the sight of every open eye. Or how can you muzzle your consciences while you pass your prayers, that your own mouth doth not condemn you? It’s no wonder why you are such enemies to the Light within; everyone that doth evil hates the light.
And you hearers of all sorts, how long will it be before you hearken to what the Lord says to your soul, who is no respecter of persons; but everyone that bears not the image of his son in well-doing he hates…; that with the Light of Christ in your own hearts you may see how the world’s lusts have spoiled your souls of that heavenly image, and hath captivated your minds into itself and likeness, and how you lie dead in sin covered with earth and daubed over with the words of men. Oh! That you would awake before wrath awaken you, and put on the armour of God, not relying any longer on men that beat the air, to fight your battles, against him who is got into your hearts; but that yourselves, as soldiers of Christ, may all come to use the spiritual weapons against the spiritual wickedness exalted in the temple of God, so that you can neither see nor serve God therein, being filled with wicked and worldly cumbrances.
That’s the spiritual weapon which captivates every thought to the obedience to Christ, and this is the true warfare, and is mighty through God, to cast down the strong holds of the man of sin in you; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience; knowing that he that will not be led by the spirit of God is for condemnation. And only these weapons are effectual to cleanse the heart of all that exalts itself against the life and knowledge of God, and to make way for his appearance; which no man’s words who is in the same evils hath power to do; for this power is only in Christ his light and life. And only blessed are they who feel and find this treasure working in the earthen vessel; such shall approve their own work to God and have praise thereof, not of man. So should you come to see what others have said in scripture, concerning the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, and savingly feel the power of his cross, of his death, and resurrection, and the everlasting purity of his life, and that eternal love the father bears thereto, an everlasting inheritance to all who learn him, and attain his appearance, whose beauty is blessed forever….
Now you that cry, the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of the Lord and of his Christ; see that it be truth in you, and that you lie not within yourselves. The lamb’s war you must know, before you can witness his kingdom, and how you have been called into his war, and whether you have been faithful and chosen there or no. He that preaches the kingdom of Christ in words, without victory, is the thief that goes before Christ. So take heed that your own words condemn you not, but mind your calling, and how you have answered, and whether you have been faithful in that whereunto you have been called, THE WAR; Christ hath a war with his enemies, to which he calls his subjects to serve him therein, against all the powers of darkness of this world, and all things of this old world…he will overturn, and all things will he make new, which the god of this world hath polluted, and wherewith his children hath corrupted themselves…this the lamb wars against, in whomsoever he appears, and calls them to join with him herein in heart and mind, and with all their whole might.
And for that end he lights his candle in their hearts, that they might find out every secret evil that the man of sin hath there treasured up, even to every thought and intent of the heart, to cast out the enemy with all his stuff, and to subject the creature wholly to himself, that he may form a new man, a new heart, new thoughts, and a new obedience, in a new way, in all things therein to reign, and there is his kingdom.
Now many are called to this war, but few are chosen and faithful. They that are faithful in their calling, them he chooses, and in them he reigns, and with them he makes war upon his enemies upon every side, under what colour soever they appear…the sword of his spirit he hath put into their hands, his word into their mouths, whereby they are at wars with all the world…
So you that are much in words, prove your own selves: if you be in his kingdom, or of his subjects, then are you at work with him in this his day, wherein he is coming in thousands of his saints to take vengeance into his hands, and inflict it upon his enemies.
Now you who are asleep and at ease in the flesh, are not of his kingdom; for by suffering in the flesh doth he make war, and slays the man of sin.
You that are at peace in the world’s ways and fashions, invented and maintained by the man of sin, you are not in his kingdom, for he hath given an alarm against all those things, which hath caused the dragon to whet his teeth, and all the devouring spirits are stirred up, their Lord’s kingdom to defend, every one with such weapons as he hath, against the lamb in his kingdom, in what vessel soever he reigns…
Now you that are making peace where these things are upholden, you are false-hearted, and betray the lamb; as that of God in you shall witness, you are at peace-making with his enemies.
But, say you, God is love, and we are commanded to love all, and seek peace with all, &c. I say, is God’s love in you otherwise than it hath ever been in Christ, and all his saints, whom the world ever hated, whom God loved, and in whom he testified against the world unto death, and unto bonds, and persecution, were not they in God’s love? Did they not keep his commandments? Will you take their words in your mouths, and condemn their lives by your practices?
The lamb’s war is not against the creation, for then should his weapons be carnal, as the weapons of the worldly spirits are, for we war not with flesh and blood, nor against the creation of God, that we love, but we fight against the spiritual powers of wickedness, which wars against God in the creation, and captivates the creation into the lust which wars against the soul, and that the creature may be delivered into its liberty, prepared for the sons of God. And this is not against love, nor everlasting peace, but that without which there can be no true love, nor lasting peace.
Love to God and man constrains us to be faithful in this war. Nor is God’s love to that seed of bondage, nor did he ever command you to seek the peace of it. For the love of the world is enmity with God, as saith the scripture….
And can you love this spirit, bow and conform to it, or suffer it to reign in yourselves, or your brethren, and you be silent, under a pretence of seeking love and peace, and obeying God’s command; and boast in high words about Christ’s kingdom, counting it a low and foolish thing in such as faithfully and zealously bear testimony for God, and against these evils? And will not God find you out, and your deceit and unfaithfulness in your generation; shall not God break your peace, and disannul your covenant, which you are making with the world, to settle yourselves in ease and pleasure, and bring you out with true judgment, where it shall be seen what nature your love is of, whose kingdom you are in , and whom you love and serve.
The day is dawned, and the sun is risen to many that shall not set, nor shall he cease his course, until he have rightly divided between the precious seed, and the children of whoredoms and deceit. And now the holy seed is called forth, to appear in its colours against the man of sin; and with the sword of his mouth doth he make war, and with the spirit of judgment, and the spirit of burning doth he consume the filthy and unclean spirits.
And all that are faithful have their armour on ready, day and night to follow the lamb, as he moves, counting nothing hard to undergo, so as they may but have hopes of reconciliation betwixt God and the creature that is fallen to the prince of the world, and led captive at his will. And this is love indeed, to lay down all for such as are yet enemies.
Go and prosper in the name of the Lord, and in righteousness make war; and all that are zealous for truth and purity shall say amen; but the slothful, the lukewarm, and all unclean persons, shut themselves out, as not for this work, nor worthy to be counted faithful or chosen.